Watch CBSN Live

Today in Trump: February 17, 2017

State Dept. layoffs
State Dept. layoffs 06:02

Today in the Trump Administration


The president visited the Boeing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, where the Dreamliner 787-10 is built. He’ll make remarks at 12:45 p.m. after touring the newest version of the plane.

The president told workers at the plant, “we don’t have a level playing field,” but promised that “very shortly,” there would be a level playing field.

His message today, he told them, was that America “is going to start winning again,” and he promised to fight for more jobs and more better-paying jobs “for the loyal citizens of our country.” 

The president’s visit came just after the workers at the plant overwhelmingly voted against unionizing. 

From Charleston, he travels to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend.

Trump yells at CIA director over reports intel officials are keeping info from him

CBS News has learned that on Thursday, an angry President Trump called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and yelled at him for not pushing back hard enough against reports that the intelligence community was withholding information from the commander-in-chief.

The agency then drafted a strongly worded statement rebutting the claim. “We are not aware of any instance when that has occurred,” read Pompeo’s statement. “It is CIA’s mission to provide the President with the best intelligence possible and to explain the basis for that intelligence. The CIA does not, has not, and will never hide intelligence from the President, period.” 

State Dept. layoffs 06:02

State Dept layoffs under Rex Tillerson being carried out

While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed. 

These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

“The Takeout” - The leakers and the liars

Russia headlines dominated the week with the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Monday. But the question of whether he talked about retaliatory sanctions against Russia with Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak prior to inauguration may not be the primary concern for the intelligence community.

CBS News Homeland Security correspondent Jeff Pegues says that in fact, what the agencies are worried about goes back further -- to the presidential campaign and whether and how much Trump campaign officials including then-Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and former adviser Carter Page -- communicated with Russian officials or operatives.

“There are some people in the intelligence community who are concerned about some of the information related to this investigation being suppressed,” Pegues told “The Takeout” with Major Garrett. 

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

That information has been filtering out in leaks to major news outlets, a trend that’s angering the president, who has railed against leaking in tweets and speeches, as well as in Thursday’s news 

Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel says he regrets inflammatory remarks

The combative attorney President Donald Trump picked to be his ambassador to Israel said Thursday that he regrets using “inflammatory rhetoric” during the “highly charged” 2016 presidential campaign.

At his confirmation hearing, David Friedman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that language he used “has come in for criticism - and rightfully so.” He says his use of incendiary comments is “entirely over.” 

Friedman had called J Street, a liberal Jewish advocacy group, “worse than kapos,” a reference to Jews who helped the Nazis imprison fellow Jews during the Holocaust. J Street worked closely with the Obama administration and is critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The group says Friedman “lacks the temperament and responsibility required for such a sensitive diplomatic assignment.”

White House to name Mike Dubke as communications director

The White House is set to name Mike Dubke, founder of the conservative Crossroads Media group, as its communications director, an administration official confirmed to CBS News.

Dubke will take the job that was offered to Jason Miller, who declined to accept the the White House job shortly after he was tapped to lead the communications office in December.

Dubke currently serves as a partner for the political advertising group Crossroads Media, which describes itself as “the premier Republican media services firm.” Dubke also leads the Virginia-based Black Rock Group, a strategic communications and public affairs firm.  

Rep. Elijah Cummings is “excited about meeting” Trump

During his hastily arranged news conference, Donald Trump talked about a meeting with Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings that has yet to take place.

“I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited,” the president recalled. “And then he said, ‘Well, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.’”

“Very nice guy,” though, Mr. Trump said of Cummings. He speculated that Cummings “probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight. He was probably told - he was probably told ‘don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics.’”

Cummings, as it turned out, watched the entire hour and 15 minute presser by the president, and he told CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds and Alan He that he didn’t expect Mr. Trump to bring up their yet-unscheduled meeting.


While Mr. Trump is stateside, his vice president, secretary of state, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs are traveling abroad. 

Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis will be attending the Munich Security Council meeting -- an annual gathering where world leaders discuss global security challenges.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in the G20 summit in Bonn, Germany, where he’ll be meeting with Foreign Ministers Wang of China and Alfano of Italy.

The Cabinet

The Senate voted to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt  to be EPA administrator 52-46. 

What you missed yesterday

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.

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.