The Latest: Trump expected to shift toward economy

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Posted: Jan 26, 2017 12:23 AM
The Latest: Trump expected to shift toward economy

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

11:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to turn back to the economy Thursday, signing a notice to Congress that he plans to start bilateral trade negotiations with most of the countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. That's according to a White House official. On Monday, Trump moved to pull the U.S. out of the 12-nation Pacific Rim agreement, which he said would be damaging for American workers. Instead, he said he wanted to negotiate with countries individually.

The official insisted on anonymity in order to confirm the executive action ahead of Trump's announcement.

—Julie Pace

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9:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive action as soon as this week to order an investigation into claims of voter fraud.

That is according to a person briefed on the decision but not authorized to speak publicly.

Trump on Wednesday voiced his belief that there was widespread voter fraud in November's election and that scores of people were on the voter rolls in multiple states or after they died.

There is no evidence to support Trump's claims. The details of the action were not immediately released.

— Jonathan Lemire

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5:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's chosen Philip Bilden, a businessman and former military intelligence officer, to be the next Navy secretary.

Trump calls Bilden the "right choice" to help the Navy expand and modernize its ships, submarines and aircraft, and "ensure America's naval supremacy for decades to come."

Bilden was a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1986-1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners LLC, a global private equity management firm. Bilden recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.

His family has a history of military service, with seven Army and Navy officers across four consecutive generations. That includes his two sons, who are in the Navy.

Bilden's upcoming nomination requires Senate confirmation.

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5 p.m.

The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

The communications director for President Donald Trump's transition team at EPA, Doug Ericksen, says the review also extends to content on the federal agency's website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth's climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

Former EPA staffers say the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.

Ericksen says no decision has yet been made about whether to strip mention of climate change from the site.

The AP earlier reported that emails sent internally to EPA staff mandated a temporary blackout on media releases and social media.

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4:10 p.m.

A draft executive order obtained by The Associated Press shows that President Donald Trump intends to stop accepting Syrian refugees and will suspend the United States' broader refugee program for 120 days.

The president also plans to suspend issuing visas for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen for at least 30 days, according to the draft. All are predominantly Muslim countries.

Trump is expected to sign the order this week. It is not clear whether the draft will be revised before then.

The actions follow Trump's orders Wednesday tightening immigration policies, including taking steps toward building a wall on the Mexican border.

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3:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says in a speech at the Department of Homeland Security that his executive actions on immigration show that "beginning today," the U.S. will get back "control of its border."

Trump says his administration will be working in partnership in Mexico to improve safety and economic opportunity for both countries and will have "close coordination" with Mexico to address drug smuggling.

Trump says, "We're going to save lives on both sides of the border."

The new president spoke shortly after signing executive orders to strengthen border security and crack down on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

It will set in motion the construction of his proposed border wall, a key promise from his 2016 campaign.

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3:00 p.m.

President Donald Trump says that he believes torture works, saying that "we have to fight fire with fire."

In an interview with ABC News, the president says he will confer with Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of radicalism.

He says that radical groups "chop off the citizens' or anybody's heads in the Middle East, because they're Christian or Muslim or anything else."

Adding, "we have that and we're not allowed to do anything. We're not playing on an even field."

But Trump says, of using torture tactics, "absolutely I feel it works."

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1:55 p.m.

The White House says certain government agencies are taking action to address the "inappropriate" use of social media.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed an incident at the National Park Service in which tweets about climate change disappeared shortly after they were sent.

Spicer said an "unauthorized user" had an old password and logged into the Twitter account from the Park Service's San Francisco office, then tweeted "inappropriate things that were in violation of their policy."

He also cited an incident last year at the Environmental Protection Agency, saying both agencies are going to take action.

E-mails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts as part of a push by the Trump administration to institute a media blackout.

Tweets were also sent Tuesday from the Defense Department's official account that suggested underhanded criticism of President Donald Trump's policies.

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1:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump has selected Washington attorney Stefan Passantino as his White House ethics counselor.

In announcing the appointment on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: "No one understands the ethics office better than Stefan."

Passantino's LinkedIn profile now lists him as deputy White House counsel for compliance. He formerly served as political law chairman of the firm Dentons.

He also worked as general counsel for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's 2012 Republican presidential bid. Gingrich has become a close adviser to Trump.

Spicer said that Gingrich praised Trump's selection of Passantino.

The White House announcement came on the same day that the Trump Organization said it had hired a compliance officer and ethics adviser of its own.

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1:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is signing two executive orders in keeping with campaign promises to boost border security and crack down on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The president signed the two orders Wednesday during a ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security after honoring the department's newly confirmed secretary, retired Gen. John Kelly.

The executive orders jumpstart construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, one of his signature campaign promises, and strip funding for so-called sanctuary cities, which don't arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

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1:40 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer is saying that President Donald Trump plans to open an investigation into voter fraud "to understand where the problem exists, how deep it goes."

Trump tweets on Wednesday calling for the investigation revisited unsubstantiated claims he's made repeatedly about a rigged voting system.

Spicer did not provide many details as to what the probe would look like, calling it at one point "a task force."

He suggested that the probe would focus on dead people who remained on the voter rolls and people registered in two or more states. In particular, he singled out "bigger states" where the Trump campaign "didn't compete" in the election.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurring in November's election.

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1:30 p.m.

The House intelligence committee says it will focus on leaks of classified information to the media as part of its investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

In a tweet earlier this month, then President-elect Trump asked the intelligence committees to investigate "top secret intelligence" shared with a news organization.

The House panel is already investigating the intelligence agencies' finding that Russia interfered in the election to benefit President Donald Trump. The Senate intelligence committee is also conducting an investigation.

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1:25 p.m.

The White House is distancing itself from a draft executive order that would lead to a major review of America's methods for interrogating terror suspects and the possible reopening of CIA-run "black site" prisons outside the United States.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said the draft "is not a White House document." He says he has "no idea where it came from."

The AP obtained the draft order from a U.S. official, who said it had been distributed by the White House for consultations before Trump signs it. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The order would also reverse America's commitment to closing the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and instruct the Pentagon to send newly captured "enemy combatants" to the site.

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1:15 p.m.

An electrical contractor who worked on the Trump International Hotel in Washington has sued a company owned by President Donald Trump for more than $2 million, alleging it was not fully paid.

AES Electrical of Laurel, Maryland, filed suit in District of Columbia Superior Court, the latest in a string of lawsuits involving Trump's renovation of the historic Old Post Office building a few blocks from the White House.

AES alleges it bore increased expenses because of change orders and other demands from Trump's staff. AES claims it was told to accelerate the pace of work so that the then-Republican presidential candidate could hold a televised media event to celebrate the "soft opening" of the $200 million project prior to the November election.

The complaint was first reported by Politico.

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1:10 p.m.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat has informed two key members of President Donald Trump's national security team that he will not stand for any attempt to get around the U.S. law banning torture.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia says in a statement that he spoke Wednesday morning to Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Warner says he told them "any attempt by this administration to restart torture is absolutely unacceptable, and I will strongly oppose it."

Warner is responding to reports that Trump is considering a major review of America's methods for interrogating terror suspects and the possible reopening of "black site" prisons outside the United States.

Warner says he'll hold Mattis and Pompeo "to their sworn testimony to follow the law banning the use of enhanced interrogation techniques."

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12:30 p.m.

More than 100 workers rights groups say President Donald Trump's choice for labor secretary raises enough questions to warrant a "rigorous" and extended confirmation hearing.

The groups wrote in a letter to the Senate committee conducting the Feb. 2 hearing that senators should be able to ask multiple rounds of questions of fast food executive Andrew Puzder about everything from his business record to his personal history. The groups say that's because Puzder has no record of public service and because he's publicly opposed employer mandates.

He should be subjected to "rigorous examination" that includes the testimony of former workers of Puzder's companies, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.

Chairman Lamar Alexander allowed only one round of questions for Trump's controversial picks for education and health secretary last week.

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12:10 p.m.

The Trump Organization is tapping a former George H.W. Bush campaign lawyer and a top executive at the company as ethics monitors for the business.

The company says that Bobby Burchfield of the law firm King & Spalding will become the independent ethics adviser to review transactions for conflicts-of-interest problems. Burchfield was general counsel to Bush's re-election campaign in 1992.

The company says executive vice president George Sorial will take on the role of chief compliance counsel.

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a question about whether Trump has plans to hire a White House ethics counselor, as at least the previous two presidents have done. That attorney would be beholden to the American public, unlike the Trump Organization attorneys, who report only to the privately held company.

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11:40 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she feels "very sad" and "sorry" for President Donald Trump for falsely claiming he'd have won the presidential popular vote but for votes cast against him by millions of people in the U.S. illegally.

The California Democrat told reporters Wednesday that the new president is "so insecure." She said suggesting massive voting irregularities undermines the election system's integrity and is "really strange," and she says she'd prayed for him.

She contrasted Trump's assertion with the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russians intervened in the election to help Trump win. She said Trump "resists" investigating that.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he's ordering an investigation into voter fraud.

Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.

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10:20 a.m.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been sworn in to be President Donald Trump's ambassador to the United Nations.

Vice President Mike Pence swore in Haley on Wednesday. The Senate voted 96-4 Tuesday night in favor of her nomination despite her lack of significant foreign policy experience.

During her confirmation hearing, the South Carolina-born daughter of Indian immigrants said she supports Trump's call to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

She also took a harder line against Russia than Trump, saying she doesn't think Moscow can be trusted right now.

Haley resigned as South Carolina's governor moments after the Senate vote. She was succeeded by Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster.

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10:16 a.m.

Republican Sen. John McCain is pushing back on any efforts by President Donald Trump to use an executive order to allow enhanced interrogation.

In a statement on Wednesday, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee said the president can sign whatever executive orders he likes, "but the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America."

McCain pointed out that the Senate voted overwhelmingly in June 2015 for prohibiting torture and endorsing only those techniques spelled out in the Army Field Manual. Waterboarding and other forms of enhanced interrogation are not included in the field manual.

The Arizona senator also said that Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo assured him that they would support the Army Field Manual.

McCain said he was "confident these leaders will be true to their word."

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10:15 a.m.

A draft executive order shows President Donald Trump asking for a review of America's methods for interrogation terror suspects and whether the U.S. should reopen CIA-run "black site" prisons outside the United States.

The order also would also continue America's use of the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft from a U.S. official.

The document instructs senior national security officers to "recommend to the president whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States and whether such program should include the use of detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency."

The document says U.S. laws should be obeyed at all times and explicitly rejects "torture."

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7:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he will reveal his Supreme Court pick next Thursday. The court has had only eight justices since the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday, "I will be making my Supreme Court pick on Thursday of next week. Thank you."

A person familiar with the process said the president has narrowed his choice to three federal appellate judges. They all were on the list of 21 potential high court picks Trump announced during his presidential campaign.

The leading contenders — who all have met with Trump — are William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, the person said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly about internal decisions.

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7:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he will order an investigation into voter fraud.

The president tweeted early Wednesday that the measures will affect those registered to vote in more than one state, "those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time)."

Trump says that "depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures."

Trump repeatedly made disputable claims of a rigged voting system before the election, but now in the White House, he continues to raise concern over fraud.

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This story has been corrected to show in 1:55 p.m. item that Spicer specifically addressed incident at National Park Service, not at Defense Department.