Washington, Jun 3 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump says Israel has got to "get their act together" after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a new governing coalition and a second election was set for later this year.
Saying the political situation in Israel is "all messed up," Trump adds, "We're not happy about that."
Meanwhile, Trump says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may be right in assessing that the administration's forthcoming Mideast peace plan may not go anywhere. A Washington Post report quoted Pompeo as telling a group of Jewish leaders in New York that the long-delayed plan may not "gain traction."
Trump told reporters, "I think we have a good chance, but we'll see what happens."
Trump spoke Sunday as he prepared to fly to Europe.
Washington, Jun 3 (AP/UNB) — Like a bull who keeps returning to the china shop, President Donald Trump is headed back to Europe, where on previous visits he has strained historic friendships and insulted his hosts. This time, he faces an ally in turmoil and a global call to renew democratic pacts.
The agenda for Trump's weeklong journey is both ceremonial and official: a state visit and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in London, D-Day commemoration ceremonies on both sides of the English Channel and his first presidential visit to Ireland, which will include a stay at his coastal golf club.
But the president will arrive at a precarious moment, as he faces a fresh round of impeachment fervor back home and uncertainty on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will step down days after Trump visits and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to use the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle that turned the tide in Europe to call for strengthening the multinational ties the U.S. president has frayed.
"My greatest hope is this: the president and all the leaders stay focused on the extraordinary heroism of that of D-Day and focusing on what brought allies to that position," said Heather Conley, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Dark clouds are forming once again in Europe, and rather than encourage those forces we need to find much better tools to defeat them."
Trump is to arrive in London on Monday for a two-day whirlwind of pomp, circumstance and protests, including meetings with the royal family and an extravagant state dinner at Buckingham Palace. He is likely to be shadowed by demonstrators, who during his visit to England last summer flooded the streets and flew an inflatable balloon depicting the president as a baby.
A year ago, Trump played the ungracious guest, blasting May in an interview just hours before Air Force One touched down in England. He has done it again, this time sparing May but praising her rival, prime ministerial hopeful Boris Johnson, just before she steps down as head of the Conservative Party on Friday for failing to secure a Brexit deal.
"I think Boris would do a very good job. I think he would be excellent," Trump told The Sun, the same publication to which he gave an interview last summer. "I like him. I have always liked him. I don't know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person."
Before departing the White House Sunday evening, Trump waded in again to his hosts' domestic affairs. He said he might meet with another pro-Brexit politician, Nigel Farage, during his visit, and brushed back concerns that he was being discourteous.
"Don't ask me the question if you don't want me to talk about it," he said.
Trump also fired back at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who called the U.S. leader a "global threat" ahead of his trip. Trump said he has no interest in meeting Khan and that "I don't think much of him." Trump added that "he's the twin" of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, "except shorter."
In the interview with The Sun, Trump weighed in on the American-born Duchess of Sussex. The former Meghan Markle, who gave birth in May and will not attend the week's events, was critical of Trump in the past, prompting the president to tell the tabloid, "I didn't know that she was nasty." He said later in the interview that he thought Markle would be "very good" as a royal.
Trump pushed back Sunday against reports that he had described Markle as "nasty," tweeting: "I never called Meghan Markle "nasty." Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!" The newspaper posted the audio of the interview on its website.
Trump will make his first presidential visit to Ireland on Wednesday. But what should have been a routine visit with the prime minister grew complicated due to the president's unprecedented blending of government duties and business promotion. Trump will spend two nights at his club in Doonbeg, which sits above the Atlantic, and the White House originally insisted that he and his Irish counterpart meet there.
After Dublin balked, a deal was struck for Trump to meet Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at Shannon's airport.
The centerpiece of the president's visit will be two days to mark the D-Day anniversary, likely the last significant commemoration most veterans of the battle will see. The anniversary events will begin in Portsmouth, England, where the invasion was launched, and then move to Normandy, France, where Allied forces began to recapture Western Europe from the Nazis.
The day is normally a heartfelt tribute to unity and sacrifice, outweighing any national or political skirmish of the moment. But some on both sides of the Atlantic are nervous about Trump, who has shown a willingness to inject partisanship into such moments. Trump also has been embroiled in simmering disputes over trade and military spending with fellow Western democracies.
On a trip to Brussels last summer, he upbraided NATO leaders on their defense budgets and caused near-panic when rumors spread that he was considering pulling out of the alliance formed in the aftermath of World War II. Just days later, in Helsinki, Trump rattled European capitals by publicly siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies.
On his most recent European visit, last November in France, Trump skipped a ceremony at an American military cemetery to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I when rain grounded his helicopter.
Washington, Jun 3 (AP/UNB) — Retired Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, are "two people to really look up to," President Donald Trump said Sunday.
Trump congratulated the Powells at the close of an annual gala at Ford's Theater during which they received the Lincoln Medal, along with American political humorist Mark Russell. The theater's society has awarded the medal annually since 1981 to individuals whose body of work, accomplishments or personal attributes embodies the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated in the theater in 1865.
"We do want to preserve this heritage and this center's treasured legacy," said Trump, who was accompanied by his wife, first lady Melania Trump, the gala's honorary chairwoman. "I also want to congratulate tonight's Lincoln Medal recipients, a man I have a lot of respect for, Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma. And maybe even more respect for you, Alma."
Trump thanked the couple for their service to the U.S., saying "you have been outstanding. Two people to really look up to."
Powell, a Republican, ended a 35-year career in the Army by becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
He also served as national security adviser and separately was secretary of state under President George W. Bush. Alma Powell has worked with several charities and nonprofit associations. Colin Powell also helped launch the America's Promise Alliance, an organization to support young people.
Russell's career as a political humorist dates to the Eisenhower administration. Trump said Russell is "somebody I used to watch a lot."
Trump also talked about attending the gala for years to come, hinting at his reelection in 2020.
"This is an event that we hope to be here, what do you figure? Another six times, right?" he said.
Earlier Sunday, Trump stood on stage as the pastor of a Northern Virginia church asked God to give Trump wisdom to lead the country.
Trump stood with David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in Vienna as Platt made the request as part of a nationwide day of prayer for Trump that had been called for by the Rev. Franklin Graham.
Tegucigalpa, Jun 1 (AP/UNB) — Masked men set fire to a pile of tires placed at the front door of the U.S. Embassy in the Honduran capital on Friday amid three weeks of street protests.
At least a half-dozen burning tires sent up a large plume of dark smoke at the embassy before Honduran soldiers moved in with fire extinguishers.
Thousands of teachers and medical workers have been protesting against recent presidential decrees that they fear could lead to massive layoffs in schools and hospitals.
On Thursday, at least 25 people were injured when police broke up a protest march; many of them suffered the effects of tear gas.
Protest leader Suyapa Figueroa, who also heads the country's health workers association, blamed the Friday fire on "infiltrators from this country's dictatorial government."
While a local television station had filmed footage of the men setting the fire, it wasn't clear who they were, nor why they weren't stopped by guards outside the embassy. A store was also attacked by masked looters.
The incident occurred a day after the U.S. Embassy urged protesters to avoid violence in the protests.
Washington, Jun 1 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump's surprise threat to impose escalating tariffs on Mexican imports jolted industry leaders throughout the U.S. economy Friday, sparked opposition even from usual Trump allies and set the stage for American consumers to face higher prices.
It also sent stock markets tumbling, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing down roughly 355 points, or 1.4%. Investors poured money instead into the safety of bonds, sending yields lower and signaling that they fear the economy will slow in the coming months.
Trump vowed Thursday to slap a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports on June 10, just over a week away, and raise those tariffs to 25% by October, unless Mexico stops the flow of Central American migrants into the U.S.
If the tariffs were to take effect, they could eventually raise prices for a new Chevrolet Blazer SUV, a burrito at Chipotle, a new shirt or a Corona beer. A 5% duty on the $346.5 billion of goods imported from Mexico translates into $17 billion in tariffs. Some of that higher cost might be paid, at least initially, by U.S. companies. But a significant portion would likely be passed on to U.S. shoppers.
The impact of Trump's latest tariffs, should they be imposed, will fall first on U.S. companies. Businesses in many industries have set up tightly linked supply chains with Mexico. Billions of dollars of auto parts, for example, are sent back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border, in some cases several times, as components are added and integrated into finished cars. Similar networks exist in other industries, from clothing to electronics. The import taxes could quickly translate into much higher costs.
"That's what's so concerning about these tariffs," said John Mitchell, president of IPC, a trade group representing the electronics industry. "It undercuts the region's ability to leverage each other's strengths to benefit North American manufacturing."
Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser to the Trump White House, insisted in an interview on CNBC that the Mexican government and businesses would pay the tariffs. But about 40% of imports from Mexico are from U.S.-affiliated companies, meaning there is no Mexican company that would pay. Instead the tariffs will simply raise costs for U.S. companies — and ultimately for consumers — particularly for parts that cross the border several times, Mitchell said.
The U.S. economy has been integrating with Mexico's since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. All U.S.-made cars now include at least some parts from overseas, and 37% of those parts are from Mexico.
"Any barrier to the flow of commerce across the U.S.-Mexico border will have a cascading effect — harming U.S. consumers, threatening American jobs and investment, curtailing the economic progress that the administration is working to re-ignite," said David Schwietert, interim president of the Auto Alliance trade group, which represents U.S. automakers and foreign companies that build cars in the United States, such as BMW and Toyota.
Shares of General Motors Co., which imports more vehicles into the U.S. than any other automaker, tumbled 4.25% Friday.
"For GM, we roughly estimate that a 5% tariff could be a several-hundred-million dollar annual earnings hit," said Itay Michaeli of Citi Investment Research.
The new tariffs came as a surprise for many companies because the Trump administration had just renewed its push to win congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, its update to NAFTA.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a usual Trump ally and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, condemned the president's action as "a misuse of presidential tariff authority" that would burden American consumers and "seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA."
Some industry representatives said the duties would not encourage companies to return production to the U.S., as Trump has said he wants, but actually have the opposite effect: It will discourage them from relocating to the U.S. because they'd have to pay more for imported parts.
"If you can't buy your components here, you're not going to think about coming back here," Mitchell said.
Americans may also see higher prices in grocery stores. The U.S. imports $12 billion of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico, including tomatoes, avocados, peppers and lemons.
"This is a tax on healthy diets, plain and simple," said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
Jungmeyer noted that food imports from Mexico haven't been subject to tariffs for decades, and importers would have to file paperwork with Customs to pay duties. That can 10 days or more to process, potentially leaving many companies unable to import for a time after June 10.
"I've got to educate a whole range of people who haven't paid tariffs on Mexican produce since 1995," Jungmeyer said.
Many U.S. restaurant chains buy tomatoes and other fresh produce from Mexico. Laurie Schalow, an executive for Chipotle Mexican Grill, said the chain has sought to diversify its supplier base and now buys some avocados from Chile and Peru and is less dependent on Mexico. Still, the tariffs would hurt the company, Schalow said.
Trump has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion of goods from China. The additional duties on Mexican imports could weaken the U.S. economy. Growth was already forecast to slip to a roughly 1.5% annual pace in the April-June quarter, down from 3.1% in the first three months of the year.
Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, estimates that if the full 25% duties on Mexican goods were put in place, U.S. growth next year would be cut by 0.7 percentage point.
The U.S. imports $2.4 billion of clothing and textiles from Mexico. Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of American Apparel and Footwear Association, said companies are already thinking about how to cut costs but will likely have to raise prices because their profit margins are so thin.
Mexico is the eighth-largest supplier of clothing and seventh-largest supplier of footwear to the U.S. market. It's the largest supplier of men's and boy's jeans, accounting for 35% of imports, according to the AAFA.
Shares of Kontoor Brands, which includes Wrangler and Lee, fell nearly 8%, while shares of Levi Strauss dropped 7%. Both companies obtain some of their denim from Mexico.
About 70% of imported beer is from Mexico, up from less than 20% in 1990, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Shares of Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and Modelo beers, among others, fell nearly 6% Friday.
Jeremy Seaver, owner of Tios Mexican Cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said the tariffs would hurt his business. He uses avocados from Mexico, serves Mexican tequila, beer and soda and sells Mexican hot sauces. Even his restaurant's decorations are all from Mexico, he said.
"I'm very concerned," he said. "Five percent (tariff) doesn't sound like a lot, but to a small business like mine, that's a lot."