ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
73°
Cloudy
H 78° L 64°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Cloudy. H 78° L 64°
  • cloudy-day
    75°
    Afternoon
    Cloudy. H 78° L 64°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    77°
    Evening
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 78° L 64°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics

    The United States and China have agreed to take measures to 'substantially reduce' America's massive trade deficit with China, but the Trump administration failed to get the Chinese to commit to a specific numerical goal. Still, the talks, which began Thursday and ended Saturday with the issuance of a joint statement, may have helped to ease tensions at least slightly between the world's two biggest economic powers. In recent months the two have threatened to impose punitive tariffs on billions of dollars in each other's exports. In the statement, Beijing committed to 'significantly increase' its purchases of American goods and services, saying that the increase would 'meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development.' The two countries also agreed on 'meaningful increases' of U.S. agriculture and energy exports and greater efforts to increase trade in manufactured goods and services. The United States said it would send a team to China to work out the details. The statement, however, provided no dollar amounts on how much China might boost its purchases of American products. Lawrence Kudlow, head of the president's National Economic Council, had told reporters Friday that a reduction in the trade gap of at least $200 billion by 2020 was a 'good number.' Last year, the United States had a record deficit with China in merchandise trade of $375 billion, the largest with any nation. Saturday's statement also was silent on whether the talks had made progress in easing a developing tit-for-tat trade war in which each nation threatened to impose punitive tariffs. Trade analysts said it was highly unlikely that China would ever agree to a numerical target for cutting the trade gap between the two nations, but they said the talks likely were more successful in de-escalating recent trade tensions. 'It is likely that this agreement, weak and vague though it is, will serve as grounds to at least delay the imposition of tariffs,' said Eswar Prasad, an economist and trade expert at Cornell University. 'The Trump administration seems eager to engineer at minimum a temporary peace with China to ensure a smooth runup to the Kim-Trump summit in June,' Prasad said, referring to the June 12 meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader. The Washington talks, which followed a high-level meeting last month in Beijing, were led on the Chinese side by Vice Premier Liu He and on the American side by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The U.S. delegation included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Trump campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to get tough on China and other U.S. trading partners. He views the massive U.S. trade deficit with China as evidence that Beijing is engaged in abusive trading practices and has outmaneuvered previous U.S. administrations. Last August, Lighthizer began an investigation into Beijing's strong-arm tactics to challenge U.S. technological dominance. These include outright cybertheft of U.S. companies' trade secrets and China's demands that American corporations hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese markets. Last month, the administration proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports to protest the forced technology transfers. Trump later ordered Lighthizer to seek up to an additional $100 billion in Chinese products to tax. China responded by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products, including soybeans — a shot at Trump supporters in America's heartland. The prospect of an escalating trade war has shaken financial markets and alarmed business leaders. In a separate controversy, the Commerce Department last month blocked China's ZTE Corp. from importing American components for seven years, accusing the telecommunications company of misleading U.S. regulators after it settled charges last year of violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban amounted to a death sentence for ZTE, which relies heavily on U.S. parts, and the company announced that it was halting operations. A week ago, Trump tweeted that he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to put ZTE 'back in business, fast.' Media reports suggested that the U.S. was offering to swap a ZTE rescue for an end to proposed Chinese tariffs on U.S. farm products.
  • Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri on Saturday defended her vote against President Donald Trump's pick for CIA director but said the specific reasons were classified. McCaskill was one of the few Democrats facing a difficult re-election this fall to oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel, who was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday after a heated debate about her role in the CIA's torture program. The Missouri Democrat told reporters at a Kansas City campaign event that her vote was influenced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had been tortured as a prisoner of war and also opposed Haspel's confirmation. But she said the most important reason for her decision came during a classified discussion with Haspel. 'I cross-examined her on the classified material. And I was very uncomfortable with her answers,' McCaskill said. 'I wish I could explain to all my constituents the details of all that, but the law will not allow me to do so. I can tell you this, if everyone in Missouri read and listened to her answers to the questions I asked, I believe that a vast majority of Missourians would have voted the same way I did.' Earlier in the day, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas seized on McCaskill's vote during a conference call arranged by the campaign of her Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley. McCaskill 'proved once again that she is so liberal and so reflexively opposed to the president that she cannot represent Missouri in the Senate,' Cotton charged. 'She put partisan politics over national security.' McCaskill represents a state that has trended more Republican in recent years. Trump won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016. She sided with the majority of Democrats on Thursday to oppose Haspel's nomination. A handful of red-state Democrats up for re-election in November voted to confirm her, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Acknowledging the Republican shift in her state, McCaskill said Missouri voters would need 'proof of independence' to support her re-election bid. She noted that she supported Trump's pick of Mike Pompeo to serve as secretary of state, adding that she voted with her party only about half the time.
  • Donald Trump Jr. met during the 2016 campaign with a private military contractor and an adviser to Middle Eastern leaders, both of whom have since become a focus of investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller, a lawyer for President Donald Trump's eldest son said Saturday. Erik Prince, an informal adviser to the Trump campaign and former head of Blackwater, and George Nader, a veteran operative who has advised the United Arab Emirates and helped American contractors secure business in the Middle East, met with Trump Jr. at Trump Tower to discuss a social media proposal, lawyer Alan Futerfas said in a statement. 'They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it,' Futerfas said. Also at the meeting was Joel Zamel, the CEO of a social media company called WikiStrat. But he neither offered social media services to the Trump campaign, nor was he asked to help the campaign, his lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said. 'Joel Zamel offered nothing to the Trump campaign, received nothing from the Trump campaign, delivered nothing to the Trump campaign and was not solicited by, or asked to do anything for, the Trump campaign,' Mukasey said Saturday. Mukasey also called it 'misguided' to say Zamel conducts 'social media manipulation,' as suggested by The New York Times, which first reported the meeting. The newspaper said the August 2016 meeting was convened primarily to offer assistance to the Trump campaign and that the outreach suggests countries other than Russia may have offered to help get Trump elected. Mueller's investigators have been looking into a later meeting, in January 2017 in the Seychelles, that Nader and Prince held with Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian banker with close ties to the Kremlin. Nader is a witness in Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election. The Associated Press reported in March that Nader had been convicted on 10 counts of sexually assaulting a minor in the Czech Republic in 2003. Employees for Prince's previous firm, Blackwater, were implicated in the deaths of 14 civilians in Iraq in 2007. Neither a spokesman for Prince nor a spokeswoman for Nader's lawyer immediately returned requests for comment Saturday. Members of the House intelligence committee peppered Prince with questions about his interactions with the Trump campaign during a November 2017 interview, but Prince did not disclose the Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr. and Nader. Mueller has dug into various facets of the social media and digital efforts in the 2016 election as part of his expansive federal probe. In February, he filed an indictment against 13 Russians and three companies accused of running an elaborate campaign on social media to disrupt the elections. The federal probe has also dipped into the digital side of Trump's 2016 campaign, with Mueller's team asking former campaign staff about the role of Cambridge Analytica, the voter data firm which former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon helped run. The president and his closest aides have repeatedly said there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. And the Republican-led House intelligence committee found no evidence of collusion. But Senate investigators said this past week that they believed the Russian meddling was clearly meant to harm Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump. ___ Associated Press reporter Chad Day contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on first lady Melania Trump (all times local): 2:40 p.m. President Donald Trump has welcomed his wife home from the hospital in a tweet that misspells her first name. Here's what the president wrote: 'Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House. Melanie is feeling and doing really well. Thank you for all of your prayers and best wishes!' A few minutes later, Trump posted a tweet that changed 'Melanie' to 'Melania.' The White House says Melania (meh-LAH'-nee-ah) Trump came back to the White House on Saturday after five days in the hospital, where she had a kidney procedure. She had been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington since having the procedure on Monday. It was for an unspecific kidney condition that the White House described as benign. ___ 10:35 a.m. Melania (meh-LAH'-nee-ah) Trump is back at the White House after an extended hospitalization for a kidney procedure. The White House says the first lady returned to the White House on Saturday morning. She had been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington since having an embolization procedure Monday for an unspecified kidney condition that the White House said was benign. President Donald Trump visited his 48-year-old wife during several of the evenings that she was in the hospital. The first lady said Wednesday on Twitter that she was 'feeling great.' She thanked the Walter Reed staff and her well-wishers, and added that she was looking forward to going home.
  • Just-ended U.S.-China trade talks produced a commitment by Beijing to 'significantly increase' its purchases of American goods and services, according to a joint statement Saturday from the rival economic powers trying to lower trade tensions. They also agreed on 'meaningful increases' in U.S. exports of agriculture and energy products and greater efforts to increase trade in manufactured goods and services. The statement, however, provided no dollar amounts on how much China might boost its purchases of American products. The statement also was silent on whether the talks had made progress in easing the trade standoff between the world's two biggest economies. Washington and Beijing have threatened to impose billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other. The statement said they did agree on the need for 'effective measures' to reduce America's trade deficit, and to strengthen cooperation on protecting intellectual property. The statement said the United States would send a team to China to work out further details. One of the Trump administration's goals has been to get China to take steps that would lower America's goods trade deficit with China by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020. Outside analysts said it was highly unlikely that China would ever agree to a U.S. demand for a specific deficit reduction target. Eswar Prasad, an economist and trade expert at Cornell University, said that Saturday's statement seemed to be an effort to de-escalate for the time being the growing tensions. 'The Trump administration seems eager to engineer at minimum a temporary peace with China to ensure a smooth runup to the Kim-Trump summit in June,' Prasad said, referring to the June 12 meeting between Trump and North Korea's leader. 'It is likely that this agreement, weak and vague though it is, will serve as grounds to at least delay the imposition of tariffs' that the United States and China have threatened to impose, Prasad said. 'There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China,' the joint statement said. The two days of talks were led on the Chinese side by Vice Premier Liu He and on the American side by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The U.S. delegation included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Trump campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to get tough on China and other U.S. trading partners. He views the massive U.S. trade deficit with China — $337 billion last year, the biggest with any country — as evidence that Beijing is engaged in abusive trading practices and has outmaneuvered previous U.S. administrations. Last August, Lighthizer began an investigation into Beijing's strong-arm tactics to challenge U.S. technological dominance. These include outright cybertheft of U.S. companies' trade secrets and China's demands that American corporations hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese markets. Last month, the administration proposed tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports to protest the forced technology transfers. Trump later ordered Lighthizer to seek up to an additional $100 billion in Chinese products to tax. China responded by targeting $50 billion in U.S. products, including soybeans — a shot at Trump supporters in America's heartland. The prospect of an escalating trade war has shaken financial markets and alarmed business leaders. In a separate controversy, the Commerce Department last month blocked China's ZTE Corp. from importing American components for seven years, accusing the telecommunications company of misleading U.S. regulators after it settled charges last year of violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban amounted to a death sentence for ZTE, which relies heavily on U.S. parts, and the company announced that it was halting operations. Chinese officials complained loudly about the ZTE sanctions when a high-level U.S. delegation, led by Mnuchin, visited Beijing this month. Trump waded into the fray last Sunday, tweeting that he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to put ZTE 'back in business, fast.' Media reports suggested that the U.S. was offering to swap a ZTE rescue for an end to proposed Chinese tariffs on U.S. farm products.
  • David Montenegro worked part-time restaurant jobs and took advantage of Arizona's lower in-state tuition as he labored through years of college. Now a senior with the goal of becoming a teacher nearly in sight, the 29-year-old Mexico-born immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at age 11 faces a new hurdle. Montenegro and more than 2,300 public college students around Arizona with deferred deportation status will have to pay thousands more for school in the fall under a state Supreme Court decision that deemed them ineligible for in-state tuition. Suddenly, they are scrambling to piece together private funding to continue their studies. Students in the U.S. illegally cannot get federal funding, but there are private scholarships such as TheDream.US and Golden Doors Scholars for students covered by the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. Youths in the program are sometimes referred to as 'Dreamers' for the DREAM Act, never-passed legislation that opponents say would reward people for breaking the law and encourage illegal immigration. Montenegro said Arizona State University counselors helped him find modest funding from donors to finish his last year, and 'I should be able to do it.' But he and others said they fear a growing anti-immigrant bias in the U.S. under President Donald Trump, who has made tough immigration policies a key focus. 'It's upsetting to know there are people out there trying to make our lives impossible,' Montenegro said. Vasthy Lamadrid, another DACA recipient in ASU's teaching program, acknowledged experiencing 'a lot of anxiety and stress' after the decision. 'Some students are freaking out, wondering if they need to move out of state or find other funding,' the 22-year-old added. The Arizona Attorney General's Office sued the Maricopa Community College District in 2013, saying that extending in-state tuition to DACA recipients violated a 2006 voter initiative that requires people to have lawful immigration status to get public benefits. The state Supreme Court ruled in April that state and federal law do not allow DACA recipients to get Arizona's in-state tuition because they are not lawfully present in the U.S. Although federal law does not prevent unauthorized immigrants from attending public universities, state laws vary on whether those who graduated from state high schools get in-state tuition rates. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 20 states offer in-state tuition to unauthorized immigrants — 16 of them through legislative action in places including California, Kansas and New York. In Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma and Rhode Island, the lower rate is granted through the state university systems. In New Mexico, Western New Mexico University has used social media to woo high-achieving immigrants, extending in-state tuition to DACA recipients from Arizona, Colorado and El Paso, Texas. But Georgia considers students covered by DACA ineligible for in-state tuition, a policy explored in 'The Unafraid,' a new documentary taking its name from an activist chant, 'Undocumented! Unafraid!' Screening next month at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York, the movie follows three DACA recipients in Georgia hoping to go to college. Their challenges are similar to those now faced by Arizona DACA recipients, who mostly come from lower-income families and often don't graduate until they are in their mid-20s or older because they can pay for a only class or two at a time. The annual tuition for an estimated 300 DACA recipients at Arizona's three public universities will rise from about $10,000 to $15,000 under a policy of charging non-citizen residents 150 percent of in-state tuition. Some 2,000 students with DACA status at the Maricopa County Community College District, the largest in Arizona and among the biggest in the U.S., will see annual costs for a full-time course load jump from about $2,580 to $8,900. Some students are finding a friendlier and more affordable education at private schools such as Arizona's Prescott College, which has actively recruited DACA recipients including 19-year-old freshman Itzel Rios Soto, who was 6 when she was brought here from Mexico. 'When I got a scholarship, I broke down crying because it was the answer to my family's prayers,' said Rios, whose tuition at the small liberal arts school is covered by its Freedom Education Fund, which students pay for with a $30 fee each semester. She's the first in her family to attend college. After the court decision, Prescott College announced it would match Arizona state universities' resident tuition rates for immigrants in the country illegally. 'They were brought here involuntarily, and this is the only country they know,' college President John Flicker said then. 'Our state and our nation will be better if we educate them, not force them into the shadows.' The DACA students graduating from the Jesuit-run Brophy Preparatory Academy in Phoenix this month decided against college in Arizona because of insufficient funding for immigrant students, said Kathy Mabry, the school's communications director. Instead, they're going to out-of-state Catholic universities or other private schools such as the University of Southern California and Emerson College in Boston. 'With a college preparatory education that has given them solid academic footing, and a team of dedicated college counselors guiding them, I believe Brophy's Dreamers have been well-prepared to find other resources,' Mabry said. Graduating 17-year-old Nelson Martinez said his activism supporting fellow DACA students helped him get a full scholarship to College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. Because of his family's modest income, 'paying full tuition at a state school was never a possibility,' he said. ___ Follow Anita Snow on Twitter at: http://www.asnowreports.com Her past stories can be found at: https://www.apnews.com/search/Anita%20Snow
  • The chaos among House Republicans this past week on immigration shows just how problematic and risky the issue is for a party that badly needs unity heading into the elections in November that will decide control of Congress. GOP leaders thought they had found a way by Friday morning to make the party's warring conservative and moderate wings happy on an issue that has bedeviled them for years. Conservatives would get a vote by late June on an immigration bill that parrots many of President Donald Trump's hard-right immigration views, including reductions on legal immigration and opening the door to his proposed wall with Mexico. Centrists would have a chance to craft a more moderate alternative with the White House and Democrats and get a vote on that, too. But it all blew up as conservatives decided they didn't like that offer and rebelled. By lunchtime Friday, many were among the 30 Republicans who joined Democrats and scuttled a sweeping farm and food bill, a humiliating setback for the House's GOP leaders, particularly for lame-duck Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The conservatives essentially took the agriculture bill hostage. They said they were unwilling to let the farm measure pass unless they first got assurances that when the House addresses immigration in coming weeks, leaders would not help an overly permissive version pass. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., a leader of the moderates, said his group would try to write a bill that would let young 'Dreamer' immigrants in the U.S. illegally stay permanently — a position anathema to conservatives — and toughen border security. A moderate immigration package 'disavows what the last election was about and what the majority of the American people want, and the people in this body know it,' said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. He's a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, many of whose members opposed the farm bill. 'It's all about timing unfortunately and leverage, and the farm bill was just a casualty, unfortunately,' Perry said. Denham and his allies were also unwilling to back down. He told reporters that the conservatives 'broke that agreement,' and his group would pursue bipartisan legislation. 'I'm disappointed in some colleagues who asked for a concession, got the concession and then took down a bill anyway,' Denham said in a slap at the Freedom Caucus. Denham said the concession was a promised vote on the conservative immigration bill by June, though conservatives said they never agreed to that. Such internal bickering is the opposite of what the GOP needs as the party struggles to fend off Democratic efforts to capture House control in November. Democrats need to gain 23 seats to win a majority, and a spate of Democratic special election victories and polling data suggests they have a solid chance of achieving that. Republican leaders and strategists think their winning formula is to focus on an economy that has been gaining strength and tax cuts the GOP says is putting more money in people's wallets. Immigration is a distraction from that message — and worse. On one side are conservatives from Republican strongholds, where many voters consider helping immigrants stay in the U.S. to be amnesty. On the other are GOP moderates, often representing districts with many constituents who are Hispanic, moderate suburbanites or are tied to the agriculture industry, which relies heavily on migrant workers. A look at the 20 Republicans who have signed a petition by GOP moderates aimed at forcing House votes on four immigration bills is instructive. Of the 20, nine are from districts whose Hispanic populations exceed 18 percent, the proportion of the entire U.S. that is Hispanic. Denham's Central California district is 40 percent Hispanic, while five others' constituencies are at least two-thirds Hispanic. In addition, 11 of the 20 represent districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried over Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The petition drive, led by Denham and GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose South Florida district is 70 percent Hispanic, is opposed by party leaders because the winning bill probably would be a compromise backed by all Democrats and a few dozen Republicans. That would enrage conservatives, perhaps prompting a rebellion that could cost House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., his goal of succeeding Ryan as speaker. All that trouble would be for legislation that still faces long odds of becoming law. Even if a formula is discovered that could pass the House, it could run aground in the Senate, where four immigration bills died in February and Democrats can use the filibuster to scuttle any bill they dislike. Those defeats led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to say he wouldn't revisit immigration unless a bill arose that could actually pass this chamber. Trump's willingness to sign immigration legislation also remains in question after a year that has seen his stance on the issue veer unpredictably.
  • Melania Trump returned to the White House in 'high spirits' on Saturday following a weeklong hospitalization for kidney treatment, a lengthy stay that raised questions about whether the first lady's condition may have been more complicated than first revealed. President Donald Trump heralded her homecoming with a tweet that referred to her as 'Melanie' instead of 'Melania.' 'Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House. Melanie is feeling and doing really well. Thank you for all of your prayers and best wishes!' Trump wrote before quickly superseding that tweet with another that spelled his wife's name correctly. Mrs. Trump's quiet return to the White House, her husband and their 12-year-old son, after five days at a nearby U.S. military hospital resolved a brewing mystery about when she would eventually be released. What remain are questions about the state of her health. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, has declined to release additional details, citing Mrs. Trump's right to privacy. 'The First Lady returned home to the White House this morning,' Grisham said in an emailed statement. 'She is resting comfortably and remains in high spirits. Our office has received thousands of calls and emails wishing Mrs. Trump well, and we thank everyone who has taken the time to reach out.' First ladies are under no obligation to make their medical histories public. She had been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington since Monday, when she had an embolization procedure to treat an unspecified kidney condition the White House described as benign. Word of the hospitalization came as a surprise as there was no indication during her public appearances in recent weeks, including during a state visit by France's president, that Mrs. Trump had been ailing. One week before the procedure, a beaming Mrs. Trump, 48, presided over a splashy announcement ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to introduce her 'Be Best' public awareness campaign to help teach kindness to children. Grisham said Monday that the procedure was 'successful,' there were no complications and that Mrs. Trump would probably remain hospitalized for 'the duration of the week.' The president then tweeted Tuesday that his wife would be released in '2 or 3' days, but Thursday and Friday passed without word from the White House on her whereabouts. Trump had visited her during her first three days of hospitalization. But he did not visit Thursday or Friday, leading some to wonder whether that meant the first lady had been discharged. The first lady said Wednesday on Twitter that she was 'feeling great' and looking forward to going home, but gave no indication of when that might happen. On Friday, she tweeted about the deadly school shooting at a Houston-area high school but did not update her followers on her medical situation. Urologists with no personal knowledge of Mrs. Trump's condition said the most likely explanation for the procedure is a kind of noncancerous kidney tumor called an angiomyolipoma. They're not common but tend to occur in middle-aged women and can cause problematic bleeding if they become large enough, said Dr. Keith Kowalczyk of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Doctors often treat the condition by cutting off the blood supply so the growth shrinks, added Dr. Lambros Stamatakis of MedStar Washington Hospital Center. That is done with an embolization, meaning a catheter is snaked into the blood vessels of the kidney to find the right one to block. Most of the time, these tumors are found when people undergo medical scans for another reason, but sometimes people have pain or other symptoms, Kowalczyk said. Many times, embolization patients go home the same day or the next. Grisham on Saturday characterized speculation about the first lady as 'uninformed,' adding that every patient is different. 'Mrs. Trump has a medical team that is comfortable with her care, which is all that matters,' she said. 'Her recovery and privacy are paramount and I will have no further comment beyond this.' The question of what level of accountability should be expected of first ladies is difficult because they are private citizens, yet public figures who draw keen interest from the public, have taxpayer-supported staff and sometimes involve themselves in politics and policy. Myra Gutin, a Rider University professor who studies presidents' wives, recalled the backlash Rosalynn Carter suffered for attending Cabinet meetings; she explained that she just wanted to get things right because she was so often out and about representing President Jimmy Carter. The White House has a mixed record on disclosing information about the ailments of first ladies. Nancy Reagan revealed in 1987 that she had breast cancer and had her left breast surgically removed. But nearly two decades later, the White House found itself on the defensive for its after-the-fact disclosure that Laura Bush had skin cancer removed from her right shin in November 2006. Mrs. Bush had decided it was a private matter, but it nonetheless came to light after she was seen wearing a bandage below her right knee. The following year, the White House proactively disclosed that Mrs. Bush would have surgery to relieve pain from pinched nerves in her neck. The problem kept her from accompanying President George W. Bush on a trip to Australia. Sheila Tate, a press secretary to Mrs. Reagan, said the first lady felt it was appropriate to reveal her breast cancer diagnosis. Such disclosures by a first lady aren't 'absolutely required, by any means,' Tate said. 'Melania is entitled to her privacy, if that's what she wants.' ___ AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • Scrutiny of the 33-year spy career of new CIA director Gina Haspel has focused on her undercover role in the harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists, but she cut her teeth in intelligence operations against Russia. She's sure to tap that latter experience as she takes over at the nation's premier intelligence agency at a time of rising tension with Moscow. President Donald Trump has characterized it as worse than during the Cold War, and it's been aggravated by investigations into Moscow's interference in the election that brought Trump to power. The 61-year-old Haspel, confirmed by the Senate this past week as the CIA's first female director, began her career in the mid-1980s when the Soviet Union was in its twilight. Even after the communist power disintegrated, U.S. and Russian spy services held to Cold War mode. Haspel worked in the shadows to counter Kremlin efforts to infiltrate the U.S. government. Russia has been a priority target throughout her career. That was clear when former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., introduced Haspel at her Senate hearing: 'She is a clear-eyed, hard-nosed expert on Russia,' he said. Haspel, an Air Force brat from Ashland, Kentucky, joined the CIA in January 1985 when she was 28. At the time, then-CIA Director William Casey was working to counter Soviet expansion, curtail Moscow's influence, win the Cold War, and bolster up U.S. intelligence operations. She didn't become a reports officer, analyzing information from the field; that was the most likely career track for a woman in the CIA at that time. Instead, Haspel chose to be a case officer out in the streets, meeting assets and collecting intelligence. Details of Haspel's career are sketchy because much of it remains classified, including places where she was posted, but the CIA has provided an overview. Her first posting was in Africa, where she had a memorable encounter with Mother Teresa. On her return, Haspel spent time learning Russian and Turkish. By then, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Soviet Union was about to break apart. Frosty relations between Washington and Moscow warmed. Within a few years, President Bill Clinton was trading jokes with Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in what was dubbed the 'Boris and Bill' show. But the CIA saw a continuing threat from Russian intelligence. 'The Soviet Union collapsed, but their intel services did not collapse,' said former senior CIA official Dan Hoffman, who knows Haspel well and agreed to talk to The Associated Press about her career. 'They were still running penetrations of the U.S. government.' The CIA also knew it had a KGB mole in its midst, but it wasn't until February 1994 that Aldrich Ames was arrested. The turncoat had disclosed the names of Russians who had been helping the CIA. Several were later executed. The arrest of Ames and other double agents underscored the need for a strong counterintelligence capability 'and that means recruiting Russians,' said Hoffman, who was finishing his first tour in Moscow when Haspel was working in Russian operations. 'That was what we were doing.' Haspel would go on to serve as deputy group chief of Russian operations in the CIA's Central Eurasia Division, which manages Russian spy cases around the world and efforts to target and develop potential sources, according to John Sipher, who replaced Haspel in that position. Those involved in Russian operations at the end of the 1990s had a front row seat to a time of great transition in Russia, said retired senior CIA official Mark Kelton, who also worked with Haspel on Russia. Vladimir Putin, a KGB agent, had moved to Moscow, becoming acting president of Russia on the last day of 1999 when Yeltsin resigned. 'Russia is a formidable, strategic challenge now so understanding where these people came from and how they got where they are is crucially important,' Kelton said. 'The Russian services remain the most professional adversaries we face.' In all, Haspel has spent 17 of her 33 years in the agency overseas. Kelton said her ability to synthesize information quickly was 'quite impressive' and she also ably handled the 'rough school' of Russian operations. 'There wasn't a lot of wasted time on small talk,' Hoffman said about Haspel's demeanor. 'That's not her style. She was just right down to business — let's get the job done.' In addition to Russia, Haspel also was deeply involved in the CIA's fight against terrorism. As station chief in an undisclosed country in Eurasia, she helped in the successful arrest of two al-Qaida associates linked to 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 158 people, including 12 Americans. Their capture also led to the seizure of computers containing details of a terrorist plot, according to a U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the incident. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the case and spoke only on condition of anonymity. After 9/11, Haspel joined the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, and it was during this time that she supervised a secret site in Thailand where suspected terrorists were subjected to harsh interrogation, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning. Her work in the program drew impassioned protests from human rights activists and other critics and made her confirmation vote the closest for any CIA director in seven decades. One of the detainees at that site was Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi accused in the bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole off the coast of Yemen that killed 17 American sailors. Al-Nashiri is aware that Haspel was picked to lead the CIA, according to Dr. Sondra Crosby, who met with him this past week at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he's been detained since 2006. Crosby, who has treated 20 people tortured in the fight against terrorism, including two at CIA secret sites, is happy that Haspel has pledged not to allow the CIA to engage in the use of such harsh interrogation techniques again. Still, she's wary. 'Mr. al-Nashiri is probably the most severely damaged person I've ever seen,' Crosby said, adding that he continues to have chronic nightmares and recurrent flashbacks. 'I've been really struck about just how his trust in humanity has been fractured,' she said. 'I don't think he'll ever recover.
  • He is the Republican Party's most powerful political weapon. Yet as the GOP fights to defend its delicate House and Senate majorities, President Donald Trump is not welcome everywhere. Some Republican candidates fear that the unscripted and relatively unpopular president could do more harm than good should he campaign on their behalf. Leading party strategists want Trump to focus his time and energy on a handful of Senate contests in deep-red states where Democratic incumbents are particularly vulnerable. In swing states — especially across America's suburbs, where the House majority will be decided — some would prefer that he stay away. 'I would like the president to do his job and I'll do mine,' Dan David, a Republican congressional hopeful fighting to preserve a GOP-held seat in suburban Philadelphia, said when asked if he'd like Trump to visit his district. 'I win or lose on my team's merits,' David said. 'I think that the president has a very, very full plate with foreign affairs and special prosecutor investigations.' This aversion to Trump is something the White House needs to take into account as it decides how best to deploy the president in the months leading up to the November midterm elections. But it's unclear how much Trump will heed strategists' guidance, or candidates' wishes, as he picks his targets. The current White House strategy calls for Trump to focus on fundraising and campaigning in states key to control of the Senate, including Indiana, Montana, Tennessee, North Dakota, Missouri, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to a person familiar with the president's strategy who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning. Vice President Mike Pence will be heavily involved in the Senate effort and also in House races, especially in rural areas that are more difficult for the president to reach. Closer to Election Day, Trump is expected to shift his attention to rallies designed to bolster get-out-the-vote efforts. Next on Trump's schedule: a trip to Tennessee later this month for a Nashville rally and a fundraiser in support of Rep. Marsha Blackburn's Senate campaign. The White House's political team has a close relationship with most of the top Republican Senate campaigns, regularly sharing details on policy announcements and messaging. But Trump's travel decisions, so far at least, have been decided by the White House with little input from the Republican candidates on the ground. Friends and foes alike acknowledge that in some parts of the country Trump can be extraordinarily effective by energizing his supporters. In others, his efforts have the potential to backfire by motivating Democrats or repelling skeptical independents and suburban Republicans. 'It's a matter of picking your locations very strategically,' said Republican pollster Chris Wilson, who is involved in several midterm contests. 'Going to Florida, anywhere in the Central Time Zone would be a fantastic place for him to campaign,' Wilson said, referring to a narrow slice of the state along the Panhandle. 'I'd love to have Donald Trump in east Texas, parts of south Texas where he's still popular. Other parts of south Texas maybe not.' Florida Gov. Rick Scott, now running for the Senate, has appeared to be distancing himself from the president. When he announced his candidacy last month, Scott would not say whether he wanted Trump to campaign on his behalf. A campaign spokesman declined to answer the same question this week. In Missouri, Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley has managed Trump's early visits differently. He did not attend the president's first appearance in the state last year, joining him at a November rally before attending a private fundraising with Trump this spring. Hawley campaign manager Kyle Plotkin made clear the campaign would welcome more attention from the White House. 'We would love to have the president come back to the state,' Plotkin said. 'The president's agenda is popular, and people in Missouri want to see Trump and Republicans in charge.' It's much the same in Indiana, where Trump campaigned this month alongside Republican Senate nominee Mike Braun. The president insulted incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly, calling him 'Sleepin' Joe.' While the nickname confused some Republicans in the state, Missouri Republican strategist Cam Savage said the president injected a welcome dose of energy into the election. 'Air Force One makes a lot of noise when it lands,' Savage said. 'There isn't anything in American public life that comes close to that. If you're a candidate and you want attention, there's no better way.' Other presidents also have faced questions about their midterm strategy. President Barack Obama was shunned by many Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections as he struggled with relatively low approval ratings. He focused his efforts on fundraising for his party and rallying black voters. It was almost worse for President George W. Bush in the 2006 midterm elections. Eager to help his party in the weeks leading up to Election Day, Bush was relegated to appearing in Republican strongholds like Georgia and Texas in the campaign's final days. Trump's approval ratings have ticked up in recent months, but they remain slightly below those of Bush and Obama at the same time. There is another cause for caution with Trump: his unpredictability. As he has proven throughout his brief political career, the president is one unscripted comment away from creating a headache for those he's trying to help. There's fear that his name-calling and aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric will turn off Hispanic voters, moderate Republicans and suburban women in key areas. The results from Trump's early midterm efforts have been positive, said Steven Law, who heads the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that expects to spend tens of millions of dollars helping Senate Republicans this year. 'Can't use him everywhere. There are risks in certain places,' Law said. 'But it just feels to me that you have a White House that is clearly cognizant of how to best deploy him, and he seems to be aware of that as well.' He added, 'One of the concerns is whether he'll stick to script.' ___ Thomas reported in Washington. Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.