- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EST):

10:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump discussed what the White House calls “shared priorities” in phone calls to the leaders of Panama and the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

In statements late Sunday, the White House says Trump spoke to President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama and Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago.

Trump invited both leaders to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming months.


6:50 p.m.

The leader of Panama says he has spoken by phone with President Donald Trump ahead of an official visit to Washington.

Juan Carlos Varela says via his verified Twitter account that the two presidents discussed their countries’ “excellent bilateral relationship on economic, security and regional matters.”

Varela adds that they agreed to hold talks between high-level officials ahead of his trip to Washington, “which I will do at his invitation.” He did not say when he is to visit.

Varela tweeted that he received the call from Trump on Sunday afternoon.


5:40 p.m.

Swedes have been scratching their heads since President Donald Trump suggested that some kind of major incident had taken place in their country Friday night. Trump is now clarifying his comments, saying he was referring to something he saw on television.

Trump first referenced Sweden during a Florida rally on Saturday as he talked about past terror attacks in Europe. He told supporters, “Look what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

In Sweden, the remark raised eyebrows and sparked derision about a fact-challenged president. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said that the government wasn’t aware of any “terror-linked major incidents.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that his statement was in reference to a story broadcast on Fox News concerning immigrants and Sweden.

The president may be referring to a segment aired Friday night on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that reported Sweden had accepted more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year but that only 500 had found jobs. The report went on to say that a surge in gun violence and rape had followed the influx of immigrants.

A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, says that Trump was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general, not referring to a specific issue.


5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s meetings with potential candidates to be his new national security adviser are continuing Sunday afternoon.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump is meeting with four candidates at his private Palm Beach club.

On the schedule were his acting adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen.

Sanders said Trump may interview more candidates and hopes to make the decision soon.

Trump also discussed strategies for repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law with top advisers, including Health Secretary Tom Price and Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House budget office.


4:35 p.m.

The Homeland Security Department has drafted sweeping new guidelines aimed at aggressively detaining and deporting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

A pair of memoranda signed by DHS Secretary John Kelly outline the plans under consideration. The memos dated Friday seek to implement President Donald Trump’s broad directive to crack down on illegal immigration.

Kelly outlines plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand on the priority list for immigrants marked for immediate removal and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests. Those details were confirmed to The Associated Press by a person briefed on the documents.

A White House official says the White House has raised objections with the documents and is working with DHS to finalize the policy.


1:15 p.m.

The Congressional Black Caucus says it will meet with President Donald Trump after all.

Rep. Elijah Cummings is a senior member of the group. He told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump answered the caucus’ Jan. 19 request for a meeting “a day or so ago.” The Maryland Democrat says he expects the two parties will meet when Congress returns from a weeklong break and discuss prescription drugs and urban issues.

The possible meeting stirred controversy during Trump’s press conference last week. Responding to a reporter’s inquiry, Trump suggested that Cummings had declined a meeting and asked the reporter, who is black, to set up a meeting.

Cummings says he never rejected a meeting. On Sunday, he attributed the late acceptance to Trump apparently not being “in contact with his staff properly.”


11:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump plans to speak Sunday with leaders from Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

A White House official says Trump will speak to leaders of both countries. The official requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the president’s schedule.

Trump has been speaking to foreign leaders since he took office four weeks ago.

The calls come on a busy day for Trump. He is also interviewing candidates to be his new national security adviser and is planning a health care policy meeting.


10:55 a.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he has no issues with the media, despite his boss’ condemnation that the “fake news media” is “the enemy of the American people.”

The Pentagon chief says he’s had some contentious times with members of the media, but adds the press is a constituency he deals with.

He also rebuffed suggestions that disarray at the White House is affecting the military. His comments came days after the White House national security adviser was forced to resign.

Mattis says at a news conference in the United Arab Emirates that at times democracy is “quite sporting.” But he says the military’s job is to hold the line while the government sorts out the way ahead.

Says Mattis: “We don’t have any disarray inside the military, and that’s where my responsibility lies.”


10:50 a.m.

A top adviser to President Donald Trump says campaign aides didn’t have any contact with Russia before the election.

Chief of staff Reince Priebus (ryns PREE’-bus) tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “we don’t know of any contacts with Russian agents.”

Priebus says he had “talked to the top levels of the intelligence community.” He denies a New York Times report that multiple Trump advisers were in touch with Russian intelligence advisers during the election campaign.

During a news conference last week, Trump gave a lawyerly denial that his campaign aides had been in touch with Russian officials before last fall’s election. He said: “nobody that I know of.”


10:45 a.m.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says President Donald Trump is behaving like a “tin-pot dictator” by making comments criticizing the news media as “the enemy of the American people.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California described Trump’s tweet last week as “the most devastating” and “the most alarming” in attacking the First Amendment right to a free press.

He told ABC’s “This Week” that the comment is what tin-pot dictators say “when they want to control all the information.” He says people from both parties should reject the description.

Schiff says he agrees with Republican Sen. John McCain, who said a free press is vital “to preserve democracy as we know it.” Schiff says the country is confronting a “new war of ideas” - authoritarianism vs. democracy.

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