White House snaps at critics

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White House defends Trump’s gesture

The White House has released rare archival photographs in a bid to defuse a social media controversy that engulfed President Donald Trump following his visit to meet victims and their families in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings.

Mr Trump was criticised for giving a “thumbs-up” sign (below, right) when photographed with family members including the orphaned baby of a  husband and wife who died at El Paso.trump-thumbs-detail.jpg

“People shouldn’t read anything into the gesture the President made when the photo was taken,” a White House spokesperson said. “It was not meant to be disrespectful in any way. Period.”

To underline the claim the White House released a number of old photographs from Mr Trump’s personal collection including one never-before-published photo (main picture) showing a young Donald Trump on board Air Force One in November 1963 following the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

“The President’s gesture is just his natural response to moments of deep grief and human tragedy,” the spokesperson said.

“In fact he is the most compassionate and empathetic person in the world. Ever.”

Dutton clarifies directive

The office of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has issued a follow-up directive to one sent to the Australian Federal Police on how he expects it to handle investigations of information leaked to the media.

Last week Mr Dutton sent a written directive to the AFP saying: “I expect the AFP to take into account the importance of a free and open press in Australia’s democratic society and to consider broader public interest implications before undertaking investigative action involving a professional journalist or news media organisation in relation to an unauthorised disclosure.”

A spokesperson for the minister said a shorter follow-up directive had now been sent to the AFP explaining some of the wording in the original.

“We have just clarified the use of the word ‘unathorised’ to make sure the AFP doesn’t start any probe into the top-secret stuff the government dished out to News Corp papers to attack the Labor Party and scare the shit out of voters before the May election,” he said.

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Biden chases female vote

US political observers say former US vice-president Joe Biden has been subtly changing tactics in his campaign to grab the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for the 2020 election.

“The changes to his campaign follow the strong performance of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in the recent CNN debates for Democratic candidates,” one Washington insider said.

“It’s clear to Biden’s team that voters are warming to a female candidate, especially one that isn’t named Hillary Clinton.

“Biden himself has had some problems appealing to women voters, especially younger women, and we all know his problems with allegations of his ‘touchy feely’ personal style haven’t helped.

“So it’s no surprise that he would adjust his campaign to overcome these hurdles. But it’s the length to which he has gone that’s surprising.

“Nobody really expected him to go as far as actually dressing as a woman and insisting on being called Jo Biden (pictured) while claiming to have been America’s first female vice-president.

“It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out for him in the coming campaign,” the insider said.