The Latest: White House says Trump was joking about police




 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EDT):

4:40 p.m.

The White House is defending President Donald Trump's recent remarks that police shouldn't be too nice when transporting suspects, saying Monday that the president was "making a joke."

On a visit to Long Island last week, Trump implored police officers "Please don't be too nice," noting that some officers are too courteous to suspected criminals when arresting them. That prompted critics to accuse the president of encouraging police brutality.

"Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over" their head, he said, putting his hand above his head for emphasis. "I said, 'You can take the hand away, OK?" Trump declared.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday, "I believe he was making a joke at the time."

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4:25 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump's new chief of staff will have "full authority" to bring structure and discipline to the White House.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says all West Wing staff will report to John Kelly, Trump's former Homeland Security Secretary, who was named Monday as the new chief of staff.

Sanders is also clarifying why Trump's new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, was let go from his job only 11 days after being appointed.

Sanders says the president believes Scaramucci's recent off-color remarks to The New Yorker were "inappropriate." She says Scaramucci will not have a position in the administration.

Sanders says, "What matters most to us is not who is employed at the White House but who is employed in the rest of the country."

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3:15 p.m.

The White House says Anthony Scaramucci is leaving his job as communications director to give President Donald Trump's new chief of staff a "clean slate."

That's according to a statement by the press secretary. Scaramucci "felt it was best" and wants to give John Kelly "the ability to build his own team," the statement says. Kelly was sworn in Monday as chief of staff.

Sean Spicer, who resigned as press secretary the day of Scaramucci's hiring, used the same "clean slate" language to explain his own departure 11 days ago. Spicer was in the White House Monday and has said he is helping during the communications transitions.

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2:55 p.m.

Anthony Scaramucci is out as White House communications director after just 11 days on the job.

A person close to Scaramucci confirmed his ouster just hours after President Donald Trump's new chief of staff, John Kelly, was sworn into office.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the change before it was officially announced.

Scaramucci has been in the spotlight since he was first announced as communications director earlier this month.

The New Yorker magazine published an interview Thursday in which Scaramucci went on a profanity-laden tirade against Reince Priebus, then chief of staff.

Kelly, a retired general and previous Homeland Security secretary, was sworn into his new job Monday morning.

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1:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump's tweet Monday about economic progress under his administration isn't completely accurate.

Trump tweeted: "Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising."

In fact, economic growth averaged 2 percent in the first half of this year, which Trump promised to lift to 3 percent. The stock market first hit a record under President Barack Obama and has kept growing. The unemployment rate, too, started to decline on Obama's watch. And wage gains have been weak.

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10:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is convening his Cabinet for a kickoff meeting with new chief of staff John Kelly.

The president promises his team is "going to work hard" and fulfill that famous campaign promise to "make America great again."

After a particularly tumultuous time in his presidency, Trump is trying to highlight a positive jobs outlook and strong stock market.

As for the escalating tensions with North Korea, Trump says the situation "will be handled." But he didn't elaborate.

The U.S. flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.

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9:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is swearing in Marine retired Gen. John Kelly as his new White House chief of staff.

In an Oval Office ceremony, Trump predicts Kelly will do a "spectacular job."

The president denies there is "chaos" in the White House, despite a particularly tumultuous stretch. And he says things are going "very well."

Trump is declining to say just what Kelly will do differently from Reince Preibus, whom Trump ousted as chief of staff late last week.

Kelly previously served as the Department of Homeland Security secretary.

Trump has said he hopes Kelly can bring some military order to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, infighting among West Wing aides and a stack of investigations.

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8:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is insisting there is no chaos in his White House.

Trump says on Twitter on Monday: "Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!"

Trump's tweet came before his swearing-in of a new chief of staff. Ret. Gen. John Kelly will take over from Reince Priebus.

Over the past week, Trump's new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, attacked Priebus in a profanity-laden tirade, Trump drew criticism for his public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the latest effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul the nation's health care law failed.

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3:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump's new chief of staff is entering a West Wing battered by crisis.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, previously the Homeland Security secretary, takes over Monday from the ousted Reince Priebus. Trump hopes Kelly can bring some military order to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, a cabal of infighting West Wing aides and a stack of investigations.

Still, Kelly's success will depend on how much authority he is granted and whether Trump's dueling aides will put aside their rivalries to work together. Also unclear is whether a new chief of staff can influence the president's social media habits.

While Trump is trying to refresh his team, he signaled over the weekend that he does not want to give up the fight on health care.

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