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US Senate Photographic Studio(WASHINGTON) -- Top leaders in the Senate are calling for a Senate Ethics Committee review of Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., who was recently accused of forcibly kissing a woman and appearing to grope her while she slept.

The committee has not announced whether it will pursue a preliminary inquiry into the alleged incidents, which took place before he joined the Senate when he was on an overseas USO tour, but Franken has welcomed an investigation, saying he’d “gladly cooperate.” Franken has also apologized to his accuser, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you."

On Thursday, the committee announced it would resume its preliminary inquiry into misconduct by Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., whose federal bribery trial ended in a mistrial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has also said if Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is elected in December to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' empty seat, he would likely face an ethics review given the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Moore has denied all the allegations.

Here’s a look at how a Senate Ethics Committee review would unfold, if and when one occurs:

Who serves on the committee?

There are six members on the committee -- Chair Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Vice Chair Chris Coons, D-Del.; Sen. Jim Risch, R-Ind.; Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

Launching a preliminary inquiry

Upon the receipt of a complaint or allegation of misconduct, the committee would first decide whether to conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a violation occurred.

A preliminary inquiry is similar to grand jury proceedings and could include interviews, subpoenas and depositions. It could last as long or short as the committee needs to conduct its fact-finding.

After receiving a final confidential report with the findings and recommendations, the committee would then vote to either dismiss the matter, issue a public or private letter of admonition, or to begin an adjudicatory review.

Conducting an adjudicatory review

According to the committee's Rules of Procedure, an adjudicatory review is conducted after finding “there is substantial cause for the committee to conclude that a violation within the jurisdiction of the committee has occurred.”

An adjudicatory review can be performed by outside counsel or by the committee staff. It would consist of interviews and sworn statements and could include a public hearing.

Upon completion of the review and following a final report, the committee would prepare a report for the Senate, which would include a recommendation if disciplinary action should be pursued. The final report and recommendation of the committee would then be made public, unless the committee votes to keep it confidential.

Potential disciplinary action

Potential disciplinary action recommendations could include expulsion, censure and/or payment of restitution. Expulsion would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

Does the committee have jurisdiction to look into pre-Senate allegations?

The allegations against Franken occurred prior to his becoming a U.S. senator. Would the committee still have jurisdiction in a case predating someone's time in the Senate?

The answer is yes - but it hasn’t happened in modern times, according to Robert Walker, who previously served as chief counsel and staff director on the Senate Ethics Committee from 2003 to 2008.

Walker said he’s unaware of any modern ethics inquiry that stemmed from allegations predating a senator’s time in office but says the committee has left open its ability to consider cases prior to one’s service.

“The committee has specifically left this an open issue such that in any given case it's up to the committee whether they want to look into pre-Senate conduct,” he said.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Jeff Flake, a frequent sparring partner of President Donald Trump, continues to make enemies in his own party after calling the GOP "toast" while unaware he was still on a live mic.

Flake, R-Ariz., was at a tax reform event in Mesa, Arizona on Friday night when he was caught bashing the president in a conversation with friend, Mesa Mayor John Giles.

"If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast," Flake was caught saying by ABC affiliate KNXV-TV.

Moore is running for the vacant Senate seat in Alabama left by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has come under fire for a number of allegations of sexual harassment and assault, but has refused to leave the race.

Trump is a frequent opponent for Flake, who announced last month he would not seek re-election in 2018 in a fiery speech condemning the president from the floor of the Senate.

Flake indirectly called out Trump in his Senate speech, saying, "We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalies never becomes the normal, with respect and humility."

He told ABC News' Mary Bruce of Moore in a Nov. 9 interview on Capitol Hill, "If there is any shred of truth to these stories, he ought to step aside. And now."

Flake's criticism of Trump and the GOP weren't the only interesting comments to be caught on the live mic Friday night.

Giles was caught appearing to encourage Flake to run for president in 2020.

"I am not throwing smoke at you, but you are the guy -- just for fun, think about how much fun it would be -- just to be the foil, you know, and point out what an idiot this guy is," Giles said, apparently referring to Trump. "Anyway, I hope you do it."

Giles, who is a moderate Republican like Flake, has been mayor of Mesa since 2014.

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petervician/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump will be presented with the recommendation to finance and sell anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainian government — a move aimed at deterring aggression from pro-Russian separatists, a State Department official told ABC News.

The National Security Council decided during a meeting on Tuesday to greenlight the presentation of a $47 million grant package to the Ukrainian government to purchase American defense arms, including the powerful Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The president and Congress must approve the sale of anti-tank missiles. The Javelin, a portable missile with a steep price-tag, has been described as "The American Military's Anti-Tank Killer."

If Trump approves the arms deal, it would be a major shift from the party platform on sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, which was amended when Trump was the party's nominee for president, from supporting "lethal defensive arms" to Ukraine to the more vague "appropriate assistance” -- language that ran counter to the perspective of many of the organization’s Republicans.

"They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved," Trump said of his campaign in an interview with ABC News's George Stephanopoulos at the time, before adding, "The people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were."

Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had worked for years for the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was expelled in a popular uprising in 2014.

Russia invaded Crimea and sent troops and arms into eastern Ukraine shortly after his ouster, leading to a conflict that rages on to this day. The Obama administration never provided arms assistance to Ukraine in response.

A former Trump White House official and adviser to the president expressed concern to ABC News that arming Ukraine would inflame tensions in the region and aggravate America’s fragile relationship with Russia.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis have been in discussions since June about how to best make the sale. They strongly recommended the decision to finance and sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine above two other options that would aid in the arming of Ukraine.

The State Department official added that, in the upcoming weeks, there will be a meeting to discuss the public messaging on the sale — feedback that will be included in the eventual decision.

But a White House official cautioned that they are not ready to make their decision public.

"We have no announcement at this time," National Security Council spokesperson Michael Anton told ABC News in an email.

The State Department was equally non-committal. "The United States has neither provided defensive weapons nor ruled out the option of doing so," a State Department spokesperson told ABC News.

Ukrainian officials have been publicly optimistic about relations with the United States.

"We are really satisfied with the acceleration of U.S.-Ukraine relations at the moment," Artur Gerasymov, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and chairman of a military subcommittee, told the publication Foreign Policy in late October.

Mattis stressed the administration's desire to strengthen ties with Ukraine in an August press conference in Kiev with President Petro Poroshenko.

"This permits me, better informed, to go back and advocate for what I believe you need, as brought to me by your minister of defense and, certainly, your president," Mattis said. "For example, we've just approved -- just very recently, last couple of weeks -- another $175 million worth of equipment, including some specialized equipment that can be used to help defend the country, bringing to a total of nearly $750 million in the last several years."

He added, at the time, that U.S. military leadership has been reviewing the American position on providing defensive lethal weapons.

"I would also point out that, on the defensive lethal weapons ... we are actively reviewing it," Mattis said. "I will go back, now, having seen the current situation, and be able to inform the secretary of state and the president in very specific terms what I recommend for the direction ahead."

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MD WAZID HOSSAIN/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has announced that his administration's plan to reverse a ban on big game trophies has been put on hold so he can "review all conservation facts."

On Wednesday, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to ABC News that the Trump administration had planned to allow hunters to bring trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and
Zambia back to the United States.

However, Trump wrote on Twitter Friday evening that the decision had been placed on hold.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke followed Trump's tweet with a statement echoing that the administration believes conservation is "critical" and issuing permits would be delayed.

"President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical," Zinke said in a statement Friday night. "As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed."

The proposed reversal was met with widespread backlash, with celebrities and public figures taking to social media to criticize the president.

The ban on big game trophies had been put in place by the Obama administration in 2014.

Elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but a provision in the act allows the government to give permits to import such trophies if there is evidence that the hunting
benefits conversation of the species.

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flySnow/iStock/thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Are taxpayers footing the bill for workplace settlements on Capitol Hill?

Earlier this week, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told MSNBC that Congress has paid out more than $15 million to settle harassment claims over the last 10 to 15 years.

An aide to Speier -- who is leading the charge on Capitol Hill to reform anti-harassment training and the complaint process -- later clarified that the figure included all workplace complaint
settlements. But the congresswoman’s comments raised questions about settlement payments in Congress.

How much money has been paid out?

Congress has paid $17.24 million for 264 settlements between 1997 and 2017, according to the congressional Office of Compliance, the legislative branch’s workplace administration office.

An OOC official told ABC News that most of the complaints are not related to sexual harassment, but also include other workplace issues regarding racial discrimination, overtime, and family and
medical leave, among others.

In a fact sheet explaining the claims process released Thursday, the OOC said a “large portion” of the cases come from “employing offices in the legislative branch other than the House of
Representatives or the Senate.”

“The statistics on payments are not further broken down because settlements may involve cases that allege violations of more than one of the 13 statutes incorporated by the [Congressional
Accountability Act],” the OCC wrote in the fact sheet.

In short, it’s not clear how much of that $17 million has been used to settle sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.

Where does the money come from?

The settlement payments come from the U.S. Treasury, according to the terms of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, the marque congressional labor and accountability legislation governing
work in the legislative branch.

The CAA appropriates “such sums as may be necessary to pay such awards and settlements,” which are all approved by the executive director of the OCC.

Speier, who has introduced the Me Too Congress Act with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would require lawmakers repay the U.S. Treasury for any sexual harassment settlements and make their names
public.

"I think it's going to clean up a lot of people's acts," she told ABC News' Mary Bruce in an interview.

Who approves the payment?

Any payments regarding House employees must be approved by leaders of the House Administration Committee, according to a committee aide.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- The wife of embattled Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore continued a fierce pushback against allegations of sexual misconduct and impropriety against her husband, holding
a press conference on Friday with other conservative Alabama women at the state capitol in Montgomery.

"The people of Alabama understand what's going on here. My husband, Judge Roy Moore is fighting for the people of Alabama and has been fighting for over 30 years. The people of Alabama know him,
they have seen what he has done," Kayla Moore said.

Kayla Moore also said, apparently ironically, that she believes President Donald Trump owes her and her husband a thank you for diverting public attention from the federal investigation into
Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with Trump associates.

"So the liberal press, Washington Post, who endorsed Hillary Clinton, who also endorsed our opponent gets involved in this race, along with the Human Rights Campaign, the DNC and the Washington
establishment, all of the very same people who were attacking President Trump are also attacking us," Kayla Moore said, "I personally think he owes us a thank you. Have you noticed you're not
hearing too much about Russia?"

Beginning with allegations against Roy Moore that were first reported by the Washington Post late last week and continued this week with other women coming forward, a total of eight women have
accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or impropriety.

He has strongly denied the allegations, most recently saying at a press conference Thursday, "They're not only untrue, but they have no evidence to support them."

With the Dec. 12 special election for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions drawing closer, Kayla Moore and the other women who spoke at today's press conference also took the chance
to blast the Democrat in the race, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones. They said Jones is an "ultra-liberal" whose positions on abortion rights and transgender rights are, they said, not
representative of Alabamians.

"If a far-left liberal Democratic Doug Jones is elected, America is the victim," said one of the speakers, Ann Eubank, legislative chair for Alabama Legislative Watchdogs.

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f11photo/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the investigative firm Fusion GPS, appeared in federal court on Wednesday to fight ongoing efforts to pry more information from his company.

The firm, which produced the so-called “dossier” of unconfirmed and salacious allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump, including purported collusion between the Trump campaign officials and
agents of the Russian government, is seeking to thwart efforts by House Republicans to compel the firm's bank to turn over the company's entire financial portfolio -- a move that could reveal its
roster of confidential clients.

The funders of the dossier have already been identified – a Republican-backed publication, The Washington Free Beacon, and a law firm for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton
campaign both acknowledged hiring Fusion GPS to conduct research on Trump – but House Republicans nevertheless renewed subpoenas aimed at opening the firm’s financial records.

Lawyers for the firm have argued that the move is “a poorly disguised effort to harm persons and a business” and filed a temporary restraining order against its bank to prevent them to turning over
the records to the committee, while lawyers for the House Republicans argued that the committee’s interest “is not limited to the dossier.”

The court order in the case filed in conjunction with Wednesday's appearance is not publicly available, but a source with direct knowledge of the proceedings told ABC News that the judge is still deciding whether to block the bank from handing over the records to the congressional committee. A hearing on the matter is set for November 30th, the source said.

Simpson’s appearance on Wednesday comes just one day after a marathon session on The Hill on Tuesday, when he testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee for nearly seven hours.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As several investigations into Russian interference into last year's presidential election remain ongoing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions joked about his encounters with the former
Russian ambassador to the U.S. Friday, at the same location in which their paths crossed over a year ago.

Sessions was beginning a speech to the Federalist Society 2017 National Lawyers Convention at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., when he deviated from his prepared remarks to ask his audience
a question.

"I just was thinking, I should want to ask you: Is Ambassador [Sergey] Kislyak in the room?" he said, to laughter. "Before I get started here. Any Russians? Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in
Russia or something?"

The quip would seem to stem from the fact that the Mayflower Hotel was the site of a speech by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in April 2016 that was attended by both Sessions and Kislyak.
The event faced scrutiny after Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his January 2017 confirmation hearing that he was unaware of any communication between Trump campaign officials and
Russia. Sessions served as chairman of the campaign's national security advisory committee.

The White House has said that the attorney general and Kislyak simply happened to attend the same speech and did not meet during the event.

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

In the ensuing months since Sessions' confirmation and Trump's inauguration, inquiries into whether the campaign colluded with the Russians were launched by the FBI -- and later taken over by
special counsel Robert Mueller -- and committees in both chambers of Congress.

Sessions has further revealed that he took meetings with Kislyak on at least two occasions in 2016 as part of his duties as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His office has said the
meetings were unrelated to the presidential campaign.

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U.S. Senate Photographic Studio(NEW YORK) -- Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden shared a letter Minnesota Sen. Al Franken sent her today after she accused him of forcibly kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006.

Tweeden read the letter on ABC’s “The View,” where she was a guest:

“It says, ‘Dear Leeann, I want to apologize to you personally. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture. But that doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I understand why you can feel violated by that photo. I remember that rehearsal differently. But what's important is the impact on you and you felt violated by my actions, and for that I apologize. I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO. And I am ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you. I am so sorry. Sincerely Al Franken.'”

According to Tweeden, Franken also asked to meet with her personally.

Tweeden claimed in a blog post Thursday that Franken, then a comedian, “forcibly kissed me without my consent” while rehearsing for a skit on a 2006 USO tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan. She also posted a photo in which she claims it shows Franken groping her while she was asleep on a military plane.

Tweeden said earlier on “Good Morning America” that she came forward with her allegations about Sen. Franken so other victims would be empowered to share their stories.

“Maybe I have a platform to speak out, because if he did this to somebody else or if anybody else has stayed silent or anybody else has been the victim of any kind of abuse, maybe they can speak out and feel like they can come forward in real time and not wait a decade or longer,” Tweeden said in the interview.

Tweeden said she had immediately wanted to go public with her account but she stayed quiet because it was a “different time” and her now-husband had warned that she would be “victimized” and her career would be ruined.

“So I stayed quiet, but I was angry,” Tweeden told “GMA.”

Tweeden said she was inspired by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., sharing her account of sexual assault as a young congressional aide.

“That happened to me...that was my sign. I think if I don't speak up now, I'm going to forever hold that and keep it with me forever. That was my moment to speak up,” Tweeden said.

She went on, “I didn't do this to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate. You know, I think that's for the people of Minnesota to decide. I’m not calling for him to step down. That was never my intention.”

She added that using comedy as a guise for sexual harassment is “never funny” and hopes her experience will help change the national discourse on the issue.

Franken apologized Thursday to Tweeden, writing in a statement, “While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

Franken said that he doesn’t know “what was in my head when I took that picture,” but said that “it doesn't matter.”

"There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself,” Franken said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an ethics investigation to look into the allegations. Franken welcomed the ethics investigation and said he will cooperate.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- African-American men serve longer sentences than white men for the same crime, a new study by the U.S Sentencing Commission shows.

The commission's analysis of demographic prison data from 2012 to 2016 found that black men serve sentences that are on average 19.1 percent longer than those for white men for similar crimes.

The racial disparity in sentencing can't be accounted for by whether an offender has a history of violence, according to the study by the commission, an independent bipartisan agency that is part of the U.S. federal judiciary branch.

"Violence in an offender’s criminal history does not appear to contribute to the sentence imposed" except as it may factor into a score under sentencing guidelines, the study said.

When accounting for violence in an offender's past, black men received sentences that were on average 20.4 percent longer than that of white men, according to the commission's analysis of fiscal year 2016 data, the only year for which such data is available.

The new study updates an earlier commission report in 2012, known as the Booker report, that came after a Supreme Court decision in 2005, United States vs. Booker, which permitted judges to enhance an offender’s sentence based on “facts” determined by their own judgment. Before then, federal judges were only allowed to sentence an offender based on guidelines provided by the sentencing commission

According to the non-profit organization, The Sentencing Project, the U.S. is the world's leader in incarceration, with 2.2 million people in prison as of 2015, a 500 percent increase over the last 40 years.

The Sentencing Project also found that black men are nearly six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated, and Hispanic men are 2.3 times as likely. For black men in their 30s, one in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day, according to 2015 data cited by the organization.
 
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DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Democrats are seizing on big wins this November as a sign of hope for the future of their party. While it is true the big winners were overwhelmingly Democrats, the elections may have also introduced the country to a new brand of politician.

They’re fueled by their rejection of Trumpism and inspired by their own ideas of what makes America great. Many have never run for office, or even ever considered themselves “political,” but they say they felt called to serve at this moment in history.

They come from diverse backgrounds and have overcome adversity. One is a refugee who fled the civil war in Liberia in the 1990s. He didn’t meet his daughter in America until her second birthday while he waited out the lengthy refugee vetting process. Another candidate, a turban-wearing member of the Sikh community, says his daughter experienced racism for the first time as campaign flyers accused him of “terrorism.” A New Jersey woman, a political novice, decided to stand up and run against a Republican incumbent after he mocked women participating in the Women’s March.

All three emerged from election night with new authority and a perceived mandate for change. They spoke with ABC’s Rick Klein and Mary Alice Parks for ABC’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.

The refugee that won over Montana voters


On election night this November, Wilmot Collins became the mayor-elect of a majority-white community in Helena, Montana.

“I looked at my wife -- both of us are refugees -- and we hugged,” Collins told “Powerhouse Politics.” “It was an emotional moment.”

The people of Helena chose Collins in spite of attacks on his immigrant status.

“I was reading the papers almost every day and people were talking about, ‘We can’t have an illegal immigrant running for mayor.’ They didn’t understand,” he said.

Collins went through a lengthy refugee vetting process that took him two years and seven months in order to join his wife and daughter in the United States. He says “the only thing they didn’t do is [cut] me open and look inside of me. ... We’re already doing extreme vetting. The process works.”

Collins has a message for President Donald Trump on immigration: “If I have the chance, I will tell him, ‘I think you got it wrong.’ I would try to explain to him why I think the process he’s using is not in the best interest of the country, rather to a few who don’t want to see this country move forward.”

Collins, who will be the first black mayor of Helena, also advocated earlier this year for a Confederate fountain to be removed after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I don’t want this community to be the breeding ground for white nationalists and white supremacists,” said Collins.

However, he says easing racial tension is not at the top of his political agenda. Working in human services, he’d observed increases in homelessness among teenagers and veterans, as well as short-staffed fire departments.

“Those are the issues that resonated with my community,” said Collins.

Standing up for the Women's March

Ashley Bennett ran and won against a New Jersey county official who mocked women participating in the Women’s March, sharing a sexist meme that read: “Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?”

Bennett, a first-time candidate who works full-time as a crisis evaluator for a hospital, says she was first inspired to get active in politics after Hillary Clinton lost the race for the White House in the 2016 election.

“I just knew that Hillary was going to win -- so much so that I went to sleep,” she said.

Bennett said she woke up at 2:30 a.m. to a red map and a new reality.

“I was so shocked, so confused, and that was the catalyst to really get engaged, to understand that all politics is local,” Bennett told “Powerhouse Politics.”

The sexist meme about the Women’s March shared by Atlantic County Freeholder John Carman further ignited that fire.

“The fact that women have worked so hard to be respected ... to just be mocked and belittled like that was just so disheartening,” Bennett said.

“So I wrote him a letter asking with all of the things that were happening in Atlantic County -- high rates of foreclosure, four casinos that are closed, people that are out of work, high rates of poverty, the opioid epidemic,” Bennett continued, “how do you have time to be on social media?”

After getting no response, Bennett attended the next meeting of the county governing board, called the freeholders board. Freeholders serve on a nine-person board and are responsible for legislation in the county. Bennett says Carman responded to her complaint, saying the women he surrounds himself with are strong and were not offended by the meme. That response, combined with presidential election results that left her feeling “isolated and disconnected,” cemented her decision to run.

Now, Bennett says she has a message for women and young people: “If you feel passionate about something and you see that something is not right, stand up and speak out. ... I was the youngest person running for a county seat, in my county, at 32. No political experience, never even had thought about running for political office or being in politics at all.”

She’s heartened by the stories of similar candidates across New Jersey and Virginia.

“What we are seeing is a push back towards divisive rhetoric,” says Bennett. “We are based on respect, inclusion and a sense of community and diversity. ... I am just one small piece of the puzzle.”

The first Sikh mayor in the Garden State

Ravi Bhalla faced ugly opposition during his campaign for Hoboken, New Jersey mayor. Leaflets featuring his photograph alongside a warning about terrorism were passed out in the community. He said it was his 10-year-old daughter’s first experience with racism.

But Bhalla says the incident is not a reflection of the Hoboken community, and the fact that he won there is evidence.

“When I grew up in the public schools, I was the victim of bullying. Kids would tease me because of the color of my skin and the way I looked as a Sikh American,” Bhalla told “Powerhouse Politics.” “Now my son is the coolest kid in the class all of a sudden. That’s kind of neat for me ... [and] hopefully for my son and my daughter and children and minorities across the country.”

Bhalla says he is “honored and humbled” to represent this community, as well as to participate in a larger movement rejecting the current political climate.

“It might not be a statement against Trump as much as it is a statement for America and for our values,” he said.

But Bhalla does have a different idea than the president about what the country represents.

“My father came to this country as an immigrant. We’re a nation of immigrants. He came here with nothing, but he believed in this country if you work hard, believe in your dreams, there is no conflict between being a Sikh and being an American.”

He says he’s prepared to stop Trump if his actions compromise the rights of the people of Hoboken.

“It’s becoming more incumbent on states, as well as cities, to really be that last line of defense to stand up for what our values are and protect our citizens.”

Civility in the resistance wave?

The three politicians featured on “Powerhouse Politics” all expressed a civility that many pundits bemoan as absent in today’s politics, whether talking about their opponents or about Trump.

Despite his strong feelings about Trump’s rhetoric and plans to slash the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., Helena’s mayor-elect says he would welcome the president if he ever wanted to visit.

“He is also my commander-in-chief. I have seven months to retire from the U.S. military, so I would welcome the commander-in-chief and the president of this country into my city and ask, ‘What can I do?’” said Collins.

Hoboken Mayor-elect Bhalla also stresses finding common ground over divisiveness.

“I would extend a hand of friendship. President Trump is an American just like I am,” he says. “We’re part of the same country. We’re part of the same world. I would want to work with him on issues of common concern and common interests.”

As for that candidate sharing jokes about a woman’s role in the kitchen, Bennett says she would sit down for coffee or dinner with the county official she ran against.

“I don’t hate him in any way, because I don’t know him well enough to do so. What I have found is an incredible sense of tone-deafness. Certainly it’s a shame that that exists, and I hope there is some change,” Bennett told the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. “At the end of the day, he served our country as a veteran and he served our community for 20 years. And that has to have some place of value, and it has a place of value to me.”

To hear their stories, listen to the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or on ABC Radio.

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moodboard/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration's move to reverse a ban on elephant trophies has elicited strong reactions all over social media, including a number of celebrities invested in preservation.
 
The government is likely to overturn a ban on hunters bringing trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the U.S., reversing an Obama administration rule put in place in 2014, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to ABC News.

Elephants are officially an endangered species, but the governments of those countries can allow hunting if there is evidence it benefits conservation of the species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official said the Trump administration has new evidence that has emerged to support reversing the ban.

Elephant populations have declined 6 percent in Zimbabwe since 2001, according to the Great Elephant Census study published last year.

Similar questions about using game hunting to generate money for conservation efforts arose after the controversial killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in 2015.

Ellen DeGeneres dedicated a portion of her show to speaking out against the move by the administration, starting a #BeKindtoElephants hashtag.

"Basically by lifting this ban, he is encouraging Americans to kill elephants," Degeneres said. "Elephants show compassion, sympathy, social intelligence, self-awareness, they're excellent at learning abilities -- all the things I have yet to see in this president."

Chelsea Clinton commented on a link to a Humane Society condemnation of the move, calling the lifting of the ban "infuriating."

British comedian Ricky Gervais, who has previously tackled animal rights issues such as the Yulin Dog Festival, also condemned the Trump administration move. Oscar winner Russell Crowe echoed Gervais, saying "Dear people with no soul, stop shooting elephants."

Actress Olivia Munn, actor Henry Winkler, actress Kristin Davis, actress and singer Daniella Monet, actor Carl Reiner and actor John Cusack were just a handful of the many celebrities weighing in on Twitter over the past two days.

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Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, failed to disclose campaign emails regarding Russian overtures to the Trump campaign and Wikileaks to congressional investigators, top senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday.

In a letter circulated to media outlets, chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Kushner failed to provide the committee with all the documents requested as part of their investigation into Russian election interference.

"We appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete," they wrote in a letter to Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

On Thursday, Grassley and Feinstein referenced “several documents that are known to exist” that Kushner did not previously turn over to the committee.

Those documents, they said, include an email to Kushner about Wikileaks that he forwarded to another campaign official, another regarding a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” Kushner also forwarded, and “communications” with Belorussian-American businessman Sergei Millian.

Millian, a naturalized American citizen who led a Russian-American business group, is reported to be the source of some of the allegations in an uncorroborated intelligence dossier about Trump and Russians. He was in Moscow in 2013 at the time the dossier claimed Trump was involved with Russian prostitutes. Millian has said he was not the source.

Keith Schiller, Trump’s former head of security who accompanied him to Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant, recently told House investigators he turned down an offer to provide Trump with women in Moscow, and that he thought the offer was a joke.

Grassley and Feinstein also asked Kushner to turn over phone records and documents related to Kushner’s security clearance and President Trump.

“You also raised concerns that certain documents might implicate the President’s Executive Privilege and declined to produce those documents,” they wrote. “We ask that you work with White House counsel to resolve any questions of privilege so that you can produce the documents that have been requested.”

Lowell, Kushner's attorney, tells ABC News, "Mr. Kushner and we have been responsive to all requests. We provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner's calls, contacts or meetings with Russians during the campaign and transition, which was the request.”

“We also informed the committee we will be open to responding to any additional requests and that we will continue to work with White House Counsel for any responsive documents from after the inauguration. We have been in a dialogue with the committee and will continue to do so as part of Mr. Kushner's voluntary cooperation with relevant bi-partisan inquiries.

The warning to Kushner’s team comes amid new developments regarding the Trump campaign and Russia.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr. admitted to communicating with Wikileaks over Twitter’s direct messaging system. During the election the group released emails from Democrats that U.S. intelligence officials believe were hacked in an effort orchestrated by the Russian government.

And on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned once again about his knowledge of campaign contacts with Russia. He initially said he was not aware of such contacts, a claim that was scrutinized after unsealed court documents and congressional testimony indicated that he was aware of campaign aides’ contacts with Russians.

Kushner, who is of interest to investigators because of his proximity to Trump and his role in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, was questioned by House and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators last summer.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which also seeks an interview with Kushner, asked him to turn over documents by Nov. 27.

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US Department of Interior(WASHINGTON) -- The office of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was warned Wednesday that an investigation into Zinke's official travel was delayed by "absent, or incomplete documentation," the latest snag in the months-long controversy over Trump administration officials' travel.

The Interior Department's inspector general issued the management advisory to Zinke's office, explaining that paperwork for the secretary's travel was insufficient and that the department's ethics office had not included sufficient documentation in its trip reviewing process. Such warnings are given when the department needs to be made aware of a deficiency immediately, so it may begin working to correct it, according to a spokesperson.

The advisory further notes that the inspector general has been unable to determine the number of trips by which Zinke was accompanied by his wife, Lolita Zinke, due to the incomplete records. It does state that, aside from the documentation issue, the department has cooperated with the probe.

Scrutiny of Cabinet members' travel reached its apex earlier in the fall after a number of officials found themselves in the midst of inquiries over their use of private and military aircraft in lieu of commercial flights. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September, expressing regret that the issue of his more than 25 chartered and military flights "created a distraction."

The investigation into Ryan Zinke's travel began after he chartered three flights since March totaling $12,375. A spokesperson for the secretary has said that commercial options weren't viable in each instance. Other officials whose travel is under audit include Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The Interior Department's inspector general's office is asking Ryan Zinke's office to provide complete documentation by Dec. 11 as well as develop better procedures to process travel documents in the future.

Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt blamed his and Ryan Zinke's predecessors at the department in his response to the inspector general's letter, writing: "When I arrived at the department … it was clear to me that the secretary and I inherited an organizational and operational mess from the previous administration."

Bernhardt added that they are following the same procedures used under former Secretary Sally Jewell and that they "remain dysfunctional." He pledged that the department will work to provide documents for travel in 2017 and will start documenting travel for Lolita Zinke.

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Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Thursday meant to strengthen the existing background check system for firearms.

The Fix NICS Act, which refers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, would set up incentives and penalties for state and federal agencies to boost their compliance with existing requirements that they report criminal history records to the system, helping ensure it stays up to date.

“Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement on Thursday. "This bill aims to help fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.”

Devin P. Kelley, the man who has been identified by federal and state law enforcement officials as the shooter who killed 26 people, including an unborn child, in Texas on Nov. 5, was court-martialed while in the Air Force on charges of assault on his wife and child in 2012. But his convictions were not reported to the background check service used for gun buyers, and he was able to purchase the weapon that was used in the Nov. 5 shooting.

Outspoken gun control advocate Sen. Chris Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats from Connecticut, helped Cornyn craft the bill in a rare instance of bipartisanship on the issue. It is also being backed by Republican Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada, as well as Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

“Mass murderers in Sutherland Springs, Charleston, and Blacksburg were legally prohibited from accessing firearms, but gaps in NICS allowed each of them to walk out of a gun store with the weapons used to commit their crimes," Blumenthal said.

The announcement of the bill comes one day after another bipartisan group of senators — made up of Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Shaheen — sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to ask how the Department of Defense classifies and reports cases of domestic violence, specifically referring to Kelley and the Texas church shooting.

"The recent tragedy in Texas has raised serious questions about cooperation between the military justice system and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in preventing statutorily barred persons from purchasing firearms," the letter read. "As you know, the military failed to send pertinent information relating to Devin P. Kelley’s domestic violence related convictions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) at the FBI."

The Fix NICS Act would punish federal agencies that fail to upload relevant records to the background check system by prohibiting bonuses for political appointees, and would incentivize state agencies to comply by offering federal grants.

It would also allot funding for a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative "to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law," according to a statement announcing the bill.

Murphy, who advocates more sweeping gun control legislation than the Fix NICS bill, said that it is a step in the right direction.

“It’s no secret that I believe much more needs to be done. But this bill will make sure that thousands of dangerous people are prevented from buying guns," Murphy said, adding that the bill "provides the foundation for more compromise in the future.”

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