DOJ appeals ruling that transgender people are free to enlist in US military

(CNN)The Pentagon said it will begin processing transgender applicants to the military on January 1 after a federal judge declined on Monday to put the deadline on hold.

After the ruling, however, the Justice Department appealed the judge’s ruling to a DC-based federal appeals court.
“The government seeks a stay pending appeal of the portion of the injunction concerning accessions,” government lawyers said in their brief filed late Monday. They argued that implementing “a significant change” to military standards for the composition of the armed forces even before a court decides the merits of the case would “place extraordinary burdens on our armed forces and may harm military readiness.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said in a written statement: “Plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging military service requirements is premature for many reasons, including that the Defense Department is actively reviewing such service requirements, as the President ordered, and because none of the Plaintiffs have established that they will be impacted by current policies on military service.”
Last week, the Pentagon said it had established a panel of experts to propose recommendations on the issue of accepting transgender recruits following a series of rulings in federal court regarding the administration’s policy to prohibit transgender recruits.
“The Deputy Secretary of Defense and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supported by a panel of experts, will propose consideration recommendations supported by appropriate evidence and information for the accession of transgender persons into the military,” US Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a written statement last week.
So far, two federal judges have blocked key provisions of Trump’s prohibition on transgender individuals serving in the military, which was announced in August.
Last month, Marvin Garbis in Maryland wrote in a 53-page ruling that currently serving transgender service members were “already suffering harmful consequences” and prohibited the administration “from blocking those challenging the ban from completing their medically necessary surgeries.”
Kollar-Kotelly had blocked portions of Trump’s directive in October.
A sworn statement from Lernes J. Hebert, the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, said ordering the policy to go into effect January 1 “will impose extraordinary burdens on the department.”
He argued in part that if the department were compelled to accept transgender recruits “applicants may not receive the appropriate medical and administrative accession screening necessary for someone with a complex medical condition. As a result, an applicant may be accessed for military service who is not physically or psychologically equipped to engage in combat/operational service.”
In his statement last week, Eastburn said the panel, which would operate per the recent court rulings, will issue findings based on “multiple considerations including military effectiveness and lethality, budgetary constraints, and applicable law.”
Shortly after Trump’s directive in August, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he would work with a panel of experts to recommend how the military should put the administration’s transgender guidance into effect.
Once that panel concludes, Mattis will provide his advice to Trump on how to implement his policy direction. That new policy is expected to be announced by March.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correctly identify Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam.

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Moore: Alabama won’t let people from out of state control this election

Midland City, Alabama (CNN)Republican Roy Moore said Alabama voters in Tuesday’s US Senate special election should not “ignore what they believe” about the sexual allegations he faces.

“I’m going to tell you, if you don’t believe in my character, don’t vote for me,” he said Monday night at his election eve rally here in Alabama’s Wiregrass region, a Moore stronghold in the state’s rural southeastern corner.
Moore’s comments came after an impassioned defense from a former Army friend, prominent conservative supporters including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Moore’s wife.
“I love him, I trust him and you should, too,” Kayla Moore said.
A three-hour drive north in Birmingham, Democrat Doug Jones was holding his final rally in the special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions — where the allegations against Moore were also in focus.
“At some point, we’ve got to stop looking like idiots to the nation,” said retired basketball star Charles Barkley, who played at Auburn University and is supporting Jones. “I love Alabama, but at some point we have to draw a line in the sand and show we’re not a bunch of damn idiots.”
“We’ve got to make sure at this crossroads in Alabama’s history, we take the right road,” Jones said.
The election in the reliably Republican state is a referendum on Moore. And his ownnearly two-and-a-half hour rally was largely an outburst of anger directed at the national media and Democrats who have seized on the accusations he faces in an effort to help Jones win.
Moore has been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s — including molesting a 14-year-old and assaulting a 16-year-old.
Moore denounced the “terrible, disgusting” reporting of The Washington Post, which first reported a woman’s accusation that he had pursued a sexual relationship with her when she was 14 and he was 32.
Crowd members yelled “liars!” and booed.
Kayla Moore argued that her husband is no “bigot,” defending his treatment of African-Americans, women and Jewish people, noting that “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, suggested — without any evidence — that the women levying the allegations against Moore are being paid to do so.
“Anytime you see money and power involved, you’ve got to look for who’s benefiting,” he said. “Did somebody receive money? … It takes time to dig those things out.”
Bannon and other out-of-state speakers whipped up the crowd’s anger at Republicans who have abandoned Moore in the wake of the sexual allegations.
The loudest “boo” of the night was directed at Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, who criticized Moore on CNN on Sunday.
“There’s a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better,” Bannon said, in a remark that echoed Ivanka Trump’s comment when she was asked about Moore that there is a “special place in hell” for those who prey on children.
Bannon and others touted President Donald Trump’s support for Moore, casting the election as a referendum on the President’s agenda.
“It’s an up-or-down vote tomorrow between the Trump miracle and the nullification project,” Bannon said.
Moore, meanwhile, sounded his usual religious notes.
“I want to make America great again with President Trump,” he said. “I want America great. I want America good, but she can’t be good till we go back to God.”
Alabama voters, Moore said, are “not going to stand by and let other people from out of state and money from California control this election.”
He said the United States must “recognize God” and argued that Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington have failed to do so.
“In this country, we have explored the temple built by the Democrat and the Republican party, and found that they have idols that do not hear us and do not see us,” he said.
The event featured at times bizarre rhetoric from speakers who said Alabama voters won’t have their decisions made for them by out-of-state forces — even while those speakers were from out of state themselves.
“Nobody can come down here and tell the folks of Alabama what to do,” said Bannon, who noted he is from Virginia.
Moore has been a sparse presence on the campaign trail since the sexual allegations emerged, and he disappeared — with aides refusing to answer questions about where he was — over the final weekend. He told the crowd he’d taken his wife to West Point for “two and a half days” to rest from an “odd” campaign.

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Donald Trump gets absolutely scorched by Republican senator Jeff Flake

Jeff Flake is going out with a bang, and Donald Trump is notgoing to like it.

The Republican senator from Arizona announced on Tuesday that he’s not running for re-election in 2018. And then he denounced President Donald Trump and everything Trump represents on the Senate floor.

“We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” Flake said, according to his prepared speech.

He continued, “Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.”

“And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy.”

He also laid into Republican politicians, who have enabled Trump by biting their tongues when he goes off the rails.

“When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations.”

“Despotism loves a vacuum”

Finally, he warned that abandoning our values would benefit America’s enemies.

“Despotism loves a vacuum.  And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?”

Reaction was split between those who found Flake brave for standing up to Trump and his own party …

… to those who noted that Flake still supported much of Trump’s agenda, and faced a tough primary and general election in 2018, which means it’s no guarantee he’d win anyway.

Trump goes to Senate to talk taxes, health care

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump travels to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with Senate Republicans at their weekly policy lunch as he pushes forward on tax cuts.

On taxes, passing a formal budget is a key step to clearing the way for the Senate to pass an eventual tax deal on a simple majority vote, meaning without Democratic support. The Senate passed its version last week and House and Senate negotiators were expected to spend this week hammering out differences between the two chambers’ budgets.
Instead, the House is expected to speed up the process by simply adopting the Senate budget with a vote sometime this week.
House GOP leaders struggled for months to get the votes for their own proposal as conservatives demanded details on tax reform and millions of dollars in required spending cuts. That process stalled progress on the budget and tax reform. But it appears many House Republicans now are willing to set aside items they had fought so hard to preserve in order to ensure tax reform gets on a faster track.
Meantime, tax negotiations continue behind the scenes over the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT), a popular tax break that’s expected to be scrapped from the plan. Some Republicans from high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and Illinois have been pushing to either preserve the deduction or find some sort of compromise. But nixing SALT would bring in needed revenue to help pay for the plan. So it’s unclear what will happen on SALT, if anything.
On health care, Republican senators attending the lunch with Trump will be anxious to know what he wants to do about the bipartisan Alexander-Murray legislation, which would restore the cost sharing reductions for Obamacare that Trump cut off earlier this month.
Trump has given mixed signals on the legislation to legalize the payments to insurance companies, which were struck down in court.
The bill would continue CSR for another two years — a win for Democrats — and provide states with greater say about how the law is implemented in their states — a win for Republicans.
Even if the bipartisan compromise gets through the Senate — a tall order — House Speaker Paul Ryan has already publicly raised problems with the proposal. Top House conservatives don’t want to sign onto any legislation they feel helps sustain the health care law they’ve been working to undo since 2009. But with leaders of both sides recognizing Congress will have to deal with the issue, it’s likely it could be punted and incorporated into a year-end funding deal.
On disaster aid, the Senate is scheduled to break a filibuster of a $36.5 billion emergency supplemental spending bill to respond to the multiple hurricanes that hit the United States in recent months and the ongoing wildfires that are burning out West. More emergency aid is likely to be approved in November, according to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

McConnell’s full ‘State of the Union’ interview

Niger, Russia

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and others have raised questions about the military operation in Niger that resulted in the deaths of four US soldiers. Congress will continue to track the Pentagon’s investigation of the incident, and McCain’s panel as well as others could demand more briefings and information.
The congressional Russia probes will continue to bring in a stream of witnesses with both chambers back this week. But one high-profile event is no longer on the calendar: The Senate intelligence committee postponed a public hearing with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that was scheduled for Wednesday.
The committee said the hearing, which was added in place a closed-door interview last month, would be rescheduled for a later date.
The House is also voting on Iran sanctions legislation that would target the country’s ballistic missile program. It will also take up a bill that imposes penalties on Iran for its support of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Hearings of note

Border issues — On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Kevin K. McAleenan to be commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. He is likely to be questioned about the President’s plan for border security and intention to build a wall between the US and Mexico.
Puerto Rico recovery — The House Natural Resources Committee will hold an oversight hearing Tuesday on the Puerto Rico recovery in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hear from representatives from the FDA, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on public health preparedness and response to 2017 hurricane season.

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Senators introduce bill for new online political ad disclosures

(CNN)A bipartisan trio of senators unveiled legislation Thursday that would place new disclosure requirements on political advertisements in an effort to combat the kind of election meddling that Russia engaged in during the 2016 election campaign.

The bill from Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would require the same disclosure for online political ads that is currently in place on ads that appear on television and the radio. They said at a news conference Thursday that the legislation would update US laws so that online political ads had the same protections against foreign interference as traditional ads.
“We need regulatory rules, a framework, that shields our elections from foreign money,” Klobuchar said. “If a candidate or a cause buys an ad on TV, the same rules should apply if they buy it on Facebook or Google or on Twitter.”
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, has joined their effort and is co-sponsoring the bill, giving it a bipartisan boost in the Republican-controlled Congress.
“I’ve been for full disclosure for the last 25 years,” McCain said in explaining why he was backing the bill.
The legislation is an outgrowth of the congressional investigations into Russia’s election meddling, which has taken a major interest in Russia’s use of social media platforms. Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, one of three panels looking into Russian activity tied to the election.
Facebook has turned over 3,000 paid political ads purchased by Russian-linked accounts to the House and Senate intelligence committees that which showed efforts to sow discord in the US with posts on Black Lives Matter, gun rights and more. Facebook has said that 470 Russian-linked accounts purchased $100,000 worth of ads.
Officials from Facebook, Twitter and Google are testifying publicly before both the House and Senate intelligence panels on November 1.
The House committee is working to release the Facebook ads publicly after the hearing.
The bill would require digital platforms with at least 50 million viewers monthly to maintain a public file of all political ads purchased above a $500 threshold. The legislation also requires online platforms to “make all reasonable efforts” to ensure that foreign individuals are not purchasing US political ads.
The $500 threshold is much lower than what was initially considered when the senators were drafting the bill. In a letter sent to senators last month, Warner and Klobuchar wrote that their bill would require all major digital platforms to keep a public record of groups or individuals that make ad buys of more than $10,000, in line with television and radio ads.
The threshold was lowered because digital ads are much cheaper, Warner said.
Warner has said that the ads Facebook disclosed were just the “tip of the iceberg” of Russia’s election interference via social media, and he’s slammed Twitter for the limited scope of its internal investigation into the matter. He argued that the bill introduced Thursday was a “light touch” approach to regulating the social media companies.
The senators are introducing their bill with an eye toward getting new laws in place ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, warning that Russia is poised to once again seek to meddle in the US campaign.
But it’s not yet clear how quickly the bill would move or if it has support among key Republicans.
“I have a hard time understanding how you do legislation on social media platforms before you have them in for a hearing,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, told CNN on Thursday. “What I understood they were trying to get at is already illegal: foreign money in US elections. … I just want to make sure that we don’t have a belief that we’ve solved a problem that I think is going to be continually exploited by (the Russians) and potentially others.”
It’s also unclear where the social media giants will land on the bill once the details are released. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg made the rounds on Capitol Hill last week, meeting with top Republicans and Democrats as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
“We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president for US public policy, said in a statement. “We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that the social network would begin voluntarily requiring disclaimers on political ads that appear on the site. But in 2011, Facebook went to federal regulators to get an exception from a rule that would have forced it to do the same thing.
Warner and Klobuchar said they were working with the companies and think the legislation is stronger than when they began, but also argued that voluntarily disclosing political ads would not cut it.
“I’m not going to tell you they support this bill right now, but they have to realize that as the world has changed and they have been selling ads to people and making money off of this political system, that they have an obligation just like TV and radio has to disclose this publicly,” Klobuchar said.
One of the key questions is whether accounts would be able to evade any new disclosure requirements, which explains why the senators lowered the $10,000 ad disclosure threshold to $500.
Of the thousands of Russian-bought Facebook ads, Facebook has said less than $3 was spent on half of the ads. For 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent. According to Facebook, someone buying an ad for $33 — the average cost suggested by the $100,000 the Russians spent on roughly 3,000 ads — could expect to reach between 11,000-63,000 users in one day.
An ad-buyer could reach up to almost 4 million Americans in 24 hours by spending $9,999 — a dollar under the $10,000 limit — according to estimates on Facebook’s ad platform reviewed by CNN.

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She met with a President inside the White House. Now she’s protesting outside.

(CNN)Blanca Gamez uses one word to describe the day the President of the United States opened the door to the Oval Office and invited her inside: insanity.

The scene that February morning more than two years ago would have been unimaginable a decade earlier. Gamez was one of six undocumented immigrants meeting face to face with then-President Barack Obama.
The official White House photographer chronicled the visit, capturing images that showed the group telling Obama how his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program had changed their lives.
The program gave so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, temporary work permits and protection from deportation.
Now, tens of thousands of DACA recipients have only a day left to file renewal applications before the Trump administration stops accepting them.
As that deadline looms and lawmakers debate whether to keep protecting these immigrants from deportation, CNN caught up with several of those who met Obama to see where they are now and how they feel about their future in the United States.

‘Everything’s different’

Back then, Gamez was living in Las Vegas, a recent college graduate with bachelor’s degrees in political science and English. She thanked Obama for creating the program that helped her land her first job as a nonprofit caseworker. Now 28, she lives in Washington DC, and works as a digital organizing strategist for the ACLU. Her office is just a few blocks from the White House.
The building she once saw as warm and welcoming now carries another meaning for her.
“It’s a different feeling now,” she says. “Now I go over there to protest and shout outside the White House because … everything’s different.”
Gamez’s parents brought her to the United States from a small town in Mexico’s Sonora state when she was an infant. She’s one of nearly 700,000 people facing an uncertain future after the Trump administration’s announcement last month that it’s ending DACA. If Congress doesn’t pass a permanent fix, her protection from deportation will expire in November 2018.
“There’s a constant fear in the back of my head. I still have a year. A lot of things can happen, and things can change,” she says. “And it’s a whole different feeling knowing that the White House is literally two or three blocks away from my office.”
But Gamez says she’s trying to stay focused on the present rather than panicking about the future.
“Even the President is saying Congress needs to take action,” she says. “That’s something that I’m still hopeful for.”

‘A complete 180’

In remarks to reporters after the 2015 meeting, Obama offered what he said was a message for Dreamers across the country about his plans to expand DACA: “I want you to know that I am confident in my ability to implement this program over the next two years, and I’m confident that the next President and the next Congress and the American people will ultimately recognize why this is the right thing to do.”
Fast forward to 2017.
Obama’s DACA expansion, which would have protected millions more people from deportation temporarily, was blocked by the courts and never implemented.
And last month the Trump administration announced plans to end DACA altogether.
For Rishi Singh, being invited to the White House that day in 2015 was a “surreal moment.” And now, he says, it feels like Washington has done “a complete 180” when it comes to immigration.
But there’s still a lesson to be learned, he says, from that photo of him and other Dreamers meeting with Obama. The meeting itself never would have happened if it weren’t for years of advocacy work persuading politicians to take action.
“I don’t believe in politicians and their willingness to do what is right,” he says. “I believe in the ability of people in our communities to put pressure and organize and make the change we need to see in our communities.”
Singh, 32, is the director of youth organizing for New York-based DRUM, which advocates for South Asian immigrant workers and their families.
His family brought him to the United States from Trinidad on a tourist visa when he was 10, and it wasn’t until he was finishing high school, he says, that he learned he was undocumented. A decade later, DACA gave him a chance to get a job and health insurance.
“I bought a car. I was thinking about buying a house. All these different things, now I’m not even sure what’s going to happen. It just puts people in a limbo,” he says. “But even though things look really bleak right now, there’s also a lot of opportunities to come together.”
Singh says immigrant communities are resilient and will endure, even as the Trump administration enacts tougher policies.
“We’ll figure out ways to continue to survive, and hopefully thrive, and continue to fight to make sure that we don’t have to live in that fear or in the shadows,” he says. “That’s what the administration wants to do, continue to fearmonger and push people underground. If we allow that to happen, then they win.”

‘It’s going to require more work’

When she met Obama, Maria Praeli says, she told him about the moment she knew she wanted to devote her life to fighting for immigrants’ rights: the day of her grandmother’s funeral.
Praeli’s mother, an undocumented immigrant, couldn’t fly back to Peru to attend. Instead, she watched the service on an iPad from Connecticut.
“I still vividly remember my mom hugging the iPad and screaming and crying about her mom,” Praeli says. “It really opened up my eyes to the reality that many people have to live with every single day. This issue wasn’t about me not being able to drive, or not being able to go to the college of my choosing, this issue was about a really broken system.”
More than four years later, Praeli says the system is still broken — and she’s more determined than ever to keep pushing politicians to fix it.
“It’s hard, because things have been so negative lately. We’ve heard things on the campaign trail, and we’ve seen things under this administration. But the President himself has also called for comprehensive immigration reform at some point, so I’m still hopeful,” she says. “I just think it’s going to require more work.”
Praeli, who was 5 when she came to the United States from Ica, Peru, is now an immigration policy associate at, an advocacy group started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders.
The 24-year-old is one of more than 150,000 Dreamers facing this week’s deadline. Her DACA protection is set to expire early next year, meaning she falls into a group that has until Thursday to submit renewal paperwork. They’re the last Dreamers who can file to renew before DACA ends under the Trump administration’s action.
Praeli says she’s sent in her application and gone to an appointment where officials recorded her biometric data.
“Now it’s just kind of a waiting game,” she says.
She has plenty to keep her busy while she waits to hear if her renewal is granted.
This week, more than 100 Dreamers from across the United States are traveling to Washington, just as she did when she met with Obama back in 2015.
The group is meeting face to face with members of Congress.
This time, Praeli is looking on from behind the scenes. She’s helping organize the visit.

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White House chief of staff: Americans should be concerned about North Korea

(CNN)White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday that Americans should be concerned about North Korea’s ability to reach the United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile, cryptically telling reporters that if the threat grows “beyond where it is today, well, let’s hope that diplomacy works.”

Significantly, Kelly noted that Pyongyang “is developing a pretty good nuclear re-entry vehicle.”
For a missile to successfully strike a target it would have to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without breaking up.
Kelly’s comments seem to indicate that the US believes that North Korea is close to achieving what would be a key breakthrough for their missile program.
North Korea has tested over a dozen missiles since February, including its first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.
Pyongyang has said the US mainland is now within range.

Why does North Korea keep launching ICBMs?

Tensions rise

North Korea and the Trump administration have exchanged a barrage of verbal volleys for months, ratcheting up the tension on the Korean peninsula and around the world as the rogue regime in Pyongyang openly threatens the United States.
Trump has mocked North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, labeling him “little Rocket Man” and promising “fire and fury” if the country continues to threaten the United States.
Most recently, North Korea’s foreign minister said the President has “lit the wick” of war with his rhetoric, according to a Russian state news agency.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, told reporters Thursday that North Korea is a pariah that cannot be allowed to threaten the United States.
“The American people should be concerned about a state that has developed a pretty good ICBM capability and is developing a pretty good nuclear re-entry vehicle,” Kelly said in his first White House press briefing since joining the administration earlier this year.
“I would believe, I think I speak for the administration, that that state simply cannot have the ability to reach the homeland.”
US officials have rarely offered a specific assessment as to North Korea’s development of a reliable re-entry vehicle but in July, one official indicated that it remained a challenge.
North Korea can currently get a missile “off the ground,” a lot of undetermined variables remain about guidance, reentry and the ability to hit a specific target, the official said at the time.
Kelly added: “Right now there is great concern about a lot of Americans that live in Guam. Right now we think the threat is manageable but over time, if it grows beyond where it is today, well, let’s hope that diplomacy works.”

How far can a North Korean missile reach?

Trump’s threats

Trump has used bellicose rhetoric to describe North Korea.
During his remarks at the United Nations last month, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the rogue nation.
White House aides — and Trump himself — have argued that the President’s blunt style is a departure from years of failed negotiations with North Korea.
“Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Policy didn’t work!”
Since Trump took power in January, the administration has been accused of sending mixed messages over the US policy on North Korea.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Defense Secretary James Mattis attempted to present a united front in August in a co-authored opinion piece that said the US was pursing a campaign of “peaceful pressure” on North Korea.
Trump has left the door open for potential military action, saying it’s not the first option but one that would be “devastating” for North Korea.
Once again, this month Tillerson stressed that the US was interested in pursuing peace through talks, however Trump hit back on Twitter saying he was “wasting his time.”
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…” Trump tweeted.
He continued, “…Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
The public display of disagreement within the White House contributed to suggestions that Trump and Tillerson’s relationship was on the rocks.
Trump denied that but made it clear his opinion on North Korea is ultimately what counts.
“We actually have a very good relationship,” he said, going on to concede that his views on North Korea do differ from those of his top diplomat.
“I think I have a little bit different attitude on North Korea than other people might have. And I listen to everybody,” he said. “But ultimately my attitude is the one that matters, isn’t it? That’s the way it works.”

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