Trump Swipes at Emmanuel Macron Over Attempts to Broker Iran Talks: Nobody Speaks for the US but the US Itself

President Donald Trump said Thursday that the US would not participate in discussions with Iran should France attempt to be the mediator.

” Nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself. No one is authorized in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!” the president tweeted Thursday. He added that Iran “desperately wants to talk to the US” but is given “mixed signals” by those “purporting to represent” US interests.

The U.S. has been ramping up pressure on Iran in the form of strict sanctions as of late. Sanctions specifically have been imposed upon  Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accusing him of being an “apologist” for the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has been asking French President Emmanuel Macron to mediate discussions between the US and Iran regarding sanctions. Iran has reacted to renewed US sanctions aimed at strangling its oil trade by retreating from commitments to limit nuclear activity. Since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal last year,France, Britain and Germany have worked to salvage the deal.

Rouhani’s office quoted him as having told Macron, “Concurrent with attempts by Iran and France to reduce tensions and create helpful conditions for lasting coexistence in the region, we are witnessing provocative actions by the Americans,” according to Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

[Mediaite]

Emails show Stephen Miller pressed hard to limit green cards

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller wasn’t getting an immigration regulation he wanted. So he sent a series of scorching emails to top immigration officials, calling the department an “embarrassment” for not acting faster, according to emails obtained by POLITICO.

The regulation in question would allow the Department of Homeland Security to bar legal immigrants from obtaining green cards if they receive certain government benefits. The rule will likely be released in the coming days, according to a pair of current and former Trump officials briefed on the timeline.

The emails, which POLITICO obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, shed new light on how aggressively Miller has pressured the Department of Homeland Security to move faster on regulations to limit immigration. Critics say the new rule will be used to shore up Trump’s political base in the coming election year, and that it’s an illegitimate tool to reduce legal immigration. 

One former Trump official said Miller has maintained a “singular obsession” with the public charge rule, which he’s argued would bring about a transformative change to U.S. immigration.

At the receiving end of Miller’s pressure campaign was U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Francis Cissna, an immigration hawk with strong support from restrictionist groups who resigned in May amid a broader Homeland Security Department shakeup that also saw the exit of former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other top officials.

In an email sent on June 8, 2018, Miller lambasted Cissna for the pace of his efforts to implement the public charge rule. “Francis — The timeline on public charge is unacceptable,” Miller wrote. “The public charge reg has been in the works for a year and a half. This is time we don’t have. I don’t care what you need to do to finish it on time. You run an agency of 20,000 people.”

In the message, Miller derided Cissna’s overall performance at USCIS, the agency charged with screening visa applicants and processing immigration paperwork. Cissna was known for his deliberate approach to the regulatory process.

“It’s an embarrassment that we’ve been here for 18 months and USCIS hasn’t published a single major reg,” Miller barked.

According to a version of the rule proposed in October 2018, the regulation would allow federal immigration officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who’ve received food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, prescription drug subsidies or Section 8 housing vouchers. It could also deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to receive such government benefits in the future.

With Trump poised to make immigration a centerpiece of his 2020 reelection campaign, a new crackdown on legal immigrants who receive government assistance could energize voters who view immigration — even when done legally — as a fiscal drain and cultural danger.

“This is something that will play well going into the next election, especially considering the prevailing view among the Democratic candidates who are talking about admitting more immigrants and offering more benefits,” said Jessica Vaughan, a director with the Center for Immigration Studies, which pushes for lower levels of both legal and illegal immigration. 

But Miller’s previously undisclosed emails could raise legal questions about whether the public charge rule was rushed to completion. The regulatory process will almost certainly be challenged in court, according to opponents bracing for the change.

In addition, the emails could reinvigorate Democratic efforts to compel Miller to testify before Congress. The White House in April denieda voluntary invitation to testify before the House Oversight Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The committee chairman had pressed Miller to explain his role in the development of what he called “troubling” immigration policies.

Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli — Cissna’s replacement at the agency and another immigration hawk — said the public charge regulation will demonstrate that Trump remains committed to his immigration agenda.

According to a version of the rule proposed in October 2018, the regulation would allow federal immigration officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who’ve received food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, prescription drug subsidies or Section 8 housing vouchers. It could also deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to receive such government benefits in the future.

With Trump poised to make immigration a centerpiece of his 2020 reelection campaign, a new crackdown on legal immigrants who receive government assistance could energize voters who view immigration — even when done legally — as a fiscal drain and cultural danger.

“This is something that will play well going into the next election, especially considering the prevailing view among the Democratic candidates who are talking about admitting more immigrants and offering more benefits,” said Jessica Vaughan, a director with the Center for Immigration Studies, which pushes for lower levels of both legal and illegal immigration. 

But Miller’s previously undisclosed emails could raise legal questions about whether the public charge rule was rushed to completion. The regulatory process will almost certainly be challenged in court, according to opponents bracing for the change.

In addition, the emails could reinvigorate Democratic efforts to compel Miller to testify before Congress. The White House in April denieda voluntary invitation to testify before the House Oversight Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The committee chairman had pressed Miller to explain his role in the development of what he called “troubling” immigration policies.

Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli — Cissna’s replacement at the agency and another immigration hawk — said the public charge regulation will demonstrate that Trump remains committed to his immigration agenda.

[Politico]

Trump: ‘Wacky’ UK ambassador a ‘very stupid guy’

President Trump early Tuesday ramped up his criticism of the British ambassador to the United States, who called Trump “inept” in leaked cables, saying Kim Darroch is “a very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.”

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” Trump tweeted.

Trump also again attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit, saying he told her “how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done.”

“A disaster!” he continued. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool. Tell him the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger…..Thank you, Mr. President!”

Darroch reportedly described Trump as “incompetent” and “inept” in memos and notes sent to the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Barroch also described conflicts within the Trump administration as “knife fights” and said he doesn’t believe the White House will “ever look competent.”

Trump tweeted on Monday after the leaked cables were reported that he would “no longer deal with” Darroch.

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him,” he said.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, an administration official said Darroch was disinvited from a Monday night dinner hosted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with Trump and the emir of Qatar.

[The Hill]

Trump tells other countries to protect own Gulf shipping

President Donald Trump on Monday told other countries to protect their own Gulf oil shipments, declaring that the United States has only limited strategic interest in the “dangerous” region.

In a pair of tweets, Trump said US aims regarding Iran boil down to “No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror.”

As for Iran’s threats to shut sea lanes used to transport a large portion of the world’s oil exports through the Persian Gulf, Washington is not concerned, Trump said.

Stating that the United States is now the world’s biggest energy producer, thereby weaning itself off decades of dependence on Middle Eastern oil, Trump said “we don’t even need to be there.”

And the US military should not be depended upon to keep the narrow sea routes along Iran’s coast free.

“Why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation,” he asked. “All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey.”

As for Tehran, Trump said, his only demand is that the country not pursue nuclear weapons and halts what the United States claims is backing for terrorist groups.

“The U.S. request for Iran is very simple,” he wrote.

Iran insists that it does not have a nuclear weapons program and it signed onto an international pact in 2015 meant to ensure that its nuclear industry sticks to civilian uses. Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2017, seeking its collapse.

Trump’s latest signalling of a pullback from what has long been a region featuring an intense US presence comes amid growing military tension between the United States and Iran.

On Friday, Trump called off a bombing strike on Iranian facilities that had been planned as retaliation for the downing by Iran of a US spy drone.

Earlier, mysterious attacks were carried out on oil tankers transiting the same area. They were blamed on Iran by Washington, although the Iranians say they were not involved.

Trump’s tweets add to his record of seeking a wider drawdown of the US diplomatic and military footprint around the world.

[Raw Story]

Trump Ramps Up Attacks on Macron, Hits ‘Very Low Approval Rating’: ‘MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!’

President Donald Trump has been on a tear against French President Emmanuel Macron since returning from his trip to France to commemorate the centennial of the end of WWI.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump mocked France’s performance in the two world wars. Later, he complained about wine tariffs between the two countries. Now, he’s ripping Macron’s approval rating in response to the French president’s rejection of nationalism, a term Trump has embraced.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!” Trump tweeted.

“MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!” he added.

Macron rejected nationalism in a speech on Sunday, in what many considered a rebuke of Trump.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first … we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace, and what is essential: its moral values.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Blasts Macron For Proposing ‘European Army’ Upon Arrival in France: ‘Very Insulting!’

President Donald Trump ripped French President Emmanuel Macronon Friday upon his arrival in France, calling him out for proposing a European military.

“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted Friday.

Trump is set to meet with Macron Saturday morning at the Élysée Palace in Paris, per USA Today.

Macron proposed, in an interview earlier this week, a “real European army” to protect against “China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” Macron said.

“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army,” he continued. In response to threats from Russia, Macron argued: “We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Ramps Up Fear-Mongering: Caravans Made up of ‘Very Bad Thugs and Gang Members’

President Donald Trump is nothing if not consistent.

Despite significant and bipartisan criticism for irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric that critics have described as fear-mongering, Trump is hitting the same “be afraid of the Caravan” note on Twitter this morning.

Trump tweeted:

He followed that first tweet shortly after with:

These tweets came the morning after the Commander in Chief and First Lady returned from a somber visit to the Pittsburgh synagogue that saw 11 worshipers murdered by an unhinged individual that parroted right-wing rhetoric calling this mass of migrants “invaders.”

Depending on reports one follows, the caravan is comprised of roughly 3,500 Central Americans that are roughly 1,000 miles from the southern U.S. border and are traveling by foot. By most accounts, they won’t arrive at the United States for at least six to eight weeks.

[Mediaite]

Trump: US to ‘begin cutting off’ aid to countries associated with migrant caravan

President Trump on Monday said that the U.S. will begin to cut off or reduce aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as citizens of those countries flee for the U.S. as part of a so-called caravan of migrants.

In a trio of tweets, the president escalated his rhetoric surrounding the group of migrants, declaring a national emergency as they approach the border and claiming that “unknown Middle Easterners” had joined the group.

Trump, in the tweets, did not offer any evidence for the charge that people from the Middle East were among those crossing the border.

“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

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

Trump had previously threatened to cut off aid to those countries if they did not act to stop their citizens from fleeing. It’s unclear if Trump will take unilateral action to reduce foreign aid, as Congress is not scheduled to return to Washington until after the midterm elections.

Experts have noted that human rights laws restrict actions a government can take to prevent its citizens from leaving its borders.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill about plans to cut foreign aid or to declare a national emergency.

[The Hill]

Now Trump is targeting Vietnamese refugees

In its insatiable quest to rid the U.S. of immigrants, the Trump administration has been rounding up Vietnamese refugees who have been in the country for more than a quarter of a century and trying to send them back to Vietnam — despite a formal bilateral agreement that refugees who arrived here prior to the 1995 normalization of relations between the two countries would not be sent home.

In a number of cases, the refugees have been held in detention centers for months as the government sought to obtain travel documents from the Vietnamese government, and despite a Supreme Court decision that said the government could not detain someone for an extended period of time if it was unlikely the home country would accept the deportee.

After the end of the Vietnam War, and after the North Vietnamese communist government unified the country, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese — many of whom fought alongside or cooperated with American forces — fled for safety, often boarding rickety boatsto cross the South China Sea. In many cases, the refugees were stateless, because they were citizens of South Vietnam, a country that dissolved with the end of the war.

Nearly 1.3 million eventually settled in the U.S., some 200,000 in and around Orange County’s Little Saigon.

That large a population is bound to include some people who break the law, and upward of 10,000 Vietnamese have been ordered deported by immigration judges after being convicted of often serious crimes in American criminal courts. But for more than three decades after the war ended, the Vietnamese government refused to accept deportees from the U.S., viewing the refugees as political enemies or possible American spies.

That changed in 2008, when the George W. Bush administration reached an agreementunder which Vietnam would accept the return of deportees who had arrived in the U.S. after July 12, 1995. The wording of the pact is significant:

“Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam under this Agreement if they arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, the date on which diplomatic relations were re-established between the U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government. The U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government maintain their respective legal positions relative to Vietnamese citizens who departed Vietnam for the United States prior to that date.”

For a decade that has been interpreted as a flat protection for the refugees. But the Trump administration argues in court filings — immigrant rights organizations are suing to halt the detentions and deportations — that the second sentence in effect negates the first, so the U.S. can deport Vietnamese refugees if they have committed acts that render them ineligible to remain in the U.S.

“The agreement does not in fact prohibit such removals,” the government argued in court documents. “Rather, it provides merely that pre-1995 aliens cannot be removed under the terms of the agreement itself.”

That’s a specious argument. Until the agreement, Vietnam would not accept any deportees from the U.S.; after the agreement, it began accepting what are called post-1995 deportees. So the only mechanism for returning people to Vietnam falls under the agreement, regardless of U.S. laws. The Trump administration is simply trying to break the terms of the deal — and so far has been successful in at least 11 cases, though it’s unclear why Vietnam agreed to let the deportees in. According to reports, the deportees have had trouble finding places to live and getting permission to work in Vietnam.

News accounts of the efforts have focused on refugees who arrived here as young (usually) men with limited social or family structure. A number of them fell in with gangs or individually committed crimes of varying seriousness, from drug possession to robbery and a few rare murders. Yet the issue here isn’t the crimes some refugees committed, but the circumstances of their arrival in the U.S., and the letter of the agreement with Vietnam.

This is yet another instance in which the Trump administration has just bulled its way forward to try to reduce the number of immigrants living in the U.S. If the government believes that it is in the nation’s best interest to deport Vietnamese refugees convicted of crimes, then it should reopen the 2008 agreement and create a lawful mechanism to do so.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump threatens to pull out of WTO ‘if they don’t shape up’

President Trump on Thursday threatened to pull the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) “if they don’t shape up,” a stance he has reportedly discussed in private but has denied publicly.

“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” the president told Bloomberg News in an interview.

Trump has long criticized the international body, saying in late June that the U.S. has been “treated very badly” by the group, describing it as an “unfair situation.”

At the time, the president insisted he was not considering pulling out of the WTO despite his frustrations, though Axios reported he had discussed with advisers his intentions to exit.

Leaving the WTO would upend the decades-old international trade system, which the U.S. helped establish, and roil markets around the globe.

The U.S. on Monday told the WTO that it plans to block the reappointment of one of the its four remaining judges, a move that would significantly hinder the organization’s ability to function.

If the U.S. successfully blocks the appointment of Judge Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, the WTO would only have three judges, the bare minimum to continue operations.

Two of the WTO judges’ terms expire in December of next year.

Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently agreed to work towards a trade agreement that would involve reforming the WTO.

Multiple nations have filed complaints about Trump’s escalating tariffs with the WTO, including China. Trump is reportedly planning to impose $200 billion tariffs on Chinese imports as soon as next week, on top of the billions of dollars of tariffs he has already implemented.

[The Hill]

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