Politics Exclusive: Trump says he is not concerned about being impeached, defends payments to women
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland•U.S. President Donald Trump sits for interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington U.S. President Donald Trump sits for an exclusive interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was not concerned that he could be impeached and that hush payments made ahead of the 2016 election by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to two women did not violate campaign finance laws.”It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview.”I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,” he said.Federal prosecutors in New York said last week that Trump directed Cohen to make six-figure payments to two women so they would not discuss their alleged affairs with the candidate ahead of the 2016 presidential election.They said the payments violated laws that stipulate that campaign contributions, defined as things of value given to a campaign to influence an election, must be disclosed, and limited to $2,700 per person.Democrats said such a campaign law violation would be an impeachable offense, although senior party leaders in Congress have questioned whether it is a serious enough crime to warrant politically charged impeachment proceedings.Impeachment requires a simple majority to pass the House of Representatives, where Democrats will take control in January. But removal of the president from office further requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans hold sway.Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in New York for his role in the payments to the two women – adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied having affairs with them.Earlier this year, Trump acknowledged repaying Cohen for $130,000 paid to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He previously disputed knowing anything about the payments.‘PEANUT STUFF’ Trump has slammed Cohen for cooperating with prosecutors, alleging that the lawyer is telling lies about him in a bid to get a lighter prison term. He has called for Cohen to get a long sentence and said on Tuesday his ex-lawyer should have known the campaign finance laws.”Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he’s doing,” Trump said when asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with Cohen.”Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”Asked about prosecutors’ assertions that a number of people who had worked for him met or had business dealings with Russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said: „The stuff you’re talking about is peanut stuff.”He then sought to turn the subject to his 2016 Democratic opponent.”I haven’t heard this, but I can only tell you this: Hillary Clinton – her husband got money, she got money, she paid money, why doesn’t somebody talk about that?” Trump said.The president said he could work with Democrats in Congress, but suggested that would not happen if they issued subpoenas and pursued investigations against him.”We’re going to go down one of two tracks. We’re either going to start the campaign and they’re going to do presidential harassment. Or we’re going to get tremendous amounts of legislation passed working together. There’s not a third track,” he said.”Look, they’ve been looking for two years about collusion. There’s no collusion,” he said.Trump has dismissed the special counsel’s probe into possible collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia as a witch hunt. (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)
In heated on-camera clash, Trump bickers with top Democrats on border wallBy Roberta Rampton and Susan Cornwell•Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down government over border wall By Roberta Rampton and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump openly fought with the top two Democratic lawmakers in the Oval Office on Tuesday about government funding, throwing into question whether a deal was possible ahead of a deadline later this month.In a remarkable public argument, the likes of which is seldom seen before cameras, Trump brawled with U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about funding for the wall he has promised to build on the southern border with Mexico.”If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other – whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call – I will shut down the government,” Trump said as the heated argument drew to a crescendo.”I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country,” he said before reporters left their ringside seats.Vice President Mike Pence sat beside Trump, silent and stone faced.Congress wants to finalise spending before a Dec. 21 deadline. While Trump’s fellow Republicans control the House of Representatives and Senate until next month, Democratic support is needed to pass spending legislation.If the impasse cannot be resolved by Dec. 21, about one-quarter of the federal government immediately would be left without funding. Money for the rest of the government already has been appropriated.Ironically, in boasting he was „proud” to shut down the government for border security, Trump would be shuttering the very agency in charge of border security – the Department of Homeland Security. In past shutdown battles, workers deemed „essential” were instructed to work.Other federal agencies that also would face closures include the departments of State, Commerce and Agriculture, while visitors would not be allowed into federal parks.Trump has asked Congress for $5 billion for border security, while Schumer and Pelosi said they offered to extend funding at current levels, around $1.3 billion. That is less than the $1.6 billion a bipartisan Senate committee approved.When he ran for president in 2016, Trump vowed that a U.S.-Mexico border wall would be built and that Mexico would pay the full cost, an idea the Mexican government never embraced.The meeting did not last long after reporters were ushered out of the Oval Office. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement it was a „constructive dialogue” and said Trump was „grateful” cameras captured him fighting to protect the border.Back on Capitol Hill, Schumer accused Trump of throwing a tantrum but said Trump told the Democrats he would consider their budget proposals, Schumer told reporters.Pelosi, who told reporters she thought the Democrats had left things „in a pretty good place,” said she had asked Trump to pray to about resolving the dispute, recounting the biblical story of King Solomon asking God for wisdom.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told reporters, „I’d still like to see a smooth ending here and I haven’t given up hope that’s what we’ll have.”‘IT’S CALLED TRANSPARENCY’ This rocky meeting was the first Trump held with Pelosi and Schumer since Democrats won control of the House in Nov. 6 elections, possibly foreshadowing battles to come next year.The fight kicked off when Pelosi told Trump that Americans did not want to see a „Trump shutdown,” touching a nerve. Trump cut off Pelosi, arguing that he could not advance a funding bill without Democratic votes in the Senate.”If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session, it would be done,” Trump bragged.”Well then – go do it, go do it,” Pelosi shot back.Senior White House staff watched the melee from the edges of the room, among them Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly, immigration adviser Stephen Miller and Shahira Knight, his legislative director.”I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this,” Pelosi said.”We’re doing this in a very friendly manner,” Trump said.Then Schumer brought up „Pinocchios” that Trump had been awarded by the Washington Post for misstatements on the issue and accused him of wanting to get his own way.”Let’s call a halt to this,” Pelosi said as the two went at it. „It’s not bad, Nancy – it’s called transparency,” Trump said.When Pelosi brought up Republican election losses in the House, Trump retorted that his party won the Senate.”When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble,” Schumer said to the astonished press capturing the back-and-forth.Trump said that both sides agreed there was a need for border security.”Yes, we do,” Schumer said.”Good,” Trump said.”We do,” Schumer said.”See, we get along,” Trump said.
• Rescue teams work at the scene of shooting in Strasbourg Rescue teams work at the scene of shooting in Strasbourg, France, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
(Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac in Strasbourg and Christian Hartmann, Emmanuel Jarry, Michel Rose, Richard Lough and Inti Landauro in Paris and Kevin Liffey in London; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Leslie Adler)
44 Former Senators Warn Current Lawmakers Not To Blow It On TrumpNick Visser•44 former senators warn current lawmakers to protect the “rule of law”A bipartisan group of 44 former Senators released a forceful editorial on Monday urging current members of the chamber to protect the “rule of law” and “be steadfast guardians of our democracy” as special counsel Robert Mueller ramps up his investigation surrounding the 2016 presidential election.In a letter published by The Washington Post, the group, which includes several long-serving members from both sides of the aisle including Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Al D’Amato (R-NY) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), warned of an approaching “dangerous period” that compelled them to “speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law” and the Constitution.“We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration,” the group wrote. “The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.”
Video: Trump Faces Legal, Political Challenges Amid Mueller Probe
The comments come as Mueller has ratcheted up action in his probe of the last presidential election, including this week’s sentencing of President Donald Trump’s former attorney and longtime fixer Michael Cohen and news that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, lied to the special counsel.While Republicans will maintain control of the Senate next year, Democrats will soon have a substantial majority in the House of Representatives and have announced they plan to dig back into any connection between the Trump campaign and Russia. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca.), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has also said he plans to release documents and interviews to help aid Mueller’s probe.In their letter Monday, the former lawmakers urged the incoming Senate to set aside party affiliation at this pivotal time in history.“At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time,” they wrote. “Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.”
Read the entire editorial at The Washington Post.
5 missing Marines declared dead in warplanes crash off Japan MARI YAMAGUCHI•FILE – In this Dec. 6, 2018, file photo, Japan’s Coast Guard ship, top, and U.S. military plane are seen at sea off Kochi, southwestern Japan, during a search and rescue operation for missing crew members of a U.S. Marine refueling plane and fighter jet. The U.S. Marine Corps have declared that five crewmembers dead after their aircraft crashed last week off Japan’s southern coast and that their search has ended. (Kyodo News via AP, File)
TOKYO (AP) — The U.S. military said Tuesday that five missing crew members have been declared dead after their refueling plane collided with a fighter jet last week off Japan’s southern coast, and that search and recovery operations have ended after finding only one survivor.
The five were on a KC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft that collided last Thursday with an F/A-18 Hornet during regular training. The warplanes crashed into the sea south of Japan’s Shikoku island.
Two crew members in the F/A-18 were recovered after the accident, but one died. The U.S. Marines said the survivor was in stable condition when rescued.
The search, joined by Japanese and Australian forces, was halted Tuesday, and the cause of the crash is still under investigation, the Marines said in a statement.
It said the identities of the five people declared dead will be released after their next of kin are notified.
The Marines earlier identified the dead pilot of the F/A-18 as Capt. Jahmar Resilard, 28, of Miramar, Florida.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a message of condolences to U.S. President Donald Trump, while praying for a speedy recovery of the injured. Abe thanked American troops for their dedication and vowed to cooperate with Trump to further strengthen their alliance to promote regional peace and stability.
„The loss of the outstanding members of U.S. Marine Corps is my deepest regret, and I myself and the Japanese people share deep sorrow of the American people,” Abe said. „Japan-U.S. alliance is supported by the dedication of each U.S. military personnel, and I offer my heartfelt condolences to the victims.”
The crew members of the refueling aircraft were based at Iwakuni air station near Hiroshima as part of the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, whose call sign is Sumo.
„All of us in the Sumo family are extremely saddened following the announcement of the conclusion of search and rescue operation,” the squadron’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Mitchell T. Maury, said in the statement. „We know this difficult decision was made after all resources were exhausted in the vigorous search for the Marines.”
„Our thoughts are heavy and our prayers are with all family and friends of all five aircrew,” Maury said.
The Marines statement said it has not been confirmed whether the two planes were involved in aerial refueling when the collision occurred.
The crash is the latest in a series of recent accidents involving U.S. military forces deployed in and near Japan.
Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.
Two years ago, a MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft Osprey crashed during a nighttime refueling exercise off the southern island of Okinawa, injuring two crew members.
More than 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan under a security pact.
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Officials announced on Tuesday morning that Spirit Airlines is coming to Indianapolis International Airport.
The airline will launch with offer nonstop daily flights to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and Orlando International Airport starting on March 14, 2019. On May 2, seasonal flights running three times a week will begin to Myrtle Beach International Airport.
„Spirit Airlines chose Indy because of its economic growth and opportunity,” said Mario Rodriguez, executive director for Indianapolis Airport Authority, in a statement. „Coming out of the gate with not one, but three nonstop routes, and the fact it can connect to more than 70 cities, Spirit Airlines is making its confidence in Indianapolis emphatically known.”
These are not new destinations for the airport. Frontier, Southwest and Delta airlines already fly nonstop to Orlando International Airport. Frontier and Southwest fly nonstop to McCarran International Airport, while Allegiant Air offers nonstop flights to Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach and Orlando Sanford International Airport.
Spirit Airlines is a low-cost carrier based in Miramar, Florida. A quick search on March 14 shows a one-way fare to Orlando for $70.24, and a one-way flight to Las Vegas for $94.59. Wait until Saturday, March 16, and it’s $59.64.
On Spirit, passengers are allowed one small personal item, with added fees for carry-on or checked bags. If you want to choose your seat, it also costs extra. Print your boarding pass at home and it’s free, otherwise pay $2 to $10 to have your pass printed at the airport.
Spirit joins 11 other airlines at Indianapolis International Airport that offer an average of 145 daily flights to 51 nonstop destinations. In August, officials announced that 4.7 million passengers flew through Indianapolis from April to June this year, a historic high. This sets the airport to break the 2017 record of 8.77 million passengers.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Spirit Airlines to start daily nonstop flights at Indianapolis International Airport