President Trump's aides are being warned not to try to "protect" their boss if they are questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional investigators in the ongoing Russia probe, Politico reports. "What I always tell clients is, you can't protect anybody," said one lawyer representing a person targeted by the investigation. An attempt to cover up for Trump, the lawyer added, makes things "worse for everybody."
Among the aides expected to be called in for interviews in the coming weeks is former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, newly minted Communications Director Hope Hicks, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Trump's longtime personal secretary Rhona Graff. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, are also under intense scrutiny.
While Trump demands loyalty from those in his orbit, lying under oath can earn aides charges of perjury, false statements, or obstruction of justice if they are found out. "The lesson to be always learned is loyalty is one thing, but are you prepared to go to jail for it?" said Robert Ray, who served as the Whitewater special counsel. "The answer to that question should be no."
Ray then put it more bluntly: "Loyalty is not a two-way street. A lot of young people go to the White House and they're going to be loyal to the president and the president is going to be loyal to me. Bulls--t." Read the full report at Politico. Jeva Lange
Mexico was struck by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake Saturday morning, sparking alarm and suspending ongoing rescue efforts in response to two other recent quakes.
The new tremor follows Tuesday's 7.1 magnitude earthquake, as well as an 8.1 magnitude quake that struck off the coast of Mexico earlier this month. The combined death toll from the earlier quakes has nearly reached 400 people.
Saturday's tremor, believed to be an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, collapsed a bridge in the town of Juchitan and toppled some previously damaged buildings. "Homes that were still standing just fell down," said Bettina Cruz, who lives in Juchitan. "It's hard. We are all in the streets." Bonnie Kristian
Iran has successfully tested a new ballistic missile, state-run media reported Saturday, one day after displaying the weapon at a military parade.
The Khorramshahr missile has a range of 1,200 miles, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani labels it "a deterrent" to guard Iranian security against attack. President Trump has accused Tehran of violating "the spirit" of the 2015 nuclear deal with this sort of test, but Rouhani maintains Iran is committed to upholding the agreement.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday notified 21 states they were targeted for hacking by the Russian government in advance of the 2016 election.
In most cases, this targeting amounted only to research and preparation, and no voting machines were compromised in any state. "What this boils down to is that someone tried the door knob and it was locked," explained Reid Magney of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
DHS announced the 21-state figure several months ago but had not previously communicated to the states in question. Friday's notification is intended to give the targeted states, a complete list of which has not been released, time to beef up security before 2018. "We heard feedback from the secretaries of state that this was an important piece of information," said Bob Kolasky, acting deputy undersecretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS. "We agreed that this information would help election officials make security decisions."
In his Friday night speech in Alabama, President Trump again denied election collusion with Moscow. "No, Russia did not help me, that I can tell you, OK?" he said, calling this "hoax" Democrats' greatest achievement of 2016. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump announced on Twitter Saturday morning he is no longer willing to host the Golden State Warriors at the White House, a traditional way to honor their NBA championship victory, because of comments from point guard Stephen Curry:
Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Trump's tweet comes hours after Curry on Friday told reporters he did not wish to meet the president, alluding to Trump's much-criticized responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"You can talk about all the different personalities that have said things and done things — from [Colin] Kaepernick to what happened with [Michael] Bennett to all sorts of examples of what has gone on in our country that has led to change," Curry said. "We're all trying to do what we can using our platforms, using our opportunities, to shed light on that. That's kind of where I stand on that. I don't think us going to the White House will miraculously make everything better, but this is my opportunity to voice that."
This is Trump's second clash with professional athletes this weekend. Friday night, he told a campaign rally crowd that NFL players like Kaepernick, who has knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, should be fired. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?" Trump said. Bonnie Kristian
As-yet unidentified tremors were detected in North Korea early Saturday near the site of previous nuclear weapons tests. While China labeled the 3.4 magnitude quake a "suspected explosion" that could be Pyongyang's second nuclear test in a matter of weeks, an official from South Korea's meteorological agency said initial assessments indicate it was more likely a natural earthquake. North Korea has not commented either way.
On Friday, North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said his government might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. "This could probably mean the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean," Ri announced. "Regarding which measures to take, I don't really know since it is what Kim Jong Un does."
President Trump issued a profane call to NFL team owners to fire players who engage in peaceful political protest on the field while speaking Friday night at an Alabama rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R). "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?" Trump asked his audience. "Out. He's fired. He's fired." The rally crowd responded with cheers.
"You know what's hurting the game?" the president continued. "When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem." Trump encouraged his supporters to walk out of the stadium in counter-protest should they ever observe an NFL player's protest in person.
Trump was referring to football players like Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, who has silently declined to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America.
Trump's comments were widely decried, including by other NFL players, with many noting his words for Kaepernick were harsher than his responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The NFL Players Association issued a statement Saturday vowing to "never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety."
Watch an excerpt of Trump's comments below, or see the entire speech here. Bonnie Kristian
Trump: NFL owners should tell players who kneel to "get that son of a bitch off the field right now." pic.twitter.com/eUYtJgNixK
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 23, 2017
Correction 9:52 a.m.: This post initially said Kaepernick played for the Seattle Seahawks. We regret the error.
President Trump spoke Friday night at a primary campaign rally in Alabama for Sen. Luther Strange (R), who is in a runoff to retain the seat to which he was appointed after it was vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump endorsed Strange while publicly worrying about damage to his own image should his candidate lose Tuesday's vote. "I'll be honest, might have made a mistake," Trump mused, adding that he will support Strange's opponent, Judge Roy Moore, should he win.
Trump used the occasion to slam Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his "terrible, honestly terrible" role in defeating the latest GOP health-care proposal, and to mention his much-promised border wall, which in this latest telling will be see-through, will only cover part of the border, and will keep drugs out of America. "You don't need [the wall] all the way," Trump said, promising to build "as much wall as we need."
The president also reused his "Rocket Man" nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom Trump said "should have been handled a long time ago" by former President Bill Clinton. "This shouldn't be handled now," Trump continued. "But I'm going to handle it because we have to handle it. Little Rocket Man. We're going to do it. Because we really have no choice."
Watch Trump's speech in its entirety below. Bonnie Kristian