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According to recent reports, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has been summoned to testify before a grand jury.

Steve Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.

On January 16, he appeared separately before a Congressional panel.


Congress is holding its own inquiry into the allegations.

Image source Wikimedia

Steve Bannon Fired as White House Chief Strategist

Steve Bannon Removed from National Security Council

The New York Times, quoting an unnamed person with direct knowledge of the matter, reports that Steve Bannon was subpoenaed last week.

However, the summons could be a negotiating tactic by Robert Mueller to persuade Steve Bannon to agree to be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington, the newspaper’s source added.

The House Intelligence Committee is also investigating the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Its proceedings on January 16 were not open to the public.

This is one of four investigations being conducted by Congress into the alleged collusion, with others launched by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

President Donald Trump’s administration has issued new guidance that would allow states to impose work requirements on low-income healthcare recipients.

According to the document, able-bodied recipients of the Medicaid health program for the poor would be required to work, volunteer or prepare for a job through school or training.

However, critics argue that the move is aimed at cutting the number of people receiving government-funded Medicaid.

The administration contends the policy is to promote “community engagement”.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said: “This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty.

“Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction.”

Seema Verma said the new policy came about at the request of 10 different states including Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana and Utah.

ObamaCare Repeal: Senate Votes to Start Debating New Republican Healthcare Bill

ObamaCare Repeal Bill: Some 22 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance over Next Decade

The new guidance also suggests considering exemptions or “reasonable modifications” for certain Medicaid recipients, including elderly, pregnant or disabled people; those in areas with high unemployment or people caring for children or elderly relatives; people with substance abuse disorders such as opioid addiction.

It states that a review of studies showed, “strong evidence that unemployment is generally harmful to health, including higher mortality; poorer general health; poorer mental health; and higher medical consultation and hospital admission rates”.

The report also states that people with a full-time job are less likely to suffer from depression.

As of October 2017, nearly 75 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and the children’s health insurance program (CHIP).

According to a study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 60% of working-age Medicaid recipients are already employed full time or part time.

It is unclear how many Medicaid recipients who are actively seeking work may lose their insurance in the process if their state should choose to enact the new guidelines.

Several members of Congress were outspoken against the decision.

Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, 31 states expanded Medicaid coverage. Republicans have tried repeatedly to overturn the health law.

The Obama Administration had previously rebuffed proposals allowing states the right to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, arguing it would result in fewer people having access to health insurance.

In order to implement any new policy based on the guidance, states would have to propose the changes through waivers and wait until they are granted federal approval.

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Steve Bannon has left Breitbart News organization, where he built his reputation.

The move comes amid a furore over remarks Donald Trump’s former chief strategist reportedly made about the president’s son, Donald Jr.

Steve Bannon described a meeting Donald Trump Jr. held in New York with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential election campaign as “treasonous”.

He was one of Donald Trump’s most trusted – and controversial – aides.

However, Steve Bannon left his post last summer after reports of a power struggle among President Trump’s White House staff.

Steve Bannon’s subsequent attempt to take on the Republican establishment suffered a severe blow when Roy Moore, the Senate candidate he championed in a special election in Alabama, lost to a Democrat – the first time that party has won in the state in decades.

Image source Flickr

Fire and Fury: Steve Bannon Tries to Reverse Treason Remark

Fire and Fury: Michael Wolff’s Donald Trump Book Goes on Sale Days Ahead Its Scheduled Release

Steve Bannon Book: Donald Trump’s Lawyers Issue Cease-And Desist Notice

President Trump has recently taken to referring to Steve Bannon as “Sloppy Steve”, a derogatory reference to his former aide’s famously disheveled appearance.

Rebekah Mercer, a wealthy benefactor of Steve Bannon, said at the weekend she had ended her support for his political efforts.

On January 7, Steve Bannon insisted that his “treason” comments – quoted in an inside account of the Trump White House, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury – were not directed at Donald Trump’s son but at another former aide, Paul Manafort, who was also present at the meeting in Trump Tower.

The Senate, House of Representatives and a special counsel are all investigating alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, allegations denied by both Russia and President Trump.

Steve Bannon had served as executive chairman of Breitbart since 2012.

Breitbart issued a statement saying it and Steve Bannon would “work together on a smooth and orderly transition”.

The organization quoted Steve Bannon as saying: “I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”

Larry Solov, the Breitbart chief executive, was quoted as saying: “Steve is a valued part of our legacy, and we will always be grateful for his contributions, and what he has helped us to accomplish.”

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According to recent reports, President Donald Trump’s legal team is in talks with investigators who are seeking to interview him as part of a justice department probe.

The Washington Post, quoting an unnamed person close to President Trump, says investigation lead by Robert Mueller is likely to interview him within weeks.

President Trump’s legal team has not confirmed the reports.

Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia in the US elections.

Tensions between Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to look into alleged Russian interference, and the president have risen since the investigation led to charges against several former members of Donald Trump’s campaign team.

Donald Trump’s administration denies working with Russia on the election, and the president has labeled the investigation “a witch hunt”.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump Believes He Will Be Treated Fairly By Robert Mueller’s Investigation

Robert Mueller Accused of Unlawfully Obtaining Emails

According to The Post, Robert Mueller first raised the possibility of interviewing the president in a meeting with his lawyers, John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, in late December.

President Trump’s lawyers are reluctant to allow him to sit down for open-ended questioning and are discussing whether to allow him to provide written answers to some of the questions, The Washington Post and NBC News report.

According to NBC, which cited three people close to the story, the talks are “preliminary and ongoing”.

President Trump’s lawyers did not confirm the reports, but told both media outlets: “The White House is continuing its full co-operation with the OSC [Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller] in order to facilitate the earliest possible resolution.”

The Post, quoting an unnamed source, says the two sides planned to meet again to continue discussions on terms and substance of any interview.

Aside from the Russia angle, special counsel Robert Mueller may also look into whether the president and his inner circle sought to obstruct justice while in office following the firing of FBI director James Comey.

Robert Mueller was appointed by the justice department as special counsel shortly after James Comey’s dismissal.

Sitting presidents have been interviewed by prosecutors in the past, most notably when Democrat President Bill Clinton testified before a grand jury in 1998 over his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

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Steve Bannon has tried to reverse remarks in which he called President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., “treasonous”.

His accusation appears in Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist was referring to a meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians.

However, on January 7, Steve Bannon said the barb was directed at former aide Paul Manafort, who was also present.

The Senate, House of Representatives and a special counsel are all investigating alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, allegations denied by both Russia and President Trump.

In a statement first reported by news site Axios, Steve Bannon called Donald Jr. “both a patriot and a good man”.

“My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate,” he said. “He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.”

Image source Wikimedia

Fire and Fury: Michael Wolff’s Donald Trump Book Goes on Sale Days Ahead Its Scheduled Release

Steve Bannon Book: Donald Trump’s Lawyers Issue Cease-And Desist Notice

The original remark, published in Michael Wolff’s book and not disputed by Steve Bannon, appeared to take aim at all three Trump campaign officials in the room, including Donald Jr.

It read: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Steve Bannon’s attempt to clarify follows repeated denunciations by President Trump, who dubbed him “Sloppy Steve” and said his former aide “cried when he got fired”.

It also follows the loss of the main financial backer of his conservative Breitbart website, heiress Rebekah Mercer, who said in a rare public statement that she had cut off Steve Bannon from funding following his remarks to Michael Wolff.

Steve Bannon went on in his statement to say he regretted waiting five days to say something, and called Michael Wolff’s reporting “inaccurate”.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House rocketed to the top of the Amazon bestseller list upon publication last week and became the talk of Washington DC and beyond.

Based on first-hand reporting at the White House and, according to Michael Wolff, more than 200 interviews with top administration figures and others, it portrays the president as impatient, unable to focus and with no interest in reading or attempting to understand policy.

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Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury : Inside the Trump White House, went on sale on January 5, days ahead of its scheduled release, despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to block its publication.

The book reveals how White House employees believed Donald Trump’s “mental powers were slipping” and how his team was shocked and horrified by his election win.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, and the author have both been the target of the president’s ire over the past few days. Steve Bannon cried when he lost his job last year, President Trump said and Michael Wolff had written a book “full of lies”, the president added.

Image source Amazon.com

Steve Bannon Book: Donald Trump’s Lawyers Issue Cease-And Desist Notice

The book also claims that Melania Trump was in tears of sadness on election night – though she has denied this and the president’s son, Donald Jr., engaged in “treasonous” behavior, according to former Trump aide Steve Bannon (claims denied by the Trumps).

On January 5, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CNN that he had “no reason to question” President Trump’s mental fitness.

Rex Tillerson said Donald Trump was “not typical of presidents of the past”.

“I think that’s well recognized. That’s also though why the American people chose him,” the secretary of state said.

President Donald Trump and leading GOP members are meeting to thrash out their priorities for 2018.

According to recent reports, the two-day retreat at Camp David is expected to focus heavily on a strategy before crucial congressional elections in November.

The meeting takes place as a row continues between President Trump and Michael Wolff, the author of a new tell-all book about his presidency.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House raises concerns over Donald Trump’s mental health. The president called Michael Wolff a “total loser”.

Image source WhiteHouse.gov

Steve Bannon Book: Donald Trump’s Lawyers Issue Cease-And Desist Notice

The Camp David summit begins two weeks before the end of President Trump’s first year in office. It will seek to tie up unfinished business by Republicans, who have rallied around Donald Trump during the release of Michael Wolff’s book.

President Trump said as he left for the Maryland retreat: “We have a lot of things to work on, a lot of things to accomplish.”

The agenda is not public, but various media outlets have said the talks could also look at immigration and the opioids crisis.

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After Steve Bannon announced his tell-all book, President Donald Trump’s lawyers have written to his former strategist, saying he has violated a non-disclosure agreement.

The cease-and-desist notice accuses Steve Bannon of defaming President Trump in speaking to author Michael Wolff.

Michael Wolff’s forthcoming tell-all book describes Donald Trump as being unprepared for the president job.

The 64-year-old writer is a former columnist for New York magazine and Vanity Fair. He also wrote a biography of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

His book is reportedly based on more than 200 interviews.

President Trump responded by saying Steve Bannon had “lost his mind” after losing his White House position.

The president’s lawyers said Steve Bannon had broken his employment agreement by speaking to Michael Wolff about Donald Trump and his family, “disclosing confidential information” and “making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company”, the letter said.

Image source Flickr

Steve Bannon Fired as White House Chief Strategist

Steve Bannon Removed from National Security Council

Donald Trump Jr. Releases Private Twitter Correspondence with WikiLeaks

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House makes many explosive claims, including that Steve Bannon thought a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians was “treasonous”. The Trump team was shocked and horrified by his election win and Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, was in tears on election night. Donald Trump was angry that A-list stars had snubbed his inauguration and the new president “found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary”.  The book also claims that Ivanka Trump had a plan with her husband, Jared Kushner, that she would be “the first woman president”. Ivanka Trump mocked her dad’s “comb-over” hairstyle and “often described the mechanics behind it to friends”.

The book also alleges that former UK PM Tony Blair told Donald Trump during a meeting in February 2017 that the British intelligence services may have been spying on him and his campaign, according to a report in The Times.

The Times says Tony Blair was hoping to get a job advising Donald Trump on the Middle East.

A spokesperson for Tony Blair told The Times that the allegations were a “total fabrication: and said the former prime minister had not suggested himself as Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy.

In March 2017, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists UK intelligence services could have been involved in an alleged spying operation on Trump Tower in New York. GCHQ said the allegation was “nonsense”.

According to New York magazine, which first published the extracts from Michael Wolff’s book, the author was able to take advantage of the Trump administration’s political inexperience to gain an unusual amount of insight.

“There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed,” it says.

Michael Wolff said he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” following the president’s inauguration.

In a statement on January 3, President Trump said: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency.

“When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

“Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president continued.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the book as “filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House”.

“Participating in a book that can only be described as a trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”

Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, was considered a key player in the Trump White House and helped shape Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign message before he left his post in August.

In April, President Trump had declined to affirm that Steve Bannon still had his support, removing him from his elevated role on the crucial National Security Council.

He then appeared to downplay Steve Bannon’s role, declaring in a New York Post interview: “I’m my own strategist.”

After leaving the White House, Steve Bannon returned to his role as the head of the right-wing Breitbart News website, where he said he planned to help the Trump administration as a “wingman outside”.

Donald Trump reportedly spoke to Steve Bannon as recently as December 13, the day of the special Senate election in Alabama that saw the defeat of Republican Roy Moore, whom Bannon supported.

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President Donald Trump has responded to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying his nuclear button is “much bigger” and “more powerful”.

In a tweet, the president warned: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

President Trump’s tweet is the latest contribution to the bickering, increasingly personalized feud between the nuclear-armed leaders.

Earlier this week, Kim Jong-un threatened that his nuclear launch button was “always on my table”.

Photo AP

North Korea Crisis: Kim Jong-un Offers Threats and Hopes in New Year Speech

Donald Trump’s Tweet Calls Kim Jong-un Short and Fat

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s unorthodox words sent social media into a frenzy.

It ended a quick-fire day of tweeting that included taking credit for a lack of airplane crashed, announcing awards for “corrupt media”, and threatening to pull aid from Palestinians who do not show “appreciation or respect”.

President Trump’s latest comment states the obvious: any US president has immediate access to the nuclear codes and the US has the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal.

Many people online have expressed alarm at the apparently light-hearted use of nuclear threats by world leaders.

However, Donald Trump’s supporters have defended him, saying his comments are both factually accurate and show American strength and resolve.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had a long-running spat with Marco Rubio over the size of his hands.

At the time, he insisted: “He referred to my hands – ‘if they are small, something else must be small’. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee”.

This connection was not missed by social media users.

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The UN Security Council has imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to ballistic missile tests.

President Donald Trump praised the decision in a tweet: “The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 in favor of additional Sanctions on North Korea. The World wants Peace, not Death!”

The US-drafted resolution includes measures to cut North Korea’s petrol imports by up to 90%.

China and Russia, North Korea’s main trading partners, voted in favor of the resolution.

North Korea is already subject to a raft of sanctions from the US, the UN and the EU.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the sanctions sent an “unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishments and isolation”.

She described North Korea as “the most tragic example of evil in the modern world”.

Photo AP

US Urges World to Cut Diplomatic and Trade Ties with North Korea

US Declares North Korea A State Sponsor of Terrorism

The Chinese foreign ministry described the situation on the peninsula as “complex and sensitive” and called on all sides to “exercise restraint and make active efforts to ease tensions”.

The US said it was seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue and drafted this new set of sanctions, including: deliveries of petrol products will be capped at 500,000 barrels a year, and crude oil at four million barrels a year; all North Korean nationals working abroad will have to return home within 24 months under the proposals, restricting a vital source of foreign currency. There will also be a ban on exports of North Korean goods, such as machinery and electrical equipment.

Tensions have risen this year over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which it has pursued despite pressure from world powers.

The UN sanctions came in response to North Korea’s November 28 firing of a ballistic missile, which the US said was its highest yet.

President Trump has previously threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it launches a nuclear attack. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has described President Trump as “mentally deranged”.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced he will not accept any US plan for peace with Israel, after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Abbas’ comments came after a UN General Assembly vote effectively repudiated President Donald Trump’s controversial declaration.

The US has for the past few months been drafting a new peace plan, though it has not divulged any details.

Meanwhile, two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops amid fresh protests over Jerusalem’s status.

The men, both in their 20s, were shot dead in the east of the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel said it was investigating.

There have been violent confrontations on the border between Israel and Gaza, as well as across the occupied West Bank, for the past three Fridays.

Palestinians clashed with troops in places including Bethlehem as the city, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, prepared for Christmas.

Image source Wikimedia

Jerusalem Issue: UN Resolution Rejects Donald Trump’s Declaration

Jerusalem Issue: Donald Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Resolution Supporters

Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he no longer accepted the US as a mediator in the peace process with Israel. He also rebuffed a new US framework for peace being developed by President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner, before it has been launched.

The Palestinian leader told a news conference in Paris: “The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from the United States.”

While the details of the US plan are not known, it has been devised for months and there has been an expectation it will be publicly launched in early 2018.

The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed amid acrimony in April 2014.

Mahmoud Abbas has been emboldened by the outcome of the vote at the UN, which rejected any changes to the status of Jerusalem.

Yesterday’s vote came three days after the US used its power of veto to block a similar resolution at the world body’s smaller, but more powerful, Security Council.

The US had warned countries not to support the latest resolution, threatening to cut off financial aid anyone who backed it.

However, the UN resolution still passed with a decisive majority, as most nations, including the US’ allies, voted in its favor.

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President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that back a UN resolution opposing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as he took the step amid international criticism.

The president told reporters at the White House: “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us.

“Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Donald Trump’s comments come ahead of a UN General Assembly vote on a resolution opposing any recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The draft resolution does not mention the United States, but says any decisions on Jerusalem should be canceled.

Earlier, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned member states that President Donald Trump had asked her to report on “who voted against us” on December 21.

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, previously occupied by Jordan, in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Image source Flickr

Jerusalem Issue: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Expects EU Countries to Follow US Recognition

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries currently maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. However, President Trump has told the US state department to start work on moving the US embassy.

The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on December 21 at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned President Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, which affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were “null and void and must be rescinded”, and urged all states to “refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city”.

The other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the draft, but Ambassador Nikki Haley described it as an “insult”.

The non-binding resolution put forward by Turkey and Yemen for the General Assembly vote mirrors the vetoed Security Council draft.

The Palestinian permanent observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he hoped there would be “overwhelming support” for the resolution.

However, on December 19, Nikki Haley warned in a letter to dozens of member states that encouraged them to “know that the president and the US take this vote personally”.

According to journalists who were shown the letter, Nikki Haley wrote: “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

“The president’s announcement does not affect final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” she added.

“The president also made sure to support the status quo of Jerusalem’s holy sites.”

Nikki Haley also tweeted: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, accused the US of intimidation.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference in Ankara on December 20 before travelling to New York: “We see that the United States, which was left alone, is now resorting to threats. No honorable, dignified country would bow down to this pressure.”

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the tax bill, his first major legislative achievement and the biggest rewrite of the US tax code in a generation, in the coming days.

The bill slashes taxes for corporations and the wealthy, while offering mixed, temporary relief to working people.

However, Democrats have labeled the GOP tax bill “government for sale” as Congress sent the historic measure to the president’s desk.

Prominent Democrat Elizabeth Warren said: “It’s a heist.”

Meanwhile, President Trump, hosting Republican leaders at the White House, said: “We are making America great again.”

The president thanked congressional leaders for pushing through what he called “the largest tax cut in the history of our country”.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Donald Trump’s “exquisite presidential leadership” for the success of the bill.

Earlier, in a statement, President Trump said: “I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting.”

Image source Public Domain Pictures

Because of a procedural glitch, the bill had to be voted on for a second time in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. The bill passed 224 to 201 on December 20.

Democrats say that error was caused by Republicans rushing the most sweeping overhaul of the tax system since 1986 through Congress.

In an often secretive process, no public hearings were held and multiple last-minute amendments that were pushed by lobbyists cropped up in the final version.

President Trump tweeted: “The Tax Cuts are so large and so meaningful, and yet the Fake News is working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems, and only demean. This is truly a case where the results will speak for themselves, starting very soon. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”

The unpopular bill is likely to be a major issue during the 2018 mid-term congressional elections.

Senate Passes Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Bill

Donald Trump to Focus on Tax Reform after Healthcare Bill Failure

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 52% of adults said they opposed the tax plan, while only 27% supported it.

Non-partisan analysts say the greatest beneficiaries of the package will be the super-wealthy, multinational corporations and the commercial property industry.

In the immediate future, the plan will see the vast majority of taxpayers having lower tax bills, but those cuts expire in 2025.

By 2027, the Tax Policy Center estimates the overall change would be negligible.

And 53% of taxpayers would face higher bills, many of them in the lower income brackets.

The tax bill is projected to add $1.5trillion over the next decade to the $20 trillion US debt, which President Trump promised last year he would eliminate.

However, Republicans argue it will boost economic growth.

The legislation reaches beyond fiscal matters to tick off a wish list of conservative priorities.

It strikes a serious blow to ObamaCare, scrapping the fine levied on Americans who do not buy health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office says this will increase premiums for people who have medical coverage.

The bill also opens Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, a major defeat for environmentalists.

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President Donald Trump has denied he is planning to fire Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Tensions have been rising between the White House and Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

On December 16, a lawyer for Donald Trump’s presidential transition group said thousands of emails had been unlawfully obtained by Robert Mueller’s team.

Responding to questions over the legal row, President Trump said it was “not looking good” and his people were “very upset”.

The president said, while returning from a weekend trip to Camp David: “I can’t imagine there’s anything on them, frankly, because, as we said, there’s no collusion.”

Donald Trump’s administration has denied working with Russia in the 2016 election and the president labeled the investigation “a witch hunt”.

Responding to a media question on the White House lawn on whether he was considering firing Robert Mueller amid his criticism, President Trump responded: “No, I’m not.”

Several Democratic lawmakers had expressed concern, and on December 15 the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, said he feared Republican members wanted to shut the probe down.

Image source Wikimedia

Robert Mueller Accused of Unlawfully Obtaining Emails

Robert Mueller Investigation: Michael Flynn Admits Making False Statements to FBI

Robert Mueller Investigation: Donald Trump’s Campaign Adviser George Papadopoulos Lied About Russia Links

Several former members of Donald Trump’s campaign team are facing charges as part of the investigation.

Kory Langhofer, a lawyer working for the Trump for America (TFA) group – who helped Donald Trump’s transition to the White House after his election, complained on December 16 after the group became aware Robert Mueller’s investigation had obtained tens of thousands of their emails.

He sent a letter to congressional committees claiming the records had been obtained unlawfully.

The TFA group had used the facilities, including email hosting, of a government agency, the General Services Administration (GSA), in the period between Donald Trump’s election in November 2016 and inauguration in January.

In his letter, Kory Langhofer, says GSA staff “unlawfully produced TFA’s private materials, including privileged communications” to Robert Mueller’s investigation team.

The emails obtained reportedly involve 13 Trump transition officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI earlier this month.

The GSA, Kory Langhofer complains, “did not own or control the records in question” and maintains the constitutional rights of transition officials were violated.

A spokesperson for Robert Mueller said they had done nothing wrong.

Peter Carr said: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt has denied another of Kory Langhofer’s accusations, that the GSA gave assurances that requests for Trump transition records would go through the group’s lawyers.

Lenny Loewentritt told BuzzFeed that the transition group knew materials would have to be provided to law enforcement “therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed”.

Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell tweeted that the accusations were “another attempt to discredit Mueller as his #TrumpRussia probe tightens”.

US intelligence agencies believe Russia tried to tip the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump – a charge denied by both Moscow and the president.

Three of President Donald Trump’s harassment accusers have demanded a congressional inquiry.

At a New York City news conference, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks accused President Trump of groping, fondling, forcibly kissing, humiliating or harassing them.

The trio detailed their allegations shortly beforehand live on TV.

However, the White House said the women were making “false claims”.

The December 11 press conference was organized by Brave New Films, which last month released a documentary, 16 Women and Donald Trump, about the claims made by multiple women.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump Rejects Fresh Claims of Assault from Kristin Anderson and Summer Zervos

List of Women Accusing Donald Trump of Inappropriate Contact

Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks originally went public separately with their allegations a month before last year’s presidential election.

The claims have been given a new lease of life by the harassment scandals that have engulfed high-profile public figures since October’s fall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

On December 11, Samantha Holvey told NBC News that Donald Trump had ogled her and other competitors in 2006 at the Miss USA beauty pageant, which he owned.

The former Miss North Carolina, who was 20-years-old at the time, said “he lined all of us up” and was “just looking me over like I was just a piece of meat”.

“It left me feeling very gross,” Samantha Holvey told Megyn Kelly.

She later told the reporters: “They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that he [President Trump] is investigated as well

“This isn’t a partisan issue, this is, how women are treated every day.”

Jessica Leeds, now in her 70s, says that when she was 38 she sat next to Donald Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York and he assaulted her.

She said: “He jumped all over me.”

Jessica Leeds said she came forward because: “I wanted people to know what kind of person Trump really is, and what a pervert he is.”

Rachel Crooks said she was kissed on the lips by Donald Trump outside a lift in Trump Tower when she was a 22-year-old receptionist at a real estate company there.

The White House said on December 11: “These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory.

“The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

President Trump rejected such allegations last year and vowed to sue the accusers, though no lawsuit has yet been filed.

However, over the weekend President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said his accusers “should be heard”.

Speaking to CBS News, Nikki Haley said she was “incredibly proud of the women who have come forward”.

Meanwhile, three Democratic senators – Cory Booker of New Jersey, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – called on President Trump to resign over the allegations.

At least sixteen Palestinians have been injured in clashes in the occupied West Bank, during protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to local reports, the injuries are mostly from tear gas and rubber bullets, but at least one was hurt by live fire.

Israel has deployed hundreds of extra troops in the West Bank.

Donald Trump’s announcement – met with worldwide dismay – reversed decades of US policy on the sensitive issue.

Palestinians in the both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have gone on strike and taken to the streets in protest.

Many of the United States’ closest allies have said they disagree with the move, and both the UN Security Council and the Arab League will meet in the coming days to decide their response.

There are fears the announcement could lead to a renewed outbreak of violence. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has already called for a new intifada, or uprising.

On December 6, President Trump said that he had “determined it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.

He said: “I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The president said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfills a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, he added.

“It is also the right thing to do.”

President Trump said the US would support a two-state solution – shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel – “if agreed to by both sides”.

He also refrained from using Israel’s description of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital”. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to President Trump, who had “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”.

The prime minister also said Israel was “in touch with other countries to follow suit. I have no doubt other embassies will move to Jerusalem – the time has come”. He did not name any of these countries, although the Philippines and the Czech Republic have been mentioned in Israeli media.

The mood has been very different on the Palestinian side.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for a “day of rage” on December 8 and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”.

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President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been condemned by world’s leaders.

Saudi Arabia called it “unjustified and irresponsible”, while France and the UK said they did not support the decision.

However, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu hailed it as “a historic day”.

Donald Trump’s move reversed decades of US policy. The fate of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced President Trump’s move as “deplorable”.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are expected to hold a day of strikes and protests on December 7.

The UN Security Council is to discuss the issue on December 8 after eight of the 15 member nations called for an emergency session. The Arab League is to meet on December 9.

President Trump said on December 6 he had “judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians”.

He said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfils a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.

Image source Wikimedia

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Jordan Warns US over Jerusalem’s Recognition as Israel’s Capital

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, the president added.

“It is also the right thing to do.”

Donald Trump said the US still supported a two-state solution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if approved by both sides, which would essentially see the creation of an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Following the announcement, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful, tweeting: “Jerusalem has been the focus of our hopes, our dreams, our prayers for three millennia.”

On December 6, Benjamin Netanyahu went further, saying President Trump “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”, and predicting that many other countries would follow Washington’s example.

The Republican Jewish Coalition thanked President Trump in a New York Times add.

The mood was very different on the Palestinian side, with a day of strikes and protests planned.

The leader of Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, called for a new intifada, or uprising, saying it was the only way to “confront” Israel and the US.

President Mahmoud Abbas called President Trump’s announcement “deplorable” and said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine”.

Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’s party, said it would push for a UN resolution requesting that Washington “rescind its decision” and disqualifying the US as a co-sponsor of the peace process.

The Arab and the wider Muslim world – including a number of US allies – condemned Donald Trump’s announcement.

Demonstrations have already taken place outside the US consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Saudi royal court said: “The US move represents a significant decline in efforts to push a peace process and is a violation of the historically neutral American position on Jerusalem.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called on Muslims everywhere to “make it clear that we strongly oppose” the US move.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “a moment of great anxiety”. He said “there is no alternative to the two-state solution”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both said their countries did not support the move while EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini voiced “serious concern”.

Donald Trump’s announcement puts the US at odds with the rest of the international community’s view on Jerusalem’s status.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem contains sites sacred to the three major monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, was annexed by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, but before now it has not been internationally recognized as part of Israel.

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President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, senior White House officials have said.

The president is due to announce the controversial decision in a speech later.

Donald Trump is also expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years.

Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardize any Middle East peace process.

Pope Francis called for the “status quo” to be respected. Dialogue would only come through “recognizing the rights of all people” in the region, he said.

Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US, called the new policy “a flagrant provocation to Muslims”.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of Israel in 1948.

The issue goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel annexed the sector from Jordan after the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of talks.

Image source Wikimedia

Jordan Warns US over Jerusalem’s Recognition as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel-Jordan Deal on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Holy Site

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US could reinforce Israel’s position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.

Trump administration officials said recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was seen as “a recognition of reality” by the US government.

However, specific boundaries of Jerusalem would remain subject to a final status agreement, the official said. The status of holy sites would not be affected.

President Trump would also direct the state department to begin the process of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem – but this could take several years as it still has to be designed and built and security concerns would need to be addressed.

Donald Trump originally promised the move to pro-Israel voters during his campaign for the presidency.

The White House officials added that the president would still sign a regular waiver blocking the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until the new building was completed.

Successive presidents have signed waivers to get round the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the embassy. They have done this so that the US can be seen as neutral in Middle East peace negotiations.

Donald Trump has vowed to pursue a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, led by his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner.

An administration official said the new US policy on Jerusalem was not designed to favor Israel in that process.

Ahead of his formal announcement, President Trump phoned several regional leaders to inform them of the embassy move.

Reacting to news of President Trump’s impending announcement, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told him the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for protests on December 8 and Jordan’s King Abdullah said the decision would “undermine efforts to resume the peace process”.

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged President Trump “not to complicate the situation in the region” while Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country could sever ties with Israel.

China also warned of an escalation in tensions in the Middle East.

France, the EU and the Arab League have also expressed concern.

US government employees and their families have been barred from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank for security reasons ahead of expected protests.

Israel’s intelligence minister Israel Katz told Army Radio that Israel was “preparing for every option”, including an outbreak of violence.

The Arab world is reacting to an expected announcement by President Donald Trump that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to recent reports, President Trump will make the statement this week but will further delay acting on a campaign pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The head of the Arab League, Jordan and the Palestinian president have warned of the consequences of a declaration.

Jerusalem’s fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Arabs.

A deadline for President Trump to sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem expires on December 4.

Every president, including Donald Trump, has signed the waiver every six months since US Congress passed an act in 1995 calling for the embassy to be moved.

Donald Trump repeatedly pledged during his election campaign to move the embassy, and while he has said it was still his intention, he has not yet done so.

There are signs however the president will make a statement on December 6 announcing Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while holding off moving the embassy.

Image source Wikimedia

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel-Jordan Deal on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Holy Site

Israel Sets up Checkpoints in East Jerusalem’s Arab Areas

The status of the city goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the rest of the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel occupied the area in the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords its final status is meant to discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally, and all countries, including Israel’s closest ally the US, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial capital.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

If the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it will put it out-of-step with the rest of the international community and reinforce Israel’s position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.

The move would also raise a question over how the US will treat resolutions dealing with East Jerusalem at the UN. The US has a power of veto and could use this to block future motions critical of Israeli policy in the east.

There is growing anger towards Washington among its allies in the Middle East.

Jordan, the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, has warned of “grave consequences” if President Trump goes ahead, and has called for an emergency meeting of key regional and Islamic blocs the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to discuss the issue.

Arab League chief Abul Gheit warned such a move would “nourish fanaticism and violence”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has contacted world leaders urging them to intervene, saying “such a US decision would destroy the peace process and drag the region into further instability”.

The US has brokered decades of on-off peace talks, and the Trump administration is formulating fresh peace proposals – but recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would compromise Washington’s neutrality in the eyes of the Palestinians.

It remains unclear though whether President Trump will recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The White House has neither confirmed nor denied the president’s intention, and in a rare public speech on December 3 his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner refused to be drawn on the issue.

The Senate has passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill, paving the way for President Donald Trump’s first big legislative victory.

The package would mark the biggest tax cuts since the 1980s. The bill was passed by 51 votes to 49, after a series of amendments in a marathon session.

Democrats complained the bill only benefited the wealthy and big business.

The plan sees a sharp cut in corporation tax, but a Senate committee finding has warned it would add $1trillion to the budget deficit.

Donald Trump wants the measures enacted by the end of the year and congratulated Republicans for taking the US “one step closer to delivering massive tax cuts for working families”.

The Senate will now have to merge its legislation with that passed last month by the House of Representatives, before it can be signed into law by the president.

Donald Trump Tax Plan Proposal: Sharp Reduction in Business Tax Rate

Presiding over the Senate, VP Mike Pence declared the 51-49 victory to applause from Republicans in the early hours of December 2.

The new tax plan would see the corporate tax rate lowered from 35% to 20%, and include more modest tax cuts for individuals across income levels.

Following the vote, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said his opponents would pay the price at the ballot box in mid-term elections next year.

He said the measures would endanger social security and medical provision.

Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the legislation would prove to be “just what the country needs to get growing again”.

The final draft of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill went through several changes on December 1 in order to bring reluctant Republicans on board. Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Democrats were angry about the last-minute revisions, complaining that they had not been given enough time to digest the nearly 500-page document, with handwritten changes to the legislation.

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President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about meetings with the Russian ambassador weeks before Trump became president.

The charges were brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Michael Flynn is the most senior member of the administration to be indicted.

He also revealed he was co-operating with Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

Significantly, a statement made by Michael Flynn to prosecutors appears to implicate a more senior, though unnamed, Trump team official – indicating the direction in which Robert Mueller’s investigation may be heading.

Media outlets, including NBC News, Bloomberg and the Washington Post, said the senior official is Jared Kushner – Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law.

Appearing in a federal court in Washington DC, Michael Flynn admitted to one count of knowingly making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements”.

According to an AFP reporter in court, the judge accepted Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and said he would not face trial.

Michael Flynn then issued a statement in which he said: “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”

He said his plea and co-operation deal “reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country”.

Image source Wikimedia

Michael Flynn Invokes 5th Amendment and Won’t Comply with Senate Subpoena

Donald Trump Allegedly Asked James Comey to Drop Michael Flynn Inquiry

Michael Flynn Offered $15 Million to Help Remove Fethullah Gulen from US

Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant-general, is unlikely to serve more than six months in prison.

The White House issued a statement saying that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn”. A presidential appearance in front of reporters was then canceled.

As Michael Flynn was escorted from court by FBI agents, a handful of protesters shouted “criminal” and “lock him up”, echoing a chant he led against Hillary Clinton during the GOP convention in 2016.

Michael Flynn was forced to resign 23 days into his job in February, a month after he was questioned by the FBI for misleading the White House about meeting then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition period, before Donald Trump took office.

Then, just over a week ago, media said his legal team had told the president’s lawyers they could no longer discuss the case, prompting suggestions that he had begun co-operating with prosecutors.

It is not clear why he did not tell the truth to investigators. However, it is illegal for a private US citizen, as Michael Flynn was during the transition, to conduct foreign affairs without the permission or involvement of the US government.

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The US has urged the world to cut diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea following its latest ballistic missile test.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, US envoy Nikki Haley said President Donald Trump had asked his Chinese counterpart to cut off oil supplies to Pyongyang.

Nikki Haley said the US did not seek conflict but that North Korea’s regime would be “utterly destroyed” if war broke out.

The warning came after North Korea tested its first missile in two months.

North Korea said the missile fired on November 29, which it said reached an altitude of about 2,780 miles – more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station – carried a warhead capable of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The claim was not proven and experts have cast doubt on North Korea’s ability to master such technology.

Image source Wikimedia

North Korea Fires New Ballistic Missile

US Declares North Korea A State Sponsor of Terrorism

However, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called the launch “impeccable” and a “breakthrough”.

The test – one of several this year – has been condemned by the international community and the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting.

Nikki Haley warned that “continued acts of aggression” were only serving to further destabilize the region.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said sanctions were exhausted.

He told reporters: “The Americans should explain to all of us what they are trying to do – if they want to find a pretext for destroying North Korea they should come clean about it, and the American leadership should confirm it.”

Earlier the Russian UN ambassador said North Korea should stop its missile and nuclear tests but also called on Washington to cancel military exercises with South Korea planned for December as it would “inflame an already explosive situation”.

China also suggested North Korea should stop the tests in return for a halt to US military exercises – a proposal Washington has rejected in the past.

Nikki Haley said on November 29: “We need China to do more.

“President Trump called President Xi this morning and told him that we’ve come to the point where China must cut off the oil for North Korea.

“We know the main driver of its nuclear production is oil,” she said. “The major supplier of that oil is China.”

China is a historic ally and North Korea’s most important trading partner and Pyongyang is thought to be dependent on China for much of its oil supplies.

Also in the day, the White House said that President Trump spoke to his counterpart, Xi Jinping, by phone, urging him to “use all available levers to convince North Korea to end its provocations and return to the path of denuclearization”.

Donald Trump tweeted: “Just spoke to President XI JINPING of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!”

Speaking in Missouri, President Trump derided Kim Jong-un, describing him as a “sick puppy” and “little rocket man”.

Xi Jinping responded by telling Donald Trump it was Beijing’s “unswerving goal to maintain peace and stability in north-east Asia and denuclearize the Korean peninsula”, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Experts say the height reached by the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) indicates the US could be within range, although North Korea is yet to prove it has reached its aim of miniaturizing a nuclear warhead.

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President Donald Trump has re-tweeted three controversial videos from British far-right group Britain First.

The first tweet from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, claims to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.

It was followed by two more videos of people Jayda Fransen claims to be Muslim.

Responding to President Trump’s posts, UK PM Theresa May’s official spokesman said it was “wrong for the president to have done this”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said PM Theresa May and other world leaders knew that “these are real threats that we have to talk about”.

“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” Sarah Sanders said.

“I think it’s important to talk about national security and national security threats. The president sees different things to be national security threats, and he sees having strong borders as being one of the things that helps protect people in this country from some real threats that we face.”

President Donald Trump Claims He Rejected Time Magazine’s Person of the Year Offer

Britain First was founded in 2011 by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP).

The far-right group has grabbed attention on social media with controversial posts about what they deem “the Islamification of the UK”.

The group has put up members to run in European elections and by-elections on anti-immigration and anti-abortion policies, but has not secured any seats.

Britain First also contested the most recent London mayoral election, receiving 1.2% of the vote.

The original video was shared by commentator Ann Coulter who Donald Trump follows.

Jayda Fransen has more than 52,000 followers on Twitter.

She responded enthusiastically to President Trump sharing her tweets.

Jayda Fransen posted on her account: “Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers!”

“God bless you Trump! God bless America!” she added.

The message was also shared on Britain First’s Twitter account.

Time Magazine is contradicting President Donald Trump’s account of how he rejected a request for an interview and photo shoot ahead of its Person of the Year issue.

On November 24, President Trump tweeted that Time had called to say he was “probably” going to be named Person of the Year.

However, Time later said the president was incorrect about how it makes its choice.

Donald Trump was awarded the title in 2016.

The president has previously falsely claimed that he holds the record for cover appearances on Time Magazine.

Image source WhiteHouse.gov

Fake Donald Trump Time Magazine Cover Displayed in Five of His Golf Clubs

He tweeted: “Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year,” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”

Time‘s tradition – begun in 1927 as “Man of the Year” – recognizes the person who “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year”.

The publication said it did not comment on its choice until publication, and that its decision would be revealed on December 6.

Time responded to the president with a tweet: “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6.”

The magazine invites readers to vote on who they think has earned the title, but the final decision is made by editors.

Donald Trump as POTUS. That is what we have experienced for the last year or so, and in that time we have SEEN some things. Some things that beggar belief, yet he remains arguably the most important single individual in the Western World. How did this happen, what has become the norm, and what can we expect for the future from President Trump? Read on to find out.

Trump

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How Trump was elected

Of course, why any single person gets elected as the leader of the free world is a complicated matter. However, there are two issues that stand out above all others.

The first is that voter turnout was incredibly low. 58 % to be precise, and as voter turnout reduces you can expect those with more extreme views to be the ones left making an effort to put their mark in the box. With the indifferent voters more likely to stay at home, something that perhaps had a role in Trump’s success?

Perhaps, also, if we had taken a leaf out of Estonia’s book and used something like the Smartmatic system, an online system that allows votes to be cast and verified. Something that raised votes in their last parliamentary election by 5%, we would have a different bottom on the chair in the oval office?

The other major issue here is perhaps one that became expressed in terms of reaction. In fact, framing Trump’s success as a reaction by those disappointed with Obama and his democratic policies is possible when explaining his triumph. It is even possible to frame it as a reaction by conservative America to having Hillary as the first ever female presidential candidate. Although why a capable, qualified woman would be less desirable than an ageing wheeler-dealer is enough to baffle the mind.

Some of the stuff Trump has done since being POTUS

A post on the truth of Trump cannot be complete without documenting of some of the more unusual behavior that we have seen. His use of social media, in particular, is worth commenting on, especially his official Twitter account.

There he has called the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fat and short, although to be fair this was in response to the barb that Trump was old. He has also got into a Twitter battle with LaVar Ball, Michael Moore, and Sen. Bob Corker. While before he was elected, he was known to dole out the odd word of relationship advice to celebrities such as Katy Perry. I suppose it’s nice to know that he cares?!

What can we expect from Trump in the future

According to his aforementioned Twitter Trump, himself suggests that we can expect unemployment to fall below 4% under his leadership.

However, it seems we can also expect healthcare provision to be snatched from the hands of the neediest and free birth control provision to go out of the window. This is in addition to funds being channeled into fossil fuels as opposed to their more eco-friendly and suitable alternatives. Things that many of us find truly terrifying!