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Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved. Saturday, December 10, 2016
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The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama encouraged Americans to take advantage of open enrollment to shop for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

"Whether or not you get insurance through the Affordable Care Act, that’s the health care system as we now know it," he said.  "Because our goal wasn’t just to make sure more people have coverage – it was to make sure more people have better coverage."

The president also defended his landmark healthcare program as Republicans threaten to repeal Obamacare, saying he's offered suggested improvements to the program and that alternative proposals should be measured against whether they offer better coverage.

Read the president's full address:

Hi, everybody.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and not just because it’s the holiday season, but because it’s also open enrollment season over at HealthCare.gov. 
That was a dad joke, I know.  But this weekend, I hope you’ll take a moment to do something really important for yourself and your family: make sure you’ll have health insurance for 2017.
If you’re not covered yet, now is the time to sign up.  Go to HealthCare.gov and shop for the plan that’s right for you.  Like most Americans who get coverage through HealthCare.gov, there’s a good chance you’ll find a plan that costs less than $75 a month.  And while the enrollment period lasts until the end of January, as long as you sign up by this Thursday, December 15, you’ll be covered starting January 1.
Now, this doesn’t apply to the roughly 250 million Americans who already get insurance through the workplace, or thanks to Medicare or Medicaid.  But here’s what does.  Every American with insurance is covered by the strongest set of consumer protections in history – a true Patients’ Bill of Rights.  You now have free preventive care, like mammograms and contraception.  There are no more annual or lifetime limits on the essential care you receive.  Women can’t get charged more just for being a woman.  Young people can stay on a parent’s plan until they turn 26, and seniors get discounts on their prescriptions.  Every American can rest free from the fear that one illness or accident will derail your dreams – because discrimination against preexisting conditions is now illegal.  And since 2010, we’ve seen the slowest health care price growth in 50 years.
Whether or not you get insurance through the Affordable Care Act, that’s the health care system as we now know it.  Because our goal wasn’t just to make sure more people have coverage – it was to make sure more people have better coverage.  That’s why we want to build on the progress we’ve made – and I’ve put forth a number of ideas for how to improve the Affordable Care Act.  Now Republicans in Congress want to repeal the whole thing and start from scratch – but trying to undo some of it could undo all of it.  All those consumer protections – whether you get your health insurance from Obamacare, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or on the job – could go right out the window.  So any partisan talk you hear about repealing or replacing it should be judged by whether they keep all those improvements that benefit you and your family right now.
One new study shows that if Congress repeals Obamacare as they’ve proposed, nearly 30 million Americans would lose their coverage.  Four in five of them would come from working families.  More than nine million Americans who would receive tax credits to keep insurance affordable would no longer receive that help.  That is unacceptable.
We can work together to make the system even better – and one of the best ways to do that is make sure that you’re in it.  So remember: Sign up on HealthCare.gov by this Thursday, and your health insurance will be there for you when you wake up on January 1.  Thanks everybody, and have a good weekend.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Official White House by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has ordered a "full review" of what the intelligence community has called hacking activity related to the 2016 election and expects to receive the report before he leaves office, a senior White House official said Friday.

“The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process," Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Friday.

“We may be in -- crossed into a new threshold and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after action, to understand what, what this means, what has happened and to impart those lessons learned and that’s what we’re going to go about doing," she added.

Monaco did not know whether the report would be made public, but said it will be given to a range of stakeholders, including Congress.

Just weeks before the election, U.S. intelligence agencies accused the Russian government of hacking intended to influence U.S. political institutions and elections.

"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process," the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement.

In his interview with Time for Person of the Year, Trump contended he still doesn't believe Russia was responsible for the election-related hacking.

"I don't believe it. I don't believe they interfered," Trump said.

Asked whether he thought the intelligence community's conclusion about the hacks was politically driven, he said, "I think so."

The White House has said the president will consider a "proportional" response to the hacks, likely one that won't be announced ahead of time.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team appears to be compiling a roster of names of Energy Department staff members, including career civil servants, who worked on plans to cut carbon emissions, according to a questionnaire obtained by ABC News.

Sources at the Department of Energy say the agency received the 74-point memo, which was obtained by ABC News, from the Trump transition team this past Tuesday, Dec. 6. Environmental groups said they fear the questionnaire is an indication of a potential purge of policymakers working to combat climate change.

“It looks like Trump and his administration are planning a political witch hunt which has no place in American government: purging or marginalizing anyone who has worked on the issue of climate change,” John Coequyt, climate policy director at the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, said in a statement. “And that’s at the same time they are looking for ways to eliminate the very scientific infrastructure we need to monitor changes to our planet and its climate. You can’t purge physics from planet earth, and seas will keep rising regardless.”

The questionnaire asks for information on several Department of Energy programs and asks twice for lists of the names of staff members who worked on specific projects. One line item asks for names of any staff or contractors who attended international meetings on climate change run through the United Nations, such as the summit that produced the landmark Paris Agreement last year, signed by 116 countries to cut carbon pollution. A second question in the memo asks for names of personnel who attended domestic interagency meetings focused on the “social cost of carbon.” Those working groups generated metrics and recommendations for the Obama administration to craft new regulations.

Other questions listed, include: “Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?” and “Who 'owns' the work on international Clean Energy Ministerial and 'Mission Innovation' [a multinational effort to develop clean technology]?"

The targeted survey of staff in a specific policy area -- one on which Trump has been sharply critical of the current administration -- is unusual, according to Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit that specifically represents and advocates for public government employees who work in energy and the environment.

“Rather than [saying], ‘give a broad overview and how it all fits together,’ they’re saying, ‘give us all the people that are working on this hot-button issue,” Ruch said.

The Trump transition team did not immediately reply to requests for comment on this story.

“This very much feels like a preview of coming attractions,” a current DOE employee told ABC News on the condition of anonymity. “If there was anybody who didn’t take Trump at his word that he was going to drain the swamp, they should now, except that he is going to drown normal civil servants under this wave of inquisition too.”

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Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- (NEW YORK) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has removed his name from consideration for any position in Donald Trump's administration, the president-elect said Friday.

"Rudy Giuliani is an extraordinarily talented and patriotic American. I will always be appreciative of his 24/7 dedication to our campaign after I won the primaries and for his extremely wise counsel,” Trump said in a statement. “He is and continues to be a close personal friend, and as appropriate, I will call upon him for advice and can see an important place for him in the administration at a later date."

Giuliani, one of Trump’s most loyal advisers and surrogates, had been a contender for several Cabinet positions, including secretary of state and secretary of Homeland Security. He asked to be removed from consideration for an administration position during a meeting with Trump on Nov. 29, the Trump team said.

"Rudy would have been an outstanding member of the Cabinet in several roles, but I fully respect and understand his reasons for remaining in the private sector," Trump said.

“This is not about me; it is about what is best for the country and the new administration,” Giuliani said in a statement. “Before I joined the campaign I was very involved and fulfilled by my work with my law firm and consulting firm, and I will continue that work with even more enthusiasm. From the vantage point of the private sector, I look forward to helping the President-elect in any way he deems necessary and appropriate."

In a phone interview with Fox News Friday, Giuliani said he was not bitter about not serving in the administration. While he discussed multiple positions with Trump, Giuliani said he only “had any real interest in” secretary of state.

In the same interview, Giuliani openly criticized Mitt Romney, whom Trump is considering for secretary of state despite very public expressions of concern from several Trump loyalists, including Trump senior Kellyanne Conway, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee.

"I thought Mitt went over the line in the things he said about Donald Trump, and the president-elect is going to make his decision. I will support that decision," he said. "But my advice would be, Mitt went just a little too far to -- you can make friends and make up, but I don't -- I would not see him as a candidate for the Cabinet."

In the early days of the transition, Giuliani was a prominent figure in media outlets promoting Trump and his policies and actively auditioning for a job. But in recent weeks, he faded from the public eye.

There was a tense public clash between two groups of Trump insiders over Giuliani. Some strongly advocated for him to get secretary of state while others raised concerns about his business background and possible difficulty getting confirmed.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Giuliani “was vetted by our team for any possible conflicts and passed with flying colors.”

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John Sommers II/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Newt Gingrich is not a fan of President-elect Donald Trump's decision to stay on as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice when he assumes office, suggesting a more relevant television show for Trump -- "Leading the World."

"I think it's weird. It's weird. I don't think it's relevant. First of all, they're not going to pay him enough money to matter if they pay him at all. He's doing it pro bono. He is going to be the executive producer of the American government and a huge TV show called 'Leading the World,'" Gingrich told Fox News Friday afternoon, suggesting Trump turn over his role on "Celebrity Apprentice" to his children.

"He ought to just relax, give the executive producer to Eric or Donald or Ivanka and keep moving forward. I think he is still going through some transition things here where it hasn't quite sunk in totally," Gingrich added.

It was announced on Thursday that Trump will remain executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, coming at a time when the president-elect is facing questions about what business ties, if any, he will keep as he assumes the presidency, as well as criticism that he could face conflicts of interest.

Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway defended the decision, saying presidents have the right to do things in their "spare time."

“Were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course by the current president? I mean, presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time. I mean nobody objects to that," she said on CNN.

When asked about the Celebrity Apprentice role, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: "Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett."

"Additional details regarding his business interests will be shared December 15th," she added.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new poll released by the Pew Research Center Friday indicates that a majority of Americans oppose any loosening of environmental regulations or a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, two of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign pledges. The survey also suggests that a minority of Americans approve of Trump's picks for his Cabinet so far.

On Wednesday, Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is an outspoken critic of environmental regulations and believes the EPA has crippled the U.S. energy industry.

But 59 percent of people surveyed by Pew say stronger environmental laws and regulations are worth any potential costs to the economy.

And when it comes to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, 53 percent said they expect the ACA’s major provisions to be eliminated while 39 percent expect them to continue. Thirty-nine percent of respondents want to repeal the law all together; 15 percent favor leaving it as is; and 39 percent want to expand it.

The Pew poll highlights the significant challenges Trump faces once he takes office in January.

Americans view Trump’s Cabinet choices less favorably than previous president-elects. Only 40 percent approve of Trump’s Cabinet choices and other high level appointments. That compares to 71 percent who approved of President Obama’s Cabinet choices in December of 2008 and 58 percent who expressed positive views of George W. Bush’s appointments in January of 2001.

While the Trump transition team has moved quickly to pick Cabinet members, the process has had a flair for the dramatic, with candidates filing through the Trump Tower lobby and reports of infighting among Trump’s confidantes, most recently over the choice of secretary of State.

And there is criticism that Trump is not delivering on his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of establishment figures and insiders in Washington, D.C. Currently, his Cabinet is stacked with wealthy GOP donors and Wall Street insiders.

On Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump pushed back on criticism of his Cabinet picks.

“One newspaper criticized me, ‘Why can't they have people of modest means?’” Trump said. “Because I want people that made a fortune because now they are negotiating with you. OK?”

Americans are also concerned about Trump’s Twitter habit. Eighty-two percent of people surveyed say once Trump enters the White House he “will need to be more cautious about the kinds of things he says and tweets.” And a majority -- 54 percent -- think Trump has not done enough to distance himself from the white nationalists who supported his campaign.

Thirty-five percent of respondents think Trump will be a good or great president; 18 percent say he will be average and 38 percent say he will be poor or terrible. But when Trump was just a president candidate, 25 percent of those polled by Pew in October said he would make a good or great president, while 57 percent said he would be poor or terrible.

Pew Research Center surveyed 1,502 adults from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

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ABC News (NEW YORK) — Donald Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway defended the president-elect's decision to stay on as an executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice when he assumes office, saying presidents have the right to do things in their "spare time."

"He's a very transparent guy. Everyone can see what he's doing and the fact is that he is conferring with all types of experts to tell him what he is allowed to do and not do as president of the United States. If this is one of the approved activities, then perhaps he’ll consider staying on," Conway said Friday morning on CNN.

“Were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course by the current president? I mean presidents have a right to do things in their spare time or their leisure time. I mean nobody objects to that," she said.

During the interview, CNN's Alisyn Camerota pointed out that Conway has objected to Obama playing golf and asked if Trump would continue his golfing hobby over the next four years.

“Maybe he will be. It certainly seems like there is a lot of time to do it based on recent precedent while you’re president of the United States," she said. “Whether it's President Obama or President Donald Trump, the idea that these men are going to be all work and nothing else all the time is just unrealistic because it's never happened in our lifetimes."

She continued, "I know Donald Trump very well. And I can tell you that work is his work and work is his hobby. His preferred time is with his family but is followed very closely behind with work. If the lawyers and the protocol officers say that he can do that, then he probably is going to say why not?"

Conway did not know if Trump would profit from show royalties or draw a salary as executive producer, but suggested he could decide to give the money to charity or refuse it.

“There are many options. He could do what he's going to do with his White House salary with the Celebrity Apprentice, which is donate it to charity or refuse, decline to take it,” she said. “Again, all of that will be decided.”

It was reported Thursday night that Trump is set to remain an executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, according to a representative for MGM. MGM holds a majority stake in Mark Burnett Productions, which owns The Apprentice.

When asked about Trump's Celebrity Apprentice role, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told ABC News, "Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett. Additional details regarding his business interests will be shared Dec. 15."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The presidential election was called for Donald Trump one month ago, but that has not stopped potential recounts in four states that experts say will likely not change the outcome of the election.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is leading the efforts in three states, while a third-party candidate has filed a recount request in the fourth state. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's team has said it would join the recount effort, which President-elect Trump has called "sad."

Stein’s campaign has cited the analysis of outside experts who suggest that the vote count could have been tampered with. There has been no evidence of foul play in any state, and no proof has emerged of tampering during the recounts so far.

Here's what you need to know about the various recounts:

Wisconsin: Recount underway
Michigan: Recount is "completely over" after court ruling
Pennsylvania: Stein filed a lawsuit asking for a statewide recount
Nevada: Several counties concluded their recount and didn't show enough change to prompt a full state recount

Recount requests have now been received in all three states that Stein had listed on her fundraising website as goals -- Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Another state -- Nevada -- received a recount petition from Roque 'Rocky' De La Fuente, who ran as part of the American Delta Party.

Two of the states in question -- Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- have already begun required audits of their elections, which is done by checking the results of a random sample of voting machines to make sure the technology actually works.

Michigan has 16 Electoral College votes, Wisconsin has 10, Pennsylvania has 20 and Nevada has six votes.

The final Electoral College count is Trump with 306 votes, Clinton with 232.


Stein filed a petition to hold a recount and subsequently sent a wire transfer of $3,499,689 to state election officials, which the Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed that it had received on Nov. 29. Officials said the total cost may be closer to $3,898,340 after discovering an error in their original calculations.

The recount started Dec. 1 and needs to be completed by Dec. 13, which officials have already warned may be a tight turnaround.

“It will be a significant challenge to complete a statewide recount of nearly three million votes in less than two weeks,” the elections commission memo read.

The recount is going to be done by both hand and machines, depending on the county. The commission denied Stein's request for the entire recount to be done by hand because it does not have the authority to give such an order, Reid Magney, the commission's public information officer, told ABC News.

Forty-eight of the state's 72 counties will be completing the recount by hand, while 14 counties plan to use optical scanners and 10 counties plan to use a combination of optical scanners and hand counts, though those numbers may change, Magney said.

Trump’s win in Wisconsin was one of a series of surprises on election night; the Badger State had not voted for a Republican president since the 1984 election. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a total of 2,975,313 votes were cast in the state, and Trump beat Clinton by more than 27,000. Stein had 31,006 votes in the state.


Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson confirmed that a recount request from Stein was received and said in a statement on Nov. 30 that county clerks "have been gearing up to complete this recount under a very challenging deadline."

Johnson expressed bewilderment at Stein's efforts. "It is unusual that a candidate who received just 1 percent of the vote is seeking a recount, especially when there is no evidence of hacking or fraud, or even a credible allegation of any tampering. The cost of this recount to Michigan taxpayers could easily reach into the millions of dollars. Based on Wisconsin’s estimate, Michigan taxpayers could be paying $4 million despite the $1 million the Green Party nominee must pay to have the recount," she said.

The recount process in Michigan was immediately halted Dec. 1, however, after the state's Bureau of Elections "received an objection from representatives of Donald J. Trump."

In a statement, the bureau -- without explicitly stating where it is in the recount process -- said that "Under Michigan law, the recount is halted when the Board of State Canvassers resolves the objection."

The bureau's board met on Dec. 2 and rejected Trump's objection. A federal judge then ordered that the recount re-start on Dec. 5.

A spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State's office told ABC News on Dec. 8 that in the wake of the hearing, the recount is "completely over."

"The courts have ruled that Jill Stein’s recount should stop. This is a testament of the integrity of Michigan elections. I especially want to thank our local clerks and their staff, precinct workers, county clerks, our staff at the Michigan Bureau of Elections and especially the patriots who volunteered their personal time to ensure integrity at the polls and in the partial recount efforts that have taken place. We live in the greatest nation in the world and are resilient, and at our best when we work together," the statement from their office reads.


Pennsylvania Secretary of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren told ABC News that the Green Party has filed a lawsuit on behalf of over 100 registered voters asking for a recount, which Murren noted is technically called a statewide election contest under the state's guidelines. Stein submitted an affidavit by a computer scientist, who raised the possibility of a cyberattack.

Similar to what happened in Michigan, the Trump campaign filed court papers in Pennsylvania opposing Stein’s case.

“She has to prove that the election was illegal in some way. A judge will decide if a recount will happen,” Murren said of Stein.

Lawrence Tabas, a lawyer for Trump, told ABC News of Stein’s case: “This is a baseless, outrageous fantasy claim to disrupt the election process.”

On Dec. 5, Stein filed a separate lawsuit against Pedro Cortes, Pennsylvania secretary of the commonwealth, and Jonathan Marks, commissioner of the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, asking for a statewide recount.

In that lawsuit, Stein calls the Pennsylvania election system “a national disgrace,” saying, “Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines. There is no paper trail. Voting machines are electoral black sites: no one permits voters or candidates to examine them.”

In addition, Murren said that between 200 and 300 petitions for precinct recounts have been filed, but an unknown number of them were duplicates or submitted after the deadline, so it remains unclear how many of the state’s 9,163 precincts could potentially have contests.


De La Fuente, the American Delta Party candidate, requested a recount in Nevada. Gail Anderson, the spokeswoman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, announced the results of a sampling of select precincts in five counties on Dec. 8.

In the five counties, there was a "net nine-vote decrease" for Clinton, a six-vote decrease for Trump and no change for De La Fuente, according to a news release from the Nevada Secretary of State.

State law mandates that if there is more than a 1 percent change in the vote counts for those counties, a statewide recount is required. But because that benchmark was not reached in this case, "a full statewide recount of the presidential election results will not be conducted," the release stated.

According to ABC News’ analysis of the vote, Clinton won Nevada by 26,434 votes out of the more than 1.1 million votes cast in the state and if the partial recount finds a 1 percent discrepancy for either Clinton or De La Fuente, who came in last in the state, then a recount will be ordered in all 17 Nevada counties.

Why are they asking for recounts?

According to Stein's statement announcing the first recount filing in Wisconsin, "the three states were recommended for scrutiny by election integrity experts and advocates because of the vulnerability of their voting systems and various indicators of concern -- including unexplained high numbers of undervotes."

Stein's campaign manager David Cobb said in the statement that "the recount was not filed in order to change the election outcome, which is unlikely, nor to favor any one candidate. We are pursuing this recount to verify the integrity of the election result."

Will the outcome of the election change because of the recount?

It's impossible to say for certain, but no one involved in the recount efforts so far has said that Trump's presidential rival Clinton could emerge victorious.

"I fully expect, given the history of how elections are conducted in Wisconsin ... that the outcome is not going to be different" than the current unofficial results, Mark Thomsen, chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said at a news conference on Nov. 28.

Stein held a rally in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Dec. 5 and made it clear that she isn't expecting the overall outcome to change, saying that it would be “unfair” to “raise expectations that the outcome is going to change.” She also emphasized she isn’t doing this in support of one candidate.

“This is not about challenging one candidate or assisting another candidate. This is about ensuring that all votes are counted and that voters can trust the system," Stein said.

Who is paying for this?

More than $7 million has been raised for the legal and recount costs, according to Stein's official fundraising recount site. The money will go toward funding recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

On Nov. 28, a member of Stein's press team said that money came from more than 137,000 donors and the average donation has been $45.

If there are any excess funds, Stein's press team said the campaign will consult with the Federal Election Commission guidelines on how best to proceed.

According to the fundraising page set up by Stein, she and her team expected the filing fee in Wisconsin to cost $1.1 million -- less than a third of what Wisconsin elections officials estimated -- along with $600,000 in Michigan and $500,000 in Pennsylvania. Attorney fees are expected to cost millions of dollars more. The money raised will also pay for the recruitment of recount observers.

Stein has made it clear that the money will only be used for the recount campaigns.

"We are raising money into a dedicated account for a recount campaign. The money cannot be used for anything else. It cannot be used for my campaign. It cannot be used for the Green Party. It can only be used for the recount," Stein said during an interview on ABC's The View.

How Trump has responded

Trump tweeted that the recount was a “scam” on behalf of the Green Party and used a portion of Clinton’s concession speech in which she said the election results must be accepted in an effort to diminish the efforts.

According to Marc Elias from the Clinton campaign's legal team, they will follow Stein's lead in participating in the recount process. Elias said that the Clinton team takes concerns over potential hacking or altering of results "extremely seriously" but also made it clear that they were not the ones who started this process.

“We are getting attacked for participating in a recount that we didn't ask for by the man who won election but thinks there was massive fraud,” Elias tweeted on Nov. 27.

On. Nov. 27, Trump made what many say is a baseless claim that “millions of people” voted illegally, and “I won the popular vote if you deduct” those allegedly fraudulent votes.

Kay Stimson, spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State, told ABC News that the organization has "no information that can help to explain what sources or information are behind the basis of the tweets," referring to Trump's comments about the "millions" of illegal votes and alleged fraud in Virginia, California and New Hampshire.

On the state level, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla released a statement slamming Trump.

"It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a President-elect," Padilla said in the statement.

Recount deadlines

Federal law mandates that any recounts need to be completed 35 days after the election, or by Dec. 13.

The electors who make up the votes in the Electoral College are slated to meet in their respective states on Dec. 19 and then send their decisions to Washington. The National Archives states that the electoral votes need to be received by the president of the Senate, who is Vice President Joe Biden, and the archivist by Dec. 28.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The president-elect returns to the campaign trail Friday.

Donald Trump will join Louisiana Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy at a midday get-out-the-vote rally in Baton Rouge. Louisiana is holding a runoff election on Saturday, Dec. 10, between Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell.

Before Trump heads to Louisiana, he is holding meetings in New York. House Speaker Paul Ryan convened with the president-elect there this morning, his first meeting with Trump at Trump Tower.

Ryan told reporters upon leaving Trump Tower that he had a "very exciting meeting." He did not take any questions from the press.

"We had a great meeting to talk about our transition," Ryan said. "We’re very excited about getting to work and hitting the ground running in 2017 to put this country back on track."

Trump is to close out the day with a "thank you tour" rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that begins at 7 p.m. ET.

Michigan was the last state Trump visited on Election Day before heading back to New York. The Great Lakes State's results were not certified until Nov. 28 -- nearly three weeks after the Nov. 8 election, and the final count was exceptionally close.

Trump won Michigan by a 10,704-vote margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton out of a total of nearly 4.8 million votes cast. A statewide vote recount of the presidential vote that was underway for three days at the request of Green Party candidate Jill Stein was cancelled Wednesday when a federal judge upheld a lower court ruling that Stein didn't meet the state's standard to request a recount.

Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will continue the "thank you tour" next week with planned visits to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump is reprising the slogan of his historic presidential campaign as the official theme of a five-day inaugural celebration in the nation's capital next month, ABC News has learned.

The Trump inaugural committee is set to announce “Make America Great Again!” — a rallying cry for his supporters that some critics saw as divisive during the campaign — will be a central component of messaging around the event, which it says aims to unite the country.

"The theme is very simple," Trump inaugural chairman Tom Barrack told ABC News. “The idea is to have a cross cut of harmony of America and normal Americans that reflects on them, not on the power and prestige of this man."

The slogan followed Trump long before the official announcement of his candidacy, when he tweeted the words the day after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election. The phrase is now most notably emblazoned on the signature red trucker hats that adorn the Trump faithful across the nation.

But it also was framed by Hillary Clinton during the general election as loaded language that, she argued, evoked a U.S. past where the nation was less diverse and more divided.

"That was Hillary Clinton's attempt during the election. Obviously, it didn't work," said Boris Epshteyn, the communications director for the inaugural committee. "Americans do want to make this country great again, they do see serious issues with this country and they do believe, like I do, that Donald Trump is the person to fix those issues."

Barrack, the inaugural committee chairman, told ABC News that Trump will be attending two official inaugural balls on the evening of Jan. 20, as well as an additional “Salute to Our Armed Forces Ball” celebrating the nation's armed forces and first responders.

"The balls are kind of a confusing quagmire because the states themselves have their own celebratory events," Barrack said. "We'll have basically three balls. Two in the [Washington] Convention Center, one called the Commander in Chief ball, which is a traditional military ball. And then we'll have a series of private dinners."

It's a stark contrast from recent inaugurations. President Obama attended 10 inaugural balls and former President George W. Bush attended eight inaugural balls to celebrate their first inaugurations.

"This is a workman-like inaugural. This is not a coronation," Epshteyn said. "And you've seen some inaugurals in the past that maybe did seem like a coronation. Again, it's every president's choice. This president wants to get to work."

And the next first lady, Melania Trump, will also play a prominent role.

“She’s a full part in the victory celebration for the president-elect and she's an essential part of not only his marriage, but as his wife and his platform,” Barrack said. “So she will be visible and prominent and very dominant in things she is going to take responsibility for. And I'm going to let that be a surprise.”

Both Barrack and Epshteyn also denied recent reports that the inaugural committee was struggling to find A-list talent for performances during the day’s festivities.

"No struggle, whatsoever," Epshteyn said. "We have world-class talent, world-class entertainers reaching out to us offering their help, offering their services so no struggle, whatsoever."

The week of inauguration will be filled with an array of traditional events, including balls, dinners, luncheons and opportunities for supporters to meet the Trump team and Cabinet nominees.

"He knows how to throw a party," Barrack said.

Epshteyn said announcements about entertainment and additional information will be released in the coming weeks.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway has blasted the president-elect's critics — namely Hillary Clinton supporters — for fueling a barrage of death threats against her.

"Anytime I respond, anytime I defend myself against these ... allegations that are now leading to death threats ... I'm seen as ungracious," Conway said during an interview Thursday on MSNBC with Chris Matthews, referring, in part, to claims that the Trump campaign gave a platform to white nationalists. "Why are we sore winners? I'm not a sore winner. I'm a winner. My guy is a winner. He's the next president of the United States."

.@KellyannePolls talks to @HardballChris about receiving death threats and the need to end incendiary rhetoric https://t.co/wF6jv1b8nl

— Hardball (@hardball) December 9, 2016

Conway also slammed Jen Palmieri, who was communications director for Clinton's presidential campaign, for penning an op-ed in The Washington Post Thursday which claimed the Trump campaign catered to white supremacists.

Palmieri wrote, "I don’t know whether the Trump campaign needed to give a platform to white supremacists to win. But the campaign clearly did, and it had the effect of empowering the white-nationalist movement."

The Washington Post
also ran a piece written by editorial board member Jonathan Capeheart titled, "Yes, Kellyanne Conway, you did provide a platform for white supremacy."

When asked by MSNBC's Matthews if the back-and-forth accusations are "going to end," Conway cited the Post pieces, as well as the death threats.

"Ask Jen Palmieri that because she's writing an op-ed, somebody else in The Washington Post today has a scathing headline about me which is not true but did lead to some death threats today and that'll be on their doorstep."

Conway added, "The fact is that [the Trump] campaign ran a race where we reached into those working class voters who felt they were the forgotten man or forgotten woman, they were the base of our support," she said. "All [the Hillary Clinton campaign] needed to do was have a compelling, sticky, aspirational message for the American people....all I heard was, 'We're not Donald Trump. That's not a message."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Pending Senate confirmation of his picks, President-elect Donald Trump is poised to have the most retired general officers or flag officers serving together in a Cabinet since the administration of Harry S. Truman.

Before Truman, you'd have to go back to the post–Civil War era to find at least two generals in the Cabinet Room. The administrations of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley all had at least two retired war generals serving at the same time.

So far, Trump has chosen retired Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary and retired Gen. John Kelly as homeland security secretary. But Trump could go even further; Gen. David Petraeus is being considered for secretary of state.

To surpass Grant, himself a war general, Trump would need to appoint two more generals. Grant's secretary of war, secretary of the Navy and vice president (Cabinet positions at the time) served as generals. That VP, Henry Wilson, it should be noted, rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Massachusetts militia and later was made a colonel in the Union Army. Hayes appointed two former Union generals to his Cabinet, as did McKinley.

But top brass are not new to the Cabinet or the White House. Retired generals with relatively recent administration roles include Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush, and Al Haig, who was secretary of state under Ronald Reagan as well as chief of staff under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Barack Obama appointed one retired general to his Cabinet (Eric Shinseki, formerly at the Department of Veterans Affairs), and he surrounded himself with retired general officers or flag officers in a number of senior positions.

At various times Obama had Petraeus as head of the CIA, Gen. Jim Jones as national security adviser and, in succession, Adm. Dennis Blair and Gen. James Clapper as director of national intelligence.

In addition to his Cabinet picks, Trump has tapped retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn to be his national security adviser, a position that is not Cabinet level but closely consults with the president.

If Trump brings on a retired general like Petraeus as his secretary of state, it will be the first time the Defense and State departments will be simultaneously run by retired four-star officers.

Ed Lengel, the chief historian at the White House Historical Association, noted that Ronald Reagan appointed Haig and Caspar Weinberger, both of whom had served in the military, to his Cabinet. These men, however, served at lower ranks of captain or colonel.

"It certainly is not unprecedented for a commander in chief ... to surround himself with military talent at multiple levels," Lengel said. "But Donald Trump's appointment, particularly of officers who had retired so recently from military service, is quite unusual."

Grant and Truman, Lengel said, hired officers who retired two or three decades earlier. "Trump is setting a new precedent by appointing such a large number of recently retired staff level Cabinet members," Lengel said.

Congress would need to pass a special law overriding a U.S. prohibition on military officers from becoming secretary of defense less than seven years after leaving service. That requirement has been waived only once, for George Marshall in 1950. National security adviser appointments do not require Senate confirmation, and there is no equivalent law that applies to the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump's decision to hire military officers in his Cabinet is somewhat surprising in light of the things he has said about generals during his campaign. In November of 2015 he said in a speech, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me," adding, "I would bomb the s--- out of them."

We don't have the leadership, including the Generals (who just said the element of surprise does not matter) to attack anyone! Cool it.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2013

"The generals under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have not been successful," Trump said at televised military forum in September. "Under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble, reduced to a point where it is embarrassing for our country."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) --  President-elect Donald Trump is set to remain an executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, a representative for MGM tells ABC News. MGM holds a majority stake in Mark Burnett Productions, which owns The Apprentice.

The news comes as Trump is facing questions about what business ties, if any, he will keep as he assumes the presidency and criticism that he could face conflicts of interest.

Trump has tweeted "I will be leaving my great business" and said he will details his plans later this month.

When asked about the Celebrity Apprentice role, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: "Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett."

"Additional details regarding his business interests will be shared December 15th," she added.

 News of Trump's continued role with the show was first reported by Variety. A new season of Celebrity Apprentice is scheduled to begin on NBC in January with Arnold Schwarzenegger as host.

NBC referred questions to MGM.

Norman Eisen, the former “ethics czar” for President Obama said this will be "yet another business conflict for [Trump]."

"He will be tempted, consciously or otherwise, to favor NBC or use the White House to promote this source of revenue. It is one more example of why he must divest all his interests into a blind trust or the equivalent, with these broadcast-related rights monetized and sold to someone else,” Eisen wrote in email to ABC News.

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MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) --  The death of legendary astronaut John Glenn sparked an outpouring of tributes, including from President Obama, who said the space pioneer "lifted the hopes of a nation."

"With John's passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend," Obama said. "John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars."

Obama called Glenn, who died at 95, the "last of America's first astronauts."

"John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond -- not just to visit, but to stay."

The president said the nation has "lost an icon" and that he and Michelle Obama have "lost a friend."

Tributes to Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the earth and also served as Ohio senator, began pouring into social media immediately after news of his death broke today.

The U.S. Marine Corps called Glenn a U.S. hero and one "Marine Corps Aviation's legendary trailblazers."

"Colonel John Glenn Jr. led a monumental life from his time serving as a fighter pilot in WWII and the Korean War to becoming the first American to orbit the Earth and fifth person in space," the Marine Corps said in a statement.

 Several public figures including Retired Astronaut Scott Kelly, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as well as President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, took to social media to pay tribute to the space pioneer.

NASA tweeted a tribute as well.

We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed, John Glenn. Ad astra. pic.twitter.com/89idi9r1NB

— NASA (@NASA) December 8, 2016

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  The selection of Scott Pruitt as Donald Trump's choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has raised concerns among some scientists and people who’ve worked with the EPA.

Pruitt, the Republican attorney general for Oklahoma since 2011, has interacted most directly with the EPA by suing it over what he sees as over-reaching federal regulations. Some scientists have also questioned his fitness to run the environmental agency considering he has publicly stated that he believes the debate over the cause of global warming is “far from settled.”

His nomination to now lead the agency is akin to putting "someone in charge of the Defense Department who doesn't believe we should have a military, or someone in charge of the Transportation Department who doesn't like roads," said Dan Kanninen, a former White House liaison at the EPA.

But Pruitt, 48, appears to pride himself on his work against the EPA, describing himself as a "leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda" in his biography on the official Oklahoma state website.

“I am deeply grateful and honored to serve as President-elect Trump’s EPA Administrator,” Pruitt said in in a Trump transition team statement today announcing his selection, which requires Senate approval.

"The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”

Here is where he falls on some of the issues:

He Believes the Global Warming Debate Is Unsettled

Pruitt co-authored a May op-ed piece for the National Review, a conservative publication, saying "global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time," but "that debate is far from settled."

"Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind," the article reads.

But the vast majority of scientists in this field disagree, according to multiple studies cited by NASA. It says those studies claim 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”

Rob Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, told ABC News that it should come as no surprise that Trump's EPA pick has "an anti-regulation" stance, but that shouldn't automatically rule out established science’s conclusion that mankind is contributing to global warming.

"The greatest concern that I have and that a lot of scientists have in response to this is the fact that this individual seems to have an anti-science agenda as well, and one can acknowledge the role that humans are playing in changing the chemistry of our atmosphere and changing the temperature on the planet and still disagree about what you do about it, and that's a policy discussion," Young said.

Oklahoma Joined a Challenge to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Pruitt and his office this year helped prepare a lawsuit, which included other states and was led by the West Virginia solicitor general, in which the plaintiffs are fighting the EPA to stop its plan to reduce power plant carbon dioxide emissions (the Clean Power Plan).

"This administration continues to treat states as mere vessels of federal will, abusing and disrespecting the vertical separation of powers defined by our Constitution,” Pruitt said after a day of hearings in the West Virginia v. EPA case in September.

“That is why attorneys general, senators and congressmen from across the country have joined together today to maintain rule of law and checks and balances in this very process. I am committed to ensuring the ultimate payer in this matter is not overlooked – the consumers.”

This position is in keeping with his overarching commitment as Oklahoma attorney general to eliminate what he calls “unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government,” according to his biography on the state website.

The case, West Virginia v. EPA, is still open and ongoing in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Oklahoma’s Own Lawsuit Was Dismissed

Pruitt had filed a similar lawsuit pre-emptively last year trying to stop the EPA from enforcing the same Clean Power Plan, saying it exceeded the agency’s authority and was already doing "irreparable harm" to Oklahoma.

"Whether the State of Oklahoma adopts a state plan to meet EPA’s goals or EPA promulgates a federal implementation plan, the EPA Power Plan forces the State of Oklahoma to undertake substantial legislative, regulatory, planning, and other activities," the suit alleged.

The case was dismissed in July 2015 and the appeal was dismissed in September 2015, according to the court docket.

He Supports the Keystone XL Pipeline

Pruitt released a statement in May saying the controversial pipeline would "continue to create jobs" and slammed President Obama and his administration for "continu[ing] to interfere with the completion of the pipeline."

"The president’s own State Department has concluded, after years of study, that the pipeline will do little to directly harm the environment or increase greenhouse gas emissions, so his actions to prohibit the pipeline are solely an attempt to place his 'legacy' and political ambition above our country’s ability to move closer to energy independence," Pruitt said in a statement.

He Has Ties to the Oil and Gas Industry

Beyond taking a public stance against the EPA and raising doubts about the scientifically established cause of global warming, Pruitt has financial alliances to the oil and gas industry that trouble some opponents. The connection largely comes from the various oil and natural gas extraction projects that are underway in Oklahoma, which have come under scrutiny amid the rise in fracking and earthquakes in the landlocked state.

While defenders of the projects argue that the increase in earthquakes is unrelated to fracking, Young, of Western Carolina University, says that when water released in the process is forced back into the ground, it frequently plays a major factor in causing earthquakes.

 The New York Times reported on Pruitt's ties to oil and gas in 2014 when it claimed that a letter from Pruitt to the EPA that was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, an oil and gas company based in Oklahoma.

In response to the Times report, Pruitt provided a statement to Oklahoma station KFOR: "The article did not accurately reflect what motivates my service and how we seek to make decisions on advancing these cases," the statement read. "Our responsibility is to protect Oklahoma’s interest when any federal agency seeks to displace the authority granted to the state under federal law. This administration has given us plenty of opportunity to litigate those matters in regards to energy, the environment, and health care and that is what is driving us, nothing more or nothing less."

"It should come as no surprise that I am working diligently with Oklahoma energy companies, the people of Oklahoma and the majority of attorneys general to fight the unlawful overreach of the EPA and other federal agencies," the letter read.

Kanninen, who has worked in several Democratic political positions, including his time at the Obama White House and working as a Wisconsin state director for Obama's campaign during the 2008 election, said Pruitt "is someone who has been in the belly of the oil and gas industry; that’s where he comes from."

"He's well known as an antagonist to the environmental community. Someone who's repeatedly taken the side of the oil and gas industry," Kanninen said.

Campaign finance records show that Pruitt received $5,000 in contributions from the Koch Industries PAC during his 2010 campaign for attorney general, and BP donated $500.

He also received contributions from the Marathon Oil Company Employee's PAC for $1,000, the Chevron Employees PAC for $1,000 and the OGE Energy Corp. Employee's PAC for $3,500, according to Oklahoma state records.

Trump, however, praised Pruitt's work and said in a statement announcing his pick that Pruitt would "reverse this trend" of how he alleges the EPA spends "taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn."

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