Trump says arming teachers could prevent school massacres

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US President Donald Trump takes part in a “listening session” on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. (AFP / Mandel Ngan)
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Andrew Pollack (C), flanked by his sons, speaks during “listening session” on gun violence with US President Donald Trump, teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. (AFP / MANDEL NGAN)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Trump says arming teachers could prevent school massacres

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday that arming teachers could help prevent massacres such as last week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school.
Trump voiced support for the idea during an emotional White House meeting with students who survived the shooting and a parent whose child did not.
“If you had a teacher ... who was adept at firearms, it could very well end the attack very quickly,” said Trump, who acknowledged the idea would be controversial.
He sat in the middle of a semi-circle in the State Dining Room of the White House, listening intently as students wept and pleaded for change. He vowed to take steps to improve background checks for gun buyers.
The meeting included six students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and educators were slain on Feb. 14 by a gunman with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a US public school.
“I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR,” said Sam Zeif, 18, sobbing after he described texting his family members during the Florida shooting.
“Let’s never let this happen again please, please,” Zeif said.
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow Pollack, 18, was killed, shouted: “It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. And I’m pissed — because my daughter — I’m not going to see again.”
Trump said his administration would emphasize background checks and mental health in an effort to make schools safer.
“We’re going to be very strong on background checks, we’re doing very strong background checks, very strong emphasis on the mental health,” Trump said.
“It’s not going to be talk like it has been in the past,” Trump said.
Trump’s support for any tightening of gun laws would mark a change for the Republican, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association gun rights group during the 2016 presidential campaign.


Accused Russian agent Butina poised to plead guilty -US court papers

In this April 21, 2013, file photo, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia. (AP)
Updated 34 min 38 sec ago
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Accused Russian agent Butina poised to plead guilty -US court papers

  • In a Dec. 8, 2016, class project at American University, she gave a presentation titled “What Might President Trump’s Foreign Policy Be Toward Russia?” and listed several of Russia’s policy objectives

WASHINGTON: Accused Russian agent Maria Butina, suspected of trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and influence US policy toward Russia, is expected to plead guilty this week following a deal between her lawyers and US prosecutors, according to court filings on Monday.
Exactly how the deal will be structured for Butina was not immediately clear. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington scheduled a hearing for Wednesday.
CNN reported on Monday that Butina had already begun to cooperate with prosecutors, citing one source familiar with the matter. A representative for the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case.
ABC News first reported that Butina would cooperate with prosecutors.
Butina, a former American University graduate student, had previously pleaded not guilty to US charges in July that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiring to take actions on Russia’s behalf.
Prosecutors have accused her of working with a Russian official and two US citizens to try to infiltrate the powerful NRA lobby group that has close ties to Republican politicians including President Donald Trump, and influence Washington’s policy toward Moscow.
Butina’s lawyers previously identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who was hit with US Treasury Department sanctions in April.
One of the two Americans mentioned in the prosecutors’ criminal complaint was Paul Erickson, a conservative US political activist who was dating Butina. Neither Erickson nor Torshin has been accused by prosecutors of wrongdoing.
Butina’s cooperation will mainly focus on telling investigators about the role of Erickson and her interactions with Russian officials, CNN reported.
The case against Butina is being prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office in Washington and the National Security Division, and not US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election and any coordination between Moscow and Trump campaign members.
The government’s complaint against Butina did not explicitly mention Trump’s campaign. Trump has denied any collusion with Moscow occurred.
Reuters previously reported, however, that Butina was a Trump supporter who bragged at parties in Washington that she could use her political connections to help get people jobs in the Trump administration.
In a Dec. 8, 2016, class project at American University, she gave a presentation titled “What Might President Trump’s Foreign Policy Be Toward Russia?” and listed several of Russia’s policy objectives, according to a copy reviewed by Reuters.
Whether she could help shed any light on contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia is not known.
Moreover, the prosecutors in her case have previously made mistakes, including erroneously accusing Butina of offering sex in exchange for a position in a special interest group. The errors could possibly have helped give Butina more leverage in reaching a plea deal.