The Latest: Trump's nominee for Army secretary drops out

AP News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2017 11:31 PM
The Latest: Trump's nominee for Army secretary drops out

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

11:25 p.m.

An administration official says President Donald Trump's nominee for Army secretary, Vincent Viola, has withdrawn his name from consideration.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official isn't authorized to speak publicly.

The Military Times reported Friday that Viola withdrew because he is unable to separate himself from his business ties.

Viola is the founder of several businesses, including the electronic trading firm Virtu Financial. He also owns the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers and is a past chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Viola is a 1977 West Point graduate. He trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. In 2003, he founded and helped fund the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

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10:15 p.m.

The White House says it intends as soon as possible to request an emergency stay of a federal judge's order temporarily blocking President Donald Trump's week-old immigration ban.

Spokesman Sean Spicer says Trump's order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is intended to protect the American people, and is lawful and appropriate.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ruled against government lawyers' claims that Washington state and Minnesota did not have standing to challenge the order. Instead, Robart said the states' case was likely to succeed.

The White House initially called the ruling "outrageous," then removed that word in a revised statement.

The states argued in a lawsuit that key sections of Trump's order are illegal and unconstitutional. Court challenges have been filed nationwide by states and advocacy groups.

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9:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump's heated rush to launch what he says will be a "major investigation" into voter fraud has cooled, leaving White House staff uncertain when it will come to pass or what shape it will take.

Two senior administration officials say an executive action commissioning the probe is still planned but could be several weeks away.

Two other people in close touch with the president say that although Trump instructed staff to jump on the project last week, he has not discussed the issue in recent days.

The officials and the other people with knowledge of the matter demanded anonymity to discuss private conservations.

The delay comes as some of Trump's advisers counsel him to abandon the idea, arguing it was a distraction from more pressing issues. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election.

—Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire

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9 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is going to the Super Bowl.

Pence is scheduled to fly to Houston aboard Air Force Two on Sunday for the showdown between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

No U.S. president has ever attended a Super Bowl, but Pence will be the fourth sitting vice president to see the game in person.

Previous vice presidential attendees include Al Gore in 1994, George H.W. Bush in 1982 and Spiro Agnew in 1971.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, will conduct the pregame coin toss at Sunday's game at Houston's NRG Stadium.

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7:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump will spend part of the weekend on the phone, getting acquainted with his counterparts on the world stage.

The White House says the president is scheduled to speak Saturday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Trump is also attending the annual Red Cross gala being held at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump is staying at the estate through Monday.

On Sunday, the president has calls lined up with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL'-tehn-burg) and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English.

It's the second weekend Trump will spend in conversation with world leaders.

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5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is paying tribute to the U.S. Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump took office.

Trump says in his weekly address to the nation, "Our debt to him and his family, a beautiful family, is eternal."

The president is also praising his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.

And Trump is touting the January employment report and his executive order meant to roll back regulations.

He also mentions Black History Month and defends his controversial executive order suspending immigration from seven nations.

The address, which included several jarring jump cuts, was streamed over Facebook.

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5:15 p.m.

A prominent New York financier poised to become a key liaison between the White House and Wall Street won't be taking the role, thanks to a complicated review of the sale of his firm to a Chinese company.

Anthony Scaramucci, a Republican donor and colorful surrogate for Trump, was told this week he will not be tapped to head the office that coordinates the administration's outreach to the business community and other interest groups.

Scaramucci will instead receive a different yet-to-be-determined administration job, although the timing remains uncertain, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The people said the change in plans was prompted by the ongoing sale of Scaramucci's firm, SkyBridge Capital.

The firm is being sold to a division of the Chinese company HNA Group.

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5 p.m.

President Donald Trump is spending his first weekend at his Florida estate since taking office two weeks ago.

Trump arrived Friday afternoon at the airport in West Palm Beach and was greeted by his wife, first lady Melania Trump, before the short drive to his Mar-a-Lago estate in nearby Palm Beach.

Trump traveled with a handful of staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says Trump will spend the weekend meeting with advisers to plan "another big week of action on behalf of the American people."

On Monday, before returning to Washington, Trump plans to visit U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

CentCom oversees U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other regions of the world.

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1:28 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will direct the Treasury secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.

It's Trump's first step at scaling back regulations on financial services.

Trump has called the law a "disaster" and said it failed to address some of the causes of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

The president has also signed a presidential memorandum related to retirement planning. The administration's move will delay implementing an Obama-era rule that requires financial professionals who charge commissions to put their clients' best interests first when giving advice on retirement investments.

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1 p.m.

The Trump administration says it has thawed its temporary freeze on contract and grant approvals at the Environmental Protection Agency, with all $3.9 billion in planned spending moving forward.

A media blackout at the agency also appears to have been partially lifted, as a trickle of press releases were issued by EPA this week. However, the agency still has not posted to its official Twitter feed since President Donald Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration.

The Associated Press and other media outlets reported last week that Trump political appointees had instructed EPA staff not to issue press releases or make posts to the agency's official social media accounts without prior approval.

Contract and grant spending at the agency was also put on hold, prompting confusion and concern among state agencies expecting funding.

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12:05 p.m.

Foreign leaders and groups are finding new ways to make known their disagreement with President Donald Trump's policies.

An international school in Bosnia announced Friday it would extend scholarships to students affected by Trump's travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. The United World College's branch in Mostar said it was motivated by its belief in equal opportunities.

In Portugal, the parliament there voted to condemn the U.S. travel ban and highlighted the role of the U.S. to promote tolerance and human rights.

In Sweden, Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin posted on Facebook a photo of her signing the country's new climate law while surrounded by seven female members of her staff. Swedish media say it resembles photos of Trump in the Oval office surrounded by male advisers.

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10:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is applauding the January jobs report, saying it shows there's a "great spirit in the country right now."

Trump addressed last month's job report, which showed the U.S. economy adding 227,000 jobs and the unemployment rate at 4.8 percent. The report also says that more Americans started looking for work, although not all of them found jobs immediately.

Trump is joining business leaders and CEOs in the White House and also previewing some of his economic priorities. He says he expects "to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank," the financial regulations put in place in response to the Great Recession.

The president says they'll be discussing how to bring back jobs, lower taxes and reduce regulations.

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8:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump says that a "new radical Islamic terrorist" is behind an attack outside the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Trump tweeted early Friday that America needs to "get smart," in light of the incident.

He writes, "a new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again."

A knife-wielding man shouting "Allahu akbar" — "God is Great," in Arabic — attacked French soldiers on patrol near the museum Friday in what officials described as a suspected terror attack.

The soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker and then opened fire, shooting him five times.

There were no immediate details about the identity of the suspect.

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7:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says reports of his contentious conversation with Australia's prime minister are "fake news."

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump thanked Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!"

Turnbull told journalists that Trump had agreed to honor a deal to resettle refugees from among around 1,600 asylum seekers. Most are in island camps on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Turnbull also said the U.S.-Australia relationship is strong.

Australia has refused to accept them and instead pays for them to be housed on the impoverished islands.

Trump earlier took to Twitter to call the agreement with Australia a "dumb deal."

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7:04 a.m.

President Donald Trump says movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger "tried hard" to make "Celebrity Apprentice" a success, but has failed.

In an early morning Twitter post Friday, the president kept alive a theme he brought up a day earlier during his first appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Trump, who once hosted the NBC reality TV show, took a pot shot there at Schwarzenegger, the current host and former California governor, over a ratings nosedive for the show.

On Friday, Trump said in his tweet, "Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger did a really bad job as Governor of California and even worse on the Apprentice ... but at least he tried hard!"

Schwarzenegger responded quickly to Thursday's remarks in a video on his verified Twitter account, suggesting that he and Trump switch jobs.