No plans for Trump to visit DMZ, White House official says

President Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty

President Donald Trump is slated to depart for a nearly two-week trip through Asia early next month, with additional stops in China, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has no current plans to visit the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea during his trip to Asia next month, a White House official said Monday.

Instead, Trump is slated to speak with U.S. troops at Camp Humphreys, which is located south of Seoul, the official said.

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“Security is not the concern,” the official said, rejecting the notion that concerns about the president’s safety would keep the president from visiting the contentious slice of land that divides the two nations.

The official added that the final details of the South Korean leg of the trip are still being ironed out. Vice President Mike Pence visited the DMZ earlier this year.

Trump is slated to depart for a nearly two-week trip through Asia early next month, with additional stops in China, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. It will be his first official visit to Asia as president and it will mark his longest continuous trip during his time in office.

It’s unclear if the president will visit the Great Wall of China, the official said, a stop that could serve as a convenient metaphor for his bid to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump is expected to use his visit to Beijing to pressure China on trade and the threat of North Korea.

At the tail-end of his trip, Trump will hold a one-on-one meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has come under fire for his crackdown on drug trafficking in the country.

//www.politico.com

Megyn Kelly blasts O’Reilly, Fox News over harassment allegations

Megyn Kelly is pictured here. | Getty Images

“[Bill] O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false,” Megyn Kelly said while addressing the controversy on her show. | Jim Watson/Getty Images

Megyn Kelly forcefully denounced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly for “shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment” allegations on Monday, delivering her most candid remarks on the matter since exiting the network earlier this year.

Kelly, the former star anchor at Fox whose program followed O’Reilly’s on cable news’ leading evening news line-up, blasted the ousted host and the network for attacking sexual assault accusers on air and allegedly creating an unsafe environment for victims to come forward with complaints about sexual misconduct in the workplace.

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Kelly, who reportedly left Fox News in January to launch a new show on NBC’s morning line-up in part due to O’Reilly’s behavior, directly refuted his past dismissals of sexual harassment accusers, citing her own experience with the network’s past top anchor.

“O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false,” she said while addressing the controversy on her show “Megyn Kelly TODAY.” “I know because I complained.”

Kelly’s comments come on the heels of a New York Times report that Bill O’Reilly settled sexual harassment claims with a Fox News analyst to the tune of $32 million last January, just six months after network chairman Roger Ailes was ousted from Fox amid his own sexual misconduct controversy.

O’Reilly denied the allegations as “lies and smears.” But Kelly, delivering her most stinging rebuke of her former employer since her high-profile departure, said O’Reilly’s refutations highlighted a larger issue of dismissing victims’ claims at the network.

“Perhaps he didn’t realize that his exact attitude in shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment, on grounds that it will disgrace the company, is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with,” she said.

Kelly said that while the issue was “not unique to Fox News” and that the network had “absolutely made some reforms” to address the issue, the shaming of accusers had to come to an end.

“This must stop. The abuse of women, the shaming or them, the threatening and the retaliation, the silencing them after the fact, it has to stop,” she said.

Kelly added: “Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear, fear of ending their careers, fear of lawyers, yes, and often fear of public shaming including through the media.”

Representatives for Fox News declined to comment. A representative for 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, did not immediately return a request for comment.

//www.politico.com

Tillerson makes unannounced side trip to Afghanistan

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a statement at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The State Department says Rex Tillerson visited Kabul for talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. | Cliff Owen/AP Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan.

The State Department says Tillerson visited Kabul for talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials to outline for them the Trump administration’s new South Asia policy. He also underscored the ongoing U.S. commitment to stabilizing the war-ravaged country.

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Cloaked in secrecy and under heavy security, Tillerson slipped out of the Qatari capital of Doha in the pre-dawn hours and flew into Kabul on Monday on the third leg of a trip that started in Saudi Arabia.

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Obama’s army enlists in redistricting fight

Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

Then-President Barack Obama speaks during a Organizing for Action event, on Nov. 9, 2015. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Organizing for Action, the progressive group born out of Barack Obama’s old campaign apparatus, is joining the redistricting effort that Obama has made a central cause of his post-presidency.

On Monday, OFA will officially launch a partnership with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

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OFA officially runs independently from Obama, but for this announcement, the former president is making it himself.

“OFA volunteers and supporters will provide the grassroots organizing capacity and mobilization that we’ll need to win state-level elections and move other initiatives forward ahead of the 2021 redistricting process, making sure that states are in the best position possible to draw fair maps,” Obama writes in an email set to go out to the OFA’s list that he’ll call “Our Next Fight.”

The conversations have been underway for several months, but the announcement comes as Obama is slated to appear at an OFA event in Chicago on Nov. 8, the anniversary of last year’s election, that will bring him together for a conversation with organizers and big donors for the group.

The NDRC has spent the past year fundraising and putting the pieces together in preparation for what it’s hoping will be a very active presence in the courts and on the campaign trail in 2018 and beyond —with some action in Virginia and New Jersey races this year — with the goal of changing the redistricting process to reverse the existing Republican tilt of maps in many states.

The results could significantly reshape the makeup of the House, as well as state legislatures.

“There is no better infrastructure out there to build in order to unleash the power of the people onto redistricting,” said NDRC executive director Kelly Ward, calling this “an awesome, seamless partnership.”

“It’s the support of President Obama’s network and the shared values that come with that that make it so seamless,” Ward said. “We are all in this together still.”

Obama and Holder have both campaigned in New Jersey and Virginia, and the NDRC put $500,000 into the Virginia governor’s race last month.

OFA, meanwhile, will start holding house parties, community meetings and conference calls geared to helping their organizers understand and internalize what gerrymandering is, and what the processes are for changing district maps in each state.

Katie Hogan, the executive director of OFA, said that some of their organizers had already started talking about redistricting and collecting ballot initiative signatures on their own.

“It’s really familiar work to us and not at all deviating to what we’ve done for years,” Hogan said.

Though OFA was very active in helping mobilize turnouts to town halls and other events as part of the resistance to Obamacare repeal efforts, this brings the group closer to direct political campaigns than it’s been since reconstituting after the 2012 election. As a 501c4, the group has the ability to get involved in politics if it choose too.

“We don’t have every single part of this mapped out,” Hogan said. “We do know that we are the best suited to play that public education role right now, and we’ll see where that takes us.”

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Trump disputes widow’s assertion that he couldn’t remember slain soldier’s name

Donald Trump is pictured here. | Getty Images

“I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter. | Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Monday denied that he had trouble recalling the name of Army Sgt. La David Johnson during a phone call with the slain soldier’s widow, disputing her assertion that he had struggled to remember the sergeant’s name during a condolence conversation.

“I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Trump wrote on Twitter Monday morning.

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An hour earlier, Myeshia Johnson, the widow of La David Johnson, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that her conversation with the president last week had left her “very, very upset and hurt” and that he had “made me cry even worse.” Most offensive, the widow said, was that Trump seemed to have a hard time producing La David Johnson’s name.

“He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name because he told me he had my husband report in front of him and that’s when he actually said ‘La David.’ I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband name,” she said. “And that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risks his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? And that’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.”

The first accounts of the president’s conversation with the widow came from Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who was in the car with Myeshia Johnson when she took the call from Trump on speakerphone. The White House spent much of last week disputing Wilson’s version of events, with the president writing on Twitter that the Florida lawmaker had “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof).”

Myeshia Johnson’s recounting of her call with the president matched closely with that of Wilson, and the widow told ABC that “whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct.”

//www.politico.com