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The Latest: Trump unaware of reports on Flynn and Russians

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

5:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s unaware of reports that his national security adviser discussed sanctions with the Russians before Trump was sworn into office.

Trump told reporters flying with him to Florida that he’ll look into the issue.

The Washington Post first reported that Michael Flynn discussed the sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Vice President Mike Pence said last month that Flynn had spoken to the ambassador during the transition period to wish him a Merry Christmas and offer condolences after a deadly Russian plane crash, but he denied that sanctions had come up in the conversation.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday: “I don’t know about it. I haven’t seen it. What report is that?”

Flynn is among the passengers flying aboard the plane.

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5:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says that he’s considering signing a new executive order on immigration as the one he signed suspending the nation’s refugee program and barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries is held up in court.

Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One on his way to Florida that he’s confident he’ll win his court battle.

But he says, “we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.”

He adds: “We need speed for reasons of security. So it could very well be that we do that.”

Trump says a new order would likely change “very little” from the first and says he’ll likely act next Monday or Tuesday.

He adds of his decision: “I’d like to surprise you.”

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3:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump has revived claims of voter fraud, arguing in a lunch meeting with senators that he and former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte would have won in New Hampshire if not for voters bused in from out of state.

That’s according to a GOP official with knowledge of Thursday’s lunch conversation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a private meeting.

Ayotte was present for the meeting at the White House with a bipartisan group of 10 senators because she is working with Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Trump’s comments were first reported by Politico. There is no evidence of people being improperly bused into New Hampshire to vote.

-By Erica Werner.

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3:50 p.m.

A White House official says the Trump administration will likely contest the merits of its travel ban in district court rather than appeal a restraining order on the ban in the Supreme Court.

The official also left open the possibility that the White House could rework President Donald Trump’s original executive order that temporarily halted entry to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries. The official says “all options” are on the table with regard to that order.

On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 3-0 decision that kept Trump’s travel ban from going back into effect. Trump says he has “no doubt” his administration will ultimately win in court.

The official was not authorized to discuss the administration’s planning publicly and insisted on anonymity.

-By Julie Pace

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3:35 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump is getting her first ride on Air Force One.

Mrs. Trump, who is not yet living in the White House full time, greeted President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews before a trip to Florida.

The Trumps are playing host this weekend at their Florida estate to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Ake.

It’s the first time Mrs. Trump has been seen in the Washington area since Trump took office on Jan. 20. It was unclear how long she’d been in town.

The first lady joined her husband last weekend at their estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Mrs. Trump is living full time in New York with the couple’s 10-year-old son, Barron, through the end of the school year.

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1:45 p.m.

At his press conference with the Japanese prime minister, President Donald Trump touted plans by Intel announced this week to open a $7 billion factory because of his administration’s planned tax cuts.

But that’s not the whole story behind the Chandler, Arizona facility_which began construction during Barack Obama’s presidency. In fact, Obama appeared at the side of Intel’s CEO when the factory was announced and even spoke at the construction site in 2012.

Intel never finished its “Fab 42” factory because there was insufficient demand for its high-powered computer chips, a spokesman said this week. The company plans to complete the facility within four years because it expects its business to grow.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he made his announcement at the White House in support of the president’s tax and regulatory policies, which have yet to be publicly detailed.

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1:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he had a “very, very warm conversation” with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) and says he thinks the two global powers are “on the process of getting along very well.”

Trump notes in a joint news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) that he has been complaining about currency devaluation with China for a long time. He predicts “we will all be at a level playing field.”

Trump told the Chinese leader in a phone call on Thursday that the U.S. would honor Washington’s “one China” policy, which had been in question since Trump broke protocol and spoke to the leader of Taiwan after his election.

The White House said the reaffirmation of U.S. policy came at Xi’s request. Trump made no mention of the “one China” dispute in his remarks.

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1:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he has “no doubt” that he will prevail in the federal court case over his travel ban.

He also promises to take additional steps to improve U.S. security.

Trump commented a day after a San Francisco-based U.S. appeals court refused to reinstate his temporary ban on travel to the U.S. by refugees and residents of seven mostly Muslim countries in the name of national security.

Speaking at a White House news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump says the administration will continue to work the case through the court process.

He says he has “no doubt that we’ll win” the case.

Trump says the administration will do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.

___

11:45 a.m.

Rep. Tom Price of Georgia has been sworn in as health and human services secretary, setting the stage for the conservative to play a leading role in dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath to Price hours after he won Senate confirmation on a narrow 52-47 vote early Friday.

Price is an orthopedic surgeon who is expected to help scuttle the Affordable Care Act, in part, by issuing regulations to weaken it.

Democrats assailed Price as an ideologue with a questionable history of trading health care stocks and warned that he would take away health insurance from millions of Americans.

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10:50 p.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is praising a federal appeals court decision against reinstating President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, saying Trump proceeded on the issue in an “incompetent and strategically incoherent” way.

Wrapping up their annual retreat in Baltimore on Friday, House Democrats reveled in the administration’s court loss. Pelosi said the ban would make Americans less safe.

“This is a major, major, major defeat for the administration,” said New York Rep. Joe Crowley, leader of the House Democratic Caucus. “And I think there will be more, because they will continue to overstep.”

Crowley also criticized Trump’s all caps tweet just after the decision Thursday that said “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

“The president needs to grow up,” Crowley said.

___

10:15 a.m.

Fitch Ratings says President Donald Trump “represents a risk to international economic conditions,” noting that his “aggressive tone” and willingness to float “unanticipated changes” to U.S. policies could harm worldwide growth and make it more expensive for governments to borrow.

Judging by its opening weeks, the Trump administration could potentially disrupt foreign trade, reduce the flow of capital, limit migration and provoke “confrontational exchanges” that could destabilize volatile financial markets, the credit ratings firm said in a Friday statement.

Fitch noted that other promised policies in a Trump administration such as tax cuts, fewer regulations and more infrastructure spending could boost U.S. growth. But its note stressed the possibility of Trump disrupting foreign economies as he seeks to renegotiate trade deals.

___

9:47 a.m.

President Vladimir Putin says he’s grateful to Slovenia for its offer to host his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, adding that it will depend on Washington.

Speaking after the Kremlin talks Friday with his Slovenian counterpart, Putin said that Russia welcomes Trump’s statements about the need to restore the strained Russia-U.S. ties.

He said Moscow is waiting for the Trump administration to prepare for a dialogue. He added that Moscow and Washington could jointly tackle the terror threat and deal with other global challenges.

Putin thanked the Slovenian president for his readiness to organize his meeting with Trump. He added it will depend on the U.S. on whether to hold such a meeting.

__

9 a.m.

President Donald Trump is lashing out at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision against reinstating his refugee and immigration order, calling it “a disgraceful decision.”

Trump has been pointing to a federal law that details when immigration restrictions by the president is permissible.

In a tweet Friday, Trump quotes an article by Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog.

It reads, “Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother even to cite this (the) statute.”

Trump tweeted, “A disgraceful decision!”

Trump said Thursday that he did not believe the unanimous decision undercut his presidency and tweeted, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” in response.

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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