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2819d ago / 12:40 AM UTC

Aide: Mike Pence Supports McCain and Ayotte

An adviser to Mike Pence told NBC News the Republican vice presidential nominee endorses John McCain and Kelly Ayotte in their re-election bids after originally skirting around the question earlier in the day.

"Mike Pence endorses John McCain and Kelly Ayotte in their primary bids," Pence communications adviser Marc Short said in a statement.

When asked about his support for the two GOP senators earlier on Thursday, Pence told reporters: “I look forward to supporting Republican candidates in the days and weeks ahead all over the country, and so does Donald Trump. But the stakes in this election are so high. To restore our country and home and abroad, we need new leadership, and I’m looking forward to standing should to shoulder with Donald Trump to drive that new leadership forward.”

Trump declined to endorse both senators, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan. But aides to Pence said he never intended to withhold support for either of the senators.

Pence also told reporters that he sees “eye to eye” with Donald Trump on their views of the Khan family, the current iteration of the Muslim ban and Russia’s alleged role in the hacking of DNC emails.

“I think Donald Trump and I see eye to eye on all those issues,” Pence said. “Donald Trump and I both said that Captain Khan is an American hero and his family, like every Gold Star family, should be cherished, and by every American.”

Related: Donald Trump Pushes Republican Party to Its Breaking Point

He continued: “With regard to other issues, I just—I've seen my role as simply amplifying the points that Donald Trump is making.”

On Wednesday, Pence announced his endorsement of Speaker Paul Ryan despite his running mate’s hesitancy to do the same ahead of the speaker’s Tuesday primary.

Pence said that he spoke with Trump about his desire to back Paul, a friend. It was the first acknowledgement of pushback by Pence.

When asked on Thursday whether he has shared any other positions of disagreements beyond Trump’s declining to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan, Pence told reporters that “those private conversations” will remain private.

Pence iterated on his plane that he and Trump will stand “shoulder to shoulder in this campaign” despite having different ways of delivering their message.

“We have different styles, but we have the exact same goals, the exact same vision, and I strongly support Donald Trump’s brand of leadership,” Pence said, adding that he speaks with the GOP nominee “just about every day.”

2714d ago / 11:00 PM UTC

Trump's Inaugural Committee Yet to on Decide Lobbyist Ban

While President-elect Donald Trump's transition has placed restrictions on some lobbyists from serving in the transition, the inaugural committee has not yet made such determinations

Three members of the inaugural committee, which is stacked with Trump's and Vice Preisdent-elect Mike Pence's top donors and fundraisers, told NBC News that a decision hasn't yet been made on whether restrictions will be placed on the amount a person could give to or if a ban on lobbyists or corporations would be instituted. 

An announcement could come out as early as tomorrow but more likely next week the sources said. 

The inaugural committee is tasked with raising money for the inauguration beyond what the government allows. It also pays for balls, parties and events surrounding the event. 

In 2008, President-elect Barack Obama placed a $50,000 limit on individual donors and banned contributions from lobbyists, corporations and super PACs. The committee also entertained no sponsorship agreements.  

In 2012, President Obama loosened those restrictions and allowed for contributions from corporations but not from lobbyists or super PACs

The law allows unlimited contributions from corporations and U.S. permanent residents. 

2714d ago / 7:55 PM UTC

Romney and Trump to Meet This Weekend

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will meet with President-elect Donald Trump this weekend, NBC News confirms.  

Romney delivered a blistering takedown of Trump in a speech in March, calling the then-candidate “a phony” and “a fraud.” Trump has called Romney a loser and said he “choked like a dog” during his 2012 bid against President Obama.

A source close to Trump with direct knowledge of the president-elect's thinking confirms the meeting is to discuss the position of Secretary of State. 

Trump endorsed Romney during his campaign four years ago. The former Massachusetts governor began to repair the relationship last week by calling to congratulate Trump on his surprise win.   

2714d ago / 7:01 PM UTC

Obama 'Cautiously Optimistic' About Trump Presidency

President Obama on Thursday said he is “cautiously optimistic” about Donald Trump’s presidency once the reality of his immense responsibilities sets in. 

“There's something about the solemn responsibilities of that office, the extraordinary demands that are placed on the United States, not just by its own people, but by people around the world that forces you to focus,” Obama said during a press conference in Germany on Thursday.

“If you're not serious about the job, then you probably won't be there very long because it will expose problems,” Obama added.

The president added that he “wouldn’t advise” those opposed to Trump to be silent or stop protesting, but said the election should be an important reminder about the importance of voting.

2715d ago / 11:15 PM UTC

Effort to Bring Back Congressional Earmarks Blocked

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan blocked an amendment that would have brought back earmarks - the mechanism to add specific funding items to federal spending bills. 
Earmarks came under fire for contributing to corruption in Washington. But proponents of earmarks say that it's better that elected officials decide how money is spent at federal agencies instead of the executive branch, which determines how funds are spent if not directed by Congress. 
But Speaker Ryan said allowing earmarks would be a slap in the face to President-elect Donald Trump's "drain the swamp" win. 
Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus said they wanted reforms added to any effort to bring back earmarks, something that wasn't part of the proposed plan.
Ryan didn't discount a vote on earmarks early next year. 
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid defended earmarks Wednesday. 
I'm one of the kings of earmarks," Reid said. "I think it was a terrible disservice to America to come up with this stupid idea ... to stop congressional-directed spending."
2716d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

Sens. Schumer and McConnell Elected Senate Leaders

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was easily elected by his caucus to lead Senate Democrats for the next two years and Republicans unanimously re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to serve as Majority Leader.

Schumer, who is set to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid, will spearhead the party's messaging and policy priorities in the first two years of a Donald Trump administration.

Read more here. 

2716d ago / 4:32 PM UTC

Martin O'Malley Withdraws From DNC Race

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley pulled himself out of contention to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee Wednesday, days after he said he was considering a bid.

"While I'm grateful to the supportive friends who have urged me to consider running for DNC Chair, I will not be seeking our Party's Chairmanship. The DNC needs a Chair who can do the job fully and with total impartiality. The national interest must come first," O'Malley said in an email to supporters.

Read more here.

2716d ago / 6:39 PM UTC

McCain Warns Against Russian Reset

Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday warned against any attempt to reboot U.S.-Russia relations under Donald Trump’s presidency.

“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States. We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies, and attempted to undermine America’s elections,” the Arizona senator said in a statement.

Russia on Tuesday launched a major military offensive in Syria where Putin is backing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Throughout the campaign, Trump spoke highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he would improve relations between the two countries. Putin and Trump spoke after his victory last week.

“The Obama Administration’s last attempt at resetting relations with Russia culminated in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and military intervention in the Middle East,” McCain said. “At the very least, the price of another ‘reset’ would be complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people.”

2720d ago / 5:38 PM UTC

Martin O'Malley: 'I'm Taking a Hard Look at DNC Chair'

Even though the election for the next Democratic National Committee chairman will not take place until next year, the race is heating up quickly with former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley adding his name to the mix Friday. "Since the election, I have been approached by many Democrats who believe our party needs new leadership. I'm taking a hard look at DNC Chair because I know how badly we need to reform our nominating process, articulate a bold progressive vision, recommit ourselves to higher wages and a stronger middle class, and return to our roots as a nationwide, grassroots party," O'Malley said in a statement.O'Malley ran for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders this year, but withdrew after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses, where he finished with less than 1 percent of the delegates. O'Malley has experience on TV and in the national spotlight, and he led a party organ as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, where he helped raise millions of dollars. He's seen as a loyal party solider, though that may not be as much of an asset at a time when many are demanding a fresh take. Former DNC Chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has also said he's interested in the job, while Rep. Keith Ellison is expected to announce his bid Monday after securing the support for Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and warm words from Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Others are likely to join the fray as well.

2721d ago / 3:54 PM UTC

Major Donor Leading Trump's Inaugural Committee

Tom Barrack, a major financial backer of Donald Trump and CEO of Colony Capital, a real estate development and investment firm, will lead Donald Trump's Inaugural Committee, a source close to Barrack told NBC News. 

Barrack launched a super PAC, Rebuilding American Now PAC. When he announced the super PAC he said he had $32 million in commitments. He was never able to raise that much but did raise $20 million in three months, including $6 million from Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment and $5 million from Home Depot's Bernard Marcus.

As head of the Inaugural Committee, Barrack will oversee preparations and raise money for Trump's inauguration. President Barack Obama's first inaugural committee raised $53 million. 

2721d ago / 3:04 PM UTC

Schumer Backs Ellison for DNC Chair

As Democrats plot a path forward after Donald Trump's victory, incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backed progressive Rep. Keith Ellison for chairman of the Democratic National Committee Friday, an aide confirmed. The two spoke yesterday, according to the aide, who said Schumer believes the DNC should take on the role of coordinating grassroots organizing in sync with legislative battles on Capitol Hill. 

Schumer adds momentum behind Ellison, following support from Sen. Bernie Sanders and several liberals groups. Sen. Elizabeth Warren told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Thursday night that Ellison would be a "terrific" DNC chair. 

Ellison, who backed Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, has been quiet as allies move quickly around him. He told the liberal group Democracy for America Thursday night he would make an announcement on Monday. 

Former DNC Chair and Vermont Gov. Howard has tossed announced his bid. "I am very interested in the chairmanship of the DNC, not so much because I think I’m the only person that can fix it, but I think we need a full-time chair," he told MSNBC Friday. 

After the tenure of former chairwoman Debbie Wassmerman Schultz, some DNC members want a full-time leader who does not hold elected office, which could complicate Ellison's bid. Some close to Hillary Clinton are pushing former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to run as well.

2722d ago / 4:23 PM UTC

Trump Affirms US, UK Alliance in Call With British PM

President-elect Donald Trump spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May to affirm the “very special” relationship between the two countries, according to a readout of the conversation.

May congratulated Trump on his election and said his commitment to unite America must extend across the globe.

“The prime minister said that we have a long history of shared values and added that she looked forward to that continuing in the future,” according to the press release from the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Trump called the United Kingdom a “very, very special place for me and for our country.”