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Royal wedding: Trump not invited, Obamas not going either, report says

Cancel that shipment of monogrammed “Harry & Meghan” towels from the White House.

CNN is reporting that President Donald Trump is not invited to the royal wedding on May 19 in Windsor, England.

>> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle seek charity donations over wedding gifts

Former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle won’t be there either, despite having a close and apparently fun-loving relationship with groom-to-be Prince Harry in particular. Though it’s not clear if the Obamas were invited and just have something else to do that day (though seriously, what could be more important than watching the current fifth-in-line to the throne say “I do” to former “Suits” actress and American Meghan Markle)?

>> On MyAJC.com: Who’s who in American Meghan Markle’s family

Apparently, the lack of invite is nothing personal where the current president and first lady Melania Trump are concerned. A White House official told CNN that no elected U.S. officials were invited to the nuptials at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

>> Hospital begins preparations for Will, Kate and new baby

In fact, a spokesman for Kensington Palace (where Harry and Meghan live, along with their neighbors, Prince William and Kate and their kids) told CNN that “world leaders and political figures would not be invited in their official capacities."

“It has been decided that an official list of political leaders — both UK and international — is not required for Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding,” the palace told CNN.

>> Read more trending news 

Hmm … Technically, the Obamas no longer have “official capacities” as political figures, so maybe they did make the cut?

“The royal source would not say whether they had been invited,” CNN said.

Tom Bossert resigns as Trump's homeland security adviser

President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser Tom Bossert has resigned, White House officials confirmed Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

Florida voters getting ‘Rick rolled’ by group opposed to Rick Scott

Rick Scott announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate on Monday, and a group opposing the Florida governor’s candidacy was ready. 

>> Read more trending news

Florida voters are getting Rick rolled.

The League of Conservation Voters set up a Twitter account, @RickRollRickSct, to keep in check “A sham environmentalist trying to deceive Florida voters.” 

The group resurfaced a classic internet prank, revisiting the 1987 Rick Astley music video of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The LCV created GIFs of Astley dancing, but superimposed Scott’s head on the British singer with the title “Never Gonna Give Up,” and adding subtitles such as “On Fossil Fuels,” “On Conspiracy Theories,” and “On Offshore Drilling.”

For those unfamiliar with the “Rick roll” prank, it went like this: An email or comment in a chat room would contain a hyperlink that would be be teased with a tantalizing comment. Clicking the link would redirect the viewer to Astley’s music video of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The opening snare drum riff of Astley’s dance number was the tip-off that the user had been deceived, and so were the audible groans of computer users tricked into clicking the link.

In a post on Medium, the LCV said Scott was guilty of “attempting to deceive Floridians about his record on offshore drilling, climate change, and protecting the beaches and other special places that drive Florida's tourism economy.”

Although the group is officially nonpartisan, it supports Democratic candidates, The Tampa Bay Times reported. In 2012, the LCV gave Sen. Bill Nelson — who Scott will try to unseat in the 2018 election — $18,419, according to OpenSecrets.

The LCV stresses on @RickRollRickSct that it paid for the Twitter account, and it was not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

But the group said it wanted to let voters what’s been going on, and as Astley once sang, “We know the game and we’re gonna play it.”

Trump vowing to ‘forcefully’ respond to chemical attack in Syria: 5 things to know

Update Apr 9, 2018 7:30 PM EDT: President Donald Trump is vowing to “forcefully” respond to the chemical attack in Syria that left at least 40 people dead.

“It will be met and it will be met forcefully,” Trump said.

“We are getting clarity on that, on who was responsible, Trump said at a press availability at the White House late Monday afternoon ahead of a meeting with his military leaders.

“We have a lot of options militarily,” the president said.

(Previous story)

A missile strike on a Syrian air base left at least 14 dead Monday, just days after a suspected chemical attack on Douma, a rebel-held town, killed at least 40 people.

>> What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

Here's what we know so far:

1. President Donald Trump has not ruled out the possibility of U.S. military action in response to Saturday’s suspected chemical attack.

Trump said Monday that that he will decide how to respond within the next "24 to 48 hours.”

“Nothing is off the table,” he said. “We’re talking about humanity, and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

The president took to Twitter on Sunday to blame Syrian President Bashar Assad for the alleged chemical attack. Trump also pointed fingers at Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran and former U.S. President Barack Obama. 

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump tweeted Sunday morning. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Trump later added: "If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"

>> What is sarin nerve gas?

2. The Syrian and Russian governments denied the claims. According to The New York Times, "state news media in Syria denied that government forces had used chemical weapons and accused the Islamist rebel group that controls Douma, the Army of Islam, of fabricating the videos to solicit international support as defeat loomed."

The Russian government shared that position.

"Information attacks about the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances by the Syrian government troops are continuing. Another such hoax about the chemical attack that supposedly took place in Douma emerged yesterday," the statement said, according to CNN.

"We have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. The purpose of these false conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside."

>> Read more trending news 

3. The U.S. said it was not behind the deadly missile strike on Syria's T4 air base. "At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria. However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable," the Pentagon said in a statement, according to CNN

The statement came as Syrian state media said the airstrike was probably "an American aggression," The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed that Israel had fired the missiles.

4. The United Nations Security Council is meeting Monday about the suspected chemical attack. “The Security Council has to come together and demand immediate access for first responders, support an independent investigation into what happened, and hold accountable those responsible for this atrocious act,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said in a statement.

>> ONE YEAR AGO: US fires more than 50 cruise missiles into Syria

5. The latest developments in Syria come about a year after a chemical attack there reportedly killed at least 80 people in Khan Sheikhun. According to CNN, the U.S. launched dozens of Tomahawk missiles at Syria's Shayrat air base in response to the April 4 attack.

Tammy Duckworth becomes 1st senator to give birth while in office

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, and her husband on Monday welcomed their second daughter, making Duckworth the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.

>> Read more trending news 

Duckworth gave birth just after 7 a.m. Monday to her second daughter with husband Bryan Bowlsbey, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. She had her first child, Abigail, in 2014, while she was serving in the House of Representatives.

“Bryan, Abigail and I couldn’t be happier to welcome little Maile Pearl as the newest addition to our family,” Duckworth said Monday in a statement. “We’re also so grateful for the love and support of our friends and family, as well as our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family.”

She said her newborn’s name came from her husband’s great aunt, Pearl Bowlsbey Johnson, who served in the U.S. Army and was a nurse in World War II. The name was blessed by former Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, who died last week. He also helped name the couple’s first daughter four years ago, according to The Washington Post.

Duckworth, 50, is one of just 10 women who have given birth while serving in Congress, according to NPR.

"As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I'm hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere," Duckworth said in a statement obtained by NPR. "Parenthood isn't just a women's issue, it's an economic issue and one that affects all parents — men and women alike.”

Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm while serving in Iraq in 2004, when the helicopter she was piloting was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, according to Politico. She retired from the Army in 2014 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott launches Senate bid vs. Bill Nelson

Update 12:45 p.m. April 9: Calling Washington "horribly dysfunctional," Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that he will challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in an election that could be one of the most expensive and highly-watched in the nation.

>> Read more trending news 

The Republican governor formally announced Monday morning his campaign to unseat Florida's only statewide-elected Democrat.

During his announcement, Scott criticized "career politicians" and called for term limits for members of Congress.

"This concept of career politicians has got to stop," Scott said. "We have to have term limits on Congress. We're not going to see a change in Washington if we don't have term limits on Congress."

Scott is a multi-millionaire who never ran for office before he ran for governor in 2010.

He rode into office as part of the tea party movement and called for massive budget and tax cuts, but he was forced to scale back his plans amid opposition from the GOP-controlled legislature. He also changed his hard-line positions on immigration.

"On this day, eight years ago, I did something that everyone told me not to do -- I announced that I was going to run for governor of Florida," Scott said at Monday's rally. "They said a business-person with no experience in government couldn't run the state. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you ignore the naysayers and the critics."

Scott was first elected governor in 2010, but he cannot run again because of term limits.

Original report: After two years of speculation and some public arm-twisting from President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott will announce Monday morning that he’s running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

>> On WFTV.com: Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he's running for U.S. Senate

The two-term Republican governor, barred by law from seeking a third term, has scheduled a morning event at a construction company headquarters in Orlando and a 2 p.m. event at a citrus packing house in Fort Myers.

>> Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs year-round daylight saving time measure

Scott’s entrance sets up a nationally watched race that could be the most expensive Senate battle of 2018. With Republicans holding a slender majority of 51 seats in the Senate, Florida will be among the key states to determine which party controls the chamber in 2019.

Nelson has been elected to the Senate three times — but he has never beaten a candidate with the name recognition, fundraising prowess and personal wealth of Scott.

Scott has won the governorship of America’s largest swing state two times — but he ran during the national Republican wave years of 2010 and 2014 and eked out victories with less than 49 percent of the vote each time.

Historical trends and recent polls point toward a difficult environment for GOP candidates this year with Republican Trump in the White House.

>> FL Gov. Rick Scott signs new gun bill into law just weeks after deadly school shooting

Scott was an early cheerleader for Trump and has a close relationship with the president. Trump has publicly urged Scott to run for Senate.

During a visit to Miami last June to tighten some travel and trade restrictions on Cuba, Trump shared a stage with Scott and other officials. He called the Florida governor “my good friend” and said, “He’s doing a great job. Oh, I hope he runs for the Senate. I know I’m not supposed to say that. I hope he runs for the Senate. Rick, are you running?”

Then in September, visiting Southwest Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Irma, Trump made another Senate plea after saying said Scott had done an “incredible” job responding to the storm and noting he faces term limits as governor this year.

“I have to say that, what do I know, but I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate. I don’t know what he’s going to do but I know that at a certain point it ends for you and we can’t let it end. So I hope he runs for Senate,” Trump said.

During a stop in West Palm Beach last week, Nelson said he’s ready for the challenge.

“I always treat a challenger very seriously and I run like there’s no tomorrow,” Nelson said.

Nelson said Scott “has not been in touch with the state of Florida – not only on massacres and guns but things like climate change, sea level rise, funding for schools and go right on down the list, including drilling offshore. So, folks are going to have a real, real choice.”

Scott has emphasized jobs and the economy throughout his campaigns and his two terms as governor.

Florida has added nearly 1.5 million private sector jobs since Scott took office in January 2011 and seen its unemployment rate shrink from 10.7 percent to 3.9 percent during that time.

Nelson says Scott doesn’t deserve credit for the state’s improved economy.

“The state of Florida came back from the deep recession just like the entire country did…So goes the national economy, so went Florida’s,” Nelson said.

But Florida has outperformed the nation and most individual states in job growth.

Private sector employment has grown by about 20 percent in Florida since Scott took office, compared to about 16 percent for the rest of the U.S. over the same period, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. Florida’s 10.7 percent unemployment rate in January 2011 was worse than the nation’s 9.1 percent jobless rate at the time; in February, the state’s 3.9 percent unemployment rate was better than the nation’s 4.1 percent rate.

“Florida’s in far better shape than it was eight years ago,” said Susie Wiles, who guided Scott’s stunning 2010 Republican primary victory over establishment favorite Bill McCollum and headed Trump’s 2016 general election effort in Florida.

Wiles, who isn’t involved in Scott’s 2018 campaign, acknowledged that the party that controls the White House traditionally faces difficulty in midterm elections. But she said Scott should overcome that.

“If the governor was running as an extension of the president, that’s one set of circumstances. He’s not. He has an eight-year record that’s platinum…He’s really standing on his own two feet,” Wiles said.

SC lawmakers propose secession debate

South Carolina has tried secession before. It was the first state to secede from the Union in 1860 in a move that ignited the Civil War. In 1832, state officials threatened secession when the Nullification Convention met over tariff issues.

>> Read more trending news

The recent national debate over gun rights has three House Republicans considering secession again, The State newspaper reported.

Reps. Mike Pitts, Jonathon Hill and Ashley Trantham introduced a bill Thursday that would allow lawmakers to debate seceding from the United States if the federal government confiscates legally purchased firearms in South Carolina, The State reported.

Pitts told The Hill the bill is more of way to shed light on the Second Amendment, rather than on actual secession.

>> SC congressman pulls out gun to make point about violence

"I see a lot of stuff where people even talk about totally repealing the Second Amendment, which separates us from the entire rest of the world," Pitts said.

The bill has a very slim chance of passage during this legislative session, The State reported, because the deadline for bills to move from one chamber to the other is April 10, The State reported.

SC congressman pulls out own gun to make point about violence

A South Carolina congressman pulled out his personal handgun -- a loaded, .38 caliber Smith & Wesson -- and laid it on the table at a diner where he was meeting with constituents, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Rep. Ralph Norman was meeting with voters in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and he said he took out the gun to make a point in the debate over gun violence.

“I merely proved a point that guns themselves are not the issue," Norman told CNN.

Norman said having a loaded gun should have made others feel safer.

"Given the scenario that if someone had walked into that diner and began to fire a weapon, I told them I would be able to defend myself and them as well," he told CNN.

"I'm not going to be a Gabby Giffords," Norman told The Post and Courier, referring to the former Democratic congresswoman who was shot in 2011 during a rally in her Arizona district. “I don't mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I'm shooting back."

One person in the diner was upset at Norman’s actions.

"Rep. Norman's behavior today was a far cry from what responsible gun ownership looks like," Lori Freemon said in a statement released by Everytown, the gun control organization for which she volunteers.

"I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common sense gun violence prevention policies," the statement said. "Instead, I felt unsafe when he insisted on showing us his loaded gun and keeping it out on the table for much of our conversation."

But to Norman, the gun isn't the issue.

"Mental health, and more importantly, a lack of morality, is the driving force behind this epidemic. Guns are not the problem," Norman told CNN.

Trump will skip White House Correspondents' Dinner again

President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of the news media, plans to skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for a second year in a row.

>> Read more trending news

“The White House has informed us that the president does not plan to participate in this year’s dinner but that he will actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend and join us as celebrate the First Amendment,” Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said Friday in a statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will attend the April 28 dinner to represent the administration at the head table, Talev said.

In an interview that aired Friday on WABC Radio's "Bernie and Sid" radio show, Trump said he was unlikely to attend the annual dinner, calling the press “so bad” and “so fake.”

“I want to get it straightened out with the press before I do it,” he said.

Trump also skipped the dinner last year, opting instead to hold a rally in Pennsylvania.

>> Related: Trump tweets he won't attend White House correspondents' dinner

The last president to skip the event was Ronald Reagan, who missed the dinner in 1981 after being shot in an assassination attempt days earlier. Still, Reagan called into the event.

President Richard Nixon also skipped the dinner twice.

The annual dinner, a fundraiser for college scholarships and a venue for reporting awards, mixes politicians, journalists and celebrities and is typically attended by the president and first lady. Remarks by a comedian, often roasting the president, and a humorous address by the president himself, often roasting the press and political opponents, have highlighted the event.

Officials with the White House Correspondents’ Association announced in February that comedian Michelle Wolf will host this year’s dinner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump says he didn't know about Stormy Daniels payment

President Donald Trump on Thursday denied that he knew his attorney paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

>> Read more trending news

The payment, from Trump attorney Michael Cohen, was negotiated in October 2016 in exchange for Daniels signing a nondisclosure agreement that barred her from talking about the alleged encounter, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

Since the report surfaced, Trump has avoided answering questions about Daniels or Cohen’s payment. He broke his silence Thursday, telling reporters on Air Force One that he did not know about the exchange.

>> Related: Stormy Daniels' lawyer: Judge denies motion to depose Trump, Cohen

Politico reported that when asked why Cohen would have made the payment, Trump said, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”

He said he didn’t know where the money had come from. Cohen has said that he paid out of his pocket and that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction.

>> Related: Porn star Stormy Daniels sues Trump attorney Michael Cohen for defamation

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Trump’s comments only served to bolster his client’s case. Daniels filed suit against Trump last month in an effort to break the nondisclosure agreement, claiming the document was invalid because it was never signed by Trump.

“The strength of our case just went up exponentially,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter Thursday after Trump’s comments surfaced. “You can’t have an agreement when one party claims to know nothing about it.”

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has offered to return the $130,000 as she tries to “set the record straight.” She’s said she had sex with Trump once in 2006, a few months after the birth of his youngest son, and their relationship continued for about a year. Trump married his current wife, Melania, in 2005, and their son, Barron, was born in 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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