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Teachers’ groups reject President Trump’s suggestion to arm educators

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Several national teachers unions and education experts have spoken out against President Donald Trump’s recent suggestions that arming teachers would be a way to lessen the carnage of school shootings.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said there was a telephone town hall with 60,000 teachers Wednesday night and “the response was universal, even from educators who are gun owners: teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach.”

“We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharpshooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15,” Weingarten said in a statement released by the AFT.

“How would arming teachers even work? Would kindergarten teachers be carrying guns in holsters? Is every classroom now going to have a gun closet? Will it be locked? When you have seconds to act when you hear the code for an active shooter, is a teacher supposed to use those seconds getting her gun instead of getting her students to safety?” she said in the statement. “Anyone who pushes arming teachers doesn’t understand teachers and doesn’t understand our schools. Adding more guns to schools may create an illusion of safety, but in reality it would make our classrooms less safe.”

The president of the National Education Association, a group representing more than 3 million students, echoed similar concerns.

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence,” NEA president Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement released Thursday. “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that,” she said in her statement.

The president asked about the arming of teachers during Wednesday’s listening session at the White House where students, parents and educators with ties to school shootings gathered to talk about the issue. Trump asked the group their thoughts about arming teachers, noting that “this would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun.”

He refuted some descriptions of the meeting, writing on Twitter Thursday morning that “I never said ‘give teachers guns.'” But then he went on to note that he did say “to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best.”

Mark Barden, a father whose son was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, spoke up at the listening session and said that his wife, a schoolteacher, is adamantly against the idea.

“She will tell you that school teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life,” he said of his wife Jackie, who was not at the event.

But on Thursday, National Rifle Association vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre said that effective trained armed security should be employed and schools should be “hardened.”

“Evil walks among us,” LaPierre said Conservative Political Action Conference.

Lalitha Vasudevan, a professor of technology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, told ABC News that the conversation about arming teachers “presupposes that we’re going to continue to have mass shootings.”

Instead, she says that the focus should be on stemming “the tide of access to weapons” and “creating the greater sense of community, sense of belonging among everyone that is in the school community and attending to issues of school safety.”

That said, when asked about the idea of arming teachers generally, Vasudevan said, “quite simply no, it’s not a good idea.”

“There is ample evidence in the scientific community that indicates that increased number of firearms does not increase safety and does increase incidents of injury and violence rather than decrease them,” Vasudevan said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indicted on 32-counts

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) —  A federal grand jury in Virginia has handed up a new 32 count indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former top aide, Rick Gates.

In all, the two men face 16 counts related to filing false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud.

Manafort and Gates are accused of making tens of millions from lobbying work in Ukraine and failing to properly account for it in the U.S.

All told, special counsel Robert Mueller said the two used more than $75 million, funneled through offshore accounts in Cyprus, the Grenadines, the Seychelles and the United Kingdom, to pay for personal expenses.

In all, the two men face 16 counts related to filing false individual income tax returns, seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy, and four counts of bank fraud.

Manafort and Gates are accused of making tens of millions from lobbying work in Ukraine and failing to properly account for it in the U.S.

All told, special counsel Robert Mueller said the two used more than $75 million, funneled through offshore accounts in Cyprus, the Grenadines, the Seychelles and the United Kingdom, to pay for personal expenses.

Manafort, prosecutors allege, spent $12 million on his home in the Hamptons, plus another $655,000 for landscaping. There were also $600,000 in payments to a clothing store in Beverly Hills.

Gates used millions in undisclosed income to pay his mortgage, his children’s tuition and on renovations to his home in Virginia, according to the indictment.

These new charges are in addition to charges already filed against Manafort and Gates in federal court in Washington. The two men were indicted in October on money laundering charges, failing to properly register as foreign agents, and lying to federal officials about lobbying and other activities that took place before and are unrelated to Trump’s presidential campaign.

They pleaded not guilty to the previous charges.

With regard to the new charges, Manafort spokesperson Jason Maloni issued a statement saying: “Paul Manafort is innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges. The new allegations against Mr. Manafort, once again, have nothing to do with Russia and 2016 election interference/collusion. Mr. Manafort is confident that he will be acquitted and violations of his constitutional rights will be remedied.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Special counsel files 32-count indictment against former Trump campaign officials

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

They were indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia on 32 counts.

Special counsel files 32-count indictment against former Trump campaign officials

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

They were indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia on 32 counts.

Gates formally retains veteran DC lawyer

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —  Former Trump campaign aide Richard Gates has formally brought veteran Washington attorney Thomas Green into his case, according to an order of appearance filed late Thursday, a signal of potential movement in the special counsel case against him.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a raft of new charges against Gates and his longtime partner, Paul Manafort, just hours earlier.

A former D.C. federal prosecutor himself, Green has represented a long succession of high profile political clients in well-known political scandals, such as Iran Contra and the Keating Five. Most recently he led the legal defense of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was sentenced in 2016 to 15 months for payoffs made to cover up sex abuse allegations.

 

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

President Trump calls active shooter drills ‘a very negative thing’

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump continued to push the idea of arming teachers in schools during a meeting with state and local officials at the White House Thursday but also said having “active shooter drills is a very negative thing.”

“I mean if I’m a child and I’m 10 years old and they say we’re gonna have an active shooter drill and they say ‘what’s that?’ and I say ‘well, people may come in and shoot you,’ I think that’s a very negative thing to be honest. I don’t like it,” Trump said.

“I’d much rather have a hardened school. I don’t like it. I don’t like, I wouldn’t want to tell my son that you’re going to participate in an active shooter drill and I know some of them actually call it that. I think it’s crazy, I think it’s very bad for children.”

Trump said he’d prefer a “hardened school” where teachers with training or a military background carry weapons.

“We have to harden our schools, not soften them up,” Trump said. “You come into our schools – you’re gonna be dead. And it’s gonna be fast,” he added later.

Later, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah tried to clarify that the president doesn’t oppose safety drills to show teachers and students what to do in an active shooter situation, but that calling them “active shooter drills” could scare young students.

“The term active shooter drills particularly could be frightening for young children, he thinks a drill that has a different name that the brand of it frankly doesn’t frighten children might be a better way to approach it,” Shah told reporters at the White House briefing Thursday.

Trump’s suggestion to arm educators in the wake of a deadly mass shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead and 14 injured, has been panned by some education groups, including the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union.

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff,” NEA president Liky Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement.

“Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that,” Eskelsen said.

Trump disagrees, saying that teachers carrying a weapon should be paid more money, adding that it would be cheaper and more effective than hiring armed guards. Shah said the White House has been in touch with some teachers who have indicated they would be willing to be trained to use a weapon.

Trump said that, by arming teachers, “practically for free” you have made the school less of a target, but did not provide specifics during Thursday’s meeting about how the administration would reduce the cost for school districts to train and arm teachers. He said later in the meeting, in which Education secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also participated, that the federal government would provide some funding for additional training.

Trump’s comments come as part of an ongoing discussion on how to change the country’s gun laws.

Over in Maryland, Vice President Mike Pence echoed some of the administration’s suggestions for reform and said school safety will be a top national priority in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“As the president has said, no child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school,” he said, adding that the president has called on Congress to strengthen background checks and asked the Justice Department to regulate devices like bump stocks used to change rifles into machine guns.

“Later this week when the president meets with the nation’s governors in our nation’s capital we’ll make the safety of the nation’s schools and our students our top national priority,” he said.

National Rifle Association vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre echoed calls for schools to amp up security during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“I refuse to leave this stage until I say one more time that we must immediately harden our schools every day,” LaPierre said. “Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide-open soft targets for any one bent on mass murder.”

During Thursday’s meeting at the White House, Trump also said he’s spoken with lawmakers who support changes to strengthen the background check system and that the administration needs to look into how the Internet affects young people, saying that exposure to violent videos and video games are affecting people’s minds.

And he repeated an earlier promise to push raising the federal minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21.

The NRA said in a statement on Wednesday that it would not support such a change.

“Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals. The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms. At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens,” NRA Spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement.

The president met with students and family members affected by the shooting for a listening session on Wednesday on solutions to prevent mass shootings.

In that meeting, too, Trump floated the idea that more teachers should carry weapons in schools, indicating that if they had a gun they would be able to stop an active shooter.

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker, when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave — saved a lot of lives, I suspect,” Trump said in the listening session, a comment that seemed to reference Aaron Feis a teacher and coach who was killed protecting students last week. “But, if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run. He would have shot, and that would have been the end of it. And this would only be, obviously, for people that are very adept at handling a gun. And it would be — it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them.”

There was an armed security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but law enforcement said he did not encounter the gunman during the mass shooting, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a press conference on Friday.

Trump also defended the idea of arming teachers in a series of tweets on Thursday morning, saying that knowing there were armed teachers in a school could deter potential shooters.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Spokesperson denies any NRA responsibility in Florida shooting

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.) — The national spokesperson for the National Rifle Association delivered a heated speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, denying the NRA had any responsibility for last week’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school.

“We will not be gaslighted into thinking that we’re responsible for a tragedy that we had nothing to do with,” Dana Loesch said. “It is not our job to follow up on red flags. It is not our job to make sure that states are reporting to the background check system. It is not our job.”

Many student survivors of the shooting have started a campaign for gun control that targets the NRA, including demands that Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio refuse NRA campaign money.

If those blaming the NRA want to give the organization the authority and resources, the NRA will fix the problem by further securing schools, Loesch argued, echoing what President Donald Trump said Wednesday at a listening session with shooting survivors at the White House.

“We have resources available at anyone’s disposal – if they want to reinforce their schools,” Loesch said.

“I’ll say it again loud and clear – we’re parents too,” she said. “Don’t you think our kids deserve the same protection as our celebrities? Don’t you all think that our kids deserve the same protection as our athletes? As our banks? As our businesses? But yet we leave them the most unprotected.”

Loesch also spoke about being booed Wednesday night when she participated in a CNN town hall with shooting survivors and their families.

“The government has proven that they cannot keep you safe. And yet, some people want all of us to disarm. You heard that town hall last night. They cheered the confiscation of firearms.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump legal fund recipients unclear; Flynn says no thanks

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The funds help White House, campaign aides with probe-related legal expenses.

Trump calls active shooter drills ‘a very negative thing’

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

“You come into our schools – you’re gonna be dead," he said.

Billy Graham will lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The Rev. Billy Graham’s body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda next week, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005

Gun lobby chief says ‘NRA does care’ in wake of Parkland shooting

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

"The NRA does care," he told the gathering.

Trump endorses raising minimum age for more weapons

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

He also repeated his call for trained teachers in schools to carry guns.

Trump holds listening session with students on mass shootings

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

They shared emotional stories of their experiences during a “listening session”.

Pressure mounts for Manafort, Gates to strike deal as Special Counsel pace quickens

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Special Counsel investigators have spurred a flurry of court activity this past week as pressure mounts on two key targets.

Florida lawmakers face political pressure after Parkland shooting

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Florida politicians are feeling the heat after 17 students were killed in the Parkland shooting last week, a political pressure that could bring about some gun reform.

How President Trump measures up in the role of ‘consoler in chief’

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Comes as he deals with the most recent school shooting.

Shooting survivor Gabby Giffords rolls out anti-gun ad attacking Florida governor

Posted on: February 21st, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The former Congresswoman was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

Which lawmakers got the most NRA money?

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

In the past 15 years, the NRA has spent more than $132 million on political ads.

Trump tweet ‘not necessarily’ linking shooting to Russia investigation: Sanders

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Trump tweet ‘not necessarily’ linking shooting to Russia investigation: Sanders

Trump moves to ban ‘bump stocks’ 4 months after Las Vegas shooting

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

President Trump moves to ban ‘bump stocks’ 4 months after the Vegas shooting.

FACT CHECK: Administration actions on Russia sometimes tougher than Trump’s words

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

FACT CHECK: Administration actions on Russia tougher than Trump’s words

Ukrainian-linked lawyer pleads guilty to lying to feds in Russian probe

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

It’s the latest set of charges in the probe of Russian election meddling.

Most see inaction by Trump, Congress on mass shootings

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

New Pennsylvania congressional map could impact balance of power in the US House

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The new map may allow Democrats to pick up more seats in the 2018 midterms.

Most see inaction on mass shootings; mental health screening is a priority

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Donald Trump Jr. visits India to help sell apartments

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Donald Trump Jr. also will speak at an upcoming business summit in New Delhi.

The Note: Trump’s policy choices stark on guns, immigration

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

There’s a backlash against “thoughts and prayers” as reaction to school attack.

Trump linking Florida shooting to Russia investigation sparks backlash

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Aides have cautioned Trump not to tweet about the Russia investigation.

Tillerson dismisses criticism on Russia sanctions amid growing questions

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Congress has mandated new sanctions be imposed.

Students hold "lie-in" at White House to protest gun laws

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The protest is part of a larger student movement in the wake of Florida.