McMaster out, Bolton in as Trump’s national security adviser
WASHINGTON (AP) — Charging ahead with the dramatic remaking of his White House, President Donald Trump said Thursday he would replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster with the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a foreign policy hawk entering a White House facing key decisions on Iran and North Korea.
After weeks of speculation about McMaster’s future, Trump and the respected three-star general put a positive face on the departure, making no reference to the growing public friction between them. Trump tweeted Thursday that McMaster had done “an outstanding job & will always remain my friend.” He said Bolton will take over April 9 as his third national security adviser in just over a year.
The national security shakeup comes as the president is increasingly shedding advisers who once eased the Republican establishment’s concerns about the foreign policy and political novice in the White House. McMaster is the sixth close adviser or aide to announce a departure in a turbulent six weeks, joining ally Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was unceremoniously fired last week.
The White House has said the president is seeking to put new foreign policy leaders in place ahead of not-yet-scheduled meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. Bolton is likely to add a hard-line influence to those talks, as well as deliberations over whether to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The White House said Thursday that McMaster’s exit had been under discussion for some time and stressed it was not due to any one incident, including this week’s stunning leak about Trump’s recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Life support ending for ‘brain dead’ school shooting victim
A teenage girl was brain dead days after being shot when a classmate opened fire inside their Maryland high school and was to be removed from life support, her mother said Thursday.
Melissa Willey told news reporters Thursday night that her daughter, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey had “no life left in her.” She said Jaelynn would be removed from life support during the evening, by the family’s decision.
The mother, holding a young baby, said, “On Tuesday … our lives changed completely and totally forever. My daughter was hurt by a boy who shot her in the head and took everything from our lives.”
The teen was shot Tuesday by 17-year-old Austin Rollins at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County.
Rollins died after shooting Willey. A school resource officer got there within a minute and fired a shot at Rollins, but it’s not yet clear whether Rollins was killed by the officer’s bullet or took his own life.
10Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. HOW MARKETS REACTED TO TRUMP’S PLAN ON TARIFFS FOR CHINA
The Dow Jones Industrial average plunged more than 700 points after the President’s announcement amid worries about a trade war with China.
1. ANOTHER CABINET SHAKEUP FOR WHITE HOUSE
President Trump announced he is replacing national security adviser H.R. McMaster with hawkish former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
China may hike tariffs on US pork, aluminum, other goods
BEIJING (AP) — China announced a list of U.S. goods including pork, apples and steel pipe on Friday on which it might raise tariffs in an escalating trade dispute with President Donald Trump.
The Commerce Ministry called on Washington to negotiate a settlement to the conflict over higher U.S. import duties on steel and aluminum but set no deadline.
Beijing’s move appeared to be a calculated step aimed at increasing domestic American pressure on Trump by making clear which exporters, especially farming areas that supported the president in the 2016 election, might be hurt.
The dispute has weighed on global financial markets amid concern it could spiral into a damaging round of retaliatory import controls by governments worldwide.
The higher American duties on aluminum and steel have little impact on China, which exports only a small amount of those products to the United States. But private sector analysts have said Beijing would feel obligated to take action to avoid looking weak in a high-profile dispute.
Communist Party will regulate China’s media, film industry
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese state media will be getting more propaganda now that the Communist Party has announced it will be in direct control of broadcasters and the regulators of everything from movies and TV to books and radio programs.
The move is part of a push by President Xi Jinping — emboldened by the removal of term limits on his time in office — to tighten party supervision over broad swaths of Chinese public life as he pushes for what he calls “unity in thought” among officials and citizens.
Analysts say having direct oversight of the media will help the party hammer home its message domestically and also work to improve its image internationally.
“It’s one vast effort to get everybody thinking together,” said David Zweig, director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Under the plan announced Wednesday, China Radio International, China National Radio and China Central Television, along with its international broadcast arm, China Global Television Network, will be merged into a new body with a name that translates to “Voice of China.”
Former Playboy model says Trump tried to pay her after sex
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Playboy model apologized to first lady Melania Trump for a 10-month affair she claims she had with President Donald Trump that started with him offering her money after the first time they had sex.
During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired Thursday night, Karen McDougal said Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006.
“Well, after we had been intimate, he, he tried to pay me. And I actually didn’t know how to take that,” she said. “But I looked at him and I said, ‘That’s not me. I’m not that kind of girl.'”
She cried on the way home and didn’t think she would see him again, but agreed to go on other dates with him after he called her back, she said. McDougal repeatedly described Trump as “very charming” and “sweet.”
McDougal said she continued the relationship with Trump for about 10 months and broke it off in April 2007 because she felt guilty. She recalled travelling to meet Trump at his properties in New York, New Jersey and California and said she had sex with him “many dozens of times.”
Mom: Austin bomber’s black roommate held until suspect found
PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (AP) — The mother of a man who lived with the suspected Austin bomber said Thursday that her son was handcuffed, taken into custody by SWAT officers and held overnight before police found the suspect who blew himself up.
Jennifer Withers told The Associated Press that her 26-year-old son, Collin Thomas, who is black, was walking from work Wednesday in Pflugerville, just north of Austin, to the house he and another man shared with serial bombing suspect Mark Conditt when a group of officers “flew at him.” She said he was questioned about the bombings but none of his family was notified about where he was.
After Conditt died, Thomas was eventually released, she said.
Earlier Thursday, police said they’d released Conditt’s other roommate. They refused to name him, saying he wasn’t currently under arrest.
Austin police spokeswoman Anna Sabana said neither roommate has been charged. She said she did not know why Thomas was detained forcibly in the way his mother described.
Behind Facebook’s baby step fixes: Defending its ad business
NEW YORK (AP) — Wondering why Facebook seems to be taking baby steps to address the biggest scandal in its history? Stronger safeguards on user data might damage Facebook’s core business of using what it knows about you to sell ads that target your interests.
Facebook is proposing only narrow countermeasures that address the specifics of the furor over Cambridge Analytica. That’s the data mining firm that worked for Donald Trump’s campaign, and now stands accused of lifting data from some 50 million Facebook users for the purpose of influencing voters.
Those measures, announced Wednesday by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, mostly involve new limits on what Facebook apps can do with the user data they collect. One such errant app was central to the Cambridge Analytica debacle.
But those steps don’t get at what many outsiders see as bigger problems at Facebook: its rampant data collection from users, its embrace of political ads that target individuals and small demographic groups with precision, and its apparent inability to end malicious use of its service by governments, shady corporations and criminal elements.
“They’re being very deft and creating the illusion of trust,” said Scott Galloway, a New York University professor of marketing. But by focusing on the mechanics of how apps work on its service, he said, Facebook is failing to take meaningful action to ensure it’s not “weaponized” by scammers, manipulators and other nefarious types.
Bolton may herald rightward shift in Trump’s foreign policy
WASHINGTON (AP) — John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser — and his third to date — is a divisive foreign policy figure who was an unabashed supporter of the Iraq war and advocates regime change in Iran.
The rise of the moustached Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador under President George W. Bush who served in three federal agencies under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, is likely to herald a rightward shift in Trump’s foreign policy and an embrace of more hard-line policies.
Bolton, 69, has been an especially outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump had campaigned against the deal and vowed to end it, but instead heeded the advice of two outgoing aides, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to delay the move.
Since firing Tillerson and announcing his intent to replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump has signalled he is eager to make good on his promise on Iran. On Tuesday he coyly said, “You’re gonna see what I do.”
Trump had originally considered choosing Bolton, a Fox News contributor, as his secretary of state. But Bolton’s background complicated his chances for Senate confirmation.
House OKs $1.3 trillion budget bill, but Senate stalls
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress was poised to pass a giant $1.3 trillion spending bill that would end the budget battles for now, but not without risking another shutdown as conservatives objected to big outlays on Democratic priorities at a time when Republicans control the House, Senate and White House.
This would be the third federal shutdown this year, an outcome both parties want to avoid. But in crafting a sweeping deal that busts budget caps, they’ve stirred conservative opposition and set the contours for the next funding fight ahead of the midterm election.
The House easily approved the measure Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country.
But action stalled in the Senate, as conservatives ran the clock in protest. They can’t stop the bill indefinitely. But without agreement, voting would spill into the weekend, past the midnight Friday deadline to fund the government.
“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who spent the afternoon tweeting details found in the 2,200-page bill that was released the night before. “No one has read it. Congress is broken.”