Trump Says Florida Students Should Have Done More To Prevent Deadly Shooting

President Donald Trump on Thursday responded to the massacre at a South Florida high school by suggesting students and the surrounding community could have done more to prevent the attack.

At least 17 people were killed and 15 injured after a troubled former student opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, police said. Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from the school the previous year for “disciplinary reasons,” and many of his former classmates told media on Wednesday that he displayed problematic behavior.

“Honestly a lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” one student told CBS Miami. “We actually, a lot of kids threw jokes around like that, saying that he’s the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out everyone predicted it. It’s crazy.”

A former teacher, Jim Gard, told the Miami Herald that Cruz reportedly wasn’t allowed to carry a backpack on the school campus, and that “there were problems with him last year threatening students.”

Contrary to Trump’s tweet, it does appear that authorities were aware of Cruz’s behavior before the attack. A former neighbor told The New York Times that Cruz’s late mother called the police on her two sons on multiple occasions, though she stressed that she didn’t think the boys were violent. Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told CNN that Cruz had been treated at a mental health clinic in the past and  was somewhat on officials’ radar.

“It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,” Furr said.

Trump’s tweet failed to acknowledge the role that Florida’s lax gun laws played in the shooting. Barring institutionalization, it’s extremely difficult to keep someone with a history of mental illness from buying a gun in Florida. The accused killer legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle used in the slaughter, his family’s attorney said.
The president also ignored the fact that he actually made it easier for people with mental health issues to buy guns by revoking an Obama-era gun regulation last year.

[Huffington Post]

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

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.

Sessions Made What Might be His Most Racially Discriminatory Decision Yet and Barely Anyone Noticed

In an extraordinary move that is not getting nearly enough attention, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a Justice Department letter that warned state courts about the unlawful practice of forcing low income defendants to pay fines or face jail. Courts across the country were (and many still are) enforcing these type of fees in order to generate revenue. When people fail to pay the fees typically imposed for minor traffic infractions or city code violations, courts will issue arrest warrants, send people to jail or take away their driving licenses.  The problem with all that? In America, we don’t believe in debtor’s prisons. Oh, and the practice is unconstitutional. That means illegal. The U.S. outlawed debtor’s prisons in 1833. In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that jailing indigent debtors was illegal under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause

“The idea that the Department of Justice doesn’t care about the United States Constitution in courts is so wrong, and really unfortunate. It is a message that should not be sent, and has practical implications,” the Honorable Lisa Foster, who served as the Director of the Office for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice said to Law&Crime.  Foster authored the “Dear Colleague” letter that was sent out in March 2016, and was rescinded by Sessions on Thursday.

Maybe the worst part of all about this decision? The fines and fees disproportionately impact minorities who can’t afford to pay fines right away and often find themselves in jail. It’s not just me saying this, there is study after study proving this.

Imagine getting pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign. You get a $100 ticket. You can’t pay it right away, so your license gets suspended. Then you have to drive to work to support your family but get pulled over and thrown in jail for having a suspended license. Don’t believe me? The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 alleging that the small town of Alexander City, Alabama (population 15,000) was running a “modern-day debtor’s prison” where poor people who couldn’t pay city fines were forced to sit in jail instead. 

The stories go on and on.

Now to be clear, the “Dear Colleague” that was sent last year under the Obama administration was not some kind of earth shattering, super left-wing mandate. The letter was literally just guidance notifying local judges, prosecutors, attorneys and advocates about the law. It was a letter that state municpalities had asked for. Here are some examples of what the letter instructed:

 (1)Courts must not incarcerate a person for nonpayment of fines or fees without first
conducting an indigency determination and establishing that the failure to pay was
willful;
(2) Courts must consider alternatives to incarceration for indigent defendants unable to
pay fines and fees;
(3) Courts must not condition access to a judicial hearing on the prepayment of fines or
fees;
(4) Courts must provide meaningful notice and, in appropriate cases, counsel, when
enforcing fines and fees

The DOJ attorneys go on to cite very well-established Supreme Court opinions like Bearden v. Georgia (1983) to back up their guidelines.  The SCOTUS opinion found that the due process and equal protection principles of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit “punishing a person for his poverty.”  In fact, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held tha tthe government can’t jail someone for failure to pay a fine.  The strange thing about all of this is that until Attorney General Sessions came along, this was a pretty non-partisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats agreed there was a problem here.

In fact, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which is a well-known conservative non-profit organization for state legislators, was also opposed to these type of excessive fees and fines. In their resolution against the practice they wrote: “excessive criminal justice financial obligations can contribute to unnecessary incarceration as some studies have found 20 percent of those in local jails are incarcerated because of failure to pay a fine or fee, which can make it even harder for the person to obtain employment and add to the burden on taxpayers.”

The initial “Dear Colleague” letter, which has now been rescinded, was in response, in part, to the DOJ’s Ferguson Report which found that police were unfairly targeting minorities, and saddling residents with fines. For example, a Ferguson woman parked her car illegally in 2007, and somehow ended up having to pay $1,000 and serve 6 days in jail. That’s insane.

“It is tragic for the Department of Justice to retreat from concerns about and constitutional commitments to equal and fair treatment,” Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, said in an email to Law&Crime.

“I think it shocking and unfortunate,” Judge Foster said.

[Law and Crime]

Trump rips the FBI before speech at its training academy

President Trump on Friday tore into the FBI just hours before speaking at the agency’s training academy.

“It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI; it’ll be bigger and better than ever,” Trump told reporters.

The president doubled down on his criticism of the nation’s top law enforcement agency before leaving the White House for the FBI’s campus in Quantico, Va., where he spoke to law enforcement leaders graduating from a training program.

Trump said revelations about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and text messages from a top agent that were critical of him were “really, really disgraceful.”

“You have a lot of very angry people who are seeing it,” the president said. “It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.”

The president has long been suspicious of the FBI and intelligence agencies, but the timing of his criticism was remarkable.

Roughly an hour after Trump spoke at the White House, he appeared on stage at the academy with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the graduation ceremony.

During the speech, the president cast himself as a defender of law enforcement and lauded the bravery of police officers and FBI agents.

“These are great, great people. These are really heroes for all of us,” he said.

“The president of the United States has your back 100 percent,” Trump added. “I will fight for you and I will never, ever let you down. Ever.”

Trump’s comments come as special counsel Robert Mueller is working through his investigation into Russia’s election interference and whether the Trump campaign had any ties to it.

The president repeated his insistence his campaign staff had nothing to do with Russia’s election-related activities.

“Let’s put it this way: there is absolutely no collusion. That’s been proven,” Trump said.

“I didn’t make a phone call to Russia,” he added. “Even Democrats admit there was no collusion.”

Trump did speak about his Thursday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which Trump said he tried to persuade Putin to do more to counter North Korea.

Trump thanked Putin for praising the performance of the U.S. economy this year.

The president and his allies are increasingly questioning the FBI’s integrity as they attack the Russia probe.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have slammed former FBI Director James Comey for revising a draft document detailing the agency’s findings in the Clinton email probe in a way that appeared to lessen its severity.

They have also zeroed in on text messages sent by top FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was a senior official on the Clinton probe and the Russia investigation. He was reassigned from Mueller’s investigation after private texts were discovered of him criticizing Trump.

“The level of anger at what they’ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad,” Trump said.

Strzok also sent text messages criticizing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former attorney general Eric Holder and Chelsea Clinton, among others.

Earlier Friday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News that “the president is absolutely supportive of and has full faith and confidence in the rank-and-file members of the DOJ and also the FBI” but is upset with its some of its leaders.

Trump spoke to state and local law enforcement officials graduating from a program that is designed to improve standards and cooperation with federal authorities.

[The Hill]

Media

http://launch.newsinc.com/embed.html?trackingGroup=91690&siteSection=ndn&videoId=33354375

Trump: Vote For an Alleged Sexual Predator Because He’s Tough On Crime

Doug Jones is a career prosecutor, famous for his role in convicting Ku Klux Klan members and terrorists. Roy Moore is a theocratic demagogue, famous for nullifying court orders and (allegedly) sexually harassing and assaulting so many teenage girls, he got himself banned from the Gadsden Mall.

On Tuesday, president Trump suggested that Alabamians should vote for Moore over Jones in the state’s upcoming special Senate election – because the alleged sexual predator’s rival was “soft on crime.”

“He’s terrible on the border, he’s terrible on the military,” Trump said of the Democratic Senate Tuesday. “I can tell you, you don’t need someone who’s soft on crime like Jones.”

Sometimes, it feels like the Trump administration’s overriding ambition is to prove that every liberal “caricature” of the American right was correct. With its health-care and tax plans, the White House confirmed that fiscal conservatism isn’t driven by a desire to reduce the deficit, but by a passion for increasing inequality. Meanwhile, with his vulgarity and (alleged) sexual predation, Trump has validated the notion that (much of) American religious conservatism is less concerned with upholding traditional sexual morality than subjugating women.

And now, with his remarks on the Jones-Moore race, the president has affirmed the left’s decades-old contention that “law-and-order” conservatism isn’t animated by a reverence for the rule of law, so much as reactionary rage at challenges to the social order – which is to say, the social hierarchy, (which is to say, in most cases, white supremacy).

Trump had already lent credence to this argument, when he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, after Maricopa County’s favorite proto-fascist had directly subverted law and order, by refusing to honor a legally-binding court order. But at least in that case, there was a halfway coherent (if completely wrong and racist) argument that the Arpaio’s refusal to abandon racial profiling was motivated by a concern for countering violent crime.

But now, Trump has shed that fig leaf. If the president believes that an alleged, serial sexual abuser of teenage girls (who wants to deport law-abiding undocumented immigrants) is “tougher on crime” than a lifelong prosecutor (who has little interest in deporting law-abiding, undocumented immigrants) than what, do you suppose, he means by crime?

[New York Magazine]

Media

Donald Trump Endorses Police Brutality in Speech to Cops

President Donald Trump received applause on Friday when he endorsed police brutality while delivering a speech to law enforcement officers on Long Island, New York.

The president suggested that officers should hit suspects’ heads on the doors of their police cars.

“When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,’” Trump said.

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head, I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’” he added.

His remarks received significant applause.

Trump also made the dubious claim that laws were “horrendously stacked” against police officers and said he wants to change those laws.

“For years and years, [laws have] been made to protect the criminal,” Trump said. “Totally protect the criminal, not the officers. You do something wrong, you’re in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We’re changing those laws.”

In his speech, Trump also said that police officers in many parts of the country couldn’t do their jobs because they had a “pathetic mayor” or a mayor “who doesn’t know what’s going on.” Those comments also received a lengthy applause.

“It’s sad, it’s sad. You look at what’s happening, and it’s sad,” Trump said. “We’re going to support you like you’ve never been supported before.”

Trump also spoke about violence in Chicago, which was a consistent theme of his speeches throughout the campaign and is a topic he has continued to reference during his presidency. Trump recalled speaking to an “impressive” and “rough cookie” police officer from Chicago, and said the officer had told him he could straighten out the city’s violence problem in a “couple of days” if he was given the authority.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump may not be getting along these days, but the two are on the same page when it comes to policing. Sessions has had the Justice Department pull back from “pattern or practice” investigations that look into widespread constitutional abuses in police departments.

Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA, said Trump’s “inflammatory and hateful speech will only escalate tensions between police and communities,” putting both officers and civilians at risk.

“Police cannot treat every community like an invading army, and encouraging violence by police is irresponsible and reprehensible,” he said.

Vanita Gupta, who headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under former President Barack Obama, said Trump’s remarks were “unconscionable” and undermined the positive efforts of local law enforcement to build up community trust.

“The president of the United States, standing before an audience of law enforcement officials, actively encouraged police violence,” Gupta said. “We call on the president to immediately and unequivocally condemn police brutality. We can all respect our law enforcement officers without sanctioning unjust and illegal behavior.”

Robert Driscoll, a former Justice Department Civil Rights Division official under the President George W. Bush administration, was also critical.

[Huffington Post]

 

Timing Suggests Trump’s Tweet About Sending ‘Feds’ to Chicago Was Response to Bill O’Reilly Segment

President Donald Trump may be making decisions based on what he watches on Fox News.

Late on Tuesday, the president tweeted about the gun violence in Chicago, writing, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the feds!”

Numerous reporters noted that Trump’s tweet came shortly after an “O’Reilly Factor” segment on the same topic, which cited the same statistics and even used the word “carnage,” a recent favorite noun of Trump’s.

Though Chicago has a higher number of gun deaths than any other major city, the number of deaths per capita is notably lower than in other cities because of Chicago’s large population. And while the city has attempted to use strict gun laws to curb shootings, about 60% of guns used in shootings last year were purchased out of state.

Tuesday’s tweet would hardly be the first time Trump has fired off a proposal in reaction to a TV segment.

Axios confirmed that Trump reads The New York Times and The New York Post, frequently tunes into cable TV — most notably MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and NBC’s “Meet The Press” — and will praise or criticize aides after performances on TV.

Many top policymakers have attempted to get their message to Trump via his favorite TV programs.

Appearing on “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, Rep. Elijah Cummings thanked host Joe Scarborough for asking him about how he would work with Trump on reducing prescription drug pricing, and then he spoke directly to the president.

“Joe, I want to thank you all for giving that opening, and to the president, I know you’re watching, so I’m looking forward to meeting with you,” Cummings said.

Trump Calls African-American Neighborhoods ‘Ghettos’ With ‘So Many Horrible Problems’

First they were “inner cities” – now they’re just “ghettos.”

Donald Trump once again appeared to equate an entire ethnicity with a socio-economic segment as he, during a campaign rally in Ohio on Thursday, pledged to “work with the African-American community” to solve the problem of the “ghettos.”

“And we’re going to work on our ghettos, are in so the, you take a look at what’s going on where you have pockets of, areas of land where you have the inner cities and you have so many things, so many problems,” Trump rambled to a mostly white audience in Toledo, appearing to catch himself using the politically tabooed word. “So many horrible, horrible problems. The violence. The death. The lack of education. No jobs.”

“Ghetto” is generally not used by public officials as it’s considered an outdated, insensitive word for struggling urban areas.

Trump has previously been rebuked for associating African-Americans – who comprise roughly 13% of the total population – with the words “inner cities.”

The Republican nominee has recently launched outreach efforts directed at black voters, but appears to have failed severely as polls have shown that less than 1% of African-American voters are going to punch in his name on the ballot.

At another point during the Toledo rally, Trump seemed to question the necessity for democracy.

“What a difference it is. I’m just thinking to myself right now – we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right?” he said in front of the roughly 2,800 rally attendants, comparing his presidential bid with Hillary Clinton’s.

Trump, meanwhile, is doubling down on past remarks about the election being “rigged” – an insinuation that political experts claim could have very real and very violent consequences.

(h/t New York Daily News)

Media

CNN Go

Trump Cites Police, Military, ICE Endorsements That Didn’t Happen

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump frequently touts his support among law enforcement and military figures.

On Monday, he told News4Jax that the United States military “conceptually” endorsed him and that “virtually every police department” in the country backed his bid for the presidency. During last week’s third debate, Trump said his hardline stance on immigration and pledge to build a border wall had earned him an endorsement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But none of that is true.

Federal agencies are barred by law from endorsing candidates in political elections. Under the Hatch Act, only the president, vice president and high-ranking administration officials are allowed to dip their toe in partisan waters.

The Department of Defense, meanwhile, has its own set of guidelines that tightly restricts any active duty military or civilian personnel from publicly choosing political sides.

The same applies to Trump’s repeated claims about ICE, the agency tasked with deporting undocumented immigrants. Trump has doubled down during campaign rallies and onstage at debates by saying that ICE endorsed him.

But the agency has not endorsed any candidate, nor is it able to. Instead the union representing ICE employees, National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, gave the Republican nominee its backing. And it represents just a quarter of the more than 20,000 employees that work at the agency.

Trump did receive an endorsement from more than 88 retired military figures last month. His list of supporters included top military brass and Medal of Honor recipients, including Maj. Gen. Sidney Shachnow, a former Army green beret and Holocaust survivor, and Vietnam veteran Rear Admiral Charles Williams.

However, Trump’s support from military quarters pales in comparison to what some Republican predecessors received when they ran for the Oval Office.

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee who lost in 2012, received a sweeping endorsement from 500 retired generals and admirals. The veterans banded together to release a full-page ad in the Washington Times highlighting their support.

Trump has also overstated his standing with local police departments. He has picked up endorsements from the federal police union, the Fraternal Order of Police.

But the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association in New York, the largest police union in the country with 23,000 members, has remained on the sidelines this election and has yet to back a candidate.

Police departments as a whole do not typically endorse candidates in elections. Though that has not stopped Trump from saying they do.

After a meeting with first responders and law enforcement officials in northern Florida on Monday, Trump later boasted on Twitter that he was honored for being endorsed by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

But the department did no such thing. The sheriff’s office took to both Facebook and Twitter to make clear that despite Trump’s comment, they have “NOT made any official endorsement.

(h/t NBC News)

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