Trump says White House looking at payroll tax cut BY BRETT SAMUELS – 08/20/19 02:43 PM EDT
Trump once again walks back support for background checks on gun purchases
President Trump backed away Tuesday from his own call to strengthen background check requirements for firearm purchases that he made in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead.
Speaking to reporters gathered at the White House, Trump told reporters that “we have very, very strong background checks right now.”
The president said he is more interested in addressing mental health than addressing gun control and that his administration is “looking at mental institutions.”
“I’ve said it a hundred times: It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it is the person that pulls the trigger,” Trump continued.
Research has turned up little evidence of a correlation between mental health and gun violence. The National Center for Health Statistics, for instance, found that fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.
Trump’s latest comments on background checks represent a marked shift from just two weeks ago, when he first tweeted about the massacres in Texas and Ohio.
„We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 5. “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”
Two days later, before traveling to console victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Trump again signaled his support for expanding background check legislation. “I’m looking to do background checks,” Trump told reporters. „I think background checks are important.”
Before departing for a vacation on Aug. 9, Trump again touted the need for background checks on firearm purchases. “I think meaningful background checks are a real positive,” Trump said on the South Lawn. “I don’t just say ‘background checks.’ Because we passed background checks a number of times, but … everybody knew they weren’t that strong.”
So what changed? First, the National Rifle Association released a statement blaming mental illness for the slayings that signaled it would not support stricter background checks.
Then, according to the New York Times, Trump spoke with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and other gun rights advocates during the president’s stay at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J. By Monday, Trump had “started to move on” from pursuing gun control reforms, a White House official told the Daily Beast.
On Tuesday, the Atlantic reported that Trump called LaPierre earlier in the day to assure him background checks were “off the table.”
“We’ve seen this movie before,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday. “President Trump, feeling public pressure in the immediate aftermath of a horrible shooting, talks about doing something meaningful to address gun violence, but inevitably, he backtracks in response to pressure from the NRA.”
In the aftermath of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, Trump also came out in support of strengthening background checks on firearm purchases. “We’re going to be very strong on background checks. We’re going to be doing very strong background checks,” Trump said the week following the shooting.
Days later, after meeting privately with NRA officials, Trump dropped his call for new background check regulations. Earlier this year, the president threatened to veto legislation passed in the House that would have tightened background checks.
On Tuesday, Trump refused to say whether he would support either of two Democratic-led bills seeking to bolster background checks, but he portrayed Democrats as “weak” when it comes to the Second Amendment.
“A lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment,” Trump said in the Oval Office.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who spoke with Trump last week, said Tuesday that the president expressed support for background checks legislation in their conversation.
“Until I hear directly from him, I’m not willing to concede that history repeated itself and that he has walked away from the commitment he made,” Murphy said in a statement. “But it’s time for Republicans and President Trump to decide whose side they’re on. Are they going to stand with the 90% of Americans who want universal background checks, or are they going to once again kowtow to the desires of the gun lobby?”
The House measures were strongly opposed by the NRA, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring them up for a vote.
After the massacres in Texas and Ohio, Trump said he had spoken with McConnell and insisted he and the Kentucky Republican were on the same page regarding background checks.
“Mitch wants to do something,” Trump said. “He wants to do something. He wants to do it, I think, very strongly. He wants to do background checks, and I do too, and I think a lot of Republicans do.”
The last significant gun control measure to pass Congress was 1994’s assault-weapons ban. It expired a decade later and lawmakers did not renew it.
After the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Trump’s Justice Department issued an executive order essentially banning bump stocks, which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire like automatics. Former President Barack Obama issued an executive order that would have restricted firearms sales to people receiving Social Security benefits for mental disability, but Trump, in his first full month in office, signed legislation rolling back that policy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump acknowledged Tuesday his aggressive China trade policies may mean economic pain for Americans but insisted they’re needed for more important long-term benefits. He contended he does not fear a recession but is nonetheless considering new tax cuts to promote growth.
Asked if his trade war with China could tip the country into recession, Trump brushed off the idea as „irrelevant” and said it was imperative to „take China on.”
„It’s about time, whether it’s good for our country or bad for our country short term,” he said.
Paraphrasing a reporter’s question, Trump said, „Your statement about, ‘Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?’ OK? The fact is somebody had to take China on.”
The president indicated that he had no choice but to impose the tariffs that have been a drag on U.S. manufacturers, financial markets and, by some measures, American consumers.
Trump was clear that he didn’t think the nation is at risk of a recession and that a boom was possible if the Federal Reserve would slash its benchmark interest rate.
„We’re very far from a recession,” Trump said. „In fact, if the Fed would do its job, I think we’d have a tremendous spurt of growth, a tremendous spurt.”
Yet he also said he is considering a temporary payroll tax cut and indexing to inflation the federal taxes on profits made on investments — moves designed to stimulate faster growth. He downplayed any idea that these thoughts indicate a weakening economy , saying, „I’m looking at that all the time anyway.”
Asked about his remarks, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, „The president does not believe we are headed for a recession. The economy is strong because of his policies.”
Trump faces something of an inflection point on a U.S. economy that appears to be showing vulnerabilities after more than 10 years of growth. Factory output has fallen and consumer confidence has waned as he has ramped up his trade war with China. In private, Trump and his advisers have shown concern that a broader slowdown, if not an outright recession, could arrive just as he is seeking reelection based on his economic record.
Trump rattled the stock and bond markets this month when he announced plans to put a 10% tax on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. The market reaction suggested a recession might be on the horizon and led Trump to delay some of the tariffs that were slated to begin in September, though 25% tariffs are already in place for $250 million in other Chinese goods.
The president has long maintained that the burden of the tariffs is falling solely on China, yet that message was undermined by his statements to reporters Tuesday prior to a meeting in the Oval Office with the president of Romania.
„My life would be a lot easier if I didn’t take China on. But I like doing it because I have to do it,” Trump said.
The world economy has been slowing in recent months, and recent stock market swings have added to concerns that the U.S. economy is not immune. A new survey Monday showed a big majority of economists expecting a downturn to hit by 2021.
Addressing that possibility, Trump focused anew on pressuring the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates. Presidents have generally avoided criticizing the Federal Reserve publicly, but Trump has shown no inclination to follow that lead. Rather, he’s positioning Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to take the fall if the economy swoons.
„I think that we actually are set for a tremendous surge of growth, if the Fed would do its job,” Trump said. „That’s a big if.”
Trump recommended a minimum cut of a full percentage point in the coming months.
Donald Trump has said it would be appropriate to let Russia join the G7 group of advanced industrialised countries.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, the US leader noted his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had pushed for Russia’s expulsion out of what used to be the G8 because President Vladimir Putin „outsmarted” him.
„But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Mr Trump said.
Russia was pushed out of the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
He also said that John Sullivan, the US deputy secretary of state, „could very well be” the next US ambassador to Russia.
Mr Trump, who was hosting Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, indicated that Mr Sullivan was being considered for the job.
„He’s somebody that is being put up and respected very much… very respected. I know that Mike Pompeo likes him very much, and he’s very respected. He could very well be [my nominee],” he told reporters.
It was not the first time Mr Trump has suggested Russia be brought back into the G7, which groups the US, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada – the countries representing 58% of the global net wealth of $317tn (£260tn).
He said in 2018 that Russia should attend a forthcoming G7 summit in Canada, with a Kremlin spokesman seeming to reject the idea, saying Russia was focused on other formats.
President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not choose the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow.
The US leader has periodically called for closer ties with Russia, despite his administration’s policy including strong sanctions against Moscow.
Last week, US administration officials knocked down media reports that Stephen Biegun, the US envoy for North Korea, was being considered as the next ambassador for Russia.
If Mr Sullivan is nominated for the role, he would succeed Jon Huntsman, who resigned earlier this month amid speculation he plans to run for governor of Utah.
Trump was scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen on Sept. 2 for a meeting with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. But he wrote in a pair of tweets late Tuesday that the meeting is off.
“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump wrote.
“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct,” Trump said. “I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
Trump’s interest in buying Greenland – a self-governing territory of Denmark – first surfaced in news reports last week.
Trump later confirmed his interest in buying the island, telling reporters, “We’re looking at it.”
Frederiksen dismissed Trump’s offer as “absurd.”
“Greenland is not for sale,” she said while traveling with Greenlandic Premier Kim Kielsen to visit children from a Greenlandic orphanage. “Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland.”
Trump’s visit to Denmark was to have been the final leg of a trip that also includes a stop in Warsaw, Poland, for ceremonies commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump cancels meeting with Danish PM over reaction to Greenland offer
President Trump said on Tuesday that he was unmoved by Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s tearful account of visiting her Palestinian family in Jerusalem as a child, delivered at a press conference where she and Rep. Ilhan Omar discussed their aborted trip to Israel and the West Bank.
“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears,” the president tweeted. “I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”
Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, has no record of committing violence and it’s unclear what Trump meant by the reference. He has sought to paint her and Rep. Omar, D-Minn., along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., as the “leaders” of the Democratic Party.
Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are outspoken critics of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and vocal supporters of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. They were scheduled to arrive in the region on Sunday on a trip that was initially approved by the Israeli government.
But last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from Trump, announced that Israel had reversed its position, citing a law that permits the government to keep out foreign nationals who support a boycott of the Jewish state.
The Israeli government then granted Tlaib’s request for a “humanitarian” visit to her Palestinian grandmother in the West Bank, but the Michigan congresswoman backed out of the trip, accusing the Israeli government of using her family as leverage against her.
“The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter — reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal,” she said in a statement. “Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me — it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”At the press conference, the two representatives were joined by Jewish constituents of Omar’s Minnesota district and representatives of progressive Jewish organizations who said they supported the congresswomen.Tlaib became emotional as she described her grandmother’s reaction to her decision not to visit.“She said I’m her dream manifested,” Tlaib said. “I’m her free bird. So why would I come back and be caged and bow down?”While Trump and several Republicans have accused Tlaib of being anti-Semitic, IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish group that supports Tlaib, sees the president as the one spreading hate.“American Jews see through Trump’s lies,” Emily Mayer, IfNotNow’s spokeswoman, said in a statement to Yahoo News. “We watched as his 2016 campaign regularly used anti-Semitic tropes and inspired the rise of white nationalism. We’re still watching as he spews anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Oval Office, inspiring mass violence — and putting so many Americans, including our community, in real danger.“Rashida has been one of the strongest allies of the Jewish people,” Mayer added. “Trump is once again cynically weaponizing our community’s pain to brush aside legitimate criticism of Israel’s human rights violations.”_Download the Yahoo News app to customize your experience.
On Monday in federal court in Sacramento, a man accused of coming to the United States from Mexico and voting illegally in elections for the past 20 years went on trial on charges of aggravated identity theft, voting by an alien and making a false statement on a passport application.But there’s a twist.Gustavo Araujo Lerma is an avowed Trump supporter, and evidence expected to be introduced in his trial includes letters of thanks from Trump, former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel.A June 2, 2017, letter from Trump to the defendant assures him that the president and Vice President Mike Pence “are deeply grateful for your resolve to help us make American safer, stronger and more prosperous than ever before.”The letter was addressed to Hiram Enrique Velez – the name of a deceased American citizen whose identity Lerma allegedly assumed years ago to win legal status for his wife and their two children, who were all born in Mexico, according to prosecutors.“The evidence will show that the defendant was born in Mexico in 1955, married a woman named Maria Manriquez in 1982, and had two children with her in Mexico in the 1980s,” according to a trial brief filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Lydon and Shea Kenny. “By the early 1990s, he began living in the United States, fraudulently using the identity of a Puerto Rican-born United States citizen named Hiram Velez.”Lerma, a 64-year-old Sacramento resident, was indicted in 2017 by a federal grand jury and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.The government says evidence it will use against Lerma includes a letter he mailed from jail to Hiram Velez’ mother “requesting her help in his upcoming trial” and saying he bought a birth certificate and Social Security number for Velez while living in Chicago.Prosecutors plan to offer up a Sacramento County elections official as a witness and say Lerma went to the polls in five elections and signed in as “Hiram Velez.”Assistant Federal Defender Doug Beevers argues that his client, whom he refers to as “Velez,” was entitled to use the name and cannot be found guilty unless the government “proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew that his name was not Hiram Enrique Velez.”“Mr. Velez contends that he was entitled to use the name Hiram Enrique Velez because under California common law a person may change his name at any time without initiating legal proceedings,” Beevers wrote.“Defendant has taken the position that he has adopted the name Hiram Enrique Velez for all purposes and will introduce the testimony of family members including his children who know him only as Hiram Enrique Velez,” Beevers wrote. “Defense counsel intends to state his appearance as counsel for the defendant ‘Hiram Enrique Velez’ whom the government claims is Gustavo Araujo-Lerma.”The trial before U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez is expected to last through the week.
China’s military could use missiles to overwhelm American military bases in Asia within hours, a think tank has warned.
The report said China has deployed a “formidable array of precision missiles and other counter-intervention systems to undercut America’s military primacy” in the region.
“This growing arsenal of accurate long-range missiles poses a major threat to almost all American, allied and partner bases, airstrips, ports and military installations in the Western Pacific,” it added.
“As these facilities could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict, the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] missile threat challenges America’s ability to freely operate its forces from forward locations throughout the region.”
The report described the US military as an “atrophying force that is not sufficiently ready, equipped or postured for great power competition in the Indo-Pacific”.
It said Washington’s commitment to nearly two decades of wars in the Middle East and budget instability has “dangerously overstretched its defence resources”, leaving US forces “ill-prepared” for a confrontation with China.
“China, by contrast, is growing ever more capable of challenging the regional order by force as a result of its large-scale investment in advanced military systems,” the report added.
While the US was still likely to win an extended war, the report warned China could use “limited force to achieve a fait accompli victory before America can respond”.
The Sydney think tank recommended that the US and its regional allies, such as Australia and Japan, should pursue a “collective deterrence” policy in the region.
Such a policy would include establishing new high-end military exercises in the region and expanding those which already take place.
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The report also said American partners will need to improve their own militaries in order to bolster weaknesses in the US military’s regional power.
Leaders dismiss Sara Netanyahu’s Ukrainian bread blunder
JERUSALEM/KIEV (Reuters) – Israeli and Ukrainian leaders have come to the defense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara after she appeared to toss away a piece of bread offered to her at an official Ukrainian welcoming ceremony.
Netanyahu and his wife, on a two-day official trip to Ukraine, were greeted at the airport upon their arrival overnight between Sunday and Monday.
Footage showed Netanyahu and Sara disembarking the plane and being greeted by women in traditional Ukrainian embroidered dress holding out a tray with bread on it.
A smiling Netanyahu then breaks off a piece of bread and eats it. He then breaks off what appears to be a very small piece for Sara and hands it to her. Sara takes it, looks at it and discards it.
The incident was widely reported in Ukraine, where it drew mixed reactions, some angry by what was seen as Sara Netanyahu’s disrespect and others calling for the apparent misunderstanding not to be blown out of proportion.
Bread has an almost sacred status for many Ukrainians who see it as a symbol of life and use it in traditional ceremonies.
In Israel, local media described the incident as a gaff that had angered the prime minister’s Ukrainian hosts.
Netanyahu posted a video to his Facebook page, in which he dismissed the incident. „I am here on a historic visit to Ukraine. But it’s doubtful this visit would have gotten such a boost in media attention had there been no bread incident.
„The Ukrainian president’s chief of staff … said it is clear that Mrs. Netanyahu had no intention to disrespect Ukraine. He said ‘It’s complete nonsense’,” said Netanyahu.
Israeli Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman, on the delegation to Kiev, told Israeli Army Radio on Tuesday that Sara Netanyahu did not toss the bread, but rather, that it had simply crumbled away in her hand.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s spokeswoman, Iuliia Mendel told the Interfax Ukraine news agency on Monday: „This was done inadvertently and is in no way a manifestation of disrespect for Ukraine.”
Netanyahu and his wife have a stormy relationship with the Israeli media, which they have both accused of providing unfair and negative coverage of them.
(Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
Oil steadies as hopes of easing trade tensions lend support