EPA chief claims he needs first-class flights to avoid 'unpleasant' interactions with taxpayers in coach
It seemed like it could be the great mystery of our time: What unspecified threats require Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt to fly almost exclusively in business or first class? A spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday that "due to security concerns" the secretary "has a blanket waiver to fly in first or business class," a decision that has increasingly come under scrutiny as President Trump's Cabinet draws concerns over their expensive travel.
In one case, taxpayers footed the bill for Pruitt's round-trip business-class flight to Italy, which cost at least $7,000 and was "several times the cost of what was paid for other staffers who accompanied him on the trip," CBS News adds.
Pruitt offered a glimpse into his air troubles in an interview with The New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday, when he said: "Unfortunately ... we've had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe." He added: "We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment" and said he was "not involved" with decisions such as those that led to $90,000 spent on his travel during a period in June.
"Those are all made by the [security] detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff," he said.
At last, on Wednesday, Pruitt gave a definitive — and relatable — answer:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has broken months of silence about his frequent premium-class flights at taxpayer expense, saying he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers.
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) February 14, 2018
Still, refusing to fly with people who can only afford coach is not a great look, to say the least. HuffPost's Igor Bobic points out that Pruitt is "a public servant, paid by those some travelers." Jeva Lange
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Washington beginning Monday to speak before Congress and meet with President Trump, and in a Fox News Sunday appearance he said he will use this time to promote a long-term U.S. occupation of Syria, including nation-building programs.
"We will have to build the new Syria after [the Islamic State is defeated], and that's why I think the U.S. hold is very important," Macron said. "Why? I will be very blunt. The day we will finish this war against ISIS, if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad and his guys, and they will prepare the new war. They will fuel the new terrorists."
"So, my point is to say, even after the end of the war against ISIS," he continued, "the U.S., France, our allies, all the countries of the region, even Russia and Turkey, will have a very important role to play in order to create this new Syria and ensure Syrian people to decide for the future."
Watch the full interview below, and read The Washington Post's preview of Macron's trip, which is expected to focus significantly on persuading Trump to keep the United States in the Iran nuclear deal. Bonnie Kristian
Kellyanne Conway bristles over questions about her husband's tweets: 'It's fascinating to me that CNN would go there'
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's husband, George Conway, does not seem to share his wife's boundless enthusiasm for defending President Trump. He has repeatedly tweeted critiques of the president, going after Trump's Twitter habits, his staff turnover, and, most recently, his understanding of the law.
When Conway appeared on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, this was not a topic she wanted to discuss. "It's fascinating to me that CNN would go there, but it's very good for the whole world to have just witnessed ... that it's now fair game how people's spouses and significant others may differ with them," Conway told host Dana Bash.
Bash protested the question was not intended to be critical and had nothing to do with Conway's gender, only her husband's high profile as a conservative lawyer. "Oh, of course it was [critical]," Conway replied. "It was meant to harass and embarrass," she continued, labeling the exchange a "cross the Rubicon moment."
Watch a clip of the interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— Axios (@axios) April 22, 2018
Leaving or attempting to change the nuclear deal will undermine U.S. diplomacy, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned in a press conference in New York Saturday.
"That's a very dangerous message to send to people of Iran but also to the people of the world," he said, "that you should never come to an agreement with the United States, because at the end of the day the operating principle of the United States is, 'What's mine is mine; what's yours is negotiable.'"
Zarif made similar comments in a CBS interview Sunday, arguing that exiting the deal "will lead to U.S. isolation in the international community" because it will show "the United States is not a reliable partner," and that "the length or the duration of any agreement would depend on the duration of the presidency."
President Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to maintain the agreement. Watch the full CBS interview below. Bonnie Kristian
Four people were killed and four others injured when a gunman dressed only in a coat opened fire around 3:30 a.m. local time at a Waffle House near Nashville. The shooting suspect has been identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Illinois. A Waffle House patron, James Shaw Jr., wrestled the gun away from the attacker, who left his coat and fled the crime scene nude.
BREAKING: Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, IL, is person of interest in Waffle House shooting. Vehicle the gunman arrived in is registered to him. Gunman last seen walking south on Murfreesboro Pike. He shed is coat and is nude. See Reinking? Pls call 615-862-8600 immediately. pic.twitter.com/duoWCo5fC0
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 22, 2018
"If you see a nude guy walking around, call the police immediately," said Metropolitan Nashville Police Department representative Don Aaron. "We believe he may be the suspect in this." A man dressed only in pants and fitting Reinking's description was seen later Sunday morning in a wooded area within a mile of the Waffle House but was not apprehended at that time. A manhunt is ongoing as of midday Sunday.
This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more details become available. Bonnie Kristian
The oldest person in the world, a Japanese woman named Nabi Tajima, died Saturday at the age of 117.
Tajima had been the world's oldest person since September, and she was hospitalized beginning in January. Born on August 4, 1900, Tajima had nine children and about 160 descendants over the course of her life. She was the last person verified to have lived in the 19th century.
The world's oldest person, Japanese native Nabi Tajima, died at the age of 117 on Saturday; the world record for oldest person is now passed to fellow Japanese native, Chiyo Yoshida pic.twitter.com/BFHIT6dbAL
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) April 22, 2018
President Trump made a pair of posts on U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations on Twitter Sunday, apparently in response to his morning's viewing of cable news:
Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
....We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t - only time will tell....But the work I am doing now should have been done a long time ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
Many experts consider denuclearization an unrealistic aim, as Pyongyang considers a nuclear arsenal its best insurance against forcible regime change. North Korean state media reports have pointed to the U.S.-orchestrated ousters of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi as evidence that "powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsider's aggression." Bonnie Kristian
While President Trump has in public enthusiastically praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's Saturday announcement that he would cease nuclear and missile testing and shutter a testing site, behind closed doors, the Trump administration is reportedly unsure of how to interpret Kim's offer.
White House aides are skeptical of the freeze proposal, The Washington Post and The New York Times both reported Saturday evening. They worry Kim's concession will create an "illusion" of cooperation without making all the changes — including total denuclearization, which many experts consider to be an unrealistic aim — the administration hopes to secure in upcoming Trump-Kim talks.
"The reality is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we have to deal with that reality," Toby Dalton, co-director of nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Post. "The gap between reality and what we're planning for is problematic," he argues, "as it creates expectations that can't be met in the summit process, and we're back to where we were." Bonnie Kristian