Politics Newshttps://rock947.com/news/sections/politics/Find out what’s happening in the world of politics. Get up to the minute, impartial political news coverage on the leaders, policies and agendas that shape our world.en-usMon, 22 Jun 2020 21:56:29 +0000Democrats say U.S. withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty may be illegalhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/democrats-say-us-withdrawal-from-open-skies-treaty-may-be-illegal/1032051/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 21:56:29 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/democrats-say-us-withdrawal-from-open-skies-treaty-may-be-illegal/1032051/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior U.S. Senate Democrats on Monday accused President Donald Trump's administration of violating the law when it declared his intention last month to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, the Democrats said the administration had not given the legally required 120 days' advance notice to Congress before beginning the withdrawal process.

The United States announced on May 22 that it would withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries. It was the Trump administration's latest move to pull the country out of a major global treaty.

The administration said Russia had repeatedly violated the pact's terms.

The letter from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Mark Warner and Jack Reed, the top Democrats on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, called on the administration to immediately discontinue efforts to withdraw.

It also suggested that Trump's decision may have been politically motivated because it took place less than five months before he is up for re-election in November.

"Beginning the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, without complying with U.S. domestic law or constitutional practice, is an obvious political maneuver in an attempt to bind a future administration," the letter said.

Officials from the White House, Department of Defense and State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Ousted U.S. prosecutor refused to sign letter blasting coronavirus limits on religious gatheringshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/ousted-us-prosecutor-refused-to-sign-letter-blasting-coronavirus-limits-on-religious-gatherings/1032045/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 21:35:48 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/ousted-us-prosecutor-refused-to-sign-letter-blasting-coronavirus-limits-on-religious-gatherings/1032045/By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shortly before Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman was forced out of his post on Friday, he refused to sign off on a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice blasting New York City’s mayor for imposing social-distancing rules on religious gatherings, a department official confirmed on Monday.

The letter, which was signed by the department's top civil rights attorney, criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for limiting the number of people who could attend religious gatherings to prevent coronavirus spread, but failing to impose similar restrictions on individuals protesting the death of George Floyd.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Berman's refusal to sign the letter, citing his concern the letter was a political stunt.

"The message to the public from New York City’s government appears to favor certain secular gatherings and disfavor religious gatherings," the June 19 letter said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced on Friday that Berman would be resigning next month as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to pave the way for the appointment of Jay Clayton, who is currently chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Berman refused to step down, only to have U.S. President Donald Trump fire him on Saturday.

Berman's office, which is known for its high-profile prosecutions of terrorists and white collar criminals, has not shied away from probing people in Trump's inner circle.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr did not realize Berman had not signed the letter to de Blasio before he announced Berman's resignation.

Berman's office oversaw the prosecution of Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, indicted two of Rudy Giuliani associates and launched a probe into Giuliani's efforts to dig up dirt on Trump's political adversaries in Ukraine.

Berman ultimately agreed to resign after Barr pledged to install Berman's hand-picked No. 2, Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, as Acting U.S. Attorney until a permanent replacement is put in place.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Bill Berkrot)

Two more Trump campaign staff members test positive for coronavirushttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/two-more-trump-campaign-staff-members-test-positive-for-coronavirus/1032022/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 20:23:06 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/two-more-trump-campaign-staff-members-test-positive-for-coronavirus/1032022/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two more staff members of President Donald Trump's campaign who were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for his rally on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, a Trump campaign spokesman said on Monday.

The campaign said on Saturday hours before the rally, Trump's first since March, that six members of the campaign's advance staff had tested positive.

"After another round of testing for campaign staff in Tulsa, two additional members of the advance team tested positive for the coronavirus," spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. "These staff members attended the rally but were wearing masks during the entire event."

The White House and Trump campaign largely brushed away concerns ahead of the event about holding a rally with thousands of people despite warnings from health officials against gathering in large groups.

Most people at the rally did not wear masks.

The arena had thousands of empty seats on Saturday, a blow to Trump, who revels in large crowds, and his campaign, which had said demand outstripped the number of tickets available for the event.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney)

House panel sets hearing on firing of State Dept watchdoghttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/house-panel-sets-hearing-on-firing-of-state-dept-watchdog/1031985/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 18:47:30 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/house-panel-sets-hearing-on-firing-of-state-dept-watchdog/1031985/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said on Monday it scheduled a July 2 hearing in its investigation of the firing of the State Department's inspector general, with testimony from a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Under-Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao will testify to the committee on Thursday, July 2. Bulatao has emerged as a central figure in the removal of Steve Linick as State's inspector general.

President Donald Trump fired Linick on May 15, the latest in a series of government watchdogs Trump has dismissed. Linick told the foreign affairs panel in an interview that the State Department had discouraged him from investigating arms sales to Saudi Arabia before his removal.

When he was fired, Linick also was investigating allegations that Pompeo and his wife used a taxpayer-funded employee for personal errands. [nL1N2D010T] Linick told members of Congress in an interview this month his office was engaged in more investigations when he was fired, including an audit of the Special Immigrant Visa process.

Pompeo has insisted Linick's dismissal was not retaliation and called him a "bad actor."

Inspectors general are charged with preventing fraud and misuse of taxpayer funds. The spate of dismissals has prompted concern from Democrats and some of Trump's fellow Republicans over whether government watchdogs can still do their work.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Nick Macfie)

WANTED: SPIES. CIA turns to online streaming for new recruitshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/wanted-spies-cia-turns-to-online-streaming-for-new-recruits/1031975/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 18:18:18 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/wanted-spies-cia-turns-to-online-streaming-for-new-recruits/1031975/By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. defense and spy agencies played a major role in creating the internet, and now the CIA is turning for the first time to online streaming services to recruit spies between the ages of 18 and 35.

"It only takes one new piece ... of foreign intelligence ... and everything can change in an instant," a CIA officer tells a classroom full of apparent recruits in the opening sequence of a new advert released by the agency on Monday.

"Start a career at the CIA and do more for your country than you ever dreamed possible," the officer concludes the pitch reminiscent of Hollywood films.

The online recruitment campaign was conceived before social distancing measures were needed during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Central Intelligence Agency spokeswoman Nicole de Haay said. The agency has typically sought out future spies by targeting college students through "traditional" methods such as job fairs, she said.

The agency said in a statement it had cut 90, 60 and 15-second versions to run nationwide on entertainment, news and lifestyle streaming services.

More than 70% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one of Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, according to Leichtman Research Group.

"To get the top talent we can't just rely on traditional recruiting methods," said de Haay.

In a speech at Auburn University last year CIA director Gina Haspel said it had the best recruiting year in a decade and wanted to make the agency "an employer of choice for all Americans."

While the target audience for the streamed video spots is 18-35, all potential recruits would be considered, de Haay said.

Some of the CIA's most famous foreign allies, including British spy agencies MI5 and MI6, have historically recruited officers through social connections, although more recently they have also turned to online recruitment pitches.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; editing by Michelle Price and Grant McCool)

White House: Trump signed off on Barr request to dismiss U.S. Attorney Bermanhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/white-house-trump-signed-off-on-barr-request-to-dismiss-attorney-berman/1031972/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 18:08:24 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/white-house-trump-signed-off-on-barr-request-to-dismiss-attorney-berman/1031972/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump signed off on a request by Attorney General William Barr to dismiss Geoffrey Berman, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, the White House said on Monday, contradicting Trump's initial assertion that he had not been involved.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the move was made to make way for U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton to take the job.

Trump initially told reporters on Saturday that he had not had been involved in the effort, despite Barr's statement that he had. McEnany said Barr took the lead but the president was involved.

The firing of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was the latest in a series of moves by Barr that critics say aim to benefit Trump politically and undermine the independence of the Justice Department.

Berman’s office, known for prosecuting the most high-profile terrorism cases, Wall Street financial crimes and government corruption, has not shied from taking on figures in Trump’s orbit, including Rudolph Giuliani, the president's attorney.

The dispute began late on Friday when Barr announced Berman was stepping down and would be replaced by Clayton, prompting Berman to issue a statement saying he refused to resign.

"When Berman chose to respond in the way that he did, he (Barr) came to the president and the president agreed and fired this individual, Mr. Berman," McEnany said.

Trump told Fox News on Saturday he approved Barr's request, and said he did not know Giuliani was being investigated by Berman, although he had read that recently.

Asked if Barr said why he wanted to fire Berman, Trump said: "We spent very little time talking about it, but I have a lot of respect for Attorney General Barr."

Berman agreed to step down on Saturday after Barr backtracked from his plan to hand pick the acting U.S. attorney, allowing Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, to take the reins.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler)

White House: Trump did not direct virus testing slowdown, does not regret 'kung flu' remarkhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/trump-has-not-directed-slowdown-in-coronavirus-testing-white-house/1031964/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 17:50:00 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/trump-has-not-directed-slowdown-in-coronavirus-testing-white-house/1031964/By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump has not directed any slowdown in coronavirus testing and does not regret using the term "kung flu," which many consider to be offensive, to describe the virus, the White House said on Monday.

The Republican president said at a political rally in Oklahoma on Saturday that he had directed his people to slow down testing for the virus because the process had led to an increased number of known COVID-19 cases.

The White House said at the time that he was kidding and made clear on Monday that no such request was made.

"It was a comment that he made in jest," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a news briefing. She said Trump had not told officials to slow the rate of testing. "He has not directed that," she said. "Any suggestion that testing has been curtailed is not rooted in fact."

Trump sees numerical measures as signs of victory or failure. He has repeatedly lamented the fact that better U.S. testing has led to a higher known number of identified coronavirus cases across the country.

Trump has also sought to reinforce that the virus originated in China.

But he has faced criticism for referring to the virus as Chinese. He refrained from that characterization for a time but at the rally on Saturday used "kung flu" to describe it, despite criticism that the use of such terms had led to acts of discrimination against Asian Americans.

Asked by a reporter why the president was using racist language, McEnany said he was not.

"He is linking it to its place of origin," she said. "I think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus where the focus should be on the fact that China let this out of their country."

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Trump backs more aid for Americans amid coronavirus: Scrippshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/trump-backs-more-aid-for-americans-amid-coronavirus-scripps/1031935/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 16:57:51 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/trump-backs-more-aid-for-americans-amid-coronavirus-scripps/1031935/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he supported the idea of giving Americans a second round of financial aid to mitigate the effect of shutdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Asked if he backed another payment to individual Americans, Trump told Scripps Networks in an interview that he supported the idea of sending out a second check.

"We will be doing another stimulus package" with the U.S. Congress, he added, saying the bipartisan measure would come "over the next couple of weeks probably."

Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed to provide direct payments of up to $1,200 each to millions of Americans, with additional payments of $500 per child, in legislation that Trump signed into law in March.

Another $3 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives on May 15 contains a second round of economic stimulus payments of up to $6,000 per U.S. household.

But the Republican-controlled Senate has not taken up the House package and lawmakers are not expected to move toward another coronavirus bill until sometime in July.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and David Morgan; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Senate, House steer toward first votes on competing police reform billshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/us-senate-house-steer-toward-first-votes-on-competing-police-reform-bills/1031883/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 15:05:37 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/us-senate-house-steer-toward-first-votes-on-competing-police-reform-bills/1031883/By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican-led U.S. Senate and Democratic-led House of Representatives will vote this week on separate bills aimed at addressing police misconduct following George Floyd's death in police custody, but neither measure is likely to become law.

The Senate would move to a procedural vote on a Republican bill on Wednesday, according to documents filed on Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House is due to vote on more sweeping Democratic legislation on Thursday.

Nearly a month after Floyd's death in Minneapolis with a police officer's knee on his neck that set off weeks of protests, neither measure, as written, appears to have enough bipartisan support to win approval from both chambers and be signed into law by Republican President Donald Trump.

With strong public sentiment for stopping excessive force by police, especially against African-Americans, many are urging Congress to seize the opportunity to quickly pass legislation.

Last week Trump signed an executive order aimed at guiding police reforms (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-congress-legislati/factbox-whats-the-difference-between-three-u-s-plans-for-police-reform-idUSKBN23O3KW).

Some hope a bipartisan alternative can emerge by amending the Senate measure or by reconciling the bills through negotiation.

Democrats have largely denounced the Senate Republican bill, saying it relies heavily on incentives to encourage police reforms rather than mandating changes in law and policy, as the Democratic bill does. Some Senate Republicans also are seeking tougher provisions.

"This is a national problem of police violence that we have. It requires a national solution. And the only way to bring that about is with a strong piece of federal legislation," Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who leads the House Democratic Conference and helped write the Democratic bill, told MSNBC on Monday.

Republicans regard the Democratic measure as a "poison pill," partly because it would allow misconduct victims to sue police, which critics say would have a chilling effect on law enforcement.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Lisa Lambert; editing by Grant McCool)

White House economic adviser Hassett leaving after brief coronavirus rolehttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/white-house-adviser-kevin-hassett-to-leave-this-summer-axios/1031778/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 10:10:09 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/white-house-adviser-kevin-hassett-to-leave-this-summer-axios/1031778/By Jeff Mason and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Monday he will be leaving U.S. President Donald Trump's administration soon, ending a brief return to government to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hassett, who served as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers for about two years before stepping down in the middle of 2019, returned to the administration for a temporary stint earlier this year.

"I came in unpaid for 90 days. Time is about up," Hassett told Reuters in an email. He said Monday may be his final day.

Hassett had come for a "temporary gig as a special government employee. No other reason for departure," another White House official said.

In the early days of the outbreak, Hassett brought attention to the massive economic fallout expected from the coronavirus, painting a more dire picture of the likely repercussions than other White House aides were doing at the time.

Hassett’s leaving, which comes after the recent departure of Andrew Olmem, deputy director of the National Economic Council, could curb the influence of economic adviser Larry Kudlow, one analyst said.

“Kudlow is now very much understaffed. His role in policy-making is unavoidably going to decline further,” said Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who focuses largely on U.S.-China policy.

This could influence whether Trump decides to stick with his Phase 1 China trade deal or embark on a policy of further decoupling the U.S. and Chinese economies, Scissors said.

Kudlow has been a strong advocate for the Phase 1 deal, which calls for major increases of Chinese purchases of U.S. farm and manufactured goods, energy and services.

William Reinsch, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Hassett had advocated for additional stimulus to dig the economy out of a deep recession, but his departure could give fiscal hawks the upper hand in shaping any future coronavirus aid bills.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and David Lawder; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Sonya Hepinstall)

Trump opposed to removing Theodore Roosevelt's statue from outside Museum of Natural Historyhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/trump-opposed-to-removing-theodore-roosevelts-statue-outside-museum-of-natural-history/1031711/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 06:07:28 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/trump-opposed-to-removing-theodore-roosevelts-statue-outside-museum-of-natural-history/1031711/By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he opposed removing the towering statue of Theodore Roosevelt from outside New York City's American Museum of Natural History.

The move was announced by the museum on Sunday and comes amid anti-racism protests across the United States and the world after the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in police custody on May 25 in the United States.

The statue shows Roosevelt on a horse, with a Native American man and an African man by his side. It stands prominently on a plinth outside the museum's main entrance, overlooking Central Park.

Roosevelt, a Republican like Trump, was U.S. president from 1901-1909. Known for his exuberant and daring manner, he carried out antitrust, conservationist and "Square Deal" reforms, and, critics said, took an interventionist approach to foreign policy, including projecting U.S. naval power around the world.

Many critics have said the Roosevelt statue symbolizes racial discrimination and colonial expansion.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday that the city was in favor of the request from the museum to remove the statue because it "depicts black and indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior."

"Ridiculous, don't do it," Trump said in a tweet on Monday https://bit.ly/3ez5QmU.

In the ongoing ant-racism demonstrations, protesters across the United States and around the world have demanded that authorities take down monuments honoring pro-slavery Confederate figures and the architects of Europe's colonies.

"Simply put, the time has come to move it," the museum's president, Ellen Futter, told the New York Times https://nyti.ms/2YZncTo.

She said the museum's decision was based on the statue itself, along with its "hierarchical composition", and not on Roosevelt. Futter said the museum continues to honor Roosevelt as "a pioneering conservationist".

Roosevelt's face is also one of the four presidents - along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln - whose faces are cast in 60-foot-high granite sculptures at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

Trump has blasted the anti-racism protests, saying demonstrators have behaved badly.

"The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments - our beautiful monuments - tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control. We're not conforming", the U.S. president told supporters at a rally last week.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru Editing by Gerry Doyle, Toby Chopra and Mark Heinrich)

South Korea says Bolton's memoir on Trump-Kim summit is distortedhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/south-korea-says-boltons-memoir-on-trump-kim-summit-is-distorted/1031699/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 04:32:41 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/22/south-korea-says-boltons-memoir-on-trump-kim-summit-is-distorted/1031699/By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) - Accounts by former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton of discussions between leaders of the United States and the two Koreas in his upcoming book are inaccurate and distorted, South Korea said on Monday.

Bolton gives details in the book of conversations before and after three meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including how their second summit in Vietnam fell apart.

The book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir", is scheduled for publication on Tuesday but media outlets have released excerpts.

Reports have cited Bolton as writing that Moon, who is keen to improve relations with North Korea, had raised unrealistic expectations with both Kim and Trump for his own "unification" agenda.

"It does not reflect accurate facts and substantially distorts facts," South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, said in a statement referring to Bolton's description of top-level consultations.

Chung did not elaborate on specific areas South Korea saw as inaccurate but said the publication set a "dangerous precedent".

"Unilaterally publishing consultations made based on mutual trust violates the basic principles of diplomacy and could severely damage future negotiations," he said.

Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June 2018, raising hope for efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

But their second summit, in Vietnam in early 2019, collapsed when Trump rejected an offer by Kim to give up North Korea's main nuclear facility in return for lifting some sanctions.

Bolton reportedly cites Chung as relaying Moon's response to the breakdown as, on the one hand, Trump was right to reject Kim's proposal but on the other, Kim's willingness to dismantle the Yongbyon facility was a "very meaningful first step" toward "irreversible" denuclearisation.

Bolton refers to Moon's position as "schizophrenic".

Asked about that reference by Bolton, a top official in Moon's office told reporters: "Perhaps he is in that condition."

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Trump administration aims to end Dreamers immigration program in six monthshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-administration-aims-to-end-dreamers-immigration-program-in-six-months/1031641/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 18:30:56 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-administration-aims-to-end-dreamers-immigration-program-in-six-months/1031641/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is determined to end the Dreamers program that protects immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children within the next six months, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security said on Sunday.

The Trump administration views the programs as unlawful and the U.S. Supreme Court - which last week ruled against the Trump administration's plan to end it - did not disagree, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told NBC's "Meet the Press".

"At no point in that decision did they say that the program was lawful. They simply didn't like the rationale and the procedures that we used," Wolf said.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Trump's effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy put in place by former President Barack Obama, which protects roughly 649,000 immigrants from deportation.

The decision upheld lower court decisions that found that Trump's 2017 move to rescind the program was unlawful but does not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program.

Trump on Saturday said his administration would resubmit plans to end the policy but gave no details.

Wolf told CBS's "Face the Nation" the administration would keep renewing visas for the people covered by the popular program while seeking a way to permanently end it.

Asked if Trump had ruled out ending the program through an executive order, Wolf said the administration would continue to press Congress to find a solution.

But he said the president had also directed DHS to look at carefully at the Supreme Court ruling and the possibility of refiling its proposal with a different rationale.

"I'm not going to get ahead in front of the president. He's going to make that decision at the right time, but the department will be ready to make that call," he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

TikTok users, K-pop fans say they helped sabotage Trump rally with false registrationshttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/tiktok-users-k-pop-fans-credited-with-helping-to-sabotage-trump-rally/1031625/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 14:37:17 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/tiktok-users-k-pop-fans-credited-with-helping-to-sabotage-trump-rally/1031625/By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) - TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music took partial credit for inflating attendance expectations at a less-than-full arena at President Donald Trump's first political rally in months, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.

Social media users on platforms including the popular video-sharing app have said they completed the free online registration for the rally with no intention of going.

Prior to the event, Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale said there had been more than one million requests to attend. However, the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena had many empty seats on Saturday evening and Trump and Vice President Mike Pence canceled speeches to an expected "overflow" area outside.

The Tulsa Fire Department tallied the crowd at about 6,200 people.

Trump's campaign advisers had seen the rally as a way to rejuvenate his base and demonstrate support when opinion polls have shown him trailing his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

Oklahoma has reported a surge in new coronavirus cases, and the state's department of health had warned those planning on attending the event that they faced an increased risk of catching the virus.

The Trump campaign said entry was on a 'first-come-first-served' basis and no one was issued an actual ticket.

"Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they're being clever. Registering for a rally only means you've RSVPed with a cellphone number," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement. "But we thank them for their contact information."

Parscale said in a statement the campaign weeds out bogus phone numbers and did this with "tens of thousands" at the Tulsa event in calculating possible attendance.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, responded with derision to a Twitter post by Parscale that blamed the media for discouraging attendees and cited bad behavior by demonstrators outside.

"Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID," she tweeted on Saturday. "KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too," she added.

CNN had reported Tuesday that a TikTok video posted by Mary Jo Laupp, who uses the hashtag #TikTokGrandma, was helping lead the charge. The video now has more than 700,000 likes.

Two K-pop fans who spoke to Reuters in Skype and phone interviews on Sunday said they had each registered for two spots, not using their real names and numbers.

Raq, a 22-year-old student and Democratic voter in Minnesota who only wanted to be identified by her nickname, said a key reason she took part was that the rally was in Tulsa, the site of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence against Black Americans some 100 years ago.

"I heard it first from just BTS fans and then once I saw that it got to TikTok, I was like, oh yeah, this is going to blow up," she said, referring to a popular South Korean boy-band.

Em, a 17-year-old student in Kansas who only wanted to be identified by her username, said she had first heard about the effort on TikTok. She said many of the original tweets sharing information about the rally had been deleted.

"I think it was partially the TikTokers and the K-pop fans but also people are not as interested in Trump as he thinks they are," she said.

Fans of K-pop have rallied around the Black Lives Matter movement on social media in recent weeks, taking over hashtags that opposed the movement and spamming a Dallas police department app that asked for evidence of illegal activity during the protests.

On Saturday, there were some shouting matches and scuffles outside the event between around 30 Black Lives Matter demonstrators and some Trump supporters waiting to enter.

A Reuters reporter said police did temporarily close the access gates after protesters arrived at the rally perimeter, but state troopers helped clear the area and the gates were reopened some three hours before the rally began.

The Biden campaign denied having any role in the social media registration effort.

"Donald Trump has abdicated leadership and it is no surprise that his supporters have responded by abandoning him," said a campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Daniel Wallis)

White House's Navarro 'never heard' Trump ask China's Xi for help winning electionhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/white-houses-navarro-never-heard-trump-ask-chinas-xi-for-help-winning-election/1031620/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 14:02:18 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/white-houses-navarro-never-heard-trump-ask-chinas-xi-for-help-winning-election/1031620/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday said he was in the room with President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping when they met, but never heard the U.S. president ask for China's help in winning re-election.

Navarro told CNN's "State of the Union" that the explosive allegation made in a book by former national security adviser John Bolton was "just silly" given how tough Trump had been on China and its unfair trade practices.

"I never heard that. I was in the room," Navarro said, echoing remarks by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week.

Bolton should face consequences - including potentially time in prison - for using "highly classified information" throughout the book, Navarro said.

Navarro, a fierce China hawk, also revived a longstanding dispute over the origin of the novel coronavirus virus that has inflamed tensions between the United States and China in recent months, even after the world's two largest economies signed a Phase 1 trade deal in January.

He said the virus was "a product of the Chinese Communist Party" and it remained "an open question" if it was purposefully created.

"That virus came out of China," he said. The Chinese Communist Party is responsible for it. They spawned the virus in China, they hid it for two months, and they killed over 100,000 Americans."

China firmly rejects any allegation that it deliberately unleashed the virus.

Last week, Trump renewed his threat to cut ties with China, tweeting that "a complete decoupling from China" remained a policy option for the United States.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski)

Acting DHS head says U.S. doing 'great job' getting economy back uphttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/acting-dhs-head-says-us-doing-great-job-getting-economy-back-up/1031619/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 13:41:56 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/acting-dhs-head-says-us-doing-great-job-getting-economy-back-up/1031619/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is doing "a great job" reopening the country after lockdowns to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Sunday, as infections continued to spike in some key states.

Wolf told NBC's "Meet the Press" program that the White House coronavirus task force was continuing to meet daily and the Centers for Disease Control had issued guidance to states on how to flatten the curve, including use of face masks.

"We're seeing a number of states throughout the country in different phases, from phase one to phase three, trying to get this economy, trying to get the country back up and running. And we're doing a great job at that," Wolf told NBC.

In a separate interview with CBS's "Face the Nation," Wolf said the White House task force was "on top of all of these outbreaks within state by state, county by county, whether it's Arizona, Texas, Florida, a number of these states that are having hotspots."

He said the Trump administration was surging medical equipment and staff, as well as individuals from the Department of Homeland Security, into areas that were seeing an uptick in infections, to better understand the causes of those outbreaks and support the state-led reopening efforts.

The United States has reported 2.26 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which comprises nearly 26% of the global total of 8.81 million cases, according to a Reuters tally. Over 119,600 deaths have been reported in the United States.

He defended President Donald Trump's decision to hold an indoor campaign rally in Oklahoma, where infections have also been rising but many attendees did not wear face masks.

"The president's rally is a state in a phase three reopening, and so activities like this are allowed," Wolf said in the NBC interview, adding, "It's also a personal choice that people are making on the face coverings."

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Impeaching AG Barr a 'waste of time' says top Democrat probing political meddlinghttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/impeaching-us-attorney-general-barr-waste-of-time-top-democrat-nadler-says/1031618/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 13:35:01 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/impeaching-us-attorney-general-barr-waste-of-time-top-democrat-nadler-says/1031618/By Doina Chiacu and Lawrence Delevingne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr deserves to be impeached over the firing of a federal prosecutor whose office had been investigating President Donald Trump's personal lawyer but the effort would be a "waste of time," a leading Democratic lawmaker said on Sunday.

Jerrold Nadler, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee chairman who helped lead the Trump impeachment hearings last year, told CNN's "State of the Union" that the Republican-led Senate would block any effort to sanction Barr.

"He certainly deserves impeachment. But again, that's a waste of time because the Republicans in the Senate won't look at that," Nadler said.

A Justice Department spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The firing of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was the latest in a series of moves by Barr that critics say aim to benefit Trump politically and undermine the independence of the Justice Department.

Nadler's Sunday comments underscore the challenges Democrats face in trying to rein in Barr with a Senate dominated by Republicans who are wary of criticizing Trump before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Nadler said his panel would nonetheless investigate Trump's firing of Berman on Saturday after an extraordinary standoff over the independence of one of the country's most important federal prosecutor's office.

Berman has not shied from taking on figures in Trump's orbit and had been investigating his private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor in Trump's impeachment, told NBC's "Meet the Press" the motivation for firing Berman was suspect, "given the pattern and practice of both the president in seeking to use the justice system to reward friends, punish enemies, protect people he likes, and Bill Barr's willingness to carry that water for the president."

Nadler said he was "sure" Berman would at some point testify in his committee's investigation of political interference at the Justice Department launched earlier this year.

The dispute began late Friday when Barr announced Berman was stepping down and would be replaced by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, prompting Berman to issue a statement saying he refused to resign.

Only after Barr backtracked from his plan to hand pick the acting U.S. attorney, allowing Berman's deputy Audrey Strauss to take the reins, did Berman agree to step down on Saturday.

Some Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have called for Barr's impeachment. The Senate, where Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats, would never vote for that so the Democrat-led House would have to pursue alternative measures, Nadler said, citing his proposal to cut $50 million in funding from Barr's personal budget.


In an email to SEC staff on Sunday seen by Reuters, Clayton said he had pursued the role at the Southern District of New York because he had a "strong desire to continue in public service" while returning to New York where his family is based.

He also indicated that he had no intention of crossing the Trump administration by voluntarily removing himself from the process, as several Democrats including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer had urged him to, telling staff he would update them when he had more information about his confirmation.

Clayton, though, may not have to do anything to extricate himself from the political storm after Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Saturday that he planned to seek approval for Clayton's nomination from New York Senators Schumer and his fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. Graham's pledge to follow the usual nomination practice puts Clayton's nomination in serious doubt.

"To be clear, this is not goodbye," Clayton told staff in the email. "We will be together for at least some meaningful period of time."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Michelle Price and Diane Craft)

Trump urges slowdown in COVID-19 testing, calling it a 'double-edge sword'https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-urges-slowdown-in-covid-19-testing-calling-it-a-double-edge-sword/1031601/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 09:57:23 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-urges-slowdown-in-covid-19-testing-calling-it-a-double-edge-sword/1031601/TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday told thousands of cheering supporters he had asked U.S. officials to slow down testing for the novel coronavirus, calling it a "double-edged sword" that led to more cases being discovered.

Trump said the United States had now tested 25 million people, far more than other countries.

"When you do testing to that extent, you're gonna find more people you're gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please," Trump told a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many supporters were not wearing face masks.

A White House official said Trump was joking about his call for a slowdown in testing.

"He was obviously kidding. We are leading the world in testing and have conducted 25 million + in testing," the official said.

Trump said his actions in blocking travelers from China and Europe had helped save "hundreds of thousands of lives." But he said the "radical fake news" media had not given him credit for doing what he called "a phenomenal job" responding to the outbreak.

In fact, several U.S. states are reporting troubling spikes in coronavirus infection rates, mainly in the South and West, as Trump addressed America's largest indoor gathering in months.

Health experts say expanded diagnostic testing accounts for some, but not all, of the growth in cases. They also call it a key tool in fighting the spread of the disease, which had been detected in at least 2.23 million people across the United States as of Saturday.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has killed more than 119,000 Americans to date, according to Reuters' running tally. A mounting volume of infections is elevating hospitalizations in some places.

In his remarks, Trump used terms such as "Kung Flu" virus and "Chinese virus" to refer to COVID-19. "That name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus," he said.

Trump's response to the outbreak has sapped his popularity.

The U.S. president initially dismissed the threat of the coronavirus, and sparred with state governors as they tried to slow its spread. His approval ratings have dropped in recent weeks, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden now has a 13-point lead over Trump.

Seventy-six percent of Americans remain concerned about the spread of COVID-19, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Tom Brown)

Trump says will refile bid to end Dreamers program: Fox News interviewhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-says-will-refile-bid-to-end-dreamers-program-fox-news-interview/1031578/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 02:34:41 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-says-will-refile-bid-to-end-dreamers-program-fox-news-interview/1031578/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday said he would mount another bid to end the program that protects so-called Dreamer immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children after a loss in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump told Fox News in an interview that his administration would resubmit plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy put in place by former President Barack Obama before the November presidential election.

"They want us to refile if we want to win. So, I'm going to refile, and it's going to work out for DACA," Trump said.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Trump's effort to end the DACA program that protects from deportation roughly 649,000 immigrants, calling the administration's actions "arbitrary and capricious."

The 5-4 ruling upheld lower court decisions that found that Trump's 2017 move to rescind the program was unlawful.

The ruling does not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program. But his administration may find it difficult to rescind DACA - and win any ensuing legal battle - before the Nov. 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second term in office.

Trump said the ruling was not a loss for his administration.

"If you read the opinion, we won. But we have to refile. And everything is going to work out for DACA, and the young people," Trump said in the Fox News interview. He did not elaborate.

Asked when he expected to file another bid to dismantle the DACA program, Trump said, "Probably pretty soon."

Trump on Friday wrote on Twitter that his administration would submit "enhanced papers shortly."

In another Tweet, Trump said that he wanted to "take care of DACA recipients," and blamed Democrats for not negotiating a permanent solution to the young immigrants' temporary status.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Michael Perry)

Trump says he will announce visa restrictions Sunday or Monday: Fox News interviewhttps://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-says-he-will-announce-visa-restrictions-sunday-or-monday-fox-news-interview/1031575/[email protected] (Thomson Reuters)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 02:04:45 +0000https://rock947.com/news/articles/2020/jun/21/trump-says-he-will-announce-visa-restrictions-sunday-or-monday-fox-news-interview/1031575/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would announce new restrictions on visas within a couple of days to block the entry of certain foreign workers and protect Americans struggling with a job market devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're going to be announcing something tomorrow or the next day on the visas," he told Fox News Channel.

Asked if there would be exclusions from the new restrictions, Trump said very few.

"You need them for big businesses where they have certain people that have been coming in for a long time, but very little exclusion and they're pretty tight," he said. "And we may even go very tight for a period of time."

Trump, who has been expected to announce new restrictions, declined to provide further details.

Critics have said Trump looked set to use the pandemic to achieve his longstanding goal of limiting immigration into the United States. His tough stance on immigration is central to his pitch to voters as he runs for re-election.

Major American companies, particularly in the tech sector, have urged Trump to refrain from blocking the flow of foreign workers into the United States, saying it would hurt the economy.

The new action would be Trump's latest step to restrict immigration in response to the pandemic and economic fallout.

In April, he ordered a temporary block on some foreigners from permanent residence in the United States.

He also announced new health-focused rules in March that allow for the rapid deportation of immigrants caught at the border and virtually cut off access to the U.S. asylum system.

At the same time, he announced the land borders with Canada and Mexico would be closed to non-essential crossings, a measure that has been extended several times.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Ted Hesson; Editing by Daniel Wallis)