Donald Trump

Associated Press

President Trump announced that the United States will be pulling troops from Syria and plans to impose sanctions on Turkey this week in response to the nation's military actions against neighboring Syria.

On this segment of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by University of Northern Iowa Assistant Professor Evan Renfro, to examine what lead to this conflict and offers analysis on the United States' responses.

Cayobo / Flickr

House Democrats passed gun background legislation in February and are expected to vote on more bills next week when members of Congress return to Washington after a six-week recess.

On this "Politics Day" edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Cary Covington and Jeff Taylor about President Trump's response to Hurricane Dorian and changes to the democratic caucus as well as other top political headlines of the week. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon have an acting leader, after the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. One of Iowa’s U.S. senators is concerned about turnover in the department. Homeland Security will join a number of agencies with temporary directors.

Amy Mayer / IPR file

Iowa’s U.S. Senators say the public deserves to see special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. It’s up to U.S. Attorney General William Barr whether to release documents from the investigation into coordination and conspiracy between the associates of President Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

Shawn Clover via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnclover/

As the partial federal government shutdown continues, some sites and services across Iowa are scaling back operations.

Gage Skidmore via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/17649805888/

Iowa’s senior U.S. senator says he’s not troubled by turnover at a top job in the White House. A leading pick to be President Donald Trump’s next chief of staff has turned down the position. That’s after Trump announced John Kelly is leaving the post. 

Kate Payne / IPR

Iowa’s sole Democrat in Congress is hoping to keep his seat in the southeast corner of the state. The 2nd Congressional District is thought to be reliably blue. And some progressives want Dave Loebsack to move further to the left. But after Donald Trump carried the district in 2016, he’s not taking anything for granted.

chuck grassley
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday President Trump’s announcement of a preliminary trade deal with Mexico and details for $12 billion in farmer aid shows he is “keeping his promises to rural America.”

Grassley said Iowa farmers have been feeling a lot of uncertainty as commodity prices drop and Trump’s trade war continues. But he says the preliminary trade deal with Mexico is encouraging, even though he doesn’t know the details yet.

Grassley was asked if there is any risk to announcing a deal with Mexico before Canada has agreed to anything.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Eric Branstad, who directed President Trump’s Iowa campaign in 2016, says he is in discussions with the president about how to win Iowa again when Trump runs for re-election in 2020.   

Branstad, the son of former Governor Terry Branstad, led the president to a nine-point victory in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.   

Speaking at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, he left little doubt he’d like to direct the Iowa campaign again.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Grain, livestock and dairy farmers from around the state expressed support for President Trump’s trade policies at a roundtable discussion in Des Moines sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa.   

The president’s tariffs against China and other countries have pushed prices down for some Iowa commodities.   But the farmers say they’re optimistic the tariffs will result in fairer trade practices in the future.   

Hog farmer Doug Reimer from Guttenberg says his operation has been “hit somewhat.”

Kate Payne / IPR

President Donald Trump touted a recent trade deal with European Union leaders at a stop in Iowa Thursday. He visited Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta with an official mission to hold a discussion on workforce development. But the status of the president’s international trade disputes and political flashpoints from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prescription drug prices steered much of the conversation away from economic development policy.

Don Graham / Flickr under Creative Commons

While farmers and those who represent farm-state interests may be grateful for $12 billion in aid to offset the loss of exports in an escalating trade war with China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico, many say they would prefer stable markets to government aid.

Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley issued a statement Tuesday saying he doesn't fault the President for trying to get a better deal for Americans.

Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he is satisfied with President Donald Trump’s explanation for his controversial remarks in Finland this week that caused an outpouring of criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.  

At a news conference on Monday, Trump concurred with President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.   That contradicted Trump’s own intelligence agencies conclusions that Russian agents were behind U.S.  cybersecurity violations.

On Tuesday, Trump walked back his comments and said he misspoke. 

Iowa Public Radio

Some Iowa Republicans Monday issued statements critical of President Donald Trump for his remarks in Finland following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

In a joint news conference, the president appeared to accept Putin’s denial of involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, even though the U.S. Justice Department has indicted Russians in a cybersecurity scheme.

"I have great confidence in my intelligence people," Trump said. "But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. 

Kristofor Husted / file: Harvest Public Media

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union Address Tuesday and the nation’s roads, bridges, rails and rivers will be on many people’s minds in the Midwest.

Trump has said he’s committed to improving the country’s infrastructure and now Mike Steenhoek, director of the Soy Transportation Coalition in Ankeny, wants to hear some specifics. Steenhoek says it’s an issue that cuts across many industries and speaks to people in all corners of the country.

courtesy Iowans for Sam Clovis

Updated Nov. 2--U.S. Department of Agriculture nominee Sam Clovis of Iowa withdrew from consideration to be the agency's top scientist amid questions about his connection to the Russia probe. 

Clovis sent a letter to President Trump asking for his name to be withdrawn. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds had phone conversations today with both President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about a controversial proposal to scale back the Renewable Fuel Standard, reducing the mandate for Iowa-grown biofuels.    

Iowa politicians are putting a full-court press on the Trump administration, after the EPA proposed  reducing the volume of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol blended into gasoline.   

Reynolds called her conversation with the president “constructive and productive.”  

Evan Nesterak

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wenfang Tang, Stanley Hua Hsia Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Iowa about China's ability to influence the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea. Then, Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University discusses the political fallout from President Trump's contradictory statements about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Alex Hanson/flickr

President Trump today nominated former Morningside College professor  and Sioux City radio talk show host Sam Clovis to the top science position at the United States Department of Agriculture.     

Appointees to Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics have traditionally held advanced degrees in science or medicine.   

Clovis holds an undergraduate degree in political science, an MBA, and a doctorate in public administration.    

He was an advisor to President Trump’s Iowa campaign, and has been an advisor at the USDA since January.        

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds says she is not concerned about support for wind energy from the new Trump administration,  in spite of the president’s remarks in Cedar Rapids last week.  

In comments at the U.S. Cellular Center, Trump implied that wind energy is not reliable and endangers wildlife, sparking concern from industry backers.

But Reynolds said she’s not worried that the Trump administration will pull back on federal support

trump
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

President Donald Trump held a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids Wednesday night. Around 6,000 people were there to see his first visit to Iowa as president.

President Trump celebrated recent Republican wins in special congressional elections, touted his accomplishments as president, and criticized Democrats and the media.

"While we are here tonight to celebrate the amazing progress that we’ve already made—and we have made amazing progress—we’re also here to lay out the next steps in our incredible movement to make America great again," Trump said.

iprimages

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the FBI for copies of memos that may exist documenting conversations former director James Comey had with his superiors in the Trump administration.   

That follows reports suggesting the president may have tried to influence an FBI probe.

The New York Times reports that Comey created memos regarding his interactions with the president, documenting what he perceived as improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation.    

Former FBI Director James Comey's offical FBI portrait.
Federal Bureau of Investigation

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t decided if he’ll invite former FBI Director James Comey to testify before the senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley heads.

News reports say the former FBI director is interested in testifying before Congress, where questions about his sudden and controversial firing will likely be asked.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

While President Trump has been touting the accomplishments of the first 90 days of his administration, two Iowa political scientists say the celebration may be premature. Hans Hassell is assistant professor of politics at Cornell College and Rachel Caufield is associate professor of political science at Drake University. Both say most action taken by Trump is in the form of executive orders.

Branstad Supports Trump Travel Ban

Jan 30, 2017
tani.P/flickr

Iowa's top elected officials are reacting to President Trump's executive order that restricts travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries and puts refugee programs on hold.

Governor Terry Branstad supports the ban.   

At his weekly news conference, he said he is not going to second guess how the policy is being implemented.

Join Iowa Public Radio as NPR reporters fact check President-Elect Trump's Press Conference. This page will update as his speech is transcribed and reporters complete their fact-checking.

Live updates begin at 10 am Central Time.

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John Pemble / IPR File Photo

As Governor Branstad awaits confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to China, he is declining to comment on some controversial actions by his new boss, President-elect Donald Trump.  

China’s foreign ministry lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. after Trump took a phone call from Taiwan’s president congratulating him on his election.  

At a statehouse forum this week, Branstad was asked if the president-elect’s action would make his job more difficult.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad is expressing confidence that the new Donald Trump administration will be pro-ethanol, in spite of his recent pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Nominee Scott Pruitt is Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma.  

Pruitt has argued against the Renewable Fuel Standard in proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court.   The RFS mandates ethanol blends in the nation’s fuel supply.

Branstad says Pruitt is a brilliant conservative lawyer.

Joyce Russell/IPR

More than 4,000 people turned out in Des Moines last night to see President-elect Donald Trump on his first return to the state since the November election. 

Des Moines was one stop on his "thank you" tour of states that helped him win.  

Trump introduced Governor Branstad as his choice for U.S. Ambassador to China. 

Trump was in town just one day after news of Branstad’s appointment was confirmed.

“I am honored to welcome to the stage the next Ambassador to China, your governor Terry Branstad,” Trump said.   “He’s going to do so great.”

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Just a day after Governor Branstad met with President-Elect Donald Trump the news is now official.   Branstad has accepted an invitation to become U.S. Ambassador to China.  

Officials from both parties are weighing in.     Now the speculation begins on the political ramifications of Branstad leaving office.  

A spokesman for the Trump transition team  said it’s Branstad’s experience in public policy, trade, and agriculture that won him  the job.

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