PHILADELPHIA — Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s secret trip to Syria this month continues to attract criticism from fellow members of Congress, as well as a washing of the hands from her own caucus leader.
Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who, like Gabbard, is a veteran of the Iraq War, slammed his Hawaii colleague for meeting with President Bashar Assad and called on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Paul D. Ryan to condemn the trip.
“In no way should any member of Congress, in no way should any government official ever travel to meet with a guy who has killed 500,000 people and 50,000 children,” Kinzinger said in Philadelphia at the GOP issues retreat. “It is sad and a shame and a disgrace.”
Kinzinger said Gabbard may have violated some rule but he didn’t know much about it. “I’m interested to see where the money came from for the trip,” he added.
Earlier this week, Gabbard wrote about her trip on Medium, describing it as something that filled her with resolve to find a way to end the conflict. “Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering,” she wrote.
Critics of Gabbard’s trip have noted that some of her statements about the visit are in line with that of the Russian government’s, which is that rebels aligned against Assad are terrorists and that Assad provides stability and is a buffer against al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
At a media briefing Wednesday morning, Pelosi said she had not spoken to Gabbard about the trip and had no details about it.
“No, I haven’t. I haven’t even seen her,” Pelosi said.
“I haven’t seen her. I don’t know. I have no knowledge of the trip,” Pelosi said.
Kansas lawmaker leaves loaded weapon in committee room at Capitol
WICHITA, Kan. — A Kansas lawmaker left a loaded firearm in a committee room at the Capitol in Topeka on Tuesday.
Republican Rep. Willie Dove of Bonner Springs acknowledged in an interview Thursday that he removed a loaded .380 handgun from his ankle during a meeting of the House Education Committee two days earlier, placed it in his desk and left the room without retrieving it.
“Was it loaded? Yes,” Dove told reporters.
A secretary found the weapon and turned it over to Capitol police immediately, Dove said. About 10 minutes after the meeting, a Capitol worker approached him and asked if he had forgotten something.
Dove realized that he had left his weapon and was informed by Capitol police that it had been placed in lock-up. He got it back the following morning.
“That’s the end of it,” Dove said when asked whether Capitol police would take further action.
A member of the Capitol police would not comment Thursday, referring all questions to Tom Day, director of Legislative Administrative Services.
“Capitol Police had a conversation with him. That’s it as far as I know,” Day said.
“It means I’m going to get me a shoulder holster,” Dove said when asked if he would change his behavior going forward. He said he had removed the weapon from his ankle because the ankle had begun to swell.
—The Wichita Eagle
Report: Anchorman suspended after comment about Kellyanne Conway
PHILADELPHIA — Mike Jerrick, an anchor on Philadelphia’s WTXF-TV, has reportedly been suspended by the station.
The “Good Day Philadelphia” co-host’s suspension comes after Jerrick blurted out an expletive during a live broadcast this week while discussing White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Jerrick’s suspension will reportedly last a week, according to industry news site FTVLive. Representatives at the station have not yet responded to a request for comment.
The longtime anchor on Tuesday noted that Conway is “good at bull … ” when discussing the White House adviser’s “alternative facts” comments made Sunday to Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” In that interview, Conway defended White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s assertion that the crowd for President Donald Trump’s inauguration was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.”
“We’re sorry about that,” co-host Alex Holley said after Jerrick’s comment.
“I apologize for that,” Jerrick added at the time.
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Canada evokes Reagan in bid to make US green again under Trump
OTTAWA — Donald Trump is no environmental icon, but Catherine McKenna thinks she can win him over.
Canada’s environment minister is holding out hope the new U.S. administration won’t derail global efforts to cut emissions — even amid jarring differences in approach.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has beefed up regulatory review of pipeline approvals and is pressing ahead with a national carbon price despite warnings of creating, or exacerbating, competitive disadvantages. Trump, meanwhile, rolled back steps then President Barack Obama had taken and fast-tracked the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects on Tuesday.
McKenna shrugs off the divergence. In an interview, she pointed to U.S. progress on tackling acid rain a generation ago under Ronald Reagan as a case study for how Trump might be wooed on climate.
“It’s very early days, so it’s hard to know where this administration is going,” she said. “It’s much more about the markets. I guess I just believe in the market. And when the market moves and sees opportunities, it’s going to be smarter to invest in renewables than it may be in other sectors.”
McKenna spoke during a Cabinet retreat in the oil hub of Calgary, where Trudeau’s ministers gathered with Trump at the top of their agenda. The Cabinet hosted Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive officer at Blackstone Group LP and head of the president’s strategic and policy forum, and was reassured by his pledges that Canada is a special case for the U.S. and isn’t the main target of new protectionist measures.
But Canada’s ties with the U.S. go beyond trade. Derek Burney, a former ambassador and aide to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, has warned that Trudeau’s government may have to abandon some of its initiatives in light of Trump to avoid creating a crippling imbalance of regulations, taxes and environmental measures that drive investment south of the border.
“There may be policies that we’ve put in place or that we’re contemplating that will have to be recalibrated in order to meet that objective,” Burney, who has been advising Trudeau on dealing with the new president, said in a interview this month.
Canada and the U.S. signed the acid rain pact in 1991, nearly a decade after Mulroney — who is also advising Trudeau — first raised it with the Reagan administration.
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