President Trump is pushing forward with his promise of a harder line on legal immigration, endorsing a proposal to slash the number of immigrants admitted to the United States while favoring those with certain education levels and skills.
Trump announced his support for such an overhaul of immigration law during an event Wednesday at the White House with conservative Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.
The changes proposed in their bill, called the RAISE Act, would be the "biggest change in 50 years" to the immigration system, Trump said, and reflect the administration's "compassion for struggling American families that deserve an immigrant system that puts their needs first."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that U.S. relations with Russia are under "considerable stress" following Russia's demand that Washington cut 755 U.S. diplomats and local staff from the U.S. Embassy and three consulates in Russia.
"Of course it make our life more difficult, more difficult," Tillerson said in a news briefing to mark his first six months in office.
The question, he said, is whether relations are "getting worse or can we maintain some level of stability... and continue to find ways to address areas of mutual interest, and ways in which we can deal with our differences, without those becoming open conflicts."
The Senate easily confirmed Christopher Wray to lead the FBI on Tuesday, approving President Trump's nominee to succeed James B. Comey.
The vote, 92 to 5, was a reflection of the Senate's confidence in Wray's credentials as a Yale-educated former Justice Department official and as a top cop who vowed to maintain the bureau's independence, resisting interference even from the president.
Trump abruptly fired Comey in May, and his shifting reasons only deepened questions of possible cooperation between the president's campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president eventually admitted that he fired Comey because he was displeased with the FBI's Russia probe.
President Trump's spokeswoman acknowledged on Tuesday that he "weighed in as any father would" in drafting a misleading statement for his son last month about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russians during the presidential campaign.
By the acknowledgement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to confirm the gist of a Washington Post story, published late Monday, that Trump dictated the statement for his son while aboard Air Force One, overruling advisors who wanted a fuller, more candid explanation of the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.
At the same time, Sanders' comments in effect refuted Trump's lawyer and frequent spokesman, Jay Sekulow, who said two weeks ago on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement." Sekulow also said much the same on ABC's "This Week."
President Trump railed after the failed healthcare vote that it was time to do away with the Senate filibuster so Republicans could rely on just a simple majority, 51 votes, to pass major legislation.
The problem with the president's thinking, of course, was that Senate Republicans were already operating on special rules that would have enabled them to approve their Obamacare repeal and replacement with just a simple majority.
President Trump has been backed into a corner on Russia policy, facing only bad options, pressed by President Vladimir Putin to one side and, from the other, by assertive U.S. lawmakers who don’t trust Trump to stand up to the autocrat.
A near-unanimous Congress last week sent to the White House a sanctions bill that clamps down on Russia, along with Iran and North Korea, and ties Trump’s hands from offering Putin relief from existing sanctions. Putin has retaliated by demanding the United States slash its diplomatic presence by about two-thirds, or 755 people.
Trump is caught in the middle. At home, he’s under pressure to sign the sanctions bill into law and aides say he will, if only because Congress could easily override a veto. Signing the bill, however, could sink his effort to improve relations with Russia and bond with Putin.
Anthony Scaramucci, the brash New Yorker who was announced just 10 days ago as President Trump’s incoming communications director, was ousted on Monday as new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly moved quickly to exert control over a chaotic administration.
Kelly pulled Scaramucci aside shortly after 9:30 a.m. EDT and told him he was out of the job that he hadn’t yet officially assumed, according to a person close to the White House. That was just after Kelly, the former Homeland Security secretary, was sworn in as chief of staff to replace the displaced Reince Priebus — and a few hours after Trump had tweeted “No WH chaos!”
Trump administration officials continue to push the Senate to take another run at healthcare legislation, but senior Republican senators have pushed back, making clear that they're done with the topic for now.
"There's just too much animosity and we're too divided on healthcare," Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the head of the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview Monday with Reuters.
"I think we ought to acknowledge that we can come back to healthcare afterward, but we need to move ahead on tax reform," Hatch said.