Trump vows to end prohibition on church political activity

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to free churches and other tax-exempt institutions of a 1954 US law banning political activity, drawing fire from critics who accused him of rewarding his evangelical Christian supporters and turning houses of worship into political machines.

Speaking to US politicians, religious leaders and guests such as Jordan's King Abdullah at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Trump used the opening moments of the usually solemn affair to deride actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, his successor on a reality TV show, for his viewership ratings. He also said almost every other country was taking advantage of the United States.

Trump took aim at a long-standing statutory barrier between politics and religion called the Johnson Amendment. It prohibits tax-exempt organisations such as churches and other places of worship, charities and educational institutions from directly or indirectly participating in any political campaign in favour or against a political candidate.

"I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that, remember," Trump said.

Trump previously spoke out against the amendment during the campaign and won the support of evangelical Christian leaders including Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

A change in the law would require action in the Republican-led US Congress, and Republican lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation that would reverse the policy.

After Trump's remarks, Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he has "always supported" eliminating the Johnson Amendment.

Critics including the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State expressed alarm.

"President Donald Trump and his allies in the religious right seek to turn America's houses of worship into miniature political action committees," said the group's executive director, Barry Lynn.

"It would also lead some houses of worship to focus on supporting candidates in exchange for financial and other aid. That would be a disaster for both churches and politics in America," Lynn said.

Peter Montgomery of the liberal advocacy group People For the American Way said Trump wants to pay back religious conservatives who helped get him elected "by letting them turn their churches into political machines with tax-exempt charitable dollars."

Scrapping the Johnson Amendment has been a goal of Christian conservatives, who contend it violates free speech and religious freedom rights. The US Constitution's First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and bars the government from establishing an official religion.

"We are encouraged to see that President Trump understands the very real constitutional violation posed by the Johnson Amendment and that he is committed to restoring a pastor's right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government retribution," said Erik Stanley, senior counsel for the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trump picks conservative judge Gorsuch for US Supreme Court

  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: A view of the Supreme Court at dusk, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: The Supreme Court is displayed on a camera monitor outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: A view of the Supreme Court at dusk, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: A view of the Supreme Court at dusk, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night.
  • A television news crew works in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017, before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump was poised to unveil his pick for the US Supreme Court, a crucial appointment that could tilt the bench to conservatives on deeply divisive issues such as abortion and gun control. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • People walk past the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017, before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump was poised to unveil his pick for the US Supreme Court, a crucial appointment that could tilt the bench to conservatives on deeply divisive issues such as abortion and gun control. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • A church bulletin board is pictured near the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017, before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump was poised to unveil his pick for the US Supreme Court, a crucial appointment that could tilt the bench to conservatives on deeply divisive issues such as abortion and gun control. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Television news equipment is pictured in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017, before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump was poised to unveil his pick for the US Supreme Court, a crucial appointment that could tilt the bench to conservatives on deeply divisive issues such as abortion and gun control. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • The United States Supreme Court is pictured in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017, before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump was poised to unveil his pick for the US Supreme Court, a crucial appointment that could tilt the bench to conservatives on deeply divisive issues such as abortion and gun control. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • People jog past the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017, before President Donald Trump announces his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. President Donald Trump was poised to unveil his pick for the US Supreme Court, a crucial appointment that could tilt the bench to conservatives on deeply divisive issues such as abortion and gun control. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talks with other White House staff as she arrives for U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of his nomination for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani arrives to watch U.S. President Donald Trump announce his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence talks with Maureen Scalia, widow of the the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, as they attend the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump of his nomination for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R) speaks with Maureen Scalia before US President Donald Trump nominates Neil M. Gorsuch to take Justice Antonin Scalia's vacancy on the US Supreme Court during an event in the East Room of the White House January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
  • Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) speaks with Maureen Scalia before US President Donald Trump nominates Neil M. Gorsuch to take Justice Antonin Scalia's vacancy on the US Supreme Court during an event in the East Room of the White House January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen (L) sit in the front row waiting for U.S. President Donald Trump to announce his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (L) talks with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) as they wait to hear U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. President Donald Trump's sons Donald Trump Jr. (L) and Eric Trump sit in the audience waiting to watch their father announce his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. President Donald Trump's sons Donald Trump Jr. (L) and Eric Trump (R) sit in the audience waiting to watch their father announce his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (L) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R) watch as U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nominee for the empty associate justice seat at the U.S. Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • US President Donald Trump speaks as he announces his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Neil Gorsuch arrives with his wife Marie Louise as U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, as his wife Marie Louise looks on at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump as Gorsuch's wife Louise (R) applauds after President Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Neil Gorsuch (L) after nominating him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Neil Gorsuch (L) after nominating him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Neil Gorsuch stands with his wife Marie Louise as U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Neil Gorsuch speaks after U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • udge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, as his wife Marie Louise looks on at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Gorsuch's wife Louise (R) after President Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Maureen Scalia, widow of late Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, stands as she is recognized by President Donald Trump as announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • US President Donald Trump speaks as he announces his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • US President Donald Trump speaks as he announces his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • US President Donald Trump speaks as he announces his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court as Gorsuch (R) applauds at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court as Gorsuch (R) stands with his wife Marie Louise at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court as Gorsuch (R) kisses with his wife Marie Louise at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Neil Gorsuch listens as U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Neil Gorsuch stands with his wife Marie Louise as U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • US President Donald Trump speaks as he announces his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) and his wife Marie Louise look on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court as Gorsuch (R) stands with his wife Marie Louise at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch looks on, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (R) speaks with US President Donald Trump after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Neil Gorsuch (R) after nominating him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (R) speaks with US President Donald Trump after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Neil Gorsuch (R) after nominating him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • Neil Gorsuch speaks after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Neil Gorsuch (L) smile as Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Neil Gorsuch (L) after Gorsuch spoke following Trump nominating him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks, after US President Donald Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump on nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump stands with Gorsuch's wife Louise (R) after President Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Neil Gorsuch (L) smile as Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • US President Donald Trump walks to the podium to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM
  • U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to announce his nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the empty associate justice seat of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • US President Donald Trump walks through the Cross Hall to the East Room to nominate Neil M. Gorsuch to take Justice Antonin Scalia's vacancy on the US Supreme Court during an event at the White House January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
  • A protester holds up a sign outside the US Supreme Court on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • Reverend Joe Mahoney speaks to the press after praying outside the US Supreme Court on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • Members of the National Action Network participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Protesters hold up signs outside the US Supreme Court on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • Protesters hold up signs outside the US Supreme Court on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. Richards
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee and his travel ban in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network block traffic in front of Trump Tower during a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Rev. Patrick Mahoney (R) leads a prayer outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network block traffic in front of Trump Tower during a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, is detained in front of Trump Tower during a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network are detained in front of Trump Tower during a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • Members and supporters of the National Action Network are detained in front of Trump Tower during a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • A member of the National Action Network is detained in front of Trump Tower during a protest against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in New York City, U.S. January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Led by Rev. Patrick Mahoney (R), a group prays for new Supreme Court Justice nominee outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Protestors gather outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Protestors gather outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Protestors gather outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Protestors gather outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Seen on a television camera monitor, President Donald Trump prepares to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
  • WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Led by Rev. Patrick Mahoney (2nd from R), a group prays for new Supreme Court Justice nominee outside of the Supreme Court, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he intends to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is a U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, Gorsuch will take the seat that has been vacant since the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • Demonstrators gather outside of The United States Supreme Court after President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. President Donald Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, tilting the balance of the court back in the conservatives' favor. / AFP PHOTO / ZACH GIBSON
  • The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia poses for a picture with judge Neil Gorsuch (R), U.S. President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, by the Upper Colorado river near Kremmling, Colorado, U.S. in this picture from October 3, 2014. Courtesy of Glen Summers
  • The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia poses for a picture with judge Neil Gorsuch (R), U.S. President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, by the Upper Colorado river near Kremmling, Colorado, U.S. in this picture from October 3, 2014. Courtesy of Glen Summers
  • Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) greets Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
  • Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (C) arrives for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
  • Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
  • Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch stands with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
  • Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch arrives for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

'PRAY FOR ARNOLD'

Trump said Schwarzenegger, the Republican former governor of California, had disastrous ratings on the NBC reality TV programme "Celebrity Apprentice," which Trump previously starred in.

"They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place. And we know how that turned out," Trump said. "It's been a total disaster. ... And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, OK?"

Schwarzenegger, who endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich over Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, shot back, alluding to the controversies of Trump's first two weeks in office.

"Hey Donald, I have a great idea," Schwarzenegger said in a video. "Why don't we switch jobs? You take over TV, because you're such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job. And then people can finally sleep comfortably again."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer later called Trump's remarks "light-hearted" and part of an "absolutely beautiful" speech.

Trump a week ago put a 120-day halt on the US refugee programme, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and imposed a 90-day suspension on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump defended his directive on Thursday as crucial to ensuring religious freedom and tolerance in America, and said he wanted to prevent a "beachhead of intolerance" from spreading in the United States. He also called terrorism a fundamental threat to religious freedom.

"The world is in trouble, but we're going to straighten it out. OK? That's what I do. I fix things," Trump said.

"When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it," Trump added, apparently referring to telephone conversations including one with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"It's time we're going to be a little tough folks. We're taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It's not going to happen anymore," Trump said.

Things Singapore investors need to know after Trump's win

  • Donald Trump (shockingly) won the US election. As far the financial markets are concerned, here are eight things that all Singapore investors should know about.
  • 1. Gold price is going up: Trump's victory has already seen a flight towards gold, as investors seek safe haven for their money.
  • 2. Uncertainty will cause sell-off, stock markets will drop: Investors, both institutional and retail, hate uncertainty, and that uncertainty is going to cause sell-off, leading to price drop across global equity markets.
  • 3. Panic leads to opportunity?: Remember the famous Warren Buffet quote, "be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful"? Well, you can now put this to the test.
  • 4. Watch the US Dollar close: While the popular sentiment is that the USD is going to depreciate as a result of Trump's victory in the short-run, the long-term performance of the USD is very much subjective still.
  • 5. Look out for local companies that deal heavily in US contracts: The uncertain future of the USD will be one to keep watch on, particularly for investors who own local stocks that have their contracts in USD.
  • 6. Bonds to be in demand again: With investors fearing that Trump's election will bring global uncertainty, prices of treasury bonds across the globe has seen a spike in price.
  • 7. High quality dividend stocks might be in play: There are many good local blue-chip companies that have been through recessions after recessions. They still continue to do well till today. Stick to them.
  • 8. Avoid panicking: The stock market is full of ups and downs, as it fluctuates largely based on human emotions.
  • We have already seen a shocking poll result earlier this year when the UK voted to exit the EU. As expected, markets sell-off were immediate. But life still have to go on. We still have to invest for our future and our retirement.
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