The Latest: White House denounces North Korea missile tests

AP News
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Posted: Mar 06, 2017 10:16 PM
The Latest: White House denounces North Korea missile tests

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

10:10 p.m.

The White House is denouncing North Korea's latest missile tests and warning of "very dire consequences" in response.

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-Ahn to discuss the launch and emphasized the United States' "ironclad commitment" to its allies "in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea."

The White House says the president emphasized steps his administration is taking to "enhance our ability to deter and defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles using the full range of United States military capabilities."

The three leaders agreed to continue to work together to show "there are very dire consequences" for North Korea's "provocative and threatening actions."

North Korea on Monday fired four banned ballistic missiles.

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7:55 p.m.

The White House is welcoming House Republicans' long-awaited plan for replacing former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

But President Donald Trump is not voicing his support for the legislation yet.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says in a statement that the plan's release is "an important step toward restoring healthcare choices and affordability back to the American people."

He says Trump looks forward to working with Congress to repeal and replace "Obamacare," but is not weighing in on the merits of the plan.

The House proposal would roll back the government's role in health care and likely leave more Americans uninsured.

It includes repealing fines on people who choose not to purchase insurance and overhauling the federal-state Medicaid program.

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7 p.m.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says President Donald Trump needs to give more information to the American people and Congress about his wiretapping accusations against his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Sen. John McCain told reporters Monday: "The dimensions of this are huge. It's accusing a former president of the United States of violating the law. That's never happened before."

Without providing any evidence, Trump on Saturday made the explosive claim that Obama tapped his telephones during last year's election.

The White House said Sunday that Congress' intelligence committees should investigate but declined to say anything more.

FBI Director James Comey privately asked the Justice Department to dispute the claim because he believed the allegations were false.

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2:50 p.m.

A White House spokesman says the United States "stands with our allies" after North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles.

Sean Spicer said Monday that the launches "are consistent with North Korea's long history of provocative behavior." He also called them a "very serious threat."

Spicer said the administration "is taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles, such as through the deployment" of the U.S. missile defense system known as THAAD.

Officials say the North Korean missiles were fired early Monday with three landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone.

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2 p.m.

The White House says that President Donald Trump spoke with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Monday.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says Trump and Netanyahu discussed "regional security challenges" and the Israeli leader thanked the president "for his strong stance" on anti-Semitism during his address to Congress last week.

The call came after Israel's defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in parliament that the U.S. has told Israel that annexing the West Bank would be unacceptable and cause a crisis in relations.

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10:30 a.m.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says he hasn't seen evidence of President Donald Trump's claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year during the election.

Chaffetz tells "CBS This Morning" that "I have not seen anything directly that would support what the president has said."

But if the allegations are true, Chaffetz said, there would be a "paper trail" on such a wiretap because it would require a warrant. He said Trump has the power to declassify such a court order.

Chaffetz said Trump has "tens of billions of dollars in intelligence" at his fingertips. He says, "I got to believe, I think, he might have something there. But if not, we're going to find out."

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7:50 a.m.

White House advisers aren't backing away from President Donald Trump's claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign.

They insisted that Trump believes the explosive allegations he made over the weekend, for which he provided no evidence. The allegations were swiftly denied by an Obama spokesman and by Obama's intelligence chief.

Kellyanne Conway told "Fox & Friends" Monday that "credible news sources" suggested there was politically motivated activity during the campaign. She added that as president, Trump "has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not."

Likewise, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House press secretary, told NBC's "Today" show that the president "firmly believes that the Obama administration may have tapped into the phones at Trump Tower."

When asked whether Trump's assertions were based on media reports or U.S. intelligence, Sanders said "he may have access to documents that I don't know about."

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5:30 a.m.

The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin is distancing the Kremlin from President Donald Trump's claim that Barack Obama tapped his phones during the election campaign.

The claim comes amid the swirl of revelations about contacts between Trump aides and Russia's ambassador to the U.S., both during and after a presidential election Russia is believed to have meddled in.

When asked about the allegation, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that the Kremlin "should not be in any way linked to U.S. domestic issues" and "doesn't have the slightest inclination or intention to be associated with these affairs."

Trump has been trailed for months by questions about his campaign's ties to Russia. Disclosures about his aides' contacts with the Russian ambassador cost Michael Flynn his job as national security adviser.

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3:30 a.m.

Key members of Congress say they will honor President Donald Trump's request to investigate his unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama overstepped his authority as president and had Trump's telephones tapped during the election campaign.

A U.S. official said the FBI has asked the Justice Department to dispute Trump's allegation, though no such statement has been issued.

Obama's intelligence director also said no such action was taken.

Trump made his startling claim of presidential abuse of power in a series of tweets early Saturday. They capped a week in which the positive reaction to his address to Congress quickly evaporated amid the swirl of allegations and revelations about contacts between Trump aides and a Russian official, both during and after the presidential election that Russia is believed to have meddled in.