Wife Of Orlando Shooter Arrested
The wife of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub last year has been arrested in connection with the mass shooting, the U.S. attorney general has said.
Trump Administration Considers Moving White House Press Briefings
Senior members of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s administration say they are considering moving White House press briefings to a new location with more space, but reporters oppose the proposal saying it would hurt their ability to do their jobs.
The briefings take place in a room in the West Wing of the White House, which has about 50 seats and work spaces for television, radio and print reporters who cover the president on a daily basis.
Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told ABC News on Sunday there were discussions about moving briefings to a building next door to the White House that could provide four times as much space. He cited the number of journalists who attended Trump’s first press conference since his election, held last week in New York, saying if more people were involved, “that would be a good thing.”
Vice President Mike Pence told CBS News that no decisions have been made yet.
White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason met Sunday with Sean Spicer, who as Trump’s press secretary will be the one answering reporters’ questions at the daily briefings.
Mason said the group has always advocated for “increasing access and transparency” to benefit the public, but that he made clear to Spicer a move out of the West Wing would be “unacceptable.”
“Access in the West Wing to senior administration officials, including the press secretary, is critical to transparency and to journalists’ ability to do their jobs,” Mason said in a statement.
Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday that the media should apologize for reporting on unsubstantiated claims that Russia had a file of compromising information about Trump. He also criticized NBC News and the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live, which began its latest episode with a scene about Trump’s press conference.
Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th U.S. president on Friday at noon in Washington, as President Barack Obama leaves after eight years as the American leader.
“Inauguration Day is turning out to be even bigger than expected,” Trump claimed in another tweet.
On Sunday, military units staged a rehearsal for the event. Hundreds of thousands of people, some of them protesters against Trump’s victory, are expected to crowd the capital city’s National Mall to witness his swearing-in, his inaugural address and his afternoon parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.
One Army band member, vocalist Greg Lowery, played the role of Trump in the rehearsal, saying he wanted to “look the part as much as possible” of the incoming president, even buying a red tie for the occasion, just as Trump often wears.
As Trump assumes power, he faces a country still divided over his election. Already unpopular when he was elected, one poll showed Trump’s approval rating on a variety of assessments has dropped even further since the November 8 balloting.
Controversies surrounding the election are still consuming political Washington.
Debates fill news shows about the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the election through hacking of a key Democrat’s computer to try to help Trump win, and a Justice Department watchdog’s announcement last week that he would examine the role Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey played in his handling of an investigation of Clinton’s use of an unsecured private email server while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
At least 18 Democratic lawmakers are saying they will boycott Trump’s inauguration.
Civil rights icon John Lewis said Trump is not a “legitimate president” because of the Russian hacking of thousands of emails of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.
Trump assailed Lewis in a Twitter comment Saturday, saying he should spend more time working to improve life in his Atlanta, Georgia congressional district, “rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”
Vice President-elect Pence on Sunday called Lewis’s comments questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s election “deeply disappointing” and said he hopes Lewis will reconsider them.
On Fox News, outgoing Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan criticized Trump’s penchant for “talking and tweeting,” saying it was not in U.S. interests.
Brennan, likely to soon be replaced by CIA director-designate Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, said national security issues Trump will face are not “about him.”
Brennan said Trump is “going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting.”
South Korean Prosecutors Seek Arrest of Samsung Chief
South Korean prosecutors investigating the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of the country’s president have asked for the arrest of Samsung’s acting chief, Lee Jae-yong, son of the Samsung group chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been ill in recent years.
The prosecutors have been conducting a probe into Samsung’s financial support of a business and foundations backed by President Park Geun-hye’s friend Choi Soon-sil. Samsung is South Korea’s biggest conglomerate.
Park is accused of colluding with her longtime friend to force or bribe Korean conglomerates to donate over $65 million to two dubious foundations, and to turn a blind eye while Choi funneled some of the funds and lucrative side contracts to companies owned by herself and her friends.
In December, the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to impeach Park on charges of abuse of power, bribery and infringement of press freedom in connection with an alleged multi-million dollar influence peddling scandal.
Park has been suspended from office, but continues to live in the presidential Blue House.
Pakistani Military Chief Tells Afghan President Terrorist ‘Safe Havens’ Eliminated
Pakistani military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that his troops have destroyed “all safe havens” for terrorists in Pakistan.
Former Serbian Foreign Minister Jeremic To Seek Serbian Presidency
Former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has announced that he will run for president in the election scheduled for later this year.
Turkish Cargo Plane Crashes In Kyrgyz Village
At least 32 people are reported dead in a crash of a Turkish cargo plane near the airport in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
Trump: ‘Insurance For Everybody’ Close to Being Ready
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump says his plan to replace President Obama’s healthcare program is “formulated down to the final strokes,” and will be unveiled soon.
In an interview with the Washington Post posted late Sunday, Trump said his goal was “insurance for everybody,” but that he declined to provide specifics.
One thing he did specify was wanting to bring down healthcare costs by publicly pressuring drug companies to lower their prices.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a major priority for Trump in the beginning of his administration. The program passed Congress in 2010 when Democrats were in control, but now Republicans have majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and with Trump as president they can take action to reform a system they say is too expensive and does not work.
Last week, Congress approved the beginning steps toward repeal, though Republicans have not made clear a plan to replace the program, which brought health insurance to more than 20 million Americans.
Trump also told the Post his team is close to finalizing plans for what he called “great” tax cuts for the middle class and reducing corporate tax rates to 15 percent in a bid to boost job creation.
The president-elect also gave a joint interview with The Times of London and Germany’s Bild newspaper, telling them German Chancellor Angela Merkel erred in letting hundreds of thousands of migrants into Germany last year.
Trump said, “I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking in all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they came from.”
Most of the migrants are Muslims who poured into Western Europe to escape war, terrorism and poverty in places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Trump hastened to add that he always had “great respect” for Merkel and called her a “fantastic” leader. But he said Germans “got a clear impression” of the consequences of her immigration policy — a likely reference to the December Christmas market truck attack in Berlin that killed 12.
The driver who mowed down the shoppers was Tunisian and came to Germany before Merkel opened the door to Middle Eastern war refugees. He fled to Italy after the attack and later was killed by police.
Trump blamed the refugee crisis as the reason for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, calling it “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I do believe this. If they (the EU) hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many…I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”
But he still called Brexit a good thing, and forecast other countries bailing out of the EU, saying they, like Britain, want their own identity.
“I do think keeping it together is not going to be as easy as a lot of people think. If refugees keep pouring into different parts of Europe…people are angry about it.”
Trump also told the British and German newspapers that NATO is “obsolete” because “it was designed many many years ago…the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay…it’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror.”
But he immediately followed that by saying NATO is “very important to me.”
Gambia’s President-elect Arrives in Senegal After Talks Fail
Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow has left the country for neighboring Senegal, a coalition member and local media said on Sunday, a day after West African leaders failed to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step aside.
Barrow, a former real estate agent, won a Dec. 1 election in the former British colony by a slim margin. Long-ruling Jammeh conceded defeat but then changed his mind, plunging one of West Africa’s tourist hot spots into crisis and dimming hopes for democracy in a region accustomed to coups and autocratic rule.
Barrow, backed by the West and the African Union, is due to be inaugurated on Jan. 19, although Jammeh is seeking to block this pending a Supreme Court ruling on his legal challenge to poll results.
“He [Barrow] is in Dakar. He will be back for the inauguration and we are mobilising the whole country for that,” said Isatou Toure, a member of Barrow’s coalition.
A spokesman for Senegal’s government was not immediately able to confirm his arrival which was also reported by state-owned news agency APS. Toure did not say why Barrow had gone to Dakar, although other supporters said he felt vulnerable given a lack of security.
The regional mediation mission to Banjul on Saturday, led by Nigeria’s President Buhari Muhammadu Buhari and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was seen as the last attempt at a diplomatic resolution to the political impasse.
Talks with regional bloc ECOWAS in December had also failed.
The bloc will seek formal approval to send troops if Jammeh continues to refuse to step aside, U.N. Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel Mohammed Ibn Chambas said earlier this week.
“His Excellency the President reiterated his position and that of The Gambia Government,” said a statement for Gambia’s President on the State House website after Saturday’s meeting.
Jammeh has cited irregularities in the polling process and is challenging the election results at Gambia’s Supreme Court.
But the court could not rule on his challenge this week because judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone did not show up.
The Supreme Court has indicated it may not be able to sit again until May.