Watch CBS News

Today in Trump: February 16, 2017

Trump on press "dishonesty"
Trump: Press' "level of dishonesty out of control" 00:31

Today in the Trump Administration

New Labor secretary named today in Trump press conference

President Trump announced his new Labor secretary nominee,  less than a day after Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration for the post.  It’s lawyer Alexander Acosta, whom the president met with Wednesday.

Acosta is the dean of Florida International University Law School. The Harvard-trained lawyer is also a former assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Acosta was the first Hispanic who held the rank of assistant attorney general. 

Harward rejects national security adviser job

Vice Admiral Robert Harward has rejected President Trump’s offer to be the new national security adviser, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports.

Sources close to the situation told Garrett Harward and the administration had a dispute over over staffing the security council.

Two sources close to the situation confirm Harward  Harward demanded his own team, and the White House resisted. Specifically, Mr. Trump told Deputy National Security Adviser K. T. McFarland that she could retain her post, even after the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

Impromptu press conference highlights


Asked by Major Garrett about three recent examples of recent Russian aggression against the U.S., the president said, “I’m going to see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “They all happened recently and I understand what they’re doing … I’m not going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don’t talk about military response.” 

Asks black reporter to “set up the meeting” with Congressional Black Caucus

President Trump’s freewheeling press White House press conference Thursday -- in which he announced his new labor secretary pick -- also included an awkward exchange on race, after a reporter asked him about his policies to improve inner cities.

“You go to some of the inner city places and it’s so sad when you look at the crime,” the president said. He went on to describe how people “lock themselves into apartments petrified to even leave in the middle of the day” in urban areas for fear of crime in the cities.

Journalist April Ryan, who serves as the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, followed up: “When you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda?”

When Mr. Trump seemed unfamiliar with the “CBC” acronym, Ryan, who is black, clarified: “Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus -- “

The president interrupted: “Well I would. I’d tell you what -- do you want to set up the meeting?

Replacing travel ban with new executive order

During a lengthy press conference Thursday, President Trump announced his intention to replace the existing version of his travel ban with a new executive order, previewing the action that could come as early as “next week.”

“We’re issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country,” Mr. Trump told reporters gathered in the White House’s East Room, for a press conference to announce his newest labor secretary pick. “So we’ll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that, at the same time we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people. That will be done sometime next week, toward the beginning or middle at the latest part.”

Later, he defended his original executive order, which immediately paused the U.S. refugee program and barred any citizen of seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the country.


President Trump declined to answer a question Thursday about how his administration plans to combat a rise in anti-Semitism, and instead told the Jewish reporter asking it to sit down and called it “not a fair question.”

During a press conference at the White House that lasted for more than an hour, a Jewish reporter expressed concern about growing anti-Semitism and said, “What we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it.” The reporter then referenced a spate of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the U.S. over the last month or so, and then was interrupted by the president.

“He said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not. It’s not a simple question, not a fair question,” Mr. Trump said. “Okay, sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here’s the story folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person.”

White House is “fine-tuned machine”

Donald Trump mounted an aggressive defense of his young presidency Thursday, lambasting reports that his campaign advisers had inappropriate contact with Russian officials and vowing to crack down on the leaking of classified information.

Nearly a month into his presidency, Trump insisted in a free-wheeling White House news conference that his new administration had made “significant progress” and took credit for an optimistic business climate and a rising stock market.

The president denounced media reports of a chaotic start to his administration marked by his contentious executive order - rejected by a federal appeals court - to place a ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Trump said he would announce a “new and very comprehensive order to protect our people” next week.

“This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine,” Trump declared in a lengthy news conference that saw the new commander in chief repeatedly interrupting reporters’ questions and airing his grievances.

Trump vows “low-life leakers” will be caught

In tweets, President Trump threatened to catch Washington’s “low-life leakers” to the press, following a report in the New York Times alleging his campaign had repeated contact with Russian officials prior to the 2016 presidential election.

The Cabinet

The Senate may vote on the confirmation of Mick Mulvaney to be OMB director.

Supreme Court

Judge Neil Gorsuch meets with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey

What Trump’s travel ban means to one new U.S. citizen

Five days after Donald Trump signed his travel ban, a young Iraqi named Layth Baheej wiped away tears as he took the oath of citizenship and listened to a U.S. immigration official in Baltimore welcomed him to be a full participant in American democracy. 

Four of his siblings were killed in the war, and Baheej hopes he’ll be able to bring his surviving siblings and his parents to join him here, but Mr. Trump’s ban has cast a shadow over those hopes. Rebecca Kaplan reports.

Recent News 

Puzder, Labor secretary pick, withdraws nomination

Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s pick for labor secretary, officially withdrew his name from the Cabinet nomination, following a drawn-out confirmation process plagued by scandal.

The fast food executive announced his withdrawal in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor,” Puzder wrote. “I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity.”

Former adviser to three GOP presidents questions Trump’s motivations on Russia

President Donald Trump has insulted everyone from federal judges, to fellow Republicans, to Meryl Streep. He’s even taken a shot at the Pope.

But he’s seemed to bend over backward to avoid criticizing Vladimir Putin.

“Obviously there is something going on here,” said Peter Wehner, and he wants to know why.

Wehner worked for Ronald Reagan and both Bush administrations writing speeches and generating policy ideas. Wehner is now with the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Analyst: “Stunning” amount of classified information being leaked against Trump administration

When the president spoke of illegal leaks of classified information, he was right, of course. 

“These people have committed a potential federal felony in talking to the reporters, and that ought to disturb us,” says CBS News senior national security analyst Fran Townsend, who was Homeland Security Adviser under President George W. Bush. “There’s sort of a base level of this we’ve come to expect out of Washington.”

But the amount of classified information that’s being leaked right now? Townsend says “frankly, I find it stunning.” 

Secretary Tillerson meets with Russian counterpart

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has embarked on his first official trip to Bonn, Germany for the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Summit where he will dive into diplomacy with a series of group sessions and one-on-one meetings. 

As President Trump has repeatedly cast his administration as one that will ring in a new era for U.S.-Russian relations, all eyes will be watching as Tillerson meets with with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time.

In meeting with Lavrov, Tillerson will advocate for pragmatic and constructive cooperation where interests overlap, according to senior State Department officials. Countering ISIS and terrorism are possible avenues for cooperation. 

National security adviser

President Trump has offered the job of national security adviser to Vice Admiral Robert Harward, according to sources close to the situation, CBS News’ Major Garrett reports.

Trump slams intel community after Russia report

President Trump launched a Twitter offensive against the U.S. intelligence community, following a report released Tuesday night that some campaign officials had repeated contact with Russian intelligence officers before the 2016 presidential election.

The president pilloried the New York Times report, which cited intelligence sources, as “non-sense” and a “cover-up” for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign. He also accused members of the intelligence community of “illegally” handing over information to the news media.

Meanwhile, Democratic senators planned an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the latest Russia reports and Michael Flynn’s resignation.

The Cabinet

Sources tell Major Garrett that Mr. Trump has offered the post of National Security Adviser to Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL and former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command. Harward has not yet accepted the job.

Trump on Israel: he calls on Netanyahu to “hold back a little bit” on settlements

President Trump called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday to temporarily freeze construction of settlements, which its government has been rapidly expanding in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

At a joint news conference between the two leaders from East Room of the White House, Mr. Trump said that he is asking Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

Netanyahu responded, “we’ll try.” Mr. Trump then commented that his reaction didn’t sound too optimistic. The prime minister was later asked to respond to Mr. Trump’s request, and he said that the issue of settlements is “not the core of the conflict, nor does it drive the conflict.”


President Trump welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House. They’ll held a joint news conference at noon, shortly after Netanyahu arrived. 

What’s at stake in Trump and Netanyahu meeting

Iranian aggression in the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear deal, Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the conflict in Syria are issues that will likely dominate the agenda when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Trump at the White House Wednesday.

The visit will be key in reviving the U.S.-Israel relationship, which experienced one of its lowest points less than two months ago when the Obama administration abstained during a U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution that demanded an end to Israeli settlement construction--By Rebecca Shabad

Trump administration suggests retreat from two-state solution in Middle East is possible

The Trump administration suggested Tuesday that peace between the Israelis and Palestinians may not come in the form of a two-state solution - a position that could represent a dramatic shift from former President Barack Obama, who said he saw no alternative.

Speaking to reporters ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a senior White House official said Mr. Trump is eager to begin facilitating a peace deal between the two sides and hoping to bring them together soon.

Palestinians are puzzled by this suggestion.

Trump/Netanyahu schedule:

11:50 a.m. Netanyahu arrives

12 p.m. Joint news conference

12:40 p.m. Oval Office meeting

1:45 p.m. Lunch

Marco Rubio 

The president host the Rubios for dinner this evening. This comes a day after the Christies came for lunch.


The president met with retailers to talk about the challenges facing them. He told them he’s cutting regulations “by massive amounts” and “in just about every industry.” He also mentioned a plan to change the tax code would be coming soon.

“We’re doing a massive tax plan that is coming along really well,” he told the retailers. “It will be submitted in the not too distant future. It will be not only good and simpler, it will be, you’re talking about big numbers of savings.”  And, he added that he planned to lower rates “very, very substantially for virtually everybody in every category. Including personal and business.”

 Here’s the list of participants:

  • Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO, Target
  • Marvin Ellison, Chairman and CEO, J.C. Penney Company
  • Hubert Joly, Chairman and CEO, Best Buy
  • Art Peck, CEO, Gap Inc.
  • Bill Rhodes, Chairman, President and CEO, AutoZone
  • Stefano Pessina, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Walgreen Boots Alliance
  • Greg Sandfort, President and CEO, Tractor Supply
  • Jill Soltau, CEO and President, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

Supreme Court

Nominee Neil Gorsuch met more senators -- Johnny Isakson at 10:30 a.m., Patrick Leahy at 11:30 a.m. and Jeanne Shaheen at 2 p.m.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.