US President Donald Trump’s communications director resigns

Trump’s communications director resigns

The White House on Tuesday said communications director Mike Dubke has resigned, the first in what is expected to be a series of moves to shake up Donald Trump’s press team.

Dubke, 47, occupied the high-powered but low-profile, post for three crisis-filled months. “I can confirm that Dubke has resigned,” an official told AFP.

No date for his departure, which has been in the works for almost two weeks, has been announced.

For months rumors have echoed around the West Wing about Trump being poised to fire his public relations staff en masse.

Trump’s communications director resigns

Many come from the Republican Party establishment and have been uneasy allies with the president.

Trump has privately and publicly expressed fury over a litany of bad headlines, lashing out at reporters, alleged “fake news” headlines and staff.

The president’s failure to pass significant legislation, legal challenges to his executive orders and a rolling scandal over his inner circle’s ties with Russia have hobbled his young administration.

That has put the future of press secretary Sean Spicer and his staff into doubt.

Although the White House communications director is a much less recognizable figure than Spicer, they are usually major players — defining how the West Wing communicates and shaping the media agenda.

During Barack Obama’s administration top aide and confidant Dan Pfeiffer held the post.

AFP

Norht Korea scares U.S., others with new anti-aircraft system

North Korea scares U.S., others with new anti-aircraft system

North Korea tested a new anti-aircraft system that leader Kim Jong Un says will “completely spoil the enemy’s dream to command the air,” the state news agency reported Sunday, following weeks of ballistic missile tests.

The KCNA news agency said glitches detected in an earlier test have been “perfectly overcome,” paving the way for the weapon to be mass produced and deployed nationwide, according to SkyNews.

State media reported the new weapon system is designed to “detect and strike different targets flying from any location.”

The latest test was attended by Kim Jong Un, in addition to three men believed to be the top officials in the reclusive country’s missile program.

The three men were identified by Reuters as Ri Pyong Chol, a former top air force general; Kim Jong Sik, a veteran rocket scientist; and Jang Chang Ha, the head of the Academy of National Defense Science, a weapons development and procurement centre.

North Korean state media said the weapons system would stop hostile nations “boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty.”

On Friday, officials said the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test this week.

The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said.

North Korea is now the focus of U.S. efforts because its leader has vowed to field a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory.

He has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, but Pentagon officials believe he is speeding in that direction.

Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said last week that “left unchecked,” Kim will eventually succeed.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, which is responsible for developing and testing the system, has scheduled the intercept test for Tuesday.

An interceptor is to be launched from an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and soar toward the target, which will be fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

If all goes as planned, the “kill vehicle” will slam into the ICBM-like target’s mock warhead high over the Pacific Ocean.

The target will be a custom-made missile meant to simulate an ICBM, meaning it will fly faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency.

The target is not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM.

“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Johnson said Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”

Source: Fox News

US President Donald Trump satisfied with outcome of 1st overseas trip

NEWS UPDATE – U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed satisfaction at the results of his first overseas trip, the U.S. Department of State, has said.

Trump told service members at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, that they are the greatest force for peace and justice the world has ever seen, the U.S. Department of State, said.

Trump spoke to service members and their families at the end of his first overseas trip as president, and he detailed the trip to them, according to the Department.

“Our travels took us to some of the holiest sites in the three Abrahamic religions, and to gatherings of both America’s oldest and newest friends.

“We travelled the world to strengthen longstanding alliances, and to form a new partnership among nations devoted to the task of eradicating the terrorism that plagues our planet,” Trump said.

The President said he was more confident than ever that the will existed for nations to work together against the terrorists that launched recent attacks in Manchester, England, and in Egypt.

“Together, civilized nations will crush the terrorists, block their funding, strip them of their territory, and drive them out of this Earth,” Trump told the service members.

Trump’s first stop on the trip was in Saudi Arabia, where he spoke at a summit of the leaders of more than 50 Muslim and Arab nations.

His second stop was in Israel and Palestine, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The U.S. leader said he believes both Netanyahu and Abbas sincerely wanted peace in the troubled region.

The president then stopped in Rome and met with Pope Francis: “It was truly an honour to meet the Pope and to pray for peace on those hallowed grounds,” he said.

Trump then moved on to Brussels for a NATO summit, saying he got a commitment from allies to increase their defense spending, and the alliance itself committed to joining the coalition against terror.

Finally, he attended the G-7 Summit in Taormina, Italy. “I called for much greater security and cooperation on matters of both terrorism and immigration migration to protect our citizens,” he said.

“The president believes he has ‘paved the way for a new era of cooperation among the nations of the world to defeat the common enemy of terrorism and provide our children with a much more hopeful future’.”

“And American service members provide much of the security and strength that will be needed against the terrorists.

“I want you to know that you have a commander in chief who will never, ever forget,” he said.

“My pledge to you is that we will always protect those who protect us. You are protecting us, and we will always remember that, and we will always, always protect you,” Trump, who returned to Washington DC at 9 p.m. Saturday, said.

United States President Trump to create ‘war room’ in White House

US President Donald Trump

Once President Trump wraps up an initial foreign trip that aides believe has gone very well, the Commander-in-Chief plans to strike quickly next week to beef up the White House staff with a “war room” aimed at taking the fight to the administration’s critics more aggressively, according to two advisers to the president.

The names of David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, two trusted hands from the Trump campaign, are being bantied about as possible additions to the White House staff.

But the advisers to the president stress both men are currently focused on continuing to help the president from outside, and no final decisions have been made on whether the president will ask them to officially join the administration or simply defend the president more aggressively from the outside.

The advisers to the president describe a hands-on Trump who is prepared to go on offense after realising perhaps belatedly that he has to get far more serious about two critical matters, pushing back against leakers in the federal government and dealing with the political damage from the various Russia investigations led by Congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“It’s all hands on deck,” said one of the advisers to the president who is involved in the planning.

The second adviser added bluntly, “there are going to be some changes” to the president’s existing staff.

However, both advisers were adamant about stressing that the continued speculation about a massive staff “shakeup” is overblown, and that there is nothing imminent in terms of potential changes for Press Secretary Sean Spicer and other top aides.

Instead, the president’s moves next week are more likely to be about addition than subtraction. “It is about bolstering and adding on to the staff,” noted one of the advisers.

The website Axios quoted one Trump ally as saying, “The White House is embracing the fight, which is going to last as long as Donald Trump is president. We’re getting street fighters ready to go.”

The president has already selected Mark Kasowitz, a tough New York lawyer, to lead his outside legal team to focus on the investigations.

One adviser to the President noted Kasowitz is “ready to rumble” with the President’s critics from outside the White House, so now the focus is who will be added to the West Wing to help Trump.

In the spotlight now are Bossie and Lewandowski, two people who have the trust of the president but did not join the administration in the early months.

Advisers now describe Bossie and Lewandowski as still wanting to help Trump from the outside, but both men would be honoured and hard-pressed to say no if the President asks them for more direct help when he returns from the foreign trip.

Lewandowski said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Wednesday night that he has no plans to join the administration and only goes to the White House as a visitor.

But he still left the door open by saying he would be honoured if the president wants him to work in the White House.

“My loyalty is to the president and the agenda he ran on,” Lewandowski said, adding “if I can help the president do that, of course.”

Source: Fox News

Appeal Court Judge Rebukes President Trump

Trump

In a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump, a U.S. Appeals Court refused on Thursday to reinstate his temporary travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations, delivering another blow to the White House in a legal battle likely headed to the Supreme Court.

The decision, written by Chief Judge Roger Gregory, described Trump’s executive order in forceful terms, saying it uses “vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

In a 10-3 ruling, a majority of judges on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the challengers to the ban -who included refugee groups and individuals – were likely to succeed on their claim that Trump’s order violates the U.S. Constitution’s bar on favoring one religion over another.

Citing statements by Trump during his presidential election campaign calling for a “Muslim ban,” Gregory wrote that a reasonable observer would likely conclude that the order’s “primary purpose is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

The appeals court was reviewing a March ruling by Maryland-based federal judge Theodore Chuang that blocked part of Trump’s March 6 executive order barring people from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the government put in place stricter visa screening.

A similar ruling against Trump’s policy from a Hawaii-based federal judge is still in place and the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals court is reviewing that decision.

The Trump administration has argued that the temporary travel ban is a national security measure aimed at preventing Islamist militant attacks.

The March ban was Trump’s second effort to implement travel restrictions through an executive order. The first, issued on Jan. 27 just a week after the Republican president took office, led to chaos and protests at airports before it was blocked by courts.

The second order was intended to overcome the legal issues posed by the original ban, but it was blocked by judges before it could go into effect on March 16.

The case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which would make the final decision.

Federal Appeal Court Upholds Decision Blocking Trump’s Travel Ban

Trump

NEWS UPDATE – A federal appeals court dealt another blow to President Trump’s revised travel ban targeting six Muslim-majority countries on Thursday, siding with groups that say the policy illegally targets Muslims.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that blocks the Republican’s administration from temporarily suspending new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. So, this latest ruling preserves the status quo.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban, which Mr. Trump’s administration had hoped would avoid the legal problems that the first version encountered.

“Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation,” the chief judge of the circuit, Roger L. Gregory wrote.

Trump will likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the venue the president’s travel ban has long been expected to reach.

United States Navy provokes China in China Sea

NEWS UPDATE – A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

It was the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Dewey traveled close to the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

The so-called freedom of navigation operation, which is sure to anger China, comes as Trump is seeking Beijing’s cooperation to rein in ally North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Territorial waters are generally defined by U.N. convention as extending at most 12 nautical miles from a state’s coastline.

One U.S. official said it was the first operation near a land feature which was included in a ruling last year against China by an international arbitration court in The Hague. The court invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea.

The U.S. patrol, the first of its kind since October, marked the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of the man-made islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and expressed concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

U.S. allies and partners in the region had grown anxious as the new administration held off on carrying out South China Sea operations during its first few months in office.