Tanks arrive to serve Trump’s ego-driven July 4th

Military police walk near Abrams tanks on a flat car in a rail yard, Monday, July 1, 2019, in Washington, ahead of a Fourth of July celebration that President Donald Trump says will include military hardware. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Donald Trump isn’t taking “no tanks” for an answer on the Fourth of July.

He said Monday that a display of U.S. military tanks will be part of a special event he’s headlining July 4 in Washington, and an Associated Press photographer saw at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles on flatcars in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington.

Military police were guarding the vehicles, which were visible to passers-by on nearby paths.

A U.S. official told the AP that the military vehicles to be used in the July 4 event were being stored at the railyard.

Trump had wanted a military parade of tanks and other equipment in the District of Columbia after he witnessed a similar parade on Bastille Day in Paris in 2017 . That plan eventually was scuttled, partly because of cost, though Trump apparently held on to the idea.

Local officials also had objected because of the damage the heavy armored tanks could do to city streets.

“We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” Trump said Monday from the Oval Office, appearing to acknowledge local officials’ earlier concerns.

He offered no specifics on where the vehicles would be located.

“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks,” he said. “So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks.”

Sherman tanks were the tank most widely used by the U.S. during World War II, but they have been out of service for decades. The M1A1 Abrams tank is currently the main U.S. battle tank.

Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be on display as part of Trump’s “Salute to America” event, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the exhibits have not been made public.

The Abrams tanks weigh more than 60 tons apiece and were been shipped on railroad freight cars, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, the nearest Army base that has them. The White House declined to release more specific information.

Trump recalled his visit earlier this year to a plant in Lima, Ohio, where M1A1 Abrams tanks are refurbished. The plant had been at risk for closure but remained online due to Trump’s investments in defense spending.

“We have some incredible equipment, military equipment on display — brand new,” Trump said. “And we’re very proud of it. You know we’re making a lot of new tanks right now. We’re building a lot of new tanks in Lima, Ohio — our great tank factory that people wanted to close down until I got elected and I stopped it from being closed down, and now it’s a very productive facility.”

Thursday’s events are also expected to include a military demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and other aircraft.

“We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It’ll be like no other,” Trump said. “It’ll be special and I hope a lot of people come. And it’s going to be about this country and it’s a salute to America.”

“I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too,” he said.

Trump plans to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial during his “Salute to America,” which has been added to the regular schedule of Independence Day events in the nation’s capital. The annual fireworks display will go off closer to the Lincoln Memorial instead of the Washington Monument, as has been the long-standing tradition.

The event is open to the public and free of charge, but a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being set aside for VIPs, including members of Trump’s family, friends and members of the military, the White House said.

Last year, Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, hosted service members and their families at a picnic on the White House lawn and the president addressed guests from the balcony. No similar event is being planned this year.

Federal lawmakers, local officials and others have voiced concerns that Trump could alter the tone of what traditionally is a nonpartisan celebration of America’s independence from the British by delivering a political speech. Trump formally announced his bid for re-election in June.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who oversees the National Mall and has helped orchestrate the president’s vision, and other officials have said Trump’s remarks will be patriotic.

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Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor and Associated Press photographer Patrick Semansky in Washington contributed to this report.

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Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Trump charged, again, with sexual assault

Men walking past a holiday window at the Bergdorf Goodman store, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A New York-based advice columnist claims Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s, according to a first-person account published Friday by New York magazine.

Trump denied the allegations and said, “I’ve never met this person in my life.”

The allegation against Trump by E. Jean Carroll is included in her upcoming book about the “hideous men” that the Elle magazine columnist says she has encountered throughout her life.

Carroll wrote that after what started as a friendly encounter with Trump at Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996, the real estate mogul pushed her up against a dressing room wall, unzipped his pants and forced himself on her. Carroll said that in a “colossal struggle,” she pushed him off and ran from the store.

In his statement, Trump called the accusation “fake news” and said there was no evidence.

“No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around?? I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming they have no video footage of any such incident, because it never happened,” he said.

The Trump Organization, which Trump still owns, did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, which has not independently verified Carroll’s account.

Carroll did not immediately return a call for comment.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct in earlier years. Trump has denied the allegations and said the women are lying. While those cases generally involved groping and kissing without consent, Carroll alleged forced penetration.

Carroll, now 75, wrote in her book excerpt on the magazine’s website that Trump recognized her as “that advice lady” as he arrived at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue just as she was leaving. She said Trump invited her to help him buy a present for an unidentified “girl” and she agreed.

Carroll said that after Trump suggested a purchase of lingerie or underwear, he grabbed a bodysuit and urged Carroll to try it on. After some joking around about which one of them should try it on, Trump led Carroll to a dressing room, where, she alleged, Trump pushed her against a wall, pulled down her tights and assaulted her in an episode that lasted under three minutes.

Carrol said there were no attendants in the dressing room area and she did not file a report with the New York Police Department. She said she did, however, tell two journalist friends, one of whom urged her to contact the police while the other advised her to keep quiet, citing Trump’s access to lawyers.

New York magazine said it confirmed the accounts of Carroll’s friends but it did not identify either individual by name.

Trump was caught on tape in 2005 boasting of grabbing women by their genitals and kissing them without permission. When the tape became public weeks before the November 2016 general election, Trump said he never acted in any of the ways described on the tape, and described it as just “locker-room talk.”

In March, a New York state appeals court ruled that Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping, can move forward with her defamation lawsuit against him.

Trump isn’t the only prominent man on the list of men who Carroll alleges have assaulted her.

She also claimed that Les Moonves, the former CEO of CBS, mauled her in the elevator of a Beverly Hills hotel after she interviewed him in 1997. Moonves was one of television’s most influential figures when he was ousted in September 2018 following allegations by women who said he subjected them to mistreatment, including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

Moonves told New York magazine that he “emphatically denies” the incident occurred. He did not respond to the AP’s requests for comment.

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Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Press secretary Sarah Sanders leaving White House

President Donald Trump speaks about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who is leaving her position at the end of the month. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, whose tenure was marked by a breakdown in regular press briefings and questions about the administration’s credibility, as well as her own, will leave her post at the end of the month, President Donald Trump announced.

Trump said Thursday he’s encouraging her to run for governor when she returns home to Arkansas, where her father once held the job.

Sanders is one of Trump’s closest and most trusted White House aides and one of the few remaining who worked on his campaign, taking on the job of advocating for and defending a president who had his own unconventional ideas about how to conduct the people’s business.

At an unrelated White House event, Trump described Sanders as a “warrior” as he called her to the stage. Sanders, appearing emotional, said serving Trump has been “the honor of a lifetime” and pledged to remain one of his “most outspoken and loyal supporters.”

Sanders, who is married and has three young children, later told reporters she wanted to spend more time with her family, but she did not rule out running for public office.

“I learned a long time ago never to rule anything out,” said Sanders, 36.

She was the first working mother and just the third woman to be named White House press secretary.

Under her roughly two-year tenure as chief spokeswoman for the White House, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary became a relic of the past after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her about administration policy, the investigation into possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia or any number of controversies involving the White House.

Sanders has not held a formal briefing since March 11 and said she does not regret scaling them back. Instead, reporters were left to catch her and other administration officials on the White House driveway after their interviews with Fox News Channel and other networks.

Trump also has made it a habit to regularly answer reporters’ questions in a variety of settings, most notably on the South Lawn before boarding the Marine One helicopter. Sanders often sought to justify the lack of formal briefings by saying they were unnecessary when journalists could hear from Trump directly.

Behind the scenes, Sanders worked to develop relationships with reporters, earning the respect and trust of many of those on the beat.

Still, her credibility had come under question after she succeeded Sean Spicer , Trump’s first press secretary, in mid-2017 in the high-profile role.

The Russia report released by special counsel Robert Mueller in April revealed that Sanders admitted to investigators that she had made an unfounded claim about “countless” FBI agents reaching out to express support for Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Sanders characterized the comment as a “slip of the tongue” uttered in the “heat of the moment.”

She faced similar questions last year after Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, surprised the White House by saying on national TV that Trump had reimbursed his then-fixer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen had paid porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet during the campaign about an alleged past sexual encounter with Trump. Trump has denied Daniels’ claim.

The White House had failed to disclose the reimbursement. Sanders said she didn’t know anything about the repayment until Giuliani disclosed it.

Sanders told reporters Thursday that she had informed Trump earlier in the day of her decision to step down. Her staff learned the news shortly before Trump tweeted, “After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas.”

Trump added that “she would be fantastic” as Arkansas governor. Sanders said she’s had people “begging” her to run for governor for more than a year.

Her father is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a two-time GOP presidential candidate. She managed his second White House bid.

Asa Hutchinson, the current Arkansas governor, was re-elected in 2018 and is limited to two terms. The seat will become open in 2022.

Sanders said she hasn’t discussed possible replacements with Trump. She said she saw no reason to delay informing the president once she had made her decision, saying her departure should give Trump time to put someone else in place before the 2020 presidential campaign heats up.

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Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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Trump lies again. He did call Duchess Meghan ‘nasty’

Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that he never called Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex and the wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, “nasty.”

The president used the adjective while discussing Meghan in a recent interview with Britain’s The Sun newspaper in the run-up to his state visit to the U.K. on Monday. But debate on social media since then has raged over whether his use of “nasty” referred to the duchess herself or the negative things she said about him in 2016.

Trump and his defenders have accused the news media of spreading a deliberately false narrative about him.

A look at the claim:

TRUMP: “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!” — tweet Sunday.

THE FACTS: Trump, in fact, did use the word “nasty” to describe Meghan when asked about her comments about him during the 2016 campaign.

In audio of the interview posted on the newspaper’s website, Trump discusses the upcoming state visit, his second meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and the Trump family members who are tagging along on the trip. The reporter then asks about Meghan, who isn’t joining other royals to meet Trump and his wife, Melania, due to the recent birth of her first child, Archie, in May.

Asked if he was sorry to miss out on meeting the American-born Meghan and told that she “wasn’t so nice about you” during the campaign, Trump says: “I didn’t know that. No, I hope she’s OK. I did not know that.”

When told that Meghan once said she might move to Canada if Trump was elected, Trump responds: “No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

The former Meghan Markle supported Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, calling Trump “divisive” and “misogynistic.” The former actress also said she might move to Canada. “Suits,” the cable TV legal drama she starred in at the time, was filming in Toronto.

She ultimately married Prince Harry in 2018 and moved to Britain.

After the interview was released, reporters at some news organizations tweeted that Trump called Meghan “nasty,” sparking debate.

The case isn’t as clear as Trump portrays it to be, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Jamieson said in an email that since Trump’s interviewer is informing him about a statement that Trump says he was unaware of “one would ordinarily assume that his answer refers to that statement.” But she says the answer — “was nasty” — could also refer to a person or to what the person said.

Complicating matters, Jamieson said, is Trump’s history of verbal attacks on people he views as antagonists and his sensitivity to negative statements about his election.

“As a result, difficult to know what he meant,” she said.

In the Sun interview, Trump also spoke positively about Meghan when asked whether it was good for an American to be a member of the British royal family.

“I think it’s nice. I think it’s nice. I’m sure she will do excellently. She’ll be very good. She’ll be very good. I hope she does,” Trump said.

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GOP Congressman calls Trump’s actions ‘impeachable’

U.S Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township. (Carly Geraci//Kalamazoo Gazette via AP, File)

A Republican congressman from Michigan on Saturday became the first member of President Donald Trump’s party on Capitol Hill to accuse him of engaging in “impeachable conduct” stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s lengthy investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

But Rep. Justin Amash stopped short of calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, which many Democrats have been agitating for.

Often a lone GOP voice in Congress, Amash sent a series of tweets Saturday faulting both Trump and Attorney General William Barr over Mueller’s report. Mueller wrapped the investigation and submitted his report to Barr in late March. Barr then released a summary of Mueller’s “principal conclusions” and released a redacted version of the report in April.

Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, but left open the question of whether Trump acted in ways that were meant to obstruct the investigation. Barr later said there was insufficient evidence to bring obstruction charges against Trump.

Trump, who has compared the investigation to a “witch hunt,” claimed complete exoneration from Mueller’s report.

Amash said he reached four conclusions after carefully reading the redacted version of Mueller’s report, including that “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.”

“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” the congressman tweeted. He said the report “identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.”

The Justice Department, which Barr leads, operates under guidelines that discourage the indictment of a sitting president.

A representative for Amash did not immediately respond to an email request to speak with the congressman.

Trump and Republican lawmakers generally view the matter as “case closed,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently declared on the floor of the Senate.

On the other hand, Democrats who control the House are locked in a bitter standoff with the White House as it ignores lawmakers’ requests for the more complete version of Mueller’s report, the underlying evidence and witness testimony. Some Democrats wants the House to open impeachment hearings, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has resisted, saying impeachment must be bipartisan.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., a freshman who opened her term by profanely calling for Trump to be impeached, applauded Amash.

“You are putting country first, and that is to be commended,” Tlaib tweeted. Tlaib is seeking support for a resolution she’s circulating calling on the House to start impeachment proceedings.

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