Press secretary Sarah Sanders held the first White House press briefing in a week Tuesday and answered questions about the president’s response to both the school shooting in Florida and the indictment of Russian nationals by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
She said President Donald Trump expressed interest in improving the federal gun background check system and was also focused on mental health. She also addressed a tweet over the weekend in which Trump seemed to say the Russia investigation was a distraction to the FBI and a reason it failed to look into warnings about the Florida shooter.
“The cause of this is that of a deranged individual who made the decision to take the lives of 17 other people. That is the responsibility of the shooter, certainly not the responsibility of anybody else,” she said.
When asked about the president’s position on concealed carry reciprocity or an assault rifle ban, she declined to answer.
When asked why Trump hasn’t hasn’t implemented a Russia sanctions bill that passed Congress, Sanders said this:
“Look, frankly, that’s not completely accurate.”
She also said Trump has been tougher on Russia than former President Barack Obama ever was. Based on a review by PolitiFact, that’s incorrect. Specifically, PolitiFact rated a Monday tweet from Trump saying he has been “much tougher on Russia than Obama” as “Mostly False.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., dodged a question from a woman at a town hall event Tuesday regarding the lawmaker’s net worth as Pelosi criticized the GOP tax reform law and the federal budget.
“God never intended one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth while others live in abject deadening poverty,” Pelosi said at the Phoenix, Ariz. event, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., according to a video shared by the Republican National Committee.
Shortly thereafter, a woman from the crowd raised her voice and asked, “How much are you worth, Nancy?”
“Are you in abject poverty?” the woman added.
“We’re not talking about that,” Pelosi said, noting that she has five grown children and can speak “louder than anybody.”
Pelosi is considered one of the wealthiest members of Congress and her net worth is estimated to be approximately $100 million.
Pelosi has routinely criticized the GOP tax reform bill and has referred to the bonuses companies have given employees as a result of the law “crumbs.”
President Trump pushed back on that assertion several weeks ago in West Virginia.
“People are getting 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 dollars. That’s not crumbs. That’s a lot of money,” he said.
Watch the video of the interaction below:
WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the Justice Department on Tuesday to propose regulations to ban so-called bump stocks, which can convert a semiautomatic gun into an automatic weapon like the one used last year in the massacre of concertgoers in Las Vegas.
Speaking at the White House days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 14 students and three teachers, Mr. Trump said that he had directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop the regulations, saying that the step would help prevent future mass shootings.
“We cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Mr. Trump said at a ceremony as he conferred the medal of valor on public safety officials. “We must actually make a difference.”
The White House had said last year that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was performing a review of whether it could regulate bump stocks after that shooting, which killed dozens of people. Even as Mr. Trump was speaking on Tuesday, a bureau official told a reporter that the review was continuing.
But the president said that he had signed a memorandum on Tuesday effectively short-circuiting that review.
Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court released a new congressional map Monday, potentially bolstering Democratic opportunities in the Keystone State.
Republicans are expected to launch a challenge to stop the new lines from taking effect. In the meantime, as candidates and incumbents digest the new boundaries, Democrats see better chances for victory in some of their top targets.
The new map follows a lawsuit that alleged the original GOP-drawn map represented an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Though the Keystone State is competitive in presidential and gubernatorial elections, Republicans have won 13 of the state’s 18 House seats in the last three elections.
“This map is now a return to Pennsylvania being towards the center of the political universe when it comes to competitive congressional races,” said J.J. Balaban, a Democratic strategist in Pennsylvania. “In a state that arguably had one competitive congressional seat for the past three cycles, now it has six.”
While the 18 districts have been renumbered under the new map, initial analyses indicate the new lines preclude incumbent-on-incumbent contests that can happen in the redistricting process.
Democrats were already targeting six GOP-held House seats and they’re expected to target roughly the same number of seats, though with a few changes. A number of these seat are more Democratic leaning under the new map.
The greatest gains for Democrats would appear to be in the Philadelphia suburbs. Retiring Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan’s district shifted from one Hillary Clinton carried by 2 points in 2016 to one she did by 28 points, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections and political scientist Brian Amos.
Watch: The Many Ways to Draw a Gerrymander
GOP Rep. Ryan A. Costello’s district, also in the Philadelphia suburbs, is another major target for Democrats, who see their candidate Chrissy Houlahan as a top recruit. Clinton’s winning margin in his district shifted from barely a point to nearly 10 points.
Another Philadelphia-area GOP congressman, Brian Fitzpatrick, still finds himself in a competitive seat. President Donald Trump carried his district by less than a point, while under the the new lines, Clinton did so by 2 points.
The new map also improved Democratic chances in another target, the seat held by outgoing GOP Rep. Charlie Dent. Clinton carried the newly drawn Lehigh Valley-based district by 1 point. The previous district voted for Trump by 8 points.
One Democratic target became more Republican under the new map. GOP Rep. Lloyd K. Smucker’s seat shifted from one Trump carried by 7 points to one he did by 26.
While Democrats might have less of an opportunity against Smucker, they could have a better opportunity near Pittsburgh against GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus. Trump’s winning margin in his district shifted from 21 points to 3 points.
Democrats were not initially targeting Rothfus, though the seat could be an opportunity for Conor Lamb, currently running in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th District seat. Lamb appears to live in Rothfus’ newly configured district.
The districts held by Republican Scott Perry and Democrat Matt Cartwright also became more competitive under the new map, strategists said.
While Democrats may hold the advantage this year, the new districts are still competitive for both parties, Balaban pointed out.
“Best guess based on this map is for a 9-9 delegation in 2019 coming from Pennsylvania,” Balaban said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also lauded the new boundaries in a statement Monday night.
“More maps should look like Pennsylvania’s, so that there is a level playing field for candidates to compete and earn the trust of voters,” DCCC communications director Meredith Kelly said.
Another legal battle ahead?
With the filing deadline set for March 20 and the primary scheduled for May 15, incumbents and challengers do not have a lot of time to digest the map and launch their campaigns in the new districts.
And Republicans are vowing to appeal.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and state House Speaker Mike Turzai called the new map the “ultimate partisan gerrymander” in favor of Democrats.
“Implementation of this map would create a constitutional crisis where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is usurping the authority of the Legislative and Executive branches,” they said in a joint statement Monday. “We anticipate further action in federal court.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee also pointed to the impending legal battle in a statement Tuesday about the new congressional map.
“State and federal GOP officials will sue in federal court as soon as tomorrow to prevent the new partisan map from taking effect,” NRCC communications director Matt Gorman said. “The suit will highlight the state supreme court’s rushed decision that created chaos, confusion, and unnecessary expense in the 2018 election cycle.”
The United States Supreme Court previously rejected GOP lawmakers’ attempt to involve it in the lawsuit. GOP lawmakers had sought to halt the ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the current map violated the state constitution. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. rejected the request but did not explain why in a one-line announcement.
George and Amal Clooney announced Tuesday they will donate $500,000 to the student-led “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington and will walk in the protest on March 24 protest to push for gun control.
“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” George Clooney said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.”
The “March for Our Lives” protest was announced Sunday in wake of the Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.
The Clooneys’ are the latest to join a growing list of celebrities who have announced their support for student efforts including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Cher.
Film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn have also announced their intention to donate $500,000 and participate in the march following the Clooney announcement.
“Marilyn and I are proud to stand with the brave young leaders from Parkland, Florida,” Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. “We will join Amal and George Clooney on March 24 to stand alongside these remarkable young people. We are also donating $500,000 to March for Our Lives to support this historic event.”
The March for Our Lives is not the first cause the Clooneys’ have put their support behind. In August, the couple made a $1 million dollar donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center through their own Clooney Foundation in response to the Charlottesville protests.
The U.S. Supreme Court says it won’t hear a case challenging California’s 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases.
California’s waiting period is one of the longest in the nation. It was created so authorities have time to do background checks and in case a person is trying to by a gun to do harm.
But petitioners argue the state’s full “cooling off period” shouldn’t apply to “subsequent purchasers,” or people who already own a firearm.
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented the Supreme Court’s decision. He said its inaction is a signal the Second Amendment is “a disfavored right in this Court.”
Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.
Donald Trump Jr. has “liked” two tweets pushing conspiracy theories about a Parkland, Fla., high school shooting survivor and his former FBI agent father.
“#RT @GrahamLedger: Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who Works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office Which botched tracking down the Man behind the Valentine day massacre? Just wondering. Just connecting some dots…” the first tweet from One America News Network host Graham Ledger read.
#RT @GrahamLedger: Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who Works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office Which botched tracking down the Man behind the Valentine day massacre? Just wondering. Just connecting some dots… https://t.co/eMFOepw0Me— One America News (@OANN) February 20, 2018
“VIDEO: Outspoken Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor is Son of FBI Agent; MSM Helps Prop Up Incompetent Bureau,” the second tweet by True Pundit’s Thomas Paine continued.
The student, David Hogg, gained national attention for the emotional interviews he has given following the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, in which ex-student Nikolas Cruz, 19, killed 17 people with an AR-15 style firearm.
“We’re children. You guys are the adults,” Hogg, a senior, told CNN on Thursday. “You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done.”
On Sunday, Hogg lashed out at President Trump for his online rhetoric about the FBI’s failure to follow-up tips it had received about Cruz before the massacre.
“I think it’s disgusting, personally. My father’s a retired FBI agent and the FBI are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever seen in my life,” the 17-year-old told CNN. “It’s wrong that the president is blaming them for this.”
Trump Jr. approved of a similar tweet from conservative commentator Kurt Schlichter on Thursday that blasted the FBI for its handling of the Cruz case, claiming the agency had been distracted by its Russia investigation.