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White House


A number of Democrats have called for Donald Trump’s naming of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a top adviser to be reviewed over concerns of nepotism and conflict of interest.

The group wants the Justice Department and Office of Government Ethics to scrutinize “legal issues” related to the appointment of Jared Kushner.

His lawyer says the post does not breach anti-nepotism laws.

Jared Kushner, 36, is married to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

The millionaire will step down as boss of his family’s real estate business and publisher of the New York Observer newspaper in order to comply with ethics laws, his lawyer Jamie Gorelick said.

Jared Kushner will also divest “substantial assets”, she said.

Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th US president on January 20.

Several of his cabinet picks have business interests that will be scrutinized at confirmation hearings taking place this week.

Donald Trump’s selection for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is the first to face Senate confirmation hearings on January 10. He was turned down for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of alleged racist remarks.

Unlike cabinet positions, advisers are considered part of White House staff and do not require approval from Congress.

Jared Kushner is a vastly wealthy property developer and publisher who played an influential role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and has been included in key meetings with foreign leaders during the transition period.

Image source Wikimedia

An Orthodox Jew whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, Jared Kushner was raised in Livingston, New Jersey, and went on to study sociology at Harvard.

His father, also a property mogul, was jailed for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering in 2005 by Chris Christie – then the US attorney for New Jersey.

Jared Kushner is said to have played a key role in the ousting of Chris Christie, by then New Jersey governor, from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team last year.

In his new role, Jared Kushner will initially focus on trade policy and the Middle East, according to officials from the transition team.

On January 8, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon met UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The nepotism rule, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967, prevents public officials from promoting a relative “to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control”.

It is thought to have been prompted by JFK’s appointment of brother Robert to the post of attorney general in 1960.

The law would stop a president from giving a cabinet job to a relative – but it is unclear whether it applies to positions in the White House team.

Those that say it does not point to President Bill Clinton’s appointment of First Lady Hillary Clinton as chair of his health care reforms package in 1993.

In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, argue that a “strong case” can be made that the 1967 federal anti-nepotism statute applies to staff working in the White House, a position rejected by Donald Trump’s team.

They also raise questions about how, even with significant divestment, Jared Kushner could completely avoid conflicts of interest in his White House role.

Concerns have been raised about his relationships with foreign investors.

The New York Times reported on January 7 that Jared Kushner met the head of an insurance group with links to the Chinese government over development plans for his skyscraper, 666 Fifth Avenue, just days after Donald Trump won the presidential election. His spokeswoman, quoted by the paper, said the timing of the meeting was a coincidence and he had already decided to sell his stake in the building.

As his appointment as special adviser was announced, Jared Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said he was committed to complying with federal ethics laws and had consulted with the Office of Government Ethics about what steps to take.

She added that he would not be paid for the advisory role.


Jared Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, will step down from executive roles at the Trump Organization as well as her own fashion brands.

However, she will not be taking an official role in her father’s government – for now at least – and instead will focus on raising her children.

Reports said last week that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and their children would be moving into a $5.5 million home in Washington DC’s wealthy Kalorama neighborhood – at least for some time.

The Obama family is due to be moving to the same area after leaving the White House.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump announced in November that his wife, Melania, would be staying in New York – at least initially – after his inauguration to allow their youngest son, Barron, to finish the school year.

The White House has reacted to Donald Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election, saying that there is no evidence to support the allegations.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that millions of people had cast illegal votes.

The president-elect also alleged voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California, states which Hillary Clinton won.

Josh Earnest deferred to Donald Trump’s team for further comment.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

“What I can say, as an objective fact, is that there has been no evidence produced to substantiate a claim like that,” the press secretary told reporters at a White House briefing.

Donald Trump, who won the all-important Electoral College count, aired his grievances with the election result in a tweet on November 27.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” he wrote.

Donald Trump’s Twitter outburst comes after Hillary Clinton’s camp said it would support a vote recount in Wisconsin initiated by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Jill Stein also notified the elections board in Michigan, where Donald Trump’s 16 electoral votes were certified on November 28, that it would seek a statewide recount of the presidential election results.

Her campaign moved to do the same in Pennsylvania.

Donald Trump won by two-tenths of a percentage point out of nearly 4.8 million votes, making it the closest presidential race in Michigan in more than 75 years.

He is the first Republican presidential nominee to win Michigan since 1988.

Jill Stein’s recount effort was driven by the #recount2016 social media campaign, which has raised over $6.3 million.

During her entire presidential run, Jill Stein’s campaign only raised $3.5 million.

Results would need to be overturned in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to alter the outcome of the November 8 election – something analysts say is highly unlikely.

President-elect Donald Trump meets President Barack Obama at the White House for what could prove to be awkward transition talks.

Donald Trump has questioned Barack Obama’s US citizenship and vowed to dismantle his legacy.

During the campaign President Obama called Donald Trump “uniquely unqualified”, but now says he is “rooting” for him after his shock defeat of Hillary Clinton.

Thousands have taken to the streets of major cities denouncing Donald Trump.

Donald Trump flew from New York on his private jet and landed at Reagan National Airport, just outside the nation’s capital.Donald Trump criticized by Barack Obama

The two men are expected to appear together for the cameras in the Oval Office after a behind-closed-doors meeting.

Donald Trump is being accompanied by his wife, Melania, who will have a meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama.

On November 9, Barack Obama – who campaigned against Donald Trump – urged all Americans to accept the result of the presidential election.

“We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” the president said.

The defeated Hillary Clinton also told supporters Donald Trump had to be given a “chance to lead”.

Despite their calls, protesters gathered in several cities across the country on November 9. Many chanted: “Not my president.”

In his victory speech, Donald Trump vowed to “bind the wounds of division”, after an acrimonious election contest, and to be “president for all Americans”.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest has insisted President Obama is sincere about ensuring a smooth handover when he meets Donald Trump, although he added: “I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy meeting.”

With the Republicans holding a majority in both chambers of the Congress Donald Trump has an easier path to pass his laws and scrap key Obama initiatives like his healthcare reforms.

Donald Trump has outlined what he would do in his first 100 days at the White House.

With 17 days until Election Day, much of the recent focus has been on controversies linked to his campaign.

In a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, The Republican nominee sought to highlight changes he would introduce.

Among them were restrictions on lobbyists and a renegotiation on trade and climate change deals.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine appeared at events on October 22 in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state in the race for the White House.

Donald Trump’s advisers indicated before his speech that the measures announced would serve as the focus for the remaining two weeks of his campaign.

The speech was one of the most detailed by Donald Trump during his candidacy, and also touched on matters of security, economy and trade.

He said the country was facing a “fork in the road” over its future.

While some polls have shown he has eaten into Hillary Clinton’s lead over the past week, after the third presidential debate, she is still leading him in a number of the key swing states.

Before his speech, Donald Trump again attacked leading media outlets and suggested they were biased against him.

The billionaire vowed to break up media conglomerates, saying he would scrap the rumored purchase of the Time Warner company, the owner of CNN, by AT&T. However, those comments were made outside of his main speech, and it was not clear if they were being put forward as policy.

Donald Trump also said he would sue every woman who has accused him of assault or inappropriate behavior as soon as his presidential campaign was over.

Ten women have come forward to accuse Donald Trump of inappropriate behavior, in the weeks after a video emerged of him boasting of groping women and kissing them.

“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he told the audience in Gettysburg.

Donald Trump said the media was fabricating stories to make him “look as bad and dangerous as possible”.

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Secret Service has launched an investigation after Donald Trump’s ex-butler, Anthony Senecal, called for the death of President Barack Obama.

In a Facebook post, Anthony Senecal wrote that Barack Obama “should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term”.

Anthony Senecal worked for Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, for nearly 30 years.

However, the Trump campaign quickly disavowed Anthony Senecal’s remarks, saying: “He is not employed by Mr. Trump, and hasn’t been since June of 2009.”

Photo Facebook

Photo Facebook

Donald Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks added in a statement: “We strongly condemn these horrible comments from Mr. Senecal.”

Anthony Senecal’s post, which was not public, was first reported by Mother Jones, but he later confirmed its authenticity to several news organizations.

On May 12, Anthony Senecal, 84, told CNN that President Barack Obama should be “hung” outside the White House. He also called the White House the “White Mosque”.

The New York Times profiled Anthony Senecal in March, saying despite retiring in 2009 he has stayed at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as “a kind of unofficial historian”.

According to the publication, Anthony Senecal “understands Mr. Trump’s sleeping patterns and how he likes his steak (“It would rock on the plate, it was so well done”), and how Mr. Trump insists – despite the hair salon on the premises – on doing his own hair”.

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According to the White House, President Barack Obama has called for the US to prepare to accept “at least” 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.

That number is significantly higher than the 1,500 Syrians that have been permitted to re-settle in the US since the start of the conflict.

The 10,000 figure is still much lower than the 340,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Europe this year.

Since the beginning of the conflict the US has given $4 billion in aid.

The increase in accepting refugees displays a “significant scaling up” of US commitment to accept people from conflict zones and help provide for their needs,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Congress would have to make a “significant financial commitment” in order to allow for additional 10,000 refugees to the US, Josh Earnest said.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered four million Syrians as refugees, and it has asked governments around the world to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.

In May, 14 Senators penned a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to allow 65,000 Syrian refugees to settle inside the US.

Humanitarian aid money remains the most effective way to fight the problem for the US, Josh Earnest said, and it is “not feasible” for millions of Syrians to come to the country.

Asked at a press briefing why the US was not accepting as many refugees as the UK, as a larger country, Josh Earnest said the US wants to meet the “most urgent, immediate needs” of migrants like basic medical care, food, water and shelter.

The security screening migrants must go through when arriving in the US can take 12 to 18 months, and the “safety and security of the US homeland” comes first, he said.

There have been concerns expressed that terrorists could exploit the refugee system to enter the country and carry out an attack, but experts say that fear is overblown.

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The Obama administration has hired its first openly transgender full-time member of staff, White House officials have confirmed.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan started working as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential staff on August 18.

Her commitment to transgender rights reflects “the values of this administration,” a senior White House official said.

Photo LinkedIn

Photo LinkedIn

“Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan previously worked as a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NTCE).

Her appointment to the White House has been hailed as an important step by key members of the LGBT community.

In the same time, the Department of Defense is reviewing its ban on transgender men and women from serving in the military, and the White House has said it welcomes that move.

Further tests are being conducted on an envelope posted to the White House which may contain cyanide, the Secret Service says.

Tests at a post screening facility were found to have traces of the poison.

The Secret Service, which is responsible for President Barack Obama’s security, said an investigation was under way.

Initial tests on March 16 were negative but more tests on March 17 returned a “presumptive positive” for cyanide.Cyanide letter posted to White House

“The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results,” Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said in a statement.

He added there would be no further comment.

There were no injuries or exposure concerns for the screening facility employee who first opened the letter, a law enforcement official told CNN.

The discovery was first disclosed by The Intercept, which obtained an internal law enforcement document.

On March 17, the Secret Service director Joseph Clancy was questioned by a congressional committee about a series of recent security lapses.

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Two senior Secret Service agents are being under investigation after a car crash at the White House.

The collision happened during the evening on March 4, Secret Service said.

According to the Washington Post, the agents drove the car into a security barricade after a night of drinking and partying.

The crash is the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents involving the agency charged with protecting President Barack Obama.

Photo AFP/Getty Images

Photo AFP/Getty Images

The Washington Post has identified the agents as Mark Connolly, deputy in charge of the president’s security detail, and George Ogilvie, a senior supervisor in the agency’s Washington office.

They had been attending a party at a nearby bar before the incident occurred, the Post reported.

Witnesses reportedly saw the officers in a car with illuminated emergency lights and said they had shown their badges in an attempt to get through a secured section of the White House complex.

The car ran through security tape and hit temporary barricades that had been set up while security services investigated a suspicious package.

Over the past several months, several of the agency’s top officials have been forced to step down following multiple security lapses. A man from Texas was able to scale a fence and run into the White House while brandishing a knife before being detained.

The Secret Service is charged with protecting the president, vice-president, their families and other officials.

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President Barack Obama emailed with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but was unaware of how her personal email address was set up, the White House said on March 9.

Josh Earnest told reporters that Barack Obama emailed to Hillary Clinton’s private address and did not know how the secretary of State planned to comply with the Federal Records Act with regards to private emails about official State Department business.

“The president did email with Secretary Clinton,” Earnest said, who said the number of emails was not large. 

“The president did, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office exchange emails with his secretary of state,” the White House press secretary said.

Barack Obama emailed to Hillary Clinton’s private address (Photo AP)

Barack Obama emailed to Hillary Clinton’s private address (Photo AP)

All exchanges between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were maintained by the White House under the Presidential Records Act, Josh Earnest said.

The comments come amid a budding controversy over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address hosted on a home server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat. The email controversy has cast a shadow over her all-but-certain presidential bid and provoked questions about tensions between her and the Obama administration.

The State Department did not initially retain records of Hillary Clinton’s personal emails.

Hillary Clinton’s team recently selected and turned over 55,000 pages of emails in response to a State Department request.

Barack Obama told CBS News on March 8 that he learned of Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email address for official business “the same time everybody else learned about it through news reports”.

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Prince Charles and Camilla are to meet President Barack Obama during a four-day tour of the US.

The White House said President Barack Obama will host the royal couple in the Oval Office on March 19.

Charles and Camilla will be in the US from March 17 to March 20 to “promote the UK’s partnership with the United States”, Clarence House said.

They will also mark the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary during their trip.

Other parts of their tour will include a tour of Mount Vernon – home of America’s first president, George Washington – and a visit to Louisville, Kentucky, home city of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.Prince Charles and Camilla to meet Barack Obama

While in Washington DC, the Prince of Wales will mark the Magna Carta’s anniversary during a visit to the National Archives.

Prince Charles will view the Charters of Freedom documents and the 1297 version of the Magna Carta, which is embodied in the American Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

He will also receive an award for “exceptional leadership in conservation” from the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

Also in Washington DC, the prince and duchess will visit the Armed Forces Retirement Home, set in the same grounds as the Lincoln Cottage, where it is believed Abraham Lincoln wrote the last draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Duchess of Cornwall, who has regularly raised awareness about rape victims, will carry out several solo engagements, including visiting the District of Columbia’s assault response team.

This is a coalition of 12 public and private community agencies which works to prevent assault and help victims of such crimes.

Camilla will visit a food literacy project for young people at a local farm while in Louisville, which will be where the couple ends their trip.

Prince Charles visited the Oval Office in 2011 to discuss energy and environmental issues with President Barack Obama.

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The White House has added a new room to the visitor route on February 10, and first lady Michelle Obama greeted tourists as they arrived.

The Old Family Dining Room has been opened to the public for the first time, the White House has announced.

The room was recently refurbished and will be a showcase for 20th century art and design.

The Old Family Dining Room is a smaller dining room situated next to the State Dining Room on the first floor.

Photo White House

Photo White House

The room was created by President John Quincy Adams in 1825 as a place for the first family to eat meals.

Visitors on a tour of the White House on Tuesday, February 10, were left stunned by a surprise appearance from Michelle Obama and former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

Former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager was present to interview Michelle Obama for the Today show.

At least once a year, Michelle Obama surprises visitors as they take the White House tour.

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Secret Service staff recovered a small drone from the grounds of the White House, US media report.

A spokesman for President Barack Obama confirmed that a “device” had been discovered but said it posed no immediate danger.

Barack Obama and the First Lady are currently on a visit to India.

The Secret Service, which is tasked with the president’s security, has been criticized for recent lapses, leading to a leadership reorganization.

In September a man armed with a knife scaled the White House perimeter fence and gained access to the building.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Days earlier an armed private security guard had been allowed to ride in the same lift as the president.

Although President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in New Delhi when the device was found, their children are believed to be in Washington DC, according to the New York Times.

At a press briefing in India, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “I don’t have any reason to think at this point that the first family is in any danger.”

Although he did not specify what kind of “device” had been found, US media reports described it as a small drone.

Many such drones are available commercially or used as toys, unlike the larger versions used in a military capacity.

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In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Sarah Palin said that she is “seriously interested” in running for the White House in 2016.

When asked to clarify her thinking about a possible presidential bid, the former Alaska governor said: “You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested.”

Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, said she stood by comments she made on January 22 in Las Vegas to ABC News, where she first expressed enthusiasm about potentially competing for the Republican presidential nomination.Sarah Palin 2016

On January 23, Sarah Palin told the Post: “I am. As I said yesterday, I’m really interested in the opportunity to serve at some point.”

However, Sarah Palin said that she is not yet ramping up a national political operation. Instead, she said, she is contemplating her political future and does not feel rushed to make a final decision.

Sarah Palin previously mulled a presidential run ahead of the 2012 election cycle, but declined to enter the contest. During the run-up to the GOP primaries, her supporters built an expansive political network in Iowa on her behalf, in case she jumped in.

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The cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that forced the cancellation of The Interview movie release is being seen as a serious national security matter, the White House says.

A White House spokesman said the US believed the hacking was the work of a “sophisticated actor” – but refused to confirm if North Korea was responsible.

Sony Pictures withdrew The Interview, a new comedy film about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after threats from hackers.

Hackers have already released sensitive information stored on Sony computers.

They later issued a warning to members of the public planning to see The Interview.

Referring to the 9/11 terror attacks, they said “the world will be full of fear” if the film was screened.Sony Pictures hack attack seen as US security issue

Many cinemas scrapped plans to show the film, and Sony then cancelled the release of the film altogether – moves criticized in Hollywood as an attack on the freedom of expression.

At a White House briefing on December 18, spokesman Josh Earnest said US officials had held daily discussions about the Sony cyber attack and were considering an “appropriate response”.

However, he refused to comment on who was responsible, saying he did not wish to pre-empt an investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI.

The Interview, made by Sony Pictures, features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists who are granted an audience with Kim Jong-un.

The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him.

The Interview was due to have been released over Christmas.

In November, a cyber attack crippled computers at Sony and led to upcoming films and workers’ personal data being leaked online.

The hackers also released salary details and social security numbers for thousands of Sony employees – including celebrities.

Earlier this month, North Korea denied hacking into Sony’s computers – but praised the attack itself as a “righteous deed”.

An article on North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, quoting the country’s top military body, said suggestions that Pyongyang was behind the attack were “wild rumor”.

However, it warned the US that “there are a great number of supporters and sympathizers” of North Korea “all over the world” who may have carried out the attack.

In the article, Sony Pictures was accused of “abetting a terrorist act” and “hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership” of North Korea by producing the movie.

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Prince William will meet President Barack Obama at the Oval Office on December 8, the White House has announced.

The meeting is part of a three-day trip to the US east coast with Kate Middleton, including Prince William’s first visit to Washington.

The Duke of Cambridge is expected to give a speech at the World Bank on combating illegal wildlife trafficking.

Barack Obama has welcomed the prince’s work against what he called “a devastating environmental problem”.

The White House press secretary said the issue was also a “national security threat”.Prince William and Kate Middleton to visit US

Speaking about Prince William’s trip to America, he added that it “underscores the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom”.

In February, Prince Charles and Prince William attended an international conference held in London where a declaration was signed on fighting the illegal trade in wildlife.

While Prince William attends events in Washington, Kate Middleton will join Chirlane McCray – writer and wife of New York mayor Bill De Blasio – on a visit to a local child development centre.

Prince William previously met President Barack Obama when he travelled to London for a state visit in 2011.

The royals will also attend events in support of organizations including their Royal Foundation, which supports the welfare of service personnel and young people.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagements include promoting sustainable conservation, young people’s mental health and supporting disadvantaged young people.

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The White House security report has found that an intruder armed with a knife managed to dodge guards and enter the building because of poor communication and a series of lapses.

Omar Gonzalez jumped over the fence in September, ran past guards and was only stopped deep inside the building.

An official US inquiry says Secret Service agents – including one with an attack dog – did not react on time or in the right manner.

The Secret Service chief, Julia Pierson, resigned, partly as a result of this breach.

She stepped down after details emerged of this incident, and of previous breaches in the security surrounding the president.

The latest findings about the September incident are part of a broader inquiry into the lapses, led by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to The New York Times, an executive summary of the inquiry released on Thursday night said the blame for the breach lay with “performance, organization and technical” failures.

Several lapses were highlighted in the report, pointing to a lack of training, bad staffing decisions and failures in communication.

The report described in detail how agents had missed a series of opportunities to stop Omar Gonzalez – on the evening of the intrusion as well in the run-up to it.

Omar Gonzalez scaled the fence at a point where a spike was missing, the report said.

Many officers at a gate on Pennsylvania Avenue did not have a clear view of him because of a construction project.

An officer with an attack dog on the White House driveway was using his mobile phone at the time, and did not hear warnings on his radio earpiece, or on another radio, which had been stashed away in a locker.

Two officers who were pursuing Omar Gonzalez did not expect him to pass through thick bushes, which he did.

Doors into the White House that officers had assumed were locked turned out to be open. Some officers also hesitated to follow Omar Gonzalez because they did not know the layout of the building, the report said.

Once inside the building, the report said Omar Gonzalez was able to push past a female officer, who was smaller than him and who had accidently reached for her torch instead of a metal baton.

He was eventually tackled in the East Room, a long, ornately-decorated chamber used for presidential addresses and formal receptions.

Early on in the intrusion, warnings were not relayed properly to agents inside the White House building because alarm systems and radios failed to function as intended.

The report also cited failings in the run-up to the intrusion, as the former soldier’s suspicious behavior had attracted the attention of the authorities several times.

Omar Gonzalez was stopped in Virginia in July. Then, officers found two powerful rifles, four handguns and other firearms and ammunition in his vehicle along with a map marking the White House.

President Barack Obama and his family were not at the White House when the intrusion happened, having departed about 10 minutes earlier by helicopter.

Omar Gonzalez has been indicted on charges including unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of ammunition.

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Turkey’s new presidential palace costs about $615 million – nearly twice the previous estimate, officials say.

The controversial 1,000-room palace known as Ak Saray (White Palace) was built on a forested hilltop on the edge of the capital Ankara, on more than 1.6 million sq ft of land.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the palace on August 30 after becoming president.

His AK Party has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade.

The palace is bigger than the White House in Washington, the Kremlin in Moscow and even the Palace of Versailles near Paris.

Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, quoted by Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, said most of the 1.37 billion Turkish lira ($615 million) cost had been paid, but another $135 million had been budgeted for it in 2015.

The palace has sumptuous marble corridors and atriums, as well as high-tech systems to prevent electronic eavesdropping.

The controversial 1,000-room palace known as Ak Saray was built on a forested hilltop on the edge of Ankara, on more than 1.6 million sq ft of land

The controversial 1,000-room palace known as Ak Saray was built on a forested hilltop on the edge of Ankara, on more than 1.6 million sq ft of land (photo EPA)

Environmentalists accuse Recep Tayyip Erdogan of spending public money on lavish construction projects to the detriment of green areas. Activists defending Istanbul’s Gezi Park clashed with police in June 2013.

Hurriyet says the palace project was controversial because hundreds of trees were cut down to make space for it, in what had been a forest reserve bequeathed to the nation by modern Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The finance minister also said $185m would be spent on a new Airbus A330-200 presidential jet.

A presidential aide, Fahri Kasirga, said other presidential properties would be renovated next year, notably the Huber Palace in Istanbul and a guest house in Marmaris, on the Aegean coast.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved out of the more modest Cankaya Palace in Ankara, which will now be used by PM Ahmet Davutoglu.

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The White House unclassified Executive Office of the President network was attacked, according to the Washington Post.

Authorities are reported to be investigating the breach, which was reported to officials by an ally of the US, sources said.

White House officials believe the attack was state-sponsored but are not saying what – if any – data was taken.

In a statement to the AFP news agency, the White House said “some elements of the unclassified network” had been affected.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post: “In the course of assessing recent threats, we identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network.

“Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity.

“Certainly, a variety of actors find our networks to be attractive targets and seek access to sensitive information. We are still assessing the activity of concern.”

The source said the attack was consistent with a state-sponsored effort and Russia is thought by the US government to be one of the most likely threats.

The White House unclassified Executive Office of the President network was attacked

The White House unclassified Executive Office of the President network was attacked

“On a regular basis, there are bad actors out there who are attempting to achieve intrusions into our system,” a second White House official told the Washington Post.

“This is a constant battle for the government and our sensitive government computer systems, so it’s always a concern for us that individuals are trying to compromise systems and get access to our networks.”

The Washington Post quoted its sources as saying that the attack was discovered two-to-three weeks ago. Some White House staff were reportedly told to change their passwords and there was some disruption to network services.

In a statement given to AFP, a White House official said the Executive Office of the President received daily alerts concerning numerous possible cyber threats.

In the course of addressing the breach, some White House users were temporarily disconnected from the network.

“Our computers and systems have not been damaged, though some elements of the unclassified network have been affected. The temporary outages and loss of connectivity for our users is solely the result of measures we have taken to defend our networks,” the official said.

The NSA, FBI and Security Service were reportedly investigating.

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The White House has announced it is working to free three American citizens detained in North Korea.

The statement was made in response to a televised appeal by the Americans asking for help from the US government.

Kenneth Bae, 46, has been held in North Korea since 2012 and is currently in a labor camp outside Pyongyang.

Jeffrey Fowle, 56, and Matthew Miller, 24, are charged with violating North Korean law and are awaiting trial.

The three spoke to CNN and the Associated Press on September 1 with North Korea officials present.

Each man was interviewed separately for five minutes in different hotel rooms in the capital Pyongyang.

All asked for a US representative to go to North Korea to make a direct appeal for their release.

Kenneth Bae has been held in North Korea since 2012 and is currently in a labor camp outside Pyongyang

Kenneth Bae has been held in North Korea since 2012 and is currently in a labor camp outside Pyongyang

“We have seen the reports of interviews with the three American citizens detained in North Korea,” White House spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said in a statement.

“Securing the release of US citizens is a top priority and we have followed these cases closely in the White House. We continue to do all we can to secure their earliest possible release,” he said.

In his interview, Kenneth Bae said he had been hospitalized for health problems which included back pain, a sleep disorder and weight loss.

The Korean American missionary is serving a sentence of 15 years of hard labor in a camp outside Pyongyang after being convicted of trying to overthrow the government.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the US come,” Kenneth Bae said.

“But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that,” he said.

Kenneth Bae said he was not aware he had violated North Korean law and asked for forgiveness.

The other two detainees, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, told reporters they expected to face trial within a month, but did not know what the specific charges were against them.

Jeffrey Fowle arrived in North Korea in April and was held when he tried to leave the country, according to North Korean news agency KCNA.

Reports in the Japanese press say Jeffrey Fowle was suspected of leaving a bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea.

Matthew Miller was also taken into custody in April after he reportedly tore up his tourist visa at the airport and shouted he wanted asylum, according to KCNA.

“I’ve been requesting help for a long time and there’s been no movement from my government,” Matthew Miller told CNN.

Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller have said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what they are accused of.

North Korea has a history of using detainees as bargaining chips.

In the past, senior US figures including former President Bill Clinton have travelled to the country to ensure the release of Americans.

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The US – Israel’s closest ally – has said the shelling of a UN shelter in Gaza is “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”.

In its strongest criticism yet of Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life.

A quarter of Gaza’s population has been displaced by the fighting, the UN says.

Israel says its operation in Gaza is designed to defend its population from attacks by Palestinian militants.

It blames the Hamas militant group for most of the civilian deaths in Gaza, saying its fighters deliberately operate from civilian areas.

The Israeli army has now “neutralized” 70-80% of Hamas’ offensive tunnel network into Israel.

In its strongest criticism yet of Israel's offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life

In its strongest criticism yet of Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life

Israel says it will not stop its operation in Gaza until all the tunnels – which militants use to infiltrate Israeli territory – have been destroyed.

Since Israel began its offensive in Gaza on July 8, 1,422 Palestinians have been killed and 8,265 injured, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

This means more Palestinians have now been killed than during Operation Cast Lead – the last time Israel launched a ground invasion in Gaza – in 2008-2009.

Fifty-eight Israelis have been killed in total – 56 soldiers and two civilians. A Thai worker in Israel has also died.

“There is a difference in approach between what Hamas is perpetrating on the Israeli people and what Israel is doing to defend their country,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

“But the shelling of a UN facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible, and it is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to high standards that they have set for themselves.”

He was referring to an incident on Wednesday, when at least 16 people were killed when shellfire hit a UN-run school designated as a civilian shelter in the Jabaliya district of Gaza City.

Josh Earnest said there was little doubt that the shells were fired by the Israeli military.

The UN has also condemned the continuing violence.

“The reality of Gaza today is that no place is safe,” UN humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos told the Security Council.

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India’s new PM Narendra Modi has overtaken the White House on Twitter, a study of political use of the social network has found.

Narendra Modi’s account @NarendraModi has 4.99 million followers, ahead of the @WhiteHouse account which has 4.98 million followers.

His huge victory in the recent general election was partly credited to a well-organized social media campaign.

Narendra Modi has overtaken the White House on Twitter

Narendra Modi has overtaken the White House on Twitter

Narendra Modi, leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is also the most followed Indian leader on Twitter.

“Mr. Modi’s seen a stratospheric rise,” said Matthias Luefkens, who heads the annual Twiplomacy, a study conducted by global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller.

Although Narendra Modi speaks mostly in Hindi, his tweets are always in English, preferred for business in a nation with 22 official languages.

Narendra Modi, who was elected in May, scored 24,000 re-tweets for his own “India has won!” victory message.

“I am a firm believer in the power of technology and social media to communicate with people across the world,” Narendra Modi has said in a message on his new website.

The five most followed world leaders were President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) with 43 million followers of his campaign account, Pope Francis (@Pontifex) with 14 million followers on his nine different language accounts, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) with 5 million followers, with @WhiteHouse and @NarendraModi in fourth and fifth places.

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Cleveland house of horrors survivors Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus met with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden last month at the White House.

Amanda Berry, 28, told People magazine: “It was one of the most unbelievable moments in my life.”

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus met with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden at the White House

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus met with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden at the White House (photo White House)

Gina DeJesus, 24, said she particularly liked talking to VP Joe Biden because he was “very down-to-earth”. She added that she appreciated how much time VP Joe Biden, a longtime advocate of ending violence against women, spent with them and their families.

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus visited the White House with Amanda’s older sister Beth Serrano and Gina’s parents.

While the two women were meeting with Joe Biden in the West Wing, President Barack Obama swung by to say hello and the group snapped a picture.
The family trip to D.C. was paid for by the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children and marked the girls’ first flight.

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were also treated to a salon visit and a shopping spree.

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Last month, the White House held a Women of Soul concert as part of the In Performance at the White House series featuring Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae and Ariana Grande.

Aretha Franklin avoided Patti LaBelle at the White House concert

Aretha Franklin avoided Patti LaBelle at the White House concert

Aretha Franklin entered the concert hall to a standing ovation. On her way to her seat, she passed Patti LaBelle. Patti LaBelle reached out her hand to the Queen of Soul and that hand was left high and dry. As Aretha Franklin hit Patti LaBelle with the side eye, she brushed past LaBelle and headed to her seat while still enjoying the adulation from the audience.

It’s been well known for quite some time that Aretha Franklin doesn’t care for Patti LaBelle – although no one’s really ever been able to figure out exactly why.

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President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health campaign Let’s Move by making a film while jogging around the White House.

Michelle Obama’s initiative intends to fight childhood obesity by encouraging healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health campaign Let's Move by making a film while jogging around the White House

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health campaign Let’s Move by making a film while jogging around the White House

The first lady has unveiled new changes to US nutrition labels, the most sweeping overhaul in more than two decades.

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