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Trump on preventing mass shootings: ‘We’re going to get it done’

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President Donald Trump said Wednesday the administration is going to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and “put a strong emphasis on mental health,” as he promised students and families “we are going to get it done.”

The president, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hosted students, teachers and families affected by the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting for a “listening session” at the White House on Wednesday, which lasted close to two hours. 

Exactly one week ago, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, whom the president described as “a sick guy,” opened fire at the high school and now is charged with killing 17 teachers and students with an AR-15 rifle.

“We are going to be very strong on background checks, and put a very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody,” Trump said at the beginning of the listening session. “We’re going to talk and get it done. It’s been going on too long, too many instances and we’re going to get it done.”

Students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, along with Parkland city Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, attended the White House session, along with members of Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization based in Newtown, Conn., and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Students from Friendship Public Charter School, Parkmont, and Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, D.C., also attended.

Parkland Student Body President Julia Cordover opened the session with emotional remarks for the group.

“I’m a survivor. I want you all to emphasize the point that I survived,” Cordover said. “I was lucky enough to come home from school and it is very scary to know that a lot of people did not have the opportunity to be here.”

Cordover thanked the president for addressing bump stocks earlier in the week. 

The president directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create new regulations to ban firearm modifiers, including the “bump stock” used in the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017.

A memo released by the White House earlier this week directed the DOJ to propose a rule “banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.”

The president asked for suggestions to prevent school shootings, leaving the floor open to parents and teachers. 

A parent from Parkland High School suggested that a select few teachers, administrators, or other school employees volunteer to become a designated “undercover police officer,” to manage a potential tragedy prior to the arrival of first responders.

“If a tragedy strikes, can we wait for first responders to get to the campus minutes later?” the parent said. “The challenge becomes, once it starts, to end it as quickly as possible.”

The president said the administration would look “very strongly” at the option for “concealed carry” at schools, but acknowledged that “a lot of people will be opposed to it.”

“Concealed carry only works for people that are very adept at carrying a gun,” Trump said. “Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them, go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun free zone.”

Trump added: “A gun-free zone to a maniac, they’re all cowards, it’s ‘let’s go in and attack because bullets aren’t coming at us.’”

The president said that an attack lasts, on average “three minutes.”

“It takes five to eight minutes for first responders. So the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end [the attack],” Trump said. “We are looking at that very strongly. A lot of people will be opposed to it. A lot of people are gonna like it.”

Trump suggested having “20 percent of your teaching force” representing the “type of talent” capable of concealed carry. Trump also floated the idea to add security, like former “marines, people who left the Air Force” to be “spread evenly throughout the school.”

The president has also signaled a willingness to raise the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland.

A White House source told Fox News on Wednesday that Trump is open to a number of measures to address mass shootings, including a rise in the minimum age for buying firearms.

Under current federal law, licensed firearm dealers cannot sell handguns to people under 21 and cannot sell long guns to people under 18, according to the Giffords Law Center, which tracks gun laws and advocates for more restrictions. Some states already impose laws with tighter minimum age requirements.

The National Rifle Association quickly rejected any talk of raising the age for buying long guns to 21.

“Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection,” the group said in a statement.

It is unclear, however, whether Trump will push for a change in federal law, or encourage a change at the state level.

The president has expressed support for the Second Amendment and said he’s against reflexive gun control measures that wouldn’t stop tragedies. The NRA endorsed Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and has yet to comment on the president’s current stance on gun control.

“Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

The listening session, Trump’s openness to tightening age restrictions, and the directive to the Justice Department reflect a different response from the White House than in the aftermath of previous tragedies.

Following the Las Vegas massacre, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that it was “premature to discuss policy when we don’t know all the facts,” and added, “we can have those policy conversations, but today is not the day.”

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott also is slated to meet with students from Parkland Wednesday evening.

“In addition to what we’re going to with background checks, we’re going to go very strong into age of purchase, and very strongly into the mental health aspect of what’s going on,” Trump said. “This person, who was very sick, and people knew he was very sick. We’re also going to look at the institutions, what you do when you find someone like this.” 

He added: “All I can say is we’re fighting hard for you and we will not stop. I grieve for you. There can be nothing worse than what you’ve gone through. Thank you for pouring out your hearts because the world is watching and we’re going to come up with a solution.” 

Fox News’ John Roberts and Alex Pappas contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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Joe Biden to blitz controversial Donald Trump policies hours after entering Oval Office | US News

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In his first hours as president, Joe Biden is set to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the coronavirus pandemic.

A 10-day blitz of executive actions is then expected as Mr Biden moves to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump‘s presidency, without waiting for Congress.

Ron Klain, his incoming chief of staff, listed some of the main changes that will come in:

• End restrictions on immigration to the US from some Muslim-majority countries
• Move to rejoin the Paris climate accord
• Make mask-wearing compulsory on federal property and during interstate travel
• Extend the pause on student loan payments
• Extend actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic
• Introduce a directive to speed up the reuniting of families separated at the US-Mexico border

Joe Biden addresses the nation from Wilmington, Delaware
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More actions are expected to be added by Mr Biden

“These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Mr Klain said in the memo.

“President-elect Biden will take action – not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration – but also to start moving our country forward.”

“Full achievement” of Mr Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Mr Klain wrote, including the $1.9trn (£1.46trn) virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday.

Mr Klain said Mr Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Mr Biden is also expected to sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing.

More actions will be added, Mr Klain said, once they clear legal review.

Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office.

Mr Trump signed the bill in the Oval Office
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Mr Trump signs a bill in the Oval Office

Mr Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

Mr Klain maintained that Mr Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the president”.

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Australian Open: Quarantined British tennis star Heather Watson forced to train in hotel room | UK News

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British tennis player Heather Watson has been forced to train for the upcoming Australian Open in her hotel room, after a passenger on her plane to Melbourne tested positive for COVID-19.

The 28-year-old is among 47 players competing in the first grand slam of the year who must now quarantine for 14 days following positive coronavirus tests on two different chartered flights.

Watson shared a short video on Twitter, showing her repeatedly running between her hotel room door and window as she completed a 5km run in an attempt to keep up her training.

In a separate message she confirmed that one person on her flight from Abu Dhabi had tested positive for COVID-19 on landing, meaning that all passengers now needed to quarantine.

Sir Andy is due to fly to Australia
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Sir Andy was due to fly in the coming days but is still hoping to play in the event

Three people on another chartered flight from Los Angeles carrying 24 players also returned positive swabs upon their arrival in Melbourne. None of those who tested positive were players.

Grand slam champions Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, and Bianca Andreescu – whose coach Sylvain Bruneau revealed he was the source of one of the three positive tests – are also among those being forced to stay in their rooms.

El Salvador’s Marcelo Arevalo who was also on the LA flight shared a video showing him hitting shots against his mattress in his hotel room due to his enforced quarantine.

The world’s top players began arriving in Australia on a series of charter jets on Thursday ahead of a two-week quarantine period, during which they will be allowed out of their rooms to practice for five hours a day.

However, those players and support staff on the affected flights will now be confined to their rooms for a fortnight.

The players should be out of isolation before the week of warm-up events begins on 31 January, with the competition – which has already been pushed back three weeks – due to start on 8 February.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has said players will be supported in any way possible, including with the delivery of exercise equipment to their rooms.

Reports have also emerged of a positive test among the cohort of top players and their practice partners who are quarantining separately in Adelaide.

Meanwhile, former world number 1 Andy Murray’s participation at the first major of the year remains in doubt after he tested positive for COVID-19.

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He had been due to fly to Australia on an official tournament flight but is now isolating at his home in Surrey.

The fact the Australian Open has been allowed to go ahead has been hugely controversial given Victoria’s strict approach to tackling coronavirus and while thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas because of a limit on numbers allowed into the country.

So far Australia has seen 909 deaths with coronavirus, while the UK has the fifth highest death rate in the world with 88, 747 deaths.

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Donald Trump like a ‘mob boss’ but he shouldn’t be prosecuted, says ex-FBI boss Comey | US News

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Donald Trump needs the same level of affirmation as a toddler – but prosecuting him would only give him the attention he craves, says former FBI chief James Comey.

Mr Comey, who was controversially fired by the president in 2017, told Sky News launching a criminal case could lead to several more years of the “Donald Trump show”.

He said it could overshadow efforts by Joe Biden to unite America and is “probably what [Trump] would want the most”.

“I have never seen an adult with a greater hunger for affirmation than Donald Trump,” he told Sky News.

“I’ve seen it in two-year-olds and three-year-olds. Affirmation is like air, he needs it constantly.

“I’d like to see some of the lights go out and he can stand on the front lawn at Mar-a-Lago and shout at cars in his bathroom and none of us will hear it.”

James Comey and Donald Trump shake hands
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Donald Trump controversially fired Mr Comey as FBI director in May 2017

As president, Mr Trump is “constitutionally immune” from prosecution – but that ends in days, raising the possibility he could in future be charged if crimes were committed before or during his term.

Mr Comey agrees, though, with this week’s historic second impeachment of the president.

“I don’t think that anybody can disagree, there has to be the letter ‘i’ tattooed on him again, and ideally I’d like to see him convicted by the US Senate and barred from ever holding public office again,” said Mr Comey.

The 60-year-old was fired by the president while the FBI was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election – and is now a vociferous critic of Mr Trump.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves after giving an economic policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Mr Trump is the ‘dictionary definition of a demagogue’, says Mr Comey

He said the outgoing president was “the dictionary definition of a demagogue”, who “aimed not just to lie to people but really to destroy the notion that the truth exists”.

“There’s a menace to him in private that you don’t pick up in public,” added Mr Comey.

“But I have felt it sitting close to him, that constantly reminded me of a mob boss because I’ve known mob bosses and helped put them in jail.

“That menace coupled with that hunger for affirmation is a really dangerous recipe.”

Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol
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Mr Comey says law enforcement should have seen the riot coming

Mr Trump has just a few days left before Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday – but it has not stopped politicians voting to impeach him on charges of inciting the deadly riots at the US Capitol.

The storming of the building – the heart of US democracy – on 6 January caused widespread shocked America, with Trump supporters running amok and five people left dead.

Mr Comey told Sky News the danger remains and that he is worried about the potential threat from “armed, disturbed people” on inauguration day.

Many Trump supporters believe his unsubstantiated claims of fraud in November’s election and the FBI has identified more than 200 people threatening violence in “concerning online chatter”.

Mr Comey said the danger had “to be taken very, very seriously”, and that people involved in the previous chaos must be dealt with “swiftly and severely”.

Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration
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Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of the inauguration

“I’m worried because there are armed, disturbed people who are in this state of mind where they believe their country is being taken from them,” said Mr Comey.

“So it’s a threat law enforcement in the States has to take very seriously.

“At the same time, I know that we have the capability, investigative and the tactical capability on scene, to protect these locations and so I am optimistic that the threat will be neutralised, but it has to be taken very, very seriously.”

The National Guard has also been descending on Washington to guard government buildings ahead of inauguration, when officials say 21,000 will be on hand.

Police were hugely outnumbered by the Capitol rioters and have been criticised over how it easy it was for the mob to seize control.

Several National Guard members are pictured lying on the floor of the U.S. Capitol
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Some 21,000 members of the National Guard will be in Washington for the big day

Mr Comey told Sky News he was “sickened” by the violence and angry at the failure to defend the building, despite the obvious threat.

“I was angered by the apparent failure to defend a hill, it [the Capitol] sits on a hill with 2,000 officers assigned to it on a daily basis, the failure to defend the hill. It just mystifies and angers me.

“It is going to be important for our country to understand that failure.”

He added: “9/11 we were told was a failure of imagination, we didn’t anticipate the way the terrorists might come at us; this didn’t require imagination.

“This was all over the internet and the group literally walked slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol so it was just a failure and we need to know why at all levels so that we don’t let it happen again.”

Mr Comey has just released a new book, Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust, described as a “clarion call for a return to fairness and equity in the law”.

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