The Trump administration is attacking YOUR First Amendment rights by threatening to DEFUND NPR! This is a blatant attack on journalism and objective facts because a journalist used facts in an interview with Mike Pompeo.
The secretary of the United States Navy has said he does not consider a Twitter post by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of a sailor who could lose his status as a member of its elite SEAL commando unit.
Trump on Thursday tweeted that the Navy should “get back to business” rather than convene a board to determine whether Navy Special Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher – who had been accused of war crimes but was found guilty only of a lesser offence – should retain his qualification as a Navy SEAL.
Referring to Trump’s tweet, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Saturday: “I don’t interpret them as a formal order.”
He added: “I need a formal order to act.”
Trump had insisted in his tweet that the Navy “will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin”, inserting himself into an ongoing legal review of the sailor’s ability to hold onto the pin that designates him a SEAL.
The Navy on Wednesday had notified Gallagher that he will face a review early next month to determine if he should remain on the elite force.
Multiple US news outlets reported in recent days that Spencer had threatened to resign over the issue, a claim he sharply denied.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am still here. I did not threaten to resign,” Spencer said, speaking at a forum in Halifax, Canada, while also acknoledging that he serves at the pleasure of the president.
“The president the United States is the commander in chief. He’s involved in every aspect of government and he can make decisions and give orders as appropriate,” he said.
Gallagher had been accused in the stabbing death of a wounded captive fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group in Iraq in 2017, attempted murder of other civilians and obstruction of justice.
In July, he was acquitted of charges related to those accusations, but was convicted of a lesser charge: posing with the slain fighter’s body in a group picture with other SEALs.
As a result, he was demoted one rank, from chief petty officer to petty officer first class.
On November 15, Trump reversed the demotion handed down to the 40 year old under his conviction.
Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of trying to remove the SEAL designation in retaliation for Trump’s decision last week to restore Gallagher’s rank.
Gallagher filed a complaint with the inspector general accusing a rear admiral of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions. Rear Admiral Collin Green is the Naval Special Warfare commander.
Under the review procedure, a five-person board will convene on December 2 behind closed doors.
It will include one SEAL officer and four senior enlisted SEALs, according to two US officials cited by The Associated Press news agency.
Trump’s initial order in Gallagher only referred to restoring his rank, but it did not explicitly pardon the SEAL for any wrongdoing.
Green also notified three SEAL officers who oversaw Gallagher during the deployment – Lieutenant Commander Robert Breisch, Lieutenant Jacob Portier and Lieutenant Thomas MacNeil – that they are also being reviewed, according to the officials.
Removing their Trident pins means they would no longer be SEALs but could remain in the Navy. The Navy has revoked 154 Trident pins since 2011.
An unprecedented leak of secret intelligence reports from inside the Iranian government has shed new light on how Iran has taken control of much of the Iraqi government in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion. The documents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security were leaked to The Intercept, which then partnered with The New York Times on reporting the story. The leak includes 700 pages of intelligence documents from 2014 to 2015. The documents reveal that a number of Iraqis who once worked with the CIA went on to work with Iranian intelligence.
With one day left to pass a government spending bill before today’s midnight deadline to avert another government shutdown, both the House and Senate passed the measure Thursday that came out of the bipartisan conference committee earlier this week. The bill includes nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers out of steel, far less than the $5.7 billion requested by President Trump. Democrats quickly condemned the news, and consumer rights nonprofit Public Citizen vowed legal action against him. We speak with Public Citizen President Robert Weissman.
On Friday the two most senior Democrats – House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer – said they would challenge the “power grab by a disappointed president” in Congress and in the courts.
Ms Pelosi also seized on a remark by Mr Trump in response to a question from a reporter, in which he said he “didn’t need to do this”.
Analysts suggest that this remark could undermine Mr Trump’s case that the country is facing an emergency.
It didn’t take Nancy Pelosi long to pick up on that line. I imagine we’ll see it in a court brief soon.
He admits it’s a #FakeTrumpEmergency. Hear him say it: “I *didn’t need* to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”
What did Mr Trump say?
Making the announcement in the White House Rose Garden, the president said the emergency would allow him to get almost $8bn for the wall.
This is still considerably short of the estimated $23bn cost of the wall along almost 2,000 miles (3,200km) of border.
Mr Trump accepted that he would be sued for the move, and predicted that the emergency order would lead to legal action which was likely to end up in the Supreme Court.
“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border,” he said.
“Everyone knows that walls work.”
Later, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters that Mr Trump’s move “creates zero precedent”.
“This is authority given to the president in law already. It’s not as if he just didn’t get what he wanted so he’s waving a magic wand and taking a bunch of money,” he said.
By Jon Sopel, BBC North America editor
The trouble with going nuclear is there is fall-out. This has been presented as a predictably partisan issue.
On one side of the wall, Republicans; on the other side Democrats. But by going nuclear the president has made it more complicated than that. There are a lot of Republicans – in the Senate and in the House – deeply uneasy about what Mr Trump is doing.
Why? Because the constitutional arrangement of the US is that Congress – not the president – controls the purse strings and allocates funds.
This is a major land grab by the president. It undermines their position and sets a very dangerous precedent.
The National Emergencies Act contains a clause that allows Congress to terminate the emergency status if both houses vote for it – and the president does not veto.
With a comfortable majority in the House, Democrats could pass such a resolution to the Senate. The Republicans control the Senate, but a number of Republican senators have been vocal in their unease about the president invoking a national emergency.
The dissenting Republicans include 2012 presidential contender and new senator for Utah Mitt Romney, Florida senator Marco Rubio, and the senator from Maine Susan Collins, who said the move was of “dubious constitutionality”.
The resolution would however still require Mr Trump’s signature to pass, allowing him to veto it. A supermajority in both houses of Congress is needed to overturn a presidential veto.
What is a national emergency?
The National Emergencies Act is intended for times of national crisis. Mr Trump has claimed that there is a migration crisis at the nation’s southern border – a claim strongly refuted by migration experts.
The largest number of illegal migrants settling in the US each year is those who stay in the country after their visas expire.
Declaring a national emergency would give the president access to special powers that effectively allow him to bypass the usual political process, and he would be able to divert money from existing military or disaster relief budgets to pay for the wall.
Emergency declarations by previous presidents have been overwhelmingly used for addressing foreign policy crises – including blocking terrorism-linked entities from accessing funds or prohibiting investment in nations associated with human rights abuses.
Where will the money come from?
On Friday, Mr Mulvaney said the $8bn would be made up of:
$1.4bn from the agreed budget
$600m from cash and assets seized from drug traffickers
$2.5bn from a defence department anti-drug trafficking fund
$3.5bn reallocated from military construction projects
The latter is the biggest amount and the relevant statute allows a president to divert funds for projects that “require use of the armed forces”. This is almost certain to bring a legal challenge.
Crimes motivated by a victim’s religion constituted 20.6% of attacks, and crimes against a person’s sexual orientation made up 15.8%.
The FBI definition of a hate crime is a “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity”.
The 2017 data notes that about 5,000 of the crimes were directed against people through intimidation or assault.
Around 3,000 were targeted at property, which includes vandalism or burglary.
Crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs were not counted prior to 2015.
Crimes against Jewish Americans saw a notable increase of 37% over 2016.
Jews have long been the highest targeted religion, as the acting attorney general noted in his statement.
The new report comes a month after 11 Jews were killed by a gunman that burst into their synagogue in Pittsburgh as they prayed, marking the deadliest attack against Jews in US history. The suspect was charged with dozens of federal hate crimes.
Crimes against African Americans constituted 2,013 crimes, marking a 16% increase over the previous year.
Muslim individuals were the target of 18.7% of religiously motivated hate crimes, which was a drop of 6% from 2016.
What is the reaction?
Civil rights advocates say the numbers are vastly under-reported because of individual victims that choose not to come forward, and some police agencies that do not keep accurate statistics or do not contribute them to the study.
Jonathan Greenblatt of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, said the report “provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America.
“That begins with leaders from all walks of life and from all sectors of society forcefully condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate whenever it occurs.”
Civil rights organisation the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) said the findings were “shocking” and “requires Congress’s full attention”.
The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties organisation, expressed alarm at the “increase of bigotry and hate”.
“This is the third year where we witness an increase in reported incidents of hate targeted at our most vulnerable populations. Between 2016 and 2017, CAIR-Chicago has received a 50% increase in reported incidents of discrimination,” said Deputy Director Sufyan Sohel in a statement.
“We can do better. We must do better.”
In his statement, Mr Whitaker said: “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes.”
“The American people can be assured that this department has already taken significant and aggressive actions against these crimes and that we will vigorously and effectively defend their rights,” he continued.
More than 200 journalists, mostly retired and semi-retired, released an open letter decrying Trump’s press attack.
More than 200 journalists, most of them retired or semi-retired, accused US President Donald Trump of a “sustained pattern” of attacking media in an open letter published a day after a spate of suspected pipe bombs were sent to CNN and several prominent Trump critics.
“Trump’s condoning of political violence is part of a sustained pattern of attack on a free press – which includes labeling any reportage he doesn’t like as ‘fake news’ and barring reporters and news organisations whom he wishes to punish from press briefings and events,” stated the letter, which was published on Thursday morning.
Lambasting Trump’s recent praise for a violent assault on a Guardian journalist, the letter went on to accuse Trump of undermining media freedoms and inciting violence against the press.
Among the signatories were former press workers for CNN, ABC and Los Angeles Times.
Starting with a suspected explosive device sent to the home of liberal billionaire philanthropist and financier George Soros, at least 10 packages containing pipe bombs have been mailed to prominent critics of Trump this week.
Other packages were addressed to former US President Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, actor Robert Deniro and former CIA director John Brennan in care of CNN, among others.
The incident comes just two weeks before midterm elections, which are expected to be a referendum on Trump’s performance.
Blaming the press
On Thursday morning, Trump renewed his attacks on the press, taking to Twitter in an apparent attempt to blame the media for the spate of suspected bombs.
“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” he tweeted.
“It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
His comments were met with derision from CNN President Jeff Zucker, who charged the Trump administration with “a total and complete lack of understanding … about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media”.
Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, described the string of packages as an “act of terror”.
“Don’t encourage violence, don’t encourage hatred, don’t encourage attacks on media,” he added without naming Trump.
“Unfortunately this atmosphere of hatred is contributing to the choices people are making to turn to violence.”
But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s comments on Thursday morning. “Day in, day out, there is a negative tone,” Sanders told press outside the White House.
“You guys continue to focus only on the negative and there is a role to play.”
Since coming to office, Trump has been widely criticised by rights groups and press freedom organisations for his frequent criticism of the media.
After five press workers were killed by a shotgun-wielding man in Maryland in June, the US became the second most dangerous country for journalists during the first half of 2018, according to International News Safety Institute.