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‘Somebody’s already been killed’ because of Trump dossier, Fusion GPS rep revealed

An attorney for the co-founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS revealed during a closed-door interview this summer with congressional investigators that “somebody’s already been killed” as a result of the publication of the anti-Trump dossier. 

The statement was contained in a 312-page transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s August interview with committee investigators, released unilaterally Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. 

The release itself provoked controversy, with an aide to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, calling it “confounding” for Feinstein to drop the transcript in the “middle of an ongoing investigation.”

Among the many revelations in the document, though, is the claim from Simpson’s attorney that someone died because the dossier — which was commissioned by Fusion GPS — was publicly released.

“He wants to be very careful to protect his sources,” attorney Josh Levy said during the Aug. 22 Senate Judiciary Committee interview of his client. “Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.”

Glenn Simpson

Glenn Simpson’s attorney said someone has been killed over the Trump dossier’s release.

Levy didn’t elaborate on who was killed. The website BuzzFeed first published the dossier online last January, airing its unverified allegations about President Trump’s connections with Russia. 

The dossier was written by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Fusion GPS, which hired Steele, got funding from the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. The findings eventually made their way to the FBI — and the bureau’s dealings with Steele are a key focus for congressional investigators.

During his interview, Simpson described his conversations with Steele about their decision to turn the dossier details over to the bureau.

“He thought from his perspective there was an issue — a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed,” Simpson said.

Simpson recalled telling Steele he had to think about whether they should contact the FBI, saying he wasn’t sure who to give it to.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., look to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein stunned Sen. Chuck Grassley by releasing the transcript from Glenn Simpson’s interview.  (AP)

“In any event, he said, ‘Don’t worry about that, I know the perfect person, I have a contact there, they’ll listen to me, they know who I am, I’ll take care of it,’” Simpson recalled.

Steele also told Simpson the FBI had “an internal Trump campaign source,” he said.

“They believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization,” Simpson said of the FBI.

Simpson, a journalist before forming Fusion GPS, also admitted in the interview being opposed during the election to Trump becoming president. 

“I think it’s safe to say that, you know, at some point probably early in 2016 I had reached a conclusion about Donald Trump as a businessman and his character and I was opposed to Donald Trump,” Simpson said.

Trump has long derided the dossier as inaccurate, and several GOP-led committees are investigating whether it formed the basis for the FBI’s initial investigation into Russian election interference.

Feinstein said in a statement she released the transcript to combat misinformation about the inteview.

“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”

INSIDE THE TRUMP DOSSIER HANDOFF: MCCAIN’S ‘GO BETWEEN’ SPEAKS OUT

Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley, said Feinstein’s release “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.”

“It’s totally confounding that Senator Feinstein would unilaterally release a transcript of a witness interview in the middle of an ongoing investigation – a witness that Feinstein herself subpoenaed last year for lack of cooperation,” Foy said.

Fox News’  Jake Gibson, Cody Derespina and Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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WikiLeaks tweets then deletes link to text of new Trump book

The website WikiLeaks on Sunday tweeted a link to the text of the new book critical of President Trump that has angered the president, his staff and his allies.

An electronic image of the text of author Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” appeared online Sunday, two days after its release.

The post read, “New Trump book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff. Full PDF.” The Daily News reported that the tweet linked to the unnumbered PDF that appeared to be the book.

Posting the text of a book without permission would violate copyright restrictions and potentially damage sales. Yet, hours after WikiLeaks tweeted the link, “Fire and Fury” remained No. 1 on Amazon’s lists of hardcover and ebook bestsellers.

The book portrays a president who doesn’t understand the weight of his office and whose own aides question his competence. Trump has called it a “Fake Book” and its author “totally discredited.” Aides have publicly rejected the book’s premise.

Trump retweeted a parody cover of the book that the Republican Party had tweeted earlier Friday, and used it as a springboard for his latest criticisms — calling Wolff “a total loser” and saying Bannon “cried when he got fired” and has been “dumped like a dog by almost everyone” since leaving the White House in August.

The GOP’s parody cover retitles the book “Liar and Phony,” and surrounds a photo of Wolff with blurbs from actual reviews of his much-criticized White House exposé.

“He gets basic details wrong,” a New York Times writer says about Wolff.

Wolff wrote the book over 18 months, in which he claims to have spoken with more than 200 people. He said he had access to top officials inside the Trump administration, including the president, according to an interview Thursday with the Hollywood Reporter that details the backstory to the book’s publishing. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Ed Royce, chairman of foreign affairs committee, to retire from Congress

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce on Monday became the latest influential Republican lawmaker to announce plans to retire from Congress at the end of his term.

“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia,” the California Republican said in a statement.

“With this in mind, and with the support of my wife Marie, I have decided not to seek reelection in November,” Royce said.

RETIREMENTS POSE CHALLENGE AS REPUBLICANS FIGHT TO KEEP CONGRESSIONAL MAJORITIES

He represents a district Democrats would love to flip and could be a problem for California Republicans to hold. Analysts at the Cook Political Report changed their view of the race in that district from “lean Republican” to “lean Democratic” after Royce’s announcement.

Still, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said Republicans “are fired up and ready to hold this seat.”

“We have just one message for Democrats who think they can compete for this seat: bring it on,” he said.

Royce was first elected to Congress in 1992.

Other Republicans who aren’t running for re-election include Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee; Texas Rep. Joe  Barton, the former chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce committee; Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Fox News’ Bret Baier, Mike Emanuel and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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Dem-ordered study to expose illegal online gun sales backfires

A Democrat-backed study meant to expose illicit online gun sales instead seemed to show the opposite — with hardly any sellers taking the bait when undercover investigators tried to set up dozens of illegal firearm transactions. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, had commissioned the Government Accountability Office report to look into how online private dealers might be selling guns to people not allowed to have them. 

Their efforts were based on a 2016 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which claimed that “anonymity of the internet makes it an ideal means for prohibited individuals to obtain illegal firearms.”

“Congressional requesters asked that GAO access the extent to which ATF is enforcing existing laws and investigate whether online private sellers sell firearms to people who are not allowed or eligible to possess a firearm,” the GAO report said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., led the charge for GAO to commission the report.  (AP)

Over the course of the two-and-a-half year investigation, agents tried to buy firearms illegally on the “Surface Web” and the “Dark Web,” generally by sharing their status as “prohibited individuals” or trying to buy across state lines.

But the GAO revealed that their 72 attempts outside of the dark web were all “unsuccessful.”

“Private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the GAO reported, noting that in their “72 attempts … 56 sellers refused to complete a transaction once we revealed that either the shipping address was across state lines or that we were prohibited by law from owning firearms.” In the other cases, the investigators’ website was frozen or they encountered suspected scammers. 

On the dark web, GAO agents successfully purchased two guns illegally, as the serial numbers on the weapons were “obliterated” and “shipped across state lines.” But in the attempt to purchase, the GAO agents “did not disclose any information indicating they were prohibited from possessing a firearm.”

Based on the findings of the study, the GAO said it is “not making recommendations in this report.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asks questions during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined with Sen. Brian Schultz, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., to commission the GAO report.  (AP)

Cummings, Warren and Schatz did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the GAO’s findings. 

The National Rifle Association seized on the report to claim that online sales are in fact regulated, calling the study an “embarrassment” for the gun control lobby.  

“GAO’s findings showed nothing so much as that private sellers advertising online are knowledgeable about the law, conscientious, and self-policing,” The National Rifle Association said, adding that online gun sales are “subject to the same federal laws that apply to any other commercial or private gun sales.”

The NRA described the study as an attempt to model the findings of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2015 report, titled “Point, Click, Fire: An investigation of illegal online gun sales,” which found that 62 percent of private sellers were willing to proceed with a sale, even if the prospective purchaser could not pass a background check.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

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House committee gets access to long-sought Trump dossier records

House Intelligence Committee investigators got access to the remaining documents they had long sought as part of their Russia inquiry during a classified session at the Justice Department on Friday, a source close to the matter told Fox News.

Investigators were allowed to review the records and take notes but not take copies, which is standard in sensitive cases.

The documents were described as core records concerning the controversial anti-Trump dossier and its handling by the FBI – including witness interview summaries for confidential sources or informants.

While the dossier was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, author and former British spy Christopher Steele also was a source for the FBI – first relaying some information in July 2016, the same month the Clinton email case closed for the first time and the Russia counter-intelligence case opened. 

INSIDE THE TRUMP DOSSIER HANDOFF

The Justice Department and FBI are on a tight timeline to provide records and witnesses, based on an agreement reached last week between Republican Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The committee is in the process of scheduling eight witnesses including FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages during an affair and previously worked on the special counsel’s Russia probe; FBI general counsel James Baker, who was reassigned; FBI head of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, whom ex-FBI boss James Comey testified made the decision not to brief Congress about the Russia case during last year’s election; FBI special agent and chief of staff James Rybicki; and FBI congressional liaison Greg Brower.

Bruce Ohr, a DOJ official reassigned after concealing meetings with figures involved in the dossier, also is scheduled to meet with the committee on Jan. 17 in a closed session.

Separately, the source said the committee got access to dossier-related financial records from TD Bank on Friday following a court decision, making any potential appeal by Fusion GPS moot.

At issue are 70 transactions over a two-year period, covering clients, journalists, two media organizations and researchers.

In his ruling, Judge Richard Leon wrote about Fusion’s Russia work – including compiling the dossier while it was working to undermine the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law Moscow vehemently opposes. “Together, these reports confirmed that various law firms and businesses had retained Fusion on behalf of their clients to perform Russia-related work, thus triggering the Committee’s investigative interest in identifying other businesses that sought Fusion’s services during the same relevant period,” Leon wrote.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report. 

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

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DOJ official who concealed meetings with Trump dossier figures loses another job title

A Justice Department official demoted late last year for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” has been stripped of yet another title, Fox News has learned.

Bruce Ohr is no longer head of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Separately, sources familiar with the discussions tell Fox News that the Justice Department is expected to comply with demands from the House Intelligence Committee to provide Ohr for an interview. He is scheduled to visit the committee on Jan. 17, sources said.

Fox News first reported in December that Ohr had been demoted from the position of associate deputy attorney general, after it was revealed he had conducted undisclosed meetings with dossier author Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that produced the salacious document. 

bruceohr

Bruce Ohr has been stripped of yet another title at the DOJ.  (AP)

Fox News also reported that his wife Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS, specifically on research related to the dossier.

At the time of his demotion, DOJ officials told Fox News that Bruce Ohr had been “wearing two hats,” and would fall back to his other title and portfolio – as head of OCDETF.

Now, Ohr has been stripped of that role as well; former deputy director Thomas Padden is now acting director.  It is unclear where Ohr has landed, only that he is still an employee with the Department of Justice.

One DOJ insider joked that Ohr might end up in “one of those offices without a phone.”

Fox News has also confirmed that Bruce Ohr, as the head of OCDETF, was directly involved with Project Cassandra, the interagency investigation spearheaded by the DEA that tracked a massive international drug and money laundering scheme allegedly run by Hezbollah.  

The project recently was the subject of a critical and lengthy Politico report looking at how the Obama administration may have hampered the investigation. Those closest to Project Cassandra, including Derek Maltz, the now-retired supervisory DEA agent who was a major player in the operation, claim the project and its potential prosecutions were sidelined by senior Obama administration officials who didn’t want to upset Iran in the lead-up to the historic nuclear deal with Tehran in 2015. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to look into what happened with the investigation.

He said in a statement last month: “While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last admission to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans. We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”

Sources close to the attorney general told Fox News that he was recently made aware of Ohr’s role in Project Cassandra and that Sessions is personally involved in the review and frequently asks for updates.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.

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Republicans who won’t be coming back to Congress after 2018 midterm elections

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced on Jan. 2 that he would not seek re-election – ending weeks of speculation to the contrary.

Hatch, an 83-year-old from Utah, said he would retire at the end of his term.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., also announced the same day that he would not seek re-election. Shuster, 56, told the Washington Examiner that he hopes to work with President Trump on an infrastructure bill before he retires.

Multiple Republican lawmakers have already announced that they would not return to Washington after 2018. In general, fall retirement announcements are nothing new. On average, 22 House members retire each cycle, Roll Call reported.

Here’s the list of Republicans, in the House and Senate, who have announced they will not seek re-election:

Joe Barton

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), manager of the Republican Congressional Baseball team, speaks at a news conference about the recent shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RC13444B1310

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas said he would not seek re-election.  (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Embattled Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, announced on Nov. 30 that he was retiring from Congress.

Barton’s announcement came after pressure for him to end his re-election bid mounted. Barton, 68, apologized after a nude photo of him surfaced on social media. He said he engaged in consensual sexual relationships while he was estranged from his second wife.

“I’ve always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I’ve been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas,” Barton told the Dallas Morning News. “There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th district in Washington, so I am not going to run for re-election.”

Jason Chaffetz

FILE PHOTO: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) listens to testimony during a committee hearing about the private email server of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, used during her tenure as Secretary of State, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files - RC14D8B14550

Jason Chaffetz was a congressman from Utah.  (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Jason Chaffetz of Utah announced in May that he would resign from Congress at the end of June 2017.

“My life has undergone some big changes over the last 18 months. Those changes have been good. But as I celebrated my 50th birthday in March, the reality of spending more than 1,500 nights away from my family over eight years hit me harder than it had before,” Chaffetz said at the time.

He later signed with Fox News as a contributor. John Curtis, a Republican, won a special election in November to replace him.

Bob Corker

FILE - In this April 5, 2016, file photo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican Donald Trump has narrowed down his vice presidential shortlist to a handful of contenders that he's met with including Corker. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he wouldn’t run for a third term. His feud with President Trump has only escalated.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced on Sept. 27 that he will not seek a third term in 2018.

Corker, 65, had previously said that he “couldn’t imagine” serving more than two terms. Corker has often feuded with Trump.

Charlie Dent

FILE - In this March 23, 2017, file photo, Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dent, leader of an influential caucus of GOP moderates in the House, announced he will not seek re-election to an eighth House term next year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who has been openly critical of President Donald Trump, announced his retirement in September.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said on Sept. 7 that he would not seek re-election. The seven-term congressman told Fox News that he made the decision both for personal reasons and because “the polarization around here is pretty severe.”

Dent, 57, has been openly critical of Trump. He voted against party lines and a repeal of ObamaCare earlier this summer.

Jimmy Duncan

UNITED STATES - MAY 7: Rep. John "Jimmy" Duncan, R-Tenn., participates in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee and House Judiciary Committee's Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee joint hearing on "The DOJ's Quid Pro Quo with St. Paul: A Whistleblower's Perspective" on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., announced in July that he would not seek re-election.  (AP )

Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., announced in July that he would not seek re-election.

In announcing his retirement, Duncan, 70, thanked conservatives who supported him against “recent attacks against me from the far left.”

“I love my job, but I love my family more.”

– Rep. Duncan

“I have decided I wanted to spend less time in airports, airplanes and traveling around the district and more time with my family, especially my nine grandchildren, who all live in Knoxville,” Duncan said. “I love my job, but I love my family more.”

Roll Call reported that Duncan’s sister, state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, could launch a bid for his empty seat.

Blake Farenthold

Rep. Blake Farenthold arrives before Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC1CC7E0DBA0

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he would not seek re-election. The House Ethics Committee is investigating sexual harassment claims against him.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

After multiple accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct and inappropriate behavior surfaced over the past few weeks, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he won’t run for re-election after all.

The House Ethics Committee said earlier in December that it was expanding a probe into sexual harassment allegations against the lawmaker, which would include an investigation into whether he retaliated against a former staff member for complaining of such behavior. Congressional sources said Farenthold paid an $84,000 settlement using taxpayer money.

In a video posted to his campaign Facebook page, Farenthold said he “allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional.” However, he continued to deny the sexual harassment claims against him.

“It accommodated destructive gossip, off-hand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional,” Farenthold, 56, said. “And I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and – too often – a failure to treat people with respect that they deserved. That was wrong.”

“An unprofessional work environment is not a crime, but it’s embarrassing to me and to my family. It reflects poorly on the institution of Congress, on my colleagues and on my constituents, and they deserve better,” he said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Farenthold was “making the right decision to retire,” citing the “unacceptable behavior that has been alleged.”  

But Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal K. Perkins slammed Farenthold’s decision not to run for re-election as “simply not enough,” calling it a “PR stunt.” 

Jeff Flake

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) walks past journalists after announcing he will not run for reelection on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC115CA83EE0

In announcing that he would not run for re-election, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., slammed Republicans and President Trump.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced on Oct. 24 that he would not seek re-election. Flake is an ardent critic of Trump.

Flake, 54, faced a tough re-election campaign in Arizona against Kelli Ward, a physician who has also challenged Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Trump has previously said that it was “great” that Ward was running against a “toxic” Flake.

In announcing that he wouldn’t run for re-election, Flake said the GOP is becoming a “backward-looking minority party.”

“It is clear in this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free-trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has for so long defined itself by its belief in those things,” Flake said. 

Trent Franks

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) arrives ahead of FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RC1EE7D72050

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., resigned in December. He said he made some female staffers “uncomfortable” by talking about surrogacy issues.  (Reuters/Aaron Bernstein)

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks announced on Dec. 8 that his resignation would take affect immediately, despite previously announcing that he’d leave the House in January due to sexual misconduct allegations against him.

He attributed the change in date to his wife’s admittance to the hospital but reports later surfaced alleging Frank repeatedly pressed a former aide to carry his child, offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate.

Franks’ Dec. 7 announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it was looking into whether he “engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”

Franks, 60, maintained that he never physically intimidated, coerced or had sexual contact with any member of his staff. He said he discussed surrogacy issues with some of his female staff which made them “uncomfortable.”

The conservative congressman said that “in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff and noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation.”

The Washington Post reported that Franks had asked two female employees to be a surrogate for him and his wife.

Franks initially said he would leave Congress on Jan. 31, 2018 before departing in December. 

Bob Goodlatte

FILE - In this July 10, 2013, file photo House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte,R-Va., speaks with reporters after House Republicans worked on an approach to immigration reform in a closed-door meeting at the Capitol in Washington. A central question is whether the 11 million immigrants already in the US illegally should get a path to citizenship. "We think a legal status in the United States, but not a special pathway to citizenship, might be appropriate," says Goodlatte. He has said that after attaining legal status, immigrants could potentially use the existing avenues toward naturalization, such as family or employment ties. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced on Nov. 9 that he would not seek re-election.  (AP Photo)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced on Nov. 9 that he would not seek re-election, saying it is “the right time to step aside.”

The Virginia lawmaker, who has been in Congress since 1993, said he has discussed whether to run for re-election with his wife, Maryellen, every two years. This year’s conversation, Goodlatte said, was different.

“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte, 65, said in a letter. 

Orrin Hatch

Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Orrin Hatch (R-UT) speaks at the start of the House-Senate Conferees conference meeting on the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC131011E000

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s announcement that he would not seek re-election is largely seen as paving the way for Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, to run for the seat.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is the longest serving Senate Republican. He announced on Jan. 2 – after weeks of speculation – that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term.

The 83-year-old said Trump told him during a recent visit to Utah that he was a “fighter.”

“But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching,” Hatch said in a video message posted on social media.

“I’ve authored more bills that have become law than any member of Congress alive today,” Hatch also said, adding that one of his “proudest legislative achievements” was his work with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which ensures religious freedoms are protected.

Hatch’s decision not to run for re-election is largely seen as a path for Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, to run for the open seat. 

Jeb Hensarling

FILE - In this March 22, 2016, file photo Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hensarling announces he is retiring from the House after more than a decade. The chairman of the Financial Services Committee tells colleagues in an email that he wants to spend more time with his teen-age children. Hensarling is the latest GOP lawmaker to retire as Republicans face headwinds trying to retain control of the House next year. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, will not seek re-election.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, announced on Oct. 31 that he will not run for re-election in 2018. 

“Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the US Congress in 2018. Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” Hensarling, 60, said, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Hensarling also added that he wants to spend more time with his family.  

Lynn Jenkins

Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins speaks to supporters after winning re-election in the U.S. midterm race in Kansas, in Topeka, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - GM1EAB513AF01

Thought to be a candidate for governor in Kansas, Rep. Lynn Jenkins instead said she’ll be returning to the private sector.  (Reuters/Mark Kauzlarich)

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., announced on Jan. 25 that she would not seek re-election or run for another office.

Jenkins, 54, said she wanted to return to the private sector although she was highly rumored to be a possible gubernatorial candidate in Kansas.

Sam Johnson

U.S. House Minority leader John Boehner (L)(R-OH) wipes tears from his face as he listens to fellow rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) speak about his time as a prisoner during the Vietnam war, following a Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington February 13, 2007. Before the House began a debate on an Iraq war resolution Tuesday, Johnson said 34 years ago when he was a prisoner of war, opposition to the conflict from within America hurt the morale of troops on the ground in Vietnam, just as the current resolution may hurt the morale of troops currently in Iraq. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is pictured between Boehner and Johnson. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES) - GM1DUPIVZZAA

Longtime Rep. Sam Johnson, 86, announced his retirement in January.  (Reuters/Jason Reed)

Longtime Texas Rep. Sam Johnson announced his retirement on Jan. 6.

“For me, the Lord has made clear that the season of my life in Congress is coming to an end,” Johnson, 87, said.

Johnson is an Air Force veteran who was a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.

Raul Labrador

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), speaks at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC), on February 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. The CPAC annual gathering is a project of the American Conservative Union. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Rep. Raul Labrador is running for governor in Idaho instead of seeking re-election.  (Getty Images)

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, announced this summer that he would finish out his current term but then run for governor of Idaho in 2018 instead of re-election, according to HuffPost.

Labrador, 50, is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Frank LoBiondo

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2014 file photo, Rep. Frank LoBiondo speaks in Trenton, N.J. LoBiondo announced his retirement on Nov. 7, declaring that “our nation is now consumed by increasing political polarization; there is no longer middle ground.” He will not seek re-election.(AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey announced on Nov. 7 that he would retire from Congress.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., will retire from Congress at the end of his term, Fox News has learned. The 71-year-old assumed his seat in 1995.

LoBiondo’s retirement opens up a seat in a potential swing district. Trump won in it 2016, but former President Barack Obama took the district in 2012.

The GOP lawmaker has differed from his party on certain issues. He voted against the budget framework and has expressed concerns about Republicans’ tax plan, specifically the move to eliminate certain state and local deductions. 

Tim Murphy

FILE - In this March 26, 2015, file photo, Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Murphy who was caught up in affair scandal, announces he plans to retire at end of his current term. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., resigned from his position in October following reports that he attempted to pressure his mistress into having an abortion.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

GOP Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania announced on Oct. 5 that he would resign his position in Congress. The news followed reports that the lawmaker, who has publicly been staunchly anti-abortion, had an affair and asked his mistress to get an abortion when they believed she was pregnant.

Murphy, 65, said he will “take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties.” 

Kristi Noem

U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD) addresses the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, February 10, 2011. The CPAC is a project of the American Conservative Union Foundation. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - GM1E72B043M01

Rep. Kristi Noem is running for governor in South Dakota.  (Reuters/Larry Downing)

Instead of seeking re-election in 2018, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., announced in November 2016 that she will run for governor instead.

In her announcement, Noem, 46, officially kicked off her gubernatorial bid this year.

Steve Pearce

U.S. Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) walks into a Speaker's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RC12A23E3A10

Rep. Steve Pearce is running for governor in New Mexico instead of re-election.  (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce opted to run for governor of his state instead of re-election in July.

Pearce, 70, has been a congressman for more than 12 years. He told the Albuquerque Journal that as governor he would focus on the exodus of young people leaving the state. 

Ted Poe

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas., questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, announced that he would not seek re-election on Nov. 7.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In a Twitter message, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, announced that he will not seek re-election.

“I am grateful for the honor and privilege to represent the best people in America, Texas’s Second Congressional District. Thanks to the good Lord, I’m in good health, but it’s time for the next step,” Poe, 69, said on Nov. 7.

He added that he’s planning to spend more time with his grandchildren. All 12 of them were born since he’s been in Congress, Poe said. He assumed office in 2005. 

Dave Reichert

FILE - In this July 28, 2017, file photo, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. Reichert said Sept. 6, 2017, he is retiring from Congress after seven terms. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., has served seven terms in Congress.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

After serving seven terms in Congress, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., said he would not seek re-election on Sept. 6. A former sheriff, Reichert, 67, represents a district that is being targeted by Democrats in 2018. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the area in the 2016 election.

Reichert said the decision to retire from Congress was “the right one for my family and me.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

In this Nov. 10, 2010 photo, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaks with Reuters at her office in Miami.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., was not a strong supporter of President Trump.  (Reuters/Joe Skipper)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., announced on April 30 that she would not seek re-election. Ros-Lehtinen, 65, has been a congresswoman since 1989.

“The most difficult challenge is not to simply keep winning elections; but rather the more difficult challenge is to not let the ability to win define my seasons,” she said.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen is considered a moderate Republican who was not a strong supporter of Trump.

Ed Royce

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2017, file photo, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., presides over a markup of a bill to expand sanctions against Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Royce says he will not seek re-election after serving out his 13th term. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

On January 8, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., announced that he would not seek re-election.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On January 8, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., announced that he would not seek re-election.

Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that he wanted to completely focus his final year as committee chairman on the “urgent threats facing our nation.”

Royce is currently serving out his 13th term.

In an announcement detailing his decision to not seek re-election, Royce cited the tax cut bill passed in December and the crackdown on the global ivory trade as some of his accomplishments.

Bill Shuster

Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Bill Shuster speaks at a committee hearing on "Oversight of U.S. Airline Customer Service," in the aftermath of the recent forced removal of a passenger from a Chicago flight at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC156C4F6870

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., announced he would not seek re-election on Jan. 2.  (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster told the Washington Examiner that even though he doesn’t plan to seek re-election, he still hopes to work with Trump on passing a large infrastructure bill before he leaves Congress.

The Pennsylvania Republican announced on Jan. 2 that he would not seek re-election in November. He told the publication that as he would not be coming back to Washington as a congressman, he could better work with parties on both sides of the aisle during his remaining time in office. 

Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, announced Nov. 2 he would be retiring from Congress at the end of his term.  (House of Representatives)

Rep. Lamar Smith, a 70-year-old Republican serving Texas, announced Nov. 2 that he would be retiring from Congress at the end of his term.

Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has served in the House of Representatives since 1987.

Luther Strange

Senator Luther Strange prepares to introduce the President Donald Trump during a rally at the Von Braun Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, U.S., September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Marvin Gentry - RC1B5A215530

Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., lost the special primary election earlier this year to Roy Moore.  (Reuters/Marvin Gentry)

Luther Strange, R, was appointed to Jeff Sessions’ old Senate after he was picked to be the attorney general.

But Strange, 64, lost in the special primary election earlier in 2017 to Roy Moore. Moore, who became the GOP nominee for the Senate, eventually lost to Democrat Doug Jones. Strange will vacate his seat once Jones is officially certified and sworn in.

In his farewell speech to the Senate in December, Stranger encouraged his fellow lawmakers to remain committed to bipartisanship.

“To lose the art of balance and compromise in this body is to lose something essentially American,” he said.

Pat Tiberi

FILE - In this Saturday, April 1, 2017, file photo, Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, speaks at DynaLab, Inc., in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Tiberi said Thursday, Oct. 19, that he will resign from his seat to take the helm of a business policy group back home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, announced Oct. 19 that he would be resigning from office in early 2018 to lead a business policy group.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi announced on Oct. 19 that he would resign from Congress in early 2018 to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable, as the association’s president.

Serving as a Republican Congressman for 17 years, Tiberi, 55, said that while he has “not yet determined a final resignation date, I will be leaving Congress by January 31, 2018.”

Dave Trott

In this Aug. 5, 2014 file photo, Republican David Trott, a candidate for Michigan's 11th congressional district, stands next to his wife, Kappy, during an interview at his election night party in Troy, Mich. In a statement Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., says he will not seek re-election. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., said he will not seek re-election, potentially paving the way for the Republican-leaning district to flip.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., announced on Sept. 11 that he would not seek re-election.

Trott, 57, will retire at the end of his second term. His district is Republican-leaning, but analysts told the Detroit News that a Democrat could flip the seat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

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Democrat plan to catch illegal firearm sellers online backfires spectacularly

A Democrat-backed study meant to expose illicit online gun sales instead seemed to show the opposite — with hardly any sellers taking the bait when undercover investigators tried to set up dozens of illegal firearm transactions.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, had commissioned the Government Accountability Office report to look into how online private dealers might be selling guns to people not allowed to have them.

Their efforts were based on a 2016 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which claimed that “anonymity of the internet makes it an ideal means for prohibited individuals to obtain illegal firearms.”

“Congressional requesters asked that GAO access the extent to which ATF is enforcing existing laws and investigate whether online private sellers sell firearms to be people who are not allowed or eligible to possess a firearm,” the GAO report said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., led the charge for GAO to commission the report.  (AP)

Over the course of the two-and-a-half year investigation, agents tried to buy firearms illegally on the “Surface Web” and the “Dark Web,” generally by sharing their status as “prohibited individuals” or trying to buy across state lines.

But the GAO revealed that their 72 attempts outside of the dark web were all “unsuccessful.”

“Private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the GAO reported, noting that in their “72 attempts … 56 sellers refused to complete a transaction once we revealed that either the shipping address was across state lines or that we were prohibited by law from owning firearms.” In the other cases, the investigators’ website was frozen or they encountered suspected scammers.

On the dark web, GAO agents successfully purchased two guns illegally, as the serial numbers on the weapons were “obliterated” and “shipped across state lines.” But in the attempt to purchase, the GAO agents “did not disclose any information indicating they were prohibited from possessing a firearm.”

Based on the findings of the study, the GAO said it is “not making recommendations in this report.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asks questions during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined with Sen. Brian Schultz, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., to commission the GAO report.  (AP)

Cummings, Warren and Schatz did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the GAO’s findings.

The National Rifle Association seized on the report to claim that online sales are in fact regulated, calling the study an “embarrassment” for the gun control lobby.

“GAO’s findings showed nothing so much as that private sellers advertising online are knowledgeable about the law, conscientious, and self-policing,” The National Rifle Association said, adding that online gun sales are “subject to the same federal laws that apply to any other commercial or private gun sales.”

The NRA described the study as an attempt to model the findings of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2015 report, titled “Point, Click, Fire: An investigation of illegal online gun sales,” which found that 62 percent of private sellers were willing to proceed with a sale, even if the prospective purchaser could not pass a background check.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Charges against rancher Cliven Bundy, three others are dismissed

A federal judge dismissed all charges against rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons and another man on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro cited “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” in her decision to dismiss all charges against the Nevada rancher and three others.

Navarro on Dec. 20 declared a mistrial in the high-profile Bundy case. It was only the latest, stunning development in the saga of the Nevada rancher, and served as a repudiation of the federal government. Navarro accused prosecutors of willfully withholding evidence from Bundy’s lawyers, in violation of the federal Brady rule.

“Either the government lied or [it’s actions were] so grossly negligent as to be tantamount to lying.”

– Judge Andrew Napolitano

The Brady rule, named after the landmark 1963 Supreme Court case known as Brady v. Maryland, holds that failure to disclose such evidence violates a defendant’s right to due process.

“In this case the failures to comply with Brady were exquisite, extraordinary,” said Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. “The judge exercised tremendous patience.”

The 71-year-old Bundy’s battle with the federal government eventually led to what became known as the Bundy standoff of 2014. But it began long before that.

In the early 1990s, the U.S. government limited grazing rights on federal lands in order to protect the desert tortoise habitat.  In 1993, Bundy, in protest, refused to renew his permit for cattle grazing, and continued grazing his livestock on these public lands.  He didn’t recognize the authority of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over the sovereign state of Nevada.

FILE - In this April 11, 2015, file photo, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy speaks with supporters at an event in Bunkerville, Nev. A lead investigator looking into how the U.S. Bureau of Land Management handled an armed standoff with the Bundy family and supporters in Nevada is alleging misconduct in an 18-page memo that has surfaced during a trial on federal charges. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

To many, Bundy is a folk hero who stood up to the federal government  (Associated Press)

The federal courts sided with the BLM, and Bundy didn’t seem to have a legal leg to stand on. Nevertheless, the rancher and the government continued this dispute for 20 years, and Bundy ended up owing over $1 million in fees and fines.

Things came to a head in 2014, when officials planned to capture and impound cattle trespassing on government land.  Protesters, many armed, tried to block the authorities, which led to a standoff.  For a time, they even shut down a portion of I-15, the main interstate highway running through Southern Nevada.

Tensions escalated until officials, fearing for the general safety, announced they would return Bundy’s cattle and suspend the roundup.

Afterward, Bundy continued to graze his cattle and not pay fees.  He and his fellow protesters were heroes to some, but criminals to the federal government.  Bundy, along with others seen as leaders of the standoff, including sons Ammon and Ryan, were charged with numerous felonies, including conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and using a firearm in a violent crime. They faced many years in prison.

The Bundy case finally began in late October, 2017. But just two months later, it ended with Navarro angry, the feds humiliated and Bundy – at least to his supporters – vindicated.

In fact, Navarro had suspended the trial earlier and warned of a mistrial when prosecutors released information after a discovery deadline.  Overall, the government was late in handing over more than 3,300 pages of documents. Further, some defense requests for information that ultimately came to light had been ridiculed by prosecutors as “fantastical” and a “fishing expedition.”

“Either the government lied or [it’s actions were] so grossly negligent as to be tantamount to lying,” Napolitano said. “This happened over and over again.”

Steve Kurtz is a producer for the Fox News Channel, and author of “Steve’s America (the perfect gift for people named Steve)”.

De Blasio to travel ‘all around’ America, denies it’s a dry run for WH campaign

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday he’ll be taking new trips across the country in support of the left, sending out new signals of White House hopes while denying it’s a dry run for a presidential bid.

Since coming to City Hall in Jan. 2014, de Blasio has traveled outside the U.S. at least 11 times, including trips to Italy, Germany and France, and has taken trips outside the city at least 53 times — not including trips to Albany and Washington, D.C., The New York Post reported.

Looking to become a national leader in progressive politics, de Blasio has stated that Democrats must embrace a progressive agenda to win elections in the future.

He even offered muted praise for President Donald Trump in how he conveyed an “economic vision for fairness.”

“That’s something Bernie Sanders did a great job with in 2016, and bluntly, Trump got a lot of that message out and attracted a lot of people,” he said during a radio interview with John Catsimatidis. “That should not be a message that someone like Trump can beat Democrats on.”

“Democrats have to have the strongest most progressive message of economic change and fairness, so I think that’s even more important than a single leader emerging,” de Blasio continued. “I’m going to go all around the country helping to support the folks who will be part of that change and the folks who believe in that kind of vision for the party.”

De Blasio previously said he’s not running for president and will serve all four years of his second and final term in office.

He won re-election handily in November, becoming the first Democrat to return to City Hall in New York since Edward Koch won a third term in 1985.

He boasted about the city recording the lowest number of annual homicides since the early 1950s. The police department’s preliminary count is 290 homicides for 2017, a 14 percent drop from the year before.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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