'Say that again' - Trump invites Putin to White House to surprise of US National Intelligence Director

US President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House.

Trump’s failure back up claims from US intelligence agencies came as he met President Putin in Helsinki. Source: 1 NEWS

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today that President Donald Trump has asked national security adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to Washington the US autumn.

FIEL - In this May 24, 2018, file photo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats arrives as House and Senate lawmakers from both parties gather for a classified briefing in a secure room about the federal investigation into President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Coats says assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election have been “clear” and describes the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine the United States’ democracy as “ongoing” and “pervasive.” The statement from Coats, followed comments earlier July 16, from President Donald Trump at a news conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki where Trump cast doubt on the credibility U.S. intelligence assessments.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Source: Associated Press

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats was surprised to learn of the invitation, which comes after Trump and Putin met in Helsinki, Finland on Monday.

A moderator at the Aspen Security Forum, where Coats was speaking in Colorado today, broke into their conversation to describe the invitation.

"Say that again," Coats said, cupping his ear.

He took a deep breath and continued, "OK."

Then he smiled and said, "That's going to be special."



Airman Adrian Cronauer, who inspired Robin Williams' performance in Good Morning Vietnam, dies aged 79

Adrian Cronauer, the man whose military radio antics inspired a character played by Robin Williams in the film "Good Morning, Vietnam," has died. He was 79.

Mary Muse, the wife of his stepson Michael Muse, said that Cronauer died yesterday (NZT) from an age-related illness.

He had lived in Troutville, Virginia, and died at a local nursing home, she said.

During his service as a US Air Force sergeant in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966, Cronauer opened his Armed Forces Radio show with the phrase, "Goooooood morning, Vietnam!"

Williams made the refrain famous in the 1987 film, loosely based on Cronauer's time in Saigon.

The film was a departure from other Vietnam war movies that focused on bloody realism, such as the Academy Award-winning "Platoon." Instead, it was about irreverent youth in the 1960s fighting the military establishment.

"We were the only game in town, and you had to play by our rules," Cronauer told The Associated Press in 1987. "But I wanted to serve the listeners."

The military wanted conservative programming. American youths, however, were "not into drab, sterile announcements" with middle-of-the-road music, Cronauer said, and the battle over the airwaves was joined.

In the film, Williams quickly drops Perry Como and Lawrence Welk from his 6 a.m. playlist in favour of the Dave Clark Five.

Cronauer said he loved the movie but much of it was Hollywood make-believe. Robin Williams' portrayal as a fast- talking, nonconformist, yuk-it-up disc jockey sometimes gave people the wrong impression of the man who inspired the film.

"Yes, I did try to make it sound more like a stateside station," he told The AP in 1989. "Yes, I did have problems with news censorship. Yes, I was in a restaurant shortly before the Viet Cong hit it. And yes, I did start each program by yelling, 'Good Morning, Vietnam!'"

The rest is what he delicately called "good script crafting."

When the film was released, the presidential campaign of Democrat Jesse Jackson called asking if Cronauer would help out. The conversation died quickly after Cronauer asked the caller if she realized he was a Republican.

In 1992, George H. W. Bush's re-election campaign taped a TV ad slamming Bill Clinton's draft record. In the ad, Cronauer accused Clinton of lying.

"In many ways, I'm a very conservative guy," he said. "A lifelong, card-carrying Republican can't be that much of an anti-establishment type."

Cronauer was from Pittsburgh, the son of a steelworker and a schoolteacher. After the military, he worked in radio, television and advertising.

In 1979, Cronauer saw the film "Apocalypse Now" with his friend Ben Moses, who also served in Vietnam and worked at the Saigon radio station.

"We said that's not our story of Vietnam," Moses recalled Thursday. "And we made a deal over a beer that we were going to have a movie called 'Good Morning, Vietnam.'"

It wasn't easy. Hollywood producers were incensed at the idea of a comedy about Vietnam, said Moses, who co-produced the film and wrote the original 30-page story.

"I said 'It's not a comedy — it's the sugar on top of the medicine," Moses said.

Writer Mitch Markowitz made the film funny, and director Barry Levinson added the tragic-comedy aspect, Moses said. Williams' performance was nominated for an Oscar.

Moses said the film was a pivotal moment in changing the way Americans thought about the Vietnamese and the war.

Muse, the wife of Cronauer's stepson, said the movie "helped open dialogue and discussion that had long been avoided."

"He loved the servicemen and servicewomen all over the world and always made time to personally engage with them," she said.

She added that he was "a loving and devoted husband to his late wife Jeane (as well as a) father, grandfather and great-grandfather."

Cronauer attended the University of Pennsylvania's law school and went into the legal profession, working in communications law and later handling prisoner-of-war issues for the Pentagon.

"I always was a bit of an iconoclast, as Robin (Williams) was in the film," Cronauer told the AP in 1999. "But I was not anti-military, or anti-establishment. I was anti-stupidity. And you certainly do run into a lot of stupidity in the military."

Adrian Cronauer, right, was played by later actor Robin Williams in the hit film Good Morning Vietnam.
Adrian Cronauer, right, was played by later actor Robin Williams in the hit film Good Morning Vietnam. Source: Associated Press

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Watch: Video shows one of French President Emmanuel Macron's bodyguards beating a protester

A video showing one of French President Emmanuel Macron's security chiefs beating a student demonstrator, until now cloaked in secrecy, drew fierce public backlash overnight over what is seen as mild punishment and a possible cover-up.

The video of the May 1 event in Paris, revealed by French newspaper Le Monde, shows Alexandre Benalla in a helmet with police markings, and surrounded by riot police, brutally dragging off a woman from a demonstration and then repeatedly beating a young man on the ground.

The man is heard begging him to stop. Another man in civilian clothing pulled the young man to the ground.

Police, who had hauled the man from the crowd before Benalla took over, didn't intervene. Benalla then left the scene.

The second man was apparently a gendarme in the reserves who Le Monde said had worked with Benalla in the past.

The uproar over Benalla's punishment - a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities - upended regular business in parliament with lawmakers aghast that the security official still has an office in the presidential palace two-and-a-half months after the incident, and that he was not immediately reported to judicial authorities.

A preliminary investigation was hastily opened overnight as the tempo of outrage swelled.

"I'm surprise he hasn't resigned," said conservative lawmaker Jean-Christophe Lagarde, adding that if Benalla doesn't do so himself, the president should remove him or the drama will jump to "an affair of state."

But Macron has remained silent about a man he knows well. Benalla, who hasn't commented on the matter, handled Macron's security during the presidential campaign.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, responding to questions in the Senate, called the video images "shocking," but stumbled to respond to questions, notably whether all French are equal before the law.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the two men tackling the young protester "obviously had no legitimate (reason) to intervene." He said he has demanded that a police unit which investigates suspected criminal behavior by officers explain the rules governing observers and verify whether they were respected.

Condemning the "unacceptable behavior," Macron spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said that Benalla was also removed from his responsibilities of organizing security for presidential trips - though he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.

Authorities belatedly launched a preliminary investigation that could lead to charges against Benalla, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss an ongoing case.

Despite his official change to a desk job, Benalla was seen this month on the ground with police at several high-profile events, including the return home Monday of France's champion World Cup team, an event attended by hundreds of thousands.

Macron, in the Dordogne region to officially launch a new postage stamp, didn't respond to questions about the scandal. The upstart centrist elected last year had promised an exemplary presidency during his term to break with unending cases of corruption in French politics.

Roger-Petit said the punishment dealt out to Benalla was the "most serious" ever given to a top aide at the presidential Elysee Palace and served as a "last warning before dismissal."

Opposition politicians denounce a climate of impunity at the top of the French political hierarchy.

The head of France's main conservative party The Republicans, Laurent Wauquiez, asked on Europe 1 radio if the government was trying to "hush the affair."

"The feeling is that at the Elysee people think they're above everything," Wauquiez said.

Roger-Petit, the presidential spokesman, stressed that Benalla had requested authorization to use his day off "to observe" security forces' operations on May Day when marches are traditionally held. It was granted.

It was unclear why the young man under attack, who wasn't detained, was singled out by police before Benalla intervened.

"An observer doesn't act like that," said the spokesman for the UNSA-Police union. They are typically equipped and briefed in advance, and the framework is "completely clear," Philippe Capon told BFM-TV.

He couldn't say why police didn't stop Benalla.

The context was "special," he said. "He was an observer from the Elysee. When police officials hear the word 'Elysee' there is a particular apprehension."