Today in the Trump Administration
National security adviser
The president is meeting in Mar-a-Lago with potential national security adviser candidates - former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer. Mr. Trump also plans to interview his acting national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg.
President Trump also has three foreign leader calls and an Obamacare strategy meeting with newly confirmed OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, HHS Secretary Tom Price, and senior staff.
Mattis says, “I don’t have any issues with the press”
During a trip to Europe and the Middle East, Defense Secretary James Mattis was asked by a reporter if he agreed with Mr. Trump’s assertion that the press is the enemy of the American people.
Mattis responded, “I’ve had some rather contentious times with the press, but no, the press, as far as I’m concerned, are a constituency that we deal with, and I don’t have any issues with the press myself,” according to a pool report.
Senior Trump appointee fired after critical comments
A senior Trump administration official was fired following criticism in a private speech of President Donald Trump’s policies and his inner circle of advisers.
Craig Deare, whom Trump appointed a month ago to head the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere division, was on Friday escorted out of the Executive Office Building, where he worked in Washington.
Reince Priebus on “Face the Nation”
Reince Preibus says, take Trump seriously when he calls press “the enemy”
Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, advised Americans to take President Trump’s attacks on the media “seriously,” following the president’s denunciations of the press as the “enemy.”
“There’s been a debate about when to take the president seriously,” CBS’ John Dickerson said in a “Face the Nation” interview with Priebus Saturday. “He recently tweeted that the press was the enemy of the American people. Should we take that seriously from him?”
“Well, I think you should take it seriously,” Priebus replied. “I think that the problem we’ve got is that we’re talking about bogus stories like the one in the New York Times, that we’ve had constant contact with Russian officials. The next day, the Wall Street Journal had a story that the intel community was not giving the president a full intelligence briefing. Both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown, and it’s total garbage.”
Priebus defends Flynn, says “nothing wrong” with talking sanctions before inauguration
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus gave a staunch defense of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Saturday following Flynn’s resignation earlier this week.
Priebus told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that the retired general had done nothing wrong after reports that Flynn had spoken with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about possibly lifting sanctions on the country weeks before President Trump took office. The phone call discussing that foreign policy -- which occurred around the time then-President Obama was imposing sanctions in response to Kremlin-directed cyberattacks -- could be a possible violation of federal law.
Lindsey Graham: U.S. allies “feel better” after Mike Pence reassurances in Munich
With the world looking for reassurance from President Donald Trump’s administration about the United States’ role in international organizations and its place on the world stage, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that U.S. allies “feel better” on that front after Vice President Mike Pence’s speech in Munich.
“A lot of people over here believe it’s going back to 20s and 30s isolationism where America sort of retreats from the region,” Graham said of the president’s “America first” rhetoric. “Vice President Pence’s speech was terrific. We’re going to be more involved in NATO, not less. We’re going to have more troops supporting our friends in Europe against aggression by Russia, so I think they feel much better after hearing Vice President Pence and Mattis.”
Swedes baffled by Trump’s suggestion of major incident
Swedes have been scratching their heads and ridiculing President Donald Trump’s remark that suggested a major incident had happened in Sweden.
During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump said “look what’s happening last night in Sweden” as he alluded to past terror attacks in Europe. The comment prompted a barrage of social media reaction on Sunday and #lastnightinsweden #swedenincident hashtags began trending on Twitter. Former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted , “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”
As Trump makes foreign moves, Tillerson stays out of the spotlight
When North Korea fired a ballistic missile into waters between South Korea and Japan, President Donald Trump moved quickly to show U.S. resolve. He appeared within hours alongside visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and said the U.S. “stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”
Mr. Trump happened to be hosting Abe that day in Florida. Yet his lack of any mention of U.S. treaty ally South Korea didn’t go unnoticed by new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. So, while on his first official trip, Tillerson arranged a three-way meeting in Germany with the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers to show the U.S. wasn’t picking favorites, according to a senior State Department official.
The talks culminated in a joint declaration in which the U.S. pledged to defend a pair of Asian nations that don’t always get along. There was no elaborate ceremony before the video cameras, no speeches, as their written statement went out in low-key fashion.
It was Tillerson’s way.
What you missed yesterday
Petraeus out of the running for National Security Adviser
Sources close to retired Gen. David Petraeus say the White House eliminated the former CIA director from consideration for the open national security adviser post after he weighed in on the job during a conference in Germany this week.
Trump’s Navy secretary pick could withdraw soon
Two sources close to the situation tell CBS News that President Trump’s Navy Secretary nominee Philip Bilden is likely to withdraw his nomination.
The sources said Bilden, a former Army Reserve military officer with little naval experience, has drawn resistance to his lack of familiarity with Navy issues and has encountered difficulty separating himself from his financial interests.
But the White House has publicly denied that Bilden is reconsidering his nomination.
After a week batting down a string of controversies, the president is holding his first post-inauguration campaign-style rally early Saturday evening.
Meetings at the “Southern White House”
Mr. Trump tweeted about meetings this weekend in Mar-a-Lago. It’s not known yet whom Mr. Trump will be meeting.
John McCain blasts Trump in Munich speech
McCain, who has openly quarreled with the president, said at the Munich Security Council that “more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent.”
The senator lamented the “hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims.” During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump promised to stop Muslims from entering the U.S. and shortly after taking office issued an executive order banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Mike Pence on Russia
AP: Vice President Mike Pence vowed Saturday that the United States will “hold Russia accountable” even as President Trump searches for new common ground with Moscow at the start of his presidency.