Trump Administration Targets Immigrants on Public Assistance

Legal immigrants who use or appear likely to tap public assistance programs could find it harder to come to the U.S. or stay permanently under a Trump administration proposal released Saturday.

Legal immigrants could be denied a green card, which grants permanent residency, if they have received certain government assistance which they were legally allowed to access. About 27 million people live in families that have received benefits and had at least one immigrant family member, according to a June analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

The proposal released by the Department of Homeland Security shows President Donald Trump is not backing off tightening immigration despite a backlash and court action over some policies, including the separation this summer of children and parents entering the country illegally.

Conservatives have cheered the new proposal, which was first floated last year, as necessary to prevent immigrants from becoming a drain on public services such as Medicaid and food stamps. Democrats and immigrant rights groups argue the rule would punish people who are entitled to benefits and legally live in the U.S.

The proposed rule must still be finalized following 60 days for public comment. Certain groups, including refugees, would be exempt.

The change would broaden the framework the U.S. considers when deciding status and entry for immigrants who are likely to receive public benefits such as nutrition assistance, low income housing subsidies and Medicaid above a specific threshold, according to the information released Saturday.

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement. She added that “This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

“Building on the traumatic separation of families at the border, the Trump administration has taken another cruel step,“ Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said Saturday in a statement. ”This proposed rule change will similarly result in the separation of families and is just the latest assault on immigrant families.”

[Wall Street Journal]

Donald Trump rage-tweets about John Kerry telling Iran to not bother with him

Former Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly met with Iranian leaders and advised them to simply wait out President Donald Trump’s hostility.

This bit of “shadow diplomacy” with the nation Kerry helped broker a nuclear deal with has enraged Trump, who tweeted about it on Thursday night.

Trump suggested that it was “illegal” for Kerry to meet with Iran and tell them “to wait out the Trump Administration!”

Trump then misunderstood or misrepresented the law by stating that Kerry should have been registered as a foreign agent for giving a foreign nation advice as a citizen.

[Raw Story]

Trump questions why Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser waited to report alleged assault

President Donald Trump on Friday questioned why the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault waited years to report the incident, leveling his most direct criticism yet at Christine Blasey Ford.

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

The comments departed from the more restrained approach Trump has taken when discussing Blasey Ford. In his comments earlier this week, Trump has focused on defending Kavanaugh’s character while lamenting the public attention the case has received.

Blasey Ford has come forward with claims Kavanaugh and a friend took her into a room where he pinned her to a bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothes and put his hands over her mouth to muffle her screams at a house party in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, when he was 17 and she 15.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.

Experts say it is common for victims to delay reporting sexual abuse, in part because they feel ashamed or are fearful. Some studies suggest that only about one-third of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement officials.

Blasey Ford reiterated Thursday that she would be willing to testify before senators about her allegations. Ford’s attorney spoke with staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee and laid out requests for her to testify next week, including that Kavanaugh not be in the same room.

After barreling ahead, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was abruptly halted this week when Ford came forward to identify herself as the author of an anonymous letter detailing the accusations. The committee has scheduled a meeting Monday to hear from both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford, but negotiations over that hearing are ongoing.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have said the Senate should move quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the November midterm elections. Others, notably Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have been more cautious.

Republicans can confirm Kavanaugh without support from Democrats, but they can afford to lose only one of their own members.

Trump’s tweet went a step further in questioning Ford’s account than remarks he made in an interview with with Fox News late Thursday night.

“Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?” Trump said in the Fox interviews broadcast live before a rally in Las Vegas. “I mean, you could also say when did this all happen, what is going on? To take a man like this and besmirch …”

While Trump himself approached the issue cautiously in his initial comments, some of his surrogates have not.

Donald Trump Jr. drew criticism, including from Republicans, for making light of Blasey Ford’s accusations in an Instagram post over the weekend. The post included a fake letter, written in crayon, suggesting Kavanaugh was too young to have harmed Blasey Ford.

“This is sickening,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to the post. “No one should make light of this situation.”

[USA Today]

Trump on Sessions: ‘I don’t have an attorney general’

US President Donald Trump has said he does not “have an attorney general” in his fiercest attack yet on Jeff Sessions.

In an interview with Hill.TV, Mr Trump renewed criticism of Mr Sessions’ decision to step aside from the inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He also said he was unhappy with Mr Sessions’ response to immigration.

The attorney general is yet to respond to Mr Trump’s comments.

It is unusual for a sitting president to attack their attorney general and critics accuse Mr Trump of trying to meddle in the legal system.

After the president criticised Mr Sessions last month, two key Republican senators signalled that they would support Mr Trump if he were to fire Mr Sessions after the November mid-term elections.

However, other Republicans told Politico they thought this would be a bad move and said they were standing by the attorney general.

Mr Sessions has pushed back against previous criticism by Mr Trump. “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” he said in August.

“I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”

[BBC News]

Trump Downplays Manafort’s Campaign Role, Not Worried ‘As Long as He Tells The Truth’

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday that he isn’t worried about Paul Manafort’s cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The former Trump campaign chair reached a plea deal with Mueller last week, who is investigating the 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, and agreed to cooperate so as to avoid a second trial.

Per the New York Times:

It is not clear what information Mr. Manafort offered prosecutors in three days of negotiations that led to the plea deal. But in court on Friday, Mr. Manafort agreed to an open-ended arrangement that requires him to answer “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” the government wants to ask about.

Trump expressed his faith in Manafort when asked about the plea deal by reporters on Wednesday.

“If he is honest, and I think he is… as long as he tells the truth it’s 100%,” Trump said, before touting Manafort’s political bonafides: “He was with Ronald Reagan, he was with Bob Dole, he was with McCain, he was with many, many people. That’s what he did.”

“Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time,” he continued. “He did a good job. I was very happy with the job he did.”

“And I will tell you this, I believe that he will tell the truth. And if he tells the truth, no problem.”

[Mediaite]

Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency

President Trump in an exclusive interview with Hill.TV said Tuesday he ordered the release of classified documents in the Russia collusion case to show the public the FBI probe started as a “hoax,” and that exposing it could become one of the “crowning achievements” of his presidency.

“What we’ve done is a great service to the country, really,” Trump said in a 45-minute, wide-ranging interview in the Oval Office.

“I hope to be able to call this, along with tax cuts and regulation and all the things I’ve done… in its own way this might be the most important thing because this was corrupt,” he said.

Trump also said he regretted not firing former FBI Director James Comey immediately instead of waiting until May 2017, confirming an account his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave Hill.TV earlier in the day that Trump was dismayed in 2016 by the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton email case and began discussing firing him well before he became president.

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”

Trump has offered different reasons in the past for his firing of the FBI chief, blaming Comey’s handling of the Clinton case but also linking it to Comey’s actions in the Russian investigation.

The president also called into question the FBI’s handling of the Russian investigation, again criticizing it for surveilling his campaign.

He criticizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court’s approval of the warrant that authorized surveillance of Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign aide, toward the end of the 2016 election, suggesting the FBI misled the court.

“They know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew, who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly. They used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States.”

As for the judges on the secret intelligence court: “It looks to me just based on your reporting, that they have been misled,” the president said, citing a series of columns in The Hill newspaper identifying shortcomings in the FBI investigation. “I mean I don’t think we have to go much further than to say that they’ve been misled.”

“One of the things I’m disappointed in is that the judges in FISA didn’t, don’t seem to have done anything about it. I’m very disappointed in that Now, I may be wrong because, maybe as we sit here and talk, maybe they’re well into it. We just don’t know that because I purposely have not chosen to get involved,” Trump said.

The president spared no words in criticizing Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, lawyer Lisa Page and other FBI officials who started the probe. He recited specific text messages Page and Strzok traded while having an affair and investigating his campaign, arguing the texts showed they condoned leaks and conducted a bogus probe.

Those texts are to be released as a result of Trump’s announcement on Monday.

“It’s a hoax, beyond a witch hunt,” he said.

Trump cited one text released recently in which Strzok and Page appear to discuss getting McCabe to approve an expansion of the Russia case right after Comey is fired.

“Comey was a bad guy. He gets fired. They only have Andy left because they know they’re doing wrong,” the president said in describing how he felt wronged by the FBI.

He denounced the FBI for leaking to create what he said was a false narrative against him, saying it appeared to be an “insurance policy” to destroy his presidency if he won.

“Number one how illegal is it? And number two, how low is it,” he said.

“What we have now is an insurance policy,” the president said. “But it has been totally discredited, even Democrats agree that it has been discredited. They are not going to admit to it, but it has been totally discredited. I think, frankly, more so by text than by documents.”

Trump said he had not read the documents he ordered declassified but said he expected to show they would prove the FBI case started as a political “hoax.”

“I have had many people ask me to release them. Not that I didn’t like the idea but I wanted to wait, I wanted to see where it was all going,” he said.

In the end, he said, his goal was to let the public decide by seeing the documents that have been kept secret for more than two years. “All I want to do is be transparent,” he said.

Asked what he thought the outcome of his long-running fight with the FBI, the president said: “I hope to be able put this up as one of my crowning achievements that I was able to … expose something that is truly a cancer in our country.”

[The Hill]

Trump Goes After ‘Illegal Mueller Witch Hunt’ Again Following Manafort Deal: ‘Continues in Search of a Crime’

President Donald Trump went after Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigation this morning two days after the Paul Manafort deal was announced.

Trump didn’t tweet about Manafort specifically, but instead attacked the Mueller probe again as “illegal” and grasping at straws:

[Mediaite]

Trump Plugs Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News Show in Glowing Tweet: ‘This Show Is MANDATORY Watching’

President Donald Trump clearly loved what he was watching on Fox News this morning, because he tweeted out one of his most blatant endorsements of the network’s programming to date.

Trump took to Twitter this afternoon to sing the praises of Maria Bartiromo and her show Sunday Morning Futures, which today featured Congressman Devin Nunes as a guest:

It’s no secret that Trump watches a lot of Fox News and tweets about what he sees on the shows. He has also praised Fox personalities like Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, and various guests that appear on Fox News shows

Bartiromo sat down with Trump earlier this year for what was widely panned as a softball interview, and last month he quoted one of her claims about the Russia investigation on Twitter.

[Mediaite]

Trump Tweets Out Outdated Death Count for Hurricane Florence

On Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted out his “deepest sympathies” to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones in Hurricane Florence.

“Five deaths have been recorded thus far with regard to Hurricane Florence! Deepest sympathies and warmth go out to the families and friends of the victims. May God be with them!” Trump wrote.

The death toll in Florence is actually, and sadly, up to at least 11 (some reports have it at 12) on Saturday after being reported as 5 on Friday.

As per Fox News:

The death toll attributed to Florence stands at 11, including 10 in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. Authorities say some other fatalities were unrelated.

Trump’s misreporting of the death toll comes on the heels of his repeated denial that 3000 people died in Puerto Rico following the devastating hurricanes on the island.

[Mediaite]

Trump: Republicans’ and my poll numbers would be higher if not for Mueller’s ‘witch hunt’

President Trump accused special counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday of hurting his and Republican candidates’ approval ratings, again characterizing the special counsel’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

The president tweeted Saturday afternoon that his approval ratings, which have hovered below 50 percent for weeks in most polls, and those of Republican candidates around the country would be higher if not for Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

“While my (our) poll numbers are good, with the Economy being the best ever, if it weren’t for the Rigged Russian Witch Hunt, they would be 25 points higher!” Trump said.

“Highly conflicted Bob Mueller & the 17 Angry Democrats are using this Phony issue to hurt us in the Midterms. No Collusion!” he added.

Trump’s tweet comes one day after Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guiltyFriday to two federal charges. In pleading guilty, Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team in its investigation.

As part of his cooperation, Manafort has agreed to submit to interviews with the special counsel, testify in any future cases and provide related documents.

Manafort, the fourth Trump associate to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation, was found guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges in a Virginia court and faced another trial in Washington, D.C., this month.

What Manafort’s plea agreement means for Mueller’s probe is yet unknown, but his cooperation could be significant for Mueller’s investigation given his work on the Trump campaign.

Trump’s tweet also followed a series of endorsements for Republican candidates across the country, including several candidates facing tight races in November like Nevada congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian (R) and Texas Rep. Pete Sessions (R).

[The Hill]

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