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Trump calls for NFL rule to make players stand during the national anthem

President Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to call for an NFL rule to stop players from kneeling during the national anthem. 

There is a meme going around that gives the impression that the NFL already has such a rule in place.

But, according to some excellent research and reporting by the Indiana Star, that quote is not actually from the 2017 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League.

Instead, it's a part of the league's game operations manual, which is distributed to every NFL team. So, technically, "it’s policy, it’s not a rule," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Indiana Star.

"I think where people are getting confused is, rules, that’s like holding or defensive pass interference, that’s a rule. This is policy."

McCarthy told the Indiana Star that players who didn't take the field or protested during the anthem would not be penalized.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart declined to comment on Trump's tweet during a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning.

In addition to calling for an NFL rule requiring players to stand for the national anthem, President Trump also tweeted on Tuesday morning about football ratings and on the Dallas Cowboys' demonstration on "Monday Night Football."

White House

Trump says he'll visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday

President Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Committee on Ways and Means in the White House on Tuesday. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Committee on Ways and Means in the White House on Tuesday. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump says he'll visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico next Tuesday. 

Trump announced the visit after the administration came under criticism for its response to the damage on the island that is home to more than 3 million U.S. citizens. The island has been coping with shortages of food, drinking water, electricity and various forms of communication after Hurricane Maria struck earlier this month. 

Trump said Tuesday is the earliest he can visit without disrupting recovery operations. 

He said he may also visit the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Trump says Puerto Rico is important to him. He says Puerto Ricans are “great people and we need to help them.” 
 

White House

Ivanka Trump's business ties shrouded in secrecy in China

 (Mandel Ngan / AFP-Getty Images)
(Mandel Ngan / AFP-Getty Images)

It is no secret that the bulk of Ivanka Trump's merchandise comes from China. But just which Chinese companies manufacture and export her handbags, shoes and clothes is more secret than ever, according to an Associated Press investigation.

In the months since she took her White House role, public information about the companies importing Ivanka Trump goods to the U.S. has become harder to find. Information that once routinely appeared in private trade tracking data has vanished, leaving the identities of companies involved in 90% of shipments unknown. Even less is known about her manufacturers. Trump's brand, which is still owned by the first daughter and presidential advisor, declined to disclose the information.

The deepening secrecy means it's unclear who Trump's company is doing business with in China, even as she and her husband, Jared Kushner, have emerged as important conduits for top Chinese officials in Washington. The lack of disclosure makes it difficult to understand whether foreign governments could use business ties with her brand to try to influence the White House — and whether her company stands to profit from foreign government subsidies that can destroy American jobs. Such questions are especially pronounced in China, where state-owned and state-subsidized companies dominate large swaths of commercial activity.

"There should be more transparency, but right now, we do not have the legal mechanism to enforce transparency unless Congress requests information through a subpoena," said Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush and is part of a lawsuit against President Donald Trump accusing him of constitutional violations. "I don't know how much money she's making on this and why it's worth it. I think it's putting our trade policy in a very awkward situation."

An AP review of the records that are available about Ivanka Trump's supply chain found two potential red flags. In one case, a province in eastern China announced the award of export subsidies to a company that shipped thousands of Ivanka Trump handbags between March 2016 and February of this year, Chinese public records show — a possible violation by China of global fair trade rules, trade experts said.

The AP also found that tons of Ivanka Trump clothing were exported from 2013 to 2015 by a company owned by the Chinese government, according to public records and trade data. It is unclear whether the brand is still working with that company or other state-owned entities. Her brand has pledged to avoid business with state-owned companies now that she's a White House advisor, but contends that its supply chains are not its direct responsibility.

Ivanka Trump's brand doesn't actually make its products directly. Instead, it contracts with licensees who oversee production of her merchandise. In exchange, those licensees pay the brand royalties. The AP asked Ivanka Trump's brand for a list of its suppliers. The company declined to disclose them. The clothing, footwear and handbag licensees contacted by AP also declined to reveal source factories.

Abigail Klem, president of IT Operations LLC, which manages Ivanka Trump's brand, said the company does not contract with foreign state-owned companies or benefit from Chinese government subsidies. However, she acknowledged that its licensees might.

"We license the rights to our brand name to licensing companies that have their own supply chains and distribution networks," Klem said in an email. "The brand receives royalties on sales to wholesalers and would not benefit if a licensee increased its profit margin by obtaining goods at a lower cost," she added.

But Michael Stone, chairman of Beanstalk, a global brand licensing agency, said lower production costs for licensees ultimately would benefit Ivanka Trump by freeing up money for marketing or lower retail prices, both of which drive sales.

"It gives her a competitive advantage and an indirect benefit to her financially," Stone said. "The more successful the licensee is the more successful Ivanka Trump is going to be."

The AP identified companies that sent Trump products to the United States by looking at shipment data maintained by ImportGenius and Panjiva Inc., private companies that independently track global trade. Panjiva's records show that 85% of shipments of her goods to the U.S. this year originated in China and Hong Kong, but beyond that, it's becoming more difficult to map the brand's global footprint.

The companies that shipped Trump merchandise to the U.S. are listed for just five of 57 shipments logged by Panjiva from the end of March, when she officially became a presidential advisor, through mid-September. Panjiva collects data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which did not immediately release the missing data to AP.

While in many cases the manufacturer ships goods directly, merchandise can also be made by one company and shipped by another trading or consolidation company.

There used to be more visibility. Last year, 27% of the companies that exported Ivanka Trump merchandise to the U.S. were identified in Panjiva's records, and in 2014, a full 95% were named. For two of Trump's licensees — G-III Apparel Group Ltd. and Marc Fisher Footwear — the number of shipments appears to plunge in 2015, likely because they "requested to hide" their shipment activity, according to Panjiva records. Neither company responded to AP's questions.

The brand declined to comment on the growing murkiness of its supply chain.

Chris Rogers, an analyst at Panjiva, said any company can ask customs authorities to redact its information for any reason. About a quarter of companies request anonymity, he said, but the majority doesn't mind disclosing with whom they're doing business.

"A lot of companies have said, 'Yes, there might be a commercial disadvantage, but we want to be transparent about our supply chain,' " he said. " 'Why would we want to cover up the fact that we're working with this particular company?' "

While ethics lawyers may see disclosure as the best antidote to conflict of interest, many brands see it as a tool to keep supply chains scandal-free. Public outcry over sweatshop conditions and worker suicides prompted companies such as Nike Inc. and Apple Inc. to disclose the names and addresses of their manufacturers, and a growing number, including Gap Inc., the H&M Group, New Balance Athletics Inc., Adidas AG and Levi Strauss & Co., publicly identify their suppliers.

Ivanka Trump should do the same, said Allen Adamson, founder and CEO of BrandSimple Consulting. "It's a missed opportunity to lead by example."

What shipping records do show is that a company called Zhejiang Tongxiang Foreign Trade Group Co. Ltd., a sprawling conglomerate once majority-owned by the Chinese state, sent at least 30 tons of Ivanka Trump handbags to the U.S. between March 2016 and February 2017.

Zhejiang province's commerce department said in June 2014 that it would help lower export costs for that same company, along with nine other local enterprises, through a special three-year trade promotion program. Among the measures outlined were export insurance subsidies and funding for online trading platforms and international marketing, as well as special funds earmarked for foreign trade companies with large-scale, fast-growing exports.

The value of the subsidies is unclear, as are details about how the directives were implemented, but using subsidies to reduce the price of exports is considered so destructive to fair trade that the World Trade Organization generally bans the practice. Chinese government subsidies hurt American workers but can lower costs for U.S. companies that import made-in-China merchandise, potentially boosting their profits. President Trump has called companies that benefit from foreign government subsidies "cheaters."

The AP spoke with four trade experts in the United States and China who said the Zhejiang measures appeared to violate World Trade Organization rules. "These are clearly export subsidies," said Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Zhejiang province's Department of Commerce and the Zhejiang Tongxiang Foreign Trade Group declined comment.

The AP also found that from October 2013 to January 2015, Jiangsu High Hope International Group Corp., a conglomerate majority-owned by the Jiangsu provincial government, shipped 45 tons of Ivanka Trump clothing to the U.S., according to records from ImportGenius and Panjiva.

High Hope told AP it had "a small number of business dealings" with Ivanka Trump licensee G-III Apparel, but declined to answer questions about whether the relationship is ongoing.

G-III, which is based in New York City, declined to respond to specific questions but said in a statement that it is "committed to legal compliance and ethical business practices in all of our operations worldwide." Ivanka Trump licensee Mondani Handbags & Accessories Inc., also headquartered in New York, did not respond to requests for comment.

Ivanka Trump's brand said it was in the process of reviewing its supply chains with the help of "independent experts whose mission it is to advance human rights" and emphasized that all licensees, manufacturers, subcontractors and suppliers are required to abide by the law, as well as ethical practices set forth in a vendor code of conduct.

The AP asked to see the code of conduct, but the brand declined to share it.

Trump associate Roger Stone, ahead of House panel appearance, denies colluding with Russia

 (AP)
(AP)

Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone says there is "not one shred of evidence" that he was involved with Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Stone is defending himself in a lengthy statement released ahead of a closed-door appearance before the House intelligence committee Tuesday. He has also released a series of supporting documents, including direct messages he exchanged with Guccifer 2.0, the unnamed hacker who has taken credit for breaking into Democratic National Committee email servers.

"While some may label me a dirty trickster, the members of this committee could not point to any tactic that is outside the accepted norms of what political strategists and consultants do today. I do not engage in any illegal activities on behalf of my clients or the causes in which I support," Stone said in the prepared statement. "There is one 'trick' that is not in my bag and that is treason."

Stone, a Republican strategist who has known Trump for many years and informally advised him during the 2016 campaign, also denies he had advance knowledge of the leak of former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails and says he never colluded with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He has long denied that he worked with Russian officials to influence the presidential election.

"I recognize that those who believe that there was collusion between the Trump camp and the Russian state, now say Stone, 'MUST HAVE' been involved, but that is not based on one shred of evidence," Stone writes. "This is nothing more than conjecture, supposition, projection, allegation, and coincidence, none of it proven by evidence or fact."

Stone's interview comes as the House and Senate intelligence panels are looking into the Russian meddling and possible links to Trump's campaign. Stone has been part of the investigation partly because he has said he communicated during the presidential campaign with Guccifer 2.0.

Stone is, for the first time, releasing those communications, which he says are "innocuous." The direct messages on Twitter, exchanged over a monthlong period, show Stone first congratulating Guccifer for being reinstated on Twitter after he was kicked off, and asking that the account retweet a tweet about how the election could be rigged against Trump. Guccifer writes, "I'm pleased to say that u r great man .... please tell me if I can help u anyhow."

Stone doesn't respond again until several weeks later, when Guccifer asks him about an article on a Democratic turnout model. Stone replies "pretty standard."

On WikiLeaks, Stone said he was kept apprised of Assange's plans to release the Podesta emails by a journalist he said served as an "intermediary." He did not name the journalist.

Stone has been outspoken in his own defense and asked for his House appearance to be public. But he said the House panel insisted on holding the session behind closed doors.

His statement is heavy with criticism for Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, who suggested in March that Stone had a direct line to Russian hackers based on his comments predicting the release of former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. "Shame on you, Mr. Schiff," he writes.

As his statement was released, Stone held court with about five dozen supporters at the Trump Hotel on Monday night, taking photos with the group and offering the "V'' for victory sign at one point.

The House panel will also interview former Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn this week, according to a source familiar with the interview. The person declined to be named because the panel's meetings are private.

Epshteyn, who grew up in Moscow, worked a short time in the White House press office. He left in March and now works as a political analyst for right-leaning Sinclair Broadcasting.

The interviews come as the House and Senate intelligence panels are looking into Russian meddling and scrutinizing the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media. The Senate intelligence committee will speak to officials from Twitter on Thursday, also behind closed doors.

Analysis: Back into the Trump vortex America goes, where the president fuels a divisive debate

President Trump at a Sept. 22 campaign rally in Huntsville, Ala. (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)
President Trump at a Sept. 22 campaign rally in Huntsville, Ala. (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

America once again finds itself where it has been so often since the day Donald Trump descended an escalator to a podium at the tower named for him to announce his presidential candidacy: pulled into the vortex of partisanship as a master publicist plays notes of division and dispute.

President Trump’s continued stoking of debate over football players kneeling during the national anthem — and the way the subject has dominated public discussion — raised anew the question that surrounds many Trump controversies: Is this part of a plan? Does he believe he gains political advantage from playing off national divisions on topics as fraught as race relations and patriotism? Or does the resulting chaos deliver personal satisfaction to a president who often appears bored with the more humdrum aspects of his post?

Eight months into Trump’s presidency, there’s no answer. But regardless of his motivation, Trump’s impact on the national psyche has been profound.

It is hard to remember a time when everything wasn’t polarized, but it was not that long ago. There were, to be sure, differences of opinion, sometimes on topics as serious as war and sometimes fiercely fought. But never has partisanship spread so widely across the nation’s mass culture.

Trump team's travel perks are costing taxpayers mightily. Here's why there's little outrage

 (Saul Loeb / Associated Press)
(Saul Loeb / Associated Press)

The Treasury secretary requested a military plane for his European honeymoon. The head of Health and Human Services ran up a six-figure tab flying around the country on private jets. The chief of the Environmental Protection Agency dinged taxpayers for repeated excursions back home to Oklahoma.

In normal times, Washington’s scandal machinery would be kicking into high gear. Mounting outrage — some real, some calculated — would lead to months of hearings and calls for criminal investigations.

The abundant wealth of two of the fancy fliers, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Health Secretary Tom Price, would only amplify the criticism.

But the unceasing turmoil of Donald Trump’s presidency has muted the outcry.

It’s hard for the champagne tastes of a Cabinet secretary to garner much attention when the president is picking a racially tinged fight with pro athletes, drawing plaudits from white supremacists, battling a special prosecutor probing Russia’s role in his election and warning that he might nuke North Korea.

North KoreaWhite House

White House pushes back on report that aides warned Trump not to insult North Korea's leader

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A recent report by the Los Angeles Times that aides had warned President Trump not to personally attack North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, was a "false narrative," the president's spokeswoman said on Monday.

But Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, did not deny the facts of the story. The Times reported on Friday that some top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, told Trump before his debut speech at the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 19 that attacking Kim Jong Un personally could escalate tensions and shut off any chance for negotiations over North Korea's nuclear missile program.

Trump ignored them. Some of the most incendiary lines from his speech -- including calling Kim “Rocket Man” on “a suicide mission” and threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea -- were not in a speech draft that several senior officials reviewed and vetted the day before the president spoke.

"The national security team was involved and engaged throughout the speech-writing process, and was very happy with the president's speech at the U.N.," Sanders told White House reporters when asked about The Times story.

Some of Trump's national security advisors believe Trump's personal jabs at the unpredictable and ruthless Kim has propelled the crisis to a new stage.

Last last week, Kim verbally retaliated, calling Trump “a mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and a “gangster." 

The escalation of insults threatens to scuttle a months-long international effort to squeeze Pyongyang’s economy through sanctions designed to force Kim to the negotiating table.

Trump continued to dress down Kim over the weekend, calling the young despot "Little Rocket Man" Friday night at a campaign rally for Republican Sen. Luther Strange in Huntsville, Ala., and again on Twitter on Saturday.

North Korea

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: U.S. has 'not declared war' on North Korea

It's never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country's aircraft when it's over international waters. Our goal is still the same. We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders

In an Alabama radio interview, Trump lets loose on Republicans as he tries to exert influence in Senate race

President Trump greets Sen. Luther Strange in Huntsville on Friday. (Brendan Smialowski /AFP Getty Images)
President Trump greets Sen. Luther Strange in Huntsville on Friday. (Brendan Smialowski /AFP Getty Images)

In an effort to boost his favored candidate in Tuesday’s special U.S. Senate election in Alabama, President Trump on Monday criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. John McCain and other Republicans for failing to pass healthcare legislation.

Trump told radio listeners of Alabama’s “Rick and Bubba Show” that Republicans had passed scores of bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they were doomed by President Obama’s veto.

But Senate Republicans had stumbled now that Trump was prepared to sign a bill to replace Obamacare.

“Now, when it matters, because you have a president who’s actually going to sign it, they don’t do it and they pander and they grandstand,” he said.

He repeatedly targeted McCain, who voted against the last Republican healthcare proposal and has said he will vote against the Graham-Cassidy repeal measure this week.

“What McCain has done is an extreme slap in the face of the Republican Party,” Trump said. “Extreme.”

He praised the current proposal - which was partly rewritten early Monday before its only Senate hearing - as “a great bill” that he suggested was doomed.

“So we’re going to lose two-three votes and that’s the end of that,” Trump said after reminding the audience that Republicans, holding 52 seats, had only a narrow margin for passage.

Trump called into the show, which he touted as “the biggest show in Alabama," to bolster Luther Strange's flagging campaign. Vice President Mike Pence separately campaigned for Strange in the state.

Strange is running to win outright the seat to which he was appointed earlier this year when Jeff Sessions left the Senate to become U.S. attorney general.

Trump gave a fiery speech at a Friday night rally in Huntsville on behalf of Strange, who is trailing former state chief justice Roy Moore in almost all pre-election polls.

In his speech, Trump said Strange was better positioned to defeat a Democratic candidate in a runoff, an argument he reiterated Monday.

Trump told his Huntsville audience that Strange and Moore were “both good men” and that if Moore won the nomination, “I’m going to be campaigning like hell for him.”

On Monday, Trump called Moore “Ray” twice before he was corrected by the radio show host, and contended he knew little about him.

“I don’t know Roy Moore at all and I think it’s perhaps indicative when somebody doesn’t even know his name—that’s not a good sign for him,” Trump said. “I know there’s great controversy and a lot of angst but I don’t really know that much about Roy Moore.”

The Alabama campaign has put Trump in the difficult position of siding with the Republican establishment he usually chafes against. He has repeatedly praised Strange’s loyalty to him and his agenda, but as a sitting senator Strange is backed by McConnell and other Republican leaders with whom Trump has rocky relations.

It is Moore who more closely resembles Trump stylistically and in his penchant for embroiling himself in controversy.

Twice Moore lost his office for flaunting court decisions, one on his erection of a Ten Commandments monument on courthouse grounds and a second time for blocking gay marriage.

Several prominent Trump backers, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, are backing Moore.

Trump’s main effort before Tuesday's vote has been to establish Strange’s independence from McConnell, whose allies have dumped millions of dollars into the race for advertising and other efforts on Strange’s behalf.

“As you know Mitch is not, polling-wise, the most popular guy in the country,” Trump said. He added of Strange: “They like to label him Mitch’s best friend in the Senate and he hardly even knows him. He’ll be fighting Mitch—I know he’s going to fight him on that ridiculous filibuster rule.”

McConnell has stuck to Senate tradition requiring 60 votes for most actions, a posture that Trump has angrily denounced.

During his 15-minute conversation with the radio hosts, Trump touted a tax plan he said would be released Wednesday as “the largest tax cuts in the history of our country” and said that his administration was “doing great.”

“I don’t think any president’s accomplished what we’ve accomplished,” he said. “And yet I’m always bucking the system. I’m fighting the system. I’m fighting Republicans as much as Democrats.”

As the interview came to an end, host Rick Burgess asked Trump if he would offer an endorsement of the show, although Burgess noted it might not be appropriate for a president to do so.

Trump was game.

“This is Donald Trump, president of the United States,” he said. “I love the state of Alabama and you’re listening to the Rick and Bubba show. And enjoy it and if they ever switch allegiance please do not run this whatever-it-is.”

And, he added, “Good luck to Luther.”

North Korea

North Korea's top diplomat says Trump has 'declared war' on his country

North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Trump's tweet that leader Kim Jong Un "won't be around much longer" was a declaration of war against his country by the United States.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that what he called Trump's "declaration of war" gives North Korea "every right" under the U.N. Charter to take countermeasures, "including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers even they're not yet inside the airspace border of our country."

Ri referred to Trump's tweet Saturday that said: "Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"

Ri said: "The question of who won't be around much longer will be answered then."

McCain says his brain cancer prognosis is ‘very poor’

Sen. John McCain says doctors have given him a “very poor prognosis” as he battles brain cancer.

McCain underwent surgery in July for a brain tumor that was later found to be a form of glioblastoma, the same type of cancer that took the life of his former Senate colleague Edward M. Kennedy in 2009.

McCain toldss CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday night that he thinks about Kennedy a lot. He said Kennedy continued to work despite the diagnosis and “never gave up because he loved the engagement.”

McCain said he has “feelings sometimes of fear of what happens,” but counters that with gratitude for having “had a great life.”

He added: “It’s not that you’re leaving, it’s that you — that you stayed.”

Revised health care bill would send more money to states with holdout senators

Sen. Rand Paul has expressed opposition to the bill. (Bryan Woolston / Associated Press)
Sen. Rand Paul has expressed opposition to the bill. (Bryan Woolston / Associated Press)

Senate Republicans are adding billions of dollars to their teetering health care bill, hoping to win support from GOP senators who may be opposing the legislation.

According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, a new version of the measure would add $14.5 billion for states.

Part of that money is aimed at sparsely populated states. Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins on Sunday all but closed the door on supporting the bill, while Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is undecided.

A table says Arizona would get 14% more money than under President Obama's law, Kentucky 4% more and Texas 49% more.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kentucky's Rand Paul and Texas' Ted Cruz have all expressed opposition to the bill.

Democrats say the numbers are misleading.

White House

Jared Kushner used personal email for some White House communication, lawyer says

Jared Kushner in June. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Jared Kushner in June. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account on dozens of occasions to communicate with colleagues in the White House, his lawyer said Sunday.

Between January and August, Kushner received or responded to fewer than 100 emails from White House officials from his private account, attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that confirmed Kushner's use of a personal address in the first months of the administration.

The use of a private email account to discuss government matters is a politically freighted issue that factored prominently in last year's presidential election. Trump repeatedly attacked Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email server as secretary of state, a decision that prompted an FBI investigation that shadowed her for much of the campaign.

In Kushner's case, Lowell said, the emails to and from his private account usually involved "forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address."

The attorney said Kushner, a key aide to Trump, uses his White House address to discuss White House business and that any non-personal emails were forwarded to his official account and "all have been preserved in any event."

Politico first reported Kushner's use of a personal email account.

Trump repeatedly argued during the campaign that Clinton deserved to be prosecuted for mishandling classified information, frequently deriding her as "Crooked Hillary," and has continued to suggest that even after being elected president.

Former FBI Director James B. Comey said that though Clinton and her aides were "extremely careless" in their handling of classified material, there was no evidence that anyone intended to break the law, and he recommended against criminal prosecution. The Justice Department accepted that conclusion.

At a political event in Alabama on Friday, Trump responded to supporter chants of "Lock her up" by saying, "You've got to speak to [Atty. Gen.] Jeff Sessions about that."

ImmigrationWhite House

Trump administration expands travel ban to North Korea and Chad

President Trump returns to the White House on Sunday after spending time at his golf property in New Jersey over the weekend. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press)
President Trump returns to the White House on Sunday after spending time at his golf property in New Jersey over the weekend. (Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press)

Travelers from eight countries will face restrictions on entry to the U.S, ranging from a total ban to more targeted restrictions, under a new proclamation signed by President Trump on Sunday.

The new rules will affect the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. It will go into effect Oct. 18.

Officials emphasized that valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation.

Some countries will face full bans. Others are more tailored, such as Venezuela's, which will apply only to certain government officials and their families

Trump's controversial ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries expires Sunday, 90 days after it went into effect.

Trump cites previously unreported figures for 'terrific' tax plan

President Trump meets at the White House with a bipartisan group of lawmakers about tax reform. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) None
President Trump meets at the White House with a bipartisan group of lawmakers about tax reform. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

President Trump said Sunday the White House has “totally finalized” a tax plan, but the particulars differed substantially from what has been reported about the proposal.

“I think it’ll be terrific.… I think it’s going to go through, and it will be the largest tax cut in the history of the country,” the president told reporters as he prepared to return to the White House from his New Jersey golf resort.

Trump said he hoped for a corporate tax rate of 15%, a figure he has used before. Congressional officials have said they hope to cut the current rate of 35% to 20%. 

Asked whether the finalized plan in fact called for a rate of 15%, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens. But I hope it’s going to be 15%."

Trump added that such a cut in the corporate rate would “bring jobs back into our country,” a premise that many economists question.

The president also said the individual rate would be 10% or 12%, “much lower than it is right now.”

Reports have said the plan calls for lowering the top bracket for individuals to 35% from what is currently 39.6%. It was not clear if Trump was disclosing what rates in other tax brackets would be or citing figures that are no longer under discussion.

Trump has said previously that the plan would not cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and Democrats have said they would not support a blueprint that did so.

 

Trump on his role in kneeling-protest controversy: 'Nothing to do with race'

President Trump at rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22 (AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump at rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22 (AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump declared Sunday that his strident speech in Alabama two days earlier, in which he denounced protests carried out mostly by African American pro football players, as well as a series of vehement tweets since then, had nothing to do with race.

Trump has carefully avoided overt mentions of race during days of angry criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice — or in some cases to protest being told they don’t have the right to protest.

But African Americans are a large majority in the National Football League, and made up nearly all the 130 players who knelt, sat or raised a fist in defiance before or during Sunday’s NFL games.

Afterward, asked by reporters if he was inflaming racial tensions, Trump replied with an emphatic negative.

“This has nothing to do with race,” he said as he prepared to board Air Force One for a short flight back to Washington after a weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey.  “I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else.”

He added: “This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

Many of the protesting players have tweeted or made statements to the effect that they mean the flag no disrespect, but that they believe racial injustice degrades American values.

At his Alabama speech, Trump told cheering supporters, nearly all of whom were white, that any protesting “son of a bitch” at an NFL game should be ordered off the field and fired. Asked Sunday whether he was troubled by criticism of that statement by his friend, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the president said no.

“He’s a good friend of mine, and I want him to do what he wants to do,” he said of Kraft. He again depicted failing to stand for the anthem as a sign of disrespect for “our soldiers, our first responders.”

A number of military veterans have been among those offering online support to the protesting players.

Defections from right, center worsen prospects for latest GOP Obamacare repeal measure

 (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

The already faltering prospects for the latest GOP-backed plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act worsened Sunday as a prominent Republican moderate and a leading conservative each indicated they were leaning against voting for it.

In an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she wanted to see an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office before finally making up her mind on the measure, but that it would be "very difficult" to see voting for it. Previous CBO analyses of GOP plans have forecast millions of people being left unable to afford coverage.

Separately, at an appearance in his home state of Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz said that "right now they don't have my vote." Cruz said he did not think Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was supporting the bill either.

Two other Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have already said they would not support the current version of the bill, the third attempt by Senate GOP leaders to scrap the Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative achievement of President Obama. 

With 52 Republicans in the Senate and no Democratic support for repealing Obamacare, the bill can afford to lose only two GOP votes.

“It’s very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill,” Collins said in the CNN interview. “I have a number of serious reservations about it.”

Paul, interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said he has always wanted to repeal Obamacare, but that the latest bill, by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, “sets up a perpetual food fight” over the formula for healthcare spending.

Asked if he could envision changes that would allow him to support the bill, Paul said he might be able to if the bill's central element, block grants to states to cover healthcare spending, were eliminated — an unlikely prospect.

Graham and Cassidy, interviewed on ABC's "This Week" said they had not yet abandoned the bill and suggested that they could still work out an agreement with Paul. They also said they were continuing to discuss the bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has not declared a position but has said she has considerable doubts about the proposal.

Treasury secretary defends Trump rhetoric on North Korea

A B-1 bomber prepares to take off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on a mission near North Korea. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Smoot / U.S. Air Force)
A B-1 bomber prepares to take off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on a mission near North Korea. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Smoot / U.S. Air Force)

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended President Trump’s mode of dealing with North Korea, insisting Sunday that heated rhetorical exchanges with reclusive despot Kim Jong Un were not making a volatile situation more dangerous.

“This is not about personalities; this is not personal,” Mnuchin said on ABC’s “This Week.”

For the last week, Trump has used various forums, including a high-profile speech to the United Nations General Assembly, to belittle Kim as “Rocket Man.”

The North Koreans have responded with a volley of insults, including calling Trump a “dotard,” meaning a mentally feeble old person, coupling that with new threats to attack the United States.

In the ABC interview, Mnuchin parried questions about Saturday’s flight by U.S. B-1B bombers and F-15C fighter jets over waters north of the demilitarized zone dividing the Korean peninsula. The Pentagon described the warplanes’ deployment as being in response to “reckless behavior” by Kim’s government.

Mnuchin, echoing language frequently used by White House aides as North Korea tensions have escalated, said Trump had a wide variety of options for dealing with Kim and his nuclear ambitions and ballistics program.

“The president has said everything’s on the table,” he said.

Late Saturday, Trump tweeted a reference to a speech earlier in the day by North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho.

"Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N.," the said on Twitter. "If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!"

Queried by ABC interviewer Martha Raddatz about whether the president’s bellicose language was causing the public to question his ability to deal effectively with North Korea, Mnuchin replied: “I can assure you, the president’s No. 1 priority is the safety of the American people and our allies.”

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