President Trump, facing an international crisis in Syria and a personal one with the FBI raid of his attorney’s office and residence, abruptly canceled a planned trip to South America.
Trump had planned to leave Washington on Friday for a whirlwind journey to Peru and Colombia, highlighted by the Summit of the Americas gathering of international leaders in Peru. The visit would have been his first to the region as president.
The White House, in a statement Tuesday morning, attributed Trump’s cancellation to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria over the weekend.
President Trump lashed out Monday at news that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was the subject of an FBI raid, calling it “a disgraceful situation” and adding that “many people have said” he should fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel heading the Russia investigation.
“They broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys,” Trump told reporters before a meeting with his military advisors, adding that “I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now.”
“It’s a disgrace,” he said. “It’s an attack on our country. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
U.S. and Russian diplomats exchanged bitter recriminations Monday in an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, which met to confront a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel stronghold in Syria that killed at least 48 people near Damascus.
The debate flared as the Trump administration weighed a military response to punish Syria’s government for the attack. President Trump said at the White House that he would make a “major decision” within 24 to 48 hours.
Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., squarely blamed Moscow for Saturday’s gruesome attack because the Russian military has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the country’s grinding civil war.
FBI agents used search warrants Monday to seize documents from Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, marking a dramatic escalation in law enforcement's investigation of the president's inner circle.
The raid stemmed in part from special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign after Mueller’s team referred material to federal prosecutors in New York, who are conducting a separate probe.
It’s unclear exactly what the FBI was looking for but Cohen is deeply involved in two of Trump’s most controversial episodes.
The Trump administration on Monday urged the United Nations to open an investigation into an alleged chemical attack by Syrian government forces that killed scores of civilians outside Damascus.
The United States also joined eight other countries to call for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council for later Monday to consider the attack. Yet that body is unlikely to go beyond words of condemnation because Russia, which backs Syria’s President Bashar Assad, is expected to veto any Security Council resolution for bolder action.
U.S. officials circulated a draft U.N. resolution on Monday to create an independent commission to investigate the attack on Saturday. More than 40 people were killed in Douma, the last rebel-held town in the eastern Ghouta enclave outside Damascus.
President Trump on Monday said that he will make a “major decision” on a response to a suspected chemical weapon attack in Syria that killed scores of people — “a barbaric act,” he called it — over the next 24 to 48 hours.
“It was an atrocious attack. It was horrible,” Trump told reporters who were briefly brought into the room ahead of his Cabinet meeting at the White House. “This is about humanity… and it can’t be allowed to happen.”
Of the weekend attack near Damascus, the president added, “If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”
President Trump devoted his weekly address over the weekend to his attack on California’s sanctuary laws, arguing without evidence that the state had made itself “a border-free zone where thousands of criminal aliens can roam free.”
A fact-check posted in The Times on Friday notes that the law passed last year bars officials from alerting federal immigration officials when inmates are released from a county jail. But the law carves out 800 offenses — including violent crimes and nonviolent drug offenses — where cooperation is allowed. The law also allows state prison officials to continue working with federal immigration agents on deportations.
Trump argued the state “violated the Constitution by nullifying federal law,” the subject of a still unresolved court battle between his administration and the state of California.
Even as President Trump tries to quiet speculation that Scott Pruitt’s days in his administration are numbered, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency continues to become a bigger political liability for him.
Now the federal government’s top ethics officer is calling for the EPA to take action addressing Pruitt’s multiple alleged ethics lapses. The letter sent to the EPA from David Apol, acting director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, was notable because such letters are rarely written from Apol’s office. The New York Times first reported on the letter, which is dated April 6.
It warns the EPA appears to be inadequately addressing the various ethics issues swirling around Pruitt and “action to appropriately address any violations” may be necessary. Apol expresses particular concern about the $50 a night bedroom Pruitt rented from the wife of a top energy lobbyist on a block in Washington, D.C., where housing typically costs much more.
U.S. and North Korean officials have engaged in secret back-channel talks and Pyongyang has committed to a summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un that will touch on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, a White House official said Sunday.
The White House said on March 8 that Trump had accepted an invitation from Kim to meet, but the government in Pyongyang did not officially confirm the meeting until now. The date and the venue have still not been set.
No sitting U.S. president has ever met with a North Korean leader, and Trump’s offer to do so without preconditions stunned American allies in the region and U.S. foreign policy veterans.