“And so are white people, so are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people,” Trump responded.
According to a Washington Post analysis updated on Monday, nearly half of the people killed by police are white, while 23 percent are Black. But Black Americans, who account for only 13 percent of the population, are shot at a disproportionate rate compared with white Americans, who make up 60 percent of the population, according to the analysis.
The May 25 killing of 46-year-old George Floyd, a Black American man, while in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests across the US under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement and led to an increased focus on police violence against Black people.
Responding to Trump’s remarks, American Civil Liberties Union’s Jeffery Robinson said in a statement that his comments were racist.
Robinson said Trump’s answer “not only ignores the fact that per capita Black and Brown people are disproportionately killed by police, it provides the foundation for the dangerous and unconstitutional police practices that result in the deaths of Black people with regularity”.
“Trump’s racism is so absolute that he continues to refuse to give even a tacit acknowledgment to the epidemic of police violence against Black people in America,” he said, accusing him of “using the violence and suffering perpetrated against Black communities as a white-supremacist dog whistle ahead of the coming election”.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump defended police departments, saying they “do an incredible job”, adding: “You can have a rogue, terrible cop, on occasion like you do in any industry, any business, in any profession.”
Already accused of not taking a clear stance against systematic racism and police brutality, Trump has escalated his rhetoric against the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks, focusing his comments on violence that breaks out occasionally on the fringes of peaceful demonstrations.
The recent nationwide protests have added prominence to a long-running debate about the flying of the Confederate flag in parts of the country and whether statues honouring Confederate leaders during the US Civil War should be removed from public view.
Asked by CBS if the flag should be “taken down,” Trump responded: “I know people that like the Confederate flag, and they’re not thinking about slavery.”
He added: “Very simple. Like it, don’t like it, it’s freedom of speech.”
In another interview with the conservative Townhall Media network, Trump defended a white couple captured in a widely shared video as they stood brandishing guns in front of their home in the city of St Louis during a protest against racial injustice.
Trump claimed Mark and Patricia McCloskey “were going to be beat up badly, if they were lucky” and said their house would have been “totally ransacked and probably burned down” had they not done that.
“And now I understand somebody local, they want to prosecute these people. It’s a disgrace,” he said.
The US President Donald Trump wore a face mask in public for the first time Saturday, finally yielding to intense pressure to set a public health example as the coronavirus rampages across America.
Trump had on a dark mask with the presidential seal as he walked through the corridors of Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington to meet wounded veterans.
Trump strode past reporters and did not stop to speak to them about what had become a hotly anticipated moment — would he have a change of heart on a practice recommended by the government’s own medical experts?
“I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump said as he left the White House.
News reports this week said aides practically begged the president to relent and wear a mask in public — and let himself be photographed — as coronavirus cases soared in some states and as Trump trailed Democrat Joe Biden badly in polls ahead of the November election.
Trump has steadfastly defended his administration’s handling of the pandemic even though the United States is the hardest-hit country in the world.
The country has recently seen several days of more than 60,000 new cases, nearly 135,000 people have died and states have been left to figure out on their own how to reopen without a clear and coherent strategy from the White House.
– ‘Wasted four months‘ – To wear a mask or not has become a sort of political fulcrum for a deeply divided America.
Conservatives who back Trump often refuse to don one on grounds it impinges on their freedom, while progressives tend to back the practice as a show of collective responsibility at a time of a life-or-death crisis.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people wear masks in public when they cannot engage in social distancing.
But Trump — at political rallies, media briefings and elsewhere — has repeatedly avoided wearing a mask, even after staffers at the White House tested positive for the virus and as more aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, have taken to wearing them.
In May, Trump even made fun of Biden when the latter started wearing a mask in public, sharing a tweet that featured an unflattering photograph of the former vice president in a black face covering.
The Biden campaign slammed Trump for not wearing a mask earlier.
“Donald Trump spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicizing wearing a mask, one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, according to Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)
“Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other.”
Trump has reportedly told aides that wearing a mask would make him look weak and he could not stomach the idea of letting the media photograph him in one.
Even Saturday as he left the White House to head to Walter Reed, Trump made it sound like he would wear a mask only because he would be in a hospital — not that he had come around and embraced the idea of donning one regularly.
“I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump told reporters.
Trump downplays risk of the coronavirus, announces plan to push states, localities to reopen schools in September.
President Donald Trump downplayed the continuing risk of the coronavirus in the United States and pressed his case for reopening schools on Tuesday.
“What we want to do is get our schools open,” Trump said at a White House event attended by First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and education and public health leaders.
“We are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools to get them open,” Trump said.
Trump cited advances in therapies for COVID-19 and asserted deaths from the virus are declining even as the numbers of confirmed cases have surged across the southern US from Florida to California.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit the US in March, states and localities nationwide shutdown public and private schools affecting more that 55 million students. Now authorities are trying to figure out how to reopen for the next school year.
“We can reopen our schools safely with what we know,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, citing forthcoming therapeutics now being tested.
In a conference call with US state governors, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday assailed plans by some local districts to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week and said schools must be “fully operational” even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Anything less, she said, would fail students and taxpayers.
DeVos made the comments during a call with governors as the Trump administration launched an all-out effort to get schools and colleges to reopen. Audio of the call was obtained by The Associated Press.
“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how. School must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders,” DeVos told governors.
Harvard University announced July 6 that its freshman class will be invited to live on campus this fall, while most other undergraduates will be required to learn remotely from home. Harvard officials decided to allow only 40 percent of undergraduates on campus in an effort to reduce density and prevent the spread of COVID-19. All classes will be taught online, however.
“I see that Harvard announced that they’re closing for the season or for the year. I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s an easy way out. They ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Trump said.
The University of Alabama system has announced plans to reopen three campuses in the fall relying on a contact-tracing app on students’ smartphones, masks and mandatory health checks. The chancellor of the University of Alabama, Finis St John IV, attended the White House event with Trump.
Trump has insisted that schools and colleges return to in-person instruction as soon as possible. He said Monday on Twitter that Democrats want to keep schools closed “for political reasons, not for health reasons”.
“They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!” Trump tweeted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out guidance for schools last month, including staggering schedules, spreading out desks, having meals in classrooms instead of the cafeteria, adding physical barriers between bathroom sinks and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
In the call with governors, DeVos slammed districts that plan to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week. She called out Fairfax County Public Schools, which is asking families to decide between fully remote instruction or two days a week in the classroom.
“A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” DeVos said, noting that the district’s distance learning last spring was a “disaster.”
DeVos said she was disappointed in schools across the US that “didn’t figure out how to serve students or who just gave up and didn’t try”. She said several state education chiefs told her that they also were disappointed in districts that did “next to nothing to serve their students”.
The same thing can’t happen again this fall, she said, urging governors to play a role in getting schools to reopen.
“Students across the country have already fallen behind. We need to make sure that they catch up,” DeVos said. “It’s expected that it will look different depending on where you are, but what’s clear is that students and their families need more options.”
Trump suggested officials who advocate keeping schools closed are doing so for political motives.
“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons, or think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way,” Trump said.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of the Department of Homeland Security issued new rules on July 6 saying international students must leave the US if classes are online.
Mary Trump claims her uncle hired someone to take the SAT college entrance exam for him in secondary school in the US.
A memoir by President Donald Trump’s niece due to be published next week describes the president as a pathological narcissist who cheated on the SAT college entrance examination and has embraced “cheating as a way of life” ever since, according to US media outlets who received advance copies of the book.
The book by Mary Trump, the daughter of President Trump’s elder brother, describes how decades of dysfunction and relations with an abusive father moulded the man who would become president into a reckless leader who, according to publisher Simon & Schuster, “now threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric”.
The Trump family has been embroiled in a legal battle to halt publication of the book – titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” – but an appellate court in the state of New York cleared it for release over the objections of Robert Trump, the president’s brother.
Robert Trump has said the book would violate a confidentiality agreement tied to the estate of his father Fred Trump Sr, who died in 1999. Mary Trump is Fred Trump’s granddaughter.
Citing “extraordinary interest” in the book, Simon & Schuster announced on Monday that the book would be released ahead of schedule, becoming available in bookstores on July 14 instead of July 28. Even before its release, the book is on Amazon’s list of top 10 best-sellers.
The New York Times newspaper, which received an advance copy, reported on Tuesday that the book claims Trump paid someone to take the SAT college entrance exam for him when he was in high school in the New York City borough of Queens. His high score on the test helped him secure a spot at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
The book also quotes President Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal appeals court judge, as having reservations about his fitness for office, referring to him as a “clown”. The sister also expressed amazement at support for him among evangelical Christians in the United States.
“The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there,” Mary Trump quotes her aunt as saying during the 2016 campaign. “It’s mind boggling. But that’s all about his base. He has no principles. None!”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday called the memoir a “book of falsehoods”.
“It’s ridiculous, absurd allegations that have absolute no bearing in truth. Have yet to see the book, but it is a book of falsehoods,” she told reporters outside the White House.
Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, claims the president meets all the criteria for being a narcissist, but writes that even that diagnosis does not capture the full array of his pathologies.
“The fact is,” she writes, “Donald’s pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neurophysical tests that he’ll never sit for.”
Last Wednesday, an appeals court judge in New York ruled that Simon & Schuster is allowed to release Mary Trump’s book “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
The president’s brother Robert Trump had asked for the restraining order, arguing that Mary was violating a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2001 after the settlement over the estate of Fred Trump — the father of Donald and Robert and of Mary’s father Fred Trump Jr.
Judge Alan Scheinkman postponed addressing whether the author had violated the agreement preventing her from revealing family secrets by writing the book. A hearing on that matter could take place this Friday.
Nevertheless Simon & Schuster “is not a party to the agreement,” so the block of their publication of the book “is vacated,” the judge ruled.
In the book, Mary, a clinical psychologist, recounts what she witnessed of the “toxic family” in the home of her grandparents, according to her publisher.
“She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse,” Simon & Schuster says in a blurb about the book.
Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) reported it will reveal that Mary Trump was the crucial source for explosive New York Times reporting on Trump’s finances, which suggested the billionaire paid little in tax for decades.
In late June, a judge refused to block the release of Bolton’s book, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” saying it was too late for the restraining order sought by the Trump administration.
Trump has characterized the portrait of 17 months up close with the leader, until Bolton was fired in September, as “fiction.”
On a day meant for unity and celebration, President Donald Trump vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies.
Trump watched paratroopers float to the ground in a tribute to America, greeted his audience of front-line medical workers and others central in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and opened up on those who “slander” him and disrespect the country’s past.
“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. “We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.
“And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.”
He did not mention the dead from the pandemic. Nearly 130,000 are known to have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.
Even as officials across the country pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds, Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise.
But the crowds wandering the National Mall for the night’s air show and fireworks were strikingly thinner than the gathering for last year’s jammed celebration on the Mall.
Many who showed up wore masks, unlike those seated close together for Trump’s South Lawn event, and distancing was easy to do for those scattered across the sprawling space.
Trump did not hesitate to use the country’s birthday as an occasion to assail segments of the country that do not support him.
Carrying on a theme he pounded on a day earlier against the backdrop of the Mount Rushmore monuments, he went after those who have torn down statues or think some of them, particularly those of Confederate figures, should be removed. Support has been growing among Republicans to remove Confederate memorials.
“Our past is not a burden to be cast away,” Trump said.
Outside the event but as close to it as they could get, Pat Lee of Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, gathered with two friends, one of them a nurse from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and none in a mask.
“POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “Masks, I think, are like a hoax.” But she said she wore one inside the Trump International Hotel, where she stayed.
By the World War II Memorial, the National Park Service handed out packets of five white cloth masks to all who wanted them. People were not required to wear them.
Another nurse, Zippy Watt from Riverside, California, came to see the air show and fireworks with her husband and their two daughters, one of whom lives in Washington. They wore matching American flag face masks even when seated together on a park bench.
“We chose to wear a mask to protect ourselves and others,” Watt said. She said her family was divided on Trump but she is “more of a Trump supporter. Being from southern California I see socialist tendencies. I’m tired of paying taxes so others can stay home.”
Pat Lee made the trip from north of Philadelphia after seeing last year’s Mall celebration on TV.
She said the protests over racial injustice that unfolded near her were so threatening that people in her suburban neighborhood took turns staying up all night and those who didn’t own guns stationed bats and shovels in their garages. Her friend from Pennsylvania, who didn’t want to be identified, said she spent more than three hours in line to buy a gun.
“I want people to stop calling us racists,” Lee said. “We’re not racists. Just because you love your country, love the people in your country, doesn’t make you a racist.”
Trump’s guests on the South Lawn were doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and military members as well as officials from the administration, said Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of front-line workers and the public in the pandemic.
In many parts of the country, authorities discouraged mass gatherings for the holiday after days that have seen COVID-19 cases grow at a rate not experienced even during the deadliest phase of the pandemic in the spring.
In New York, once the epicenter, people were urged to avoid crowds and Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest happened at an undisclosed location without spectators on hand, in advance of the evening’s televised fireworks spectacular over the Empire State Building.
In Philadelphia, mask- and glove-wearing descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence participated in a virtual tapping of the famed Liberty Bell on Independence Mall and people were asked to join from afar by clinking glasses, tapping pots or ringing bells.
Yet Trump continued to crave big crowds when it came to his events.
He opened the holiday weekend by traveling to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a fireworks display Friday night near the mountain carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. In stark words, he accused protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”
Even as he pushed ahead with celebrations, the shadow of the coronavirus loomed closer to him. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for the president and girlfriend of his eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the virus, Trump’s campaign said late Friday. Guilfoyle tweeted Saturday that she was looking forward to “a speedy recovery.”
In a presidential message Saturday morning on the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Trump acknowledged that “over the past months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been tested by many challenges.”
His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, said in a statement that the U.S. “never lived up” to its founding principle that “all men are created equal,” but today “we have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”
Trump’s endorsement of big gatherings at the National Mall and at Mount Rushmore came as many communities decided to scrap fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions in hopes of avoiding yet more surges in infection.
Confirmed cases were climbing in 40 states, and the U.S. set another record Friday with 52,300 newly reported infections, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Trump did not dwell on the pandemic in his remarks Saturday evening. Instead, he declared that “our country is in great shape.”
Trump has been aching to see the nation return to normalcy, and has been willing to push the envelope farther than many states and big city mayors are willing to go.
For Trump and the country, it was yet another holiday clouded by a pandemic that the U.S. has failed to bring under control.
In late March, a little more than a week after he bowed to the need to shut down much of the country, Trump spoke of reopening with “packed” churches by Easter Sunday. He relented on that push as his medical advisers warned that it was far too ambitious. Then he spent chunks of his Memorial Day weekend fuming about critics who he said were ignoring falling cases and deaths at the time.
President tells supporters at July 4 celebration that racial justice protests threaten foundations of US society.
United States President Donald Trump railed on Friday against “angry mobs” that tried to tear down statues of Confederate leaders and other historical figures, warning thousands of supporters at Mount Rushmore that protesters were trying to erase the country’s history.
The speech and fireworks on the eve of the US Independence Day came against the backdrop of a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 people across the country.
The event drew 7,500 people, packed tightly into an amphitheatre. Many did not wear masks, defying the advice of public health officials who have urged people to avoid large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Trump, speaking underneath the famed landmark depicting four US presidents, warned that recent demonstrations over racial inequality threatened the foundations of the country’s political system.
“Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution,” Trump said.
“Our children are taught in school to hate their own country,” he added.
The president announced that he would create a “National Garden of American Heroes”, which he described as a large outdoor park featuring statues of “the greatest Americans who ever lived”. He did not provide further details.
In the nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, protesters in several cities have vandalised the statues of Confederate generals that led a rebellion against the US government during the 1861-65 Civil War.
‘Angry mobs’ Protesters in one instance unsuccessfully tried to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the US, outside the White House. Jackson, known for his populist policies, owned slaves and forced thousands of Native Americans from their homes.
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” Trump said.
“They think the American people are soft and weak and submissive. But the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.”
He lamented “cancel culture” and charged that some on the political left hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”.
“There is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. Not gonna happen to us,” he added.
Trump has opposed proposals to rename US military bases that are named after Confederate generals and promised harsh punishment for people who damage statues.
The evening programme was not an official campaign event, but Trump’s remarks touched on key campaign themes meant to energise his political base ahead of the November 3 election.
Reporting from the city of Alexandria in Virginia, NRM described Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore as a “political call to arms”.
“A couple of facts though,” she said. “First, a lot of the statues that have been targeted by anti-racism protesters were in fact then removed by local governments. And the other is that these statues in large part celebrated people who fought for the confederacy, which sought to enshrine slavery as a political and economic reality in the southern half of the US. And those statues were raised not in the 19th century. But in the middle of the 20th century, during the last prominent wave of civil rights activism in this country.
She added: “Now, that doesn’t matter to Donald Trump. He is running for re-election and his numbers are down.”
Trump has presided over several large-crowd events – in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at an Arizona megachurch – even as health officials warn against large gatherings and recommend face masks and social distancing. He plans a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall in Washington, DC despite health concerns from the city’s mayor.
James Warren, the executive editor of News Guard, told Media that Trump had showed a total disregard for the health crisis facing the country.
“This was as Trumpian as you can get. He took this iconic backdrop and you had a president who was clearly and in a somewhat self-absorbed way likening himself to those four great folks. And doing it, as you will notice, without a mask, on a day in which we had broken national records for those testing positive,” he said.
“It was, even by Trumpian standards, rather rhetorically bombastic, to liken the protesters – people who symbolised the great presidents behind him – to fascists and totalitarians.”
Mount Rushmore, which depicts US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, has not hosted a fireworks spectacle since 2009 because of environmental concerns.
Trump advocated for a resumption of the display, and the state says the surrounding Black Hills National Forest has “gained strength” since then and that fireworks technology has advanced.
Native American protesters were arrested after blocking a road to the South Dakota landmark, according to video livestreamed on social media. They have criticised Trump’s visit for increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19 and for celebrating US independence in an area that is sacred to them.
South Dakota, a solidly Republican state, has not been hit as hard as other states by COVID-19, but cases in Pennington County, where Mount Rushmore is located, have more than doubled over the past month.
Atell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece cannot be published until a judge decides the merits of claims by the president’s brother that its publication would violate a pact among family members, a judge said Tuesday.
New York state Supreme Court Judge Hal B. Greenwald in Poughkeepsie, New York, issued an order requiring the niece, Mary Trump, and her publisher to explain why they should not be blocked from publishing the book: “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” A hearing was set for July 10.
The book, scheduled to be published July 28, was written by Mary Trump, the daughter of Fred Trump Jr., the president’s elder brother, who died in 1981. An online description of it says it reveals “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse.”
The judge banned “publishing, printing or distributing any book or any portions thereof” before he decides the validity of Robert S. Trump’s claims.
Robert Trump argues Mary Trump must comply with a written agreement among family members who settled a dispute over Fred Trump’s will that a book about them cannot be published without their permission.
Mary Trump’s lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, promised an immediate appeal.
“The trial court’s temporary restraining order is only temporary but it still is a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment,” Boutrous said.
“This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in an election year, should not be suppressed even for one day,” Boutrous said in a statement.
Adam Rothberg, a Simon & Schuster spokesperson, said the publisher was disappointed but looks forward “to prevailing in this case based on well-established precedents regarding prior restraint.”
Charles Harder, an attorney for Robert Trump, said his client was “very pleased.”
He said in a statement that the actions by Mary Trump and her publisher were “truly reprehensible.”
“We look forward to vigorously litigating this case, and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages,” he said. “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end.”
In court papers, Robert Trump maintained Mary Trump was part of a settlement nearly two decades ago that included a confidentiality clause explicitly saying they would not “publish any account concerning the litigation or their relationship,” unless they all agreed.
Iran said Monday it has called for Interpol to arrest President Donald Trump and 35 other US officials for the January killing of its top general in an American drone strike.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Qasi Mehr, quoted by state news agency IRNA, said 36 US political and military officials “involved in the assassination” of General Qasem Soleimani “have been investigated and were ordered to be arrested through Interpol”.
“These people have been charged with murder and terrorist acts,” he said.
“At the top of the list is US President Donald Trump, and his prosecution will continue even after the end of his term,” said the prosecutor, referring to his bid for re-election in November.
Qasi Mehr, quoted on the judiciary’s Mizan Online official website, said “the Iranian judiciary has issued arrest warrants against the 36”.
He called for the international police agency Interpol to issue red notices, which are not arrest warrants but issued for those wanted for prosecution or sentencing.
Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani in a January 3 drone strike near Baghdad international airport.
Soleimani, a national hero at home, was “the world’s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago”, Trump said at the time.
Brian Hook, the US pointman on Iran policy, scoffed at the Iranian request to Interpol as a “propaganda stunt”.
“Our assessment is that Interpol does not intervene and issue red notices that are based on a political nature,” he told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
“This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability,” Hook said.
“We see it for what it is. It’s a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish.”
The killing of Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, provoked massive outpourings of grief at home.
Iran retaliated by firing a volley of ballistic missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq, but Trump opted against responding militarily.
While the attack on the western Iraqi base of Ain Al-Asad left no US soldiers dead, dozens suffered brain trauma.
The White House on Saturday denied that President Donald Trump was briefed on reported U.S. intelligence that Russia’s military offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with Democratic rival Joe Biden criticising Mr Trump for failing to take action against Moscow.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that “neither the president nor the vice president (Mike Pence) were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence”.
The statement, McEnany said, did not address the “merit of the alleged intelligence” reported on Friday.
A Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe offered rewards for successful attacks last year on American and coalition troops, NRM cull
The newspaper reported that Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, were believed to have collected some bounty money.
Mr Trump was told about the intelligence but had not authorised steps to retaliate, learnt, NRM
Mr Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate set to challenge Mr Trump in the November 3 election, said during a virtual town hall on Saturday that the Times report, if true, represents a “truly shocking revelation,” noting in particular Trump’s reported failure to retaliate.
“Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” Mr Biden said, referring to the Russian president.
Mr Biden pledged retaliation if he becomes president.
“If I’m elected president, make no mistake about it, Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we’ll impose serious costs on Russia,” Mr Biden said.
The Trump Administration has frozen funding intended to help people in Hong Kong evade surveillance by the Chinese government, sources with knowledge of the matter tell Media, just as Beijing prepares to impose a new national security law that protesters fear will erode civil liberties there. NRM learnt
The funding freeze came on June 9, five days after Michael Pack, an ally of President Trump, was confirmed by the Senate to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees federal funding of several Internet freedom and foreign news initiatives, including Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.
Senior staff at the agency were informed in an email, obtained by Noble Reporters Media, that Pack had suspended funding on a range of activities at the agency. In the email, USAGM’s chief financial officer Grant Turner cited a request by Pack to immediately freeze “new contracts or extensions of any contract” from the agency’s federal operations and grantees, as well as on new hires and promotions.
The freeze affected several contracts—estimated by two sources with knowledge of them to be worth around $2 million—that would have directly benefited the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
In a statement, the USAGM did not dispute the $2 million figure, but said that it was committed to defending Internet freedom in the region. “USAGM CEO Michael Pack understands the scale and nature of the threat posed by opponents of freedom of expression, and that is precisely why he considers bolstering [Chinese] firewall circumvention a top priority of his tenure at the agency,” a spokesperson said.
The funds were set to be distributed by the Washington-based Open Technology Fund (OTF), group overseen by USAGM that funds open-source Internet freedom projects around the world. The OTF is officially an independent non-profit, but is funded by Congress with government oversight.
The Trump Administration’s funding freeze came less than a month after the Chinese Communist Party announced plans for a national security law that will make secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces a crime. Pro-democracy campaigners say the law, which is expected to be passed on Tuesday and take immediate effect, will curtail Hong Kong’s autonomy and the freedoms it enjoys that distinguish it from mainland China.
The impending legislation, and another controversial law that criminalizes insulting China’s national anthem, have sparked fresh rounds of unrest in Hong Kong in recent weeks—though protests have so far failed to regain the momentum they had in the second half of 2019.
One of the OTF’s plans ahead of the national security law coming into force in Hong Kong was to set up a cybersecurity incident response team focused on Hong Kong. The team would have analyzed Chinese surveillance techniques, and shared information quickly with developers of secure communications apps after identifying how those techniques are developing, two people with knowledge of the plans said. Those plans were made impossible by the funding freeze.
Another initiative hamstrung by the freeze was the OTF’s approximately $500,000 rapid response fund, designed to provide fast relief for civil society groups, protesters, journalists and human rights defenders who have come under digital attack. The fund is open to applicants from around the world, but has made several payouts to groups in Hong Kong since unrest began there in June 2019. The freeze has so far prevented at least one Hong Kong-related payout from the rapid response fund. That payout was described by two people with knowledge of the plans as being for a large project focused on helping civil society groups in Hong Kong with their digital security.
The OTF is little-known outside the world of open source technology, but its funding has contributed to the development of secure communications tools used by protesters in Hong Kong and around the world. It was a key early funder of Signal, the encrypted messaging app of choice for many Hong Kong protesters. Between 2012 and 2016, it donated nearly $3 million to the development of the encryption protocol the app is built on. (The app has since received at least $50 million in other private investment.) The OTF has also directed funds toward projects dedicated to collecting and preserving information shared on the Chinese social networks Weibo and Wechat before posts are censored. It has also invested more than $6 million in Tor, the encrypted internet service that can mask browsing habits from authorities, popular among dissidents around the world.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if [the freeze] is negatively impacting the Hong Kong protesters and putting them at risk, as well as lots of other folks around the world,” said a U.S. Agency for Global Media official who spoke to Media on condition of anonymity to protect their employment. “I’m almost certain that they didn’t take into account the timing of the national security law. It was sort of a carte blanche thing on day one and I’m not sure if they are really appreciating the operational impact.”
Many Hong Kongers, especially pro-democracy protesters, already use virtual private networks (VPNs), which can help disguise web browsing habits from authorities, to help circumvent monitoring by police. Additionally, in May, as the news of the national security law was first trickling out, Google searches for “VPN” spiked in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not subject to the internet censorship of China’s Great Firewall, though some fear the effects the security law will have on digital freedom.
“Hong Kong protesters get really geeky about the tools they use,” says Harvey, a freelance programmer from Hong Kong who has participated in the pro-democracy protests and worked with the OTF in the past. He asked to use a pseudonym to protect his identity. “It’s always looming in the minds of Hong Kongers. It’s a place that has one country, two internets, but everybody is scared that [soon] we won’t.”
U.S. support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong is a touchy subject. During the 2019 protests, protesters openly called for foreign intervention and waved U.S. flags at demonstrations. But the Chinese government has frequently claimed that “foreign forces” are behind the protests. Assistance so far, when it has come, has come from bodies at arm’s length from the U.S. government like the OTF and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), another non-profit predominantly funded by Congress, which spent about $643,000 on Hong Kong programs in 2019. (These programs are described as fostering civil society in Hong Kong; the NED says it has not sent aid to protesters.) In December, China announced sanctions against the NED and several other U.S-based non-profits for “strongly instigat[ing] extremely violent criminal activities,” according to a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson. The OTF has so far evaded Chinese sanctions, although activists fear the new national security law could criminalize protesters’ ties with foreign organizations if authorities consider them to be damaging to national security.
But now the OTF finds itself paralyzed by its own leadership at what current and former insiders say is a critical time. With the national security law looming, Hong Kong protesters are “afraid that any speech or activity that they are involved in could be deemed criminal under this new law, because the CCP is very vague in its wording and expansive in its application, historically, of these laws,” says Libby Liu, the OTF’s former CEO, who resigned on June 13 in response to the funding freeze. “We have several projects housed in Hong Kong. So those people could be caught up in the net that says taking U.S. government funds is a subversive behavior, since the CCP has already found those things to fall within subversive activity or a risk to national security.” So far, Beijing has not released the full draft text of the security law.
The June 9 email announcing the freeze on funding included a line asking urgent exemptions to be raised with senior USAGM staff. In response, OTF staff sent an email requesting all their pending contracts, including the Hong Kong funding, be exempted. As of June 25, they had not received a response to their request and the freeze is still in place, two people with knowledge of the matter said, N.Rs learnt.
Four days after she resigned, Liu was fired and prevented from serving her month’s notice, as she had planned. Laura Cunningham, the OTF’s principal director, was also fired. On Tuesday, the OTF filed a federal lawsuit arguing Pack lacked the legal authority to fire OTF staff and freeze funding. In a statement gathered by NRM, USAGM declined to comment on the pending litigation, but about Pack’s decision to fire senior staff, said: “All of the actions that CEO Michael Pack took are legal, and he stands by them.”
The firings are part of a broader shakeup at USAGM, in what insiders fear is part of a plan to turn the agency into a more overt propaganda operation for the U.S. government. In early May, Trump criticized Voice of America for what he said was the broadcaster’s failure to take a hard line on U.S. adversaries. He then pushed the Senate, which had delayed approving Pack for the role for two years, to confirm him. Upon his confirmation, Pack also fired the heads of Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe, and two of USAGM’s other international broadcasting agencies. The two most senior staff members at Voice of America quit in anticipation of Pack’s arrival. As well as clearing most senior staff, Pack replaced the bipartisan board overseeing the agency and stacked it with conservatives.
“The Trump Administration has, I think, felt like either their positions are not being represented fairly, or that the agency should be doing more advocacy of their positions,” the USAGM official who spoke to Media on condition of anonymity said. “The fear now is that the political leadership thinks of this more as a messaging tool for the Trump Administration.”
Meanwhile, as opposition to the national security law continues in Hong Kong, a segment of the U.S. government’s behind-the-scenes support has been on pause for more than two weeks. “The people in Hong Kong are so well-prepared,” Liu says. “They know what the threat is, and they have been protesting for over a year. They are all trying to get ready. And we can’t help them get ready if we can’t be in business.”
President Donald Trump said the phase one trade deal with China is “fully intact,” after his adviser Peter Navarro sowed confusion and spurred a temporary stock slump with comments interpreted as a decision to end the agreement.
“The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!” Trump said in a Twitter post late Monday.
Navarro had responded to a long question by Fox News interviewer Martha MacCallum asking whether aspects of the deal were “over” by saying: “It’s over. Yes.”
From the transcript:
Martha MacCallum, Fox News: You know, when — do you think that the president sort of — I mean, he obviously really wanted to hang onto this trade deal as much as possible. And he wanted them to make good on the promises, because there had been progress made on that trade deal, but given everything that’s happened and all the things you just listed, is that over?
Navarro: It’s over. Yes.
U.S. futures swung wildly with the yuan as the remarks caused concern that the deal signed in January, which paused the trade war between world’s two largest economies, was in jeopardy. Navarro later said his comments “have been taken wildly out of context.”
The market reaction and rapid response by Trump signal the sensitivity over the trade agreement at a time when the global economy is being pummeled by the coronavirus and faced with growing worries over the relationship between Washington and Beijing. The two nations are locked in confrontation over the pandemic, Hong Kong, human rights and technology.
Contracts on the S&P 500 Index fell as much as 1.6% before paring losses and the offshore yuan weakened 0.4% after multiple media outlets reported the remarks.
Chinese officials have insisted that they intend to stick to the deal, which implies increasing imports from the U.S. by a total of $200 billion over two years. The economic slump caused by the coronavirus has made reaching those targets doubtful, though the U.S. had signaled some flexibility.
Navarro is not the decisive voice on the future of the trade deal. The architect of the agreement, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said last week that the phase one agreement is “enforceable” and the U.S. fully intends to carry it through.
China’s foreign and commerce ministries did not immediately respond to a request for comments on Navarro’s Fox interview.
President Donald Trump will prolong a ban on US employment permits to year-end and broaden it to include H-1B visas used widely in the tech industry, the White House said Monday.
A senior administration official told journalists the move would affect 525,000 jobs in the US, which is currently reeling from a high unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump had repeatedly touted a strong economy, but now finds himself desperate for a political boost ahead of the November election.
The executive order, signed Monday afternoon, will extend and widen the 60-day freeze Trump placed on new work permits for non-US citizens two months ago.
The administration official said the new order would extend to the end of 2020 and include H-1B visas provided to 85,000 workers each year with special skills, many of them joining the US technology industry.
It will also cover most J visas, common for academics and researchers, and L visas used by companies to shift workers based overseas to their US offices.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai — whose company has been a leading beneficiary of the H1-B visa system — said he was “disappointed” by the announcement.
“Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech,” he wrote on Twitter.
The move comes as Trump feuds with Silicon Valley after tech titans Twitter and Snapchat censored or hid posts by the president they claimed incited violence or were misleading.
Last month Trump signed an order seeking to strip social media giants of legal immunity for content on their platforms in a move slammed by his critics as a legally dubious act of political revenge.
– ‘Prioritize’ valuable workers – The official said the order was necessary to respond to soaring unemployment that resulted from the COVID-19 shutdown.
The official also stressed the H-1B visa freeze was temporary while the program is restructured, shifting from an annual lottery that feeds coders and other specialists to Silicon Valley to a system that gives priority to those foreign workers with the most value.
Trump “is going to prioritize those workers who are offered the highest wages,” as an indicator that they can add more value to the US economy, the official said.
“It will eliminate competition with Americans… in these industries at the entry level, and will do more to get the best and the brightest.”
The move also freezes most H-2B visas — used each year for about 66,000 short-term, low-skilled jobs in landscaping, food and hospitality industries — and H-4 visas, which allow spouses of other visa holders to work.
Exemptions will apply to seafood processing plants and to au pairs, who offer families household help like childcare.
In addition, the official said the government is issuing new regulations that will make it much harder for tens of thousands of asylum seekers waiting for their court hearings to work legally in the meanwhile.
With often a two-year wait for a case to be reviewed, the administration sees many people apply for asylum mainly to be able to acquire work permits.
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, normally a firm Trump supporter, criticized the decision and tweeted: “Those who believe legal immigration, particularly work visas, are harmful to the American worker do not understand the American economy.”
He added that he feared the president’s decision “will create a drag on our economic recovery”.
Layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the US passed 45.7 million last week, and although many jobs will come back as the country reopens, there are worries that some have been irrevocably lost by the heavy financial impact on businesses and local governments.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned earlier this month that unemployment could still be 9.3 percent nationwide at the end of the year, an improvement from the current 13.3 percent but still devastatingly high.
An extraordinary standoff between the Justice Department and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman ended Saturday when the prosecutor agreed to leave his job with an assurance that his investigations into allies of President Donald Trump would not be disturbed.
The announcement capped two days of conflicting statements, allegations of political interference in prosecutions, and defiance from Berman. On Saturday, Attorney General William Barr said Berman’s refusal to resign under pressure prompted Trump to fire him. Trump tried to distance himself from the dispute, telling reporters the decision “was all up to the attorney general.”
This episode deepened tensions between the Justice Department and congressional Democrats, who have accused Barr of politicizing the agency and acting more like Trump’s personal lawyer than the country’s chief law enforcement officer. It also raised questions about ongoing investigations in the Southern District of New York, most notably a probe into Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney.
Barr set off the whirlwind chain of events on Friday night with a surprise announcement that Berman was resigning, without explanation. But Berman insisted he had not resigned, was not stepping down and his investigations would continue.
On Saturday morning, he showed up to work, telling reporters, “I’m just here to do my job.”
Hours later, Barr announced Berman’s firing.
“Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service,” Barr wrote in a letter released by the Justice Department. He said the idea that Berman had to continue on the job to safeguard investigations was “false.”
Although Barr said Trump had removed Berman, the president told reporters: “That’s all up to the attorney general. Attorney General Barr is working on that. That’s his department, not my department.” Trump added: “I wasn’t involved.”
The administration’s push to cast aside Berman amounted to a political and constitutional clash between the Justice Department and one of the nation’s top districts, which has tried major mob, financial crimes and terrorism cases over the years.
Only days ago, allegations surfaced from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton that the president sought to interfere in an investigation by Berman’s office into the state-owned Turkish bank in an effort to cut deals with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Berman initially vowed to stay on the job until a replacement was confirmed. He changed his mind late Saturday after Barr said he would allow Berman’s second in command, Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, to become acting U.S. attorney.
Berman said Strauss’ appointment signaled that Barr had decided “to respect the normal operation of law.” He said he was stepping down immediately.
The administration’s efforts to replace Berman with a handpicked replacement, however, were already running into roadblocks before Barr agreed to install Strauss.
After announcing Berman’s resignation, the White House said it was nominating Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, a well-connected Wall Street lawyer with virtually no experience as a federal prosecutor, for the job.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a close Trump ally, said he was unlikely to proceed with Clayton’s nomination unless New York’s senators, Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, gave their consent to the pick.
Schumer said the bid to oust Berman “reeks of potential corruption of the legal process,” and Gillibrand said she would “not be complicit” in helping fire a prosecutor investigating corruption. Both lawmakers called for Clayton to withdraw from consideration.
Schumer also called for the department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate Berman’s ouster. And the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Berman has an open invitation to testify before his panel.
Berman, a Republican who contributed to the president’s election campaign, worked for the same law firm as Giuliani and was personally interviewed by Trump before being tapped as U.S. attorney. But he won over some skeptics after overseeing numerous prosecutions and investigations with ties to Trump.
Though Berman is said to be unclear about the exact reason he was fired, people familiar with his thinking said his job had always seemed in jeopardy and he never had the sense it was secure.
Among the most high profile investigations he was overseeing was into Giuliani’s business dealings, including whether he failed to register as a foreign agent. Charges in the case do not appear imminent, according to people familiar with the matter. They were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Southern District has also prosecuted a number of Trump associates, including Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who served a prison sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes. Cohen was recently released from a federal prison to continue serving his sentence on home confinement over coronavirus concerns.
Berman has overseen the prosecution of two Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were associates of Giuliani and tied to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. The men were charged in October with federal campaign finance violations, including hiding the origin of a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump’s reelection.
Under Berman’s tenure, his office also brought charges against Michael Avenatti, the combative lawyer who gained fame by representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits involving Trump. Avenatti was convicted in February of trying to extort Nike after prosecutors said he threatened to use his media access to hurt Nike’s reputation and stock price unless the sportswear giant paid him up to $25 million.
US president says he wants coronavirus testing to slow down as six campaign staff members test positive for COVID-19.
Gathering a smaller than expected crowd, President Donald Trump sought to breathe new life into his re-election campaign with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, amid anti-racism protests in cities across the country and a still-strong coronavirus pandemic.
Even as the coronavirus death toll in the United States neared 120,000, Trump declared on Saturday night that his response to the pandemic saved “hundreds of thousands” of lives.
He also suggested that he wants the pace of COVID-19 testing in the US to slow down, blaming it for the rapid rise in the number of confirmed cases. His campaign, however, said the president was “speaking in jest”.
The US president also tried to explain away the crowd size, blaming it on the media who he said warned people: “Don’t go, don’t come, don’t do anything,” while insisting that the protesters outside were “doing bad things”, though the small crowds of pre-rally demonstrators were largely peaceful.
“We begin our campaign,” Trump thundered. “The silent majority is stronger than ever before.”
Just moments before Trump’s speech, his son, Eric, also addressed the crowd, describing the anti-racism protesters across the US as “animals”.
Trump has come under fire for his responses to the coronavirus pandemic and to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.
The US president has brushed aside criticism for his decision to hold his first rally since March 2 in Tulsa, the site of one of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence against Black Americans about 100 years ago.
He claimed that Democrats were seeking to erase American heritage, a reference to the tearing down of several statues of Confederate slave owners and other figures.
“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues, and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control,” he said.
“Oklahoma and America need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House!” Vice President Mike Pence told cheering supporters ahead of Trump’s address at the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena, where many empty seats were visible.
Trump campaign officials had said prior to the event that demand far outstripped the capacity of the venue.
But on Saturday night, the arena was almost half-empty, and the campaign was forced to cancel an outdoor rally after the expected overflow crowd did not show up.
Dozens of Black Lives Matter protesters did gather at rally checkpoints and confronted attendees, but no violence was reported.
Virus spike Many rally-goers wore red “Make America Great Again” hats or T-shirts, but very few wore masks, and there was little social distancing, even though coronavirus cases have recently been skyrocketing in Oklahoma.
Hours before the rally, the Trump campaign announced six members of its advance team had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Republican president is trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, in polls ahead of the November election.
Supporters are delighted to see Trump back on the campaign trail, and those wanting to attend far outstripped the number of seats available, Trump campaign officials said.
Masks not obligatory This was the first of Trump’s signature rallies since March 2, when the country went into pandemic lockdown.
The Trump campaign issued an unusual disclaimer telling attendees they “assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19”.
Oklahoma’s case tally reached a new daily high on Wednesday, at 450 infections.
‘Back to business’ Trump has emphasised quickly reopening the country, saying there may be “embers” of the pandemic that can be handled locally.
In an interview with Media on Friday, Trump predicted a “wild evening” in Oklahoma.
He said the rally is about pushing a message of reopening the country.
“We have to get back to business,” Trump said. “We have to get back to living our lives. Can’t do this any longer.”
The president has also previously warned protesters that they will face a harsh response in Tulsa.
Rally organisers provided everyone with hand sanitiser, temperature checks and optional masks.
Attendees were required to sign a waiver protecting organisers from any liability in the event COVID-19 spreads at the venue.
“It’s a personal choice, I won’t be wearing a mask,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday, adding that she is frequently tested for the virus.
Reporting from Tulsa ahead of the rally, NRM learnt Trump’s supporters were “very excited” to see the president.
“When you talk to those supporters, most will tell you that they don’t plan to wear face masks, that they are not concerned about the virus.”
The US Supreme Court dealt President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration efforts a fresh blow Thursday when it rejected his cancellation of a program protecting 700,000 “Dreamers,” undocumented migrants brought to the United States as children.
In the high court’s second rebuff of administration policies this week, justices said Trump’s 2017 move to cancel his predecessor Barack Obama’s landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the court’s liberal members in a five-to-four decision, stressed it was not an assessment of the correctness of the 2012 DACA program itself.
Instead, they said the Trump administration had violated government procedures in the way it sought to quickly rescind DACA in September 2017 based on weak legal justifications.
The ruling suggested there are legal administrative methods Trump could use to cancel DACA, putting the onus back on the administration if it wants to pursue the issue.
Temporary reprieve The decision gave a reprieve, though possibly only temporary, to hundreds of thousands of people brought or sent to the United States as youngsters. They grew up here, went to school, worked and started families — without ever having legal status.
“It was a great surprise,” said Daniel Olano, a 28-year-old Virginia resident who arrived in the United States from El Salvador when he was eight.
“My family and I were expecting the worst,” he said with relief.
Houston paramedic Jesus Contreras, who came from Mexico as a child, said Thursday’s ruling was “not the end of the battle.”
“We still have to fight for legislation but right now it is a good feeling to know that we are protected and safe at least for now,” he said.
Conservative court? Trump was angry after the court, which he has worked to stack with conservatives, dealt him his second legal setback in days.
On Monday the court ruled that constitutional protections against discrimination on the basis of sex covered homosexuals and transgender people, a position the Trump administration opposed.
In that case conservative Neil Gorsuch, named by Trump to the court in 2017, sided with Roberts and the four liberals in a six-to-three vote.
“Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Trump tweeted.
“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” Trump wrote.
‘Our American family’ Immigration champions cheered Thursday’s ruling.
“Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation,” Obama tweeted.
“Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals.”
Trump entered office in January 2017 promising to end most immigration and to expel millions who live in the country without legal documents.
Unable to get Congress to agree on legislation to protect long-time resident immigrants, in 2012 the Obama administration turned to an executive order to implement DACA.
It offers people who entered the United States as children and grew up here authorization to stay, attend school, work and enjoy public benefits on renewable two-year periods.
The Supreme Court judgment made clear Trump could end DACA by other means, including an executive order.
It brought new calls Thursday for Congress to pass permanent legislation to help those under DACA, as well as to offer several million more people, including Dreamers’ parents, protection from deportation.
Senior Democratic lawmakers Jerrold Nadler and Zoe Lofgren urged the Republican-controlled Senate “to immediately take up and pass H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, which puts Dreamers and long-term beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status on a pathway to citizenship. The time to act is now.”
Donald Trump has no guiding principles and is unfit to be president, his former national security advisor John Bolton said in an interview released Thursday to promote his explosive book.
“I don’t think he’s fit for office. I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job,” Bolton said
The Trump administration is scrambling to stop publication of the memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” arguing that it contains classified material.
In the book, excerpts of which were published by three newspapers Wednesday, Bolton alleged that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for re-election help, voiced support for Beijing’s mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims and other minorities and was widely ignorant of the world.
“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s re-election,” Bolton told Media in the interview, which will be broadcast in full Sunday.
“I think he was so focused on the re-election that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside,” he added.
Bolton pointed to Trump’s outreach to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying Trump was fixated on the “photo opportunity and press reaction to it” rather than on long-term US interests.
Bolton, a veteran Republican insider, is well-known for his hawkish views on North Korea — a key reason for his departure from the White House in September.
With less than five months until the presidential election, Donald Trump’s four year war against Washington is heading into a critical phase. Even as a handful of onetime allies in the establishment speak out against what they say is Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior, the President is taking more aggressive steps to enforce control over the levers of executive authority in an attempt to squash what he sees as internal threats to his re-election, current and former aides tell NRM. The resulting fights seem set to test just how far Trump is willing to go to bend the power of the presidency towards his political interests as his re-election efforts founder.
The internal power plays flared across government on Wednesday. In an attempt to quash a new book by former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump’s Department of Justice filed an emergency restraining order against Bolton and his publisher, even as copies of the book circulated around the country and news outlets published excerpts. Elsewhere, Trump’s new pick to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which controls the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and other federally-funded broadcasters overseas, cleaned house on Wednesday, replacing senior staff and firing the heads of each broadcaster in an afternoon email.
The latest battles between Trump and his opponents in the federal government, real or perceived, are taking place against the backdrop of a push from within the White House by Trump’s former body man, 30-year-old John McEntee, to place aides viewed to be sufficiently loyal to Trump across the executive branch. McEntee has already imposed senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and Office of Personnel Management. Trump has also removed inspectors general at Health and Human Services, the State Department, and the watchdog overseeing over $1 trillion in pandemic stimulus funds.
The mounting purge suggests that the five months between now and the vote could see new examples of Trump’s tendency to project personal politics onto the power of the presidency, as Trump and his aides increasingly see the executive branch itself as a threat to his re-election. “There’s the threat that people who are not loyal are going to blow up something right before the election,” says a former White House official who is still in close contact with Trump aides.
Trump’s moves at America’s overseas media operations have been building for some time. President Trump has repeatedly returned from overseas trips and told aides he was frustrated that CNN’s International broadcast is a major way people around the world get news about the U.S. Trump feels CNN hates him and often portrays the U.S. in an uncomplimentary light. He has repeatedly told aides he wants the U.S.-government funded Voice of America to counter CNN’s coverage overseas and launch a more full-throated, pro-American take on the news.
To make that happen, Trump picked conservative documentary filmmaker Michael Pack to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA. Pack was confirmed by the Senate on June 4 and started work this week. The agency’s new top legal counsel, staff learned, will be Michael Williams, who had recently worked in the White House chief of staff’s office and was formerly a lawyer for a gun silencer lobby. Pack’s new chief of staff, Emily Newman, was recently the White House liaison to Health and Human Services. The top two officials at VOA resigned on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Pack met with senior staff at the agency’s headquarters on Independence Ave., but made no mention of a coming shake up. Then a few hours later, at the end of the workday, a message went out that authority to run the broadcast networks was being given to Pack’s senior staff and that no leaders were allowed to make any public statements without first clearing it with Pack’s office.
The top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eliot Engel, was alarmed at the prospect of Pack pushing out career experts at the agency. The agency’s mission is “‘to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy’—not to be a mouthpiece for the President in the run up to an election,” Engel said in a statement. “Mr. Pack needs to understand that USAGM is not the Ministry of Information. The law requires that our international broadcasting be independent, unbiased, and targeted toward audiences around the world,” Engel said.
Some aides are arguing that Trump’s purge is less about improving his re-election chances, which critics say would be an abuse of power, than about establishing his authority ahead of a hoped-for second term. “They’re preparing for a second term,” says the former Trump aide familiar with the changes. Some in the White House have studied the previous Republican administration of George W. Bush and believe Bush didn’t do enough to put a conservative stamp on the civil service while he was in office, and they want to change that, the former official says. “It needs to happen quicker,” said a current White House official about the effort to place more of Trump’s picks throughout the agencies.
Trump’s hiring apparatus in the White House has been a source of frustration for Trump for years, the former official says. “There was a problem as far as approach in fulfilling the President’s wishes,” the former official says. “McEntee is trying to fulfill the President’s wishes and execute. He’s executing. He’s making decisions and moving,” says the former official.
Inside the White House, McEntee encouraged the head of the Office of Personnel Management Dale Cabaniss to resign over concerns that she wasn’t moving quickly enough or aggressively with personnel decisions. She was replaced by the deputy director, Michael Rigas. In addition, since he arrived in the West Wing in late March, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has worked with Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah to wrestle the agency public affairs operations under White House control, especially leading into the election. In April, McEntee placed former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for public affairs.
Past administrations have grappled with how to bring on board people who won’t contradict the President. When Ronald Reagan was elected, his advisors created a list of what Reagan had promised during the campaign and would show the list to nominees, asking them not to take public positions against them, says Terry Sullivan, an expert on presidential leadership at the University of North Carolina. In the Trump administration, the loyalty test can be harder as the list of what to adhere to “changes from day to day,” Sullivan says. “They aren’t good at coaching,” Sullivan says. “They end up with what appears to be disloyalty because people have a hard time figuring out what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The decision making of Presidents usually reflects the lives and experiences they’ve had, says Martha Kumar, an expert on White House management. “For Trump, he ran a company that he controlled. He wasn’t responsible to stockholders. He never held elective office. He really didn’t have to go beyond his initial experience which was to have people around him who were loyal to him,” Kumar says.
President Trump’s appointment of William Barr to head the Justice Department in February 2019, just as Special Council Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was wrapping up, has led to a cascading loss of independence in the justice system, say Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, including signs of political interference in criminal cases against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Trump’s former campaign advisor Roger Stone.
The removals have been widespread across the agencies, with particular focus on officials charged with finding waste, fraud and abuse of power. In April, Trump fired the chief watchdog of the intelligence community who had passed to Congress the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president that led to his impeachment. That same month, Trump demoted the top watchdog at the Defense Department, Glenn Fine, which stripped him of his additional duty overseeing the more than a trillion dollars in pandemic stimulus payments. Trump replaced him with the acting inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The acting inspector general of the Department of Transportation was removed in May at a time when the office reportedly was looking at whether Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had taken actions beneficial to her husband Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political interests. The State Department’s inspector general was also fired in May after looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played a role in selling arms to Saudi Arabia in a way that was circumventing the Congressional process.
“The firings send a terrible messages to inspectors general, basically, ‘You’re going to lose your job,’ and for a career appointee, ‘You’re treading on thin ice if you do anything that is not going to align with the political interest of the leadership,’” Canter says.
Trump has chafed at recent critiques he views as disloyal. Former National Security Advisor Bolton’s book alleges that Trump urged China’s leader to buy more farm products to help Trump’s reelection and mused about staying beyond two terms. The Justice Department’s attempt to block publication of the 592-page memoir argues that despite months of pre-publication review, Bolton’s book still contains classified information.
Bolton is not the only senior Trump official to voice criticism of the President as the election nears. After Trump’s ham-handed attempt at a photo op in front of St. John’s Church in Washington just moments after federal, state and local forces cleared Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters, Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued his first direct criticism of the President in a scathing letter. Mattis said Trump should not threaten to use the military to “dominate” cities and Americans should reject those would would “make a mockery of our Constitution.” In response, Trump called Mattis “terrible” and “overrated.”
There has been some push back to Trump’s effort to keep control over his agencies. In addition to criticism from Bolton and Mattis, senior military officials have publicly expressed their discomfort with Trump saying he was willing to use the military to put down protests inside the U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was against using active-duty troops to stop civil unrest in the country. After the Lafayette Square Park incident, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Mark Milley said it was “a mistake” to have walked with Trump for a photo-op at St. John’s Church. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley said.
How long those voices remain in the administration will show just how much dissent Trump is willing to take.
Bolton resigned in September 2019 after roughly 17 months as national security adviser. Trump, however, claims he fired him after the two clashed over policy towards North Korea, Iran, Ukraine and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton writes in his upcoming memoir that Trump sought Chinese President Xi Jinping’s help in winning re-election during a closed-door meeting in June 2019, according to a report in the New York Times on Wednesday.
Trump reportedly asked the Chinese leader during trade negotiations at a summit in Osaka, Japan to buy more agricultural products in order to help him win farm states in the November general election.
“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton wrote, according to the Times, which obtained an advance copy of the book.
“He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton wrote.
The book, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir, is due to be published on June 23, but the Trump administration has sued to block its distribution, claiming that it contains classified information and would compromise national security.
Publication of the book “would cause irreparable harm, because the disclosure of instances of classified information in the manuscript reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage, or exceptionally grave damage, to the national security of the United States,” according to the lawsuit.
Both the Times and the Washington Post obtained advance copies.
The Post said in the same meeting with Xi, the Chinese leader defended the building of camps holding up to a million Uighur Muslims. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton wrote, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” the Post reported.
Bolton resigned in September 2019 after roughly 17 months as national security adviser. Trump, however, claims he fired him after the two clashed over policy towards North Korea, Iran, Ukraine and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The president pleaded with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for domestic political help, subordinated national-security issues to his own reelection prospects and ignored Beijing’s human-rights abuses
Publisher Simon and Schuster said the lawsuit is an attempt by the Trump administration to stop “publication of a book it deems unflattering to the President”. It said Bolton has fully cooperated with the National Security Council pre-publication review.
In the book, according to the Times, Bolton described several episodes when the president expressed willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favours to dictators he liked”. The investigations in question are said to involve Turkey’s Halkbank to curry favour with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey or China’s ZTE to favour Xi.
“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life,” Bolton wrote.
Among the other accusations levelled by Bolton according to the Times:
Intelligence briefings with the president were a waste of time “since much of the time was spent listening to Trump, rather than Trump listening to the briefers,” Bolton alleges.
Trump explicitly linked aid to Ukraine to investigations there involving his presumed rival in November, Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump “said he wasn’t in favour of sending them anything until all the Russia-investigation materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over,” Bolton says.
During one meeting, Trump seemed surprised to learn that the United Kingdom was a nuclear power and asked whether Finland was part of Russia.
The Times describes the book overall as “a withering portrait of a president ignorant of even basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him and prone to false statements, foul-mouthed eruptions and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.”
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to prevent former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing his memoir about his work in the White House.
The civil action, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleged that Bolton’s book, set to be released later this month, contains classified information that would compromise national security if published before a government review is completed.
The DOJ also asked the court to declare that Bolton’s account of his time as United States President Donald Trump‘s third national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019 violated his nondisclosure agreement.
Bolton plans to release his memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” on June 23.
Also, 1st LD: Trump signs executive order on police reform.
The release has been delayed for months as a result of a prepublication review process.
Trump claimed on Monday that it was “highly inappropriate” for Bolton to write the memoir.
“Maybe he’s not telling the truth, he’s been known not to tell the truth, a lot,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“I will consider every conversation with me highly classified,” he said. “If he wrote a book and the book gets out, he’s broken the law and I would think you would have criminal problems.”
Chuck Cooper, Bolton’s attorney, last week accused the White House of a “transparent attempt to use national security as a pretext to censor Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import.”
A foreign policy hawk, Bolton was ousted last year over disagreements with the president on a range of issues.