Trump calls Chinese envoy to North Korea ineffectual

President Trump takes part in a welcoming ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Nov. 9. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump in a tweet Thursday morning said that North Korea’s recent missile launch showed that the Chinese envoy who just returned from the country “seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man.”

On Wednesday, North Korea launched its third and most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts now believe could reach the mainland United States.

In response, Trump went on Twitter, criticizing China generally without ever singling out Chinese President Xi Jinping by name and using his favorite nickname — “Rocket Man” — for North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

“The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote. “Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.”

The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017

Trump was referring to a recent trip that Song Tao — a senior diplomat, who heads the Communist Party’s external affairs department — made to the country on behalf of Xi, in effort to reopen a dialogue channel with the regime and brief Pyongyang on China’s recent party congress. The envoy, however, did not meet with Kim.

Trump recently returned from a 12-day trip to Asia where he heaped praise on Xi, prompting critics to worry the Chinese leader was manipulating him. The president has so far been reluctant to directly take on Xi, and his tweet Thursday did not mention him by name.

During a speech in St. Charles, Mo., on Nov. 29, President Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Little Rocket Man” and “sick puppy.” (The Washington Post)


Trump touts benefits of tax cuts for ‘the people that like me best’

President Trump speaks about the Republican tax legislation in St. Charles, Mo., on Wednesday. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — With a critical Senate vote looming, President Trump on Wednesday pitched the Republican tax plan as a boon to his working-class supporters, even as independent analyses have indicated that the wealthy and corporations would be the biggest beneficiaries.

“Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mail rooms and the machine shops of America, the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers …. the people that like me best,” Trump said in remarks to an enthusiastic, invitation-only crowd of about 1,000 at a convention center in a state that he carried comfortably in last year’s election.

“Really, the people that like me best are those people, the workers,” Trump said. “They’re the people I understand the best. … They came out to vote for me. They came out to vote for us.”

A report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the GOP Senate plan would give substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year while the nation’s poorest could be worse off.

By 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be net losers under the plan, the CBO found. Meanwhile, millionaires and those earning between $100,000 and $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations.

Senate Republican leaders have questioned the analysis, which takes into account the projected effects of a provision in the bill that eliminates the requirement that almost all Americans buy health insurance or else pay a penalty. The CBO has calculated that health insurance premiums would rise as a result, leading 13 million to lose insurance by 2027.

Trump appeared upbeat as he addressed the crowd from a stage lined with Christmas trees, urging the Senate to pass the bill in coming days.

“The big day will be either tomorrow or the next day,” Trump said. “I would say, ‘Do it now.’ ”

If the bill passes, the Senate will have to work out differences with the House, which has passed its own version of a tax-cut bill. Trump referred to the process as “a mixer” and said he hopes to have compromise legislation on his desk by Christmas.

“Together we will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present,” Trump told the crowd. “You’re going to have something I predict is going to be really, really special.”

Several recent polls show that more Americans oppose than support the Trump and GOP tax plans. A Quinnipiac poll this month found about twice as many disapproving as approving (52 percent vs. 25 percent), with nearly a quarter offering no opinion.

Polls have also found a widespread perception that the Trump tax plan is geared toward the wealthy. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll this month, 60 percent said his tax proposal favors the rich, while 13 percent thought it favors the middle class, 2 percent said it favors the poor, and 17 percent said it treats all equally.

During his remarks here in the St. Louis area, Trump suggested that the GOP efforts were widely popular.

“We have tremendous support for this plan, tremendous,” he said.

Trump also said that he would not fare well under the plan — a contention that independent analyses have disputed — and that some of his wealthy friends have complained to him about it.

Trump acknowledged that critics are saying that the legislation would benefit the wealthy.

“If it is, my friends don’t know about it,” he said.

Trump said the tax plan would be good for corporations, which would see a drop in the tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Trump and other Republicans have argued that companies would use the windfall to create more jobs and raise wages, benefiting the middle and lower classes. Many economists have questioned that premise, however.

Trump’s trip to the “Show Me State” was his second since becoming president. In August, he launched a concerted public effort to pass tax legislation during an event in Springfield, Mo.

During last year’s election, Trump carried the state against Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 20 percentage points — a victory he mentioned at several points in his 40-minute remarks on Wednesday.

Trump also used his latest visit to take a shot at Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who voted against the Senate tax bill in committee and is up for reelection next year.

“She wants your taxes to go up,” Trump asserted, promising to return to Missouri next year to campaign on behalf of her Republican opponent.

Heather Long and Scott Clement contributed to this report.


Trump retweets inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

[Breaking: British prime minister’s office says Trump was wrong to retweet videos of “hateful” anti-Muslim group.]

President Trump on Wednesday shared three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos on Twitter posted by a far-right British activist.

The videos — whose authenticity could not be independently verified — were first shared by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, which bills itself as a political party but has been widely condemned as an extremist group that targets mosques and Muslims.

Britain First has previously posted a number of misleading videos, and the three Trump shared were provocatively titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!,” “Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”

Fransen, 31, who lives in a London suburb, was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment in November 2016 after abusing a woman wearing a hijab.

Fransen was arrested again earlier this month after comments she made during a speech in Belfast.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to why the president retweeted Fransen’s provocative and unverified videos. It was not immediately clear how the videos came to Trump’s attention, but conservative columnist Ann Coulter, whom Trump follows on Twitter, retweeted one of them on Tuesday.

The video of the rooftop mob dates to July 2013 and was purportedly filmed in Alexandria, Egypt, shortly after the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist and the country’s first democratically elected president. The coup set off weeks of protests and violent clashes between Morsi’s supporters on one side, and Egyptian security forces and military supporters on the other, culminating in an Egyptian security force raid on a pro-Morsi protest camp that killed as many as a thousand people.

The president has a history of retweeting other controversial supporters, including white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and during his campaign proposed a ban on all Muslims from entering the country.

Following Trump’s retweets, Fransen took to Twitter to tout the U.S. president’s promotion of her videos.

“Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers!” she wrote. “God Bless You Trump! God Bless America!”

Trump’s tweets were strongly condemned by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

“By his unconscionable and irresponsible actions this morning, President Trump is clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims,” said Nihad Awad, the group’s national executive director. “These are actions one would expect to see on virulent anti-Muslim hate sites, not on the Twitter feed of the president of the United States. Trump’s posts amount to incitement to violence against American Muslims. His actions should be condemned by all American political and religious leaders, regardless of their party or faith.”

Piers Morgan, a British journalist and television host who was also a winner on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” was also quick to rebuke the president.

“Good morning, Mr President @realDonaldTrump — what the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets,” he wrote.

Britain First was founded in 2011 and has sought to have its members elected to Parliament but has failed to win seats.

Nick Ryan, of the anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate, told the Independent newspaper it was “pretty incredulous that the leader of the free world would stoop to sharing content from one of the most notorious far-right groups in the U.K.”

In June 2016, the Labour Party member of Parliament Jo Cox was killed by an assailant alleged to have shouted “Britain first!” Leaders of the Britain First group said there were no ties between the attacker and their organization. The assailant, however, had links to neo-Nazi groups.

On Wednesday, Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, tweeted: “Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.”

The anti-Muslim group Britain First posted a video of their march through Luton, England. The following day, some 25 Muslim and Christian leaders gathered in the same town to denounce the group’s actions. (Griff Witte,Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

William Booth in London and Abigail Hauslohner in Washington contributed to this report.


Pence: Trump ‘actively considering’ relocation of U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

President Trump, accompanied by Vice President Pence, right, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center left, speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on July 19. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — President Trump is “actively considering” how to follow through on his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Vice President Pence said Tuesday, reopening a divisive question that put Trump at odds with military and diplomatic advisers and close allies.

Pence drew whoops and applause at an event marking 70 years since the United Nations vote that led to the creation of the state of Israel when he contrasted the Trump administration’s stance on the embassy issue to that of past U.S. administrations.

“While for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said.

Congress mandated in 1995 that the embassy be relocated from Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub, to disputed Jerusalem. Each president since has deferred the move, citing national security risks. Trump did the same in June, setting aside a campaign promise to immediately order the relocation. He acted, reluctantly, on advice from Cabinet heads, Jordanian King Abdullah II and others who argued that such a move could ignite violence. Palestinians claim part of Jerusalem as a future capital.

At the time, the White House said moving the embassy could jeopardize nascent administration efforts to restart Mideast peace talks.

Trump faces another deadline, on Friday, to say what he will do about the embassy, and Pence’s remark suggests that Trump may move ahead with a relocation plan. Pence did not mention the upcoming deadline.


Obama to meet with Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi on visits to China, India and France

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in The Hague in 2014, ahead of a nuclear security summit. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Former president Barack Obama has embarked on a three-nation tour with stops in China, India and France, during which he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his office announced Tuesday.

The tour comes just two weeks after President Trump held a summit with Xi in Beijing and days after Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, a White House adviser, participated in a global economic summit in Hyderabad, India.

Obama opened his trip Tuesday in Shanghai, where he held private meetings and spoke at a trade summit. On Wednesday, he will participate in an education summit in Beijing and meet with Xi.

In a news release, Obama’s office said the former president had “forged a close and cooperative partnership with President Xi on issues ranging from growing the global economy to combating climate change, and he looks forward to catching up with his former counterpart.”

In November 2014, Obama and Xi announced a climate agreement, which was a precursor to the Paris climate accord signed by nearly all the nations in the world. Trump has announced his administration’s intent to withdrawn the United States from that agreement at the earliest opportunity in 2020, a move Obama has publicly criticized.

In New Delhi on Thursday, Obama is scheduled to speak at the HT Media Leadership Summit and meet with Modi. On Friday, Obama will hold a town-hall-style event for the Obama Foundation with an estimated 280 young leaders from across India, his office said.

“The Town Hall will expand the conversation about what it means to be an active citizen and to promote positive change,” Obama’s office said.

In Paris on Friday and Saturday, Obama will speak at the introductory session of the Les Napoleons Summit and hold private meetings.


Trump touts ‘great’ first lady after Vanity Fair reports his wife didn’t want the role, thought he’d lose

First lady Melania Trump poses as a ballerina performs a piece from “The Nutcracker” among the 2017 holiday decorations in the Grand Foyer of the White House on Monday. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President Trump pushed back Tuesday against a published report that said his wife, Melania, was unprepared for the role as first lady, didn’t want it and never thought he’d win.

The piece, in Vanity Fair, quoted an anonymous longtime friend of the Trumps as saying that the first lady “didn’t want this come hell or high water.”

The president on Tuesday took to Twitter, where he referred to his wife as “our great and very hard working First Lady, who truly loves what she is doing.”

Melania, our great and very hard working First Lady, who truly loves what she is doing, always thought that “if you run, you will win.” She would tell everyone that, “no doubt, he will win.” I also felt I would win (or I would not have run) – and Country is doing great!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2017

“She would tell everyone that, ‘no doubt, he will win,’” Trump added, also relaying that “I also felt I would win (or I would not have run).”

In recent days, the White House has been heavily promoting the first lady’s role in preparing for the holiday season.

That included a retweet by Trump on Tuesday of a tweet by his wife in which she relayed that “the decorations are up! @WhiteHouse is ready to celebrate!” The tweet was also accompanied by a video.

The president’s tweet Tuesday drew some fierce reactions, including a response on Twitter by Patti Solis Doyle, a former aide to both Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama.

“Nobody thought u would win,” she wrote. “It stunned the nation. And every day Americans face the dire consequences of your election. We spend our days explaining to our children that @realDonaldTrump is NOT the way we expect them to behave–liar, not prepared, offensive.”

Nobody thought u would win. It stunned the nation. And every day Americans face the dire consequences of your election. We spend our days explaining to our children that @realDonaldTrump is NOT the way we expect them to behave–liar, not prepared, offensive

— Patti Solis Doyle (@PattiSolisDoyle) November 28, 2017


Trump attacks media in his first post-Thanksgiving tweet

President Trump speaks to the media before speaking with members of the armed forces via video conference at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thanksgiving Day. (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Trump returned from the Thanksgiving holiday with another attack on one of his favorite targets — the news media — suggesting Monday morning on Twitter a “contest” to determine which television network deserves a “fake news trophy.”

Taking special aim at CNN, and carving out an exception for Fox News, which often provides flattering coverage of him and his administration, Trump tweeted: “We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2017

Shortly after, the president retweeted a missive by Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media, which noted that MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” had pretaped its post-Thanksgiving show for Friday, with the hosts falsely bantering about holiday meals that had not yet happened.

“The good news is that their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!” Trump added.

The good news is that their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2017

Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the media, whose attention he constantly craves despite making it a frequent punching bag to shore up support from his base. But his latest tweet about CNN could complicate, at least in terms of political optics, the move by his Justice Department to block AT&T’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN.

The president has long been critical of CNN, and some Democrats have worried that antitrust officials may be trying to block the deal because of the president’s animosity toward the network — an allegation both the White House and the Justice Department deny.

Many of President Trump’s frequent jabs at the press have the ring of former president Richard Nixon’s attacks on the media. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Trump recently claimed that he rarely watches TV because he’s too busy reading “documents,” but White House aides privately concede that is simply not true. The president, who has boasted about his TiVo and often eats lunch in a tiny room off the Oval Office, complete with a flat-screen television, is a devoted TV watcher, especially in the mornings and at night in the residence.

On Monday, the president did not have his daily intelligence briefing on his morning schedule, which may have given him time for morning show viewing, prompting his tweet.

And after he got his TV criticism out of his system, the president did finally turn to the legislative hurdles facing his administration and congressional Republicans, offering a few characters in support of their tax plan.

“The Tax Cut Bill is coming along very well, great support,” Trump wrote. “With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings and the pass through provision becomes simpler and really works well!”

The Tax Cut Bill is coming along very well, great support. With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings and the pass through provision becomes simpler and really works well!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2017


Trump claims he took himself out of the running for Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

President-elect Donald Trump was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2016.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump says that Time magazine was contemplating naming him the “Person of the Year” for a second year in a row but that he pulled himself out of the running because he didn’t want to participate in an interview and photo shoot.

“Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot,” Trump tweeted on Friday evening. “I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”

Richard Stengel‏, a former Time editor, responded by tweeting: “Hate to tell you but that PROBABLY means you’re NOT Person of the Year. They just wanted a photo shoot. But I’m sure you still have that fake TIME cover somewhere in storage.”

Later Friday evening, Time disputed the president’s claim, tweeting that he “is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.” The magazine said it doesn’t comment on its choice until publication, the Associated Press reported.

Contenders for the 2017 honor include Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, singer Ariana Grande, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, football player Colin Kaepernick, French President Emmanuel Macron, former FBI director James Comey, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Pope Francis and women who have shared their stories about being sexually harassed or assaulted using the hashtag #MeToo.

Trump has long been obsessed with having his face on the cover of magazines, especially Time magazine, and he has compared himself to a “supermodel, except, like, times 10.” Many of his clubs are decorated with many of these covers — including, up until recently, a fake March 2009 Time cover that featured the real estate developer and proclaimed: “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”

In December 2016, Time editors announced they had selected Trump as their “Person of the Year,” beating out Hillary Clinton, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, singer Beyoncé, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and whistleblowers in Flint, Mich.

“It means a lot,” Trump said in an NBC News interview at the time, “especially me growing up reading Time magazine. And it’s a very important magazine, and I’ve been lucky enough to be on the cover many times this year — and last year. But I consider this a very, very great honor.”

The previous year, Trump had been passed over for the honor, which went to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom the magazine credited with opening her nation’s border to hundreds of thousands of refugees and managing Europe’s debt crisis. Trump frequently brought up this gripe on the campaign trail.

“I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite,” Trump tweeted at the time. “They picked [the] person who is ruining Germany.”



Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton come to Malia Obama’s defense

In this December 2015 photo, Malia, left, and Sasha Obama attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Members of the First Daughter’s Club sprung into action on Friday afternoon when one of their own came under attack.

This week, conservative media outlets and tabloids have been circulating and reporting on videos that they claim show Malia Obama — former president Barack Obama’s oldest daughter who is a student at Harvard — kissing a young man before a football game and blowing smoke rings. Typically, the media refrains from reporting on the personal lives of the children of presidents and former presidents, allowing them to have some privacy.

This reporting caught the attention of President Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former president Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Both women tweeted criticism of the coverage on Friday afternoon.

Trump tweeted first, writing: “Malia Obama should be allowed the same privacy as her school aged peers. She is a young adult and private citizen, and should be OFF limits.”

Soon after, Clinton tweeted: “Malia Obama’s private life, as a young woman, a college student, a private citizen, should not be your clickbait. Be better.”

Malia Obama should be allowed the same privacy as her school aged peers. She is a young adult and private citizen, and should be OFF limits.

— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 24, 2017

Malia Obama’s private life, as a young woman, a college student, a private citizen, should not be your clickbait. Be better.

— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) November 24, 2017


Woman charged with mailing explosives to Obama and Greg Abbott. The Texas governor opened his.

A 46-year-old woman targeted President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for multiple reasons, investigators said. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

A Texas woman has been accused of mailing homemade explosives to President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that could have maimed or killed them, according to documents filed in district court last week in Houston.

Julia Poff, 46, mailed the devices in October 2016, along with a third package that she sent to the Social Security Administration, according to the indictment. Of the three packages, only Abbott opened his. It did not detonate because “he did not open it as designed,” according to court documents.

Had the devices exploded, they would have caused “severe burns and death” to the politicians, who federal investigators believe Poff targeted for multiple reasons. She was known to dislike Obama, the investigators said, and was “upset with Greg Abbott” because “she had not received support from her ex-husband,” according to the documents. Poff had previously applied for Social Security benefits but was denied, the documents said.

Investigators traced the devices to Poff after examining several of their components, including a cigarette box and a salad dressing cap. The cigarettes were bought at a truck stop near Poff’s home in Brookshire, Tex., 30 miles west of Houston. The salad dressing was a brand Poff was known to have bought for an “anniversary dinner,” the indictment said.

Most tellingly, the court documents noted, hair belonging to one of Poff’s two cats was found under the address label of the package sent to Obama.

Poff has been charged with six counts, including mailing injurious articles and transporting explosives with the intent to kill and injure. She has also been charged with defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps, and falsely declaring bankruptcy — issues that came up during the course of the investigation.

The charges come at a time of heightened vigilance for many politicians. In July, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson opened fire at a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, seriously injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and several others. And earlier this month, a neighbor of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) attacked him in his yard, breaking six of the senator’s ribs.

According to Nathan Kalmoe, an assistant professor of political communication at Louisiana State University, who has studied political violence, an individual’s support for such acts is often influenced by both her personality and the political environment.

“Many worry that political rhetoric is fueling the fire,” Kalmoe wrote in The Washington Post. “My findings suggest this concern is valid.”

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