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Trump notches 185th day at a golf course during presidency — and White House announces he’ll travel to Florida

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Donald Trump on Saturday underlined his push for a return to normal life in the US by making his first visit to a golf course in two months and confirming he would attend a space launch next week.

Trump took a 35-minute drive from the White House to the Trump National club in Sterling, Virginia, in his first visit to a golf property since March 8.

It was not confirmed whether the president would play golf, but he was a regular weekend player before the coronavirus lockdown.

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White House coronavirus advisor Deborah Birx on Friday said that sports such as golf could be played safely if social distancing was in place and players didn’t touch flags.

But she also warned that Washington and Virginia had high positive test rates as the United States started its Memorial Day long weekend.

Trump, keen to find a way out of the coronavirus crisis and facing an uphill re-election battle, has ramped up pressure on state and local governments to ease lockdown measures.

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On Friday he demanded state governors classify churches, synagogues and mosques as “essential services” on the same level as food and drug stores, and immediately allow them to hold services.

The pandemic has hammered the American economy and led to a fierce debate over virus restrictions, even as COVID-19 numbers continue rising in parts of the United States — the worst-hit country in the world, with 1.6 million infections and more than 96,000 deaths.

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Florida space launch

The White House on Saturday confirmed the president would also attend the May 27 launch in Florida of two astronauts on a SpaceX mission — the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years.

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“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said in a statement.

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 pm (2033 GMT) on Wednesday for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.

The mission is seen as a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.

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Asked about going ahead with the mission in the midst of the pandemic, Behnken told reporters: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Behnken and Hurley have been in strict quarantine since May 13, but they said their actual isolation began as far back as mid-March.

Hurley said he and Behnken have been tested twice for COVID-19.

American astronauts have been flying to the ISS, which currently houses two Russians and one American, on Russian rockets since the US space shuttle program was shelved in 2011.

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A successful SpaceX mission would mean the United States had achieved its goal of no longer having to buy seats on Russian Soyuz rockets.

However, the Wednesday launch plan could be hit by bad weather, with a 60 percent chance of a postponement, according to official forecasts.

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With additional reporting from Raw Story.


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Ex-State Dept IG told 3 Pompeo aides he was investigating their boss before he was fired: report

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On Wednesday, NBC News' Josh Lederman reported that fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick told Congress he had notified three top aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he had opened an investigation into the secretary and his wife, centering on their use of government resources — prior to being ousted.

This testimony is at odds with Pompeo's claim that he had no idea Linick was investigating that issue — as it suggests that several people in his inner circle did know about it.

BREAKING: 2 US lawmakers tell @NBCNews that fired Inspector General Steve Linick told Congress today that before he was ousted, he’d informed at least three top Pompeo aides that he was reviewing Pompeo and his wife’s use of government resources

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Rachel Maddow shows increase in cases of COVID-19 in states where the GOP wants to move its convention

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The Republican Party is determined to have a massive GOP convention where they can have hundreds of its members, delegates and elected officials celebrate President Donald Trump. The only problem is that the coronavirus is still going strong. North Carolina's governor finally had to make a decision and tell the GOP that it was too dangerous to have that many people fly into their state while they're still trying to get the virus under control.

So, mere months before their convention, the Republican Party was forced to look for another location. As MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained, however, their options aren't great. While New York has managed to flatten their curve and significantly reduce their cases of COVID-19, other states haven't been able to do the same.

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GOP state senator: Removing Confederate statues is about ‘erasing the history of the white people’

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On Wednesday, as the George Floyd protests continued to rage, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced that a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in the state capital of Richmond would be taken down.

But GOP state Sen. Amanda Chase wasn't pleased with the move. In a live broadcast on Facebook, Chase, who plans to run for governor in 2021, blasted the decision, and suggested that it was an attack on white people.

"It disturbs me whenever I see people — let's be honest, there is an overt effort here to erase all white history," she said. "That's what they're looking at doing. Listen, our grandfathers were guilty of slavery, and that is wrong ... but that wasn't all that Lee and others were known for. They did other things. You know, there is not one human being who has not committed a sin."

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