WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will provide $257.5 million in new humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, the White House said on Monday, part of a broader package aimed at helping the country recover from nearly five months of conflict with pro-Russian separatists.
The money includes funds to build schools, hospitals and roads, and to help victims of armed violence and human trafficking.
The funding announcement came days after a United Nations panel concluded that war crimes were committed during the fighting in east Ukraine, where most civilians died.
Russia denies accusations of involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine and says Western countries are trying to whitewash what happened there.
In his annual report to Congress on foreign policy challenges, President Barack Obama called for increased pressure on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
He also urged lawmakers to approve a bill seeking tougher sanctions against individuals linked to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Obama warned that Russia could face further economic penalties unless it abides by international agreements and respects Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Former top Pence aide: Trump claim that presidents can declassify docs by thinking about it ‘absurd’
Short added that he didn’t know what the president meant when he tweeted earlier this week that “I could declassify.” But he did say that there are some things that are classified because they’re secret.
The former White House communications director also defended his boss against accusations that he withheld aid from Ukraine over concerns related to Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He called those claims false. “There was no quid pro quo,” Short said. “You don’t hold up security assistance money to get something out of a foreign leader. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom appears in Texas, other states despite legal ban on official travel
California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke at a conference in Texas over the weekend even though his home state had placed him on a list banning officials from traveling there. Newsom was invited to speak about climate change at the Houston International Conference Center, according to local news outlet KPRC 2. He told attendees he had been asked to speak by a friend, who works at the center. “I’m here because I believe it’s important to listen,” Newsom reportedly said during his speech. “We are living in extraordinary times.”
The governor’s appearance came just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia from entering the United States. Newsom tweeted on Sunday that he did not know why he was on the list. “I didn’t realize I was on the no-travel list,” he wrote. “If I knew I wouldn’t have gone. If you’re on my team, you’re on my team.”
Newsom’s spokesperson confirmed that the governor traveled to Houston, but said that he went to Texas as part of an official tour of several cities around the country. Newsom’s office added that he was unaware of the reason why he was placed on the list. “He wasn’t aware of the prohibition against official travel to certain states,” the spokesperson said. “As soon as he found out, he immediately took steps to rectify the situation.”
In response to Newsom’s comments, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a video on Twitter saying that he supports free speech. “I’m glad could come today and share his views,” Zuckerberg said. “But we shouldn’t let anyone use our platforms to spread hate.”
Trump said making new secret ‘rich friends’ was the thing he liked best about the presidency, book says
President Donald Trump told New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman that what he likes most about being president is having “new rich friends.” In her latest book, titled “The Catch,” published Tuesday, Haberman writes that she asked Trump how he felt about his presidency during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago in February 2018. She describes him as “unusually candid” and says that he began by saying, “I like my life now because I don’t have to worry about anything anymore.” He went on to say that it was “the one thing I really like about being president — I didn’t even know you could do that!”
Haberman writes that Trump mentioned that he had been thinking about writing a memoir, and that he wanted to write about his friendships with people such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch, the head of Fox News parent 21st Century Fox.
When she pressed him further, he said, “I’m just talking about my friends here. I mean, I’ve got great friends. I’ve always had good relationships. But there are some people around me who aren’t very nice people, and I think I’ve gotten better at picking out the ones who are nice. And I pick out the ones who are smart and successful and nice. And those are the ones I want to spend time with.”
Haberman notes that Trump has known Murdoch since the 1980s, while Bezos is a longtime friend of the family.
In addition to the conversations with Haberman, Trump also talked to Time magazine writer Michael Wolff about the presidency, according to Wolff’s upcoming book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Wolff quotes Trump as telling him, “Michael, I love having rich friends. It makes everything else easier.”
Haberman adds that Trump also called former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “dumb as hell.”