All posts by NEWSDAY WORCESTER

Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources To Attend Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum

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By Tiffany Williams –

On Tuesday the Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Frank Fannon will travel to Cairo, Egypt.

Assistant Secretary Fannon will be in Cairo until Friday as part of the U.S. delegation to the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.

the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum will convene regional energy leaders and encourage regional energy cooperation and integration.

The State Department says that Assistant Secretary Fannon will also meet with regional government officials and private sector representatives to discuss international cooperation on all forms of energy.

CIA Remembers Officers Who Died Serving Their Country

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By Tiffany Williams –

On Sunday the Central Intelligence Agency held its annual Memorial Ceremony to remember, CIA officers who died serving their country. The ceremony whiich first began in 1987 was attended by hundreds of employees, retirees, and family members of the officers who died.

Of the 129 stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA, 4 additional stars were added on Sunday.

Two of the stars honor officers whose names and contributions remain classified even after their deaths.

The two other stars honor Lieutenant John W. Creech and Daniel C. Dennett, Jr., who were on a mission to Addis Ababa when their plane crashed.

Idaho State Police Investigating I15 Fatal Crash

By Tiffany Williams –

Idaho State Police are investigating a fatal crash that happened Saturday just before 5 p.m.

The crash happened on I15 northbound in Idaho Falls.

State Police say the driver of the vehicle who has been identified as Robert J. Halford, 39, of Idaho Falls drove of the right shoulder of the highway and through a fence before hitting a brick wall.

State Police have confirmed that Halford succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the crash.

21 Savage’s English origins stun fans of the Atlanta rapper

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By ANDREW DALTON

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a shock for fans when 21 Savage was taken into custody by U.S. immigration agents in Georgia. It was an even bigger shock to learn he had been an immigrant in the first place.

The Grammy-nominated rapper and his music are so deeply associated with Atlanta that the notion he was actually born in England and brought to the U.S. as a child felt downright bizarre.

Scores of surprised tweets came after his Sunday arrest. Memes bloomed that some called cruel under the circumstances, including one of him dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard, along with an old video of him talking in a mock English accent about tea and crumpets. While the United Kingdom is responsible for rap icon Slick Rick, he also grew up in America, and its rappers traditionally have not had much success in America.

“It seems so outlandish that the prototypical Atlanta rapper is not from Atlanta,” said Samuel Hine, a writer and editor at GQ who researched 21 Savage and spent a day with him for a profile in the magazine last year. “I think that’s why so many people were sort of making fun of him, and making memes.”

By all accounts, few knew his real birthplace, and it certainly wasn’t publicly known. His accent gave no indication, and his birth name, She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, could come from any number of birthplaces.

“I certainly heard no whispers challenging his accepted backstory,” Hine said.

Abraham-Joseph was detained in a targeted operation in the Atlanta area and put in deportation proceedings, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said.

Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys said U.S. immigration officials have known his status at least since 2017, when he applied for a new visa. That application is pending, and his attorneys say he should be freed while it’s pending.

Both sides agree that Abraham-Joseph has not had legal status since his family’s visas expired in 2006. ICE alleges that Abraham-Joseph came to the U.S. in 2005 at age 12 while Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys say he began living here at age 7, and the 2005 arrival was from a monthlong visit to England.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad,” Kuck Baxter Immigration, the law firm representing Abraham-Joseph, said in a statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph lost his legal status through no fault of his own.”

The attorneys also said Tuesday that ICE was incorrect that Abraham-Joseph has a felony conviction on his record. Fulton County prosecutors said they could not provide information on that case because it is sealed.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox declined further comment Tuesday.

Abraham-Joseph spent his teenage years in Atlanta — the city that birthed rap gods OutKast — and his image and later his music became defined by the city’s distinctive and rich hip-hop culture. Even the “21” in his name is a reference to the block where he lived there.

“Him growing up in Atlanta is a pretty fundamental part of his story,” Hine said. “His identity is so rooted in his Atlanta sound, his Atlanta crew.”

Abraham-Joseph was truthful when he rapped about his youthful exploits in Atlanta, including run-ins with the law over guns and drugs, Hine said. He just left out the stuff that came before that.

A pair of mixtapes in 2015 made his star rise quickly in the Atlanta underground. Collaborations with Atlanta artists including Metro Boomin and Offset of rap group Migos raised his profile.

He signed with Epic Records and made a pair of successful albums. His latest, “I Am I Was,” debuted at the top of the Billboard top 200 album charts this past December.

He collaborated with Drake, Cardi B, and Post Malone, whose song with 21 Savage, “Rockstar,” is nominated for two Grammys at Sunday’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

For many who love 21 Savage, surprise about his arrest quickly gave way to outrage.

Offset tweeted that he was “PRAYING FOR MY DAWG. ALL THE MEMES … AINT FUNNY HIS FAMILY DEPENDING ON HIM.”

Rapper Vince Staples joined many others in tweeting, “Free 21!”

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors established an online petition to stop his deportation that was fast gaining signatories.

Singer Demi Lovato felt some of the anger when she tweeted Sunday that “21 savage memes have been my favorite part of the Super Bowl.” She later clarified that she wasn’t laughing “at anyone getting deported,” but subsequently deleted her Twitter account.

While it’s not clear if it had anything to do with his own status, Abraham-Joseph did just recently address the subject of immigration and detention. Last week on the “Tonight Show,” he added a verse to his song “A Lot: that include the line, “been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.”

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Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed.

Trump calls for end of resistance politics in State of Union

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By JULIE PACE and CATHERINE LUCEY

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a divided Congress for the first time, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Washington to reject “the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution.” He warned emboldened Democrats that “ridiculous partisan investigations” into his administration and businesses could hamper a surging American economy.

Trump’s appeals for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address clashed with the rancorous atmosphere he has helped cultivate in the nation’s capital — as well as the desire of most Democrats to block his agenda during his next two years in office. Their opposition was on vivid display as Democratic congresswomen in the audience formed a sea of white in a nod to early 20th-century suffragettes.

Trump spoke at a critical moment in his presidency, staring down a two-year stretch that will determine whether he is re-elected or leaves office in defeat. His speech sought to shore up Republican support that had eroded slightly during the recent government shutdown and previewed a fresh defense against Democrats as they ready a round of investigations into every aspect of his administration.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he declared. Lawmakers in the cavernous House chamber sat largely silent.

Looming over the president’s address was a fast-approaching Feb. 15 deadline to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. Democrats have refused to acquiesce to his demands for a border wall, and Republicans are increasingly unwilling to shut down the government to help him fulfill his signature campaign pledge. Nor does the GOP support the president’s plan to declare a national emergency if Congress won’t fund the wall.

Wary of publicly highlighting those intraparty divisions, Trump made no mention of an emergency declaration in his remarks. He did offer a lengthy defense of his call for a border wall, declaring: “I will build it.” But he delivered no ultimatums about what it would take for him to sign legislation to keep the government open.

“I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country,” he said, painting a dark and foreboding picture of the risks posed to Americans by illegal immigration.

Throughout his remarks, the 72-year-old Trump harkened back to moments of American greatness, celebrating the moon landing as astronaut Buzz Aldrin looked on from the audience and heralding the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. He led the House chamber in singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor sitting with first lady Melania Trump.

The president ticked through a litany of issues with crossover appeal, including boosting infrastructure, lowering prescription drug costs and combating childhood cancer. But he also appealed to his political base, both with his harsh rhetoric on immigration and a call for Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the “late-term abortion of children.”

Trump devoted much of his speech to foreign policy, another area where Republicans have increasingly distanced themselves from the White House. He announced details of a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, outlining a Feb. 27-28 summit in Vietnam. The two met last summer in Singapore, though it garnered only a vaguely worded commitment by the North to denuclearize.

As he condemned political turmoil in Venezuela, Trump declared that “America will never be a socialist country” — a remark that may also have been targeted at high-profile Democrats who identify as socialists.

The president was surrounded by symbols of his emboldened political opposition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was praised by Democrats for her hard-line negotiating during the shutdown, sat behind Trump as he spoke. And several senators running for president were also in the audience, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Another Democratic star, Stacey Abrams, delivered the party’s response to Trump. Abrams narrowly lost her bid in November to become America’s first black female governor, and party leaders are aggressively recruiting her to run for U.S. Senate from Georgia.

Speaking from Atlanta, Abrams calls the shutdown a political stunt that “defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values.”

Trump’s address amounted to an opening argument for his re-election campaign. Polls show he has work to do, with his approval rating falling to just 34 percent after the shutdown, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

One bright spot for the president has been the economy, which has added jobs for 100 straight months.

“The only thing that can stop it,” he said, “are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations” — an apparent swipe at the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign, as well as the upcoming congressional investigations.

The diverse Democratic caucus, which includes a bevy of women, sat silently for much of Trump’s speech. But they leapt to their feet when he noted there are “more women in the workforce than ever before.”

The increase is due to population growth — and not something Trump can credit to any of his policies.

The president also defended his decisions to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan over the opposition from national security officials and many Republican lawmakers.

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” he said, adding that the U.S. is working with allies to “destroy the remnants” of the Islamic State group and that he has “accelerated” efforts to reach a settlement in Afghanistan.

IS militants have lost territory since Trump’s surprise announcement in December that he was pulling U.S. forces out, but military officials warn the fighters could regroup within six months to a year of the Americans leaving. Several leading GOP lawmakers have sharply criticized his plans to withdraw from Syria, as well as from Afghanistan.

Trump’s guests for the speech included Anna Marie Johnson, a woman whose life sentence for drug offenses was commuted by the president, and Joshua Trump, a sixth-grade student from Wilmington, Delaware, who has been bullied over his last name. They sat with Mrs. Trump during the address.

The Latest: Trump urges America to ‘choose greatness’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address (all times local):

10:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump, in concluding his State of the Union address, is urging Americans to “choose greatness.”

Trump finished his 82-minute speech on an optimistic note, suggesting that “our biggest victories are still to come” and that “we have not yet begun to dream.” And he urged the nation to not be “defined by our differences.”

But despite Trump’s call for unity, much of his speech echoed his usual partisan talking points and the reaction to his address varied wildly among Democrats and Republicans.

Moreover, Trump, in the hours before speech, attacked Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. And the president’s previous public pleas for bipartisanship have usually worn off in a matter of days, often overwhelmed by a flood of his incendiary tweets.

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10:30 p.m.

Lawmakers from both parties sang “Happy Birthday” to Judah Samet, a member of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh who survived a shooting that killed 11 people in October.

President Donald Trump saluted Samet during the State of the Union address. Samet, who also is a Holocaust survivor, celebrated his 81st birthday on Tuesday.

Trump said Samet can still remember the moment nearly 75 years ago when he was put on a train after 10 months in a concentration camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Samet’s family braced for the worst, but then his father cried out with joy, “It’s the Americans.”

Lawmakers jumped to their feet and applauded as Trump told the story, and they spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday” as Samet smiled and waved. Trump told Samet lawmakers “wouldn’t do that for me.”

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10:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s accelerated U.S. negotiations with the Taliban to reach “if possible” a political settlement in Afghanistan.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump said that as progress is made in the negotiations, the U.S. will be able to reduce its troop presence and focus on counterterrorism.

He says U.S. troops have fought with “unmatched valor” and it’s because of them that the U.S. is now able to pursue— “if possible”— a political solution to end the “long and bloody conflict.”

Trump says the Taliban also are very happy to be negotiating because they too want to try for peace and end 17 years of war.

Trump says “the hour has come to at least try for peace.”

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10:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is launching a campaign to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, targeting areas where new infections happen and getting highly effective drugs to people at risk.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials say the campaign would focus on areas where about half of new HIV cases occur. That includes 48 counties, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and seven states with at-risk rural residents.

Anti-AIDS groups are reacting with both skepticism and cautious optimism.

Trump said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday that funding will be in his budget. He did not specify an amount.

There are about 40,000 new cases of HIV infection a year in the U.S. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

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10: 30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the United States stands with the people of Venezuela in their “noble quest for freedom. He condemned “the brutality” of President Nicolas Maduro.

Trump used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to ratchet up pressure on Maduro, saying he has turned the wealthy nation in to a state of poverty. He also said that the U.S. will never be a socialist country.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido (Gwy-DOH) has deemed himself the country’s interim president over Maduro, who banned opponents from running in an election last year that has been condemned internationally as illegitimate.

The U.S. and more than 30 other countries have now recognized Guaido.

Earlier Tuesday, Maduro lashed out at Trump, saying he was obsessed with Venezuela because the U.S. wants steal Venezuelan oil.

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10:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling on lawmakers from both parties to come together “for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure” as he highlights a slew of domestic policy proposals during his State of the Union speech.

Trump typically spends most of his time talking about issues like trade and immigration.

But he says Tuesday night that he’s eager to work with Congress on an infrastructure package — without offering specifics. And he says his “next major priority” will be working to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.

Trump also says his coming budget will ask Democrats and Republicans “to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.”

And he’s calling on Congress to dedicate $500 million over the next 10 years to fund childhood cancer research.

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10:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is denouncing embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in calling for tougher anti-abortion legislation.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump asked Congress to pass legislation to prevent “late-term abortion of children.”

He attacked Northam — not by name, but by title — claiming he would “execute a baby after birth.” Northam in an interview last week defended, in rare occasions, the practice of third-trimester abortions.

Trump received the enthusiastic backing of evangelicals and pro-life advocates during the 2016 elections and aides have said he planned to focus on the issue ahead of his re-election campaign.

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10:20 p.m.

House Democrats are sitting stone faced through much of President Donald Trump’s references to overhauling immigration during his State of the Union address.

Republicans jumped to their feet again and again when Trump said the U.S. needs to crack down on people entering the U.S. illegally.

Mostly, Democrats stayed seated. Some booed when Trump described immigrants on the march to the U.S. Some chuckled when he referred to a “tremendous onslaught” of people coming over the border. Most sat in silence when he said that encouraging illegal immigration was “cruel.”

But Trump did get some applause when he saluted more women serving in Congress. Many of the Democrats who wore white high-fived each other and chanted, “U-S-A!”

Trump said, “That’s great. Very great.”

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10:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is suggesting that a multination arms control agreement could be negotiated to replace the one with Russia he is exiting.

Trump accused Moscow of repeatedly violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles. Russia says it’s pulling out, too.

U.S. officials also worry that China is gaining a significant military advantage in Asia by deploying large numbers of missiles with ranges beyond the treaty’s limit. China is not party to the treaty.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Trump said that perhaps the U.S. could negotiate a “different agreement, adding China and others” or “perhaps we can’t.”

If not, Trump vowed that the U.S. would “outspend” and “out-innovate” all other nations in the development of arms to protect America.

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10 p.m.

A special agent who works to combat human trafficking is among President Donald Trump’s State of the Union guests.

Elvin Hernandez works in the New York office of Homeland Security Investigations. He and his colleagues began targeting a violent pipeline for prostitution through Tenancingo (ten-ahn-SEEN’-go), Mexico, in 2012. The final defendants were sentenced last month to decades in prison.

Trump has pushed the idea that human trafficking is a major reason why he needs $5.7 billion for a border wall, even though most trafficking victims come through ports of entry, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.

In total, Hernandez said during one investigation he and his colleagues brought down more than 80 defendants; rescued more than 150 victims, including 45 minors; and reunified 19 children with their mothers.

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9:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is addressing immigration in his State of the Union speech, saying Republicans and Democrats “must join forces” to confront what he’s calling “an urgent national crisis.”

Trump says Congress “has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and secure our very dangerous southern border” ahead of a February 15 deadline. Critics dispute the level of danger at the border.

But he’s made no reference to the national emergency he’s threatened to declare if Democrats in Congress fail to give in to his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the southern border.

Trump says that lawmakers “have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”

Democrats oppose Trump’s stalled wall as immoral and unnecessary.

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9:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is declaring that the state of the union is “strong.”

The president delivered his annual address to Congress on Tuesday with the now-standard declaration that the nation is prospering.

Trump, whose red tie was oddly askew, declared “our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before.”

He added that “the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations” an apparent swipe at the special counsel probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

He was greeted with cheers from the Republicans in the chamber and chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” filled half the room.

But many Democrats did not cheer, including dozens of female lawmakers who wore white as a tribute to suffragettes.

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9:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump has invited some previously unannounced guests to his State of the Union speech.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin — the second man to walk on the moon — is among those seated in the House chamber for the president’s speech.

Trump is also honoring World War II veterans who participated in D-Day and recounting the “fifteen thousand young American men” who “jumped from the sky and sixty thousand more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny.”

Three D-Day veterans, Pfc. Joseph Reilly, Staff Sgt. Locker and Sgt. Herman Zeitchik, are also attending.

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9:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump will hold a two-day summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam to try to convince him to give up his nuclear weapons program.

The announcement was made in Trump’s prepared remarks the White House released for his Tuesday night State of the Union address.

Trump has said that his outreach to Kim and their first meeting last June in Singapore opened a path to peace. But there is not yet a concrete plan for how denuclearization could be implemented.

U.S. intelligence chiefs believe there is little likelihood Kim will voluntarily give up his nuclear weapons or missiles capable of carrying them. Private analysts reviewing commercial satellite imagery have assessed that the North is still developing nuclear and missile technology despite suspending tests.

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9:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in the House chamber to deliver his State of the Union speech.

Trump, wearing a red tie, was greeted with a round of applause from Republicans as well as some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The chamber is filled with his family members, Cabinet, a handful of Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and their invited guests.

Trump is expected to strike a unifying tone in his remarks, which are expected to touch on subjects including immigration, trade negotiations with China and U.S. troop deployments in the Middle East.

The speech is being delivered a week later than originally scheduled after Pelosi said Trump would not be allowed to speak in front of the House Chamber until the partial government shutdown came to an end.

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8:55 p.m.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is the so-called designated survivor for this year’s State of the Union address.

By tradition, one Cabinet secretary is closeted away at a secure, undisclosed location to ensure continuity of government in case disaster strikes while government leaders attend the speech.

The choice of Perry was confirmed by a White House official, who was not authorized to disclose the person’s identity, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was last year’s designated survivor.

Trump’s choice this year was limited by the number of “acting” secretaries in the Cabinet. Only Senate-confirmed secretaries (and natural-born citizens) in the line of succession to the presidency can assume control of government in a crisis.

–Contributed by Zeke Miller

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8:50 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and dozens of women Democrats are wearing white to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

As Pelosi climbed the dais, they gathered in the aisle of the Democratic side of the House, raising their voices and hands as other members raised their cell phones and recorded the moment. Most women on that side of the House chamber were wearing the color favored by suffragettes and the president’s opponents who want him to see them from the dais.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white caped blazer. A man wore white, too: Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota.

The palpable excitement comes after the November elections sent a record number of women, most of them Democrats, to Congress.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump on tariffs

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By JOSH BOAK

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at one of President Donald Trump’s statements from his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and how it compares with the facts:

TRUMP: “We recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our treasury is receiving billions of dollars.”

THE FACTS: This is misleading. Yes, money from tariffs is going into the federal treasury, but it’s largely coming from U.S. businesses and consumers. It’s not foreign countries that are paying these import taxes by cutting a check to the government.

His reference to money coming into the treasury “now” belies the fact that tariffs go back to the founding of the country. This revenue did not start with his increased tariffs on some goods from China.

Tariffs did produce $41.3 billion in tax revenues in the last budget year, according to the Treasury Department. But that is a small fraction of a federal budget that exceeds $4.1 trillion.

The tariffs paid by U.S. companies also tend to result in higher prices for consumers, which is what happened for washing machines after the Trump administration imposed import taxes.