Trump-GOP split: Senators loudly oppose Mexico tariff threat
WASHINGTON — In a rare confrontation, Republican senators declared deep opposition Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s threatened tariffs on all goods coming into the U.S. from Mexico. But it’s unclear they have the votes to stop him, and Trump said they’d be “foolish” to try.
All sides, including officials from Mexico meeting with Trump negotiators in Washington this week, remain hopeful that high-level talks will ease the president away from his threat. But with the tariffs set to start next Monday — and Trump declaring them “more likely” than not to take effect — fellow Republicans in Congress warned the White House they are ready to stand up to the president.
The public split and looming standoff over 5% tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico revealed a fundamental divergence in values between the president and his party. Trump uses tariffs as leverage to get what he wants — in this case to force Mexico to do more to halt illegal immigration. For Republicans, tariffs are counter to firmly rooted orthodoxy and viewed as nothing more than taxes they strenuously oppose.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said with understatement, “There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that’s for sure.”
At a lengthy closed-door lunch meeting at the Capitol, senators took turns warning Trump officials there could be trouble if the GOP-held Senate votes on disapproving the tariffs. Congressional rejection would be a stiff rebuke to Trump, even more forceful than an earlier effort to prevent him from shifting money to build his long-promised border wall with Mexico.
Top US cardinal accused of protecting deputy after sex abuse
HOUSTON — When Cardinal Daniel DiNardo first met Laura Pontikes in his wood-paneled conference room in December 2016, the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to its sex abuse scandal said all the right things.
He praised her for coming forward to report that his deputy in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese had manipulated her into a sexual relationship and declared her a “victim” of the priest, Pontikes said. Emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the relationship had gone on for years — even as the priest heard her confessions, counseled her husband on their marriage and pressed the couple for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
She says she was assured that the priest, Monsignor Frank Rossi, would never be a pastor or counsel women again.
Months after that meeting, though, she found out DiNardo had allowed Rossi to take a new job as pastor of a parish two hours away in east Texas. When her husband confronted DiNardo, he said, the cardinal warned that the archdiocese would respond aggressively to any legal challenge — and that the fallout would hurt their family and business.
On Tuesday, three years after the meeting with DiNardo and after written inquiries by the AP last week, the church temporarily removed Rossi, announcing in a statement from his new bishop that he was being placed on administrative leave.
Florida deputy charged for inaction during Parkland shooting
MIAMI — The Florida deputy who knew a gunman was loose at the Parkland high school but refused to go inside to confront the assailant was arrested Tuesday on 11 criminal charges related to his inaction during the massacre that killed 17 people.
Scot Peterson was on duty as the resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the February 2018 shooting but never entered the building while bullets were flying. He was charged with child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury — allegations that carry a maximum prison sentence of nearly 100 years.
Peterson was seen on surveillance video rushing with two staff members toward the building where the shooting happened. When they arrived, he pulled his weapon and went forward but then retreated and took up a position outside, where he stood with his gun drawn.
The charges follow a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which conducted interviews with 184 witnesses, reviewed hours of surveillance videos and compiled 212 investigative reports, the agency said.
Peterson “did absolutely nothing to mitigate” the shooting, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a statement. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives.”
AP FACT CHECK: Trump spins tales on London protests, Brexit
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is spinning a tall tale about crowd sizes and the protests in London.
In a news conference Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May, he asserted there have been few protests over his visit to the United Kingdom — even though nearby protesters could be heard at 10 Downing Street. He also once again falsely said he predicted Brexit a day before the vote happened.
A look at the claims:
TRUMP: “There were thousands of people (Monday) on the streets cheering. And even coming over today, there were thousands of people cheering and then I heard that there were protests. I said: ‘Where are the protests? I don’t see any protests.’ I did see a small protest today when I came, very small, so a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say. … There was great love. … And I didn’t see the protesters until just a little while ago and it was a very, very small group of people.”
THE FACTS: The protests over Trump’s visit were more than just “very, very small.”
The other royal family? Trump adult kids take London
LONDON — It wasn’t just President Donald Trump and wife Melania soaking up the royal treatment during their state visit to the United Kingdom. The president’s four adult children inserted themselves into the pomp at every turn — and helpfully documented the moments on social media.
Whether or not they hold White House posts, Trump’s children, perhaps with an eye toward evoking the princes and princesses who call London home, were frequently by their father’s side as he was feted in Britain.
Donald Trump Jr. posted on Instagram a photo of himself in white tie before Monday’s state dinner. His brother, Eric Trump, was part of the family’s Tuesday tour of the underground Churchill War Rooms and lingered over the chair from which the prime minister oversaw World War II. And Ivanka Trump, who doubles as a senior White House official, spent the day before her father’s arrival touring some of London’s art museums and then took her place by his side for a trade meeting Tuesday with Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Magical night at Buckingham Palace with my best friend!” she wrote, posting a photo on Instagram of herself alongside husband Jared Kushner, another senior White House aide.
Tiffany Trump, a Georgetown University law school student who is less frequently spotted with her father, also attended the dinner.
Trump administration halts cruises to Cuba under new rules
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Tuesday ended the most popular forms of U.S. travel to Cuba, banning cruise ships and a heavily used category of educational travel in an attempt to cut off cash to the island’s communist government.
Cruise travel from the U.S. to Cuba began in May 2016 during President Barack Obama’s opening with the island. It has become the most popular form of U.S. leisure travel to the island, bringing 142,721 people in the first four months of the year, a more than 300% increase over the same period last year. For travelers confused about the thicket of federal regulations governing travel to Cuba, cruises offered a simple, one-stop, guaranteed-legal way to travel.
That now appears to be over.
“Cruise ships as well as recreational and pleasure vessels are prohibited from departing the U.S. on temporary sojourn to Cuba effective tomorrow,” the Commerce Department said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The new restrictions are part of a broader effort by the administration of President Donald Trump to roll back the Obama-era efforts to restore normal relations between the United States and Cuba, which drew sharp criticism from the more hardline elements of the Cuban-American community and their allies in Congress.
Dow jumps over 500 points amid hopes of Fed rate cut
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 500 points Tuesday as investors welcomed signs that the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates to help buttress U.S. economic growth in the face of escalating trade wars.
Optimism about a resolution to one of those trade disputes and a rebound in technology shares also boosted the market. The benchmark S&P 500 index notched its best day since early January.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spurred the rally when he said the central bank was “closely monitoring” trade developments and would “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economic expansion. Investors read his remarks as a signal that the Fed will likely cut interest rates later this year.
Investors have been worried the expanding conflicts between the U.S. and some of its biggest trading partners could slow U.S. economic growth and stymie corporate profits. They’ve been dumping stocks for the past month and fleeing to safer holdings such as bonds.
“The concern in the market is that economic data is going to worsen,” said Jeff Zipper, managing director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “If economic data worsens, then growth slows down. So obviously a rate cut would provide liquidity into the economy and the marketplace, and that’s what investors are looking at right now.”
After massacre, Virginia governor demands action on guns
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday he will summon lawmakers back to the state Capitol this summer to take up a package of gun-control legislation, saying last week’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach calls for “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.”
Northam, a Democrat faced with a gun-friendly, Republican-controlled General Assembly in the middle of a legislative election year, also said he wants every lawmaker to go on record for or against his proposals during the special session, rather than avoid tough votes by quietly killing the bills in subcommittee.
“The nation will be watching,” the governor said, four days after Virginia Beach employee DeWayne Craddock used two semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and extended ammunition magazines to slaughter 12 people at a municipal building. Craddock was then killed in a gunbattle with police.
Northam’s bills include a ban on silencers and high-capacity magazines, as well as a broadening of the ability of local governments to prohibit guns in city buildings. The governor said he also wants mandatory, universal background checks before gun purchases; a limit of one handgun purchase per month; and a “red flag” law that would allow authorities to seize weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
“I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” he said, mocking the usual response to gun violence by supporters of the gun lobby.
New York poised to become first state to ban cat declawing
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York would be the first state in the U.S. to ban the declawing of cats under legislation approved by lawmakers at the request of cat owners, animal welfare advocates and many veterinarians who call the procedure cruel and needless.
The bill, which would subject veterinarians to $1,000 fines for performing the operation, now heads to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, whose representatives said he will review the bill before deciding if he will sign it.
“Cats of New York: Show me your claws” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, who pushed the bill for years despite the opposition the state’s largest veterinary society. She called cat declawing “barbaric and inhumane.”
Declawing a cat is already illegal in much of Europe and in several Canadian provinces, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver, but no other U.S. state has voted to ban the procedure, which involves amputating a cat’s toes back to the first knuckle.
Unlike human nails, a cat’s claws are attached to bone, so declawing a feline requires a veterinarian to slice through tendon and nerves to remove the last segment of bone in a cat’s toes. Supporters of the ban cite estimates that a quarter or more of all domestic cats in the U.S. have had the procedure.
California man freed from life prison sentence for joyriding
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California man was freed from prison after serving 23 years of his life sentence on a joyriding conviction, including eight years in solitary confinement for possessing a book written by the co-founder of a notorious prison gang.
His attorneys say it’s unconscionable that he was set to die in prison for nonviolent crimes.
Kenneth Oliver, now 52, was given the life sentence at 29 under California’s strict “three strikes” sentencing law for repeat felons.
Voters eased the law in 2012 to allow life sentences only when the third strike is for a serious or violent felony.
But Oliver was ineligible for a new sentence because he was found with purported gang materials including a book called “Blood In My Eye,” completed by Black Guerilla Family co-founder George Jackson days before he died during a bloody attempt to escape from San Quentin State Prison in 1971.