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Trump at CPAC: 2nd Amendment, tax cuts could be repealed if Dems take power



President Trump, in a fiery and freewheeling speech to conservative activists on Friday, implored his base to get off their “ass” and “clobber” Democrats in upcoming elections so they won’t try to repeal the Second Amendment, undo recent tax cuts and install liberal judges.

“If they get in, they will repeal your tax cuts,” Trump said during an appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. “They will put judges in that you wouldn’t believe. They will take away your Second Amendment, which we will never allow to happen.”

Trump, in a speech reminiscent of those during the campaign, ticked off his accomplishments over the last year, including passing tax cuts, moving the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Paris climate accords.

The president also used the occasion to address the recent debate over gun control, in the wake of last week’s school shooting massacre in Florida, and call for more armed security in schools. Had teachers been armed in Florida, Trump said, “the teacher would have shot the hell out of [the attacker] before he knew what happened.”

“When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger,” Trump said. “Well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches should be able to carry concealed firearms.”

He rebuked ex-Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson, who was on campus at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., during the shooting but did not go inside while it was happening. Before the speech Friday, Trump suggested Peterson is a “coward.”

“You had one guard, he did not turn out to be real good, I will tell you that,” Trump said. “He turned out to be not good. He was not a credit to law enforcement, that I can tell you.”

Trump emphasized his support for NRA but said “we really do have to strengthen up” background checks for gun owners.

He also riled up the crowd by reminiscing about the 2016 election, calling Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a “crooked candidate.” At one point, the crowd broke into “lock her up chants,” like his supporters did during the campaign.

“Boy, have they committed a lot of atrocities, when you look, right?” Trump said of the Democrats.

He emphasized to the crowd the importance of future elections, including the upcoming midterms and 2020 presidential contest, warning the crowd not be complacent. Trump expressed hope Republicans “clobber” Democrats “because everybody gets off their ass, and they work.”

“It is a natural instinct,” the president said. “You just won, and now, you’re happy and complacent. Don’t be complacent.”

Trump said of the upcoming midterms: “We have to get out there, and we have to fight in ’18 like never before.”

Amid a breakdown in negotiations over protecting illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, Trump said Democrats “totally abandoned DACA,” saying they aren’t willing to negotiate on other immigration reforms. He called for a merit-based system and expressed his opposition to the VISA lottery program, saying: “They are not giving us their best people, folks.”

The crowd at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center was packed with college students, many of whom were wearing iconic red “Make America Great Again” hats.

“By the way, you don’t mind if I go off script a little bit,” the president told the audience.

He didn’t hold back criticism of Republicans who haven’t supported his agenda – making reference to Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has been battling cancer and who voted against the Trump plan to repeal ObamaCare.

“I don’t want to be controversial so I won’t use his name,” Trump said of McCain.

The president also ripped into the media, referring to “all those horrible people back there.”

“They are going to support me,” he said. “You know why? Because if somebody else won, their ratings would go down, they would all be out of business.”

Trump acknowledged coming back to address the gathering for sentimental reasons: it was at CPAC where he said he gave his first political speech in 2011 and tested out his message to conservatives ahead of his 2016 presidential run. Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, pleased the president in his introduction by saying Friday’s audience for Trump was the biggest in CPAC history.

“Remember when I first started running because I wasn’t a politician, fortunately, but do you remember, I started running, and people would say are you sure he is a conservative? I think that we’ve proved that I am a conservative,” Trump said.

The three-day convention this year has heavy representation from the Trump administration: Vice President Mike Pence appeared Thursday, as did White House counsel Don McGahn. A number of Cabinet officials also made appearances, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Labor Secretary Alex Costa and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon are speaking Friday.

At the end of the speech, Trump used the speech to announce what he referred to as the “heaviest set of sanctions ever imposed” against the North Korean regime. 

He also paid tribute to Billy Graham, the evangelist and spiritual adviser to multiple past presidents who died this week, saying “we will never forget the historic crowds, the voice, the energy, and the profound faith.”

There were also several light-hearted moments. Early in the speech, the president pointed to a large screen streaming his speech, turned around and pointed to his hair, and joked: “I try like hell to hide the bald spot, folks!”

Like he occasionally did during the campaign, he read the lyrics from the song “The Snake” to argue against allowing dangerous people into the country.

When one protester interrupted his speech, the crowd broke into “USA” chants. “How did he get in here, Matt?” Trump said, referencing Schlapp, the leader of CPAC.

“He was very obnoxious,” the president said of the protester. “It was only one person.”

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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Florida asks Supreme Court to let cruise ships sail again



WASHINGTON — Florida urged the Supreme Court on Friday to block federal Covid restrictions that have vastly cut back the number of cruise ships operating from the state’s ports.

In an emergency appeal, the state said restrictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control have made it very difficult for the industry to get going again, after it was shut down for nearly 16 months.

Federal rules now allow ships to board passengers if cruise lines meet such requirements as setting up Covid testing labs, running test voyages, maintaining social distancing, and establishing onshore housing for quarantining passengers.

The federal government said the rules were necessary with the United States in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that included several deadly outbreaks clustered on cruise ships. “These experiences demonstrated that cruise ships are uniquely suited to spread COVID-19, likely due to their close quarters for passengers and crew for prolonged periods.”

Now is not the time to put the rules on hold, the Justice Department argued, as the government works with the industry to get it going again — noting that the cruise industry did not join Florida’s lawsuit.

But the rules allow only a fraction of the normal number of ships to sail, the state said.

“The CDC’s order is manifestly beyond its authority,” Florida said. The federal law giving the CDC power to enact traditional quarantine measures “does not permit the agency to remake the entire cruise ship industry.”

The state said the restrictions have cost Florida tens of millions of dollars in lost tax and port revenue and required it to meet the additional expensive of paying unemployment benefits to cruise industry employees.

In June a federal court agreed with the state and blocked the CDC restrictions. U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday of Tampa, Florida, said the effort to impose the rules was “breathtaking, unprecedented, and acutely and singularly authoritarian.” He said he wondered whether the CDC would have argued that it could ban intercourse to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, put Merryday’s order on hold. Florida’s emergency motion asked the Supreme Court to lift that hold and allow the judge’s ruling to take effect.

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'This won't end well' Meghan and Harry warned of US backlash as Sussexes go against Queen



PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle cannot hope to win in a popularity contest against the Queen, even among Americans, a former MP who is now based in the US has said.

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Tom Barrack, former Trump inaugural chair, released on $250 million bond



Former Trump inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack on Friday was released from federal lockup in California on a $250 million bond ahead of his scheduled arraignment in New York on charges he acted as an agent of the United Arab Emirates and obstructed justice.

As part of the terms of his release, Barrack, 74, is subject to electronic monitoring and will have to foot the bill for his GPS ankle bracelet, Judge Patricia Donahue ordered, signing off on an agreement that had been worked out between the government and Barrack’s attorneys.

Barrack, a private equity investor and founder of the investment firm Colony Capital, also had to surrender his passports and is barred from transferring funds overseas, the judge said. He cannot trade any securities without written permission from federal prosecutors and is not allowed to transfer more than $50,000 except for attorneys fees.

He’s scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn, New York on Monday. His spokesman said earlier this week that Barrack “is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”

A longtime friend of former President Donald Trump, Barrack had been behind bars since his arrest Tuesday on charges that he and two co-defendants were “acting and conspiring to act as agents” of the UAE between April 2016 and April 2018, but without registering as foreign agents.

Prosecutors said Barrack and the others acted “to advance the interests of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the United States at the direction of senior UAE officials by influencing the foreign policy positions of the campaign of a candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, subsequently, the foreign policy positions of the U.S. government in the incoming administration.”

Barrack was also charged with obstruction of justice and making multiple false statements to federal law enforcement agents.

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