John T. Bennett

Trump Threatens Shutdown, Attacks GOP Senators During Angry Rally
President on Sen. Flake: ‘Nobody knows who the hell he is’

An angry and defiant President Donald Trump used a Tuesday campaign rally to threaten a government shutdown, slam two Republican senators in their home state, and pour rhetorical gasoline on racial tensions he has twice stoked since the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist protests.

Trump stuck to his staff’s script at the start of a rally in Phoenix, reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter just as he did during a stoic speech the night before to announce his Afghanistan policy. But it didn’t last, with the president appearing to put even more distance between himself and mainstream Republicans and even some members of his own Cabinet.

On Afghanistan, Trump Bets On Generals He Once Criticized
President says ‘my original instinct was to pull out’

Candidate Donald Trump often said he knew more when it came to the country’s foes than America’s top military leaders. But by siding with retired and current four-star generals on Afghanistan, Trump placed a big bet on a group he once believed had been “reduced to rubble.”

Trump announced Monday night at Joint Base Fort Myer Hamilton Hall in Arlington, Va., he will keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan despite his long-held disdain for the operation there. The president’s decision came after a months-long review by his national security team, and reports indicate he will raise the American military presence there to around 12,000.

Beefing Up Afghan Troop Level Would Be Major Shift for Trump
In 2012, he called conflict ‘complete waste,’ adding, ‘Time to come home!’

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Monday night that he is sending thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, breaking with his yearslong disdain for the nearly 16-year-old conflict there.

As a candidate, Trump rarely talked about the Afghanistan War and stability operation other than to disparage it. He used it as an example of why his nationalistic approach would be better than any of his Republican or Democratic foes, arguing the George W. Bush and Obama administrations had wasted billions of dollars there for little strategic gain.

Trump to Address Afghanistan Strategy Monday Night
Reports: President leaning toward keeping 4,000 U.S. troops there

President Donald Trump will address U.S. military forces Monday evening about his new plan for the country’s nearly 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

As a candidate and president, Trump often has maligned the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations for spending trillions too much in military operations overseas since the 9/11 attacks.

Trump Is Quickly Running Out of GOP Factions to Alienate
Republican strategist: ‘He’s basically crossing out all of his allies’

President Donald Trump is running out of Republican Party factions to offend and alienate after firing Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist who was a bridge to the president’s conservative base.

Along with Friday’s blow to his base, a defensive and sometimes erratic Trump in the past few weeks alone has attacked once-supportive business leaders, GOP lawmakers and voters eager to distance themselves from far-right and white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. He’s also lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player in any effort to push forward his legislative agenda.

White House: Steve Bannon Is Out
President’s chief strategist increasingly a lightning rod for criticism

President Donald Trump has decided to part ways with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The former Breitbart executive infused his campaign and presidency with nationalist rhetoric and policies.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

Trump Says ‘Obstructionist Democrats’ Undermining National Security
President sends mixed messages before leaving for Camp David security summit

Donald Trump began the last workday of yet another chaotic week of his presidency by accusing Democrats of hindering the country’s security — while also sending some mixed signals.

About 90 minutes before his scheduled departure for a Camp David summit with his national security team on North Korea and related issues, the president took to Twitter with contradictory messages about the state of American security.

Trump Lacks ‘Stability’ and ‘Competence’ for Job, Corker Says
Foreign Relations chairman warns of ‘great peril’ unless Trump changes

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker on Thursday lambasted Donald Trump, saying the president is driving the United States toward “great peril” because he lacks the “stability” and “competence” for the country’s highest office.

The Tennessee Republican once appeared on stage at a Trump campaign rally, but it any goodwill he might have built with Trump likely evaporated Thursday. The president, as he did with a Twitter attack earlier in the day on Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., often attacks any critics — and holds grudges.

Pelosi Joins Call for Removal of Confederate Statues From Capitol
Trump says country is being ‘ripped apart’ by removal of ‘beautiful’ monuments

Updated 12:32 p.m. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday joined a drumbeat from other Democrats, calling for the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.

“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation,” the California Democrat said in a statement

Trump Appears to Endorse Sen. Flake’s Primary Foe
Arizona Republican has become a leading critic of the president

President Donald Trump appeared Thursday to endorse Sen. Jeff Flake’s primary opponent, lashing out at the Arizona Republican senator who has become one of his most vocal critics.

Trump’s attack on Flake was his second Twitter strike of the morning on a GOP senator and followed a social media strike on South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. The two broadsides on two moderate members of his own party’s Senate caucus illustrated anew how the president repeatedly courts the party’s conservative members who are more in line with his own political base.

Trump Hits Lindsey Graham Over Alleged ‘Disgusting Lie’
Graham: President suggested ‘moral equivalency’ between KKK, Heyer

Updated at 9:11 a.m. Accusing Sen. Lindsey Graham of a “disgusting lie,” Donald Trump warned the South Carolina Republican voters will punish him for criticizing the president’s response to the racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Graham in a Wednesday statement said Trump, during an impromptu press conference Tuesday, “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. [Heather] Heyer,” referring to the young woman killed in a car attack by a Nazi sympathizer.

Far-Right Protesters in Virginia Included ‘Very Fine’ People, Trump Says
Trump says ‘both sides’ to blame for Charlottesville unrest

President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended some of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who were part of the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, protests last weekend, saying there were “very fine people” on both sides of the racially charged unrest.

A defiant Trump, just a day after slamming the pro-white groups who organized the two-day protests of the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, appeared to give some of their members cover. “There is blame on both sides,” he told reporters during what amounted to a brief impromptu press conference at Trump Tower in New York.

Pence Tamps Down Trump’s Military-in-Venezuela Talk
In region, VP talks up American economic and diplomatic tools

Vice President Mike Pence continued his attempts to cool fears in South America that President Donald Trump will plunge the U.S. military into Venezuela’s ongoing political unrest.

At just about every turn since Pence landed on the continent Sunday evening, the vice president has been quick to deploy two very different words: economic and diplomatic.

Trump Labels CEOs Who Left Advisory Panel as ‘Grandstanders’
President used same insult to describe fired FBI Director James Comey

President Donald Trump labeled as “grandstanders” the corporate executives who left a White House advisory council after he opted against quickly disavowing white supremacist groups following the weekend’s race-based violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The president used a late-morning post Tuesday on his favorite social media site to lash out at the chief executives of Merck, Under Armor and Intel. All three a day earlier announced they were leaving the President’s American Manufacturing Council in protest after Trump did not immediately — and clearly — condemn the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Trump Condemns White Supremacists Two Days After Charlottesville Violence
‘Racism is evil,’ president declares, while calling out KKK and similar groups

Under intense pressure from fellow Republicans, President Donald Trump on Monday forcefully condemned the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups after refusing to do so for two days after racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The central Virginia city was the scene of a car attack by a Nazi sympathizer that left a counter-protester dead and 19 others injured during the second day of rallies organized by white nationalists trying to stop the removal of a statute of Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee. But in remarks Saturday, Trump criticized groups on “many sides” and his silence about the Nazi and white supremacist groups continued throughout Sunday and into the first half of Monday.

Trump Implies Nuclear Strike on North Korea is Possible
Meantime, Tillerson tries to cool tensions in the region

President Donald Trump issued an implicit warning to North Korea Wednesday morning, tweeting the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “far stronger and more powerful” than it ever has been.

A day after warning the United States would hit the North with “fire and fury” if Pyongyang repeated threats that it would strike American targets, Trump took to Twitter and appeared to signal he is prepared to use nuclear weapons against North Korea if conflict breaks out.

New Hampshire Lawmakers Not Thrilled With Trump’s 'Drug-Infested Den' Comments
State’s all-Democratic delegation blasts president for January remarks

New Hampshire lawmakers are criticizing President Donald Trump over reports that he referred to the Granite State as a “drug-infested den” to his Mexican counterpart.

“No, Mr. President, you’re wrong about New Hampshire — but you have failed to help us fight the opioid crisis. We need recovery facilities NOW. Stop attacking health care and make the investments you promised,” Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said in a Facebook post about transcripts of a Jan. 27 telephone call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that were published by The Washington Post on Thursday.

Trump Again Lashes Out at Congress Over Russia Sanctions
U.S. president sees relations with Moscow at ‘dangerous’ low point

Lashing out at Congress yet again, President Donald Trump blamed the 517 lawmakers who voted for a bill he signed Wednesday slapping new sanctions on Russia for what he calls a “dangerous low” in U.S.-Kremlin relations.

Trump used a morning tweet, after laying off his post-dawn social media blasts for two days, to continue his days-long Twitter assault on members of Congress — including his fellow Republicans — amid signs of growing intra-party tensions as the forced marriage strains under an unproductive legislative session.

White House Aide Was Against Immigration Policy Before He Was for It
Stephen Miller’s brawl with CNN, New York Times frames rough press briefing

Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller clashed sharply with reporters over an immigration overhaul bill President Donald Trump endorsed Wednesday — but Miller was now advocating an immigration policy that he disparaged just a few short years ago when he was a senior Capitol Hill aide. 

During a heated exchanged that featured raised voices and name-calling, the senior White House official referred to veteran CNN reporter Jim Acosta as “ignorant” and “foolish.” Miller also referred to Acosta’s line of questioning about the bill, which would overhaul U.S. green card policies, as “outrageous.”

Trump Backs GOP Immigration Bill, but Rift Within Party Widens
Senate’s No. 2 Republican sees ‘opportunity’ for Congress amid WH ‘chaos’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday waded into the politically choppy waters of immigration law alongside two fellow Republicans, but the brief image of party unity failed to completely obscure a growing rift with other GOP senators.

Trump hosted Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and and David Perdue of Georgia, a longtime ally, at the White House to discuss their legislation that would impose a skills-based criteria on individuals hoping to obtain U.S. citizenship. It was a moment of Republican comity after weeks of slowly increasing tensions between Trump and the Senate GOP conference.