President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the winner of a sumo tournament Sunday as he got a taste of one of Japan’s most treasured cultural institutions. The honor given to Trump was part of a charm offensive by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he courted Trump with three things close to the American leader’s heart: wrestling, cheeseburgers and golf. Sumo diplomacy, to sum it up. The president, first lady Melania Trump, Abe and his wife, Akie, joined an estimated 11,500 fans at Ryogoku Kokugikan Stadium to watch massive and muscular men, in bare feet and loin cloths, battle for supremacy in a small ring of dirt. At the match’s end, Trump stepped into the ring and presented the eagle-topped “President’s Cup” to the champion, Asanoyama. Trump, the first American president to participate in such a ceremony, said later it was an “incredible evening.” “That was something to see these great athletes,” Trump said before having dinner with the Abes at a hibachi restaurant. Trump’s four-day state visit to Japan is designed to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Earlier Sunday, Abe warmly welcomed Trump to Mobara Country Club, south of Tokyo, for a round of golf, their fifth since Trump became president. Abe is trying to placate Trump amid growing U.S.-Japan trade tensions and the threat of auto tariffs. Japan also is contending with the continued military threat from North Korea , a concern seemingly heightened by Trump’s apparent dismissal of the North’s recent tests
A longtime Utah judge has been suspended without pay for six months after making critical comments online and in court about President Donald Trump, including a post bashing his “inability to govern and political incompetence.” Judge Michael Kwan’s posts on Facebook and LinkedIn in 2016-2017 violated the judicial code of conduct and diminished “the reputation of our entire judiciary,” wrote Utah State Supreme Court Justice John A. Pearce in an opinion posted Wednesday. Kwan’s Facebook account was private but could have been shared by friends, Pearce wrote. “Judge Kwan’s behavior denigrates his reputation as an impartial, independent, dignified, and courteous jurist who takes no advantage of the office in which he serves,” Pearce said. Kwan has been a justice court judge in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville since 1998. He deals with misdemeanor cases, violations of ordinances and small claims. He was first appointed by elected city officials to a six-year term and was retained in the position by voters. Kwan argued the suspension was inappropriate and an unlawful attempt to regulate his constitutionally protected speech, Pearce wrote in the opinion. Kwan’s attorney, Greg Skordas, said the judge is disappointed with the severity of the suspension but accepted that he would get some reprimand. Like many people after the 2016 election, Kwan felt strongly about the results and said some things “in haste,” Skordas said. He knows judges are held to a higher standard and must be careful, the lawyer said. “He certainly regrets making those statements and
President Donald Trump has granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr’s inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump on Thursday directed the U.S. intelligence community to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Barr’s investigation of the origins of the multiyear probe of whether his campaign colluded with Russia. Former intelligence officials and Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump’s move, which marked an escalation in his efforts to “investigate the investigators” as he works to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe . Trump’s announcement came amid mounting Democratic calls to bring impeachment proceedings against him. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump is delegating to Barr the “full and complete authority” to declassify documents relating to the probe, which would ease his efforts to review the sensitive intelligence underpinnings of the investigation. Such a move could create fresh tensions within the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically resisted such demands. Trump is giving Barr a new tool in his investigation, empowering him to unilaterally unseal documents that the Justice Department has historically regarded as among its most highly secret. Warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for instance, are not made public — not even to the person on whom the surveillance was authorized. Trump explicitly granted Barr declassification power — noting it would not automatically extend to another attorney
In a case with significant First Amendment implications, the U.S. filed new charges Thursday against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, accusing him of violating the Espionage Act by publishing secret documents containing the names of confidential military and diplomatic sources. The Justice Department’s 18-count superseding indictment alleges that Julian Assange directed former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history. It says the WikiLeaks founder, currently in custody in London, damaged national security by publishing documents that harmed the U.S. and its allies and aided its adversaries. The case comes amid a Justice Department crackdown on national security leaks and raised immediate fear among news media advocates that Assange’s actions — including soliciting and publishing classified information — are indistinguishable from what traditional journalists do on a daily basis. Those same concerns led the Obama administration Justice Department to balk at bringing charges for similar conduct. Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, said Thursday that the “unprecedented charges” against his client imperil “all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have been taken by the U.S. government.” The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press called the case a “dire threat” to media freedom, and the American Civil Liberties Union said it was the first time in history a publisher was charged for disclosing truthful information. But Justice Department officials sought to make clear that they believed Assange’s actions weren’t protected under the law, though they declined to discuss the
The Pentagon on Thursday will present plans to the White House to send up to 10,000 more troops to the Middle East, in a move to beef up defenses against potential Iranian threats, U.S. officials said. The officials said no final decision has been made yet, and it’s not clear if the White House would approve sending all or just some of the requested forces. Officials said the move is not in response to any new threat from Iran, but is aimed at reinforcing security in the region. They said the troops would be defensive forces, and the discussions include additional Patriot missile batteries, more ships and increased efforts to monitor Iran. Thursday morning’s meeting comes as tensions with Iran continue to simmer, and it wasn’t clear if a decision would be made during the session. Any move to deploy more forces to the Middle East would signal a shift for President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly emphasized the need to reduce America’s troop presence in the region. U.S. officials have provided few details about possible Iranian threats, but indicated they initially involved missiles loaded onto small Iranian boats. This week officials said the missiles have been taken off the boats near Iran’s shore, but other maritime threats continue. Sending more troops could also raise questions on Capitol Hill. During back-to-back closed briefings for the House and Senate on Tuesday, defense leaders told congressional officials the U.S. doesn’t want to go to war with Iran and wants to de-escalate the
Joe Biden would support Congress enshrining abortion rights into federal law “should it become necessary,” his presidential campaign said Tuesday, following several other Democratic candidates in promising to take that step if elected president. The hot-button issue has shot to the forefront of the Democratic primary following a spate of new Republican-backed state laws curbing access to abortion. With all the two dozen Democratic White House hopefuls supportive of abortion rights, the debate in the party has centered on how aggressive they should be if the Supreme Court were to eventually overturn legalized abortion nationwide. Biden released a video on Tuesday blasting the GOP-backed state laws as “pernicious” and “wrong.” He stopped short in the video of endorsing congressional action and offered no specifics on how he would defend Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that is now potentially threatened with new legal challenges. Asked by The Associated Press whether Biden believed the high court decision should be codified in law, the campaign initially pointed to the video, then later added that the former vice president would support legislation “should it become necessary.” A campaign aide then clarified that Biden would support action immediately, regardless of whether the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The campaign’s responses highlight what Biden, a devout Roman Catholic, once called his “middle of the road” approach on abortion. As a young senator, he expressed reservations that the Supreme Court “went too far” in its abortion decision. Since then, he’s joined the mainstream of
House Democrats are facing yet another brazen attempt by President Donald Trump to stonewall their investigations, this time with former White House counsel Donald McGahn defying a subpoena for his testimony on orders from the White House. A lawyer for McGahn said he would follow the president’s directive and skip Tuesday’s House Judiciary hearing, leaving the Democrats without yet another witness — and a growing debate within the party about how to respond. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, backed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, is taking a step-by-step approach to the confrontations with Trump. Nadler said the committee would vote to hold McGahn in contempt, and take the issue to court. “You face serious consequences if you do not appear,” Nadler warned McGahn in a letter on the eve of the hearing. Democrats are encouraged by an early success on that route as a federal judge ruled against Trump on Monday in a financial records dispute with Congress. But that hasn’t been swift enough for some members of the Judiciary panel who feel that Pelosi should be more aggressive and launch impeachment hearings that would make it easier to get information from the administration. Such hearings would give Democrats more standing in court and could stop short of a vote to remove the president. The issue was raised in a meeting among top Democrats Monday evening, where some members confronted Pelosi about opening up the impeachment hearings, according to three people familiar with the private conversation who requested anonymity
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, one of two dozen Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination, on Monday proposed closing the gender pay gap by requiring companies to disclose pay data and secure an “equal pay certification” or be fined. Kamala Harris’ proposal aims to shift the burden from workers, who now must prove pay discrimination by employers, to corporations, which would have to show they eliminated pay disparities between men and women doing work of equal value. In 2017, full-time, year-round working women earned 80% of what male counterparts earned, the U.S. Census Bureau says, and minority women earned even less. At a college rally in Los Angeles on Sunday, Harris decried the pay gap between men and women. “This has got to end,” she said, to audience cheers. Kamala Harris said her plan would incentivize corporations to close the pay gap, because “There will be penalties if they don’t.” Under Harris’ proposal, which would require approval by the U.S. Congress, companies with 100 or more employees would give their pay data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They would also have to prove existing pay gaps were not based on gender but merit, performance or seniority, and commit to policies barring mandatory arbitration pacts for job disputes and questions about salary history during hiring. Companies falling short of the criteria would be fined 1% of their profits for every 1% wage gap found after adjusting for variables such as experience and performance. Harris’ campaign said it estimated the plan
Elizabeth Warren was the last of eight presidential candidates to take the stage at Texas Southern University last month when she was pressed for a solution to black women dying during childbirth at far higher rates than white women. The Massachusetts senator responded with what has become a campaign catchphrase: “So, I got a plan.” She proposed holding hospitals financially responsible for the disparity, imposing penalties on institutions that don’t act to prevent such deaths. “Doctors and nurses don’t hear African American women’s medical issues the same way that they hear the same things from white women,” Elizabeth Warren said. “We’ve got to change that, and we’ve got to do it fast because people’s lives are at stake.” By the time Warren left the stage at the “She the People” forum, thousands of black women in the audience were on their feet roaring cheers and applauding. The reaction eclipsed the response earlier in the day to Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey — the black candidates in the Democratic contest. It reflected the unlikely traction that Warren, a 69-year-old white woman who lives in tony Cambridge, Massachusetts, is gaining with black women who are debating whom to back in a historically diverse primary. “To have an ally — she’s a woman, but she’s not a black woman — who can speak intelligently and has thought about people who don’t look like you, that resonates,” said Roxy D. Hall Williamson, a 49-year-old who was in the
The Trump administration is preparing to send Central American migrants caught along the southern border to Border Patrol stations “across the entire nation,” according to a senior Border Patrol official who confirmed the plans Friday. With more than 4,500 people being caught each day crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the agency has run out of room at its Border Patrol facilities in the four border states. The agency has started looking at its facilities around the country, which are mostly along the northern border with Canada and coastal states. That means states from Oregon to North Dakota to Maine may begin receiving planeloads of migrant families in the weeks to come. On Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection sent its first plane full of migrants from Texas to San Diego. The official confirmed reports on Thursday that the Florida counties of Broward and Palm Beach are under consideration given the size and capabilities of Border Patrol stations in the South Florida region. But he did not say if the decision is final or when the flights would start. More: Record number of migrants puts ‘severe pressure’ on Border Patrol facilities Asked whether any federal funds would be provided to help local communities deal with the relocation of migrants, the CBP official on Friday said he was not “aware” of any such plans. The CBP official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to brief reporters on the agency’s internal discussions, said politics is not playing a role in its search for places
President Donald Trump says he hopes the U.S. is not on a path to war with Iran amid fears that his two most hawkish advisers could be angling for such a conflict with the Islamic Republic. Asked Thursday if the U.S. was going to war with Iran, the president replied, “I hope not” — a day after he repeated a desire for dialogue, tweeting, “I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.” The tone contrasted with a series of moves by the U.S. and Iran that have sharply escalated tensions in the Middle East in recent days. For the past year, national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been the public face of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. The friction has rattled lawmakers who are demanding more information on the White House’s claims of rising Iranian aggression. Top leaders in Congress received a classified briefing on Iran Thursday, but many other lawmakers from both parties have criticized the White House for not keeping them informed. Iran poses a particular challenge for Trump. While he talks tough against foreign adversaries to the delight of his supporters, a military confrontation with Iran could make him appear to be backtracking on a campaign pledge to keep America out of foreign entanglements. Lawmakers and allies, however, worry that any erratic or miscalculated response from Trump could send the U.S. careening into conflict. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and reinstated
Alabama’s governor signed a bill on Wednesday to ban nearly all abortions in the state, even in cases of rape and incest, in the latest challenge by conservatives to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. U.S. abortion rights activists had already vowed to go to court to block enforcement of the Alabama measure, the strictest anti-abortion law yet enacted with the intention of provoking reconsideration of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. That effort has thrust the emotional debate over abortion back to the forefront of national politics in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed the measure a day after the Republican-controlled state Senate approved the ban and rejected a Democratic-backed amendment to allow abortions for women and girls impregnated by rape or incest. “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” Kay Ivey said in a statement. Abortion supporters across the country condemned the bill as part of a Republican-backed assault on the rights of women to control their own bodies. “This is the war on women,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, “It’s in full swing, and it’s decades in the making.” The Alabama law would take effect in six months. Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states, four of whose
Alabama’s state Senate passed a bill on Tuesday to outlaw nearly all abortions, creating exceptions only to protect the mother’s health, as part of a multistate effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court reconsider a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. The country’s strictest abortion bill was previously approved by the Alabama House of Representatives and will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey, who has withheld comment on whether she would sign but is generally a strong opponent of abortion. The law, which passed 25-6, would take effect six months after being signed by the governor, but is certain to face legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups which have vowed to sue. Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states, four of whose governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected. The Alabama bill goes further, banning abortions at any time. Those performing abortions would be committing a felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison, although a woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable. The Republican-controlled Alabama Senate also defeated a Democratic amendment that would have allowed legal abortions for women and girls impregnated by rape and incest. Anti-abortion advocates know any laws they pass are certain to be challenged, and courts this year have blocked a restrictive Kentucky law and another in Iowa passed last year. But supporters of the Alabama ban said the right to life
A new European Union military pact risks shutting American companies out of defence contracts and undermining NATO, the United States has told the bloc, hinting at possible retaliation. In a May 1 letter, the U.S. government said limitations on the involvement of non-EU countries under consideration in the European pact amounted to “poison pills”. “It is clear that similar reciprocally imposed U.S. restrictions would not be welcomed by our European partners and allies, and we would not relish having to consider them in the future,” said the letter from two U.S. Department of Defense undersecretaries, Ellen Lord and Andrea Thompson, to the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini. Any rules limiting U.S. defence contractors’ participation would also amount to “a dramatic reversal of the last three decades of increased integration of the transatlantic defence sector,” said the letter, seen by Reuters. Mogherini said the American concerns over the EU accord – agreed in December 2017 and aiming to fund, develop and deploy armed forces together – were unfounded. “The European Union is and remains open to U.S. companies and equipment,” she told reporters on Tuesday, adding the European procurement market is more open than that of the United States, which is already dominant in the global weapons trade. EU defence ministers, who discussed the rules governing the pact on Tuesday, are trying to agree legislation by June on how to allow the involvement of non-EU countries, including Britain after it leaves the bloc and the United States. Dutch Defence Minister
Military prosecutors in the case of a Navy SEAL charged with killing an Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017 installed tracking software in emails sent to defense lawyers and a reporter in an attempt to discover who was leaking information to the news media, according to lawyers who told The Associated Press that they received the corrupted messages. The defense attorneys said the intrusion may have violated constitutional protections against illegal searches, guarantees of lawyer-client privilege and freedom of the press, and may constitute prosecutorial misconduct. “I’ve seen some crazy stuff but for a case like this it’s complete insanity,” said attorney Timothy Parlatore. “I was absolutely stunned … especially given the fact that it’s so clear the government has been the one doing the leaking.” Parlatore represents Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who has pleaded not guilty to a murder count for allegedly stabbing to death an injured teenage militant in 2017 in Iraq. Gallagher’s platoon commander, Lt. Jacob Portier, is fighting charges of conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly conducting Gallagher’s re-enlistment ceremony next to the corpse. The case against Gallagher, a decorated SEAL, has attracted the attention of congressional Republicans who have called for prosecutors to drop the case. And President Donald Trump tweeted in March that Gallagher was being transferred to less restrictive confinement to honor “his past service to our country.” After Trump’s tweet, Gallagher was moved from the brig to a hospital, where he is currently confined. The Navy has acknowledged it’s investigating
Top Republicans are hunting district-by-district for just the right candidates — women and minorities in many cases — to help them recapture the House six months after a political tidal wave swept Democrats into control of the most diverse majority in history. Among the recruits are a Republican woman in the Oklahoma state Senate and a black political novice from Houston with Iraq combat experience and three Ivy League degrees on his resume. They are part of the GOP drive to gain at least 18 seats in the 2020 elections to win the majority — historically a tall order for the party out of power in presidential election years. Finding women and minority candidates is an imperative for an overwhelmingly white GOP openly embarrassed that just 13 of its 197 House members are women. By contrast, 89 of the 235 House Democrats are women and nearly 90 are black or Hispanic. But Republicans want challengers with other qualities too, following a 2018 election that saw the GOP lose 31 districts that President Donald Trump had won just two years earlier, many in moderate suburbs. Desirable attributes include an ability to woo moderate GOP voters who’ve turned against Trump, whose name will be atop the ballot. In some districts they want political outsiders without voting records to attack, in others it’s political veterans with a proven ability to win votes. Enticing personal stories and an aptitude for raising money also help. “You will see a party that’s reflective of the entire
At a veterans hall in the mostly white, working-class town of Chillicothe, Ohio, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to about 200 people on Friday about her plans to fight the opioid epidemic, Washington corruption and economic inequality.
Warren’s decision to campaign in Ohio - a state President Donald Trump won by eight percentage points in 2016 - so soon in the Democratic presidential nominating battle is telling.
Ohio does not host one of next year’s early nominating contests. Yet there is growing consensus among Democrats that a nominee’s ability to beat Trump in November 2020 is the number one priority - and Warren aims to convince voters there and elsewhere that she has broad enough appeal to do it.
“I believe that if you’re running for president of the United States you ought to be running for president of all the people and not just spend your time in a handful of so-called battleground states,” Warren told reporters at an earlier stop on Friday in Kermit, West Virginia, a solidly Republican state.
Party strategists and voters are divided over what type of candidate is best positioned to take on the president.