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The Latest: Trump criticizes Army leaker Manning

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

8:19 a.m.

President Donald Trump says it’s “terrible” that convicted Army leaker Chelsea Manning “is now calling President (Barack) Obama a weak leader.” But that is not what Manning said.

In an opinion piece published Thursday in The Guardian, Manning says Obama’s biggest shortcoming was a tendency to compromise, because opponents would call him weak.

Manning writes, “what we need is an unapologetic progressive leader.”

She says, “We need someone who is unafraid to be criticized, since you will inevitably be criticized. We need someone willing to face all of the vitriol, hatred and dogged determination of those opposed to us.”

Trump reiterated his belief Thursday that Manning “should never have been released from prison,” calling her an “ungrateful traitor.”

Obama commuted Manning’s prison sentence in his final days in office.

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7:14 a.m.

A top aide to President Donald Trump is asserting that his critics are “cherry-picking” in questioning his claims of election fraud last November.

“I hardly think it’s an ego issue,” senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday.

Trump has repeatedly argued that as many as 3 million to 5 million votes in the presidential contest were cast fraudulently. Earlier this week, he said he’s seeking an investigation into possible fraud.

Trump won the election by collecting 306 Electoral College votes, well above the 270 needed, but he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Hillary Clinton.

“I think everybody’s cherry-picking to call this an ego trip,” she said. “Why not have an investigation. What’s everybody afraid of?”

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7:10 a.m.

A senior adviser to President Donald Trump says White House officials are looking forward to meeting with Mexican leaders next week to discuss U.S. plans to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kellyanne Conway concedes in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that details on financing the project remain unclear. But she said that Trump won’t likely provide that in advance of the get-together.

A senior administration official said that Trump’s announcement Thursday has led his Mexican counterpart to reconsider the visit.

Conway said Trump is holding back on some specifics of his plan until the U.S.-Mexican meeting.

“He wants to give deference to his meeting with the Mexican president and other Mexican officials before she announces that,” she said.

Conway said that in pressing forward with immigration changes, the president “made good on a centerpiece of his campaign for the White House.” -Julie Pace

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7:00 a.m.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright says she is ready to register as Muslim in a show of solidarity.

Albright tweeted Wednesday: “I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity.” Albright also tweeted Wednesday that “America must remain open to people of all faiths & backgrounds.”

President Donald Trump during his campaign proposed a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the U.S. and at one point suggested requiring Muslims already in the country to register. While those proposals evolved, Trump never explicitly took a Muslim ban off the table.

Albright served under President Bill Clinton. She didn’t say where or how she would register as a Muslim.

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6:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to turn back to the economy Thursday, signing a notice to Congress that he plans to start bilateral trade negotiations with most of the countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. That’s according to a White House official. On Monday, Trump moved to pull the U.S. out of the 12-nation Pacific Rim agreement, which he said would be damaging for American workers. Instead, he said he wanted to negotiate with countries individually.

The official insisted on anonymity in order to confirm the executive action ahead of Trump’s announcement.

-Julie Pace

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6:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump is making his first flight on Air Force One Thursday.

Trump is traveling to Philadelphia to address Republican lawmakers gathered for a party retreat. Vice President Mike Pence will also attend the GOP event.

Trump flew to Washington for the inauguration on one of the government’s blue and white planes. But the planes are only considered to be Air Force One when the president is on board.

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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