Trump and Romney, once bitter rivals, smile and shake hands
BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump and Mitt Romney met Saturday at the billionaire’s golf club in New Jersey, putting a year of conflict aside for a smiling handshake — though they did not indicate what, if any, role the 2012 GOP hopeful might play in the new administration.
Trump flashed a thumbs-up and said the sit down “went great.” Romney said the two had a “far reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance.”
The amiable tone was a marked contrast to a rancorous year, in which Romney attacked Trump as a “con man” and a “phony.” But the two have started to mend fences since the Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Romney was only one of a parade of officials pouring through Trump’s door as the president-elect tries to fill more members of his administration. He met Saturday with education activists Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos, as well as retired Gen. James Mattis, considered a contender to lead the Pentagon.
Emerging from the white-pillared clubhouse on the rolling green golf course late in the day, Trump said: “we’re seeing tremendous talent. People that, like I say, we will ‘Make America Great Again.’ These are really great people. These are really, really talented people.”
Trump opponents try to beat him at the Electoral College
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Grassroots campaigns have sprung up around the country to try to persuade members of the Electoral College to do something that has never been done in American history — deny the presidency to the clear Election Day winner.
Activists are circulating online petitions and using social media in hopes of influencing Republican electors to cast their ballots for someone other than President-elect Donald Trump and deprive him of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become the next occupant of the White House.
“Yes, I think it’s a longshot, but I also think we’re living in strange times,” said Daniel Brezenoff, who created a petition in favor of Hillary Clinton and is asking signers to lobby electors by email or phone. “If it was ever plausible, it’s this year.”
Trump has won 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, with Michigan undecided, but Clinton is on pace to win the popular vote by at least 1 million ballots. Trump’s opponents are motivated by the outcome of the popular vote and by their contention that the businessman and reality TV star is unfit to serve as commander in chief.
Just one elector so far has wavered publicly on supporting Trump.
Debate over ‘Hamilton’ speech exposes post-election cracks
NEW YORK (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump demanded an apology from the cast of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” a day after an actor in the hit show delivered a pointed message about diversity to his running mate who was in attendance. The speech aimed at Mike Pence prompted angry responses from liberals and conservatives alike — underscoring yet again the fractious aftermath of the 2016 election.
The bitter back-and-forth came after the vice president-elect caught Friday night’s performance of “Hamilton” with his nephew and daughter. A mixture of boos and cheers could be heard inside the theater as Pence took his seat. When the show ended, Pence was asked by a cast member to hear a prepared speech after the curtain call from the multiracial and multicultural cast, saying it is concerned about the Trump administration.
“We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” said Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation’s third vice president, as his fellow actors joined hands. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
The unusual address quickly went viral and Trump on Saturday tweeted that it was “very rude,” arguing that Pence was “harassed” and theater “must always be a safe and special place.” He urged the cast to apologize. Dixon responded on Twitter that “conversation is not harassment sir” and added that he appreciated Pence stopping to listen.
Pence had ducked out before Dixon finished the unprecedented message but heard the full remarks from the hallway outside the auditorium.
Political risks come with control of Washington for GOP
WASHINGTON (AP) — For Republicans, there will be no one left to blame.
As they prepare to take control of the White House and both chambers of Congress next year, Republicans are celebrating the opportunity to enact a new agenda for the country, including lowering taxes, securing the border and repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law.
But with that opportunity comes massive political risk: If President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans don’t deliver, they will face a serious reckoning with voters. That could begin with the 2018 midterm elections, when every House member and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election.
“The American public has clearly said that they want to go a different direction,” said Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado. “And if we are not effective in moving in that different direction, they will take the opportunity away from us, and they will return it to the Democrats.”
Said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, speaking Friday at the Federalist Society: “It’s time to put up or shut up. There are no excuses.”
What more to discuss? For Obama and world leaders it’s Trump
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Trying to tie up loose ends of his foreign policy agenda, President Barack Obama on Saturday instead found world leaders more focused on someone else: President-elect Donald Trump.
Global hand-wringing over America’s next president has taken much of the wind out of Obama’s final overseas trip. Adopting an altruistic tone, Obama has offered frequent reassurances that the U.S. won’t renege on its commitments. Yet he’s been at a loss to quell concerns fully, given new signals from Trump that he intends to govern much the way he campaigned.
Obama’s visit to Peru, the last stop on his trip, has brought those concerns to the forefront: Much of Latin America is on edge about a potentially dramatic shift in U.S. immigration policy under Trump. And Asian leaders gathered in Lima for an Asia-Pacific economic summit are trying to game out what Trump’s presidency will mean for trade with the world’s largest economy.
“We’re going to have a busy agenda,” Obama said as he sat down with leaders of countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the sweeping free trade deal with Asia that Obama painstakingly brokered.
It was unclear whether their agenda was really as busy as all that. Vehemently opposed to the Pacific agreement and similar deals, Trump has vowed it won’t be ratified on his watch. In an acknowledgement of that political reality, the White House has stopped actively lobbying Congress to try to pass it.
S. Korean prosecutors say Park conspired with her friend
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean prosecutors on Sunday said they believe President Park Geun-hye conspired in criminal activities of a secretive confidante who allegedly manipulated government affairs and exploited her presidential ties to amass an illicit fortune — a damning revelation that may convince opposition parties to push for her impeachment.
Prosecutors are planning to soon question Park, who has immunity but can be investigated, said Lee Young-ryeol, chief prosecutor of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.
Prosecutors on Sunday formally charged Park’s longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, on suspicion of interfering with state affairs and bullying companies into giving tens of millions of dollars to foundations and businesses she controlled.
In a televised news conference, Lee said that based on the evidence, “the president was involved as a conspirator in a considerable part of the criminal activities by suspects Choi Soon-sil, Ahn Jong-beom and Jung Ho-sung.” He was referring to two presidential aides who also were formally charged Sunday for allegedly helping Choi.
“However, because of the president’s impunity from prosecution stated in Article 84 of the constitution, we cannot indict the president. The special investigation headquarters will continue to push for an investigation of the president based on this judgment,” Lee said.
Police: Missing Kansas newborn found in Dallas; 2 in custody
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found a week-old baby who was reported missing Thursday after her mother was shot to death in Kansas, police said Saturday.
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said baby Sophia was found alive after authorities executed a search warrant before dawn at a Dallas home, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://j.mp/2g8ozZK ). He said the baby is in protective custody and is doing well.
“This is the best possible outcome to a very sad case,” Ramsay said at a news conference.
Two adults were in custody and being interviewed Saturday, Ramsay said. He also said more suspects could be identified, but provided few details, saying “it is still an active investigation.” No one has been charged.
“It’s a complicated case and we want to make sure we get it right,” Ramsay said.
8 arrests as rival protest groups clash near Texas Capitol
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Eight people were arrested on Saturday when a small group of protesters calling themselves White Lives Matter were confronted by counter-demonstrators supporting Black Lives Matter at the Texas State Capitol near where Gov. Greg Abbott had earlier dedicated a monument recognizing the contribution of African-Americans to the state.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Victor Taylor said four of the arrests were for assault, two for evading arrest, one for disorderly conduct and one for “interference with public duty.” Two of those arrested were on Capitol grounds and the others on adjacent streets.
“Some protesters assaulted other protesters,” Taylor said. “We don’t know for sure which side they were on. A lot of them were co-mingled.”
Austin police and state troopers dressed in riot gear and some mounted on horseback had tried to keep the two groups separated.
Taylor said the confrontation did not affect the unveiling of the monument, which was in a different part of the grounds. A state helicopter circled overhead.
Activists: Intense bombing of Syria’s Aleppo kills 20
BEIRUT (AP) — Government bombardment of besieged rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo killed at least 20 people Saturday, the worst since airstrikes resumed earlier this week, said Syrian opposition activists, as the U.S. called for an end to the bombings.
Saturday was the fifth day of renewed assaults by Syrian warplanes on eastern Aleppo districts, a rebel-held enclave of 275,000 people. The onslaught began Tuesday, when Syria’s ally Russia announced its own offensive on the northern rebel-controlled Idlib province and Homs province in central Syria.
The bombing on Saturday came after a day of airstrikes that hit four hospitals in east Aleppo. A statement issued late Friday by the opposition’s Aleppo Health Directorate said that all hospitals in east Aleppo are out of service because of the bombing over the past days.
“The intentional destruction of infrastructure for survival has made the besieged steadfast people, including children, elderly and men and women, without medical facilities to treat them,” the statement said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said not all hospitals in east Aleppo neighborhoods are out of service but people are finding difficulties reaching them because of the intensity of the shelling.
2 juveniles held in fatal shooting of congressman’s grandson
CHICAGO (AP) — Two juveniles are in custody and could be charged in the fatal shooting of an Illinois congressman’s grandson following a dispute over a pair of basketball shoes, a Chicago police spokeswoman said on Saturday.
Officer Michelle Tannehill said the juveniles are considered suspects in the murder of 15-year-old Javon Wilson, who was shot in the head at his home in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago on Friday. Wilson is the grandson of longtime U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.
“The detectives are continuing their interrogations and charges are expected,” Tannehill said on Saturday night. The juveniles in custody have not been identified.
Police earlier said the shooting stemmed from a dispute over basketball shoes. Wilson knew his attackers and they may have been friends at some point.
Davis said he was told a 15-year-old boy had traded slacks for shoes with Wilson’s 14-year-old brother, but thought better of the trade and went to Wilson’s house with a 17-year-old girl. He said the pair forced their way in the house and argued with Wilson before the boy pulled a gun and fired.