Experts fear North Korea could be planning more tests – it has marked some key anniversaries in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.
However, South Korea’s defense ministry said “no unusual development had been detected”.
Image source Wikimedia
Instead, Pyongyang conducted a large live-fire drill around the city of Wonsan, South Korea said.
“Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movement,” the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
North Korea conducted a failed ballistic missile test on April 16, prompting VP Mike Pence to warn it not to “test” President Donald Trump.
In an unusual move, the entire Senate has been asked to attend a briefing on North Korea on April 26 at the White House.
The USS Michigan docked at South Korea’s Busan port on April 25, in what it called a routine visit. It is a nuclear-powered submarine carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 60 special operations troops and mini-subs, reported the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
The submarine is expected to take part in military exercises with the Carl Vinson warship group, which the US said it was dispatching to North Korea earlier this month to “maintain readiness” in the region.
At the time, President Trump said that he was sending an “armada” to the region and that the US had submarines which were “very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier”.
North Korea reacted angrily to the aircraft carrier deployment, threatening to sink it and launch a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” against what it called US aggression.
However, the US warships caused some confusion and attracted mockery when it emerged that they actually sailed in the opposite direction, away from North Korea, after the announcement. However, US Navy officials said they are now proceeding to the region as ordered.
China is North Korea’s only ally and main trading partner – and the US has been urging Beijing to help put pressure on Pyongyang.
China’s President Xi Jinping spoke to President Donald Trump on April 24, urging all sides to “maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected criticism from international monitors who said he had been favored by an “unequal campaign”.
Turkey’s main opposition party is launching an appeal to invalidate the result.
Image source Al Manar
The constitutional changes – due to be introduced before presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2019 – will turn Turkey into a presidential republic similar to the US and France. This could enable President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stay in power until 2029.
Erdogan’s narrow victory was ruled valid by Turkey’s electoral body, despite claims of irregularities by the opposition.
On April 17, Turkey extended the state of emergency for three months. The measure, introduced after a failed coup in July 2016, was set to expire in two days.
Syria is one of the issues straining relations between Washington and Ankara.
Turkey is irked by the policy started by the Obama administration of supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria who are fighting ISIS.
Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terror group linked to Kurdish separatists waging an insurgency inside the country since 1984.
Turkey – a key NATO ally – has established closer co-operation with Russia recently.
The two sides are also at loggerheads over Fethullah Gulen. Turkey accuses the Pennsylvania-based cleric of orchestrating the failed coup and wants him extradited.
Officially Washington insists any decision on returning Fethullah Gulen to Turkey from the US remains a judicial rather than a political one.
President Trump’s comments contrasted with a statement by the US state department which mentioned concerns by international observers and urged Turkey to respect the rights of its citizens – chiming with sentiment in European capitals.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the “tight referendum result shows how deeply divided Turkish society is and that means a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally”.
And the European Commission issued a similar call.
Donald Trump later commented that the outcome of the election had not been affected.
The report said that Russia’s objectives were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” Donald Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton.
Russia’s efforts to this end allegedly included hacking into email accounts used by the Democratic National Committee; using intermediaries such as WikiLeaks to release hacked information; and funding social media users or “trolls” to make nasty comments.
The NSC advises the president on national security and foreign affairs.
Steve Bannon’s appointment in January raised fears that the circle of top advisers was being politicized.
Analysts say the latest moves show President Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster, reshaping the NSC team appointed by his predecessor.
The previous national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was fired after just three weeks and three days in the job after it emerged he had misled the vice-president over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.
In its January 27 memorandum elevating Steve Bannon, the White House had also downgraded the military chiefs of staff, provoking widespread criticism in Washington’s foreign policy and security establishment.
The director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs were advised they only needed to attend NSC meetings when discussions pertained to their areas.
The White House bridled in January at criticism of the Bannon move, pointing out that President Barack Obama‘s former adviser, David Axelrod, regularly attended NSC meetings.
However, David Axelrod was never appointed to the principals committee, as Steve Bannon was.
However, President Trump said he wants “some very strong” change to help the bank sector.
“We want strong restrictions, we want strong regulation. But not regulation that makes it impossible for the banks to loan to people that are going to create jobs,” he told a group of about 50 business leaders at a White House meeting.
“We’re going to be doing things that are going to be very good for the banking industry so that the banks can loan money to people who need it.”
Donald Trump had promised during his election campaign to relax rules on big banks, and subsequently ordered a review of the industry’s regulations.
The president’s remarks have the backing of Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of one of the world’s biggest banks, JP Morgan Chase.
In his annual letter to shareholders, released on April 4, Jamie Dimon said the regulatory burden “is unnecessarily complex, costly and sometimes confusing”.
Dodd-Frank was designed to resolve the too-big-to-fail problem that meant banks facing collapse had to be bailed out rather than wound down.
However, Jamie Dimon said banks had essentially solved this issue by boosting the capital they held in reserve and introducing tougher risk controls.
His links to Russia are being scrutinized by the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as part of wider investigations into claims Russia sought to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, and into contacts between Russia and members of President Trump’s campaign team.
Robert Kelner said in a statement that his client “has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit”.
He said he would not comment on his discussions with congressional panels conducting the investigation.
The lawyer said the media was awash with “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo”.
Image source Wikimedia
“No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution,” Robert Kelner said.
Three other former Trump aides, former campaign chief Paul Manafort and former advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, have offered to testify without requesting immunity.
The Senate Intelligence Committee opened its hearing on March 30 with one member saying Moscow had sought to “hijack” the US election.
Democrat Mark Warner said Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation, including fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“This Russian ‘propaganda on steroids’ was designed to poison the national conversation in America,” he said.
Republican panel chairman Richard Burr warned: “We are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary.”
Richard Burr also confirmed there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn, but his appearance had not been confirmed.
Donald Trump regularly dismisses the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.
Vladimir Putin did so again on March 30 at an Arctic forum, describing them as “nonsense” and “irresponsible”.
Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, initially denied having discussed US sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.
However, he stood down after details of his phone call emerged, along with reports that the Department of Justice had warned the White House about Michael Flynn misleading officials and being vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
At last summer’s GOP convention, Michael Flynn led chants of “lock her up” aimed at Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server.
In September, Michael Flynn said in a TV interview that it was unacceptable that some of the Democratic candidate’s aides had been granted immunity from prosecution.
“When you get given immunity that means you’ve probably committed a crime,” Michael Flynn told NBC News.
In the hearing’s opening remarks chairman Republican Richard Burr said “we are all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary”.
Ranking Democrat Mark Warner said “Russia sought to hijack our democratic process” by employing a disinformation campaign on social media, which he describes as “Russian propaganda on steroids”.
Mark Warner said March 30 session would examine how Russia may have used technology to spread disinformation in the US, including the possible generation of fake news for voters in key states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“We are in a whole new realm around cyber that provides opportunity for huge, huge threats to our basic democracy,” he said.
“You are seeing it right now.”
Image source Getty Images
Former NSA director Keith Alexander will be one of those testifying on March 30.
Jared Kushner, who is married to President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, volunteered to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House has said, and is scheduled to appear next week.
Committee chairman Richard Burr said the panel would not shy away from the truth.
“This investigation’s scope will go wherever the intelligence leads,” he said.
Richard Burr said that there had been “conversations” about interviewing Michael Flynn – who was sacked by President Trump as national security adviser for misleading the vice-president over his contacts with the Russian ambassador – but his appearance is not confirmed.
The Trump presidency has been unable to shake off allegations that members of its team colluded with Russian officials during the election campaign. The president has regularly dismissed the claims as “fake news” and Russia has also ridiculed the allegations.
However, March 23 vote was delayed because of opposition from some Republicans – despite President Trump’s repeated attempts to persuade them to back the legislature.
The president now says he wants to move on and vote – whatever the result on March 24.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said this was exactly the message delivered to Republican lawmakers at a meeting behind closed doors on March 23.
Image source Wikipedia
House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “For seven-and-a-half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families, and tomorrow we’re proceeding.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Republican representative Chris Collins said: “The president has said he wants a vote tomorrow, up or down.
“If for any reason it is down, we are just going to move forward with additional parts of his agenda.”
Repealing and replacing ObamaCare was a major plank of Donald Trump’s election campaign.
March 23 vote postponement is a setback for the president who had insisted he would win the numbers to pass it through the lower chamber of Congress on that day.
Earlier on March 23, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump had made a “rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready”.
The healthcare bill needs 215 votes to pass but ran into opposition mainly from conservative Republicans who believed it did not roll back enough of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
ObamaCare helped 20 million previously uninsured Americans get health insurance but has been plagued by increases in insurance premiums, which were also a problem before the health law.
Donald Trump promised a new law that would cover more people and at a lower cost.
President Donald Trump has accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phone a month before he was elected.
The president tweeted on March 4: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Donald Trump went on to say that a court had earlier denied a wiretap request.
He has given no details to back up the claim – or suggested which court order he was referring to.
Media reports in the past few weeks have suggested the FBI had sought a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance court (FISA) last summer in order to monitor members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials.
The warrant was first turned down but then approved in October, according to the media reports.
There has been no official confirmation and it is also not clear if this evolved into a full investigation.
There has been no comment yet from former President Barack Obama.
Donald Trump tweeted: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to the Election.”
The president called the alleged tapping “a new low” and said “This is Nixon/Watergate” – referring to the most notorious political scandal of 1972, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon after a web of political spying, sabotage and bribery was exposed by the media.
Donald Trump also called it McCarthyism – the persecution for US Communists and their allies led by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.
His tweets followed allegations made by conservative radio host Mark Levin, which were later picked up by Breitbart News, the website founded by Steve Bannon, now Donald Trump’s chief strategist.
Mark Levin said there should be a congressional investigation into what he called Barack Obama’s “police state” tactics in his last months in office to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign.
Breitbart summarizes Mark Levin’s accusations, which say that “the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA (National Security Agency) rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government”.
However, Jeff Sessions has removed himself from an FBI probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
The Democrats have maintained their attacks on Jeff Sessions, saying his explanation regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016 were “simply not credible”.
Donald Trump said the Democrats had “lost the election and now they have lost their grip on reality”.
The Trump campaign was dogged by allegations that some of his team had met with Russian officials and that Moscow had interfered in the election on his behalf. Donald Trump has branded the allegations “fake news”.
Image source Flickr
It stems from Jeff Sessions’ comments at his confirmation hearing in January.
He was asked: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”
Jeff Sessions responded: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”
Jeff Sessions was at the time a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, he was already a prominent member of Donald Trump’s campaign team.
The former Alabama senator also had meetings with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in the course of the year.
He insists he did not lie at the confirmation hearing, saying his comments were “honest and correct as I understood it at the time”.
Jeff Sessions said he had spoken with the Russian ambassador as a US senator and not as Donald Trump’s “surrogate”.
He said: “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.”
Jeff Sessions admitted that in his confirmation comments he “should have slowed down and said, <<but I did meet one Russian official a couple of times>>”.
He said that during his meeting with Sergei Kislyak they talked about terrorism and then “somehow the subject of Ukraine came up”.
Nancy Pelosi repeated her call for Jeff Sessions to quit. She said his “his narrow recusal and sorry attempt to explain away his perjury” were totally inadequate.
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Jeff Sessions “clearly misled” the Senate and his explanation was “simply not credible”.
Although some top Republicans in the House and Senate agreed Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from the investigation, senior figures rallied behind him, resisting demands for the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
For Jeff Sessions to be charged with perjury, prosecutors would have to show that he not only made false statements, but knowingly and willfully misled members of the committee about an indisputable fact.
President Donald Trump has announced he will skip the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on April 29.
The event draws celebrities, journalists and politicians, normally including the president.
Donald Trump said he would not attend the event a day after the White House excluded several major broadcasters and newspapers from a press briefing.
The president has frequently described negative news coverage as “fake”.
However, he has not provided any evidence for his claims.
The announcement comes as relations between the White House and some media outlets continue to deteriorate.
On February 24, the CNN, Buzzfeed, BBC and the New York Times were among media groups barred from an off-camera informal briefing held by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Hours before the briefing, President Trump had delivered a strong attack on what he called “fake news” in the media, targeting stories with unnamed sources.
He said “fake news” was the “enemy of the people”.
Image source Getty Images
President Trump announced his non-attendance at the correspondents’ dinner via Twitter, writing: “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
Bloomberg News and the New Yorker magazine are among media outlets who have said they will not hold their usual after-parties this year.
There have been some calls for journalists to boycott the event itself.
According to the New York Times, every sitting president since 1924 has attended the correspondents’ dinner at least once.
They traditionally make a light-hearted speech at the annual event. Former President Barack Obama attended eight times.
Donald Trump has been a regular at the dinner in the recent past.
In 2011, Barack Obama joked that Donald Trump would turn the White House into a casino if he became president and made fun of rumors, then propagated by Trump, that President Obama was not born in the United States.
Donald Trump was shown on camera sitting stony-faced through a barrage of jokes at his expense, including some from host Seth Meyers, although he said last year that he “loved that dinner”.
Many believe that the 2011 event fuelled Donald Trump’s desire to enter politics and later run for office.
In a statement the White House Correspondents’ Association said it took note of President Trump’s announcement and said the dinner would “continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic”.
Addressing the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC), President Donald Trump has promised to start building a wall on the Mexican border “soon, way ahead of schedule”.
President Trump vowed to always put American citizens first and build a “great, great border wall”.
He also promised to focus on “getting bad people out of this country”.
Donald Trump was greeted by chants of “USA, USA, USA!” as the president addressed the annual forum in Maryland.
“We’re building the wall,” he said.
“In fact it’s going to start very soon. Way ahead of schedule. It’s way, way, way ahead of schedule.”
Donald Trump’s comments come a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City.
Neither made any mention of the wall in February 23 news conference after their closed-door meetings.
Image source Flickr
The wall could cost up to $21.5 billion, according to Reuters, citing a Department of Homeland Security internal report – much higher than Donald Trump’s estimated price tag of $12 billion.
Donald Trump, who has insisted Mexico would later pay for the wall, needs Congressional approval for funding before moving forward with construction.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said he would not finance Donald Trump’s wall.
On February 24, President Donald Trump also said he was working on a plan to “totally obliterate” ISIS.
“Foreign terrorists will not be able to strike America if they can’t get in to America,” he said.
Donald Trump continued that he “took a lot of heat on Sweden”, referring to his erroneous claim that an attack had recently happened there.
He told the crowd: “I love Sweden… but the people over there understand I’m right.”
President Trump then referred to terrorist attacks in France before telling an anecdote about a friend who used to love travelling to Paris every year, but has stopped because “Paris is no longer Paris”.
One of the loudest rounds of applause came when he emphasized his “America First” outlook.
“Global co-operation, dealing with other countries, getting along with other countries is good,” he said.
“It’s very important.
“But there’s no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency or a global flag.
“This is the United States of America that I’m representing. I’m not representing the globe; I’m representing your country.”
President Trump devoted the first 13 minutes of his speech to criticizing the media and its use of unnamed sources, without saying which stories he was unhappy with.
Relations between the White House and the media hit a new low for his presidency a few hours later.
Reporters from the BBC, The New York Times, CNN and other outlets were excluded from a briefing by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer. No reason was given, but Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the so-called gaggle in protest.
Donald Trump is the first president to address the group during his first year in office since Ronald Reagan in 1981, according to American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.