White House aide rages at ‘disgraceful’ Democrats for being upset about ripping apart families

The White House director of strategic communications went on Fox News on Monday to lash out at Democrats for criticizing the administration’s policy of separating families at the southern border and detaining children.

Mercedes Schlapp repeatedly claimed the administration’s “hands are tied” despite the fact the policy was voluntarily adopted and could end with a single phone call from President Donald Trump.

“What does the president want us to know this morning as this debate rages on and seems to be putting a lot of pressure on Republicans?” host Sandra Smith asked.

“Clearly, the president is fully committed to enforcing the law,” Schlapp replied. “This comes also with ensuring that the Democrats come to the negotiating table with immigration.”

“It is because the Democrats want to play politics with this issue, using children as political pawns, that we are not able to solve this problem,” Schlapp claimed.

Despite the fact that Trump started the family separation policy and could end it today, Schlapp admitted that the children were being used as leverage to try and get United States taxpayers to pay for Trump’s border wall, that he repeatedly promised would be paid for by Mexico.

“The president has made it very clear he wants to see full funding for the wall,” Schlapp admitted.

“Does the president feel like Democrats are controlling the message right now?” Smith asked the senior White House communications advisor.

“The Democrats are using this as an emotional issue, as a political issue into the midterm election,” Schlapp claimed. “That is disgraceful.”

[Raw Story]

Media

Fact-checking Trump’s Nashville speech

The good news about President Donald Trump’s speech in Nashville last night was that he didn’t mention Roseanne Barr, which could have made that controversy much, much worse. The bad news? Try all of the false, misleading and dishonest claims he made.

“[There’s] never been an administration — and even some of our enemies are admitting it — that has done what we’ve done in the first year and a half. Think of it”

The tax law has been Trump’s only major legislative achievement, and he ranks behind other past presidents in bills signed into law.

“We’ve created 3.3 million new jobs since Election Day. If we would have said that before the election — I’m going to create 3.3 million new jobs — would never have [survived the] onslaught from fake news. Wouldn’t have accepted it, said no way you can do that”

While there have indeed been 3.3 million jobs created in the 18 months since Election Day 2016 (Nov. 2016-April 2018), there were 3.9 million jobs created in the 18 months before Election Day (May 2015-Oct. 2016) — when Trump was criticizing the state of the U.S. economy.

“Wages for the first time in many years are finally going up”

That is false; wages also increased during the final years of Obama’s presidency, per PolitiFact.

“[Nancy Pelosi] loves MS-13”

Pelosi was objecting to Trump calling undocumented immigrants “animals”; the White House says he was referring to MS-13 in his “animals” remarks. Pelosi never said she loved MS-13.

“So how do you like the fact they had people infiltrating our campaign? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?”

On Fox News last night, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said the FBI’s use of an informant for the 2016 Trump campaign was appropriate (see below for more).

“Mexico, I don’t want to cause a problem. But in the end, Mexico’s going to pay for the wall”

Mexico once again said it wasn’t paying for Trump’s wall. Here’s Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto: “President @realDonaldTrump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).”

“We passed largest tax cuts and reform in American history”

By either inflation-adjusted dollars or as a percentage of GDP, the tax legislation Trump signed into law last year ranks well below other tax laws, including those under Reagan or even Obama.

For an even more thorough account on Trump’s claims from last night, check out the feed from the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale.

[NBC News]

Media

Trump blames Democrats for separating migrant families at the border

President Trump on Saturday called for an end to his administration’s policy of separating immigrant families at the border for legal prosecution, blaming Democrats for inaction on immigration policy.

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” Trump tweeted.

A Trump administration policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month mandates the prosecution of adults separately from children when families arrive at the U.S. border seeking asylum. “If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”

Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy, and accuses them of desiring “open borders” that would allow criminals, such as members of the gang MS-13, into the country.

[The Hill]

Trump Asks If There Are Hispanics In The Room Before Demanding His Wall

President Donald Trump was met with silence at a campaign-style rally in Michigan Saturday night when he asked if there were any Hispanics present, then repeated his demand for a border wall.

Trump skipped the White House Correspondents Dinner to instead regale his fervent supporters in Washington, Michigan. After taking credit for Hispanic unemployment numbers dropping, the president said this:

“Any Hispanics in the room?” Trump asked to relative silence. “Naw, not so many? That’s OK.”

Then he took a swerve into: “In all fairness, Kanye West gets it. He gets it.” The president was referring to the rapper’s recent show of support for him.

Satisfied the audience was lacking in Hispanics, Trump launched into a tirade repeating his demand for his border wall, and said those illegally crossing into the U.S. are somehow voting for Democrats in elections.

“All of these people pouring across are gonna vote Democrat,” he claimed, even though studies have shown few undocumented people vote for anyone, Democrats or otherwise, except in the few places where their votes are specifically allowed.

“They do it for a lot of reasons,” Trump said. “A lot of times they don’t even know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, but we have to have borders and we need it fast.”

He threatened to “close down the country” if he doesn’t get funding for his wall in next year’s budget.

Before Trump attempted to reach out to Hispanic voters in South Florida earlier this month, he employed a similar tactic of surveying the audience.

“Are there any Hispanics in the room?” Trump asked during a roundtable discussion on tax cuts, The Washington Post reported.

He didn’t wait for an answer.

“No, I doubt it,” he said.

[Huffington Post]

Trump Judicial Nominee Appears to Have Called Undocumented Immigrants “Maggots”

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Michael Truncale, whom Donald Trump selected to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. A longtime Republican donor and activist, Truncale built his career opposing progressive policies, including the Affordable Care Act, gun control, and abortion access. He also appears to have referred to undocumented immigrants as “maggots.”

Truncale made this comment in 2012, when running for Congress in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, a seat that came open upon the retirement of Rep. Ron Paul. (He ultimately lost, coming in third place in the GOP primary.) During a candidate forum hosted by the Galveston County Republican Party and the Republican Network of Galveston County, Truncale said that the state’s Southern border is “very porous.” He continued:

And as a result of the nature of that border we have all sort of bad influences coming in. We have drugs, we have illegal gangs, there is the possibility of bombs from a host of other countries and people from overseas and we must secure that border. I think we should do it with boots on the ground. As a citizen taxpayer, I think that we should take some of the equipment that is coming back from Iraq that citizens have already paid for and instead of sending it to some warehouse in Nebraska or some place, let’s get it to the border patrol. … There can be some fencing, there can be electronic surveillance, and things of that nature to secure the border. But that’s the first thing.

Truncale then added that “with regard to immigration, we must not continue to have the maggots coming in.”

It is difficult to read this statement, first flagged by Harsh Voruganti of the nonpartisan legal blog the Vetting Room, as anything other than a reference to undocumented immigrants. The apparent slur raises obvious questions about Truncale’s impartiality in cases involving Latinos and immigrants, as well as his overall fitness for the bench. Judges may hold strong feelings about border security. But Truncale’s decision to publicly malign unauthorized immigrants raises doubts about his ability to separate personal prejudices from his professional duties.

In that respect, Truncale resembles Jeff Mateer, Trump’s previous nominee to the Eastern District of Texas. Mateer notoriously calledtransgender children part of “Satan’s plan.” (The White House eventually withdrew his nomination.) Like Mateer, Truncale was recommended to Trump by Texas Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Presumably, Cruz and Cornyn chose him because of his enduring support for the GOP: Truncale served on the executive committee of the Texas Republican Party from 2006 to 2014 and has donated nearly $7,000 to Cornyn’s campaigns over the past dozen years. (He also gave Cruz $1,000 in 2015.) Moreover, Truncale served as a Republican delegate for John McCain in 2008 and volunteered for the Trump campaign. (He has spent his legal career at the firm Orgain, Bell & Tucker, practicing civil defense and white-collar criminal defense.)

Cornyn and Cruz might’ve hoped that Truncale would prove to be less controversial than Mateer. But he is likely to face tough questions at his hearing next week, as Democrats and some Republicans have lost their patience with openly biased nominees.

[Slate]

Trump says he will put U.S. military on southern border

President Trump said Tuesday that he plans to deploy U.S. troops along the southern border to prevent illegal crossings “until we can have a wall.”

“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was sitting next to Trump when he made his comments.

Such a move would significantly escalate the U.S. presence along the frontier with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol — not the military — is tasked with protecting the border.

Trump has recently reverted back to his hard-line stance on immigration, backing away from his efforts to compromise with Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Over the past several days, the president has closed the door to a deal to protect young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, called on Mexico to step up efforts to detail illegal border crossers and sounded the alarm about a so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border.

“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic…it’s like we have no border,” Trump said.

Trump tied the caravan to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that he ended last fall, even though it does not cover people who crossed the border this year.

The president is coming under mounting pressure from his base to secure a policy win on immigration, after he failed to secure $25 billion to build his proposed border wall in a government funding bill.

Trump even floated the possibility of pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico does not take steps to curb the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally.

The president on Tuesday claimed the caravan is breaking up “very rapidly” in part because of his threat.

Sending troops the border would be an unusual, but not unprecedented, step.

Presidents Obama and George W. Bush both deployed National Guard troops at the border to help stop illegal immigration. The temporary moves came as they were trying to win conservative support for immigration reforms that would allow millions to seek U.S. citizenship.

“The United States is not going to militarize the southern border,” Bush said when announcing the deployment in 2006. “Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend.”

[The Hill]

Reality

A defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity had no immediate details as to how many troops would be used, or what authorities they would have, but said the presence could be similar to the 2006-2008 patrols U.S. military personnel conducted under Operation Jump Start.

In that operation, President George W. Bush called for up to 6,000 National Guard members to secure parts of the border. Eventually 29,000 military personnel from all over the country were involved in the mission, which had a projected cost of around $1.2 billion in then-year dollars.

In 2012, President Barack Obama deployed Army forces from Ft. Bliss to the Tucson, Arizona and El Paso, Texas areas for Operation Nimbus, a joint operation between U.S. Northern Command and Customs and Border Patrol.

Trump just called off a deal on DACA

On Sunday, a little more than an hour after tweeting “HAPPY EASTER!” to his 49.8 million followers, President Donald Trump appeared to call off a major immigration deal.

“Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!” the president wrote, in part, referring to the Democrat-led initiative to protect the children of unauthorized immigrants from deportation. That was the first tweet, which seemed to call for the end of the filibuster in the Senate to pass tougher immigration laws and for the end of negotiations to get a deal on DACA.

The other two — where the president declared that people in Mexico were laughing at America’s immigration laws, and suggested that the international trade deal NAFTA might have something to do with that — seemed designed to further stoke traditional conservative fears that surround immigration.

These tweets are mostly typical rhetoric for Trump: He’s prone to suggesting that more immigration will lead to more crime and violence despite decades of evidence that more immigration does not correlate with more crime and may actually lead to less crime.

The DACA part, however, is new. Previously, Trump actually threatened to veto a budget deal — and shut down the government — in part because it didn’t include a deal on DACA recipients. Now he’s saying prospects for a deal are done.

Trump seems increasingly frustrated his agenda isn’t moving forward

According to a recent report from the Washington Post, the president has been frustrated that his proposed wall at the US-Mexico border hasn’t gotten much traction — lately, he’s turned to privately lobbying for the military to pay for it. As Tara Golshan explained for Vox, the military likely won’t be able to take up Trump’s request, because the money it’s been given by Congress is allocated for specific programs that aren’t the wall.

Trump’s new tweets also appear to come in response to reports that a huge caravan of Central Americans is making its way through Mexico to the US. The group is reportedly fleeing poverty, violence, and political unrest in the region, hoping to get asylum once they make it to America — although some have said they’ll cross the border illegally if necessary.

It’s unclear how federal officials will ultimately respond to the caravan. But Trump, at least, is using the moment to push for tougher immigration laws.

[Vox]

Trump Tweeted Pictures Claiming “The Start” Of His Border Wall, But It Was Actually An Old Project

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted that he had been briefed about “the start of our Southern Border WALL” and included pictures depicting construction for the project, but there was one slight problem with the announcement.

The images tweeted by the president were not of his long-promised wall, but a months-long project to replace existing portions of a wall along Calexico, California.

The project, which started in 2009, will replace a 2.25-mile section in the California-Mexico border wall, according to a statement last month from US Customs and Border Protection.

The original wall in that section, built in the 1990s, had been built from recycled metal scraps and old landing mat materials, the agency said.

“Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years,” CBP said.

The project will replace the old wall with a 30-foot-high, bollard-style structure.

A DHS official told BuzzFeed News that Trump did meet with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Wednesday afternoon, but did not provide details of the briefing.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet, or his briefing with DHS officials.

[Buzzfeed]

Trump’s border wall proposal is exactly what Ann Coulter pitched on Fox News Saturday night

On March 25, President Donald Trump released a cryptic tweet proposing to use funds dedicated to national defense to build a wall along the southern border, a plan conservative commentator Ann Coulter had proposed hours earlier on one of Trump’s favorite Fox News shows, Justice with Judge Jeanine.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted:

The tweet was widely interpreted as a proposal to use military funding to build a border wall, a proposal Coulter had made the night before on Justice with Judge Jeanine. The show’s host, Jeanine Pirro, is a longtime friend of Trump’s and has earned a special place on his watch list through her fawning coverage.

JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): What can the president do? What can the president do as commander-in-chief?

ANN COULTER: Look, on the day after his inauguration, it’s his authority under the Constitution that cannot be taken away from him by any legislature, by any court — I’m quite confident the Supreme Court would uphold this — to defend our borders. I mean, he has — the last war that had a declaration of war from Congress in it was World War II, and we engage in a lot of military actions around the world. I think it can be done right on our border as part of the defense. Have the Seabees do it. But if he needs to —

PIRRO: OK, so where does he get the money? Where does he get the money to build the wall that you can say he can build as national defense. Where does he take the money from?

COULTER: The same place Reagan took the money to invade Grenada. The same place he took the money to bomb Syria. He has money to spend on national defense, and this is a much bigger problem of national defense. This is our people being attacked with chemical warfare, not allegedly Syrians.

 

[Media Matters]

Media

Trump touts $1.6B for wall funding, blasts ‘Dem giveaways’

President Trump marked the $1.3 trillion budget agreement Wednesday night by touting funding for a wall on the southern border while blasting “Dem giveaways.”

“Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming,” Trump tweeted.

Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.”

Trump also added that, “Democrats refused to take care of DACA. Would have been so easy, but they just didn’t care. I had to fight for Military and start of Wall.”

The Trump administration ended DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — last year. The program protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

[New York Post]

Reality

From Daily Kos.

Donald Trump is trying to sell the spending bill as a victory for his precious border wall. As is so often the case, he’s lying and the real question is whether he’s lying more to himself or more to the rest of us. Trump tweeted that “Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming.” In reality:

… Democrats pointed out that only $641 million of that money is designated for 33 miles of “new fencing or levees” ― specifically not a concrete wall. The rest of the money is for repairing or replacing existing fencing or border security technology.

Not just Democrats, though:

“Are we going to continue to fund sanctuary cities? Are we going to continue to fund Planned Parenthood? Are we going to continue to raise the debt to levels that quite frankly are unsustainable and bankrupt our country?” [House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows] said. “There is really no wall funding. People will try to spin it as there is wall funding, but the [$1.6 billion] has been in there for some time.”

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