The Latest: Trump defends 'tough calls' with world leaders

The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EST):

9:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Americans shouldn't worry about his "tough" phone calls with world leaders.

Trump says: "We have to be tough."

The president is speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast. He says the world is "in trouble" and other countries have been taking advantage of the United States, but his administration will "straighten it out."

Trump's comments come amid reports about his calls with leaders from Mexico and Australia.

The White House says Trump's comment to Mexico's president that he would send U.S. troops to stop "bad hombres down there" was "lighthearted."


9:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he'll work to "get rid of and totally destroy" a provision that bars churches and other tax-exempt organizations from supporting candidates for political office.

Trump — in an appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington — says religious freedom is a "sacred right." He's not saying how or when he'd try to repeal what's known as the Johnson Amendment — after then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, who pushed for it to be enacted.

Trump thanked Americans for their prayers as he begins his administration, saying they've been a "constant source of strength."

The president also took a dig at Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's the new host of "The Apprentice," the show Trump previously hosted. Trump says that since Schwarzenegger took over, the show's rating have been down, and Trump asked the audience to "pray for Arnold."


7:28 a.m.

President Donald Trump is questioning whether the University of California at Berkeley should be granted federal funding. Trump urges the school to honor free speech.

Protesters hurled smoke bombs, broke windows and started a bonfire prompting university officials to cancel a talk Wednesday by Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos out of safety concerns.

Trump tweeted Thursday, "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?"

Berkeley cancelled Yiannopoulos' appearance after a crowd of some 1,500 gathered outside the venue.

The 32-year-old right-wing provocateur is a vocal Trump supporter and a self-proclaimed internet troll whose comments have been criticized as racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim and white supremacist.


7:25 a.m.

Germany's foreign minister is heading for Washington to meet newly sworn-in U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convey what he calls an "offer of friendship and trust."

Sigmar Gabriel's trip on Thursday follows criticism by Chancellor Angela Merkel of President Donald Trump's restrictions on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

It also comes amid concern in Berlin about the new administration's intentions on trade.

Gabriel is also expected to meet with Vice President Mike Pence. He stresses the United States' longstanding status as his country's closest ally outside Europe.

Gabriel says, "The friendship between two nations is far more than thriving cooperation between governments, but without good and trusting relations between both governments, it can't go well."


7:21 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Iran was on the verge of collapse until the U.S. gave it a "lifeline" in the form of the Iran deal.

The president tweeted Thursday, "Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile." He adds, "Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!"

Trump was repeating comments made by National Security Adviser Michael Flynn,

Trump also tweeted, "Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion."

Flynn said Wednesday the "Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran's malign actions" and put Iran "on notice," without elaborating on what actions may be taken.