John T. Bennett

Trump Touts Putin Get-Together as Senators Warn of Electoral Threat
U.S. president doesn't mention Kremlin's election meddling as possible topic

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he likely will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon to discuss a range of issues — but the Kremlin’s efforts to tinker with U.S. elections did not make his list of possible topics, even as Republican and Democratic senators urged vigilance against Russian attacks. 

Trump said that summit likely would occur “in the not too distant future.” Among the topics: an arms race the American president said is “is getting out of control.”

Yemen Vote in Senate, Russia Meddling Add to U.S.-Saudi Summit Intrigue
Senate to vote on Yemen war measure while crown prince is on U.S. soil

Russia’s actions in the Middle East and South Asia are among the most-pressing topics President Donald Trump wants to discuss with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud when they huddle Tuesday, and an upcoming vote in the Senate on Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Yemen could add to the agenda as well. 

Trump and Salman — who has rocketed up the leadership totem pole of Saudi Arabia’s royal family — are scheduled to meet at the White House for a mini-summit. A senior administration official told reporters Monday that along with Russia’s often double-dealing in the region, trying to “push” Saudi leaders to seek a serious political solution to the conflict in Yemen and combating Iran will be atop the agenda.

Trump Formally Endorses Death Penalty for Drug Pushers
'Americans will keep dying' under president's plan, one critic says

A Southern border wall. Steel and aluminum tariffs for some of the United States’ closest allies. And now, the death penalty for drug traffickers.

President Donald Trump added the latter Monday to his growing list of hardline policy proposals. He delivered a message of getting “tough” in Manchester, New Hampshire, but he acknowledged the American people might not be ready to make some major drug offenses capital crimes.

Expect More Trump on Nomination Fights, Short Says
Legislative affairs chief decries Democrats even as Senate awaits nominees

The White House renewed its complaints Friday about the pace of Senate action on nominations Friday, even as President Donald Trump is making the “personnel business” more complicated by shifting his Cabinet and other senior staff positions.

White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short described himself as a “warm-up act” and suggested President Donald Trump soon will make a larger “foray” into the nominations debate.

Trump Nudges Danny Tarkanian Out of Heller Challenge
Frequent candidate will run for the House again

President Donald Trump threw vulnerable Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller a lifeline Friday, nudging conservative primary challenger Danny Tarkanian out of that race and into one for a House seat.

It “would be great” if Heller “could run for Senate unopposed!” he wrote in a tweet. Trump urged “good guy” Tarkanian to end his bid to unseat Heller and run for the U.S. House instead.

Amid Reports of McMaster Exit, White House Says Relationship With Trump Is ‘Good’
Could hawish John Bolton be the next national security adviser?

President Donald Trump might be ready to fire Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and bring in his third national security adviser after just 14 months in office — amid signals the president is poised to execute a West Wing purge.

While Trump’s spokeswoman on Thursday night tried to shoot down the notion that McMaster’s ouster is imminent, she did not directly deny it was in the works.

'Phase Two' of Tax Cuts? What Is Trump Talking About?
GOP source: Lighthearted or not, president's idea is going nowhere

A second Republican-crafted tax overhaul bill? In a highly competitive midterm election year? President Donald Trump keeps suggesting Republican lawmakers should do just that.

Trump and Republicans late last year relished his lone legislative feat, a tax bill that slashed rates while also opening new Arctic oil drilling and nixing Barack Obama’s individual health insurance requirement. He threw a celebration party with all congressional Republicans on the White House’s South Portico and insisted on signing the bill into law several days early in a hastily arranged Oval Office session.

U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Election Interference, Energy Attacks
‘Russia’s behavior or lack thereof on the world stage is continuing to trouble us’

The Trump administration announced Thursday sanctions slapped on two dozen Russian individuals and entities — including its top two security and intelligence agencies — it says were involved in meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and an ongoing attack on the American energy sector.

Senior administration officials said the penalties on five Russian entities and 19 individuals are intended to punish Russia for “malicious cyber activity” and the “reckless and irresponsible conduct of its government,” a rare public rebuke of the Vladimir Putin-led Kremlin by the Trump administration. Those actions include a U.S.-backed finding by the U.K. government that Moscow is linked to the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.

Trump Knows Best on U.S.-Canada Trade, President Says
Trade office data contradicts stance

President Donald Trump let his top trade office know Thursday morning that when it comes to all data about the United States’ trading relationships with other countries, he believes his gut knows best.

During a Wednesday GOP fundraiser in Missouri, the president said Canada is among those countries that have a trade surplus with the U.S. and has treated America unfairly. He also admitted to being unaware if that statement was true when he said it to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And he made clear he often simply wings it.

In Shift, White House Embraces Art of the Possible
GOP source: ‘You’re just not going to pass legislation in 2018’

President Donald Trump and White House officials, with their modest response to school shootings and in other recent remarks, have shelved bold demands of Congress for asks rooted more in the art of the possible.

The president started 2018 by pushing members of both parties to swing for the fences on a sweeping immigration deal, even offering them political cover when he told them he would “take all the heat you want to give me.”

Trump Picks Cable News Host Kudlow to Replace Cohn
'The president thinks very highly of Larry Kudlow,' spokesman says

The White House confirmed cable news commentator and former Reagan White House aide Larry Kudlow will replace Gary Cohn as the president’s chief economic adviser. But it’s not clear the relationship will be a smooth one.

“Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council. We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Trump Upends GOP Plan to Avoid ‘Scary’ Appearance
‘This is the commander in chaos,’ Sen. Robert Menendez says

The ousting of a secretary of State once elicited more than shrugs from lawmakers, but not in the era of Donald Trump. His erratic approach to the presidency has become the norm, and that could run counter to the best efforts of his party’s congressional leaders.

Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning via a tweet, announcing he would replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The move, in the works for months as the two clashed, came as House and Senate Republican leaders were hoping for several weeks of legislative progress — and even some high-profile bipartisan votes. For instance, the Senate was preparing for votes on a financial regulation bill that had broad support among Republicans and the backing of key Democrats.

Rex Tillerson Out, Pompeo In as Secretary of State
CIA replacement would be first woman to head agency if confirmed

President Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Gina Haspel, deputy CIA director and a career CIA employee, is Trump’s pick for CIA director.

“He will do a fantastic job!” Trump tweeted of Pompeo. “Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!”

White House Says Raising Age for Gun Purchases Still on Table
Proposal unveiled over the weekend insufficient, Democrats Charge

President Donald Trump has not abandoned his support of setting the age at which individuals can buy AR-15s and similar assault rifles at 21, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.

Rather, that proposal and other gun-related proposals he has embraced since the Valentine’s Day massacre at a Florida high school are up for review via a commission headed by newly embattled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Sanders said.

White House Leaves Higher Age for AR-15 Buys to States
Trump will use federal funds for teacher training, endorses two bills

The White House on Sunday unveiled its demands for any legislation designed to prevent additional gun massacres at the country’s schools, and they exclude President Donald Trump’s endorsement of a new age restriction on assault rifles. He also wants Congress to send him two bills pronto.

The administration’s priorities list also includes using federal dollars to give “interested” teachers firearms training and the creation of a blue-ribbon commission, the kind of which Trump has mocked in the past.

Analysis: Trump Follows His Gut on Tariffs and Kim Summit
‘Trump doctrine’ defined by ‘president’s feelings at any given time,’ expert says

With his go-it-alone approach to tariffs and possible conventional wisdom-busting meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump is showing how he follows his instincts above the advice of allies and experts. 

But there’s no consensus on whether his gut-level approach to foreign policy will produce the desired results. That means the world will have to stay tuned — and by all accounts that’s just how he wants it.

White House Wavers on Kim Summit
Trump’s lead negotiator? Maybe Trump.

A new White House contingency could mean President Donald Trump may not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after all.

Trump and his team “must see concrete and verifiable actions” from North Korea toward its pledge to give up its nuclear arms program before any summit will take place, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday.

Trump Gave Up Nothing In Agreeing to Kim Summit, Pence Says
‘Our resolve is undeterred and our policy remains the same,’ VP says

The Trump administration did not agree to any North Korean demands before President Donald Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un, Vice President Mike Pence said Friday.

The North Koreans are coming to the table despite the United States making zero concessions,” Pence said in a statement. 

Trump Agrees to Meet with Kim Jong Un, South Korean Official Says
President once threatened to use nuclear arms against Kim’s country

President Donald Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May for direct talks about that country’s nuclear arms and long-range missile programs, according to a senior South Korean official. Such a meeting would be the first between an American president and a North Korean leader. 

Trump “will accept the invitation to meet with Kim at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.