Washington, Feb 16 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump claimed Friday that Japan's prime minister had nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize for opening a dialogue with North Korea.
Trump also complained about President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and doubted he would be similarly honored.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize," Trump said at a White House news conference when asked about his late February summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "He said, 'I have nominated you, respectfully, on behalf of Japan. I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize.'"
The Associated Press could not immediately confirm Trump's claim.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it was aware of Trump's remark but cannot comment on details of the exchanges between Trump and Abe.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who also has credited Trump with starting negotiations with the reclusive North, has endorsed the U.S. leader for the Nobel Peace Prize as well.
Trump said early exchanges with Kim were filled with "fire and fury," but that the two have established a good relationship since their first meeting last year in Singapore. He said claimed Abe nominated him because he was worried about North Korea conducting missile tests over Japan.
Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, his first year in office, for laying out the U.S. commitment to "seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."
Trump complained Friday that Obama was there "for about 15 seconds" before he was awarded the prize.
"I'll probably never get it, but that's OK," Trump said. "They gave it to Obama. He didn't even know what he got it for."
Washington, Feb 16 (AP/UNB)— President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build his long-promised border wall ends one political problem for the White House and its allies on Capitol Hill, but launches another.
Republicans are deeply torn over Trump's decision to invoke executive power after Congress denied him money he wanted for the wall along the Southern border. Some are backing the president, while others are vehemently opposed to what they see as constitutional overreach, setting up a potential showdown that adds to the already expected legal challenges.
"I don't believe a national emergency declaration is the solution," said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who warned of taking the country down a "rabbit hole" with future presidents seizing unchecked executive power.
"No crisis justifies violating the Constitution," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said, "Declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution."
It's an outcome Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his leadership warned Trump against. For days, they publicly urged him not to declare an emergency. But with Trump's signature Friday on the action, the Republican leaders are largely falling in line behind Trump.
As Democrats are quick to call for oversight and investigation, they are also almost certain to seek a vote of disapproval that will force Republicans to stand with the president — or against him.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., says his committee will investigate the "serious constitutional and statutory issues" raised by the declaration and will ask White House officials to appear for testimony.
Nadler said Trump's decision shows "reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system."
The ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, said that while he supports Trump's commitment to securing the border, "a national emergency is a serious act with deep implications, and it's disappointing that partisan politics have brought us to this point."
Congress has specific ability under the National Emergencies Act to halt the president by a simple majority vote of disapproval in both chambers. That makes the outcome uncertain, especially in the Senate where Republicans now hold a narrow 53-47 majority.
Trump would almost certainly threaten to veto such a resolution, if it passed, and Congress would then be faced with the difficult task of mounting the votes to override.
Trump's decision creates an "important moment for constitutional democracy," said Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government at American University and author of a book on presidential power.
"Congress has the tools available to stop this if it chooses to act," Edelson said. "All eyes should be on Republicans in Congress, some of whom are clearly troubled by this action, including the precedent it could set."
Top Trump allies are splintering. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, once resistant to an emergency declaration, told Fox News he's all for it. "We would be idiots as Republicans not to support Donald Trump to try to build this wall anyway he can," Graham said.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., may be tougher to sway. "I, too, want stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matters," Paul said in a statement.
"Extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them," added Paul, who regularly criticized former President Barack Obama for what Paul and other Republicans termed executive overreach.
On and off Capitol Hill, many Republicans criticized Obama for what they saw as executive overreach, particularly on immigration issues. Some of Obama's actions, including those to shield young immigrants from deportation, continue to play out in the courts.
While some GOP voices this week urged Trump on, others encouraged restraint.
"We'll regret this," said a headline in the conservative National Review. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Friday that Trump's decision will "create a dangerous precedent that erodes the very system of government that has served us so well for over 200 years."
Rubio and others have asked what would happen if a future president tried to use the same emergency authority for their priorities — for example, to impose gun control or fight climate change.
Newly-elected Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., suggested as much in a Friday tweet: "Our next President should declare a #NationalEmergency on day 1 to address the existential threat to all life on the planet posed by Climate Change."
But Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., another Trump ally who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus, said there's "wide support" in the party for Trump's action. "There's certainly a big push to make sure that we limit executive power," he said, but the laws are in place and "we support it."
Democrats are already gearing up to do battle. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted Friday that Democrats "aren't going to let the President declare a fake national emergency without a fight."
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was introducing a resolution to terminate the declaration, which he called "an end run around the Constitution." The joint resolution, he said, "will allow Congress an opportunity to reclaim its authority."
In the end, the philosophical arguments about presidential powers may run into the more specific concerns about how Trump plans to pay for the wall.
White House officials said Friday they plan to spend $8 billion on the wall — the nearly $1.4 billion Congress approved for new fences and barriers, plus more than $6 billion drawn from other funds.
Among them is a military construction account popular on Capitol Hill because it provides money to improve housing, medical facilities, roads and other aspects of military life. The projects are spread throughout congressional districts nationwide.
A group of House Republicans urged Trump in a letter not to shift money away from military construction accounts. "Diverting funding from ongoing or planned projects would be incredibly harmful," the GOP lawmakers wrote.
Among those signing the letter, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said it's a "dangerous precedent for the president to be forced to declare a national emergency" over funding.
The White House said it would be looking at "lower priority" projects. A senior administration official granted anonymity to brief reporters on a conference call Friday said officials will look to shift money from projects that are "to fix or repair a particular facility that might be able to wait a couple of months into next year."
Aurora, Feb 16 (AP/UNB)— An employee of a manufacturing company opened fire in its suburban Chicago plant Friday, killing five people and wounding five police officers before he was fatally shot, police said.
Aurora, Illinois, Police Chief Kristen Ziman identified the gunman as 45-year-old Gary Martin and said he was believed to be an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. — which makes valves for industrial purposes — in the city about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Chicago. She told a news conference that officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of the shooting and were fired upon as soon as they entered the 29,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse.
Police said they did not know the gunman's motive.
"May God bless the brave law enforcement officers who continue to run toward danger," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at the news conference.
Hospitals reported treating at least seven patients from the shooting, though their conditions weren't released. Two of the officers were airlifted to trauma centers in Chicago, Ziman said. She said a sixth officer suffered a knee injury. Officials did not say the total number of people injured including police and civilians.
Dozens of first responder vehicles converged on the building housing the company in Aurora after police received multiple calls about an active shooter at 1:24 p.m. CST.
Several ATF teams also responded to the shooting and were at the scene, according to the agency's Chicago spokeswoman, and the FBI said it also responded.
John Probst, an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, told ABC7 that he ran out of the back door as the shooting unfolded Friday afternoon. Probst says he recognized the gunman and that he works for the company.
"What I saw was the guy running down the aisle with a pistol with a laser on it," Probst said.
Probst said he wasn't hurt but that another colleague was "bleeding pretty bad."
"It's a shame that mass shootings such as this have become commonplace in our country. It's a shame that a cold and heartless offender would be so selfish as to think he has the right to take an innocent life," Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin said.
Police and squad cars guarded all access points to Henry Pratt five hours after the first calls to 911 about the shooting. The industrial park is surrounded by a neighborhood of modest homes with porch fronts, some with American flags perched outside.
At Acorn Woods Condominiums where Martin lived, a mix of brick apartments and condos nestled on a quiet street just a mile and a half from the shooting, neighbors gathered on sidewalks near Martin's unit talking and wondering among themselves if they knew or had come in contact with him.
Mary McKnight stepped out of her car with a cherry cheesecake purchased for her son's birthday, to find a flurry of police cars, officers and media trucks.
"This is a strange thing to come home to, right," she said. She had just learned that the shooter lived close by and his unit in the complex had been taped off by police.
Christy Fonseca often worries about some of the gang-related crimes and shootings around her mother's Aurora neighborhood. But she never expected the type of phone call she got from her mom on Friday, warning her to be careful with an active shooter loose in the town.
Police cars with screaming sirens revved past her as she drove to her mother's house, where the Henry Pratt building is visible from the porch stoop. it was only when they flipped on the television news that they realized Martin had killed people just a few hundred feet away.
"In Aurora, period, we'd never thought anything like this would happen," Fonseca, a lifelong resident of the Chicago suburb, said as she looked out at the factory.
The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting and monitoring the situation as he prepared to depart for a weekend trip to his home in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump tweeted his thanks to law enforcement officers in Aurora and offered his condolences to the victims and their families. "America is with you," he said.
Presence Mercy Medical Center was treating two patients and a third had been transferred by helicopter to another hospital, spokesman Matt Wakely said. Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital each had one patient from the shooting, spokeswoman Kate Eller said. Rush Copley Medical Center received three patients from the shooting and all are being treated for non-life threatening injuries, spokeswoman Courtney Satlak said.
Washington, Feb 15 (AP/UNB) — Battling with one branch of government and opening a new confrontation with another, President Donald Trump announced Friday he was declaring a national emergency to fulfill his pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump talks about what will happen after he declares a national emergency:— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) February 15, 2019
"...they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling, and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court..." pic.twitter.com/FTYQosNvTh
Bypassing Congress, which approved far less money for his proposed wall than he had sought, Trump said he would use executive action to siphon billions of dollars from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts for the wall, aides said. The move is already drawing bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill and expected to face rounds of legal challenges.
Trump made the announcement from the Rose Garden, as he claimed illegal immigration was "an invasion of our country."
Trump's move followed a rare show of bipartisanship when lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government and avoid a repeat of this winter's debilitating five-week government shutdown. The money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed and would finance just a quarter of the more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) he wanted this year.
To bridge the gap, Trump announced that he will be spending roughly $8 billion on border barriers — combining the money approved by Congress with funding he plans to repurpose through executive actions, including the national emergency. The money is expected to come from funds targeted for military construction and counterdrug efforts, but aides could not immediately specify which military projects would be affected.
Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump was responding to pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid appearing like he's lost his wall battle.
Word that Trump would declare the emergency prompted condemnations from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority.
In a sing-songy tone of voice, Trump described how the decision will be challenged and work its way through the courts, including up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He said, "Sadly, we'll be sued and sadly it will go through a process and happily we'll win, I think."
In an unusual joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it an "unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist" and said it "does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defense funds for the security of our military and our nation. "
"The President's actions clearly violate the Congress's exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution," they said. "The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available."
Democratic state attorneys general said they'd consider legal action to block Trump. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told the president on Twitter "we'll see you in court" if he made the declaration.
Even if his emergency declaration withstands challenge, Trump is still billions of dollars short of his overall funding needed to build the wall as he promised in 2016. After two years of effort, Trump has not added any new border mileage; all of the construction so far has gone to replacing and repairing existing structures. Ground is expected to be broken in South Texas soon on the first new mileage.
The White House said Trump would not try to redirect federal disaster aid to the wall, a proposal they had considered but rejected over fears of a political blowback.
Bethesda, Feb 15 (AP/UNB) — Melania Trump showed love for her new hometown during a Valentine's Day arts-and-crafts session with pediatric patients Thursday.
At a station where children wrote their "favorite things" on construction paper hearts, the first lady went with "My favorite city is Washington." She signed the heart with her name and stuck it on a board on a wall in the middle of several other hearts.
During the visit to The Children's Inn on the campus of the National Institutes of Health outside Washington, she also helped make candy boxes — and assisted a line of children in filling them up with a variety of sugary treats — and snow globes.
Amani, a 13-year-old boy from Mombasa, Kenya, showed her how to turn a wooden clothespin into a colorful clip.
"This is a big project," Mrs. Trump said. Amani has sickle cell disease and is preparing for a bone marrow transplant, the White House said. The first lady told Amani that she will pray for him. He presented her with a red heart-shaped box that held a silver necklace with "Hope & Faith" inscribed on a silver circle.
The first lady later wrote on Twitter that she "Loved sharing an afternoon with such sweet valentines! Your bravery, strength, and love is amazing." She thanked The Children's Inn and NIH for their "lifesaving work."
The Children's Inn is a private, nonprofit residence for children and families participating in pediatric research at NIH. The first lady was at the inn on Valentine's Day last year when she was informed by her staff of a shooting at a south Florida high school that killed 17 people.
She was greeted Thursday by Amber, 9, of San Jose, California. Amber, who participates in a gene therapy trial, was among the children with whom Mrs. Trump spent time during last year's visit.
Mrs. Trump is focusing her work as first lady on the well-being of children.