Is Ivanka the worst Trump? Her tweeted portrait of perfect motherhood seals it for me | Arwa Mahdawi

Does anyone believe the media-savvy first daughter mistimed her tweet just as reports emerge of children being forcibly separated from their parents by US perimeters agents?

I‘m generally a big believer in Hanlon’s Razor: the idea that you should never ascribe to malice which can be explained by stupidity. But I’d like to put forward a somewhat different theorem to help explain these Trumpian days: Ivanka’s Razor. The principle that, when it comes to Ivanka Trump, you should never ascribe to folly or ignorance that which can be explained by malice.

Take, as a case in point, the photo Ivanka tweeted on Sunday, captioned” My <3! #sundaymorning" in which the first daughter is cuddling her two-year-old son. ivanka chose to post this snapshot of familial bliss at the same time as the news was full of reports of children being at the US-Mexico border; a component of a “zero tolerance” immigration policy the Trump administration is responsible for creating. While Ivanka’s photo received immediate backlash, I was struck by the fact that the tweet was largely characterised as being “tone-deaf”. The general consensus seemed to be that Ivanka hadn’t considered how the photo might look amid horrific headlines about separated families. That she had been thoughtless.

Ivanka may be a lot of things, but thoughtless is not one of them. Ivanka is no ingenue, who has reluctantly been thrust into public life and is now struggling to keep her personal life separate from the political. She grew up surrounded by paparazzi; she is nothing if not media-savvy. What’s more, despite memorably telling she tries “to stay out of politics”, she has enthusiastically hurled herself into her unelected role in the White House and is an integral part of the administration. Indeed, both she and her husband Jared Kushner received full security clearance earlier this month. She is not passively complicit in the Trump administration’s policies; she is an active architect.

So, when Ivanka tweeted that photo on Sunday, I don’t think it was a gaffe- I believe she knew exactly what she was doing. Which was playing to Trump’s specific base; reminding them that it’s white households like hers- like theirs- who are important , not the brown families who Trump is breaking up; utilizing the image of herself as a loving mother to provide a human face to Trump’s inhumane administration. Ivanka is an important complement to Trump’s messaging. He does all the crass dehumanisation of immigrants, lumping them together with the gang MS-1 3 and calling them dangerous “animals” the US needs to protect itself from; she provides the aspirational imagery of the US that it was necessary to protecting.

The events of this past weekend have served to bolster my long-standing faith that Ivanka is the most odious of all the Trumps. While the entire family is morally bankrupt, at least the rest of the clan don’t feign they are anything other than greedy narcissists. Her slimy brothers certainly attain no attempt to appeal to liberals. Ivanka, however, seems intent on maintaining up the charade that she is some sort of champion of women and households. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that the only family Ivanka cares about is her own and the only woman she has any interest in empowering is herself.

Indeed, hot on the heels of the controversy around her photo, it was reported that the Ivanka Trump brand received approval for a number of trademark applications from China which, experts and watchdogs say, raise significant concerns about corruption. It seems that Ivanka Trump’s business, from which she has not properly divested, received these acceptances just days before Trump announced he was reversing a US ban on ZTE, a Chinese telecom firm. It is possible, of course, that this timing was merely coincidence and not a shady deal. However, that brings me to the second part of Ivanka’s Razor: when it comes to the Trumps, never attribute to coincidence that which can be explained by corruption.

Austerity in Britain: the opinion from the US

It is hard to hear uncomfortable truths about the UK from Trump’s US, of all places, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important that we do. Indeed, sometimes the most clear-sighted critiques come from outsiders’ eyes, as a recent article about austerity in Britain, published by the New York Times, demonstrates.

” After eight years of budget trim, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States ,” the piece states,” with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty .” It then fleshes out this thesis with a dismal tour of Prescot, painting a dystopian picture of a poor Merseyside town in a crippled country, whose outlook has only been rendered bleaker by Brexit.

Funnily enough, the New York Times’s perspective wasn’t much appreciated by the Brexit-loving Spectator- whose editor once suggested that austerity benefits poor people. Within a matter of hours of the piece running live, the Spectator published an indignant fact check and riposte.” It’s safe to say the New York Times doesn’t take a particularly fond view of Britain these days ,” the Spectator sneered. It then went on to try and discredit the article by quibbling with the least important aspects of it. One of their “gotchas!”, for example, was the fact that the US paper had said that Prescot’s old library building had been turned into a luxury home, but hadn’t mentioned that the town does still have a library. What the Spectator did not choose to fact check, however, was the litany of damning statistics included in the article. Take, for example, the fact that national is supportive of libraries has fallen by nearly a third and the number of elderly people getting government care has fallen by” roughly a quarter “. Presumably the Spectator chose not to examine these statistics too exhaustively because they knew them to be true.

Headstands
Headstands … 71 -year-old Anne Bruinooge did one in every nation of the US. Photograph: SrdjanPav/ Getty Images/ iStockphoto

A head of her time

Time for some feelgood news, don’t you think? So please meet 71 -year-old Anne Bruinooge who lately completed her quest to do a headstand in all 50 US states. Bruinooge has been travelling around the US for the past several decades, doing headstands in every country she visits; last week she ticked off her final state with a headstand in Alaska. Endearingly, these geographical gymnastics weren’t an attempt to get her name in the record books or run viral. Rather, Bruinooge says the motivation for her challenge was simply that she thinks headstands are fun. Let’s just hope her new-found notoriety doesn’t go to her head.

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‘I pray for Donald Trump, I do’: Bishop Michael Curry addresses US divisions

The preacher who glisten at the royal wedding has returned home to the progressive Reclaiming Jesus movement

Faith leaders working with Bishop Michael Curry to turn his sermons of love into a movement find his invitation to preach at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as a moment of divine intervention.

” God use a royal wedding to have the gospel preached probably to the largest audience at one time ,” said Jim Wallis, a progressive Christian leader and a founder of the Reclaiming Jesus motion.” My dear friend Bishop Curry was merely being himself in that pulpit. But God stimulated that happen in all kinds of humorous and miraculous ways .”

For 24 hours after the ceremony at Windsor Castle last week, Curry rivaled Pope Francis as the most recognizable faith leader in the world. He was interviewed by major networks on both sides of the Atlantic. Fans asked for selfies. He was even parodied on Saturday Night Live.

Then the first African American leader of the Episcopal Church returned home, to embark on a new mission. He wants to address what he and other clergy behind Reclaiming Jesus call” a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches “.

” My hope and prayer is that what we’re really doing is helping the average Christian person of faith find their voice ,” Curry told the Guardian.” We’re trying to find a way to bring people together and the values that we share is our starting place for doing that .”

The 65 -year-old, who was born in Chicago and raised by his grandmother after his mother’s death, is the descendent of slaves and sharecroppers in North Carolina. His presence at Windsor Castle, a reflection of Markle’s African American ancestry, was a symbolic moment for two countries riven by race and class. In his speech, Curry invoked Martin Luther King Jr and bondage, telling the couple:” Make of this old world, a new world .”

Bishop
Bishop Michael Curry dedicates an address during the bridal of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Photo: WPA Pool/ Getty Images

That was the message he brought to Washington on Thursday, when he linked limbs with prominent progressive leaders and led hundreds of Christians in silent procession to the White House. On the sidewalk facing the seat of American power, the elders read from a declaration as hundreds raised votive candles.

The Reclaiming Jesus movement, like other progressive religion groups, is asking people of faith to reject public policies that banning refugees and immigrants from the US and equivocations on white ascendancy- without joining a political side.

” We don’t tell people how to vote ,” Curry said.” We don’t tell people exactly what policies they must stand for. We identify what are the values that will guide you in your life. But the rest? That’s between you and God .”

The lengthy founding document listings six core principles the co-signers hope will assist shift the conversation around what they believe are the core teaches of the Bible: a focus on the poor, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged. It does not mention Donald Trump by name but it does repudiate his policies and the forces unleashed by his election.

It bellows on Christians to denounce the” resurgence of white patriotism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership”, and repudiates Trump’s America First agenda.

The response from Trump’s most ardent evangelical supporters has underlined how deep divisions are carved- and how difficult it will be to find common ground.

” There is nothing incorrect with putting America first ,” Robert Jeffress, a clergyman at First Baptist Dallas and a prominent member of the president’s evangelical advisory board, told Fox News.” That is what a government is supposed to do. That is God’s responsibility for government. As individual Christians, yes, we set others before ourselves but government doesn’t do that .”

Jeffress told Curry was ” sincere” in his message but also” sincerely wrong” in his understanding of what the Bible tells about the role of government.

Curry said he had expected a strong reaction to the Reclaiming Jesus declaration.

” It’s a spiritual document and spiritual documents are moral and ethical statements so they have implications ,” he told.” We identify culture maladies- we’re not pointing the thumb at anybody. We’re not blaming anybody .”

Asked if he prays for the president, Curry responded without reservation:” I pray for Donald Trump, I do. He’s a child of God, just like the immigrant is a child of God .”

Pastor
Pastor Robert Jeffress with Donald Trump in Washington. Photo: Bloomberg/ Bloomberg via Getty Images

If Curry had an audience with the president, he said, he would tell him the same thing he tells himself and anybody else he prays for:” Live by the practice of love for your neighbor .”

” Selfish, self-centered living by any or all of us is what the Christian tradition has entailed by sin all along ,” he said.

Before the vigil, Curry returned to the pulpit to deliver a rising if brief sermon at the National City Christian Church.

” Love your neighbour ,” Curry said, in the magisterial cadence now distinguished around the world.” Love the neighbor you like and the neighbor you don’t like. Love the neighbours you agree with and the neighbor you don’t agree with. Love your Democrat neighbor, your Republican neighbour, your black neighbor, your white neighbor, your Anglo neighbor, your Latino neighbor and your LGBTQ neighbor. Love your neighbor! That’s why we’re here !”

Among those listening were John Carr, who runs the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. He said what he saw on Thursday was not a political movement but the” rise of the religious middle “.

” In these incredibly polarizing and frankly demoralizing times ,” he said,” we need a moral message that’s anchored in religion not ideology and politics “.

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Donald Trump Jr met Gulf states emissary offering election help report

New York Times reports August 2016 session at Trump Tower it says also included Israeli social media expert and Blackwater founder Erik Prince

Donald Trump Jr met with an emissary for foreign governments seeking to help his father’s presidential campaign three months before the 2016 election, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing several anonymous sources with knowledge of the session, the Times said Trump Jr met at Trump Tower on 3 August 2016 with an emissary for the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Also present, the paper told, were an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation, Joel Zamel, and Erik Prince, the founder of the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater.

Zamel represented a firm that applied several Israeli former intelligence officers and specialized in data collection and social media persuasion. At the time of the meeting, the Times stated,” the firm had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr Trump “.

The meeting, which the Times said was facilitated by Prince, is the first evidence that countries other than Russia sought to influence the US election in favor of Donald Trump.

The US intelligence community and the Senate judiciary committee agree that Russian election interference aimed to help Trump defeat his Democratic adversary, Hillary Clinton. The special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating that interference and alleged links between Trump aides and Moscow. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion and called the investigation a “witch-hunt”.

During the Trump Tower meeting, the Times said, George Nader, the emissary for the two crown princes, indicated that leaders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE wished to help Trump. Nader, the Times said, is now cooperating with Mueller.

Under US law, the involvement of foreign governments or individuals in American elections is illegal.

It is not known if anything came of the alleged offer for assistance. The Hour stated that Trump Jr responded “approvingly”.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr, told the Hours:” Prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual which are likely to Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr Trump Jr on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it .”

A lawyer for Zamel told the Times neither he,” nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign “. The lawyer also said Zamel had” provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation “.

The paper told Prince declined to comment. It quoted a lawyer for Nader as saying he had” fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation and will continue to do so “. The report cited” a senior official in Saudi Arabia” who it said denied Nader had ever been authorized to speak for the Saudi government.

The White House did not immediately return a request for commentary.

The allegations will bring further scrutiny to Trump Jr’s activities during the campaign. The president’s oldest son emerged as a central figure in the Russia investigation after it was disclosed last year that he facilitated a now infamous June 2016 session at Trump Tower that also involved the Trump aides Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and a group of Russians including a lawyer with links to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

The White House issued a misleading statement about the meeting, claiming it was about adoptions. It was later disclosed that the encounter was arranged when the Russians offered to provide incriminating information about Clinton. Informed of the offer, Trump Jr responded:” If it’s what you say, I love it “.

The president’s son has said his father was not well known Trump Tower session. But according to a transcript of his testimony to congressional examiners released the coming week, Trump Jr was unable to recall if any of three calls he placed to a blocked number before and after the session were to his father.

The August meeting reported by the Times was not previously known to the public. Nader became a close ally of Trump officials. He satisfied frequently with Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior consultant, and Michael Flynn, who would become Trump’s first national security adviser.

In November, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the former Russian ambassador to the US. He has been cooperating with the special counsel.

Trump has closely aligned himself with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. His first foreign trip was to Riyadh. Last year, Trump embraced a Saudi-led siege against Qatar, a key US ally, against the counseling of his foreign policy consultants. Lately, the president withdrew from the Iran nuclear bargain- a move championed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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Hundreds arrested as activists pick up where Martin Luther King left off

The Poor Peoples campaign kicked off 40 days of nonviolent protest on Monday, resurrecting Kings anti-poverty efforts and demanding action

Hundreds of low-wage employees, religion leaders, civil right organizers and liberal activists were arrested in demoes in Washington and outside statehouses across the US on Monday as they resumed the run Martin Luther King left unfinished.

Fifty years after King launched the Poor People’s Campaign against economic inequality, militarism and racial injustice, demonstrators resurrected that fight, kicking off 40 days of nonviolent action.

The new effort, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is being led by co-chairs William Barber, a clergyman at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and Liz Theoharis, an ordained minister and anti-poverty campaigner from New York City.

In Washington, different groups collected on the lawn outside the US Capitol to hear Barber declare:” Something’s wrong in America .”

Their action on Monday, Barber continued, was not just a commemoration of King’s anti-poverty efforts, it was a new call-to-arms.

” We are here to have a reconsecration and a re-engagement because you do not celebrate the death of[ a] prophet ,” Barber told, his voice build as he spoke.” You go to where they were killed, reach down in the blood, pick up your baton and carry it the next round of the route. Now who’s ready ?”

The crowd parted and Barber and Theoharis led a procession of activists trained in civil disobedience toward the street, where they were prepared to be arrested. Two-by-two the demonstrators walked, representing virtually three-dozen states and Native American reservations.

The group sang hymn and chanted their demands as they marched toward the police, who had formed a blockade. Barber, in his purple robe, was the first to breach the line and was arrested. Dozens more followed as hundreds more cheered them on from the steps of the Library of Congress. Theoharis was the last to be arrested.

Similar scenes were replicated across the country in North Carolina, Missouri and California. In total, the Poor People’s Campaign said 1,000 activists were arrested nationwide.

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‘I’ve been to the mountaintop’: an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s final speech – video

The group hopes their action will draw attention to what they say is an urgent need to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions for millions of Americans. In 2016, nearly 41 million Americans lived in poverty, according to the US Census. But the organizers point to research by the Institute for Policy Studies that discovered virtually 140 million people are either poor or low-income when other factors are considered, including expenses on food and housing.

The campaign’s listing of demands are long and aspirational. It includes federal and country minimum wage laws” commensurate for the 21 st century economy”, relief from student-loan debt, a repeal of the 2017 GOP tax cuts legislation, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, an end to mass incarceration, a fracking ban, protection of public lands, a cessation of US military involvement and universal healthcare.

The original Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was organized by King in the months before his assassination. The centerpiece of the campaign was a mule-drawn caravan from Marks, Mississippi, which at the time was the poorest township in the poorest district of the poorest state in the nation. The procession arrived on the National Mall in Washington to join a national protest in Washington, where thousands of impoverished Americans occupied the National Mall for six weeks in a camp named as Resurrection City.

The protesters will return each Monday for the next 40 days. Every week will focus on a different group of marginalized people. This week the protests and activities will focus on child poverty, women and people with disabilities. Other topics include racism, veterans, war and the environment.

At the end of the 40 days of protest, on 23 June, the activists from around the country will gather in Washington for a mass demo at the US Capitol. Organizers say the 40 -days of action are simply the beginning of what they hope will be a multi-year campaign that will include voter mobilization and other efforts.

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US threatens European companies with sanctions after Iran deal pullout

Bolton and Pompeo push hardline Trump White House position, with French and German companies among those with interests in Iran

Donald Trump is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies that do business in Iran following his withdrawal of the US from the international nuclear deal, his government reiterated on Sunday.

Trump’s most senior foreign policy aides signalled that the US would continue pressuring allies to follow Washington in backing out of the pact, which gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear programme.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security consultant, predicted that” the Europeans will see that it’s in their interests to come along with us” rather than continue with the 2015 deal, under which major European firms have signed billions of dollars of contracts in Iran.

Asked on CNN’s State of the Union whether that meant the Trump administration would impose sanctions against those firms, Bolton said:” It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments .”

US sanctions on Iran reimposed following Trump’s withdrawal not only block American firms from doing business in the country, but also bar foreign firms that do business there from accessing the entire US banking and fiscal system.

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, said on Sunday wealth created in Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal” drove Iranian malign activity” in the region. He declined to rule out sanctions against European firms.

” The sanctions regime that is in place now is very clear on what specific requirements are ,” Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday.

Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear deal was sharply criticised by European leaders, who have pledged to uphold their side of the agreement.

Alarm has been particularly high in France, whose energy giant Total last year signed a$ 5bn bargain to extract Iranian natural gas. Airbus, the French-based aircraft manufacturer, has already begun delivering airplanes to Iran Air under a multi-billion dollar contract.

Volkswagen, the German automaker, has resumed exporting vehicles to Iran. Richard Grenell, the new US ambassador to Berlin, alerted this week in a tweet:” German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations instantly .”

Some European leaders have called for measures to nullify the US sanctions. Bruno Le Maire, the French ministers of finance, said last week:” We have to work among ourselves in Europe to defend our European economic sovereignty .”

European Union officials have indicated they may threaten similar measures to those that pressured then chairperson Bill Clinton to give waivers to European companies under US sanctions on countries such as Cuba during the 1990 s.

Trump himself hinted that there would be no concessions to European firms during remarks at the White House last week in which he corroborated the US withdrawal, which he promised during the 2016 presidential campaign.

” We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions ,” Trump said.” Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States .”

Chinese
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi meets Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing. Photo: Thomas Peter/ Pool/ EPA

Trump claimed the nuclear bargain was ” decay and rotten” despite general consensus that Iran was complying with it, had dismantled its nuclear programme and was allowing international inspections. Trump officials also complained about clauses in the deal that would have relaxed restrictions on Iran after about a decade.

On Sunday, Bolton asked on ABC’s This Week:” Why would any business, why would the stockholders of any business, want to do business with the world’s central banker of international terrorism ?”

The US has said it will allow” wind-down periods” of 90 to 180 days, depending on the industry involved, for companies to scrap existing contracts in Iran. New business deals have been instantly barred.

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has embarked on a tour of the deal’s other member states. He spoke hopefully in Beijing on Sunday, alongside Chinese officials. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, told Trump’s decision was a” violation of morals” but said his country would remain in the deal.

” If the remaining five countries continue to abide by the agreement, Iran will remain in the bargain despite the will of America ,” Rouhani said, in remarks broadcast on state television.

Doubt has been cast over the survival of the deal by senior Iranian clergymen and Revolutionary Guard officials. On Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May told Rouhani in a phone call Britain and its European partners will remain committed to the deal as long as Tehran continues to meet its obligations. The British, German, French and Iranian foreign ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

Late on Sunday, Trump returned to the issue on Twitter.” Remember how badly Iran was behaving with the Iran Deal in place ,” he wrote.” They were trying to take over the Countries of the middle east by whatever entails necessary. Now, that will not happen !”

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Trump ’embarrassed, frankly’ by Mueller investigation, John Kelly says

Chief of staff who calls Trump a super-smart guy says investigation unavoidably crops up when chairman hosts foreign leaders

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has said Donald Trump is” somewhat embarrassed” by the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Kelly told National Public Radio( NPR ) in a rare interview broadcast on Friday that Robert Mueller’s investigation inevitably crops up when the US president hosts his foreign counterparts.

” There may not be a cloud, but surely the president is, you know, somewhat embarrassed, frankly ,” Kelly, a retired four-star marine corps general, said.” When world leaders come in, it’s kind of like you know Bibi Netanyahu[ of Israel] is here and he- who’s under investigation himself- and it’s like, you know, you walk in and you know the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing .”

Kelly, who is Trump’s second joint chiefs of staff, said he spends five to eight hours a day with the president. His tenure has been the subject of recent supposition after reports that his influence is waning and that he branded the president an “idiot” . But he told NPR he thinks Trump is” a super-smart guy “.

He added:” My opinion is to speak truth to power. I always give my opinion on everything. He always listens. Sometimes he takes the opinion, sometimes he doesn’t .”

Kelly denied reports he had threatened to resign but acknowledged :” There’s times of great frustration, mostly because of the stories I read about myself or others that I think the world of, which is just about everybody who works at the complex, and wonder whether it’s worth it to be subjected to that .”

He did not name his predecessor, Reince Priebus, but said he wishes he had been in the role sooner.” I think in some cases in terms of staffing, or serving the president, that first six months was pretty chaotic and there were people some people hired that maybe shouldn’t have. It’s not that things were a disaster that first six months, but I believe they could have been better .”

Kelly also addressed the Trump administration’s efforts to combat illegal immigration. He told most people coming into the country without documentation” are not bad people”, but they will not assimilate easily.

” They’re overwhelmingly rural people ,” he said.” In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are various kinds of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t integrate well; they don’t have abilities .”

Kelly was seen as a hardliner on immigration in his pre-chief of staff role as head of the Department of Homeland Security. Now questions have also been raised about the future of Kelly’s successor at the DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen. The New York Times reported that she had drafted but not submitted a resignation letter after Trump lambasted her at a meeting for failing, in his view, to procure US borders.

The DHS denied the claim. Spokesman Tyler Houlton tweeted :~ ATAGEND” The NY Times article alleging that the secretary drafted a abdication letter yesterday and was close to resigning is false .”

Nielsen herself issued a statement that said:” The chairman is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of congressional action have prevented the authorities concerned from fully securing the border and protecting the American people. I share his frustration .”

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White House aide dismissed McCain’s views because ‘he’s dying anyway’ report

In closed-door meeting, Kelly Sadler reportedly said McCains opposition to Trumps CIA nominee didnt matter

A White House official reportedly attained what some watched as an insensitive comment about the ailing Arizona senator John McCain at a faculty session Thursday, and McCain’s wife speedily came to his defense on Twitter.

The official, Kelly Sadler, was discussing McCain’s opposition to Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, when she allegedly claimed “it doesn’t matter” because” he’s dying anyway “.

That is according to a person in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.

The White House did not dispute the remark but said in a statement:” We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time .”

The Hill newspaper first reported the comment.

Cindy McCain reacted a few hours later with a tweet tagged to Sadler:” May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 “childrens and” 5 grandchildren .”

Sadler is a special deputy to the president. She did not respond to a request for remark Thursday evening.

The 81 -year-old senator was diagnosed in July with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He left Washington in December and underwent surgery last month for an infection.

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Melania Trump steps out of Donald’s shadow after a year and a half

On Monday, the first lady will launch policy initiatives focused on children. But speculation remains rife about her position of the role: She didnt sign up for this

She is married to the most powerful man in the world. She does her duty and remains silent as he utters falsities, hurls insults and acknowledges paying hush money to an actor in adult movies who alleges an extramarital affair. Little wonder that one columnist dubbed her the” Slovenian Sphinx “.

This week, however, Melania Trump is poised to step into the limelight. First her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told National Public Radio the first lady would announce policy initiatives focused on children, including with regard to dealing with social media, health and craving. Then the White House said the announcement would happen on Monday in the Rose Garden, a venue usually reserved for presidential press conferences.

For advocates, it will be a greeting, if overdue, emergence, building on her deft hosting on the part of states dinner for the French chairwoman, Emmanuel Macron. For critics, it will be too little too late, a futile gesture by a woman who was dealt a bad hand and played it poorly, and whose relationship with Trump offers rich pickings for gossips.

” The whole country right now is in a bad marriage with Donald Trump and can’t escape his darknes, so how can she ?” asked Bill Galston ,~ ATAGEND a former policy adviser to Bill Clinton, the last president to suffer marital problems in the public gaze.

A polyglot, former model and merely the second first lady born outside the US, Melania made a slower start than most presidential spouses. She was largely absent from Washington during the first six months of the administration, preferring to remain at Trump Tower in Manhattan so her son Barron would not have to change schools. With Melania a “nonpresence”, wrote the author Michael Wolff, White House staff referred to Trump’s daughter Ivanka as his” real spouse “.

She moved to the White House in June 2017 but continued to maintain a low profile. At the start of this year, however, she hired Reagan Thompson, 27, as policy director and slowly came out of her shell. There were even some subversive gestures- for those who chose to see them. Melania travelled to the State of the Union address separately from Trump and wore an all white suit ,~ ATAGEND an attire associated with Trump’s election rival, Hillary Clinton.

She lately convened a White House discussion on cyberbullying, an issue with ironic resonance given her husband’s habit of bullying foes with demeaning monikers on Twitter.” I’m well aware that people are sceptical of me discussing this topic ,” she told .

But her defining moment, at least so far, was the first nation dinner of the Trump presidency, for which she did not hire an event planner and charged with the responsibility of arrangements herself. Melania earned rave reviews for everything from flowers to food to fashion, wearing a black Chantilly lace Chanel haute couture gown in a nod to her French guests.

Less blithely, TV cameras zoomed in on Melania resisting Trump’s fumbling attempt to hold her hand before eventually surrendering, an awkward episode that proved catnip to comedians . It was not the first such incident between the couple and contrasted with Melania’s broad smile while socialising with former presidents and first dames in Houston, at the funeral of Barbara Bush.

Then, in a jog phone interview on Fox News’s Fox and Friends, Trump was asked what he had bought his wife for her 48 th birthday.” Perhaps I didn’t get her so much ,” he replied .” I got her a beautiful card. You know I’m very busy .”

Last week, it get worse. Trump changed his tale and acknowledged that he had reimbursed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 paid to Stormy Daniels to buy her stillnes just days before the 2016 general elections. Daniels alleges that she had a sex encounter with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada in 2006, months after Melania “ve been given” birth to Barron. The thrice-married Trump denies the claim.

Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told:” I don’t know how to get inside her head but if she’s wired the way most people are, I can’t imagine she’s feeling warm and fuzzy toward her husband right now .”

He added:” Whatever she signed up for, she didn’t sign up for this. Being first lady is not its implementation of a life’s dreaming for her. I don’t think she’s a public person. She determines herself in a position she never expected to be in and she now has to decide what to make-up of it .”

‘The standard of glamour’

The state visit by the French president invited comparings with Jackie Kennedy, who demonstrated such a hit on a visit to Paris in 1961 that President John F Kennedy told the press:” I am the person who is accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it .” Galston noted:” Jackie Kennedy define the standard of glamour and visibility against which every first lady has been measured since .”

Brigitte
Brigitte Macron, Melania Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump wave from the White House balcony. Photo: Jacques Witt/ SIPA/ Rex/ Shutterstock

Margaret Leslie Davis is the author of Mona Lisa in Camelot ,~ ATAGEND which recalls a 1962 White House dinner for the French culture pastor Andre Malraux, who was so charmed that he whispered a promise to Jackie that he would give Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece to the National Gallery in Washington. Davis ensure parallels in the Melania-hosted state dinner for Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron:” From what I read, the place was absolutely beautiful and it was a superb great efforts to intertwine French history and American panache.

” Jackie Kennedy and Melania Trump did everything they could to provide historical meticulousness in every detail. But there was one important difference: Jackie wanted the press at her event. She wanted the most advertising and she wanted to be on the stage. She was on fire to elevate and advance the arts in America. I understand Melania did not want the paparazzi part and no press were invited .”

Even without celebrity glamour, the dinner appears to have been an elegant affair that went off without a hitch. Anita McBride ,~ ATAGEND former chief of staff to the ex-first lady Laura Bush and now based at American University in Washington, dedicated it the stamp of approval.

” It was beautiful ,” she told.” The White House seemed seamless and elegant. There were no mistakes. There was a lot of focus on tradition and on the relationship between the couples. She gets a lot of credit and is indicating a level of consolation in her role .”

Chris Ruddy ,~ ATAGEND chief executive of the conservative Newsmax Media and a close friend of Donald Trump, agreed:” It was a home run for her and the president. Everyone is detecting what those of us who know her have understood for a long time about her class, grace, charm and panache. She knows how to handle herself. She’s not awkward and is not overdone in any way. Behind the scenes she’s very influential with him and you’re now ensure the outward shows .”

Ruddy denied speculation that Melania is unhappy.” She always seems to me quite content. She’s never complained and seems very happy about the role .”

He also dismissed the chatter over her seeming reluctance to hold her husband’s hand.” I suppose people are reading style, way too much into it. She’s saying to him it’s not appropriate to hold hands in that moment; she’s a very appropriate person. It’s not because of any problem in the relationship. They look like teenage lovers when they walk around Mar-a-Lago[ Trump’s luxury estate in Florida ].”

‘A different first lady could have been quite helpful’

Other commentators, however, received the body language jarring. Larry Jacobs ,~ ATAGEND director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said:” It’s peculiar beyond imagination. To consider Melania slapping his hand away adds to the growing list of bizarre features of the Trump presidency .”

Past first ladies have proved adept at reaching across the partisan divide, Jacobs noted. Barbara Bush appealed to Democrats with her literacy programme; Michelle Obama, whose husband provoked bitter opponent, nonetheless reached many Republican with her exercising and healthy feeing initiatives.

” Over the last three or four decades first dames have been a valuable political tool for presidents to appeal to independents and even folks in the resisting party ,” Jacobs told.” I believe a different first lady could have been quite helpful to Trump. He has no access to mainstream America; he’s alienated women and independents. She could have been an ambassador of goodwill like Michelle Obama or Barbara Bush .”

Melania, however, has in Jacobs’ view fallen short.” This is probably the most disengaged first lady we’ve had in the modern epoch. It’s a bit late in the game for her to be emerging now. It’s not what we’ve seen other first dames do. She’s missing in action .”

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Trump friend Tom Barrack has been questioned by Mueller, sources say

One source says questioning of real-estate developer who was chair of inaugural committee included financial campaign matters

Investigators working for special attorney Robert Mueller have interviewed one of Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants, California real estate investor Tom Barrack, the Associated Press has learned.

Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the issues who spoke on condition of anonymity. The topics covered in questions from Mueller’s team were not immediately clear.

One of the people who spoke said the questioning focused entirely on two officials who have been indicted by Mueller: former campaign chairperson Paul Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates. Gates agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statement charges in February and began cooperating with researchers. Manafort preserves his innocence on fiscal charges.

This person said Barrack was interviewed “months ago” and was asked a few questions about Gates’ is currently working on Trump’s inaugural committee, which Barrack chaired, and but there were no questions about money raised by that committee.

A second person with knowledge of the Barrack interview said the questioning was broader and did include fiscal matters about the campaign, the transition and Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Barrack’s spokeswoman, Lisa Baker, declined comment.

Barrack has rare access and insight into Trump going back decades. He played an integral role in the 2016 campaign as a top fundraiser when many Republican were shunning the upstart nominee. Barrack subsequently directed Trump’s inauguration.

Mueller’s team has asked several other witnesses about the flow of fund related to the campaign. Researchers have for months been inquiring about the Trump campaign’s finances and compliance with federal election law, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors’ questions have been wide-ranging, these people said, touching on the campaign’s data operations, its relationship with data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, payments to Gates and whether there were arrangements that were not are set out in filings to the Federal Election Commission, they said.

The four people very well known the investigation spoke on condition of anonymity. The examiners’ questions about the campaign’s finances have come up in interviews dating to early autumn while attorneys were preparing the first indictment against Manafort and Gates.

Barrack, a wealthy real estate investor with close ties to several middle-eastern leaders, satisfied Trump in 1988 when he negotiated the sale of the Plaza Hotel in New York to Trump. Barrack’s publicist in 2016 described the men as having since” solidified a lifelong friendship between themselves and their families “.

Barrack applied Gates last year, wrapping up operations on the Presidential Inaugural Committee, before Gates was charged by Mueller.

Barrack spoke glowingly of Trump in a CNBC interview in early 2016.” He’s one of the kindest, and actually most humble, friends that I’ve had ,” Barrack said.” I have so much respect for him because at this point in his career, wandering into the surrounding was not easy, and he’s changed the dialogue of the debate .”

Barrack also was among the featured speakers at the Republican convention. Days after Trump’s victory in November 2016, Barrack told CBS Trump was like an ultimate fighter during the campaign who employed” whatever tools necessary to convey a really disruptive message “. Barrack said America would insure” a softer, kinder” Trump in the White House.

In Fire and Fury, his explosive book on the first year of the Trump presidency, the author Michael Wolff claimed Barrack told a friend Trump was ” not only crazy, he’s stupid .” Barrack denied it.

Mueller’s researchers have interviewed dozens of witnesses. They have also procured the cooperation of former Trump national security consultant Michael Flynn and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. But few witness have as much insight into the president’s lengthy business career and all facets of his campaign and administration as Barrack.

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Donald Trump brags of achievements and promises NRA: I’ll defend gun rights

Trump devotes self-regarding speech to cheering crowd while NRA chief Wayne LaPierre says midterms represents the procession for our freedom

Donald Trump attempted to issue a rallying cry to Republican with a wide-ranging political stump speech at the annual NRA meeting in Dallas on Friday, stimulating clear he would fight November’s midterm elections with a staunch defense of gun rights.

” We cannot get complacent ,” Trump said.” We have to win the midterms .”

Though hundreds of thousands of Americans marched for stricter firearm laws after the Parkland school shooting, the only march that matters is” the procession to the polls on election day”, a defiant Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice-president, told NRA members. He announced that the group now had” approaching 6 million active members “.

Election day 2018 is” the marching for our liberty “, LaPierre said, to a roar of support from the audience. Less than two months ago, school shooting survivors organized hundreds of thousand of Americans at hundreds of protests across the country in what they called a March for Our Lives.

Though Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, Trump said that was not enough to pass the legislation he wanted. Increasing Republican representation in Congress in November’s midterm elections was essential.

Trump said he was warned earlier: “‘ You know, going to the NRA convention and speaking today, that will be very controversial, it might not be popular .’ You know what I told?’ Bye-bye, gotta get on the plane .’ You have to do the right thing .”

” We’re all opposing combats, but I love fighting these battles ,” Trump said, to cheers, after a long description of what he called the “witch-hunt” of the investigation into Russian election interference and links between his campaign and Moscow.

An enthusiastic crowds repeatedly delivered standing ovations as Trump praised his policy accomplishments, and discussed low unemployment, his praise from Kanye West, and his negotiations with North Korea.

” Weakness gets you nuclear war ,” Trump said, to cheers.” That’s what get you nuclear war .”

Q& A

Why is the National Rifle Association so powerful?

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It’s not( only) about the money. In 2017, the NRA spent at the least $4.1 m on lobbying- more than the $3.1 m it spent in all of 2016. But for purposes of comparison, the dairy industry has expended $4.4 m in the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics( CRP ). The National Association of Realtors, one of the biggest spenders, has paid out $32.2 m lobbying on housing issues.

The NRA has plenty of cash to expend. It bet big on the 2016 US elections, pouring $14.4 m into supporting 44 candidates who won and $34.4 m opposing 19 candidates who lost, according to CRP.

But” the real source of its power, I believe, comes from voters ,” said Adam Winkler, a UCLA professor of constitutional law.

The 145 -year-old organization claims 5 million active members, that number is disputed, but whatever its actual sizing, membership is a powerful tool, told Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York at Cortland.

” They have a very powerful ability to mobilize a grassroots subsistence and to engage in politics when most Americans can barely be bothered to vote ,” he told.” And because so little Americans do those things, if you get a bunch of people in a locality who are all prepared to go out to a session they can has got a big effect.” Read more

Photograph: Mark Humphrey/ AP

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More than 70,000 NRA members were expected to attend the convention. But the event also depicted protests, including one staged by Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the 17 people shot dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February.

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Why is the NRA so powerful?- video

Before Trump’s speech- as the president told reporters on Air Force One he had attracted a” record mob”- and after, NRA leaders conveyed anxiety of such post-Parkland activism.

” What they actually want is for you to be afraid to publicly associate with this organization ,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, cautioned the auditorium early on Friday afternoon.” They don’t want you to go to a Friends of NRA dinner. They don’t want you wearing an NRA hat or putting an NRA sticker on your vehicle or truck. In the face of their bitternes hatred, there has never been a more critical time for us to stand tall .”

It was a strikingly defensive note for a leader of an organization that has played offense for years, railing against Democratic legislators, liberal billionaires and the Hollywood stars who advocate for gun control, even as it has succeeded in blocking any stricter federal gun laws.

LaPierre, the NRA’s brash leader for decades, also described the NRA as under assault in a new way.

” The fact that you’re all here means you must have missed the news. Haven’t you heard the NRA’s in big trouble? We’re finished? We’re on the run? We’re losing ?” LaPierre asked the crowd.

” If we’re so dead, why are so many thousands of you here in this hall right now ?”

Mike
Mike Pence and Wayne LaPierre applaud Trump’s speech. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/ Reuters

LaPierre claimed that the NRA’s membership had grown even as gun control advocates said they were attracting bigger groups of local activists after the Parkland shooting, and hundreds of thousands of protesters seeking gun control laws massed in Washington DC and across the country.

” The NRA’s membership is at an all-time high, approaching 6 million active members, and thousands of others are joining every day ,” LaPierre said.” We’re growing more powerful at a record rate .”

The gun rights group, which does not provide independent verification of the membership of the committee numbers, have already been claimed” more than 5 million members “.

” They gaslight tragedy ,” LaPierre told of the NRA’s foes, who now include grieving teenage survivors and parents of victims of a recent school shooting.” They exploit victims to advance their ultimate agenda: kill the NRA and napalm the second amendment right out of existence .”

On Friday, Trump greeted a cheer Texas crowd with a fond” we love you “. He built no reference to his previous remarks supporting gun control measures.” Your second amendment rights are under siege but they will never ever working under siege as long as I’m your chairwoman ,” he said.

After Parkland, Trump suggested in a public session that he would support gun control measures. He also publicly warned lawmakers in early March that they should not be afraid of the NRA.” Some of you people are petrified of the NRA ,” Trump said.” You can’t be petrified .”

Some gun rights advocates considered the remarks as a disloyalty. After a private session a day later, Cox tweeted that the president and Vice-President Mike Pence did not in fact supporting gun control.

Gun control laws were futile, Trump argued, pointing to a terror attack carried out with handguns in Paris, in a country with strict gun laws.

” You know what ?” he asked.” We are going to have to outlaw instantly all vans and all trucks, which are now the new form of death for the maniac terrorists … so let’s ban instantly all trucks, all vans, maybe all automobiles. How about autoes? Let’s not sell any more cars .”

Trump reiterated his support for arming teachers and hardening schools, although he said he was concerned about fortifying schools so intensely that even law enforcement officials might find it hard to get inside.

Pence, in his address, told more to acknowledge the toll of American firearm violence.

” We live in a period when mass shootings have claimed hundreds of lives … shocking the conscience of our nation ,” Pence said.” We will not rest and we will not relent until we aim this evil in our time .”

But he also blamed the media for distorting the gun debate by focusing too much on a” few rogues” rather than the” many heroes” who use their handguns to prevent violence.

” Start telling the whole story to the American people about pistols in this country ,” Pence said, to sustained applause.” We should be a nation that recognizes the people who save lives much more than the people who take them .”

He reassured NRA members that they were” one of the most potent forces for good in the United States of America “.

Trump echoed that line.” The people in this hall have never taken our freedom for awarded ,” he said,” and you have never stopped fighting for our beloved constitution. Unbelievable people, thank you .”

” One more day for the media who thinks we’re down and out ,” Cox said to the cheering mob as Trump left the stage, and they roared.

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