Here's what happened in Washington this week:
- What a week! See our latest live post on what's happening in Washington right here. Fired FBI Director James Comey will testify publicly on June 8 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, officials announced. The White House must now decide whether or not to invoke executive privilege to block him and keep any of Comey's conversations with Trump private.
- Despite promising to do so on the campaign trial, President Trump will not immediately move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The move has been delayed to increase the chances of a Middle East peace deal, according to the White House.
- Unnamed officials in the Trump administration told several media outlets Wednesday that the president will pull out of the Paris climate accord — though Trump himself tweeted that he's not yet ready to announce his decision.
- A move to withdraw from the global climate change agreement would please Trump supporters in coal states, but would alarm scientists who say committing to the deal is essential in order to avoid rising temperatures.
- A withdrawal would also further destabilize international diplomacy. On his first trip abroad as president, Trump heard concerns from G7 leaders imploring him to remain in the pact.
- Nigel Farage is reportedly a "person of interest" in the FBI's Russia investigation because of his connections to people associated with Trump and personal links to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Guardian reported Thursday.
- Stay with this live post from BuzzFeed News for all the DC chaos you can take this week.
MIT researchers say Trump's use of their analysis on climate change was "misleading"
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is distancing itself from the White House after President Trump used a climate change study from the university to justify pulling the US out of the Paris agreement.
The authors of the MIT analysis have since released a statement calling the president's use of figures from their study "misleading," and that the agreement is "unprecedented and vital" to curb the threat of global warming.
Trump cited figures from the study to suggest that implementation of the agreement would only have a minuscule impact on the environment.
"Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce 0.2 of 1 degree (Celsius reduction by 2100)," Trump said, bring his index finger and thumb together near his face to accentuate the numbers. "Think of that. This much."
The MIT study was also part of a set of talking points that have been distributed to surrogates to defend Trump's decision.
But the researchers who authored the 2016 study said the 0.2 degree figure cited by the president reflected only the incremental change when compared to the 2009 Copenhagen agreement. Compared to no agreement, the statement read, the Paris deal could accomplish a 1 degree Celsius reduction in the same time frame.
"This would be a significant reduction in the global temperature rise, though much more is needed if the world is to achieve its goal of limiting to 2 degrees Celsius or less," the MIT statement read.
"The relevant MIT researchers believe that the Paris Agreement is an unprecedented and vital effort by nearly 200 countries to respond to the urgent threat of global climate change," a statement from the university read.
MIT President L. Rafael Reif also issued his own statement Friday, criticizing the president's decision to withdraw from the agreement, stating it doesn't just increase the threat to global warming but allows the US to miss the chance of taking the lead in new job opportunities it could lead to.
"The solution to that problem is not to deny scientific facts and give away economic opportunity," Reif said. "If we don't seize this chance, other nations certainly will. By withdrawing from the Paris accord, the U.S. is surrendering leadership in a priceless global market."
Putin deflects questions about Russian hacking and the Paris agreement on a panel with Megyn Kelly
NBC anchor Megyn Kelly moderated a panel at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday that included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi, and Federal Chancellor of Austria Christian Kern.
Kelly asked Putin about allegations of Russian hacking, US officials meeting with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement.
Putin told the sizeable crowd he understands Trump's decision to withdraw from the climate agreement, joking that Russia can now blame the weather on "American imperialism."
"If we are to look at what the Paris accords are, it's a framework document," Putin said. "It's up to the government to make decisions, governments can make up their own minds."
Kelly also asked Putin about the allegations of Russian hacking, a question he deflected. "IP addresses can be invented, a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof," he told Kelly. He also likened US officials blaming Russia for several issues, including election hacking and anti-Semitism. "This is disinformation," he said.
Putin called the focus on Ambassador Sergei Kislyak meeting with US officials "catastrophic nonsense." General Michael Flynn resigned from his position as the President's advisor after it became clear he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations Flynn had with Kislyak. The Trump administration's ties to Russia are subject of ongoing investigations.
"So our ambassador met someone. That's his job. That's why we pay him," Putin said. "So what? What's he supposed to do, hit up the bars?"
Pence not sure why climate change is a "paramount issue" for the left
Vice President Mike Pence sat down with Fox and Friends' Ainsley Earhardt Friday morning and defended the president's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
He said that the country has made great strides in the last 14 years reducing carbon emissions by 18%, which is why he's not sure why climate change has emerged as a real issue for the left – implying that it isn't a concern for the right.
"So we demonstrated real leadership. We demonstrated real progress," Pence said. "But for some reason or another this issue of climate change emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country and around the world."
He also applauded the president's decision to stand by his campaign promises to put America first "without apology."
Putin says those "patriotic" to Russia may have carried out US hacks
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday acknowledged that "patriotic" individuals may have engaged in hacking, but insisted his government never has, chalking such allegations up to "Russo-phobic hysteria" in the US.
Despite widely held assessments by US intelligence community that Russia engaged in hacking to influence the outcome of the presidential election, Putin said that "we never engage in that at the state level," the Associated Press reported.
Instead, he said some evidence pointing at Russian participation in cyberattacks could have been falsified in an attempt to frame his country.
"I can imagine that some do it deliberately, staging a chain of attacks in such a way as to cast Russia as the origin of such an attack," Putin said. "Modern technologies allow that to be done quite easily."
Putin was speaking to a group of editors for major international news agencies, and framed the multiple investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign as being the result of "Russo-phobic hysteria" aimed at preventing the US president "from working normally," according to the AP report.
Still, he added, whatever the domestic pressures for Trump in the US, Moscow was hopeful for improved relations between the two nations down the road.
"We are patient, we know how to wait and we will wait," Putin said.
Comey to testify publicly on June 8, Senators announce
Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, the committee's ranking chairmen announced Thursday.
Comey will testify in open session on "Russian Federation efforts to interfere in the 2016 US elections," Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) announced in a statement.
The hearing will be at 10 a.m. in Washington, DC, followed by a closed session hearing at 1 p.m.
CNN and the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Comey was preparing to confirm reports that President Trump asked him to back off the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey logged the meetings with Trump, including a dinner and two phone calls, in internal memos because he thought they pushed the boundaries of what was considered appropriate contact between a US president and the FBI director, according to reports.
Now that the hearing as been set, the White House must decide whether the president will invoke executive privilege in order try to block Comey from testifying and keep their conversations private.
Here are the inside details behind Trump's decision to not move — for now — the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
Trump promised on the campaign trail to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On Thursday he waived a law requiring him to do so, delaying the decision for another six months.
The administration said that the delay was to help facilitate a peace deal.
Trump's decision to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, which regional experts strongly encouraged, did not come as a result of pressure from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but rather the president's closer inner-circle of advisers, US officials told BuzzFeed News.
In dealing with the thorny issue of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, Tillerson and the State Department have taken a backseat to Jason Greenblatt, Trump's former personal lawyer turned international peace negotiator, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.
"It's not his schtick," the officials said, referring to Tillerson's involvement on Mideast peace.
Greenblatt, by contrast, has jumped in head first, visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in March, attending the Arab League Summit in Jordan, and meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for two hours at the White House last month.
When asked if the State Department was being sidelined, the US official said there would be a place for Foggy Bottom to play a bigger role once the negotiations get off the ground. "Greenblatt is taking the lead on this" by kickstarting "very basic confidence-building measures," the official said.
Though skeptics of a lasting peace deal abound, Greenblatt's efforts are the latest sign that Trump is captivated with the notion of being the first president to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace regardless of the tremendous odds.
Here's the full White House's statement:
While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President's strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance. President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying he believes the embassy should be in Jerusalem.
"Maintaining embassies outside the capital drives peace further away," he said, adding Israel is "disappointed."
Nigel Farage is reportedly a "person of interest" in the FBI's Russia investigation
Nigel Farage is reportedly a "person of interest" in the FBI's investigation into Russia's involvement in the US presidential election, unnamed sources have told the Guardian.
The British politician and former leader of Ukip reportedly came to the attention of investigators because of his connections to people associated with president Donald Trump and his personal links WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
"In response to the Guardian article, it has taken me a long time to finish reading because I am laughing so much," Farage said in an ITV interview on Thursday. "This hysterical attempt to associate me with the Putin regime is a result of the liberal elite being unable to accept Brexit and the election of President Trump."
Read the full story here.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Trump to announce decision on Paris climate agreement in a Rose Garden address Thursday
President Trump will announce his decision on whether the US will stay or withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement on Thursday in the White House Rose Garden.
Unlike other world leaders who stressed their commitment, Trump refused to say whether the US would remain in the Paris accord during the G-7 meeting in Italy last week.
Instead, he announced on Twitter he would reveal his decision in an address from the White House Rose Garden at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Various news outlets, including Politico and CNN, reported the president was expected to withdraw from the climate change agreement, fulfilling a promise Trump made during his presidential campaign.
According to multiple reports, world leaders personally lobbied Trump during the G-7 meeting to keep the US in the 2015 agreement.
Just minutes after the president tweeted about his pending decision, some of the largest companies in the US released a statement, urging Trump to keep the United States in the agreement.
"Climate change presents both business risks and business opportunities," the statement signed by companies like Apple, Adobe, Facebook, Microsoft and Morgan Stanley read. "Continued US participation in the agreement benefits U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy in many ways."
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted at Trump Thursday morning, urging him not to abandon the Paris accord.
House Intelligence Committee issues seven subpoenas as part of Russia investigation
The US House Intelligence Committee has issued seven subpoenas, four of which are reportedly related to Russia's possible involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
The Republican-led committee subpoenaed Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen.
"As part of our ongoing investigation into Russian active measures during the 2016 campaign, today we approved subpoenas for several individuals for testimony, personal documents and business records," Reps. Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff said in a statement.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation, has already subpoenaed Flynn and asked Cohen "to provide information and testimony" about contacts he has had with people connected to the Kremlin, but he had declined to comply.
The remaining three subpoenas focus on why the names of some of President Trump's associates were left un-redacted in classified reports during the transition phase, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Lawmakers are seeking information from the National Security Agency, the FBI, and the CIA, specifically as to why former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Powers requested names be "unmasked" in classified material, the Journal reported.
Tesla's Elon Musk says he'll leave presidential councils if Trump pull out of Paris climate accord
Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk will step down from several of Trump administration advisory councils if the president pulls the US out of the Paris climate agreement, he tweeted on Wednesday.
Musk sits on an economic advisory council as well as a manufacturing group. Tesla's stated mission is "to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy." He previously said serving on two of Trump's advisory councils would "serve the greater good."
Musk wouldn't be the first tech leader to step down from Trump's advisory groups. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from Trump's economic advisory council in February after facing backlash from users and protests outside the ride-hail company's San Francisco headquarters.
BuzzFeed News reported in January that some Tesla customers had canceled their Model 3 orders over Musk's relationship with Trump.
Read more here.
Former FBI Director James Comey is reportedly in talks to testify publicly about Trump interactions
Former FBI Director James Comey is in talks to testify publicly before senators about his interactions with President Trump in which he was allegedly pressured to end the Russia investigation, CNN reported Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal also reported Wednesday that Comey is expected to tell senators that Trump asked him to back off the investigation.
Comey logged the meetings with Trump, including a dinner and two phone calls, in internal memos because he thought they pushed the boundaries of what was considered appropriate contact between a US president and the FBI.
Trump fired Comey in early May for reasons the White House stumbled over itself to explain for days. That opened Trump to accusations of political interference for firing the man in charge of leading an FBI investigation into possible collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia during the election.
He also denied reports that he had asked, and failed to get, a pledge of loyalty from Comey over dinner in January, citing instead the handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and other factors, such as a loss of confidence among the FBI rank-and-file — a claim that contradicted by Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who told senators Comey was held in the "absolute highest regard" by his agents.
But in a later interview with NBC's Lester Holt, Trump appeared to confirm what critics had claimed, that the Russia investigation was a prime factor behind Comey's firing.
"In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,'" Trump said about the Comey decision.
The timing of Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was reportedly still being worked out, but could be as soon as next week, CNN reported.
Multiple news outlets are reporting Trump will pull out of the Paris climate agreements
White House officials reportedly told multiple news outlets on Wednesday that President Trump will withdraw the United States from pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions made in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Some of the reports — all citing unnamed officials — cautioned, however, that the decision is not final. BuzzFeed News could not confirm the reports.
In the midst of all the reports Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that he hasn't made his announcement yet.
"I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" he said.
At a short press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to shoot down the reports of a decision to withdraw, saying, "I don't want to get ahead of the president."
He noted that the ultimate decision, expected in the next few days, rested with the president, who had listened "to a lot of people," including industry leaders.
Trump said as much during a brief appearance with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House, where he refused to say which way he was leaning.
The news comes after months of internal debate within Trump's family and administration. Many conservatives, including EPA head Scott Pruitt, wanted out of the deal. By withdrawing, Trump would be parting with ExxonMobil, the Pope, and his daughter Ivanka — as well as European leaders who had reaffirmed their commitment to the deal in May at the Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Sicily. There, German chancellor Angela Merkel called climate discussions with Trump "very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying."
Here's some of BuzzFeed News's reporting on Trump and climate change:
Donald Trump Vs. Sea Level Rise
Here's Why Trump Might Not Ditch The Paris Climate Deal
2016 Will Be The Warmest Year, But This Is How Deniers Will Spin It
Carter Page might not be testifying in House's Russia probe afterall
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page says that the House Intelligence Committee has canceled his planned testimony in their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"I have learned from your Committee staff on this Memorial Day holiday that I might not be immediately afforded the opportunity to address the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan, et al, as per our previously scheduled appointment for next week," reads a letter Page sent to the committee on Monday.
ABC News reported last week that Page would be speaking in front of the committee on June 6 but according to Page, that is no longer the case.
Page said he wants to set the record straight regarding what he calls are the "unrelenting lies" being spread about him.
BuzzFeed News reported in April that in 2013, Page met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in New York City.
He met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government.
President Trump weighed in Wednesday morning, continuing to call the investigation a "witch hunt" and saying that Page "blows away their case against him."
Trump confuses the internet by tweeting the ~word~ "covfefe"
It was about midnight Washington, D.C. time when President Donald Trump sent out a tweet, as he is known to do. However, he appeared to fall short of actually completing his sentence.
"Despite the constant negative press covfefe," the tweet said.
The tweet remained up for nearly six hours, leaving plenty of time for people's imaginations to run wild with what exactly covfefe means. But it didn't end there, after it was deleted, Trump sent out another tweet asking people to guess what covfefe means.
Check out more here.
–Brad Esposito and Francis Whittaker
A Turkish businessman paid Michael Flynn's company more than $500,000 to produce a documentary
A Turkish businessman paid former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's lobbying company $530,000 to produce a documentary aimed to bolster his country's image, income that was not revealed to the US government until March, Wall Street Journal reported.
The Flynn Intel Group's contract to produce the film, which was not completed or distributed, appears to represent the bulk of the company's work for Turkish interests, the Journal added.
Flynn, who is under investigation for his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, was also reportedly paid $33,750 by a Russian news network to travel to Moscow in 2015, sit next to Russian President Vladmir Putin at a gala, and give an interview on US foreign policy.
Last week, the retired general refused to fully comply with a Senate subpoena seeking records relating to the intelligence committee's investigation into the Trump campaign's Russia connections, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Trump's former White House press aide is also under investigation as part of the Russia probe
The House Intelligence Committee has also requested information from a former White House press officer as part of its Russia investigation, CBS News reported.
Boris Epshteyn, who was also a senior advisor to President Trump's campaign, received a "preliminary," lengthy list of questions, his lawyer said.
"Like many others, Mr. Epshteyn has received a broad, preliminary request for information from the House Intelligence Committee," his attorneys told CBS. "This is a voluntary request. Mr. Epshteyn has not been subpoenaed nor do we anticipate that he will be. We have reached out to the committee with several follow up questions and we are awaiting their response in order to better understand what information they are seeking and whether Mr. Epshteyn is able to reasonably provide it."
Epshteyn, who grew up in Moscow, served as the special assistant to the president in charge of surrogate operations before abruptly leaving in March, ABC reported.
The 34-year-old is one of about two dozen people the committee has contacted for first-round interviews. Trump's longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, was also contacted, but has refused to comply.
Spicer tries to play down reports about Kushner wanting a backchannel to the Russians
In Sean Spicer's first press briefing after Trump's first overseas trip, he described the Washington Post report about Jared Kushner seeking to establish backchannel communications between the transition team and Russian officials, as "a lot of facts that are not substantiated by anything but anonymous sources that are so far being leaked out of the White House."
Spicer said that according to Kushner's attorney, Kushner had "volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings and will do the same if he's connected with any other inquiry."
When questioned about the president's retweet of a Fox News report on Tuesday which also cited an anonymous source stating that the Russians suggested there was an effort to set up a backchannel to discuss Syria, Spicer, deferring to his previous comment on Kushner said, "I think what I just said speaks for itself."
He refused to directly address the discrepancy between him discrediting a report based on anonymous sources and the president retweeting a report citing an anonymous source.
Spicer also said that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster had "discussed that, in general terms, backchannels are an appropriate part of diplomacy."
When a reporter questioned whether it was appropriate for Kushner, a private citizen, to conduct diplomacy with a foreign official, Spicer referred to what Kelly and McMaster said about backchannels being "an important tool in diplomacy."
According to Spicer, Trump's decision on whether the US would stay in the Paris climate accord would be "coming up shortly."
However, the press secretary said he did not know whether the president believes that human activity was contributing to the warming of the climate.
"Honestly, I haven't asked him," Spicer told a reporter.
Spicer said that Trump was interviewing two candidates for the FBI director on Tuesday — Chris Ray and John Pistole. He did not confirm if they were the two finalists.
— Tasneem Nashrulla
Trump's lawyer says he too is under investigation as part of the Senate's Russia probe
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer who went viral last year for a terse CNN interview, has been contacted by congressional investigators probing Russian meddling in the presidential election, he told media.
Cohen first told ABC News that House and Senate investigators have asked him "to provide information and testimony" about contacts he has had with people connected to the Kremlin, but he had declined to comply.
"I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad, and not capable of being answered," Cohen told ABC News.
Reached by phone twice on Tuesday, Cohen said he would call back soon, then hung up. He also did not immediately respond to an email.
However, he told CNN's Jim Acosta: "They have yet to produce one single piece of credible evidence that would corroborate the Russia narrative."
Read more here.
Russian officials reportedly discussing having negative information about Trump
Officials in the Russian government, during the presidential campaign, discussing having negative information about Trump, CNN reported Tuesday.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump's inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information." But the sources, privy to the descriptions of the communications written by US intelligence, cautioned the Russian claims to one another "could have been exaggerated or even made up" as part of a disinformation campaign that the Russians did during the election.
White House communications director Mike Dubke resigns
Dubke confirmed to Politico Monday that he has resigned from his position as White House communications director. He tendered his resignation on May 18 but stayed on during President Trump's first foreign trip.
Kellyanne Conway also confirmed the news on Fox and Friends Monday.
"What I will say is he has expressed his desire to leave the White House," Conway said. He also "made very clear that he would see through the president's international trip and come to work every day and work very hard through that trip because there is much to do back here at the White House."
As for people saying this is a "shake up", Conway said that some people find that "working 18 hour days...are maybe not what's best suited for them."
Trump tweets about Germany, days after Merkel says Germany can't fully rely on the US or the UK
President Trump tweeted Monday morning that Germany has a "massive trade deficit" with the US and that they are not paying their fair share into NATO. He says this is "very bad for the U.S." and that "this will change."
The tweet comes two days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany could no longer rely on the US and UK for help.
"The times in which we could completely rely on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days," she said Sunday at an election rally in Southern Germany.
"We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands."
Merkel said she realized this after spending time with Trump and the G-7 and NATO summit.
Here's some analysis on what Merkel did and did not mean when she said Germany couldn't fully rely on the US and UK.
Merkel's remarks do not point to cutting ties with US and UK, but to the need — in the wake of Brexit and Trump's election — for a reformed, stronger, and more integrated EU.
Here's what President Trump had to say about the white supremacist who stabbed people in Portland
Nearly three days after two people were fatally stabbed on a Portland train for standing up to a white supremacist spewing anti-Muslim comments, President Trump condemned the attack in a tweet.
Trump was criticized for taking so long to address the attack. The most prominent criticism came from journalist Dan Rather, who wrote in an open letter to Trump: "They were brave Americans who died at the hands of someone who, when all the facts are collected, we may have every right to call a terrorist."
Trump often quickly denounces terrorist attacks by people who identify as Muslim, and he referenced terror attacks in his recent statement on the start of Ramadan — something former presidents Obama and George W. Bush didn't do.
Read more here.
Donald Trump pays tribute to Gold Star families at Arlington National Cemetery
President Donald Trump delivered his first Memorial Day remarks at the Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, paying tribute to Gold Star families and calling their fallen loved ones "heroes."
"They each had their own names, their own stories, their own beautiful dreams but they were all angels sent to us from God and they all share one title in common; and that is the title of hero," Trump said on Monday.
Trump used his speech to praise a number of specific soldiers, including Christopher Horton, who died in a gun battle in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Trump also thanked the family of Andrew Byers, who was killed by Taliban gunfire while saving the life of an Afghan soldier.
"To every Gold Star family, God is with you," Trump said. "And your loves ones are with him. They died in war so that we could live in peace. I believe that God has a special place in heaven for those who lay down their lives so that others may live free from fear."
During the campaign, Trump was criticized for lashing out against the family Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq.
Khan's father, Khizr Khan, delivered a powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention last summer, questioning if Trump has ever read the Constitution.
In response, Trump said Khan had no right to speak against him, and later questioned whether Ghazala Khan, Khizr's wife, was prevented from speaking on the DNC stage because of her religion.
Ghazala Khan responded with a Washington Post op-ed, calling Trump "ignorant" and saying she was too emotional to speak.
—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos