By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
This weekend we properly honor the millions who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation since the Revolutionary War, which established us as a free and independent nation founded upon “We the People” as its governing principle.
But where are the parades for the peacemakers who just as equally keep us free, independent, who are the shield to our values and our way of life? Where are the parades for the diplomats, the professors and teachers, the scientists and researchers, the doctors and nurses and social workers?
Donald Trump, on his first overseas trip, has expressly shown his values, as epitomized in the $110 billion military deal he signed with Saudi Arabia, embracing Saudi Arabia as an ally in the fight against ISIS but ignoring Saudis’ role in 9/11 and in funding the schools that breed anti-Israel and jihadist ideology and terrorism. And it is clear in how in both Saudi Arabia and Israel, he fomented hostility against Iran even as the Iranians overwhelmingly reelected President Rouhani, a moderate who has shifted even further away from the hard-liners in pursuing better alliances with the West.
Trump doesn’t care because he needs an enemy to march against, to battle against. That is his unifying principle, he thinks, to gain position for Israel among the Sunni-majority nations, and resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict – not with diplomacy but with militancy.
(How fitting that Trump was welcomed to Saudi Arabia with a traditional dance of the Najd region, that is typically performed to celebrate victory in war. Trump was in the middle of the melee, along with his top aides Gary Cohn and Steve Bannon and photographers and videographers captured him swaying to the drumbeat-fueled chanting.)
Trump’s budget just released by henchman, OMB Director Mike Mulvaney, shows his priorities and his values: 10% increase ($54 billion) to the military (to $603 billion), slashing an equal amount from domestic programs (to $462 billion) – accomplished by slashing health care spending and defunding Planned Parenthood, slashing Food Stamps and Meals on Wheels and Public Broadcasting, student loans, Social Security disability program, environmental programs altogether, and significantly rebalancing the budget already bloated in favor of the defense industry. (The United States already spend more on Defense than the next 7 countries combined, a list that includes Russia and China.)
It is not just the domestic programs that go toward everyday Americans that are cut, it is also dramatically slashing diplomacy in favor of war.
Trump’s budget calls for nearly 30% cut in allocations for the State Department (from $38.8 billion to $27.7 billion), which was already so pressed for funding, it had trouble paying for the level of security that might have prevented the Benghazi tragedy. And, oh yes, dramatically cutting foreign aid, including cruelly expanding the Global Gag Rule from denying aid not just to family planning services that don’t explicitly censure abortion, but ALL global health assistance programs including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria and global health security.
Trump (and the Republicans because this is really Paul Ryan’s budget) would cut programs for health, climate change and environment that counter famine, drought and flooding, foreign aid and diplomacy. This would do nothing to address the underlying issues that lead to violent conflict, but rather add gasoline to the fire of seething discontent, both abroad and at home.
And that’s because Trump craves to be a War President. He sees that War Presidents can enact martial law, erase personal liberties, suspend habeus corpus, promote torture as an instrument of national security, suspend a free press. He can be the unquestioned, unchallenged, adored autocrat.
Why didn’t he condemn Turkey President Erdogan’s goons for beating up American protesters in Washington DC? Because he is smacking to do the same thing, to have an excuse to crack down on free speech, free press, free assembly.
For Trump, military power is the path to unfettered domestic control. After all, the hot-war in Iraq (as opposed to the less flashy missions to route out the Taliban who were shielding Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan) worked so well for Bush/Cheney to get their tax cuts. Indeed, Trump is close to reigniting that war, by sending thousands more troops into Afghanistan.
Trump has installed generals in traditionally civilian roles in charge of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, while installing the most inept, inexperienced, corrupt to head agencies most directly involved in domestic programs (housing, environment, interior, health and human services, education, commerce).
Recently, when he was in a well-publicized video chat with NASA Astronauts aboard the International Space Station, in response to a statement of the importance of international cooperation to achieve such milestones as a Mars mission, Trump, without missing a beat, remarked on the “military applications of space.” Who does that?
He showed his predilection when, on Day 1, he told the CIA “we may have a second chance at getting at Iraq’s oil” because, you know, he learned when he was a boy that “to the victor belongs the spoils.” He also complained that the US doesn’t win wars anymore.
His intense interest in spending on costly military hardware is telling because, barring Trump instigating a new hot war, the next war will be fought in cyberspace, and the battlefield will be the electric grid, the financial networks and the utility plant. Our main enemy now consists of some tens of thousands of militant terrorists, including lone wolves recruited over the internet and under the spell of radical ideology, who could pop up anywhere with a home-made bomb in a backpack, a machete, or a truck to ram into a crowd of pedestrians, but won’t be defeated by sending in bombers or brigades.
Nonetheless, Trump wants to explode the domestic budget – cutting billions from programs which benefit everyday Americans – to pay for military hardware.
Why? Because for Trump, the $ is Almighty. Spending money on clean energy and sustainability is an investment toward a better future; spending money on bombs has to be constantly replenished. I wonder how much that spending will come back to him as profit – he already profited on the stocks he owned when he spent $80 million on the 59 Tomahawk missiles exploded in the staged attack on a Syrian air base which actually did not harm the base or the planes. It will definitely profit him, though, as a payoff to his donors.
In theater when you show a gun in the first act, it will absolutely be used by the third act. But let’s examine why: this gives Trump the big shiny, flashy, muscular objects that feed his narcissism. But also, it expands his virtually unlimited power as Commander-in-Chief (a function he has already proved completely inept at), while domestic programs are much more controlled by Congress. But by expanding the military in the way he intends, he continues to show that his “vision” is based on the world of the 1950s and 1960s. Hence his renewed interest in expanding, not reducing nuclear weapons.
Trump is upping US military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where is the outrage over the service members and civilians and allies (like the Russian soldiers) who have been lost in flawed, failed missions orchestrated by the most inept Commander-in-Chief this country has ever had, who casually gives a “go” for a raid over dinner, without consultation or consideration of the ramifications? Imagine if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama were in office, there would be mobs with pitchforks flooding the streets, demanding resignation or impeachment.
The real worry is that he will use North Korea as his means to become a War President, just as Bush/Cheney used fictional WMD, conflated with 9/11, to invade Iraq. Unfortunately for Trump, South Korea has just elected a “sunshine” president who favors engagement with North Korea, which may result in Kim Jong-un tamping down his own saber-rattling.
But Trump’s saber-rattling against Iran will only bolster North Korea’s resolve to pursue nuclear weapons because they see what happens when an autocrat gives them up or doesn’t have them: Libya. Ukraine. Iraq. Iran. If he were truly interested in diplomacy, he would realize that.
He’s not interested in diplomacy or human rights or for that matter, American values.
Asked about his failure to extract human rights reforms as a condition for the $110 billion sale of armaments ($350 billion over 10 years), Trump said, “We have to defeat these forces of evil [Islamic radical terrorism]. Only then can you create the conditions to really allow human rights to flourish.”
“The glaring absence of human rights from Trump’s agenda will only embolden further violations in a region where governments flout the rights of their own people in the name of the fight against terror, and violate international humanitarian law in conflicts fueled on large part by US arms transfers,” said Amnesty International.
Trump’s reaction to the Saudi deal? “That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs”
And in remarks with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, Trump said , “One of the things that we will discuss is the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States. And for us that means jobs and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”
Trump is the Arms-Dealer-In-Chief.
Trump also is content to brush aside human rights in negotiating new trade deals.
“Mr. Trump has dispensed with what he considers pointless moralizing and preachy naïveté. He has taken foreign policy to its most realpolitik moment in generations, playing down issues of human rights or democracy that animated his predecessors, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. His ‘America First’ approach focuses not on how other nations treat their people but on what they can do for the United States,” Peter Baker wrote in the New York Times (April 4, 2017).
Trump’s only value is that The $ is Almighty, greenbacked by military might.
© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin
Donald Trump, during a joint press conference with President Santos of Colombia, May 18, in answer to a question, “Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape, or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? And also as you look back –“ dismissed it saying, “No. No. Next question.”
Q Next question. As you look back over the past six months or year, have you had any recollection where you’ve wondered if anything you have done has been something that might be worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or impeachment, as some on the left are implying?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think it’s totally ridiculous. Everybody thinks so. And again, we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have. We have plenty of problems. We’ve done a fantastic job. We have a tremendous group of people. Millions and millions of people out there that are looking at what you had just said, and said, “What are they doing?”
Director Comey was very unpopular with most people. I actually thought when I made that decision — and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. But when I made that decision, I actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision, because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side — not only the Republican side — they were saying such terrible things about Director Comey.
Then he had the very poor performance on Wednesday. That was a poor, poor performance. So poor, in fact, that I believe — and you’d have to ask him, because I don’t like to speak for other people — but I believe that’s why the Deputy Attorney General went out and wrote his very, very strong letter.
And then, on top of that, after the Wednesday performance by Director Comey, you had a person come and have to readjust the record, which many people have never seen before, because there were misstatements made. And I thought that was something that was terrible.
We need a great director of the FBI. I cherish the FBI. It’s special. All over the world, no matter where you go, the FBI is special. The FBI has not had that special reputation with what happened in the campaign, what happened with respect to the Clinton campaign, and even you could say — directly or indirectly — with respect to the much more successful Trump campaign.
We’re going to have a director who is going to be outstanding. I’ll be announcing that director very soon, and I look forward to doing it. I think the people in the FBI will be very, very thrilled.
And just in concluding, we look forward to getting this whole situation behind us so that when we go for the jobs, we go for the strong military, when we go for all of the things that we’ve been pushing so hard and so successfully, including healthcare — because Obamacare is collapsing. It’s dead; it’s gone. There’s nothing to compare anything to because we don’t have healthcare in this country. You just look at what’s happening. Aetna just pulled out. Other insurance companies are pulling out. We don’t have healthcare. Obamacare is a fallacy. It’s gone. We need healthcare.
We need to cut taxes. We’re going to cut taxes. Forget what I want; it will be the biggest tax cut in the history of our nation. And that’s what I want. It’s going to bring back companies. It’s going to bring back jobs. We lost so many jobs and so many companies to countries that are not so far from you, Mr. President — they’re very close to you, actually — and to many other places throughout the world. We’re going to change that. We’re going to have expansion.
We already do. You look at what’s happening with Ford and with General Motors in Michigan and Ohio. You look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced in so many different fields. That’s what I’m proud of, and that’s what we want to focus our energy on.
The other is something I can only tell you: There was no collusion. And everybody — even my enemies have said, there is no collusion.
So we want to get back and keep on the track that we’re on. Because the track that we’re on is record-setting, and that’s what we want to do, is we want to break very positive records.
Q Mr. President, I’d like to get your reaction to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Russian interference in the campaign. Was this the right move, or is this part of a “witch hunt”?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. And there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians, zero.
I think it divides the country. I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things. So I can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together, Jon. And I will also say very strongly, we’ve had tremendous success. You look at our job numbers, you look at what’s going on at the border, as we discussed before; if you look at what will be happening — you’re going to see some incredible numbers with respect to the success of General Mattis and others with the ISIS situation. The numbers are staggering, how successful they’ve been, the military has been.
Tomorrow, as you know, I’m going to Saudi Arabia, going to Israel. I’m going to Rome. And we have the G7. We have a lot of great things going on.
So I hate to see anything that divides. I’m fine with whatever people want to do, but we have to get back to running this country really, really well. We’ve made tremendous progress in the last 100-some-odd days. Tremendous progress. And you see job numbers, you see all of the production that’s starting. Plants starting to open again. Haven’t been open in years. I’m very proud of it. That’s what I want to be focused on. Because, believe me, there’s no collusion. Russia is fine. But whether it’s Russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the United States of America.
So, thank you very much.
Donald Trump plays victim card at US Coast Guard Academy graduation. In his commencement speech at the US Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut, May 17, he says, “Look at the way I’ve been treated lately — (laughter) — especially by the media. No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
Here are highlights from the 30-minute speech (the transcript provided by the White House):
You’ve done amazing work. And in the true Coast Guard fashion, you had fewer people and fewer resources, but you accomplished the objectives, and you did it with skill and with pride — and, I’d like to say, under budget and ahead of schedule. We’re doing a lot of that now in the United States government. (Applause.) We’re doing a lot of that.
I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won’t even talk about it. Or how much we’re about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier. That had a little bit of an overrun problem before I got here, you know that. Still going to have an overrun problem. We came in when it was finished. But we’re going to save some good money. And when we build the new aircraft carriers they’re going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule, just remember that. (Applause.) That will allow us to build more.
Now, of course, there are always a few slip-ups from time to time — you know that… I hereby absolve every cadet serving restrictions for minor offenses….
I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as President. Jobs pouring back in to our country. A brand-new Supreme Court justice — who’s going to be fantastic for 45 years — (applause) — a historic investment in our military. Border crossings — thank you to our General — are down more than 70 percent in just a short period of time — a total record, by the way, by a lot. (Applause.) We’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans — we are going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before. (Applause.)
I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn’t do anything — that jobs were going down. We were losing business. We’re loosening it up. We’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, which is going along very, very well. We’re working on major tax cuts for all. We are going to give you the largest tax cut in the history of our country if we get it the way we want it, and we’re going to give you major tax reform. (Applause.) And we’re also getting closer and closer, day by day, to great healthcare for our citizens. (Applause.)
And we are setting the stage right now for many, many more things to come. And the people understand what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing. I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests. I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing. (Applause.) I will never stop fighting for you, and I will never stop fighting for the American people.
As you leave this academy to embark on your exciting new voyage, I am heading on a very crucial journey as well. In a few days, I will make my first trip abroad as President. With the safety, security, and interests of the American people as my priority, I will strengthen old friendships and will seek new partners — but partners who also help us. Not partners who take and take and take, partners who help, and partners who help pay for whatever we are doing and all of the good we’re doing for them — which is something that a lot of people have not gotten used to and they just can’t get used to it. I say, get used to it, folks. (Applause.) I’ll ask them to unite for a future of peace and opposition opportunity for our peoples and the peoples of the world.
First, in Saudi Arabia, where I’ll speak with Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extremism, and embrace a peaceful future for their faith. And they’re looking very much forward to hearing what we — as your representative — we have to say. We have to stop radical Islamic terrorism. (Applause.)
Then in Israel, I’ll reaffirm our unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state. In Rome, I will talk with Pope Francis about the contributions of Christian teachings to the world. Finally, I’ll attend the NATO Summit in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily — to promote security, prosperity and peace all over the world.
I’ll meet scores of leader, and honor the holiest sites of these three great religions. And everywhere I go, I will carry the inspiration I take from you each day, from your courage and determination to do whatever is required save and protect American lives. Save and protect American lives. We want security. You’re going to give us security. (Applause.) …
…As your Commander-in-Chief, I thank you. I salute you. And I, once again, congratulate the Coast Guard Class of 2017. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the Coast Guard. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Great honor. Good luck. Enjoy your life. (Applause.)
By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
It was very important to the Trump Administration to dampen any victory dance the Democrats might be doing in terms of the budget deal that forestalled a government shutdown. Demonstrating so clearly that it the aim is to insure widening partisanship and hostility, this morning, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said during a briefing call to clarify what is in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017.
The budget deal averting a government shutdown proves Trump’s leadership, Mulvaney said. Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Trump said a government shutdown in September would be a good thing to “end the mess” that is Congress, unless the Republicans end the filibuster that gives the minority party any say whatsoever.
This comes as Trump heaps praise and admiration on autocrats, dictators and plutocrats, like cheering Erdogan’s sweeping powers won in a tainted referendum in Turkey; North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, who, Trump said, he admired for consolidating his power at the young age of 26 or 27 (by assassinating his relatives), Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who is responsible for some 10,000 extrajudicial killings, and of course Vlad Putin, who he admires as a strong leader (who has assassinated opponents and journalists).
Meanwhile, it was very important to Trump that Democrats not be shown as winning anything in the budget deal that averted a shutdown.
“Democrats are trying to take a win,” Mulvaney said in the briefing call. “The American people won and the president negotiated that victory for them. They know the truth of what’s in the bill. They know the deal the president cut. Some are scared to death knowing what’s in the bill.”
The briefing lasted but a few minutes because the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight couldn’t manage shutting off patriotic music – starting with Stars & Stripes Forever and moving to “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” like the soundtrack to a July 4 fireworks show, that grew in volume and overwhelmed the call.
Mulvaney didn’t want to take many questions anyway, but during the 10 minute ramble, made sure everyone knew that the budget deal was a big win for the President, and a defeat for Democrats who wanted a government shutdown in order to show Trump couldn’t lead. The deal denied the Dems that.
Most importantly, he noted, the deal broke the parity deal that Obama had brokered when Republicans threatened to shut down government over the budget: that every dollar increase or cut in defense had to be matched with a dollar increase for domestic programs.
This deal allocates $4 to $5 for defense versus every $1 increase for domestic programs – in all, $21 billion more for defense. Mulvaney is very proud of that.
Also, $1.522 billion more for the Department of Homeland Security, for border security, on top of $18.5 billion, “the largest overall increase in DHS in last 10 years.”
As for the wall – because Democrats are hailing the fact that not a dollar in the budget is allocated to build the wall that Mexico was going to pay for.
What can/cannot be done, Mulvaney said, would be shown during a 1:30 press briefing, but suggested that the money the administration has gotten out of the budget, will go toward the border, whether a real or virtual wall, “in terms of the boundary between the US and Mexico.
“We’re looking at tremendous increases in technology along the border, maintenance, replacing gates and bridges – part of reason Obama administration had difficulty, the infrastructure not there – will move immediately.”
And what was spent on domestic programs – like preserving health care for miners – were on Trump’s list anyway.
And school choice – the budget provides for three years authorization.
“More money for defense, border security, education – the same things as we introduced in March – those were priorities of incoming administration,” he boasted.
Mulvaney is very proud of what the Democrats didn’t get, like not getting renewed tax credits for renewable energy – wind and solar. He’s very proud.
He deflected Democrats’ victory dance over saving funding for Planned Parenthood, noting that Trump “already signed an Executive Order allowing states not to fund clinics that deal with abortion, and defunded Planned Parenthood as part of the health care bill. Make no mistake, this administration is committed to pro-life – at every turn we fight the pro-life battle. This budget agreement stays true to that.”
He’s proud that there is no Obamacare bailout in the budget agreement.
“Democrats are claiming they got that. It’s not in the bill. Nothing in this bill obligates us to make any Obamacare payments. We’ve had several talks with folks on the hill [about defunding Obamacare] – there are no commitments in this bill.”
He’s also very proud that there is no new money for Puerto Rico. Democrats, he said, “wanted a bunch to bail out Puerto Rico.” The only money for Puerto Rico are the unexpended funds from the previous bill. “There is no new money for Puerto Rico, no bailout, no additions to the deficit.
And Democrats “failed miserably to turn back Second Amendment protections,” he crowed.
“What Democrats didn’t get – what many of them, many of their base – they wanted a shutdown, to make this president look like he couldn’t govern, didn’t know what he is doing, and he beat them at the highest level,” he said with a spiteful tone. “They wanted to make him seem not reasonable. Government is functioning. He is proving he can bring this town together – lead in a sound fashion. That scares many. It’s why they are overreacting and claiming victory.
“Democrats can take credit, but they didn’t get a penny for any one of their pet projects.”
Despite what Mulvaney said about how avoiding a government shutdown demonstrated Trump’s leadership, Trump earlier that morning had opined that a government shutdown in September would be a good thing, to fix what he called a “mess” in Congress, and also called for the Senate to end the filibuster so that the Republicans could sweep their agenda through.
In two successive tweets, Trump stated, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We…. either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”
© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email email@example.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin
Donald Trump had nothing to say, no tears to shed when a teacher and a student were murdered when her husband, a man who had already been cited for domestic violence, came into her classroom and shot her with a gun. But he had a lot to say to the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, on April 28, his 99th day occupying the Oval Office, becoming the first since Reagan to address the conference. He profusely thanked the NRA membership for support in taking the Electoral College, and the Heritage Foundation for supplying the list of nominees he should tout for Supreme Court justice. He extolled the Rule of Law and abiding by the Constitution – that is, the Second Amendment – and made sure to conflate the Second Amendment with building a wall to keep out Mexicans.
“But we can’t be complacent. These are dangerous times. These are horrible times for certain obvious reasons. But we’re going to make them great times again. Every day, we are up against those who would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties, and even those who want to abolish the Second Amendment. We must be vigilant…
“So let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience today: As your President, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never ever. Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God.”
Here’s a highlighted transcript of his remarks – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
2:06 P.M. EDT
Thank you, Chris, for that kind introduction and for your tremendous work on behalf of our Second Amendment. Thank you very much. (Applause.) I want to also thank Wayne LaPierre for his unflinching leadership in the fight for freedom. Wayne, thank you very much. Great. (Applause.)
I’d also like to congratulate Karen Handel on her incredible fight in Georgia 6. (Applause.) The election takes place on June 20th. And, by the way, on primaries, let’s not have 11 Republicans running for the same position, okay? (Laughter.) It’s too nerve-shattering. She’s totally for the NRA and she’s totally for the Second Amendment. So get out and vote. She’s running against someone who’s going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your healthcare, and he’s for open borders — lots of crime, and he’s not even able to vote in the district that he’s running in. Other than that, I think he’s doing a fantastic job, right? (Laughter.) So get out and vote for Karen.
Also, my friend — he’s become a friend, because there’s nobody that does it like Lee Greenwood. Wow. (Applause.) Lee’s anthem is the perfect description of the renewed spirit sweeping across our country. And it really is, indeed, sweeping across our country. So, Lee, I know I speak for everyone in this arena when I say, we are all very proud indeed to be an American. Thank you very much, Lee. (Applause.)
No one was more proud to be American than the beloved patriot — and you know who I’m talking about — we remember on gatherings like today, your former five-term President, the late Charlton Heston. How good was Charlton? (Applause.) And I remember Charlton, he was out there fighting when maybe a lot of people didn’t want to be fighting. He was out there for a long time. He was a great guy.
And it’s truly wonderful to be back in Atlanta, and back with my friends at the NRA. You are my friends, believe me. (Applause.) Perhaps some of you remember the last time we were all together. Remember that? We had a big crowd then, too. So we knew something was happening. But it was in the middle of a historic political year, and in the middle of a truly historic election. What fun that was — November 8. Wasn’t that a great evening? Do you remember that evening? (Applause.) Remember that? (Applause.)
Remember they were saying, “We have breaking news: Donald Trump has won the state of Michigan.” They go, “Michigan? How did that” — “Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin, whoa.” But earlier in the evening, remember, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, all the way up — we ran up the East Coast. And, you know, the Republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College, you know that. Tremendous disadvantage. And to run the whole East Coast, and then you go with Iowa and Ohio, and all of the different states. It was a great evening, one that a lot people will never forget — a lot of people. (Applause.) Not going to forget that evening.
And remember they said, “There is no path to 270.” For months I was hearing that. You know, they’re trying to suppress the vote. So they keep saying it, so people say, you know, I really like Trump, he loves the Second Amendment, he loves the NRA; I love him, but let’s go to the movie because he can’t win. Because they’re trying to suppress the vote.
But they’d say — I mean, hundreds of times I heard, there is no — there’s no route. They’d say it, “There is no route to 270.” And we ended up with 306. So they were right: Not 270, 306. (Applause.) That was some evening. Big sports fans said that was the single-most exciting event they’ve ever seen. That includes Super Bowls and World Series and boxing matches. That was an exciting evening for all of us, and it meant a lot.
Only one candidate in the General Election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the President of the United States, standing before you again. (Applause.) I have a feeling that in the next election you’re going to be swamped with candidates, but you’re not going to be wasting your time. You’ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over and you’re going to say, no, sir, no thank you — no, ma’am. Perhaps ma’am. It may be Pocahontas, remember that. (Laughter and applause.) And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you.
But you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you. (Applause.) I was proud to receive the NRA’s earliest endorsement in the history of the organization. And today, I am also proud to be the first sitting President to address the NRA Leadership Forum since our wonderful Ronald Reagan in 1983. (Applause.) And I want to thank each and every one of you not only for your help electing true friends of the Second Amendment, but for everything you do to defend our flag and our freedom.
With your activism, you helped to safeguard the freedoms of our soldiers who have bled and died for us on the battlefields. And I know we have many veterans in the audience today, and we want to give them a big, big beautiful round of applause. (Applause.)
And, like I promised, we are doing a really top job already — 99 days — but already with the Veterans Administration, people are seeing a big difference. We are working really hard at the VA, and you’re going to see it, and you’re already seeing it. And it’s my honor. I’ve been telling you we’re going to do it, and we’re doing it. (Applause.) Thank you.
The NRA protects in our capitols and legislative houses the freedoms that our servicemembers have won for us on those incredible battlefields. And it’s been a tough fight against those who would go so far as to ban private gun ownership entirely. But I am here to deliver you good news. And I can tell you that Wayne and Chris have been fighting with me long and hard to make sure that we were with you today, not somebody else with an empty podium. Because believe me, the podium would have been empty. They fought long and hard, and I think you folks cannot thank them enough. They were with us all the way, right from the beginning. (Applause.)
But we have news that you’ve been waiting for for a long time: The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. (Applause.) You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners. (Applause.) No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans. Instead, we will work with you, by your side. We will work with the NRA to promote responsible gun ownership, to protect our wonderful hunters and their access to the very beautiful outdoors. You met my son — I can tell you, both sons, they love the outdoors. Frankly, I think they love the outdoors more than they love, by a long shot, Fifth Avenue. But that’s okay. And we want to ensure you of the sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens. (Applause.)
When I spoke to this forum last year, our nation was still mourning the loss of a giant, a great defender of the Constitution: Justice Antonin Scalia. (Applause.) I promised that if elected, I would nominate a justice who would be faithful and loyal to the Constitution. I even went one step further and publicly presented a list of 20 judges from which I would make my selection, and that’s exactly what we did.
And, by the way, I want to thank, really, Heritage. And I want to thank also all of the people that worked with us. Where’s Leo? Is Leo around here? Where is he? He’s got to be here. Where is he? He has been so good. And also from Heritage, Jim DeMint. It’s been amazing. I mean, those people have been fantastic. They’ve been real friends. (Applause.) The Federalist people — where are they? Are they around here someplace? They really helped us out.
I kept my promise, and now, with your help, our brand-new Justice — and he is really something very special — Neil Gorsuch, sits on the bench of the United States Supreme Court. (Applause.) For the first time in the modern political era, we have confirmed a new justice in the first 100 days. (Applause.) The last time that happened was 136 years ago, in 1881. Now, we won’t get any credit for this, but don’t worry about it, the credit is in the audience, right? The credit is in the audience. (Applause.) All of those people. They won’t give us credit, but it’s been a long time, and we’re very honored.
We’ve also taken action to stand up for America’s sportsmen. On their very last full day in office, the previous administration issued an 11th-hour rule to restrict the use of lead ammunition on certain federal lands. Have you heard about that, folks? I’m shocked to hear that. You’ve all heard about that. You’ve heard about that. On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke eliminated the previous administration’s ammunition ban. (Applause.) He’s going to be great. Ryan is going to be great.
We’ve also moved very quickly to restore something gun owners care about very, very much. It’s called the rule of law. (Applause.) We have made clear that our administration will always stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement. (Applause.) In fact, countless members of law enforcement are also members of the NRA, because our police know that responsible gun ownership saves lives, and that the right of self-defense is essential to public safety. Do we all agree with that? (Applause.)
Our police and sheriffs also know that when you ban guns, only the criminals will be armed. (Applause.) For too long, Washington has gone after law-abiding gun owners while making life easier for criminals, drug dealers, traffickers and gang members. MS-13 — you know about MS-13? It’s not pleasant for them anymore, folks. It’s not pleasant for them anymore. That’s a bad group. (Applause.) Not pleasant for MS-13. Get them the hell out of here, right? Get them out. (Applause.)
We are protecting the freedoms of law-abiding Americans, and we are going after the criminal gangs and cartels that prey on our innocent citizens. And we are really going after them. (Applause.)
As members of the NRA know well, some of the most important decisions a President can make are appointments — and I’ve appointed people who believe in law, order, and justice. (Applause.)
That is why I have selected as your Attorney General, number one, a really fine person, a really good man, a man who has spent his career fighting crime, supporting the police, and defending the Second Amendment. For the first time in a long time, you now have a pro-Second-Amendment, tough-on-crime Attorney General, and his name is Jeff Sessions. (Applause.)
And Attorney General Sessions is putting our priorities into action. He’s going after the drug dealers who are peddling their poison all over our streets and destroying our youth. He’s going after the gang members who threaten our children. And he’s fully enforcing our immigration laws in all 50 states. And you know what? It’s about time. (Applause.)
Heading up the effort to secure America’s borders is a great military general, a man of action: Homeland Security Director [sic], John Kelly. (Applause.)
Secretary Kelly, who used to be General Kelly, is following through on my pledge to protect the borders, remove criminal aliens, and stop the drugs from pouring into our country. We’ve already seen — listen to this; it never happened before, people can’t even believe it. And, by the way, we will build the wall no matter how low this number gets or how this goes. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even think about it. (Applause.)
You know, they’re trying to use this number against us because we’ve done so unbelievably at the borders already. They’re trying to use it against us. But you need that wall to stop the human trafficking, to stop the drugs, to stop the wrong people. You need the wall. But listen to this: We’ve already seen a 73 percent decrease — never happened before — in illegal immigration on the southern border since my election — 73 percent. (Applause.)
You see what they’re doing, right? So why do you need a wall? We need a wall.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Build the wall!
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll build the wall. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even think about it. Don’t even think about it. That’s an easy one. We’re going to build the wall. We need the wall.
I said to General Kelly, how important is it? He said, very important. It’s that final element. We need the wall. And it’s a wall in certain areas. Obviously, where you have these massive physical structures you don’t need, and we have certain big rivers and all. But we need a wall, and we’re going to get that wall. (Applause.)
And the world is getting the message. They know that our border is no longer open to illegal immigration, and that if you try to break in, you’ll be caught and you’ll be returned to your home. You’re not staying any longer. And if you keep coming back illegally after deportation, you will be arrested, prosecuted, and you will put behind bars. Otherwise it will never end. (Applause.)
Let’s also remember that immigration security is national security. We’ve seen the attacks from 9/11 to Boston to San Bernardino. Hundreds of individuals from other countries have been charged with terrorism-related offenses in the United States.
We spend billions and billions of dollars on security all over the world, but then we allow radical Islamic terrorists to enter right through our front door. That’s not going to happen anymore. (Applause.) It’s time to get tough. It’s time we finally got smart. And yes, it’s also time to put America first. (Applause.)
And perhaps — I see all of those beautiful red and white hats — but we will never forget our favorite slogan of them all: Make America Great Again. All right? (Applause.)
Keeping our communities safe and protecting our freedoms also requires the cooperation of our state leaders. We have some incredible pro-Second Amendment governors here at the NRA conference, including Governor Scott of Florida. Where is Governor Scott? Great guy doing a great job. Governor Bryant of Mississippi. What a wonderful place. Governor Bryant is here. Thank you. Governor Deal of Georgia. (Applause.) And we’re also joined by two people that — well, one I loved right from the beginning; the other one I really liked, didn’t like, and now like a lot again. (Laughter.) Does that make sense? Senator David Perdue — he was from the beginning — and Senator Ted Cruz — like, dislike, like. (Applause.) Where are they? Good guys. Good guys. Smart cookies.
Each of these leaders knows that public officials must serve under the Constitution, not above it. We all took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States — and that means defending the Second Amendment. (Applause.)
So let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience today: As your President, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never ever. (Applause.) Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God. (Applause.)
It was this conviction that stirred the heart of a great American patriot on that day, April, 242 years ago. It was the day that Paul Revere spread his Lexington alarm — the famous warning that “the British are coming, the British are coming.” Right? You’ve all heard that, right? The British are coming.
Now we have other people trying to come, but believe me, they’re not going to be successful. That I can tell you. (Applause.) Nothing changes, right, folks? Nothing changes. They are not going to be successful. There will be serious hurt on them, not on us.
Next, came the shot heard around the world, and then a rag-tag army of God-fearing farmers, frontiersmen, shopkeepers, merchants that stood up to the most powerful army at that time on Earth. The most powerful army on Earth. But we sometimes forget what inspired those everyday farmers and workers in that great war for independence.
Many years after the war, a young man asked Captain Levi Preston, aged 91, why he’d fought alongside his neighbors at Concord. Was it the Stamp Act? Was it the Tea Tax? Was it a work of philosophy? “No,” the old veteran replied. “Then why?” he was asked. “Young man,” the Captain said, “what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: We always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to” govern ourselves. (Applause.)
Captain Preston’s words are a reminder of what this organization and my administration are all about: the right of a sovereign people to govern their own affairs, and govern them properly. (Applause.) We don’t want any longer to be ruled by the bureaucrats in Washington, or in any other country for that matter. In America, we are ruled by our citizens. We are ruled by each and every one of you.
But we can’t be complacent. These are dangerous times. These are horrible times for certain obvious reasons. But we’re going to make them great times again. Every day, we are up against those who would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties, and even those who want to abolish the Second Amendment. We must be vigilant. And I know you are all up to the task.
Since the first generation of Americans stood strong at Concord, each generation to follow has answered the call to defend freedom in their time. That is why we are here today: To defend freedom for our children. To defend the liberty of all Americans. And to defend the right of a free and sovereign people to keep and bear arms.
I greatly appreciated your support on November 8th, in what will hopefully be one of the most important and positive elections for the United States of all time. And to the NRA, I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down.
Thank you. God Bless you. God Bless our Constitution, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 2:35 P.M. EDT
Washington, DC — Ahead of the Peoples Climate March in Washington DC and in hundreds of cities around the country on Saturday, April 29 (Trump’s 100th day occupying the Oval Office), the Trump administration issued an executive order directing the Department of the Interior, led by Ryan Zinke, to review previous monument designations allowed under the 1906 Antiquities Act. According to White House officials, the review could bring “changes or modifications” that could open more public lands to fossil fuel extraction.
Indigenous leaders and climate activists have fought to gain monument designations for lands across the country to protect them from the fossil fuel industry. Areas like the Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.35-million acre area in Utah including sacred Native American lands, could be at risk for losing their protected status. National parks like the Grand Canyon exist because of the Antiquities Act, and any move by the Trump administration to revoke protections of designated monuments will likely face challenges in court.
The public overwhelmingly supports protecting our national parks and monuments and on Saturday, April 29, thousands of people across the country and in Washington, D.C. are expected to join the Peoples Climate March to Trump administration policies like this one and stand up for climate, jobs and justice.
Rhea Suh, President, Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “This is another unjust assault on our climate, environment and national heritage, a hallmark of the president’s first 100 days. These precious lands belong to all Americans. Our country holds them in trust for the benefit of all Americans, now and in the future. These monuments—and the resources and wildlife they protect—are worthy of ironclad protection because they are unique, and vulnerable to encroachment and destruction. President Trump should not try to strip away their protection. The tens of thousands gathering Saturday to march for climate action will fight his attempted sellout, and to preserve these iconic public places and the American values they represent.”
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, said, “We should not be asking which parts of our history and heritage we can eliminate, but instead how we can make our outdoors reflect the full American story. There is no need for a review to demonstrate what families across the country already know first-hand — national monuments provide tangible health, climate, and economic benefits. Indigenous leaders and climate activists have fought to gain monument designations for lands across the country to preserve sacred sites and protect wild places from the fossil fuel industry. Areas like the Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.35-million acre area in Utah including sacred Native American lands, could be at risk for losing their protected status. National parks like the Grand Canyon exist because of the Antiquities Act, and any move by the Trump administration to revoke protections of designated monuments will likely face challenges in court.”
“Donald Trump’s executive action paves the way for the elimination of protections for America’s majestic national parks and places that tell the story of all people in this country at an unprecedented scale,” Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters, said. “We will fight back. America’s parks and natural and cultural heritage should be protected and celebrated, not sold off to special interests. From the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon, our monuments and parks honor our nation’s deep history, recognize our dedication to human and civil rights, and protect our precious lands and waters that fuel America’s thriving outdoor recreation industry. Our nation will hold Trump accountable for putting corporate polluter interests ahead of people.”
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE, said, “The federal administration’s move to undermine the Antiquities Act is a direct attack on everything that the environmental justice movement stands for. From the Grand Canyon to Stonewall Inn, this act preserves those monuments that symbolize our collective natural heritage and houses of culture and struggle. Justice rests at the intersection of these legacies. This move demonstrates yet again that nothing in this administration’s eyes is beyond the reach of fossil fuel interests and destructive market forces. However, this order will do nothing to undermine our commitment to defending the sacredness of our land, protecting the dignity of our people, and fighting for environmental and social justice.”
“The Antiquities Act serves a dual purpose: to preserve our beautiful land for current and future generations to enjoy, but most importantly, to protect land from pollution-creating activities–and ultimately protect vulnerable communities and their health,” stated Adrienne L. Hollis, PhD, JD, Director of Federal Policy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We cannot fully measure the importance this act has on protecting the planet and its inhabitants. To alter this powerful act is another form of desecration and a continuation of efforts to ignore the plight of frontline communities and the environments in which they live, work, play, learn, and pray.”
May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org, said, “So much for being Teddy Roosevelt. Zinke and the Trump administration want to gut the power of the Antiquities Act to shore up the fossil fuel industry. On top of all the attacks on our climate, now we’ll have to defend our parks and monuments from Big Oil as well. On Saturday, thousands of people across the country will be joining the Peoples Climate March to push back on this and other Trump climate assaults. We won’t let this presidency stop us from building toward a renewable energy future that works for all.”
Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, said “Leave it to Trump to take aim at an American tradition and principle that is beloved across political affiliations — our public lands, waters, and monuments. Trump wants to carve up this country into as many giveaways to the oil and gas industry as possible. But people who cannot afford the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago still want water they can drink, air they can breathe, and beautiful places to go for refuge. Trump is on the verge of jeopardizing true national treasures. We who cherish and rely on public lands and waters will ensure that he will not succeed.”
“Nothing, nothing at all is sacred for this administration except policies that destroy life and wellbeing for people and the planet in order to enrich the wealthy. This Executive Order is intended to promote desecration of some of the most unique and significant places in our country,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith.
Donald Trump is racing to the 100-day mark to do as much as he can to undo progress won over the past century, particularly eradicating every part of Barack Obama’s legacy.
On Wednesday, he signed Executive Orders weakening the Antiquities Act that has been used since Theodore Roosevelt to protect federal land for the American people.
He signed another Executive Order aimed at rolling back national education standards put into place, originally, by George W. Bush under the No Child Left Behind Act, amended with Barack Obama’s Race to the Top (which used federal financial incentives instead of threats of losing federal aid), and reformed under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act).
Also, his Treasury Secretary introduced the outline for tax “reform” which cuts taxes for the wealthiest and corporations and promises to blow a hold trillions of dollars wide in the national debt, just as previous “voodoo” “trickle-down” tax “reform” by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have done.
According to the pool report by Dave Boyer, White House correspondent for The Washington Times:
The president signed an executive order at the Interior Dept. with Vice President Pence, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and several lawmakers and governors. The order directs Interior to review larger national monuments created since 1996.
Trump said the Antiquities Act “does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up” millions of acres of land and water. He especially criticized the Obama administration for an “egregious use of power” and an “abuse of the monuments designation,” and said that it’s time “to end another egregious abuse of federal power.”
“It’s gotten worse and worse and worse. This should never have happened,” he said. “Now we’re going to free it up.”
“We’re returning power back to the people,” Mr. Trump said. “Today we’re putting the states back in charge.”
Pence called the use of the monuments designation “one of the great federal overreaches in recent decades.”
Mr. Zinke said “somewhere along the line, the act has become a tool of political advocacy.” He said the order “does not remove any monuments” or weaken any environmental protections.
[However, it is clear that the powers that Trump is taking upon himself is aimed at reversing Obama’s designation of Bears Ears in Utah.)
Here’s more of what Trump said:
“In the first 100 days, we have taken historic action to eliminate wasteful regulations. They’re being eliminated like nobody has ever seen before. There has never been anything like it. Sometimes I look at some of the things I’m signing I say maybe people won’t like it, but I’m doing the right thing. And no regular politician is going do it. (Laughter.) I don’t know if you folks would do — I will tell you literally some politicians have said, you’re doing the right thing. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do some of these things. But we’re doing them because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s for the good of the nation.
“We’re returning power back to the people. We’ve eliminated job-destroying regulations on farmers, ranchers, and coal miners, on autoworkers, and so many other American workers and businesses.
“Today, I am signing a new executive order to end another egregious abuse of federal power, and to give that power back to the states and to the people, where it belongs.
“The previous administration used a 100-year-old law known as the Antiquities Act to unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control — have you heard about that? — eliminating the ability of the people who actually live in those states to decide how best to use that land.
“Today, we are putting the states back in charge. It’s a big thing.
“I am pleased to be joined by so many members of Congress and governors who have been waiting for this moment, including Governor Herbert of Utah. Thank you, thank you, Governor. Governor LePage of Maine, who, by the way, has lost a lot of weight. (Laughter.) I knew him when he was heavy, and now I know him when he’s thin, and I like him both ways, okay? (Laughter.) Done a great job. Governor Calvo of Guam. Thank you. Governor Torres from the Northern Mariana Islands. Thank you, thank you, Governor.
“I also want to recognize Senator Orrin Hatch, who — believe me, he’s tough. He would call me and call me and say, you got to do this. Is that right, Orrin?”
SENATOR HATCH: That’s right.
THE PRESIDENT: You didn’t stop. He doesn’t give up. And he’s shocked that I’m doing it, but I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. But I really have to point you out, you didn’t stop.
“And, Mike, the same thing. So many people feel — Mike Lee — so many people feel so strongly about this, and so I appreciate your support and your prodding, and your never-ending prodding, I should say, because we’re now getting something done that many people thought would never ever get done, and I’m very proud to be doing it in honor of you guys, okay? Thank you. (Applause.)
“Altogether, the previous administration bypassed the states to place over 265 million acres — that’s a lot of land, million acres. Think of it — 265 million acres of land and water under federal control through the abuse of the monuments designation. That’s larger than the entire state of Texas.
“In December of last year alone, the federal government asserted this power over 1.35 million acres of land in Utah, known as Bears Ears — I’ve heard a lot about Bears Ears, and I hear it’s beautiful — over the profound objections of the citizens of Utah. The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice.
“I’ve spoken with many state and local leaders — a number of them here today — who care very much about preserving our land, and who are gravely concerned about this massive federal land grab. And it’s gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. This should never have happened.
“That’s why today I am signing this order and directing Secretary Zinke to end these abuses and return control to the people — the people of Utah, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States.
“Every day, we are going to continue pushing ahead with our reform agenda to put the American people back in charge of their government and their lives.
“And again, I want to congratulate the Secretary. I want to congratulate Orrin and Mike and all of the people that worked so hard on bringing it to this point. And tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land, the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world. But now tremendously positive things will happen.”
The signing took place in a room at Interior with a framed portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, a bust of TR and mounted heads of a buffalo and deer on the wall. Among those in attendance were Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Also Govs. Herbert of Utah and LePage of Maine.
Reversing Education Reform
Trump walked into the Roosevelt Room at 2:44 p.m., having been introduced by Vice President Pence. He was greeted by a group of about 25 people, including teachers, lawmakers and governors, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to Boyer’s pool report:
A bit of banter:
Mr. Trump joked with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, incoming head of the National Governors Association, about the length of Sandoval’s prepared remarks, with Trump saying he decided to stay in the room after his own comments because “I know it’s going to be a short speech” from Sandoval.
Mr. Sandoval laughed and told the president, “It just got shorter.”
A few moments later during his remarks, Mr. Sandoval said, “I’m going to skip a page.”
The president, standing to the rear of the group, called out, “Education for North Korea.”
During the event, Mr. Trump also said he was heading afterward for a “very important” briefing for senators on North Korea.
During the president’s formal remarks, he said the education executive order will help to restore local control of education. It calls for a 300-day review of Obama-era regulations and guidance for school districts and directs DeVos to modify or repeal measures deemed an overreach by Washington.
“We know that local communities do it best and know it best,” the president said. He called it “another critical step to restoring local control, which is so important.”
“Previous administrations have wrongly forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictates for what our kids are taught,” he said. “The time has come to empower teachers and parents to make the decisions that help their students achieve success.”
Among those in attendance were Sen. Lamar Alexander, Rep. Virginia Foxx and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Gov. Herbert of Utah and LePage of Maine, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, nominee for ambassador to China.
Mr. Trump told Mr. Branstad, “They’re looking forward to seeing you” in China.
From there, Trump honored the Teacher of the Year, who, surprise surprise, is the first to be from a charter school in the 65 years of the award.
Boyer reports no questions taken at this event.
Pool was ushered into the Oval Office around 4:45 p.m. to find the President seated at the Resolute desk, surrounded by 55 teachers from around the nation, plus First Lady Melania Trump (who is celebrating her birthday), Vice President Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The President congratulated Sydney Chaffee, winner of the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, from Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, Mass. The ninth-grade teacher is the first charter school teacher to win the award in its 65-year history, and also the first from Massachusetts.
“That is really something special,” Mr. Trump said.
The president also thanked the group for having sung “Happy Birthday” to the First Lady before your poolers arrived.
The president greeted your poolers with, “Busy day, hasn’t it been?”
He praised the teachers as “the greatest there are. You’re all great, great teachers.”
Near the conclusion of the president’s comments, as he was saying he hopes the teachers’ trip to the White House was special, one unidentified teacher began to cry, apparently tears of happiness.
“Sorry, I’m always crying,” she told the president.
The President told her, “I’ve had some of the biggest executives in the world, who have been here many times, and I say have you been to the Oval Office? No. They walk into the Oval Office and they start crying. I say ‘I promise I won’t say to your various stockholders [that they cried].”
The president did not answer a question shouted near the end about North Korea.
Meanwhile, the outline of his tax plan was unveiled which would:
- Slash the corporate tax rate by 60%, from 35% to 15%. This will lose $2.4 trillion over 10 years—enough to fund Medicaid and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) serving nearly 75 million Americans for five years.
- Cut the tax rate paid by Wall Street money managers and real estate tycoons like Trump down to just 15%―far less than many middle-class families pay.
- Continue tax breaks that encourage corporations to send jobs and profits offshore. Corporations currently have $2.6 trillion in profits stashed offshore, on which they owe $750 billion in taxes.
The theory – by Republicans since Ronald Reagan – is that the deficit in tax revenues would be made up by economic growth, except that has never been the case.
In reaction, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) stated:
“At a time when we have a rigged economy designed to benefit the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations, President Trump’s new tax plan would only make that system worse. He would slash taxes for himself and his billionaire friends and significantly increase the deficit, while doing little to help rebuild the collapsing middle class. Rather than making large profitable corporations – many of which pay nothing in federal income tax – finally contribute their fair share, Trump wants to give them a huge tax break.
“At a time when Trump wants to make major cuts in education, health care, senior programs, nutrition and affordable housing, it is especially outrageous that he would propose the elimination of the Estate Tax and provide a $353 billion dollar tax giveaway to the wealthiest 0.2 percent – including a tax break of up to $4 billion to the Trump family.”
Only Donald Tweeter Trump could reply to a remark about how the International Space Station is “by far, the best example of international cooperation and what we can do when we work together in the history of humanity” with a statement about the “tremendous military application in space. We’re rebuilding our military like never before.”
Following the astronauts’ inspiration message to the thousands of students participating in the video chat with Peggy Whitson, the commander on the international space station, who just hit a milestone as the American with the most time in space, and a discussion of all the scientific and medical achievements gained from the space station, Trump said:
“So well said. And I have to say, there’s tremendous military application in space. We’re rebuilding our military like never before. We’re ordering equipment, and we’re going to have the strongest military that we’ve ever had, the strongest military that the world has ever seen, and there’s been no time where we need it more. And I’m sure that every student watching wants to know, what is next for Americans in space.”
Then, after being told that a Mars mission is planned for the 2030s, Trump, again showing how clueless and uncaring he is about actual facts, says it would take place during his first term, or “at worst” his second term (apparently he intends to pull an Erdogan).
Here is the White House transcript which speaks volumes about the so-called Commander-in-Chief – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
10:00 A.M. EDT
NASA: White House, this is Mission Control, Houston. Please call Station for a voice check.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you hear me?
CMDR. WHITSON: Yes, sir. We have you loud and clear.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s what we like — great American equipment that works. And this isn’t easy. (Laughter.)
I want to say it’s very exciting to be here today — very, very exciting — and to speak to you live with three brave American astronauts. These are our finest. These are great, great Americans, great people. Two join us from orbit aboard the International Space Station: Commander Peggy Whitson and Colonel Jack Fischer. And Peggy Whitson has been setting records, and we’re going to talk about that very soon.
I’m here in the Oval Office, along with my daughter Ivanka and astronaut Kate Rubins, who recently returned from space and from the Space Station. Together, we are being joined by students all across America, thousands and thousands of students who are learning — they’re learning about space, learning about a lot of other things — and they’re watching this conversation from the classroom. And, all over, we have astronauts and we have everybody, who are flying right now, 17,000 miles per hour. That’s about as fast as I’ve ever heard. I wouldn’t want to be flying 17,000 miles an hour. But that’s what you do.
Peggy, Jack, and Kate, I know that America’s students are thrilled to hear from you. But first, I want to say that this is a very special day in the glorious history of American spaceflight. Today, Commander Whitson, you have broken the record for the most total time spent in space by an American astronaut — 534 days and counting. That’s an incredible record to break. And on behalf of our nation and, frankly, on behalf of the world, I’d like to congratulate you. That is really something. And I’d like to know, how does it feel to have broken such a big and important record?
CMDR. WHITSON: Well, it’s actually a huge honor to break a record like this, but it’s an honor for me basically to be representing all the folks at NASA who make this spaceflight possible and who make me setting this record feasible. And so it’s a very exciting time to be at NASA. We are all very much looking forward, as directed by your new NASA bill — we’re excited about the missions to Mars in the 2030s. And so we actually, physically, have hardware on the ground that’s being built for the SLS rocket that’s going to take us there. And, of course, the hardware being built now is going to be for the test flights that will eventually get us there.
But it’s a very exciting time, and I’m so proud of the team.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. And what are we learning from having you spending your time up there? I know so much research is done; I’m getting a glimpse of some of it right here in the Oval Office. What are we learning by being in space?
CMDR. WHITSON: Well, I think probably the International Space Station is providing a key bridge from us living on Earth to going somewhere into deep space. So on those Mars missions, we need to better understand how microgravity is really affecting our body, and we need to understand it in great detail. So, many of the studies are looking at the human body. We’re also looking at things that involve operations of a space vehicles on these long-duration missions and the technological advancements that will be required.
For instance, on a multiyear Mars mission, we’re going to need to be able to close the life support system, and that means we, right now, for instance, are taking solar power that we collect, and using it to break apart water into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen, we breathe, of course. We use the hydrogen, combine it back with the CO2 that we take out of the air, and make more water. But water is such a precious resource up here that we also are cleaning up our urine and making it drinkable. And it’s really not as bad as it sounds.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that. (Laughter.) Better you than me. I will say, Colonel Fischer, you just arrived, and how was your trip? Complicated? Easy? How did it go?
COL. FISCHER: Oh, sir, it was awesome. It made even my beloved F-22 feel a little bit underpowered. I launched in a Russian vehicle with my Russian friend, Fyodor Yurchikhin, from Kazakhstan. Got the immediate perspective change as we got to orbit, and I saw that frail, thin blue line of life around the Earth. Six hours later, we’re docked at the station. The next day, I install an experiment in the Japanese module that’s going to be looking at new drugs and how we can make those drugs for muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, multi-drug-resistant bacteria — all sorts of things. A couple hours later, I watched our crewmate, Thomas Pesquet, a Frenchman, drive a Canadian robotic arm to capture a spaceship from Virginia, carrying 3.5 tons of cargo and science that’s going to keep us busy for the next few months, and dock that to the station.
Sir, it’s amazing. Oh, and then, you know, now I’m talking to the President of the United States while hanging from a wall. It’s amazing. The International Space Station is, by far, the best example of international cooperation and what we can do when we work together in the history of humanity. And I am so proud to be a part of it. And it’s just cool. (Laughter.) Like, yesterday, I had — well, there you go — there’s our resident space ninja doing the gravity demonstration. And yesterday morning, I had my coffee in floaty ball form, and, sir, it was delicious. So, it’s awesome.
THE PRESIDENT: Tell me, Mars — what do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule? And when would you see that happening?
CMDR. WHITSON: Well, I think as your bill directed, it will be approximately in the 2030s. As I mentioned, we actually are building hardware to test the new heavy launch vehicle, and this vehicle will take us further than we’ve ever been away from this planet. Unfortunately, spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will require some international cooperation to get it to be a planet-wide approach in order to make it successful, just because it is a very expensive endeavor. But it so worthwhile doing.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term. So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?
CMDR. WHITSON: (Laughter.) We’ll do our best.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, you will. And I have great respect for you folks. It’s amazing what you do. And I just want to introduce another great one. Kate Rubins is with us today, and she has been so impressive with research and so many other things having to do with NASA. And, Kate, I understand you’re the first person to sequence DNA in space. Can you tell us about that?
RUBINS: Yeah. So that was actually just this last summer, and it’s a real example of what we can do with technology and innovation. We’ve got a sequencer down to the size of your cellphone, and we were actually able to fly that onboard the space station and sequence DNA. It’s not just the technology demonstration, but we can actually use that to do things like detect microbes on the space station, look at astronaut health. We can easily use that in Earth-based settings, too, to look for disease outbreaks and to do rural healthcare as well.
TRUMP: That’s fantastic. That is really great. I saw some of the work, and it’s incredible. You know, I’ve been dealing with politicians so much, I’m so much more impressed with these people. You have no idea.
Now, speaking of another impressive person — Ivanka, you’ve been very much interested in this program. Tell us something about it.
MS. TRUMP: Hi, Dr. Whitson. First of all, congratulations on your incredible milestone today. You may know that my father recently signed the Inspire Women Act to encourage female participation in STEM fields across all aerospace areas, and really with a focus on NASA. So encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM careers is a major priority for this administration.
And today we are sitting with an amazing example of that — Dr. Rubins, and you, Dr. Whitson. So I would love to hear from you, what was the impetus for you to get involved in the sciences?
RUBINS: Yeah, so when I around fifteen, I actually went to a conference, and that was very inspiring for me. It was sort of the beginning of recombinant DNA and understanding biology. And so just that exposure to scientists and the kinds of things that you can do with science and technology innovation.
MS. TRUMP: Amazing. Dr. Whitson?
CMDR. WHITSON: For me, it was actually the Apollo program was my inspiration, and that was when it became a dream to become an astronaut. But I don’t really think it became a goal until I graduated from high school, when the first female astronauts were selected. And seeing those role models, and with the encouragement of my parents and various mentors in college and graduate school, and when I started working at Rice, that’s what made it possible, I think, to become an astronaut. And it took me a lot longer to become an astronaut than I ever really wanted it to take, but I do think I’m better at my job because of the journey.
MS. TRUMP: You’re an incredible inspiration to us all. So I would also like to ask you one more question. I’m incredibly curious, as I’m sure all the students across the country are, to know what a day in the life in space is like. Could you share what a typical day looks like, what the challenges are, just any special moments?
CMDR. WHITSON: Well, a typical day, we wake up and look at the messages from the ground, because we have a huge ground team that’s working overnight to prepare changes or the details of the tests that we’re going to be performing over the course of the day. So first thing I do is check out that, see what’s changed.
But on any given day, it can be so dramatically different. On one day, we might be focusing on science. On another day, we might be repairing the carbon dioxide removal system. On another day, soon Jack and I are going to do a spacewalk. We talked about, last Saturday, we did robotics operations. I love the diversity of the different activities that we do. Plus, you know, we have over 200 investigations ongoing onboard the space station, and I just think that’s a phenomenal part of the day.
Of course, there’s also just the living and, onboard the space station, it’s such a unique and novel environment. Nothing that we’re used to on the ground. And it’s so special to just be in zero gravity. So Jack is the new guy here, and I think he can probably give you a better perspective on what that’s like.
COL. FISCHER: Well, you know, everything here — my dad always said that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. And we work really hard up here, but it’s not really work, it’s just fun. It’s like playing fort almost, only you’re changing the world while you do it.
And then on the off time, the other morning I was working out, and on our machine that we work out on, right below it is the Cupola window. And so when you’re on the device where you do crunches, every time you come up, you see out the window. And it’s awesome because you kind of go, crunch, “Oh, my gosh, that’s beautiful! I got to do that again.” Crunch, “Oh my gosh, that’s beautiful.” It’s awesome. Everything we do here is fun, and it feels so great to know that we’re making a difference on the ground and for the future of humanity as well. So it’s an incredible, incredible job.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re making a great difference, I have to say. And this is a very exciting time for our country, and you see what’s happening with our country in terms of jobs, in terms of business, and there’s such excitement and such enthusiasm. Many American entrepreneurs are racing into space. I have many friends that are so excited about space. They want to get involved in space from the standpoint of entrepreneurship and business.
Tell us about the opportunities that could exist for the next generation of scientists and engineers. Is that something that you think a student — because you have so many students, hundreds of thousands watching — is that something that you think that students should be focusing, or should they be thinking about other subjects? What do you think are the opportunities for young students wanting to be involved in space?
COL. FISCHER: Sir, absolutely. I think that this is probably the most exciting in space exploration, certainly in my lifetime. We are about to just have an explosion of activity. There is so much involvement on the space station with commercial industries and commercial partners. We have an entire program to manage the science. NASA has done a wonderful job of seeding a new industry with the Commercial Crew Program and the Commercial Cargo Program so that we can build the infrastructure we need for the future exploration.
One thing I love about American entrepreneurs is, once you get them going, you better stand out of their way because they’re going to start chucking. And we’re about to that point. NASA is taking on that expensive, hard, complex task of going further and deeper into space with the wonderful new rocket, Space Launch System and Orion. And then, as soon as we break open that door, this incredible infrastructure that we’ve been building is going to be right there to pick up the baton and continue into the stars.
I would say to all the students that are watching, the time to get excited is now. If you aren’t studying science and math, you might want to think about that because our future in the stars starts now, and you can be a part of that if, like Dr. Whitson, you can find that passion and work really hard. And we’re going to find a permanent foothold in the stars for humanity if you do that.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. So well said. And I have to say, there’s tremendous military application in space. We’re rebuilding our military like never before. We’re ordering equipment, and we’re going to have the strongest military that we’ve ever had, the strongest military that the world has ever seen, and there’s been no time where we need it more. And I’m sure that every student watching wants to know, what is next for Americans in space.
I’m very proud that I just signed a bill committing NASA to the aim of sending America astronauts to Mars. So we’ll do that. I think we’ll do it a lot sooner than we’re even thinking. So which one of you is ready to go to Mars? Are you ready? And I think you’re ready. I know you’re ready, right? We just discussed that. She’d like to go to Mars very quickly. Who’s ready to go to Mars up there?
CMDR. WHITSON: We are absolutely ready to go to Mars. It’s going to be a fantastic journey getting there, and very exciting times, and all of us would be happy to go. But I want all the young people out there to recognize that the real steps are going to be taken in a few years. And so by studying math, science, engineering, any kind of technology, you’re going to have a part in that, and that will be very exciting.
THE PRESIDENT: I just want to thank you very much. And, Dr. Whitson, I just — congratulations. Amazing. What an amazing thing that you’ve done. Everybody here — I know you’re family — but everybody here is incredibly proud of the record you just broke. I hope that every young American watching today finds, in your example, a reason to love space and think about space because many great things are going to come out, tremendous discoveries in medicine and so many other fields.
So thank you very much. I want to say God bless you, God bless America. We are very, very proud of you, and very proud of your bravery. Thank you very much.
END 10:19 A.M. EDT
Just days after Donald J. Trump proclaimed April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, he gave a character reference for Fox TV host Bill O’Reilly, alleged to having waged years of sexual harassment, saying “I don’t think he did anything wrong.”
In an interview with The New York Times on April 5, Trump defended O’Reilly after the Times reported that O’Reilly or Fox News paid five women a total of about $13 million to settle claims of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior over the years.
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump said, adding, “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled…I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” (More at Huffington Post).
It is almost as ironic as Melania Trump declaring her mission as First Lady to be combating cyber-bullying, or as the allegations levied against Trump, himself, confirmed with his own boasts.
Here is the proclamation, from the White House – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS AND PREVENTION MONTH, 2017
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
At the heart of our country is the emphatic belief that every person has unique and infinite value. We dedicate each April to raising awareness about sexual abuse and recommitting ourselves to fighting it. Women, children, and men have inherent dignity that should never be violated.
According to the Department of Justice, on average there are more than 300,000 instances of rape or other sexual assault that afflict our neighbors and loved ones every year. Behind these painful statistics are real people whose lives are profoundly affected, at times shattered, and who are invariably in need of our help, commitment, and protection.
As we recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all share the responsibility to reduce and ultimately end sexual violence. As a Nation, we must develop meaningful strategies to eliminate these crimes, including increasing awareness of the problem in our communities, creating systems that protect vulnerable groups, and sharing successful prevention strategies.
My Administration, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, will do everything in its power to protect women, children, and men from sexual violence. This includes supporting victims, preventing future abuse, and prosecuting offenders to the full extent of the law. I have already directed the Attorney General to create a task force on crime reduction and public safety. This task force will develop strategies to reduce crime and propose new legislation to fill gaps in existing laws.
Prevention means reducing the prevalence of sexual violence on our streets, in our homes, and in our schools and institutions. Recent research has demonstrated the effectiveness of changing social norms that accept or allow indifference to sexual violence. This can be done by engaging young people to step in and provide peer leadership against condoning violence, and by mobilizing men and boys as allies in preventing sexual and relationship violence. Our families, schools, and communities must encourage respect for women and children, who are the vast majority of victims, and promote healthy personal relationships. We must never give up the fight against the scourge of child pornography and its pernicious effects on both direct victims and the broader culture. We recommit ourselves this month to establishing a culture of respect and appreciation for the dignity of every human being.
There is tremendous work to be done. Together, we can and must protect our loved ones, families, campuses, and communities from the devastating and pervasive effects of sexual assault. In the face of sexual violence, we must commit to providing meaningful support and services for victims and survivors in the United States and around the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2017 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans, families, law enforcement, health care providers, community and faith-based organizations, and private organizations to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
DONALD J. TRUMP