The Latest: Trumps attend church services on Christmas Eve

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 24, 2016 11:11 PM
The Latest: Trumps attend church services on Christmas Eve

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest news from President-elect Donald Trump (all times local):

10:35 p.m.

Donald Trump is kicking off Christmas by attending midnight services at an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida.

The president-elect and his wife, Melania, arrived Saturday night at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. The soon-to-be first couple were married at the church in 2005.

Trump has bemoaned the increased use of the term "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas" as a sign that Christianity is under attack. As president, he's said, he'll reverse the trend.

The president-elect is spending the holidays at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, where he's been holding meetings with senior staff, advisers and business executives.

Trump tweeted wishes for a "Happy Hanukkah" earlier Saturday.

___

9:25 p.m.

The Democratic National Committee is criticizing President-elect Donald Trump for not doing more to address potential conflicts of interest as he prepares to assume the presidency.

Trump said Saturday that he will dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation amid efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest.

In a response, the Democratic National Committee is dismissing Trump's move as "a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving."

The statement from Democratic Party spokesman Eric Walker also says that closing a charity "is no substitute for divesting from his for-profit business and putting the assets in a blind trust." The party says doing that is "the only way to guarantee separation between the Trump administration and the Trump business."

___

7:55 p.m.

One of Donald Trump's senior communications staffers says he will not take the job of White House communications director after all.

Jason Miller said in a statement Saturday that he's decided not to accept the role offered to him by Trump so he can spend more time with his family.

Miller was one of the main spokesmen for Trump's transition team. He says he and his wife are expecting their second daughter in January and "this is not the right time to start a new job."

He says that after spending the past week with his family, "it is clear they need to be my top priority right now."

Miller says he has handed all of his responsibilities to incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who will serve as communications director as well as press secretary.

___

5:05 p.m.

Donald Trump says the decision by the United Nations to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem "will make it much harder to negotiate peace."

The president-elect took to Twitter on Saturday, a day after the U.N. Security Council vote on the settlements.

Trump says that the decision is "too bad, but we will get it done anyway."

Trump didn't elaborate, but a move by the Obama administration to abstain from Friday's U.N. vote brushes aside Trump's demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel's leadership.

Trump told The Associated Press a year ago that he wanted to be "very neutral" on Israel-Palestinian issues. But his tone on the issue became decidedly more pro-Israel as the presidential campaign progressed. He has spoken disparagingly of Palestinians, saying they have been "taken over" by or are condoning militant groups.

___

5 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump says he will dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation amid efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office next month.

Trump said in a statement Saturday that his charitable foundation "has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children."

He said that given the conflicts of interest, he will pursue philanthropic efforts in other ways, without elaborating on how he'd do so.

Trump said he's directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to implement the dissolution.

The revelation comes a day after Trump lamented the fact that his son Eric would be stepping away from his charitable foundation due to conflicts of interest.

___

3 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to expand America's nuclear capacity while simultaneously urging Russia to avoid an "alternate path" away from stability and cooperation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a letter to Trump that "relations between Russia and the U.S. remain an important factor in ensuring stability and security in the modern world."

Trump said in response that he hopes "both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path."

The exchange comes after both Trump and Putin spoke about the need to strengthen their countries' nuclear arsenals.

Tensions have been mounting between the U.S. and Russia in recent months after the FBI and CIA said Moscow interfered in the presidential election with the goal of supporting Trump.