Trump Jr. defends dad's response to racial protests

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 10:22 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 10:20 PM


            Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a fundraiser for Faulkner University, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Donald Trump Jr. speaks during a fundraiser for Faulkner University, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Donald Trump Jr. on Thursday stood by his father's declarations that "both sides" were to blame after August's racially driven violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist killed a counter-protester.

President Donald Trump's eldest son said his father was criticized only because of an "atmosphere of hatred" on the left that the younger Trump blamed on liberal university campuses and traditional media.

"He condemned ... the white nationalists and the left-wingers," Trump Jr. said during the annual fundraising gala for Faulkner University, a private Christian university in Alabama. "That should not have been controversial, but it was."

Trump Jr., who was paid as Faulkner's keynote speaker, went on to cite examples of violence on the left. He mentioned antifa, far-left-leaning militant groups that call themselves anti-fascist, for outbursts in Berkeley, California. He alluded to the former Bernie Sanders supporter who shot at Republican congressmen gathering for baseball practice, nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

"He went out looking for Republicans to kill," Trump Jr. said, "and we're supposed to forget that."

Trump Jr. did not go into detail about the Charlottesville melee, never mentioning the woman who was killed after a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Besides defending his father, Trump Jr. used much of his 35-minute address to mock the culture on most of the nation's college campuses, which he said teaches young Americans to "hate their country" and "hate their religion" while squelching conservative voices.

He noted instances where conservatives have been denied speaking opportunities or encountered protests upon their appearances.

"Today's conservative speech is violence. Unprovoked liberal violence is self-defense," Trump Jr. complained. "Words have lost their meanings."

He continued: "'Hate speech' is that America is a good country ... that we need borders ... anything that comes out of the mouth of the president ... the moral teaching of the Bible."

He also mocked some universities' focus on diversity, singling out the concept of "safe spaces" for women, minorities and LGBT students. He went on to praise two Alabama figures who played defining roles in the civil rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and federal jurist Frank Johnson, who enforced many of the Supreme Court's civil rights decisions.

Neither Trump Jr. nor his hosts at Faulkner mentioned his place at the center of ongoing FBI and congressional inquiries into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Trump Jr. moved to the fore of the Russia investigation in July amid revelations about a June 2016 meeting he helped arrange with a Russian attorney tied to the Kremlin.

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders from both parties this week declared that the issue of Russian meddling has not been settled, despite the president's claims of a "hoax" and "fake news." The committee staff has yet to interview Trump Jr., who has admitted he took the meeting with the Russian attorney expecting to get damaging information about his father's general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. made no mention of Alabama's looming Senate election for the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president endorsed Sessions' appointed successor, Luther Strange, but GOP voters sided with former Judge Roy Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 general election.

The address was part of Trump Jr.'s periodic paid speaking schedule that began before his father's election. A Faulkner spokeswoman confirmed the school paid Trump Jr. but declined to disclose his fee.

The North Texas Daily, the student newspaper at the University of North Texas, has reported Trump Jr. will be paid $100,000 to speak at a university fundraising event Oct. 24. An archived web page of Trump Jr.'s agency, All American Speakers, shows his speaking fee as "$50,001 and above." NBC News has reported the page was removed from the agency's website after NBC inquiries.

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Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP.

Trump accusers call for congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 1:39 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

Accusers of Trump Sexual Misconduct Call for Congressional Investigation

Update 3:15 p.m. Dec. 11: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the allegations levied against President Donald Trump in a news briefing Monday, telling reporters that the president has “addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.”

"The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward," she said. "This took place long before he was elected to be president and the people of this country had a decisive election."

Original report: At least four women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment called on Monday for a congressional investigation into Trump’s behavior, pointing to recent investigations announced into lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct.

>> Read more trending news

Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Lisa Boyne were among the more than a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual harassment in the run-up to last year’s election.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that (Trump) be investigated as well,” Holvey said Monday at a news conference. “I think also a nonpartisan investigation is very important, not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is how women are treated every day.”

In a statement, White House officials dismissed the accusations as false and politically motivated.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct? 

Leeds said she was motivated to speak out again in the wake of recent allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“In some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously. People were being held accountable. Except for our president,” Leeds said. “In fact, his staff made a big point of calling us all liars.”

Earlier on Monday, Crooks, Leeds and Holvey appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” to share their stories.

Leeds said she shared her story because she "wanted people to know what kind of person he is.” Holvey said his election despite the allegations against him made Trump’s inauguration day particularly difficult.

“It was like the entire country said, ‘Meh, we don’t care that he’s like this,’” she said.

Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant, told CNN last year that Trump inspected each woman during an event in New York City in the month before the contest. 

"He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat; we were just sexual objects; that we were not people," Holvey told CNN. "You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It's that feeling."

Crooks told The New York Times that she shook hands when she met Trump while working for a firm in Manhattan's Trump Tower in 2005. Crooks, then 22, said he wouldn't let go of her hand, kissed her cheeks, then kissed her "directly on the mouth."

>> Related: Rep. John Conyers announces retirement in wake of sexual harassment allegations

"It was so inappropriate," she told the Times. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

Leeds told The New York Times that Trump put his hands up her skirt after meeting her on a plane in the early 1980s.

"He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."

Boyne told The Huffington Post that Trump made models walk on a table during a dinner in New York in 1996.

She told the news site Trump “stuck his head right underneath their skirts” and made crude comments about their underwear and genitalia.

In a statement released Monday, White House officials called the accusations false.

“The American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory (last year),” the statement said. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

Crooks called the White House statement “laughable.” 

“I think, if they were willing to investigate Sen. (Al) Franken, I think it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” Crooks said.

>> Related: Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Franken announced last week that he plans to resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by several women. The Minnesota Democrat was accused of groping women as they posed for photos with him and forcibly kissing at least two women.

He is one of three lawmakers who have announced their intention to leave office in weeks amid sexual misconduct scandals.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations but said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last week that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

Published: Thursday, November 30, 2017 @ 5:32 PM

What You Need To Know About Al Franken

An Army veteran and a former elected official in New England accused Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct Thursday, bringing the embattled lawmaker’s total number of accusers to six.

>> Read more trending news

Stephanie Kemplin, 41, told CNN she was a 27-year-old military police officer when she met Franken in Kuwait during a USO tour in December 2003. She told the news station that as a longtime fan of “Saturday Night Live,” she got in line to meet him.

Franken was elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and previously worked as a comic and host for Air America Radio. He was a writer and sometime-actor for "Saturday Night Live" from 1977 to 1980 and from 1988 to 1995.

>> Related: 'Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

Kemplin told CNN that Franken put his arm around her for a photo when his hand slid over her breast.

"When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast," she told the news network. "I've never had a man put their arm around me and then cup my breast.”

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

She said his hand remained over her chest for five to 10 seconds before she shifted and the photo was taken.

"I remember clenching up and how you just feel yourself flushed," she said. "And I remember thinking -- is he going to move his hand? Was it an accident? Was he going to move his hand? He never moved his hand."

A spokesperson for Franken told CNN that the senator “takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct. He remains fully committed to cooperating with the ethics investigation."

Another woman told Jezebel that Franken attempted to give her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” while they were onstage for an event in 2006. The woman declined to be identified because, she told Jezebel, she wanted her name associated with her accomplishments “and not publicly linked to a man’s bad behavior.”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives to speak to the media on Capitol Hill, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)(Alex Brandon/AP)

The woman was chair of her town’s Selectboard when Franken invited her to appear as a guest on a live taping of his show on Air America Radio, Jezebel reported.

After the interview, as the two were still onstage, the woman said she reached toward Franken to shake his hand.

“He took it and leaned toward me with his mouth open,” she said. “I turned my head away from him and he landed a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek.”

She called the incident demeaning.

“I felt put in my place,” she said. “It was onstage in front of a full theater. … It was in plain sight and yet nobody saw it.”

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

The allegations came after four other women claimed Franken made inappropriate sexual contact with them. Most of the women shared stories similar to Kemplin’s, telling reporters that Franken groped them as they posed for photos.

Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden was the first to go public with her accusations, writing in a blog for KABC earlier this month that Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her breasts for a photo as she slept while the two were on a USO tour in 2006. She shared an image of herself sleeping as Franken’s hands hovered over her chest as evidence of the incident.

Franken apologized and called for an ethics investigation into the incident.

"I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter," Franken said in a statement. "There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture."

The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday announced that it was opening a preliminary inquiry into the allegations, The Associated Press reported.

More women accuse Al Franken of groping, unwanted kissing

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 6:53 PM

What You Need To Know About Al Franken

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:25 p.m.: Sen. Al Franken is disputing a Minnesota Public Radio report that he is resigning from office during a planned press conference Thursday afternoon. Franken, in a tweet, asked MPR to correct their story.

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:00 p.m.: Minnesota Public Radio is reporting Sen. Al Franken will resign his Senate seat on Thursday. The news outlet is citing a Democratic official and “key aides” who have talked with Franken.

“The official spoke to Franken and separately to Franken's staff. A staff member told the official that Franken had gone to his Washington home to discuss his plans with family,” MPR reported.

Minnesota Public Radio said it agreed to withhold the official’s name so that Franken can make the announcement himself.

(Previous story)

Two women came forward Wednesday to accuse Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior as calls for his resignation swelled. 

>> Read more trending news

The reports bring the number of allegations made against the Minnesota Democrat to at least eight. Many of the alleged incidents happened before Franken became a senator, although at least two, including one reported Wednesday, were alleged to have happened after he was sworn in.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., returns to his office after talking to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

A former Democratic congressional aide accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006, three years before he was sworn in as a U.S. senator, according to Politico.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

The aide told the news site that she was getting her things together after a taping of Franken’s radio show in 2006 when she turned to find him in her face.

>> Related: President Trump comments on Senator Franken's groping photo

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide told Politico. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”

Franken denied the allegation in a statement to Politico.

>> Related: Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” he said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

Freelance journalist Tina DuPuy also came forward Wednesday in an article published by The Atlantic. She said Franken groped her during a Media Matters party in 2009, after Obama’s first inauguration.

DuPuy wrote she spotted Franken at the party and asked to take a photo with him because her foster mother was one of his fans.

>> Related: ‘Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

“We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh,” she wrote. “I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.”

She wrote that the unwanted grope was demeaning.

“It shrunk me. It’s like I was no longer a person, only ornamental. It said, ‘You don’t matter -- and I do,’” she wrote. “He wanted to cop a feel and he demonstrated he didn’t need my permission.”

>> Related: ‘SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update'

DuPuy wrote that she thought Franken would resign when allegations first surfaced against him last month. Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her as she slept during a USO tour in 2006.

Franken apologized for the incident, but as the number of women accusing the congressman grew, so did calls for his resignation. A group of female senators, all Democrats, called for Franken's resignation Wednesday, before DuPuy's accusations were published.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women, and he should resign,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire.

Franken is expected to address the reports at a planned news conference Thursday.

President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 1:13 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 1:27 PM

WATCH: President Trump Declares Jerusalem Capital of Israel

President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital Wednesday and announced plans to move the U.S. embassy to the city during a speech at the White House.

>> Read more trending news