Trump’s Pick for Intelligence Chief Cites Russia Threat
President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. intelligence community cited Russia as a top threat, telling lawmakers Tuesday it is an accepted fact that Moscow tried to influence November’s presidential election.
Former Indiana Senator Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia “seems to have stepped up their game” in its campaign to influence the American elections. He promised to support a thorough investigation of the Kremlin's role in the U.S. vote.
“It is something that needs to be investigated and addressed,” the 73-year-old Coats, a Republican, said during his confirmation hearing. “I think it is publicly known and acknowledged and accepted that Russia definitely did try to influence the campaign,” Coats said. “To what extent they were successful, I don’t think we know.”
Coats also promised that, if confirmed, he would make all relevant materials available for congressional investigations.
Trump Calls for Aggressive Change in Speech to Congress
Making his first address before the U.S. Congress, President Donald Trump projected a brighter luster Tuesday night than he did in the speech at his inauguration six weeks ago.
“The time for small thinking is over,” he declared. “The time for trivial fights is behind us.”
Specifically mentioning the so-called Islamic State group, Trump said the United States “will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
The president called for spending $1 trillion to rebuild America’s infrastructure and said he will ask Congress to approve one of the biggest-ever boosts in the budget for the military. He also promised tax cuts for business and the middle class but gave no details about big budgets cuts elsewhere that would be needed to pay for all of this. Some of those cuts are certain to be deep and controversial.
Amid reports that the State Department would see its budget slashed by as much as 38 percent, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, told reporters before the speech he would not support such cuts and they will not gain legislative approval.
The Republican also said his party is not yet in agreement on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, the federal health insurance popularly known as Obamacare.
During his address Trump asserted that “Obamacare is collapsing – and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. … So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.”
Immigration, a common theme during Trump’s presidential campaign, was also in his remarks but with a new twist: The president proposing a merit-based system for immigration like those used in some other countries.
He also returned to his pledge to build “a great, great wall along our southern border,” promising construction will begin soon. But notably absent was his oft-repeated vow to make Mexico pay for it.
Every year when presidents appear before Congress for a joint address – known as the State of the Union – except when it’s the first such speech of a new president they utter a cornucopia of promises. But Trump may have been the first U.S. president to promise everything.
At one point he said “everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved.”
In the opposition party’s rebuttal, Beshear asked for one modest commitment to be honored by Trump, saying: “You promised to be a champion for people struggling to make ends meet and I hope you live up to that promise.”