Trump’s Latest Post-London Tweet Storm Didn’t Wait For the Facts

Even as British police were still sorting out exactly what had happened in the London Underground on Friday morning, President Donald Trump was using the incident to prove a point.

“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.” he tweeted. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” Added Trump: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

The travel ban, of course, is Trump’s executive order aimed at blocking people from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, a necessary step in combating terrorism, according to the President. But, at least in the early stages of this London investigation, there is no evidence to suggest where the attackers hailed from or what their motives were. All we know, according to British police, is that it is being investigated as a terrorist incident.

Asked about Trump’s tweet that the London tube attack was perpetrated by people known to the security services, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it is “never helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

Trump’s willingness to jump to conclusions about the London incident stands in stark contrast to his defense of his unwillingness to fully condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis behind the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

Trump, who initially (and repeatedly) said that there were violent people on both sides in Charlottesville, attributed that response to a desire to gather all the facts before offering an opinion. (Yes, I know this doesn’t make a ton of logical sense.)

“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement,” Trump explained to reporters. “The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts.”

It’s impossible to square “you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts” to what Trump did Friday morning in regard to the London attack.
What’s clear from a look at the way Trump has responded to a series of high-profile incidents — primarily terror attacks — since being elected President is that he is more than willing to leap on them well before all the facts are known if they reinforce something he already believes. If they go against his views, he is far less willing to do so.

The London attack Friday morning is, to Trump, yet more evidence of the existential threat posed by terrorism — and proof of how politicians obsessed with political correctness refuse to properly acknowledge that threat. (Remember that Trump blasted London Mayor Sadiq Khan back in June for allegedly underselling the threat of terrorism.)

History has shown that Trump is ready and willing to seize on any bit of evidence that proves his point on terrorism — whether or not that evidence actually proves his point on terrorism. In the immediate aftermath of an incident in the Philippines in June, Trump noted that “it is really pretty sad what is going on throughout the world with terror.” It turned out that the Philippines event was a robbery, not a terror incident.

By contrast, Charlottesville was not in Trump’s belief wheelhouse. Because of his suspicion of the mainstream media and what he believes to be the cult of political correctness, his instincts in the wake of the violence was to avoid jumping to the conclusion that the blame lay with the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who had gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. That, in Trump’s mind, was the story the media wanted you to believe; he was convinced there was more to it.

Of course, there really wasn’t — despite Trump’s ongoing attempts to prove that he was right all along and that “both sides” were violent.

In short: Trump is more than willing to jump to conclusions when he can comfortably fit an incident like what happened in London this morning into his existing world view.

It’s a selective outrage. And Trump deploys it very, very selectively.

[CNN]

Reality

Even as British police were still sorting out exactly what had happened in the London Underground on Friday morning, Donald Trump was using the incident to prove a point that we should bar Muslims from entering the United States.

Now contrast Trump’s rush to judgement over the possibility of an Islamic terror attack with his comments after Charlottesville last month were Nazis killed and injured protesters. Trump refused to condemn, or even mention white supremacy, instead claiming he needs to wait for the facts to come in.

Trump Deports Iraqi Christians, Breaking His Promise

President Donald Trump is facing anger and potential political blowback as his administration ramps up efforts to deport Iraqi Christians, a group he’d pledged to protect from what the U.S. calls a genocide in the Middle East.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents over the weekend detained dozens of Iraqi Christians and others to send back to Iraq. Many of them were picked up in Michigan, a swing state that Trump barely won in 2016 and the home of a sizable number of Christians from Muslim-majority countries who backed Trump during the presidential campaign.

The deportation effort has alarmed lawmakers who have tried to raise awareness about the plight of Chaldean and other Christian communities in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Those communities have struggled to survive under the reign of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Removing the detainees from the United States “represents a death sentence should they be deported to Iraq or Syria,” Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who has family and religious links to the Middle East, said in a statement.

Christian activists are scrambling to file legal challenges to the deportations and coordinate with sympathetic lawmakers. As the news has spread, so has the feeling that Trump has betrayed the affected Christian community, activists said.

“He promised he would help us, when in fact he’s exacerbated problems now by sending people back to the hands of the Islamic State,” said Steve Oshana, an Assyrian-Christian activist with the group A Demand for Action.

The crackdown is believed to be a result of disputes stemming from Trump’s executive orders that ban visitors and immigrants from several Muslim majority countries.

Initially, the so-called travel ban, which has been put on hold by the courts, included Iraq. But Iraq is reported to have gotten off the list by promising to accept people the U.S. wants deported. That means many Iraqis living in the U.S. who previously could not be deported for overstaying their visas, committing crimes, or other reasons can now be sent back.

Many of those detained had been checking in regularly with U.S. authorities for years as part of the conditions of their being allowed to stay in the United States, so immigration agents knew where to find them. There also were reports that some were detained while they were on their way to church Sunday.

The Department of Homeland Security said it was just doing its job by pursuing the deportations, which had contributed to a backlog of cases. It did not release specifics on how many people were detained or where, but activists said at least 40 people were held, and that southeastern Michigan was the main focus of the weekend raids.

“The agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses,” DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement. “Each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed.”

But Christian activists said many of the detainees had committed lower-level offenses, and that even those who had committed serious crimes had already been punished by the U.S. legal system, often many years before. Some of the detainees are believed to have grown up in the United States and can barely speak Arabic.

Nathan Kalasho, an Iraqi-American Christian activist in Michigan, said his group had been approached by a desperate 38-year-old woman of Iraqi Christian descent whose uncle has been serving as her bone marrow donor. He has been detained and is slated for deportation.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump captured the hearts of many Americans of Middle Eastern Christian descent through his tough anti-Islamist talk. Activists familiar with the community said many in it voted for Trump because they were convinced he would stop the decimation of their people in the Middle East.

Trump’s administration has kept up the pro-Christian, anti-Islamist rhetoric. Just last week, Vice President Mike Pence denounced the “genocide” being committed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in regions where Christians have long lived.

“Christianity faces unprecedented threats in the land where it was given birth and an exodus unrivaled since the days of Moses,” Pence said during the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

The U.S. formally declared that the Islamic State was committing genocide against Christians and other groups last year under the Obama administration.

Trump’s efforts to impose a travel ban contributed to unease among Christians in the U.S. who trace their lineage to the Middle East. Even though the first attempt at the ban included references to giving admissions preference to religious minorities from the Middle East, the ban also halted the entry of refugees to the United States. Many refugees from the region are Christians.

But although the Trump administration has aggressively stepped up deportations of people illegally in the United States, few Christians from Iraq and other parts of the Middle East expected raids aimed at them.

“The support came from a fear in these communities,” said Philippe Nassif, executive director of In Defense of Christians. “These are people that are deeply traumatized. They latched onto his message of ‘We’re going to protect you.’”

[Politico]

Trump: I am calling it a ‘TRAVEL BAN!’

President Trump early Monday made clear the intent of a blocked executive order on immigration now being appealed to the Supreme Court.

“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” he tweeted.

Trump also said in a series of tweets that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should have fought for his original order, instead of the “watered down, politically correct version” submitted to the Supreme Court.

He said the DOJ should ask for an expedited Supreme Court hearing for the “watered down Travel Ban” and then seek a “much tougher version.”

Trump in his final tweet on the subject said his administration is “EXTREME VETTING” people now coming into the U.S.

“The courts are slow and political!” he added.

Administration officials had rejected the characterization of Trump’s executive order as a travel ban, instead saying it was a vetting system to keep America safe.

Trump over the weekend reignited the debate over the topic following a London terror attack in which seven people were killed and almost 50 others injured.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump renewed his call for the courts to approve his revised executive order, which would temporarily bar nationals from six predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S. and suspend the acceptance of refugees for 120 days.

“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough,” Trump said. “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”

The Trump administration issued its original travel ban in January. That order, which was blocked by the courts, was met with backlash and protests across the country.

The president then issued a revised ban in March aimed at defusing the controversy and defeating court challenges.

Last week, the Trump administration appealed lower-court decisions to block the revised ban to the Supreme Court.

In a statement last week, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said the department had “asked the Supreme Court to hear this important case and [is] confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism.”

“The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism,” the statement said, “until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

Over the weekend, some Republicans echoed the president’s renewed calls for his travel ban following the London attack, while other lawmakers appeared to disagree with Trump and instead called for inclusion and community.

[The Hill]

 

 

US Approves Social Media Background Checks for Visa Applicants

The U.S. is buttressing its paperwork walls with new requirements for social media disclosures as part of revised visa applications.

Reported by Reuters earlier today, the decision from the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget was made over strenuous objections from education and academic groups during a public comment period.

The new questionnaire will ask for social media handles dating back over the last five years and biographical information dating back 15 years.

For critics, the new questionnaire represents yet another obstacle that the government is putting in the path of potential immigrants, would-be students and qualified researchers and teachers that may otherwise want to come to the United States.

Check out the new visa questionnaire here.

Quoting an unnamed State Department official, Reuters reported that the additional information would only be requested when the department determines that “such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.”

In an earlier Reuters report, the news service quoted an immigration attorney railing against the new procedures:

“What this language effectively does is give the consular posts permission to step away from the focused factors they have spent years developing and revising, and instead broaden the search to large groups based on gross factors such as nationality and religion,” Gairson said.

[TechCrunch]

Trump Refused to Turn Over Giuliani Travel Ban Memo by Court-Ordered Deadline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Saturday blasted President Trump for ignoring a court order demand to release a memo drafted under former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s guidance that outlined a plan to implement a travel ban without making it seem as if it was directly aimed at Muslims.

A federal judge in Detroit ordered the Trump administration to turn over the memo by May 19, according to reports. The ACLU said Saturday that Trump did not meet the deadline on Friday.

“If, as the administration claims, the Executive Order is not a Muslim Ban, then why is the administration refusing to turn over the Giuliani memo? What is in that document that the government doesn’t want the court to see?” Miriam Aukerman, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement.

The ACLU along with Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) challenged the president’s travel ban on nationals from several Muslim-majority countries in federal court earlier this year.

According to the statement, both groups will not hesitate to “return to court to compel production of the memo.”

Nabih Ayad, founder of the ACRL, argued that the memo will help “shed light on the intentions behind the President’s Executive Order.”

“And if those intentions support the public statements that Mr. Giuliani made about looking for a legal explanation for a ban on Muslims, the court needs to know this,” Ayad added.

[The Hill]

DOJ Retaliating Against Immigration Lawyers Who Fought Trump’s Travel Ban

The Department of Justice is instructing lawyers to stop representing immigrants in need of legal assistance for President Donald Trump’s travel ban and for ICE deportations.

According to an investigative report from The Nation, four weeks ago the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Seattle received a “cease and desist” letter from the DOJ demanding they drop their clients and close down programs or face disciplinary action. The DOJ is accusing the NWIRP of requiring clients pay them and then dropping the cases after receiving the money.

The NWIRP disputes the DOJ’s accusations.

Viewers of TV crime shows are familiar with the police recitation, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you by the court.” Any immigrant facing deportation is not entitled to such an attorney because they haven’t technically been charged with a crime. This results in crowded immigration courts in which few defendants have attorneys.

Non-profit groups work to ensure those in the hearings have access to attorneys through volunteers at big law firms. At the same time, there are thousands of dishonest attorneys who do take money from immigrants promising to help defend them before walking off with their money. NWIRP isn’t one of those, according to The Nation, yet under Attorney General Jeff Sessions the DOJ intends to pursue a disciplinary review of them and other non-profits.

They’re not entitled to an attorney or provided with one but can accept the work of an attorney that will agree to help if the case ends up being a long one. If it’s short they’re not allowed to have any help in filling out legally binding documents. Any attorney that tries to help will be sanctioned.

NWIRP, however, has worked with immigration officials to ensure they can run programs to help people fill out forms or assist with legal proceedings with advice and explanation.

The organization has been on the frontline of fighting Trump’s travel ban with volunteer lawyers at Seattle’s SeaTac airport. There are many other groups who did the same.

Sending the cease and desist letter frightened employees volunteering for the cases and concerned the firm that they might become a target by the DOJ for other projects. If the pro-bono lawyers stop providing the service it’ll result in silencing the bar and diminishing the work of the groups providing people with important services around the U.S.

Lawyers sprang into action when airports began restricting access to citizens on planes arriving in the U.S. from countries on Trump’s ban list. Their stories dominated the news cycle and it’s assumed that Trump took offense to defying the order. Other institutions like the FBI, Justice Department, and courts all seem to be under attack, according to The Nation.

[Raw Story]

Trump Administration Cites Segregation-Era Ruling To Defend Its Travel Ban

In a brief defending its ban on citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department approvingly cited a segregation-era Supreme Court decision that allowed Jackson, Mississippi, to close public pools rather than integrate them.

In the early 1960s, courts ordered Jackson to desegregate its public parks, which included five swimming pools. Instead, the city decided to close the pools. Black residents of Jackson sued. But in 1971, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, decided that closing the pools rather than integrating them was just fine.

The dissents, even at the time, were furious. “May a State in order to avoid integration of the races abolish all of its public schools?” Justice William O. Douglas asked in his dissent.

“I had thought official policies forbidding or discouraging joint use of public facilities by Negroes and whites were at war with the Equal Protection Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment, Justice Byron White wrote in another dissent. “Our cases make it unquestionably clear, as all of us agree, that a city or State may not enforce such a policy by maintaining officially separate facilities for the two races. It is also my view, but apparently not that of the majority, that a State may not have an official stance against desegregating public facilities and implement it by closing those facilities in response to a desegregation order.”

The ruling in Palmer v. Thompson didn’t explicitly uphold segregation. But it did call for courts to avoid investigating the constitutionality of officials’ motivations.

It is difficult or impossible for any court to determine the ‘sole’ or ‘dominant’ motivation behind the choices of a group of legislators,” the majority opinion said. “Furthermore, there is an element of futility in a judicial attempt to invalidate a law because of the bad motives of its supporters.”

The Trump administration emphasizes this in its citation of the case, arguing that looking into “governmental purpose outside the operative terms of governmental action and official pronouncements” is “fraught with practical ‘pitfalls’ and ‘hazards’ that would make courts’ task ‘extremely difficult.’”

But in some cases, such as the closure of the Jackson pools, officials’ motivations are clear, said Paul Brest, the director of Stanford University’s Law and Policy Lab.

“When it is absolutely clear that an official acted for unconstitutional purposes … [the courts] should be willing to strike down that decision because, even though the decision might have been reached legitimately, a public official violates the constitution when he or she acts for unconstitutional reasons,” Brest said. “It’s as simple as that. … Race discrimination is the best example of where courts are quite willing to take people’s motivations into account — or religious discrimination.”

Palmer is one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever handed down in regards to race, said Michele Goodwin, the chancellor’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.

“Citing Palmer is like citing Buck v. Bell for a premise of equal protection,” Goodwin says. (Buck v. Bell legalized eugenics.) She added that a case like Palmer also doesn’t hold up over time.

“[Palmer] doesn’t represent our view of how law, how people, how society [and] how equality has evolved in the United States,” she said. “To cite a case that, in and of itself, coheres ideas about inequality and explicit racism in spaces where racism could mean the end of someone’s life, then one would really have to question why a president would cite such a case — given how much it’s been refuted.”

John Paul Schnapper-Casteras, a special counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, wrote in a Sunday blog post that it’s “stunning” to see the Department of Justice approvingly cite a case that “at best allowed pretextual measures for avoiding racial integration ― and, more realistically, facilitated segregation by turning a blind eye to what was clearly going on in the City of Jackson.”

Justice Department lawyers know exactly what they’re doing ― citing different doctrines in an attempt to thwart any reason to examine what Trump on the campaign trail “said, very unambiguously, was to ban Muslims from coming into the country,” he told HuffPost.

“This is less about national security and more about them trying to find any way to insulate the motivation behind this order. Sometimes they invoke national security cases,” Schnapper-Casteras said. “In this case, they invoked a case about segregation.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Jeff Sessions Dismisses Hawaii as ‘an Island in the Pacific’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke dismissively about the State of Hawaii while criticizing a Federal District Court ruling last month that blocked the Trump administration from carrying out its ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world.

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Mr. Sessions said this week in an interview on “The Mark Levin Show,” a conservative talk radio program.

Mr. Sessions’s description of Hawaii, where the federal judge who issued the order, Derrick K. Watson, has his chambers, drew a rebuke from both of the United States senators who represent the state. Annexed as a territory of the United States in the late 19th century, Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959.

“Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own,” Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, wrote on Twitter. “Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.”

The other senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, who is also a Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, writing on Twitter: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”

Asked for a response from Mr. Sessions, Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in an email: “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the attorney general’s granddaughter was born. The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the president’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”

(The State of Hawaii is a chain of islands, one of which is also called Hawaii; the judge’s chambers, however, are in Honolulu, which is on the island of Oahu.)

Judge Watson, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was confirmed in 2013 by a 94-to-0 vote; Mr. Sessions, then a United States senator from Alabama, was among those who cast an approving vote. A former federal prosecutor, Judge Watson earned his law degree from Harvard alongside Mr. Obama and Neil M. Gorsuch, the newly seated Supreme Court justice. He is the only judge of native Hawaiian descent on the federal bench.

Last month, Judge Watson issued a nationwide injunction blocking President Trump’s travel ban, ruling that the plaintiffs — the State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii — had reasonable grounds to challenge the order as religious discrimination. He cited comments dating to Mr. Trump’s original call, during the 2016 campaign, for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

During the arguments, the government had contended that looking beyond the text of the order to infer religious animus would amount to investigating Mr. Trump’s “veiled psyche,” but Judge Watson wrote in his decision that there was “nothing ‘veiled’” about Mr. Trump’s public remarks. Still, Mr. Sessions reiterated that line of argument in the radio interview, saying he believed that the judge’s reasoning was improper and would be overturned.

“The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the president to see if the order he issues is lawful,” Mr. Sessions said. “It’s either lawful or it’s not.”

(h/t New York Times)

Media

 

Trump Rejects Intelligence Research on Muslim Ban

The White House is dismissing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence report rebuffing President Trump’s claims that citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries pose an increased terror threat, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

“The president asked for an intelligence assessment,” a senior administration official told the Journal. “This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

Trump administration officials claim that the report failed to include available evidence that supports the president’s Jan. 27 order barring citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia from entering the U.S.

That executive order was blocked by a federal appeals court earlier this month, and Trump has said he is crafting a new order that can withstand legal muster.

Acting DHS Press Secretary Gillian Christensen also challenged the agency’s report, calling it an “incomplete product.” But she said the administration’s reason for taking issue with it was not political.

“Any suggestion by opponents of the president’s policies that senior [DHS] intelligence officials would politicize this process or a report’s final conclusions is absurd and not factually accurate,” Christensen told the Journal.

“The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics.”

The DHS report came after Trump reportedly asked the department to help bolster his legal case for implementing the controversial travel ban.

But the findings seemed to directly contradict the president’s key argument, saying that an individual’s citizenship is an “unlikely indicator” of the threat they pose to the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

As a presidential candidate, Trump took a hardline stance on terrorism by Islamist extremists, and often contended that the U.S. was too willing to allow people from Muslim-majority countries to enter its borders.

But his efforts to implement a travel ban on certain countries was met with sharp criticism by many, who accused it of being a de facto Muslim ban and a violation of religious freedom protections.

(h/t The Hill)

Stephen Miller Admits the New Executive Order on Immigration Ban is Same as the Old

During a town hall hosted by Fox News Tuesday night, White House adviser Stephen Miller confirmed that President Donal Trump’s new executive order — which will replace the immigration ban on seven majority-Muslim countries — will effectively have the same policy outcome.

As one of the architects of the first executive order, Miller insisted that “nothing was wrong with the first executive order” — although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the ban earlier this month. Miller admitted that a new order was necessary to avoid the judicial rulings from the appellate courts.

Although there will be changes in the language of the upcoming executive order, Miller said the policy outcome will remain the same.

“One of the big differences that you are going to see in the executive order is that it is going to be responsive to the judicial ruling which didn’t exist previously,” Miller said. “And so these are mostly minor, technical differences. Fundamentally, you are still going to have the same, basic policy outcome for the country.”

Critics were quick to point out that Miller had involuntarily provided civil rights organizations the material needed to challenge the order once it’s signed by the president.

Lawyers that challenged the first executive order cited former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s remarks on Fox News, when he said that Trump sought advice for a legal way to carry out a “Muslim ban.” Civil rights activists argued that Giuliani’s statement was evidence that the Trump administration wanted to discriminate against people of a certain religion.

Miller still believes the appellate courts’ rulings were wrong.

“The rulings from those courts were flawed, erroneous and false,” he said. “The president’s actions were clearly legal and constitutional and consistent with the longstanding tradition of presidents of the past.”

(h/t Salon)

Media

 

 

 

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