President Donald Trump on Monday said the United States’ new approach to the war in Afghanistan does not amount to “nation-building,” but rather “killing terrorists.” He said U.S. support for Afghanistan is “not a blank check,” and acknowledged his recent skepticism of increased involvement in the Middle Eastern nation. “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said during a primetime address at Fort Myer outside Washington. “So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every angle.” Trump said pulling out of the country would create a “vacuum” similar to one that was created in Iraq, when American gains there “flipped back into the hands” of terrorists, namely ISIS. “We cannot repeat the mistake in Afghanistan that our leaders made in Iraq,” Trump said, adding future decisions on troop levels will be based on conditions, rather than time. He also urged Pakistan, a neighbor of Afghanistan, to work with the U.S. rather than “harbor criminals and terrorists.”
President Trump got an earful about his newly announced Afghanistan strategy on Monday night from none other than right-wing news site Breitbart, where ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has returned to “crush the opposition.” Just minutes after Trump wrapped up his speech announcing a decision to extend U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, the site’s homepage was emblazoned with headlines critical of the president’s “flip-flop” that “reverses course” from his previously stated policy. Another headline appeared to take a subtle dig at the president with a zinger involving National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, with whom Bannon reportedly butted heads: “His McMaster’s voice: Is Trump’s Afghanistan policy different from Obama?” All eyes have been on Breitbart’s coverage of the president since Bannon returned to the helm on Friday following his departure from the White House. Upon returning, Bannon vowed to “crush the opposition” with his “weapons” at the news site, saying he’d “go to war” for the agenda that won Trump the presidency.
Louise Linton, the wife of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, belittled an Instagram critic as “adorably out of touch” on Monday night in response to criticism of her lavish lifestyle. Linton had posted a photograph of herself getting off a U.S. military jet accompanied by hashtags for luxury items and brands, including #hermesscarf, #tomford, and #valentino. The post was met with scorn by some social media users, with one Oregon woman writing, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #Deplorable.” Linton responded with a tirade in which she told the woman, “Your life looks cute” and urged her to “Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones.” Linton set her page to private after the outburst, but not before screenshots of her comments were picked up by The New York Times and other outlets. “Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she wrote. “Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”
A 24-year-old mother of three has accused R. Kelly of paying her for years to keep an alleged underage sexual relationship between the two secret. Jerhonda Pace says she met the star at his 2008 child pornography trial when she was 15 years old and known by her maiden name, Jerhonda Johnson, BuzzFeed reports. The two then began a sexual relationship when she was 16, she says, and Kelly allegedly became controlling and abusive. The accuser says Kelly was aware she was underage and urged her to lie and tell people she was older if anyone asked, according to the report. After ongoing sexual relations with the singer, she said, she broke things off in 2010 after things got violent. “I was slapped and I was choked and I was spit on,” she told BuzzFeed. She said she is speaking out for the first time and violating a signed nondisclosure agreement because of her fears for women now living with Kelly, including a friend she introduced to Kelly as a teen and who allegedly still lives with the singer. “I know speaking out against Kelly, Kelly could sue me. But I’m really not worried about it anymore,” she told BuzzFeed.
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A U.S. Navy official said Monday that the USS John S. McCain suffered a steering malfunction prior to its crash near Singapore on Sunday, CNN reports. The official said it was not yet clear why the warship’s backup steering systems weren’t utilized to regain control before it ran into a merchant vessel. The latest detail came as search and rescue operations were ongoing for 10 sailors who went missing in the crash. Five other service members were injured in the accident. The collision of the guided-missile destroyer marks the fourth accident involving a U.S. warship in recent months. The U.S. Navy has ordered an investigation into the collision and its entire Pacific fleet as a result of the crash, as well as a one-day “operational pause” to take place at the discretion of commanders over the next few weeks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Monday that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will be able to walk again but will have to “re-learn how to do it,” as he continues to recover from gunshot wounds he received in June at the GOP congressional baseball practice. “He’ll be okay, but he’s in a rehab hospital now, out of the intensive car unit,” Ryan said at a CNN town hall in Wisconsin. “He’s just got a long road ahead of him, but he’s going to be okay.” Ryan said Scalise joined the House Republican conference call earlier on Monday and was in good spirits. Scalise was shot in the hip and underwent multiple surgeries after a gunman targeted the baseball practice because the members of Congress were Republicans.
A 25-year-old man faces federal charges after allegedly attempting to blow up the Dick Dowling Confederate monument in downtown Houston. Andrew Schneck was taken into custody Saturday after being spotted carrying boxes full of duct tape, wires, potentially explosive white powder, and a liquid later determined to be nitroglycerin. Asked point-blank by a park ranger if he intended to “harm” the statue, Schneck reportedly replied in the affirmative, adding that he did “like that guy.” Per the criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Schneck faces a charge of attempting to maliciously damage property receiving federal financial assistance.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday said he would not support a censure—or formal rebuke—of President Trump for his comments on the Charlottesville violence. Speaking at a CNN town hall, Ryan said a censure would amount to a “counterproductive... partisan hack-fest” that does not foster unity. Ryan condemned Trump for his “morally ambiguous” comments which seemed to equate white supremacist-fueled deadly violence with counter-protesters, adding that the president “messed up.”
Nearly a dozen Cleveland Browns players knelt and huddled together during the national anthem before Monday evening’s preseason game against the New York Giants. According to Cleveland.com, players Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Jabrill Peppers, Christian Kirksey, Seth DeValve, Jamie Collins, Kenny Britt, Ricardo Louis and Jamar Taylor were the players who knelt near the bench. Additionally, the outlet reported, DeShone Kizer, Shon Coleman, Britton Colquitt and Jason McCourty stood by the protesting group. The Browns organization released a statement declaring the pre-game national anthem a “great tradition,” while adding that they “respect the personal liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.”