However, several senators have expressed unhappiness over the process, because it is not clear what they will vote on if the procedure vote passes.
There appear to be two choices – either a repeal-and-replace bill that has already struggled to win support across the party, or a bill that enacts repeal with a two-year delay, in the hope of finding agreement before that time elapses.
Image source Flickr
Senator John McCain, recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, will return to Congress to cast his vote.
President Trump increased the pressure on his party by warning them they had a duty to adhere to seven years of promises.
In a White House speech laced with frustration, he said: “To every member of the Senate I say this: The American people have waited long enough.
“There’s been enough talk, and no action. Now is the time for action.”
The president lambasted his predecessor’s overhaul of healthcare and stood alongside people he said were “victims” of the 2010 law.
ObamaCare extended healthcare insurance to about 20 million people but Republicans hate the way it introduced government-run marketplaces, where premiums have risen sharply for some people.
The GOP’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor and disabled.
It removes ObamaCare’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
The non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would strip 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade.
However, if the bill gets to the floor of the Senate, amendments could be added to change the various provisions.
A Republican politician has blamed “female senators” for the spluttering efforts by his party to pass a healthcare bill.
Blake Farenthold, a congressman from Texas, told a local radio station if a man from his state was responsible, he would challenge him to a duel.
“Some of the people that are opposed to this, they’re some female senators from the North East.”
If it was “a guy from south Texas” who was generating so much discord in the party, he said, he would ask them to settle their differences in a gun fight.
Susan Collins of Maine was one of three female Republicans who said they could not back the Senate’s last healthcare plan, a repeal with two-year delay, which hit the buffers last week.
She has been strongly opposed to the Republican bill from the start over the cuts to Medicaid.
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia also came out against the bill, expressing concerns over plans to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and affordability.
There was an outcry when Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell drafted the first healthcare bill in private among a group of 13 that did not include any women.
Amid reports President Donald Trump is considering presidential pardons for family members, aides and even himself, he has insisted he has the “complete power” to pardon people.
Democratic Party spokesman Mark Warner has called the reports “extremely disturbing”.
The US authorities are probing possible collusion between the Trump team and Russia. Intelligence agencies think Russia tried to help Donald Trump to power.
Moscow denies this, and President Trump says there was no collusion.
The Washington Post reported on July 20 that Donald Trump and his team were looking at ways to pardon people close to him.
Presidents can pardon people before guilt is established or even before the person is charged with a crime.
Describing the reports as disturbing, Senator Mark Warner, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said “pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line”.
Image source Wikipedia
On July 22, President Trump tweeted: “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”
Donald Trump also attacked “illegal leaks” following reports his attorney general discussed campaign-related matters with a Russian envoy.
The Washington Post gave an account of meetings Attorney General Jeff Sessions held with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. The newspaper quoted current and former US officials who cited intelligence intercepts of Sergey Kislyak’s version of the encounter to his superiors.
One of those quoted said Ambassador Kislyak spoke to Jeff Sessions about key campaign issues, including Donald Trump’s positions on policies significant to Russia.
During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Jeff Sessions said he had no contact with Russians during the election campaign. When it later emerged he had, he said the campaign was not discussed at the meetings.
An official confirmed to Reuters the detail of the intercepts, but there has been no independent corroboration.
The officials spoken to by the Post said that Sergey Kislyak could have exaggerated the account, and cited a Justice Department spokesperson who repeated that Jeff Sessions did not discuss interference in the election.
President Trump left his seat and headed to Vladimir Putin, who had been sitting next to Melania Trump, media said. The president was alone with Vladimir Putin, apart from the attendance of the Russian president’s official interpreter.
Donald Trump had been seated next to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s wife, so the US interpreter at the dinner spoke Japanese, not Russian. No media were in attendance.
The length of the talks has been disputed.
Ian Bremmer, president of the US-based Eurasia Group, who first reported them in a newsletter to clients, said: “Donald Trump got up from the table and sat down with Putin for about an hour. It was very animated and very friendly.”
No-one else was nearby, so the topics of discussion were not known, he said.
Image NBC News
Ian Bremmer had not been at the dinner but said details were given to him by unnamed attendees who, he said, were “flummoxed, confused and startled” by the turn of events.
He told Bloomberg he had never before seen “two major countries with a constellation of national interests that are as dissident while the two leaders seem to be doing everything possible to make nice-nice and be close to each other”.
In a statement, a senior White House official said there was no “second meeting”, just a brief conversation after dinner.
The official said: “The insinuation that the White House has tried to <hide> a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”
National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said it was not a meeting but a “pull aside”, adding: “A conversation over dessert should not be characterized as a meeting.”
President Trump later said on Twitter: “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is <sick>. All G20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”
The dinner and its attendees have always been known. Only the Trump-Putin discussion had not been reported before.
At the earlier, formal meeting, their first face-to-face encounter, President Trump said he had repeatedly pressed President Putin about the allegations of interference in the US vote.
“I said, <Did you do it?> He said, <No, I did not, absolutely not>. I then asked him a second time, in a totally different way. He said, <Absolutely not>.”
There are congressional investigations, and one by a special counsel, into the allegations of Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion with the Trump team.
On July 18, the Senate intelligence committee said it wanted to interview Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and other members of the Trump team, over a meeting they had with a Russian lawyer in June 2016.
Donald Trump Jr. said he had attended the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya as he was promised damaging material on Hillary Clinton, but it did not materialize.
On July 19, Natalia Veselnitskaya told Russia’s RT TV channel she would be willing to testify before the Senate on the matter.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Trump would nominate former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia, a key post for a president who promised to improve relations with Moscow.
Jon Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China and Singapore, needs to have his name confirmed by the Senate.
The suspicions over Russian interference are likely to play a significant factor in his confirmation process, correspondents say.
He said on July 18: “He is actively, actively trying to undermine the healthcare system in this country using millions of Americans as political pawns in a cynical game.”
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would vote early next week on a motion for repealing ObamaCare only.
However, with at least three Republicans against the plan B, it is probably doomed, too.
Donald Trump backed the just-repeal-it plan on July 17 but changed his tune on the next day by proposing to simply let ObamaCare – which has failed to curb rising costs as insurance options dwindle – die on its own.
“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” the president tweeted.
Donald Trump has invited all Republican senators to discuss healthcare over lunch at the White House on July 19.
Without a replacement bill, analysts have estimated that millions of people would lose health insurance.
The GOP’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor and disabled, removed the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty and implemented a six-month lockout period for anyone who lets their health coverage lapse for more than two months.
President Castro was speaking in front of Cuba’s national assembly. It was his first public comment on the policy changes President Trump announced a month ago.
State-run Cuban media quoted President Castro as saying that President Trump was using “old and hostile rhetoric” and had returned to “confrontation that roundly failed over 55 years”.
The Cuban president said: “We reject the manipulation of the topic of human rights against Cuba, which can be proud of much in this area and does not need to receive lessons from the United States nor anyone.”
Donald Trump anchored his policy rollback in human rights concerns raised by political opponents of Cuba’s communist government, many of whom have fled to Miami where the president announced the changes on June 16.
President Castro continued: “Cuba and the United States can cooperate and live side by side, respecting their differences. But no one should expect that for this, one should have to make concessions inherent to one’s sovereignty and independence.”
Raul Castro will step down as president in seven months, but will remain the head of the country’s Communist Party.
Russia is threatening to expel about 30 US diplomats and seize US state property in retaliation for Washington’s sanctions, local officials confirm.
The threat came from Russian foreign ministry sources, quoted by the daily Izvestia. Other Russian officials have made similar statements recently.
In December 2016, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shut down two intelligence compounds.
The measures were a response to alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
Russia was already under US sanctions.
Former President Barack Obama acted against Russia after US intelligence sources had accused Russian state agents of hacking into Democratic Party computers to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
President Vladimir Putin raised the issue of the Obama sanctions with President Donald Trump when they met in Hamburg last week, Izvestia reported.
Meanwhile, the Trump team is under investigation over alleged Russian collusion during last year’s presidential campaign. Russia has strongly denied interfering in the election.
In addition to expelling 35 Russian diplomats from Washington and San Francisco, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on nine entities and individuals including Russia’s GRU and FSB intelligence agencies. The US closed Russian intelligence compounds in New York and Maryland.
President Putin refrained from tit-for-tat retaliation – unlike in previous diplomatic spats.
Russia says President Donald Trump presented “no plan to resolve the crisis” when the issue was raised in Hamburg.
An unnamed Russian diplomat told Izvestia that in retaliation Russia could seize a US government dacha (country villa) at Serebryany Bor, to the northwest of Moscow, and a US warehouse in the city itself.
However, the US ambassador’s Spaso House residence and the Anglo-American School in St Petersburg would not be affected.
Russia would carry out the threat if no compromise was reached at a St Petersburg meeting later this month between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, Izvestia reported.
The US and its Western allies have also imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia because of Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
Russia blocked most imported Western food and drink in retaliation.
President Trump described the outcome of the talks as positive and suggested closer co-operation between the two nations.
“Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cyber security unit so that election hacking, and many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said.
The initial proposal immediately prompted derision from Democrats, as well as some Republicans who questioned why the US would work with Russia after the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.
However, Republican Senator Marco Rubio suggested that such an initiative would be like partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on chemical weapons.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: “It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.”
A special prosecutor is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US election.
Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin said the allegations had been discussed.
However, the two sides described the content of the meeting differently.
President Trump said he “strongly pressed” the issue with Vladimir Putin, who had “vehemently denied” interfering in the US election.
The president also said it was time to work more “constructively” with Russia.
Vladimir Putin said he believed President Trump had accepted his assurances that Moscow had not interfered in the vote.
However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said interference in the 2016 election remained an impediment to better relations with Russia, while the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the US “can’t trust Russia” and “won’t ever trust Russia”.
President Donald Trump has criticized China following North Korea’s test of a long-range missile, condemning it for increasing trade with Pyongyang.
He tweeted: “So much for China working with us.”
Meanwhile, the US and South Korea conducted a ballistic missile fire exercise in the Sea of Japan in response to North Korea’s action.
China and Russia have urged both sides to stop flexing their military muscle and said they oppose any attempts at regime change in North Korea.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “It is perfectly clear to Russia and China that any attempts to justify the use of force by referring to [United Nations] Security Council resolutions are unacceptable, and will lead to unpredictable consequences in this region which borders both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.”
“Attempts to strangle the DPRK [North Korea] economically are equally unacceptable,” he added.
The trade figures showing an increase in trade between China and North Korea, which he was apparently referring to in July 5 critical tweet.
President Trump is now en route to Poland and Germany, where he will meet President Xi Jinping for the second time.
China, which is North Korea’s main economic ally, and Russia have called on the North to suspend its ballistic missile program in exchange for a halt on the large-scale military exercises by the US and South Korea.
President Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met in Moscow on July 4, said “the opposing sides should start negotiations”.
On July 4, Japan said “repeated provocations like this are absolutely unacceptable” and lodged a protest.
President Donald Trump has criticized the growing number of states refusing to pass on voters’ details to his commission on electoral fraud.
The president tweeted: “What are they trying to hide?”
At least 20 states have said that they will not or only partly comply with the request, citing privacy concerns.
Democrats fear that the commission may be used to justify tightening voting procedures – changes which could make certain groups less likely to vote.
The groups most affected by so-called voter suppression tend to vote Democrat.
However, it is not just Democrats who are opposed to the collection of such data by the federal government.
Mississippi’s Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said in an official statement that his reply to the commission would be “they can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from”.
Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said she would not be releasing “sensitive personal data to the federal government”.
She said in a statement: “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”
The panel, described by President Trump as “very distinguished,” is chaired by Vice-President Mike Pence.
On June 28, its vice-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to the 50 US states and the District of Columbia requesting details from voter rolls including: names, addresses, dates of birth, political affiliation, last four digits of social security number, voting history since 2006, criminal convictions and military status.
The information would be used “to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting,” the letter said.
Many other states, including Alabama, California, Connecticut and Minnesota have said they will not send the information, or will only send information that is already publically available.
Senior Republicans have joined condemnation of President Donald Trump over an attack he made on Twitter against prominent journalist Mika Brzezinski.
Donald Trump called Mika Brzezinski “low IQ crazy Mika”, in response to disparaging remarks about him on an MSNBC show.
The president also referred to her “bleeding badly from a facelift” and assailed her co-presenter Joe Scarborough.
Senator Lindsey Graham said Donald Trump’s remarks were “beneath the office” of president.
Lindsey Graham said the tweet “represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America”.
“Please just stop. This isn’t normal,” tweeted fellow Republican Senator Ben Sasse.
Image source Flickr
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan also joined the criticism, saying: “I don’t see that as an appropriate comment. What we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. This obviously doesn’t help.”
MSNBC said it was “a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job”.
However, the White House sprang to President Trump’s defense.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News: “I don’t think that the president has ever been someone that gets attacked and doesn’t push back.
“People on that [MSNBC] show have personally attacked him many times. This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites within the media, or Hollywood or anywhere else.”
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough co-present the MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which has increasingly derided President Trump since he took office.
In recent weeks, Joe Scarborough has called Donald Trump a “bumbling dope”, resembling “a kid who pooped in his pants”, while Mika Brzezinski has mocked members of the administration as “lobotomized”.
President Trump tweeted on June 29: “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore).”
He accused “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “Psycho Joe” of “insisting on joining me” at his Mar-a-Lago Florida golf resort over three days at New Year’s Eve.
“She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” the president added.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi called Donald Trump’s tweets “sexist, an assault on the freedom of the press & an insult to all women”.
Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was an aide to presidents Carter and Johnson, while Joe Scarborough is a former Republican congressman. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough are engaged to each other.
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied any Russian interference into the presidential election.
According to the Washington Post article, President Obama was told early last August by sources deep within the Russian government that President Putin was directly involved in a cyber campaign to disrupt the election, injure Hillary Clinton and aid a Trump victory.
Image source AP
The Post said Barack Obama secretly debated dozens of options to punish Russia but in the end settled on what it called symbolic measures – the expulsion of 35 diplomats and closure of two Russian compounds. They came in late December, well after the election.
The paper reported that Barack Obama was concerned he might himself be seen as trying to manipulate the election.
The Post quoted a former administration official as saying: “From national security people there was a sense of immediate introspection, of, <<Wow, did we mishandle this>>.”
Measures President Obama had considered but which were not put into action included planting cyber weapons in the Russian infrastructure and releasing information personally damaging to Vladimir Putin.
President Trump tweeted on June 23: “The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”
The president followed that up with two more tweets on June 24, the second saying: “Obama Administration official said they “choked” when it came to acting on Russian meddling of election. They didn’t want to hurt Hillary?”
Donald Trump repeats the argument in an interview with Fox News, which will air on June 25.
“If he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.”
Allegations of collusion between the Trump team and Moscow officials during the election have dogged the president’s first five months in office.
Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations, calling the investigations a “witch hunt”.
President Donald Trump has questioned the neutrality of the investigator of the Russian interference in last year’s election.
President Trump said Robert Mueller’s friendship with James Comey, who had been heading the inquiry until sacked from his role as FBI chief, was “bothersome”.
Asked on Fox News whether Robert Mueller should step down, Donald Trump said: “We’re going to have to see.”
However, President Trump did call Robert Mueller an “honorable man”.
Robert Mueller was given the role of special counsel by the justice department to lead its investigation into alleged Russian interference after James Comey was sacked on May 9.
Robert Mueller has not given any details of his investigation but US media have reported he is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice, both in the firing of James Comey and whether Donald Trump tried to end an inquiry into sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Donald Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, calling it a “witch hunt”.
The president did so again in his interview with Fox & Friends on June 23, saying “there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion.”
He called the accusations of obstruction of justice “ridiculous”.
Asked whether Robert Mueller should recuse himself from the inquiry because of his friendship with James Comey, President Trump said: “Well he’s very, very good friends with Comey which is very bothersome. But he’s also… we’re going to have to see.”
Image source Wikimedia
President Trump also said that “the people that’ve been hired were all Hillary Clinton supporters”.
When Robert Mueller was appointed President Trump was said to be furious, but the special counsel won widespread initial praise from both Republicans and Democrats.
However, lately some influential conservatives have intensified their attacks, openly calling for Robert Mueller’s dismissal.
President Trump advocate Newt Gingrich urged the president to “rethink” Robert Mueller’s position, saying: “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair.”
The New York Times has reported that President Trump has considered firing Robert Mueller but has so far been talked out of it by aides.
Ten days ago, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “While the president has every right to” fire Robert Mueller “he has no intention to do so”.
On June 23, her colleague Sean Spicer repeated there was “no intention” to dismiss Robert Mueller.
In his Fox interview, President Trump said: “Robert Mueller is an honorable man and hopefully he’ll come up with an honorable conclusion.”
Earlier this month, James Comey testified to Congress that President Trump had pressured him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn.
Mike Flynn was sacked in February for failing to reveal the extent of his contacts with Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak.
James Comey testified he was “sure” Robert Mueller was looking at whether Donald Trump had obstructed justice.
According to media, Robert Mueller was also examining whether James Comey’s sacking was an attempt by the president to alter the course of the investigation.
On June 16, Donald Trump sent out a tweet appearing to accept he was under investigation, although later his aides suggested that was not the intention.
On June 22, President Trump also made it clear that he had not made secret recordings of his conversations with James Comey, despite an earlier hint to the contrary.
The president’s tweet came a day before he was required by Congress to hand over any such tapes.
Donald Trump had kick-started speculation of the recordings in a tweet he posted days after firing James Comey, saying: “James Comey better hope there are no <<tapes>> of our conversations.”
Allegations of collusion between the Trump team and Moscow officials during the election have dogged the president’s first five months in office.
Investigators are looking into whether Russian cyber hackers targeted US electoral systems in order to help Donald Trump win – something Moscow has strongly denied.
It was in that context that President Trump sent his tweet, hinting that there were tapes of the conversation.
Appearing before Congress earlier this month, James Comey confirmed he had been asked by the president to “let go” any possible prosecution of Mike Flynn for lying to federal agents about a conversation with the Russian ambassador.
James Comey said he was also asked by the president in no uncertain terms to give assurances that he would be loyal.
When asked whether he thought the conversation had been recorded, James Comey replied: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
President Trump told cheering supporters at a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids on June 21 that he would “give you an idea that nobody has heard about yet”.
He said: “We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border, lots of sun, lots of heat. We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good, right?”
The president added: “Solar wall, panels, beautiful. I mean actually think of it, the higher it goes the more valuable it is. Pretty good imagination right? Good? My idea.”
More than 200 companies have reportedly responded to an invitation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit designs for the Mexican wall.
Among them was one from Gleason Partners in Las Vegas that proposed a wall of steel, cement and solar panels.
In April, media reported that President Trump had raised the idea with Republican Congressional leaders in talks at the White House.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal in March, two academics also suggested the idea of a solar paneled wall.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier wrote: “When Otto returned to Cincinnati late on June 13, he was unable to speak, unable to see and unable to react to verbal commands.
“He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished. Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day, the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home, and we believe he could sense that.”
They also said: “The awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.”
President Trump said that a “lot of bad things happened” to Otto Warmbier, but added: “At least we got him home to be with his parents, where they were so happy to see him, even though he was in very tough condition.”
The president said Otto Warmbier’s death had deepened his administration’s resolve “to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency”.
“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
The company Otto Warmbier traveled with, Chinese company Young Pioneer Tours, has announced it will no longer take visitors from the US to North Korea.
However, a team of doctors assessing Otto Warmbier in Cincinnati said they had found “no sign of botulism”.
Otto Warmbier had suffered a “severe neurological injury” of unknown cause, the doctors said, leading to an extensive loss of brain tissue.
He could open his eyes but showed no sign of response to communication.
Doctors said the most likely cause, given Otto Warmbier’s young age, was cardiopulmonary arrest that had cut the blood supply to the brain.
It is not known when Otto Warmbier had fallen into his coma and there is a suspicion it was quite recently, as the US was only told at the beginning of this month about his health situation.
The North Koreans may have realized there was the possibility of an American citizen dying on their hands.
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who has helped free other Americans in North Korea, said he had met North Korean envoys 20 times during Otto Warmbier’s incarceration and on no occasion was his health mentioned.
Bill Richardson called for the release of the three US citizens still held in North Korea:
Kim Dong-chul, a 62-year-old naturalized US citizen born in South Korea, who was sentenced to ten years hard labor in April 2016 for spying;
Korean-American professor Kim Sang-duk (known as Tony Kim), who was detained in April 2017. The reasons for his arrest are not yet clear;
Kim Hak-song, like Kim Sang-duk, worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) and was detained in May 2017 on suspicion of “hostile acts” against the state.
President Donald Trump was criticized in May when he said he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the “appropriate” time.
Rhode Island teacher Nikos Giannopoulos used a black lace fan during an official photo with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the White House.
Thanks to the fan the photo of the special education teacher, the president and the first lady has gone viral.
Nikos Giannopoulos, 29, had traveled to Washington from his home after being named Rhode Island Teacher of the Year.
Along with teachers from every state, Nikos Giannopoulos was invited to the White House to meet President Trump – and he made very specific decisions about what to wear.
Image source The White House
In a Facebook post, Nikos Giannopoulos revealed he wore a rainbow pin, in “gratitude to the LGBTQ community”, a blue jacket and black fan to “celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity”, and an anchor necklace in honor of the Rhode Island.
The black lace fan, which belonged to Nikos Giannopoulos’s partner, was the thing that really stole the show.
Nikos Giannopoulos told NPR that, despite the president’s immediate appreciation for the fan, which he praised as “stylish”, he was told by White House staff to put it away for the official picture.
However, Nikos Giannopoulos decided to quietly keep it by his side until it came time for the photo.
“I just asked the president, <<Do you mind if I use the fan for the photo?>>. He said, <<Absolutely go for it>>. So I popped my fan and did my pose.”
Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon said, according to Reuters: “We wish him well. But we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety.”
Dennis Rodman told reporters: “My purpose is to actually see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that’s the main thing.”
Image source Wikimedia
It is unclear whether the former NBA player will also bring up the detention of US citizens in the country.
The US and North Korean tensions have intensified under President Donald Trump.
However, President Trump has also said he would be “honored” to meet Kim Jong-un, in the right circumstances.
Speaking at the airport on June 13, Dennis Rodman said: “I am pretty much sure that he [President Trump] is happy with the fact that I am over here trying to accomplish something that we both need.”
When asked about the former Chicago Bulls star ‘s North Korea visits in 2013, Donald Trump told Fox News: “You look at the world, the world is blowing up around us. Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have.”
Dennis Rodman had been a contestant on Donald Trump’s reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice that same year.
In 2014, Donald Trump flatly dismissed rumors that the pair might travel to North Korea together.
Dennis Rodman also once encouraged former President Barack Obama to “pick up the phone and call” Kim Jong-un, emphasizing that the two leaders both liked basketball.
His trips have been referred to as “basketball diplomacy” in the US press.
In 2014, Dennis Rodman told luxury lifestyle magazine DuJour he had approached the US government for support but was rejected.
He has previously broken down in tears during TV interviews, saying he has had death threats over his trips, which have been condemned by human rights activists.
Although at one point he did tweet Kim Jong-un to ask if he would “do me a solid and let Kenneth Bae loose” – referring to a US-Korean missionary who served two years in prison for trying to overthrow the government.
In the interview with the Fox and Friends morning TV show, Ivanka Trump has criticized “the level of viciousness” her father has been subjected to.
President Trump’s daughter said that it went far beyond what she was expecting.
Ivanka Trump said that she had been left blindsided by the ferocity of some of the attacks leveled against the president.
President Trump is under intense scrutiny in the US, including over the Russia investigations and his business ties.
His daughter said that she felt “very vindicated” by James Comey’s recent Senate testimony, in which the former FBI director spoke about the probe into alleged links between the Trump election campaign and Moscow.
Image source Flickr
Ivanka Trump said his evidence supported her father’s insistence that he was not being personally investigated, and that James Comey had on at least one occasion supplied a leak to The New York Times.
She said that while she was “not expecting the intensity of this experience”, she realized that the business of government “isn’t supposed to be easy”.
“My father and this administration intends to be transformative, and we want to do big, bold things,” Ivanka Trump said.
“With all the noise, with all the intensity of the media coverage… ultimately, we’re really focused on why the American people elected Donald Trump as their president.”
Last week, President Trump’s son Eric told Fox News that he had “never seen hatred like this” and “morals have flown out the window”.
“They’re not even people,” he said as he described his father’s critics.
Ivanka Trump, like her husband Jared Kushner, is a special adviser to the president.
Fox News described her as “a political novice like her dad”, who had “glided past the more controversial interview topics like a seasoned vet”.
The Washington Post described it as a “largely friendly” interview, and noted that Ivanka Trump avoided answering two big questions about James Comey’s evidence and the work of her husband, “masterfully pivoting from an unfavorable subject to a better one”.
The New York Times also noted that Ivanka Trump dodged questions as to whether Jared Kushner had quarreled with other senior members of her father’s team.
Jeff Sessions announces he will appear before a Senate panel in response to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony.
The US Attorney General will appear before the Senate intelligence committee on June 13, he announced in a letter.
Jeff Sessions said the decision had been made “in light of Mr. Comey’s recent testimony”.
James Comey told the panel this week that he had asked Jeff Sessions to “prevent any future direct communication between the president and me”.
The testimony made headlines around the world, as it was the first time James Comey had publicly given his side of the apparent fall-out between himself and President Donald Trump in the run-up to his being fired in May.
In his letter on June 10, Jeff Sessions said: “It is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum.”
Image source Flickr
Jeff Sessions had been due to appear before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on June 6. He said in the letter deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein would attend instead.
James Comey told the Senate there were a “variety of reasons” why Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the investigation of Russia’s alleged interference would be problematic.
However, he said he was unable to speak about them in an open session of the hearing.
James Comey also told the Senate that the Trump administration’s comments about him and the FBI were “lies plain and simple”.
He said he was “confused” by the “shifting explanations” for his sacking, which came as he led an inquiry into any links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
President Trump later said he never sought to impede the inquiry, and accused James Comey of saying some things that “just weren’t true”.
The president has said he is “100%” willing to speak under oath about his conversations, denying he asked for James Comey’s loyalty or for the inquiry into former White House aide Michael Flynn to be dropped.
President Trump went on to say he was considering releasing further information about possible recordings of the conversations between himself and James Comey.
Shortly after the press conference, leaders of the House intelligence committee said they had asked the White House whether there were any such tapes.
The House panel requested that if the recordings existed, they should be submitted by June 23.
While Donald Trump has taken center stage within many news circles, the recent Brexit is actually just as important. The Brexit is simply the plan for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (BRitish EXIT). While more political than physical in nature, this movement will impact areas such as travel, trade, financial transactions and even the residency statuses of Britons living abroad.
Although the entire process will take approximately two years to complete, many are wondering how the Brexit will impact the global foreign exchange (Forex) markets. No one is entirely certain and yet, there are a few solid predictions which seem to be the most likely to occur in the near future. Let’s take a closer look.
The Questionable Value of the Pound
This is the most obvious concern, so it should be mentioned first. There are two major reasons why the pound is likely to be hurt from a medium-term perspective. First, investors are concerned about how the UK will renegotiate its current trade relationship with the European Union. This might very well hurt some domestic businesses and as a result, the value of the pound may fall.
The second issue is arguably more psychological in nature. Uncertainty always affects the markets and this situation is no different. The fact of the matter is that while the Brexit has been formally triggered, very few (if any) analysts are exactly sure of how negotiations will take place. This is entirely new territory and therefore, there is much more of a bearish stance.
Americans and their European counterparts are therefore somewhat concerned. Until concrete steps are laid out, it is likely that we will continue to see a weak pound. However, is the pound the only currency to watch?
The Dollar-Pound Relationship
Many Forex traders regularly monitor the USD/GBP relationship. In the past, the pound was normally stronger than the dollar. This was rather predictable and while small fluctuations did indeed occur, it was a worthwhile bet that the British currency would remain relatively stable. This has now all changed thanks to the Brexit (as well as the emerging economic policies of the Trump administration). Many currency traders are looking towards the dollar with a much more favorable attitude when compared to two or three years ago.
The major question is whether or not this American currency will represent a safe haven when compared to its counterparts across the Atlantic. Although the verdict is still out, the fact of the matter is that we will likely see a much stronger dollar in relation to the British pound.
The Euro Question
Forex investors are also keeping a close eye on the value of the euro when compared to the pound. Will a falling pound benefit UK exports and if so, could this harm the value of the euro? Or, might the geopolitical instability within the European Union cause a continued parity with the pound?
These are two very important questions which currency analysts are attempting to answer. Others question whether or not the Brexit will trigger similar moves in countries leaning to the far right such as France. Such a concern could negatively impact the value of the euro in the future.
The Markets as a Whole
Up until this point, we have examined potential currency changes and how these might evolve. However, what about the Forex markets as a whole? Can we make an broad predictions about how they will continue to react?
The first viable observation is that this sector will see an increased amount of volatility due to the amount of speculation taking place. Rumors can cause massive rises or falls within a very short period of time. As a result, it is likely that individual investors will embrace a much more conservative stance. On the other side of the proverbial coin, speculators could very well look to take advantage of any short-term swings. Either way, the Forex markets look to be in for a rough ride ahead.
We should also mention that investors will be looking to adopt more risk-averse trading strategies as opposed to standard open-market positions. One example of this can be seen in the rising popularity of spread betting. Spread betting is better than conventional trading due to the fact that investors can enjoy benefits such as a tax-free income, the ability to “short” a position and the potential to employ margins. The main takeaway point here is that many traders will be forced to rethink their traditional approaches in order to accommodate a rather unclear future.
Of course, the Brexit will not happen overnight and a significant amount of negotiations still need to take place. It is nonetheless an undeniable fact that this move will have a massive impact upon the world of financial trading for years to come.
Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the Trump administration’s comments about him and the agency were “lies plain and simple”.
James Comey told a Senate committee they were wrong to denigrate the FBI and its leadership.
The ex-FBI chief was also “confused” by the “shifting explanations” for his sacking, which came as he led a probe into any links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
President Trump later said he never sought to impede the inquiry.
Donald Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, said in a statement James Comey’s testimony “finally confirmed publicly” that the president was not under investigation as part of any probe in Russian political meddling.
In his testimony, James Comey said President Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a “great” job.
The former FBI chief also suggested he was fired to “change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted”.
He remained largely composed throughout almost three hours of testimony but became impassioned when delivering his opening remarks.
James Comey told the panel that the White House “chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI” by claiming the agency was “poorly led”.
“Those were lies, plain and simple. And I’m so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them,” James Comey continued.
“The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent,” he said in his opening remarks.
James Comey was leading one of several Russia investigations before President Trump fired him.
US intelligence agencies believe Moscow interfered in the US election and they are investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
However, there is no known evidence of collusion and President Donald Trump has dismissed the story as “fake news”.
On June 8, Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders hit back at James Comey, saying: “I can definitively say the president is not a liar.”
During today’s testimony, James Comey emphasized that Russia’s political meddling was “not a close call”, adding: “There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever.”
When asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee whether the president tried to stop the Russia investigation, James Comey said: “Not to my understanding, no.”
He said he it was not for him to say whether Donald Trump’s actions were an obstruction of justice.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s vice chairman, pressed James Comey on why he decided to keep a record of his conversations with President Trump.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting” he said.
James Comey, who published his prepared remarks a day before the hearing, detailed one meeting with Donald Trump in which the president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House aide Jared Kushner to leave the Oval Office.
“I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to,” James Comey said.
“I remember thinking that that was a very disturbing development.”
During another meeting with Donald Trump, James Comey said the president appealed to him to “let go” an investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to the Kremlin.
After media reported the conversation, the president warned James Comey in a tweet, saying he “better hope there are no <<tapes>> of our conversations”.
James Comey told the committee he hoped there were tapes, calling on President Trump to release them.
“The president surely knows whether he taped me, and if he did my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all the tapes, I’m good with it,” he said.
The White House has refused to say whether any such tapes exist.
After President Trump’s tweet about potential tapes, James Comey said he realized it was important to release his own account of the story.
James Comey revealed that he asked a “good friend of mine” who is a professor at Columbia Law School to share contents of the memo with a reporter, in order to build pressure for a special counsel.
As a result of this episode, former FBI chief Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to lead an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.
James Comey said he was “sure” Robert Mueller was also looking at whether President Trump obstructed justice.
Donald Trump attacked James Comey for leaking the documents, saying it showed that members of the US government are “actively attempting to undermine this administration”.