News and Media
Jay Sekulow, one of Donald Trump Jr’s legal advisors, asked on ABC News’ “This Week,” why the US Secret Service had allowed Trump Jr. to meet Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who is connected to the Kremlin.
“Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me,” he said.
The USSS answered the question, explaining that Trump Jr was not under their protection in June 2016, even if his father was receiving government protection at the time. The USSS added that they also would not have screened any of his meetings, either.
“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June 2016. Thus, we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time,” Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said in a statement.
Paul Manafort, Trump Sr’s then-campaign chairman, advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump Jr., all met with Veselnitskaya. According to emails released last week by Trump Jr., the trio met with Kremlin connected Veselnitskaya who said she had damaging evidence about then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD said a missile was tracked for 37 minutes from its launch in North Korea until it entered the waters of the Sea of Japan. No damage was reported.
The Hawaii-based US Pacific Command announced that they monitored the trajectory of a medium-range ballistic missile launched from near an airfield in North Korea until it fell without incident into the Sea of Japan. The command said the missile was not a threat to North America.
Japanese and South Korean officials also reported the firing of the missile. It was part of a series of test launches conducted by North Korea to further the development of a nuclear enhanced missile that could perhaps one day reach the United States.
The President of the US, Donald Trump, responded on Twitter to the most recent ballistic missile launch as follows:
“Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, told the press that the missile was fired at 9:40am on Tuesday and cruised for 40 minutes until it splashed into the Sea of Japan where that country claims economic territorial rights. He added that no planes or boats reported damage, but the Japanese media said that the coast guard had been alerted to the possibility of falling objects.
On an upcoming visit to Miami this Friday President Trump is expected to announce heavier restrictions on visits and trade between Cuba and the United States. This will put the brakes on the opening up of economic and diplomatic relations with Cuba that the Obama administration launched. Trump is responding to calls from fellow Republican lawmakers from Florida; Senator Mario Rubio and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart to “treat Cuba like the dictatorship that it is.”
Not everyone agrees that rolling back President Obama’s initiatives to open the trade barrier with Cuba to be a good thing. Here are some reasons analysts give for continuing the path of improved openness and relations with Cuba is the best course to navigate.
• It is estimated that reversing the already existing regulations would remove about 12,295 jobs from the economy, and cost taxpayers and businesses more than $6 billion over the course of the four years of Trump’s first term in office. The data, produced by Engage Cuba, did not include US agricultural exports to Cuba, which would add another 2,200 jobs lost and an additional $2 billion in lost revenue.
• The US sells more to Cuba than it buys. According to the US Census Bureau on Foreign Trade the US exported $245 million worth of goods and services to Cuba, and imported zero. In just the first four months of 2017 the US exported more than $83 million in goods and services to Cuba.
• Reversing the diplomatic gains made with Cuba through liberalization of regulations could be a threat to US national security. The Russians and Chinese have already begun to improve their own ties with the island nation which sits just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Returning to the isolationist policies that were established under President Eisenhower in the 50s could force Cuba to become more entrenched as a satellite of either or both giant super-power dictatorships.
• Most Republican voters support Obama’s policies to open relations with Cuba. According to a recent poll, 64% of Republicans, and 65% of voters in general favor better relations with Cuba. Even the Cuban-American community supports an end to the Cuban embargo, to the tune of 54% in Miami.
No explanation has been given for Michelle Lee’s resignation as director of the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In 2014 Lee was appointed by then-President Obama becoming the first woman to head that office. She was offered the post after the position sat unfilled for two years. Her appointment was seen as a kind of victory for the technology industry, since she had been the head of Google’s patent division. There are ongoing tensions between the high-tech industry and big-pharm over the patent office’s handling of patent applications from these two industries.
When Donald Trump took over as President Lee said she was “open” to the possibility of staying on as head of the Patent Office during Trump’s tenure. For the first few months of Trump’s term it remained unclear exactly what Lee’s status was vis a vis the patent office. Then in mid-March the Patent Office said that Lee was going to remain as director under Trump.
There was no reason given for Lee’s resignation, although rumors were circulating that Trump is considering her for another job in his administration, perhaps as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Commerce Department did not, however, announce any next step for Lee.
“We thank Michelle Lee for her service to her country and to the Department of Commerce,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an emailed statement. “As the first woman in our country’s history to serve as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office,
Michelle has worked tirelessly to serve our stakeholders and the American public. We wish her well in her next endeavor.”