U.S. President Donald Trump targeted Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior Iranian officials with new U.S. sanctions on Monday, looking for a fresh blow to Iran’s economy after Tehran’s downing of an unmanned American drone. With tensions running high between the two countries, Trump signed an executive order imposing the sanctions, which U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said would lock billions of dollars more in Iranian assets. Trump said the new sanctions were in part a response to last week’s downing of a U.S. drone, but would have happened anyway. He said the supreme leader was ultimately responsible for what Trump called “the hostile conduct of the regime.” “Sanctions imposed through the executive order … will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support,” Donald Trump said. The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region. Tensions between the United States and Iran have grown since May when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil. There was no immediate reaction in Iranian official media but at the weekend, state-run news agency IRIB quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying any new sanctions would be “just propaganda” and “there are no more sanctions left.” Mnuchin said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would be targeted with U.S. sanctions later this week. Sanctions were also
President Donald Trump said Saturday that military action against Iran was still an option for its downing of an unmanned U.S. military aircraft, but amid heightened tensions he dangled the prospect of eventually becoming an unlikely “best friend” of America’s longtime Middle Eastern adversary. Donald Trump also said “we very much appreciate” that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard chose not to target a U.S. spy plane carrying more than 30 people. The president’s softer tone Saturday marked a stark contrast to the anti-Iran rhetoric he employed throughout the presidential campaign and presidency, including his use of punishing economic sanctions in an attempt to pressure Iran to give up its quest to build nuclear weapons. “The fact is we’re not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon,” he said as he left the White House for a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat. “And when they agree to that, they are going to have a wealthy country, they’re going to be so happy and I’m going to be their best friend.” “I hope that happens. I hope that happens, but it may not,” Trump said. He later said Iran will be hit with unspecified new sanctions on Monday. Another event earlier this week put a different cast on Trump’s more optimistic rhetoric. U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday in response to the loss of the military drone. U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the cyberattacks, which disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled
U.S. President Donald Trump sent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un an “excellent” letter, the North’s state-run news agency reported Sunday, quoting Kim as saying he would “seriously contemplate” the content. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said Trump sent a letter and “correspondence between the two leaders has been ongoing.” Formal talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down after a failed summit between Kim and Trump in February in Vietnam. But earlier in June Trump told U.S. reporters he received a “beautiful” letter from Kim, without revealing what was written. In an interview with TIME magazine last week, Trump said he also received a “birthday letter” from Kim that was delivered by hand a day before. The official stances remain the same. The U.S. is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before international sanctions are lifted. North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which moves toward denuclearization are matched by concessions from the U.S., notably a relaxation of the sanctions. Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency’s report on the Trump letter said Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content.” “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” the agency said, without elaborating. South Korea’s presidential office said it sees the exchange of letters between Kim and Trump as a positive development for keeping the momentum for dialogue alive. News of Trump’s letter came days
President Donald Trump’s brinkmanship with Iran is on the boil, spilling beyond diplomacy to a planned air attack on Iran that Trump said he ordered, then pulled back at least for now. This, as the U.S. undertakes an unusual troop deployment to the Mexican border , tends its nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan and grapples with stalled talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. Through it all, the U.S. has no defense secretary , but rather an acting one who is taking over from another acting one, who suddenly quit. And the latest one, Army Secretary Mark Esper, who takes over Sunday, might only be able to serve as acting Pentagon chief for less than two months under the rules, requiring yet another short-term boss before it’s all sorted out. On Friday night, Trump officially announced he intended to nominate Esper for the permanent job. Temporary leadership is a hallmark of Trump’s administration . “It gives me more flexibility,” Trump has said of the many people in acting leadership jobs, not always by his choice. The practice lets Trump quickly, if temporarily, install allies in important positions while circumventing the Senate confirmation process, which can be risky with Republicans running the chamber by a slim 53-47 margin. But the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, says it’s out of hand. “With everything going on in Iran and all the provocations and counteractions, and to have no secretary of defense at this time is appalling,” he said.
Jabbing at the press and poking the eye of the political establishment he ran against in 2016, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a second term. Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando’s Amway Center, Trump complained he had been “under assault from the very first day” of his presidency by a “fake news media” and “illegal witch hunt” that had tried to keep him and his supporters down. And he painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of “un-American conduct” and telling the crowd that Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” “A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” Donald Trump said, ripping “radical” and “unhinged” Democrats even as he made only passing mention of any of the men and women running to replace him. The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump’s 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his improbably successful run three years ago. While Trump’s campaign has tried to professionalize, with shiny office space and a large and growing staff, and despite two-and-a-half years occupying the Oval Office as America’s commander-in-chief, Trump nonetheless remained focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political
“Things like that to me reflect incredible dishonesty and really harm the office of the presidency. I don’t think that you can just let that stuff go,” Justin Amash told his constituents. “I think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct even if ultimately the person is not convicted.”
Three days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a deal with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants at the southern border, the two countries appear unable to agree on exactly what’s in it. Stung by criticism that the agreement mostly ramps up border protection efforts already underway, Trump on Monday hinted at other, secret agreements he says will soon be revealed. “We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years,” Trump wrote Monday, saying it would “be revealed in the not too distant future.” Not so, said Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, holding up a paper and pointing to the previously announced details. He told reporters the two countries agreed on two actions made public Friday and said if those measures didn’t work to slow migration, they would discuss further options. “There is no other thing beyond what I have just explained,” he said. The episode revealed the complicated political dynamics at play as Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tussle over who made out best in the agreement hashed out under Trump’s threat of new tariffs on Mexico. Trump appeared eager to declare his negotiation tactics successful, even as he tried to hype the deal with made-for-TV drama and invented measures, sparking questions and confusion. Mexico’s leaders showed they weren’t willing to play along. The White House did not respond to inquiries about Trump’s tweets.
After months of jabbing each other from afar, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will overlap Tuesday in Iowa, a state that’s critical to both their political futures. For Biden, a convincing win in next year’s caucuses would cement him as the Democratic front-runner and reinforce his chief argument that he is the party’s best-positioned candidate to beat Trump. The president, meanwhile, is seeking to shore up his Iowa support as part of a broader effort to ensure the Midwestern states he snagged in 2016 remain in his column next year. The battle for the Democratic nomination is early and fluid, and Biden has plenty of work ahead to hold his lead among Democrats in Iowa and nationally. But the two men’s convergence in a state that has swung between Democrats and Republicans over the past two decades could offer a glimpse into what a Trump-Biden matchup would look like if the former vice president prevails in his quest for the nomination. “Both of them being around is a nice contrast for voters so that they can hear two different sides,” said Steve Drahozal, chairman of the Dubuque County Democratic Party. Trump and Biden have been circling each other for months. Despite the private counsel of his advisers, Trump has thrown a steady stream of public insults at Biden. Since March, Trump has mocked or criticized Biden on Twitter nearly 40 times. In one of his most brazen attacks, during a recent state visit to Japan, Trump echoed North
The Palestinians are planning to hold a “popular uprising” later this month to protest against US President Donald Trump’s controversial “deal of the century”. The protests are scheduled to take place on June 25-26 in conjunction with the US-led conference in Bahrain – where the first part of Trump’s so-called “peace plan” which is spearheaded by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, will be unveiled. The call for the “popular uprising” was made by representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) factions, Palestinian civil society organizations and independent Palestinian figures on Sunday after a meeting in the occupied West Bank city of el-Bireh. Wasel Abu Yusef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said the Palestinians need to engage in “struggling action to foil the ‘deal of the century’ and its economic aspect, and voice their rejection of all American policies.” Abu Yusef noted that Sunday’s meeting was the first in a series of gatherings to arrange “popular activities to confront American-Israeli schemes aimed at eliminating the rights of the Palestinian people.” He urged Arab nations to boycott the Bahrain conference “because the rights of the Palestinian people can’t be traded for money.” Late last month, the PLO affirmed its final opposition to the conference and called on the international community to boycott the workshop. Another senior PLO official, Tayseer Khaled, stressed the need to “change the rules of engagement with the policies of the US administration” and the Israeli regime. He cited “the big changes in the policy of the US
The Trump administration granted two authorizations to U.S. companies to share sensitive nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia shortly after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October, a U.S. senator who saw the approvals said on Tuesday. The timing of the approvals is likely to heap pressure on the administration of President Donald Trump from lawmakers who have become increasingly critical of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Khashoggi, a native of Saudi Arabia, left in 2017 to became a resident of the United States where he published columns in the Washington Post critical of the kingdom’s leadership. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, where Jamal Khashoggi lived, called the timing of the approvals “shocking” and said it adds to a “disturbing pattern of behavior” of the administration’s policy on Saudi Arabia. The Department of Energy granted the first part 810 authorization on Oct. 18, 16 days after Khashoggi was killed. The second occurred on Feb. 18. U.S. authorities have concluded that responsibility for Khashoggi’s death went to the highest levels of the Saudi government. Riyadh has denied that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved. The authorizations were among seven granted to U.S. companies by Trump’s administration since 2017, as Washington and Riyadh negotiate a potential wider agreement to help Saudi Arabia develop its first two nuclear power reactors. The Energy Department has kept information in the approvals to Saudi Arabia confidential, citing protection of business