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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee is sending a warning shot to federal agencies and the White House for not fully complying with the panel's investigation into administration air travel.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., could subpoena the Departments of Justice and Agriculture at the end of the month if the agencies do not turn over flight records or make a "good faith commitment" to respond to the panel, according to a new letter sent to the departments and obtained by ABC News.

"If you have not complied with the request or satisfactorily provided a good faith commitment for complying in full on or before October 31, 2017, the chairman intends to issue a subpoena for the materials," the letter reads.

Gowdy, along with Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a second round of letters to 24 federal agencies and the White House Tuesday seeking information about the use of government and private aircraft.

The White House, Treasury and several additional agencies did not fully comply with the initial request for flight records, according to the committee, which has asked them to turn over additional records by the end of the month. Representatives for Department of Agriculture and Department of Justice did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

In a two-page letter to the committee last week, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short declined to turn over flight records, referring the panel to various federal agencies.

On Tuesday the House Oversight Committee also expanded on their initial request, asking the White House and all agencies to provide the requested flight records for any air travel in the last year of the Obama administration, between January 1, 2016 and January 19, 2017.

Ten agencies -- including the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and the Interior -- turned over all requested records to the committee, including flight manifests, records of government and non-commercial aircraft use, travel justifications and cost estimates.

The House Oversight Committee started investigating agency air travel after reports that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price spent hundreds of thousands of dollars flying on private jets for government work.

Price resigned in late September over the controversy. The White House also cracked down on private air travel, putting in place a new policy requiring chief of staff John Kelly to sign off on Cabinet officials' non-commercial air travel.

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Twitter/CityOfLasVegas(LAS VEGAS) -- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi headed to Las Vegas Tuesday to pay her respects to the victims of the shooting earlier this month. Gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire during a country music festival killing 58 attendees.

Pelosi, joined by Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada, spent time at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, which was built after volunteers worked around the clock to create it in less than a week.

"This has become a center of humanity that is setting a standard around the world," Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.

 The garden consists of a remembrance wall, where visitors leave photos behind of the massacre's victims.

Pelosi wrote a message to one of the victims, Stacee Etcheber, writing "To Stacee and all the angels remembered here. You will always be in our hearts."

 There are also 58 trees of life planted there to honor each of the victims.

"When you're in a garden it's about renewal and rebirth," Pelosi said.

.@NancyPelosi - "When you're in a garden it's about renewal and rebirth." #vegasstrong #lvhealinggarden pic.twitter.com/yxMsTzYBub

— City of Las Vegas (@CityOfLasVegas) October 17, 2017


Pelosi also met with the creators of the garden, which was documented in a pair of photos the city of Las Vegas tweeted.

Touching moments between @NancyPelosi and the #lvhealinggarden creators. pic.twitter.com/mx4lRcARrm

— City of Las Vegas (@CityOfLasVegas) October 17, 2017


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A Florida congresswoman says she is reeling from insensitive remarks President Donald Trump made Tuesday to the widow of a U.S. soldier who was killed earlier this month in Niger when he was ambushed by militants believed to be linked to ISIS.

Rep. Frederica Wilson said she was with Myeshia Johnson in a car headed to Miami International Airport Tuesday afternoon to meet the body of Johnson's late husband Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, when the president called.

Wilson said she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone.

In an interview with CNN Tuesday night, the Democratic congresswoman said of Trump's comment about Sgt. Johnson: "Basically he said, 'well, I guess he knew what he signed up for. But I guess it still hurt.' That's what he said.'

When asked by ABC Miami affiliate WPLG if she was sure that is what she heard Trump say, Wilson responded, "Yeah, he said that. To me that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow. And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don’t remind a grieving widow of that. That’s so insensitive."

Wilson told WPLG, "Now I didn’t hear the entire conversation, but when I tried to find out what the entire conversation was, she said I just can’t remember everything that he said. But that stood out in everyone’s, uh heart, on the call. You don’t say that. He is the president of the United States. This is a soldier who gave his life for his country. He is a hero in our minds, in our communities’ minds, that is an insult to the entire Miami Gardens community, to our entire District 24, to Miami-Dade County, and to this nation. And I hope he did not say that to the other 3 families that he called."

The full context of the president's comment as described by Wilson is not known.

And the White House is declining to comment on the remarks that are being attributed to Trump.

"The president's conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private," a White House official told ABC News Tuesday night.

In her interview with CNN, Wilson elaborated on her reaction, saying she wanted to confront the president.

"I asked them to give me the phone because I wanted to speak with him," she said. "And I was going to curse him out. That was my reaction at that time. I was livid. But they would not give me the phone."

As for Johnson's reaction, Wilson told CNN, "She was just crying. She couldn't say anything. The only thing she said when it was time to hang up was thank you, bye-bye."

Johnson was one of four soldiers killed in Niger when a joint patrol of American and Niger forces was ambushed Oct. 4 by militants believed linked to ISIS. He was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The military says his body was found Friday after an extensive search; his body was initially listed as missing.

The bodies of the three other U.S. troops were recovered shortly after the attack, which also killed four Niger military members. The U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed.

Johnson, mother to the couple's 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, is expecting their third child in January.

A GoFundMe account set up to pay for education costs for the couple's three children skyrocketed on Tuesday evening. The campaign, which was set up on Tuesday, met its goal of $100,000 and kept climbing to over $146,000 by 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Over 3,100 people had donated to the fund early Wednesday. TV producer Bill Prady donated $5,000 to the campaign and offered to match donors for another $5,000.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump waded into a new statue controversy on Tuesday night when he called out people who want to tear down statues of Christopher Columbus.

"We believe we should preserve our history, not tear it down," Trump said in remarks he delivered Tuesday night at the Heritage Foundation's annual President's Club gathering. "Now they are even trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus. What's next? Has to be stopped, it's heritage."

Calls for Columbus statues to be torn down have flared up around the country in the wake of similar calls for Confederate statues to be removed. The threat of the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia incited riots between supporters and protesters and left one woman dead in August.

The Columbus controversy has been most prominent in New York City, where a 76-foot tall statue of the Italian explorer rises over Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park. The monument, designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo, was officially unveiled in October 1892.

In the wake of the Charlottesville incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a 90-day review of all the statues in the city.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called on the city to include the Columbus statue in that review, telling New York ABC station WABC, "There are still to this day conversations happening because of the monuments, other Columbus statues, being talked about. I would want the commission to look at that statue as well."

Columbus has drawn criticism for starting the European colonization of the Americas, his brutal treatment of native people and beginning the transatlantic slave trade.

De Blasio has been mum on whether he would tear down the Columbus statue, saying he will wait until the review is finished to comment, but even that has drawn ire from Italian-American groups in the city. Organizers of the Bronx Columbus Day parade said the mayor was not welcome at the march, according to WABC, but de Blasio did march in the larger Columbus Day parade in Manhattan.

The debate over Columbus was also interjected into the New York City mayoral race, with de Blasio's Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis calling on the statue to remain in Columbus Circle.

 ABC News has reached out to the White House to clarify Trump's comments and ask for what incident he was specifically referring to Tuesday.

Several statutes of Columbus have been vandalized recently, including ones in Pittsburgh, Providence and St. Louis.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Less than a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to halt government payments that subsidize insurance plans for low-income Americans, Senate leaders agreed "in principle" to a bill that would cover the payments for two years.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee announced Tuesday that he reached an agreement with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee's ranking member. The senators each made brief presentations on the deal at lunches with their respective parties.

According to one source with knowledge of the bill, the agreement contains $160 million to restore outreach and enrollment funding for the Affordable Care Act.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump told the audience at a Heritage Foundation event in Washington Tuesday night that his administration's tax plan will boost the average American household income by $4,000. The figure was included in a report from White House economists published on Monday.

"Our tax plan will ensure that companies stay in America, grow in America, and hire in America," Trump said Tuesday night.

While the president previously made the pitch at speech in Pennsylvania last week, independent economists say the estimate is inflated and unrealistic.

White House Chief Economist Kevin Hassett has long advocated for a concept popular among many Republicans known as "supply-side economics," the view that tax cuts can spur investment, raise worker productivity and lead to higher wages and a stronger economy at all levels.

Joseph Rosenberg, a senior research associate at the non-partisan Urban Institute's Tax Policy Center, agreed that cutting federal corporate taxes from 35 percent to 20 percent, as the White House has proposed, could increase corporate profits. That could, in turn, spark wage growth, something economists say has been lacking since the Great Recession.

However, "the number is way too large and outside the range of plausible estimates," said Rosenberg, whose research focuses on business and corporate taxation.

William G. Gale, a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and former senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush, said while it is important to understand this relationship between corporate tax cuts, growth, and wages, the estimates "are way too high and not well-justified."

Both economists expressed concern over the plan's potential to increase the national debt, which could offset the benefits the Trump administration is hoping for.

Gale told ABC News that the report leaves out the outcome of higher deficits, which could raise interest rates and hurt investments.

Both Gale and Rosenberg said a more reasonable result in annual household income would be about 10 percent of the White House's estimated increase, or about $400 per household per year. In 2016, the average household income was $83,143, according to the Trump administration’s report.

"Even that may be an overestimate of the net effect because it does not account for deficits," Gale said.

Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs, a former employer of many current White House economic advisers, told clients to expect a "modest" impact from Trump's plan.

“Overall, the research literature appears to suggest that tax cuts can have modestly positive supply-side effects, though some studies find no effect," the report stated.

A 2012 Obama administration report directly contradicts the current administration's suggestion that workers would benefit the most from such a corporate tax cut. But the paper is no longer on the Treasury Department's website.

When asked by ABC News about the report's removal, a Treasury spokesperson said the paper was "a dated staff analysis from the previous administration" and "does not represent our current thinking and analysis."

Jay Shambaugh, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University and former chief economist for the Obama administration, is also skeptical of Trump's tax plan. He said the suggestion of the average household income in the United States increasing by $4,000 annually is "unlikely" and the evidence used in the report is weak.

"Sensible, revenue-neutral business tax reform could increase growth, but simply cutting the rate in a way that increases deficits will also have offsetting losses for growth," Shambaugh told ABC News.

He cited the likelihood of reduced government investment as deficits increase due to less tax revenue.

The report suggests that the president will use the "$4,000 pay raise," as he called it in a speech in Pennsylvania last week, as the central argument for the plan.

The plan is heavily supported by GOP leadership like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and right-leaning groups such as Americans for Prosperity, but President Trump has plenty of work ahead of him to pass the notoriously difficult tax reform. Sen. Bob Corker said earlier this month that he would vote against any bill that added "even one penny" to the national deficit.

After decades of wage stagnation, Americans are long overdue for a raise. Tax reform will unleash real wage growth. https://t.co/73cBkMRwXb

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) October 17, 2017

Despite the disagreement from many outside economists and some budget hawk Republicans, the president will be speaking tonight to a crowd at the Heritage Foundation that has typically supported his agenda across the board.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer met with members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s staff Monday as part of the expanding probe into potential collusion with Russia on election interference efforts in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. The news was first reported by Politico.

Spicer, who left his post as President Donald Trump’s first White House press secretary in August, follows his former boss and longtime ally Reince Priebus, who met with investigators last week.

In an interview with last month, when asked about the Russia investigation by ABC News' Paula Faris, Spicer provided a consistent response to repeated questions on the subject: “I’m not gonna discuss that issue at all.”

An attorney for Spicer, Chris Mead, declined to comment when reached by phone by ABC News.

Mueller’s team has indicated they’re interested in speaking with additional current and former White House aides, among them White House counsel Don McGahn and communications director Hope Hicks.

In June, ABC News reported that Mueller requested that White House officials preserve any records related to Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer.

ABC News also reported that Mueller wants to talk to some top aides who were involved in crafting the initial statement Trump Jr. gave in response to inquiries about the Trump Tower meeting, according to a source familiar with the conversation. The meeting was also attended by Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Mueller, the source said, is interested in learning the extent to which the president weighed in on the statement, along with whether anyone else was involved in its crafting. ABC News has reported that President Trump was personally involved in the crafting of the original statement made by his son.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Adding to the continued drama over whether past presidents have called the families of fallen soldiers, a senior White House official told ABC News today that then-President Obama did not call John Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, after the death of his son in 2010.

The retired general’s son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, died in action while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan.

Kelly and his wife attended a breakfast for Gold Star families at the White House in 2011 and sat at first lady Michelle Obama's table, a person familiar with the breakfast told ABC News.

But the breakfast, scheduled to be hosted by the Obamas, was six months after the death of Kelly's son. It's unclear whether President Obama contacted Kelly in any way prior to this.

President Obama's office did not respond today to a request for comment on whether he contacted Kelly in another way.

The White House comment comes a day after President Donald Trump made the unsubstantiated statement that "most" past presidents, including Obama, did not make calls to the families of fallen soldiers.

"If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls, a lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it," Trump said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden Monday.

When asked about his comment that Obama didn't call the families of the fallen again later in the news conference, Trump said, "I don't know if he did. I was told that he didn't often. And a lot of presidents don't; they write letters. I do.”

"President Obama I think probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told. All I can do -- all I can do is ask my generals,” he added.

“Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters. And some presidents didn't do anything. But I like the combination of -- I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter.”

The question came up during the news conference in reference to the four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger.

A former Obama official said Trump's Monday Rose Garden statement – and not specifically addressing the claim about Kelly -- was "unequivocally wrong."

"President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country," the former Obama official said in a statement to ABC News.

Freddy Ford, a spokesman for former President George W. Bush, also issued a statement noting his outreach to the families of fallen soldiers.

"President Bush wrote all the families of the fallen, and called and/or met privately with hundreds if not thousands," Ford said in the statement, issued Monday.

An aide to former President Bill Clinton also called the statement false. "He did call the families of fallen soldiers while in office," this official told ABC News.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee will likely subpoena Michael Flynn Jr., the son of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, after he declined to be interviewed by the committee as part of its Russia probe, according to a committee source.

The panel had requested an interview and documents from the younger Flynn as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian efforts to influence the election.

Flynn Jr. worked closely with his father, a retired Army lieutenant general, in his consulting work and during the presidential transition until he was forced out of the Trump transition team after promoting the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory on Twitter.

His father, who was forced to resign after serving 24 days as national security adviser for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials, has emerged as a key subject of the congressional and federal investigations into Russian election interference.

NBC News first reported the Senate Intelligence Committee’s interest in Flynn Jr.

Flynn Jr. could invoke his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to comply with a subpoena from the committee, as his father did in May following a similar committee request.

Aides to the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee declined to comment on the request to Flynn Jr.

Barry Coburn, a lawyer for Flynn Jr., declined to comment.

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House.gov(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., withdrew his nomination to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy after a news report found that a bill he authored weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to go after drug companies distributing large amounts of opioids.

"Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar," President Trump said in a tweet Tuesday morning.

Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2017

During an impromptu news conference at the Rose Garden yesterday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump would not say whether he had confidence in Marino as a nominee.

"As far as Tom Marino, so he was a very early supporter of mine -- the great state of Pennsylvania. He's a great guy. I did see the report. We're going to look into the report. We're going to take it very seriously," Trump said.

Marino was nominated last September as drug czar.


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton has reiterated, yet again, that she is not going to run for president a third time, despite President Donald Trump's latest urging that she do so.

During an interview that aired today with BBC Radio 4 in the U.K., Clinton was asked whether she will make another run for the White House and she said, "No, I'm not going to run again."

She maintained that she will continue to monitor and criticize Trump, saying she believes her voice will "be magnified because I am not running."

This is not the first time she has said she will not make a third presidential bid, but this latest rebuttal comes after Trump said he would like to run against her again.

"Oh, I hope Hillary runs,” he said during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden Monday afternoon. “Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again.”

He had tweeted a similar sentiment earlier in the day. "I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, 'I hope so!'" he wrote Monday morning.

Trump won the White House with 306 Electoral College votes to Clinton's 232, while she won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s big announcements last week on health care and Iran have big implications, but ones Congress will largely have to sort out, adding major items to their already massive to-do list.

With only 38 working days left for this year, here’s what Capitol Hill is trying to accomplish:

Tax reform

Having failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans’ next best chance to notch a win before the 2018 midterm elections is reforming the tax code, which Republicans want to achieve by lowering overall rates and preserving popular tax deductions. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., summed up the political necessity of achieving tax reform during a Sunday show appearance: “If we don't, we're dead.” The Senate is voting this week on a budget that will set the groundwork for that chamber to pass tax reform with a simple 51-vote majority.

Iran

With his announcement last week that he was “decertifying” the Iran nuclear deal, Trump punted the next step to Congress, which can choose to do nothing, to re-impose the nuclear sanctions that were lifted as part of the agreement, or to figure something else out in between. There is a growing consensus that Iran should receive additional penalties for its ballistic missile program, which the nuclear deal does not address, and the Trump administration has also expressed openness to changing a law requiring the president to affirm that the deal is in the national interest of the U.S. every 90 days, which is what set off this entire domino effect in the first place. But the congressional agenda didn’t include Iran before this announcement, so it’s not clear what appetite Republican leaders have to add it.

Health care

As with Iran, Trump’s Friday announcement that he was cutting off the monthly payments to insurers to help them cover low-income people, known as CSRs, puts the burden on Congress to manage the fallout. Democrats and many moderate Republicans opposed the move, including Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who appeared on ABC's “This Week” to express her concern. “I'm very disappointed in the president's actions of this past week,” Collins said of his cutting off CSR payments and other executive orders he undertook that Collins argues undermines the existing law. Members of both parties support passing a law to appropriate the CSR money to insurance companies, and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is working with ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on a compromise to do just that. But Trump spoke with Alexander over the weekend, so the big question is how his involvement affects their negotiations.

Protections for Dreamers

Trump also added to Congress’ lengthy to-do list in early September when he announced he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The administration said DACA recipients whose legal status expires before March 5 could apply for a two-year extension, but that the program would cease to exist after then. Members of Congress have long expressed a desire to find a permanent, legislative solution to the legal status of the 800,000-some children who came to the U.S. with their parents, known as “Dreamers,” but before now leadership has not given it priority. Since Trump’s announcement, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has expressed a desire for Congress to act and asked key members to start meeting as a working group on the issue. But Trump has sent confusing messages, telling Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that he would agree to exclude wall funding from a DACA deal and leading them to believe he would discuss a pathway to citizenship, then going back on that suggestion. "We’re not looking at citizenship, we’re not looking at amnesty," the president said on Sept. 14. "We’re not talking about amnesty."

Fund the government

Around the same time he dined with Pelosi and Schumer to discuss DACA, Trump also agreed, after a separate meeting with them, to a three-month extension of government funding and equal raising of the debt ceiling, tacking these on to Hurricane Harvey relief funds. The current extensions run out in early December, so Congress must pass another funding bill on top of the policy priorities on which members want to make progress before they have to start seriously campaigning.

Raise debt limit

Trump’s deal with Democrats on government funding also came with an equally long agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit. While Democrats had said they would use the concurrent debt ceiling and government funding deadlines to extract more funding concessions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he expected the Treasury to be able to use “extraordinary measures” to postpone a debt ceiling increase until well after the December government funding deadline, meaning Democrats would no longer have the leverage that their debt ceiling votes would have afforded them.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump touched a nerve with former White House officials after saying on Monday that previous presidents did not make phone calls to the families of fallen service members.

Trump was responding to a question about why he has not yet made remarks about the four special operations servicemen killed in Niger almost two weeks ago. Trump, speaking from the Rose Garden in a surprise press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he plans on contacting the families soon.

“If you look at President [Barack] Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I am able to do it,” said Trump. “They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call. I'm going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I'm going to be calling them.”

Trump later walked back the comments accusing his predecessors of not calling families of people killed in combat. “I don't know if he did. No, no, no,” said Trump. “I was -- I was told that he didn't often, and a lot of presidents don't. They write letters.”

But former White House administration officials were riled by the accusation.

"President Trump’s claim is unequivocally wrong," a former Obama official said in a statement to ABC News. "President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country."

“President Bush wrote all the families of the fallen, and called and/or met privately with hundreds if not thousands,” a spokesperson to former President George W. Bush told ABC News.

An aide to President Bill Clinton also called the claim false. "He did call the families of fallen soldiers while in office," the official told ABC News.

Alyssa Mastromonaco, former White House deputy chief of staff and a longtime scheduler for Obama, told ABC News, “It is unconscionable that a president would dare to ever portray another as unpatriotic, which is essentially what he was doing.”

Other Obama officials took to Twitter to respond, including former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes:

"This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family," Rhodes wrote, referring to Trump’s feud with the Khans, the parents of deceased U.S. Army officer Capt. Humayun Khan.

 

This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa

— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017

 

Meanwhile, Democratic National Committee deputy press secretary Brian Gabriel said in a statement on Monday, “The commander-in-chief told a totally irresponsible and disgusting lie in the Rose Garden today, claiming past presidents did not call the families of fallen service members. Trump’s jaw-dropping, disrespectful lie is not based anywhere in reality and is another symptom of a deep-seated obsession with tearing down President Obama.”

ABC News reached out for comment from the spokespeople for former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders later said in a statement, "The president wasn't criticizing predecessors, but stating a fact."

"When American heroes make the ultimate sacrifice, presidents pay their respects," she said. "Sometimes they call, sometimes they send a letter, other times they have the opportunity to meet family members in person. This president, like his predecessors, has done each of these. Individuals claiming former presidents, such as their bosses, called each family of the fallen, are mistaken."

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Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., slammed "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in an impassioned speech while accepting the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia on Monday evening.

McCain, who was presented with the medal by former Vice President Joe Biden, began by saying he was humbled by the award before eventually lashing out at the nationalism that has swept the U.S. and warning against leaving the nation's place of prominence in the international community.

"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history," McCain said, to applause.

"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil," he continued. "... We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did."

He added: "We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to."

In introducing McCain, Biden praised his "courage and loyalty."

"I can think of no better description for the man we’re honoring tonight," Biden said.

McCain revealed in July that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. He has clashed with President Donald Trump over Republicans' repeated attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, including most recently when he said he could not "in good conscience" vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill. In response, Trump called McCain's opposition to the bill "terrible, honestly terrible."

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a wide-ranging, impromptu press conference from the White House Rose Garden Monday, President Donald Trump -- joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- addressed a number of his administration's current goals as well as ongoing controversies.

For over 30 minutes, Trump touched on the rumors of his rocky relationship with fellow Republicans, his action to halt Obamacare subsidy payments, the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the nation's opioid epidemic, his former rival Hillary Clinton, the NFL national anthem protests and the ambush on U.S. soldiers in Niger, among other issues.

Trump and McConnell ate lunch together with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House earlier in the day, but the press conference was not listed on his daily schedule.

Here are some of the key moments from the appearance:

Trump-McConnell relationship

Trump claimed that his relationship with McConnell is "outstanding," a refutation of reports ranging back to the summer that documented growing frustrations between the two powerful Republicans.

After first discussing his administration's current efforts at tax reform, the president suddenly pivoted to describe his rapport with the senator.

"My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding [and] has been outstanding." Trump said.

McConnell later echoed Trump's sentiment and directly pushed back on the rumors of discord.

"I think what the president and I would both like to say to you today, contrary to what some of you may have reported, we are together totally on this agenda to move America forward," he said.

Opioid national emergency, investigation into Rep. Marino

Trump said that next week, his administration plans on declaring a national emergency to combat the opioid epidemic.

“We're going to be doing that next week,” Trump said. “It's a very important step, and to get to that step a lot of work has to be done and it's time consuming work.”

Trump said he watched a special investigation by “60 Minutes” and the Washington Post that examined Congress’ role in the exacerbating the opioid crisis. The investigation pointed a finger at Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., as spearheadeding efforts to pass a bill that makes it harder for the Drug Enforcement Agency to halt suspicious shipments of drugs. Marino is currently the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. After viewing the report, Trump says he will be reconsidering his nomination.

“He was a very early supporter of mine from the great state of Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “He's a great guy. I'll look at the report and take it very seriously because we will have a major announcement probably next week on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem and I want to get that absolutely right.”

“This country, and frankly the world, has a drug problem,” Trump added. “The world has a drug problem and we have it and we'll do something about it and I'll have a major announcement on the drug problem next week. We'll be looking into Tom.”

Russia investigation

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his nearly five-month-long investigation into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, Trump shared his impatience with the inquiry and continued to downplay the notion of interference.

"I'd like to see it end," Trump said of the investigation. "The whole Russian thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election."

In January, a report by the U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to undermine the U.S. election. Trump has, at times, alternated between accepting that conclusion, suggesting that other parties could have taken part in the interference, and calling the situation a "hoax." He strongly denied Monday that his campaign was in any way connected to the situation.

"There has been absolutely no collusion," Trump said. "It's been stated that they have no collusion. They ought to get to the end of it, because I think the American public is sick of it."

Niger ambush response

Almost two weeks after four Green Berets were killed in an attack in Niger, the Trump administration has faced criticism over its response. On Monday, Trump said he plans to call the families of the fallen soldiers to offer his condolences. But he also falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama and other presidents did not make personal calls to bereaved military families.

“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. Lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call,” Trump said.

Trump said he plans to call and send letters out to the families “either today or tomorrow.”

When challenged by a reporter, Trump walked back his response.

“I was told that he didn't often. Lot of presidents don't,” Trump said. “President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes. Maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call. They'd write letters. Some presidents didn't do anything. But I like the combination.”

Former Obama advisers were quick to offer backlash.

This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family. https://t.co/JgzTUIzWIa

— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 16, 2017

Hillary Clinton and NFL protests

After tweeting Monday morning that he was recently asked if he thought Hillary Clinton would run for president again in 2020 and that he "hope[s] so," Trump repeated the position when his former Democratic rival was invoked in relation to the NFL national anthem protests.

"I hope Hillary runs. Hillary, please run again," the president urged after her name was mentioned in the Rose Garden.

Clinton has taken the position that professional football players have the right to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice, and that the action is not necessarily one that demeans the flag or the U.S. military. Trump has repeatedly called attention to the protests and has said that the NFL should institute a rule forcing players to stand.

"I think she's wrong," Trump said, adding, "It's that thinking -- that is the reason she lost the election. When you go down and take a knee, or any other way, you're sitting, essentially, for our great national anthem. You're disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our country."

"If Hillary Clinton actually made the statement that... sitting down during the playing of our great national anthem is not disrespectful, then I fully understand why she didn't win," he continued. "There are a lot of reasons she didn't win, including the fact that she was not good at what she did."

Taking on health care and the pharmaceutical industry

Last week, Trump made two major announcements about the Affordable Care Act -- his plans not to continue funding cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which help insurance companies pay for subsidies that benefit the poor, and his executive order that would pave the way for association health plans and expand short term limited duration plans.

“Obamacare is a wreck. It's a mess and destroying lives,” Trump said. “I want to get health care that's much more affordable and much better healthcare and that's what we're doing.”

Still, Trump said he and McConnell are working on a complete repeal and replace.

“We will come up in the early to mid-part of next year and we will have a vote. We feel confident we have the votes and we know what the plan is. I believe Republicans and Democrats are working together very hard right now to do an intermediate short-term plan because Obamacare is a disaster,” said Trump.

Trump said he next plans to take on the pharmaceutical industry.

“We're going to get the costs way down,” Trump said. “We are going to get drug prices and prescription drug crisis way down because the world is taking advantage of us. The world is taking advantage of us when this happens so that will be very important.”


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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