US President Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
“Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, will become our new secretary of state. He will do a fantastic job,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!” the president added.
The resignation represents the biggest shakeup of the Trump Cabinet so far and had been expected since last October when reports surfaced about a falling out between Trump and Tillerson, 65, who left his position as chief executive of Exxon Mobil to join the administration.
U.S. stock index futures pared their gains and the dollar also trimmed gains versus the yen while extending losses versus the euro amid the news.
Trump publicly undercut Tillerson’s diplomatic initiatives numerous times, including on Monday when the former secretary of state’s comments about Russia appeared to be at odds with those of the White House.
Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea’s leader and become the first sitting U.S. president to do so.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” Trump said on Twitter.
Florida survivor says president ‘no better than other politicians’ after plan to ‘harden’ schools against mass shootings retreats from confrontation with NRA.
The Trump administration will use existing justice department funding to help train teachers and other school personnel to use firearms in an attempt to “harden” schools against mass shooting attacks, the White House announced on Sunday.
But in a watered-down school safety plan, the White House backed away from other proposals the president had endorsed, including raising the legal age to buy certain guns.
The president had clashed with the National Rifle Association over the issue of raising age limits to purchase rifles such as the one used in the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida in February, in which 17 people were killed.
“It should all be at 21,” Trump said in late February. “And the NRA will back it.”
But the NRA remained firm, filing a federal lawsuit on Friday challenging the legality of Florida’s newly passed age restrictions on buying rifles and other long guns.
The president then backed away from the issue, assigning the question of whether age limits should be raised on some gun purchases to a new federal commission on school safety, chaired by education secretary Betsy DeVos.
On Monday, survivors of the Florida shooting criticised Trump’s decision.
“What President Trump showed when he said he wanted to raise the age to 21 was bipartisanship and the need to work together on this and save some lives,” one of the students, David Hogg, told CNN.
“But the other thing he showed after that is that he’s no better than the other politicians because he called out other GOP members and said, ‘You’re owned by the NRA and that’s why you don’t want to take action.’ But then he stepped back down from where he was and that’s why we’re seeing this stuff.
“I ask him why? Show us that you’re better than these other politicians and that you aren’t owned by the NRA and that you actually want to take action. Those proposals were great but proposals without action remain proposals.”
Under the White House plan, homeland security officials will work with states to develop a public awareness campaign to prevent school shootings, based on the “See something, say something” campaign launched after 9/11, which encourages members of the public to stay vigilant and report potential signs of terrorism.
The administration will work with states to provide “rigorous firearms training” to “qualified volunteer school personnel”, said Andrew Bremberg, director of the president’s domestic policy council. No figures were given for what the plan would cost.
The White House also endorsed a piece of bipartisan legislation that would improve the nation’s background check system for gun sales by providing incentives for federal agencies to comply with the current law.
It did not endorse a bill that would actually close some of the gaping loopholes in the nation’s background check system, despite Trump’s words of praise for stronger legislation in a public meeting with Democratic lawmakers in late February.
Trump did endorse two policy proposals with strong support from advocates for gun violence prevention.
The president called on states across the country to pass extreme risk protection orders, which would provide law enforcement and family members with a legal way to petition a court to temporarily remove an unstable person’s guns, and block them from buying new ones.
A senior administration official emphasised that this process would include respect for due process, while giving law enforcement officers the ability to temporarily take away guns from extremely high-risk people.
The White House also endorsed the bipartisan STOP School Violence Act and asked Congress to provide funding to support evidence-based school violence prevention programs. This legislation is endorsed by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit founded by some of the family members of the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, in which 20 young children and six adults were killed. The group has been working with school districts across the country to implement its “Know the Signs” programs.
White House officials attempted to frame Trump’s proposal as a bold step forward.
“We’ve had to talk about this topic way too much over the years,” DeVos said on Sunday night. “There’s been a lot of talk in the past, but very little action.”
Pressed by reporters to explain why forming a new commission to discuss school safety was an example of action, rather than more talk, senior administration officials had few answers. They declined to give any specific timeline for the DeVos commission to produce recommendations, other than saying it would be less than a year, and the commission would work “quickly”.
At a campaign-style rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, Trump himself mocked the idea of presidential commissions on controversial issues, saying: “We can’t just keep setting up blue ribbon committees with your wife and your wife and your husband, and they meet and they have a meal and they talk.”
SOURCE: The Guardian, UK
It looks as if President Trump will get the military parade he has coveted for months. But it will not be on the Fourth of July — and it will not include tanks.
Instead, plans are underway to hold a plane-filled display on Veterans Day in Washington, according to a Pentagon memo sent to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The memo, with Thursday’s date, says its purpose is to “provide initial guidance for the planning and execution” of a procession that would run from the White House to the Capitol and integrate with the city’s annual Veterans Day parade.
Medal of Honor recipients and veterans’ organizations are to be included in the march, which, according to the memo, will feature a heavy dose of history.
“This parade will focus on the contributions of our veterans throughout the history of the U.S. Military, starting from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 to today, with an emphasis on the price of freedom,” the memo said.
In practice, that means “period uniforms,” re-enactments and even the use of an “old guard fife and drum,” the memo says.
The parade will also “highlight the evolution of women veterans from separate formations in World War II to today’s integrated formations,” the memo says. It will close with a “heavy air component,” which officials hope will include older planes.
Why no tanks?
“Consideration must be given to minimize damage to local infrastructure,” the memo notes, adding that there will be “wheeled vehicles only.”
The details come more than a year after Mr. Trump first signaled interest in the possibility of a military parade.
His inaugural committee reportedly explored, but rejected, the idea of highlighting military equipment in his inaugural parade. Then, in July, Mr. Trump watched a Bastille Day celebration in Paris and days later called it“one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen,” adding that “we should do one one day down Pennsylvania Ave.”
Two months later, while making remarks at the United Nations, Mr. Trump said he was actually looking into staging a Fourth of July parade, noting again that he had gotten the idea after watching the Bastille Day event.
Finally, last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged that the Pentagon had been “putting together some options” for an event, which would be sent to the White House. A week later Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, estimated that the sort of public display that Mr. Trump had called for could cost between $10 million and $30 million.
Soon after that, Mr. Trump told Fox News that he would forgo the idea if it could not be done at a “reasonable cost,” which might help explain the decision to integrate the new parade with one that already exists.
Military parades in the United States have traditionally followed the end of wars. In 1991, President George Bush hosted a $12 million demonstration of military prowess after the end of the Persian Gulf war.
Other places in the world, though, are no stranger to military parades. In addition to France’s Bastille Day celebration in July, China held a huge military parade last summer, and in May, Russian leaders organized a large military paradethrough Red Square.
North Korea also frequently puts on displays of its military hardware, highlighting the nation’s missile capabilities by driving them down the streets of Pyongyang.
In a pair of extraordinary interviews on Monday, former Donald Trump aide Sam Nunberg said he would defy a grand jury subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller but also said the president “may have done something” illegal.
Speaking first to the Washington Post and then on MSNBC, Nunberg vowed to defy Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and alleged collusion between Trump aides and Moscow.
Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and four former Trump aides, three of whom have entered plea deals involving cooperation.
Nunberg, however, said he would tear up his subpoena live on Bloomberg TV.
He also told MSNBC host Katy Tur, the author of a bestselling book on the Trump campaign, that he thought the candidate “may have done something” illegal during the election.
He added: “I don’t know that for sure.”
Later, Nunberg told the Associated Press that though he was angry over Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, he was “going to end up cooperating with them”.
A protege of veteran political operative Roger Stone, Nunberg was Trump’s political adviser before the start of his White House run. He was fired in August 2015, over racially charged Facebook posts, after he and Stone lost an internal power struggle with the then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Nunberg was sued by Trump on the eve of the 2016 Republican convention, for allegedly leaking information about Lewandowski’s relationship with the close Trump aide and future White House communications director Hope Hicks. The case was settled and Nunberg has remained close to many in Trump’s orbit.
Speaking to the Post, Nunberg dared Mueller to act if he refused to appear before a grand jury on Friday.
“Let him arrest me,” he said.
Speaking to MSNBC, Nunberg said: “I think it would be funny if they arrested me.”
Nunberg told Tur he would not cooperate with Mueller, saying: “It’s a witch-hunt and I’m not going to cooperate.
“Why do I have to spend 80 hours going over my email? That I’ve had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone? Why does Bob Mueller need to see my emails when I send Roger and Steve clips and we talk about how much we hate people?”
Nunberg also said that had Trump not won the Republican primary, “he was probably going to endorse Hillary Clinton”.
He also showed the Post a copy of what appeared to be his subpoena, the newspaper reported, which included a list of names of those about whom the special counsel is seeking information. Hicks, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Lewandowski and Stone were among the names listed.
Speaking to the AP, Nunberg retreated again, saying: “I’m happy if the scope changes and if they send me a subpoena that doesn’t include [ex-foreign policy adviser] Carter Page.”
Nunberg insisted he had never spoken to Page, a key figure in the Russiainvestigations, and said the only reason he was being asked to testify was to provide information to be used against Stone, which he would not do.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, dismissed Nunberg’s comments.
“I’m not going to weigh into someone who doesn’t work at the White House,” she said. “From our perspective, we’re going to cooperate with the special counsel’s office and the reason we’re so comfortable doing so is there was absolutely no collusion with the Trump campaign.”
Nunberg also asked Tur for advice, saying: “What do you think Mueller is going to do to me?”
Tur responded: “I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know but given the circumstances you might be held in contempt of court.”
In a separate television interview, Nunberg told CNN that Mueller “thinks Trump is the Manchurian Candidate” though the former aide said he disagrees.
Nunberg said he believes investigators are interested in learning more about theMiss Universe pageant Trump held in Moscow in 2013.
“They probably want to know about Miss Universe 2013, if I had to guess,” Nunberg said. “There was nothing there, but they want to hear the testimony. They want to hear what other people said, and perhaps other people told them different things than I heard.”
It was during this visit to Moscow that Trump is said to have discussed potential business opportunities in Russian. Nunberg said he was asked about Trump Tower Moscow, which was under discussion but never built.
Investigators also asked him about the goings on inside Trump Tower in New York, where Trump lived and worked before moving into the White House.
“They asked questions to me in terms of did I hear Russian spoken around Trump Tower? No, Gloria, I never heard Russian spoken around Trump Tower, OK? Now, I understand why they have to ask that, but it was pretty ridiculous to me,” Nunberg said, referring to CNN’s political analyst, Gloria Borger.
SOURCE: The Guardian, UK/CNN