The chairman of the far-right Proud Boys sat behind Trump at his latest speech

Amid the sea of dark suits and red “Make America Great Again” gear behind President Trump at his televised speech in Miami on Monday, one man stood out. Appearing above the president in some live shots, he wore dark sunglasses, a black baseball cap and a black T-shirt with a message of support for Trump’s longtime adviser now facing federal charges: “Roger Stone Did Nothing Wrong!”

The man is notable for more than his attire, though. Enrique Tarrio is the chairman of the Proud Boys, a far-right, self-described “western chauvinist” organization known for violently clashing with antifascists and for its alleged links to white nationalists.

Neither Trump nor the White House knew he was in attendance, Tarrio told The Washington Post. Rather, he said he scored the prime seat simply by showing up early at Florida International University.

“I got there at 7 a.m., so I got to pick my seat,” Tarrio told The Post. “I was the second person in line. I stood in the hot Miami sun.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a message about Tarrio’s appearance.

The Proud Boys leader’s prominent placement at Trump’s speech could give new fuel to critics who say the president has failed to distance himself from the far right in the years since he claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” at the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which was organized by a man who once attended Proud Boys meetings. Tarrio also attended the rally, though he claims to have left before the violent attacks began.

Tarrio disputes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s claim that his organization is a hate group, an allegation that also led Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes to sue the SPLC earlier this month.

“I’m not a white supremacist. I’m not an extremist. I’m a regular dude,” said Tarrio, a small-business owner who identifies as Afro-Cuban and who served nearly a year in federal prison for his role in a scheme to resell stolen medical equipment.

[Washington Post]

‘KEEP OUT!’: Trump tells non-Americans to stay out of the country in border tweet

President Donald Trump’s latest tweet about the border outright told all foreigners to “KEEP OUT!”

“With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security. Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there is no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions – KEEP OUT!” He wrote in a corrected tweet after misspelling “dimensions.”

[Raw Story]

Trump Tweets Out Intense Doomsday Video Warning of Border Crisis: ‘We Will Build the Wall!’

President Donald Trump is preparing Americans for the world ending.

In an intense video he tweeted out this afternoon, he promises to “build the wall,” as crowds of people are heard chanting,  “Build the wall! Build the wall!” in the background:

The President’s video decries the “crisis on the border,” which is causing an uptick in “crime, drugs, and lawlessness” across the border and includes a clip of Senator Chuck Schumer denouncing illegal immigration.

[Mediaite]

All Of The Made-Up, Nonsensical, Hypocritical Highlights From Trump’s Cabinet Meeting

President Donald Trump ranted about immigrants, attractive generals, the difficulty of being president and more on Wednesday in his first televised appearance of the year.

In a rambling and often disjointed conversation, the president led reporters and members of his Cabinet through his thinking on issues ranging from immigration to military strategy to the very role of the presidency.

Here are some of the standout moments from the over 90-minute meeting:

Trump claimed there are more than 30 million undocumented immigrants.

That number is about three times greater than experts’ estimates. Pew Research Center estimated there were 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of 2016.

He said Afghanistan was responsible for turning the Soviet Union into Russia, then said he would have been a good general.

In one extended rant, Trump put forth his theory that Afghanistan was responsible for turning the Soviet Union into Russia, shared his thoughts on military strategy to fight terrorism and then claimed he would have been a good general. Trump avoided the draft five times.

Trump said he works too hard, despite taking more vacation days than any other president in recent history.

Former President Barack Obama was harshly criticized for taking vacation days ― including by Trump. But Trump has far surpassed Obama in the number of days he’s spent golfing during his presidency.

He repeated a number he made up for what unauthorized immigration costs the U.S.

Trump has a long history of spouting greatly inflated or invented numbers for how much illegal immigration costs the U.S. During his presidential campaign, he often claimed it cost $100 billion. That number has risen steadily over the years, unattached to any apparent research or reports, as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has documented.

Trump summed up the deadly, devastating and years-long conflict in Syria with a minimizing statement.

After abruptly announcing plans in December to withdraw all American troops from war-torn Syria, Trump backpedaled somewhat on Wednesday, saying it might take longer than previously expected. “We’re talking about sand and death,” he said. “That’s what we’re talking about.”

The president commented on the physical attractiveness of a group of generals he once met with at the Pentagon.

This one pretty much speaks for itself, but “computer boards,” anyone?

He complained about being ‘all alone’ over the holidays, ‘except for all of the guys out on the lawn with machine guns.’

Trump threatened to take unilateral action on a number of his top priorities and then seemed to taunt, ‘Wouldn’t that be scary?’

[Huffington Post]

Betsy DeVos’ answer to school shooters is to mandate more unfair discipline for minorities

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be rolling back protections against unfair discipline for minority students, instead of pursuing gun control, The New York Times reported Monday.

“The Trump administration is planning to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at ensuring that minority children are not unfairly disciplined, arguing that the efforts have eased up on punishment and contributed to rising violence in the nation’s schools,” The Timesexplained.

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Trump had a “brief flirtation with gun control” before rejecting that approach and starting a school safety commission.

The commission was lead by DeVos and included former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Almost immediately, the commission turned away from guns, and instead scrutinized the Obama administration’s school discipline policies, though none of the most high-profile school shootings were perpetrated by black students,” The Times noted. “The documents obtained by The Times — a draft letter and a draft chapter of the safety commission’s research — focus significantly on race and promote the idea that the federal crackdown on potentially discriminatory practices has made schools more dangerous.”

Six documents included in the Obama administration’s “Rethink Discipline” approach are expected to be rescinded on Tuesday.

“The Obama administration policies were adopted after strong evidence emerged that minority students were receiving more suspensions and tougher punishments than white students for the same or lesser offenses, while disabled students were too quickly being shunted into remedial or special-education programs,” The Times added.

[Raw Story]

Trump Administration Will Send Asylum-Seekers To Mexico While Claims Are Processed

Migrants who cross the U.S. southern border and seek asylum will be forced to wait in Mexico while their claims are being processed, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Thursday.

Currently, people claiming asylum are allowed to stay in the U.S. — sometimes in detention — while their claim is pending in immigration court. The new policy will send such migrants to Mexico for the duration of that process.

That’s true regardless of the migrants’ country of origin: Many people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are not Mexican, but are fleeing violence in Central America.

The immigrants will still “be interviewed by a U.S. asylum officer, but they will no longer be released into the interior with a notice to appear in immigration court,” NPR’s John Burnett reports. “DHS has long complained that many applicants simply disappear and never show up for their hearing.”

Speaking before lawmakers on Thursday, Nielsen also emphasized that DHS cannot detain families with children for more than a few weeks under U.S. law, which is not enough time for an asylum claim to be processed.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration began separating children from parents who were being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, a policy which horrified many Americans and was ultimately found to be illegal. Sending families back to Mexico would provide an alternate method for the administration to avoid releasing such families into the U.S.

The Mexican government, while affirming its own sovereign rights to determine who enters the country, said it would allow the practice. Mexico also said it would extend some rights and protections to the non-Mexican asylum-seekers on Mexican soil who await immigration hearings in the U.S.

The migrants will receive humanitarian visas, have the opportunity to apply for work permits and have access to legal services, Mexico said.

Last month, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had reached a deal with Mexico to allow asylum-seekers to remain south of the border while their claims were processed. However, governments of both countries would not publicly confirm that a plan was in place, in part because the Mexican government was days away from a transition of power.

The announcement on Thursday appears to confirm those early reports.

In late November, Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said there were questions about the legality of such a proposal.

“One thing we know right off the bat is that it cannot be legal unless they can assure all the asylum seekers who will be stranded in Mexico … will be safe — not only from persecution by state actors in Mexico, but by criminal gangs,” Gelernt told NPR. “And from what we know about what’s going on, we see no likelihood that that is going to be true.”

The news comes during a time of close national attention to issues of immigration and asylum, as President Trump continues to denounce migration as a national security threat, and critics of the administration’s actions accuse the White House of inhumane policies.

The recent arrival of a caravan of Central American migrants at the U.S. southern border brought fresh attention to asylum-seekers, particularly after a clash between protesters and Border Patrol agents.

The Trump administration has been setting limits on the number of people allowed to claim asylum at those ports of entry per day. The result has been a massive backlog of migrants waiting to claim asylum — in addition to a backlog of migrants who have claimed asylum and are awaiting processing.

The death of a 7-year-old migrant girl in Border Patrol custody this month has brought fresh outrage to the debate.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to seek funding for his border wall — which he had originally claimed would be paid for by Mexico. He recently said that Mexico is essentially paying for the wall through the new deal to replace NAFTA, a claim which is not true.

[NPR]

In public fight with Democrats, Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down government over border wall

President Donald Trump and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi bickered at length on Tuesday in an explosive public meeting at the White House over the president’s promised border wall and threat to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund it.

“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said during a highly unusual fight that played out in front of the press before the official meeting began. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … I will take the mantle of shutting it down.”

If Trump and Congress can’t agree to a funding bill by Dec. 21, large parts of the federal government will run out of operating authority. The Defense Department, however, is funded through the end of next September.

Trump said it was unlikely that he would strike a deal Tuesday with Pelosi, a California Democrat who is expected to become House speaker next month, and Schumer, a New York Democrat who is the Senate minority leader.

“We may not have an agreement today,” he said. “We probably won’t.”

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress, demanded Monday night that $5 billion be included for the wall in any spending bill, while the Democratic leaders have been open to accepting less than $2 billion.

Earlier in the day, according to two sources who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity, Pelosi told House Democrats that she and Schumer would offer the president a deal to pass six appropriations bills and a yearlong extension of current funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Short of that, she said, they would agree to a basic extension of funding through Sept. 30, 2019, for all seven appropriations bills, including the one that funds Homeland Security.

Before Trump took ownership of a possible shutdown, Pelosi took an early dig at him in her opening remarks and noted that his party still controls both the House and Senate until January.

“We must keep the government open,” she said. “We cannot have a Trump shutdown.”

“A what?” he snapped at her.

“You have the White House, you have the Senate, you have the House of Representatives,” Pelosi responded.

But, she noted, not all Republicans are on board with his plans to build a physical barrier.

“There are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall,” Pelosi said.

“If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session,” Trump countered. “It would be done.”

But for two years, he has been unable to muster those votes for his core campaign promise during the 2016 election — a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump vowed Mexico would pay for.

Vice President Mike Pence watched Tuesday’s spectacle unfold in silence as Trump and the Democrats also fought over the results of last month’s midterm elections and their meaning.

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly and presidential advisers Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller were also in the room for the meeting.

Pelosi urged the president to stop bickering in front of the media.

“This is spiraling downward,” she said.

The private portion of the discussion was brief, as Pelosi and Schumer emerged quickly to talk to reporters outside the White House.

Schumer said Trump threw a “temper tantrum.”

Later, back at the Capitol, he said the meeting was “productive” in that “the president showed what he wanted: shutdown.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally, cheered the president on from the sidelines of Twitter.

“Great job sticking to your guns on border security, Mr. President!” he wrote. “You are right to want more border security funding including Wall money. They are WRONG to say no.”

Graham also advocated for Trump to add into the mix a provision protecting certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation to put pressure on Democrats to approve money for the wall.

Likewise, some Democrats took to social media to back their leaders.

“Remember when Mexico was going to pay for the President’s wall?” Rep. Val Demings of Florida tweeted. “Shutting down the government over this foolish idea would be wildly irresponsible. A shutdown would cripple the economy and degrade transportation security during the holidays.”

[NBC News]

Reality

Donald Trump lied multiple times and threw a very public temper tantrum during a photo op at the White House with Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over the southern border wall funding and averting a government shutdown, which Trump said he would take full credit for.

Trump, who promised his supporters Mexico would pay for a wall, instead demanded the American taxpayers pay for his wall.

Some of the lies include:

* Trump claiming parts of his wall has been built. Even his supporters know this is a lie.

* Trump said illegal traffic is down in areas where a wall was built. Again no construction has been completed.

* Trump said 10 terrorists have been apprehended. This is a lie.
* Trump repeated white nationalist and KKK talking points when he claimed immigrants bring crime and disease.

Media

Ex-Trump Official to Fox & Friends: Dems Don’t Want Wall Because Illegal Immigration Helps Them Politically

Former Trump official Michael Anton baselessly claimed on Fox & Friends that Democrats are in favor of illegal immigration because changing demographics help them politically.

Fox & Friends‘ Brian Kilmeade interviewed Anton — who left the White House earlier this year — about the battle to avoid a government shutdown, and President Donald Trump‘s request for $5 billion to fund his border wall. Democrats have rejected that request, instead offering $1.6 billion for border security.

Kilmeade asked Anton if Trump has “any leverage over Chuck and Nancy” to get his wall funded, to which Anton replied: “He has the American people’s public opinion on his side, he won the election largely on this issue.” (Note: A recent poll found most Americans think Trump should compromise on his border wall.)

Anton went on to baselessly suggest that Democrats don’t want security on the border because illegal immigration helps them politically:

“They don’t want a wall, they don’t want greater security, and they really don’t care about the consequences,” he said. “Because for them, the consequence is the more immigrants come in, the more the demographic change there is in the United States of America, the more that benefits Democratic politicians. And that’s what they care about the most.”

No pushback from Kilmeade.

[Mediaite]

Trump Falsely Claims Democrats Want ‘Open Borders’ Bringing ‘Crime and Disease’ in Morning Tweetstorm

President Donald Trump opened his communications strategy Tuesday morning with a series of tweets focused on the current immigration problems, particularly on the Southern U.S. border.

Trump has threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress does not approve the appropriate budget allocations to build the border wall that was so central to his campaign in 2016, despite the fact that candidate Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would be paying for the wall.

[Mediaite]

Trump fires off late-night tweetstorm on the eve of a landmark moment in the Russia investigation

President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets on a range of topics on Thursday evening, the night before the special counsel Robert Mueller was expected to submit several important filings related to the Russia investigation.

Trump fired off two tweets relating to a Fox Business segment in which the anchor Trish Regan sought to cast doubt on the FBI’sjustification for obtaining a FISA warrant to surveil the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Regan suggested the FBI was “weaponized in order to take down President Donald Trump.”

“Is this really America?” Trump tweeted. “Witch Hunt!”

In another tweet one minute later, Trump appeared to revive a particularly inflammatory attack on the news media, saying only “FAKE NEWS – THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Trump went on to mention Arizona, which he claimed was “bracing for a massive surge at a NON-WALLED area.”

Trump appeared to be referringto the Customs and Border Patrol’s training exercise in Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday, where agents prepared “to deal with the potential of large crowds and assaultive behavior by caravan members, should a situation arise.”

Trump also mentioned the Democratic lawmakers Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who refused to support Trump’s plans for a $5 billion down payment to fund a wall on the US-Mexico border.

“WE WILL NOT LET THEM THROUGH,” Trump tweeted. “Big danger. Nancy and Chuck must approve Boarder Security and the Wall!”

Trump’s rapid-fire tweets came the night before Mueller’s deadline to submit documents outlining what the special counsel’s office has described as the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s “crimes and lies,” including allegations he lied in violation of his plea deal with the special counsel. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel while pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of conspiracy against the US in September.

Trump followed up with a series of five tweets on Friday morning in which he repeated his common refrain that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt” and accused Mueller of having multiple conflicts of interest, including being “Best Friends” with former FBI Director James Comey, who was set to testify to Congress on Friday.

The special counsel’s team also Friday was expected to submit its sentencing recommendation for the former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to financial crimes and, more recently, lying to Congress.

Mueller’s office released a similar recommendation this week for the former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who cooperated with investigators after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

Trump’s tweets on Friday morning Trump targeted Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor on the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Trump accused Weissmann of having a “horrible and vicious prosecutorial past” and said he “wrongly destroyed people’s lives” — referring to a conviction he made against an Enron auditor that waslater overturned by the Supreme Court.

Trump also accused members of Mueller’s team of having made donations to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and asked whether it would be included in Mueller’s report. He also revived his talking points alleging corruption in the Democratic National Committee and on Clinton’s campaign.

[Business Insider]

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