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]

Trump says country ‘would save billions’ if Democrats agreed to fund border wall

President Trump on Monday claimed that the country would “save billions of dollars” if Democrats voted to provide billions of dollars in funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president went on to repeat a threat to close the southern border and said that immigrants will not be allowed in the “country illegally.”

“Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally! We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary. Also, STOP THE DRUGS!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump has previously threatened to shut down the southern border in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants.

He has additionally directed thousands of troops deployed to the border, and attempted to curb certain immigrants from being able to claim asylum as the group of migrants trekked toward the U.S. border.

The president revived his calls for a border wall on Monday as Congress grapples over wall funding while trying to pass spending bills and avert a partial government shutdown.

The Senate passed its version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill with bipartisan support over the summer. The measure would allocate $1.6 billion for border security, including fencing.

The White House has since demanded $5 billion for border security, including wall funding, putting Democrats and the president at an impasse.

Trump has threatened to veto a bill that does not include adequate funding, while Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Democrats oppose spending more than $1.6 billion.

Cracking down on illegal immigration and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has been a hallmark of the Trump administration after focusing heavily on the issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Congress has until Dec. 7 to pass seven appropriations bills to keep the entire government funded. The president previously signed five funding bills in September, and agencies covered by those bills would not be affected by a shutdown this month.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route back from the Group of 20 Summit on Saturday that he would consider approving a two-week extension of government funding to provide more time in the wake of the death of former President George H.W. Bush.

[The Hill]

Trump defends use of tear gas at the border

President Trump on Monday defended the use of tear gas against asylum seekers at the border, telling reporters that it was a “very minor form of tear gas” and questioning why migrants were trying to cross the border.

“First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe,” Trump told reporters Monday evening in Mississippi.

“But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming? And it’s going to be formed and they’re running up with a child,” he added.

Photos circulated on Monday showing women and children at a port of entry near San Diego fleeing tear gas, which was fired by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

The CBP said in a statement Monday that agents fired the tear gas after migrants attempted crossing the border illegally, some of them throwing rocks at border agents.

Trump earlier Monday said that border agents were forced to fire the tear gas.

“They had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas. And here’s the bottom line: nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” he told reporters.

In his comments Monday evening, Trump also claimed without evidence that some asylum seekers trying to cross the border were only pretending to be parents because of “certain advantages” that come with having a child.

“In some cases, they’re not the parents. These are people — they call them grabbers. They grab a child because they think they’re going to have a certain status by having a child,” he said.

“You have certain advantages in terms of our crazy laws that, frankly, Congress should be changing. If you changed the laws, you wouldn’t be having this problem,” Trump added.

The president also repeated that “violence” from asylum seekers could lead him to closing off the southern border.

“If they do a charge. Because with a closed border, it’s very easy to stop,” he said. “With an open border it’s not. If they do a charge. As you know, we have a big caravan coming up, another one.”

Trump in recent days has threatened to close off the southern border as he has ramped up his claims that the caravan of migrants moving through Mexico present a national security threat to the U.S. and presses for border wall funding to be included in the spending bills under negotiation by Congress.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump Lies in Tweet Ripping ‘Fake 60 Minutes’ Episode on Child Separation: ‘I Tried to Keep Them Together’

On Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a report on Trump’s family separation policy.

Trump quickly replied by calling the segment “fake news.”

“60 Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration,” Trump wrote. “In fact, a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O[bama] years. Obama separated children from parents, as did Bush etc.. because that is the policy and law.”

He added: “I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama separation is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!”

Trump’s tweet repeats a claim made by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other Trump officials to defend the child separation policy.

Yet, the administration cannot provide statistics to back up their claim that Trump’s policy was the same as Obama’s or other presidents.

In addition, Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center noted to FactCheck.org that previous administrations used “family detention facilities, allowing the whole family to stay together while awaiting their deportation case in immigration court, or alternatives to detention, which required families to be tracked but released from custody to await their court date,”  making it clear Trump’s policy is indeed not the “exact same” policy as Trump claimed in his Sunday night tweet.

[Mediaite]

Trump Announces All Asylum Seekers Must Now ‘Stay in Mexico’ Until Claims Approved in Court

On Saturday, President Donald Trump announced via a pair of tweets that migrants seeking asylum will now have to remain in Mexico until their claims are approved in court.

“Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No ‘Releasing’ into the U.S.,” Trump wrote.

He then added in a second tweet: “All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!”

Trump’s announcement comes just days after the Washington Postreported on plans to implement the policy as early as Friday.

According to DHS memos obtained by The Washington Post on Wednesday, Central American asylum seekers who cannot establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution in Mexico will not be allowed to enter the United States and would be turned around at the border.

The plan, called “Remain in Mexico,” amounts to a major break with current screening procedures, which generally allow those who establish a fear of return to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation and remain in the United States until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump despises this system, which he calls “catch and release,” and has vowed to end it.

At the time, Department of Homeland Security spox Katie Waldman said the policy will not start “this week.”

Yet, Trump also teased plans to close the entire border while speaking with reporters on Thanksgiving Day.

Earlier today, WaPo also reported that the Trump administration had reached a deal with Mexico to allow migrants to wait in the country. However, incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez has since deniedsuch deal exists.

The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is likely to meet court challenges in the days ahead especially since just this past Monday a San Francisco judge ruled Trump may not rewrite immigration laws.

[Mediaite]

Trump Rips Ninth Circuit and Migrant Caravan to Deployed Troops in Thanksgiving Call

On Thanksgiving morning, President Donald Trump held a long teleconference call with various members of the military deployed overseas from his Mar-a-Lago resort. During the call, he brought up border policy, bashed the ninth circuit, and asked about his trade policies.

In the above clip, the President talks to Brigadier General David Lyons of the U.S. Air Force about immigration and the border before bashing the courts.

“Our mission here, we defend the two busiest airfields in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagrām,” said the General as he introduced himself and the troops in the room to Trump. They shouted Happy Thanksgiving, and Trump thanked them, and asked Gen. Lyons how things are going.

“Well both the Taliban and ISIS are resilient adversaries, but I think we’re doing well. We get after them every single day. Our objective here is to fight the away game. And so what I mean by that, we never want this adversary to reach our shores again. And so every airman here is dedicated to keeping this fight away from our shores,” he said. “We do what we do for America, sir.”

When speaking of ISIS reaching our shores, most would associate the comment with fighting terrorism abroad rather than at home, which is the mission in the war on terror in which these troops are serving and for which they are risking their lives. President Trump, however, related it to border policy and immigrants.

“You said what you said better than anybody could have said, keep them away from our shores and that’s why we’re doing the strong borders,” said the President. He said that the General had probably seen the news, mentioning “large numbers” of people who “in many cases they are not good people” that are “forming at our border,” an obvious reference to the migrant caravan. He said we have to be careful with the border, and that it was essentially shut down at the moment.

“We’re not letting in anybody, essentially, because, we want to be very, very careful,” he said. “So you’re right, you’re doing it over there, we’re doing it over here.”

He told the General about the troops at the border, and how the wall was being wrapped with barbed wire.

“Nobody is getting through these walls, and we’re going to make sure they’re the right people. That is what you and your family want, and all of your families, that’s what they want” said Trump. “That is why we are all fighting. We are fighting for borders.”

He turned then to the court.

“We get a lot of bad court decisions from the ninth circuit, which has become a big thorn in our side,” said the Commander in Chief to the Brigadier General. “We always lose, and then you lose again, and again. And hopefully you win at the Supreme Court, which we’ve done.”

“But it’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border, it’s a disgrace,” Trump added.

In closing, he said that he would see Lyons when he returns home, or “maybe I will see you over there, you never know what is going to happen.”

In the next segment of the call, he spoke trade policy. We’ll have that clip shortly.

[Mediaite]

Trump Warns ‘Whole Border’ Could Be Shut: We May ‘Close Entry Into the Country for a Period of Time’

After speaking with members of the military who are deployed around the world, President Donald Trump took questions from the media, and said that he might have to close the southern border altogether.

He talked about the border, as he did on the call with the military members, and said that the U.S. border had been entirely closed two days ago, and may have to be closed again.

Speaking specifically about the caravan, Trump said that if the military has to, they’ll use lethal force. He cited the reaction of the people of Tijuana, Mexico to the massive influx of people from the caravan.

“You ask the people in Tijuana, Mexico, they opened up with wide arms, just come in, come in, let me help you, let us take care of you. And within two days, now they’re going crazy to get them out. They want them out,” he said. “Because things are happening, bad things are happening in Tijuana. And again, it’s not in this country because we’ve closed it up.”

“Actually, two days ago, we closed the border. We actually just closed it. We say nobody is coming in because it was out of control,” he said.

A reporter asked, “What do you mean you closed the border and nobody is coming in? What do you mean by that?”

“If we find that it’s uncontrollable, Josh, if we find that it’s — it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” he answered.

A reporter asked, “do you mean the entire border?”

“The whole border. I mean the whole border,” the President confirmed. “And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many at great benefit to them — not a great benefit to us, by the way. But at least now we have a good new trade deal with Mexico and with Canada. But we will close the border. And that means that Mexico is not going to be able to sell their cars into the United States until it’s open.”

“We’re going to either have a border or we’re not. And when they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border,” he repeated. “And we have a very powerful border. We built a very strong border in a very short period of time.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Returns To Bashing The Migrant Caravan, Calling It A ‘Big Con’

After a brief respite from attacking the migrant caravan traveling to the U.S. border, President Donald Trump slammed it again Friday, calling it a “con” because the travelers were waving flags from their own countries.

Trump relentlessly lashed out at the caravan during his flurry of campaign appearances stumping for Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections. He also dispatched 5,200 U.S. troops to the border.

But then he was uncharacteristically mum on the issue after the GOP lost control of the U.S. House to the Democrats. Voter exit polls revealed that Americans were more concerned about health care than immigration, suggesting that Trump may have overplayed his caravan hand.

But he was back at it Friday on Twitter. Trump tweeted that it was “ironic” that people seeking asylum in the U.S. were waving the flags of their countries. He said it was proof that their search for safety in America was “all a BIG CON.”

Several responses pointed out that it is possible to love one’s country yet be fearful enough to leave during dangerous times — or to have very mixed feelings about a nation and its government.

[Huffington Post]

President Trump signs order denying asylum to illegal border crossers

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.

Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.

“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” Trump said Friday as he prepared to depart for Paris.

The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border. But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to turn around and come back to make their claims.

The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said Thursday. It’s unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold. Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but doesn’t allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump’s hardline stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap them.

The new changes were likely to be met with legal challenges, too. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Thursday they were clearly illegal.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” he said.

Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.

He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 U.S. troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.

Trump also suggested he’d revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive “tent

The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the U.S. with work permits.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the U.S., and it doesn’t matter how they arrive — illegally or through a border crossing.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing.

In 2017, the U.S. fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, nearly double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

It’s unclear how many people en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles from the U.S. border. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. The migrants are largely poor people and many say they’re fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. Most have passed largely unnoticed.

[Chicago Tribune]

Trump Says He Told U.S. Military at Border to ‘Consider it a Rifle’ if Migrants Throw Rocks

During an address on immigration from the White House on Thursday, President Donald Trump took questions from the press.

At one point, in response to a question from a reporter about if he would foresee a situation where the military may fire on the Central American migrants making their way to the border, he said that the United States military will consider a rock held in the hands of migrants the same as a firearm.

“I will tell you this, anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm,” Trump said. “Because there’s not much difference. When you get hit in the face with a rock, which as you know, that was very violent a few days ago. Very, very violent.”

Then a little while later he doubled down, saying that he considers a rock like a rifle: “They’re throwing rocks, viciously, and violently. You saw that three days ago. Really hurting the military. We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We’re gonna consider, and I told them consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Just one week ago, in an interview with Fox News, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen downplayed the possibility of the US military opening fire on the migrants, saying, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people…They will be apprehended, however.”

[Mediaite]

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