Trump Tours $13 Billion Warship, Touts Boost in Defense Spending
U.S. President Donald Trump promised to boost defense spending when he visited a Virginia shipyard Thursday to tour the most expensive warship ever built.
Wearing a military jacket and ball cap, Trump toured the USS Gerald R. Ford, a $12.9 billion warship that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays but is expected to be commissioned later this year. He used the high-profile event to showcase the budget pledge he made this week to dramatically boost U.S. military spending.
During Tuesday night's address to Congress, he said, "To keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war.
The war vessel shifts from steam to electrical power and will be equipped with the best weaponry, communications and operating systems in the nation, according to the builder.
The president’s initial request for a $54 billion hike boosts the Pentagon budget to more than $600 billion a year. Calling it one of the largest increases in history, Trump said he would even like $30 billion more than that to strengthen what he called a “depleted military”. By contrast, the State Department receives roughly $50 billion a year for programs including foreign aid, assistance and development.
Attorney General Sessions Recuses Himself in Russian Election Meddling
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any federal investigation of alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions met with reporters Thursday after The Washington Post reported that as a U.S. Senator and member of the Trump campaign, Sessions held two pre-election meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, but withheld that information during his confirmation hearing.
Questions have hovered whether Sessions talked about the campaign with the ambassador. Some lawmakers from both parties demanded Sessions recuse himself, while some Democrats said he should resign, accusing him of lying under oath.
President Donald Trump, who earlier said he does not think Sessions should recuse himself, called his attorney general "an honest man" who could have stated his response at the hearing more accurately.
Sessions told the reporters Thursday he never had any intention to mislead anyone and that his answers were "honest and correct" as he understood the question at that time.
But he said "in retrospect, I should have slowed down and said, 'But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times. That would be the ambassador.'"
Sessions said Thursday his meetings with Ambassador Kislyak -- first at the Republican National Convention in July and in his Capitol Hill office in September -- were part of his job as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and that "so many" other ambassadors also wanted a meeting.
Sessions said he and Kislyak talked about terrorism and Ukraine, describing the meeting as "testy" at one point when the matter of Russian involvement in Ukraine came up.
Sessions said Thursday that he decided to recuse himself in any investigation into alleged Russian interference in the election upon the recommendation of his staff at the Justice Department. He said no one should see his decision as confirmation that any probe is currently underway.