President Donald Trump in Cincy: Improve roads, waterways across U.S.

Published: Wednesday, June 07, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 08, 2017 @ 4:58 PM

Trump in Cincy

President Donald Trump on Tuesday outlined a plan to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridge, railways, dams and other infrastructure that would shift the largest portion of the cost to states, local governments and the private sector.

“At least $200 billion of the $1 trillion plan will come from direct federal investment,” Trump said in front of about 500 people at Rivertowne Marina along the Ohio River in Cincinnati. “Working with states, local government and private industry we will insure that these new federal funds are matched by significant additional dollars for maximum efficient and accountability.”

>>PHOTO GALLERY: The president visits Ohio

It is not clear where states like Ohio and many local governments would get the money to pay larger portions of the cost for infrastructure repair and construction. Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was in the audience and said Canada has had success with public-private partnerships. Even so, she said she would need to see more details of Trump’s plan.

“We do have to look at ways to fund it. The gasoline tax is not keeping up,” said Taylor, a Republican running for governor in 2018.

>>RELATED: Reaction to President Trump’s event in Cincinnati

Kevin W. Burch, president of Jet Express Inc. and chairman of the American Trucking Association, said the nation’s highways must be improved for the sake of commerce. He said $200 billion in federal funding is a starting point, but not enough. He advocates increasing the federal gasoline tax for the first time since 1993.

“The problem that we have is our government officials do not want any increase in taxes,” Burch said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement after the speech applauding Trump for focusing on rebuilding infrastructure.

Linda and Tom Jones of Loveland. Mr. Jones' brother, Don, owns the Rivertowne Marina in Cincinnati where President Donald Trump will speak today. Photo by Lynn Hulsey(Lynn Hulsey)

“The Chamber and the business community look forward to engaging with the White House and with Congress to develop and implement a long-term plan that will bring our nation’s infrastructure up to speed and spur economic growth. Now is the time to take action and to get the job done,” said Executive Director for Transportation Infrastructure Ed Mortimer.

Trump’s speech came after he landed at Cincinnati Lunken Airport and spoke to two families there about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which he opposes and wants to repeal and replace.

RELATED: Trump flying to Cincinnati on smaller Air Force One

Raya Mafazy Whalen, who with her husband Michael own Troy-based playground equipment company, PlayCare, said she told Trump about how she had to change doctors when she was pregnant because the OB-GYN she wanted to go to wasn’t covered under the insurance she had through the ACA. She said her husband had offered an insurance plan to employees but canceled it because it didn’t offer required coverage. As a result some employees left, she said.

“(Trump) was incredibly kind and warm,” said Whalen, who headed Women for Trump Montgomery County and founded Young Republican Women of Dayton.

RELATED: Trump visits with Oakwood family during his stop in Cincinnati

At the marina, Trump noted that Anthem had on Monday announced it was pulling out of the ACA marketplace in Ohio. The company said it was because of the uncertainty about what the federal government was doing with health insurance and a decline in the individual market.

“Bye bye,” said Trump. “What a mess.”

Trump called Democrats “obstructionists” who won’t help with the repeal and replacement of the ACA.

“That’s why they lost the House, they lost the Senate, the White House,” Trump said.

The Democratic National Committee responded by saying Republicans had sabotaged the ACA and were to blame for 70,000 Ohioans losing insurance through Anthem.

RELATED: Trump visit sparks debate over infrastructure needs, costs

“Republicans should abandon their spiteful, one-party health care repeal crusade and instead work with Democrats to make Obamacare work better,” said Erick Walker, DNC spokesman.

Terrence Clark, spokesman for the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund, said states are already facing big increased costs if Trump’s proposed budget is approved.

“While Trump is coming in to sell Ohioans and all Americans a bill of goods with his trillion-dollar infrastructure package, he’s skirting the fact that his budget directly undercuts millions of Americans – especially those in more rural areas - relying on other programs that will be cut, such as Medicaid and Social Security benefits,” Clark said.

Much of Trump’s speech was spent talking about what he said was the terrible state of American roads and bridges and touting progress he said he’s made cutting regulations.

Get up-to the-minute information on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics

“People are so impressed we have cut so many regulations,” Trump said, adding that his plan for infrastructure includes more cuts in regulations and speeding up the time it takes to get construction projects done.

He said the U.S. spends trillions of dollars overseas, including helping fight wars in the Middle East, but “we don’t ever seem to have the money ” to fix roads and bridges.

“It’s time finally to put America first and that’s what I’ve been doing if you hadn’t noticed,” Trump said.

RELATED: Trump infrastructure plan remains on the drawing board

RELATED: Trump to emphasize infrastructure plan during Cincy visit

President Trump coming to Cincinnati

He compared the initiative Americans showed by building the Panama Canal, the interstate highway system and the Golden Gate Bridge with what he said was a lack of will today.

“We don’t do that anymore. We don’t even fix the old highways anymore,” Trump said.

Trump also talked about problems with the nation’s 12,000-mile inland waterway system.

“These critical corridors depend on a dilapidated system of locks and dams that is more than half-a-century old, and their condition continues to decay,” he said. “Capital improvements of this system have been massively underfunded - and there is an $8.7 billion maintenance backlog that is only getting worse.”

The waterways are important to transportation and have “relied primarily on federal funding,” according to an infrastructure information sheet released by the White House. The document blames deferred maintenance and insufficient revenue to operate the current system and the 24 projects costing $7 billion that are authorized but not yet paid for.

RELATED: Ohio wants to fund smart highways, variable speed limits

It says the $8.7 billion cost of improving the inland waterways “could be financed through a modest fee on the beneficiaries of the system.”

RELATED: Trump to visit Cincinnati on Wednesday

Trump spoke with the Ohio River as his backdrop and with barges of what he said was West Virginia coal docked on the Kentucky shoreline. A large American flag was draped over the barge tugboat before he spoke. Trump said a new coal mine is opening next week and he also has a plan to stop the dumping of cheap foreign steel in the U.S.

“The steel folks are going to be very happy,” said Trump.

Trump said his plans will bring prosperity

“We too will see jobs and wealth flood into the heartland and see new products and new produce made and grown right here in the U.S.A. And you don’t hear that much anymore,” said Trump. “We will buy American and we will hire American.”

He said he is not content to let the country “become a museum of former glories.”

“We will construct incredible new monuments to American grit that inspire wonder for generations and generations to come,” Trump said. “We will build because that is how we make America great again.”

RELATED: Chao on infrastructure: Trump plan out in weeks 

President Donald Trump speaks about healthcare at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Shown are PlayCare co-owner Rays Whalen, left, and CSS Distribution Group President Dan Withrow and their families.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probe

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:26 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:26 PM

Robert Mueller - Fast Facts

An attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying to the FBI in the agency's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump's campaign.

The charges against lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan are the latest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

READ MORE: Who is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller?Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation?What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?MORE

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Files First Charges

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Trump urges ban on gun devices like bump stocks

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:38 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:38 PM

            Trump urges ban on gun devices like bump stocks. Getty Image
Trump urges ban on gun devices like bump stocks. Getty Image

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he has signed a memo directing the Justice Department to propose regulations to “ban all devices” like the rapid-fire bump stocks involved in last year’s Las Vegas massacre.

Seeking to show action days after a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump spoke during a White House ceremony recognizing bravery by the nation’s public safety officers.

“We must move past clichés and tired debates and focus on evidence based solutions and security measures that actually work,” Trump said.

The announcement came days after the shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The device Trump referred to was used in the October shooting deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas, and attached to a half-dozen of the long guns found in the shooter’s hotel room. A legislative effort to ban the device fizzled out last year.

White House officials say the president will be meeting with students, teachers and state and local officials to discuss ways of providing more school safety and address gun violence. Pressure has been mounting for action after the Parkland shooting.

Trump has also indicated he is open to a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases.

Over the weekend, the White House said he had spoken Friday to Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders qualified the support, stressing that talks continue and “revisions are being considered,” but said “the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”

The main action Trump has taken on guns has been to sign a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. The president has voiced strong support for gun rights and the National Rifle Association.

The bipartisan background check legislation would be aimed at ensuring that federal agencies and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. It was introduced after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church.

The White House statement comes as shooting survivors and other young people press for more gun control in a rising chorus of grief and activism. Their “March for Our Lives” is planned March 24 in Washington.

Ella Fesler, 16-year-old high school student in Alexandria, Virginia, was among the students at the “lie-in” in front of the White House. She said it was time for change, adding: “Every day when I say ‘bye’ to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again.”

But previous gun tragedies have not led Congress to act. After the Las Vegas massacre in the fall, Republicans and Democrats in Congress talked about taking a rare step to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Four months later, the only gun legislation that has moved through Congress eases restrictions for gun owners.

Kristin Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the measure Trump discussed with Cornyn would help to enforce existing rules but would not close loopholes permitting loose private sales on the internet and at gun shows. She’s pressing for a ban on assault-type weapons and for laws enabling family members, guardians or police to ask judges to strip gun rights temporarily from people who show warning signs of violence.

“We need a comprehensive system,” Brown said. “One of these isn’t enough.”

Trump, who visited first responders and some victims Friday, had focused his comments on mental health, rather than guns. The White House says the president will host a “listening session” with students and teachers on Wednesday and will discuss school safety with state and local officials on Thursday. They have offered no further details on who will attend those sessions.

Trump spent most of the weekend at his private Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. White House aides advised against golfing too soon after the shooting. But on Presidents Day, the avid golfer headed to his nearby golf club. The White House did not answer questions about whether he was playing golf.

President Barack Obama took heavy criticism in 2014 when he went golfing during a vacation just minutes after denouncing the militants who had beheaded an American journalist. He later regretted playing golf so soon after the killing.

Trump watched cable television news during the weekend and groused to club members and advisers about the investigation of Russian election meddling.

In a marathon series of furious weekend tweets from Mar-a-Lago, Trump vented about Russia, raging at the FBI for what he perceived to be a fixation on the Russia investigation at the cost of failing to deter the Florida school attack.

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White House: President Trump open to series of gun control ideas

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 11:20 AM

In the wake of the mass shooting at a high school in Florida last week, the White House told reporters on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is ready to discuss a range of gun restrictions that have been championed by Democrats in Congress, while also stressing that there is no quick legislative answer to such mass shootings.

Asked about the President’s past support for a ban on assault weapons, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not rule that out.

“I don’t have any specific announcements, but we haven’t closed the door on any front,” Sanders told reporters.

Along with supporting a bill to funnel more information into the instant gun buyers background check system, Sanders said the President favors tighter background checks, and did not oppose the idea of supporting new age limits for when someone can buy a weapon like an AR-15.

“I think that’s certainly something that’s on the table for us to discuss and that we expect to come up in the next couple of weeks,” Sanders told reporters, though she sounded a clear note of caution.

“Everybody wants a quick and simple answer,” Sanders added.  “But there isn’t one.”

Asked about banning ‘bump stocks’ – a device which makes semi-automatic weapons fire at a faster rate – Sanders hinted that action would soon happen administratively.

“I can tell you the President supports not having the use of bump stocks, and that we expect further action on that in coming days,” Sanders said.

“School safety is a top priority for my administration,” the President said moments later at a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House.

“We must do more to protect our children,” Mr. Trump added, without going into any detail on what he might consider.

Back in the daily briefing, Press Secretary Sanders was asked about a tweet sent out by the President in recent days, where he said the FBI had failed to pick up a tip about the Florida shooter because of an excessive focus on the Russia investigation.

“I think he’s making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax, in terms of investigating the Trump Campaign,” Sanders said.

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Mueller unveils new indictment, charging lawyer with lying to investigators

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 5:04 AM

The probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections produced another indictment on Monday, as the feds charged a man with making false statements to investigators working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, also accusing the lawyer of deleting emails, and not cooperating with the probe.

The initial document released by a Washington, D.C. federal court showed Alex Van Der Zwaan lied about his interactions with Rick Gates, who has already been indicted by Mueller’s office.

Gates, who once worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign, already faces charges of a money laundering conspiracy, and failure to file as a foreign agent.

Even though there were only two pages of information released on Tuesday morning, the details of the indictment raised a series of interesting items.

+ Van Der Zwaan was accused of secretly recording phone calls before the 2016 elections:

+ The mention of Rick Gates comes as Gates has reportedly been in discussions with the Special Counsel’s office about a plea bargain agreement.

+ This new indictment includes references to a “Person A” and a “Law Firm A.”

The latest indictment came as the President again took to Twitter to talk about the Russia investigation.

Back at the White House after a long weekend in Florida, Mr. Trump on Tuesday once more suggested that the Russia investigation was mainly sour grapes about his defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016:

The New York Times had reported last September that the Skadden law firm in New York had been asked to produce information to the Mueller investigation.

Reportedly at the urging of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, the firm had helped put together a report on the political situation in Ukraine, which was used to help the country’s Moscow-backed leader.

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