Trump on North Korea summit: ‘If the meeting happens, it happens’

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will know “very soon” whether his much-anticipated meeting with Kim Jong Un will take place in Singapore next month, after the North Korean leader threatened to abandon the historic summit.

"We’ll see what happens. If the meeting happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, we go on to the next step," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

"We are continuing to negotiate in terms of location — where to meet, how to meet, rooms, everything else. They’ve been negotiating like nothing happened," he said. "But if you read the newspapers, maybe it won’t happen. I can’t tell you yet. I will tell you very shortly. We’re going to know very soon."

The meeting was set for June 12 in Singapore, but on Wednesday, Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, issued a statement through the state-run Central News Agency Continue reading “Trump on North Korea summit: ‘If the meeting happens, it happens’”

Trump to talk trade with Chinese emissary in White House meeting

Donald Trump will meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Thursday to discuss the ongoing trade dispute between their two nations, the president’s top economic adviser said.

"The president is meeting with Liu this afternoon,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters outside the White House on Thursday. The meeting was not previously on the president’s schedule.

"It means that there’s great interest here in furthering the deal and furthering negotiations and trying to reach some remedies regarding unfair and illegal trading practices,” Kudlow said. “That’s what we want.”

Liu is in Washington, D.C., on Thursday and Friday for a new round of high-level talks at the Treasury department with administration officials including Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and possibly White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Kudlow downplays Mnuchin, Navarro drama ahead of trade talks

President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser on Thursday tamped down reports of escalating tensions between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, as the two administration officials seek to broker a resolution to an ongoing trade dispute with China during two days of high-level meetings in Washington.

“We have a very strong negotiating team,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said in an interview with Fox Business. “There’s a lot of misreported, gossipy stuff that didn’t go on.”

Mnuchin and Navarro reportedly clashed two weeks ago during an initial round of talks in Beijing, engaging in a screaming match and cursing at one another on the lawn in front of the Chinese government building where the negotiations were taking place.

The confrontation spiraled after Navarro complained to Mnuchin that he’d been shut out of certain meetings with Chinese officials, according to one person Continue reading “Kudlow downplays Mnuchin, Navarro drama ahead of trade talks”

Trump asks Sessions to consider prosecuting Oakland mayor over ICE raid

President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to consider prosecuting the mayor of Oakland, California, on an obstruction of justice charge, after Mayor Libby Schaaf warned her constituents in February of an impending federal raid that targeted more than 1,100 undocumented immigrants but resulted in the arrests of only about 200.

“I mean, you talk about obstruction of justice, I would recommend that you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland, California, Jeff,” Trump said, gesturing toward Sessions. The attorney general did not respond, and sat expressionless as the president made his comments.

Trump’s remarks came during a White House roundtable discussion with several California elected officials and law enforcement officers who favor tougher immigration enforcement standards in their state. Sessions; Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; the acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan; and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Continue reading “Trump asks Sessions to consider prosecuting Oakland mayor over ICE raid”

Tillerson warns of ethical crisis among U.S. leaders in speech

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday appeared to offer an implicit rebuke of his old boss, as he warned of a "growing crisis in ethics and integrity" during a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute.

“As I reflect upon the state of our American democracy, I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity,” Tillerson told the graduates. “If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector — and regrettably, at times, even the non-profit sector — then American democracy, as we know it, is entering its twilight years.”

The ex-diplomat — who did not mention President Donald Trump by name — also delivered a pointed commentary on the importance of truth in political discourse, and insisted that “a common set of facts” was essential to maintaining a free Continue reading “Tillerson warns of ethical crisis among U.S. leaders in speech”

Trump denies he’s been too generous with China in trade talks

President Donald Trump on Wednesday hit back at the notion that he’s already given up too much in trade negotiations with China, saying that there’s been "no folding" and that real talks between the world’s two largest economies “haven’t even started yet!”

Senate Democrats and other critics have questioned the wisdom of Trump’s tweet over the weekend saying he was open to easing up on enforcement actions against Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, saying such a move could harm national security and could be too generous in the context of larger trade negotiations.

But Trump said such an idea was foolish.

“The Washington Post and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China. Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

The president said that the U.S. “has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars Continue reading “Trump denies he’s been too generous with China in trade talks”

Trump cheers GOP wins in Tuesday primaries

President Donald Trump on Wednesday applauded Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta’s victory Tuesday evening in his state’s GOP Senate primary, and predicted the new nominee would best Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey in November’s general election.

“Congratulations to Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania,” the president wrote on Twitter. “He will be a great Senator and will represent his people well – like they haven’t been represented in many years. Lou is a friend of mine and a special guy, he will very much help MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The four-term House member won 63 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, snatching the Republican nod from poorly-funded state representative Jim Christiana.

Trump intervened in the final days of the Pennsylvania race to boost Barletta’s candidacy, blasting a two-minute robocall to GOP voters on the eve of the election.

Trump also praised Barletta for supporting him in the 2016 election, helping Trump Continue reading “Trump cheers GOP wins in Tuesday primaries”

Trump’s attitude for a successful North Korea summit: ‘If it isn’t, it isn’t’

President Donald Trump celebrated a dizzying 24 hours of statecraft with North Korea at a rally in Indiana on Thursday evening, but refrained from any campaign-style bombast in describing his outlook for a scheduled summit with the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

“I think it’s going to be a very big success,” the president told an energetic crowd assembled at North Side Middle School in Elkhart. “But my attitude is: And if it isn’t, it isn’t. OK? If it isn’t, it isn’t.”

That particular philosophy, he insisted, was necessary to ensure that America did not stumble into an ill-conceived international pact along the lines of how he portrayed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement — which Trump effectively terminated on Tuesday.

“You have to have that because you don’t know. We’re not going to walk into an Iran deal,” the president said.

Trump’s remarks capped a momentous day of diplomacy Continue reading “Trump’s attitude for a successful North Korea summit: ‘If it isn’t, it isn’t’”

Melania Trump’s popularity sees boost in new poll

Melania Trump’s popularity has climbed significantly since the New Year, as the first lady has elevated her public presence in recent months and weathered numerous reports regarding her husband’s alleged infidelity.

The number of Americans who view the former supermodel favorably increased to 57 percent in May, up from 47 percent in January, according to a new CNN/SSRS poll.

Notably, the number of Democrats with positive feelings toward the first lady surged 15 points since January, and female support for the first lady increased by 13 points — meaning a majority of women, 54 percent, now view her favorably.

Melania’s uptick in approval comes as the first lady has cultivated a perception of personal and professional independence in the White House, occasionally abstaining from accompanying President Donald Trump to official events and taking on a broader slate of responsibilities with the help of her East Wing staff.

Last month, the Continue reading “Melania Trump’s popularity sees boost in new poll”

Iranian president: We will ‘remain committed’ to nuclear deal if Trump pulls out

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran claimed the Middle Eastern power “will continue to remain committed” to the multinational nuclear agreement the Obama administration brokered in 2015 — even if President Donald Trump terminates American involvement in the deal later this week.

“We are not worried about America’s cruel decisions … We are prepared for all scenarios and no change will occur in our lives next week,” Rouhani said Monday in a speech broadcast live on state television and reported by Reuters. “If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal. What Iran wants is our interests to be guaranteed by its non-American signatories … In that case, getting rid of America’s mischievous presence will be fine for Iran.”

Trump seems poised to withdraw from the deal on Saturday, when a decision is due on whether to extend a Continue reading “Iranian president: We will ‘remain committed’ to nuclear deal if Trump pulls out”

DHS terminates immigration status for Hondurans who fled hurricane

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Friday terminated the special immigration designation that Hondurans used to seek refuge in America when a catastrophic storm pummeled their home country nearly two decades ago.

After determining that the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 had “decreased to a degree that it should no longer be regarded as substantial,” Nielsen decided to end the Temporary Protected Status of Hondurans who fled to the U.S., according to a Department of Homeland Security news release.

The designation, which was granted in 1999, will sunset in January 2020 — imperiling the roughly 86,000 Hondurans currently covered by TPS.

“Since 1999, conditions in Honduras that resulted from the hurricane have notably improved,” the department said in the release. “Additionally, since the last review of the country’s conditions in October 2016, Honduras has made substantial progress in post-hurricane recovery and reconstruction from the 1998 Hurricane Continue reading “DHS terminates immigration status for Hondurans who fled hurricane”

Trump warns that ‘weakness gets you nuclear war’ ahead of Kim Jong Un summit

President Donald Trump on Friday suggested only a strong commander in chief like himself could avert the possibility of atomic conflict with Kim Jong Un’s regime, saying “being weak is what gets you nuclear war.”

“With respect to North Korea, remember how strong it was and they were saying, ‘This is going to be nuclear war?’” said Trump, raising his voice and waving his hands before a receptive audience at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas.

“No. You know what gets you nuclear war? Weakness gets you nuclear war. Being weak gets you nuclear war. That’s what gets you nuclear war,” the president said.

In the past, Trump has employed menacing rhetoric online and in speeches in an attempt to dissuade Kim from pursuing his nuclear ambitions.

In a September address to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump warned that “rocket man is on a suicide Continue reading “Trump warns that ‘weakness gets you nuclear war’ ahead of Kim Jong Un summit”

Time and place set for Kim Jong Un summit, Trump says

Donald Trump on Friday revealed that U.S. and North Korean officials have settled on a time and place for the president’s much-anticipated summit with Kim Jong Un, and appeared optimistic about the potential extraction of three American citizens imprisoned under Kim’s despotic regime.

“The trip is being scheduled. We now have a date. And we have a location. We’ll be announcing it soon,” Trump told reporters assembled on the White House South Lawn.

“We’re having very substantive talks with North Korea. And a lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages. And I think you’re going to see very good things,” the president added.

Trump on Monday floated on Twitter the idea of holding the summit at a facility inside the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean peninsula. And later that day, speaking alongside Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a bilateral news conference at the White Continue reading “Time and place set for Kim Jong Un summit, Trump says”

White House’s Sanders says she learned ‘last night’ that Trump repaid Michael Cohen

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she learned President Donald Trump had reimbursed his longtime attorney for a 2016 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels at the same time most Americans did — when Rudy Giuliani revealed it in an interview on Wednesday night.

“The first awareness I had was during the interview last night,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.

Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who is now a member of Trump’s legal team, told Sean Hannity of Fox News that the president repaid Michael Cohen — who Giuliani said was not doing any work for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — in several installments via a retainer.

“They funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it,” Giuliani said. “He didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement Continue reading “White House’s Sanders says she learned ‘last night’ that Trump repaid Michael Cohen”

27 must-read quotes from Giuliani’s Stormy Daniels media blitz

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani embarked on a media blitz starting Wednesday night to tamp down speculation that a $130,000 "hush money" payment from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney to porn star Stormy Daniels could be considered a campaign finance violation.

Instead, the newly minted member of Trump’s legal team set off a media furor by revealing that Trump himself had repaid attorney Michael Cohen for the arrangement. Trump previously denied any knowledge of the payment.

Below are key quotes from Giuliani’s multiple interviews.

Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET
Giuliani appears on Fox News for an interview with Sean Hannity.

On Trump’s reimbursement of Cohen: “Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000, which, I mean, is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money. Sorry. I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money. Continue reading “27 must-read quotes from Giuliani’s Stormy Daniels media blitz”

U.S. returns smuggled Hobby Lobby artifacts to Iraq

The Republic of Iraq has finally taken possession of thousands of ancient artifacts illegally shipped to the U.S. by Hobby Lobby in an international smuggling operation more befitting an Indiana Jones villain than America’s favorite arts-and-crafts retailer.

Iraq’s reclaiming of the antiquities comes roughly 10 months after the Oklahoma City-based chain settled a $3 million civil suit with the U.S. government for smuggling thousands of clay artifacts — which originated in modern-day Iraq — into the U.S. through the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The company used shipping labels that falsely described the artifacts as tile “samples,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Top American immigration agents and diplomats visited the Washington home of the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. on Wednesday for an elaborate outdoor repatriation ceremony.

The roughly 3,800 artifacts returned to the nation include a collection of cuneiform tablets dating as Continue reading “U.S. returns smuggled Hobby Lobby artifacts to Iraq”

Rubio walks back criticism of GOP tax law

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is walking back some of the criticism he leveled against the new Republican tax law earlier this week, now claiming the measure “has been good for Americans” overall.

“On the whole, the tax cut bill helps workers. It’s just not massive tax cuts to multinational corporations that do it,” Rubio wrote in an op-ed for National Review published Wednesday.

“Overall, the Republican tax-cut bill has been good for Americans. That is why I voted for it,” he added. “But it could have been even better for American workers and their families.”

That assessment marks a stark departure from Rubio’s awkward rebuke of the law in an interview with The Economist published Monday, in which the Florida Republican questioned how much the legislation is really helping the working class.

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, Continue reading “Rubio walks back criticism of GOP tax law”

Seizure of Trump’s medical records ‘standard operating procedure,’ White House says

White House staffers were following “standard operating procedure” when they seized Donald Trump’s medical records from the president’s former physician, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday.

“As is standard operating procedure for a new president, the White House medical unit took possession of the president’s medical records,” Sanders said at a White House press briefing.

Harold Bornstein, Trump’s New York doctor, alleged in an article published on Tuesday by NBC News that Keith Schiller, the former White House director of Oval Office operations and Trump’s longtime personal bodyguard, conducted a “raid” of Bornstein’s office in February 2017 to obtain the president’s medical records.

Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, and another unidentified “large man” accompanied Schiller, Bornstein claimed.

Bornstein said the frightening episode, which lasted roughly half an hour, “created a lot of chaos” and left him feeling “raped, frightened and sad.”

Sanders told reporters Continue reading “Seizure of Trump’s medical records ‘standard operating procedure,’ White House says”

Condoleezza Rice’s advice to Trump: Leave the details of Kim negotiations ‘to people who understand all the nuance’

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a message for President Donald Trump ahead of his planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un: Don’t sweat the details.

“Don’t try to negotiate the details with Kim Jong Un,” Rice told the hosts of “Fox & Friends” in a Tuesday interview. “Leave that to people who understand all the nuances of this situation.”

The former top American diplomat during the George W. Bush administration urged Trump to consider the interests of Asian allies when he arrives at the negotiating table with Kim.

“Really recognize that others are at stake,” she said. “There are other countries that have interests here. Japan, for instance has interests here. South Korea of course has interests here.”

Rice also discouraged Trump from ruling out the deployment of U.S. military forces to reinforce the terms of a potential nuclear agreement.

“Don’t be anxious Continue reading “Condoleezza Rice’s advice to Trump: Leave the details of Kim negotiations ‘to people who understand all the nuance’”

Rubio says GOP tax law benefits corporations over ‘the American worker’

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he thinks big corporations — not American workers — are shaping up to be the chief beneficiaries of the tax law Republicans muscled through Congress last year.

"There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers," Rubio told The Economist in an interview published Monday. "In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker."

The Florida Republican’s unexpected criticism reflects an awkward break with his party’s preeminent talking point ahead of November’s midterm elections. The GOP is fighting to maintain control over both chambers of Congress in part by trumpeting tax breaks and bonuses to middle-class employees they say were facilitated by the law.

But Continue reading “Rubio says GOP tax law benefits corporations over ‘the American worker’”