Trump: ‘I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind’

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that he is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind.”

The president made the statement as the White House continues to deal with a scandal involving former top aide Rob Porter, whose ex-wives have accused him of domestic violence.

“I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that,” Trump said Wednesday after reporters pressed him on whether he believed the women’s accusations.

It marked the first time Trump directly addressed the notion of domestic violence during the Porter imbroglio, which has thrust the White House into chaos over the past week. On Friday, Trump defended Porter, stressing that the former staff secretary has claimed he is innocent of the claims.

“We wish him well,” Trump said of Porter last week. “I think you also have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday he’s innocent.”

Porter wasn’t the only former White House aide to quit over domestic abuse allegations last week. Speechwriter David Sorensen resigned Friday after The Washington Post reported that Sorensen’s ex-wife accused him of emotional and physical abuse. Sorensen, in turn, denied the allegations and said his former wife actually victimized him.

[CNBC]

Reality

After ten days of dodging direct questions on where he stood on domestic violence and throwing his support behind Rob Porter, who beat his wives, Trump “heroically” says the right thing.

Jeff Sessions strays from prepared remarks to praise ‘Anglo-American heritage’ of sheriffs

Update

Jeff Sessions was using a legal technical term “Anglo-American” law, which is a reference to the legal tradition of common law that the American sheriff’s system shares with England.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions strayed from his prepared remarks to comment on the “Anglo-American” historical origins of the sheriff.

Sessions spoke Monday to a the National Sheriffs Association, which represents about 20,000 law enforcement officials across the U.S., but video recordings show an apparent improvisation from the prepared remarks distributed ahead of time to reporters, according to Splinter News.

“The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” Sessions said. “We must never erode this historic office.”

The remarks quickly raised eyebrows on social media, where commenters perceived the reference as racist in light of the attorney general’s racially problematic history.

The sheriff indeed originated in medieval England, and the name derives from Anglo-Saxon words for the guardian, or reeve, of a county, or shire.

English colonists brought the tradition to America and elected their own sheriffs in the 1600s, and various right-wing fringe movements promote the legal fallacy that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the United States.

[RawStory]

Media

Kellyanne Conway Says Sen. Gillibrand, Who Was First Elected in ’06, ‘Protected’ Clinton During Impeachment

Following White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation amid allegations that he abused two ex-wives, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wished Porter well and that Porter has said the accusations are false. He also stated that Porter was “very sad” over the situation and hoped the ex-aide had a “wonderful career.”

During today’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was pressed on the president’s response to the controversy and his weekend tweet seemingly doubling down on it in which he cited due process. Host George Stephanopoulos brought up reaction from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who said that Trump has shown that he “doesn’t value women.”

Conway brushed off Gillibrand’s criticism by invoking President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions with women and late ’90s impeachment. After noting that Trump’s accusers had “their day” when they were “trotted out” on television, Conway said the following:

“I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand on anybody else who protected and defended and harbored a sitting president who had sexual relations in the Oval Office and was impeached for lying. I don’t need a lecture from her or anybody else.”

Only one problem with Conway’s counterpoint to Gillibrand — Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006 and didn’t actually get to Washington until January 2007, years after Clinton was impeached over the Lewinsky affair. This fact wasn’t lost on some media figures.

[Mediaite]

Trump Defends Rob Porter: ‘He … Says He’s Innocent’

President Donald Trump on Friday praised former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who left the White House Thursday amid a domestic abuse scandal involving allegations from two ex-wives.

“We wish him well, he worked very hard. We found out about it recently and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House.”

Despite images handed over to media outlets from his first wife showing her with a black eye she says Porter gave her on their honeymoon in the early-2000s, the president said White House officials “hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him.”

The president, breaking his silence on the matter, said he was “very sad” when he learned about the charges, which Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly knew about months ago.

Porter also is “certainly … also very sad now,” Trump said.

The president again defended Porter near the end of his remarks about the former staffer.

“He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that,” said the president, who has faced sexual assault accusations from multiple women. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well, he did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

On Thursday, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah announced Porter had left the White House staff for good. “His last day was yesterday,” Shah said. “I know he came in today to clean out his stuff.”

Shah called the assault allegations “serious and disturbing,” ramping up the White House’s reaction after defending Porter much of Wednesday.

“They’re upsetting,” Shah said.

He described the allegations as still being reviewed as part of an extensive background check process that Porter was still in the midst of when reports made the charges public this week.

Asked what caused the White House to change its tone on Porter, Shah replied the images of one of Porter’s ex-wives’ black eye were “upsetting.”

He declined to say whether Kelly knew about the allegations long before the reports were published.

Trump’s defense of the alleged wife abuser comes after he encouraged “lock her up” chants about 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of a personal server while secretary of state. He also has called on other political foes and some of those looking into potential collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia to be the subject of federal probes and possible prosecution.

The president did not comment on the fate of his embattled chief of staff. Some women’s organizations, for instance, have called on Kelly to step down for reportedly knowing about the Porter allegations for months but keeping him on staff — even allowing him to become his right-hand man.

Kelly’s repeated defenses of Porter earlier this week and his allowing Communications Director Hope Hicks, Porter’s current girlfriend, to craft a number of Thursday statements about the matter has again made the chief of staff a lightning rod for Democrats. (He has caught their ire also over his hard-line comments about illegal immigrants.)

For instance, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington called Kelly’s role in keeping Porter on as a White House staffer even after learning of the allegations “very, very disturbing.”

“Clearly, WH Chief of Staff John Kelly knew about Rob Porter’s history of abuse directly from FBI and chose to ignore it,” Jayapal tweeted Thursday morning. “#MeToo is as much about those who protect the abusers with their silence as the abusers themselves.”

[Roll Call]

Trump chief of staff John Kelly suggests some Dreamers ‘too lazy’ and ‘too afraid’ to sign up for DACA

Some immigrants may have been “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Obama-era program that offered protection from deportation, White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday as he defended President Donald Trump’s proposal aimed at breaking the impasse on immigration.

In remarks to reporters, Kelly described Trump’s plan, which would provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million people — more than Democrats had sought. He noted extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “beyond what anyone could have imagined.”

“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” he said.

“The difference between (690,000) and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly said.

Kelly spoke as lawmakers have deadlocked in an effort to reach a bipartisan deal on protecting from deportation recipients of the program, known as “Dreamers.”

Barring a last-minute agreement — which seems unlikely — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said his chamber will begin considering the issue, a debate that GOP leaders expect to start next week.

Kelly said Trump would likely reject an effort to pass a short-term extension for the program, which is set to expire on March 5.

But he also noted the March 5 deadline may not have immediate impact. He said immigrants currently protected won’t be priorities for deportation as long as they do not commit crimes.

Kelly said lawmakers need a deadline to force action.

“What makes them act is pressure,” he said.

Kelly in remarks to reporters later Tuesday seemed to double down on his earlier comments about those eligible for DACA, saying “some of them just should’ve probably gotten off the couch and signed up.”

But Kelly added, “But that doesn’t really matter now because President Trump has given them the status,” referring to Trump’s proposal.

In exchange for making citizenship a possibility, Trump wants $25 billion for border security, including money to build parts of his coveted wall along the U.S.-Mexico boundary. He also wants to curb legal immigration, restricting the relatives that legal immigrants could sponsor for citizenship and ending a lottery that distributes visas to people from diverse places like Africa.

“I can’t imagine men and women of good will who begged this president to solve the problem of DACA” would oppose Trump’s proposal, said Kelly, using the program’s acronym. He added, “Right now, the champion of all people who are DACA is Donald Trump.”

A court ruling earlier this month also has blunted the deadline. A federal judge has indefinitely blocked Trump from terminating DACA’s protections for the so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children and are living here illegally. The program shields them from deportation and gives them the right to hold jobs.

Still, many lawmakers are uneasy about what might happen to the Dreamers after March 5, and Democrats — and Trump himself — are using that uncertainty as leverage to help force a deal. Kelly’s remarks seemed aimed at easing worries that major deportations of Dreamers could begin right away — a scenario that could be damaging to members of both parties.

“They are not a priority for deportation,” Kelly said of Dreamers who’ve not accumulated criminal records.

[NBC News]

Trump pushes for stronger border in wake of Colts’ Edwin Jackson killing

President Donald Trump urged for tougher border security Tuesday after Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson was reportedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in a vehicle collision.

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson,” he tweeted. “This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!”

Prior to the president’s tweets, however, Chad Bouchez, Jackson’s roommate, said during a CBS interview, that Jackson would not want his death politicized. “He would not want that,” Bouchez said. “I don’t think Edwin would have judged anyone on where they were from or anything else. ”

The man accused of hitting Jackson and his Uber driver with his vehicle in Indianapolis on Sunday had been deported twice, according to Indiana State Police. Manuel Orrego-Savala, 37, might have entered the U.S. on or around July 1, 2004, according to an email Monday from Nicole Alberico, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to CNN, an ICE statement said the accused also has other “misdemeanor criminal convictions and arrests in California and Indiana.”

News reports say prosecutors have not formally charged Orrego-Savala but authorities said they are working on potential criminal charges.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) shared the president’s sentiments, according to a Washington Times report Monday.

“The loss of life at the hands of illegal immigrant criminals should make all Hoosiers sad and ultimately angry,” Rokita said. “We must do more to get these dangerous illegal immigrant criminals off of our streets, and guarantee this never happens again by building a wall, ending sanctuary cities, and stopping illegal immigration once and for all.”

The second-year linebacker was loved by the Colts organization, according to the team’s statement on Sunday.

“We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hard-working mentality,” the statement said. “He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization.”

After pushing for Democrats to get “tougher” on border control, Trump sent his condolences to Jackson’s family.

“My prayers and best wishes are with the family of Edwin Jackson, a wonderful young man whose life was so senselessly taken. @Colts,” he tweeted.

The president had previously criticized the “disgraceful” verdict in the 2015 case of Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco. As a result, Trump called for the building of a border wall after the verdict was delivered in the trial in December.

[Politico]

Reality

This was a sad and tragic event by an illegal immigrant, but it is *A* sad and tragic event, meaning this is just one instance. Policy needs to reflect data, which unequivocally shows that immigrants (both legal and illegal) commit crimes at far lower rates than the native population.

Second, Orrego-Savala was driving without a license and intoxicated, so we could make just as strong, if not stronger, of an argument against drunk driving as one could about illegal immigration being the primary factor of death.

Draft Homeland Security report called for long-term surveillance of some Muslim immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security in a draft report from late January recommended authorities surveil Sunni Muslim immigrants in the United States long-term if it were decided that they fit “at-risk” demographic profiles, Foreign Policy reported Monday.

Upon reviewing 25 terrorist attacks that took place on U.S. between October 2001 and December 2017, the draft report concluded it would be of “great value for the United States Government in dedicating resources to continuously evaluate persons of interest,” according to a copy obtained by FP.

When such immigrants reached American soil, the draft report also reportedly recommended the U.S. track them on a “long-term basis.”

The report could raise new questions about the Trump administration’s policies geared toward Muslim immigrants.

The draft identified a broad group of Sunni Muslim residing within the U.S. who were identified as possibly being “vulnerable to terrorist narratives,” because they matched a set of risk indicators, such as being young, male and having national origins in “the Middle East, South Asia or Africa.”

Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), requested the report on Jan. 22, FP reported, citing internal DHS correspondence.

A CBP spokesperson told the news outlet that the report they obtained was a “first draft,” which has already undergone some revisions and continues to be changed.

“[I]t is extremely important to highlight an important aspect — the document that was improperly provided to you is not a final CBP intelligence assessment, and therefore does not reflect CBP’s policy on this matter,” the spokesperson wrote.

“More specifically, the initial draft assessment in your possession not only is still undergoing internal CBP review, but, at the time of its improper disclosure, did not reflect a large number of substantive comments and revisions that have since been made to subsequent versions of the document as a result of CBP’s internal and external review process,” their email continued.

One department official who reviewed the report told FP it is the only risk-analysis product being shared around DHS and the report’s recommendations are derived from reviews of select cases — even if the report markets it as an all-encompassing review.

“First, this report would steer policymakers to implement unfair and discriminatory surveillance of particular ethnic groups,” the DHS official told the magazine.

“Second, the analysis, which is misleadingly packaged as a comprehensive analysis of post-9/11 terrorism, could lead policymakers to overlook significant national security threats,” the official added.

During his presidential campaign, Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., a policy that critics say has taken the form of his travel-ban on several Muslim-majority countries.

That ban has been challenged in the judicial system, and the Supreme Court announced plans to review it last month.

[The Hill]

Mulvaney closes down consumer bureau office that polices racism in lending

The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has stripped an office devoted to lending discrimination of its enforcement power, according to an email released Thursday.

Acting CFPB chief Mick Mulvaney told bureau staff in a Tuesday email that he would transfer the agency’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity to a department under his purview in an effort to streamline the agency.

Mulvaney said the fair lending office will focus on consumer education and advocacy under control of the office of the director. The bureau’s supervision, enforcement and fair lending division, a separate unit outside of the director’s office, will take over policing the lending market for racial discrimination.

“These changes are intended to help make the Bureau more efficient, effective, and accountable, and I plan to seek both internal and external input as I continue to evaluate how we work,” Mulvaney wrote, saying he didn’t expect layoffs from the move but also could not rule them out.

The decision enraged the CFPB’s progressive backers, who supported former Director Richard Cordray and his aggressive actions against lenders suspected of wrongdoing.

Cordray himself panned the “CFPB squatter leadership” for “interfering” with crucial bureau work.

“We took on tough cases about redlining and other violations,” Cordray tweeted. “Some don’t like it but it is the Law of the Land.”

Mulvaney and his staff insisted the restructuring is simply a matter of streamlining the CFPB while still cracking down on racial discrimination.

“It never made sense to have two separate and duplicative supervision and enforcement functions within the same agency — one for all cases except fair lending, and the other only for fair lending cases,” senior Mulvaney adviser John Czwartacki said in a statement. “By announcing our intent to combine these efforts under one roof, we gain efficiency and consistency without sacrificing effectiveness.”

Mulvaney, who as a GOP congressman opposed the CFPB’s existence, has sought to reshape the bureau from within.

The acting director has promised to make the bureau more responsive to the needs of the financial sector, reopened rules on payday loans and prepaid debit accounts, and called for firms subject to CFPB oversight to send complaints about the bureau’s investigative procedures.

Democrats and liberal political groups that fiercely defended the CFPB under Cordray argue that Mulvaney is destroying the agency and leaving vulnerable consumers without a powerful watchdog.

[The Hill]

Trump taunts Jay-Z about black unemployment

President Donald Trump mused about hip-hop icon Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter on Sunday morning, asking whether someone would inform him about the black unemployment rate.

“Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Jay-Z was interviewed on the debut episode of “The Van Jones Show” on CNN on Saturday night. Jones asked the rapper and business mogul whether Trump’s demeanor and actions, including Trump’s reported use of the word “shithole” in reference to African and other countries, were important given the state of the economy.

It’s “not about money at the end of the day,” Jay-Z told Jones. “Money is not — money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings, then — that’s the main point.”

The president is correct in saying that black unemployment is at a record low. However, the decline began under former President Barack Obama, and the rate continues to be higher than overall employment, a disparity that has endured for decades.

When asked about the reported “shithole” comment, which came in the context of a discussion of U.S immigration policy, Jay-Z said it was “really hurtful.”

“Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it’s really hurtful because he’s like looking down on a whole population of people,” Jay-Z said. “You are so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything.”

Comparing Trump’s reported remarks to former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private, racist comments in 2013, Jay-Z said, “That’s just how people talk behind close doors.” In a leaked tape published by TMZ.com, Sterling criticized his mistress for being out in public with black people, telling her “not to bring them to my games.”

The NBA stripped Sterling of his ownership and banned him from the league. Despite the harsh penalties, Jay-Z said Sterling’s punishment avoided tough conversations, which in his eyes, can lead to someone like Trump.

“You have sprayed perfume on the trash can. What you do, when you do that is the bugs come and you spray something, and you create a superbug because you don’t take care of the problem,” he said. “You don’t take the trash out, you keep spraying whatever over it to make it acceptable. As those things grow, you create a superbug.”

That superbug, Jay-Z said, now resides in the Oval Office.

“And then now we have Donald Trump, the superbug.”

[Politico]

Reality

Donald Trump and his allies keep bringing up the low black unemployment rate, as a sign that he isn’t racist.

The black unemployment rate has been steadily falling since 2010 when Barack Obama turned the economy around from one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen, caused by Republican policies of tax cuts and deregulation.

Trump administration rescinds Obama guidance on defunding Planned Parenthood

The Trump administration announced Friday it is rescinding guidance from the Obama administration that made it harder for states to defund Planned Parenthood.

The guidance, issued in 2016, warned states that ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood or other health-care providers that offer abortions could be against federal law.

The Obama administration argued Medicaid law only allowed states to bar providers from the program if those providers were unable to perform covered services or if they can’t bill for those services.

However, the Trump administration rescinded that guidance Friday in a letter to state Medicaid directors, arguing it was part of the Obama administration’s effort to favor abortion rights.

“Reinstating the pre-2016 standards frees up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries,” Charmaine Yoest, assistant Health and Human Services secretary for public affairs, said in a press call with reporters Friday morning.

“This is part of the Trump administration’s effort to roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion.”

Anti-abortion groups cheered the announcement Friday as another step toward defunding Planned Parenthood.

President Trump and his administration have taken … an important step toward getting American taxpayers out of funding the abortion industry, especially Planned Parenthood,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group in Washington, D.C.

She urged Congress to “finish what this pro-life administration has started” by defunding Planned Parenthood.

States such as Texas have tried to ban Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid programs but were blocked by the Obama administration.

While rescinding the guidance won’t automatically allow states to ban Planned Parenthood from their Medicaid programs, it signals that the administration supports such efforts.

Texas submitted a request to the Trump administration last year requesting permission to bar Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, but the administration has not yet responded.

Approval from the administration would likely spark similar efforts in other conservatives states but also would encourage legal challenges.

Planned Parenthood on Friday said rescinding the guidance would effectively encouraging states to block the organization from state Medicaid programs.

“They couldn’t get the votes to pass it in Congress, so now they are pushing states to try and block care at Planned Parenthood,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“Without Planned Parenthood, many of our patients would lose access to health care altogether — either because there are no other providers in their community or because other clinics cannot serve all of our patients.”

he administration has already taken several actions in President Trump’s first year in office supporting its anti-abortion stance.

In April, Trump signed legislation that nullified an Obama-era rule that effectively barred state and local governments from withholding federal funding for family planning services to groups that provide abortions.

The announcement on Friday comes the same day as the March for Life, an annual march against abortion in Washington, D.C.

Trump is set to speak at the march live via video, the first president to do so.

Also set to speak at the event are House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and GOP Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) and Chris Smith (N.J.)

[The Hill]

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