President and First Lady Pose with Infant Orphaned in El Paso Massacre

H2 trump melania hospital el paso orphan massacre smiling thumbs up photo pose jordan andre anchondo

New details have emerged about Wednesday’s visit to El Paso by the president and first lady Melania Trump. Reporters were barred from following the Trumps as they toured the University Medical Center of El Paso, where victims of Saturday’s mass shooting were treated. None of the eight survivors who were still receiving treatment agreed to meet with the president. But a cellphone video given to local station KDBCshows the president smiling and laughing with medical workers as he boasts about the size of a crowd at a Trump campaign rally in El Paso in February, while disparaging a competing campaign rally held by Beto O’Rourke.

President Donald Trump: “That was some — that was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people, in a parking lot.”

CNN reports a hospital official said President Trump showed an “absence of empathy” during the visit. On Thursday, Melania Trump’s Twitter account published a photo from the trip showing the first lady holding a 2-month-old infant who was orphaned when both her parents were gunned down Saturday. In the photo, President Trump stands next to his wife, flashing a “thumbs up” sign. Both the president and first lady are grinning widely. Relatives brought the child back to the hospital for the Trumps’ visit. The child’s parents, Jordan and Andre Anchondo, died as they shielded their baby from the alleged white nationalist shooter whose online manifesto — published moments before the assault — echoed President Trump’s rhetoric about an “invasion” of immigrants. The baby was grazed by a bullet and was treated for broken fingers.

Right-Wing Vigilantes Hold Migrants Hostage on U.S. Border. Did Border Patrol Give Tacit Approval?

APRIL 23, 2019
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The FBI has arrested the head of an armed vigilante group that has repeatedly filmed itself detaining migrant border crossers at gunpoint. Sixty-nine-year-old Larry Mitchell Hopkins is the leader of the far-right, pro-Trump group calling itself United Constitutional Patriots, which the American Civil Liberties Union described as an “armed fascist militia organization.” His arrest came just days after the ACLU accused the vigilantes of illegally detaining 300 migrants, including young children, near Sunland Park, New Mexico, last week. We speak to Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

Trump demands high-speed rail funds back from California in retribution for National Emergency Lawsuit

Trump gestures after speaking on border security at the Rose Garden
Mr Trump has frequently been at-odds with the more liberal state (which still denies felons their right to vote. How liberal is that?)

President Donald Trump has continued to escalate tensions with California by calling on the state to return billions in federal funds for a high-speed rail.

His administration plans on cancelling $929m (£711m) in grants for what Mr Trump has called a “failed” project.

These federal funds account for a quarter of the California rail project.

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom called it “political retribution” for the California-led lawsuit against Mr Trump’s national emergency declaration.

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it is looking into cancelling the $929m grant as well as recovering a $2.5bn grant already being spent by the state.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Trump again lambasted the state over the project, saying: “Send the Federal Government back the Billions of Dollars WASTED!”

All but one of the states involved are governed by Democrats.

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Trump v California

Analysis box by Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

The battle between Donald Trump and California Governor Gavin Newsom, carried out in speeches, tweets and legal filings, now includes a hefty price tag. The US government has spent billions helping construct a high-speed rail line in California. Now, after cost overruns and cutbacks in the scope of the ambitious project, the president wants the federal money back.

That may be difficult to pull off – and will surely face an extended court battle – but that’s not the point. Mr Newsom is fighting the president over emergency funding for the border wall, so the Trump administration is going after the state’s rail funding.

Tit for tat.

This latest drama puts the conflict between the conservative White House and the most prosperous and populous state in the nation, one fully controlled by Democrats, in stark relief.

California’s leaders have offered their state as a “counter-proposal” to Trump’s America – a demonstration that progressive policies and regulations can go hand-in-hand with economic growth and well-being. It’s the antithesis of the Trumpist view that restrained regulation and limited government involvement open the path to success.

It’s a battle over ideology and principles – a civil war conducted in courts and the court of public opinion.

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Following the news of the lawsuit, Mr Trump had slammed Democrats, “the radical left”, the 9th Circuit courts, and taunted California over the rail project.

“This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

What’s the current rail situation?

California’s initial plans, approved in 2008, involved a high-speed rail linking San Francisco and Los Angeles with an estimated cost of $77bn.

Then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inspects bullet trains in Japan in 2010 as inspiration for California's own train updatesImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThen-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inspects bullet trains in Japan in 2010 as inspiration for California’s own train updates

Since then, overrunning costs and delays have plagued the project and in his state address last week, Gov Newsom said they would be scaling the project down and focusing on connecting regions in the Central Valley for now.

At the time, Mr Trump attacked the project, saying the state owed the government $3.5bn for the “green disaster”. On Tuesday, his administration took steps towards collecting those funds.

Gov Newsom hit back by saying Mr Trump’s claims were “fake news”.

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In this handout image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Construction of the Fresno River Viaduct seen between Raymond Road and Watson StreetConstruction has begun on parts of the rail system

Can Trump take back the funds?

California and the federal government signed an agreement in 2010 over this funding.

Per the agreement, the federal government is allowed to take the money back if the state does not make “adequate progress” or “fails to complete the project or one of its tasks” or if the state cannot meet the funding-match requisite, CNBC reported.

California has not yet met the $2.5bn funding match, and so it has not been able to use the $929m.

Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory said in a letter on Tuesday to the state’s rail authority that California has “materially failed to comply with the terms of the agreement”.

The letter cited the governor’s altered plans for the system along with California’s inability to match the federal funds as grounds for terminating the award.

California’s rail authority has not yet responded to the letter.

Art Bauer, a California Senate Transportation Committee staffer, told the Los Angeles Times he could not recall any precedent for such an action, but that “the governor unwittingly gave the federal government a reason to back away from the project”.

Mexico border wall: US states sue over emergency declaration

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A coalition of 16 US states led by California is suing President Donald Trump’s administration over his decision to declare an emergency to raise funds for a Mexican border wall.

The lawsuit was filed in the court for the Northern District of California.

It comes days after Mr Trump invoked emergency powers to bypass Congress and secure funding for the project – a key campaign pledge.

Democrats have vowed to contest it “using every remedy available”.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said they were taking President Trump to court “to block his misuse of presidential power”.

“We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the office of the presidency is not a place for theatre,” he added.

‘Fake’: Thousands rally in US against Trump’s national emergency

More than 250 rallies held across the US to decry Trump’s national emergency declaration to build the border wall.

People gather to protest against Trump's declaration of a national emergency at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]
People gather to protest against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Washington, DC – Thousands of people rallied nationwide on Monday to protest against the national emergency US President Donald Trump declared last week to help fund his long-promised wall across the US-Mexico border.

More than 250 rallies were organised across the United States on President’s Day, a US government holiday, with protesters carrying banners and placards that called the national emergency “fake”.

“I do think we have a national emergency in this country, this is an emergency to our democratic system,” Angelina Huynh, who joined the rally in Washington, DC, outside the White House with her two preschool children, told Al Jazeera.

As the snow fell in Boston, Massachusetts, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley took to the stage to speak against Trump’s bid to bypass Congress and help free up $8bn in funds for his wall, which was one of his biggest 2016 campaign promises.

Protesters and civil rights organisations called on Congress to take action against Trump’s latest move.

“Thank you other cities & states filing lawsuits! No better way to spend Presidents’ Day than rallying to stop this crazy President [with] his fake emergency to build a wall!” tweeted Congresswoman Maxine Waters before a rally in Los Angeles, California.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Daniel Altschuler@altochulo

“Come for one, face us ALL!”

Immigrants, Muslim, Black and LGBTQ folks, and white allies standing united outside the White House and Trump’s .

Our solidarity is .

Trump declared the national emergency after Democrats refused to cave in to his demand of more than $5bn in funding for the wall. That demand led to the longest government shutdown of its kind late last year and into 2019.

The shutdown ended in late January when Trump, his fellow Republicans and Democrats agreed to temporarily fund the government while talks on border security continued.

Racing against the clock, Democratic and Republican negotiators came to an agreement last week to keep the government open. The deal did not include funds for Trump’s wall but did include about $1.37bn in funding for physical barriers.

Trump agreed to sign the legislation, but also announced he was declaring a national emergency over the border, drawing immediate challenges from Democrats and rights groups.

The president maintains that a wall is needed to stem irregular immigration and the flow of illicit drugs into the country. But statistics show that irregular immigration has been on the decline for decades and most illegal drugs enter the US through official ports of entry.

Angelina Huynh joins a rally in Washington, DC, against Trump’s national emergency deceleration with her two children on February 18, 2019. [Ola Salem/Al Jazeera]

‘How many people are angry?’

Activists and civil rights organisations were joined at rallies on Monday by those affected by Trump’s policies over the past two years since he took office, including those affected by the ban on travellers from several Muslim-majority countries, the crackdown on undocumented immigration and child separations at the border.

“I have a question, how many people are angry?” a speaker called out to hundreds of protesters at noon in Lafayette Park in the US capital. “How many people are sick and tired of being sick and tired?” the crowd was asked as they cheered in response.

Jo Hannah from Texas visited the border in 2017 and said she saw no emergency. Instead, she saw a plan that would devastate wildlife in the area and a plan that could tear down a wildlife centre in San Antonio.

“Around 10,000 monarch butterflies breed in this centre every year, and they are going to tear this centre for the wall,” she said to Al Jazeera from the Washington, DC rally.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Deborah Rosenman@drosenman

Check out all the people at the against the and his racist agenda. Congress must act now! @MoveOn

Legal challenges

Since Trump’s announcement on Friday, several Democrats said they would challenge the declaration that would help Trump override Congress’ purse power.

Cheers erupted outside the White House as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told a crowd that the civil rights group was preparing to sue Trump for declaring a national emergency.

So far, three Texas landowners and an environmental group have filed the first lawsuit challenging Trump, the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told local media that he planned to file a suit as well. In an interview, he said the suit was “definitely and imminently” coming.

New Mexico, Oregon, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Connecticut are among several states joining the lawsuit, local media reported, quoting the attorney general’s office.

Protesters outside the White House rally against Trump’s national emergency deceleration on February 18, 2019. [Ola Salem/Al Jazeera]

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Key senator vows to probe discussions about removing Trump

Senator Lindsey GrahamSenator Lindsey Graham said he was “stunned” by the latest comments by Andrew McCabe

The chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed to get to the bottom of allegations that discussions were held in 2017 on removing President Donald Trump from office.

Senator Lindsey Graham pledged to issue subpoenas “if that’s what it takes”.

Ex-acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe has said deputy US attorney general Rod Rosenstein discussed the numbers needed to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Mr Rosenstein has in the past denied discussing invoking the clause.

The amendment provides for the removal of a president if deemed unfit.

How have these allegations arisen again?

They are certainly not new.

They have returned to the spotlight on Sunday, with Mr McCabe appearing on the 60 Minutes show on CBS in the US.

In comments released ahead of the airing of the show, he details what he says Mr Rosenstein discussed as regards the 25th Amendment.

Mr McCabe says: “The discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply [that] Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort.

Andrew McCabeAndrew McCabe was fired as deputy director in March last year

“The deputy attorney general was definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity and about his intent at that point in time.”

He restates his allegation that Mr Rosenstein had considered wearing a wire in meetings with Mr Trump.

Mr McCabe took over the FBI in 2017 after Mr Trump fired James Comey amid tension over the investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Mr McCabe was himself fired as deputy director in March last year just two days before he was due to retire. He has now written a book on his time in the post.

On the Russia inquiry, Mr McCabe says he was “very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly and reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace”.

How did Senator Graham respond?

The Republican was interviewed on CBS on Sunday morning, after some of Mr McCabe’s comments were released early.

“It’s stunning to me that one of the chief law enforcement officers of the land would go on national television and say, oh by the way I remember a conversation with the deputy attorney general about trying to find if we could replace the president under the 25th Amendment,” Mr Graham said.

“I think everybody in the country needs to know if it happened. I’m going to do everything I can to get to the bottom of Department of Justice [and] FBI behaviour toward President Trump and his campaign.”

He pledged to hold a hearing to determine “who’s telling the truth”.

What has Mr Rosenstein previously said?

Last September he strongly denied discussing invoking the constitutional clause to oust President Trump.

US Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein previously said there was “no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment”

America’s second most senior law official said the allegation was “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.

He said: “Let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

A source told the BBC that the comment that Mr Rosenstein was thinking of secretly recording Mr Trump was sarcastic.

In January, US media reported that Mr Rosenstein was planning to quit, although no timeframe had been set.

What is the 25th Amendment?

It provides for the removal of a president if he is deemed unfit for office. Duties are transferred to the vice-president.

Activating the relevant section of the 25th Amendment would require the approval of eight of the 15 members of Mr Trump’s cabinet, the vice-president and two-thirds majorities in Congress.

Ronald Reagan and George W Bush used the amendment to temporarily transfer power when they were medically anaesthetised.

Texas landowners file lawsuit against Trump’s national emergency

The lawsuit, filed in a DC federal court, is another challenge to the construction of Trump’s long-promised border wall.Texas residents claim in the lawsuit that the government's wall plan will divide their land [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]Texas residents claim in the lawsuit that the government’s wall plan will divide their land [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group have filed the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aimed at freeing up billions of dollars to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, consumer advocacy group Public Citizen (PC) has said.

The lawsuit, brought in federal court in the District of Columbia on Friday, claims the south Texas landowners were told by the US government that it would seek to build a border wall on their properties if money for the project was available in 2019, according to a press release from PC.

“Words have meaning,” Allison Zieve, Public Citizen’s counsel for the plaintiffs, said in the release. “The facts make clear that the premise of the president’s declaration – that the absence of a wall in the areas where construction is planned is an ’emergency’ – is legally untenable and an impermissible basis for seeking to obligate funds that Congress has refused to appropriate for a border wall.”

Three of the plaintiffs on the lawsuit are private citizens in Texas’s Starr County, which was home to roughly 65,000 people in 2017.

The fourth plaintiff is the Frontera Audobon Society, a six-hectare nonprofit that acts as a “haven for birds, butterflies and other wildlife”.

All the plaintiffs claim the wall would deny them access to their land.

Trump declared a national emergency on Friday after Congress passed a spending deal to keep the government open that did not include funding for a border wall.

A national emergency, if not blocked by the courts or Congress, would allow Trump to dip into funds politicians had approved for other purposes to build a border wall.

Further challenges

Democrats and some rights groups have announced plans to challenge the emergency declaration.

The House Judiciary Committee, headed by Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, wrote a letter to the White House on Friday asking the president to make available relevant White House and Justice Department officials.

They further requested legal documents related to the declaration, placing a deadline of next Friday on their delivery.

“We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system,” Nadler wrote in the letter.

The Americans Civil Liberties Union also announced on Friday they are suing Trumpover the emergency declaration, calling it “blatantly illegal”.

ACLU

@ACLU

BREAKING: We’re suing President Trump over today’s blatantly illegal declaration of a national emergency.

There is no emergency. This is an unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities. We’ll see him in court.

The coming legal fight seems likely to hinge on two main issues: whether the president can declare a national emergency to build a border wall in the face of Congress’s refusal to give him all the money he wanted; and whether federal law allows the Defense Department to take money from some congressionally approved military construction projects to pay for wall construction.

The Pentagon has so far not said which projects might be affected.

Trump claims the US-Mexico border is porous, facilitating the trafficking of narcotics and humans. Building a wall along the border was a key part of his platform during the 2016 presidential election.

Critics say most trafficking occurs in ports of entry and not the border.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES