President Trump met with former Colombian Presidents Alvaro Uribe and Andres Pastrana at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, an undisclosed meeting that Colombian media says was arranged by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio, Uribe, and Pastrana are all prominent critics of the peace deal Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos negotiated with the FARC guerrilla group. Next month, Santos is meeting with Trump in Washington, and he will urge Trump to support the peace deal, which won Santos the Nobel Peace Prize, by maintaining the $450 million in foreign aid that former President Barack Obama pledged to implement the agreement, McClatchy reports.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to confirm that the meeting had taken place. On Thursday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told McClatchy that Trump had "briefly said hello when the presidents walked past them," saying the two presidents happened to be visiting Trump's private club with an unidentified member. "There wasn't anything beyond a quick hello," she said.
On Twitter, meanwhile, Pastrana thanked Trump for the "cordial and very frank conversation about problems and perspectives in Colombia and the region," and Uribe ally and former vice president Francisco Santos told McClatchy that the former presidents had raised concerns with Trump about the turmoil in Colombia and Venezuela, and the FARC peace deal, in a short but direct meeting.
Colombian analysts focused on the damage to the peace process if Trump pulled funding or publicly opposed the peace plan, while in the U.S. observers were more concerned about the ease with which well-connected foreign leaders can meet with the president to press their case, without any public record. Mar-a-Lago's membership rolls are not public, the media is kept at arm's length when Trump is down there, and the club has no visitor log. You can read more about the meeting and the Colombian politics at The Miami Herald. Peter Weber
Police were called around 11:15 a.m. with reports of multiple shots fired. The church's Sunday morning service began at 10 a.m.
The shooting victims have been transported to a nearby hospital, and Fox News reports one person has been taken into police custody. The identity and motives of the shooter are so far unknown.
This is a breaking story that will be updated as more details become available. Bonnie Kristian
Oakland A's catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to join NFL players like Colin Kaepernick by kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Maxwell took a knee before his team's Saturday evening game against the Texas Rangers.
"My decision has been coming for a long time," he explained after the game. "I finally got to the point where I thought the inequality of man is being discussed, and it's being practiced from our president."
"The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military; it's not to disrespect our Constitution; it's not to disrespect this country," Maxwell continued. "My hand over my heart symbolizes the fact that I am and I'll forever be an American citizen, and I'm more than grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention because I'm kneeling for the people that don't have a voice."
Maxwell acted in response to President Trump's weekend attacks on Kaepernick and and other athletes who kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?'" Trump asked a rally crowd Friday. Since Trump's initial comments, pro athletes, coaches, and owners have united in opposition to his remarks. Bonnie Kristian
Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens players in London for a game Sunday locked arms and took a knee during the U.S. national anthem in solidarity with athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have come under attack by President Trump this weekend. The teams' coaches and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan joined the gesture of defiance of Trump's critique of Kaepernick's stand against police brutality and racial injustice in America.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 24, 2017
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti also issued a statement endorsing the athletes' right to protest on the field. "We respect [our players'] demonstration and support them 100 percent," he said. "All voices need to be heard. That's democracy in its highest form."
Meanwhile, Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, announced Sunday that his team would not "participate in the anthem" in the afternoon game against the Chicago Bears. The Steelers have decided to stay in the locker room during the anthem, Tomlin said, so players aren't "forced to choose sides."
Rex Ryan, former coach of the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, expressed dismay at Trump's comments while speaking on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown. "I supported Donald Trump," Ryan said. "But I'm reading these comments and it's appalling to me, and I'm sure it's appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be."
During an appearance on ABC's This Week Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed President Trump's weekend attacks on pro athletes like Colin Kaepernick who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
Mnuchin argued free speech is not at issue because the NFL is a private organization which can set its own rules, eluding the question of how criticism from Trump, a government official, affects that equation. "This isn't about Democrats. It's not about Republicans. It's not about race; it's not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time," Mnuchin said. "This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country."
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 24, 2017
The treasury secretary maintained Trump simply wants the NFL to require all athletes to stand during the national anthem, a specification Trump did not make when he tweeted that kneeling protests "should not be allowed."
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 24, 2017
"The NFL has all different types of rules. You can't have stickers on your helmet; you have to have your jersey tucked in," Mnuchin said. "I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem." Bonnie Kristian
Germans head to the polls Sunday in a vote anticipated to give Chancellor Angela Merkel her fourth term in office. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is predicted to take about 34 percent of Bundestag seats with which it will form a coalition government with Merkel again at the head.
"There are a lot of problems in other countries, think Donald Trump or Brexit," one Berlin voter told NBC News. "With Merkel there is a sense that there is no great problem that she couldn't overcome, and that she's a politician you can trust."
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) September 24, 2017
The growth of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — which campaigned on a populist, anti-immigration message and could well become the Bundestag's third-largest party out of six represented — has raised alarm among many Germans concerned about extremism. Turnout is expected to be high. Bonnie Kristian
The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday reported an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a potential dam failure threatening a region with 70,000 residents already grappling with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But the damaged dam continued to hold as of Sunday morning, and evacuees began to return to their homes.
While the dam on Lake Guajataca remains compromised and a flash flood warning is in effect through Sunday afternoon, this is welcome respite for Puerto Ricans facing "apocalyptic" post-hurricane conditions. Aid is beginning to arrive to the island territory, where most Puerto Ricans remain without power and 95 percent of cell phone service sites are down.
President Trump again referred to Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" in a tweet Saturday night, the third iteration of the president's favorite new insult in his war of words with the North Korean leader:
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
On Thursday and Friday, Kim and Trump labeled each other a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and "madman," respectively. Trump previously used "Rocket Man" during his United Nations speech Tuesday and at an Alabama campaign rally Friday.
The Saturday tweet came several hours after a group of U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew well north of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, staying over international waters but making a clear show of force toward Pyongyang. The Pentagon characterized the flight as a demonstration "that the president has many military options to defeat any threat."