Posts Tagged ‘donald trump’

Trump’s threat a ‘load of nonsense,’-North Korea’s

North Korea’s military has called President Donald Trump’s threat warning of “fire and fury” a “load of nonsense.”

In a statement released today through the Korean Central News Agency, a state-run media outlet, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said Trump’s comments fail to grasp the ongoing situation, calling the U.S. president a “guy bereft of reason” and saying he is “extremely getting on the nerves” of the country’s army. Only absolute force can work on him,” the statement reads.

The statement added that the country is still examining a possible strike on waters near Guam “to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.” North Korea previously said Tuesday in response to Trump’s remarks it was considering a strike on the U.S. territory in the western Pacific that would create “an enveloping fire.” Guam is home to a key Air Force base.

The statement concluded by saying that the country will be “closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S.”

Speaking from Bedminster, New Jersey, on Tuesday, Trump used strong language to caution North Korea against making any further threats against the U.S.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening — beyond a normal statement — and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Trump said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis added to the increasingly heated rhetoric, urging North Korea’s leader to “take heed” of the United Nations Security Council’s “unified voice,” referring to recent sanctions issued against the nation. Mattis also called for the country to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

Members of the U.S. intelligence community believe that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities may be more advanced than initially thought and the country might have developed the technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead so it can be placed inside an intercontinental ballistic missile, a U.S. official told ABC News on Tuesday. The Washington Post first reported the news, citing a July 28 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency about North Korea’s capabilities.

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U.S Senate confirms Christopher Wray, Trump’s choice for FBI

  The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Christopher Wray to lead the FBI, replacing James Comey, who was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump amid the investigation into Russia meddling in last year’s presidential election.

The vote was 92-5 for Wray, a former high-ranking official in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department who oversaw investigations into corporate fraud. Wray, 50, inherits an FBI at a particularly challenging time given Trump’s ousting of Comey, who was admired within the bureau.

“This is a tough time to take this tough job,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said during Senate debate of the nomination. “The previous FBI director, as we know, was fired because of the Russia investigation. The former acting attorney general was fired. And we’ve had a slew of other firings throughout the government over the last few months.”

Wray won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, with Republicans and Democrats praising his promise never to let politics get in the way of the bureau’s mission.

Asserting his independence at his confirmation hearing, Wray said: “My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law. Those have been my guideposts throughout my career, and I will continue to adhere to them no matter the test.”

Trump roiled Washington in May, firing Comey in the midst of his 10-year term as the FBI was investigating Russia’s role in the election and possible ties to Trump campaign officials.

Wray has worked on white-collar crime and regulatory cases as a partner at the King & Spalding law firm. From May 2001 to May 2005, he held various high-ranking positions in the Justice Department, rising to the head of the criminal division in September 2003. He also served as principal associate deputy attorney general.

He was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Georgia from May 1997 to May 2001.

“Mr. Wray possesses the skill, the character and the unwavering commitment to impartial enforcement of the law that we need in a FBI Director,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The top Democrat on the panel, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Wray “has the strength and fortitude to stand up and do what it is right when tested.”

She added, “We need leaders with steel spines, not weak knees, and I am hopeful that Mr. Wray will be just such a leader.”

Wray had represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the so-called Bridgegate scandal.

Republicans investigates Hilary Clinton over election conspiracy

 Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to President Donald Trump, but some Republicans in Congress are intensifying their calls to investigate her and other Obama administration officials.

As investigations into Russian meddling and possible links to Trump’s campaign have escalated on both sides of the Capitol, some Republicans argue that the investigations should have a greater focus on Democrats.

Democrats who have pushed the election probes “have started a war of investigative attrition,” said GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Several officials from former President Barack Obama’s administration and Clinton’s campaign have appeared before or been interviewed by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as part of the Russia investigation, along with Trump campaign officials. The GOP-led committees are investigating whether Trump’s campaign had any links to Russian interference in last year’s election.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has continued a separate investigation into whether Obama administration officials inappropriately made requests to “unmask” identities of Trump campaign officials in intelligence reports.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has declined to investigate the Russian meddling, approved a resolution this past week to request documents related to the FBI’s now-closed investigation of Clinton’s emails. In addition, Republican on that committee wrote the Justice Department on Thursday and asked for a second special counsel, in addition to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to investigate “unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama administration.”

“The American public has a right to know the facts — all of them — surrounding the election and its aftermath,” the lawmakers wrote.

Republicans want to investigate the unmasking issue and also Clinton’s email scandal that figured prominently in the campaign. They also frequently bring up former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that she told him to call the Clinton email investigation a “matter” instead of an investigation during the campaign.

Nunes wrote his own letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats last week, saying that his committee has learned that one Obama administration official had made “hundreds” of the unmasking requests.

Even though he remains committee chairman, Nunes stepped back from the Russia investigation earlier this year after he was criticized for being too close to the White House. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, took over the leading role.

The committee has conducted bipartisan interviews of witnesses; Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner appeared on Tuesday, a day after talking to Senate staff. But partisan tensions have been evident.

GOP Rep. Pete King of New York, who’s on the House Intelligence Committee, said after the Kushner interview that the committee investigation into Russian meddling is a “sham.”

“To me there is nothing to this from the beginning,” he said of his committee’s own probe. “There is no collusion … it’s the phoniest investigation ever.”

Both the Senate and House committees have interviewed or expressed interest in interviewing a series of Democratic witnesses, including Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power — both of whom Republicans have said may be linked to the unmasking. Rice met with staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, and Power met with the panel Friday.

“Ambassador Power strongly supports any bipartisan effort to address the serious threat to our national security posed by Russia’s interference in our electoral process, and is eager to engage with the Senate and House committees on the timeline they have requested,” Power’s lawyer, David Pressman, said in a statement.

Cut down your embassy staff, Russia tells U.S

Putin calls for expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomatsRussian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday the United States would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow three days after the U.S. Congress approved sanctions against Russia.

In response, the U.S. State Department deemed it “a regrettable and uncalled for act.”

Russian’s Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to limit the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to approval of the new package of American sanctions. The White House has said U.S. President Donald Trump would sign those sanctions into law.

The legislation, which also targets Iran and North Korea, seeks to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

“We had hoped that the situation will somehow change, but apparently if it changes, it won’t be soon,” Putin said in an interview televised on Rossiya 1, explaining why Moscow decided to retaliate. “I thought it was the time to show that we’re not going to leave it without an answer.”

Russia is open to cooperating with the U.S. on various issues, including terrorism and cybercrime, but instead it “only hears unfounded accusations of meddling in U.S. domestic affairs,” he said.

Putin said more than 1,000 people are currently employed at the Moscow embassy and three U.S. consulates in Russia. They include both Americans and Russians hired to work in the diplomatic offices.

The Russian leader did not explain how the figure of 755 positions was calculated.

In a statement, the State Department said: “This is a regrettable and uncalled for act. We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it. We have no further comment at this time.”

The State Department declined to give an exact number of American diplomats or other U.S. officials in Russia, but the figure is believed to be about 400, some of whom have families accompanying them on diplomatic passports.

The vast majority of the more than 1,000 employees at the various US diplomatic missions in Russia, including the embassy in Moscow and consulates in St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg, are local employees.

Asked about the potential for additional sanctions against Washington, Putin described the reduction in diplomatic staff as “painful” and said he currently opposes further measures.

“We certainly have something to respond with and restrict those areas of joint cooperation that will be painful for the American side, but I don’t think we need to do it,” he said, adding that such steps could also harm Russian interests.

Putin mentioned space and energy as the main areas where Russia and the United States have successfully pursued projects together.

Along with the cap on the size of the U.S. diplomatic corps in Russia, the Russian foreign ministry on Friday said it also was closing down a U.S. recreational retreat on the outskirts of Moscow as well as warehouse facilities.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat started under former U.S. President Barack Obama. In response to reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two Russian recreational retreats in the U.S.

Trump threatens to end insurance payments if no healthcare bill

 Image resultU.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Saturday to end government payments to health insurers if Congress does not pass a new healthcare bill and goaded them to not abandon their seven-year quest to replace the Obamacare law.

In a Twitter message on Saturday, Trump said “if a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

The tweet came a day after Senate Republicans failed to muster enough votes to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare bill commonly known as Obamacare.

The first part of Trump’s tweet appeared to be referring to the approximately $8 billion in cost-sharing reduction subsidies the federal government pays to insurers to lower the price of health coverage for low-income Americans.

The second part appeared to be a threat to end the employer contribution for Congress members and their staffs, who were moved from the normal federal employee healthcare benefits program onto the Obamacare insurance exchanges as part of the 2010 healthcare law.

Trump has previously threatened to suspend the payments to insurers, which are determined by the Department of Health and Human Services. In April, he threatened to end the payments if Democrats refused to negotiate over the healthcare bill.

Responding to Saturday’s tweet, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that if the president carried out that threat, “every expert agrees that (insurance) premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans.”

“The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump later urged Senate Republicans to try again on a healthcare vote. The Senate is in session for another week before it is scheduled to begin an August recess.

“Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!” Trump said in a subsequent tweet.

Many insurers have been waiting for an answer from Trump or lawmakers on whether they will continue to fund the annual government subsidies. Without assurances, many plan to raise rates an additional 20 percent by an Aug. 16 deadline for premium prices.

With Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare in disarray, hundreds of U.S. counties are at risk of losing access to private health coverage in 2018 as insurers consider pulling out of those markets.

   In response, Trump on Friday again suggested his administration would let the Obamacare program “implode.” He has weakened enforcement of the law’s requirement for individuals to buy insurance, threatened to cut off funding and sought to change plan benefits through regulations.

Meanwhile, some congressional Republicans were still trying to find a way forward on healthcare.

Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement issued late on Friday that he and two other Republican senators, Dean Heller and Bill Cassidy, had met with Trump after the defeat to discuss Graham’s proposal to take tax money raised by Obamacare and send it back to the states in the form of healthcare block grants.

Graham said the move would end Democrats’ drive for a national single-payer healthcare system by putting states in charge.

“President Trump was optimistic about the Graham-Cassidy-Heller proposal,” Graham added. “I will continue to work with President Trump and his team to move the idea forward.”

However, a majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare at this point. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday, 64 percent of 1,136 people surveyed on Friday and Saturday said they wanted to keep Obamacare, either “entirely as is” or after fixing “problem areas.

When asked what they think Congress should do next, most picked other priorities such as tax reform, foreign relations and infrastructure. Only 29 percent said they wanted Republicans in Congress to “continue working on a new healthcare bill.”

Asked what they think Congress should do next, most respondents picked other priorities such as tax reform, foreign relations and infrastructure. Only 29 percent said they wanted Republicans in Congress to “continue working on a new healthcare bill.”

Senator McCain vows quick return to Washington

 U.S. Senator John McCain promised on Thursday he would return rapidly to Washington despite his newly diagnosed brain cancer, flashing the fighting spirit that has defined him since he was held in captivity as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War.

McCain, a veteran senator and former Republican presidential candidate known as a strong and sometimes fiercely independent voice on defense and security issues, was found to have an aggressive form of brain tumor, glioblastoma, after surgery last week for a blood clot above his left eye.

The news, issued by his office late on Wednesday, drew a wave of support from across the political spectrum, and raised questions about how long McCain would be absent from the Senate, where Republicans have a narrow majority and are eager to notch up some legislative successes for President Donald Trump.

“I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support – unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I’ll be back soon, so stand-by!” McCain, 80, wrote on Twitter shortly before issuing a news release through his office related to Syria.

McCain was making phone calls from his home in Phoenix, Arizona, to stay abreast of congressional matters.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one McCain’s closest friends in Congress, said the senator called him three times on Thursday morning. He wanted to discuss healthcare legislation that is at the center of the Senate’s attention, and a sprawling defense bill McCain would usher through as the Senate Armed Services Committee’s chairman, Graham said.

Graham told reporters McCain admonished him, “‘No more woe is me.’ He is yelling at me to buck up. I’m going to buck up.”

The son and grandson of admirals, McCain survived more than five years of captivity during the Vietnam War. As a lawmaker he has been a strong advocate for the U.S. military as well as being willing to cross the political aisle and work with Democrats. Among Republican lawmakers, he has been one of the most critical of Trump.

Well-wishers included Democratic former President Barack Obama and Trump, who called McCain on Thursday to wish him well, the White House said.

Senator Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said the flood of “bipartisan respect and love for John McCain as he faces this cancer battle reminds us that, after all the meanness, there is a human side to politicians. Count this Democrat in John McCain’s corner.”

Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common and most deadly form of brain and nervous system tumor, typically killing half its victims within a year. Patients rarely survive more than three years. Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy died of the disease in 2009.

McCain’s doctors said he was recovering from surgery well, and praised his underlying health as excellent. His doctors told CNN on Wednesday that he had no sign of neurological impairment before or during his surgery. Treatment options include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

McCain’s illness has potential policy implications for healthcare legislation and other agenda items in Washington. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 seat majority in the Senate, and McCain’s absence has made it more difficult to gather the 50 votes needed to advance a healthcare bill.

He has been recovering at his Arizona home since his initial surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix last week. It was not immediately clear when he would return to Washington.

McCain has previously battled back from injuries suffered during his time as a prisoner of war, and has had non-invasive melanomas removed at least three times.

McCain, who ran a failed White House race in 2008 against Obama, won a sixth six-year term in the U.S. Senate last November.

If the senator were to retire or die before his term ends in January 2023, the state’s Republican governor would pick a Republican replacement, who would serve until a special election in November 2018. Whoever was elected would fill out McCain’s term.

Arizona’s other senator, Republican Jeff Flake, is up for re-election next year.

The state’s electorate is divided: one-third Republican voters, nearly one-third Democratic and one-third independent.

Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, said registered independents would soon exceed Republicans. But Republicans tend to turn out to vote on Election Day in stronger numbers than their counterparts.

The Southwestern state is the birthplace of former Senator and 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, who some call the father of the Republican conservative movement.

Trump Following Hitler’s Path- North Korea

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