Trump: ‘What happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle’

President Trump on Tuesday praised the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department following the mass shooting Sunday night, saying what happened in Nevada “is in many ways a miracle.”

“What happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job, and we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” Trump told reporters.

“But I do have to say how quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a miracle. They’ve done an amazing job.”

The shooting left 59 dead and more than 500 others injured when suspected gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

The attack has reignited the gun debate among lawmakers in Washington, D.C., with a number of Democrats calling for stricter gun regulations.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump left D.C. Tuesday morning en route to Puerto Rico to meet with officials and those affected by Hurricane Maria.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump contrasts Puerto Rico death toll to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’

President Donald Trump told Puerto Rican officials Tuesday they should be “very proud” that hundreds of people haven’t died after Hurricane Maria as they did in “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”

“Every death is a horror,” Trump said, “but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds of people that died — and you look at what happened here with, really, a storm that was just totally overpowering … no one has ever seen anything like this.”

“What is your death count?” he asked as he turned to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. “17?”

“16,” Rosselló answered.

“16 people certified,” Trump said. “Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.”

According to FEMA, 1,833 people died in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Before Trump arrived Tuesday, Rosselló said he expected the death count to rise.

“I’ve established from the get-go that due to the magnitude of this event it is likely that that number is going to go up,” Rosselló told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

The White House has pushed back on the notion that Maria is this administration’s version of Katrina, and the President praised relief efforts in Puerto Rico as he departed Washington Tuesday.

“I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico and it’s actually a much tougher situation,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “But now the roads are clear, communications starting to come back.”

On the ground in Puerto Rico, Trump also appeared to blame the island and its 3.5 million residents for throwing the federal budget “a little out of whack.”

“I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” Trump said with a grin. “Because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico and that’s fine, we’ve saved a lot of lives.”

But the bulk of Trump’s remarks on Tuesday focused on praising his administration’s response to the destructive hurricane, even as more than half of the island’s roughly 3.5 million residents still lack access to potable water and as nearly all of the island remains without power.

[CNN]

As humanitarian crisis unfolds in Puerto Rico, Trump tweets about island’s “massive debt”

Officials are calling the devastation in Puerto Rico a humanitarian disaster. Six days after Hurricane Maria hit, millions are struggling for basic necessities like adequate food, water, fuel and electricity. Eighty percent of the island’s transmission lines are down, and power may not be restored for more than a month.

In a series of tweets Monday night, President Trump said the U.S. territory’s old electrical grid was “devastated.” He also appeared critical of the island’s financial problems, tweeting they owed “billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

FEMA has sent out over 10,000 federal forces to work around the clock, reports CBS News’ David Begnaud.

Supplies are coming in slowly from the U.S. mainland to help millions still struggling across the island.

FEMA administrator Brock Long said at a press conference, “We’ve got a lot work to do. It’s the worst hurricane Puerto Rico has seen.”

Governor Ricardo Rosselló traveled with the National Guard to deliver a satellite phone to the mayor of San Sebastian. Satellite phones are critical in allowing senior government officials to communicate with local leaders in some of the hardest-hit areas.

“Two Category 5 hurricanes passing through an island is unprecedented and therefore the response needs to be unprecedented,” Rosselló said.

Only a handful of flights are trickling out of Puerto Rico’s main airport. Desperate travelers crowded the ticket counters hoping to get on one of the few flights leaving for the states.

“My mother needs dialysis. We’ve been here 26 hours,” one woman said.

“Why can’t food and water be sent there right now, I mean there are babies who are naked in strollers their parents are fanning them,” Begnaud asked Rosselló.

“Because of your reporting that I saw last night, I ordered food and snacks to be delivered to the airport today,” he replied.

“Ok I hear you, but it’s not getting to them,” Begnaud said.

I understand and that’s why immediately I’m taking action and I will as soon as we finish the interview I will make sure that water it’s on its way and food is on its way,” Rosselló said.

He kept his word. Food and snacks arrived within an hour, but he worries about the lasting effects if Washington doesn’t pass a financial aid package soon.

“Humanitarian crisis will come to the United States in the form of the 3.5 million U.S. citizens that live here,” Rosselló said. “And what you’re bound to see is a massive exodus of Puerto Ricans into the mainland. It’s going to be a problem for us, it’s going to be a problem for mainland as well.”

Puerto Rico’s governor has complimented the work FEMA is doing, and FEMA’s complimented the governor. They both complimented President Trump, but CBS News has asked where the aid is happening. The governor guaranteed that we would be able to see it.

[CBS News]

US Sees ‘No Indication’ Iran Launched a Ballistic Missile, Despite Trump Tweet

US intelligence radars and sensors “picked up no indication” of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the latest US assessment.

Iranian reports that the nation tested a new ballistic missile so far does not appear to be true, the official said, adding: “As far as we can see, it did not happen.”
State-run broadcaster Press TV reported the launch on Saturday, according to footage broadcast on Iranian state television.

“Iran has released footage of the successful test-launch of its new ballistic missile, Khorramshahr, a few hours after it was unveiled during a military parade in the capital city of Tehran,” Press TV said.

But the telemetry, or electronic signals, of a ballistic missile launch would have been picked up by a variety of US assets in the region who keep an around the clock eye on Iran’s weapons activities, the official said.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the apparent launch on Saturday: “Iran just test fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

The footage shown on Iranian television appears most likely to be a re-run of a previous test launch, the official said.

The official did not know if Trump received an intelligence briefing about the launch before sending the tweet.

Fox News was the first to report that the US believes the launch did not take place.

[CNN]

Trump Congratulates African Leaders for Making His Friends Rich

President Donald Trump on Wednesday was met with silence when he congratulated the leaders of African countries on the continent’s economic progress, telling them, “I’ve so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.”

Trump delivered the remark at a luncheon he hosted with the leaders of many of the 54 diverse nations on the African continent. And while Trump almost certainly meant it as compliment, and even seemed to pause for applause, not one attendee clapped.

For centuries, Europeans and Americans have exploited Africa’s natural resources and labor force, not least during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In the post-Colonial era, the U.S. government has supported dozens of authoritarian regimes on the African continent, while American companies have made billions of dollars from deals with dictatorships.

Since taking office in January, Trump has nominated ambassadors to only around a dozen African nations, despite having recalled all Obama-era ambassadors before he was inaugurated. This means that the vast majority of nations on the continent do not currently have a U.S. ambassador with whom they can conduct bilateral diplomacy.

During the same speech, Trump also mispronounced Namibia as “Nambia,” saying very clearly that “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”

A White House transcript confirmed that Trump meant to say Namibia.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

[CNBC]

Trump Retweets GIF of Him Hitting Clinton With Golf Ball

President Donald Trump retweeted an edited video Sunday morning that showed him swinging a golf club and appearing to hit his former presidential campaign rival Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.

The animated GIF image Trump retweeted spliced together footage of Trump taking a swing on a golf course with footage of Clinton tripping and falling as she boarded a plane in 2011 as secretary of state. The footage is edited to make it appear as though Clinton is hit in the back with a golf ball before her fall.

The tweet revealed a President still reverting to his old social media habits, namely, those likely to earn him quick criticism, less than two months after retired Gen. John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff.

While Kelly has not sought to stop Trump from tweeting, he has encouraged the President to allow him to vet the tweets before posting them — a request Trump has sometimes acquiesced to.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday about the President’s tweet and whether Kelly was aware of it.

The tweet, which came as Trump prepares to head to New York for a critical round of powerhouse diplomacy with world leaders at the United Nations, followed a week during which Clinton reemerged in the spotlight as she promoted her new book, “What Happened,” about the 2016 campaign, reviving her fiercest criticisms of Trump and his supporters and reigniting the debate about her stunning, unanticipated loss.

Trump slammed Clinton over her new book earlier this week too, tweeting that she “blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss.”

Trump’s Sunday morning Twitter post was one of more than a half-dozen supporters’ tweets the President retweeted Sunday before 8:30 a.m.

Those other tweets included an image predicting Trump would win every state for reelection in 2020, another showing Trump hauling US companies that have outsourced manufacturing abroad and a tweet claiming that “only true Americans can see that president Trump is making America great.”

[CNN]

Trump Mocks ‘Rocket Man’ Kim Jong-Un as Advisers Issue Warnings

Top advisers to Donald Trump on Sunday warned North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs and stop threatening America and its allies, or face destruction.

They did so after Trump tweeted about a phone call to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and appeared to mock Kim Jong-un.

“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night,” the US president wrote. “Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”

The latest bellicose language from Washington came just days after North Korea fired another ballistic missile, which overflew Japan, and Kim boasted that such efforts would continue as his country neared its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the US.

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, said North Korea was starting to “feel the pinch” of being “economically strangled” as recent sanctions have caused the country to be “cut off from the world”. But, she said, diplomatic and other non-military options were running out.

“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed,” the former South Carolina governor told CNN’s State of the Union. “We all know that and none of us want that. None of us want war. But … something is going to have to be done.”

North Korea will be high on the agenda at the UN general assembly in New York this week, after the UN security council voted unanimously for further sanctions. Asked about Trump’s description of such measures as merely “small steps” towards a solution of the North Korea problem, Haley said: “Everybody in the international community sees what a big deal it is.”

CNN host Dana Bash asked if Trump’s now infamous pledge to respond to any action against the US mainland or its territories with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” was an empty threat. She said it was not and that responsibility for any stepping up of action against North Korea now lay with the Pentagon and defense secretary James Mattis.

“We are trying to use every diplomatic possibility … [but] we have pretty much exhausted all the things we can do at the security council at this point,” Haley said. “I’m perfectly happy kicking this over to General Mattis now, because he has plenty of military options. We wanted to go through all the diplomatic options to get their attention first and if that doesn’t work, General Mattis will take care of it.”

National security adviser HR McMaster told ABC’s This Week Kim Jong-un would “have to give up his nuclear weapons because the president has said he’s not going to tolerate this regime threatening the United States and our citizens with a nuclear weapon”.

Asked if that meant Trump would launch a military strike in the event that North Korea did not comply, as it has shown no sign of doing, McMaster said: “He’s been very clear about that, that all options are on the table.”

The only concession was given by secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who said on CBS’s Face the Nation that the US still “seeks a peaceful solution” to the North Korean crisis. Pressure on the regime was “designed to bring North Korea to the table for productive and constructive dialogue”, he said.

But Tillerson also warned that “we do not have much time left” and said that if efforts to talk were to fail: “Our military option is the only one left.”

“We have tried a couple of times to signal to them that we are ready if they are ready [to talk], but they only thing they do is fire more missiles,” Tillerson said.

Trump is making his first appearance at the UN general assembly, giving a speech on Tuesday morning. He has called the world body weak, incompetent, bad for democracy and no friend of the US.

Haley said Trump would arrive on a “new day” at a UN more committed to action and reform under a new secretary general, António Guterres.

[The Guardian]

 

 

Trump: Hurricanes are Helping the Coast Guard Improve Its ‘Brand’

President Trump said Sunday that the major hurricanes hitting the U.S. are improving the “brand” of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Trump told a reporter that the country has “great people” responding to the massive storms and that “a group that really deserves tremendous credit is the United States Coast Guard,” according to a White House pool report.

“What they’ve done – I mean, they’ve gone right into that, and you never know. When you go in there, you don’t know if you’re going to come out. They are really – if you talk about branding, no brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard,” Trump said.

Trump also praised FEMA as “incredible” as Hurricane Irma made landfall on Florida on Sunday.

Trump’s comments came after returning from a Cabinet meeting at Camp David, where he and other administration officials received a briefing on Hurricane Irma.

Irma is the second major hurricane to strike the U.S. in recent weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas late last month.

[The Hill]

Trump Jokes About His Penis While Serving Food to Harvey Victims

President Trump joked that his hands were “too big” while putting on plastic gloves to serve food to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Saturday.

Video broadcast by Fox News shows Trump working at a food serving line at NRG Stadium in Houston. While putting on gloves, Trump turned to the members of the press and said, “My hands are too big.”

Trump returned to Texas on Saturday to visit with victims affected by Hurricane Harvey and volunteers coordinating relief efforts. Alongside first lady Melania Trump, he handed out food and played with children at the evacuation center.

“People appreciate what’s been done. It’s been done very efficiently and very well,” Trump said following the visit to a Houston disaster relief center, according to a White House pool report.

“As tough as this was [the response] has been a wonderful thing, I think, even for the country to watch.”

Trump visited Texas earlier this week following the storm, where he was briefed on rescue and recovery efforts. But some critics argued that trip lacked the president meeting with storm victims personally.

The president is also set to visit Louisiana, which was also ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, on Saturday.

[The Hill]

Media

Finland Says No Fighter Deal with Boeing After Trump’s Ad-Lib Comments

President Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday denied that Finland was buying new fighter jets from American planemaker Boeing (BA.N), following remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Finland is looking to replace its ageing fleet of 62 F/A-18 Hornet jets with multirole fighter aircraft in a procurement estimated at 7-10 billion euros by 2025.

“One of the things that is happening is you’re purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft from Boeing and it’s one of the great planes, the great fighter jets,” Trump said on Monday at a news conference with his Finnish counterpart in the White House.

Niinisto, who was standing next to Trump, looked surprised but did not follow up on the comment. He later denied the deal with Boeing on his Twitter account and on Tuesday in Washington.

“It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed … The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here,” Niinisto told Finnish reporters.

Helsinki is expected to request that European and U.S. planemakers provide quotations for new jets in 2018, with a final decision made in the early 2020s.

A government working group has listed possible candidates as Saab’s (SAABb.ST) Jas Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s (AVMD.PA) Rafale, Boeing’s Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) F-35 and the Eurofighter, made by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.

[Reuters]

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