Posts Tagged ‘Ivanka Trump’

Donald Trump Jr. says his father can’t trust everyone around him after the anonymous op-ed

September 11, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged in an interview broadcast Tuesday that his father can trust fewer people around him than he would like in the wake of an anonymous op-ed claiming there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration.

“I think there are people in there that he can trust, it’s just — it’s a much smaller group than I would like it to be,” the president’s eldest son said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Asked whom he trusts, Trump Jr. declined to answer but suggested that family members working in the White House remain in the fold. President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are both White House advisers.

By John Wagner
The Washington Post

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Donald Trump Jr. walks off Air Force One in Great Falls, Mont., in July, as he accompanies his father, President Trump, to a political rally. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’m talking outside family. That goes without saying,” Trump Jr. said.

“It would be easier to get things done if you’re able to fully trust everyone around you,” he added. “I think that’s a shame.”

The op-ed, published by the New York Times last week, was written by a senior official in the Trump administration, according to the Times. It depicts a “two-track presidency” in which Trump acts according to his own whims while many of his top aides, in the author’s words, work to thwart his “more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

The piece’s publication has coincided with revelations from a new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that depicts a chaotic White House in which some aides have even removed papers from Trump’s desk to prevent him from taking what they believe to be unwarranted actions.

During the ABC interview, Trump Jr. said he believes the op-ed was written by a “low-level person,” and he urged the Justice Department to investigate the author, as his father has suggested.

“This is very low-level person who will throw their name on an op-ed, and basically subvert the vote of the American people who elected my father to do this job,” Trump Jr. said.

Asked whether he thinks any laws were broken, Trump Jr. said: “Listen, I think you’re subverting the will of the people. I mean, to try to control the presidency while not the president. You have millions and millions of Americans who voted for this.”


New York Attorney General Sues Trump Foundation

June 14, 2018

Attorney general alleges charity illegally coordinated with Trump campaign; Trump calls suit ‘ridiculous’

New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said her office intends to hold the Trump Foundation ‘accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.’
New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said her office intends to hold the Trump Foundation ‘accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.’ PHOTO: HANS PENNINK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The New York state attorney general’s office on Thursday sued President Donald Trump, his children and the family’s foundation, accusing the charity of unlawfully coordinating with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The lawsuit also accuses Mr. Trump of using the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay his legal bills and promote Trump businesses. The attorney general’s office seeks to dissolve the foundation and asks for $2.8 million in restitution.

It also asks that board members Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump be banned from serving on the board of any charity in New York.

“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement. “This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

Donald J. Trump


The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…

Trump Foundation spokeswoman Amanda Miller called the suit “politics at its very worst.” She said the foundation had already proposed its own voluntary dissolution more than a year and a half ago.

“The reason the Foundation was able to donate more than it took in is because it had little to no expenses,” Ms. Miller wrote in a statement.

On Twitter, Mr. Trump called the suit “ridiculous.” Mr. Trump wrote, “The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!”

Mr. Schneiderman, New York’s former attorney general, resigned abruptly last month after reports he physically abused women. He has denied the allegations.

Last month, New York lawmakers named Ms. Underwood the state’s attorney general. She has said she won’t seek election in the fall.

The attorney general’s office said its investigation found the foundation raised more than $2.8 million in a way designed to influence the 2016 election. It said Mr. Trump raised these funds at a nationally televised fundraiser that he held in Iowa instead of participating in a presidential primary debate.

The attorney general’s office also alleges that senior Trump campaign staff dictated the timing, amounts and recipients of grants the foundation made to nonprofits.

In one email, dated Jan. 29, 2016, Corey Lewandowski, then Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, wrote, “Is there any way we can make some disbursements this week while in Iowa? Specifically on Saturday.”

Mr. Lewandowski didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the days immediately before the Feb. 1, 2016, Iowa caucus, the foundation made at least five $100,000 grants to groups in Iowa, the attorney general’s office said.

The lawsuit also accuses the Trump Foundation of what it calls five self-dealing transactions that it says are illegal because they benefited Mr. Trump or his businesses. These include a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against the Trump National Golf Club and a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against the Mar-a-Lago resort, legal documents say.

The $100,000 payment stems from the settlement of a lawsuit in which Mar-a-Lago sued the town of Palm Beach, Fla. in a dispute about flagpole restrictions. The attorney general’s office said the settlement required Mr. Trump to contribute $100,000 to charities.

Documents filed by the attorney general’s office include a note in which Mr. Trump directed staff to draw the $100,000 payment from the foundation, even though the foundation wasn’t involved in the suit. The handwritten note, on “Donald J. Trump” stationery, reads, “Allen W; DJT Foundation, $100,000 to FisherHouse (settlement of Flag issue in Palm Beach).”

It is signed with Mr. Trump’s initials.

The attorney general’s office said none of the foundation’s spending was approved by its board of directors. It also says the board didn’t meet after 1999 and it had no policy or criteria for choosing its grant recipients.

The New York attorney general’s office began investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation in June 2016, legal documents show. In a letter on Thursday, the attorney general also asked the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to consider possible violations of federal tax law by the foundation and by Mr. Trump.

The IRS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency generally doesn’t comment on specific taxpayers.

Write to Corinne Ramey at

Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem — bloodiest single day for Palestinians since 2014

May 15, 2018

Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday when the high-profile opening of the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem by the Trump administration raised tension to boiling point after weeks of demonstrations.

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Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump (L) stands next to the dedication plaque at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, and (R) a wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated as others take cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

In the bloodiest single day for Palestinians since 2014, Palestinian Health Ministry officials said 58 protesters were killed and 2,700 injured by live gunfire, tear gas or other means.

The bloodshed drew calls for restraint from some countries, including France and Britain, and stronger criticism from others, with regional power Turkey calling it “a massacre”.

The White House declined to join in urging Israel to exercise caution and pinned the blame squarely on Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who described the Israeli military’s actions as self-defence of his country’s borders.

In siding squarely with Israel, Washington put distance between itself and its European allies for the second time in a week, after angering France, Germany and others last Tuesday by abandoning an international nuclear deal with Iran.

In contrast to the violent scenes in Gaza, Israeli dignitaries and guests attended a ceremony in Jerusalem to open the U.S. Embassy following its relocation from Tel Aviv.

The move fulfilled a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump, who in December recognized the holy city as the Israeli capital.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for “having the courage to keep your promises”.

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, the top Democrat on the foreign relations subcommittee that covers the region, told Reuters the situation was “tragic” and said “It’s not viewed as the U.S. trying to solve a problem, it’s viewed as the U.S. just stepping away from the problem, and that’s sad.”

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that is not recognized internationally, as its “eternal and indivisible capital”.

Most countries say the status of Jerusalem – a sacred city to Jews, Muslims and Christians – should be determined in a final peace settlement and that moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal.

Peace talks aimed a finding a two-state solution to the conflict have been frozen since 2014.


Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December outraged Palestinians, who said the United States could no longer serve as an honest broker in any peace process.

A senior Hamas leader, Khalil Al-Hayya, said at a border encampment that Monday’s protest was timed to coincide with the “deplorable crime of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem”.

He said: “Our people went out today to respond to this new Zionist-American aggression, and to draw by their blood the map of their return.”

In Gaza, Palestinian protests quickly turned into bloodshed. Tens of thousands had streamed to the edge of the coastal enclave’s land border, some approaching the Israeli fence.

“Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied forever,” said Gaza science teacher Ali, who declined to give his last name.

Clouds of black smoke from tyres set alight by demonstrators rose in the air. Demonstrators, some armed with slingshots, hurled stones at the Israeli security forces, who fired volleys of tear gas and intense rounds of gunfire.

The protests, which have been going on for weeks, are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting around Israel’s creation.

Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the Gaza violence.

“Every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” he wrote on Twitter. “The Hamas terrorist organization declares it intends to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and citizens.”

Hamas denied instigating the violence, but the White House backed Netanyahu. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters.

In a small protest outside the White House, some protesters chanted “Palestine will be free”.

The Israeli military said in a statement: “Rioters hurled firebombs and explosive devices at the security fence and Israeli troops”. The soldiers’ response, it said, was in accordance with “standard operating procedures”.

The dead included at least six people under 18 years of age, including one girl. The total number of fatalities since a series of protests to demand Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homes in Israel is now 103.

They also included a medic and a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured on social media using a slingshot. The Israeli military said three of those killed were armed militants who tried to place explosives near the fence.

Sirens of ambulances carrying casualties to hospitals wailed almost non-stop all day. In Gaza mosques, loudspeakers mourned the dead, who were carried for burial in funeral marches.

“These war crimes should not go unpunished and the international community has a responsibility to provide international protection for the Palestinian people,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said after a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Israel said it would reopen the Kerem Shalom goods crossing, which provides vital supplies for the enclave, from Tuesday. It was shut after Gaza protesters vandalized it on Friday night when they set fire to a gas pipeline and a goods conveyor.


Trump, in a recorded message, said he remained committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He was represented at the ceremony by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

Kushner said it was possible for both sides in the conflict to gain more than give in any peace deal. “Jerusalem must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together,” he said in a speech.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States had opened an “American settlement outpost in East Jerusalem”. He announced a general strike on Tuesday.

Unlike the previous administration of former president Barack Obama which had a strained relationship with Netanyahu, Trump has firmly supported the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu has long been a critic of the nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump abandoned last week despite complaints from other U.S. allies.

The Pentagon confirmed it had deployed additional U.S. Marine guards to temporarily bolster security at several U.S. embassies after the violence but declined to say which ones. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the deployments bolstered security at U.S. embassies including Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he plans to talk to all involved parties in the region over the next few days.

Britain said it had no plans to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and disagreed with the U.S. decision to do so. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the U.S. move flouted international law.

Turkey accused Israeli security forces of carrying out a massacre and said the U.S. embassy move had encouraged them.

The United States on Monday blocked a Kuwait-drafted U.N. Security Council statement that would have expressed “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians” and called for an independent and transparent investigation, U.N. diplomats said.

More than 2 million people are crammed into the narrow Gaza strip, which is blockaded by Egypt and Israel.

The Trump administration says it has nearly completed a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but is undecided on how and when to roll it out.

Additional reporting by Alex Winning, Steve Holland, Yara Bayoumy, Doina Chiacu, Phil Stewart and Ori Lewis; Writing by Jeffrey Heller and Alistair Bell; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Janet Lawrence, Nick Tattersall, David Stamp and James Dalgleish


Israel to boost Gaza border, West Bank forces for US embassy move

May 13, 2018

The Israeli army said it would almost double the number of troops surrounding the Gaza Strip and in the occupied West Bank to tackle Palestinian protests against Monday’s controversial opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem.

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Three additional infantry brigades will be deployed next week, two around the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank, army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters on Saturday.

The move nearly doubles the number of fighting units currently serving, he said, without giving specific figures on troops to be deployed.

The announcement does not concern Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, where responding to protests is the responsibility of the police.

US President Donald Trump will not attend the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, but his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner will.

A signature campaign promise, Trump’s December announcement of the embassy move led to major protests in Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as their capital.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to protest along the Gaza border Monday, with the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas voicing support in recent days for attempts to breach the fence into Israel.

“What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?” the organisation’s Gaza head Yahya Sinwar said, arguing Israel has never defined its borders.

Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting for seven weeks to be able to return to their historic homes they fled in 1948 and which later became part of Israel.

A 15-year-old teenager who was shot in the head Friday succumbed to his wounds on Saturday evening, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.

The death brought to 54 the number of Palestinians killed since clashes began on March 30, with hundreds of others injured.

No Israelis have been injured.

Israel has vowed to use the necessary force to prevent any breach on Monday and has accused Hamas of using the protests as a pretext to carry out attacks.

On Saturday Conricus said the rules of engagement had not been changed.

The United Nations and the European Union have called for an independent investigation into the deaths, but the Jewish state has rebuffed them.

The United States has defended its ally and accused Hamas of using Palestinians, including children, as human shields by encouraging them to protest along the border.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Separately Saturday Israeli aircraft carried out a number of strikes against what the army said was a Hamas attack tunnel near the Gaza border.



Israel: Jerusalem Embassy, Gaza, Palestinian Protesters, Hamas, Iran — a Busy Week

May 13, 2018
The Islamic State issues calls to show devotion to religion through violent action — Hamas plans a mass storming of the Gaza border with Israel on Nakba Day, just hours after the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem. Israel is a busy place again this week….

Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians.
Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians. Menahem Kahana / AFP

Israelis are no strangers to short stretches packed with historic and transformative events. But even for a country that has experienced turbulent times, the potential highs and lows of the upcoming week feel unprecedented.

Much of what will happen has been planned carefully, though surely no one behind the planning expected that the festivities and commemorations would follow the first significant exchanges of fire across the Syrian border in 40 years — which also marked the first military aggression on Israel directly attributable to Iran.

The drama on Israel’s border has yet to play out fully — neither has the previous week’s figurative bombshell — President Donald Trump’s announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and the reestablishment of economic sanctions.

The next chapter in this eventful week — and month — begins when the Jewish Sabbath ends Saturday evening and continues through Sunday: Jerusalem Day, the holiday marking the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel gained territory including the Old City of Jerusalem and the rest of East Jerusalem.

Increasingly, Jerusalem Day events have become a rallying point for the religious-Zionist community. In the Flag March, thousands pass through the Old City, entering from the Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate and gathering at the Western Wall. The growth of the event has been accompanied by unrest between the marchers and Palestinian residents of the Old City, including racist chants and physical harassment by the marchers as well as stone-throwing and scuffling between the two sides.

On Sunday evening, Jerusalem Day will transition into the celebration of the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The guest list for the Foreign Ministry reception includes Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials.

Israeli attendees will include the cabinet, the heads of Knesset committees, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and members of the governing coalition. Also on hand will be some 30 foreign diplomats — out of 86 who were invited. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there drew sharp criticism from the Arab world and U.S. allies, who said the unilateral step could spark violence and damage peace prospects.

Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy.
Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy. Thomas Coex / AFP

Peace Now prepares

The embassy move is slated for Monday at 4 P.M. Israel time; 800 guests received gold-edged invitations from U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy. The event marks the relocation of a limited number of offices from the Tel Aviv embassy, including Friedman’s office. The event will be attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Ivanka Trump, Kushner and Mnuchin. Other attendees include Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, and members of Congress.

At least one major demonstration is expected. Peace Now plans to gather outside the dedication ceremony for the new embassy, protesting the move and warning that it may harm Israeli security and chances for peace, given that the Palestinians want their future capital in Jerusalem as well.

On Tuesday, Nakba Day events begin. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe; the Palestinians mark Nakba Day every year on May 15 — Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. The embassy move was deliberately set for this 70th anniversary. Israel celebrates its Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, so its festivities took place on April 18, leaving May 14 free for the embassy fest.

For Palestinians, Nakba Day is a day of mourning and anger, lamenting the more than 700,000 Arabs who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1947-49 war. Nakba Day commemorations locally and internationally often call for a full return of the refugees, and in some cases, Israel’s destruction.

Hamas threatens the border

Events are scheduled to take place across the West Bank and Israel itself, including a large march in Nablus, several events in Ramallah and a ceremony in front of Tel Aviv University. But this year the spotlight will be on Gaza, where Hamas’ leaders have threatened a mass storming of the border to destroy the border fence, symbolizing the suffering in Gaza and the Palestinian refugees’ claim to a right of return to Israel. Israel is bracing for a mass eventthat day that could lead to more deaths; more than 40 people have been killed in clashes with the Israeli army since March 30.

The announcement in February that the United States had chosen the day before Nakba Day for the embassy move angered Palestinians.

A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.
A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

“They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, the Nakba, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury,” tweeted a Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, when the date was first announced. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has said it would “provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people, as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.”

As if the scheduling weren’t potentially explosive enough, the evening of Nakba Day — Tuesday — also marks the beginning of the month-long observance of Ramadan, when Muslims embark on a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts. In recent years, encouraged by calls from the Islamic State to show devotion to religion through violent action, Ramadan has seen an increase in Islamist-inspired terrorist incidents around the world.

Last year’s Ramadan, while starting peacefully in Israel and the West Bank, was marred by an attack that killed a woman in the Border Police, Hadas Malka, and wounded a number of others. Israel then revoked permits letting Palestinians visit Israel for the holiday. Normally, during the month-long observance, Israel gives thousands of Palestinians special permission to enter Israel to visit family on weekdays, allowing them greater access to the Temple Mount.

Finally, following Nakba Day, there will be another embassy move to mark. Although technically Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem’s Malha Technology Park last week, the ceremony celebrating the event is set for Wednesday — two days after the U.S. ceremony. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is expected to be on hand.

Paraguay also announced plans last week to move its embassy to Jerusalem. President Horacio Cartes will attend the ceremony, which the country says will take place by the end of May — though presumably not during the already action-packed upcoming week.

As Trump Cleans House, Who Gets Swept Out Next? — “There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”

March 14, 2018

A look at seven members of the administration whose futures appear uncertain

President Trump and chief of staff John Kelly in the Oval Office last month. Photo: andrew caballero-reynolds/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images


WASHINGTON—The White House is bracing for more changes in the administration’s senior ranks following the recent departures of top officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.

President Donald Trump prefaced a further shuffle as he departed for California Tuesday. “I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want,” Mr. Trump said, hours after announcing via Twitter that he was replacing Mr. Tillerson with  CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Last week, on the day Mr. Cohn resigned, Mr. Trump said he was “always seeking perfection” in staffing the White House. But, he added: “There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”

In the past Mr. Trump has privately discussed ousting aides, only to reconsider, and at times he has publicly criticized cabinet members but taken no further action.

But White House officials say they are expecting more changes, which can come quickly once the president decides to show a colleague the exit. Some say Mr. Trump is keen to make the changes he wants to the lineup in advance of his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, expected by May.

Here is a look at members of the Trump administration whose futures appear uncertain, based on Wall Street Journal reporting.

Veteran’s Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, here last August, has been a target of criticism since an inspector general’s report last month said he had misspent taxpayer money. Photo: Kevin lamarque/Reuters

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

Mr. Trump has been considering replacing Dr. Shulkin since an inspector general’s report released last month said the VA secretary had misspent taxpayer money during an official trip to Europe last year. Among the candidates Mr. Trump is considering: Energy Secretary Rick Perry, with whom the president lunched on Monday, according to an administration official. For much of Mr. Trump’s first year in office, Dr. Shulkin had been a bright spot in the cabinet. But the inspector general’s report infuriated many inside the White House and set off scorching criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Hours after the news that Mr. Tillerson was out, The Wall Street Journal and others reported that Mr. Trump is now considering Mr. Shulkin’s ouster.

People familiar with the conversations say the military is actively looking for a new job for national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, here in Washington last October. Photo: yuri gripas/Reuters

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster

Gen. McMaster is working with strained alliances both inside and outside the White House and faces persistent speculation that he will be pushed out as soon as the Pentagon finds a suitable new job for him—or the White House settles on someone to take his place. Gen. McMaster has little chemistry with the president, and has often frustrated Mr. Trump with lengthy policy dissertations in the Oval Office, according to people familiar with the conversations.

The military is actively looking for a new job for Gen. McMaster, but it could take time, according to U.S. officials. That search has been made more difficult in part by his advocacy on behalf of the president’s views and actions which hasn’t always sat well with his military colleagues.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, here at a press conference last month, has been showered with presidential scorn for a year. Photo: Shen Ting/Zuma Press

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Few cabinet members have faced as much public battering as Mr. Sessions, a frequent target of Mr. Trump’s criticism since the attorney general recused himself last spring from the Justice Department’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. In his most recent public insult, the president last month called Mr. Sessions “disgraceful” for referring a probe of the Justice Department’s handling of secret surveillance warrants to the department’s inspector general—the usual venue for such allegations—rather than another office. Mr. Sessions’s retort, that he had acted with “integrity and honor,” only infuriated the president further, according to people close to the White House.

For all his apparent frustration with his attorney general, Mr. Trump hasn’t sought to replace him. His advisers have told him that firing Mr. Sessions could prolong the special counsel’s Russia probe, which Mr. Trump is eager to see conclude.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in Washington last month; Mr. Trump has accused the leadership of the Justice Department of politicizing the ‘sacred investigative process’ against Republicans. Photo: Leah millis/Reuters

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Mr. Trump internally has expressed displeasure with Mr. Rosenstein, who last spring—after Mr. Sessions’s recusal—appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the FBI’s probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Last month, Mr. Trump authorized the release of a memo written by House Republicans alleging surveillance abuses against a former Trump campaign adviser, in part because the president believed the memo would undermine Mr. Rosenstein’s credibility. The memo noted that Mr. Rosenstein, who was nominated to his post by Mr. Trump, had approved a renewal of surveillance of the Trump adviser, Carter Page, in the spring of 2017.

Asked last month if he had confidence in Mr. Rosenstein, the president responded: “You figure that one out.”

Some friends of Mr. Trump say he has been floating names to replace Mr. Kelly, here in the Capitol in November. Photo: Aaron p. Bernstein/Reuters

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

Mr. Kelly, who joined the White House last summer, has faced scrutiny from the president in recent weeks over his handling of domestic-abuse allegations against Rob Porter, who resigned as staff secretary last month. Mr. Trump and other White House officials had harsh words for Mr. Kelly, who initially vouched for Mr. Porter’s integrity and privately urged him to fight the allegations and remain in the job, according to White House officials, before later reversing himself.

Mr. Trump has already found workarounds to some of Mr. Kelly’s measures to limit access to the president, such as relying on first lady Melania Trump to field calls from friends. Some Trump friends said last month that the president has started to ask them about Mr. Kelly’s performance, and two people said he has sought opinions on potential replacements, such as Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

White House senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, here at a cabinet meeting in the White House earlier this month, have been losing allies lately. Photo: Kevin lamarque/Reuters

Senior White House Advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

The president has held conflicting views about what to do with Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, his son-in-law and daughter who serve as senior advisers in the White House. Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was downgraded to secret from top secret late last month, following a push by White House chief of staff John Kelly to tighten control of classified information inside the administration. And Mr. Kushner has figured prominently in the special counsel’s Russia probe, which is focusing on a number of episodes during the campaign that involved him. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Inside the West Wing, the president has repeatedly wondered whether the couple would be better off returning to their private-sector lives in New York. Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump have also clashed with Mr. Kelly, who has sought to curtail access to the president. In recent weeks they have also lost several White House allies, including communications director Hope Hicks, deputy communications director Josh Raffel and Mr. Cohn.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at

High-level N. Korean delegates arrive in the South — Where many express hate, scorn

February 25, 2018


© YONHAP/AFP / by Jung Hawon | South Korean protesters hold placards showing a picture of North Korean general Kim Yong Chol

SEOUL (AFP) – A blacklisted North Korean general arrived in the South on Sunday for the Winter Olympics closing ceremony, which will also be attended by US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.The visit by Kim Yong Chol, who led an eight-member high-level delegation that crossed the Demilitarized Zone in the morning, is the final piece of the Games-led diplomacy that has dominated headlines from Pyeongchang.

The nuclear-armed North has gone on a charm offensive over the Games, sending athletes, cheerleaders and performers and with leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong attending the opening ceremony.

Analysts say it is seeking to loosen the sanctions imposed against it over its banned nuclear and missile programmes, and trying to weaken the alliance between Seoul and Washington.

But Kim Yo Jong had no interaction with US Vice President Mike Pence at the opening ceremony, even though they were just a few seats apart in the same VIP area. According to the US, a planned meeting between the delegations from Washington and Pyongyang the following day was cancelled at short notice by the North Koreans.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in — who has long pushed for engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table — also did not immediately accept an invitation passed on by Kim Yo Jong from her brother to a summit in Pyongyang, saying the right conditions must be created.

Washington, which describes its approach to Pyongyang as “maximum pressure and engagement”, announced a series of new sanctions on Friday.

Pence also condemned Kim Yo Jong as part of an “evil family clique” and “murderous regime”, prompting a denunciation from Pyongyang on Sunday — which said it would not talk to the Trump administration for “even 100 years or 200 years”.

– Overnight protest –

Kim Yong Chol’s delegation was greeted by Seoul’s vice unification minister Chun Hae-sung.

Kim, wearing a long dark coat, was later seen checking into the Walkerhill luxury hotel in Seoul with other delegates and leaving a few hours later amid heavy security involving hundreds of police officers.

Kim’s nomination as the leader of the group is controversial in the South, where he is widely blamed for a spate of attacks including the torpedoing of Seoul’s Cheonan warship in 2010 with the loss of 46 lives. Pyongyang denies responsibility.

Conservative lawmakers staged an overnight protest near the border with the North, joined by hundreds of other activists.

The protesters waved banners including “Arrest Kim Yong Chol!” and “Kim Yong Chol should kneel in front of the victims’ families and apologise!”

Kim is blacklisted under Seoul’s unilateral sanctions against the North, meaning he is subject to an assets freeze.

– ‘Crazy remarks’ –

Officials from both Seoul and Washington say there will be no meeting between Kim Yong Chol and Ivanka Trump — who is travelling with Korea specialists from the US administration and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

But the North’s delegation includes Choe Kang Il, the deputy director general for North American affairs at the North’s foreign ministry, suggesting Pyongyang may be open for talks.

On Friday the US Treasury blacklisted 28 ships, 27 companies and one person, imposing an asset freeze and barring US citizens from dealing with them, in what Donald Trump described as the “heaviest sanctions ever” levied on Pyongyang.

The UN Security Council has already banned North Korean exports of coal — a key foreign exchange earner — iron ore, seafood and textiles, and restricted its oil imports.

Washington is also seeking to have the United Nations ban 33 vessels from ports worldwide and blacklist 27 shipping businesses for helping North Korea circumvent sanctions.

Kim Yo Jong’s trip at the start of the Games — the first visit to the South by a member of the North’s ruling dynasty since the Korean War ended in 1953 — made global headlines.

But Pence told an audience of thousands at the Conservative Political Action Conference: “The sister of Kim Jong Un is a central pillar of the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet, an evil family clique that brutalises, subjugates, starves and imprisons its 25 million people.”

Pyongyang denounced his comments Sunday, with the official Korean Central News Agency carrying a statement from the North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee saying Pence would discover “what quagmire his crazy remarks threw the US and himself into”.

Trump, it said, should know that the North would “have no dealings with those viciously slandering the dignity of our supreme leadership and government”.

“We will never have face-to-face talks with them even after 100 years or 200 years.”

by Jung Hawon

Trump Announces Another Round of Sanctions Against North Korea

February 23, 2018


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North Korean Hwasong15

By Terrence Dopp and Jennifer Jacobs

 Updated on 
  • New restrictions target North Korean shipping transactions
  • Sanctions aimed at pressuring North Korea on nuclear program

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration is imposing the largest U.S. sanctions package yet against North Korea for its nuclear weapons program.

The sanctions, which Trump planned to unveil at a meeting of conservatives near Washington, aims to disrupt shipping and trading companies and vessels that deal with North Korea in an effort to further isolate the regime of Kim Jong Un.

“The Treasury Department will soon be taking new action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions,” Trump will tell the meeting, according to excerpts released in advance by the White House.

The action targets one individual, 27 entities, and 28 vessels, according to a statement from the Treasury Department Friday. Those vessels may be located, registered or flagged in a number of countries, including North Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Marshall Islands.

While the new sanctions focus on international shipping, the administration is also working on a response to the regime’s illicit cyber activities, a senior administration official said.

Olympic Games

The latest sanctions send a message of continued U.S. determination as its ally South Korea hosts athletes and officials from North Korea in a show of detente at the Winter Olympics. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, is in South Korea for the closing ceremony of the games. “We cannot have a better, or smarter, person representing our country,” Trump said in a tweet on Friday morning.

North Korea already faces the most severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. The additional sanctions follow a year of escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its ballistic missile testing and nuclear development programs.

Vice President Mike Pence hinted at the new sanctions earlier this month during an Asia trip, promising the administration would bring “maximum pressure” to bear on the Kim government.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement that the new prohibitions will deter North Korea from evading previous sanctions. He said they’re being lodged under 2016 and 2017 laws passed by Congress and signed by the president.


File photo: Kim Yong-Chol and North Korean soldiers marching
Kim Yong-chol

Donald Trump to Unveil ‘Largest Ever’ Set of Sanctions on North Korea

February 23, 2018

The president says the new actions will ‘further cut off’ sources of revenue and fuel for Pyongyang’s nuclear program

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration plans to levy its “largest ever” sanctions package against North Korea, President Donald Trump was set to announce on Friday.

The sanctions will target shipping and trading companies as the U.S. seeks to further cut off foreign-currency revenues keeping the nuclear-armed regime afloat, Mr. Trump will say Friday, according to excerpts of his planned remarks released by the White House.

“The Treasury Department will soon be taking new action to further cut off sources of revenue and fuel that the regime uses to fund its nuclear program and sustain its military by targeting 56 vessels, shipping companies, and trade businesses that are assisting North Korea in evading sanctions,” Mr. Trump planned to say in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The U.S. says North Korea, China and a host of other countries are allowing ships and trading companies to aid North Korea in evading an international ban on coal exports and fuel imports, a vital source of income and goods that help leader Kim Jong Un maintain power as he pursues an intercontinental ballistic missile that can target the U.S. mainland.


  • Ivanka Trump Meets South Korean Leader

Write to Ian Talley at

Trump to announce new sanctions against North Korea as South Korea readies more talks — “The largest package of new sanctions against the North Korea regime”

February 23, 2018

Tougher sanctions may jeopardise the latest detente between the two Koreas.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States is due to announce its largest package of sanctions yet against North Korea to further pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programme, as South Korea readies itself for more talks with the North’s officials.

Tougher sanctions may jeopardise the latest detente between the two Koreas amid their preparations to create conditions appropriate to hold a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

A senior US administration official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, called the new penalties “the largest package of new sanctions against the North Korea regime”, without giving details.

The new US sanctions will be announced while President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is visiting South Korea to attend a dinner with President Moon and the closing ceremony of the Games. In addition to the dinner which will feature a kosher menu for Ms Trump’s dietary restrictions, the Blue House has planned a small traditional Korean music performance for her delegation.

US Vice-President Mike Pence had hinted at a plan for more sanctions two weeks ago during a stop in Tokyo that preceded his visit to South Korea for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Mr Kim said he wants to boost the “warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue” with South Korea after a high-level delegation including his sister returned from the Winter Olympics.

Last year (2017), North Korea conducted dozens of missile launches and its sixth and largest nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions. However, it has now been more than two months since its last missile test in late November.

Ms Trump’s visit coincides with that of a sanctioned North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, blamed for the deadly 2010 sinking of a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 sailors. His delegation will also meet with Mr Moon.

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Kim Yong Chol

The Blue House has said there are no official opportunities for US and North Korean officials to meet.

Mr Kim Yong Chol is the vice-chairman of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party and was previously chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a top North Korean military intelligence agency which South Korea blamed for the sinking of its navy corvette the Cheonan.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the sinking.

South Korea on Friday that said it approved the Winter Olympic visit by Mr Kim Yong Chol in the pursuit of peace and asked for public understanding.

“Under current difficult circumstances, we have decided to focus on whether peace on the Korean peninsula and improvement in inter-Korean relations can be derived from dialogue with (the visiting North Korean officials), not on their past or who they are,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae Hyun at a media briefing.

A South Korean lawmaker briefed by the country’s spy agency said on Friday that Mr Kim was the “right person” for inter-Korean and denuclearisation talks.

“Kim Yong Chol is the top official regarding inter-Korean relations and he is being accepted (here) as the right person to discuss various issues like easing military tension, improving inter-Korean ties and denuclearisation,” said Mr Kang Seok Ho to reporters.

Mr Kim Yong Chol currently heads the United Front Department, the North’s office responsible for handling inter-Korean affairs.

South Korea’s decision on Thursday to allow Mr Kim Yong Chol, currently sanctioned by the US and South Korea, across the border has sparked protest from family members of the dead Cheonan sailors and opposition parties.

Some 70 members from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party staged a protest in front of the presidential Blue House on Friday, demanding the government withdraw its decision.

“President Moon’s decision to accept the North’s facade of peace is a serious issue and it will go down in history as a crime eternal,” said the party in a statement.

A group of family members of those killed in the Cheonan sinking has said it will hold a press conference against the decision on Saturday.

Acknowledging public angst over Mr Kim Yong Chol’s pending visit, Mr Baik said the South’s stance that the Cheonan sinking was instigated by the North has not changed.

“However, what’s important are efforts to create actual peace on the Korean peninsula so these kind of provocations don’t occur again,” said Mr Baik, adding that the government would make “various efforts” to assuage the public’s concerns.