Trump called intel analyst a ‘pretty Korean lady’ — and asked why she wasn’t negotiating with Kim Jong Un

President Donald Trump’s latest outburst about immigrants from “sh*thole” African countries is far from his first time making racist statements.

In fact, sources tell NBC News that Trump made a career U.S. intelligence officer uncomfortable last year when he grilled her on her Korean heritage and demanded to know why she wasn’t being used to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

According to NBC News, Trump first asked the officer where she was from after she had finished delivering an intelligence briefing. She replied that she originally hailed from New York City, but Trump pushed her by asking where “your people” originally came from.

At that point, she admitted that both of her parents were from Korea — at which point Trump turned to an adviser and asked them why the “pretty Korean lady” wasn’t being used as an asset to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear arsenal.

“The officials who told NBC News of the fall exchange between Trump and the intelligence briefer in the Oval Office in the fall said the president likely meant no harm with his inquiry, but it raised concern of a lack of cultural sensitivity and decorum,” NBC notes, while also adding that a source close to the president claims that his advisers regularly try to get him to stop talking about people’s race — but to no avail.

[Raw Story]

Trump Wonders Why Japan, ‘A Country Of Samurai Warriors,’ Didn’t Shoot Down Missiles

Donald Trump’s trip to Asia has demonstrated at least one firm fact about his foreign policy: He’s not afraid to make his point using stereotypes.

On Sunday, the president expressed surprise that Japan didn’t shoot down North Korean missiles that flew over the country in late August.

The missiles ended up landing in the Pacific Ocean, but Trump is reportedly bewildered by how officials responded to the potential crisis.

Trump said he could not understand why a country of samurai warriors did not shoot down the missiles, according to sources who spokes to the Kyodo News Agency.

Perhaps the president meant the comment as a compliment to one part of Japan’s cultural heritage, but it’s similar to calling England “a country of knights in shining armor,” Mongolia “a country of huns on horseback” or Switzerland “a land of clockmakers that have knives with many accessories.”

According to the Kyodo News Agency, officials from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces explained that they didn’t try to intercept the missiles because experts who had monitored the rockets from launch determined they would not land on Japanese territory.

In addition, the missiles were flying at a speed and altitude that would have made destroying them in flight very difficult, the Japan Times noted, adding that any failure to intercept would have embarrassed Japan while encouraging North Korea.

Shooting down the missiles might also have been interpreted by North Korea as an act of war, further escalating the conflict needlessly, according to an article in Slate.

Of course, Trump has not been shy about making aggressive remarks toward North Korea.

Gizmodo noted that in a speech before the trip, Trump told the troops, “We dominate the sky. We dominate the seas. We dominate the land and space.”

He then added, “Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it? It was not pleasant.”

However, Trump has also shown a small dose of humility during his Asia trip.

On Monday, he gave a speech to Japanese dignitaries and conceded he may not have been completely prepared for the presidency, and that may have negatively affected relations with Japan in the early part of his presidency.

“So my relationship with [Japanese Prime Minister] Shinzo [Abe] got off to quite a rocky start because I never ran for office, and here I am,” Trump said, according to Raw Story. “But I never ran, so I wasn’t very experienced. And after I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world. I never knew we had so many countries.”

[Huffington Post]

Media

Trump Ends DACA Program

President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. Senior White House aides huddled Sunday afternoon to discuss the rollout of a decision likely to ignite a political firestorm — and fulfill one of the president’s core campaign promises.

The administration’s deliberations on the issue have been fluid and fast moving, and the president has faced strong warnings from members of his own party not to scrap the program.

Trump has wrestled for months with whether to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. But conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress — rather than the executive branch — is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program and kick the issue to Congress, the two sources said.

In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official. But a senior White House aide said that chief of staff John Kelly, who has been running the West Wing policy process on the issue, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.”

White House aides caution that — as with everything in the Trump White House — nothing is set in stone until an official announcement has been made.

Trump is expected to formally make that announcement on Tuesday, and the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning, according to a source close to the administration. Ryan had said during a radio interview on Friday that he didn’t think the president should terminate DACA, and that Congress should act on the issue.

A spokesman for Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “A decision is not finalized. We will make an announcement on Tuesday.”

The president’s expected decision is likely to shore up his base, which rallied behind his broader campaign message about the importance of enforcing the country’s immigration laws and securing the border. At the same time, the president’s decision is likely to be one of the most contentious of his early administration, opposed by leaders of both parties and by the political establishment more broadly.

The White House and Congress have tried to pass the issue off on each other – with each arguing that the other is responsible for determining the fate of the approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who are benefiting from DACA. Though most Republicans believe that rolling back DACA is a solid legal decision, they are conscious of the difficult emotional terrain. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch joined Ryan in cautioning Trump against rolling back the program.

The president is likely to couch his decision in legalese. Many on the right, even those who support protections for children brought into the country illegally through no fault of their own, argue that DACA is unconstitutional because former President Barack Obama carried it out unilaterally instead of working through Congress.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have said that Congress needs to pass a law to protect the so-called Dreamers.

“My hope is that as part of this process we can work on a way to deal with this issue and solve it through legislation, which is the right way to do it and the constitutional way to do it,” Rubio told CNN in June.

Trump’s expected decision to scrap DACA within six months represents another challenge for Ryan and fellow congressional Republicans, who are facing an end-of-September deadline to avert a government shutdown and government debt default, while also tackling a Hurricane Harvey relief package and a major tax reform push.

It’s not clear that Congress will be able to come to an agreement on the future of DACA.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who previously said he was very disappointed by Trump’s lack of action on DACA, expressed fresh frustration on Sunday night with the idea of a delayed implementation.

“Ending DACA now gives chance 2 restore Rule of Law. Delaying so R Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide,” King tweeted.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who has called on Trump to stand up for the Dreamers, tweeted out her displeasure with Trump’s expected announcement.

“After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his ‘great heart,’ @POTUS slams door on them. Some ‘heart’…” she wrote.

[Politico]

Reality

As a candidate, he pledged that on the first day of his presidency he would terminate Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Instead, on the 229th day of his presidency, he trotted out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce that the Trump administration will gradually wind down the program over the next six months. DACA will end more than a year after Trump took office — or possibly not at all. The delay is intended to give Congress time to pass a replacement measure that could provide similar protections to those known as “dreamers.”

 

Donald Trump Goes All In On Slashing Legal Immigration

President Donald Trump threw himself behind a bill on Wednesday that would make it dramatically more difficult for people to come to the U.S. legally, in spite of his past claims that he did not want to cut the number of people allowed into the country.

Trump held an event at the White House with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to boost the latest iteration of their bill to slash the ways foreign nationals can move to the United States.

The bill from Cotton and Perdue, known as the RAISE Act, would end the practice of prioritizing green cards for adult children and extended family of people already in the U.S., discontinue an immigration lottery program and limit the number of refugees to be accepted into the U.S. to only 50,000.

The president said the bill would be “the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century” and would “reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”

He also claimed the current green card system provides a “fast-track to citizenship” ― although in truth, having a green card is the standard path to citizenship.

The bill would favor applicants “who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy,” Trump said.

The president said the legislation would require immigrants to be more self-sufficient and prevent them from collecting safety net benefits. “They’re not gonna come in and just immediately collect welfare,” he said.

Current law already bars anyone who might become a “public charge” from receiving a green card, and prevents lawful permanent residents from receiving most safety net benefits for five years. But immigration hawks have long complained of loopholes in those restrictions. For instance, food stamps and Medicaid ― two of the country’s biggest safety net programs ― are exempt from the public charge criteria.

The idea, according to the president and senators, is to move toward a “merit-based” immigration plan, along the lines of the systems in Canada and Australia. But this legislation wouldn’t simply change the makeup of who can come into the country ― it would dramatically reduce the number of immigrants admitted overall, the bill’s proponents say.

“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” Trump said. “This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”

Most economists say that immigration is actually beneficial to the economy and that curtailing legal immigration would slow growth. And Canada and Australia both admit legal immigrants at a far higher rate relative to their total populations than the U.S. does, including on the basis of family ties.

Trump also claimed that the current immigration “has not been fair to our people,” including immigrants and minority workers whose jobs, he said, are taken by “brand new arrivals.”

In fact, the bill could disproportionately affect nonwhite Americans, who are more likely to be recent immigrants and still have relatives living abroad, by making the already difficult process of bringing their families to the U.S. next to impossible.

Cotton previously said the bill would help prevent people from immigrating to the U.S. and then bringing over their “village” or “tribe.”

Trump told The Economist in May that he was not looking to reduce the number of legal immigrants. “We want people coming in legally,” he said at the time.

Immigration reform groups and even one Republican senator immediately panned the bill. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who pushed for a broad immigration reform bill in 2013, said in a statement that he supports merit-based immigration but believes cutting legal immigration would hurt the economy.

“I fear this proposal will not only hurt our agriculture, tourism and service economy in South Carolina, it incentivizes more illegal immigration as positions go unfilled,” he said. “After dealing with this issue for more than a decade, I know that when you restrict legal labor to employers it incentivizes cheating.”

[Huffington Post]

Trump Administration Quietly Rolls Back Civil Rights Efforts Across Federal Government

For decades, the Department of Justice has used court-enforced agreements to protect civil rights, successfully desegregating school systems, reforming police departments, ensuring access for the disabled and defending the religious.

Now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ appears to be turning away from this storied tool, called consent decrees. Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight.

The move is just one part of a move by the Trump administration to limit federal civil rights enforcement. Other departments have scaled back the power of their internal divisions that monitor such abuses. In a previously unreported development, the Education Department last week reversed an Obama-era reform that broadened the agency’s approach to protecting rights of students. The Labor Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have also announced sweeping cuts to their enforcement.

“At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut. At worst, it really is part of a systematic agenda to roll back civil rights,” said Vanita Gupta, the former acting head of the DOJ’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

Consent decrees have not been abandoned entirely by the DOJ, a person with knowledge of the instructions said. Instead, there is a presumption against their use — attorneys should default to using settlements without court oversight unless there is an unavoidable reason for a consent decree. The instructions came from the civil rights division’s office of acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler and Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore. There is no written policy guidance.

Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the DOJ, declined to comment for this story.

Consent decrees can be a powerful tool, and spell out specific steps that must be taken to remedy the harm. These are agreed to by both parties and signed off on by a judge, whom the parties can appear before again if the terms are not being met. Though critics say the DOJ sometimes does not enforce consent decrees well enough, they are more powerful than settlements that aren’t overseen by a judge and have no built-in enforcement mechanism.

Such settlements have “far fewer teeth to ensure adequate enforcement,” Gupta said.

Consent decrees often require agencies or municipalities to take expensive steps toward reform. Local leaders and agency heads then can point to the binding court authority when requesting budget increases to ensure reforms. Without consent decrees, many localities or government departments would simply never make such comprehensive changes, said William Yeomans, who spent 26 years at the DOJ, mostly in the civil rights division.

“They are key to civil rights enforcement,” he said. “That’s why Sessions and his ilk don’t like them.”

Some, however, believe the Obama administration relied on consent decrees too often and sometimes took advantage of vulnerable cities unable to effectively defend themselves against a well-resourced DOJ.

“I think a recalibration would be welcome,” said Richard Epstein, a professor at New York University School of Law and a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, adding that consent decrees should be used in cases where clear, systemic issues of discrimination exist.

Though it’s too early to see how widespread the effect of the changes will be, the Justice Department appears to be adhering to the directive already.

On May 30, the DOJ announced Bernards Township in New Jersey had agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle an accusation it denied zoning approval for a local Islamic group to build a mosque. Staff attorneys at the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey initially sought to resolve the case with a consent decree, according to a spokesperson for Bernards Township. But because of the DOJ’s new stance, the terms were changed after the township protested, according to a person familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for the New Jersey U.S. attorney’s office declined comment.

Sessions has long been a public critic of consent decrees. As a senator, he wrote they “constitute an end run around the democratic process.” He lambasted local agencies that seek them out as a way to inflate their budgets, a “particularly offensive” use of consent decrees that took decision-making power from legislatures.

On March 31, Sessions ordered a sweeping review of all consent decrees with troubled police departments nationwide to ensure they were in line with the Trump administration’s law-and-order goals. Days before, the DOJ had asked a judge to postpone a hearing on a consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department that had been arranged during the last days of the Obama administration. The judge denied that request, and the consent decree has moved forward.

The DOJ has already come under fire from critics for altering its approach to voting rights cases. After nearly six years of litigation over Texas’ voter ID law — which Obama DOJ attorneys said was written to intentionally discriminate against minority voters and had such a discriminatory effect — the Trump DOJ abruptly withdrew its intent claims in late February.

[ProPublica]

DeVos ‘Not Going to Be Issuing Decrees’ on Civil Rights Protections

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos clashed with Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday over protections for LGBT students, balking when asked directly if she would ban private schools from receiving federal funds if they discriminate against these students.

The Trump administration wants to invest millions into an unprecedented expansion of private-school vouchers and public-private charter schools, prompting critics to worry that religious schools, for example, might expel LGBT students or, more broadly, that private schools might refuse to admit students with disabilities. Testifying before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, DeVos told Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “Let me be clear: Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law. Period.”

But after another Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, pointed out that federal law is “somewhat foggy” surrounding LGBT student protections, DeVos simply repeated that schools must follow federal law, adding, “Discrimination in any form is wrong.”

Merkley pressed again, asking DeVos point-blank whether private and charter schools receiving federal funds under Trump’s budget proposal could discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or religion.

She said the department “is not going to be issuing decrees” on civil rights protections.

Merkley asked Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who chairs the subcommittee, to note that DeVos refused to directly answer the question.

DeVos came under fire last month for a nearly identical exchange, refusing to tell a House Appropriations subcommittee whether she would block federal voucher funding to private schools that discriminate against LGBT students. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told DeVos, “To take the federal government’s responsibility out of that is just appalling and sad.”

DeVos’ spokeswoman later said the controversy stemmed from a “fundamental misunderstanding” by lawmakers about what the secretary was talking about. On Tuesday, DeVos sought to clarify that she wasn’t talking about a specific voucher proposal. “It is really appropriations language,” she said.

During the nearly two-and-a-half-hour hearing, DeVos defended the Trump administration’s proposed $9 billion cut to education, saying the planned 13% reduction in funding may seem shocking, but it’s necessary.

“I’ve seen the headlines, and I understand those figures are alarming for many,” DeVos told lawmakers, according to her prepared testimony. The proposed 2018 budget, she said, refocuses the department on supporting states and school districts in their efforts to provide “high-quality education” to all students while simplifying college funding, among other efforts.

Overall, Trump plans to eliminate or phase out 22 programs that the administration says are “duplicative, ineffective, or are better supported through state, local, or private efforts.”

The administration wants to cut teacher training, vocational training and before- and after-school programs, among others. It also wants to eliminate subsidized loans and a new loan forgiveness program for students who commit to public service after college. Trump wants to funnel the savings into several school choice proposals — including a $250 million fund for expanding public funding of private-school vouchers.

The proposal faces an uphill battle in Congress. On Tuesday, Blunt, a Republican, called it “a difficult budget request to defend,” saying deep cuts to programs like after-school would be “all but impossible” to get through the committee.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Trump’s budget request “can be summed up in one word: abysmal.”

As she has recently, DeVos on Tuesday took a swat at past federal efforts to reform education, noting that discretionary spending at the U.S. Department of Education quadrupled between 1989 and 2016, from $17.1 billion to $68.3 billion.

The “seemingly endless” reform efforts, she said, have been top-down and have generated “more publicity than results,” failing to close long-standing achievement gaps between white, middle-class students and their low-income and minority peers. They’ve also produced disappointing results for high school graduation and college completion rates.

While achievement has been mixed in recent decades, high school graduation and college completion rates have actually risen, sometimes sharply. Federal data show that in 2015, the graduation rate for public high school students rose to a record-high 83%. U.S. colleges also awarded more degrees — 961,167, up 35.2% from a decade earlier.

A GOP mega-donor and four-time chair of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos previously ran an organization that promotes private-school choice. DeVos last month called school choice critics “flat-earthers” and said expanding families’ educational choices is a way to bring U.S. education “out of the Stone Age and into the future.”

On Tuesday, she said more choice would help families in more ways than one, noting that when parents decide proactively which school their child should attend, “there’s a lot more engagement, naturally, as a result of that.”

Media

 

 

Betsy DeVos Would Not Agree to Bar Discrimination by Private Schools That Get Federal Money

President Trump’s budget proposal includes deep cuts to education but funds a new push for school choice.

When pressed by representatives at a House appropriations subcommittee hearing on the budget, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declined to say if, when or how the federal government would step in to make sure that private schools receiving public dollars would not discriminate against students.

She repeatedly said that decisions would be left to school districts and parents.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) stressed that Milwaukee’s school voucher program has resulted in years of failure. When he pressed DeVos on whether the federal government would hold recipients of public money accountable, DeVos punted.

“Wisconsin and all of the states in the country are putting their ESSA plans together,” said DeVos, referring to the Every Student Succeeds Act, a school accountability law. “They are going to decide what kind of flexibility … they’re allowed.”

“Will you have accountability standards?” Pocan asked.

“There are accountability standards,” DeVos said. “That is part of the ESSA legislation.”

That’s not true. ESSA’s regulations state that the law’s accountability rules do not apply to private schools.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) asked DeVos about a Christian school in Indiana that gets state dollars through a voucher program but explicitly states that gay students may be denied admission.  “If Indiana applies for funding, will you stand up and say that this school is open to all students?” Clark asked.

DeVos said states make the rules.

“That’s a no,” Clark said. Then she asked what if a school doesn’t accept black students.

“Our [civil rights] and Title IX protections are broadly protective, but when our parents make choices,” DeVos started.

“This isn’t about parents making choices,” Clark interrupted. “This is about the use of federal dollars.”

After a few more rounds like this, DeVos said that her “bottom line” is that “we believe that parents are best equipped to make decisions for their schooling.”

Clark said she was shocked by this response.

DeVos’ staff later came to her defense, saying that the line of questioning in the hearing concerned a “theoretical voucher program” and indicated a “misunderstanding” about the federal government’s role in education.

“When States design programs, and when schools implement them, it is incumbent on them to adhere to Federal law,” DeVos’ press secretary Liz Hill said in an email. “The Department of Education can and will intervene when Federal law is broken.”

[Los Angeles Times]

Media

 

Trump Rally-Goer Roughed Up After Being Wrongly IDed as a Protester

During President Trump’s Harrisburg, Pa. rally marking his 100th day in office on Saturday, an attendee named Neil Makhija says he was surrounded by Trump supporters and “shoved up against the wall” after being wrongly identified as a protester.

“It was a disturbing moment,” said Makhija speaking to AOL.com, who says multiple Trump supporters wearing “Bikers for Trump” shirts cornered him while he was listening to the president’s speech. Video of an altercation at the New Holland Arena in the Farm Show and Expo Center shows a group of men surrounding Makhija, pushing him while shoving pro-Trump signs in front of his face.

According to Makhija, the incident began when a person standing next to him was being removed from the rally after holding up a sign that read, “The sea levels are rising.”

“Then a supporter just pointed at me and said, ‘Hey, take that guy too,’ and they went after me,” said Makhija who denies knowing the protesters and says he was not at the rally to cause problems but rather to listen to the president’s speech.

Multiple protesters were removed from the rally throughout the president’s speech.

Makhija, a Harvard-educated lawyer and a former Democratic candidate for state House added, “I’m not saying it’s cause the way I look, but they just don’t want anyone here who’s not vehemently supportive.” Makhija is also a resident of Carbon County, Pennsylvania.

Law enforcement stepped in as Trump supporters pushed Makhija towards the exit. He was then escorted out of the arena briefly before returning to the rally once police assessed the situation.

“We see a issue and we just help out,” said a man who did not provide his name but was wearing a “Bikers for Trump” and was involved in the altercation. “I don’t know what happened over there … I don’t know the facts. Ask him, he knows all about it,” he while pointing to Makhija.

Makhija admits he’s not a Trump supporter, but he insists he came to Saturday’s rally with an open mind. “I’m not a protester, I actually pay attention and wanted to see the president when he came back.”

“I wanted to see if he actually said something about the opioid issue — he hasn’t said anything at all,” said Makhija.

(h/t AOL)

Media

https://www.aol.com/29c9b4f5-d332-49d3-aba9-f766431ba2d9

Jeff Sessions Dismisses Hawaii as ‘an Island in the Pacific’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke dismissively about the State of Hawaii while criticizing a Federal District Court ruling last month that blocked the Trump administration from carrying out its ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world.

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Mr. Sessions said this week in an interview on “The Mark Levin Show,” a conservative talk radio program.

Mr. Sessions’s description of Hawaii, where the federal judge who issued the order, Derrick K. Watson, has his chambers, drew a rebuke from both of the United States senators who represent the state. Annexed as a territory of the United States in the late 19th century, Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959.

“Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own,” Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, wrote on Twitter. “Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.”

The other senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, who is also a Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, writing on Twitter: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”

Asked for a response from Mr. Sessions, Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in an email: “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the attorney general’s granddaughter was born. The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the president’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”

(The State of Hawaii is a chain of islands, one of which is also called Hawaii; the judge’s chambers, however, are in Honolulu, which is on the island of Oahu.)

Judge Watson, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was confirmed in 2013 by a 94-to-0 vote; Mr. Sessions, then a United States senator from Alabama, was among those who cast an approving vote. A former federal prosecutor, Judge Watson earned his law degree from Harvard alongside Mr. Obama and Neil M. Gorsuch, the newly seated Supreme Court justice. He is the only judge of native Hawaiian descent on the federal bench.

Last month, Judge Watson issued a nationwide injunction blocking President Trump’s travel ban, ruling that the plaintiffs — the State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii — had reasonable grounds to challenge the order as religious discrimination. He cited comments dating to Mr. Trump’s original call, during the 2016 campaign, for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

During the arguments, the government had contended that looking beyond the text of the order to infer religious animus would amount to investigating Mr. Trump’s “veiled psyche,” but Judge Watson wrote in his decision that there was “nothing ‘veiled’” about Mr. Trump’s public remarks. Still, Mr. Sessions reiterated that line of argument in the radio interview, saying he believed that the judge’s reasoning was improper and would be overturned.

“The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the president to see if the order he issues is lawful,” Mr. Sessions said. “It’s either lawful or it’s not.”

(h/t New York Times)

Media

 

Sean Spicer Gets Confronted in Apple Store, Responds With Racism

White House spokesman Sean Spicer was accosted by an Indian-American woman — who peppered him with questions about committing “treason” and working for a “fascist” like President Trump — as he shopped in an Apple store over the weekend.

The encounter has since gone viral after the woman who filmed it, Shree Chauhan, 33, claimed online that Spicer had made a racist statement to her, saying: “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”

“Unlike this administration, I do not believe in ‘alternative facts.’ I believe in facts. I do not believe in accusing someone of this level of racism, when if in fact it was not,” Chauhan wrote Sunday in a lengthy post on Medium.

“So I watched the video over and over again,” she said. “And his words were clear…’Such a great country that allows you to be here.’ That is racism and it is an implied threat.”

Chauhan, who lives in Washington, D.C., filmed the interaction with Spicer on Periscope Saturday night after spotting the White House spokesman in the store. She had been there getting her iPhone fixed and said she ultimately felt the need to “speak truth to power.”

“It is customary to give public figures their space…However, given what Mr. Spicer and his boss are doing to this country, I do not believe they are entitled to these norms and customs,” Chauhan explained.

In the clip, the self-described “eternal optimist” can be heard asking Spicer a series of questions, including “How does it feel to work for a fascist” and “Have you helped with the Russia stuff?”

“We have a great country,” the press secretary replies, while appearing to try to ignore Chauhan.

“Have you committed treason too? Just like the president,” she asks. “What can you tell me about Russia?”

It is after this barrage that Spicer delivers his allegedly “racist” remark, saying: “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”

Chauhan wrote on Medium that the response left her disgusted.

“I am still stunned by the boldness of having my citizenship threatened on camera,” she said. “I was not polite. But when does being impolite mean that I should be thrown out of the United States of America? The country I was born in, the country I was raised in, the country I love despite its flaws.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail about the video on Sunday, Chauhan shot down claims that Spicer could have been referring to the First Amendment rights of all Americans to exercise free speech when he made the comment.

“He’s the press secretary for the president of the United States,” she said. “Don’t tell me what he probably meant because he also works for this administration that has done all of these things.”

Chauhan went on to note how Trump has signed executive orders temporarily banning refugees and asylum seekers from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“He could’ve said, ‘Such a great country that allows dissent,’” she told the Mail. “There’s a lot of way that could’ve been said. To have someone who speaks for the president of the United States tell me to my face that I shouldn’t be here and I was born here — that is a real thing.”

Chauhan added that she’s feared for her safety since the day Trump was elected.

“I woke up the day after the election in fear of what would happen to someone like me. And we’ve seen what happened,” she said. “We’ve seen what happened to Indians.”

Earlier this month, a 39-year-old Seattle resident of Sikh heritage was shot by a man who reportedly shouted “go back to your country” just before pulling the trigger.

Weeks before that incident, a pair of Indian engineers were targeted by a Navy veteran who told them the same thing before blasting away at them. One of the men ended up dying and the other was wounded.

“They’re gonna spin it however they want, but there is a palatable fear that people have in this country and it is warranted,” Chauhan said. “On a regular basis, Mr. Spicer consistently defends the actions — and I believe unconstitutional actions — and lies on behalf of this administration.

“Spicer has the protection of the podium when he’s in the press room,” she added. “I didn’t have time to sit there and ask questions I would ask if I was a reporter…Maybe having someone like a regular person ask those questions instead [of reporters] — that might work.”

(h/t New York Post)

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