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Today in Trump: February 20, 2017

Last Updated Feb 20, 2017 3:36 PM EST

Today in the Trump Administration

National security adviser

President Trump named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster national security adviser Monday afternoon in Mar-a-Lago. Acting National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg will be chief of staff. 

President Trump plays 18 holes with pro golfer Rory McIlroy

President Donald Trump played a full 18 holes of golf with professional golfer Rory McIlroy on Sunday at his golf club in Palm Beach, McIlroy told a golf blog -- an account that contradicted what the White House said Sunday about Mr. Trump’s activities that day.

The round of golf was first reported by the blog No Laying Up, which spoke with McIlroy about the experience. “He probably shot around 80,” McIlroy said. “He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70s!”

That report directly contradicted what White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Sunday, when she said he “played a couple of holes” earlier that day but that she didn’t believe it was “a full round.” (Additionally, she declined to disclose Mr. Trump’s golf partners at the time.)

In a statement Monday, Sanders responded to the discrepancy by saying Mr. Trump had “intended” to play just a few holes but ultimately stayed longer.

DHS is preparing to release sweeping immigration overhaul

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to release new sweeping immigration guidelines, CBS News reports.

A source with knowledge of DHS planning said the documents are being finalized by the White House and could be released as early as Monday. It was originally scheduled to be released late last week.

One provision would direct the immediate return of Mexican immigrants who are apprehended along the border back home, pending the outcomes of their deportation hearings. The new procedures would allow for authorities to seek expedited deportation hearings.

Trump tweets about Sweden

During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Mr. Trump said “look what’s happening last night in Sweden” as he alluded to past terror attacks in Europe. It wasn’t clear what he was referring to and there were no high-profile situations reported in Sweden on Friday night.  

He later tweeted, “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”

This morning, he issued another tweet about the media, Sweden and immigration. Sweden, which has a long reputation for welcoming refugees and migrants, had a record 163,000 asylum applications in 2015. The country has since cut back on the number it annually accepts.


CPAC

President Trump will be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday at 10 a.m. He skipped the event last year at the last minute in favor of campaign events in Florida and Kansas.

ACA repeal and replace

The president also had a meeting Sunday about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with HHS Secretary Tom Price, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon and CMS administrator Seema Verna, as well as several domestic policy staffers. The meeting, Sanders said, went on for several hours, although Mr. Trump was not present for all of it.

Pence in Brussels

Mike Pence is in Brussels meeting with EU Council Pres. Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg 

What you missed yesterday

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

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.