The Latest: Trump repeats unproven claim of illegal votes

AP News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 9:05 PM
The Latest: Trump repeats unproven claim of illegal votes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

9 p.m.

President Donald Trump is telling House and Senate leaders he would have won the popular vote in the 2016 election if not for the votes of 3 million to 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

There is no evidence to support Trump's claim.

Trump made the assertion at a meeting with congressional leaders Monday night. That's according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. The Washington Post first reported the conversation.

Trump has made the unverified claims before, tweeting in late November that he had "won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes but lost the Electoral College to Trump.

— By Erica Werner

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5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with congressional leaders in the White House as he starts his first week as president.

Trump was joined by Republican and Democratic congressional leaders from the House and Senate during a reception in the State Dining Room. The reception also included Vice President Mike Pence, top Trump aides Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Trump's senior adviser.

Trump was speaking to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and others as reporters were ushered from the reception. Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional leaders are having a dinner later Monday to discuss health care.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is telling union leaders that he is redoing the nation's trade deals "to put a lot of people back to work."

Trump convened a meeting of about a dozen labor leaders Monday at the White House.

He noted that he earlier in the day signed a memorandum announcing the United States' intention to withdraw from the multi-nation trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump also said he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement "at the appropriate time" and said he wanted future deals to be between just two countries.

The president repeated his campaign criticism of the current agreements, saying it was "inconceivable this was allowed to happen." He has blamed the trade deals for a decline in American manufacturing jobs.

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3:10 p.m.

Donald Trump's press secretary has reiterated the president's support for energy projects like the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Sean Spicer didn't say Monday whether Trump would seek to reverse the Army's decision to explore alternate routes for the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois. But he described projects like Dakota Access as "a big priority."

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters say the pipeline threatens drinking water and Native American cultural sites. Developer Energy Transfer Partners — which Trump once owned stock in — disputes that.

The pipeline is nearly complete but stalled while the Army Corps of Engineers does a full environmental study before deciding whether to allow it to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota.

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3 p.m.

President Donald Trump will visit the Department of Defense Friday to review the anti-Islamic State policy.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the president will visit the Pentagon to attend a ceremony for his newly confirmed defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis.

He says that Trump will also hold discussions with Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review the fight against the Islamic State group.

The U.S. has nearly 5,000 soldiers taking part in the anti-IS coalition in Iraq, as well as special forces in both Iraq and Syria.

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2:46 p.m.

The Trump administration is vowing to defend territories that are in international waters, including those in the South China Sea.

Responding to a question about China's claims over islands in the disputed area, press secretary Sean Spicer says that "we are going to make sure we defend international territories."

China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

Trump ruffled feathers with China early after his Election Day victory, calling the leader of Taiwan and breaking the longstanding tradition of maintaining unofficial ties with the self-governing island.

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2:45 p.m.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump has left his businesses as promised, but another aide acknowledges there's no public documentation proving he's done so.

Spicer's comments come after the news organization ProPublica reported there have been no filings in Florida, Delaware or New York showing that Trump has handed over control of his global business empire to his two adult sons. Trump announced his plans to do so at a Jan. 11 news conference.

Spicer looked to communication aide Hope Hicks when asked about the issue at Monday's press briefing. Hicks said the documents showing the change of management are "not public at this time."

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2:38 p.m.

The Trump administration appears to be backing off a campaign promise to immediately end former President Barack Obama's program to protect young immigrants from deportation.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says that for now the administration will focus on criminal immigrants in the country illegally.

Spicer says in his first press briefing that "for now, that's not ... the focus is going to be on people who have done harm to our country." He had been asked about the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA has protected more 750,000 young immigrants from deportation and offered those same immigrants work permits.

Spicer says Trump is instead focused on enforcement efforts on criminal immigrants and those who have overstayed their visas.

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2:33 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says the Trump administration is continuing to build out a White House Spanish-language website but it remains a "priority" to get it back online.

Spicer was asked during his first White House press briefing about the recent closing of Spanish-language social media accounts since Trump's inauguration.

Spicer says "we've got the IT folks working overtime" to get the website back online along with issue areas on the site.

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2:25 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer is saying the Trump administration's "intention is never to lie to you."

Spicer faced questions Monday during his first briefing after his angry statement in which he denounced the media's correct reporting that the crowd at Trump's inauguration was smaller than at his predecessor's eight years ago.

Spicer said "sometimes we may disagree" about facts and said he wanted to have a "healthy relationship" with the White House press corps.

He added that "if we make a mistake, we'll do our best to correct" it.

The press secretary said he was given incorrect information about Washington Metro's ridership when he addressed the issue Saturday but insisted that, when TV and online viewership are combined, that it was the most-watched inaugural in history.

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2:20 p.m.

The Trump administration says it is willing to partner with Moscow to combat the Islamic State group.

In his first daily White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that President Donald Trump has been "very clear" that he will "work with any country committed to defeating ISIS."

He says the administration will work "with Russia or anyone else" to defeat the militant group, either on a military front, or an economic front.

The president has vowed that he'll defeat the al-Qaida offshoot "quickly" when he takes office, though he has not provided specifics on his plans for U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. and Russia have been at odds over Russian-backed Syrian military action in Aleppo.

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2:07 p.m.

President Donald Trump will be hosting breakfast at the White House with heads of some of the nation's largest automobile manufacturers.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump would host executives at Ford, GM and Chrysler the following day.

Trump had made creating American manufacturing jobs a centerpiece of the early days of his term and spoke frequently during the campaign of calling for car manufactures to keep their plants in the United States.

Spicer did not reveal the specific agenda for the meeting.

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2:02 p.m.

The White House is moving forward with plans to give what it describes as a more "diverse group of journalists" a chance to ask questions at briefings.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer says in his first White House press conference that, beginning later this week, the White House will designate four "Skype seats" in the White House briefing room.

The idea is to provide an opportunity to ask question to a more diverse group of outlets that may not have the resources to hire a Washington correspondent.

The new administration has been discussing a series of potential changes to press operations.

Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the press.

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1:56 p.m.

President Donald Trump has told Egypt's president that he will continue providing military assistance to his country.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi discussed ways to deepen the bilateral relationship between the two countries, fight terrorism and boost Egypt's struggling economy.

The two leaders also discussed having el-Sissi visit the White House in the future.

Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid.

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12:30 p.m.

The Pentagon has held its first news briefing since Defense Secretary James Mattis was sworn in on Friday.

A spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, on Monday described several of Mattis' first activities as Pentagon chief but declined to discuss any policy issues. That includes potential changes in the U.S. approach to fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, which President Donald Trump has singled out as a priority.

Davis said Mattis has made retired Navy Rear Adm. Kevin M. Sweeney his chief of staff and Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller his senior military assistant.

The spokesman said Mattis would be meeting with the military service chiefs and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford, on Tuesday, and had conducted a phone conversation with his Canadian counterpart.

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12: 15 p.m.

President Donald Trump calls a lawsuit filed Monday against him "without merit, totally without merit."

Ethics attorneys are suing him for allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments in violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Southern District of New York by the liberal-funded watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Trump says he has handed over control of his global real estate and licensing empire to his two adult sons. But he is retaining his financial stake in the business even while in the White House, a break from the tradition of previous presidents to divest.

Trump made the comments in response to a reporter's question after he signed his first few executive orders in the Oval Office.

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11:59 a.m.

President Donald Trump is signing a memorandum that freezes hiring for some federal government workers as a way to reduce payrolls and rein in the size of the federal workforce.

Trump's directive is fulfilling one of his campaign promises. He tells reporters that members of the military will be exempted from the hiring freeze.

The new president has vowed to take on the federal bureaucracy and the action could be the first step in an attempt to curtail government employment.

The memorandum signed by Trump's is similar to one that President George W. Bush signed at the start of his administration in 2001.

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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is reinstating a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.

The regulation has been something of a political football, instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984.

Most recently, President Barack Obama ended the ban in 2009.

Trump signed it one day after the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States, the date which is traditionally when presidents take action on the policy.

The policy also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.

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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is signing a memorandum to leave the proposed Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The move is basically a formality, since the agreement had yet to receive required Senate ratification. Trade experts say that approval was unlikely to happen given voters' anxiety about trade deals and the potential for job losses.

Trump called the move "a great thing for the American workers"

It remains unclear if Trump would seek individual deals with the 11 other nations in TPP— a group that represents roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy, according to World Bank figures.

Trump has blamed past trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and China's entrance into the World Trade Organization for a decline in U.S. factory jobs.

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11:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump has tasked a group of top business leaders with coming up with a series of actions to help stimulate the American manufacturing sector.

Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, says Trump has given them 30 days to come up a plan.

Trump met Monday morning with a group of top manufacturing leaders, including Elon Musk, the head of SpaceX, and the executives from Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, among others.

Mark Fields of the Ford Motor Company says he left the meeting confident Trump will work to create jobs.

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10:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is planning to nominate Heather Wilson as secretary of the Air Force.

A White House statement said Monday that Wilson, a former New Mexico congresswoman and president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, would be the first Air Force Academy graduate to hold the position, if confirmed.

Wilson served in Congress from 1998 to 2009, where she was a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chaired the House Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence.

She also served on the House Armed Services Committee.

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10:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is speaking with the Egyptian president. Trump and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi were scheduled to speak Monday morning. The details of the call have not yet been made public.

Trump and el-Sissi have already shown a certain bond. Trump said there was "good chemistry" when they met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

El-Sissi said Trump would "without a doubt" make a strong leader and said he believes Trump will be "vigorously engaged" with issues in the Middle East.

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9:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is vowing to cut taxes on his first official business day in office.

The newly-inaugurated president told business leaders Monday that he wants to lower taxes for the middle class and for companies to "anywhere from 15 to 25 percent," down from 35 percent.

He told the business leaders that the deal is contingent upon keeping business operations inside the United States: "All you have to do is stay. Don't leave. Don't fire your people in the United States."

One of the campaign promises Trump listed on his website was to "reform the entire regulatory code to ensure that we keep jobs and wealth in America."

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9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is opening what his team has dubbed "Day One" of his presidency by meeting with business leaders in the White House.

Trump said Monday there will "be advantages" to companies that make their products in the United States and suggested he will impose a "substantial border tax" on foreign goods entering the country.

The president also repeated a campaign promise to cut regulations "by 75 percent, maybe more."

Trump hosted the breakfast with about a dozen leaders in the Roosevelt Room.

Among those in attendance were Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Elon Musk of Tesla, Marilyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin and Mario Longhi of US Steel.

Trump suggested he wanted to hold these meetings quarterly.

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3:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss his agenda, as he enters his first official week in the White House and works to begin delivering on his ambitious campaign promises.

Trump says he considers Monday to be his first real day in office. And he's packing it with meetings that suggest he's keeping an open ear.

There's a breakfast and what the White House calls a listening session with business leaders in the morning; another listening session with union leaders and workers in the afternoon; and a reception later on with members of Congress he'll need on board to overhaul the nation's health care system, among other goals. He'll also hold his first meeting as president with the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.