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4 of 200 RESULTS Copy Story Download Assets Trump advisers warn North Korea to give up weapons programs

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SOMERSET, N.J. (AP) — Top advisers to President Donald Trump on Sunday warned North Korea to give up its missile and nuclear weapons programs and to quit making threats against the U.S. and its allies or face destruction.

The warnings came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to continue the weapons programs, saying his country is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States. They also come as world leaders begin arriving in New York for the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly this week, where the topic of North Korea will be high on the agenda.

Trump will be making his first appearance at the U.N. General Assembly, his biggest moment on the world stage since January’s inauguration. He is scheduled to address the world body, which he has criticized as weak and incompetent, on Tuesday.

Trump tweeted Sunday that he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed North Korea during their latest telephone conversation on Saturday. Trump spoke with Moon from his New Jersey golf club, where aides said he spent the weekend preparing for his U.N. debut.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Kim is “going to have to give up his nuclear weapons because the president has said he’s not going to tolerate this regime threatening the United States and our citizens with a nuclear weapon.”

Asked if that meant Trump would launch a military strike, McMaster said “he’s been very clear about that, that all options are on the table.”

Kim has threatened Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, and has fired two missiles over Japan, a U.S. ally in Asia, including one missile that was launched on Friday. North Korea also recently tested its most powerful bomb.

The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously twice in recent weeks to tighten economic sanctions on North Korea, including targeting shipments of oil and other fuel used in missile testing. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said North Korea was starting to “feel the pinch.”

But she also warned of a tougher U.S. response in the future, saying the Security Council has “pretty much exhausted” all of its options and that she would be happy to turn the matter over to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “because he has plenty of military options.”

Mattis said earlier this month, after Kim tested a hydrogen bomb, that the U.S. will answer any threat from the North with a “massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.”

Trump has threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea. Haley said that wasn’t an empty threat from the president but, when asked, she declined to describe the president’s intentions.

“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed and we all know that and none of us want that,” Haley said. “None of us want war. But we also have to look at the fact that you are dealing with someone who is being reckless, irresponsible and is continuing to give threats not only to the United States, but to all their allies, so something is going to have to be done.”

In Sunday’s tweet, Trump said he asked Moon about “Rocket Man” — an apparent reference to Kim. Trump also tweeted that long lines for gas are forming in North Korea and called it “too bad.”

The White House said after Trump’s tweet that he and Moon are committed to strengthening deterrence and defense capabilities, and maximizing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

Trump plans to sit down with Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the U.N. General Assembly session this week.

Haley spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and McMaster appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”
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Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow

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The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan. 

The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.

In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.

Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President

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(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.

Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.

Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.

Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.

Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

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California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris

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(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office. 

Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.

“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.

Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”

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