The Latest: Trump welcomes governors to the White House

The Latest: Trump welcomes governors to the White House

February 26th, 2017 by Associated Press in National Political

President Donald Trump shakes hands with National Governors Association Chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, during a dinner reception for the annual National Governors Association winter meeting Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest news on President Donald Trump (all times local):

8 p.m.

President Donald Trump is toasting the nation's governors at the White House, joking with them "it's such an easy job."

Trump is welcoming 46 governors and their spouses for the annual black-tie ball at the White House. It's the first major social event under the Trump administration.

The president will be meeting with the governors on Monday at the White House. He says "perhaps health care will come up," a nod to the effort in Congress to repeal and replace the sweeping health care law approved under former President Barack Obama.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and the chairman of the National Governors Association, led the governors in a toast of Trump.

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7 p.m.

President Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of the Navy, businessman Philip Bilden, says he is withdrawing from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests.

Bilden's withdrawal raises similar issues to that of Vincent Viola, Trump's nominee for Army secretary who stepped aside earlier this month.

Bilden was an intelligence officer in the Army Reserve from 1986-1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners LLC, a global private equity management firm. Bilden recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.

In a statement released by the Pentagon, Bilden says he determined that he will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without what he calls "undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family's private financial interests."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says in a statement that he will make a recommendation to Trump for a nominee in the coming days.

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12:30 p.m.

The White House is dodging questions about whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions should consider withdrawing from the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A prominent Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, has called for a special prosecutor and said it would be improper for Sessions to lead the investigation as the nation's chief law enforcement official. Sessions was an early supporter of President Donald Trump's candidacy.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is steering clear of directly answering whether the former Alabama senator should step aside from overseeing the bureau's investigation.

She tells ABC's "This Week" that congressional committees need to complete their own investigations, and then it would be appropriate to discuss Sessions' role.

But those are separate reviews, independent of the FBI's work.

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12:15 p.m.

The White House says that when President Donald Trump skips the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, expect him to spend that Saturday night in April "focused on what he can to do to help better America."

The dinner attracts politicians, journalists and celebrities and is typically attended by the president, who's often roasted.

Trump isn't saying why he won't be there. He has railed against "the fake news media," saying it is "the enemy of the American people."

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says it's "kind of naive of us to think that we can all walk into a room for a couple of hours and pretend that some of that tension isn't there."

She tells ABC's "This Week" that Trump wasn't elected "to spend his time with reporters and celebrities."


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