Trump requests paperwork to pardon accused US war criminals

President Donald Trump has requested paperwork allowing him to move forward quickly with pardons for accused US war criminals, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The pardons from a President who on the campaign trail expressed support for “tougher” tactics than waterboarding and going after the families of terrorists could come “on or around Memorial Day,” two US officials told the Times.

One military official told the Times that the White House made its request to the Justice Department on Friday, and that while pardon files typically take months to assemble, the Justice Department had stressed the files needed to be completed before the coming Memorial Day weekend.

The Times said those who could potentially receive clemency include a Navy SEAL who is facing trial for shooting unarmed civilians and murdering a wounded person, along with a range of others accused or convicted of shooting or killing unarmed civilians.

Trump previously expressed sympathy for Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL in question, in a March tweet saying he would be moved to “less restrictive confinement” ahead of his trial.

“In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman,” Trump tweeted.

Gallagher was charged last year for the various violent incidents in Iraq during 2017.

On the campaign trail, Trump implied he would support torturing detainees as president, and after significant pushback for his enthusiastic comments about waterboarding and killing the families of terrorists, he reversed the position in a statement. But just days after taking the oath of office, Trump again expressed support for torture and said he “absolutely” believed it works.

Trump’s potential pardons for accused and convicted war criminals, if issued, would mark the latest gesture from the US President toward a change in standards for US war efforts and treatment of detainees that he intimated on the campaign trail.

Earlier this month, Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former Army soldier who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing a detainee he drove into the Iraqi desert and shot twice. In April, the Trump administration revoked the visa for the chief prosecutor on the International Criminal Court, and a spokesperson said at the time that the US would take necessary steps “to protect our people from unjust investigation.”

The ICC, which the US is not a member of, sought authorization previously to open an investigation into crimes committed by US troops in Afghanistan.

[CNN]

Trump piles on Rep. Tlaib over Holocaust comments

President Trump on Monday joined Republicans blasting Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for comments the Democratic congresswoman made about the Holocaust to Yahoo News’ podcast “Skullduggery.”

“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” Trump tweeted. “She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?”

In her “Skullduggery” interview Friday, Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, called Trump “a crooked CEO.” In a different part of the interview, she discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role Palestinians played in helping provide a “safe haven” for Jews following the Holocaust.

“There’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports,” Tlaib said. “And just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them.”

Tlaib did not specify what her ancestors did to help Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during and after the Holocaust. The grand mufti of Jerusalem, the Islamic cleric overseeing the Muslim holy sites in the city, incited riots against Jews immigrating to Palestine and allied himself with Hitler during World War II. The Arab states surrounding Israel opposed its creation as a Jewish state in 1948 and launched a war against it.

Conservative critics quickly seized on Tlaib’s comments, interpreting them to imply that she approved of the Holocaust, something her spokesman said was not what she meant.

“Rashida Tlaib says thinking of the Holocaust provides her a ‘calming feeling,’ shockingly claims Palestinians created ‘safe haven’ for Jews,” read the headline in the Washington Examiner.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., tweeted a link to the Examiner story and called on House Democratic leadership to “take action” against Tlaib.

Tlaib’s spokesman, Denzel McCampbell, issued a statement accusing Cheney, Republican leaders and “right-wing extremists” of “spreading outright lies to incite hate.”

“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself for using the tragedy of the Holocaust in a transparent attempt to score political points,” McCampbell wrote. “Her behavior cheapens our public discourse and is an insult to the Jewish community and the millions of Americans who stand opposed to the hatred being spread by Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”

McCampbell then attempted to clarify Tlaib’s remarks.

“Rep. Tlaib said thinking about this effort to provide a safe haven for people fleeing persecution brought calm to Rep. Tlaib because her ancestors were involved in helping those tragically impacted by the Holocaust. The Congresswoman did not in any way praise the Holocaust, nor did she say the Holocaust itself brought a calming feeling to her. In fact, she repeatedly called the Holocaust a tragedy and a horrific persecution of Jewish people.”

He added: “This behavior by a bankrupt Republican leadership is dangerous and only increases hateful rhetoric from those who want to cause harm to oppressed people.”

The attacks from Republicans on Tlaib are reminiscent of those against another freshman Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., over her criticism of Israel. Both Tlaib and Omar were the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

[Yahoo News]

Trump pardons ex-soldier convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner

President Trump on Monday signed an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, to a former Army first lieutenant convicted of murdering an Iraqi prisoner.

The White House released a statement announcing Trump’s decision to pardon Michael Behenna, who was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years for shooting and killing Ali Mansur Mohamed. The move comes after repeated requests from Oklahoma’s attorney general for Trump to pardon Behenna. 

“Mr. Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public,” the White House said, noting that more than two dozen generals and admirals as well as numerous Oklahoma officials have expressed support for Behenna, who hails from the state. The statement added that Behenna has been “a model prisoner.”

“In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” the statement read.

Prosecutors argued Behenna shot and killed Mansur, an alleged al Qaeda operative, in the desert in 2008 in retaliation for an improvised explosive device (IED) attack. Mansur had previously been ordered released because of a lack of evidence of his connection to the terrorist group, and Behenna reportedly killed him while returning him to his hometown after attempting to question him about the IED attack.

Behenna was paroled in 2014 and was to remain on parole until 2024 prior to the pardon. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter (R) recently petitioned the Trump administration to pardon the Oklahoma native, writing to Attorney General William Barr in April that Behenna was convicted because of improper jury instructions and because prosecutors did not turn over evidence bolstering his claim of self-defense. Hunter had previously petitioned for the pardon in February 2018.

“I commend President Trump’s decision to grant a full pardon for Mr. Behenna,” Hunter said in a statement Monday evening. “Mr. Behenna served his country with distinction, honor and sacrifice. He has admitted to his mistakes, has learned from them and deserves to move on from this incident without living under its cloud for the rest of his life.”

“My hope is that Michael and the rest of his family can rest easy this evening knowing they can put this tragic situation behind them.”

[The Hill]

Trump defends Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro after Islamophobic comments

President Trump came to Fox News anchor Jeanine Pirro’s defense on Sunday in response to the network taking her off the air without explanation, one week after she implied Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) use of a hijab was antithetical to the U.S. Constitution.

“Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well. Fox must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die! Stay true to the people that got you there. Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine. Your competitors are jealous – they all want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!”

Context: The string of tweets comes one day after authorities said “an immigrant-hating white supremacist” killed at least 50 people at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Trump issued a single tweet on the day of the attack extending his sympathies to the people of New Zealand, but he did not condemn the shooter’s racial motives or acknowledge the targeting of Muslims.

  • When asked on Friday if he believes white nationalism is a “rising threat,” Trump said he believes “it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.” Far-right extremists have killed more people in the U.S. since 9/11 than any other organized terrorist group.

The big picture: A series of damning incidents over the past several weeks has seen Pirro, fellow host Tucker Carlson and Fox News as an entity come under fire for charges of racism and coziness with the Trump administration.

[Axios]

Trump Again Denies White Nationalism is Rising Threat

Donald Trump said he did not view white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, as New Zealand is reeling from a white supremacist attack on two mosques that killed 49 people.

Asked by a reporter on Friday if he saw an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, the US president responded: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s a case. I don’t know enough about it yet.”

There have been more than a dozen deadly white supremacist attacks across the globe in the last eight years. In Norway in 2011, 77 people were killed in a bomb attack and shooting that targeted a youth camp of the country’s Labor party. The shooter said he wanted to prevent an “invasion of Muslims”.

A shooter with anti-Muslim views killed six people during evening prayers at a Quebec City mosque in 2017. The gunman said he feared refugees would kill his family.

Later that year, in London’s Finsbury Park, a man shouting “I want to kill all Muslims” drove a van into worshippers outside a mosque, killing one and injuring twelve others.

In the US, violence by far-right attackers has surged since Trump took office. There has been a documented rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the country in the last three years, and the FBI has reported a steady increase in reports of hate crimes. Last year, a shooter with far-right views killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The suspected perpetrator of the massacre during Friday prayers in New Zealand had posted online before the attack and displayed white supremacist symbols on his weapons during the killings.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the carnage as one of the country’s “darkest days”.

Ardern told reporters on Saturday that she did not agree with Trump’s assessment that white supremacy wasn’t a growing problem.

Ardern also said she had spoken to Trump following the attack in Christchurch. Responding to a question from the president about what he could do after the attack, she asked him to show all Muslim communities “sympathy and love”.

“He acknowledged that and agreed,” Ardern said.

Ardern said she and Trump had not discussed reports that the suspect, Brenton Tarrant, had mentioned the president in an anti-Muslim manifestohe posted online before the attacks.

Trump made the remarks about white supremacy at the Oval Office while announcing his decision to overrule Congress in his effort to protect his declaration of a national emergency and secure funds for a US-Mexico border wall.

Announcing his veto, the president said, “People hate the word invasion, but that’s what it is.”

Trump’s claims about immigration trends and an “invasion” are similarly unsupported by facts. Unauthorized border crossings have declined dramatically since record highs in the early years of the 21st century.

Trump, who proposed a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US during his 2015 campaign, has a history of sparking widespread criticisms for his response to far-right violence.

In 2017, he said there were “very fine people on both sides” after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

[The Guardian]

Reality

Right-wing extremism in the United States appears to be growing. The number of terrorist attacks by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, more than quadrupling between 2016 and 2017. The recent pipe bombs and the October 27, 2018, synagogue attack in Pittsburgh are symptomatic of this trend. 

Trump warns that migrants created ‘total mess’ in Europe

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said mass migration in Europe has created a “total mess” on the continent, warning that immigration advocates in the U.S. will regret their position — just as, he claimed without evidence, Europeans do.

“For those who want and advocate for illegal immigration, just take a good look at what has happened to Europe over the last 5 years,” Trump tweeted. “A total mess! They only wish they had that decision to make over again.”

Europe has seen a surge in migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East, over the past five years that has put a strain on countries like Greece and Italy that sit along the southern border of the European Union.

The influx of refugees has coincided with a rise of nationalism throughout Europe and has damaged the political standing of influential leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who initially welcomed refugees to her country with open arms.

“We are a great Sovereign Nation. We have Strong Borders and will never accept people coming into our Country illegally!” Trump wrote in a second tweet.

His comments come as a caravan of thousands of of migrants makes its way through southern Mexico en route to the U.S. and amid reports of a second asylum-seeking caravan forming in Guatemala.

The president has railed against the caravans at campaign rallies in recent days as proof that his hard-line immigration policies are warranted. In recent days, Trump has repeated and then backed off of baseless claims that there are “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” in the caravan and that the migrant groups have been paid by Democratic operatives.

The president has also threatened to cut off aid to countries that are unable to stop the caravan from continuing on its way, despite the fact that it is still far from the nearest point of entry to the U.S.

[Politico]

Reality

The Pew Research Center has found immigration concerns have largely fallen in Europe.

Trump, When Confronted on ‘Unknown Middle Easterners’ Caravan Tweet, Says ‘Take Your Cameras and Search’

President Donald Trump this afternoon stood by his claim that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” in the migrant caravan coming to the border, a baseless claim he apparently got from Fox News.

One reporter asked him for evidence that there are terrorists in the caravan, and Trump responded by saying, “You know what you should do, John? Go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras, and search.”

“Take your camera, go into the middle, and search,” Trump said. “You’re gonna find MS-13, you’re gonna find Middle Eastern, you’re gonna find everything. And guess what? We’re not allowing them in our country. We want safety.”

For the record, some reporters actually fact-checked the President’s claim earlier today:

[Mediaite]

Trump Claims Without Evidence ‘Unknown Middle Easterners Are Mixed In’ With Immigrant Caravan

President Donald Trump — in full midterms push — claimed on on Monday that “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with the caravan of Central American immigrants making its way to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Like many of the president’s unfounded tweets, this one was likely inspired by Fox & Friends, which has given wall-to-wall coverage of the caravan on Monday, with guests repeatedly suggesting that ISIS and other Islamic terror groups could be infiltrating the group.

“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States,” Trump wrote. “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!”

The Fox & Friends coverage that appears to have inspired Trump’s tweet about “unknown Middle Easterners” is based on comments by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales that authorities have arrested 100 people suspected to be involved with terror, over some period of time, in his country. Watch Pete Hegseth bring that up in the video above, and make the leap to tie that comment to the caravan of immigrants.

Per ABC News:

[Mediaite]

Trump administration to reverse Obama-era guidance on use of race in college admissions

The Trump administration is planning to rescind a set of Obama-era policies that promote using race to achieve diversity in schools, a source familiar with the plans tells CNN.

While the decision does not change current US law on affirmative action it provides a strong illustration on the administration’s position on an issue that could take on renewed attention with the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court.
“The executive branch cannot circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law and—in some instances — stays on the books for decades,” Justice Department spokesperson Devin O’Malley told CNN in a statement. “Last year, the Attorney General initiated a review of guidance documents, which resulted in dozens of examples—including today’s second tranche of rescissions — of documents that go beyond or are inconsistent with the Constitution and federal law. The Justice Department remains committed to enforcing the law and protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.”
The Education Department did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
The move, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the administration has thrown its weight behind a student group that accuses Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-Americans in its admissions process.
Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was ending the practice of the Justice Department issuing “guidance documents” that have the “effect of adopting new regulatory requirements or amending the law,” without to going through the formal rulemaking process. As a result, 25 documents were rescinded in December.
The guidance that will be reversed Tuesday provided examples of different educational contexts within which institutions could permissibly consider race.
Tuesday’s reversal also does not affect what a school decides to do on its own within the confines of current Supreme Court precedent, but civil rights groups swiftly reacted with disappointment.
“We condemn the Department of Education’s politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation’s colleges and universities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The rescission of this guidance does not overrule forty years of precedent that affirms the constitutionality of a university’s limited use of race in college admissions. This most recent decision by the Department of Education is wholly consistent with the administration’s unwavering hostility towards diversity in our schools.”
[CNN]

Trump: Democrats Want Immigrants to ‘Pour In’ From the Middle East

President Donald Trump went on a tear against Democrats at his rally in Minnesota Wednesday night regarding his topic du jour — immigration — and made sure to include a painfully xenophobic quip about the Middle East.

“So the Democrats want open borders,” Trump told his rowdy crowd at a Duluth, MN stadium. “Let everybody come in. Let everybody pour in, we don’t care, them come in from the Middle East, let them come in from all over the place.” The crowd booed.

“We don’t care, we’re not going to let it happen,” Trump said.

He then commented on the executive order he signed today the put an end to his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated migrant children from their parents at the southern border.

“We will keep families together but the border is going to be just as tough as it has been,” he said.

Later in the rally, Trump referenced his infamous remarks that the Mexico government is “sending rapists” to the United States, and doubled down on the absurdly false claim.

[Mediaite]

1 2 3 6