Scores of ex-U.S. envoys urge Trump to end ‘barbarism’ and reunite migrant families

At least 90 former U.S. ambassadors are urging President Donald Trump to follow through and go beyond his plan to stop separating migrant families at the southern border, saying the previous policy was “barbarism” that damages American diplomacy.

The former ambassadors communicated their concerns in a letter shared exclusively with POLITICO on Wednesday. The signatories include Susan Rice — who represented the U.S. at the United Nations before becoming President Barack Obama’s national security adviser — and many ambassadors who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

“As foreign policy professionals, we urge President Trump and members of his administration to end the barbarism now underway, return children to their parents and engage in a serious debate about how to ensure that government agencies carry out immigration policies in a manner that adheres to our values and standards of decency,” the letter states.

Trump signed an executive order Continue reading “Scores of ex-U.S. envoys urge Trump to end ‘barbarism’ and reunite migrant families”

Trump calls off congressional picnic, saying it didn’t feel ‘right’

President Trump on Wednesday said he was calling off the annual congressional picnic scheduled for Thursday evening as his administration grapples with the furor over its hardline practice of separating migrant families crossing at the border.

“I was just walking over to the Oval Office and I said, you know, it doesn’t feel right to have a picnic for Congress when we’re working on doing something very important,” he said in a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. “It didn’t feel exactly right to me.”

The president — who last night attended a high-dollar fundraiser at his Washington hotel — did not specify when the congressional picnic would be rescheduled. “We’ll make it another time when things are going extremely well,” he said.

Trump made the comments as he also announced that he plans to sign an executive action that would end the family separations, after repeatedly insisting Continue reading “Trump calls off congressional picnic, saying it didn’t feel ‘right’”

Trump claims German officials ‘do not want to report’ increase in crime

President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that crime in Germany has increased, adding that German officials “do not want to report these crimes.”

“Crime in Germany is up 10% plus (officials do not want to report these crimes) since migrants were accepted. Others countries are even worse. Be smart America!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

According to the German police crime statistics, 2017 marked the lowest level of crime in Germany in 25 years despite the country’s open-door policy toward migrants.

However, according to a government-sponsored study cited by Reuters in January, violent crime in Germany rose 10 percent between 2015 to 2016. The study attributed the vast majority of that crime to young male refugees.

Trump has pointed to Germany to help justify his contentious “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of children from their families at the southern border.

“The people Continue reading “Trump claims German officials ‘do not want to report’ increase in crime”

White House not using immigrant children as pawns, Nielsen says

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied on Monday that the administration was using immigrant children as leverage to advance President Donald Trump’s policies, including paying for a massive border wall.

“The kids are being used by pawns by the smugglers and the traffickers,” Nielsen said at a White House press briefing, responding to a reporter’s question about the reason for separating immigrant children from their parents at the southern border.

She also repeated what other members of the Trump administration have been claiming — that it is up to Congress to close loopholes in current laws in order to keep families together.

There is no law on the books requiring that immigrant families to be separated upon trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Rather, the administration has adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting all illegal border-crossers as criminals, a policy that it could also reverse.

Nielsen cited a “314% Continue reading “White House not using immigrant children as pawns, Nielsen says”

Man who attacked Rand Paul sentenced to 30 days in jail

The man who pleaded guilty to attacking Sen. Rand Paul last fall over a yard dispute was sentenced Friday to spend 30 days behind bars, according to local news reports.

Rene Boucher, 60, had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress in connection with the Nov. 3 incident in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

In a statement, Paul said no one deserves to be assaulted.

“A felony conviction with jail time is appropriate and hopefully will deter the attacker from further violence. I commend the FBI and Department of Justice for treating this violent, pre-meditated assault with the seriousness it deserves," Paul said.
In addition to time in jail, Boucher was sentenced to one year of supervised release, a $10,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Boucher was also instructed to have no intentional contact with the senator and his family.

Boucher said his attack on Paul in November Continue reading “Man who attacked Rand Paul sentenced to 30 days in jail”

Trump says he ‘hates’ family separations at border

President Donald Trump on Friday condemned the practice of separating children from their parents at the border and reiterated an incorrect assertion that the Democrats are to blame for the practice.

“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law,” Trump said to a group of reporters on the White House lawn in an impromptu appearance on “Fox and Friends“ Friday morning.

The “zero tolerance” approach to immigration that the Trump administration adopted resulted in the controversial policy of border agents separating families. But Trump insisted that the ball is in the Democrats’ court.

“The Democrats gave us the laws. Now, I want the laws to be beautiful, humane, but strong. I don’t want bad people coming in,” Trump said. “We can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats and your friends to call me.”

House Republicans on Thursday Continue reading “Trump says he ‘hates’ family separations at border”

Democrats and Republicans unite — at least briefly, on a baseball diamond

Sportsmanship is supposed to define the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, bringing Democrats and Republicans together away from the Capitol. But last year, it was a tragedy surrounding the event that united their parties.

On June 14, 2017, no one knew whether Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) would live or die after a gunman opened fire on a GOP practice for the game. Scalise was shot in the left hip by an Illinois man who was reportedly upset that Donald Trump had been elected president. The lawmaker, one of five people wounded at the practice in Alexandria, Virginia, underwent multiple surgeries in the weeks that followed.

“For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family,” House Speaker Ryan said that afternoon.

Exactly one year later, Scalise was cheered as he came onto the field Thursday night for the annual game at Nationals Park. As he prepared to Continue reading “Democrats and Republicans unite — at least briefly, on a baseball diamond”

Kudlow released from hospital after heart attack

Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, was discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack earlier this week.

“Doctors say Larry’s recovery is going very well. The president and the administration are happy Larry is back home and look forward to seeing him back to work soon,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a White House pool email.

The White House previously described Kudlow’s Monday heart attack as “very mild,” and a close friend of the National Economic Council director told POLITICO earlier this week that he could return to the job in a matter of days.

President Donald Trump broke the news about Kudlow’s heart attack on Twitter shortly before his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Our Great Larry Kudlow, who has been working so hard on trade and the economy, has just suffered a Continue reading “Kudlow released from hospital after heart attack”

U.S. Embassy in China warns Americans amid possible sonic attacks

The U.S. Embassy in China issued an alert to Americans Friday to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms consistent with the mysterious sonic attacks that have affected staffers in China and Cuba.

“Symptoms to be attentive for include dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping,” the warning stated.

After the incident occurred at the Guangzhou consulate in May, the State Department said it is taking the reports seriously and informed its staff in China.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said at the time that the Chinese government assured the State Department that it is investigating the symptoms felt by the U.S. government employee.

Since the incident, other employees from the consulate and their families have been evacuated. There is a U.S. medical team in Guangzhou assessing whether more people need to leave China, the Associated Press Continue reading “U.S. Embassy in China warns Americans amid possible sonic attacks”

Dem lawmakers ask for threat assessment over Trump’s phone use

A group of Democratic lawmakers asked for a threat assessment looking at risks posed by President Donald Trump’s cellphone use and whether foreign adversaries could have accessed classified information as a result.

Trump routinely uses cellphones to tweet and communicate with friends that don’t have the same level of security as his predecessors’ had, POLITICO reported last month. At least one of his devices has its camera and microphone intact, which experts believe could be used to spy on the president if his phone were compromised.

In a letter to William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked for an assessment of whether sensitive government information has been exposed through Trump’s phone habits.

“If the President has indeed been using unsecured devices to communicate with associates, it Continue reading “Dem lawmakers ask for threat assessment over Trump’s phone use”

Cornyn: Trump should put David Petraeus on his pardons list

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tx.) said he would be “happy to see” former CIA director David Petraeus high on President Donald Trump’s list of pardons.

“Well, I think General Petraeus is an incredible patriot, and helped guide our country during a very difficult time in Iraq and basically pulled a rabbit out of a hat there,” Cornyn said in an interview Thursday morning on Hugh Hewitt’s show. “But he made a terrible mistake. What I respect about General Petraeus is he admitted it candidly and publicly, and took responsibility for it. You don’t see that much in Washington.”

Petraeus is a retired four-star Army general who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2007 to lead the war efforts in Iraq and rose to CIA director under Barack Obama’s presidency – attractive resume data points that once made him a viable candidate for the presidency.

But in Continue reading “Cornyn: Trump should put David Petraeus on his pardons list”

Poll: 29 percent of U.S. voters have a favorable view of Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has produced a flood of sensational headlines as President Donald Trump’s outside attorney, has only a 29 percent favorability rating among American voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

The poll found that 44 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of Giuliani, while 25 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about him.

Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team in April as the president looked to build out the group of lawyers combating special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling probe into whether Trump aides colluded with Russian officials meddling in the 2016 election and whether the president tried to obstruct justice.

The relationship hasn’t always gone smoothly. Last month, Trump distanced himself from Giuliani’s bombshell explanation that Trump had repaid his longtime attorney Michael Cohen for a hush money deal he struck with porn star Stormy Daniels.

“He’ll get his facts straight,” Continue reading “Poll: 29 percent of U.S. voters have a favorable view of Giuliani”

Bernie Sanders calls DNC’s Perez’s endorsement of Cuomo a mistake

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Wednesday morning that DNC Chair Tom Perez’s endorsement of New York governor Andrew Cuomo for that state’s governorship was “absolutely” a mistake.

“To endorse one candidate over the other is not what the chair of the DNC should be doing,” Sanders said during an interview with the Washington Post.

Perez had previously said that the national party shouldn’t and won’t endorse in primaries. But in May he endorsed incumbent Cuomo at an event in Long Island.

“I have said…open the doors of the Democratic party. Welcome working people, welcome young people in, welcome idealism in,” Sanders said.

Sanders said there’s “a lot of agreement” between him, Perez and “Clinton people” on the issue of super delegates in elections.

“You had super delegates voting for Clinton in states that I won pretty handsomely and I think there is a general feeling that that does not Continue reading “Bernie Sanders calls DNC’s Perez’s endorsement of Cuomo a mistake”