The EPA just fired an official whose report undermined Scott Pruitt's justification for expensive security
The Environmental Protection Agency says it's a complete coincidence that it fired a career staffer who signed off on a report contradicting claims that EPA head Scott Pruitt has received death threats on the same day Senate Democrats cited that assessment as evidence that the EPA had no reason to spend millions on increased security for Pruitt.
Until Tuesday, Mario Caraballo was the deputy associate administrator of EPA's Office of Homeland Security. A person with direct knowledge of Caraballo's dismissal told Politico that the EPA is saying he was let go because of a personnel issue stemming from a military job he held nearly 10 years ago that was resolved at the time and reviewed by the EPA years ago. His firing won't scare critics of Pruitt, one employee told Politico, adding, "this is going to embolden us to leak more to get these criminals out."
On Feb. 14, Caraballo signed off on a report that stated, "EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific, credible, direct threat to the EPA administrator." EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox has claimed that Pruitt has received an "unprecedented" amount of death threats, and that's why he has a full-time, 20-person-strong security detail and must travel in first class. President Trump repeated that death-threats claim last week.
In a letter sent Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said they read the report, and the "threats" were actually "nonviolent protests" and "negative feedback" about Pruitt's policies and actions. The senators called for bipartisan oversight hearings at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a request denied by committee chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Catherine Garcia
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Washington beginning Monday to speak before Congress and meet with President Trump, and in a Fox News Sunday appearance he said he will use this time to promote a long-term U.S. occupation of Syria, including nation-building programs.
"We will have to build the new Syria after [the Islamic State is defeated], and that's why I think the U.S. hold is very important," Macron said. "Why? I will be very blunt. The day we will finish this war against ISIS, if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad and his guys, and they will prepare the new war. They will fuel the new terrorists."
"So, my point is to say, even after the end of the war against ISIS," he continued, "the U.S., France, our allies, all the countries of the region, even Russia and Turkey, will have a very important role to play in order to create this new Syria and ensure Syrian people to decide for the future."
Watch the full interview below, and read The Washington Post's preview of Macron's trip, which is expected to focus significantly on persuading Trump to keep the United States in the Iran nuclear deal. Bonnie Kristian
Kellyanne Conway bristles over questions about her husband's tweets: 'It's fascinating to me that CNN would go there'
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's husband, George Conway, does not seem to share his wife's boundless enthusiasm for defending President Trump. He has repeatedly tweeted critiques of the president, going after Trump's Twitter habits, his staff turnover, and, most recently, his understanding of the law.
When Conway appeared on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, this was not a topic she wanted to discuss. "It's fascinating to me that CNN would go there, but it's very good for the whole world to have just witnessed ... that it's now fair game how people's spouses and significant others may differ with them," Conway told host Dana Bash.
Bash protested the question was not intended to be critical and had nothing to do with Conway's gender, only her husband's high profile as a conservative lawyer. "Oh, of course it was [critical]," Conway replied. "It was meant to harass and embarrass," she continued, labeling the exchange a "cross the Rubicon moment."
Watch a clip of the interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— Axios (@axios) April 22, 2018
Leaving or attempting to change the nuclear deal will undermine U.S. diplomacy, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned in a press conference in New York Saturday.
"That's a very dangerous message to send to people of Iran but also to the people of the world," he said, "that you should never come to an agreement with the United States, because at the end of the day the operating principle of the United States is, 'What's mine is mine; what's yours is negotiable.'"
Zarif made similar comments in a CBS interview Sunday, arguing that exiting the deal "will lead to U.S. isolation in the international community" because it will show "the United States is not a reliable partner," and that "the length or the duration of any agreement would depend on the duration of the presidency."
President Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to maintain the agreement. Watch the full CBS interview below. Bonnie Kristian
Four people were killed and four others injured when a gunman dressed only in a coat opened fire around 3:30 a.m. local time at a Waffle House near Nashville. The shooting suspect has been identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Illinois. A Waffle House patron, James Shaw Jr., wrestled the gun away from the attacker, who left his coat and fled the crime scene nude.
BREAKING: Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, IL, is person of interest in Waffle House shooting. Vehicle the gunman arrived in is registered to him. Gunman last seen walking south on Murfreesboro Pike. He shed is coat and is nude. See Reinking? Pls call 615-862-8600 immediately. pic.twitter.com/duoWCo5fC0
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018
"If you see a nude guy walking around, call the police immediately," said Metropolitan Nashville Police Department representative Don Aaron. "We believe he may be the suspect in this." A man dressed only in pants and fitting Reinking's description was seen later Sunday morning in a wooded area within a mile of the Waffle House but was not apprehended at that time. A manhunt is ongoing as of midday Sunday.
This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more details become available. Bonnie Kristian
The oldest person in the world, a Japanese woman named Nabi Tajima, died Saturday at the age of 117.
Tajima had been the world's oldest person since September, and she was hospitalized beginning in January. Born on August 4, 1900, Tajima had nine children and about 160 descendants over the course of her life. She was the last person verified to have lived in the 19th century.
The world's oldest person, Japanese native Nabi Tajima, died at the age of 117 on Saturday; the world record for oldest person is now passed to fellow Japanese native, Chiyo Yoshida pic.twitter.com/BFHIT6dbAL
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) April 22, 2018
President Trump made a pair of posts on U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations on Twitter Sunday, apparently in response to his morning's viewing of cable news:
Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
....We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t - only time will tell....But the work I am doing now should have been done a long time ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
Many experts consider denuclearization an unrealistic aim, as Pyongyang considers a nuclear arsenal its best insurance against forcible regime change. North Korean state media reports have pointed to the U.S.-orchestrated ousters of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi as evidence that "powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsider's aggression." Bonnie Kristian
While President Trump has in public enthusiastically praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's Saturday announcement that he would cease nuclear and missile testing and shutter a testing site, behind closed doors, the Trump administration is reportedly unsure of how to interpret Kim's offer.
White House aides are skeptical of the freeze proposal, The Washington Post and The New York Times both reported Saturday evening. They worry Kim's concession will create an "illusion" of cooperation without making all the changes — including total denuclearization, which many experts consider to be an unrealistic aim — the administration hopes to secure in upcoming Trump-Kim talks.
"The reality is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we have to deal with that reality," Toby Dalton, co-director of nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Post. "The gap between reality and what we're planning for is problematic," he argues, "as it creates expectations that can't be met in the summit process, and we're back to where we were." Bonnie Kristian