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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  A friend and confidante of President Donald Trump says he believes that the administration has “been doing too much,” and that “they’ve got to slow down” and tone down its confrontation with the media.

Chris Ruddy, CEO of conservative outlet Newsmax Media, has been a friend of Trump’s for nearly 20 years, much of that time as a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. He told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on the "Powerhouse Politics” podcast that the administration has been experiencing “messaging problems” during the first month in office, but calling those issues chaos “overstates it.”

Ruddy said that all of the cabinet members are “A or A people,” but that Trump’s inexperience as a politician means he’s on a “learning curve.”

“He is used to being very reactive, shooting from the hip and just telling people what he thinks,” Ruddy said. “I think there’s a view within the inside that they’ve been doing too much, that they’re stepping all over themselves.”

 Ruddy said he believes Trump is still in “campaign mode,” and that more people with the president’s ear will begin pushing back on his use of Twitter.

Ruddy also thinks that Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, will likely be key to maintaining an “even-keeled pace” in the White House, but that “[Secretary of Defense James Mattis] is the most influential person in the government right now.”

As for Trump's ongoing battle with the press, Ruddy said he does not believe it is a reflection of his ability to handle criticism and that the press is “baiting” the president. However, he thinks the White House’s continued complaints about what they perceive as media antagonism are a bad idea.

“I think it’s a mistake on the administration’s part to be so confrontational with the media,” Ruddy said. “They know he’s very reactive and he gets angry, so they are just enjoying this rising of the tension.”

He said he think it’s in Trump’s best interests to return to policies that will garner bipartisan public support, such as banning lobbyists in government.

“I personally have encouraged him to be more consensus and populist driven,” Ruddy said. “Everybody agrees people that work for the government, it shouldn’t be a revolving door… and nobody knows about it because they did the Muslim ban roll out.”

His biggest words of advice to Trump: use his speech at the joint session of Congress on Feb. 28 to reach across the aisle and work to get major legislation passed.

“Trump has all these things he wants to do,” Ruddy said. “It seems to me he had an opportunity to really reach out to the Democrats and create a consensus-driven administration, and they are losing that as each day goes by.”

As for Mar-a-Lago serving as the “Winter White House,” Ruddy said he doesn’t think that’s a conflict of interest, adding that “it’s a myth” that membership at the club means automatic access to Trump.

“There’s a virtual security area around him when he’s sitting at his table, you can’t just walk up to him,” Ruddy said. “Where in the past he used to talk business, I don’t ever see him talking about business at all.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration on Wednesday night rescinded an Obama-era directive instructing schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

In a letter sent to schools on Wednesday, the Justice and Education Departments said the Obama administration's guidance -- which cited Title IX -- did not explain how it was consistent with the law.

The letter claimed that the directive caused confusion and lawsuits over its enforcement. Anti-bullying safeguards will not be affected, according to the letter.

"All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment," the letter reads.

Instead, the letter suggests that the states should take a "primary role" in establishing policy.

"As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level," the White House said in a statement, adding that today's letter "paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers and administrators."

Democrats and some celebrities wasted little time criticizing the move.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, "Trump admin decision to roll back protections for transgender Americans is just plain wrong & cuts directly across the drive for equality.  Equal rights & equal protection under the law arent issues that should be left to the states, they should be guaranteed for every American."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, "Civil rights are not confusing. No student should face discrimination because of who they are. #ProtectTransKids."  Ellen DeGeneres tweeted as well, writing, "This isn’t about politics. It’s about human rights, and it’s not okay."

One of the more interesting responses was from singer Jackie Evancho, who performed the national anthem at President Trump's inauguration.  Evancho has a transgender sister named Juliet.  After tweeting Wednesday night that she was "obviously disappointed" by Trump's decision, she asked Trump to meet with her and Juliet: "@realDonaldTrump u gave me the honor 2 sing at your inauguration. Pls give me & my sis the honor 2 meet with u 2 talk #transgender rights."

Last April, Trump weighed in on the North Carolina "bathroom law" -- HB2 -- that banned people from using public bathrooms or locker rooms that don't match the sex on their birth certificate.

State lawmakers should “leave it the way it is,” Trump said in an interview with NBC, adding that people should "use the bathroom they feel is appropriate."

"We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos -- who has supported accommodations for transgender people in the past -- said in a statement Wednesday.

"Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Wednesday. " The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment."

Responding to early reports in the media about the Trump administration reversing those rules regarding transgender bathrooms, the Human Rights Campaign released a statement on Monday.

Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them -- not attack them," HRC President Chad Griffin said in the statement.

He added, "It's shocking that this kind of harm would even be a subject of debate for the president. We call on Trump to immediately and permanently affirm the Obama Administration’s guidance and protect transgender students."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  The White House is preparing its first budget with an eye on conservative budget outlines authored by the Republican Study Committee and Heritage Foundation, according to sources familiar with the process.

Both the RSC and Heritage Foundation's most recent blueprints aim to balance the budget in less than 10 years, balancing domestic cuts with entitlement reform.

Both take aim at frequent conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AmeriCorps and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. They also limit funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development partnership between the federal and local governments in Appalachia, along with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Asked about the details of the upcoming budget and whether the same programs could be targeted in the White House budget, Office of Management and Budget spokesman John Baker said nothing has been "predetermined."

"While crafting the budget, we use our own internal expertise and that process is ongoing," he said in an email.

The New York Times reported last week that OMB could eliminate the domestic programs. The savings from those domestic programs -- a few hundred million dollars each -- would do little to curb government spending in a $4 trillion annual budget.

"The actual spending in those programs is fairly small compared to the whole budget picture," said Romina Boccia, who studies federal spending at the Heritage Foundation.

A common frustration among many conservatives is the apparent hypocrisy that Republicans only care about the debt during Democratic administrations, but spending is good during Republican administrations. Republican aides stress that lawmakers must tackle entitlement reform in order to successfully address the annual budget deficit and produce a balanced blueprint.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters today that the administration will release its budget plan around mid-March. According to an administration official, the initial plan will be a slimmed-down budget blueprint that would be followed by a larger, more detailed budget proposal.

Another GOP aide on Capitol Hill said lawmakers have been told to expect the proposal around March 14.

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman tasked with preparing the budget proposal to present to Congress, was confirmed only last week.

Ed Lorenzen, a senior adviser for the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said the "really big question" for the administration is "how they balance all their initiatives and priorities with the goal of decreasing the debt."

Trump's campaign-trail promises of a border wall with Mexico and a massive infrastructure spending bill will be tough to square with longstanding GOP principles of balancing the budget, Lorenzen said. Trump has said he wants to increase military spending as well.

"A balanced budget is fine, but sometimes you have to fuel the well in order to really get the economy going," Trump recently told Fox News. "I want a balanced budget eventually, but I want to have a strong military."

"The challenge is showing how he can make all his campaign promises fit together in a budget that adds up," Lorenzen said.

The White House is also considering relying on "rosy" economic growth projections to pay for their initiatives, a controversial budgeting practice first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, frustration is mounting among congressional Republicans who believe their leadership is deferring too much to the administration -- leaving Congress without any meaningful votes through two months of legislative activity while waiting for President Trump to specify what he wants to accomplish.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  More than 7,000 pages of emails from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt indicate a cozy relationship with oil and gas producers, fossil fuel companies, electric companies, as well as political groups tied to the Koch Brothers during his time as Oklahoma Attorney General.

The emails -- made public Wednesday by an Oklahoma judge in response to a lawsuit by liberal watchdog group the Center for Media and Democracy -- indicate coordination between Pruitt and these Koch-backed groups with the goal of undermining the Obama administration's efforts to help curb carbon emissions and prevent climate change.

Pruitt was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate (52-46) to be the EPA's administrator Friday after a contentious confirmation process while facing protests from Democrats and environmental groups not only because of his ties to energy companies, but because as Oklahoma’s attorney general he sued the EPA 14 times.

Some emails show that companies like Devon Energy in 2013 provided Pruitt's office with draft letters to send to government regulators in an attempt to block those regulations. Some of this was publicly known because some of the emails were previously released to the New York Times in 2014.

“Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging States to file comments on the SSM rule,” wrote a lobbyist at Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents major utility companies. The SSM rule relates to industrial emissions.

Democrats attempted to hold off on Pruitt’s confirmation until these emails were released, but they were unsuccessful.

“Thank you to your respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states,” reads another email sent to Pruitt from an executive at the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group. “You both work for true champions of freedom and liberty!”

The emails also show how Pruitt’s office appeared to work with these companies to draft these letters for Pruitt to sign to try and prevent new regulations.

“Any suggestions?” a deputy solicitor general in Pruitt’s office wrote in May 2013 to an executive at Devon Energy, an oil and gas production company. The email to the executive, Bill Whitsitt, included a draft Pruitt’s office appeared to be planning to send to the EPA regarding proposed emissions regulations.

Whitsitt replied with what looks like proposed changes: “Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none.”

The deputy solicitor general replied the next day telling Whitsitt he had sent the letter, writing “Thanks for all your help on this.”

In another email in January 2013, Pruitt’s chief of staff at the time gushed to Whitsitt: “You are so amazingly helpful!!! Thank you so much!!!”

"Our engagement with Scott Pruitt as Attorney General of Oklahoma is consistent – and proportionate – with our commitment to engage in conversations with policymakers on a broad range of matters that promote jobs, economic growth and a robust domestic energy sector," a spokesperson for Devon Energy told ABC News. "In some cases, we serve as a resource with useful information and expertise for decision-makers ... It would be indefensible for us to not be engaged in these important issues."

Lincoln Ferguson, the press secretary for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office released a statement writing that their office has "complied with a Court’s order regarding a January 2015 Open Records Act request.”

"In fact, the Office went above and beyond what is required under the Open Records Act and produced thousands of additional documents that, but for the Court’s order, would typically be considered records outside the scope of the Act,” Ferguson said. "This broad disclosure should provide affirmation that, despite politically motivated allegations, the Office of Attorney General remains fully committed to the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act.”

Americans for Prosperity declined comment.

“The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry,” Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy, wrote in an email Wednesday.

Hunton & Williams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  Just after taking office, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that called for a huge shift in enforcement priorities and the hiring of thousands of federal immigration officers -- striking fear among many immigrants that the administration had begun to amass a deportation force.

On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued two memorandums detailing how DHS, which will have primary authority over implementation, will execute the president's executive order. Critics said these were just another step toward mass deportation.

Kelly’s memos begin to solidify the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement goals, but there are still many questions left unanswered -- questions of funding, staffing and operational tactics, among others.

Most of the policies and programs being implemented are now under thorough review, according to sources with the department. However, there are some key differences between the Obama administration immigration policies and the new plans under Trump.

Here’s some of what’s changed and what has stayed the same:

Enforcement priorities

Under the executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which was signed on Jan. 25, ICE will “not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement.”

Kelly's memos make it clear that anyone who is in violation of immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and deportation from the U.S.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the message from the White House is that those who "pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go," adding the administration will aggressively make sure this happens.

When asked if mass deportation is a goal of the Trump administration, Spicer, said, “No. What we have to get back to is understanding a couple of things. There is a law in place that says if you are in this country illegally that we have an obligation to make sure the people who are in our country are here legally.”

But critics disagree.

"These memos confirm that the Trump administration is willing to trample on due process, human decency, the well-being of our communities and even protections for vulnerable children, in pursuit of a hyper-aggressive mass deportation policy," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

In 2014, the former DHS secretary under President Barack Obama instructed all of the relevant agencies to exercise prosecutorial discretion -- deciding whom to stop, arrest, detain, grant parole, etc. -- while enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.

Then-Secretary Jeh Johnson wrote that "due to limited resources," law enforcement officers and federal attorneys should prioritize illegal aliens who pose a threat to national security, border security and public safety.

The second priority was aliens with misdemeanor convictions and recent border crossers. All other immigration violators, even those with final orders of removal, were the last priority.

Resources were dedicated to deporting people by priority.

Under the new order, all removable immigrants are eligible for deportation. However, ICE has been instructed to continue to "prioritize several categories of removable aliens who have committed crimes, beginning with those convicted of a criminal offense."

“If these laws are not good laws then I would highly encourage the legislators in our country to change the law. Until they are changed, people like me and ICE and other private citizens can’t pick and choose the laws they are gonna obey,” Kelly told ABC News during a tour of the southern border earlier this month.

In practice, ICE will continue to carry out targeted operations of criminals and national security threats, but if other undocumented immigrants come into contact with ICE, they too could be deported or put into deportation proceedings, according to sources familiar with operations under the Trump administration.

Sanctuary cities

President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for so-called "sanctuary cities," which vary on a city-by-city basis, but in most cases provide some protections to undocumented immigrants by not fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Trump has repeatedly called for cutting federal funding to these cities. They include major cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Boston.

In summer 2015, ICE implemented a new program -- the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) -- to try to establish a better working relationship with local law enforcement, by agreeing to focus on individuals who pose a danger to public safety.

"With the implementation of [PEP] in July 2015, many law enforcement agencies, including some large jurisdictions, are now once again cooperating with ICE," said an ICE spokesperson in November of last year.

PEP was tailored to “bring back on board those state and local jurisdictions that had concerns with, or legal obstacles to assisting us in implementing Secure Communities,” said then-ICE Director Sarah Saldana during 2015 testimony to Congress.

The Trump administration has abolished that program and restored Secure Communities, directing its personnel to take enforcement action consistent with the priorities set forth in the executive orders.

The first iteration of Secure Communities, which was highly controversial, used fingerprints taken when someone is arrested to automatically check the person's immigration status. Critics accused the program of being unconstitutional and counterproductive.

Some cities that disagreed with the policy responded by refusing to honor detainers, a tool that ICE uses to keep undocumented immigrants who are arrested in custody longer.

It’s unclear what the outcome of the policy shift will be, but many sanctuary cities have already affirmed their opposition to Trump’s policies.

Dreamers

As of now, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains intact.

Obama instituted the policy to allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to come out of the shadows and pay a fee to receive a temporary work authorization and protection from deportation.

To qualify for DACA, immigrants have to prove they were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, came to the United States before age 16, lived here for at least five years continuously, attend or graduated from high school or college and have no criminal convictions.

Roughly 750,000 people were issued temporary protected status and, separately, work authorizations.

The only two Obama-era memos that were left untouched by the president’s executive order were those that pertain to DACA recipients and the parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

When asked about DACA, Spicer said Tuesday that is not “what is being dealt with now.”

Resources

The Trump administration has called for vastly expanding resources on immigration enforcement.

ICE is currently working on implementing a hiring plan to bring on an additional 10,000 agents and officers, as well as additional operational and mission support and legal staff. This will likely take years to implement.

Federal law enforcement agencies, and police agencies more broadly, are having a difficult time keeping staff levels up at current levels, let alone expanding those levels.

Following the issue of this order, ICE increased its detention capacity by approximately 1,100 beds.

The agency is also defining contracting requirements to support what it says is, "the further need for increased detention capacity, particularly along the southwest border."

A list of potential detention locations is under review, according to ICE.

Funding for these increases is yet to be determined.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  The backlash by constituents at GOP town hall meetings across the country is a mix of genuine concern and "manufactured" anger instigated by "professional" protesters, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday.

"Is he suggesting this is manufactured anger? That this is not real anger and real concern?" ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked during the press briefing.

"I think there's a hybrid there," Spicer replied. "I think some people are clearly upset, but there is a bit of professional protester manufactured base in there."

Trump tweeted Tuesday asserting that "so-called angry crowds" at GOP town hall meetings nationwide are "actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists." Several Republican town hall meetings in districts nationwide were filled with angry constituents who blasted elected officials and at times derailed the meetings.

The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2017


"It is not a representation of a member's district. ... It is a loud, small group of people disrupting something in many cases for media attention, no offense," Spicer added. "Just because they're loud doesn't mean that there are many."

Karl then pressed Spicer: "Does the president doubt there is real anger and real concern out there, beyond just a few loud agitators? That there's real concern that people may lose their health care plans?"

But Spicer called anger at Republicans for the potential to lose health care plans during the pending repeal of Obamacare a "false narrative," hitting the Obama administration and health care exchanges across the country for stripping people of their health care plans while enacting the plan.

"For those who are worried, the answer is: help is on the way," Spicer said.

.@PressSec to @jonkarl: Some rowdy town halls a "loud group, small group of people disrupting something, in many cases for media attention." pic.twitter.com/1peA06M3dn

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


The exchange was similar to an August 2009 exchange between Jake Tapper and then-press secretary Robert Gibbs.

"I think some of it is, yes," Gibbs said when asked if backlash was manufactured. "In fact, I think you've had groups today, Conservatives for Patients Rights, that have bragged about organizing and manufacturing that anger."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump intends to keep his campaign promise regarding the continued operation of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a top White House aide suggested Wednesday.

“The president has been really explicit ... that Gitmo is a very, very important tool,” Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, said on Fox News Wednesday morning. "It's also important to understand that Guantanamo Bay is an incredibly important intelligence asset."

Since taking office last month, the president has yet to address directly the future of Gitmo. The day before Trump's inauguration, President Obama transferred four more people from the facility to United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, leaving 41 detainees.

"We have transferred 196 detainees from Guantanamo with arrangements designed to keep them from engaging in acts that pose a threat to the United States and our allies," the Obama administration wrote in its final report to Congress on the facility. "Of the nearly 800 detainees at one time held at the facility, today only 41 remain.”

The Obama administration and human rights groups spent eight years attempting to close the facility, calling it a stain on America's reputation around the world and even claimed it was used as a recruitment tool for foreign terror groups.

But supporters of the facility's continued operations point to recurring reports of a number of released or transferred detainees who eventually returned to terrorist activity.

Gorka, a former national security editor at Breitbart News, pointed to reports that a recent ISIS suicide bomber in Mosul was identified as a British former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released in 2003.

"You look at the things that we have managed to achieve based upon the intelligence gleaned from the prisoners there," Gorka said. "So we stand by the president's determination during the campaign that this is something we have to keep."

The White House, however, has not commented on whether Trump will move forward with a suggestion during his campaign that U.S. terror suspects should be tried in military tribunals and held at Guantanamo. Federal law prohibits U.S. citizens from being tried in military tribunals.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A federal judge in New York ordered the Trump administration to produce a list of all persons detained as part of the president's executive order that limited travel and immigration from seven countries as well as temporarily shut down the refugee program.

Brooklyn federal judge Carol Bagley Amon delivered the order Tuesday, asking for the names of people held for questioning or processed from Jan. 28 at 9:37 p.m. — when another Brooklyn judge halted part of the ban that allowed for deportations — until Jan. 29 at 11:59 p.m.

The order includes travelers who arrived with refugee applications, valid visa holders, and people from the seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — who were legally authorized to enter the U.S.

The administration later said that green card holders and others were not subject to the order, which a Washington state court placed on hold pending litigation against it.

Trump downplayed the number of people detained as a result of the order's implementation.

The government has until Feb. 23 to produce the list in the New York case.

The order was delivered as a part of a case filed by two Iraqi nationals who were detained at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The restraining order issued in Brooklyn on Jan. 28 expired Tuesday.


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitism Tuesday after facing criticism that he has not come out strongly enough against recent threats directed at U.S. Jewish centers.

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Trump remarked after touring the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

"This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms," Trump said from a podium set up at the museum.

Steven Goldstein, the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, found fault with Trump's statement, arguing that his "too little, too late acknowledgement of anti-Semitism" is "not enough."

"The president's sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own administration," Goldstein wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

He accused the Trump administration of committing "grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism."

"It was only yesterday, Presidents Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the president said absolutely nothing," Goldstein said.

The FBI announced it would investigate, along with the Justice Department, the bomb threats made at Jewish centers across the country, including the 11 threats made yesterday.

Responding to a question about the Anne Frank Center's statement at Tuesday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said he wished the group had delivered a different message.

"I wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area and I think that hopefully, as time continues to go by, they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans," said Spicer.

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish, tweeted last night that America must protect its houses of worship and religious centers.

Spicer said in a statement Monday, "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."

In a press conference last week, Trump was asked by a Jewish reporter about the recent wave of threats.

"I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or — anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it," Jake Turx of Ami magazine began.

Donald Trump cut off Turx and dismissed the question as unfair and "very insulting."

"No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person," Trump said, apparently interpreting the question as a personal attack.

"I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question," he said.

Trump was criticized last month for a statement he released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism.

"It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust," he said in the statement. "In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good."

Spicer defended the statement in a press briefing a few days later, saying it was "written with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendant of Holocaust survivors."

"To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people — Jewish, gypsies, priests, disabled, gays and lesbians — it is pathetic that people are picking on a statement," Spicer said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- New memos unveiled by the Trump administration Tuesday outline a sweeping plan to detain and deport certain undocumented immigrants as well as add more than 15,000 immigration, border patrol and customs agents, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer said mass deportation is not the goal.

One of the memos -- signed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly -- says that the agency will "no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement" with certain exceptions including children.

That memo calls President Obama's prioritization of deporting certain undocumented immigrants "failed" and says that "Department personnel may initiate enforcement actions against removable aliens encountered during the performance of their duties."

The memos, released publicly Tuesday morning, offer the clearest picture yet of how the Trump administration plans to tackle the issue of undocumented immigration, including calling for enlistment of local law enforcement to help detain and remove unauthorized individuals, construction of the promised border wall and expansion of detention facilities at the southern border.

In an exchange with ABC News' Cecilia Vega, Spicer insisted Tuesday that the priority would be placed on those who Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deem a threat or have committed crimes.

"The message from this White House and the DHS is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs. That is what the priority is," he said.

"What the order sets out today is ensures that the million or so people that have been adjudicated already, that ICE prioritizes creates a system of prioritization and makes sure that we walk through that system in a way that protects the country."

Spicer went on to say that by removing protocols prioritizing certain immigrants for removal that were in place during the Obama administration, "the president wanted to take the shackles off" law enforcement and immigration officials.

"The INA § 287(g) Program has been a highly successful force multiplier that allows a qualified state or local law enforcement officer to be designated as an "immigration officer" for purposes of enforcing federal immigration law," one of the memos says.

One of the memos states that "detention ... is the most efficient means by which to enforce the immigration laws at our borders" as opposed to the "catch-and-release" policies of the past.

"Detention also prevents such aliens from committing crimes while at large in the United States, ensures that aliens will appear for their removal proceedings, and substantially increases the likelihood that aliens lawfully ordered removed will be removed," the memo says.

That memo calls for the Director of ICE and the Commissioner of CBP to "take all necessary action and allocate all available resources to expand their detention capabilities and capacities at or near the border with Mexico to the greatest extent practicable" and tasks the border patrol with expanding short-term detention facilities and ICE with "all other detention capabilities."

The plans stated in the memos have raised concern among immigrants' rights and civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

"These memos confirm that the Trump administration is willing to trample on due process, human decency, the well-being of our communities and even protections for vulnerable children in pursuit of a hyperaggressive mass deportation policy," Omar Jadwat, the director of the ACLU's immigrants' rights project, said in a statement.

The memos address Trump's planned construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, stating that the administration has all the authority it needs to get started and that the DHS will "immediately begin planning, design, construction and maintenance of a wall, including the attendant lighting, technology (including sensors), as well as patrol and access roads, along the land border with Mexico."

On a call with reporters Tuesday morning, DHS officials emphasized that the memos have no impact on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the memos make no mention of using any National Guard troops for enforcement.

Kelly has directed ICE to hire 10,000 officers and agents and Customs and Border Patrol to hire 5,000 additional border patrol agents and 500 air and marine agents and officers.

The hiring of 5,000 new border patrol agents was something that Trump touted during the presidential campaign as part of his plan to fight illegal immigration.

Additionally, the memos order the establishment of an office for victims of immigration crime, though few details have been revealed.

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NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The position of National Security Adviser does not require Senate confirmation, but when three-star generals like Trump's pick for the position, H.R. McMaster, change jobs within the service they do need the approval.

The rule has nothing to do with the White House, but rather the military: all three and four-star generals must receive Senate confirmation whenever they seek to change jobs.

What does this mean for McMaster?

If McMaster wanted to keep his lieutenant general status, President Donald Trump would need to reappoint him and then wait for him to get a confirmation vote on the Senate floor, according to a Senate Armed Services Committee aide.

This happened to Gen. Colin Powell when he served as President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser. The Armed Services committee held a hearing on him, then referred his nomination to the Senate, and then the full Senate voted on him.

But that doesn't necessarily mean McMaster has to go through the confirmation gauntlet.

There are two options that would allow him to serve as national security adviser without needing to be confirmed, according to the committee aide: he could either revert to two-star major general status to lead Trump’s National Security Council, or he could simply retire from active military duty.

Those were the options Powell faced. In the end, as he wrote in his memoir, "My American Journey," he chose to keep his higher ranking and go through confirmation.

"The post of National Security Advisor did not require Senate confirmation. But as a three-star general, I would have to be confirmed for any job in order to hold on to my rank. If I dropped back to two stars, I could be appointed without Senate confirmation. But I was not eager to be demoted in the Army so that I could be promoted in a civilian post," he wrote.

It's not clear how many committee hoops McMaster would have to jump through if he decides to stay a lieutenant general. Committee aides would not yet comment on whether they would require a hearing, if McMaster chooses to remain a three-star general, given that the position does not otherwise require one.

At the end of Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said McMaster would not require Senate confirmation, but did not explain further. He was not asked specifically about the rules governing three and four-star generals.

The White House has not yet returned ABC News' request for more information.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The naming of Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to be President Trump's new National Security Adviser has raised some questions about how an active duty officer can serve in the job.

But, it has been done before. McMaster will be the fourth active duty military officer to serve in the role as National Security Adviser.

There are some challenges that an Army three star general could face in the role, while remaining on active duty.

ABC News looks at some of the potential issue facing McMaster.

The National Security Council

The job of the National Security Adviser evolved in the 1950's from the 1947 National Security Act that created the National Security Council. The Adviser oversees the Council, which coordinates policy between the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence services and other government agencies involved in national security. The Adviser is typically one of the President's closest aides and the position does not require Senate confirmation.

Originally a small staff, over the last few decades the National Security Council has ballooned in size to several hundred employees.

Its staffers are typically detailed from the military or relevant agencies to work in their field of expertise.

National Security Advisers have typically been civilians, though three military officers have served in the role.

In late 1975, when Brent Scrowcroft was named to be Gerald Ford's National Security Adviser, he was an active duty Air Force Lieutenant General who was serving as the Deputy National Security Adviser. But a month after being named to the top job, Scrowcroft retired from the Air Force because he felt the job should be held by a civilian. He continued in the post through the end of the Ford administration as a civilian.

Navy Vice Admiral John Poindexter and Army Lieutenant General Colin Powell both remained on active duty when each served as National Security Adviser for Ronald Reagan.

Though Senate confirmation is not required for the post, Powell did have a confirmation hearing so he could retain his three star rank.

The White House has said that McMaster will remain on active duty during his tenure. But if he is asked to serve in the role as a three star general a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told ABC News Tuesday "the law requires that General McMaster would have to be reappointed by the president and reconfirmed by the Senate in that grade for his new position.”

Otherwise, to avoid Senate confirmation the aide said McMaster "could serve as National Security Adviser in his permanent rank of major general [2-star], or retire. Neither of those require any Senate action."

What Will McMaster's Role Be?

Judging by the service of his active duty predecessors, McMaster's rank will not be an impediment in dealing with officers of superior rank.

McMaster's main task will be to coordinate the Trump administration's foreign policy and national security decisions amongst the relevant agencies of the federal government.

McMaster's active duty rank will not affect their relationship to the National Security Adviser, who reports directly to the President. That level of access will allow McMaster to voice his opinions freely and directly to the commander in chief, which should not be a stretch for McMaster, who is known as an independent thinker willing to speak his mind.

Currently, he is known as a noted military strategist and pioneer in the counterinsurgency doctrine that helped turn the tide in Iraq.

McMaster's military advancement had once seemed to have stalled -- namely after his 1997 book "Dereliction of Duty" that criticized military officers for not challenging political decisions during the early years of the Vietnam War was published.

His career path regained an upward trajectory after success in stabilizing the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar and developing counterinsurgency strategy.

In his new role, McMaster will probably demonstrate some of his candor with respect to Russia, whose military moves in recent years he has viewed warily.

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SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump visited the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture Tuesday, touring various exhibits including the "Paradox of Liberty" and one profiling Dr. Ben Carson, the president's nominee for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Joining the president for the tour was daughter Ivanka Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and wife Candy Carson and Trump adviser Omarosa Manigault. The group was accompanied by museum director Lonnie Bunch.

“Honestly, it’s fantastic," the president said of the museum before posing for a photo with Carson, adding he was "very proud" of Carson. "I've learned and I've seen and they've done an incredible job."

The president was initially scheduled to visit the museum in observance of Martin Luther King Day but ABC News later learned that the visit was removed from his calendar due to scheduling issues and was not fully planned out.

In brief remarks following the tour, President Trump stressed unity in the country after quoting Martin Luther King Jr.

“We're going to bring this country together, maybe bring some of the world together, but we're going to bring this country together," he said. "We have a divided country, it's been divided for many, many years, but we're going to bring it together."

Last week, following the joint Trump-Netanyahu press conference at the White House, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Sara Netanyahu on a visit to the museum.

The wives were accompanied by museum director Lonnie Bunch and Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton.

"Mrs Sara Netanyahu met at the White House with @FLOTUS Melania Trump, who surprised her with a visit to @NMAAHC," read a tweet from Netanyahu's office, along with a trio of photos of the leaders' wives at the museum and the White House.

The first lady reportedly said in a statement afterwards of the visit, "As we remember, with deep humility and reverence, the historic plight of slavery which the Jewish and African-American people have known all too well, we rededicate ourselves to those powerful words that both our nations hold dear: "NEVER AGAIN!"

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a West Point graduate who was awarded the Silver Star during the Gulf War, was chosen to be Donald Trump's new national security adviser, replacing Michael Flynn, who resigned last week following the revelation that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia.

McMaster, who will remain on active duty, joins former generals James Mattis, the secretary of Defense, and John Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security. He’s considered a creative thinker in intelligence circles, and his counterinsurgency strategies in Iraq led to the U.S. Army securing the city of Tal Afar in 2005.

He also took a critical look at the prosecution of the Vietnam War for his Ph.D. thesis, which he later published as a book.

Here is what you need to know about McMaster, who is expected to remain on active duty while working with Trump:

Name: Herbert Raymond McMaster

Age: 54

His last job: McMaster has been the director of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capabilities Integration Center since July 2014, which is tasked as the lead architect of the Army.

What he used to do: He made a name for himself as a cavalry commander in the Gulf War, where he was awarded a Silver Star for his leadership in destroying more than 80 Iraqi tanks using nine American ones. He later led troops in the Iraq War, where in 2005 he helped recover the city of Tal Afar using innovative military strategies. He was the director of Concept Development and Learning at the Army Training and Doctrine Command from 2008-2010, and served as the commanding general at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning before taking the director position at the Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Hometown: Philadelphia

Family: McMaster is married to Kathleen Trotter McMaster. In Tom Clancy’s 1994 book “Armored Cav,” McMaster said he met his wife while he was playing rugby for the Army team at West Point in 1983. They have three daughters, Katharine, Colleen and Caragh.

Education: He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1984, and received his Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What you might not know about him: He also worked as an assistant professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy in the mid-90s.

What he has said or written about national security objectives:


McMaster has been known to speak his mind on military strategy, even when it goes against the status quo. He’s faced delays in promotions at the level of major and colonel, which some suspect were a result of his iconoclastic views.

His doctoral dissertation on the Vietnam War became his first book, Dereliction of Duty. The book is a blistering critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who he argued failed to provide necessary military advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

In the conclusion to the book, McMaster wrote, “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C."

Dereliction of Duty has been recommended reading for Army officers since it was published in 1997.

He’s also notably criticized the way the Bush administration entered the war in Iraq, and last year he told a Senate panel that he feared the Army might become too small to adequately secure the country.

While he has been praised for his military strategy and his willingness to speak up, both McMaster and National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg have little experience with government outside of the Army.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced Monday that Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is his new national security adviser -- and White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he would remain on active duty while filling the post.

This comes after Trump's first appointee to the post, Michael Flynn, resigned after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Trump said Pence played a role in McMaster's selection.

Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and said Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been acting national security adviser since Flynn left, will remain as the chief of staff for the National Security Council.

"That combination is something very, very special," Trump said of McMaster and Kellogg.

Trump said he has "tremendous respect for the people I met with" for the role, including former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who Trump said will work with his administration in a "somewhat different capacity."

Retired admiral and Navy SEAL Robert Harward, an ABC News contributor, was offered the job after Flynn's departure but turned down the position for personal reasons, according to a senior administration source.

McMaster, a West Point graduate who hold a Ph.D., was awarded the Silver Star for his leadership in the Gulf War. He is considered a leader in strategic thinking and was instrumental in counterinsurgency during the Iraq War.

McMaster isn't the first NSA to remain on active military duty during his term. Brent Scowcroft did under Gerald Ford as did Colin Powell under Ronald Reagan.

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