(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will attend the Kennedy Center Honors gala on Sunday night as a new group of performers and artists are receiving the illustrious annual distinction.
The 2023 honorees include comedian and actor Billy Crystal, opera singer Renée Fleming, the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, rapper and actress Queen Latifah and singer Dionne Warwick.
"This year's slate represents an extraordinary mix of individuals who have redefined their art forms and demonstrated remarkable tenacity and authenticity in becoming an original," the Kennedy Center president, Deborah Rutter, said in a statement.
Crystal, in his own statement, said he was "overwhelmed" to be chosen -- a sentiment shared by Latifah, who said her selection mattered to more than just her.
"To now be recognized amongst so many multi-hyphenates feels unbelievable, not for just me and my team, but for our community," she said.
The president and first lady hosted a reception for Crystal, Fleming, Gibb, Latifah and Warwick earlier on Sunday at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended, and Emhoff will also attend the evening gala with the Bidens.
"As simple as it is profound, performing arts are more than just sound and scene -- they reflect who we are as Americans and as human beings," Joe Biden said at the reception. "That's especially true for more than 200 Kennedy Center honorees over the past 46 years, who have helped shape how we see ourselves, how we see each other and how we see our world."
One by one, the president gave brief highlights about Crystal, Fleming, Gibb, Latifah and Warwick. He again noted the recent death of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, calling her "a champion of the performing arts."
The gala ceremony, on Sunday night in Washington, will be hosted by Gloria Estefan, who was an honoree in 2017.
Last year's class included George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, Tania León and U2.
The Kennedy Center Honors gala is customarily attended by the president, though Donald and Melania Trump skipped it while in the White House. The event was also disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The show that night will be taped and air on CBS later in December.
(WASHINGTON) -- Major changes to America's immigration system will be part of a military aid package for Israel and Ukraine that will be finalized in Congress by year's end, Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford predicted on Sunday.
"We've got to actually bring a proposal forward that will actually make that difference, that could actually reform how we handle asylum ... from top to bottom, that we can actually handle how we're actually handling the process of all those individuals," Lankford, who is leading GOP senators in negotiations on the border, told ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.
The Biden administration has proposed tens of billions of dollars for Israel and Ukraine in their respective wars as well as $14 billion for border security. But amid continued high immigration numbers at the southern border, GOP lawmakers have said those funds must be tied to policy changes like with the asylum system.
When pressed by Stephanopoulos if he would support overseas aid without substantial border legislation also included, Lankford replied, "No. We're going to do this all together."
"There's a reason that this hasn't been done in decades, because it's hard. It's very technical work, and there's a lot of challenges that are in it. And any time you deal with border security, there are a lot of complicating features in this. ... But the most important thing is to be able to get this right," Lankford said.
"People want a legal, orderly process, not the chaos that we currently have on our southern border," he argued, adding, "That shouldn't be too tall of an order to be able to fulfill."
Lankford cited some of the record-breaking statistics for migrants encountered at the southern border.
"This continues to spiral out of control," he said.
White House spokesman John Kirby, also appearing on "This Week," said that Congress had "basically ignored" President Joe Biden's previous immigration reform plan.
He reitarerated that the administration wants its roughly $100 billion funding request addressed immediately.
And, Kirby said, "If they're serious about immigration reform, they ought to take that proposal up by the president."
Lankford was separately pressed multiple times by Stephanopoulos on whether he will support former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election, if Trump is the Republican nominee -- given Trump's numerous legal issues and controversies, including baseless attacks on the last presidential race and suggesting parts of the Constitution should be ended.
"That's not going to be me making that decision, that's going to be the American people that actually make that decision," Lankford initially said.
Asked again by Stephanopoulos, he said, "I've stayed out of this. Again, there's gonna be Republican voters and the American people that are going to make that decision."
When Stephanopoulos followed up for an answer, Lankford indicated that he would ultimately back Trump over Democratic President Joe Biden.
"If he ends up being the nominee, and I've got a choice between Donald Trump and Biden, I've got a choice between two different sets of policies .... That is not a hard choice," he said.
Stephanopoulos asked if Lankford would support Trump if Trump were convicted of one of the 91 felony counts that he is currently facing. (Trump denies wrongdoing.)
"We have a long way to go on that, George ... I understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in this process," Lankford said.
(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of blockbuster new reporting that Israel was aware Hamas was planning a major terror attack more than a year in advance, American officials are continuing to assess that information while Israel plans to conduct its own investigation after fighting ends with Hamas, officials said Sunday.
"All of these questions, we're going to have to get to the bottom of it after the war," Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer told ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Dermer maintained that he had been unaware of the intelligence about Hamas' plans until it was published in The New York Times late last week.
The Times cited a 40-page document, which Israel reportedly obtained, predicting many of the steps taken by Hamas in the Oct. 7 terror attack that sparked the current war.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, in a separate "This Week" appearance on Sunday, was pressed by Stephanopoulos on whether the U.S. had any warning of the attack or should have.
"Our intelligence community is taking a look into that," Kirby said. But he added, "They have no indications that we, the United States intelligence community, had any knowledge of that [Hamas planning] document beforehand or any visibility into it."
Kirby also noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there were intelligence failures.
"They'll do the forensics. They'll do that and they'll do it thoroughly. But right now, certainly on intelligence, the focus has got to be on making sure that Israel has what it needs to go after Hamas leadership," he said.
Israel has resumed its retaliatory military operations in Gaza after the collapse of a temporary cease-fire as part of a broader hostage-prisoner exchange with Hamas.
Kirby told Stephanopoulos that the U.S. was still pushing for another pause in the conflict in order to free more of the hostages.
"We're working at this literally by the hour," he said.
He blamed Hamas for the breakdown because they "refused to come up with additional lists of women and children, which we know they are holding."
Kirby said about 140 people are believed to be still held captive by Hamas, including eight Americans, though he said officials have limited information on their location and condition.
While outside humanitarian groups, including the U.N., have warned of catastrophe for civilians in Gaza if sufficient aid isn't allowed into the territory, Kirby said on "This Week" that "food, water, medicine and even fuel continues to get into Gaza" -- though in smaller amounts than during the cease-fire.
Dermer, in his interview, expressed gratitude for the Biden administration's work on a hostage deal but said Israel's larger goal -- "to dismantle Hamas' military capabilities, to end its political rule in Gaza" -- had not changed.
Stephanopoulos pressed Dermer on the civilian death toll and pointed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's recent comments that such casualties could only fuel the very extremism that sparked October's terror attack.
At least 15,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
American officials like Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have also recently called out the high death toll in Gaza.
"We're doing everything we can to keep civilians out of harm's way," Dermer told Stephanopoulos. He highlighted steps like providing maps of locations where people in Gaza can go for safety and blasting out warnings to those in southern Gaza, many of whom fled earlier fighting.
"I want the American people to understand this: This war is not going on thousands of miles away. It's going on literally hundreds of yards away, and it's going on at a time when rockets are flying into our country and we have people running to bomb shelters," Dermer said.
He argued that Israel's attacks on Hamas in Gaza could force the group into another cease-fire.
"What we know is that the thing that brings Hamas to the table and its willingness to make a deal is military pressure," he said.
Kirby, in his interview, said the U.S. has urged the Israeli government to account for civilians as they continue their military operations.
"We believe that they have been receptive to our messages here, in terms of trying to minimalize civilian casualties," he said.
"They are making an effort," he said.
While Dermer said he could not give a timeline for when the war ends -- in weeks or months -- he acknowledged "we still have some ways to go."
More broadly, Kirby said that President Joe Biden still believes in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Kirby said the Palestinian Authority, which governs part of the West Bank territory, needed to be "revitalized" and reformed and Hamas could not have a stake in the process.
Dermer said Israel's government also supports some form of Palestinian autonomy: "We want the Palestinians to have all the powers to govern themselves but none of the powers that they can use to threaten Israel."
"That's something when we get back to negotiations, we'll have to see how we do that," he said.
"But the first thing we have to do is destroy Hamas, which is not interested in any peace," he said.
(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives on Friday voted to expel Republican Rep. George Santos, a historic move that hasn't happened in more than 20 years.
Santos, scandal-ridden since arriving in Washington nearly a year ago, is just the sixth House member in history to be removed by his colleagues.
They voted to do so despite Santos, while indicted, not being convicted of a crime -- what he and his supporters argued in making the case against expulsion. Santos has pleaded not guilty to 23 charges, which include wire fraud and money laundering, with a trial set for 2024.
The final vote to expel him was 311-114, with 112 Republicans voting with Democrats, far eclipsing the two-thirds majority threshold needed. Speaker Mike Johnson, who just before the vote announced his opposition, presided over the tally.
"The whole number of the House is now 434," Johnson said.
Santos left the chamber and the Capitol before the final vote was announced, swarmed by reporters as he jumped in a waiting car.
His removal comes two weeks after a scathing House Ethics Committee report detailed what investigators said was Santos' use of campaign funds for his own personal benefit. Santos repeatedly criticized the report as political smear, though he did not refute specific allegations.
Momentum grew to oust Santos after the report's publication, but at one point earlier Friday it appeared House Republican leaders might be able to save him.
Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and No. 3 House Republican Elise Stefanik all said they would be voting against the resolution just moments before it reached the floor, though Johnson said he encouraged members to vote their conscience.
"No Member of Congress has ever been expelled without a conviction; this is a dangerous precedent and I am voting no based upon my concerns regarding due process. I have said from the beginning that this process will play out in the judicial system which it currently is," Stefanik wrote in a post to X.
Rep. Darrell Issa told ABC News ahead of the vote it was a coin toss whether Santos survived.
“If I were going to handicap it, I’d give him slightly better than 50-50,” Issa predicted.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., was dismayed by the vote, saying Congress is a "political body, not a judicial body" -- given that Santos hadn't been convicted of a crime.
Santos had previously argued he was denied due process.
"Every member expelled in history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or Confederate turncoats guilty of treason. Neither of those apply to me, but here we are," Santos said during a spirited debate on the House floor on Thursday. "On what basis does this body feel that precedent must be changed for me? An American citizen, duly elected -- elected to represent the 3rd district of New York."
Some lawmakers, as they exited a conference meeting ahead of Friday's vote, echoed Santos's defense that he has not been convicted and that the two most recent members to be expelled were first convicted.
"It doesn't mean I'm claiming that he's innocent or guilty, but that's the way it's always been done for the institution's sake," Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., said.
Republican Rep. Michael Guest, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee who also previously introduced a separate motion to expel Santos, made notably rare remarks to defend the report during Thursday's debate.
"George Santos has built his persona, his personal and political life, on a foundation of lies," Guest said.
ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, a fellow New York Republican who led the charge in ousting Santos, if Santos' expulsion sets a new precedent.
"The precedent is that we are holding members of Congress to a higher standard," D'Esposito responded.
House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries, in a statement, celebrated that "Santos has finally been held accountable by a strong bipartisan majority for his egregiously unprecedented, unethical and unlawful behavior."
"It is unfortunate that George Santos was coddled for so long by the House Republican Conference," Jeffries wrote. "Today represents an important step forward in ensuring that the House of Representatives has a basic standard of professionalism as we endeavor to solve problems on behalf of hardworking American taxpayers. We must continue to strive for the restoration of regular order."
Santos' expulsion will present something of a political headache for House Republican leadership, which could be left with one fewer vote in their already narrow majority.
New York law gives Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, power to schedule a special election to fill Santos' swing seat. Hochul has 10 days from being notified of a vacancy to announce a special election, which then has to take place within 80 days.
ABC News' Arthur Jones, Benjamin Siegel, John Parkinson, Rachel Scott and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.
(ATLANTA) -- Former President Donald Trump's attorney told a Fulton County court Friday that the Georgia election interference indictment against Trump "needs to be dismissed" on the grounds that it prosecutes conduct protected by the First Amendment.
The argument came in the first of two hearings scheduled Friday in which attorneys for the former president and several of his co-defendants are seeking the dismissal of the case or a delay in the case's upcoming deadlines.
"You take the facts as alleged in the indictment ... and when you do that ... you find that it violates free speech, freedom of petitioning, all the expressions that the First Amendment is designed to protect," Trump's attorney Steve Sadow told the court.
The brief remarks from Sadow marked the first time Trump's team has presented arguments in the case.
"Every single count of the complaint, every single act ... relates to that political speech regarding probably the most important election in 2020 -- the presidential election," said Chris Anulewicz, an attorney for Trump co-defendant Robert Cheeley.
Anulewicz made the bulk of the First Amendment arguments before the court, telling the judge that political speech is "given the highest level of protection of any speech."
A prosecutor for the Fulton County district attorney's office pushed back on the First Amendment argument, saying the case that goes far beyond speech.
"Some of these are crimes involving expression; some of them are not," Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten said. "Conspiracy is not a crime involving expression. It's a crime involving a corrupt agreement.
"The list goes on and on," Wooten said.
Sadow also pushed back on the Aug. 5 trial date proposed by the Fulton County district attorney, citing the timing of the 2024 presidential election.
"Can you imagine the notion of the Republican nominee for president not being able to campaign for the presidency because he is in some form or fashion in a courtroom defending himself?" Sadow asked the court. "That would be the most effective election interference in the history of the United States. And I don't think anybody wants to be in that position."
"Let's be clear -- this is not election interference," responded Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade. "This is moving forward with the business of Fulton County."
Judge Scott McAfee brought up the question of what what would happen if Trump won the election, asking, "Could he even be tried in 2025?"
"The answer to that is, I believe, that under the supremacy clause and his duties as president, this trial would not take place at all until after he left his term of office," Sadow responded.
At one point, an attorney for Trump co-defendant John Eastman jumped in to offer his client's opinion that the trial date should be set earlier than August.
"There are a number of defendants, as noted, who are not running for president of the United States," he said.
Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty in August to all charges in the Fulton County district attorney's sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jena Ellis and Scott Hall subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.
Judge McAfee indicated that he would likely break up case's 14 remaining defendants into multiple trials -- but that it was "still a little too far out" to set the maximum number of defendants per trial.
"Even 12 defendants would be pushing it," said McAfee. "That's where I'm at now."
Lawyers for Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark were expected to present arguments during the day's second hearing to try to delay several rapidly approaching deadlines in the case.
Meadows is seeking a two-month extension to the Dec. 4 deadline for discovery and the Jan. 8 deadline for pretrial motions, citing his ongoing effort to remove his case to federal court.
"The request for a relatively brief extension is made in an effort to prevent Mr. Meadows from having to litigate the same case simultaneously in two separate courts while the Eleventh Circuit decides on an expedited schedule, the removal action," his filing states.
Clark is also seeking to delay those deadlines, citing his own federal removal effort, as well as his ongoing disciplinary case, brought by the D.C. bar, that's underway in Washington, D.C., .
Clark's attorney said Clark's "very difficult and congested calendar" would overburden Clarke and compromise the adequacy of his representation.
(WASHINGTON) -- Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who forged a path for women in the law, championed ideological compromise and educated generations of Americans about the rights and duties of citizenship, has died.
The court announced her death in a statement Friday morning, citing "complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness." She was 93.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
(NEW YORK) -- With less than 50 days until the Iowa caucuses, former President Donald Trump's campaign is making a major weekly six-figure advertisement buy in the Hawkeye State -- marking one of the first times the campaign will go up on broadcast TV as the early GOP front-runner takes a big step in seeking to fend off his rivals.
In a preview of the two ads set to air in Iowa, first shared with ABC News, the campaign plans to attack President Joe Biden in one and tout Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds' past praise of Trump in another.
Though Reynolds endorsed Trump during his previous presidential bids, their relationship has been on thin ice after Trump launched attacks on her during the summer for her once-held position of staying neutral in the Republican primary.
She endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis early this month, arguing she "cannot sit on the sidelines any longer" and calling him "the person that we need leading this country." Her support gives DeSantis a potentially important boost in a state where he trails Trump by less than he does nationally.
The TV spot features a montage of Reynolds applauding Trump and his administration's policies at previous rallies.
Additionally, as Trump continues to downplay the competitiveness of the Republican presidential primary -- which he continues to lead by double digits, per 538's average -- in order to focus on a potential rematch against Biden, his campaign plans to tout Trump's commitment to the military, depicting Trump as a strong leader.
A senior Trump official tells ABC News the new ad spending reflects Trump's commitment to winning Iowa, where he has campaigned with much less fervor than his primary opponents. The former president will soon increase his campaign schedule in Iowa and other early voting states, including New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the official said.
"Now we got to get out -- we got to make sure, you know, we have to send a great signal," Trump said at his recent rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa last weekend.
He will make his 15th visit to Iowa this weekend with two events in the state: one in Ankeny and one in Cedar Rapids. On the same day, DeSantis will complete his full 99-county tour of the entire state, known as the "full Grassley."
(NEW YORK) -- After more than 90 minutes of argument, insult, crosstalk and a few props, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom ended their debate on Fox News on Thursday night on a lighter note, trading compliments.
But much of what came before underlined their major differences (and different debate styles) on some of the biggest issues of the day, including abortion access, crime and public safety, the economy, immigration and more.
Sean Hannity moderated -- often pleading with the two governors to spend less time talking over one another and more time answering his questions.
Here are seven takeaways from the faceoff, billed as "The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate," though it also played out as one of the two participants is running for the White House and the other is discussed as a future presidential contender.
Newsom embraces role as Biden's big defender
Throughout the evening, Newsom served essentially as a stand-in surrogate for the White House and its policies, frequently heaping praise on President Joe Biden's economic agenda and defending him on border security as DeSantis hurled sharply worded attacks on how the administration has handled the cost of living and other problems.
At one point, DeSantis accused Newsom of running a "shadow campaign" for president in 2024 -- a premise the California governor has vigorously rejected and gone to great lengths to dispute.
Asked by Hannity if he would say unequivocally he would not run in 2024 under any circumstances, Newsom quickly shot back, "Correct."
"I don't know how many times I can say it -- just making this stuff up about a 'shadow campaign,'" he said. "I appreciate and respect the work the president is doing, and the vice president. It's the Biden-Harris campaign and team."
To that end, Newsom at one point also interjected to correct DeSantis on pronouncing Kamala Harris' first name, saying DeSantis should show more respect.
Speaking to reporters after the debate, Newsom emphasized that supporting the Biden campaign was a key part of his strategy going into Thursday night.
"I focused on defending and promoting, supporting, telling the truth about the Biden record. I was pleased to have that opportunity," he said, adding that he felt the 90-minute back-and-forth was part of an anti-Biden "doom loop."
2024 looms in the background
Fox News previewed the event as a debate between governors of two huge states with vastly different ideologies, but the presidential race remained central to the discussion.
Newsom at multiple points pointed out DeSantis' gaping polling deficit in the Republican primary, where he trails front-runner Donald Trump, even in his own state, despite entering the race with much fanfare and widespread goodwill among conservatives.
"How's that going for you, Ron?" Newsom asked after accusing the Florida governor of trying to "out-Trump Trump."
DeSantis, for his part, charged that Newsom was trying to quietly run his own race for the Democratic nomination next year.
"He is in decline, yes," DeSantis said of Biden. "It's a danger to the country. He has no business running for president, and, you know, Gavin Newsom agrees with that. He won't say that. That's why he's running his shadow campaign."
Newsom accused DeSantis of "just making this stuff up."
In one of the most notable jabs of the night, Newsom invoked DeSantis' struggling campaign.
"One thing ... that we have in common is: neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024," he said.
Crosstalk and claims of lying
The debate was replete with moments of the two talking over one another for minutes on end while claiming that the other was lying.
"He's been telling a lot of whoppers tonight," DeSantis said an hour into the night.
On COVID-19, the governors battled for space to accuse each other of implementing harmful policies during the height of the pandemic.
"You had quarantines, you had checkpoints," Newsom said at one point.
"False," DeSantis fired back.
At one point in the exchange, all three men were speaking: DeSantis repeatedly asked Newsom why California was "closed," Newsom recounted instances where DeSantis wore a mask and Hannity asked the governors to "let it breathe."
The host at one point urged them not to force him to be a "hall monitor," a plea that mostly went unheeded.
Elsewhere, Hannity noted how lively the debate was -- though at another point he cracked that he wasn't just a "potted plant" to be ignored.
To cap it all, the night ended awkwardly, with everyone involved appearing to agree to extend the debate for 20 more minutes until the end of the second hour. Fox News went to commercials on that tease, but when the programming returned, Hannity informed viewers that actually the governors "had other commitments" and the debate was over.
'This is pornography'
Perhaps one of the most spirited conversations of the night came amid the discussion of Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act -- frequently referred to by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" law, though its supporters say it's about shielding children from inappropriate topics.
DeSantis has campaigned on and avidly supported the legislation, which widely restricts discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in K-12 classrooms when not deemed appropriate.
At one point in the debate, during his defense of the law, DeSantis -- in apparent violation of the debate's rule against props -- pulled out a photo from the graphic novel "Gender Queer: A Memoir," which depicted a scene of oral sex.
"Some of it is blacked out. You would not probably be able to put this on air," DeSantis said, adding that it was not consistent with Florida's standards. "This is pornography. It's cartoons. ... This should not be in schools." (Another prop he brought out later was to illustrate a point about San Francisco; he said the map showed all the places where feces was seen on the streets.)
DeSantis also said that schools should "educate kids, not indoctrinate kids."
Newsom shot back that DeSantis was using the law to wage a culture war as DeSantis disputed how many books have been banned in his state.
Newsom said: "1,406 books have been banned just last year under Ron DeSantis' leadership. I love that he keeps pulling this out. I've seen this. He's been doing this all over the campaign." He went on to accuse the Florida governor of using "education as a sword for your cultural purge."
Newsom then invoked some of California's own history, referencing the 1978 state "Briggs initiative," a ballot measure that proposed banning gay and lesbian people from teaching which Newsom called "the original 'Don't Say Gay' bill."
The proposition failed, in part, because of opposition from then-Gov. Ronald Reagan.
Addressing DeSantis, Newsom said, "I don't like the way you demean the LGBTQ community. I don't like the way you demean and humiliate people you disagree with Ron. I really find this fundamentally offensive."
Comparing public safety
When the debate turned to crime in the U.S., Hannity pulled statistics from the FBI that showed the combined national rate of homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault in 2022.
When the combined rate was shown for DeSantis and Newsom's respective states, Florida was lower than the national average -- while California was above it.
Asked about California's crime rate, Newsom highlighted that the state has its lowest crime rate in 50 years.
Newsom also pointed out the murder rate, which was not mentioned in the provided statistics, stating that Florida has a higher murder rate than California.
He then invoked the Parkland, Florida, school shooting where 17 kids were killed, arguing DeSantis later made it easier for some people to purchase weapons, referencing legislation the Florida governor signed earlier this year that allows Floridians to be able to carry concealed guns without a permit.
Newsom also quoted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, died in the shooting and who called DeSantis "weak" and "pathetic" for signing the recent gun legislation.
DeSantis responded to Newsom, calling him a "slick politician" and redirected attention back to California's high crime rate.
"People are leaving California in droves, largely because public safety has collapsed," DeSantis said.
'Lying to migrants'?
As the two sparred over immigration and border management, Newsom accused DeSantis of luring migrants under false pretenses by offering jobs and housing -- an accusation stemming from DeSantis' efforts to organize flights for migrants to Martha's Vineyard.
His office organized similar flights to Sacramento, California, over the summer.
"That kind of gamesmanship, using human beings as pawns, I think is disqualifying," Newsom said.
DeSantis shot back repeatedly that Newsom was spouting false information, arguing that Martha's Vineyard had claimed to be a sanctuary jurisdiction.
"We've got a lot of elites who want open borders, who lecture everybody else about it, then the minute they have to deal with any of the consequences, oh man, all hell breaks loose," DeSantis retorted.
Newsom claimed that he was only making such moves for media attention.
"You're trolling folks and trying to find migrants to play political games," Newsom said.
Dueling views on abortion restrictions
Hannity pressed Newsom on abortion, asking the California governor if he supports any restrictions on it, particularly in the third trimester of pregnancy, after the fetus is viable.
Newsom avoided answering the question while noting that such procedures are very rare and usually in cases like fetal abnormalities. Instead, he focused on DeSantis’ signing a six-week abortion ban, which he called "extreme."
Hannity continued to press Newsom to answer the original question and eventually turned to DeSantis, asking the Florida governor what his reasoning was for signing a six-week abortion ban instead of maintaining the 15-week ban previously in place in Florida. DeSantis said it was because he believes in a “culture of life.”
“I think we're better off when everybody counts, when everybody has an opportunity to do well,” he said.
Newsom cut in and asked DeSantis if he would support a national abortion ban as president. DeSantis did not answer.
(WASHINGTON) -- On the brink of possibly being expelled from Congress, embattled Rep. George Santos defended himself during an hourlong debate on the House floor Thursday.
Santos, who is facing his third expulsion vote this year on Friday, debated several lawmakers, including fellow Republicans arguing for his removal, calling him a "total fraud and serial liar."
Santos and his supporters -- who included Republican Reps. Troy Nehls, Clay Higgins and Matt Gaetz -- argued that the New York congressman's expulsion would set a dangerous precedent and is not reflective of the wishes of the voters who elected him.
"Every member expelled in history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or Confederate turncoats guilty of treason. Neither of those apply to me, but here we are," Santos said. "On what basis does this body feel that precedent must be changed for me? An American citizen, duly elected -- elected to represent the 3rd district of New York."
Santos' expected expulsion vote comes after a damning report from the House Ethics Committee detailing what investigators said was his use of campaign funds for his own personal enrichment. Santos on Thursday again criticized the panel's work, calling the report "slanderous."
In a rare floor speech, Republican Rep. Michael Guest, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, detailed the report's "shocking" findings and knocking down Santos' claims that it was biased and hastily produced. Guest filed a resolution to expel Santos earlier this month.
New York GOP Reps. Anthony D'Esposito, Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler and Marc Molinaro -- who have been leading the charge to oust their colleague -- urged the chamber to remove him from Congress.
"George Santos is not the person he offered to voters. He didn't work where he said he did. He didn't go to school where he said he did. He's far from rich. He isn't Jewish. And his mother was not in the south tower during 9/11," LaLota said. "So, the argument that New Yorkers voted George Santos in, and that we should wait until November of 2024 for voters to decide his fate, is inherently flawed, since voters weren't given a chance … in the first chance to determine who they were actually voting for."
Nehls said Santos shouldn't be expelled because in the United States "everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."
"Kicking out Mr. Santos is setting a very dangerous precedent. Never before has Congress expelled a member based on indictments," he said. "…So, why today would we remove a member from this House based on an indictment? It's never been done before. It shouldn't happen today."
Higgins, dismayed by the precedent he said the expulsion will set, called Friday's vote "egregious."
"Step back from this egregious act that you have threatened," he said. "Reflect upon the American people that we serve the oath that we have sworn, and allow the people of New York to cast their vote as they see fit."
D'Esposito advocated for Santos' expulsion, saying it's time to rethink the standard to which elected officials are held.
"We have an opportunity in this great institution to start a new precedent, one that means we hold members of the house of representatives to a higher standard, ladies and gentlemen," D'Esposito said "… And I hope that tomorrow in this great chamber we set that precedent, Mr. Speaker. We set a precedent that we as members of America's oldest institution are held to a higher standard."
Santos' effort to expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman
Earlier Thursday, Santos introduced a privileged resolution calling for Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman to be expelled for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for pulling a fire alarm before the House voted on a spending measure to avert a government shutdown in September.
In a Thursday morning news conference, Santos -- who has been scandal-ridden since arriving in Washington earlier this year and is facing federal charges -- aired his grievances against Bowman.
"I think that that's consistency. Let's hold our own accountable but let's make sure we do it with the precedent of the House," Santos said.
The House Ethics Committee, which released that scathing report on Santos, declined to investigate Bowman for pulling the fire alarm. After his court appearance, Bowman told ABC News, "I regret Capitol Police resources needed to be used to respond to that. I'm glad no one was hurt."
In a statement Thursday morning, Bowman slammed Santos.
"No one in Congress, or anywhere in America, takes soon-to-be former Congressman George Santos seriously," Bowman wrote. "This is just another meaningless stunt in his long history of cons, antics, and outright fraud."
'This is bullying'
Santos addressed reporters outside the Capitol and called the renewed effort to oust him representative of the "chaos" in Congress. He continued to insist he will not resign.
"If I leave, they win," Santos said. "If I leave, the bullies take place. This is bullying."
"It's theater for the cameras," the New York Republican added. "It's theater for the microphones. It's theater for the American people at the expense of the American people because no real work is getting done."
House Speaker Mike Johnson said Wednesday that members can "vote their conscience" but also expressed "real reservations" about the process given Santos has not yet been convicted.
In a news conference Thursday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies called Santos a "serial fraudster" and "a national embarrassment" but called the vote to oust him an "issue of conscience" for House Democrats as well and said Democratic leaders are not advising members how to vote.
Santos highlighted that fact at his own press conference Thursday, telling reporters: "If I am to get expelled tomorrow, I will be number six in the history, the first Republican and the only one without a conviction or ... without having committed treason."
When asked if he expected the measure to pass, Santos said he "didn't know," but pointed to LaLota's comments that he thinks there will be enough votes -- 150 if all members are in attendance -- in favor of expulsion.
"From what I understand, the way I'm looking at this, is Congressman LaLota said he has 150 votes. So I mean, if he has 150 votes, as he said already on the record, he has the votes. This is just plain and simple," Santos said.
Santos said he would not be asking members to come to his defense ahead of the vote.
Facing possible removal, Santos said "whatever comes my way, I have the desire to stay very much involved in public policy" and said he "won't rest until I see Donald Trump back in the White House."
ABC News' Jay O'Brien and Arthur Jones contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- If an expulsion vote set for Friday achieves a two-thirds majority, Republican Rep. George Santos would be immediately expelled from the House of Representatives, according to the text of the expulsion resolution.
Looking back at the last time a member of Congress was expelled -- Ohio Democratic Rep. James Traficant back in 2002 -- Santos would immediately lose most of his privileges – such as the use of Capitol facilities, the power to speak or vote on the House floor and any access to equipment or other technology provided by Congress -- such a cell phones or a personal computer.
In the aftermath of Traficant's expulsion, House officials sent him a letter informing him of the expulsion, according to reports at the time.
Santos would likely receive similar notification directing him to clear out his belongings from the House Clerk, which would take over control of his office – serving New York's 3rd Congressional District until the seat is filled after a special election.
Santos' staff -- the ones that haven't resigned -- would continue serving the district under the direction of the House Clerk until a new member is elected and sworn into office.
But as a former member, Santos would still retain his ability to access the House floor at his own discretion -- although he has expressed uncertainty about whether he'd exercise his life-long floor privileges in the future.
"I don't know," Santos told reporters at a pen and pad briefing in his office Thursday afternoon. "Not in the near future, I don't believe."
Former members rarely take advantage of that privilege, but at times former Florida Rep. Joe Scarborough, who served three terms in the House before embarking on a career in television, pops up on the House floor during the State of the Union address.
Former Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston was on the House floor earlier this month during legislative business.
David Wu would also occasionally pop up in the chamber after he resigned in disgrace in 2011.
(WASHINGTON) -- The House is no longer set to vote Thursday on a Republican effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
The vote was pulled from the schedule Thursday afternoon, according to a notice from Majority Whip Tom Emmer.
It's not clear yet why leadership pulled the resolution.
On Wednesday, Greene introduced the resolution -- her second this month -- to impeach Mayorkas because of his handling of the southern border. Greene said Mayorkas is failing to uphold his constitutional duty to protect states from what she called invasion and has accused him of high crimes and misdemeanors related to migrants and drugs crossing at the border.
A spokesperson for DHS dismissed Greene's latest resolution as a "baseless attack."
The move came after eight Republicans voted with Democrats to block Green’s impeachment effort earlier this month -- referring it to the House Homeland Security Committee. Greene introduced similar articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in May, but House GOP leaders never brought them to a vote.
Greene said if her latest effort to impeach Mayorkas fails, she will "keep reintroducing it."
ABC News’ Brittany Gaddy contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state during the Nixon and Ford administrations who was said to be one of the most influential and controversial foreign policy framers in postwar United States, has died. He was 100.
The news was confirmed by Kissinger's consulting company on Wednesday night.
"Dr. Henry Kissinger, a respected American scholar and statesman, died today at his home in Connecticut," Kissinger Associates, Inc. said in a statement Wednesday.
Kissinger will be interred at a private family service and there will be a memorial service at a later date in New York City, the company said.
Kissinger remained active in politics in the decades since his time in office and had taken on a respected elder role for some Republicans and Democrats. He met with Alaska's then-Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008, and Mitt Romney reportedly spoke by phone with Kissinger during the 2012 campaign. Kissinger met with Donald Trump shortly after Trump won the 2016 presidential election and the two later met in the White House in 2017.
Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump in 2016, previously called Kissinger "a friend" and said she "relied on his counsel" when she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
In a statement Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted Kissinger's "strategic acumen" and "intellect."
"Few people were better students of history – and even fewer people did more to shape history – than Henry Kissinger," Blinken said.
The former secretary of state was born Heinz Kissinger in Fuerth, Germany, on May 27, 1923. His parents, Louis and Paula Kissinger, fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1938, and it was in his newly adopted country that the son of a German Jewish schoolteacher excelled in his studies.
He enrolled in the U.S. Army in 1943 and while stationed in South Carolina at the age of 20, Kissinger became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Kissinger saw combat with the 84th infantry division and volunteered for intelligence duties during the Battle of the Bulge.
Kissinger later said of his time in the Army, "It was an Americanization process ... It was the first time I was not with the German Jewish people, I gained confidence in the Army."
He went on to receive his BA degree in political science from Harvard University in 1951 and his MA and PhD degrees from the university in the years following.
In 1955, Kissinger was recruited by the Council on Foreign Relations to head a study group examining the implications of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles's call for "massive retaliation" as the U.S. Cold War strategy against the Soviet Union. The strategy, which threatened nuclear destruction on Soviet cities for even minor infractions, was heavily criticized by Kissinger in his report published as "Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy" in 1957, a surprise best-seller.
Kissinger later served as a consultant to several government agencies and think tanks, including the Operations Research Office, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the State Department and the RAND Corporation, before he was appointed as Nixon's national security adviser in January 1969.
As national security adviser from 1969 to 1975 and secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Kissinger provided the conceptual framework through which such bold initiatives as détente (the easing of strained relations) with the Soviet Union and the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT) were pursued.
SALT -- a series of bilateral conferences and international treaties between the United and the Soviet Union -- began in 1969 under Nixon. Two corresponding treaties -- signed by the two countries in 1972 and 1979 -- set limits on the number of long-range ballistic missiles that each side could possess and manufacture.
Kissinger also sought to open up diplomatic relations with China. In one of his greatest successes, Kissinger arranged a state visit between Nixon and Chinese leader Zhou Enlai in 1972. The efforts resulted in the Shanghai Communique, which provided guidelines on normalizing relations between the two countries.
Kissinger was also instrumental in effecting an end to the Vietnam War. However, one way in which he aimed to settle the conflict was through secret bombings of Cambodia and the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and a ground invasion of Cambodia in 1970 in an apparent effort to pressure North Vietnamese forces operating between the two countries. This campaign brought controversy from those on the left who felt that flexing more military power was not key to ending the conflict, and believed that his policies extended the war and cost more lives.
However, after Kissinger and North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho met several times in secrecy in Paris, they negotiated a brief truce. This led to the two leaders receiving the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, although Tho declined the award.
A little over two years later, 30 North Vietnamese divisions conquered South Vietnam, effectively ending the conflict, according to the U.S. State Department.
According to a Pentagon report released in 1973, "Henry A. Kissinger approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids in 1969 and 1970" as well as "the methods for keeping them out of the newspapers."
By the end of the bombing campaign, nicknamed "Operation Menu," the U.S. had dropped over 2 million tons' worth of bombs, killing between 150,000 and 500,000 civilians, according to U.S. Army data.
Critics of the Nixon administration and Kissinger, then and now, laid blame on the administration for the Khmer Rouge's invasion of Cambodia in 1975, arguing that U.S. policies in Cambodia had accelerated the ascension of the communist regime, according to historian Walter Isaacson in his biography "Kissinger." The Khmer Rouge went on to kill an estimated 3 million people in Cambodia, almost half of the country's population at the time, through agricultural policies, which created widespread famine, as well as the mass murder of Cambodian minorities and political dissidents.
In testimony to Congress when communist forces were completing their takeover of Cambodia in 1975, Kissinger conceded that the U.S. had callously disregarded Cambodia while trying to achieve its goals in Vietnam, according to Isaacson. Kissinger said, "Our guilty, responsibility, or whatever you may call it toward the Cambodians is that we conducted our operations in Cambodia primarily to serve our purposes related to Vietnam and that they have now been left in a very difficult circumstance."
However, Kissinger years later would remark to Time, "Without our incursion, the communists would have taken over Cambodia years earlier."
Legacy under scrutiny
Toward the end of his life, the call to have Kissinger testify or be made accountable for his decisions when he was in office grew louder.
In 2001, British journalist Christopher Hitchens published "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" in which he argued that Kissinger gave the go-ahead to brutal politicians allied to the United States to put thousands of innocent civilians to death. By 2002, Kissinger's past dealings in Latin America while in office seemed determined to haunt him, if not to ruin his reputation.
There were by then summonses out for Kissinger in five countries seeking information about his role in Operation Condor, an alleged conspiracy of murder, torture and kidnappings organized by Latin American dictators in the 1970s that extended across the borders of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay. As President Nixon's national security advisor, Kissinger was strongly suspected of having had full knowledge of the operation.
The controversy was reignited in 2010 when a cable, dated Sept. 16, 1976, was declassified and released by news outlets. In the cable, Kissinger seemingly rejected delivering a proposed warning to the government of Uruguay about Condor operations and ordered that "no further action be taken on this matter" by the State Department, according to the Los Angeles Times.
But Kissinger said shortly after the cable's release that its meaning was "distorted" and it was intended only to disapprove a specific approach to the Uruguayan government, not to cancel the plan to issue warnings to other nations suspected of participating in the Condor network, the LA Times reported.
In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in July 2022, Kissinger commented on the controversy surrounding his time in office.
"Nixon and I, we had a tendency, we were not in favor of escalation. But we felt that if we had to escalate it, we should escalate to a point very close to what the other side would tolerate in order to prevent sliding into a nuclear war through a series of little steps. The last one which turns out to be nuclear."
Kissinger, when asked in the interview about any key policy decisions he would take back, said, "I have developed no great answer for it. Because I've been thinking about these problems all my life. It's my hobby ... it's my occupation. The recommendations I made were the best I was then capable of."
Life after government
After leaving government in 1977, Kissinger established a consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, and commanded large fees as a speaker. He was a member of different presidential commissions and continued to write newspaper columns and offer his opinions on television. In 1994, Kissinger was hired as a consultant to the boards of both MGM and Credit Lyonnais.
In addition to his Nobel Peace Prize, Kissinger was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2006. In 1995, he was appointed an Honorary Knight Commander in the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by Queen Elizabeth II.
Looking back on his life and career, Kissinger told Stephanopoulos, "When I was, say 15, in Germany, it never occurred to me that someday I might be secretary of state of the United States and in a position to do this. It's an amazing tribute to America that this is possible ... I was a member of a discriminated minority, so it did not lend itself to career thinking."
"It was an extraordinary fate -- and therefore obligation -- to do the best I was capable of doing," he added.
Kissinger is survived by his wife, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, and his children, Elizabeth and David, from a previous marriage.
(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration has announced a proposal to “strengthen its Lead and Copper Rule that would require water systems to replace lead service lines within 10 years,” the White House said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the White House, more than 9.2 million American households connect to water through lead pipes and lead service lines and, due to “decades of inequitable infrastructure development and underinvestment,” many Americans are at risk of lead exposure.
“There is no safe level of exposure to lead, particularly for children, and eliminating lead exposure from the air, water, and homes is a crucial component of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic commitment to advancing environmental justice,” the Biden administration said.
“The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests over $50 billion for the largest upgrade to the nation’s water infrastructure in history, and today’s action builds on these historic levels of funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, to replace lead service lines across the nation,” the statement continued.
The proposal would also aim to increase tap water sampling requirements, require water systems to complete comprehensive and publicly available lead service line inventories and strengthen and streamline requirements for water systems to take additional actions to reduce lead health risks to communities.
“This proposal advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, a whole-of-government approach to reduce all sources of lead exposure,” the White House said.
During the 2023 fiscal year alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed 49 cleanup projects that addressed lead contamination where it posed risks to people’s health around the country.
Lead is the environmental contaminant most commonly reported to the EPA, according to the White House.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is working to ensure a future where every child and family can live safely in their communities without the fear and harmful effects of lead exposure,” said the White House.
(WASHINGTON) -- As President Joe Biden tries to find a balance between supporting Israel and showing concern for the plight of Palestinian civilians, new details are emerging about how emotions spilled over during a private White House meeting last month between him, his aides and Muslim American advocates.
Just one day earlier, the president publicly questioned the death toll in Gaza reported by the Hamas-run health ministry there in the weeks after Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, sparking a war.
"I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed," the president said at a joint press conference with the Australian prime minister on Oct. 25. "I'm sure innocents have been killed, and it's the price of waging a war."
The next day, advocates said, Biden apologized to them during a meeting in the White House Roosevelt Room as they urged him to show more empathy for Palestinians and pushed, unsuccessfully, for him to back a permanent cease-fire.
Four participants described the atmosphere as emotional at times, even tearful, featuring both sharp words and a hug.
There were about a dozen people, total, in attendance for what was supposed to be a 30-minute, strictly off-the-record meeting.
The White House was provided the details from these attendees before this story was published and declined to comment on the record or confirm Biden's exact quotes from the meeting.
Among them were Muslim advocates and top White House aides, including Biden's domestic policy adviser, Neera Tanden, and the Small Business Administration's No. 2, Dilawar Syed, the highest-ranking Muslim person in the executive branch. ABC News spoke with five people in attendance, some of whom asked not to be identified by name because of the sensitivities.
The president wasn't a confirmed guest and participants believed they were getting a forum to talk with officials about Islamophobia, the U.S. position on the Israeli government, the Palestinians and related issues.
The meeting had been in the works for roughly a week or two, according to one of the attendees. After Biden walked into the Roosevelt Room, the gathering went on longer than planned -- ultimately for more than an hour -- according to a senior administration official.
His comments about Palestinian casualties, amid Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza to destroy Hamas' operations in the wake of Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack, stirred strong feelings.
According to multiple participants, the sole female guest, Dr. Suzanne Barakat, a prominent Muslim advocate, "respectfully challenged" the president over his tone about the Palestinians.
Barakat said, according to the participants, Biden's stance on the war lacked empathy toward people in Gaza.
Rami Nashashibi was also at the meeting and was the only Palestinian American participant. He told ABC News that he "challenged [Biden] very explicitly about how extraordinarily cruel and insensitive" the president's comment about the casualty statistics "sounded to people here and across the globe, who are witnessing the horrific death and carnage in Gaza."
Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization, runs Gaza and the Gaza Health Ministry. According to their statistics, more than 15,000 people have been killed in the territory and there have been reports of 7,000 people trapped under rubble.
The casualty numbers released by the health ministry are widely cited in the news but have not been independently verified, though officials like Secretary of State Antony Blinken went on to say in November, "Far too many Palestinians have been killed."
In a moment that multiple people in the room on Oct. 26 corroborated, Barakat emotionally told the president that "they both shared the loss of loved ones -- in her case, to horrific hateful violence."
Barakat's brother, his wife and her sister were all murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, eight years ago. Barakat described it as a hate crime.
Nashashibi said that Barakat related her experience to Biden's, listing off the names of the president's first wife, eldest son and baby daughter -- Neilia, Beau and Naomi -- all of whom have died.
Biden grew quiet and appeared "deeply affected," according to two of the meeting participants.
Barakat told Biden that empathy was his superpower, according to four participants. She turned her entire body toward the president and said, "You are lacking empathy toward Palestinian suffering. … We need your same level of human empathy for the Palestinian suffering."
The room was pin-drop silent, attendees said.
The president then cited some of his own experiences, like with Beau's brain cancer and Beau recovering from the 1972 car crash that killed Naomi and Neilia.
According to the participants, Biden said he did have empathy -- just ask his advisers -- but said he needed to do a better job sometimes portraying it.
He then sat for a moment, according to two participants, and reflected before apologizing. These participants, paraphrasing him, remembered Biden saying he was sorry, that he would do better and that he was disappointed in himself.
The conversation also touched on antisemitism, with the advocates saying that support for a future Palestinian state wasn't the same as antisemitism, according to Nashashibi.
Nashashibi said the president agreed with the participants that people should not be losing their jobs and having their personal information revealed online over challenging Israel’s strikes in Gaza.
The White House was provided the details from these attendees before this story was published and declined to confirm Biden's exact quotes from the meeting.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters this week that he wouldn't discuss accounts of private meetings.
While Nashashibi spoke out immediately after the Oct. 26 meeting, it has drawn renewed attention. The Washington Post first reported that Biden apologized to the advocates; some details were also reported by The New York Times.
The episode underscores the challenge Biden has faced given backlash from some allies -- both major Muslim advocates and some leading Democrats in Congress -- over his position on the war. The president has increasingly sought to strike a balance between supporting Israel's campaign against Hamas and speaking out about the importance of protecting civilians.
The White House was initially unequivocal in its support of Israel's response to Hamas' "unconscionable" terror. But the president and other officials have gone on to urge Israel to reduce civilian casualties in their retaliatory operations -- which Israeli officials maintains they do, despite the death toll -- and Biden has called for ongoing humanitarian pauses in order to try and free hostages believed to be held by Hamas and to send civilian aid into Gaza.
Since late last week, a tenuous truce has been in place between Israel and Hamas as part of a hostage-prisoner exchange deal in which more aid was also being allowed into Gaza.
Biden last week welcomed the pause and touted his administration's role in it, along with various Middle Eastern and Arab countries. He also suggested he might be open to putting conditions on further U.S. aid to Israel in order to curb the Israeli bombing campaign, which international organizations have noted has precipitated an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
However, the president has repeatedly declined to support a broader, ongoing cease-fire to the current war, despite calls for an end to the conflict coming from many Democratic activists and an increasing number of Democratic lawmakers.
White House officials have said they believe ending the conflict now would help Hamas in its continued attacks on Israel.
A White House source tells ABC News that there have been several meetings with White House staff these last few weeks about both messaging and policy related to the war. Led primarily by the White House chief of staff, Jeff Zients, and Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn, the meetings have been with Jewish, Muslim and Arab aides.
Some Muslim activists have said they will actively campaign against Biden in the 2024 presidential race, given that he hasn't embraced a broad cease-fire.
Participants at the Oct. 26 meeting with Muslim advocates said they failed to change Biden's mind on that point.
"He did not come to terms with us on the policy," Nashashibi said.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former Democratic National Committee official and the first Muslim elected to Congress, was a participant and told ABC News in a statement that "the President listened carefully, responded sincerely, and showed empathy and compassion for the suffering of everyone. The humanitarian pause is a welcome reprieve from the violence but the community remains steadfast in its demand for a sustained ceasefire, and negotiations to obtain a lasting settlement of the conflict."
One participant said they felt the administration's view had changed in some ways, though.
"They're talking more about enforcing, protecting civilians, and they're not doubting the [casualty] numbers anymore, and they're showing some humanity, empathy toward the victims," this person said.
The meeting also addressed long-standing issues, like the administration's strategy to combat Islamophobia, which multiple participants said had gained increased urgency.
"Muslim community leaders told President Biden that the suffering of innocent Gazans trying to survive in extremely difficult circumstances has actually increased the likelihood of Islamophobic attacks in the United States," Ellison said in his statement.
Multiple meeting participants told ABC News that they still hope the president strongly considers their policy requests. But more importantly, they said, they hope he follows through with his. They believe his push for Israel to minimize civilian damage has not been fully honored.
"So what is it that you are now prepared to do to make sure that your own asks are being respected?" said another participant, Emgage CEO Wa'el Alzayat.
As the meeting ended, according to Nashashibi, the president "leaned into [Barakat] very closely," placing his hand on hers. "He said something to the effect that in this moment he felt he wasn't just the president. He was a father and a grandfather."
Multiple other people in the room confirmed this exchange.
Nashashibi said Barakat leaned in, too, and was kind but "she was very clear in that moment, even in the thick of that deep emotional connection."
"But you are not just a father or grandfather. You are the president," he recalled her saying. "And you can stop this."