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Pardoned soldiers Clint Lorance and Mathew Golsteyn were special guests at a recent Trump fundraiser
President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.
The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.
But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."
Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.
He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.
The president spoke for over an hour, doing impressions of Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and joking about the slim physique of Ohio congressman — and former wrestler — Jim Jordan, who was in attendance. He also introduced his son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, and North Florida Congressman Mike Waltz.
Trump spent a large part of the speech, attendees told the Herald, praising Florida Republicans for their work in the state.
At one point he called on stage Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and all of the Republican state lawmakers in attendance. He especially praised Gov. Ron DeSantis, who he calls "a good guy."
"DeSantis is always up in Washington bugging me for federal aid and federal money," said Trump, speaking during the Statesman's Dinner, held at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort and Spa in Aventura. "He is unabashed in making asks for Florida."
Trump did not shy away from talking about his business in Washington, either.
Attendees likened parts of his speech to his Twitter feed, where he called the impeachment inquiry "a sham" and a witch hunt."
"Ever since I came down the escalator to announce [my candidacy], [Democrats] have been after me," Trump said, according to attendees.
He boasted about the country's low unemployment rate, his own high polling numbers and the success of the Saturday night dinner.
While dinner goers enjoyed nightcaps at the resort bar to the piano stylings of "God Bless America," Trump was whisked away to Hollywood, where he spoke to the Israeli-American Council, a non-partisan organization backed by major Republican Party donor Sheldon Adelson.
Trump's visit to South Florida was at least his third since early October, around the time he filed paperwork to declare his full-time residence as his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. Trump held a belated "homecoming" rally late last month in Sunrise.
Ahead of Trump's visit Saturday, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement that Floridians don't want him "because he has threatened seniors' Medicare and Social Security, rolled back environmental protections needed to preserve our state's natural treasures and made it harder for working families to get by in our state."
©2019 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.