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tupungato/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- In the latest twist in their political and seemingly personal feud, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Donald Trump Wednesday afternoon saying there would be no State of the Union address in the House chamber until after the partial government shutdown ends, effectively rescinding her invitation to the president.

"When I extended an invitation on January 3rd for you to deliver the State of the Union address, it was on the mutually agreed upon date, January 29th. At that time, there was no thought that the government would still be shut down," her letter said.

"I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened," Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

The resolution is necessary to authorize the president to address a joint session of Congress.

"Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened," Pelosi's letter continued.

At the White House, Trump told reporters he was "not surprised" by Pelosi's letter.

"I’m not surprised. It’s really a shame what’s happening with the Democrats, they’ve become radicalized," Trump said when asked for reaction to Pelosi's letter during a photo-op in the Roosevelt Room.

Later, at another photo-op, Trump said, “The State of the Union has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth, she doesn't want the American people to hear what's going on.”

“Now Nancy Pelosi, or Nancy as I call her, she doesn’t want to hear the truth and she doesn't want to hear the American people to hear the truth," Trump said.

"I think that’s a great blotch on the great country we all love, it's a great, great horrible mark. I don't believe it's ever happened before," Trump said. "It's always good to be part of history but this is a negative part of history. This is where people are afraid to open up and say what's going on."

"If we can handle Iraq, we can handle the middle of Washington and the very spectacular building and a beautiful room that we should be in and that's where it's been for a long time," Trump said.

Upon returning to the Capitol after an afternoon speech, Pelosi made clear that Trump is not welcome to address a joint session of Congress until the shutdown is over.

"I still make the offer: let's work together on a mutually agreeable date, as the original date was, mutually agreeable, so we can welcome him properly to the Capitol," she said.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters that Pelosi’s decision to rescind the invitation is “a big mistake” and “a disgraceful move.”

“The fact that Nancy Pelosi’s not only holding the paychecks of federal workers hostage, now she’s going to try to hold the State of the Union hostage, shows that she is beholden right now to the most radical left elements of her base,” Scalise, R-La., said. “She’s not trying to solve this problem.”

Just a couple of hours earlier, Trump on Wednesday rejected Pelosi's earlier suggestion he delay his State of the Union speech until after the partial government shutdown ends, writing Pelosi to formally affirm he was sticking to plans to deliver the address on Jan. 29 in the House chamber.

"I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty, to deliver important information to the people and Congress of the United States of America regarding the State of our Union," Trump wrote in a letter to Pelosi on Wednesday afternoon.

Trump closed the letter by hinting that the onus would be on Pelosi to cancel the invitation. "I look forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representative. It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!"

Recognizing that Pelosi’s invitation was never officially taken off the table, Trump had seemingly called her bluff, resisting pressure to pull out and deliver the address from another venue elsewhere in Washington, such as at the White House or Senate chamber, or even, as one Republican member of Congress suggested, at the southern border.

Pelosi wrote Trump on Jan. 16, appealing to the president to work with her to find “another suitable date” after the partial government shutdown ends, or provide his address in writing – justifying her suggestion with a warning that “critical” operations at the Department of Homeland Security are “hamstrung by furloughs.”

In his letter, Trump said DHS and the U.S. Secret Service told him "there would be absolutely no problem regarding security with respect to the event."

Despite the uncertainty prior to the letter, preparations were already moving forward to welcome Trump next Tuesday, as Pelosi has not explicitly disinvited him from an invitation to deliver the annual address from the House chamber.

“She didn’t disinvite him. She suggested another date which would be consistent with a government that was open and was paying the people that we expect to protect us,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 ranked Democrat, told reporters during a pen and pad briefing Wednesday. “It is a very high-security event.”

As a matter of congressional protocol, both the House and Senate must pass a concurrent resolution authorizing the president to deliver an address from the House chamber, though neither chamber has acted yet and no votes on such measures are planned this week.

Hoyer, who is empowered with control over which measures are considered on the House floor, said a resolution could be considered as late as next Tuesday – the same day Pelosi has invited Trump to deliver the address – without impacting security or logistical planning.

“I’m told that that could be passed Tuesday the 29th and be equally effective as if we passed it today,” Hoyer said. “I think the Capitol Police and Sergeant at Arms have assured us we’ll be fully prepared if in fact there’s a State of the Union address on the 29th.”

Rep. Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee, signaled he hopes the president's efforts will generate a solution to the impasse.

“This is a time we need the president to come to the Hill and talk to the Congress," McCaul, R-Texas, said. "And so I would hope that Speaker Pelosi would just do the right thing – rise above the partisanship and let the president come talk to the Congress.”

While the shutdown continued in its 33rd day, Hoyer says House Democrats are crafting a letter outlining “substantial” spending on border security to “articulate what we believe is effective.” He urged the president to end the shutdown, enabling lawmakers to negotiate a border security package and even comprehensive immigration reform without the president using 800,000 federal employees as leverage.

“I think her suggestion was a reasonable one,” Hoyer said of Pelosi's suggestion to delay the speech until after government reopens. “The response we got was that the Secret Service will do its job and other security officers will do their job. There’s no doubt that they will. They’re very dedicated, patriotic people, very contentious people. Paying them or not, they’re going to be doing their job. We understand that but the fact is the president needs to open up the government.”

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought Wednesday to downplay allegations lodged by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office that their client lied to prosecutors, arguing that when “placed in proper context,” his comments amount to little more than “a lack of consistency.”

“Many of these events occurred years ago, or during a high-pressure U.S. presidential campaign he managed when his time was extraordinarily limited," Manafort’s defense counsel wrote in heavily-redacted court documents adding that some of the events took place "during the difficult time that followed his departure from the 2016 presidential campaign because of the allegations leveled at him and the investigations that followed.”

Details in Wednesday’s filing are largely redacted in an effort to maintain the secrecy of certain elements of Mueller’s probe, making certain rebuttals made by Manafort’s defense team difficult to parse.

Manafort’s attorneys initially filed the court documents under seal Wednesday morning, but the federal judge overseeing his case ordered that a redacted version be made public.

The new filing from Manafort's defense team is in response to a heavily redacted court document filed by special counsel Robert Mueller's team last Tuesday which outlined underlying evidence to support its claims that Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, lied to federal investigators.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort lied to them during the course of 12 interviews which occurred after he entered into a plea agreement in September which required his full cooperation with special counsel prosecutors. In November, it was reported that the plea deal was breaking down after prosecutors alleged that Manafort had lied.

The government alleged in its filing that Manafort's lies include claims that he had not maintained contact with people in President Donald Trump's administration, misleading statements about the nature of his discussions with a longtime business associate identified by the special counsel as a former Russian intelligence officer, and false statements about the source of a $125,000 payment that appears to line up with money he received from one of the well-funded political action committees that backed Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The Russian intelligence officer referenced by prosecutors is Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate of Manafort's.

In a previous filing, Manafort's defense team failed to fully redact sections of their filing, inadvertently revealing that Manafort is accused of sharing internal Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik while working for the campaign in the spring of 2016.

If the judge in the case concludes that Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying to prosecutors, he could face up to 80 years in prison, though legal experts say he would likely receive a sentence closer to seven years.

Manafort has already been found guilty on eight counts of tax and bank-fraud in a Virginia case related in part to his work as an unregistered foreign lobbyist. Sentencing in that case is scheduled for early February and could land him a lengthy prison term.

The judge has summoned attorneys in the special counsel’s office and Manafort’s defense team to appear in court on Friday, but in court documents also filed Wednesday, Manafort waived his right to appear at the hearing.

Manafort is scheduled for sentencing in the Washington case on March 5.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It's been 33 days since the government shut down over a political impasse centered on a border wall most Americans don't support -- and as many days have passed without significant movement on the Senate floor that could bring the shutdown to an end.

And though that will change on Thursday, when the Senate holds procedural votes on two bills, one from Democrats and one from Republicans, neither bill is expected to pass.

It would be the first time the Senate votes on a bill to end the government shutdown since December when the budget first ran out without a compromise reached and federal doors began to close.

The Republican bill mirrors the president's proposal from Saturday -- a three-year extension to Temporary Protected Status recipients and around 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents and given protected status under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in exchange for border wall funding. Critics say the proposal undercuts some protections for immigrants.

The measure proposed by Democrats doesn't include additional funding for a border wall and instead would fund the government until Feb. 8, giving time for negotiation while relieving 800,000 unpaid federal workers.

The proposal is not new and was passed by the Senate just before Christmas. It didn't pass in the House, however, which was then controlled by Republicans. A similar proposal was also suggested by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in mid-January, saying at the time that he hoped a bipartisan group of senators would "basically ask the president jointly to give us a few weeks to work on this, with you, to see if we can produce a result in the Senate," Graham said. The president rejected the suggestion days later.

When asked on Tuesday evening whether the president would support the proposal were it to pass in the Senate Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president has "laid out what he’d like to see” in his own proposal.

Sanders also said the president intends to go forward with the State of the Union address, which the president himself confirmed in a letter knocking down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's stated concerns about guaranteeing proper security during a shutdown. The back-and-forth continued Wednesday afternoon, however, when Pelosi responded that she would effectively block the president's speech in the House chamber until the government was reopened.

In the meantime, problematic circumstances continue to manifest as 800,000 federal workers and the agencies they support hang in the balance of the political conundrum.

Tens of thousands of workers have been called back by the Trump administration to mitigate the effects of the shutdown, though many federal agencies have seen increasingly high numbers of employees calling out because of financial hardship.

A major union that represents many IRS workers, the National Treasury Employees Union, said there is an agreement for the workers it represents that allows for a hardship exemption during a shutdown. Agency management is “doing its best to accommodate the very real hardships employees are experiencing,” NTEU National President Tony Reardon said in a statement, though the shutdown and the skeletal workforce has brought on concerns that tax refunds will be delayed.

"The pain of the government shutdown is deep for IRS employees, and all of the federal employees who are going without pay in the fifth week of the shutdown," Readon said, calling on Congress and the administration to "pay federal workers and bring this shutdown to an end."

The same plea has come from other groups, including the Coast Guard and the FBI Agents Association.

Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard commandant, has been outspoken about the harm the shutdown is causing men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces. On Tuesday, he called it "unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members" in a video posted a video on Twitter.

 FBI Agents Association President Tom O’Connor also spoke out Tuesday, emphasizing the necessities provided by the FBI and the drain the shutdown has put on vital resources.

"For FBI Agents, financial security is national security," O'Connor said Tuesday morning.

O'Connor spoke at a press conference after the release of a report, "Voices from the Field," which highlighted the impact of the shutdown on agents in their day-to-day roles.

“On the child exploitation side, as an [undercover employee], I have to put the pervs on standby,” an agent in the southeast region said in the report. “This puts children in jeopardy.”

O’Connor asked those in the room how they would fare with no pay for a month and still have to go to work.

“You try it,” he said.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Michael Cohen has at least temporarily pulled the plug on his highly-anticipated testimony before Congress that had been scheduled for early next month.

Cohen had accepted an invitation to testify in an open session before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 7. He said, at the time he accepted, that he was looking forward to “having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired.”

But in a new statement Wednesday, President Donald Trump's former attorney and long-time fixer says that he is delaying the appearance out of concern for his family.

"Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen's continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date," according to a statement from Cohen's attorney, Lanny J. Davis.

Trump, when asked Wednesday to respond to Cohen's accusation that his family has been threatened by the president and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Cohen was not threatened by him, but is "threatened by the truth."

"No, I would say he's been threatened by the truth. He's only been threatened by the truth," Trump said. "And he doesn't want to do that probably for me but probably for his clients, he has other clients also I assume, and he doesn't want to tell the truth for me or his other clients."

The decision by Cohen, a long-time loyalist who worked alongside Trump for a decade at the Trump Organization, may deprive House Democrats of their first high-profile hearing since taking control of the chamber in the mid-term elections.

While Cohen had no formal role in Trump’s presidential campaign, his involvement in a myriad of controversies promised to attract an intense spotlight to his public testimony.

Last month, he entered a guilty plea for lying to Congress about the timing and discussions about a proposed Trump Tower building in Moscow that was under consideration during the campaign. That project, which never came to pass, has become the subject of intense interest from both Congress and the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing potential coordination among members of the Trump campaign and Russians who interfered in the 2016 election.

Cohen also pleaded guilty in August to financial and tax crimes associated with his personal business dealings and to campaign finance violations for his role in hush money deals with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who alleged previous affairs with Trump, which he has denied. Cohen told a federal judge that he made those deals “in coordination with and at the direction of” then-candidate Trump.

Trump has said he "never directed Michael Cohen to break the law."

Adding to the anticipation for the February hearing was the announcement by Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels, that he and his client intended to be in attendance.

But the proposed testimony from Cohen was already losing some of its luster as it became clear that Cohen would be unable or unwilling to address topics currently under investigation by Mueller and other federal prosecutors.

And Cohen’s decision to delay the testimony does not come as a complete surprise.

ABC News reported exclusively last week that Cohen began to have reservations about the appearance following a series of public attacks by President Trump against him and his family, according to sources close to Cohen.

"This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first," Cohen's statement read.

In an interview with FOX News earlier this month, Trump called Cohen "weak," accused him of lying to prosecutors in order to get a reduced sentence, and hinted -- unprompted and without evidence -- that he possessed damaging information about Cohen’s family.

"[Cohen] should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at," Trump told FOX News host Jeanine Pirro. "That’s the money in the family."

There has been no public indication during the investigation of Cohen that his father-in-law is, or was, the subject of any criminal inquiry.

As the president continued to engage in what Cohen sees as reckless and unsubstantiated claims he believes are intended to intimidate him, Cohen had expressed to friends his concern that Trump’s heated rhetoric on television and Twitter could incite an unstable person to target him or his family.

Some legal experts were also highly critical of Trump’s comments.

"It’s an absolutely shocking violation of norms for the chief executive to suggest a retaliatory investigation against the relative of a witness against him," said Kenneth White, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney with Brown, White & Osborn LLP. "This is Nixonian 'enemy list' stuff, but instead of the public finding out about it through secret tapes and insiders, the president is saying it openly on TV."

Trump’s comments to FOX News had drawn a swift rebuke from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who had extended the invitation to Cohen.

"The integrity of our process to serve as an independent check on the Executive Branch must be respected by everyone, including the President," Cummings said in a statement released Sunday that was joined by Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence and House Judiciary Committees.

Cohen’s scheduled appearance had already become the subject of fierce partisan squabbling on the House Oversight Committee, with Republican lawmakers expressing concern Tuesday that the hearing was shaping up to be a "media stunt" engineered by one of Cohen’s legal advisers, Lanny Davis, a Democratic political operative who had worked closely with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In a letter to Cohen attorney Guy Petrillo, Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, a leader of the House Freedom Caucus and a Trump confidant, appeared to be casting aspersions on Cohen and Davis and the circumstances of the hearing -- while raising questions about Davis, his involvement with Cohen and his compensation.

"If Davis is providing free media advisory or legal services, or if someone else is paying Davis’s fees, it adds to the perception Cohen’s appearance is a media stunt initiated, produced and financed by career Democrat political operatives as a way of scoring political points against the President," the letter said.

It’s unclear what impact Cohen’s decision to delay his testimony will have on the efforts of other Congressional committees who want to hear from him.

ABC News reported last week that the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, is nearing a decision to issue Cohen a subpoena. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee had indicated that he is seeking Cohen’s testimony on Russia related matters in a closed session in the near future.

For all of the committees, time is running short. Cohen is due to report to federal prison by March 6. He was sentenced to three years in custody after pleading guilty to financial crimes, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations.

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LucieHolloway/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- In a 5-4 vote on Tuesday, the Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's request to begin enforcing a ban -- with some exceptions -- on transgender military service members while legal appeals continue. The move, which is temporary, reversed a lower court order that had put the policy on hold and does not yet have an immediate effect on the service of transgender individuals in the military.

The ban was first set in motion in July 2017 when President Donald Trump tweeted that he would no longer “accept or allow” transgender individuals to serve in the military, prompting the Pentagon to scramble to revise its policy and triggering legal challenges from critics who called the move discriminatory and unconstitutional.

While the ban so far has never taken effect, ABC News breaks down what changes could be ahead and what the court's ruling means.

What happens next?


Officials told ABC News that the decision has no immediate effect because one nationwide injunction against the ban remains in place in the Maryland Federal District Court's case of Stone v. Trump.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently seeking relief from the remaining injunction in light of the Supreme Court's action. If that takes place as expected, the Pentagon could soon decide to begin implementing the partial ban on transgender troops as the appeals process in the lower courts continues.

What does the Department of Defense say?

In a statement Wednesday, a Department of Defense spokesperson said the Pentagon was consulting with DOJ on its next steps with the litigation, but they "look forward to continuing to press our case in the courts."

"Because it is critical that the department be permitted to formulate personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world, the department welcomes the Supreme Court's action," the spokesperson said in the statement.

However, the four service chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have testified in Congress that the presence of transgender service members has had no effect on unit cohesion, discipline or morale.

What is the new policy?

In a March memorandum, Trump concurred with the policy recommendations of then-Defense Secretary James Mattis that transgender individuals "with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria" are unable to serve except under limited circumstances. In a memo to Trump dated Feb. 22 -- citing his own professional judgment and a panel of experts with “professional military judgment” -- Mattis recommended the following three policies, with which the president concurred:

1. “Transgender person with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service, except under the following circumstances: (1) if they have been stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to our accession; (2) Servicemembers diagnosed with gender dysphoria after entering into service may be retained if they do not require a change of gender and remain deployable with an applicable retention standards; and (3) currently serving service members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria since the previous administration’s policy took effect and prior to the effective date of this new policy, may continue to serve in their preferred gender and receive medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria.”

2. “Transgender person who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service.”

3. “Transgender person without a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria, who are otherwise qualified for service, may serve, like all other service members, and their biological sex.”

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lucky-photographer/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Elijah Cummings, the new Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced Wednesday that he's launching an investigation into the White House and Trump Transition Team security clearance process, claiming some of the highest-profile officials mishandled government secrets.

Cummings sent a letter to the White House Counsel Wednesday, requesting documents pertaining to the security clearances of multiple White House officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., senior adviser Jared Kushner, former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, and former Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.

"The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation's most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms to remedy the flaws in the current White House systems and practices," the letter says.

The letter sets a Feb. 6 deadline for the White House to submit the requested documents.

The White House has previously denied anything improper about the security clearance process.

Cumming's letter says the investigation is being launched "in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration."

The White House has snubbed previous requests from Cummings to submit staff security clearance information. The former House Oversight Committee Chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, did not press the White House to comply with requests.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's then-ambassador, but kept his security clearance even after those actions became known to the White House.

Kushner's security clearance was downgraded to "secret" by then-White House chief of staff John Kelly last February after his security clearance review was pending for an extended period of time.

After the 2018 midterm elections gave Democrats control of the House, Cummings promised to investigate an array of issues, including the security clearance process. In December, Cummings issued more than 50 letters to the White House, federal agencies and the Trump Organization requesting documents and records on a range of issues, in the opening salvo of what could be a contentious series of confrontations between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

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DEREK HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) -- Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old, two-term Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, took a significant step toward a run for the White House on Wednesday, announcing that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee, the precursor to an official campaign.

Buttigieg (whose name is of Maltese origin and pronounced "boot-edge-edge") made the announcement in a video posted to his social media accounts.

"I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now," Buttigieg said in his announcement video. "We're the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11. And we're the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents, unless we do something different."

I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future. Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?

Join the team at https://t.co/Xlqn10brgH. pic.twitter.com/K6aeOeVrO7

— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 23, 2019

In a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday following his announcement, Buttigieg, who was married last year to Chasten Glezman in a ceremony in South Bend, remarked on the potentially historic nature of his campaign.

"When I came out, Mike Pence was the governor of Indiana. When I joined the military, 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' was still the law of the land," Buttigieg told reporters, "When it first crossed my mind that I might run for office someday, I believed that coming out would be a career death sentence. So the world is changing, but it's not changing on its own. And if by bringing forward good ideas I can be part of chipping away at that, then that's one more reason to give this a look."

But despite the history that his candidacy could make, Buttigieg says the 2020 race should not solely be about candidate identities.

"I am the first openly gay person to seek the Democratic nomination. But it's not just about profile, at the end of the day this has to be about ideas," Buttigieg said.

"I'm also mindful of the fact that this just might make it a little easier for the next person who comes along," Buttigieg added, "My sincere hope is by the time our kids are old enough, once we have kids, to understand politics. That it won't even be newsworthy. And maybe that's how it is in some of the coastal cities but not right now in Indiana, so we have a lot of work to do."

Buttigieg's husband tweeted on Wednesday that he is "so proud," to witness the beginning of his campaign.

A graduate of Harvard University and Oxford, Buttigieg is the first openly-gay executive in Indiana history.

He came out publicly in a 2015 essay in the South Bend Tribune, less than two weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationally in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

Buttigieg, who ran unsuccessfully for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, is also set to embark on a book tour next month, beginning Feb. 10 in South Bend.

While not as well-known as many of the other top contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Buttigieg has previously met with former President Barack Obama to discuss the upcoming presidential campaign. He also has made numerous appearances on cable networks in recent months, made a visit to the crucial early voting state of Iowa, and used his bid to become DNC chair to raise his profile and cast himself as a pragmatic politician who can appeal to voters in the Midwest, a key constituency Democrats hope to win back in 2020."

In an interview last year with ABC News' Political Director Rick Klein and Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks, Buttigieg said the coming campaign will test which "traditional" rules of American politics still apply in the era of President Donald Trump.

"I think in 2020 we're going to find out which of the rules of politics still apply and which ones have been broken forever. You know the president of the United States is basically a game show host. So I think any traditional answer ... about paths to power in this country have at least been suspended if not done away with forever," Buttigieg said in the interview.

Buttigieg, who announced last year that he was not seeking a re-election to his current office, was just 29 when first elected as South Bend’s mayor in 2011, making him the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with a population of at least 100,000 people, according to the Washington Post.

He was commissioned as a Navy intelligence officer in 2009 and in 2013, while serving as mayor, he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months.

"Being gay has had no bearing on my job performance in business, in the military, or in my current role as mayor," Buttigieg wrote, "It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. It doesn’t change how residents can best judge my effectiveness in serving our city: by the progress of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our city services."

At age 37, Buttigieg is thus far the youngest major Democratic candidate to declare a presidential bid to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020.

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Raghu_Ramaswamy/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI needs to be funded, an exasperated FBI Agents Association President Tom O’Connor lamented, there’s nothing political about it.

"For FBI Agents, financial security is national security," O'Connor said Tuesday morning.

At a press conference, highlighting the release of a report titled, "Voices from the Field," O’Connor asked those in the room how they would fare with no pay for a month and still have to go to work.

“You try it,” he said.

The report details how agents are being hampered from doing their jobs due to the shutdown.

“On the child exploitation side, as an [undercover employee], I have to put the pervs on standby,” an agent in the southeast region said in the report. “This puts children in jeopardy.”

Although they aren’t getting paid, O’Connor said that “FBI agents will be on the street working doing everything they can.”

He highlighted some of the stories from the report.

An agent in the western region said they are unable to do undercover operations that require using government money to purchase narcotics or firearms from gang members – a method to get drugs and guns off the streets and to prosecute the violent gang and drug traffickers. They are having to borrow money from state and local partners, but only in small amounts because their budgets are not equipped for large scale operations. And partnerships with dedicated state and local officers are also impacted because those who assist FBI investigations beyond their regular shifts cannot be paid overtime.

“The shutdown has eliminated any ability to operate," according to an agent working on both overt and undercover counter-intelligence matters against a top threat to national security. "It’s bad enough to work without pay, but we can only conduct administrative functions while doing it. The fear is our enemies know they can run freely.”

Another agent expressed frustration that grand jury subpoenas aren't going through, citing a securities fraud and insider trading case where communication with partners from other government agencies has ceased and staff from the U.S. Attorney’s Office being furloughed.

“Approximately 20 grand jury subpoenas are not being delivered to involved/assisting entities,” according to the agent. “The case is basically on a paused status until the government reopens."

John Cohen, an ABC News contributor and former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security agrees.

"It’s not just FBI agents that are suffering,” he said. “Federal agents across the nation are being prevented from doing their jobs and that places all of us at risk.”

At the news conference, the agents who spoke said they are feeling the hit to their wallets.

Agent Brian O’Hare, whose wife is also his supervisor, said that they went from a two-income household to nothing.

Some benefits will also be disappearing if the shutdown.

"As we go forward, we're told our medical insurance will continue, but people who haven't gotten the vision and dental plans, that will cease starting Friday with the next paycheck,” he said at the press conference. “Sadly, those people who retired from the FBI on the 21st of December will not be receiving retirement checks.”

The FBI distanced the agency from the report, calling it a product of the agents association.

"Earlier today, the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) released a report entitled 'Voices From the Field: FBI Agent Accounts of the Real Consequences of the Government Shutdown,'" the FBI said in a statement to ABC News. "This report is a product of the FBIAA, a nonprofit professional association, and was not issued by the FBI."

The Justice Department has not returned ABC News' request for a comment.

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Sherry Smith/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- When President Donald Trump announced a deal to “compromise” with Democrats in an effort to secure border funding Saturday, he avoided mentioning several major proposed changes including the way the nation handles the temporary protected status of people from countries ravaged by war or disaster and for young immigrants known as "Dreamers."

In his announcement on Saturday, Trump offered three-year extensions to some 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents who were given a protected status under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, and for Temporary Protected Status recipients whose status is currently facing expiration.

While Trump’s bill would extend temporary assurances for those groups, critics of the president's proposal say the proposal undercuts critical protections for vulnerable populations.

"This sham ‘compromise’ would weaken the asylum system, strip vulnerable children of critical safeguards ... and hollow out protections for individuals from countries ravaged by natural disasters or war," ACLU deputy political director Lorella Praeli said in a statement.

Here are the major proposals raising questions among immigration lawyers and experts.

Sharp restrictions on Central American minors

Central American minors approaching the U.S.-Mexico border would no longer be eligible for asylum. Instead, most would be forced to wait in their home country and must have a parent or guardian already present in the U.S.

“That totally changes our concept of asylum protection,” said Greg Chen, a director at the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The bill would have the State Department set up processing centers in Central American countries. While that might be a workable solution for applicants who can afford to wait in their home countries, it could pose dangers for asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution.

“It’s like making a child wait in a burning building and assuring them they’re safer that way,” said Royce Bernstein Murray, managing director at the American Immigration Council.

Permanent changes to temporary protections

Currently, refugees from 10 select countries are offered temporary protected status because their home regions are exceptionally violent or were damaged by natural disasters. Trump’s proposal would eliminate all African countries as well as predominantly Muslim countries like Syria and Yemen, from that list, leaving just El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The proposal would also largely restrict temporary protections to people already in the U.S. legally. Immigration experts say this would effectively be a “gutting” of the original program.

“This would eliminate [temporary protection] eligibility for nearly all who currently have it, for example, based on lack of lawful presence,” Murray said.

Stricter penalties for Dreamers looking for a status change

For DACA recipients seeking more permanent status, the bill would make it a crime to make "any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements,” in the application process, punishable by up to five years in prison. While lying on a federal document is currently a crime if the lie is substantial, the proposal would open applicants up to the possibility of being prosecuted for minor errors.

The proposed bill only extends temporary DACA protections for those currently covered and who renew their applications. Young people brought to the country illegally more recently are still not able to make an initial DACA application.

Higher stakes for proving migrants deserve asylum

Penalties for wrong information in applications also extend to asylum applicants, when new standards could result in a denied application.

Immigrant advocates call these restrictions excessive and say they’re harmful to people with legitimate claims of asylum. For example, corruption in an applicant's home country could make it easy for an applicant to unwittingly have fraudulent documents. An applicant's ability to defend themselves under these circumstances would be limited.

“It’s one of the many, many ways in which bona fide asylum seekers could be returned to harm under this bill,” said Heidi Altman, policy director at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

In a move that would ultimately raise the bar for immigration lawyers to an unprecedented standard, the proposal sets new requirements for proving an asylum claim is worthy of approval.

For example, if an asylum application is not "consistent with the national interest," those are grounds for rejection under Trump’s new proposal.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The nation returned on Tuesday from a holiday weekend to a government still partially shut down, 32 days after the costly political impasse began.

But there may be movement in the Senate in the coming days following an announcement by President Donald Trump over the weekend that would trade protections for DACA recipients -- undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children -- for wall funding. Though the plan was quickly rejected by Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor Tuesday that there would be a vote on a bill resembling the president's plan.

"It's a strong proposal, its the only thing on the table and later this week we'll vote on it," McConnell said Tuesday afternoon.

The measure is expected to be rejected by Democrats, which McConnell pointed out. Both sides are eager to avoid blame for the shutdown, though recent ABC News/Washington Post polling shows a majority of Americans blame the president and the GOP.

"Do Democrats really want to throw federal workers, and all Americans, under the bus -- just to keep their political fight going with the president?" McConnell said.

Speaking shortly after McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called attempts to blame Democrats for the shutdown "far from reality," dismissing the president's proposal as "one-sided, harshly partisan" and "made in bad faith."

"The American people know that President Trump is responsible for the shutdown and now they have learned that Leader McConnell is a co-conspirator in the shutdown," Schumer said.

Schumer repeatedly denied Trump's claim that his proposal was a compromise, instead calling it "more hostage taking" because of the involvement of so-called Dreamers, or DACA recipients.

Schumer compared the president bartering with DACA to "bargaining for stolen goods," saying Trump "created the problem on his own" when he took action to roll the program back months ago.

"No one -- no one can call this new proposal a compromise," Schumer said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi similarly criticized the president's proposal Tuesday as she returned to Capitol Hill from a tour of a restaurant opened last week by local chef and activist Jose Andres to serve free meals to feed federal workers. Pelosi said she was initially "optimistic" but, after hearing the particulars, determined it was a "nonstarter."

"Let me be very clear – open up government. Open the government, let’s talk," she said. "We can’t have a president, every time he has an objection, to say I’ll shut down government until you come to my way of thinking."

The White House continued to push the plan Tuesday, putting pressure on Democrats by saying the 800,000 furloughed federal workers would be guaranteed to start missing a second paycheck if a deal is not reached by midnight. White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley made the claim on Fox News.

The Senate measure is likely to encompass funding for the president's wall as well as funding for the 25 percent of the government that's been shut down for the last month. The bill may also include billions of dollars in disaster aid and an extension on a bill that protects women from violence, aides said.

It remains to be seen if the bill will advance in the Senate, given that most Democrats are united in demanding that President Donald Trump must reopen the government before they will begin talks about funding border security.

House Democrats said they would again introduce a measure to fund and reopen the government - measures McConnell has repeatedly refused to take up in the Senate.

The president kicks off day 32 with a tweet

Over the weekend, the president offered Democrats a deal: temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in border security funding. Democrats turned Trump down and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill a "non-starter."

Following a busy weekend of tweets on his new suggestion, the president began Tuesday with another call for a border wall and a promise not to "cave," despite the 800,000 federal workers without pay while the government is closed.

The president also claimed, without supporting evidence and contrary to studies, that "With a powerful Wall or Steel Barrier, Crime Rates (and Drugs) will go substantially down all over the U.S."

Available data shows that overall, crime rates are lower among immigrant groups than they are among native-born Americans. As for the president's claim about drugs, the 2018 Drug Threat Assessment from the DEA found that large amounts of drugs enter the U.S. at the southwest border, though the drugs largely come through legal points of entry -- which would not be addressed by a border wall.

Where negotiations stand

Trump announced on Saturday that in exchange for border wall funding and ending the partial government shutdown, he would extend temporary protections for so-called "Dreamers" and those with Temporary Protected Status -- two key issues for congressional Democrats, who nevertheless held their ground on refusing the president's demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding.

Trump also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would bring the proposal to a vote in the Senate this week.

Twenty-five minutes before the planned start of the president's Saturday remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement, saying that "initial reports" about Trump's announcement "make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also rejected the plan.

TSA continues to feel heavy effect of shutdown; up to 10 percent of workers called out sick Sunday

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported Monday that TSA employees called out at a national rate of 10 percent on Sunday, a record high and a jump from 3.1 percent one year ago on the same weekend.

According to a statement from TSA, many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to "financial limitations."

About 7.5 percent of the TSA workforce called out on Monday, the agency reported on Tuesday, compared to 3.3 percent on the same day last year.

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello told ABC News they're in "uncharted territory" as the start of February approaches and rent or mortgage payments are due, which “could have a compounding effect,” Bilello said, and force contingency plans at airports nationwide.

TSA employees have worked without pay for 32 days. Nationwide, TSA screened 1.78 million passengers Sunday.

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Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- In a new round of staff hires, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential exploratory committee is making diversity a key priority, as she and other Democratic hopefuls try to position themselves for a long primary battle.

Gillibrand’s newest round of campaign staff hires, announced Tuesday morning, includes several veterans of her Senate office and previous congressional campaigns. The group includes two African American staffers, one Latina and one Filipina. Of the six new staffers, four are women. “We are proud to announce the hiring of this talented group of strategists, who together have exceptional records of success at the national, state and local level,” said Gillibrand communications director Meredith Kelly. “The campaign is firing on all cylinders coming off of Senator Gillibrand’s successful trip to Iowa, and these dynamic new hires will build on that momentum.”

The emerging field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders is already breaking records for diversity and includes several women, mothers, grandmothers and women and men of color. An LGBTQ candidate may announce his run as well soon.

Minority voters could also be more important in determining the Democratic nominee than in any primary year to date, up to and including 2008, as demonstrated by a recent report showing that Republican-leaning voter groups like "whites without a college degree" are likely to drop in 2020 while other groups, like African Americans, Hispanics and Asians are all expected to increase.

The campaign is also bringing on staffers who are party mainstays.

Evan Lukaske, most recently the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s northeast press secretary, will join as Gillibrand’s national press secretary. Alexandria Phillips, who previously worked in both Gillibrand and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Senate offices, will serve as traveling press secretary.

Stephanie Conahan and Erica Bordador, who were both part of her campaign fundraising team previously, will serve as finance and deputy finance director, respectively.

Gregory Smiley, the campaign manager on Gillibrand’s 2018 re-election campaign, will serve as her national political director. And Alexandra Sanchez, her Senate research director and adviser since Gillibrand joined the Senate in 2009, will serve as her research director.

Gillibrand announced her first round of campaign hires earlier this month, before her Iowa trip over the weekend.

While some likely Democratic candidates have not even made their announcements yet, others including Gillibrand and several of her Senate colleagues are already far along in standing up a robust campaign infrastructure.

Some of her Senate colleagues and primary opponents have also made major hires this month. On Friday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced that her campaign was bringing on four New Hampshire experts to support her in that state’s early primary.

California Sen. Kamala Harris announced that her presidential campaign, based in Baltimore, MD, will be managed by Juan Rodriguez, who also ran her 2016 Senate race, and chaired by Maya Harris, her sister and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Other Clinton alums on Harris’ team include general counsel Marc Elias, national finance director Angelique Cannon, senior adviser David Huynh and communications director Lily Adams.

Former congressman John Delaney, the first announced presidential candidate, already has six field offices open in the first caucus state of Iowa.

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Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is preparing for two different State of the Union speeches – one a more traditional address delivered to Congress in the House chamber or some other location in D.C., the other prepared for a political rally at a location outside of Washington, D.C. that has yet to be determined, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning.

Sources told ABC News that the president was previously planning two separate versions of the State of the Union – one version if the government was still shut down and another if the government was open.

However, now the planning has evolved, assuming the government shutdown could drag on past next Tuesday – the expected delivery date of the address. If the president decides to deliver a speech in rally form, it would mark the first rally style event the president has attended since the partial shutdown began.

As part of the ongoing political tit-for-tat between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Republicans are encouraging Trump to force Pelosi to officially disinvite him, by suggesting the president announce he still intends to deliver the State of the Union from the House chamber, according to Republican sources involved in the discussions.

A senior administration official confirmed to ABC News that the White House has sent an email to the House Sergeant at Arms requesting a walkthrough of the chamber to prep for the State of the Union address. The White House is still moving forward as planned on the address as they wait to hear whether Pelosi is officially rescinding her invitation.

In a letter to the president last week, Pelosi suggested to Trump that his address, scheduled for Jan. 29, be delayed because of the partial government shutdown. Pelosi proposed the delay out of security concerns, noting that the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security remain unfunded.

Hours after Pelosi's letter became public, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed back in a tweet against the implication that the shutdown has harmed the department's ability to secure the event.

The president tweeted Sunday that "there are so many options" he's considering to give the address.

"Nancy, I am still thinking about the State of the Union speech, there are so many options - including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance. White a contract is a contract, I'll get back to you soon!"

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on Fox News Tuesday that the White House had "no announcement at this time" on the president's plans but added that "Nancy Pelosi does not dictate to the president when he will or will not have a conversation with the American people."

While Pelosi's letter to the president left the invitation on the table for him to speak on Jan. 29, she told ABC News last week that her communique underscores her concerns are about security.

"Our letter is clear about what our concerns are. Just read the letter again, okay?" Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "It's about security."

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Bet_Noire/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- White House press secretary Sarah Sanders spent most of Thursday afternoon stepping in and out of her private office to field questions from reporters huddled in the hallway, seeking more answers on the president’s surprise letter denying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi use of military aircraft for her congressional delegation overseas.

The crowding of the West Wing hallway, in what is known as 'upper press,' has become the new norm for reporters seeking information or comment from the White House on major headlines over the past 35 days – a record for the span of time without an on-camera briefing during President Donald Trump’s time in office.

Sanders has not briefed once yet in 2019, and has broken the previous Trump White House record for no press briefings set between Oct. 29 and Nov. 27 last year, a 29-day period during the fall where the 'disappearing' press briefing seemed to enter the 'endangered species' territory.

The Trump White House has not only lapsed its own personal record for the span of time with no press briefings – according to the University of California Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project, but Sanders has also surpassed the all-time record for time with no on-camera briefings since they began during the Clinton administration.

Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to explain why Sanders no longer briefs reporters from the briefing room, saying it’s because “the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately.”

“I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway!” Trump said. “Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

Two weeks ago, reporters were informed via an overhead announcement that Sanders would be holding her first briefing of the year. But instead, the president entered the briefing room for the first time.

He then refused to take any questions after delivering a statement on border security surrounded by various Customs and Border Patrol agents.

In Sanders' most recent briefing on Dec. 18, the leading headlines involved the president moving forward with his ban on bump stocks and the delay in the sentencing for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

She claimed at the time that the White House was actively finding ways to fund the president’s border wall from outside agencies and signaled to Congress that the president would accept a continuing resolution to keep the government open that did not include wall money.

It was the next day that the White House announced Trump wouldn't accept any funding bill without money for a wall, setting the stage for the partial government shutdown that has roiled Washington the past 28 days and left 800,000 government employees either working without pay or furloughed.

Other major stories in the 31-day span with no briefings have included the departure of the White House chief of staff, the resignation of the defense secretary, the sudden announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and other major headlines in the Russia investigation.

In contrast, former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney held 10 daily briefings with reporters through the 17-day government shutdown in 2013, in addition to a more than hour-long press conference held by former President Obama in the White House briefing room.

In order to receive comment on news-of-day stories from the White House as daily briefings have phased out, reporters often reach out over email or walk up to the press office to seek comment from officials in person.

The only on-camera opportunities for reporters to question White House officials have come when they gather on the driveway in front of the West Wing to conduct short gaggles with Sanders, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley following their appearances on cable networks, predominantly Fox News.

Sanders, for example, most recently spoke to reporters in a driveway question-and-answer session Friday for less than four minutes after a pre-taped interview with Fox News, where she took questions on North Korea, the government shutdown and the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, among other topics.

Sanders did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on this story.

The trend of fewer briefings is in sharp contrast to President Trump’s own frequent engagements with reporters.

According to data compiled by presidential press scholar Martha Kumar, Trump is well on track to become the most “accessible” president based on statistics dating back to the time of Ronald Reagan.

The measure is based on the total number of interviews, short Q&As and news conferences he has held compared to his predecessors.

According to the UCSB presidency project, "the length of time between briefings is longer than any of the preceding 13 press secretaries."

But that access has been effectively traded off with the growing absence of daily briefings, which previous administrations dating back to the Clinton administration generally utilized to offer official responses to major stories, as well as to transmit some of the more mundane and process-oriented messaging in specific policy areas.

It allowed reporters from outlets around the world and in different coverage areas to press the White House on its positions, and ask questions that wouldn't typically be put to the president.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, March 14, the committee announced Monday, setting up another high-profile hearing for the chief oversight panel following former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's appearance in February.

Democrats, are expected to question Ross on efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a controversial move that has prompted legal challenges.

"After several weeks of discussions, Secretary Wilbur Ross has now agreed to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily and without a subpoena," House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a statement. "Committee Members expect Secretary Ross to provide complete and truthful answers to a wide range of questions, including questions regarding the ongoing preparations for the census, the addition of a citizenship question, and other topics. The Committee also expects full compliance with all of our outstanding document requests prior to the hearing.”

Last week, a federal judge in New York blocked the Trump administration from asking about citizenship in the 2020 census, finding that Ross "violated the public trust" in his effort to insert the citizenship question, calling his decision to do so "arbitrary and capricious."

While the Supreme Court said last week that it won't hear a case related to the citizenship question that was scheduled to be argued next month, the issue could make its way back before the highest court in the future.

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Martin H. Simon - Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday seized on a viral confrontation between Catholic high school students and Native American protesters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend to attack the news media.
 
"Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. "They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good - maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!"

Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good - maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019

Conservative news outlets have latched onto the story as evidence of media bias, after videos over the weekend showed students from the all-male Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky -- with several wearing red 'Make America Great Again' caps -- chanting and appearing to taunt a small group of Native American protesters at an Indigenous Peoples March.

The president specifically defended junior Nick Sandmann, who in one video was shown staring down protester Nathan Phillips as he chanted and banged on a ceremonial drum. Videos later surfaced that showed Phillips and the protesters walking toward the students before they were encircled, and Sandmann in a statement disputed that he ever sought confrontation with the group.

"I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation," Sandmann said, adding that he and his family have received death threats since the initial video went viral.

Trump on Monday evening tweeted about the incident, tagging Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying the students including Sandmann were "treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false - smeared by media."

Looking like Nick Sandman & Covington Catholic students were treated unfairly with early judgements proving out to be false - smeared by media. Not good, but making big comeback! “New footage shows that media was wrong about teen’s encounter with Native American” @TuckerCarlson

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019

Trump in the past has drawn condemnation from the Native American community for his rhetoric. He regularly refers to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" and earlier this month tweeted that a video Warren made would have been "a smash" if she did it from Bighorn or Wounded Knee with her husband dressed in "full Indian garb."

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota invited the president to visit tribal communities, tweeting, "the Wounded Knee Massacre was one of the darkest moments in our history. It should never be used as a punchline."

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