Mexico’s government said Friday it would not impede U.S. plans to send asylum-seeking migrants back across the southern border while they await a hearing in U.S. courts. Mexican authorities made it clear they did not support the Trump administration’s program, but they appeared reluctant to pick a new fight with the White House less than two months into the term of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The decision appeared to clear the way for U.S. agents to begin the new protocols even as many migrants remained bottlenecked in Tijuana — just steps from the border — and officials in the teeming border city said resources were strained to the limit. “We are not saying we will open any kind of refugee camps or something like that,” Roberto Velasco, spokesman for the Mexican Foreign Ministry, told The Washington Post. “We simply do not have the resources for that,” he added. “What we are saying is, we will open the door for the aid to come.”
After a half-century of dirty tricks, there’s finally the case of United States versus Roger Jason Stone, Jr.
The standard FBI booking form filled out after Roger Stone’s arrest included a notation of any “scars, marks, tattoos,” in his case a large portrait of a smiling Richard Nixon etched on his back. The visage between 66-year-old Stone’s shoulder blades attests to his role nearly a half-century ago as a junior participant in the dirty tricks that eventually led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. A description of the tattoo now became part of the official record of his arrest stemming from his alleged role as a senior participant in dirty tricks on behalf of the current president, who increasingly seems to be in serious trouble. “This is definitely getting much closer to home for the president and his people,” said a longtime FBI supervisor who is not involved in the investigation but has been following the developments with an experienced eye.
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is finally over. The government is back open — at least until Feb. 15 — after President Trump announced Friday he would be in favor of opening and funding it for three weeks while he and congressional negotiators try to work out a broader deal on immigration and border security. Congress then quickly acted to reopen it Friday evening. There are no two ways about it — Trump caved. He blinked Wednesday night when he agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he would not deliver the State of the Union address next week from the House chamber until the shutdown ends. Then, early Friday afternoon, after a day dominated by the news that his former political adviser Roger Stone was indicted as part of the Mueller Russia probe, Trump completely gave in. Why? The shutdown was taking a political toll on the president, and Democrats showed no signs of budging on negotiating over border wall funding while the government was shut down.
Self-anointed political dirty trickster Roger Stone will have to tread carefully as he prepares to defend against charges of obstructing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and lying about his communications with WikiLeaks. The no-nonsense judge assigned Stone’s case has already demonstrated that she’s got little patience for defendants who misbehave. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a gag order on Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and later revoked his bail and threw him in jail. “This is not middle school,” Jackson told Manafort’s lawyers before ordering him locked up in June for alleged witness tampering. “I can’t take his cellphone.” She also reprimanded Manafort’s lead attorney Kevin Downing for a sidewalk speech he gave after his client’s arraignment and soon after issued a gag order barring parties from discussing the case with the press.
The port of entry that connects Tijuana to San Diego, the country's busiest border crossing, will allow only 20 migrants to claim asylum a day beginning Friday, a Mexican government official said Friday. Prior to the policy change, Customs and Border Patrol officers had processed up to 100 individuals a day. The capacity reduction — known in immigration circles as "metering" — came the same day that the Trump administration implemented its "Migrant Protection Protocol," a sweeping policy change that forces asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they await their U.S. immigration court hearings. Prior to the policy change, asylum seekers waited in the United States, either behind bars or non-detained but monitored. U.S. government officials have told Mexican officials that they would be processing and transferring back 20 immigrants per day beginning January 25 at the San Ysidro port of entry, a spokesperson for the Mexico Committee on Foreign Relations said during a press conference in Mexico City. They'll join the thousands of others who are waiting in Tijuana just to cross through the port of entry and claim asylum. "Accepting merely 20 people a day through the metering process at the San Ysidro port of entry is a sharp reduction from the past," said Ruby Powers, a Texas-based immigration attorney who volunteers in the border city. "It will continue to exacerbate an already intense backlog of asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico."
(CNN) Pope Francis has taken another shot at wall-building politicians, telling thousands of Catholics in Panama gathered for World Youth Day that "builders of walls sow fear" and "divide people." "We know that the father of lies, the devil, prefers a community divided and bickering," Francis told a crowd of tens of thousands of youth Thursday night at a seaside park in Panama City. "This is the criteria to divide people: The builders of bridges and the builders of walls, those builders of walls sow fear and look to divide people. What do you want to be?" When the crowd replied "builders of bridges," Francis replied, "You learned well. I like that." The Pope's remarks seemed to be a clear reference to President Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for the wall has led to a partial government shutdown for 34 days and counting. On Wednesday, after Trump tweeted a new slogan, "Build a wall and crime will fall," a journalist on the papal plane asked Pope Francis about Trump's proposal. The Pope said such measures are driven by fear. "It is the fear that makes us crazy." It wasn't the first time Trump and Francis have tussled over the proposed border wall. "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," Francis said in 2016. "This is not the gospel." Trump immediately fired back, calling Francis' comments "disgraceful." "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith," he said in a statement.
Around 800,000 federal employees missed their second payday in a row on Friday as the partial government shutdown entered its 35th day. For most Americans, that would spell disaster. Over half, or 54 percent, of people say they would have trouble paying their bills if they were forced to go without more than two paychecks, according to a new poll of over 1,000 U.S. adults from FOX News. That total includes the one in five Americans who say they couldn’t even go without one paycheck. Other research indicates the situation could be even more dire: 78 percent of American workers say they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder. The impact of the shutdown: With no end to the shutdown in sight, many government employees have had to get creative to meet their financial responsibilities. Some have opted to cancel autopay on their bills, skip seeing the doctor, or even sell their car. Hundreds are turning to local food pantries and shelters to feed their families. One Chicago-based food pantry told the Chicago Tribune it had helped 130 federal employees since the shutdown started, while a Utah-based organization estimated it had given out supplies to 280 federal employees. That confuses Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he told CNBC on Thursday. “I don’t really quite understand why because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake – say, borrowing from a bank or credit union – are in effect federally guaranteed.” Workers could be visiting real banks instead, Ross said: “The 30 days of pay that people will be out – there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it, and we’ve seen a number of ads from the financial institutions doing that.”
Two former associates of Roger Stone indicated Friday that they are willing to testify against him in court. Jerome Corsi and Randy Credico, who have appeared before the grand jury impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller and provided documents contradicting Stone's congressional testimony, signaled they would serve as witnesses if the case goes to trial. Stone, a longtime associate of President Trump who worked briefly on his campaign as an informal adviser, was arrested Friday on one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering. He is accused of making false statements during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, telling lawmakers he did not discuss his alleged backchannel to WikiLeaks over email or through text messages. Conservative conspiracy theorist Corsi told The Hill on Friday that it would be “very hard” for him to comment on whether Stone lied during congressional testimony, saying Stone “may have different perceptions.” But he said that if Stone’s case goes to trial and he were subpoenaed to appear as a witness, he would likely comply with the order. “I don’t see how I have any choice but to testify, and I would plan to do so,” Corsi said. “And I plan again to tell the truth.” Larry Klayman, Corsi’s attorney, said Friday that he couldn’t comment as to whether his client would testify. Stone has denied the charges against him, saying he will plead not guilty during his arraignment next week in Washington, D.C. Credico, a former New York radio host, declined to comment directly to The Hill, citing the advice of his attorneys. His lawyer, Martin R. Stoler, said that if Stone goes to trial, Credico would testify if called as a witness. Stoler also said the indictment backs up Credico’s statements that he was not Stone’s backchannel to WikiLeaks. “Randy has made a number of public statements in the past, and the indictment has been completely consistent with whatever Randy has said,” Stoler said. Stone for months has insisted that Credico was his backchannel to WikiLeaks. Credico, who had been friends with Stone for more than a decade, told The Hill last year that the friendship has ended. Other testimony and messages provided by both Corsi and Credico to the special counsel’s office indicate Stone sought more information on emails in WikiLeaks's possession, despite Stone telling congressional investigators that he had not.
About 800,000 government workers are set to lose their second paycheck Friday on the 35th day of a partial government shutdown. The longest funding lapse ever has damaged worker morale and led to concerns that talented federal employees could leave government jobs. Government jobs have generally been considered stable positions for years. As the partial government shutdown hits its 35th day, and hundreds of thousands of people face another missed paycheck, the closure threatens recruitment and retention of top talent in federal departments. For years, government jobs have earned a reputation as stable. Employees could generally count on few surprises, good benefits and a solid retirement. For many workers, it comes with the reward of feeling like they helped the public. The record-long government shutdown has damaged that notion. On Friday, about 800,000 federal workers will start to lose their second paychecks since funding for nine departments lapsed on Dec. 22. Some face furloughs, while others have had to toil without pay. The missed paydays have left thousands of workers scrambling to cover meals and bills, selling personal items or seeking temporary or permanent work outside of their government posts. Some U.S. employees and outside groups advocating for them worry the political fight over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall will drive talented people away from government service. “I expect there will be some long-term repercussions of this in terms of really good people deciding this is not the career they signed up for,” one American diplomat posted in Europe who declined to be named said last week about younger people entering the foreign service. The official, who also mentioned Trump’s travel ban as a potential factor in driving young diplomats away, is reporting to work during the shutdown and not getting paid.
The former Trump adviser and self-described GOP "dirty trickster' was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller. First he was indicted by the special counsel's office — then he was tattooed by the Richard Nixon Foundation. The Nixon Foundation took to Twitter on Friday to distance the disgraced former president from indicted Nixon superfan Roger Stone. As Stone, 66, left court after getting hit by charges from special counsel Robert Mueller, he flashed a Nixon-style double-V for victory to cheers from supporters. Stone started his political career working for Nixon's re-election campaign and calls Nixon one of his political heroes — he even has a tattoo of the 37th president's face on his back. The Nixon Foundation — which helps run his presidential library in Yorba Linda, Calif. — apparently didn't appreciate coverage of the event referring to Stone as a former Nixon aide."This morning's widely-circulated characterization of Roger Stone as a Nixon campaign aide or adviser is a gross misstatement. Mr. Stone was 16 years old during the Nixon presidential campaign of 1968 and 20 years old during the reelection campaign of 1972," the foundation tweeted, saying he was a mere "junior scheduler on the Nixon reelection committee. Mr. Stone was not a campaign aide or adviser."
Donald Trump had previously insisted on the inclusion of $5.7 billion to help pay for a wall along the vast U.S.-Mexico border in any legislation to fund government agencies. President Donald Trump agreed under mounting pressure on Friday to end a 35-day-old partial U.S. government shutdown without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a border wall, handing a political victory to Democrats. The three-week spending deal reached with congressional leaders, quickly passed by the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives without opposition, paves the way for tough talks with lawmakers about how to address security along the U.S.-Mexican border. The Republican president's agreement to end the shuttering of about a quarter of the federal government without securing wall money - an astonishing retreat - came three days after he had insisted "We will not Cave!" But Trump vowed that the shutdown would resume on Feb. 15 if he is dissatisfied with the results of a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee's border security negotiations, or he would declare a national emergency to get the wall money. A lapse in funding had shuttered about a quarter of federal agencies, with about 800,000 workers either furloughed or required to work without pay. Many employees as well as contractors were turning to unemployment assistance, food banks and other support. Others began seeking new jobs. With polls showing most Americans blamed him for the painful shutdown - the longest of its kind in U.S. history - Trump embraced a way out of the crisis that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been pushing for weeks. The shutdown, which pitted Pelosi against Trump - was her first test since assuming the post three weeks ago. She drew praise from fellow Democrats for what they said was an outmaneuvering of the president.
NBC News - Special counsel Robert Mueller's office no longer believes former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort should get any credit for his cooperation when he's sentenced next month, a prosecutor told the judge Friday. But prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said his office isn't planning to pursue additional charges based on Manafort's alleged lies to federal investigators after he agreed to cooperate in the investigation into Russian election interference. Weissmann also said the special counsel does not intend to bring Manafort to trial in the charges that were a part of his plea agreement. The hearing in Washington D.C. followed several competing court motions from the two sides on the issue of Manafort's statements to FBI agents and prosecutors. Manafort's lawyers have argued that he did not intentionally mislead investigators. "We believe that whether there was a breach contends on whether or not he intentionally lied," said defense attorney Richard Westling. "He did not intentionally lie." Mueller's prosecutors said Manafort told "multiple discernible lies" that were not instances of "mere memory lapses."
President Donald Trump says a deal has been reached to reopen the government. The continuing resolution would reopen the government temporarily for three weeks, until Feb. 15, giving negotiators time to talk about border security, while ensuring paychecks for 800,000 federal employees. Trump said federal workers will receive backpay as soon as possible. Trump spoke at the White House on Friday as intensifying delays at some of the nation's busiest airports and widespread disruptions brought new urgency to efforts to break the impasse. This is a developing situation and this story will be updated as we get more details.
Twitter users piled on the president after he suggested businesses would “work along” with federal employees going without pay.
Donald Trump claimed on Thursday that grocery stores would “work along” with furloughed federal workers during the government shutdown. However, Twitter users were quick to reality check the billionaire president for appearing to suggest that retailers would extend credit to the 800,000 employees who are either furloughed or working without pay. Many questioned the last time Trump set foot inside a supermarket, while others noted his past claim that shoppers need to show identification to buy groceries.
The former New York mayor and potential 2020 contender touts his credentials for president in a hard-hitting speech. Michael Bloomberg came to Virginia on Friday to deliver a message to Democrats: I told you so. The former New York City mayor delivered his most scathing remarks about Trump since he called then-candidate Donald Trump a “dangerous demagogue” and knocked his business credentials in a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. “I said then that he was just not suited,” Bloomberg said Friday morning in a speech at the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia event. “He did not have the skills, the temperament, the work ethic to be president of the United States.” Though both are New York billionaires, Bloomberg said he knew Trump in their former lives only “casually" through interactions at ceremonial events. He assailed the former real estate mogul for what he called “a complete failure of presidential leadership" and "totally incompetent management" as some federal agencies remain shuttered amid the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The government has been partially shut down for more than a month as Trump and Democrats spar over billions of dollars for his border wall. “The whole episode really is a cynical, political stunt, and, unfortunately, we’re the ones paying the price,” Bloomberg said. “You’ve gotten exactly what I described: This is a person who should not be the president of the United States, and I think we have to get serious. He is way in over his head.” Bloomberg dismissed America’s executive-in-chief as a “real estate promoter who’s never run a large organization before” and “lost big on a bunch of bets” after inheriting his fortune from his father. And as he continues to mull whether he will seek the Democratic nomination for president, Bloomberg touted his credentials for the job. “We’ve gotta do something to make sure we get somebody different in the White House two years from now, and I’m committed to do that,” he said. “This is about competence — or the lack of it. The presidency is not an entry-level job, and the longer we have a pretend CEO who is recklessly running this country, the worse it’s gonna be for our economy and for our security. This is really dangerous.”
An odd, two-tiered narrative has long unfolded around the Russia scandal. In much media commentary, there’s been a deeply baked-in skepticism that the Trump campaign could possibly have conspired with Russian interference in the 2016 election — even as more and more evidence of that “collusion” has surfaced. Media figures sometimes still say “there’s no evidence of collusion,” even though we already know, among other things, that top Trump campaign officials met with Russians in the eager hope of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton gathered by the Russian government. We still don’t know whether the “collusion” being established amounts to criminal conspiracy, but we do know that “collusion” happened. On Friday morning, the “no collusion” narrative took yet another big blow, with the news that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has indicted longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone. Stone has been charged with obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering. I want to focus on one particular nugget in the indictment that may add substantially to our understanding of what this conspiracy might — repeat, might — look like. First, recall that on July 22, 2016, Wikileaks released thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s system.
On January 6, 2017, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report that showed there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. Trump and many of his senior advisors and close associates have repeatedly denied any connections between the two campaigns, despite the fact that they were working towards the same goal, at the same time, and utilizing the same tactics. Yet over the past year, we’ve learned about a series of meetings and contacts between individuals linked to the Russian government and Trump’s campaign and transition team. In total, we have learned of 101 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives, including at least 28 meetings. And we know that at least 28 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them. Why were there so many meetings? What was discussed in them? More importantly, why did Trump and his camp lie about them, including to federal law enforcement? What are they hiding? The American people deserve answers. Below is a comprehensive chronological list of the contacts that have been discovered to date and the lies Trump’s campaign, transition, and White House told to hide them. The Trump campaign issued at least 15 blanket denials of contacts with Russia, all of which have been proven false.
The special counsel’s latest indictment is rich with details about the coordination with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. The indictment of Roger Stone, who was arrested Friday by the FBI and charged with lying to Congress, provides the first detailed evidence that Stone was a go-between for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. In 2016, WikiLeaks had and released a large numbers of emails that had been stolen by Russian intelligence from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Stone’s coordination between the campaign and WikiLeaks is substantive, from what the court filings show. Stone, a Republican political operative and confidant of Trump, got advance notice of WikiLeaks document releases that he passed on to the Trump campaign. That included information about an “October surprise,” which turned out to be the leaking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. Stone also allegedly sent messages back to Assange, through intermediaries, specifying the precise content of Clinton emails he would like to see leaked. All this appears, according to the indictment, to be supported by documentary evidence in the form of emails. If accurate, it proves a degree of coordination between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks — which was getting its leak material from Russian intelligence. The circle of collusion therefore runs from Russian intelligence to Assange to Stone to the Trump campaign, and back again at least as far as Assange. We already knew that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Stone’s contacts with Assange through right-wing journalist Jerome Corsi and radio personality Randy Credico, who are identified in Stone’s indictment as Person 1 and Person 2, respectively.
WPBF - The Federal Aviation Administration has halted all flights entering LaGuardia Airport in New York due to staffing issues with the airport’s air traffic controllers. All departing flights are subject to an average ground delay of 40 minutes due to the staffing shortage, according to the FAA's website. The FAA also says air traffic is delayed at Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey due to staffing issues. Departing flights from Philadelphia and Newark are delayed between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes, and LaGuardia departures delayed between 15 and 30 minutes, the FAA said. "We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two air traffic control facilities affecting New York and Florida," the FAA said in a statement to CNN. "As with severe storms, we will adjust operations to a safe rate to match available controller resources."
Former CIA Director John Brennan on Friday predicted that there will be more indictments coming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, including “a significant number of names that will be quite familiar to the average American.” Brennan, who has emerged as a frequent critic of Trump, appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shortly after news broke that longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was indicted and arrested by the FBI. Brennan said he expects there to be a “significant number of indictments” within the next 60 days related to the probe of Russian interference and potential collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Moscow. “I expect there to be a significant number, and a significant number of names that will be quite familiar to the average American,” he added. Brennan said Mueller’s investigation is showing that there was an “extensive effort” to influence the election that involved both Russians and Americans. “That may have gone to the very top of the Trump campaign,” Brennan added. “I think the shows that are yet to drop are going to be the ones that are going to be the most profound and that will hit the people at the top of the organization.” Brennan clarified that may or may not include the president himself or members of his family. “Clearly they have been talked to, they have been interviewed by the FBI. There is a fair amount of vulnerability that they might have on this,” Brennan said. “But, again, I defer to the special counsel’s office to make the determination about whether what they did crossed that threshold from collusion — which I think is quite evident — to criminal conspiracy.” Brennan has a long-running feud with Trump, who revoked the former CIA director's security clearance last year after repeated criticism from Brennan on cable television and Twitter. Stone, who worked as an informal adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, was indicted on seven counts in connection with Mueller's investigation, including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering.
First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter. Well, today, it’s Roger Stone’s time in the barrel. The headline this morning is that Stone, the former adviser to President Donald Trump, was charged by special counsel Robert Mueller of obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering — making him the latest Trump associate to get indicted or plead guilty. But inside of Mueller’s indictment is an even bigger story: a list of the times when Stone was communicating with the Trump campaign and its associates about the WikiLeaks email releases that ended up rocking Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the final month of the 2016 presidential election. “During the summer of 2016, STONE spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1” — WikiLeaks — “and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. STONE was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.” (Page 2). “STONE also continued to communicate with members of the Trump Campaign about Organization 1 and its intended future releases.” (Page 2).
Former Vice President Joe Biden took criticism for supporting a Michigan Republican, but dismissed it with a joke saying "bless me father for I have sinned."
(CNN Business)Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he doesn't "really quite understand why" federal workers who have missed paychecks due to the partial government shutdown don't just take out loans to cover the gap. When asked in a CNBC interview on Thursday about reports that federal workers are going to homeless shelters or seeking food assistance, the billionaire investor said: "Well, I know they are and I don't really quite understand why, because as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say borrowing from a bank or a credit union, are in effect federally guaranteed, so the 30 days of pay that some people will be out is no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan against it." The government has been partially shut down for more than a month, with no apparent end in sight. A food pantry opened by chef Jose Andres in central Washington has been swamped with workers seeking hot meals, while furloughed employees across the country have been visiting food banks and seeking other assistance. The comments from the commerce secretary came after a senior economic adviser to President Donald Trump compared the shutdown to a vacation. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said earlier this month that furloughed federal workers who are not getting paid during the partial government shutdown are "better off" because they won't be docked vacation days and will eventually get paid anyway. "Huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say between Christmas and New Year's. And then we have a shutdown and so they can't go to work, and so then they have the vacation but they don't have to use their vacation days," Hassett told PBS during an appearance on "NewsHour." He subsequently said he sympathizes with workers and that his comments were taken out of context.
(CNN) As the standoff between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over border security stretches into a second month, examples of how the partial government shutdown is damaging national security are beginning to mount. From counterterrorism investigations to cybersecurity protections, critical elements of the country's national security infrastructure are showing signs of strain. "From a security standpoint we are letting our guard down. If this shutdown ended tomorrow, I fear that the damage already done to our security will be months if not years," former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who served under President Barack Obama, said Thursday at an event with former senior DHS officials. On Wednesday, Johnson, along with former Trump White House chief of staff and DHS Secretary John Kelly and three other former secretaries of homeland security, sent Trump and members of Congress a letter calling for full department funding and an end to the shutdown. "As former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we write to you today with a simple message -- fund the critical mission of DHS," wrote the bipartisan group of Kelly, President George W. Bush alums Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, and President Barack Obama alums Johnson and Janet Napolitano. The Pentagon and intelligence agencies are fully funded, and federal law and Office of Management and Budget guidelines direct even unfunded agencies to maintain operations that involve "the safety of human life or the protection of property." But at key agencies like the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, an unpaid work force and tightened operational budgets are having an impact.
(CNN) President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was subpoenaed Thursday to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in mid-February, according to a source close to Cohen. It is not clear how Cohen will respond. The source said that Cohen has the same concerns regarding the safety of his family that led him to try to postpone his appearance before a House Oversight Committee hearing.Senate Intelligence traditionally does their interviews behind closed doors, not publicly. A committee spokeswoman declined to comment.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. swept into Benton Harbor, Mich., three weeks before the November elections, in the midst of his quest to reclaim the Midwest for Democrats. He took the stage at Lake Michigan College as Representative Fred Upton, a long-serving Republican from the area, faced the toughest race of his career. But Mr. Biden was not there to denounce Mr. Upton. Instead, he was collecting $200,000 from the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan to address a Republican-leaning audience, according to a speaking contract obtained by The New York Times and interviews with organizers. The group, a business-minded civic organization, is supported in part by an Upton family foundation. Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience. Alluding to Mr. Upton’s support for a landmark medical-research law, Mr. Biden called him a champion in the fight against cancer — and “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.” Mr. Biden’s remarks, coming amid a wide-ranging discourse on American politics, quickly appeared in Republican advertising. The local Democratic Party pleaded with Mr. Biden to repair what it saw as a damaging error, to no avail. On Nov. 6, Mr. Upton defeated his Democratic challenger by four and a half percentage points.
House Democratic leaders said on Wednesday that they were prepared to offer President Trump a substantial sum of money for border security — perhaps even the $5.7 billion he has requested — but not for a wall and not until he agreed to reopen the government. “We are going to be talking about substantial sums of money to secure our border,” Representative Steny D. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic leader, told reporters. Representative James E. Clyburn, the No 3. Democrat, told reporters separately that Democrats could back a $5.7 billion funding measure that included drones and refitted ports of entry — but no wall. That is the amount Mr. Trump has demanded for the wall he wants to build on the southwestern border. “Using the figure the president put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security, then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing it with what I like to call using a smart wall,” he said. The Democratic-controlled House is poised on Wednesday to pass legislation including an additional $1.5 billion for border security, which would help fund 75 new immigration judges and their staffs, and improvements in infrastructure at ports of entry. But separately, top Democrats are preparing a letter to Mr. Trump that will outline a broader, and more expensive, vision for border security. That letter is expected to be ready in the coming days. And while Mr. Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat, did not say on Wednesday how much money Democrats were willing to spend, Mr. Clyburn proffered the highest Democratic number yet, “so long as it’s done smartly, not just done to fulfill a campaign promise that never should have been made in the first place — unless you’re going to keep the full campaign promise, which is have Mexico pay for it.”
(CNN) President Donald Trump will NOT be giving his State of the Union speech on the House floor next Tuesday.
That much now seems definite, following an exchange of hugely passive-aggressive letters between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday -- a battle of words that ended with Pelosi informing Trump that she would not be introducing a "concurrent resolution" allowing him to address a bicameral session of Congress on January 29. What it means is that we are now through the looking glass: On the 33rd day of the longest government shutdown in American history, the speaker of the House has disinvited the President of the United States from delivering his annual update to Congress -- a tradition that has been around since George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address at Federal Hall in New York City on January 8, 1790. There are three certain conclusions as a result of Pelosi's response to Trump's letter earlier Wednesday, in which he insisted he was planning to show up to give his speech in the House next Tuesday, despite her previous letter asking him to postpone his speech or deliver it in writing a la Thomas Jefferson. Trump ain't speaking on the House floor next week. Relations between the Democratic House and the Republican President have hit a new low. None of this is even marginally normal. There are a slew of questions that follow from these certainties: Will this cancellation further set back any attempt at compromise on reopening the government? Will Trump give some sort of kind of, sort of State of the Union speech from some other location? If so, where will it be?
Democrats and immigrant rights groups were quick to oppose President Trump's proposal to end the government shutdown over the weekend because it includes $5.7 billion for a border wall. Now that they've seen the full language of the bill, they've found even more reasons not to like it. The proposed bill includes some big changes to U.S. immigration policy that were not included in the president's public announcement — including a provision that would sharply limit asylum applications for children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. "It's a trojan horse filled with many extreme immigration proposals," said Kerri Talbot of the Immigration Hub, an immigrants' rights organization, during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "The bill includes the most extreme proposals on asylum I think that I've ever seen," Talbot said. When he announced his proposal on Saturday, President Trump said it includes "critical measures to protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse," including a new system that would allow Central America minors to apply for asylum in their home countries.
Nastya Rybka may not know as much as she claims about a sanctioned Russian oligarch and Paul Manafort. But if not, why did the oligarch try so hard to keep her in prison? Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s nemesis, the 28-year-old Belarusian self-declared “seductress” and “huntress of billionaires” known as Nastya Rybka, just got out of jail in Moscow. And Deripaska must have thought things were going so well. As we now know, he worked hard to keep her locked up in Thailand, or Russia—wherever, as long as she would quit telling her stories and showing her videotapes about him talking American politics, Trump politics, with a deputy prime minister of Russia at the height of the U.S. elections. Whether Rybka’s information sheds light on the Russia collusion investigation or not, the fact that Deripaska used to be a client of jailed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort makes those conversations highly suspicious. Still, Deripaska had reason to be pleased as the annual World Economic Forum readied to open in Davos, Switzerland, this week.
Two years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That includes an astonishing 6,000-plus such claims in the president’s second year. Put another way: The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. But he hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year, almost triple the pace. We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. Readers demanded we keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency. Our interactive graphic, managed with the help of Leslie Shapiro of The Washington Post graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. You can also search for specific claims or obtain monthly or daily totals.
CNN)An attempt before the Supreme Court for a company to dodge a grand jury subpoena related to the Mueller investigation revealed a new twist Tuesday: that the company is wholly owned by a foreign government. In essence, the foreign nation is fighting off the US Justice Department's attempt to collect information as it builds a criminal case. The development comes in a redacted petition the country filed with the Supreme Court that was made public Tuesday. The case concerns an unnamed corporation that is fighting a subpoena request from a DC-based grand jury. Lower courts have ruled that the company must turn over the information and imposed a $50,000 fine for every day it failed to do so following the appeal. CNN previously reported that prosecutors from the special counsel's office were involved in the case at its early stages, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller sought the information from the company for grand jury proceedings related to his criminal investigations. The case then continued through the court system with an unusual amount of secrecy around it, so that even the lawyers involved could not be seen at a later hearing. In ruling against the company, the appeals court said the request fell within an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that limits foreign governments from being sued in US courts. The court also held that the company had not shown that its own country's law bar compliance. Overall, the country argues to the Supreme Court that a ruling forcing it to turn over information to the US in a criminal investigation will upset international diplomacy. "The D.C. circuit's parade of horribles finds no support in U.S. history. Since America's founding, foreign states have been immune from American criminal jurisdiction, and yet the United States is not overrun with criminal syndicates backed by foreign states," the attorneys for the foreign country wrote. Regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines it will have to pay for noncompliance, "The conflict is real and, like the other questions presented, has ramifications for America's relationships with other countries," the filing adds.
(CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has expressed interest in the Trump campaign's relationship with the National Rifle Association during the 2016 campaign. "When I was interviewed by the special counsel's office, I was asked about the Trump campaign and our dealings with the NRA," Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, told CNN. The special counsel's team was curious to learn more about how Donald Trump and his operatives first formed a relationship with the NRA and how Trump wound up speaking at the group's annual meeting in 2015, just months before announcing his presidential bid, Nunberg said. Nunberg's interview with Mueller's team in February 2018 offers the first indication that the special counsel has been probing the Trump campaign's ties to the powerful gun-rights group. As recently as about a month ago, Mueller's investigators were still raising questions about the relationship between the campaign and the gun group, CNN has learned. A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment. The NRA did not respond to a request for comment. President Trump was not asked about his connection with the NRA in the written questions Mueller posed to him, according to a source familiar with the questions. The NRA had already come under scrutiny from lawmakers for its massive spending in support of Trump in 2016 and its ties to Russian nationals. Maria Butina, a Russian national, pleaded guilty in DC federal court in December to engaging in a conspiracy against the US. As part of her plea, she acknowledged that she attempted to infiltrate GOP political circles and influence US relations with Russia, in part by building ties with prominent members of the NRA.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared President Donald Trump’s administration to start barring most transgender people from serving in the armed forces. The justices, voting 5-4, put on hold lower court decisions that had blocked the administration’s planned ban from taking effect. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. The court stopped short of agreeing to hear arguments on an expedited basis, as the administration sought. But by letting the ban take effect, the court gave the administration a major victory and hinted the justices ultimately will uphold the restrictions. Transgender troops have been serving openly since June 2016, when President Barack Obama’s administration began lifting a longstanding prohibition. Opponents of the ban say reinstating it would violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause. “This case is about whether men and women who want to serve in the United States Armed Forces to protect their country and who are able and otherwise qualified to do so should be barred from military service because they are transgender,” according to court filings on behalf of current and prospective military members.
King’s youngest daughter, Bernice, slammed the “regrettable” tweet and invited the gun group to study her father “and his nonviolent philosophy.” The National Rifle Association has been slammed by people on Twitter for referring to Martin Luther King Jr.’s application for a gun permit in a MLK Day tweet. “Today, the men and women of the NRA honor the profound life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” the pro-gun advocacy group tweeted Monday. “Dr. King applied for a concealed carry permit in a “may issue” state and was denied. We will never stop fighting for every law-abiding citizen’s right to self-defense.” King did apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in 1956, after his house was bombed. UCLA law professor Adam Winkler noted that after the denial, King “gave up any hope of armed self-defense and embraced nonviolence more completely.” The slain civil rights leader was himself a victim of gun violence ― which many people on Twitter were quick to point out as they criticized the NRA for the “tone deaf” tribute. Even King’s youngest daughter, Bernice, encouraged the gun group to study her father “and his nonviolent philosophy.”
During a speech commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Columbus, South Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called President Trump “a racist.” To cheers from the crowd, Sanders went on to call out Trump for his policy decisions and rhetoric, saying that they have divided the country along lines of race, gender, and country of origin.
Investigations into Donald Trump's election-eve hush money payments and any possible ties between his presidential campaign and Russia have been dominating headlines. But there are other legal woes too. In New York and Washington, the list of inquiries into the Trump world is expanding - any of which could produce serious headaches for the president. Here's a look at the latest collection of eyeballs scrutinising the president - and what it all could mean.
Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has made a series of bizarre statements about the President’s relationship with Russia, muddying the waters even further. US President Donald Trump’s Russia problem is not going anywhere and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani spent the weekend making new bizarre revelations about the relationship. The former New York mayor said Mr Trump was involved in discussions about building a Trump Tower Moscow throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. “It’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016 — there weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations,” Mr Giuliani told NBC’s Meet The Press. He told The New York TimesMr Trump had said negotiations to build a hotel in Russia were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won”. That’s a major step forward from previous claims by the President’s associates that he was minimally involved in talks of a deal and that it was cancelled far earlier. It would mean Mr Trump was still involved in a Russian deal when he called for an end to economic sanctions against the nation imposed by Barack Obama, gave interviews questioning the legitimacy of NATO, and called on Russia to release hacked Democratic emails.
A Russian popstar who worked with Donald Trump Jr. to set up the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, says he is now canceling a trip to the United States because he is afraid of Bob Mueller. Pop star Emin Agalarov’s lawyer tells NBC News the cancellation is “most definitely” linked to the Russia probe. Giuliani is doing damage control, trying to backpedal from his comments suggesting Trump was involved in talks for a Trump Tower Moscow deal up until the 2016 election. Attorney Maya Wiley tells Ari Melber Giuliani has “essentially made himself a fact witness” in the Mueller probe.
The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to block the Trump administration from lifting sanctions on a Russian oligarch with deep ties to Vladimir Putin. The effort, a joint resolution of disapproval, would overturn the Treasury Department’s December decision to ease sanctions on companies tied to Oleg Deripaska, who was sanctioned last year as part of a broader congressional push to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. A similar Senate effort failed Wednesday, ensuring that the resolution will not advance to President Donald Trump’s desk. But the 362-53 House vote on Thursday represented yet another bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s policies toward the Kremlin and further exposed GOP discontent with the president’s foreign policy goals. Because we cannot be sure that we have removed the heavy hand of this Russian oligarch, I cannot support the delisting of these sanctioned entities at this point in time,” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
A Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin along with his allies will maintain a majority ownership in an energy company under a Treasury Department plan to lift sanctions against the business, according to The New York Times. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in a letter to Congress last month, said that the agreement to lift the sanctions will reduce Oleg Deripaska's "direct and indirect shareholding stake in those entities"— Rusal, EN+ and EuroSibEnergo—"to below 50 percent." But, according to documents obtained by the Times, Deripaska and his allies would own approximately 57 percent of EN+ under the Treasury Department plan. Under the Treasury Department agreement, Deripaska will also be freed from debt he owes to VTB, a Russian government-owned bank, in exchange for transferring shares worth roughly $800 million to the financial institution. The Treasury Department, in a statement to The New York Times, stressed that Deripaska's control over the three companies is "severed by this delisting" and that the deal prevents him from using the companies "to carry out illicit activities on behalf of the Kremlin." The administration is expected to lift sanctions against EN+, as well as Rusal and EuroSibEnergo, after Congress failed to block the administration from moving forward with its plan. More than 130 Republicans broke with Trump to back the measure in the House, marking a significant rebuke of the administration's plan. But Senate Republicans were able to defeat the measure, where it fell three votes short of the 60 needed to defeat a filibuster.