Business, Trump

Trump blocks Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for Qualcomm out of national security concerns, a highly unusual move

Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, makes a presentation during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, last month. Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

President Trump Monday ordered Singapore-based Broadcom to abandon its $117 billion hostile bid for Qualcomm, blocking what would have been one of the biggest technology deals in history.

In his presidential order, Trump cited “credible evidence” that the takeover “threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” The merger would have put one of America’s largest mobile chipmakers in the hands of a company based in Asia, a region that has been racing against American companies to develop the next generation of mobile technology.

The administration moved with unusual speed in the matter that caught many involved in the negotiations off guard. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, an interagency panel led by the Treasury Department, had several more weeks to render a recommendation to the president. Trump’s order cannot be appealed, legal experts said.

The move demonstrates the high value that the administration places on maintaining the U.S. edge in developing micro technologies.

The administration did not detail its national security concerns, but CFIUS last week sent a letter to the attorneys of the two companies saying it was concerned research and development at Qualcomm might atrophy under Broadcom’s direction, according to a copy that was reviewed by The Washington Post. If that happened, China’s Huawei Technologies, a rival to Qualcomm and a major producer of mobile chips, might become much more dominant around the world.

The tiny computer chips embedded in smartphones, smart home gadgets, and a wide range of other connected devices are expected to become one of the most critical technologies in the coming years. These chipsets enable connected cars to speak to each other as well as stoplights. Almost every major business and consumer electronics manufacturer uses Qualcomm’s technology as brains for their devices.

Trump’s order is in line with the administration’s protectionist instincts. Last week, Trump also cited national security concerns in announcing a series of harsh tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that hit rivals such as China as well as allies such as Germany and South Korea. And several other technology deals fell apart, after CFIUS raised concerns. In September, Trump stopped the $1.3 billion acquisition of Portland-based Lattice Semiconductor by a private equity firm that had close ties to Beijing.

One factor that may have pushed CFIUS to move quickly was a unusual maneuver by Broadcom to relocate to the United States. The company had said in a recent corporate filing that it was finalizing its plans to become an American entity in early April. Deals between American companies fall out of CFIUS’ jursidiction.

A person familiar with CFIUS’s investigation, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the matter, said this strategy may have doomed the transaction. “If there is one lesson here, it’s don’t screw with the government,” the person said.

He described Trump’s executive order as “brutal.” ”It smacks of anger on the part of the government to me. This feels a little more personal to me.”

Qualcomm and Broadcom did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday night. In after hours trading, shares of Qualcomm sunk as much as 4 percent from its market close of $62.81. Shares of Broadcom rose less than 1 percent.

Qualcomm and a host of other big technology companies are racing to build a next-generation nationwide network known as “5G” with download speeds that could be 100 times faster than what most consumers experience now on their wireless service. Once deployed, a high-definition movie could load instantly on a smartphone. The capabilities of connected devices at work and home would vastly expand. Cable-quality service could even be provided over the air, instead of a wireline connected to a house.

Several analysts said the U.S. government is growing concerned that Huawei will develop such technologies almost as fast as their American counterparts, narrowing the gap between Chinese and U.S. companies.

But Rod Hunter, a partner at Baker McKenzie and a former senior director for international economics at the National Security Council, said it is not clear what exactly prompted CFIUS, a notoriously secret government body, to act so quickly

Hunter said it could reflect “an evolution in the thinking” of the committee, perhaps an indication that it’s going to approach transactions in which foreign people or entities seek to own 5G wireless technology with the same sensitivity and rigor that the feds currently “apply to military equipment traditionally.”

“Typically when you’re doing these CFIUS cases you look at what the business is and how sensitive it is,” Hunter said. “If it’s a Chinese investor the bar is going to be high. A Singaporean investor you would not normally have considered a high risk.”

Tony Romm contributed to this story.

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Private: Trump’s Abrupt ‘Yes’ to North Korea: The 45 Minutes That Could Alter History
Featured, Trump

Trump’s Abrupt ‘Yes’ to North Korea: The 45 Minutes That Could Alter History

Mr. Trump brushed them off. I get it, I get it, he said.

Where others see flashing yellow lights and slow down, Mr. Trump speeds up. And just like that, in the course of 45 minutes in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump threw aside caution and dispensed with decades of convention to embark on a daring, high-wire diplomatic gambit aimed at resolving one of the world’s most intractable standoffs.

The story of how this came about, assembled through interviews with officials and analysts from the United States, South Korea, Japan and China, is a case study in international relations in the Trump era. A president with no prior foreign policy experience takes on a festering conflict that has vexed the world for years with a blend of impulse and improvisation, and with no certain outcome. One moment, he is hurling playground insults and threatening nuclear war, the next he is offering the validation of a presidential meeting.

Whether the high-stakes gamble ultimately pays off, no one can know. Given two unpredictable and highly combustible leaders, it seems just as likely that the meeting will never take place. If it does occur, the challenges are so steep, the gulf so wide and the history so fraught with misunderstanding, suspicion and broken promises that the prospect of an enduring resolution to the impasse seems remote.

But Mr. Trump has staked his reputation as a deal maker on the presumption that he can personally achieve what no other president has before him.

A Thorny Road

The path to a possible meeting led through a thicket of hostility and feints.

Throughout his first year in office, Mr. Trump ratcheted up economic sanctions while rattling his nuclear saber at “Little Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy North Korea.”

Mr. Kim could match the president he called “the mentally deranged U.S. dotard” bombast for bombast. In a New Year’s Day speech, he said he had “a nuclear button on the desk” that could launch missiles capable of reaching the United States. Mr. Trump responded with a tweet saying that “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his.”

But South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, focused on the other part of Mr. Kim’s speech, when he declared that he would send athletes to the Winter Olympics, which would be held the next month in South Korea. A flurry of negotiations ensued at Panmunjom, the “truce village” inside the Korean demilitarized zone, that, by the standards of inter-Korean talks, went unusually well.


At the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence made a point of refusing to greet Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For the opening ceremony, on Feb. 9, Mr. Kim sent his sister, Kim Yo-jong, while Mr. Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence. The vice president was told of a possible meeting with North Korean officials at the Games if he would tone down his message, not talk about sanctions, not meet with defectors and not bring along Fred Warmbier, whose son, Otto, an American student, died soon after being released from captivity in North Korea.

Mr. Pence opted to do all of those anyway to show resolve, and the North Koreans canceled the meeting at the last minute. Taking the hard-line position he believed the president wanted him to take, a grim-faced Mr. Pence refused to stand for the entry of the joint Korean team that included athletes from both North and South and made a point of refusing to greet Mr. Kim’s sister, who was just 10 feet away.

Mr. Pence’s failure to stand was taken as an insult to Mr. Moon and the South Korean public, undercutting the vice president’s intent to show solidarity with an ally. Mr. Moon had been determined to bring the Americans and North Koreans together, to the irritation of the American delegation, which believed that he was deliberately trying to stage-manage an encounter they considered awkward and inappropriate.

Mr. Moon, by contrast, hosted Ms. Kim for a lavish luncheon at the presidential Blue House, and she surprised him with a letter from her brother. She told Mr. Moon that her brother wanted to convene a summit meeting at an early date. The two spent nearly three hours together, with Mr. Moon doing most of the talking.

He said that he really wanted to meet Mr. Kim and improve ties, but that there was a limit to how far he could go without progress in dismantling the North’s nuclear program. He urged North Korea to talk to the Americans and said they needed to hurry so as not to lose the rare momentum from the spirit of the Olympics visits.

A Family Envoy

After the unfortunate optics from Mr. Pence’s visit and what some viewed as a missed opportunity, Mr. Trump sent his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to the closing ceremony of the Games. She had dinner with Mr. Moon at the Blue House and briefed him on new sanctions her father would impose on North Korea, then made a public statement to reporters reaffirming the American strategy of “maximum pressure.”

She then headed to Pyeongchang for the last two days of competition. Briefed by Mr. Pence’s staff, Ms. Trump and her team were “incredibly forceful,” as one official put it, in going over the seating plan for the box and the timing and sequencing of arrivals to avoid any surprises.

Ms. Trump proffered a smiling, more open image that went over better in South Korea. She stood for the South Korean athletes, who this time entered the stadium separately from their compatriots from the North, and posed for photographs with famous Korean pop stars. But she too made a point of sending a message; for her guest in the box, she brought Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of American forces in South Korea.

When she attended a curling event, Ms. Trump’s team received word that the North Koreans were on their way in what the Americans thought was an effort to make a scene or prompt her to leave in an embarrassing spectacle. Ms. Trump decided to stay, and the North Koreans in the end did not come.

All Smiles in the North

With the Olympics over, it was time for Mr. Moon to make his move. Last week, he sent two trusted aides on a two-day trip to Pyongyang: Mr. Chung, his national security adviser, and Suh Hoon, his National Intelligence Service director. Flying north, they knew that they were meeting Mr. Kim but not when.

After landing in Pyongyang, they were taken to a riverside guesthouse where they found their rooms equipped with the internet and access to foreign television channels, including CNN. They could even surf South Korean websites, a rare privilege in the totalitarian state. As soon as they unpacked, Kim Yong-chol, a general who heads inter-Korean relations, showed up and said that they were meeting Mr. Kim that evening.

Black limousines took the South Koreans to Azalea Hall in the ruling Workers’ Party headquarters, Mr. Kim’s workplace. They found Mr. Kim and his sister waiting to greet them with broad smiles. Mr. Chung and Mr. Suh were the first South Koreans to set foot inside the party headquarters since the Korean War.


Mr. Chung and Suh Hoon, the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, announced outside the White House that Mr. Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with the North Korean leader.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Chung had barely launched into his talking points when Mr. Kim said “I know” and “I understand you.” Then he laid out his proposal: talks with the United States on denuclearizing his country; a suspension of nuclear and missile tests during the talks; and his understanding that the United States and South Korea must proceed with annual joint military exercises.

The South Koreans found Mr. Kim to be an extremely confident leader. He was closely following foreign news media, knew how he was depicted, and even joked about it. He had studied Mr. Moon’s speeches and overtures toward the North.

He even joked about his missile launches. “I was sorry to hear that President Moon Jae-in had to convene his National Security Council meetings early in the morning because of our missile launchings,” he told the South Koreans. “Now, he won’t lose his early morning sleep any more.”

Mr. Kim agreed to open a direct hotline to Mr. Moon. “Now if working-level talks are deadlocked and if our officials act like arrogant blockheads, President Moon can just call me directly and the problem will be solved,” he said.

And, he added, he was eager to hold a summit meeting with his South Korean counterpart. The South Koreans suggested Pyongyang, Seoul and Panmunjom as possible sites and asked Mr. Kim to choose. Mr. Kim said he would come to the Peace House, a South Korean building inside Panmunjom.

The meeting and dinner, complete with wines and traditional Korean liquor, lasted from 6 p.m. to 10:12 p.m. with much laughter and bonhomie.

After returning to Seoul on Tuesday, the South Korean officials briefed Mr. Moon and then South Korean reporters. After his news conference, Mr. Chung called General McMaster and told him that he was carrying a message from Mr. Kim to Mr. Trump. Only several people at the Blue House knew that the message included a proposal for a meeting with Mr. Trump.

Off to Washington

Mr. Chung and Mr. Suh flew to Washington, arriving Thursday morning. By the afternoon, they were at the White House, meeting separately with General McMaster and Gina Haspel, the deputy C.I.A. director. The four then got together and were soon joined by other American officials, including Mr. Pence, Mr. Mattis, Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, and John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff.

Joined by their ambassador to Washington, the South Korean visitors were not supposed to meet with Mr. Trump until Friday, but when he heard they were in the building, he called them to the Oval Office.

Mr. Kim’s invitation to meet was not a complete surprise to Mr. Trump’s team. An American official said they had learned about it from intelligence agencies, so on Thursday morning, before the arrival of the South Koreans, Mr. Trump talked by phone with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who was traveling in Africa, about the possibility. What he did not tell Mr. Tillerson was that he would accept.

Mr. Trump was eager enough, however, that once he said yes, they discussed a meeting as early as next month. The South Koreans suggested it would be better to wait until after Mr. Moon’s summit meeting with Mr. Kim in April, which led to a target of May.

Not only did Mr. Trump surprise the South Koreans by accepting immediately, he even suggested that they make the public announcement right there and then at the White House.


Mr. Chung and Mr. Suh met with Mr. Kim in Pyongyang on Monday. They were the first South Koreans to set foot inside the party headquarters since the Korean War.

Korean Central News Agency

A stunned Mr. Chung retreated to General McMaster’s office to draft a statement in collaboration with the Americans. Then, using a secure telephone line, he called Mr. Moon early in the morning in Seoul to get his approval.

Elated, Mr. Trump stuck his head into the White House briefing room to tell reporters there would be an important announcement soon, something he had never done before.

Some of the president’s advisers objected to the idea of a foreign official making a statement from the White House lectern, so they had him do it instead on the White House driveway, where visitors typically speak with reporters. Still, it was highly unusual for a foreign official to announce an American president’s decision in a major international situation.

Out of the Loop

Mr. Trump’s quick decision caught many off guard, including Mr. Tillerson and American allies. Television networks set up live feeds from the White House driveway to carry Mr. Chung’s announcement. Congressional leaders and top officials at the Pentagon and the State Department learned what was happening from news reports.

The fact that it came on the same day that the president slapped stiff new tariffs on imported steel that would hit South Korea and Japan hard indicated how hasty and unplanned it was.

While Mr. Chung headed to the driveway, Mr. Trump hurriedly called Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to let him know. Mr. Abe has worked assiduously to cultivate a close relationship with Mr. Trump and taken a hard line on North Korea, but he was left out of the loop, a fact that stung.

“I have an impression that the Japanese are not quite well informed,” said Mine Yoshiki, head of a previous Japanese delegation seeking normalized relations with North Korea. “What we have been told is awfully out of tune, I should say.”

Mr. Trump did not reach President Xi Jinping of China until the next morning. China has backed Mr. Trump on North Korea, generating good will between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi. But China refused last month to go along with an American plan to interdict oil tankers bound for North Korea on the high seas, demonstrating that there were limits to how far China would go in punishing Mr. Kim, given the risk of a North Korean collapse on its borders.

Mr. Trump said his conversation with Mr. Xi went well. “President XI told me he appreciates that the U.S. is working to solve the problem diplomatically rather than going with the ominous alternative,” the president wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “China continues to be helpful!”

But in response to Mr. Trump’s planned meeting, China is engaged in what some call “exclusion anxiety,” worried about being shut out. China would like the meeting to be held in Beijing, where six-nation talks were held with North Korea during President George W. Bush’s administration, but Chinese analysts doubt Mr. Kim would agree.

For now, Mr. Trump is juggling these dynamics and preparing to meet the world’s most hermetic. To his advisers, Mr. Trump has said he is impressed that Mr. Kim at such a young age has outmaneuvered almost everyone, but he has added that the North Korean leader is a wild card.

Of course, so is he. Mr. Trump vacillates between confidence and fatalism when it comes to North Korea. For the moment, he is optimistic.

“North Korea has not conducted a Missile Test since November 28, 2017 and has promised not to do so through our meetings,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “I believe they will honor that commitment!”

Continue reading the main story

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Ivanka Trump at Olympics for politics, to back athletes
Featured, Olympics, Politics, Trump

Ivanka Trump at Olympics for politics, to back athletes

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter toured the 2018 Winter Olympics on Saturday, the morning after telling South Korea’s president that she would use her visit to the Pyeongchang Games to advocate maximum pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.

Ivanka Trump, one of her father’s close advisers and a winter sports enthusiast herself, is leading the U.S. delegation at Sunday’s closing ceremony for the Pyeongchang Games. Under cloudy skies, she watched her first event Saturday morning — Big Air snowboarding — before heading over to the American team’s headquarters, USA House, to interact with some Olympians.

Among those she met: Garrett Hines, a former U.S. bobsledder and Army reservist.

“I heard you are part of the reserves. That’s incredible,” Trump said. “Thank you for your service, and thank you for serving as an inspiration to so many people in this capacity.”

Before coming to the Olympic city in northeastern South Korea, Trump met and dined in the capital with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who highlighted to her how the Olympics have served as a vehicle for dialogue between the two Koreas. Moon said the U.S. and South Korea should make use of the current mood of rapprochement between the Koreas in seeking denuclearization.

At a closed-door meeting before a banquet Friday night at the presidential compound, Moon told Trump that talks on denuclearization and the inter-Korean dialogue must move forward side by side, Moon’s press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, told reporters.

Trump responded by pushing for joint efforts by the U.S. and South Korea to apply maximum pressure on North Korea, Yoon said.

The meeting and Olympic visit come as the Trump administration announced sanctions on more than 50 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses to turn up the pressure on North Korea. U.S. officials said the president had discussed the action with Moon ahead of the announcement in Washington.

Differences in how the U.S. and South Korea hope to achieve denuclearization were apparent during the banquet. In her remarks, Ivanka Trump said she was in South Korea to celebrate the Olympics and to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a “maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized.”

Moon, for his part, hopes to make the Olympics an avenue for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.

In Pyeongchang on Saturday, Trump toured Olympic venues. She watched snowboarders go on runs at the Big Air jump and saw American snowboarder Kyle Mack take a silver medal.

A smiling Trump, wearing a Team USA hat and red snowsuit, chatted with members of her delegation and South Korea first lady Kim Jung-suk. Also with her was IOC board member and 1998 hockey gold medalist Angela Ruggiero.

After the event ended, Trump spoke with some of the South Korean athletes who were guests of the delegation and posed for selfies.

Ivanka Trump’s appearance at the closing on behalf of the White House and the United States is a softer bookend to Vice President Mike Pence’s awkward visit during the opening ceremony.

She has some popularity in Asia, and the perception of her as a smoother player in her father’s administration — and, not inconsequentially, a younger one as well — allows the United States a photogenic representative at the end of a games dominated by unusually adept PR moves from North Korea.

In addition to her presence at the Olympics’ closing ceremony Sunday, a high-level North Korean delegation will also attend. So the big question is this: Will she end up in the same position as Pence — in a VIP box with a North Korean delegation nearby? And if so, how will she respond? Will she, unlike Pence, choose to interact?

The answer will provide a coda to an extraordinary two weeks of Olympic political optics — and offer hints of the Trump administration’s approach in coming weeks when it comes to the recent thawing of North-South relations on the Korean Peninsula.

“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games has served as an opportunity for us to engage in active discussions between the two Koreas and this has led to lowering of tensions on the peninsula and an improvement in inter-Korean relations,” Moon said Friday during his meeting with Trump.

Moon met Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state, a day after the opening ceremony earlier this month and urged North Korea to do more to engage in a dialogue with the United States.

While the games appear to have paved the way for possible rapprochement between the Koreas, U.S. and North Korean officials have yet to make direct contact. Earlier this week, the U.S. government said Pence had been set to meet North Korean officials during his visit to South Korea, but that the North Korean side canceled at the last minute.

For now, there are no signs that Ivanka Trump would meet Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, who is to attend the closing ceremony.

Back in Washington, Trump tweeted praise about his offspring as she touched down in Seoul. “My daughter, Ivanka, just arrived in South Korea. We cannot have a better, or smarter, person representing our country.”


Errin Haines Whack is a national writer for The Associated Press. Associated Press writer Youkyung Lee contributed to this report from Seoul.

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Tearful student asks Trump, ‘How do we not stop this?’
Featured, Trump

Tearful student asks Trump, ‘How do we not stop this?’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spilling out wrenching tales of lost lives and stolen security, students and parents appealed to President Donald Trump to set politics aside and protect America’s school children from the scourge of gun violence. Trump listened intently to the raw emotion and pledged action, including the possibility of arming teachers.

“I turned 18 the day after” the shooting, said a tearful Samuel Zeif, a student at the Florida high school where a former student’s assault left 17 dead last week. “Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war. An AR. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How do we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”

Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks.” And he suggested he supported allowing some teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons to be ready for intruders. But largely he listened Wednesday, holding handwritten notes bearing his message to the families. “I hear you” was written in black marker.

The president had invited the teen survivors of school violence and parents of murdered children in a show of his resolve against gun violence in the wake of last week’s shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and in past years at schools in Connecticut and Colorado. The latest episode has prompted a renewed and growing call for stronger gun control.

President Donald Trump says he’s considering backing proposals to promote concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees to respond to campus shootings. (Feb. 21)

Trump asked his guests to suggest solutions and solicited feedback. He did not fully endorse any specific policy solution, but pledged to take action and expressed interest in widely differing approaches.

Besides considering concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees, a concept he has endorsed in the past, he said he planned to go “very strongly into age, age of purchase.” And he said he was committed to improving background checks and working on mental health.

Most in the group were emotional but quiet and polite.

But Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed last week, noted the previous school massacres and raged over his loss, saying this moment isn’t about gun laws but about fixing the schools.

“It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it and I’m pissed. Because my daughter, I’m not going to see again,” said Pollack. “King David Cemetery, that is where I go to see my kid now.”

A strong supporter of gun rights, Trump has nonetheless indicated in recent days that he is willing to consider ideas not in keeping with National Rifle Association orthodoxy, including age restrictions for buying assault-type weapons. Still, gun owners are a key part of his base of supporters.

The NRA quickly rejected any talk of raising the age for buying long guns to 21.

“Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection,” the group said in a statement.

Several dozen people assembled in the White House State Dining Room. Among them were students from Parkland along with their parents. Also present were parents of students killed in massacres at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Students and parents from the Washington area also were present.

The student body president at the Parkland school, Julia Cordover, tearfully told Trump that she “was lucky enough to come home from school.”

She added, “I am confident you will do the right thing.”

Trump later tweeted that he would “always remember” the meeting. “So much love in the midst of so much pain. We must not let them down. We must keep our children safe!!”

Not all the students impacted by the shooting came to the White House.

David Hogg, who has been one of the students actively calling for gun control was invited but declined, said his mother Rebecca Boldrick.

“His point was (Trump needs) to come to Parkland, we’re not going there,” she said.

Throughout the day Wednesday, television news showed footage of student survivors of the violence marching on the Florida state Capitol, calling for tougher laws. The protests came closer to Trump, too, with hundreds of students from suburban Maryland attending a rally at the Capitol and then marching to the White House.

Inside the executive mansion, Trump said at the end of an hour listening to tales of pain and anguish, “Thank you for pouring out your hearts because the world is watching and we’re going to come up with a solution.”

Television personality Geraldo Rivera had dinner with Trump at his private Palm Beach club over the weekend and described Trump as “deeply affected” by his visit Friday with Parkland survivors. In an email, Rivera said he and Trump discussed the idea of raising the minimum age to purchase assault-type weapons.

Trump “suggested strongly that he was going to act to strengthen background checks,” Rivera said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Wednesday they would introduce a bill to raise the minimum age required to purchase rifles from gun dealers, including assault weapons such as the AR-15.

“A kid too young buy a handgun should be too young to buy an #AR15,” Flake said on Twitter. A buyer must be 21 to purchase a handgun from a licensed gun dealer.

Trump embraced gun rights during his presidential campaign, though he supported some gun control before he became a candidate, backing an assault weapons ban and a longer waiting period to purchase a gun in a 2000 book.

On Tuesday, Trump directed the Justice Department to move to ban devices like the rapid-fire bump stocks used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre. The White House has also said Trump was looking at a bill that would strengthen federal gun background checks.

But those moves have drawn criticism as being inadequate, with Democrats questioning whether the Justice Department even has authority to regulate bump stocks and arguing that the background check legislation would not go far enough.

The department said its review of whether bump stocks are federally prohibited is ongoing but did not say how Trump’s order would affect that.

An effort to pass bump stock legislation last year fizzled out.

On background checks, Trump has suggested he is open to a bipartisan bill developed in response to a mass shooting at a Texas church. It would penalize federal agencies that don’t properly report required records and reward states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said the bill is “a small step,” but said Democrats want to see universal background check legislation.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Wednesday that he’ll probably reintroduce bipartisan legislation that would require background checks for all gun purchases online and at gun shows. He said he planned to discuss the idea with Trump.

That bill first emerged with backing from Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia following the 2012 slaying of 26 children and adults in Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. It failed then and at least one more time since.

But Darrell Scott, the father of Columbine High School victim Rachel Scott, said he felt the president had been moved by the group’s words.

“I feel like there’s a different tone in the air,” he said, “than there has been before.”


Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Sadie Gurman contributed from Washington. Marc Levy contributed from Harrisburg and Alina Hartounian from Phoenix.