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The Latest: Trump meeting Singapore PM ahead of Kim summit

Published: Sunday, June 10, 2018 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 10, 2018 @ 11:36 AM


            The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump drives down Orchard Road as he arrives at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore on Monday, June 11, 2018, as he meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Final preparations are underway in Singapore for Tuesday's historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including a plan for the leaders to kick things off by meeting with only their translators present, a U.S. official said. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)
The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump drives down Orchard Road as he arrives at the Istana or Presidential Palace in Singapore on Monday, June 11, 2018, as he meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Final preparations are underway in Singapore for Tuesday's historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including a plan for the leaders to kick things off by meeting with only their translators present, a U.S. official said. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

The Latest on a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Singapore (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister on the eve of Tuesday's historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump arrived at the Istana, Singapore's government house, shortly before noon.

He and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (lee haz-ee-en lahng) are meeting one on one before they're joined by aides for a larger working lunch.

In October, Trump praised the U.S. relationship with Singapore and called Loong a "wonderful and loyal partner."

Waiters were spotted near an elaborate dining room carrying Diet Cokes. That's Trump's beverage of choice.

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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at Singapore's government house for a meeting with the island city-state's leader.

Trump and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (lee haz-ee-en lahng) are meeting Monday at the Istana house. The two leaders are scheduled to meet one on one before an expanded working lunch with aides.

The streets were lined with press and onlookers with cell phones as Trump's motorcade made its way from his hotel.

Singapore is hosting Tuesday's unprecedented summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over dismantling the North's nuclear weapons program.

Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore hours apart on Sunday night. Kim and Lee also met on Sunday.

Trump will also meet with U.S. Embassy personnel later Monday.

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10:55 a.m.

South Korea has started surveying South Koreans who would be willing to meet their war-separated relatives in North Korea for temporary reunions planned between the rivals as a reconciliatory measure.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said Monday the surveys conducted through home visits, phone calls and letters will continue through Aug. 10.

South Korea has lobbied hard for Tuesday's summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the future of Kim's nuclear program.

Seoul says improved inter-Korean relations are important because North Korea wouldn't be willing to give up its nuclear weapons unless it feels its security has been assured. Kim's meeting with Trump comes after Kim's recent meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (jah-YIHN').

The Koreas plan to hold military talks Thursday to reduce tension across their heavily armed border.

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9:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un will start their historic summit with a one-on-one session with translators.

A U.S. official says Monday that the leaders will meet for up to two hours before an expanded bilateral meeting with their respective advisers. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations and insisted on anonymity.

Officials remain uncertain what will come out of Tuesday's unprecedented summit, the first of its kind between a sitting U.S. president and the leader of North Korea.

Trump has said he wants to strike a deal to get the North to give up its nuclear weapons. He also has sought to lower expectations for the meeting, saying it may be the start of a longer process.

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6:50 a.m.

North Korea's official media have reported that leader Kim Jong Un is in Singapore to meet President Donald Trump to discuss how to forge a new relationship.

The first word Kim is in Singapore for Tuesday's summit came early Monday morning. Though North Koreans have been left largely in the dark about the summit, the reports of his arrival came relatively quickly by North Korean standards.

A dispatch by the state-run Korean Central News Agency says Kim and Trump will exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" on establishing a new relationship, the issue of building a "permanent and durable peace mechanism" and realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The report notes the summit is being held "under the great attention and expectation of the whole world."

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11:35 p.m.

U.S. and North Korean officials are set to meet in Singapore to make final preparations for the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, who has taken the lead on policy negotiations with the North, will hold a working group with a North Korean delegation at 10 a.m. Monday local time, or 10 p.m. Sunday on the U.S. East Coast.

Sanders says Trump spent his flight from Canada to Singapore "meeting with his staff, reading materials and preparing for his meetings in Singapore."

Trump and Kim are set to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Singapore, which is 9 p.m. Monday on the U.S. East Coast.

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10:30 p.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the North Korean leader has already achieved some success just by bringing the American president to the table.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey says: "To the extent that Kim Jong Un has already gone from international pariah to being normalized internationally, you have to say that he's had some success here."

Menendez also stresses that getting a nuclear deal with North Korea will not be the hard point, noting that several previous presidents were able to strike deals only to see them fall apart. The test will be whether a deal has "verifiable elements of a denuclearization," to prove whether the North has dismantled its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Menendez spoke Sunday on ABC's "This Week" as President Donald Trump arrived in Singapore ahead of Tuesday's talks with Kim.

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8:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Singapore where he will meet with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump landed at 8:21 Sunday evening at the island city-state's Paya Lebar Air Base, traveling from Canada, where he attended a meeting of the Group of Seven Nations.

Trump's high-risk meeting with Kim is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, or 9 p.m. June 11 on the U.S. East Coast. The president hopes to win a legacy-making deal with the North to give up their nuclear weapons, though he has recently sought to manage expectations, saying that it may take more than one meeting.

This will be the first summit of its kind between a leader of North Korea and a sitting U.S. president. The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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7:10 p.m.

Pope Francis has prayed that the summit this week between the U.S. and North Korean leaders succeeds in laying the groundwork for peace.

Francis expressed hope Sunday that Tuesday's talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore will "contribute to the development of a positive path that will assure a future of peace for the Korean Peninsula and the entire world."

He invited the thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square to pray with him so that the Virgin Mary "accompany these talks." Francis said he wanted yet again to send "a special thought in friendship and prayer" to the beloved Korean people.

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6:50 p.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of Tuesday's summit with President Donald Trump.

Kim smiled broadly in the meeting Sunday evening.

Kim told Lee: "The entire world is watching the historic summit between the DPRK and the United States of America, and thanks to your sincere efforts ... we were able to complete the preparation for the historic summit."

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3:15 p.m.

A plane presumably carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Singapore ahead of Kim's summit Tuesday with President Donald Trump.

The jet landed at the airport Sunday afternoon amid huge security precautions on the city-state island.

Kim is set to meet Tuesday with Trump in what's shaping up to be one of the most unusual summits in modern history.

Despite the initial high stakes of a meeting meant to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, the talks have been portrayed by Trump in recent days more as a get-to-know-each-other meeting. He has also raised the possibility of further summits.

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House defeats one GOP immigration bill, delays vote on second plan

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 3:04 PM

Struggling to find consensus on immigration reform, the House on Thursday rejected a more conservative Republican immigration reform bill, and then in a bid to salvage the effort, GOP leaders delayed action on a second immigration reform measure until Friday.

41 House Republicans voted against the first GOP bill, which was defeated on a vote of 231-193, as the plan received more votes than most GOP lawmakers had expected.

The Republicans who voted against the first GOP bill were a mixture of the Republican Party’s different flanks, featuring more conservative lawmakers who wanted to do more, and moderates who felt it went too far.

“This is a difficult issue,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), who voted for this bill, but wouldn’t tell reporters whether he would support a second measure on Friday.

“Any jot or tittle one way or the other, you lose people because of the complexities, because of the sensitivities, and the emotions in this particular piece of legislation,” Meadows said.

Here is the list of the 41 Republicans who voted “No.”

One of the reasons more moderate Republicans voted against the first bill was because of the lack of a path to citizenship for younger illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

While that is in the bill to be voted on Friday, those provisions then could cause some other Republicans to vote against it, arguing it is nothing but amnesty.

“I’m a big fat no, capital letters” said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), after the first vote.

“It doesn’t do anything to stop illegal immigration,” Barletta added.

In debate on the House floor, Democrats focused mainly on the more recent immigration battle over the separation of illegal immigrant families, blaming President Donald Trump for doing little to seek compromise.

“On this issue, God is going to judge you as well,” said Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) said to Republicans who were backing the President’s get-tough effort on the border.

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Supreme Court: States can force online sellers to collect sales taxes

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:48 AM

In a decision that will impact online shopping for all Americans, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a South Dakota law which required online companies to collect and remit state sales taxes, even if that company did not have a ‘physical presence’ in the state.

“Each year, the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the States,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, in a 5-4 decision.

“These critiques underscore that the physical presence rule, both as first formulated and as applied today, is an incorrect interpretation of the Commerce Clause,” the majority wrote.

The ruling overturned previous Supreme Court precedents from the 1992 Quill case, which had theoretically made internet sales a tax-free zone in certain situations; over the years, that changed, but this ruling will now require online sellers to collect sales taxes for all states.

The decision allows state and local governments now to press online retailers to collect sales tax revenues – which some experts believe could bring in billions of dollars in additional revenues, which would be collected if the online seller had a ‘physical presence’ – a store – in that state.

Maybe the most interesting part of the ruling was the lineup of Justices, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined with Kennedy, and three more conservative Justices to provide the majority, while the Chief Justice sided with the remaining three more liberal Justices.

“This Court ‘does not overturn its precedents lightly,'” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the minority, as he said the Court was wrong to change the way states can deal with sales taxes and online sales, arguing the Legislative Branch should take that step.

“Any alteration to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development
of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress,” Roberts wrote.

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House to vote on two GOP immigration bills – both may fail

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:28 AM

After months of internal wrangling over how best to deal with illegal immigration, the House is poised on Thursday to debate and vote on two immigration reform bills written by Republicans – but because of fissures inside the GOP – it’s possible both measures may go down to defeat on Thursday afternoon.

“This is very good compromise legislation,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was struggling to convince more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus to back a bill that some GOP lawmakers denounced as “amnesty” for illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

“The failed policies of previous administrations have catered to open border radicals and left Americans less free, less safe,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), one Freedom Caucus member reluctant to vote for a more moderate GOP measure.

The internal bickering boiled over on the House floor on Wednesday afternoon, when Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) appeared to engage in an angry back-and-forth with Speaker Ryan, during a vote on the House floor.

With no Democrats expected to back either of the GOP immigration bills – a rupture inside the GOP on these plans will lead to only one thing – defeat.

Two measures are on the schedule in the House – the “Securing America’s Future Act,” and the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.”

The first bill is the more conservative measure, drafted mainly by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the head of the House Judiciary Committee.

“I’m a ‘yes’ ‘yes,'” Goodlatte said of how he would vote on both bills. “I want 218 votes.”

But the chances of getting a majority on either bill seemed slim – moderates think the conservative bill is too harsh, while conservatives think the more moderate measure doesn’t do enough.

The measures delve deeply into a number of subjects, how to treat illegal immigrant DACA “Dreamers,” reform the asylum system, a host of changes in interior immigration enforcement laws, ending the diversity visa lottery, reforms for temporary agricultural workers, measures to address so-called “sanctuary cities,” more aggressive efforts to return unaccompanied children and other migrants, and much more.

The Goodlatte bill runs 414 pages – the other plan backed by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Rep. Carlos Curbelo totals 299 pages.

The House debate comes a day after a rare retreat by President Trump on the issue of immigration, as he announced a hastily drawn executive order, designed to stop the forced separation of illegal immigrant families.

But Democrats said while the order stopped children from being taken away from their parents, it left many questions unanswered.

“The president’s order does not solve this problem”,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “It does nothing to reunify the 2,300 children who have been taken from their parents.”

“As a country, we are better than this! Separating children from their parents,” said Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL)

Republicans also chided the White House.

“It is about time the Administration takes action to address this issue, but more needs to be done,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). “I want to make sure this practice is ended, unequivocally, and I strongly believe we still must take legislative action.”

“The President did the right thing by signing an executive order to keep families together at the border,” added Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL).

But despite all the talk, nothing on that seems likely to make it through the Congress anytime soon – as a possible double defeat for the GOP in the House on immigration reform seemed a strong possibility.

And it was obvious that a visit by President Trump on Tuesday night to the Capitol had done little to unify Republicans, as the President took another jab on Wednesday as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), after mocking Sanford during the GOP meeting.

“I have never been a fan of his!” the President said of Sanford on Twitter.

“This was a classless cheap shot,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

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Trump stops family separations, keeps ‘zero tolerance’ at border

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:42 PM

Under growing pressure from lawmakers in both parties, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that would allow illegal immigrant families detained by U.S. border authorities to remain together in many situations, ending an outcry over forced separations which took young children from their parents.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the President told reporters in the Oval Office, as he signed the new plan, which was drawn up as more and more Republicans publicly said Mr. Trump’s border crackdown had become a PR nightmare.

“The border is just as tough, but we do want to keep families together,” the President told reporters, as he repeatedly emphasized that an early May “zero tolerance” prosecution policy for those caught crossing the border illegally would continue.

It was that Trump Administration change which resulted in families being separated in recent weeks, spurring multiple news stories about young children, taken hundreds of miles away from their parents.

The signing represented a rare retreat for the President on any controversial policy during his administration; in recent days, top officials had repeatedly said there was no requirement that families be separated, but under current federal law, that option was triggered when parents of the kids were prosecuted, under the ‘zero tolerance’ plan.

“We have to have strong borders, and ultimately it will be done right,” the President declared.

Mr. Trump had tried in recent days to place the blame on Democrats in Congress, saying his hands were tied on the matter of family separations, as top officials said the law left them no leeway for change.

“What about executive action?” the President was asked during an impromptu press conference with reporters on the White House driveway last Friday.

“You can’t do it through an executive order,” Mr. Trump replied.

But that’s what he ultimately did.

The President’s move came amid a growing firestorm of criticism in Congress from members of both parties in the Congress, stirred by stories of young children taken away from their parents.

“This must stop NOW,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), as he noted a story from his home state, where an 8-month old baby had been brought, after being taken from her parents.

“He can sign an executive order today,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who was blocked on Tuesday from visiting a group of detained children at a federal facility in Homestead, Florida.

“This shameful chapter in American history lies with the President and his pen,” Nelson said, arguing the President started these separations, and should halt them.

“We must stop the madness, and stop it now,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

“America is weakened in the eyes of the world,” added Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).

“This is a policy straight from the pit of hell,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

GOP leaders also made clear they wanted the Trump Administration to change course.

“As I said last week, we do not want children taken away from their parents,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, as he urged GOP lawmakers to unite behind a pair of immigration bills which are expected to be voted on Thursday.

But while the Speaker and other Republicans said provisions in those bills would fix the family separation matter – those plans would not advance through the Senate – making it unlikely that Congress could anything done on the family separation matter.

That left the President with just one option – an administrative reversal on something that he had fiercely stood behind the effort.

The change on illegal immigrant families came in early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy dealing with those illegally coming over the southern border.

“Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed,” Sessions said in that May 7 speech.

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