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Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved. Monday, January 23, 2017
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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Two days after staff at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel dropped balloons and popped champagne corks to salute his inauguration, America’s first billionaire President was put on notice – he is being sued because of profits that the hotel and other businesses earn from foreign governments.

“The founders of our country were so worried about foreign governments paying cash and giving other benefits to an American president, and the distortion that can have on a President's decision making, that they put a prohibition on it in the Constitution,” said Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics counselor to President Obama.

Eisen helps run the non-partisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, which filed the suit in federal court in New York, calling President Trump’s continued ownership of his vast business empire a violation of what’s called the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution.

“It's the original conflicts law of the United States, it's called the foreign emoluments clause,” Eisen said. “Emoluments is just a fancy, 18th century word for payola.”

Trump brushed off the lawsuit with just two words Monday, calling it “without merit,” but he also “resigned from all position of management and authority with the Trump Organization and its affiliates,” according to a statement for that organization.

“President Trump also transferred title, management and authority of those companies to a trust, or subsidiaries thereof, collectively managed by his children, Don and Eric, and longtime executive and chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg,” the statement also said.

A copy of the resignation letter dated Jan. 19 -- the day before the inauguration -- seen by ABC News reads: "I, Donald Trump, hereby resign from each and every office and position I hold in the entities listed."

A list of business holdings follows his signature.

But ethics and constitutional scholars, as well as some members of Congress, have been sounding alarms about the potential violation for months.

Many assumed Trump would relinquish control of his business empire in order to put the issue to rest. Instead, during a press conference earlier this month, Trump announced that he would not give up ownership.

Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon said at the time she had taken efforts to iron out potential conflicts by transferring operation of the company to Trump’s adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric Trump.

“President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built,” she said, noting that Trump would “take all steps realistically possible to make it clear that he is not exploiting the office the presidency for his personal benefit.”

That, said Harvard Law Prof. Laurence Tribe, is not enough.

“You could be President of the United States or you could be a tycoon, but you can’t be both at the same time,” said Tribe, who is assisting with the lawsuit. “He is enriched not by a penny here or a penny there, it’s a billion dollars here, a million dollars there. And pretty soon it adds up.”

The Trump International Hotel, just a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, may be of greatest concern, Eisen said.

In one of the great product placement campaigns of all time, Trump twice showed up at his new Washington hotel before being sworn in, complimenting himself on its design.

“This is a gorgeous room, a total genius must have built this,” he said. “Under budget, ahead of schedule.”

Among the claims in the lawsuit – taking money from foreign governments to rent rooms at the hotel violates the Constitution.

Eisen noted that officials from Bahrain chose the hotel just a few weeks ago to hold a reception. And others are likely to follow.

And the hotel is not the only concern, according to the case.

Anything from foreign interests leasing space at Trump Tower in New York, money from development deals, even foreign residuals from his TV program the Apprentice, could create an issue.

The President has said he is trying to resolve the matter. He told reporters, for instance, that he would channel hotel profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.

“He has resigned from the company as he said he would before he took office,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. “Don and Eric are fully in charge of the company. He's taken extraordinary steps to ensure that that's happened.”

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats in Congress are challenging President Donald Trump’s right to continue to lease the historic Old Post Office Pavilion for his Washington, D.C. hotel, citing a line in the agreement that prohibits elected officials from profiting off a government lease.

“President-elect Trump announced during his nationally televised press conference on January 11 that he refuses to divest his ownership interests in his companies, and he took the oath of office on January 20 to be sworn in as President,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings wrote Monday in a letter to Timothy Horne, the acting administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the lease. “As a result, President Trump is in apparent breach of the lease with the Federal Government for his hotel in Washington, DC.”

The specific language in the lease is unambiguous – it says “no member or delegate to Congress, or elected official of the Government of the United States or the Government of the District of Columbia, shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.”

Neither Trump nor his company has indicated how they intend to resolve the matter.

At a press conference shortly before taking office, Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon said she had taken efforts to iron out potential conflicts by transferring operation of the company to Trump’s adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric Trump.

“President-elect Trump should not be expected to destroy the company he built,” she said, noting that Trump would “take all steps realistically possible to make it clear that he is not exploiting the office the presidency for his personal benefit.”

How the GSA will handle the questions surrounding the lease and the fact that Trump is in essence both landlord and tenant of the Post Office building will be further complicated by the fact that he will appoint the new director of the agency.

The General Services Administration did not respond to questions about the lease and any potential violations.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and his committee have requested an unredacted copy of the lease agreement for review.

"If people have questions about this, the White House is going to be the one that has to answer those questions," Chaffetz recently told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an interview on "This Week" regarding concerns about Trump's potential conflicts-of-interest.

"Until we see something that is actually wrongdoing, we're probably not going to go on a fishing trip," he said.

The Trump Organization spent more than $200 million transforming the historic Pennsylvania Avenue property into a luxury hotel.

The letter Cummings sent Monday suggests that, at least in September and October, the hotel’s returns were less than stellar – earning far less than projected.

“President Trump’s company reported losses totaling more than $1.1 million in those two months alone,” the letter reads.

“It is possible that subsequent months drew more business and higher income levels,” Cummings wrote. “The possibility that President Trump will profit from large increases in hotel revenues because he was elected President highlights the grave concerns we have raised for months.”

Indeed, the hotel became a main focal point for Trump supporters during his inaugural festivities.

Phil Ruffin, an Inaugural Committee vice chair and the billionaire owner of the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, told ABC News he was going to pay $18,000-a-night to stay in the Trump International Hotel for the inauguration of his good friend.

For much of the week, the lobby of the hotel was filled with Trump supporters.

Trump campaign insiders including Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich posed for photos with supporters at the hotel restaurant, while donors enjoyed champagne at the lobby bar. Trump made several impromptu stops at the hotel throughout the week, where supporters cheered and posed for photos.

Many were able to book rooms there by virtue of being major donors to a Trump inaugural fund, according to a menu of perks offered to donors.

Concerns about potential conflicts of interest have swirled around the hotel from the moment Trump won the 2016 election.

Cummings questioned motives of foreign officials who were suddenly booking events at the hotel.

“If folks wanted to play favor to the president, they go to his hotel,” Cummings told ABC News in an interview. “When they meet up with him, the first thing they will say is ‘We are staying at your hotel, we took out 30 rooms for a week.’”

Trump said during a press conference that he would adopt a policy of donating income from foreign guests to the U.S. Treasury.

But Trump’s team has not addressed the question of how it would resolve questions about its GSA lease, Cummings said.

“Unfortunately, President Trump has refused to address these concerns,” he wrote in his letter, which was also signed by Democratic Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Gerald Connolly (VA), and André Carson (IN). “And taxpayer dollars may now be squandered as career public servants are forced to take remedial action to cure this breach.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump signed three presidential memoranda this morning, taking immediate action on at least one main campaign promise.

One presidential memorandum called for the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fulfilling a promise made on the campaign trail in a move he says will help American businesses.

"Great thing for the American worker, what we just did," Trump said as he signed that presidential memorandum at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.

The next presidential memorandum he signed was a hiring freeze on all federal workers "except for military," he said.

The final presidential memorandum of the morning was a reaffirmation of an existing law that bans federal funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or pay for abortions.

Trump previously said that he considers Monday his first "real" workday after Friday's inauguration, though he did do some business over the weekend. He made a trip to the CIA on Saturday, addressing members of the intelligence community, and then swore in his senior staff on Sunday.

In a video message two weeks after his election, Trump pledged that on "Day One" he would take the following actions:

  • Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Cancel "job killing" restrictions on American energy
  • Institute a rule that for every new regulation put in place, two old ones should be eliminated
  • Ask the Department of Defense and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to develop a plan to protect infrastructure from cyberattacks
  • Direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs
  • Impose a five-year ban on executive officials' becoming lobbyists after leaving the administration


Other White House officials tell ABC News that other executive actions could come related to a declaration of intention to renegotiate NAFTA, to immigration and to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer will hold his first official press briefing with members of the press corps, after he blasted the media Saturday in his first press room statement, accusing news organizations of falsely reporting the size of crowds at the Jan. 20 inauguration and intentionally framing photographs to "minimize the enormous support" of those in attendance.

Editor's Note: The White House has since clarified that this morning's actions were technically "presidential memoranda," not "executive orders" as they were previously indicated on the president's public schedule and referred to in this story. This story has been updated accordingly.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that he believes that his job is to be honest with the public but "sometimes we can disagree with the facts but our intention is never to lie."

"There are certain things that we may -- we may not fully understand when we come out but our intention is never the lie to you," he said.

Monday's news conference is the first time Spicer is taking reporters' questions since the inauguration. On Saturday, he appeared in the briefing room and read a statement to the press but did not take any questions afterward.

Spicer defended Saturday's statement when he said "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period -- both in person and around the globe," specifically citing audiences who watched the inauguration online and through streaming services, even though those audience numbers have not been publicly confirmed.

When asked by ABC News' Jonathan Karl about whether or not Trump's inauguration had a larger audience than that of President Ronald Reagan's inaugurations, Spicer said "I'm pretty sure that Reagan didn't have YouTube, Facebook or the internet."

In Saturday's statement, Spicer also said "some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting," specifically citing the use of photos from the inauguration on Friday that he said were "intentionally framed in a way ... to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall."

On Monday, Spicer also defended his decision not to take any questions after making his statement on Saturday.

"Look -- I came out to read a statement. I did it. We're here today. I'm going to stay as long as you want," Spicer said.

He also said that the numbers that he released on Saturday about WMATA metro ridership -- which differed from the accurate figures that were released by WMATA later that day -- were provided to him by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

"At the time the information that I was provided by the inaugural committee came from an outside agency that we reported on. And I think knowing when we know now we can tell that WMATA's numbers were different but we were providing numbers we had been provided. It wasn't like we made them up out of thin air," he said.

Earlier in the news conference, Spicer ran through the meetings Trump had Monday morning, which included a meeting with business leaders, lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

He also criticized Democrats, saying that they were holding up Trump's "unquestionably qualified" candidates who need Senate confirmation.

Spicer was asked about when the White House's Spanish site would be reinstated, and he said "we've got the IT guys working overtime."

"We're working piece by piece to get that done," he said.


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Marco Rubio will support former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, he announced in a statement posted on Facebook Monday, deferring to President Donald Trump’s selection over his concerns about Tillerson’s positions on Russia.

"Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy. Therefore, despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate," Rubio wrote in the statement.

The Florida Republican’s support all but guarantees Tillerson’s nomination will clear the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in its vote Monday afternoon.

Rubio questioned Tillerson sharply during his confirmation hearing on Russia’s activity in Ukraine, Syria and imposing sanctions against the country.

Rubio said he was troubled by Tillerson’s refusal to say Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes in Syria, and that he did not commit to maintain sanctions against Russia for military actions in Ukraine.

“I think it’s important, if you stand for moral clarity, that you be clear,” Rubio told reporters following the hearing. "I'm prepared to do what's right."

On Monday, he said he would give Trump's nominee the benefit of the doubt.

“But in making my decision on his nomination, I must balance these concerns with his extensive experience and success in international commerce, and my belief that the president is entitled to significant deference when it comes to his choices for the Cabinet,” Rubio wrote.

On Sunday, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who have expressed wariness over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia, announced they would support him on the Senate floor.

Rubio met privately with Tillerson twice before announcing his decision, before and after the confirmation hearing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he expects the Senate will confirm all of Trump's Cabinet nominees.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump’s most consistent campaign promise — to build a wall on the United States’ southern border to keep immigrants out — will be a waste of time and money, the former head of the Customs and Border Protection agency told ABC News in a final warning just days before leaving office.

“I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the southwest border and the terrain...kind of recognizes that building a wall along the entire southwest border is probably not going to work,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of CBP during the Obama Administration, said shortly before leaving office last Friday.

Over the course of the race to the White House, Trump’s wall idea became more than a simple policy proposal.

Repeatedly featuring in Trump’s speeches and the chants of his supporters, the idea of the wall in many ways came to capture the zeitgeist of his campaign.

And it’s an idea that persisted through the race and afterward, even as other proposals were altered or dropped.

Just 37 percent of Americans support building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week.

Kerlikowske says that supporters of the wall are missing the real issue when it comes to the immigration inflows that they are concerned about.

“[Immigrants] can come right up to our ports of entry. All our ports of entry of course are open. That’s where we have our commerce,” he told ABC News’ Brian Ross. "People can come up to those ports of entry, as they are doing now, and turn themselves in and ask for whatever laws they feel will protect them."

In his wall-building pledge, Trump has also vowed to do it on the cheap.

“I would build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively,” he said during his campaign launch.

But Kerlikowske said that he didn't “think this was feasible,” nor “the smartest way to use taxpayer money on infrastructure.”

“When we look at the cost — and we have about 600 miles of fencing now — we look at the maintenance and the upkeep, we know how incredibly difficult it is,” he said.

The former CBP chief also took time to highlight the work of his agency during his tenure, praising the “21,000 border patrol agents and 24,000 Customs and Border Protection Officers,” while noting that “not that many years ago we had 1.6 million people coming across the border.”

And it’s because of those employees and those declining numbers, Kerlikowske said that he’d, “call the border far more secure today.”

“But, if we say, ‘you know, what is secure border?’ I think definition is in the eye of beholder,” he said.

“Does it mean nobody get in ever? Does it mean 400,000 is too many, but 1.6 million compared to 1.6 million?”

“I think you have to put it into context,” he said. “But it is a safer place today.”

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Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump came face-to-face with FBI Director James Comey on Sunday after questions circulated whether Comey would stay on the job for the rest of his term in the new administration.

The president called out the FBI director, who is three years into his 10-year term, during a ceremony in the White House Blue Room honoring the law enforcement who oversaw the inauguration. President Trump joked, "He's become more famous than me," as Comey walked up to him and shook his hand, and the president patted him on the back.

 

Pres. Trump greets FBI Director James Comey during First Responders ceremony at the White House: "He's become more famous than me." pic.twitter.com/13HFICLKk7

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 22, 2017

 

Democrats have criticized Comey for his decision before the presidential election to announce in a letter to Congress that the FBI was reviewing additional emails in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. On Nov. 6, two days before the election, he said in a second letter that the FBI had "not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July."

Members of Hillary Clinton's campaign team have cited Comey's letters as a reason for her defeat in the election.

Before the president's inauguration, House Democrats slammed the FBI director for remaining mostly silent on any investigation into alleged connections between President Trump's campaign and the Russian government. Several members of Congress said Comey would not reveal if the FBI was already investigating or if there would be an investigation, even behind closed doors.

Last week in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on This Week, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the president had confidence in Comey, despite the president being tough on the FBI director during the campaign.

"We have had a great relationship with him over the last several weeks," Priebus said. "He's extremely competent. But look, his term extends for some time yet. There's no plans at this moment in changing that term and we've enjoyed our relationship with him and find him to be extraordinarily competent."

In the same show, Sen. Bernie Sanders told Stephanopoulos it "would not be a bad thing for the American people" if Comey decided to step down.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said the issue of crowd sizes at Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday in comparison to prior inaugurations is "not so important."

Her comments came just hours after President Trump made false claims about turnout and ordered his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to hold his first press conference to reiterate them. Spicer blasted the media, accusing news organizations of intentionally framing photographs to "minimize the [president's] enormous support" and claiming the Jan. 20 ceremony had the "largest audience ever."

Conway towed a similar line Sunday on ABC News' "This Week," arguing that the crowd "was historic based on the projections that were given and certainly based on the fact that we, for the first time, have a nonpolitician in the White House."

Aerial images from Friday’s inaugural at noon during President Trump’s swearing-in show fewer people on the National Mall than during President Obama’s 2009 inaugural at the same time.

After touting a historic crowd, Conway blamed the inclement weather for discouraging more attendees: "First of all, there was rain -- the downpour that was reported -- and I think it deterred many people from coming."

"But there were hundreds of thousands of people here," she told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "And more importantly, 31 million people watched this inaugural [on TV] ... according to Nielsen. That is far above the 20.5 million that watched President Obama's second inauguration."

Nielsen ratings reported that 30,600,000 watched Trump's inauguration on television, more than the 20,552,000 who viewed President Obama getting inaugurated in 2013, but less than the 37,793,000 who watched Obama taking the oath of office in 2009. All of them fell short of the record 41,800,260 viewers of President Reagan's first inauguration in 1981.

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ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- In his first remarks from the White House East Room, President Trump kicked off a swearing-in ceremony for his White House senior staff by holding up the copy of a letter President Obama left on the Resolute Desk for him before escorting him to the Capitol on Friday.

"I just went to the Oval Office and found this beautiful letter from President Obama," Trump said. "It was really very nice of him to do that. And we will cherish that. We will keep that."

He ended the moment with a tease of the media.

"And we won't even tell the press what's in that letter," he said.

The good-bye letter from president to president has turned into a staple of the transition of power. Traditionally, it's a page-long message that bridges partisanship and instead carries a personal and poignant message of well-wishing.

Trump in the ceremony then went on to praise the members of his staff before Vice President Mike Pence administered an oath of office. This included top advisers such as Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose appointment to a senior staff position has raised questions among ethics lawyers about a potential breach of nepotism law.

In Trump's tribute to his staff he also offered a hint of early confidence at a successful run in 2020.

"And speaking of important, you are very important because with you and all of the people in this room, we are going to do some great things over the next eight years," Trump said.

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ABC News(NEW YORK ) -- Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said she "didn't see the point" to the Women's March on Washington on Saturday.

"I frankly didn't see the point. I mean you have a day after [President Trump] is uplifting and unifying, and you have folks here being on a diatribe where I think they could have requested a dialogue. Nobody called me and said, 'Hey, could we have a dialogue?'" Conway told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday.

Conway also addressed the celebrity presence at the march in Washington, D.C., which was one of hundreds such demonstrations Saturday around the U.S. and the world that drew over a million participants. She called out Madonna for using "profanity-laced" language.

"You have celebrities from the podium using profanity-laced insults. You have a very prominent singer who's worth hundreds of millions of dollars not going over to a woman's shelter here in D.C. to write a check, but instead saying that she thought of, quote, 'burning down the White House,'" Conway said.

Madonna made a surprise appearance at the Women's March on Washington and in her remarks said, "Yes, I'm angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House ... But I know that this won't change anything. We cannot fall into despair."

Conway said she "briefly" talked to Trump about the march, adding, "We certainly respect people's First Amendment rights."

She also noted that the Democratic Party's political leaders -- former President Barack Obama and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton -- didn't make an appearance at any of the marches Saturday.

"The other thing I would just mention, George, is, guess who was conspicuous by their absence yesterday? President Obama, Secretary Clinton -- they were at the, they were up on the platform applauding and embracing President Trump" at the inauguration, she said.

The counselor to the president also addressed the first We the People petition to hit the new WhiteHouse.gov site, which calls for President Trump to released his tax returns. As of Sunday, over 200,000 people have signed the petition.

Asked by Stephanopoulos for a response from the White House, Conway replied, "The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns."

"We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: most Americans are, are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like," she said.

In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, seventy-four present of Americans say President Trump should release his tax returns; that includes 49 percent of his own supporters, as well as nearly all of Clinton’s (94 percent) and 83 percent of those who had another preference, or none. Forty-one percent, overall, say they “care a lot” about Trump releasing the records. The number who favor release of the documents is higher than it was in two related questions in ABC News/Washington Post polls during the election campaign. In May, 64 percent said he should release the returns, and in September, 63 percent said he was not justified in withholding them.

After Conway's comments that the president would not be releasing his tax returns, WikiLeaks encouraged people to leak the tax documents so it could release them.



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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sen. John McCain praised President Donald Trump's cabinet picks and revealed he will vote in favor of Rex Tillerson, Trump's pick to lead the State Department, despite concerns about the nominee's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I will be voting in favor of his nomination," McCain said of Tillerson in an interview Sunday with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."

"Listen, this wasn't an easy call. But I also believe that when there's doubt the president, the incoming president, gets the benefit of the doubt, and that's the way I've treated every president that I've had the obligation to vote for or against as a member of the United States Senate."

McCain also praised some of Trump's other Cabinet picks, saying he has the "utmost confidence" in Trump's national security team, in particular.

"I have the utmost confidence in Gen. Mattis, Gen. Flynn, Gen. Kelly, Dan Coats. I couldn't have picked a better team," he said.

But, the Arizona senator did not have the same praise for the president himself.

Asked by Stephanopoulos if he has the "utmost confidence" in President Trump, McCain replied "I don't know because he has made so many comments that are contradictory."

"I think the fact that he's appointed and nominated these outstanding individuals is bound to be an encouraging sign," McCain added. "I trust them, and I believe in them, and I've worked with them over many years.


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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway shot back at former CIA Director John Brennan for his criticism of President Trump's speech to the intelligence agency, saying the former intelligence leader sounded “like a partisan political hack.”

"We really would prefer the intelligence community that’s going out the door to be much more respectful toward the president and his vision in moving forward," Conway said in an interview Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” calling Brennan's remarks "spectacularly disappointing."

The president on Saturday visited CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where he assured 400 or so members of CIA senior leadership and staff in attendance that he backs them “1,000 percent.”

“I can only say that I am with you 1,000 percent, and the reason you're my first stop is, that as you know, I have a running war with the media,” President Trump said. “And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you're the number one stop is exactly the opposite.”

Standing in front of the CIA Memorial Wall commemorating those in the agency who lost their lives in service, Trump’s speech also veered at times onto the topics of press reports on numbers in attendance at his inauguration and his electoral success, similar themes as in his campaign and post-election speeches.

Former CIA director John Brennan, who served under President Obama, later said through a spokesperson that the president should be “ashamed of himself” for the speech.

“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of the CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,” former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro tweeted Saturday.

Conway said the president decided to go to the agency on the first full day of his presidency to build "good will."

"The intelligence community that we saw on their feet yesterday, welcoming President Trump for his rousing speech, is the one that we look forward to working with," she said.

Conway also told ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos that Trump supports his press secretary after Sean Spicer slammed the media from the White House podium Saturday.

"The president supports his press secretary and his press operation, obviously. And I think that our press secretary, Sean Spicer, was making the point that accountability has to go both ways," Conway said.

In the president’s first full day in office, Spicer blasted the media in a statement accusing news organizations of falsely reporting the size of crowds at the Jan. 20 inauguration and intentionally framing photographs to "minimize the enormous support" of those in attendance.

Aerial images from Friday’s inaugural at noon during President Trump’s swearing-in show fewer people on the National Mall than during President Obama’s 2009 inaugural at the same time.

Conway did not say if it was Trump's idea for Spicer to make the statement to reporters.

Conway added that the question of how many people attended the inauguration is "not a very animating topic" for her.

"I think the crowd-size argument is not so important as what [Trump is] going to do this week as president of the United States," she said.

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Rachel Woolf/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that he and a bipartisan group of senators will take steps to block President Trump from being able to singlehandedly weaken U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Schumer said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week" that the bill, to be introduced this coming week, is in response to the possibility that the Trump administration could offer to lift sanctions against Russia in exchange for Russia's reducing its nuclear arms.

The New York senator said such an exchange would be misguided.

"For us to repeal sanctions, given what Russia has done in Ukraine and threatened the Baltics, and now they have clearly tried to intervene in our election -- whether it had an effect or not -- that is something, that’s a danger that we have never faced to this extent in American history.

“We repeal sanctions, it tells Russia, 'Go ahead and interfere in our elections and do bad things;' it tells China; it tells Iran. That would be terrible,” Schumer said.

The Democratic senator added that Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom have been vocal critics of some of Trump’s rhetoric on Russia, support the bill.

Schumer also criticized Trump's speech to the CIA on Saturday and his inaugural address the previous day.

"President Trump ought to realize, he's not campaigning anymore. He's president. And instead of talking about how many people showed up at his inauguration, he ought to be talking about how many people are going to stay in the middle class and move into the middle class," Schumer told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

The senator said another thing that bothered him about Trump's inaugural speech, "as much as sort of the narrowness of it and the darkness of America that he portrayed, was this -- I think he's trying to use populist rhetoric to cover up a right-wing agenda."

"If you look at this Cabinet, they are far from the populism that [Trump] talked about, people like [the nominee for health and human services secretary, Tom] Price, who want to end Medicare as we know it by privatizing it."

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Twitter/@nbcsnl(NEW YORK) -- With Alec Baldwin's portrayal of Donald Trump missing from this week's episode of "Saturday Night Live," Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin and Kate McKinnon's Kellyanne Conway were responsible for skewering all things Trump -- particularly the number of attendees at Friday's inauguration and Putin's alleged involvement in Trump's win.

The cold open began with the message, "And now a paid message from From the Russian Federation," featuring cast member Bennett's Putin speaking to the camera from an office in Moscow.

"Hello America," begins Bennett's Putin. "Yesterday, we all made Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States. Hooray, we did it! And today many of you are scared, and marching in the streets. You are worried your country is in the hands of this unpredictable man. But don't worry -- it's not. Relax, I've got this -- Puti, is going to make everything OK. I promise that we will take of America, it's the most expensive thing we've ever bought."

Putin on this weekend's inauguration. #SNL pic.twitter.com/rL8bFao3H7

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) January 22, 2017


Bennett's Putin then takes aim at the conflicting number of attendees at the inauguration. "I'm glad to see so many people showed up to your inauguration," he says as a photo of thousands of people is shown. "Oh, wait, that's the Women's March. Here is inauguration." A photo showing empty patches of space on the National Mall, taken during the inauguration, is then show.

The cold open also addressed Saturday's Women's March on Washington, and similar marches that occurred worldwide.

Bennett's Putin asks, "So why are American women protesting? In Russia, women have no reason to protest."

He then introduces a Russian woman, played my McKinnon: "Hello, I am Olya, Russian woman," she says. "I am so happy. Each day I wake up with big smile on my face like this. I sleep in bed, not in carcas of dog. My president is number one hottie for all time.

Bennett's Putin then gives her a fish, to which she responds, "Ah, my pension!"

She's gonna be a star! #SNL pic.twitter.com/AGDHcAfqyx

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) January 22, 2017


Later in the show, McKinnon's Kellyanne Conway makes her return in sketch in which she is being interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper, played by Bennett. When he asks her, "What do you get out of this?," she breaks out into a musical-esque number in which she sings about her desire to be a celebrity.

"The name on everybody's lips is going to be Conway ... The lady raking in the chips is going to be Conway ... I am going to be a celebrity, that means somebody everyone knows."

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House press secretary Sean Spicer slammed the media in a statement to the press on his first day on the job, accusing news organizations of falsely reporting that fewer people attended Donald Trump's inauguration than attended previous inaugurations, claiming that photographs were “intentionally framed” to make the crowds appear smaller.

Spicer was disputing reports -- based largely on photographic evidence -- that the crowd gathered at Trump's inauguration was not as large as the crowd for President Obama's inauguration in 2009.

He refused to take questions from reporters but displayed a photo that he said accurately portrayed the number of Americans on the National Mall Friday.

The photograph he showed was a non-aerial shot, taken from behind the podium, looking out at the crowds. Aerial photographs of the two inaugurations run Friday, taken from the same viewpoint but taken an hour apart on the respective days, showed a distinct difference in the number of people in attendance.

The Washington, D.C., Metro system was less inundated Friday morning than it was during Obama's first inauguration. As of 11 a.m. ET, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it had recorded 193,000 trips, compared with the 513,000 trips taken up to that time on Jan. 20, 2009. Some 317,000 trips were taken by 11 a.m. ET on Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013, the government agency said.

Spicer called the media "irresponsible" and said attempts to downplay the significance of the inauguration were "shameful and wrong."

He said new security measures slowed access to the National Mall.

"This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past," he said.

According to law enforcement officials ABC News spoke with during the inauguration, the checkpoints and magnetometers were cleared of all lines before the inauguration ceremony began, and by the time the event started, there were no lines.

"The security perimeter for this inauguration was extended due to lessons learned and world events. Security fencing was placed around the National Mall this inauguration. There were seven access points where bag checks only were conducted," a U.S. Secret Service spokesperson said.

Those checkpoints on the National Mall -- the non-ticketed area -- had no magnetometers and were manned by TSA, Park Police and U.S. Secret Service personnel, who checked bags.

For the ticketed section this year, additional magnetometers were added to screen more people in less time, law enforcement officials said.

There were no significant problems with the flow of people through security checkpoints for this event according to officials, and attendees were cleared in time for the event.

In 2009, several thousand ticketed attendees were trapped in the 3rd Street tunnel -- the so-called "purple tunnel of doom" -- unable to get cleared through security in time to see the swearing-in.

The National Park Service, which operates and maintains the National Mall, does not release official crowd estimates. District of Columbia officials have said that 1.8 million people attended Obama's 2009 inauguration and close to 1 million attended his second in 2013.

Before Friday's festivities, federal and District of Columbia officials estimated 700,000 to 900,000 people would attend Trump's inauguration. The D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency said it was planning for 800,000 to 900,000 people to attend the inauguration.

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