FBI director Christopher Wray has said white nationalism is a “persistent, pervasive threat” – breaking with Donald Trump’s comments in the wake of the New Zealand terror attacks.
“The danger. I think, of white supremacists, violent extremism or another kind of extremism is of course significant,” Wray said during a House appropriations committee hearing on Thursday.
“We assess that it is a persistent, pervasive threat. We tackle it both through our joint terrorism task forces on the domestic terrorism side as well as through our civil rights program on the civil side through hate crime enforcement.”
After a white nationalist murdered 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, Trump played down the threat of white nationalism.
“I don’t really,” Trump said when he was asked if white nationalism was growing. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.”
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since late 1969, Associated Press is reporting.
“Weekly applications for jobless aid fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000, the Labor department said Thursday. That is the lowest since the week of December 6 1969,” AP said.
It’s some good news even as other data, such as weak consumer and business spending, and sluggish growth overseas, point to slower US growth this year.
The jobs report for March is released tomorrow, which will be another indicator of how the US economy is faring. February’s report was disappointing, with the US adding just 20,000 jobs, well below the 180,000 economists had expected.
Trump retreats on Mexico border threat
Donald Trump has scrapped his stated plan to close the border with Mexico, saying instead he would give the country a “one-year warning”.
Six days ago Trump said he would close the border this week, unless Mexico “immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States through our southern border”.
But speaking to reporters this afternoon Trump backtracked on his border closure threat, which had been criticized by advisers and business leaders.
We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars.
And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.
The Department of Justice has released a statement defending attorney general Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, after the New York Times said several of Mueller’s investigators were unhappy with Barr’s synopsis.
In a statement department of justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the report could not be released as “every page” was marked as containing potentially damaging information.
Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the attorney general decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately – without attempting to summarize the report – with the understanding the report itself would be released after the redaction process.
She added that the DoJ is working with the special counsel on “appropriate redactions to the report so that it can released to Congress and the public”.
Trump is meeting China’s vice president at 4pm. Here’s some brief remarks from Trump on trade talks with China, per the White House pool report:
Trump promised to talk more later on the deal but he voiced optimism that the talks are progressing. “They very much want to make a deal.”
But [Trump] said: “It has to be a great deal. If it is not a great deal, we’re not doing it.”
He said the talks are “very well along.” And said: “Everything is covered” though “we could have done a quickie” covering fewer things.
Vogue takes a look at the dogs, musical tastes, and hobbies of the women running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The story was prompted by complaints that white male candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg are getting more attention for their endearing personal quirks.
The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
The legislation bars people convicted of stalking or domestic violence from buying a gun, prompting the National Rifle Association to oppose it.
The vote was 263-158, the Hill reported, with 33 Republicans breaking with the rest of their party to vote for the legislation.
Donald Trump is threatening to slap tariffs on cars produced in Mexico unless the country does more to stop migrants trying to enter the U.S. From the Associated Press:
Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that if that “powerful incentive” but “less drastic measure” doesn’t work, he’ll go through with his standing threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Republican president had threatened last week to close the border this week unless Mexico immediately halted “ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States.” He has since praised the country for doing more.
Trump also is threatening tariffs if Mexico doesn’t halt the flow of illegal drugs across the border. And he says he’s giving Mexico “a one year warning” to comply.
He says: “I’ll do it. I don’t play games”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to say whether Robert Mueller should testify before Congress.
“I’m not going into that. I think they should release the report. That’s where the evidence is, the information is. Let’s see the report,” Pelosi told reporters, according to the Hill. “If they don’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t worry.”
The heads of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees have said that Mueller should testify.
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg called for abolishing the death penalty.
“It is time to face the simple fact that capital punishment as seen in America has always been a discriminatory practice and we would be a fairer and safer country when we join the ranks of modern nations who have abolished the death penalty,” he said while speaking at the National Action Network convention, Huffington Post reported.
Senator Elizabeth Warren asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate whether the White House has overruled the Secret Service on decisions about who can meet with Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
The senator and presidential candidate requested the probe in a letter along with Massachusetts Rep. Steve Lynch, Talking Points Memo reports.
Access policies at Mar-a-Lago have drawn scrutiny after a Chinese national was arrested there carrying multiple cell phones and a thumb drive containing malware. The White House reportedly refused to cooperated with a prior investigation by the Government Accountability Office.
“This refusal of the White House to cooperate with this investigation, combined with the arrest earlier this week and other allegations of easy access to the President and his family at Mar-a-Lago, mean that at least one key question remains open: is the White House appropriately reviewing and making the correct recommendations regarding which individuals are granted access to the President, at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere?” the letter reads, according to TPM.
There are “dozens” of current and former Trump administration staffers acting as whistle-blowers with the House Oversight Committee, a Democratic aide tells the Atlantic.
The oversight committee has always worked with White House whistle-blowers. But the number of whistle-blowers who have come forward since Trump became president is far higher than the number who cooperated with the panel in previous administrations, according to the Atlantic.
Alaska Rep. Don Young physically shoved a Politico reporter at the Capitol today, the reporter says.
“I thought it was a joke when someone asked me to comment on the President saying wind turbines caused cancer. We looked it up. It’s what he said!” O’Rourke said today in Iowa, MSNBC reported.
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is addressing his use of the phrase “all lives matter,” in response to controversies over police misconduct.
“What I did not understand at that time was that phrase was coming to be used as a sort of counter-slogan to Black Lives Matter,” the South Bend, Indiana mayor said today. “Since learning about how that phrase was being used, I have stopped using it.”
Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, is criticizing Buttigieg for using the phrase in 2015.
Meanwhile, more on the tricky pronunciation of the Democratic hopeful’s name: Rev. Al Sharpton pledged at his National Action Network convention today to get it right, eventually. “It took me two months to say Obama’s name right and I ended up endorsing him,” he said, according to CBS News.
Donald Trump plans to name Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve board, Axios reports.
Cain is the pizza chain CEO who ran for president in 2012, but dropped out of the Republican primary after sexual harassment allegations.
Trump is telling confidants he’ll wait for a background check to be completed on Cain before formally announcing the nomination, according to Axios.