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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died at the age of 99, ABC News has confirmed.

"Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens, died this evening at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side. He was 99 years old," the Supreme Court confirmed.

Stevens was nominated to the high court by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 and retired in 2010 after serving more than 34 years on the court.

He is survived by his children, Elizabeth Jane Sesemann and Susan Roberta Mullen, nine grandchildren: Kathryn, Christine, Edward, Susan, Lauren, John, Madison, Hannah, Haley, and 13 great grandchildren. His first wife Elizabeth Jane, his second wife, Maryan Mulholland, his son, John Joseph, and his daughter, Kathryn, preceded him in death.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. released a statement through the Supreme Court following the death announcement.

“On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice John Paul Stevens has passed away. A son of the Midwest heartland and a veteran of World War II, Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court. He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his children Elizabeth and Susan, and to his extended family," the statement read.

Despite being put on the bench by a Republican, Stevens became a hero to liberals voting to limit the use of the death penalty, uphold affirmative action, broaden the core holding of Roe v. Wade and argue for a strict separation of church and state.

But Stevens might be best known for his dissent in Bush v. Gore, the controversial Supreme Court decision that halted a recount of Florida ballots and cleared the way for George W. Bush to take the presidency.

"Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear," Stevens wrote at the time. "It is the nation's confidence in the judge as the impartial guardian of the rule of law."

Stevens was active in legal and political discourse to the very end.

In May, he gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, giving this assessment of our politics today: "I think there are things we should be concerned about, there’s no doubt about that,” he says, parrying requests for specifics. Eventually, he allows, “The president is exercising powers that do not really belong to him. I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that.”

Stevens also penned an op-ed published in The New York Times in March 2018 calling for action to end gun violence. Stevens called for a repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution in order to weaken the National Rifle Association’s ability to "stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation."

President Donald Trump dismissed Stevens' call to repeal the Second Amendment. "The second amendment will never be repealed," Trump tweeted at the time. "As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens."

Speaking at Washington University School of Law in 2016, Stevens was asked what about his legacy. His reply: "I did the best I could."

Earlier this year he released his third book - an autobiography - "The Making of a Justice, Reflections on My First 94 Years."

Reflecting in the book on the 2000 Bush v Gore decision, he writes, “I remain of the view that the Court has not fully recovered from the damage it inflicted on itself."

Stevens was known as a keen tactician on the court. Because he was the senior justice on the liberal side of the bench, he had the authority to assign cases when the chief justice was voting on the other side.

Stevens used this authority strategically, sometimes assigning himself the big decisions, but other times working with an undecided justice hoping to bring him or her to his side of the argument.

He once told law professor Jeffrey Rosen, "In all candor, if you think somebody might not be solid...it might be wiser to let that person write the opinion."
Stevens' rise to the High Court

Shortly after graduating from the University of Chicago in 1941, Stevens joined the Navy and served as a code-breaker in WWII, for which he was awarded a bronze star.

After the war, Stevens attended Northwestern Law School with funds from the G.I. Bill, after which he served as law clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge of the Supreme Court during the 1947 term, the court said in a statement.

Stevens was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1949.

From 1970-1975, Stevens served as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Upon his retirement from the Supreme Court in April 2010, then-President Barack Obama hailed Stevens as an "impartial guardian of the law."

"Justice Stevens has courageously served his country from the moment he enlisted the day before Pearl Harbor to his long and distinguished tenure on the Supreme Court," the president said. "During that tenure he has stood as an impartial guardian of the law. He's worn the judicial robe with honor and humility. He has applied the Constitution and the laws of the land with fidelity and restraint."

Abortion: Stevens was not yet on the court when Roe v. Wade, the opinion that legalized abortion, was decided, but he later voted to reaffirm its core holding in Casey v. Pennsylvania.

Affirmative Action: In 2003, he voted to uphold the admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School which took race into consideration in its admissions process. Stevens told an audience at Fordham College in 2006, "With respect to the constitutionality of affirmative action, we have learned that justifications based on past sins may be less persuasive than those predicated on anticipated future benefits."

Death Penalty: During his career on the high court, Stevens came full circle on the issue of the death penalty. In 1976, he voted to reinstate the use of the death penalty but 32 years later, he dropped a bombshell: he had come to believe the death penalty was unconstitutional.

In Baze v. Rees (2008) he wrote: "I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty represents the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes."

Before this revelation, he wrote Atkins v. Virginia (2002), which ended the death penalty for mentally retarded criminals, and voted to strike down the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

Campaign Finance: Stevens authored a withering dissent in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 5-4 decision that invalidated decades old federal legislation restricting corporate spending in political campaigns. Stevens read his dissent from the bench shredding the majority's reasoning, saying "at bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt."

Gay rights: In 2003, Stevens assigned Justice Anthony Kennedy to write Lawrence v. Taylor, the landmark gay rights case striking down a criminal ban on gay consensual sex. In his opinion, Kennedy relied heavily on a dissent Stevens had written years earlier in an opinion upholding an anti-gay law.

Internet: In Sony v. Universal Studios, he wrote the decision that found consumers do not violate federal copyright law when they tape TV programs with their video cassette recorders.

Flag Burning: Stevens didn't always express a liberal view in his opinions. In 1989, Stevens, who won a Bronze Star in World War II, wrote a strong dissent in a decision that upheld a protester's right to burn the American flag. Stevens said, "Sanctioning the public desecration of the flag will tarnish its value -- both for those who cherish the ideas for which it waves and for those who desire to don the robes of martyrdom by burning it."

National Security: In Rasul v. Bush, Stevens struck a blow to the Bush administration's take on executive power when he said that federal courts have the jurisdiction to hear challenges to foreign nationals being held in Guantanamo Bay. "In national security cases under the second Bush administration, Guantanamo-type cases, he was very strong in ruling against what he said were excessive uses of presidential power and in expanding judicial power in the national security area," said National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor.

In the few interviews the justice has granted over the years, he has steadfastly maintained that he is a judicial conservative, despite his liberal votes. He suggests that he hasn't changed, but the court became more conservative.

"I see myself as a conservative, to tell you the truth," he told ABC in 2007, just after the death of Gerald R. Ford, the president who nominated him.

In that interview, Stevens expressed his admiration for Ford, saying, "I have to tell you I was amazed to find how intelligent he was; right away, I realized I was talking to a very sound, good lawyer, which is kind of contrary to the image he portrayed to the press as sort of being a klutz or something. He was anything but. He was a charming, decent guy."

As for Ford, until his death, he maintained how proud he was of his decision to name Stevens to the court. In 2005, Ford sent a letter to the Fordham Law School which said, in part, that Stevens, "served his nation well, at all times carrying out his judicial duties with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns.

"Justice Stevens has made me, and our fellow citizens, proud of my three-decade-old decision to appoint him to the Supreme Court," Ford wrote. Stevens has the letter framed in his chambers.

Stevens was born in Chicago in April 1920 to a wealthy South Side family. His father owned the famed Stevens Hotel, which is now the Chicago Hilton. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1941 and then served as a Navy intelligence officer. He graduated from Northwestern University Law School in 1947.

Stevens was just a few years away from breaking the record for the longest serving member of the court held by William O. Douglas who stepped down after 36 years on the bench. But former Stevens clerks say their boss had no interest in breaking records.

Unlike most other justices, he wrote the first draft of his opinions himself, he continues to play tennis and commutes to his home in Florida. He told Joan Biskupic of USA Today that he was surprised at the frenzy of speculation over his retirement. "That can't be news," he said in October, declining to reveal his plans. "I'm not exactly a kid."

Asked about his legacy in the 2007 interview with ABC, Stevens said he wanted to be remembered on the basis of the opinions he's written. "There's an awful lot of them. They'd have to pick and choose among them," he said. "But you leave -- you know, you leave your record on what you had to say over the years.

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- House Democrats moved to formally rebuke President Donald Trump's attacks against four Democratic congresswomen of color, readying a Tuesday night vote on a measure condemning his "racist" Twitter attacks telling the progressive lawmakers to "go back" to their countries.

In a series of tweets, the president has criticized the progressive Democratic congresswomen for what he characterized as "horrible and disgusting actions." Over the weekend he also suggested that they should stop criticizing the government and "go back" to where they came from.

Three of the four Democrats targeted by Trump -- Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; were born in the United States. Rep. Ilhan Omar -- a Muslim lawmaker representing Minnesota who Trump falsely accused of praising al-Qaeda -- was born in Somalia.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., who was born in Poland; is titled "Condemning President Trump's racist comments directed at Members of Congress."

It unfavorably compares Trump's comments to those of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, who praised the impact of immigrants on the United States, and "strongly condemns" Trump's language, stating that it has "legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."

"This is an affront to 22 million naturalized citizens who were born in another country," Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a cosponsor of the measure, said of Trump's tweets on the floor Tuesday. "It's an affront to the hundreds of millions of Americans who understand and love how American democracy works."

The targeted group of freshmen women, known as "the squad" on Capitol Hill, responded to the president's attacks in a news conference on Monday afternoon, and urged Democrats and supporters to focus on their agenda.

"This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people," Pressley said.

Omar and Tlaib both cited Trump's comments as justification to launch impeachment proceedings against the president.

Trump stood by his initial attacks on Monday and Tuesday.

Roughly 42 Republicans in Congress criticized Trump's attacks against their Democratic colleagues, according to an ABC News survey of 254 congressional Republicans, with a handful saying that they believed the comments were racist.

"Political rhetoric has really gotten way, way over-heated all across the political spectrum," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday. "From the president to the speaker, to the freshmen members of the house, all of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse. Our words do matter, we all know politics is a contact support. But it's about time we lowered the temperature all across the board. All of us ought to contribute to a better level of discourse."

Pressed when he stopped short of calling the president’s attacks racist, McConnell said, "The president is not a racist. I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country."

In response, Ocasio-Cortez told ABC News that McConnell is "complicit in advancing racism in America" for not criticizing Trump."

"When you tell American citizens to go back to their country ... that has everything to do with race," she said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that he didn't consider Trump's comments to be racist, and accused Democrats of trying to play politics against Trump with the resolution on the floor.

"Let's not be false about what is happening here today," he said. "This is all about politics and beliefs of ideologies."

House GOP leaders are encouraging Republicans to vote against the measure, a spokesperson for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told ABC News.

Trump's attacks managed to unify House Democrats after weeks of infighting over the caucus response to the migrant crisis at the border, and the Trump administration's immigration policies.

"These are our sisters," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the four Democrats targeted by Trump in a meeting Tuesday morning, according to an aide in the room.

"The fact is, as offended as we are, and we are offended by what he said about our sisters. He says that about people every day and they feel as hurt as we do about somebody in our family having this offence against them," she said.

"This is, I hope, one where we will get Republican support. If they can't support condemning the words of the President, well that's a message in and of itself," she added.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Like 80% of women incarcerated in the U.S., Cynthia Shank was a mother when she went to prison.

Shank was pregnant when she was indicted and like many incarcerated women, she served time for nonviolent offenses -- in her case, she was sentenced to 15-years for federal conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend. Nearly 150,000 women are pregnant when they are admitted into prison.

Shank, along with other prison reform advocates, appeared in front of the House Judiciary subcommittee for a hearing on women in the criminal justice system to discuss ways to make sure women are not overlooked in the conversation on criminal justice reform.

"Prison destroyed my small young family," Shank said. "Prison is set up to separate and destroy bonds."

She shared harrowing stories with the subcommittee, detailing what it was like being a mother in prison and what she saw other mothers go through during their imprisonment.

"I had to witness and hear the cries of mothers at night who just had to sign over custody of their children because they could no longer be there for them and they were taken away from them," Shank said.

Piper Kerman, author of the novel turned Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," also shared what her experience was like while imprisoned and why there needs to be a shift in policy to directly impact the growing number of women in prison.

"Policies, not crime, drive incarceration," Kerman said.

Women are now the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population and initiatives to slow and even reverse the growth of the prison population have had disproportionately less effect on women, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. The total number of men incarcerated in state prisons fell more than 5% between 2009 and 2015, while the number of women in state prisons fell only a fraction of a percent, 0.29%

"In a number of states, women’s prison populations are growing faster than men’s, and in others, they are going up while men’s are actually declining," said Aleks Kajstura, legal director of the Prison Policy Initiative.

The war on drugs is what many of the panelists and lawmakers pointed to as part of the reason there are such high rates of women incarcerated.

"Much of the growth of women in prisons can be attributed to the war on drugs," said Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the Washington legislative office for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Addressing this unfair issue is important because the war on drugs appears to be a large driver of the incarceration rates of women, as illustrated by the fact that the proportion of women in prison for a drug offense has increased from 12% in 1986 to 25% in more recent years." Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said.

An estimated 61% of women are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, according to The Sentencing Project.

McCurdy touched on what many women, including Shank, fall victim to in the criminal justice system --conspiracy charges as they relate to a significant other, also known as the "Girlfriend problem."

"You don’t have to necessarily have dealt drugs, you have to have some role in a conspiracy and that role is very little," McCurdy said. "You can pick up the phone in your house that you live in with your partner and that’s enough to implicate you in a conspiracy."

Family trauma was also a major focal point of the hearing, as lawmakers turned to the panel to seek their insight on the best ways to address the trauma of family separation. Shank told the subcommittee members that while she was incarcerated in a federal prison in Florida, she was only able to see her children once a year and that her children would beg her not to hang up the phone when they spoke.

"I'm an adult, I accepted the consequences of my sentencing, but my children were the innocent victims of this," Shank said.

The committee also spent time discussing the relationship between male prison guards and female inmates, with both Shank and Kerman saying that there needs to be more attention on the safety of women who are behind bars with male guards.

"I never felt safe changing," Shank said. "Guards know your schedule, and if they want to single you out they will."

Panelists were also asked to speak on the need of bail reform for women behind bars, as 1 in 4 women who are incarcerated have not been convicted and over 60% of women who could not make bail are parents of minor children, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Kerman said that there needs to be primary care consideration in the courts that require judges to consider the impact on families in both pre-trial hearings and sentencing.

"Women will no longer be overlooked in the criminal justice conversation," Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said. "We must have an overall approach to criminal justice reform that specifically considers women.

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Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A federal judge has banned Roger Stone, the longtime confidant to President Donald Trump, from using social media after finding him in violation of a court-issued gag order on Tuesday.

In doing so, U.S. Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Stone not to "post or communicate on Instagram Twitter or Facebook in any way or any subject."

"It seems as if once again I am wrestling with behavior that has to do more with middle school than a court of law," Jackson said Tuesday. "Whether the problem is that you can't follow simple orders or you won't, I need to help you out."

Tuesday's hearing reflected an ongoing dispute over Stone's rabble-rousing presence on social media.

In February, Stone targeted Jackson in an inflammatory Instagram post that resulted in her putting him under a gag order, officially preventing him from speaking publicly about the case. In March, after Stone's publisher re-released one of his books with fresh criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller, Jackson warned him of the "cost and consequences" of violating her order.

Mueller indicted Stone in January on five counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Stone has pleaded not guilty to all seven counts, and his trial is expected to begin in November. The charges brought by Mueller's office largely revolve around false statements Stone is accused of making to the House Intelligence Committee regarding his communications with associates about WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

During a lengthy dressing-down of the political provocateur and his legal team on Tuesday, Jackson walked through several instances in which Stone made comments to reporters and posted to social media about matters surrounding his case. The judge cited specific images Stone posted to Instagram, including a photo of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., with the label, "Bull Schiff."

Last month, government prosecutors filed court documents asking the judge to reconsider the terms of Stone's release as a result of those social media posts, which "risk tainting the jury pool," prosecutors wrote at the time.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutor Jonathan Kravis argued that Stone's social media posts "clearly violate" the court's gag order.

"These most recent posts are based on what we believe are factual misrepresentations in a defense filing about a subject that is not actually relevant to the trial," Kravis argued, "but that threatens to contaminate the jury pool."

Kravis proposed that the court revoke Stone's access to social media, but stopped short of asking Jackson to send Stone to pre-trial detention.

Jackson considered prosecutors' accusations from the bench on Tuesday, probing Stone's legal team to explain how the posts do not violate the gag order.

"Was there anything unclear about my order?" she asked repeatedly of Stone's attorney, Bruce Rogow.

Meanwhile, defense counsel for Stone sought to tamp down Jackson's visible frustration while defending their client.

"From the tone of your questions, I get the sense that you are not happy with Mr. Stone," Rogow said, but argued that "this is not a violation of the court order."

Rogow said he planned to formally submit a request to have the judge dismiss his gag order entirely, arguing that "the whole underlying premise, I think, is a false premise to begin with."

A skeptical Judge Jackson warned Rogow, "You’ve got a tough road to go there."

After court adjourned, ABC News asked Stone for his reaction to the expanded gag order preventing his social media use.

"I'm sorry, I can't speak to that on the court house property," Stone replied.

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Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is not backing down from his attacks on several female lawmakers as House Democrats call for his impeachment.

“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public shouting of the F...word, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills. Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

He later added that his original tweets "were NOT Racist. I don't have a racist bone in my body!"

Trump has been criticizing the "squad" of freshman lawmakers -- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. -- for what he characterized as “horrible and disgusting actions.”

"When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!" Trump said in a tweet.

Omar appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show Monday night, calling for the president’s impeachment and asserting that his agenda “is the agenda of white nationalists.”

“We are suggesting he committed high crimes and misdemeanors and it's about time we start the process and impeach this president,” Omar said.

Trump’s attacks on the freshman lawmakers of color have sparked intense debate with critics referring to them as xenophobic and racist.

Democratic Rep. Al Green announced Monday at a press conference that he plans to introduce articles of impeachment this month due to Trump's “bigotry.”

"This is not about the Mueller report," he said. "This is not about obstruction. We can impeach this president for his bigotry in policy that is harming our society."

"This is about the president's statement that they should go back,” Green added. “That statement in and of itself is a racist, bigoted statement."

A Pew Research poll from April found that 56% of Americans polled believe Trump has made race relations in the U.S. worse.

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liveslow/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of the second of the Democratic 2020 presidential primary debates, candidates are redoubling efforts to ensure they meet critical fundraising and polling thresholds to make it on stage in the hopes of distinguishing themselves from their competitors and pitching their campaigns to millions of voters.

The debates are just two weeks away, and the candidates find out Wednesday if they'll make it onstage.

Here's what you need to know about the upcoming debates:

When and where are the second DNC debates?

The second of the Democratic party's 2020 primary presidential primary debates are at 8 p.m. ET July 30-31 in Detroit. The July debates will be hosted by CNN and CNN en Español. CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, The Lead Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper and CNN Tonight Anchor Don Lemon will moderate both debate nights.

Twenty candidates will participate over the two nights, with 10 candidates appearing each night.

Candidates will be informed Wednesday as to whether they will be participating in the debates, one day after the last day to qualify for them. The line up will be determined in a live drawing, which CNN will broadcast on July 18 in the 8 p.m. ET hour, according to a network spokesperson.

How do candidates qualify for the second debates?

The Democratic National Committee announced in February the thresholds required to gain entrance into the party's first two presidential debates, setting benchmarks for polling and grassroots fundraising that represent the first tangible effort to pare down an already crowded field of candidates.

The third Democratic primary debate will be hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision and is scheduled for Sept. 12-13. The qualifying rules are different for this debate, and the fourth debate in October.

In order to qualify for the debates at the end of July, candidates must earn at least 1% support in three separate national or early-state polls conducted from Jan. 1 to two weeks before the given debate, which is Tuesday for the upcoming debates, or receive donations from at least 65,000 people across 20 different states, with a minimum of 200 unique donors per state.

The number of debate participants has been capped at 20 by the DNC.

Who's qualified for the second debates so far?

Based on an analysis by ABC News, 14 of the 25 candidates have met both the polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds, virtually guaranteeing them a spot on stage.

In alphabetical order, those candidates are:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
  • Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  • California Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • Best-selling author and activist Marianne Williamson
  • Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang

For the remaining 11 candidates, six have qualified based on polling only:

Those candidates are:

  • Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
  • Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan

California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who dropped out of the race on July 8, had also qualified for the debates after crossing the polling threshold. Even if he stayed in the race, Bullock edged Swalwell out for the 20th spot on the stage for the second debates, according to the DNC's tiebreaker rules, since Bullock has received 1% in more polls than Swalwell.

According to his campaign, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel hit the grassroots fundraising threshold Friday night, but he still needs to cross the polling threshold in order to land on a debate stage.

Candidates have until midnight to qualify.

Who's likely to be left off the debate stage?

There are five candidates who viewers likely won't be seeing on either night.

According to an ABC News analysis, while Gravel has qualified based on grassroots fundraising, he only has one poll with 1% support, and polling takes primacy over the donor threshold, so unless he acquires two more polls with at least 1% support before the deadline Tuesday, he likely won't be on stage.

The candidates who haven't reached either qualifying threshold are Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam, who has two polls with 1% support; Tom Steyer, the latest to enter the race, who has zero qualifying polls; Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, who has zero qualifying polls; and former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, who has zero qualifying polls.

What are the rules for the debates?

Candidates will have an opportunity to give both opening and closing statements and have two hours to debate on stage, CNN said. The presidential hopefuls will have 60 seconds to answer questions from the moderators and 30 seconds to respond to follow up questions and rebuttals. If invoked by name by another candidate, the candidate will have 30 seconds to respond. Candidates who repeatedly interrupt will have their time reduced, according to CNN.

As far as types of questions, CNN said there would be "no show of hands or one-word, down-the-line questions," which were done during the first debates hosted by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

How will the DNC winnow down the field if more than 20 candidates qualify?

If more than 20 candidates qualify, the DNC said those who have met both qualifying thresholds will be the first to make the stage. After that, the candidates who have the highest polling average based on their top three polls will qualify. If there are still spots left after that, candidates with the greatest number of unique donors will qualify.

In the event that multiple candidates have the same polling average and there needs to be a tiebreaker to determine who gets the remaining spot(s), the candidates will be ranked based on who has the greatest number of polls with at least 1% support. Those who have the most will make the stage first.

Are the DNC rules the same for the later debates?

In December, prior to the much of the current field's entry into the race, DNC Chair Tom Perez revealed the party's plans to hold a total of 12 debates and split the early events into separate sessions to accommodate the expected quantity of candidates. Six of the Democratic Party's 12 debates will take place in 2019 and six in 2020.

For the next round of debates happening later this year, the DNC announced new, more stringent qualifying rules that up the ante to qualify for the September debate, hosted by ABC News and Univision, and for the debate to follow, slated to take place in October.

In order to qualify for the September and October debates, the DNC requires candidates to meet both polling and grassroots funding criteria, and have doubled the thresholds: a candidate must receive 2% or more support in at least four national polls or polls out of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada, and candidates must have received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors over the course of the election cycle, with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.

The new qualifying rules ramp up the pressure on many in the crowded Democratic field, which has grown to 25 candidates total.

Will there be a climate debate?

Inslee, who is centering his campaign on the issue of climate change, has repeatedly urged the DNC to make one of the 12 presidential debates solely focused on climate policy. But after repeated calls from the Washington governor, activists, top members of the committee, and even several candidates signaling their openness to a climate debate, Perez said he would not amend the current rules to include one this cycle, instead saying that climate change will be featured front and center during this cycle's debates.

But at a July meeting of the DNC's executive committee, party leaders asked the organization to consider a proposal that allows the candidates to participate in a climate debate (not necessarily hosted by the DNC) without facing penalty. It will be decided on at the committee's August meeting.

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Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- A day after his formal nomination, Mark Esper, President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next secretary of Defense, will face questions from senators at his confirmation hearing.

While there appeared to be near-unanimous consent among the senators that Esper would be confirmed to the position, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., voiced her opposition to the nominee due to ethics concerns, even accusing Esper of "corruption."

Esper, who's served as Trump's Army secretary, became acting Defense secretary on June 24 after his acting predecessor, Patrick Shanahan, withdrew his name from nomination following reports of domestic violence in his family's past. Esper appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee for nearly three hours on Tuesday morning, more than 200 days after former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned over policy differences with the president.

The hearing was largely not contentious, with Esper taking a hard line on China, pledging to prioritize the well-being of service members and their families, and emphasizing the importance of modernization, especially in regards to artificial intelligence and directed energy and hypersonic weapons.

Warren, also a presidential candidate, was among several senators who asked Esper about his seven years as chief lobbyist for the defense company Raytheon and how that employment could present a conflict of interest, if confirmed as defense secretary.

In a heated exchange with Warren, Esper acknowledged that, if confirmed, he would not extend his recusal from Raytheon-related matters or commit not to work for or get paid by a defense contractor for four years after he leaves government.

He said that this decision was made at the advice of Department of Defense ethics officials because the screening process he has in place -- which dictates how staff handle any issues that could present a conflict of interest -- is sufficient. He added that he would continue to abide by DOD rules and regulations.

"The American people deserve to know that you're making decisions in our country's best security interests, not in your own financial interests," Warren said. "You can't make those commitments to this committee that means you should not be confirmed as secretary of defense."

Esper defended himself, talking about attending West Point and military service in which he embraced the motto "duty, honor and country."

"I went to war for this country. I served overseas for this country," he said. "I think the presumption is that anyone who comes from business or the corporate world is corrupt."

Several Republican senators later apologized to Esper for the confrontation. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said that Warren "just needed a moment for her presidential campaign."

Defense officials and congressional leaders alike have expressed hope that a Defense secretary be confirmed before the August recess. Eric Chewning, chief of staff to the acting Defense secretary, has said the Senate can take as long as it needs to consider Esper's nomination, but added that "historical precedent" shows past defense secretaries have been confirmed in under a week.

Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that the plan is to vote Esper's nomination out of committee on Thursday, with a final Senate vote next week.

During the confirmation process, Esper cannot serve in his acting role, so Navy Secretary Richard Spencer assumed the duties of acting Defense secretary on Monday afternoon when the White House submitted Esper's formal nomination to the Senate. Meanwhile, Esper has returned to serving as Army secretary.

"While my time in this role is anticipated to be brief, I am fully prepared and committed to serve as Acting Secretary of Defense, and I will provide continuity in the leadership of the Department," Spencer said in a letter to Defense Department personnel. "Our allies and partners can rest assured that the Department of Defense remains ready to respond to meet our commitments around the globe in support of our common goals."

Esper graduated from West Point in 1986 -- the same class as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- and went on to serve in the Army for over a decade, including a deployment to the Middle East during the Gulf War.

Before joining Raytheon, he spent a considerable amount of time on Capitol Hill as a Senate committee staffer and adviser to several senators. He was also the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for negotiations policy during the Bush administration.

As Army secretary, Esper spent time with the president, traveling with him to an Abrams tank factory in Ohio and to the southern border amidst the deployment of active duty soldiers there.

Esper stepped into his role as acting Defense secretary as the Trump administration was considering how to navigate increased tensions with Iran. And in late June, he attended a NATO defense ministerial in Brussels, urging U.S. allies to confront Iran.

His confirmation hearing comes as a number of top Pentagon jobs have yet to be permanently filled, including the deputy defense secretary, chief management officer and Air Force secretary.

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Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential hopeful Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said it's time to move forward with impeaching President Donald Trump in light of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, which did not render a judgment on whether he committed obstruction of justice.

When asked by ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast whether the country has lost interest in Mueller's findings from his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Moulton replied: "I don't know, and I don't care."

"I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the politics of my party," Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer, told ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast. "And Mueller has made it very clear that we have a constitutional duty to pursue impeachment."

[ READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF MOULTON'S INTERVIEW ON "THE INVESTIGATION" ]

Discussion among House Democrats of whether to open an impeachment inquiry against the president has splintered the party in recent weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come out publicly against impeachment, and at the moment its future looks dim given that it lacks support from the majority of the 553 house members. But according to ABC News' count, at least 86 members of the House are in favor of launching impeachment inquiries against Trump.

Moulton said Monday that Democrats should act swiftly to begin impeachment inquiries. He called it a "mistake" not to move forward, and blamed stalls in the process on "people in our party that are afraid to pursue this."

"We spend too much time in this party debating the politics of impeachment when the law is very clear and our constitutional duty is clear," Moulton said. "This is a debate we need to have because it's simply the right thing to do."

Moulton is a 2020 Democratic primary contender, though he failed to qualify for the first presidential debates, falling below both the 1% polling threshold and 65,000 individual campaign donor threshold, one of which was necessary to qualify. He has also so far failed to qualify for the upcoming July 30 debate.

But in his time serving on Capitol Hill, Moulton was and continues to be an early advocate of impeachment proceedings for Trump, and while his previous pushes haven't gained momentum among his colleagues, Moulton told ABC News he feels that now, more than ever, the political tides are shifting in favor of his position.

"I have colleagues on Capitol Hill who are changing their minds, but they're moving in my direction, not away from it," Moulton said.

Moulton said he believes that Mueller's report clearly demonstrates possible obstruction of justice allegations against the president, and reaches the "unmistakable conclusion" that Russian officials worked to elect Trump. Moulton classified Mueller's findings of Russian involvement in the 2016 election as a "national security issue."

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of obstruction, frequently telling reporters there has been "no obstruction."

Mueller is scheduled to appear publicly for testimony before two House committees on July 24. He has previously publicly stated that his report "is his testimony" and that he would not provide any additional information about his report in a public forum.

But Moulton said the testimony will be a good opportunity for more people to learn about the contents of the report.

"Too few Americans have read it," Moulton said. "I don't think most of my colleagues have even read it."

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ABC(WASHINGTON) -- A fundraising email on behalf of 2020 candidate John Delaney crossed a harried line on Monday when the campaign issued a plea to supporters to donate to the candidate or risk his place in the upcoming debate, despite the candidate’s already solid place on the stage.

Asked to clarify, the campaign blamed the dramatized request to supporters on their mail service vendor, who they said sent the email without approval. But the blast raised questions over whether the campaign went a step too far in utilizing the complex Democratic National Committee rules to push supporters to donate.

The campaign does not plan to issue a correction to supporters, a Delaney spokesperson told ABC News.

In the email, the campaign writes that Delaney made them "proud" at the last debate, but adds that "now he’s at risk of not qualifying for the second!"

"We need to secure as many donations as possible in the next 48 hours," the fundraising email continued, asking supporters to pitch in "even $1."

Based on an ABC News analysis, Delaney, who also qualified for the June debate, will qualify comfortably for the July debate through the polling threshold.

Asked for an explanation on the "risk" described in the email, a spokesperson for the campaign described the content as overblown, saying the language could’ve been tighter.

"If we had the opportunity to resend that email, we would be much clearer about it," Michael Hopkins, national press secretary for Delaney, told ABC News.

Hopkins added that the campaign "fully expects" Delaney to qualify for the debate.

"We fully expect to qualify based on everything we're seeing. We will qualify and make the second debate," Hopkins said.

He described the email as a mistake because of "language in the fundraising email that hadn't been approved" and said they'd never before run into the issue of an email going out on behalf of the candidate without approval.

Nevertheless, Hopkins said the campaign decided not to issue a correction because "there's a world where we could not make the stage."

He cited unlikely examples, including if the long shot candidate Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska with a Twitter account run by two millennials, were to hit the polling threshold in the next 48 hours. Gravel has netted enough grassroots donors to qualify.

"Let me be clear, we do not mislead supporters, we have no intention on misleading supporters," Hopkins said.

The company the campaign uses for its email services according to Federal Election Commission filings, Network Solutions, could not be reached for comment.

In order to qualify for the debates at the end of July, candidates must earn at least 1% support in three separate national or early-state polls conducted from Jan. 1 to two weeks before the given debate, or receive donations from at least 65,000 people across 20 different states, with a minimum of 200 unique donors per state.

Delaney was able to qualify for the June debate, which followed the same rules, last month.

And while the DNC capped the number of Democrats who can participate in the debate at 20, it’s unlikely that Delaney would be bumped from the stage by another candidate.

There are at least five candidates who have lower polling averages than the former congressman, which is what the DNC would use to conduct a tie-breaker if more than 20 candidates met the thresholds for the debate.

Though the email from Delaney's campaign went a step farther than other candidates' pleas for support also reviewed by ABC News, he is not the only candidate to lean on the debate stage thresholds as a means for fundraising.

Generally, however, candidates urge supporters to donate in order to help them meet a goal they have yet to meet -- like urging supporters to donate so they can cross the more challenging threshold of netting 65,000 individual donors. As some candidates have noted, if they can hit both the polling threshold and the donor threshold, they all but secure a spot.

Ahead of the last debate in June, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York asked voters to make a donation so she could "guarantee" that she would be on the stage, though she had already qualified through polling.

"I still need to guarantee my spot by hitting the 65,000-donor goal — will you make a donation of any amount right now to become one of the donors I need to get there?" Gillibrand wrote in an email to supporters.

Last week, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, one of the last 2020 candidates to join the race and who just recently gained the polling traction to qualify for the July debate, made the same plea as Gillibrand -- and added a splash of urgency because of a fraught history with the DNC.

Though they’ve "officially qualified" through polling, the campaign said in the email, they urged supporters to donate because "the DNC could still limit how many candidates are on stage and block us again."

Bullock was barred from the first debate in June because of a DNC rule change, sparking a demand from his campaign and some Montana constituents to let the governor, the only candidate who won in a state then-candidate Donald Trump carried, to be represented in the conversation.

Most candidates who are already expected to qualify for the July debates, as Delaney has, have taken to instead using their fundraising emails to ask for voters to help them get on to the stage for the September debate, which will require candidates to net nearly double the donor support.

The third debate, which will be hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision, calls for 130,000 unique donors over the course of the election cycle, with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.

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MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump extended his online attacks of progressive Democratic congresswomen on Monday, asking when they will apologize to the U.S., adding a host of new and unsubstantiated charges as the four progressive lawmakers at the center of the storm urged Americans to "not take the bait."

"When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!" Trump tweeted.

Trump's tweets came a day after he ratcheted up his attacks on the group of freshman lawmakers tweeting that "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen" should stop criticizing the government and "go back" to where they came from.

Without naming the lawmakers, the president appeared to be referring to what has come to be known as a "squad" of progressive freshman women of color, which includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. The quartet held a news conference on Monday afternoon at the Capitol to respond to the president's attacks and refused to get down in the muck. Instead they sent a clear message: don't fall for it.

"I encourage the American people and all of us in this room and beyond to not take the bait," Pressley said in her opening remarks. "This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people."

"We are more than four people," Pressley added. "We ran on a mandate to advocate for and represent those ignored, left out and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world and that is the work that we want to get back to. And given the size of this squad and this great nation, we cannot, we will not be silenced."

Omar called the Trump administration "the most corrupt administration in our history" and asserted that the president's agenda "is the agenda of white nationalists."

"This is a president who has openly violated the very value our country appears to uphold. Equality under the law, religious liberty, equal protection, and protection from persecution. And to distract from that, he's launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States of House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color. It is time for us to stop allowing this president to make a mockery out of our constitution. It is time for us to impeach this president," she said.

Ocasio-Cortez had a message for American children, "No matter what the president says, this country belongs to you and it belongs to everyone."

While they denounced Trump's comments over and over again, the four congresswomen directed their remarks back to the president's policies.

"We'll stay focused on our agenda and we won't get caught slipping," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Because all of this is a distraction. It is a distraction from what is most important and from our core values as American citizens."

Tlaib said the president's attacks are "simply a continuation of his racist and xenophobic playbook."

"Sadly, this is not the first, nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from this president. We know this is who he is," she added.

"I believe this is a pivotal moment in our country. The eyes of history is watching us," Omar added.

While the congresswomen were speaking, the president was posting messages to Twitter.

"We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country...." he wrote.

With the president on Monday claiming that many people "agree" with him, Pressley said it was "in contradiction to the experience that I have every day, including in the airport on my way here."

"There were many people who approached me and who said, I disagree with some of your policies, I'm an independent, I'm a Republican and I think what he did was wrong," Pressley recounted. "And he won't apologize. But I am going to apologize. So I have experienced nothing in the wake of those comments. Again, but words of denouncing these xenophobic, bigoted words."

On Monday night, Democrats introduced a resolution condemning Trump for his comments on Sunday. A vote on the bill could come as early as Tuesday.

At an event at the White House on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked which congresswomen he was referring to in his tweets, and he said, "You can guess."

Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter Monday morning saying that his comments are "hallmark language of white supremacists."

"It's important to note that the President's words today, telling four American Congresswomen of color "go back to your own country," is hallmark language of white supremacists. Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

The president said to reporters that his remarks where "not at all" racist, adding "if you're not happy here, then you can leave."

"Do you think those Democratic women are not American," ABC News senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega asked Trump Monday afternoon.

He replied, "If somebody has a problem with our country, if someone doesn't want to be in our country they should leave. That's all."

Trump was also asked by reporters if he is concerned that many people have viewed his tweets as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common ground with him.

"It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me, and all I'm saying, they want to leave, they can leave now," Trump responded. "It doesn't say leave forever. It says leave."

Coming to the president's defense on Monday was Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi news site, The Daily Stormer.

"This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for," Anglin said.

"This is what elected Trump and this is what will always be the best way for him to gain support," he added.

Trump's comments have been widely criticized by Democratic lawmakers, many who have characterized his attacks as racist.

The president's tweets follow a week of contention between the freshman lawmakers and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I reject @realDonaldTrump's xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation," Pelosi tweeted on Sunday morning.

"When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to "Make America Great Again" has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power," Pelosi added coming to the defense of the lawmakers despite recent public disagreements.

Top Republicans in Congress had been largely silent on the attacks, but more were speaking out on Monday.

In an interview with the anchors of Fox & Friends on Monday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, justified the president's attacks on those four freshman congresswomen by branding them as "a bunch of Communists" who "hate Israel" and "hate our own country."

"We all know AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists they hate Israel, they hate our own country," Graham said. "I think they're American citizens duly-elected running on an agenda that is disgusting, that the American people will reject."

Later Monday morning, Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., responded to the president on Twitter, writing that "we must be better than comments like these."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, released a statement Monday afternoon saying that Trump's tweets were "way over the line."

"I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus -- especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement -- but the President's tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the 'places from which they came' was way over the line, and he should take that down," Collins said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also weighed in.

"The language that was used to refer to these women was completely unacceptable," May told CNN on Monday morning.

Trudeau told CBC News Network, "That's not how we do things in Canada."

He added, "Canadians and indeed people around the world know exactly what I think about those particular comments."

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Lou Rocco/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Conservative co-host of The View Meghan McCain spoke out against Sen. Lindsey Graham's support of President Donald Trump's attacks against progressive Democratic congresswomen on Monday.

"This is what people think all conservatives are now, and we are not," McCain said, adding that "the cowardice" she's seeing from Republicans not speaking out "is embarrassing."

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen" "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe," adding that those female lawmakers should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done."

On Fox & Friends Monday morning, Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, declined to denounce Trump's comments and instead called New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and "this crowd" of freshman lawmakers "a bunch of communists" that "hate Israel" and "hate our own country." He went on to say that he thinks "they're American citizens duly-elected running on an agenda that is disgusting, that the American people will reject."

McCain, who said she used to see Graham as an "uncle," said that regardless of "whatever is happening to Lindsey" right now, "this is not the person I used to know."

"My sister wasn't born here. She's as American in every way as I am and everybody else," said McCain of her adopted sister Bridget, who was born in Bangladesh.

"She also has been subjected to many racist political campaigns, which by the way, Lindsey Graham, you were present for. I remember seeing you there when it happened," McCain said. "Seeing you on Fox & Friends was particularly hurtful."

McCain noted that she feels there are some "legitimate criticisms" one can make about the "squad" of freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

"I have never gotten more heat in my entire career, in my entire life, than I have for the criticism of congresswoman Omar's stance on Israel," McCain said. "Stick to the politics."

"The problem is you're making this about race. You're making this about racism. You're making this about what's truly American, and it's all these old racist dog whistles that have plagued this country for so long," she said of Graham's comments.

A frustrated McCain said that "it can't just be me and Geraldo" -- referencing Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera, who voiced his disapproval of Trump's remarks on Twitter -- rebuking Trump's comments.

"Someone has to come out against this. This is petrifying," she said, adding, "It's humiliating for me on TV right now. Someone has to say something other than me and Geraldo."

"Let's stick to issues & steer clear of language that's xenophobic even racist. @POTUS you're better than that," Rivera had written.

The View co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin also spoke out against the president's attacks on progressive Democratic congresswomen.

"This is very dangerous. You don't want to be telling people to go back to their country because if we gotta go, you're going too," Goldberg said Monday.

"If you are not Native American, you don't belong here either," Goldberg added. "They're the first Americans. The rest of us -- whether we got here on top of the boat or beneath the boat -- we all got here from somewhere else."

Hostin called attention to the number of users on Twitter that liked Trump's tweet. "What does that say about those people and the people we live with every single day in our country?" she said.

Hostin recalled a story from her childhood where her grandmother was told to go back to where she came from after speaking to Hostin in Spanish in an effort to teach her the language.

"I remember being told, 'Go back to Africa,' and all this nonsense," she said. "I thought, 'Those people are just hateful and ignorant and racist.' I never thought a day would come when I would hear that from the president of the United States of America. Ever."

On the silence from a large majority of the Republican Party regarding Trump's comments, Behar said that "the Republican leadership is disgraceful right now."

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has revealed that he and his wife Amy are descended from slave owners.

In a Medium post published on Sunday titled "Rose and Eliza," O'Rourke released old documents showing the names of two female slaves listed as property owned by his distant relatives in the mid-1800s.

"I was recently given documents showing that both Amy and I are descended from people who owned slaves. Along with other possessions listed in their property log were two human beings, Rose and Eliza," O’Rourke wrote.

The disclosure came after a freelance reporter from The Guardian newspaper obtained documents from Ancestry.com showing the presidential candidate’s ties to slave owners, a campaign source told ABC News. Before this, the O’Rourkes were unaware, and the revelation prompted his campaign to conduct their own internal research on the couple’s ancestral ties.

The former Texas congressman said that while he has been talking about the legacy of slavery on the campaign trail, the long-standing issue "now has a more personal connection."

“When this came to light, we felt really strongly and he felt really strongly that this was a story that he wanted to tell, and he wanted to be open about it,” a source working for O’Rourke’s campaign told ABC News.

According to the documents pictured in O'Rourke's post, Andrew Cowan Jasper, his paternal great-great-great grandfather, owned two female slaves in 1850. He also claims Frederick Williams, his maternal great-great-great grandfather, may have also owned slaves in 1860, but notes he is not fully certain they are relatives. The candidate also revealed that his wife, Amy O’Rourke, had an ancestor who owned slaves, and another member of her family was in the Confederate Army.

"They were able to build wealth on the backs and off the sweat of others, wealth that they would then be able to pass down to their children and their children’s children," O'Rourke wrote of his ancestors. "In some way, and in some form, that advantage would pass through to me and my children."

"I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others," he added, referencing the theme of white privilege that he often discusses in town halls as a presidential candidate, and most recently on ABC's The View.

O'Rourke wrote in his post about how the legacy of slavery still affects African Americans today, explaining how everything from Jim Crow, to denial of services, mass incarceration and educational injustice have contributed to the economic disparities in black communities.

In light of his revelation, O’Rourke vowed to continue to support reparations for slavery, though he did not explicitly commit to monetary compensation for African American slave descendants. He did, however, describe his commitment to close the U.S. racial wealth gap if elected.

"As a person, as a candidate for the office of the Presidency, I will do everything I can to deliver on this responsibility," he wrote. "In addition to making significant changes to education policy (immediately address $23 billion in underfunding for minority-majority public schools), economic policy (ensuring equal pay, deploying capital to minority- and women-owned businesses, $25 billion in government procurement to these same businesses), healthcare (universal healthcare and home health visits to women of color to reverse trend in maternal and infant mortality) and criminal justice (police accountability, ending the drug war, and expunging arrest records for nonviolent drug crimes)."

O’Rourke’s post about his ancestry comes at a time when racial economic disparities are among the key issues in the 2020 presidential race, thrusting the reparations debate to the forefront, even for politicians that are not running.

When Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed his own ancestors who owned slaves, he said he opposed reparations for descendants of slaves because no one "currently alive was responsible for that."

“We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, by electing an African American president,” McConnell said.

O’Rourke's blog post was published on the same day as President Trump’s remarks about four Democratic congresswomen of color, who he said should "go back" to the countries they came from after they were critical of his administration.

O’Rourke was among several 2020 presidential candidates who blasted President Donald Trump on Sunday, calling his comments "racist."

"These congresswomen are every bit as American as you -- and represent our values better than you ever will," he tweeted in response to Trump.

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Phototreat/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration announced on Monday it would limit who could apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that would almost certainly be challenged in court.

The changes were aimed at enabling the U.S. to more quickly reject people's asylum claims, allowing for quicker deportations. Administration officials said the goal was to deter people from trying.

Now, if migrants pass through a country on the way to the United States and don't apply for asylum there, then they are ineligible to seek asylum in the United States, according to the rule.

In a statement, Attorney General William Barr insisted most asylum seekers have merit-less claims -- an assertion that immigration advocates say is not true.

"The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border," Barr said.

According to a rule posted on the Federal Register, the department concluded that people who come from northern triangle countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras initially have to apply for asylum in the country that they first pass through before applying for asylum in the United States.

This rule also applies to children who attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without a legal guardian.

Often times, migrants pass through Mexico on the way to the United States. Last month, 85% of migrants who attempted to cross the border illegally came from a country other than Mexico, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

The Department of Justice is calling it a "new mandatory bar" that asylum seekers have to meet.

However, it appears to be inconsistent with federal law, said John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security and ABC News contributor.

"The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country's legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. "This new rule is patently unlawful and we will sue swiftly."

President Donald Trump and the president of Guatemala were expected to sign an agreement on Monday requiring migrants who travel through Guatemala to claim asylum there, rather than the U.S. But that meeting was postponed.

A senior administration official told ABC News that the meeting is being "rescheduled" and adds that "the United States will continue to work with the Government of Guatemala on concrete and immediate steps that can be taken to address the ongoing migration crisis."

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JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a plan his campaign said would make the Affordable Care Act easier to navigate with more choices for Americans.

The plan would expand upon the Affordable Care Act passed under the Obama-Biden administration and provide a public option for patients to buy into, rather than a "Medicare-for-all" system that several of Biden's 2020 rivals advocate for -- a contrast Biden has already started to draw on the campaign trail.

"We should not be starting from scratch. We should be building from what we have. There is no time to wait. And I that's why I think, what I'm proposing -- and we can do it -- is to keep Obamacare, restore the cuts that have been made, and add a public option," Biden said during an event in Dover, New Hampshire, on Friday. "If they like their employer-based insurance, you get to keep it. The fact of the matter is, all the other proposals make you -- you lose it. Period."

A senior Biden campaign adviser said the he would continue to contrast his plan with those who propose moving to an entirely new system, saying that "is not the way to ensure that people in this country who need more affordable coverage are going to be able to get it."

"You'll certainly see him make a case about, you know, the urgency of having this fight and having it now," the adviser added.

In a video of the announcement released by the campaign, Biden expresses his surprise at so many Democratic candidates opposing the ACA.

"I knew the Republicans would do everything in their power to repeal Obamacare. They still are. But I'm surprised that so many Democrats are running on getting rid of it," Biden said.

The campaign estimates the plan will cost $750 billion over 10 years. Senior advisers said Biden would rescind President Donald Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy, raise the maximum tax bracket to 39 percent and get rid of the capital gains tax loophole for wealthy families with incomes greater than $1 million a year in order to cover the hefty price tag.

The Biden plan deals with four core issues, which include universal coverage: reducing complexities within the system; providing affordable, quality coverage; tackling prescription drug pricing; and ensuring care for low-income areas.

The proposal would get rid of the existing cap on health care tax credits, which is currently given to those making up to four times the poverty rate, which would allow for more middle class families to take advantage of the subsidy. Biden's proposal would also ensure no family or individual pays more than 8.5 percent of their total income for health coverage.

On prescription drugs, Biden's plan would repeal the current law that prevents Medicare from negotiating drug pricing, while also allowing patients to purchase medications from other countries. The proposal would limit launch prices for drugs without any competition and limit price increases for generic drugs.

Biden's plan also would address women's reproductive rights by codifying Roe. v. Wade, limiting the impact of state legislation on a woman's right to an abortion and restoring funding to Planned Parenthood.

Biden's plan specifically states he would repeal the Hyde Amendment as president, which prevents the use of federal funds to be used on abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or harm to the mother's life. Biden made headlines in June when he flipped his position on Hyde in a matter of days, claiming his health care policy was the catalyst for changing his position.

The former vice president would repeal the Mexico City policy that blocks federal funding from organizations that expand the availability of abortion services or aim to decriminalize abortion globally. The plan will also address maternal mortality rates that disproportionately affect black women.

Biden's plan proposes doubling the current federal funding for community health centers in the United States, and improve access to mental health care as well.

According to campaign officials, if elected, Biden would seek to implement the proposal through a combination of executive orders and working with Congress. Biden, who has been critical of some rivals for wanting to pass legislation through executive orders, would reverse Trump's health care-related executive orders and work across the aisle in Congress to build on the ACA.

The campaign officials say they are not worried that the ACA will be struck down by the Supreme Court, believing that it's been upheld twice already and will continue to be upheld as constitutional a third time.

According to a senior Biden campaign official, this initial rollout doesn't complete the former vice president's plan for health care. The campaign expects to release more detailed aspects of the plan going forward, including plans on guns, dealing with devastating diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and addiction.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After President Trump tweeted that "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen" should stop criticizing the government and “go back” to where they came from, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the tweets as “xenophobic.”

 

I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values. Stop the raids - #FamiliesBelongTogether!

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 14, 2019

 

The president did not explicitly name the congresswomen he was referring to, but said they "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe." He then went on to say that they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done."

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for clarification on the president's tweets, but the Trump campaign made an attempt to defend the president’s tweets.

Matt Wolking, head of the Trump campaign’s rapid response, tweeted, "Anyone who says the president told members of Congress to go back to where they came from is lying. He told them to 'Then come back and show us how it is done.'"

 

So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019

 

 

....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019

 

 

....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019

 

Pelosi seemed to conclude Trump was referring to four recently-elected and vocal progressive Democratic women -- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. and Rashida Tlaib D-Mich.

Only one of the four women, Rep. Omar, is foreign-born, and all are U.S. citizens. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York, Rep. Pressley was born in Cincinnati, and Rep. Tlaib was born in Detroit.

In defending the members of Congress, who are all women of color, Pelosi slammed the president for wanting to "make America white again."

"When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power," the speaker tweeted in response on Sunday morning.

Rep. Omar responded to the president in a tweet in which she described her loyalty to the U.S. as one of the reasons she opposes the Trump administration.

"Mr. President, As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States. Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen," Omar said.

 

Mr. President,

As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States.

Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen. https://t.co/FBygHa2QTt

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 14, 2019



Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also weighed in on Twitter.

"Mr. President, the country I 'come from,' & the country we all swear to, is the United States," she wrote. "You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder."

 

 

Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States.

But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet. https://t.co/HLKQCotR8T

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019

On Sunday night, Trump tweeted it was "sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country."

....and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged. If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019


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