Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Bob Corker, accused President Trump of setting the US “on a path to World War Three”.
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Gen. John Hyten said: “We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?”
As for the legality of a strike, Gen. Hyten said that he had studied US laws of armed conflict for many years which stipulates key criteria the president must consider:
While Senators and expert witnesses agree the US president has full authority to defend the nation, commentators have pointed out that because there is no all-encompassing definition of “imminent attack”, the president is not given an entirely free hand.
Gen. John Hyten also said: “I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do.
“And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say: <<Mr. President, that’s illegal>>. And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, <<What would be legal?>> And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works.”
He added: “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”
President Trump has not publicly commented on Gen. John Hyten’s remarks.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had argued that hunting fees could aid conservation of the endangered animals.
According to experts, populations of African elephants are plummeting.
Their numbers dropped by about 30% from 2007 to 2014, according to the 2016 Great Elephant Census.
The non-profit group’s report found a population drop of 6% in Zimbabwe alone.
Despite their listing under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision in US law that allows permits to import animal parts if there is sufficient evidence that the fees generated will actually benefit species conservation.
In 2015, an American dentist from Minnesota killed the famous Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
Cecil’s death triggered an outrage in the US and Zimbabwe, and briefly forced the hunter into hiding.
President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has released private Twitter correspondence with WikiLeaks after a publication revealed they had communicated shortly before his father’s election.
The Atlantic magazine revealed WikiLeaks had asked Donald Trump Jr. for co-operation and information.
WikiLeaks published leaks of Hillary Clinton campaign emails during the election.
Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyers handed the Twitter direct messages to congressional investigators.
The congressional investigation is one of several looking into allegations of Russian collusion and meddling in the US election.
The largely one-sided transcripts show the president’s son replied only a few times to a series of requests from Wikileaks.
In a series of tweets on November 13, Donald Trump Jr. played down his contact with WikiLeaks, referring to his “whopping 3 responses” which he said one of the congressional committees “has chosen to selectively leak. How ironic!”.
Messages show WikiLeaks appeared to have first contacted Donald Trump Jr. on September 20, asking if he knew the origin of an anti-Trump website.
Donald Trump son replied the next day saying: “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around. Thanks.”
The Atlantic alleges Donald Trump Jr. then emailed senior officials, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to tell them WikiLeaks had made contact.
The correspondence between September 2016 and July 2017 shows WikiLeaks urging Donald Trump to share their Clinton files; asking him to supply his tax returns to WikiLeaks and advising him to challenge the result if he lost the election.
The Atlantic piece points out that while Donald Trump Jr. didn’t reply to later messages, timestamps from tweets show instances where he and his father appear to have “acted on its requests” by mentioning or sharing WikiLeaks stories shortly afterwards.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticized The Atlantic‘s story.
Julian Assange accuses it of selecting messages that were “edited” and failing to show the full context of the conversations.
He also said the messages were part of the group’s promotional efforts.
He wrote on Twitter: “WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high-profile people that it is their interest to promote links to its publications.”
Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer Alan Futerfas told The Atlantic: “Over the last several months, we have worked co-operatively with each of the committees and have voluntarily turned over thousands of documents in response to their requests.
“Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum.”
President Donald Trump has revealed he has a “great relationship” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, after a highly anticipated meeting in the country’s capital Manila.
It was unclear whether President Trump raised human rights violations in the Philippines, despite calls for him to do so.
Barack Obama’s administration had spoken out against Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed almost 4,000 people.
President Trump is almost at the end of an extensive Asia tour.
The first meeting between Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte, which took place at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, was closely watched as both are known for striking a controversially outspoken and direct tone.
After the private meeting, President Trump did not respond to questions about whether he had raised the subject of human rights while a spokesman for President Duterte said the topic had not been discussed.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said the topic was mentioned briefly in their private meeting, in the context of the war on drugs, but did not give further details.
On November 10, President Duterte said he stabbed a person to death when he was a teenager. His spokesman later said the remark had been “in jest”.
Since coming into office in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has presided over a massive crackdown on crime in the Philippines, which critics allege undermines fundamental human rights.
The Filipino president has encouraged extrajudicial killings of those involved in the drug trade, and said he would “be happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts in the country.
Police say they have killed almost 4,000 people in anti-drug operations since 2016. More than 2,000 others have been killed in connection with drug-related crimes.
President Trump has previously praised Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, reportedly telling him: “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing.”
A Philippine government transcript of the April 29 phone call was later leaked to US media.
President Trump and other leaders attending the ASEAN event had already met on Sunday evening at a gala in Manila ahead of the summit.
During the evening, Rodrigo Duterte took to the stage to sing a Filipino hit love song, afterwards saying it had been “on the orders of the commander-in-chief of the United States”.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Manila on November 12 and 13, protesting against Donald Trump’s visit and carrying banners like “Trump Go Home” and “Ban Trump #1 terrorist”.
Riot police used water cannon and sonic alarms to repel the protesters.
Donald Trump’s visit to the Philippines wraps up the president’s five-country trip to Asia which also had him visit Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam.
While being in Vietnam for his Asia tour, President Donald Trump have fired off a series of angry tweets about his war of words with Kim Jong-un and his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He wrote: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”
On November 11, North Korea denounced President Trump’s Asia trip, calling it a “warmonger’s visit” and again described the president as a “dotard” – a centuries-old insult for an elderly person.
President Trump responded by suggesting in a tweet that Kim Jong-un was “short and fat”, and complaining: “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”
The president also tweeted out a short tirade over criticism of his handling of Vladimir Putin.
On November 11, he told reporters that he trusted Vladimir Putin’s word that Russia had not attempted to interfere with the US election, despite a consensus among US intelligence agencies to the contrary.
“When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Donald Trump wrote.
“There [sic] always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!” he added.
He later clarified, after intense criticism, that he supported US intelligence agencies in their conclusion.
“As to whether or not I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies. I believe in our… intelligence agencies,” the president said.
“What he believes, he believes,” he added, of Vladimir Putin’s belief that Russia did not meddle.
He went on and tweeted: “Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our friend with the misspelled reset button? Obama tried also, but he had zero chemistry with Putin.”
Asked at a news conference in Vietnam if he could see himself being friends with Kim Jong-un, President Trump said: “That might be a strange thing to happen but it’s a possibility.
“If it did happen it could be a good thing I can tell you for North Korea, but it could also be good for a lot of other places and be good for the rest the world.
“It could be something that could happen. I don’t know if it will but it would be very, very nice.”
President Trump will travel to Manila on November 12 for the final stop on his Asia tour, before flying back to the US.
President Trump has refused to acknowledge a reported assessment by the CIA and other intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
The contents of the emails, passed to WikiLeaks and posted online, were embarrassing to the Democrats and shook up the presidential campaign, which ended in defeat for Hillary Clinton.
In addition to Robert Mueller’s inquiry, congressional committees have been set up to carry out their own investigations.
Relations between the US and Russia have been strained for years, with the Kremlin long accusing Washington of seeking to sway elections in Russia and other ex-Soviet states including Ukraine and Georgia.
While Russian hackers are widely suspected of involvement, there has been no conclusive link to the Kremlin.
Denying that Russia had tried to interfere last year by fostering contacts with Donald Trump’s campaign, Vladimir Putin told reporters in Vietnam: “Everything about the so-called Russian dossier in the US is a manifestation of a continuing domestic political struggle.”
President Trump said he believed President Putin had been “very insulted by” the allegations and that was “not a good thing” for America.
“He [Vladimir Putin] said he didn’t meddle,” the president added.
“I asked him again.”
Asked if he believed President Putin, Donald Trump replied: “He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”
Donald Trump’s election campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.
He admitted the talks happened while he worked for Donald Trump, not before, court papers show.
George Papadopoulos said he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
The charges are the first to be brought by Robert Mueller, the former FBI director now special counsel investigating alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Both sides deny any collusion.
Earlier it emerged that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had been charged with tax fraud in an unrelated case stemming from the Mueller investigation.
The 12 charges brought against Paul Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates, include conspiracy to launder money.
They do not relate to Donald Trump’s campaign but to the pair’s Ukrainian business dealings up to 2015.
According to analysts, the case has the potential to damage President Trump because it relates directly to his campaign.
George Papadopoulos – a Chicago-based international energy lawyer – was close enough to then-candidate Trump to be part of a photograph of his national security team which Donald Trump tweeted on April 1, 2016.
According to the court documents, George Papadopoulos admitted on October 5, 2017, to having impeded the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia.
When he was interviewed by the FBI this January, George Papadopoulos falsely claimed that he had met two figures with Russian connections before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. In fact, the former foreign policy adviser met them after joining the campaign.
One was an unnamed Russian woman who, George Papadopoulos believed, had connections to Russian government officials.
He admitted seeking to use her connections in an effort to arrange a meeting “between the Campaign and Russian government officials”.
The other person was an unnamed, London-based professor who was said to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials”.
The professor only took an interest in George Papadopoulos because of his status within the Trump campaign, the statement says.
Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of “thousands of emails”, was allegedly mentioned by the professor at a breakfast meeting in a London hotel on or around April 26, 2016.
The professor said he had been informed about the compromising emails when he met senior Russian government officials on a recent trip to Moscow.
President Trump aides have said George Papadopoulos played a limited role in the campaign and had no access to Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports.
On October 29, the president issued four tweets on the subject.
The first tweet said: “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….”
Then he added: “…the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,….”
Ending with: “…’collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s…”
“…are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”
About an hour later President Trump tweeted: “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”
The president’s critics on Twitter were quick to accuse him of attempting to divert attention from the Russian investigation by complaining about the lack of focus on an opponent he defeated in the presidential election nearly a year ago.
US intelligence agencies have already concluded that the Russian government sought to help Donald Trump win the election.
Robert Mueller’s investigation is looking into any links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Both deny there was any collusion.
His team is known to have conducted extensive interviews with several current and former White House officials.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed by the department of justice as special counsel in May shortly after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey.
About 2,800 classified files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 has been released following President Donald Trump’s approval.
The president said the public deserved to be “fully informed” about the event, which has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories.
However, some documents have been withheld at the request of government agencies.
One memo revealed that the FBI had warned police of a death threat against the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover wrote: “We at once notified the chief of police and he assured us Oswald would be given sufficient protection.”
Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine and self-proclaimed Marxist, was shot dead in the basement of the Dallas Police department two days after JFK was killed.
As the documents are pored over and analyzed, other findings include a CIA memo that suggests Lee Harvey Oswald spoke with a KGB officer at the Russian embassy in Mexico City. The memo says the KGB officer Lee Harvey Oswald spoke with worked for a department “responsible for sabotage and assassination”.
Another memo showed that Soviet officials feared an “irresponsible general” would launch a missile at the USSR in the wake of JFK’s death.
On October 26, President Trump said at the White House: “More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.
“These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.”
The president added: “The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.”
According to senior White House officials, Donald Trump is signing a presidential memorandum directing his acting health secretary to declare a nationwide public health emergency and ordering all federal agencies to take measures to reduce the number of opioid deaths.
The order will also ease some regulations to allow states more latitude in how they use federal funds to tackle the problem.
However, the White House plans to fund the effort through the Public Health Emergency Fund, which reportedly only contains $57,000.
The Trump administration will then work with Congress to approve additional funding in a year-end spending package, senior officials said.
Proponents suggest President Trump’s announcement is a critical step in raising awareness about the nationwide epidemic, while some critics argue the move does not go far enough.
Meanwhile, Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced his panel’s investigation into the sale of a Canadian mining company that had mines in the American West.
Uranium One – which owned a fifth of US uranium supplies – was acquired seven years ago by Russian state-owned company Rosatom.
President Donad Trump tweeted on October 19: “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”
The State Department, under Hillary Clinton, helped approve the deal.
Last week, The Hill reported that at the time of the sale the FBI was investigating alleged attempts by Russia to gain influence in the US nuclear industry through bribery and extortion.
The New York Times and The Hill have reported that Russian nuclear officials and Uranium One’s chairman donated millions of dollars to the Clinton charitable foundation.
Devin Nunes told reporters at Capitol Hill on October 24: “One of the things we are concerned about is whether or not there was an FBI investigation, was there a DOJ investigation and if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter.”
However, Democratic congressmen accused Republicans of creating a distraction.
Elijah Cummings and John Conyers in a statement on October 24: “This new investigation is a massive diversion to distract from the lack of Republican oversight of the Trump administration and the national security threat that Russia poses.”
In an interview with C-SPAN on October 23, Hillary Clinton said that the Uranium One allegations are “baloney”.
Ex- Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have expressed their concerns regarding the current political climate in the US, in comments seen as a veiled rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership.
Barack Obama urged Americans to reject the politics of “division” and “fear”, while George W. Bush criticized “bullying and prejudice” in public life.
They were speaking separately and neither mentioned President Trump by name.
Donald Trump, who has been critical of his two predecessors, is yet to comment.
Ex-presidents traditionally shy away from commenting publicly on their successors, and Barack Obama said on leaving office he would extend that courtesy for a time to Donald Trump, as George W. Bush had to him.
Barack Obama has broken his silence since to issue statements on President Trump’s efforts to dismantle ObamaCare, as well as his controversial “Muslim ban” and decision to abandon the Paris climate accord.
Speaking at a Democratic campaign event in Newark, New Jersey, Barack Obama said Americans should “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear”.
The former president added: “What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries.
“Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st Century, not the 19th Century. Come on!”
Barack Obama touched on similar themes at another event later in Richmond, Virginia, saying: “We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”
Speaking just hours earlier in New York, George W. Bush said: “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.
“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned – especially among the young.”
Americans, the former president said, have “seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty”.
“At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”
Both ex-presidents have until now largely avoided commenting publicly on President Trump’s policies.
Before his election last year, Donald Trump was highly critical of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, describing each of them at one time or another as “perhaps the worst president in the history” of the US.
Since his inauguration in January, Donald Trump’s combative style and direct public comments on a number of key issues have caused controversy both among Democrats and Republicans.
The president has regularly blamed the media, which he says do not focus on his achievements and instead choose to concentrate on what he describes as “fake news”.
President Donald Trump has lashed out at Puerto Rico officials over their criticism of US relief efforts on the island following Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Maria a week ago killed 16 people in Puerto Rico and left millions in need of aid.
In a series of tweets, President Trump said that Puerto Rican officials showed “poor leadership ability” and “want everything to be done for them”.
His comments come after the Mayor of San Juan made a desperate plea for federal help.
In a news conference, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said: “We have no time for patience any more.
“I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.
“I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell.”
The mayor then appeared in a T-shirt that said “Help us, we’re dying” for a CNN interview.
Carmen Yulin Cruz, who is living in a shelter after her home was destroyed, said Puerto Rico is set to be without power for six to eight months after the storm damaged 90% of homes on the island.
More bad weather is in the offing, with the National Weather Service in San Juan warning that a strong thunderstorm would imminently affect the east of the island, with torrential rain and strong winds expected.
Almost half Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million-population is without drinking water, the Defense Department said on September 28.
Efforts are being made on the island to clear road access and restore hospitals to working conditions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the US is in “direct contact” with North Korea.
He also said Washington was “probing” the possibility of talks with Pyongyang, “so stay tuned”.
During a trip to China, Rex Tillerson said: “We have lines of communications to Pyongyang.
“We’re not in a dark situation.”
In recent months, North Korea and the US have engaged in heated rhetoric, but it was not previously known they had lines of communication.
President Donald Trump has threatened to annihilate North Korea, saying Kim Jong-un, “is on a suicide mission”, which led the North Korean leader to release a statement vowing to “tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”.
On September 30, North Korea continued the rhetoric, releasing a statement calling President Trump an “old psychopath” bent on the “suicidal act of inviting a nuclear disaster that will reduce America to a sea of flames”.
The war of words comes against a backdrop of repeated missile tests and North Korea’s claim that, on September 3, it successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb which could be loaded on to a long-range missile.
The tests were internationally condemned, with the UN bringing in sanctions against the secretive country in an attempt to force it to stop its weapons program.
Rex Tillerson is in China meeting with President Xi Jinping and other officials, hoping to encourage them to implement the sanctions.
China this week told North Korean businesses operating in its territory to close down. However, China remains keen to see negotiations with North Korea.
President Trump said last month that “talking is not the answer”.
However, there were reports of so-called back channels between the two administrations.
According to the Associated Press, the US and North Korea had been engaged in quiet discussions for months, with “diplomatic contact… occurring regularly” between the US envoy for North Korea policy and “a senior North Korean diplomat at the country’s UN mission”.
Rex Tillerson has also previously hinted there are channels available between the two countries, AP added.
More widely known is the role Sweden plays in negotiating with North Korea on Washington’s behalf.
In August, Ulv Hanssen from the Swedish Institute of International Affairs told Reuters Sweden could step in again because it was trusted by both US and North Korea.
“Sweden has done so on numerous occasions before, especially in relation to imprisoned Americans,” he said.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the speculation.
Health Secretary Tom Price has been forced to resign after using expensive private planes for official business.
Tom Price previously apologized after making 26 private flights since May at a cost of $400,000 to taxpayers.
Government officials, except those dealing with national security matters, are required to take commercial flights for work related travel.
Three other members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet are under scrutiny for using private planes while on the job. According to Politico and the Washington Post, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew from Las Vegas to Montana last June on a private jet that cost taxpayers more than $12,000. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is accused of flying with his wife to view last month’s solar eclipse. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt has spent more than $58,000 on non-commercial travel.
In a Facebook post responding to President Trump’s criticism, the social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said he was striving to make “a platform for all ideas”. He said that aside from “problematic ads”, Facebook’s impact ranged from “giving people a voice, to enabling candidates to communicate directly, to helping millions of people vote”.
Mark Zuckerberg noted that both ends of the political spectrum were upset about content they disliked, and that liberals in the US had accused him of enabling President Trump’s victory.
The 33-year-old said the candidates’ campaigns had “spent hundreds of millions advertising online,” which he called “1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found”.
Mark Zuckerberg said he regretted saying on the day Donald Trump was elected that it was “crazy” to say that misinformation on Facebook changed the election’s outcome, because it sounded dismissive.
He promised Facebook would “continue to build a community for all people” – and to “defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections”.
Mark Zuckerberg’s response attracted 65,000 “likes” within two hours of being posted.
Russia has long denied any form of interference in the US election, and President Trump has railed against allegations that his staff had improper links to Russia.
However, US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia tried to sway the vote in favor of Donald Trump. Congressional committees and an FBI inquiry are currently probing the matter.
Puerto Rico’s government has asked a judge to defer key deadlines in its bankruptcy case as it grapples with Maria’s devastation.
President Trump came under fire after he spent the weekend focusing on a feud with NFL players and coaches, instead of acknowledging the Puerto Rico disaster.
He tweeted about the crisis on September 25 – but angered critics by suggesting that Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt needed to be addressed amid its appeal for relief aid: “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA.”
On September 26, the White House announced that President Trump had increased federal funding and assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the storm.
The president said he would visit Puerto Rico on October 3 – nearly a fortnight after the storm struck – because it was the “earliest I can go without disrupting relief efforts”.
President Trump may also visit the US Virgin Islands, which was hit by both Hurricane Maria and Irma.
He said his administration was doing a “really good job” and that the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, was “so grateful”.
President Trump said rescue efforts were complicated because Puerto Rico was offshore.
“This is a thing called the Atlantic ocean, this is tough stuff,” he said.
He added: “Puerto Rico is very important to me. The people are fantastic. I grew up in New York so I know many Puerto Rican people.”
Ricardo Rossello told Reuters President Trump’s handling of the disaster had been “excellent” and that the government had “responded very quickly” to the crisis.
More than 10,000 US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to assist with relief efforts, according to the agency.
The US has expanded its travel ban to include people from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad.
According to the White House, the new restrictions follow a review of information sharing by foreign governments.
President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation on September 24.
He said in a post on Twitter: “Making America safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.”
The restrictions on Venezuelans apply only to government officials and their family members.
The three new countries join five others from President Trump’s original travel ban: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. However, the new proclamation removed restrictions that were placed on Sudan.
President Trump’s original ban was highly controversial, as it affected six majority-Muslim countries, and was widely labeled a “Muslim ban”.
The travel ban was subject to a range of legal challenges and several large-scale protests, and is due to be considered by the US Supreme Court in October, having been partly reinstated in July.
The American Civil Liberties Union rights group said the addition of the new countries “doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban”.
It is not yet clear how President Trump’s new proclamation, which changes several key elements, will affect that legal challenge.
The addition of North Korea and Venezuela now means not all nations on the list are majority-Muslim.
The criteria for the new ban list is now based on vetting procedures and co-operation, and the restrictions have now been “tailored” on a country-by-country basis. The White House said North Korea did not co-operate with the US government “in any respect” and failed all requirements – and so all travel to the US by its citizens has been banned. Chad, while an important counter-terrorism partner, did not share terrorism-related and other public information the US required – business and tourist visas for its nationals are suspended. Only “certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members” have been banned – its government has recently been hit with economic sanctions by the US, who now say it does not co-operate “in verifying whether its citizens pose national security or public-safety threats” and does not receive deported nationals willingly.
Most of the restrictions come in the form of suspension of B-1 and B-2 business and tourist visas, and they do not appear to be time-limited in the way that President Trump’s former executive order was.
In a fact sheet accompanying President Trump’s proclamation, the White House said that while Iraq also falls short of the required criteria, the country was not included in the new restrictions “because of the close co-operative relationship between the United States” and their part in fighting so-called Islamic State.
The restrictions come into effect on October 18, but will not apply to those already in possession of a valid visa, the White House said.
Following talks over dinner at the White House, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”
Democrats have repeatedly said that they will block any legislation that contains funding for the border wall – a key campaign pledge of President Trump’s.
A White House statement was more muted, simply saying that there had been a “constructive working dinner” where tax reform, border security and DACA had been discussed.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later disputed the Democrats’ account.
She tweeted: “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”
Chuck Schumer’s aide replied: “The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.”
Republican support would be needed in any immigration legislation, as they have a majority in both the House and the Senate.
On September 7, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi told reporters that the council should respond further “by taking necessary measures”, but did not elaborate.
Wang Yi added that “sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation.”
China is both North Korea’s and the US’s biggest trade partner, and has supported recent sanctions against it.
President Vladimir Putin has argued that the amount of oil Russia exports to North Korea – some 40,000 tonnes – is negligible.
“It is not worth giving in to emotions and driving North Korea into a corner,” President Putin said.
Both China and Russia have been pushing for an alternative solution.
They are proposing that the US and ally South Korea stop their military drills – which anger the North – and end the deployment of the controversial anti-missile THAAD system in South Korea, in return for North Korea ceasing its nuclear and missile program.
The proposal has been rejected by the US and South Korea.
On September 7, South Korea’s military announced it had completed the deployment of THAAD, Yonhap reported.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in also met with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, where both agreed to push for greater sanctions. Shinzo Abe called for “the greatest possible pressure” to be put on North Korea.
President Donald Trump had previously warned the US could cut off trade with countries that do business with North Korea.
The US has indicated that if the resolution is not passed when the Security Council meets on September 11 it may impose its own sanctions unilaterally.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters on September 6: “We believe that we need to economically cut off North Korea.
“I have an executive order prepared. It’s ready to go to the president. It will authorize me to… put sanctions on anybody that does trade with North Korea.”
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping also discussed North Korea over the phone on Wednesday, where they agreed to “take further action”, said a White House statement.
Donald Trump, who has previously threatened a military response to North Korea, told reporters this was “not our first choice”, but did not rule it out.
He added: “President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea.”
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that President Xi called for a “peaceful settlement of the issue” involving “dialogue combined with a set of comprehensive measures”.
In December 2016, former President Barack Obama had ordered those expulsions, along with the closure of two compounds.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin did not respond initially to that move, with President Trump set to assume office, he then announced on July 31 a reduction of 755 US diplomatic staff in Russia, in retaliation for the US sanctions.
The US diplomats expelled have until September 1 to leave Russia – a day before the US closures of the Russian consulate and two annexes, which are trade missions, must be completed.
Image source Wikimedia
A senior administration official said on August 31 that the consulate and the residence attached to it as well as the two trade missions would close but no Russian staff would be required to leave the US.
Russia will be allowed to maintain the properties, but not use them, the official added.
According to the State Department, the US actions were “in the spirit of parity”. It blamed Russia for what it called a downward spiral in bilateral ties, but suggested it wanted an end to the current spat.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement: “The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased co-operation on areas of mutual concern.”
The move leaves each country with three consulates in place, Heather Nauert added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call on August 31, expressing “regret at the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations”.
According to a statement from the Russian foreign ministry, Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would study the order and respond accordingly.
Sergei Lavrov and Rex Tillerson are due to meet in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The president, who wanted warmer ties with Russia, had opposed the bill, which included a provision that limits his ability to lift sanctions and forces him to consult Congress first.
President Trump has been dogged by claims that Russia tried to sway the election in his favor and several investigations are under way to determine whether anyone from his campaign colluded with Moscow.
However, Russia has repeatedly denied interfering and President Trump has insisted that there was no collusion, calling the investigations a “witch hunt”.
President Trump has frequently praised the former sheriff, who is known for his controversial hard-line stance on immigration.
Joe Arpaio appeared on the campaign trail with President Trump in 2016 – describing him as “the law-and-order candidate”.
In a statement announcing the pardon, his first, President Trump said: “Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service.
“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
Joe Arpaio, who styled himself as “America’s toughest sheriff”, rose to national prominence for his sweeps of undocumented immigrants in Hispanic communities, and for detaining Spanish-speakers under suspicion of being undocumented immigrants.
In July 2017, the former sheriff was found guilty of violating a 2011 order to stop detaining immigrants.
The decision to pardon the former policeman was condemned by Democrats and civil rights groups.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said it was “disheartening that [the president] set the bar so very low for his first pardon”.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the move a slap in the face for the Latino community and those who had been victimized.
Joe Arpaio, who was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, could have faced six months in jail at his sentencing in October.
He served in the US military before he became a police officer – where he quickly acquired a reputation for his anti-immigration stance and tough enforcement tactics.
Joe Arpaio lost a bid for re-election in Arizona’s Maricopa County in November 2016, after 24 years in office.
He famously forced the prisoners to wear pink underwear and socks and old-fashioned black-and-white striped prison jumpsuits. The inmates lived outdoors while enduring sweltering Arizona desert temperatures.
Joe Arpaio also revived chain gangs, including a voluntary one for female prisoners.
President Donald Trump has signed a memo restoring a military ban on transgender people, which was lifted under President Barack Obama.
The memo also ceases the use of government funds for gender-reassignment surgery for active personnel.
However, President Trump left Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to decide whether to retain existing transgender recruits.
The reinstated ban, justified on grounds of cost and disruption, faces a legal challenge by transgender rights activists.
Jennifer Levi, an official at Glad (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders), said in a statement: “This policy is a shameful slap in the face to people who put their lives on the line everyday to defend our country…
“We are moving quickly with our plaintiffs to see that a court puts a stop to this latest demonstration of President Trump playing politics with people’s lives.”
Between 4,000 and 10,000 US active-duty and reserve service members are believed to be transgender.