The Latest: Trump signs order loosening gun restrictions

AP News
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Posted: Feb 28, 2017 7:14 PM
The Latest:  Trump signs order loosening gun restrictions

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

7:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule that would have prevented an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from buying guns.

The rule was part of former President Barack Obama's push to strengthen the federal background check system in the wake of the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

It required the Social Security Administration to send in the names of beneficiaries with mental impairments who also need a third-party to manage their benefits.

But lawmakers, the National Rifle Association and even the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the rule, saying it unfairly stigmatized the disabled and infringed on their constitutional right to bear arms.

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6:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump told television anchors Tuesday that he is open to an immigration package that could include a path to legal status for many people living in the United States illegally.

That's according to a person with knowledge of the discussion, which occurred ahead of Trump's prime-time address to Congress.

Trump also said he was open to citizenship for the so-called Dreamers — those who were brought to the country illegally as children. The president has previously called legislation that includes citizenship or legislation amnesty.

He told attendees at Tuesday's meeting that "the time is right" for a bill as long as there is "compromise" on both sides.

The person with knowledge of the discussion was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and insisted on anonymity.

-By Julie Pace

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6:05 p.m.

Pennsylvania's attorney general says President Donald Trump suggested that a wave of threats to Jewish community centers may be designed to make "others look bad."

Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, was part of a group of state attorneys general who met with Trump at the White House Tuesday.

Shapiro says he asked Trump at the meeting about how states and the federal government could better collaborate against the threats.

He says Trump responded by calling the threats "reprehensible, but then added that, "sometimes it's the reverse, to make people or to make others look bad."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she was not at the meeting, but says the president has made "extremely clear" that any act of violence directed at Jewish organizations is "condemned by this administration. Full stop."

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5:45 p.m.

The Supreme Court says five justices are expected at President Donald Trump's speech to Congress, but sometime Trump critic Ruth Bader Ginsburg won't be among them.

Ginsburg apologized in July for negative remarks she made about Trump to The Associated Press and other news organizations. The 83-year-old justice attended all eight of President Barack Obama's addresses to Congress.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor are expected in the House chamber Tuesday evening. They have been attending regularly in recent years.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas won't be there.

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4:30 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump plans to visit a Catholic school in Florida.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president will visit St. Andrew Catholic school in Orlando, Florida, on Friday for a listening session on school choice.

Trump has a home in Palm Beach, Florida, and has spent many weekends there during the start of his presidency.

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4 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump condemns any "racially or religiously motivated attacks" in the aftermath of a suburban Kansas City bar shooting that killed one man and injured two others.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump is "keeping the family of the victim who was senselessly killed in his thoughts and praying for the full and speedy recovery for those who were wounded."

Witnesses told investigators that Adam Purinton yelled at two Indian men to "get out of my country" before opening fire. Purinton has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.

Sanders says these types of attacks "have no place in our country."

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2:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is now open to an immigration bill and may address the topic during his address to Congress Tuesday night, according to a senior administration official.

It's unclear what specific measures Trump would support in immigration legislation. Past efforts have included a pathway to citizenship or legal status for millions of people living in the United States illegally.

Earlier this month, White House officials said the president was believed that a 2013 Senate immigration bill amounted to "amnesty." Last week, the administration unveiled new immigration policies making any immigrant in the county illegally and charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, an enforcement priority.

The official insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

-By Julie Pace

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2:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order mandating the review of a rule aimed at protecting small streams and wetlands from development and pollution.

Trump says at a White House signing ceremony that the rule is one of the "worst examples of federal regulation" and that "it has truly run amok."

He also says the rule has been "a disaster."

The order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the Obama-era rule that redefined which bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Trump had railed against the rule during his campaign and Republicans have been fighting it since its inception, slamming it as an example of federal overreach.

Democrats have argued it safeguards drinking water for millions.

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2:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed a pair of bills into law aimed at recruiting more women for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Trump said at an Oval Office ceremony that it's unfair that only 1 in 4 women with a degree in one of these areas works in the field.

One measure authorizes the NASA administrator to encourage young women to study STEM fields and pursue careers that will help advance science and space exploration. It also requires NASA to report to Congress on its plans for achieving the goals spelled out in the legislation.

The second measure authorizes the National Science Foundation to encourage its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.

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11:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with a group of states' attorneys general at the White House.

Trump met with approximately two dozen members of the National Association of Attorneys General, which is comprised of states' top law enforcement officials.

The president posed for a group photo in the East Room and saluted the "great people" posing behind him.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a longtime Trump ally who served on his transition team, stood next to the president and thanked him for his kind words.

She came under scrutiny during the campaign when it was revealed that she accepted a $25,000 donation from the Trump Foundation around the same time her office was being asked about a New York investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University.

Others in attendance included Lawrence Wasden of Idaho and Chris Carr of Georgia.

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9:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump has a Commerce secretary.

Vice President Mike Pence has administered the oath of office to Wilbur Ross on Tuesday, a day after the Senate voted 72-27 to confirm him.

Ross will help promote American business interests in the U.S. and abroad. He'll also oversee agencies that manage fisheries, weather forecasting and the Census Bureau, which will conduct the next national headcount in 2020.

Ross has said the administration will work quickly to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The 79-year-old Ross is worth an estimated $2.9 billion and has extensive business ties around the world. He has promised not to take any action as secretary that would benefit any company in which he has a financial interest.

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8:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says that a Navy SEAL who died in a raid in Yemen last month helped to collect "tremendous amounts of information."

In an interview aired Tuesday on "Fox & Friends," the president acknowledged reports that Bill Owens, the father of Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, didn't want to see him when Trump went to pay respects.

Trump said, "I can understand people saying that," noting that "there's nothing worse" than losing a child.

Trump says that the Yemen mission had been initiated under the Obama administration, adding that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said "it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information."

Owens, 36, a married father of three, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump took office. Three other U.S. service members were wounded. At least 16 civilians and 14 militants died in the raid, which the Pentagon said was aimed at capturing information on potential al-Qaida attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

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6:56 a.m.

President Donald Trump acknowledges that there remains hundreds of unfilled jobs in his administration, but says "they're unnecessary to have."

In an interview with Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" that aired Tuesday, Trump says he has no intention of filling many of the open positions.

He says, "I say, 'What do all these people do?' You don't need all those jobs."

Trump also says that some are looking to criticize him for eliminating those positions, but he adds, "That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. We're running a very good, efficient government."

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6:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he believes President Barack Obama is behind some of the protests against Republican lawmakers across the country.

In an interview with Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" that aired Tuesday, Trump responded to a question about the protests, saying, "I think that President Obama is behind it, because his people are certainly behind it."

He adds that he thinks Obama loyalists are also behind White House leaks.

Trump concedes, "I also understand that's politics. And in terms of him being behind things, that's politics. And it will probably continue."

He says he's not surprised, saying "I'm changing things that (Obama) wanted to do." Trump said he's tougher than Obama in terms of his efforts to deport anyone living in the country illegally.

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6:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump denies that there's a "major leak process" at the White House following reports that White House press secretary Sean Spicer targeted leaks from his own staff.

In an interview with Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," aired Tuesday, Trump responded to a Politico report that said Spicer convened an "emergency meeting" after details of a planning meeting got out, and conducted a "phone check" to prove they hadn't been leaking information.

He says he "would have handled it differently than Sean. But Sean handles it his way and I'm OK with it."

Trump says "Sean Spicer is a fine human being," but adds, "I would have gone one-on-one with different people."

Trump also White House officials have "sort of ideas" about who may have leaked information, adding that "we have people from other campaigns, we have people from other governments."

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5:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday mandating a review of an Obama-era rule aimed at protecting small streams and wetlands from development and pollution.

A senior White House official says the order will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to review a rule that redefined "waters of the United States" protected under the Clean Water Act to include smaller creeks and wetlands.

The official briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, despite the president's recent complaints about unnamed sources.

Trump had railed against the water rule during his campaign, slamming it as an example of federal overreach. Farmers and landowners have criticized the rule, saying there are already too many government regulations that affect their businesses, and Republicans have been working to thwart it since its inception.

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3:30 a.m.

With his first address to Congress, President Donald Trump has an opportunity to refocus his young administration on the economic issues that helped him get elected. His allies hope it will help him move beyond the distractions and self-inflicted wounds that he has dealt with so far.

Trump's advisers say he will use his prime-time speech Tuesday to declare early progress on his campaign promises, including withdrawing the U.S. from a sweeping Pacific Rim trade pact, and to map a path ahead on thorny legislative priorities, including health care and infrastructure spending.

The White House said Trump has been gathering ideas for the address from the series of listening sessions he's been holding with law enforcement officials, union representatives, coal miners and others.