Posts Tagged ‘State of the Union’

Trump uses shutdown to ditch Davos and Pelosi’s trip — Trump has no use for global elites — Senator critical of sophomoric conduct

January 18, 2019

Stand-off over funding escalates between US president and Democratic leaders President Donald Trump told Nancy Pelosi that he thought she should stay in Washington to negotiate an end to the government shutdown

By Sam Fleming and Courtney Weaver in Washington

Donald Trump has cancelled his delegation’s trip to Davos due to the government shutdown, shortly after he informed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi her own overseas travel needed to be postponed because of the dispute.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outside the White House on Jan. 4. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The president, who had already scrapped his own plans to go to the Swiss resort, decided the other members of the administration should stay home as well, including Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said Mr Trump was taking the decision “Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed”. Earlier in the day, Mr Trump told Ms Pelosi that an upcoming trip she had been planning would be delayed because of the US government shutdown, as their feud over border wall funding escalated.

The White House released a letter from the president to Ms Pelosi on Thursday saying that her trip to Brussels and Afghanistan was postponed.

“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” he said. Mr Trump added that if Ms Pelosi wanted to make the journey by “flying commercial” it was her prerogative.

He said he felt it would be better if Ms Pelosi were in Washington to negotiate over the shutdown. The move comes a day after Ms Pelosi wrote to Mr Trump asking him to delay his State of the Union address to Congress because of the shutdown, pointing out that the US Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security were being affected by funding shortfalls.

She suggested that Mr Trump could give the State of the Union address in writing instead.

“One sophomoric response does not deserve another.”

Lindsey Graham, Republican senator

The shutdown, which was triggered by a dispute between Mr Trump and Democratic congressional leaders over funding for his border wall, is now the longest in history, with few signs emerging of any possible breakthrough. The escalating personal stand-off between Mr Trump and Ms Pelosi, who reclaimed the House speakership when Democrats took control of the chamber this month, is likely to inflame matters further.

Ms Pelosi had been due to leave on Thursday on the congressional trip, which included long-planned meetings with Nato, before a planned visit to the Middle East. Mr Trump, as commander-in-chief, controls the military aircraft that Ms Pelosi and the congressional delegation was due to take — requisite for a high-security trip to somewhere like Afghanistan.

As House speaker, she is in second in line to the presidency, behind Mike Pence, the US vice-president.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms Pelosi, defended the planned congressional trip, which he said included meetings with top Nato commanders, US military leaders and key allies. He denied that Ms Pelosi had been planning to travel to Egypt, as Mr Trump originally asserted in his letter.  The tit-for-tat between Ms Pelosi and Mr Trump has found critics on both sides, particularly as an increasing number of federal workers file for unemployment benefits, with many unable to pay mortgages or rent as they miss pay cheques.

Recommended Courtney Weaver Nancy Pelosi, America’s true dealmaker in chief, returns

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House minority leader, defended Mr Trump’s decision to publicise the details of Ms Pelosi’s trip to Afghanistan, despite the fact that a trip by a high-ranking US official to an active military zones would typically be kept under wraps.

“Why would you leave the country with the government shut down?” Mr McCarthy said.

However, Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator and frequent ally of Mr Trump, disagreed, chastising the president and Ms Pelosi for behaving immaturely. “One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Mr Graham said in a statement.

“Speaker Pelosi’s threat to cancel the State of the Union is very irresponsible and blatantly political. President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and Nato is also inappropriate.”

Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee who had been planning to go on the trip, said the president’s letter had prevented Congress from fulfilling a crucial oversight role, especially at a time when the president was talking about significantly reducing US troop presence in Afghanistan after announcing a US withdrawal from Syria.

“As far as we can tell this has never happened in the annals of congressional history,” Mr Schiff said. Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called Mr Trump’s action a “small, petty act” and said it was “beneath any president”.

Related image

Democratic House Majority Leader StenyHoyer

Mr Hammill, Ms Pelosi’s spokesman, noted that Mr Trump himself had travelled outside the country during the shutdown. The president visited US troops in Iraq over Christmas.

See also:

Nancy Pelosi steals the spotlight


Trump grounds Pelosi as feud over shutdown deepens

January 18, 2019

US President Donald Trump forced the cancellation Thursday of a trip to Afghanistan by his Democratic opponent Nancy Pelosi, and scrapped officials’ travel to the Davos forum as a government shutdown plunged Washington deeper into deadlock.

The mess in the US capital already verged on the surreal as Congress feuds with the White House over how to end an impasse now in its fourth week, with thousands of federal workers left unpaid.

But now it is also getting increasingly personal between the two main antagonists.

In a letter laced with sarcasm, Trump told House Speaker Pelosi: “I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.”

Saul Loeb / Jim Watson / AFP | US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (L) and US President Donald Trump.

“I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is appropriate,” he wrote.

And in a move that appeared aimed at heading off Democratic criticism about non-essential administration travel during the shutdown, the White House announced the cancellation of a trip to the World Economic Forum by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others “out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay.”

Pelosi and her delegation had planned a non-publicized trip to Afghanistan — an active war zone — and were due to travel aboard a US Air Force plane. Her office said Egypt was not on the itinerary.

According to a congressional aide, several lawmakers were already loaded onto buses preparing to leave the US Capitol Thursday when Trump pulled the plug.

Rubbing it in, Trump said that Pelosi could still book her own non-government flights.

“Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” he wrote.

The cancellation followed Pelosi’s suggestion that Trump postpone his January 29 State of the Union address to Congress, or do it from the White House instead.

Although she cited the shutdown’s effect on security, she appeared to want to deny the president one of his chief annual moments in the limelight.

The White House denied that the travel blockage was payback, but few bought the argument.


House Democrats who had been slated for the trip were left fuming, including freshman congresswoman Elaine Luria, a 20-year Navy veteran who said the purpose was to express appreciation to Americans in uniform and gain critical intelligence on the ground.

“Oversight is the responsibility of Congress, and it is inappropriate for the President to interfere with our constitutional duties,” Luria said in a statement.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who for weeks has served as a referee of sorts between Trump and Pelosi, accused the latter of “playing politics with the State of the Union.”

But he also hit out at Trump, saying “denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate.”

“One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Graham said.

The government shutdown is due to Trump’s refusal to sign off on funding for a host of departments, in retaliation for the Democratic-led House’s refusal to approve his US-Mexico border wall project.

The shutdown is leaving an increasingly deep impact across the country, where for almost a month FBI agents, museum workers, US Coast Guard personnel and other officials have been either ordered to stay home or forced to work without pay.

Regular employees will get back pay eventually, while contractors will not.

The Democrats and the White House blame each other for the impasse, with neither side showing signs of backing down.

Trump critics quickly pointed out that he himself visited troops in Iraq during the shutdown.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said he believed cancelling a speaker of the House’s fact-finding mission to a war zone was a first for a US president.

“We believe this is completely inappropriate by the president. We’re not going to allow the President of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities, it can’t ensure that our troops have what they need whether our government is open or closed,” he told reporters.

“That work must go on and I think it’s vitally important now, in particular that the president has announced withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, that we understand the situation on the ground.”



Trump Moves to Block Pelosi’s Overseas Trip Until After Shutdown

January 18, 2019

Pelosi, along with other lawmakers, was set to depart Thursday on a six-day trip

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said again that President Trump shouldn’t deliver the State of the Union address scheduled for Jan. 29 in the middle of a shutdown, citing security concerns. Getty Images

WASHINGTON—President Trump postponed use of a military plane for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to travel to Afghanistan, a day after she urged the president to delay his State of the Union address, making personal the battle over the partial government shutdown that has lasted nearly four weeks.

The president issued a letter denying the aircraft as Mrs. Pelosi, along with a group of congressional committee chairmen and other lawmakers, were preparing to depart Thursday on the trip, according to a Democratic aide.

Several members of the delegation were already sitting in a bus outside the U.S. Capitol that would take them to Andrews Air Force Base when they received news of the postponement.

Even though the reopening of the government would require legislation passed in the House and Senate and signed by the president, the exchange of letters positioned the president and Mrs. Pelosi as the shutdown battle’s chief adversaries. Mr. Trump and Democrats are dug in over whether to pay for a border wall, which he has said is critical to national security and they have said is unnecessary.

Mr. Trump cited the shutdown as his reason for postponing the five-day trip, saying he wanted Mrs. Pelosi to stay in Washington to negotiate. Earlier Thursday, Mrs. Pelosi said she hadn’t been invited to the White House for negotiations since the president walked out of a meeting with congressional lawmakers last week.

Mrs. Pelosi, a day earlier, asked Mr. Trump to delay his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress—or submit it in writing—because unfunded security agencies weren’t equipped to protect the event during the shutdown.

The Republican president has often attacked his political adversaries in blunt language, and Mrs. Pelosi has at times thrown her own barbs his way. Both their letters sought to cast the other as being self-centered and out of touch.

“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump wrote. He added: “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”

A day earlier, Mrs. Pelosi wrote: “I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date.”

The shutdown, the longest in history, has temporarily deprived 800,000 federal workers of paychecks, squeezed contractors dependent on government business and threatened to take the shine off an otherwise rosy economic picture.

This week’s tit-for-tat between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Pelosi suggests that any prospect of a rapprochement remains distant.

“It’s petty. It’s small. It’s vindictive,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), Mrs. Pelosi’s No. 2. “It’s unbecoming of the president of the United States. But it is unfortunately a daily occurrence.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), an ally of Mr. Trump’s, wrote on Twitter: “One sophomoric response does not deserve another.”

“I’m just shocked she would leave the country,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said of Mrs. Pelosi. “Why would you do that when the government is shut down?”

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi, said on Twitter that the speaker was traveling to Afghanistan to express appreciation to men and women in uniform there and get “critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”

He said the delegation also had planned to meet with North Atlantic Treaty Organization commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies in Brussels en route.

The Defense Department isn’t required to provide the speaker military aircraft, but since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Pentagon has extended military travel as a courtesy. As commander-in-chief, Mr. Trump can opt to cancel military travel. The Pentagon is fully funded during the shutdown.

Mr. Trump and a Republican delegation have traveled to Iraq since the shutdown began.

Mr. Trump made the decision to postpone Mrs. Pelosi’s trip earlier Thursday, as soon as he heard she was going, a White House official said.

Mrs. Pelosi had submitted a request for Defense Department overseas travel that had been approved, a defense official said. U.S. officials’ travel to war zones isn’t broadcast ahead of time for security purposes.

The White House official, asked whether Mr. Trump had exposed Mrs. Pelosi to a security threat by announcing she was headed to Afghanistan, referred the question to Defense Department. The Pentagon referred questions to the White House.

Another White House official said the move wasn’t retaliation for Mrs. Pelosi’s efforts to postpone the State of the Union speech but rather because Mr. Trump wanted her to stay in Washington and negotiate.

Mr. Trump on Thursday began fundraising off the effort to postpone his address, sending supporters an email with the subject line: “I’m disinvited?”

White House officials said no decision has been made about when and where Mr. Trump will deliver the speech.

Some people close to the White House said Mr. Trump could deliver his speech in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon suggested Mr. Trump give his speech on the southern border and use the forum to declare a national emergency, in which the president would seek to divert funds from elsewhere in the government to build a border wall without congressional approval.

Mr. Trump has canceled his own planned travel to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum next week, but had planned to send a White House delegation including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his place. The White House said later Thursday that the president had decided to cancel the delegation’s trip out of consideration for the employees sideline by the shutdown.

Advisers to Mr. Trump said they have grown more antsy about the shutdown in recent days as they see no sign that Mrs. Pelosi will budge.

“Every day the government isn’t open, [the president] is losing,” one person close to the president said. “He thought Pelosi was going to bend. Look, she’s not going to. She doesn’t have to.”


DNC boss challenged after claiming Democrats ‘never hesitated to take action’ on sexual misconduct allegations

November 4, 2018

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez was challenged Sunday when he said his party has “never hesitated” to act on sexual misconduct allegations leveled at its members.

Perez made the comments when asked during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program why Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was still serving as his deputy at the DNC, despite being accused of domestic violence by his former girlfriend. A probe by Minnesota’s state Democratic Party reported last month that it found no evidence to substantiate Karen Monahan’s claims, which Ellison has vehemently denied.

“What I say is that we should always take those complaints seriously, and we do, and that’s why an investigation was conducted, that’s why Congressman Ellison asked for a House Ethics investigation,” Perez said. “And Democrats have never hesitated to take action, unlike Republicans.”

Image result for Keith Ellison, tom perez, photos

The response prompted immediate pushback from anchor Jake Tapper. “Wait a second,” he said. “Democrats have never hesitated to take action” Do you mean in the last year or do you mean historically? Because historically, I could go through a list of people.”

When questioned about allegations made against former President Bill Clinton and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Perez responded by saying he has only been chair of the party for the last 18 months.

“Well, and, again, you saw what happened in Sen. Franken’s situation,” Perez said, referring to Franken’s resignation last year over accusations of misbehavior toward women. “Democrats didn’t hesitate to do something, even if it was difficult because that was the right thing to do.”

“I think Keith Ellison’s ex-girlfriend deserves to be heard, and deserves to be treated with dignity, and deserves to have a fair and full investigation, and that’s exactly what has been done,” Perez added. “And I also believe that when women succeed, America succeeds. And the agenda of this administration is an agenda that’s making it much harder for women to succeed.”

Ellison announced in June that he would step down from his House seat to campaign to become Minnesota’s next attorney general. He is currently leading Republican challenger Doug Wardlow in the polls.

Includes video:

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’m a victim of sexual assault’

September 30, 2018

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump and one of the most public faces of his administration, revealed on Sunday that she has been a victim of sexual assault.

Conway made the disclosure to CNN’s Jake Tapper on his State of the Union news show, while defending Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“I feel very empathetic, frankly, towards victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape,” she said, before pausing to clear her throat.

“I’m a victim of sexual assault. I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh, or Jake Tapper, or Jeff Flake, or anybody, to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct,” she added, visibly emotional

Image result for Kellyanne Conway, photos

FILE photo

Tapper, who appeared to have been caught off-guard, offered his sympathies.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard you talk about something personal like that, and I’m sorry,” he said.

“I’ve just had it,” she replied.

Tapper then noted that Conway continues to work for President Trump, though numerous sexual misconduct allegations have been lodged against him.

But Conway, who had earlier in the interview argued that sexual assault was being used as a pretext to pursue political agendas, returned to the same theme.

“Don’t conflate that with this, and certainly don’t conflate it with what happened to me,” she hit back.

“Don’t always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That’s mistake number one.”

Trump on Friday ordered a new FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court pick, as the Senate delayed a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to make way for the probe.

The decision came a day after a dramatic hearing watched by more than 20 million people at which university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused the judge of pinning her down and assaulting her in the 1980s.

At least three women have now accused the 53-year-old conservative judge of sexual misconduct while drunk, both as a high school student and later at Yale University.

Republicans see Kavanaugh as pivotal to their gaining control of the nine-member Supreme Court bench.

Trump nominated him to replace Anthony Kennedy, who for years was a swing vote between four conservative and four liberal justices.


Larry Kudlow: U.S.-China tariff situation might end with negations and “turn out to be very benign.”

April 8, 2018

On CNN, Larry Kudlow  said the U.S.-China tariff situation might end ina benign way, with great advantage for the U.S. and the world

Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” President Donald Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the U.S.-China tariff situation might end with negations and “turn out to be very benign.”

Image result for Larry Kudlow, photos

Kudlow said, “I think personally we have had to go in and fire a shot across the bow. China’s behavior is 20 years now. It’s more than unfair trade practice. It is illegal trading practices. They are stealing our property rights. They are forcing technology from our companies to be open so they can get it and they have tall trade barriers that president is somewhat right about. This stuff has to stop. No president has had the backbone to take it up publicly before. I think he is exactly right. I say to everybody on this the problem here is China. It is not President Trump. China has been getting away with this for decades. Past American presidents refused to take them on. I think President Trump is doing exactly the right thing. I think it is going to generate very positive results which will grow our American economy. It will help grow China’s economy. It will help grow the world economy.”

He continued, “This last round announced late last week president asked our trade diplomat to consider whether an additional round of tariffs would be necessary or useful. After we made the first round, the Chinese response was unsatisfactory. So the president is trying to get their attention again. The process may include tariffs. I cannot rule that out. It may rest on negotiations. We will see how the president wants to do it. He is pretty good at negotiating and is pretty good at standing his ground.”

Kudlow on FOX News Sunday:

He added, “You’re right. There has been a bump down in farm commodity prices. I’m not totally sure that this is going to last. This process may turn out to be very benign. You have to take certain risks as you go in. We are taking them. We are making our case. Nothing has happened so far.”

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Florida lawmakers call for suspension of Broward sheriff after Parkland massacre as he defends ‘amazing leadership’

February 26, 2018


Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks during a news conference on Feb. 15, 2018, near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland where 17 people were killed the day before. (Amy Beth Bennett / Sun-Sentinel)

Drew Harwell and Mark Berman
Washington Post

Republican state lawmakers in Florida called on Sunday for the suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, accusing him of “incompetence and neglect of duty” in the months before the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and 73 Republican colleagues urged Gov. Rick Scott, R, to suspend Israel, a Democrat who was reelected in 2016.

“Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance and thoroughness amongst his deputies,” Corcoran wrote in a letter released Sunday. “As a result of Sheriff Israel’s failures, students and teachers died.”

Israel said he would not resign over his agency’s handling of the shooting, which left 17 dead, mostly teenagers.

Before the letter’s release, Israel said that the agency had stumbled in its handling of red flags about the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, including at least two warnings that he could carry out such an attack. But Israel said that he should not be held personally responsible.

“I can only take responsibility for what I knew about,” he said Sunday morning in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency.”

The sheriff has faced intensifying questions about his office’s response to the massacre after the revelation that an armed deputy on the scene did not enter the school while the shooter was inside. That deputy, Scot Peterson, retired last week after being suspended.

Israel said he believes Peterson’s inactions could have cost lives, but he also has said that he should not be faulted for Peterson’s actions.

“You don’t measure a person’s leadership by a deputy not going in,” he said in the Sunday CNN interview.

State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) sent a letter to Scott, the governor, on Saturday accusing Israel of “neglect and incompetence” and calling for his removal. Israel called the letter “shameful” and “politically motivated.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Sunday afternoon that it would launch an investigation, at the governor’s request, into the law-enforcement response to the shooting.

In a statement, Israel said his office would fully cooperate with the investigation, “as we believe in full transparency and accountability.”

“This independent, outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings,” he said.

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” accused the sheriff’s office of “dereliction of duty” and said Israel should face increased scrutiny.

Sheriff: Armed deputy on duty at Florida high school never entered building during massacre

“I wish that as much attention were given to the Broward County sheriff and their abdication of duty as trying to blame 5 million innocent law-abiding gun owners all across the country for this,” Loesch said. “Families and neighbors called the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to report this individual, and they did not follow up.”

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Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) speak to the media on Feb. 15 about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

David Hogg, a senior at the school, called Israel “a good man” during an interview on “This Week” and said that “he cares about the people.” But Hogg said there were breakdowns in procedures. “Were there mistakes made? Absolutely.”

Local and federal authorities received numerous calls about Cruz before the attack, including at least four suggesting that he could carry out a school shooting and a 911 call saying he had pointed a gun at someone.

The FBI has admitted that it never investigated a January tip saying that Cruz could shoot up a school.

In November 2017, a tip came in to the Broward sheriff’s office from a caller warning that Cruz was collecting guns and knives and might be “a school shooter in the making.” Cruz’s mother had died that month, and he was briefly living with a family in Palm Beach County.

The sheriff’s office said that the deputy who took the call never filed a report and that after the massacre, he told investigators that he referred the caller to the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach. However, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office told The Washington Post that it had no record of receiving word of that threat.

Israel said Sunday that most of the tips to his agency were handled appropriately but that, in two of the calls, “we’re not sure if deputies did everything they could have or should have.”

When CNN host Jake Tapper asked Israel if he thought the shooting might not have happened if the agency had done things differently, Israel said, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.”

He added, “We understand everything wasn’t done perfectly.”

According to a CNN report, police from the neighboring city of Coral Springs have said that three other Broward deputies besides Peterson were outside the school when they responded to the shooting. Israel said Sunday that only Peterson, then the school resource officer, was at the school during the shooting.

A spokeswoman for Israel’s office, in a statement released late Saturday, insisted that there was “no confirmation, at this time, other deputies did not enter the school when they should have.”

She said the claim continues to be investigated.

The Coral Springs police said in a statement that they were “aware of media reports” but were not going to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, it has become widely accepted police protocol to respond to active shooters by rushing to the scene and stopping the threat. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to a request to release its active-shooter policies, but Israel has said that the deputy should have rushed inside.

In a letter to Scott responding to Hager’s call for the sheriff to be removed from office, Israel wrote that Coral Springs police received the initial 911 call and went inside the school first without realizing that the shooter had left four minutes earlier, suggesting that these officers believed they were pursuing at least one armed attacker.

In his letter, Israel wrote that these Coral Springs officers were followed by others from that department and Broward sheriff’s deputies. However, his letter does not say when any of the responding officers learned that the gunfire had ended and the shooter had fled, nor does it say whether his deputies waited outside the school first before going in.

Israel’s office has declined to make him available for an interview with The Washington Post. His interview Sunday on CNN was his second appearance on the cable network in less than a week. On Wednesday, he participated in a televised town hall that the network hosted in South Florida that included survivors of the attack, their relatives and Loesch, the NRA spokeswoman.

At the town hall, the sheriff was sharply critical of the NRA spokeswoman.

Tapper, who also had hosted the town hall, asked Israel in the interview Sunday whether he had known during his town hall appearance that Peterson had failed to go inside the school during the shooting. Israel said that they were still investigating reports about Peterson at the time and that it was not the appropriate time to tell the families about the deputy’s actions.

“I couldn’t disclose it then,” he said. “That’s not the way you do things, over a news camera. You do it individually. You meet privately with families. You have compassion. You don’t do it at a public forum. And we weren’t ready to do it anyway.”

The Washington Post’s Lori Rozsa in Loxahatchee, Florida, and Michael Scherer, Kevin Sullivan and John Wagner in Washington contributed to this report.


The Left’s Rage and Trump’s Peril

February 2, 2018

The Democratic base is even worse-tempered than the president. But Mueller could still harpoon him.

President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the House of Representatives, Jan. 30, 2018.
President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the House of Representatives, Jan. 30, 2018. PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE/ZUMA PRESS

The State of the Union speech was good—spirited, pointed, with a credible warmth for the heroes in the balcony, who were well chosen. They were beautiful human beings, and their stories were rousing—the cop and his wife who adopted the baby, the hardy North Korean defector who triumphantly waved his crutches, the mourning, dignified parents of the girls killed by MS-13. My beloved Cajun Navy.

The thing about the heroes in the balcony is it reminds you not of who the president is but of who we are. “With people like that we can’t miss.” I had that thought when Ronald Reagan gave tribute in 1985 to a young woman who as a child desperately fled Saigon as it fell. She and her family were among the boat people, spotted and saved by a U.S. ship. Reagan called her to stand, and Jean Nguyen stood—proudly, in the gleaming uniform of a West Point cadet. She would graduate within the year.

The recognition of heroes in the balcony is called a cliché. It certainly is. An inspiring and truthful one, and long may it live.

The Democrats in the chamber were slumped, glowery. They had chosen to act out unbroken disdain so as to please the rising left of their party, which was watching and would review their faces. Some of them were poorly lit and seemed not resolute but Draculaic. The women of the party mostly dressed in black, because nothing says moral seriousness like coordinating your outfits.

Here it should be said of the rising left of the Democratic Party that they are numerous, committed, and have all the energy—it’s true. But they operate at a disadvantage they cannot see, and it is that they are loveless. The social justice warriors, the advancers of identity politics and gender politics, the young who’ve just discovered socialism—they run on rage.

But rage is a poor fuel in politics. It produces a heavy, sulfurous exhaust and pollutes the air. It’s also gets few miles per gallon. It has many powers but not the power to persuade, and if anything does them in it will be that. Their temperament is no better than Mr. Trump’s . It’s worse. But yes, they are intimidating the Democratic establishment, which robs itself of its dignity trying to please them. It won’t succeed.

As for the president’s base, I am coming to a somewhat different way of thinking about it. It’s true they are a minority, true that his approval ratings are not good, are in fact historically low for a president with a good economy at the end of a first year. But Mr. Trump has just more than a solid third of the nation. They are a spirited, confident core. What other political figure in this fractured, splintered country has a reliable third of the electorate? And it’s probably somewhat more than a third, because Trump supporters know they are not and will never be respected, and just as in 2016 you have to factor in the idea of shy Trump voters.

What they are not sufficiently concerned about is that Mr. Trump has not expanded his popularity. He has kept his core but failed to reach out consistently and successfully to others. He has not created coalitions.

His position is more precarious than his people see.

He has too much relished the role of divider. When you’re running for office you are every day dividing those who support you from those who don’t, and hoping your group is bigger. But when you win you reach out to your enemies with humility, with patience—with love!—and try to drag ’em in to sup in your tent. You don’t do this because you’re a hypocrite but because you’re an adult looking to win. Or a constructive idealist. That happens sometimes.

His supporters don’t know what he doesn’t know: He must grow or die.

They are happily watching The Trump Show as he sticks it to people they hate. They don’t know Shark Week is coming.

In November he may lose the House. That’s what the generic ballot says is coming, that’s what was suggested by last year’s GOP defeats in Virginia and Alabama.

I know what Republicans are thinking. They are going to run on an economy that is expanding thanks to tax reform and deregulation. They are going to run on bigger paychecks and unexpected bonuses. They’ll run on the appointment of conservative judges to balance out Barack Obama’s liberal judges at a time when the courts have taken a more powerful role in American culture. They’ll run on We Will Stop Illegal Immigration and Give a Break to the Children of Illegal Immigrants.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are running on Trump is unpopular and so is his party, he is a fascist, and any limit on immigration is like any limit on abortion, tyrannical on its face.

Republicans are thinking nobody’s noticing but they’re in a pretty good place. I suspect they are right.


Special counsel Robert Mueller will likely, before November, report his findings to the Justice Department, and you have to assume he is going to find something because special prosecutors exist to find something. When Mr. Mueller staffed up he hired Ahabs, and Ahabs exist to get the whale. You have to assume Mr. Trump will be harpooned, and the question is whether it’s a flesh wound or goes deeper. If it goes deep the Democrats may well win the House, in which case he will be impeached.

Trump supporters don’t view this with appropriate alarm. They comfort themselves with the idea that he is playing three-dimensional chess and his opponents are too stupid to see it. That’s not true—he is more ad hoc and chaotic than they think. They should help him by trying to improve his standing, which means telling him what doesn’t work.

He thinks he rouses and amuses his supporters with feuds and wars, tweets and grievances. In reality, as Trump supporters know, it’s something they put up with. For everyone else it’s alienating, evidence of instability.

He calls out fake news and wars with the press while at the same time betraying a complete and befuddled yearning for their approval. Mr. Trump is a little like Nixon in this—embittered and vengeful at not getting the admiration of those he says he doesn’t respect.

These things don’t speak of tactical or strategic brilliance.

His supporters argue the media is against him, and this is true and should be acknowledged. But they were totally opposed to Reagan, too. They more or less admit his greatness now, or at least concede his towering adequacy, in part because Trump-shock has left them reconsidering the bogeymen of the past, in part because they like all dead Republicans.

But Reagan didn’t need the press to feel like a big man or be a success, and Mr. Trump looks unmanned to be so destabilized by their antipathy.

The president’s supporters should be frank with him about his flaws. They’re so used to defending him, they forget to help him. They should give him the compliment of candor.

Democrats Slam Trump: Refused To Hear Call For Unity, Bipartisanship

January 31, 2018

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three in four Americans who watched President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address approved of the speech, according to a CBS News poll.

Full Text: President Donald Trump’s 2018 State Of The Union Address

About 80 percent of those surveyed felt the president’s speech tried to unite the country rather than divide it and 65 percent said the speech made them feel proud.

The speech garnered much reaction from lawmakers and others on Twitter:

After a long and divisive year, many Americans were yearning for the President to present a unifying vision for the country. Unfortunately, his address stoked the fires of division instead of bringing us closer together.

The President paid lip service to bringing the country together tonight, but continued to push the GOP’s extremist vision of America.

After one of the most divisive years in memory—it’s up to the President to deliver. Actions speak louder than words.

President Trump in that chamber was more a Divider-in-Chief than a unifier.

After the lofty rhetoric, tonight’s speech was mostly red meat partisan applause lines. There were vacuous promises but few specifics on issues like infrastructure, opioid addiction, veterans and other key priorities.

Just like his “tax cut” really gave away millions to the world’s biggest corporations, we know @realDonaldTrump‘s performance tonight was another distraction to cover up for his divisive, hateful agenda.

After a year of erratic leadership, hateful rhetoric, and broken promises, President Trump’s actions in the days ahead will speak louder than words read from tonight’s teleprompter.

Tonight @realDonaldTrump passed up another opportunity to lay out a comprehensive strategy to combat this country’s mental health and opioid crises.

I went to the . I wanted it burned into my eyes. If there’s ever a moment when I’m too tired to keep fighting, I just have to close my eyes & see @realDonaldTrump , @mike_pence & @pryan applauding themselves for punching working families in the gut, & I’m back in this fight.

Tonight, @realDonaldTrump presented a self-congratulatory speech w/o vision. He promised unity, but sowed division. America deserves better.

.@POTUS said it right—the state of our union is strong. He laid out a clear agenda tonight with an open hand toward bipartisan cooperation. Together, we can continue making America safer and stronger for the 21st century.

President Trump clearly relishes being the Law and Order president and a strong Commander in Chief.

Just what America needs!

It was a strong speech emphasizing America is open for business and going on the offense when it comes to crime and terrorism.

I’m very pleased President Trump is empowering our military and putting our enemies on notice.

Tonight, during the , @POTUS highlighted many important accomplishments, challenges & opportunities impacting our nation. He also discussed how our great country will rise to tackle the daunting needs we still face. 

Rep. Zeldin on President Trump’s First State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON- Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) just released the following statement after the conclusion of President Trump’s first State of the Union Address:

.@POTUS delivered a powerful message to the American people on building a safer, stronger and prouder nation. He outlined a vision of a united people, working together to face major challenges head-on and build off the progress made in the past year. 

Inspiring & powerful . @POTUS made clear the state of our Union is STRONG. In just 1 year @POTUS has cut taxes, grown our economy, and has ISIS on the run – & we’re just getting started. We are building a SAFE, STRONG & PROUD America!

Trump called for unity as he outlined his plans for the country. The president called on both parties to come together on immigration and infrastructure as he called for “our new American moment.”

“The state of our union is strong because our people are strong,” Trump said. “I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties.”

The president also touted his accomplishments, including recent tax cuts and reforms.

Trump also used the speech as an opportunity to offer to work with both parties to get a deal on immigration, proposing a path to citizenship for Dreamers — the 1.8 million people brought to the U.S. illegally as children in exchange for billions for a border wall with Mexico.

He also called for the closure of loopholes that have allowed the MS-13 gang to make their way into the U.S.

In the audience were the parents of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, the two teens killed by the MS-13 gang on Long Island in 2016. The president recognized the families during an emotional moment that received a standing ovation.

More than a dozen lawmakers boycotted the president’s speech. Some Democrats wore black as a nod to the movement against sexual harassment and many lawmakers, including Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi, invited Dreamers as their guests.

The president called for both sides of the aisle to come together as he outlined his plan for the next year.

“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure,” Trump said, calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates $1.5 trillion for new infrastructure and improvements.

“We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land and we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit,” Trump said.

Trump also mentioned his intention to invest in job training and issued a stern warning to North Korea, but he made no mention of the Russia investigation.

On Tuesday, he signed a new executive order to keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open — a reversal of an order by the Obama administration.

CBS New York:

See also:

Image result for Pelosi during SOTU, photos


Donald Trump brands China a military rival in US reboot of great power strategy

January 31, 2018

Beijing stresses the two countries have common interests as US president insists that the stakes with China are not just economic

By Catherine Wong
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 9:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 9:55pm
 Image may contain: 1 person, stripes

US President Donald Trump named China as a major US competitor on both economic and military fronts in his first state-of-the-union address, another sign that Washington is putting great power rivalry at the heart of its national strategy.

Analysts said Trump’s explicit references to China contrasted with Beijing’s view of the Sino-US relationship and those of his predecessors who saw China as a partner despite their economic competition.

In response to the speech, Beijing called on Washington to abandon the “cold war” approach to their ties and for the two nations to respect each other.

“Even though there are differences, the two countries still share more mutual interests than differences,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday. “History and reality shows that cooperation is the only correct choice.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also played down concerns over rising confrontation between Beijing and Washington, stressing that both sides have a lot of common interests.

“I hope the United States can have a comprehensive and objective view of the Sino-US relationship, expand our common interests and manage our differences,” Li said.

In an annual address to a joint session of the US Congress, Trump vowed to boost American defences to counter threats from China and Russia.

“Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values,” Trump said.

“In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defence.

“For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defence sequester and fully fund our great military.”

Trump also said the US must “modernise and rebuild” its nuclear arsenal, although the US would “hopefully never having to use” such weapons.

He also highlighted the need for fair and reciprocal trade relationships, and promised to take action to defend the country’s intellectual property.

“And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property through strong enforcement of our trade rules,” he said.

Trump’s reference to China as a direct threat on all fronts is a departure from the take of his three immediate predecessors.

In 2000, then US president Bill Clinton talked about the importance of engaging China and appealed to Congress to back the US’ effort to bring China into the World Trade Organisation.

Six years later, president George W Bush referred to China as one of the “new competitors” along with India on the economic front.

In 2016, US president Barack Obama said only that the United States must not let China write the rules of global commerce.

Trump’s focus on China as a broader threat reflects a major shift in US defence priorities outlined in US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis’s National Defence Strategy released in January. The document says the US will refocus on China and Russia after a decade of fighting terrorism in the Middle East.

Trump has also signed into law a sweeping defence policy bill authorising a US$700 billion budget for the military, but it still needs lawmakers’ approval.

Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University’s Centre for American Studies, said Trump was playing up the threat from China and Russia to back his call for a big increase in the military budget.

“[But] China has yet to pose a direct military threat to the US,” Wu said.

Teng Jianqun, director of the US studies department at the China Institute of International Studies, said there was a huge discrepancy in how China and the US viewed their relationship.

Chinese analysts and officials tended to be optimistic about bilateral ties, while those in the US were pessimistic, Teng said.

“If we do not pay attention to this perception gap, there could be miscalculations from both sides,” he said.

Jie Dalei, assistant professor of international relations at Peking University, said that even though Trump had clearly named China as one of his country’s greatest rivals, it would be difficult for the US to follow through on a strategy to contain China.

“The [US’] Indo-Pacific strategy is still a concept rather than a plan for execution,” Jie said. “Without economic assistance or other support, Trump won’t be able to achieve any more than Obama.”

Additional reporting by Wendy Wu and Liu Zhen