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Diane A. Wade

Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

Former CIA director Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as secretary of state after the Senate voted 57-42 to approve him as America’s top diplomat.

Mike Pompeo had been accused by Democrats of being a war hawk and harboring anti-Muslim and homophobic views.

He is the second secretary of state under Trump administration. Rex Tillerson, was fired last month by the president via Twitter amid a personality clash.

On April 26, Republican senators, who control the Senate, voted unanimously to confirm Mike Pompeo. Six Democrats joined them.

Some of those Democrats – including North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – come from conservative-leaning states where President Donald Trump won in 2016, and are facing tough midterm elections in November.

The approval comes in time for Mike Pompeo to lead a US delegation to NATO foreign minister talks in Brussels this weekend.

Mike Pompeo is expected to depart for the trip only hours after being formally confirmed.

In a statement, President Trump applauded Mike Pompeo as someone who “will always put the interests of America first”.

The president said: “Having a patriot of Mike’s immense talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history.”

Image source Wikimedia

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

Mike Pompeo has been arranging a summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The meeting is expected to be held in the coming months.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tweeted a photo of Mike Pompeo watching on TV as the Senate held their vote.

Before Mike Pompeo was confirmed, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, described him as the “perfect person to come in at this time and lead” talks with North Korea.

Over the Easter holiday Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang, where he met Kim Jong-un.

On April 24, President Trump described Kim Jong-un as “very honorable”, after months of deriding him as “Little Rocket Man”.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, also congratulated Mike Pompeo following the confirmation vote.

After travelling to Brussels, Mike Pompeo will next go to Israel, where he is expected to meet PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

According to a statement from the state department, during that trip Mike Pompeo will also visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan to “discuss critical and bilateral issues”.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush has died at the age of 92.

Barbara Bush was the matriarchal figure of a political dynasty that included two presidents – her husband George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush.

She was first lady from 1989 to 1993 and had been in failing health for some time and had declined further medical treatment.

George H.W. Bush, at 93, is the longest-lived US president. Their son, George W. Bush, was elected in 2000 and served two terms as the nation’s 43rd president.

George W. Bush said in a statement: “My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions.”

The former president said his mother had “kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end”, adding: “I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”

Barbara Bush was also the mother of Jeb Bush, who served as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and unsuccessfully ran for the White House in 2016.

As first lady, she went beyond the traditional role of a political spouse, founding the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy to help parents and children from disadvantaged communities to read and write.

Barbara Bush was a fierce advocate of civil rights and went against many of her husband’s Republican party supporters with her more liberal view on abortion rights.

Image source Wikimedia

Barbara Bush released from Houston Methodist Hospital

Barbara Bush hospitalized in Houston

In a statement from the White House, President Donald Trump said the former first lady would be long remembered for her devotion to country and family, “both of which she served unfailingly well”.

Barack and Michelle Obama also described Barbara Bush as “the rock of a family dedicated to public service” and as “an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit”.

Former President Bill Clinton said Barbara Bush was “feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes”.

Bill Clinton said he and his wife, Hillary, would “never forget the courtesy she and President Bush showed us”.

Barbara Bush was known for her snow-white hair and was dubbed “The Silver Fox” by her family.

George H.W. Bush, who served as the 41st US president, suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a wheelchair.

It was recently announced that Barbara Bush had declined further medical treatment after a series of hospital visits, but the statement did not reveal the nature of her ailments.

The former first lady said she wanted to spend her last days in “comfort care” with her family.

Barbara Bush was born Barbara Pierce, the daughter of Marvin Pierce, publisher of McCall’s magazine. She grew up in Rye, New York.

She met George H.W. Bush in 1941 at a Christmas party in Connecticut and the couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January this year.

They had six children including a daughter, Robin, who died of leukaemia aged three in 1953.

As well as George and Jeb, the other Bush children are Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.

Barbara Bush was one of only two women whose husband and son became US president, and the only one to have seen them both sworn in.

Abigail Adams was married to the second US president, John Adams, and was the mother of the sixth, John Quincy Adams, although she did not live to see their son elected.


Fox News host Sean Hannity has been revealed as the mystery third client of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.

A judge ruled that the president’s personal attorney must reveal the link to Sean Hannity.

April 16 hearing in NYC follows an FBI raid this month on Michael Cohen’s home and office, which Sean Hannity has called an anti-Trump “witch hunt”.

A vocal Trump advocate, Sean Hannity denied he was a client of Michael Cohen.

Sean Hannity, who is known for passionately defending Donald Trump on his Fox News show against what he describes as biased attacks by the media, had never previously divulged any legal ties to the president’s attorney.

FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen’s home and evidence were looking for evidence on various matters, including a $130,000 payment made to actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump and was paid “hush money”.

During April 16 hearing, the judge deny Michael Cohen’s attempts to prevent prosecutors from reviewing the materials seized in the FBI raids.

Image source Wikimedia

Phil Robertson talks about ISIS on Hannity show

Phil Robertson campaigns for nephew Zach Dasher on Hannity show

President Trump’s attorney says the computers, phones and documents should be protected under attorney-client privilege.

However, Judge Kimba Wood ruled his application for a preliminary injunction was premature.

She allowed prosecutors to proceed with the cataloguing of evidence seized in the raids while a system is set up to ensure that records protected by attorney-client privilege are not disclosed to investigators.

However, the judge will also consider appointing a “special master” to play a supervisory role in the process.

Just before hearing, Michael Cohen said in a statement that he had only provided advice to three clients in the past year.

One was Donald Trump. Another was a Republican fundraiser who admitted to paying a former Playboy model after she became pregnant during their affair.

The third client, Michael Cohen said, had refused to give him permission to be publicly named.

However, Judge Wood made one of the lawyers identify Sean Hannity.

There were gasps and some laughter in the courtroom after the announcement, and some journalists raced out of the courtroom to report the revelation.

Sean Hannity responded on Twitter: “In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding.”

He later issued a statement of denial, saying: “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter.

“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.

“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”

After last week’s raid on Michael Cohen’s offices, Sean Hannity took to the airwaves to denounce the probe as a “declared war against the president of the United States”.

Also in the Manhattan federal court was Stormy Daniels, whose appearance triggered a scrum by photographers outside.

Michael Cohen has admitted making a payment to Stormy Daniel, who claims the money was to keep her quiet about an affair she says she had with Donald Trump in 2006.

The president’s attorney says he made the payment just before the 2016 election, but maintains Donald Trump did not know about it.

Michael Cohen is facing a criminal inquiry, which President Trump has strongly criticized.

According to legal analysts, the payoff to Stormy Daniels could amount to a campaign finance violation.

The White House has denied President Trump had an extramarital affair.

Around 100,000 of Hungarians have protested in the capital Budapest against the re-elected right-wing government of PM Viktor Orban.

Viktor Orban’s opponents flooded Budapest on April 14 to protest at what they say is an unfair electoral system.

A similar number of people attended a pro-Orban demonstration last month.

The protests come just six days after the governing FIDESZ party won two-thirds of the parliamentary seats with half of the national vote.

Viktor Orban is a strong Eurosceptic who campaigned on an anti-immigration platform.

The march was organized through a Facebook group called “We are the majority”. Following the large turn-out for the rally, the organizers have called for a further demonstration next weekend.

Image source Wikimedia

Hungary Elections 2018: Viktor Orban Wins Third Term as Prime Minister

Refugee Crisis: Hungary PM Viktor Orban Says Europe’s Borders Are Threatened by Migration

A large number of police were deployed in Budapest, including riot officers, however the demonstration remained peaceful.

Speakers who participated in the event denounced what they called Viktor Orban’s theft of the election, and the corruption and abuse of power they say characterizes his rule.

Asked about the prospect of forthcoming demonstrations, Viktor Orban simply replied: “We won, that’s it.”

The protests’ organizers have demanded a recount of all ballots, a new election law, a non-partisan public media, and better organized co-operation among parties opposed to the FIDESZ government.

Many of those who marched the streets to the Hungarian parliament were young people.

Many parties and movements opposed to Viktor Orban’s government, including the right-wing nationalist Jobbik, participated in the demonstration.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he will not run for re-election this year, in a big blow to Republicans with mid-term elections looming.

Congress’ most powerful lawmaker said he would not stand for another term in his Wisconsin district this November.

The clean-cut conservative, who has served in the House since 1999, was the Republican vice-presidential running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Meanwhile, Republicans already face a tough challenge from Democrats to keep control of the lower chamber.

Paul Ryan joins nearly 30 House Republicans who have announced this year they are retiring outright.

Democrats need 23 seats to take over the House.

Photo Reuters

Paul Ryan Criticizes President Trump’s Decision to Pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Paul Ryan Willing to Be House Speaker with Conditions

In a news conference on April 11, Paul Ryan said the decision was family-related.

He said: “You all know that I did not seek this job.

“I took it reluctantly.

“But I have given this job everything. I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility.”

Paul Ryan continued: “But the truth is it’s easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can’t just let that happen.”

He said he did not want to be known by his children as “only a weekend dad”.

The 48-year-old father-of-three said he would retire in January after finishing his congressional term.

According to Axios, which broke the story, Paul Ryan has found his job frustrating, partly because of President Donald Trump.

However, President Trump praised the speaker on Twitter as “a truly good man”.

The president tweeted: Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Paul Ryan’s departure was an ominous sign for Republicans, months away from nationwide elections.

“Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed,” the fundraising committee added.

According to analysts, Paul Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s first district could now fall into Democratic hands.

All 435 House lawmakers and 34 senators will face the voters this November, in what will amount to a referendum on Republican control of Congress and the White House.

The resignation of Paul Ryan – whose role as House speaker places him second-in-line to the president after VP Mike Pence – will spark speculation about whether he could one day mount a White House campaign.

In December Paul Ryan achieved his cherished goal of overhauling the US tax code, and according to Axios, regarded it as the capstone of his legislative career.

Republican congressman Steve Scalise and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus are among those being touted as possible successors.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian right-wing prime minister, has claimed a landslide victory in the country’s general election on April 8.

He will serve a third consecutive term in office, with his party FIDESZ projected to keep its key two-thirds majority in parliament.

According to Hungary’s National Election Office, FIDESZ won almost half of the vote, with 93% of ballots counted.

Viktor Orban, 54, is a strong Eurosceptic who campaigned on an anti-immigration platform.

Image source Wikimedia

Hungary Votes on EU Refugee Quota

Hungary Protests Against Closure of George Soros’ Central European University

In a speech to supporters on the night of election, Viktor Orban said his victory gave Hungarians “the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary”.

Leaders of the second and third-placed parties have resigned in light of the result.

Polling stations were meant to close at 19:00 local time, but some stayed open hours later due to long queues. Voter turnout reached a near-record 69% – an outcome some believed would favor Viktor Orban’s opponents.

However, with almost all votes counted, the nationalist Jobbik party is in second place with 20% of the vote. The Socialists are in third with 12%, and the LMP, Hungary’s main Green Party, is in fourth with 7%.

Jobbik’s chairman Gabor Vona resigned on the night of election, telling a news conference: “Jobbik’s goal, to win the elections and force a change in government, was not achieved. FIDESZ won. It won again.”

Socialist Party President Gyula Molnar also resigned, saying: “We regard ourselves as responsible for what happened [and] we have acknowledged the decision of voters.”


President Donald Trump has asked the state of Texas to deploy National Guard members to the border with Mexico.

According to a National Guard spokesman, 250 personnel would be sent to patrol the area within the next 72 hours.

Arizona is also planning to deploy 150 troops there next week.

The president says he wants to send up to 4,000 National Guard members to secure the border with Mexico, until his proposed border wall is built.

The states of California and New Mexico have been asked to take similar action to Texas and Arizona.

Also on April 6, President Trump outlined plans to end a practice dubbed “catch and release” as part of his stricter anti-immigration policies.

He wants illegal immigrants to be held in detention while they wait to hear if they will be deported, instead of being freed.

Image source Wikipedia

Donald Trump Vows to Build Mexican Border Wall Ahead of Schedule

Donald Trump to Close Down Government If Necessary to Build Mexico Border Wall

Border Wall Funding: Mexico to Respond with Retaliatory Tariffs

President Trump has asked the Department of Defense for a detailed list of military and other facilities that could perform that function.

He has sent several tweets over the past week railing against illegal immigration and accusing Democrats of allowing “open borders, drugs and crime”.

The president declared on Twitter that Republicans should “go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws [on illegal migrants] NOW”.

He also threatened Mexico, saying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was at risk unless it stopped the movement of migrants over the border.

He tweeted: “Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!”

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has condemned what he called “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” from President Trump.

President Trump has called sending troops to the Mexico border a “big step”, but both his predecessors also dispatched the National Guard there.

President Barack Obama sent some 1,200 soldiers to guard the boundary, while President George W. Bush deployed about 6,000 troops to help Border Patrol in what was called Operation Jump Start. Both deployments lasted for around a year.

Three people have been shot and wounded by a woman attacker at YouTube’s headquarters in Northern California before killing herself, police say.

The suspect has been identified as Nasim Aghdam, 39, a Californian resident of Iranian descent, and police say they are still investigating a motive.

According to police, there is no evidence yet that Nasim Aghdam knew the victims, a 36-year-old man said to be in a critical condition, and two women aged 32 and 27.

Nasim Aghdam had in the past posted material venting anger at YouTube.

She is reported to have approached an outdoor patio and dining area at the offices in San Bruno, near San Francisco, at about lunchtime and opened fire with a handgun.

San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said officers arrived at the offices at 12:48 local time to find a “chaotic scene”, with numerous people fleeing.

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Rancho Tehama Shooting: Four People Shot Dead and Other Ten Injured in Rampage

Images broadcast on local TV stations showed employees leaving with their hands raised. Other footage showed evacuees forming a queue before being individually frisked by police.

One person with a bullet wound was found at the front of the company headquarters, Ed Barberini said. Minutes later officers found a woman who appeared to have shot herself, he said.

Two further victims were later discovered at an adjacent business.

An employee at a nearby fast food restaurant told Fox station KTVU he had treated a young woman who suffered a bullet wound to the leg.

The man said he had fashioned a makeshift tourniquet from a bungee cord as they waited for first responders.

Several YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it was taking place.

The three victims were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Officials said the 32-year-old woman’s condition was serious and the 27-year-old’s condition was fair.

A fourth person was also taken to hospital with an ankle injury sustained while trying to escape, Ed Barberini said.

Some 1,700 people work at the YouTube HQ. The company is owned by Google and is the area’s biggest employer.

Nasim Aghdam appeared often on YouTube and in one of her videos criticized the platform for discriminating against and filtering her posts.

YouTube terminated Nasim Aghdam’s account following the shooting. Her Instagram and Facebook accounts have also been removed.

On her personal website she accused YouTube of taking steps to prevent her videos from getting views.

“There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube or any other video sharing site. Your channel will grow if they want to!” she wrote.

There had been earlier media reports that the man shot was her boyfriend, but police later said: “At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.”

President Donald Trump said he had been briefed about the incident. He wrote on Twitter: “Was just briefed on the shooting at YouTube’s HQ in San Bruno, California. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved. Thank you to our phenomenal Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders that are currently on the scene.”


Pope Francis’ Easter message from the Vatican has urged for an end to the “carnage” in Syria.

The pontiff also asked God to heal the wounds in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and urged dialogue on the Korean peninsula.

He said the power of the Christian message gave hope to the deprived.

Tens of thousands of people were in St Peter’s Square to hear the Pope speak from the balcony of the basilica.

He said: “Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long suffering land of Syria whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.

“This Easter may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course; that humanitarian law may be respected; and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed.”

Image source Wikimedia

Donald Trump Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Pope Francis Calls for Mediation In North Korea Crisis

On relations between North and South Korea, Pope Francis said he hoped talks aiming to ease longstanding tensions on the Korean peninsula would “advance harmony and peace”.

He also expressed hope for an end to violence and division in Ukraine and Venezuela.

Pope Francis was speaking in an “Urbi et Orbi” address from the famous central balcony at St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, in front of tens of thousands of the faithful.


Russia has decided to expel 60 American diplomats and to close the St Petersburg consulate in a tit-for-tat response to US action over Sergei Skripal poisoning case in the UK.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said other countries that expelled Russians could expect a “symmetrical” response.

The move comes amid a row over the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.

The White House said Russia’s move to expel its diplomats had been “not unanticipated”.

It said in a statement that the move marked “a further deterioration in the United States-Russia relationship”.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4, and the UK government has blamed Russia for the attack and decided to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

Russia has vehemently denied any role in the attack. Sergei Skripal remains in a critical but stable condition. Yulia Skripal’s condition is said to be improving.

Following the attack, more than 20 countries have expelled Russian envoys in solidarity with the UK. Among them is the US, which earlier this week ordered 60 diplomats to leave and closed the Russian consulate general in Seattle.

Russia declared 58 US diplomats in Moscow and two in Yekaterinburg to be “personae non gratae”.

Image source Wikimedia

US Expels 60 Russian Diplomats and Closes Seattle Consulate

UK Expels 23 Russian Diplomats over Chemical Attack on Sergei Skripal

Sergei Lavrov said US ambassador Jon Huntsman had been informed of the “retaliatory measures”.

Later, a state department spokeswoman said the US reserved the right to take further action.

Sergei Lavrov also accused Britain of “forcing everyone to follow an anti-Russian course”.

He said Moscow was responding to “absolutely unacceptable actions that are taken against us under very harsh pressure from the United States and Britain under the pretext of the so-called Skripal case”.

Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russian calls for consular access to Yulia Skripal – a Russian citizen.

Russia, he said, was also seeking a meeting with leaders of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to “establish the truth”.

Following the incident in Salisbury, British PM Theresa May announced a series of sanctions, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats alleged to be intelligence agents.

Russia responded by expelling an equal number of UK diplomats and closing the country’s British Council.

Then – in what has been cited as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history – more than 20 governments expelled diplomats in their countries.


Kim Jong-un visited Beijing, North Korea and China have confirmed after days of speculation.

The visit was Kim Jong-un’s first known foreign trip since taking office in 2011.

The North Korean leader held “successful talks” with President Xi Jinping, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

China is North Korea’s main economic ally and it was thought highly likely it would consult Beijing before planned summits with South Korea and the US.

Kim Jong-un is due to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and President Donald Trump in May.

The Beijing visit is considered a significant step in North Korea’s preparation for the proposed talks.

According to reports, Kim Jong-un arrived with his wife, Ri Sol-ju, by train on March 25 and left Beijing on March 27.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un to Meet in Person by May

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Hosting Dinner for Two South Korean Delegates

During the visit, Kim Jong-un assured his Chinese counterpart he was committed to giving up his nuclear weapons, Xinhua reported, but with conditions.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim Jong-un was reported saying.

According to observers, North Korea’s conditions include the removal of a US nuclear guarantee for South Korea.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency called the visit “a milestone” in improving bilateral ties.

Kim Jong-un’s arrival and departure were shrouded in secrecy. China said the visit was “unofficial” – so there was no announcement of it in advance, prompting speculation about who was on the train when it was spotted arriving.

Because of the unofficial status of the visit, some of the normal protocols for foreign visits were not observed. For example no North Korean country flags were hung around the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.

Relations between North Korea and China, historically strong, had been deteriorating, with China backing US moves to tighten international sanctions in response to the North’s growing nuclear threat.

The US and Europe are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.

According to experts, it is the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.

More than 20 countries have aligned with the UK, expelling more than 100 diplomats.

The US is expelling 60 Russian diplomats, while the EU has announced the expulsion of 33 envoys. Other European countries will expel another 23.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the EU states had decided to expel Russian diplomats as a direct result of a meeting, held last week about the Salisbury poisoning.

“Additional measures, including further expulsions within this common EU framework are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

The state department said in a statement: “On March 4, Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury.

“This attack on our Ally the United Kingdom put countless innocent lives at risk and resulted in serious injury to three people, including a police officer.”

UK Expels 23 Russian Diplomats over Chemical Attack on Sergei Skripal

Meanwhile, Russia vowed to retaliate to the “provocative gesture”.

It denies any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, southern England. Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The Russian foreign ministry said the moves demonstrated a continuation of a “confrontational path”.

Earlier this month, the UK announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats.

On March 26, various countries announced they were making the same move in solidarity.

Iceland has also announced it is suspending high-level dialogue with Russian authorities, and its leaders will not attend the World Cup, which starts in Russia in June.

The UK said earlier this month it would not send ministers or members of the Royal Family to the football tournament.

EU countries that have said they have no intention of expelling diplomats include Austria, Greece and Portugal, although all have said they support the UK and condemn the poisoning.

The US called the attack an “outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law”.

The US is expelling 48 envoys at the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 more at the UN in New York. It will also order the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

President Donald Trump has fired his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster replacing him with Bush-era defense hawk and former UN ambassador John Bolton.

The president tweeted to thank General H.R. McMaster, saying he had done an “outstanding job & will always remain my friend”.

John Bolton, who has backed attacking North Korea and Iran, told Fox News his job would be to ensure the president has “the full range of options”.

The former UN ambassador becomes President Trump’s third national security chief in 14 months.

H.R. McMaster is the latest high-profile departure from the White House.

Last week, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by a tweet, replacing him with former CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

John Bolton’s appointment does not require US Senate confirmation. He will take the job on April 9.

The National Security Adviser is the key counselor to the president on national security and foreign policy issues, and acts as a conduit for policy proposals coming from various government departments, including defense and state.

John Bolton, 69, said he was looking forward to working with President Trump and his team “to make our country safer at home and stronger abroad”.

He has been a foreign policy hawk in Republican circles for decades, having served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Image source Wikimedia

HR McMaster Replaces Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser

Donald Trump Congratulates Vladimir Putin on Electoral Victory

President George W. Bush appointed John Bolton as US envoy to the UN, during which time diplomats privately criticized his style as abrasive.

A strident neo-conservative, John Bolton helped build the case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be wrong.

Known for his walrus moustache, John Bolton does not appear to have greatly moderated his views since his last spell in government.

John Bolton stands by the invasion of Iraq and has advocated in newspaper op-eds using military force against North Korea and Iran.

In a brief statement on March 22, General H.R. McMaster, 55, thanked President Trump for appointing him and said he was applying to retire from the US Army later this year.

The three-star general is leaving after just over a year as national security adviser.

The White House said President Trump and H.R. McMaster had “mutually agreed” that he would leave. He had been rumored for weeks to be on his way out.

His departure came a day after someone at the White House leaked to media that President Trump was advised this week in briefing documents not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent re-election, but did it anyway.

General H.R. McMaster replaced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired after less than a month in the job for misleading the White House about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

President Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his electoral victory two days ago.

Donald Trump said they would meet in the “not too distant future” to discuss limiting a growing arms race, Ukraine and Syria.

Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a landslide, with 76.68% of the vote, for a fourth six-year term.

There was no strong challenger, with the main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, barred from the race.

According to European observers, the poll was conducted efficiently, but there was a lack of genuine choice.

President Trump said the arms race between the US and Russia was “getting out of control… but we will never allow anybody to have anything close to what we have”.

Image NBC News

Russia Elections 2018: Vladimir Putin Seeks Fourth Term in Office

UK Expels 23 Russian Diplomats over Chemical Attack on Sergei Skripal

According to the Washington Post, citing officials it said were familiar with the matter, the call was made despite warnings from the president’s security advisers, who provided a briefing which included a section that read “DO NOT CONGRATULATE”.

During the call, President Trump did not mention the issue that has sparked growing Western tensions with Russia – the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK.

The UK government blamed the nerve agent attack on Moscow, which denies any involvement.

The Kremlin said the conversation between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was “constructive and business-like”, adding that Russia hoped to “overcome problems” that had arisen between the two nations.

Senator John McCain criticized President Trump over the call, saying in a statement: “An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”

On March 20, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker also wrote a letter of congratulations to Vladimir Putin, pledging to “always be a partner” in improving security co-operation with the Kremlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the first Western leaders to “warmly congratulate” the Russian leader on March 19 – a day after his re-election – stressing the need to continue dialogue “to address important bilateral and international challenges and find viable solutions”.

French President Emmanuel Macron wished Vladimir Putin success in “modernizing Russia”, but urged Moscow to shed light on the “unacceptable” attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in the UK.

France’s ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy is being held for questioning by the police over allegations that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Police are investigating alleged irregularities over the financing of his 2007 presidential campaign.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s former aide, Alexandre Djouhri, was also arrested in London recently.

The former president failed in a bid to return to power in 2012.

Photo Reuters

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Nicolas Sarkozy’s phone tapped by French judges investigating Libya donations

According to judicial sources, Nicolas Sarkozy was being questioned in Nanterre, a suburb in western Paris.

In 2013, France opened an investigation into allegations that Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign had benefited from illicit funds from Muammar Gaddafi. Nicolas Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing.

The sources said one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s former ministers and a close ally, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned by police on March 20.

The allegations came from a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, and some former Gaddafi regime officials.

Russians go to polls in fresh presidential election, in which incumbent President Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term in office.

Voting began in the Russian far-east at 20:00 GMT on March 17, and opened in Moscow nine hours later.

The first results will arrive in the evening. Vladimir Putin has been Russia’s dominant leader since 1999, either as president or prime minister.

Image source Wikimedia

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The incumbent president is hoping for another six-year term and faces seven other candidates.

Vladimir Putin’s rivals include a millionaire communist, Pavel Grudinin, a former reality TV host, Ksenia Sobchak and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Alexei Navalny, the main opposition leader, has been prohibited from standing, because of a fraud conviction that he said was politically motivated.

President Donald Trump has decided to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement.

In a Twitter post, the president thanked Rex Tillerson for his service, saying the new state secretary would do “a fantastic job”.

Rex Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.

President Trump also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on March 13, President Trump said his differences with Rex Tillerson came down to personal “chemistry”.

He said: “We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things.

“When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he thought it was OK.

“I wanted to either break it or do something and he felt a little bit differently, so we were not really thinking the same.

“With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.

“Rex is a very good man, I like Rex a lot.”

Image source Wikimedia

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Rex Tillerson is the latest in a long list of senior officials who have either resigned or been fired since Donald Trump took office.

The Department of State said Rex Tillerson had not spoken to the president and was “unaware of the reason” for his firing.

Rex Tillerson was on an official tour of Africa last week when he was apparently caught unawares by President Trump’s announcement that he would hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

His team said he was feeling unwell on March 10 and later in the weekend the state department said he would cut short his tour by a day.

Rex Tillerson, 65, arrived back in Washington before dawn on March 13 to learn he was out of a job a few hours later.

According to a senior White House official, President Trump asked for Rex Tillerson’s resignation on March 9, but wanted to wait until he came home to make it public.

Mike Pompeo is a former hard-line conservative Republican lawmaker from Kansas and a Trump loyalist.

In 2014, he defended the CIA officers who waterboarded detainees as “patriots”.

Both the new secretary of state and CIA director will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

China has removed the term limits for presidency, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.

The constitutional changes were passed by the annual sitting of the National People’s Congress on March 11.

The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

Since the 1990’s, China had imposed a two-term limit on its president.

However, President Xi Jinping, who would have been due to step down in 2023, defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October’s Communist Party Congress.

Image source Wikimedia

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Instead, Xi Jinping consolidated his political power as the party voted to enshrine his name and political ideology in the party’s constitution – elevating his status to the level of its founder, Chairman Mao.

On paper, the congress is the most powerful legislative body in China – similar to the parliament in other nations. It was widely believed that it would approve what it was told to.

Xi Jinping became president in 2012, and quickly consolidated personal power while cementing China as the regional superpower.

He also fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members – which has helped his popularity among some.

However, at the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs. Critics also say Xi Jinping has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are to meet in person by May, South Korean officials confirmed after talks with the president at the White House.

The South Koreans passed a verbal message from Kim Jong-un, saying the North Korean leader was “committed to denuclearization”.

President Trump hailed “great progress” but said sanctions would remain in place.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the news “came like a miracle”.

He said: “If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet following an inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest.”

Photo AP

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China has welcomed the development, saying the Korean peninsula issue was “heading in the right direction” and calling for “political courage”.

However, North Korea has halted missile and nuclear tests during previous talks, only to resume them when it lost patience or felt it was not getting what it demanded.

The latest announcement came days after the South Korean delegation met Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.

Speaking outside the White House after briefing President Trump, South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong said he had passed on a message that Kim Jong-un was “committed to denuclearization” and had “pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests”.

According to a statement sent to the Washington Post, North Korea’s UN ambassador said the “courageous decision” of Kim Jong-un would help secure “peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region”.

There is no indication yet of where the Trump-Kim talks might take place, but the Korean border’s demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Beijing are seen as likely options.

The White House has announced that President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning.

His resignation is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from President Trump’s team.

There has been speculation that Gary Cohn, a supporter of free trade, was angered by President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

In a statement released by the White House, Gary Cohn said it had been “an honor to serve my country”.

He had helped President Trump push through his sweeping tax reforms late last year.

The 57-year-old former president of the Goldman Sachs bank and President Trump were never believed to be close.

Gary Cohn wasn’t specific about the reasons, saying in a statement it had been “an honor to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform”.

Once that mission had been achieved, a number of differences may have prompted the departure, including the possible looming trade tariff war and his differences on that issue with trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Image source Wikimedia

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Gary Cohn had reportedly set up a meeting between President Trump and business executives who opposed the tariffs move. However, the president pulled out of that meeting and on March 6 reportedly asked Gary Cohn in the Oval Office to back the tariffs publicly. Gary Cohn did not answer, sources told Bloomberg.

In August 2017, Gary Cohn had also criticized President Trump over his reaction to a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying the administration “can and must do better”.

The president’s economic adviser was reported to have drafted a resignation letter after the event.

Gary Cohn’s exact departure date had yet to be determined.

In a statement, President Trump said: “Gary… did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again.

“He is a rare talent and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”

Analysts were pointing to the resignation of Gary Cohn, a free market advocate, as one reason behind a drop in shares across Asia on March 7. The Nikkei closed 0.77% down and the Hang Seng 1.03%.

The dollar continued its retreat against the yen, down from 113 at the start of the year to 105.6 on March 7.

European stocks also opened lower, the FTSE 100 and pan-Europe STOXX 600 falling about 0.5% after opening.


According to a State Department report, Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed by a chemical attack in Malaysia on the orders of the North Korean government.

Kim Jong-nam died in February 2017 at Kuala Lumpur airport, where two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent.

The two women, who say they believed they were carrying out a prank for a TV show, are on trial for murder.

In response, the US said it would impose new sanctions on North Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind.”

The US has consistently accused North Korea of being behind the attack on Kim Jong-un’s half-brother.

North Korea denies any involvement.

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The new sanctions, which came into force on Monday (March 5), are largely symbolic, joining a vast array of punitive economic measures the US has taken against North Korea.

The announcement comes a day after a high-level South Korean delegation returned from North Korea where they had cordial meetings with Kim Jong-un.

Capitalizing on warmer ties after the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have arranged a landmark meeting for next month.

It would be the first such meeting for more than a decade and the first since the North Korean leader took power in 2011.

President Donald Trump has said the developments, including North Korea’s suggestion that it might discuss getting rid of its nuclear weapons, “are positive” but might be a “false hope”.

In previous programs to halt its nuclear ambitions, North Korea has failed to keep its promises.

Kim Jong-nam was largely estranged from his family and was bypassed for the leadership in favor of his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un.

He spent most of his time overseas in Macau, mainland China and Singapore.

Kim Jong-nam had spoken out in the past against his family’s dynastic control of the country and, in a 2012 book, was quoted as saying he believed Kim Jong-un lacked leadership qualities.

Hope Hicks has resigned as White House communications director.

The announcement came a day after Hope Hicks testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee, but White House sources said this was not the reason.

The 29-year-old former model is reported to have told colleagues she was leaving because she felt she had achieved all she could. Hope Hicks has worked for Donald Trump for years.

Hope Hicks is the fourth person to serve as President Trump’s communications chief.

On February 27, Hope Hicks gave a nine-hour testimony in front of the panel investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

She is reported to have admitted to the panel that she had occasionally told what amounted to “white lies” for President Trump, but she denied lying about anything relevant to the investigation.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders – who described Hope Hicks as “in a league of her own” – said it remained unclear when she would leave the administration.

Image source Wikimedia

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Hope Hicks’ departure will come as a major blow to President Trump, who said he would miss having her by his side. A former press secretary, Hope Hicks rose through the ranks to occupy the desk closest to the Oval Office.

She kept a low public profile but recently found herself part of a scandal when newspapers exposed that she was in a relationship with White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who had been accused of domestic violence against past partners.

When news of the allegations against Rob Porter broke last month, it was Hope Hicks who helped draft an initial White House statement defending him.

President Trump was reportedly not consulted and was unimpressed with Hope Hicks’ handling of the controversy.

Hope Hicks became head of the White House communications team in August 2017, after the abrupt firing of Anthony Scaramucci.

In a statement, President Trump said: “Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years. She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person.

“I will miss having her by my side but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future.”

Anthony Scaramucci, speaking on Fox News, said: “She’s one of the least malicious people I’ve ever met in my life. She’s dedicated, she’s charming, she’s thoughtful, at the end of the day she’s going to have an unbelievable career.”

Hope Hicks’ departure comes just after Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had his White House security clearance downgraded.

In a testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, White House communications director Hope Hicks has reportedly admitted telling what amounted to white lies for President Donald Trump.

However, she denied lying about anything relevant to the Russia investigation.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers said Hope Hicks deflected some questions in the nine-hour hearing.

The 29-year-old former model has been by Donald Trump’s side for years.

Hope Hicks is seen as a key witness in the ongoing inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said afterwards that Hope Hicks answered questions about her role in Donald Trump’s campaign.

According to the California Democrat, Hope Hicks also discussed matters relating to the transition period between the election and the inauguration.

However, Adam Schiff said she would not answer any questions about events since Donald Trump became president.

Image source Wikimedia

Hope Hicks Replaces Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director

Hope Hicks reportedly refused to answer questions about a 2016 meeting between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower.

When reports of the meeting first emerged, President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., released a statement saying the meeting was held to discuss Russian adoptions.

However, in a later statement, Donald Trump Jr. said the meeting had been held after members of the campaign were offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.

Hope Hicks was with the president on Air Force One while they were penning the initial statement, which the White House has acknowledged Donald Trump had a role in drafting.

“All of our questions about what went into that statement went unanswered,” Adam Schiff told AP news agency.

“We got Bannoned,” said Democratic representative Dennis Heck as he emerged from the session.

Dennis Heck was referring to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who declined to answer questions about anything other than the Trump campaign during his testimony earlier this month.

Hope Hicks has already testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee and met Robert Mueller, the Department of Justice special counsel.

Robert Mueller is investigating whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, or obstruction of justice.


According to US officials, VP Mike Pence was due to meet North Korean officials at the Winter Olympics last week, but the North Koreans canceled the meeting at the last moment.

VP Mike Pence was in South Korea for the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

A spokesman said the vice-president was scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, among others.

It would have been the first official interaction between North Korea and the Trump administration.

North Korea has made no comment on the reports.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said when the “possibility arose” of a brief meeting with the North Korean delegation, Mike Pence “was ready to take this opportunity to drive home the necessity of North Korea abandoning its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs”.

Heather Nauert said in a statement: “At the last minute, DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] officials decided not to go forward with the meeting. We regret their failure to seize this opportunity.”

North Korea’s attendance at the Winter Olympics was seen as a major thaw in consistently tense relations on the Korean peninsula.

Mike Pence was criticized by some for not engaging diplomatically with the North Koreans while in South Korea.

He sat feet away from Kim Yo-jong – who is accused of human rights violations – at the Games but did not interact with her, saying: “I didn’t believe it was proper for the United States of America to give her any attention in that forum.”

Image source Twitter

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Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, said North Korea had “dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics”.

“This administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics. Perhaps that’s why they walked away from a meeting or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down,” Nick Ayers said.

On leaving the Games, Mike Pence said the US and its allies remained firmly aligned on North Korea

“There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program.”

However, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has said he is considering accepting an invitation to visit Kim Jong-un in North Korea.

President Donald Trump has been widely criticized after investors in a luxury property development in India are being offered the chance to have “conversation and dinner” with his eldest son, Donald Jr.

Donald Trump Jr. is visiting India this week and will promote the Trump Towers development near Delhi.

Critics say the Trump family is cashing in on the president’s name.

However, Donald Trump Jr. has said he has been building relationships in India for years.

The full-page advertisement, which ran as the front cover of several Indian newspapers over the weekend, featured a picture of Donald Trump Jr. together with text: “Trump is here. Are you invited?” and “Trump has arrived. Have you?”

The 47-storey towers in Gurgaon, close to New Delhi, are being developed by the Trump Organization and local partners – with some apartments selling for more than $1 million.

The Trump Organization, formerly headed up by President Donald Trump, is an umbrella company for hundreds of investments in businesses including real estate. Donald Trump Jr. is now its executive director.

Image source Wikimedia

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India is the Trump Organization’s biggest property market outside the US, and in 2016 the Trump family earned up to $3 million in royalties from ventures in India, according to a financial disclosure report.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) – a watchdog group – added the Indian promotion to a list of instances it believes show the Trump name being used for commercial gain.

In an interview last week, cited by The Guardian, Donald Trump Jr. said he had spent nearly a decade “cultivating relationships in India” and that the company was “now seeing the response of that effort”.

The president’s son said his itinerary was designed to steer clear of politics.

However, Donald Trump Jr. is listed as a keynote speaker at a global business conference, which will be attended by Indian politicians, including PM Narendra Modi and some of India’s business elite.

President Donald Trump handed over control of his business empire to Donald Jr. and Eric Trump before his inauguration last year.

However, the director of the US Office of Government Ethics said at the time that this did not go far enough to ensure there would be no conflict of interest between his politics and personal business.

Since taking office, critics have claimed President Trump is continuing to profit from his family’s business interests.

They have also accused the Trump family of playing up its connections with the White House in order to influence business deals.

In May 2017, the company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, pulled out of a real estate presentation in China.

Kushner Companies had been scheduled to pitch opportunities to real estate investors in China, but Jared Kushner’s sister was widely criticized for using his name in a pitch.

In November 2017, President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was criticized for speaking at a global entrepreneurs summit in Hyderabad, with some saying the summit had become more about Ivanka Trump and her namesake brand than the wider issue.