Review Category : Politics

Trump’s remarks about Sweden create debate and confusion

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — While criticizing refugee policies in Europe during a campaign-style rally in Florida, President Trump introduced an unexpected country into dialogue on the subject.

“Here’s the bottom line we have to keep our country safe,” Trump started, before pivoting to the subject of Europe.

“When you look at what’s happening in Germany, when you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he said.

Trump then listed several European cities that have suffered high profile terror attacks, including Paris and Brussels.

The context of his remarks led many social media users, including Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, to assume that Trump meant there had been a terror attack in Sweden the night before.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” Bildt wrote on Twitter, referring to the fact that no high profile attack had occurred in Sweden the night before his speech.

Sweden’s embassy in Washington contacted the State Department today to ask for clarification about Trump’s comment, Catarina Axelsson, a spokeswoman for Sweden’s ministry of foreign affairs, told ABC News.

“We just contacted the State Department just to get some clarification of what he’s referring to,” she said.

Axelsson said it was unclear to the ministry what Trump was talking about. She said there were no incidents that they were aware of, nor has any terror threat level gone up in Sweden.

Sweden’s Security Police said that nothing had happened to change the country’s terror threat level.

But conservatives defended Trump, noting that he never said that a terror attack had occurred in Sweden, only that the country was “having problems like they never thought possible” as a result of admitting refugees.

Other analysts noted that Trump was possibly attempting to discuss something entirely different: a purported rise in crime that has occurred in Sweden.

One night earlier, FOX News aired a segment about a documentary that highlights alleged problems that have occurred as a result of admitting refugees, including rape and gun violence.

Trump has frequently praised FOX News, and made favorable references to the network in a recent press conference.

ABC News reached out to the Trump administration for a clarification of his remarks, but did not immediately receive a response.

The comment about Sweden is not the first time that the administration has created a degree of confusion by either misspeaking or including incomplete information in remarks centered around refugees or terrorism.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, was forced to clarify a statement she made in an interview earlier this month on MSNBC when she referred to the “Bowling Green massacre,” an event that never occurred.

Conway wrote on Twitter that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer also repeatedly referred to a terror attack in Atlanta before later clarifying that he meant to say Orlando.

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Europe’s leaders have ‘a lot of concern’ whether VP Pence ‘really’ speaks for Trump, top Democrat says

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, said there is “a lot of concern” among Europe’s leaders about whether Vice President Mike Pence was “really speaking for the president” when he addressed the Munich Security Conference about the U.S. commitment to NATO and Europe.

Speaking from Munich, Schiff said in a This Week interview that aired Sunday: “When Mike Pence said that we want NATO members to pay up then you, in that case, he was speaking for the president. But when he talked about American commitment to NATO, when he talked about the commitment to Europe, I think there are still profound questions about whether he is, in those cases, really speaking for the president or speaking for himself.”

The California congressman attended the Munich conference as did Vice President Pence, Republican Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The vice president in his speech Saturday to the gathering of European leaders said, “Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance: The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in its commitment to our trans-Atlantic alliance.”

“This is President Trump’s promise: We will stand with Europe, today and every day, because we are bound together by the same noble ideals — freedom, democracy, justice, and the rule of law,” he added.

Pence also stressed the Trump administration’s message that NATO members must all pay more toward defense.

President Trump referred to NATO as “obsolete” in an interview before his inauguration. He has since in conversations with foreign leaders talked about the importance of the alliance.

Schiff told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl that he wished the vice president’s speech in Munich was more like Sen. McCain’s.

“I wish the vice president had given the kind of speech that John McCain gave because I think that would’ve done a lot to reassure all of the NATO members here, European allies and others that are here,” Schiff said.

In McCain’s speech, he said he is aware there is “profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership,” but that this is not the message they would hear from him or other U.S. officials “who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend.”

The Arizona senator also appeared to criticize Trump without naming him, lamenting a “hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims” and saying, “More and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”

On This Week, Karl also asked Schiff about his call for ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned last week as Trump’s national security adviser, to testify before Congress and what the congressman would like to ask him.

“I’d like to ask him whether that conversation he had with the Russian ambassador was a one-off conversation or there were others who in the White House instructed him to have those conversations, whether he debriefed people in the administration after those conversations — essentially who was aware that he had reported falsely to the vice president and the vice president in turn had misled the American people,” Schiff said.

Flynn resigned from his position amid revelations he misled administration officials about whether he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in conversations he had with Moscow’s U.S. ambassador during the transition.

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Mike Pence, family visit Nazi concentration camp in Germany

ABC News(MUNICH) — Vice President Mike Pence, along with second lady Karen Pence and their eldest daughter Charlotte, visited a Nazi concentration camp Sunday near Munich, Germany.

They were met by Karl Freller, the director of the Foundation of Bavarian Memorial Sites. They were also joined by a survivor of the camp, Abba Naor, a Jewish Lithuanian who today lives in Israel.

The Pences walked around the camp, touring various areas, including the prison yard. They also spent time in a building which contains exhibits about the Nazis. They stood before a large map showing the network of camps around Germany and Nazi-occupied countries elsewhere in Europe.

Naor spoke to the vice president about conditions at Dachau, which opened in March 1933 and was liberated by American forces in April 1945.

Of the camp’s liberation by American troops, he said, “One morning, they came,” he said. “Strange faces.”

The Pences visited another room that housed examples of Nazi propaganda.

Outside, the Pences spent time looking at the International Monument, a sculpture made of dark bronze designed by Nandor Glid in 1997. It features short strands of barbed wire on which skeletons are hanging with their heads dangling sharply. On either side of the sculpture are concrete fence posts which closely resemble the ones actually used to support the barbed wire fence around the camp.

Below the monument on a stone wall are bronze numbers denoting the dates the camp operated, 1933-1945.

The vice president and second lady placed a wreath of white flowers in front of the wall. They stood for a moment in silence and then walked back toward the center of the yard.

They also visited the Jewish Memorial, situated near the prison fence. The structure is built from basalt lava and features a sloping ramp down to an underground prayer room. The roof is also sloped upward and a stone menorah sits on the building’s apex.

Pence spoke for a while with Charlotte Knobloch and Karin Offmann from the Bavarian Jewish Council. The group descended the ramp down to the prayer room — which was lit with candles — and observed a moment of silence. They later visited the camp’s crematorium.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the number of prisoners incarcerated in Dachau between 1933 and 1945 exceeded 188,000. The number of prisoners who died in the camp and the subcamps between January 1940 and May 1945 was at least 28,000, to which must be added those who perished there between 1933 and the end of 1939, as well as an uncounted number of unregistered prisoners.

It is unlikely that the total number of victims who died in Dachau will ever be known, according to the museum.

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President Trump invites supporter on stage at Florida campaign rally

ABC News(MELBOURNE, Fla.) — President Trump invited a supporter to take the stage with him at his campaign rally in Florida Saturday night.

The president said he saw the man on television when he was interviewed in the line waiting to enter the rally. Trump pointed him out during the rally and invited him on stage.

The supporter was later identified as Gene Huber, from Boynton Beach, Florida, about two hours from where the rally was in Melbourne. Huber posts often about his support for Trump on social media and said in a video on his Facebook page that he was the first person in line for the rally at 4 a.m. Saturday morning.

“When President Trump during the election promised all these things that he was gonna do for us, I knew he was gonna do this for us,” Huber said on stage.

Trump shook Huber’s hand and said “A star is born” as Huber left the stage.

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President Trump says he will create ‘safe zones’ in Syria and get Gulf states to pay for them

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(MELBOURNE, Fla.) — President Trump said he wants to establish “safe zones” in Syria and other places instead of taking people into the U.S., speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday evening.

He also said that the Gulf states would pay for those safe zones, saying that “they have nothing but money.”

“Take a look at Nice, take a look at Paris,” Trump said, referencing terror attacks in France and other European countries last year. Trump also repeated claims that thousands of people have entered the United States without vetting, saying that “we’re going to keep our country safe,” despite the fact that legal immigrants and refugees go through an extensive process before entering the country.

“We’ve allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country and there was no way to vet those people, there was no documentation there was no nothing. So, we’re going to keep our country safe,” the president said.

He did not elaborate on what the “safe zones” would be but said people would be able to “stay there and live safely in their cities” until Syria is stabilized. He went on to say that “we want people that love us,” in the United States, saying that “we don’t want people with bad, bad ideas.”

The United Nations estimates that more than 6 million people have been displaced by the civil war in Syria with almost 5 million in areas that are under siege.

Trump also repeated criticism of NATO, saying that other countries are “not paying their bills.”

The president also said he was a “NATO fan” but his comments contrasted with those made by Vice President Mike Pence, who told European allies that the U.S. strongly supports them on an overseas trip this weekend.

Trump also repeated popular promises from his campaign that he will “repeal and replace” Obamacare and pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying “jobs are starting to pour back in.” He also referenced several of the executive actions he has signed, like one intended to reduce government regulations. In praising newly confirmed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Trump said that regulations like those requiring environmental impact statements were “clogging up the veins of our country.”

At the beginning of the rally Trump told attendees he wanted to speak “without the filter of the fake news.”

“They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda,” Trump said.

The rally is listed on Trump’s campaign website. Trump filed paperwork for his re-election in 2020 on the day he was inaugurated, though he also wrote that the filing was not an formal announcement. The filing allows Trump’s campaign to solicit donations and raise money for a possible 2020 bid for re-election.

Trump called news organizations like ABC News and The New York Times “the enemy of the American people” in a Tweet on Friday morning, the day after a combative press conference with White House reporters.

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

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President Trump speaks at campaign rally in Florida

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(MELBOURNE, Fla.) — President Trump continued his attack on the news media at a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday night.

He told attendees he wanted to speak “without the filter of the fake news.”

“They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda,” Trump said.

Trump called news organizations like ABC News and The New York Times “the enemy of the American people” in a Tweet on Friday morning, the day after a combative press conference with White House reporters.

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

Trump also repeated popular promises from his campaign that he will “repeal and replace” Obamacare and pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying “jobs are starting to pour back in.”

Saturday evening’s rally is listed on Trump’s campaign website. Trump filed paperwork for his re-election in 2020 on the day he was inaugurated, though he also wrote that the filing was not an formal announcement. The filing allows Trump’s campaign to solicit donations and raise money for a possible 2020 bid for re-election.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Top Democrat says Trump’s calling media ‘the enemy’ is something ‘you hear tin-pot dictators say’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, blasted the president for calling the media “the enemy of the American people,” telling ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, “This is something that you hear tin-pot dictators say.”

“It’s not something you have ever heard a president of the United States say,” Schiff of California said in an exclusive interview that will air on This Week Sunday. “This is something that you hear tin-pot dictators say when they want to control all of the information.

President Trump tweeted Friday, “The FAKE NEWS media….is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

“I didn’t think I could be shocked anymore by this president, but I have to say, of all the things he has said since he became president, or since the election, this to me was the most devastating and the most alarming,” Schiff said. “That he essentially views the First Amendment — because that’s what these organizations represent — as an enemy of the people.”

“Not even Nixon went there,” Schiff said of former President Richard Nixon.

Schiff said Trump’s comment about the press was “deeply concerning” and that he hopes Republicans as well as Democrats will speak out against the remark.

“I hope it is repudiated by people from both parties, because this is not America,” Schiff said.

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Congress members met with protests at town halls

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — As members of Congress return to their districts across the country during a legislative recess, many are hearing from concerned constituents.

Some Republican representatives holding town halls are facing boisterous crowds, including people protesting GOP plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Republican Rep. Tom Reed scheduled four town halls Saturday in his districts in upstate New York, with large fairly raucous crowds turning out for two meetings in the morning. The congressman was peppered with questions on the health care act known as Obamacare as well as other topics such as President Trump’s not publicly releasing copies of his tax returns.

Town-hall crowd asked @TomReedCongress his thoughts about @POTUS not showing his taxes… this is what happened @WKBW pic.twitter.com/NgbwI6zHVY

— Justin Moore (@justinmoorewkbw) February 18, 2017

Some of those organizing ways to confront lawmakers and make their voices heard are tagging their efforts online as #ResistanceRecess.

Almost every Democrat and several Republicans are hosting open forum, town hall meetings this weekend and next week. But some are opting for dial-in conference calls for their constitutents instead of in-person meetings.

GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey said told USA Today that he chose a conference call with people in his district because he didn’t “want to be baited into having an event that some outside group can just make a spectacle out of.”

At Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s town hall in New York City on Saturday, the mood of the audience seemed relatively calm and less confrontational than at some congressional representatives’ home-district events.

Huge crowd (still growing!) learning about the Emoluments clause at @EspaillatNY town hall. #resistancerecess CC: @jonfavs @jonlovett pic.twitter.com/uj0ZRfo2hl

— Dylan Pickus (@dillopick) February 18, 2017

Some groups are organizing their own events around the country to protest Congress or Trump administration policies, such as by holding rallies or going to lawmaker’s offices.

Planned Parenthood, for example, says it is planning hundreds of events in all 50 states this month.

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Race to head DNC tightens as New Hampshire state chair drops out

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The race to lead the Democratic Party tightened as a longtime state party chair dropped out and threw his support to Rep. Keith Ellison one week before the DNC election.

New Hampshire party chair Raymond Buckley’s withdrawal from the race Saturday leaves 10 candidates vying to become chair of the Democratic National Committee. But the leading contenders are the Minnesota congressman, a favorite among the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, and Tom Perez, who was labor secretary under President Obama.

“While it was a tremendous honor to run for DNC chair over the past few months, I am proud to throw my support behind Keith so we can ensure that the next chair of the DNC is dedicated to investing in and strengthening state parties and ensuring that the DNC is an accountable organization,” Buckley said in a statement.

Democratic state party leaders have felt neglected since 2009 when national party officials and the campaign staff of then newly-elected President Obama decided to concentrate the organization’s cash at the national level in Washington.

Since the party’s loss in the presidential election, Democratic Party state and local officials have said loudly that they believe the answer to winning again is to invest again in party offices around the country and decentralize resources.

Ellison praised the New Hampshire Democratic Party and thanked Buckley for his support.

“Democrats in the Granite State have an incredible track record, winning 11 out of the last 13 statewide elections. That’s because of the decades of work by Ray, who believes, like I do, that the Democratic Party must strengthen and empower our state and local parties,” Ellison said in a statement. “Throughout this race I’ve heard loud and clear from DNC members that this is a moment to use all our talents to rebuild the party from the grassroots up. That is why I am proud to have Ray’s support.”

The question now is whether this new alliance will give Ellison enough votes to secure the chairmanship next week. Buckley’s spokesperson told ABC News in an email that the two teams are “confident” that by joining forces Ellison can win.

But Perez still enjoys broad support among the party officials who make up the DNC.

Just this week, Perez’s campaign released a statement claiming to have locked in 180 of the 224 votes needed; there are 447 party members on the DNC. Perez has enjoyed big-name endorsements from former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder. But he argues that no single candidate in the race has as a monopoly on grassroots support. Farmworkers and some other labor organizations are among those backing his candidacy.

“What this comes down to is, ‘Who is best positioned to both unite the party, take the fight to Donald Trump and transform the DNC?’” Perez told ABC News at a party event in Baltimore last weekend. “‘Who has a track record of turning around organizations of that scale?'”

Ellison contends, however, that he is the “unity candidate” who has both worked at the state party level and was an early supporter of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

“I’ve gone to over 28 states in the past two years, helping candidates,” Ellison told ABC News last week. “I am the only candidate that supported Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both, and I can unite our party around the core idea that the Democratic Party has to be fighting for working people and all working people.”

High-profile backers of Ellison’s bid to lead the DNC include Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as well as Sanders.

The party committee has been led by acting chair Donna Brazile since last summer when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz stepped down amid controversy around internal DNC emails published by WikiLeaks.

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Trump set to hold campaign rally in Florida Saturday

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(NEW YORK) — The last presidential election ended three months ago and the next one is not for almost four years, but President Donald Trump is set to travel to Orlando Saturday for what the White House has termed “a campaign event.”

The event, which is listed on Trump’s campaign website, will take place at a hangar at the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport, the site of a previous Trump campaign rally in September.

Asked about the event Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called it “a campaign event” and said it is “being run by the campaign.”

President Trump, who has touted his election victory almost habitually since taking office, predicted “massive” crowds at what will be his first campaign rally since becoming president.

“In fact, I’ll be in Melbourne, Florida, at 5 ‘clock on Saturday. And I heard, just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there,” the president said Thursday at a press conference.

A White House official says the president will travel from West Palm Beach to Orlando aboard Air Force One to his Saturday rally, but will not use the jet as a backdrop, as he did so often with ‘Trump Force One’ during the campaign.

On the day of his inauguration, Trump filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission indicating a possible re-election bid in 2020.

Trump wrote that his filing, “does not constitute a formal announcement.” But as a result, he is able to collect donations.

President Barack Obama didn’t file his re-election paperwork until April 2011, 19 months before the 2012 presidential election; President George W. Bush didn’t file until May 2003, 18 months before the 2004 election.

“Many times in the past, what sitting presidents have done in the first two years is really suspend any fundraising activities for their campaign committees,” former FEC chair Michael Toner told ABC News in January, adding that the Trump campaign’s move could help keep the dollars flowing. “It gives them flexibility to raise money for a potential re-election effort.”

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