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Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

President Donald Trump will not make a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago today because of a looming federal government shutdown, a White House official told The Palm Beach Post on Friday morning.

>> Read more trending news

Trump was scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport tonight for a weekend trip that included a Saturday fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign at Mar-a-Lago. The official who confirmed today’s travel is off did not address the president’s plans for the remainder of the weekend.

Trump was planning to make the 12th Palm Beach visit of his presidency. But Congress has not reached a spending agreement to keep the federal government operating past midnight.

Saturday is the one-year anniversary of Trump taking office. The Trump campaign recently announced a “special sweepstakes” in which a winner will get to attend dinner Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.

James Comey to teach ethical leadership course at College of William & Mary

Former FBI Director James Comey will teach an ethical leadership course for his alma mater, Virginia’s College of William & Mary, starting in the fall, the school announced Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Comey, who was dismissed as director of the FBI by President Donald Trump in May 2017, was named an executive professor in education at William & Mary on Friday. School officials said he will teach ethical leadership during the fall 2018, spring 2019 and summer 2019 semesters with Drew Stelljes, an executive assistant professor of education and assistant vice president for student leadership at William & Mary.

“Our students will benefit significantly from his experience and wisdom,” William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said in a news release. “He understands to the core of his being that our leaders must have an abiding commitment to ethical behavior and sacrificial service if we are to have good government.”

>> Related: Comey told Trump 3 times he was not under investigation

The course will be taught predominantly in Washington, D.C., at the William & Mary Washington Center, school officials said. One class will be live-streamed to students in Washington, D.C., and taught at the William & Mary School of Education in Williamsburg, Virginia.

"I am thrilled to have the chance to engage with William & Mary students about a vital topic — ethical leadership,” Comey said in a news release. “Ethical leaders lead by seeing above the short term, above the urgent or the partisan, and with a higher loyalty to lasting values, most importantly the truth. Building and maintaining that kind of leadership, in both the private sector and government, is the challenge of our time.”

>> Reports: Trump's controversial decisions in office under scrutiny by Mueller

Comey ran the Richmond, Virginia, division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia f om 1996 to 2001, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. During that time, he also worked as an adjunct law professor at the University of Richmond, the news site reported.

President Barack Obama appointed Comey as director of the FBI in September 2013.

He faced criticism during and after the 2016 presidential election for his handling of an FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time in office. His decision to release a letter to Congress informing lawmakers of newly uncovered Clinton emails just weeks before the election had a strong impact on the vote, according to analysts.

>> Related: FBI opens investigation into new Clinton emails

Comey said two days before the election that nothing new or incriminating was found in the emails.

Comey was fired by Trump amid an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump campaign officials.

>> Related: Trump tweets: 'I am being investigated for firing the FBI director'

In congressional testimony, Comey said he felt the president tried to get him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign less than a month into his tenure after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian officials.

>> Related: Read James Comey’s complete testimony before the Senate committee

The White House denied that the dismissal was related to the Russia investigation, although Trump later told NBC News that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when making the decision.

Comey earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and religion at William & Mary in 1982.

'Girther' conspiracy hits social media as critics question Trump's height, weight

On Tuesday, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson appeared before the press to give the details of President Donald Trump’s latest physical. According to Jackson — who was appointed by former President Barack Obama — the president is in great health, but some critics wasted no time casting doubt on Jackson’s analysis.

>> On Rare.us: Steve Bannon just cut a deal with Robert Mueller, reports say — here’s what we know

Most of the results were pretty straightforward. Trump aced a cognitive exam and has benefited from not drinking or smoking his entire life, Jackson said. The doctor said he is going to try to put the president on a diet but joked that the commander-in-chief might just live to be 200. At one point in the briefing, Jackson said Trump weighs 239 pounds and stands 6-foot-3. That puts his body mass index at 29.9. (You’re considered obese if your BMI hits 30.) But not everybody bought that last statistic.

>> Read more trending news 

More than a few people pointed to a photo of Trump standing side-by-side with Obama, who is 6-foot-1, and the men appear to be the same height.

There were also dozens of people who pointed to athletes with the same dimensions as Trump.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes even termed the doctor doubters “girthers” — a stab at the “birther” conspiracy theorists who insisted that Obama was not born in the United States.

On Wednesday morning, “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough also cast doubts on the results that Jackson gave to the press. At one point in his segment, Scarborough said, “All I can tell you is this: If that’s what 239 pounds looks like, I would weigh 170 pounds. So yes, I have great respect for people who – great respect for this doctor, but if that’s what 6-foot-3, 239 pounds looks like, that’s a shock to me.”

Betsy DeVos: Common Core is dead at U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a far-ranging speech today in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference, “Bush-Obama School Reform: Lessons Learned.”

>> Read more trending news 

She announced the death of Common Core, at least in her federal agency.

DeVos also decried the federal government’s initiatives to improve education. “We saw two presidents from different political parties and philosophies take two different approaches. Federally mandated assessments. Federal money. Federal standards. All originated in Washington, and none solved the problem. Too many of America’s students are still unprepared,” she said.

And she touched on a favorite topic, school choice.

“Choice in education is not when a student picks a different classroom in this building or that building, uses this voucher or that tax-credit scholarship. Choice in education is bigger than that. Those are just mechanisms,” she said. “It’s about freedom to learn. Freedom to learn differently. Freedom to explore. Freedom to fail, to learn from falling and to get back up and try again. It’s freedom to find the best way to learn and grow… to find the exciting and engaging combination that unlocks individual potential.”

Read DeVos’s speech at MyAJC.com.

Trump physical results: 6 things to know

President Donald Trump is in excellent health and likely to finish his term in office without any medical issues, a presidential doctor said Tuesday at a news conference, four days after the president underwent a physical exam.

>> Read more trending news

“The president's overall health is excellent," White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson said Tuesday.

Here are six things to know about the results of the president’s physical:

Jackson: ‘He had great findings across the board’

Trump is in “very, very good health,” Jackson said Tuesday. 

“(I have) no concerns for his heart health,” the presidential physician said. “There are many good things that came from his exam, I think he had great findings across the board. “

>> White House physician releases official report

Jackson said Trump’s good health is likely to last through “the remainder of this tern, and even for the remainder of another term, if he’s elected.” He said he based his assessment on the president’s cardiac results.

“He falls into a category that portends years of event-free living,” Jackson said. “He has incredibly good genes, and that’s just the way God made him.”

Cognitive screening showed no issues

Jackson said he conducted a cognitive screening on Trump at the president’s request, although he felt the test was unnecessary.

“I’ve spent almost every day in the president’s presence,” said Jackson, whose office is near Trump’s. “I’ve got to know him pretty well and I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or neurological functions.”

He said that in all his conversations with Trump, the president has been “very articulate.”

“I’ve never known him to repeat himself around me,” Jackson said. “He says what he wants to say and speaks his mind.”

Infamous slurred speech incident might have been caused by medication

A December incident in which the president sounded as though he was slurring his speech while announcing a policy shift in Israel was probably due to a medication, Jackson said.

>> Related: Trump’s slurred speech: Is it loose-fitting dentures, dry mouth or something else?

“We evaluated him, we checked everything out and everything was normal,” Jackson said, adding that the incident was likely caused because the president needed water.

He said prior to the Dec. 7 incident, he gave Trump Sudafed, which might have “inadvertently dried up his secretions.”

Trump working to lose 10-15 pounds

At 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, the president has a body mass index of 29.9, just under the number that would designate him as obese, according to information released Tuesday.

“The president, he and I talked and... I think a reasonable goal over the next year or so is (to lose) 10 or 15 pounds,” Jackson said, adding that a nutritionist would be meeting with White House chefs in the coming weeks and that Trump would be put on an exercise routine.

“He’s more enthusiastic about the diet,” Jackson said.

Jackson not concerned about Trump’s stress levels

Despite concerns from the public and reports that have painted a chaotic White House, Jackson said that he has no concerns about the president’s stress levels.

“I talk to him sometimes about stress just because I think it’s my job as his physician to bring it up on occasion,” he said. “I’ve never seen the president stressed out too much. ... He has a unique ability to push the reset button and he just gets up and he starts a new day. (I think it’s) made him healthier from a stress standpoint.”

Jackson did not test Trump’s hearing

Jackson said he didn’t have enough time to test Trump’s hearing, although he planned to conduct such a test in future physicals.

Robert Mueller subpoenas Steve Bannon in Russia probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to testify before a grand jury as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

>> Related: Steve Bannon to testify before House Intel Committee in Russia probe

Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson says she's skipping Trump's State of the Union address

President Donald Trump and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who were locked in a well-documented feud months ago over the latter’s account of a phone call between the president and the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnsonmay have a new reason to renew their spat.

>> On Rare.us: Frederica Wilson renews fight with John Kelly and President Trump

Wilson has announced two weeks ahead of Trump’s first State of the Union address that she will be following in the footsteps of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calf.) and others by ditching the occasion.

The Florida Democrat said “recent racist and incendiary remarks about Haiti and African nations” were the reason why she won’t be on hand for the speech.

“For the first time since I began serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will not be attending the president’s State of the Union address. I have no doubt that instead of delivering a message of inclusivity and an agenda that benefits all Americans, President Trump’s address will be full of innuendo, empty promises and lies,” she said in a statement, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

>> Read more trending news 

“During his disappointing and destructive first year in office, Mr. Trump has demeaned the presidency at every opportunity and cast doubt on our nation’s standing as a global leader. The United States’ reputation is smoldering in the ashes of his recent racist and incendiary remarks about Haiti and African nations,” she continued. “Many of his proposed domestic policies are harmful to people of color, low-income communities and the middle class. It would be an embarrassment to be seen with him at a forum that under any other president would be an honor to attend.”

As mentioned, Waters also announced that she will not be attending the SOTU.

Waters, who also called Trump a “racist,” went on MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” to say Trump “does not deserve her attention.”

“Oh no, I didn’t go to the inauguration. I didn’t go to the joint session that was held after that; I don’t intend to go to this one. Why would I take my time to go and listen to a liar, to someone who lies in the face of facts?” she said.

“What does he have to say that I would be interested in?” she added.

>> On Rare.us: Sgt. La David Johnson’s mom claims Trump 'did disrespect' her son

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said he “wouldn’t be honest with [himself]” if he attends the SOTU, so he has also decided to boycott it.

UK party leader's girlfriend suspended over Meghan Markle comments

The girlfriend of the leader of Britain’s right-wing U.K. Independence Party has been suspended from the party after reportedly making racist comments about Prince Harry’s American fiancee, Meghan Markle.

The Mail on Sunday published a series of messages reportedly sent by 54-year-old Henry Bolton’s 25-year-old girlfriend, Jo Marney.

>> On Rare.us: Meghan Markle’s half-sister slams rumors about her family ahead of the royal wedding

Marney reportedly said Markle would “taint” the royal family, that she had a “tiny brain” and that black people were "ugly."

In a statement to The Mail, Marney said: “I apologize unreservedly for the shocking language I used.”

She added: “The opinions I expressed were deliberately exaggerated in order to make a point and have, to an extent, been taken out of context. Yet I fully recognize the offense they have caused.”

Former deputy leader of the party Peter Whittle wrote on Twitter: “These are disgraceful remarks," adding, “This person should not just be suspended … but expelled altogether.”

>> Read more trending news 

UKIP’s chairman, Paul Oakden, told the Mail on Sunday that Marney had been suspended from the party membership immediately after he was made aware of the messages.

“UKIP does not, has not and never will condone racism,” he said.

Bolton, who was elected party leader in September, tweeted to confirm that Marney had been suspended from the party “immediately upon [UKIP] receiving this information.”

He was responding to a teenage party activist who urged him to publicly call for Marney to have her UKIP membership revoked.

“Her words were blatantly racist and there should be no room for that in UKIP,” Jack Penny wrote on Twitter.

Bolton confirmed his relationship with Marney in a letter to UKIP supporters earlier this month, after seemingly leaving his wife to pursue his new relationship, the BBC reported.

Steve Bannon to testify before House Intel Committee in Russia probe

Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee next week in its probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

An unidentified source told Reuters on Thursday that the interview will take place Tuesday behind closed doors. It will focus on Bannon’s time as Trump’s campaign chief and not on his time in the White House, according to Reuters.

In preparation for the interview, Bannon hired Washington attorney Bill Burck to represent him, NBC News reported Friday. Burck was previously hired to represent former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Donald McGhan in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign, according to Law360.

Burck is representing Bannon only before the committee and not in Mueller’s probe, NBC News reported.

Trump named Bannon, the former chairman of the conservative news website Breitbart News, as his campaign chief in August 2016. After his inauguration, Trump appointed Bannon to fill the newly created position of White House chief strategist.

He left the Trump administration in August 2017, almost exactly one year after joining Trump’s presidential campaign.

>> Related: Steve Bannon out as White House strategist

Days before his exit, Bannon faced scrutiny for an interview he did with the liberal magazine The American Prospect, contradicting the president's warnings to North Korea of "fire and fury" in response to threats. Tension between the pair intensified last week after Bannon was quoted in journalist Michael Wolff’s controversial tell-all book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

>> Related: 10 stunning claims about Trump White House from 'Fire and Fury'

Bannon told Wolff he thought a meeting set up by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others in June 2016 was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” Trump slammed Bannon in a statement after the comments were made public, saying, “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

Bannon later apologized for the comments.

>> Related: Report: Bannon apologizes for comments about Trump family in new book

Bannon announced Tuesday that he would be leaving Breitbart News for the second time in two years.

>> Related: Report: Steve Bannon stepping down as executive chairman at Breitbart News

"You have not heard the last from me," he wrote in a Twitter post announcing his departure.

Trump tweets: Language over DACA rejection was ‘tough’ but not vulgar

President Donald Trump, in a series of tweets early Friday, said that his language about a deal involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was “tough,” but 

“this was not the language used,” referencing a vulgarity he allegedly used in rejecting the proposal on Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

Trump also called the DACA deal “a big step backwards,” and called for a “merit-based system” of immigration.

The tweets came a day after a contentious meeting between the president and several congressional members.

A person familiar with the meeting told CNN that Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham brought a plan to Trump that involved cutting the visa lottery in half and while the rest would go to underrepresented countries in Africa and Temporary Protective Status nations, including Haiti. The person said the language was salty on both sides, CNN reported.

One person briefed on the meeting said when Durbin brought up the subject of Haiti, Trump questioned it in vulgar terms and added that the U.S. should get more people from countries like Norway.

Friday, Trump took to Twitter, saying that the “so-called bipartisan DACA deal” was “a big step backwards.”

“Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly,” Trump tweeted. “I want a merit-based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs.” 

Trump later tweeted that while his language was tough, “This was not the language used.”

“What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made,” Trump tweeted.

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