Trump Commutes Sentence Of Longtime Friend And Adviser Roger Stone

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, a veteran Republican operative who was convicted of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia.”

“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” she continued. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”

Stone’s attorney Robert Buschel told NPR, “We are grateful and relieved. Glad this nightmare is over.”

The commutation, which Trump issued days before Stone was to report to federal prison, brings an end to Stone’s legal fight — but only further inflames the political battle over his prosecution and the broader Russia investigation.

Earlier Friday evening, a federal appeals court had denied an emergency bid from Stone to stay out of prison.

The case against Stone was brought by then-special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Stone was indicted on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. The charges related to his efforts during the 2016 presidential race to act as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks was releasing Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence services, and Stone publicly and privately presented himself as someone with inside knowledge about the group’s operations.

After the election, when Stone was questioned under oath about the matter by the House Intelligence Committee, he lied to lawmakers about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks. He also tried to prevent an associate from testifying before the committee.

After a tumultuous runup to his trial, during which the presiding judge, Amy Berman Jackson, imposed a gag order on Stone after he published a threatening photograph of her, a jury found him guilty on all seven counts in November.

After his trial, Stone raised allegations of juror misconduct and tried to get the verdict dismissed. Jackson entertained the motion, even holding a hearing in which she brought back members of the jury for questioning, but she ultimately rejected Stone’s bid for a new trial and sentenced him to more than three years in prison.

Stone has since appealed his conviction.

In an interview this month with ABC News, Attorney General William Barr called Stone’s prosecution “righteous” and said the sentence handed down was “fair.”

On Twitter Friday night, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said that “commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a terrible blow to justice and the rule of law.” He added: “Through this act, Trump is saying: ‘If you lie for me, if you cover up for me, if you obstruct for me, I will protect you.’ “

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, also blasted the commutation, calling it “[u]nprecedented, historic corruption” on Twitter on Saturday morning.

[NPR]

Trump Speeds Up Plans To Force Foreign Students, Others Out Of U.S.

Faced with the prospect of losing the power to make immigration policy after the November 2020 presidential election, Trump administration officials are speeding up efforts to force foreign nationals to leave the United States, including a new policy that could push out many international students. The latest policy should be seen in the context of the June 22, 2020, presidential proclamation that blocked the entry of foreign-born professionals and encouraged them to depart the country by preventing the entry of many family members. The proclamation also included a plan, if implemented, that could drive many long-time H-1B visa holders out of America.

“The Trump administration seems to be doing everything it can to stop all immigration to the United States,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a Cornell Law School professor and an advisor to the National Foundation for American Policy, in an interview. “Families are separated and employers can’t bring in needed workers. These latest actions are hurting, not helping, our economy.”

On July 6, 2020, the Trump administration announced that international students at U.S. universities “operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” according to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.” (Emphasis in original.)

The announcement sent shockwaves through U.S. universities, many of which decided for health and safety reasons to offer classes exclusively online in the fall. Public universities facing state budget crises already expected to be harmed financially by the near absence of new international students, who often pay full tuition. Administration policies that may drive out existing international students as well will be a further financial blow and are likely to crush the dreams of many students, note analysts.

“By not allowing continuing international students who are studying at institutions that make the decision to continue with online classes, rather than moving to in-person or hybrid models, SEVP has made it more difficult for both these students and institutions. This is very unfortunate,” said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, in an interview. She recommends the administration, at minimum, to continue the current flexibility from the spring on allowing all online classes, which was extended into the summer. Feldblum would also like to see online fall semester enrollment count towards eligibility to participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

The Department of Homeland Security plans to publish a new regulation on the policy as a temporary final rule, allowing it to take effect immediately, though it is expected to be challenged in court. “The policy forces schools to pick a model and stick to it, despite the fact that Covid-19 is a moving target,” said Dan Berger, a partner at Curran, Berger & Kludt, in an interview. “Depending on how the virus progresses, schools with hybrid models [in-person and online classes] may go online this fall. The administration’s message does not allow much-needed flexibility based on public health as the Covid-19 situation plays out.” 

“The policy also forces some students to leave who are here and safe, even if the country they are going to has a Covid-19 outbreak or closed borders,” said Berger. “Schools offer more than just classes. There is support here for students who have nowhere to go, even if the students are taking classes online. And forcing schools that were online to add an in-person class to meet the ‘hybrid’ definition would mean bringing students into contact with each other just for immigration purposes.”

The new Trump administration policy may force international students currently enrolled at Harvard University to leave the United States. Harvard recently announced that “all course instruction (undergraduate and graduate) for the 2020-21 academic year will be delivered online.”

“We are deeply concerned that the guidance issued today by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem, giving international students, particularly those in online programs, few options beyond leaving the country or transferring schools,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow in a statement. “This guidance undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan for continuing academic programs while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic. We must do all that we can to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year, disrupting their academic progress and undermining the commitments – and sacrifices – that many of them have made to advance their education.” (Note: On July 8, 2020, Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit seeking to block the upcoming rule on international students.)

In response to the question, “Does it look like Harvard will have international students on campus in the fall?” William Stock of Klasko Immigration Law Partners said, “Apparently not.”

The new policy may upend hundreds of thousands of lives, but for Trump administration officials, who fear this is their final chance to institute lasting changes to U.S. immigration policy, it is just one of many measures designed to discourage international students and others to follow their dreams to America. Attorney Dan Berger said, “The chilling effect of this new policy on international students coming to the United States will be tremendous.” That is the point.

[Forbes]

Trump has officially begun to withdrawal the US from the World Health Organization as pandemic spikes

The Trump administration has officially begun to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the globe and infections spike in many states across the U.S.  

Congress received formal notification of the decision on Tuesday, more than a month after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end the U.S. relationship with the WHO and blasted the multilateral institution as a tool of China. The White House said the withdrawal would take effect on July 6, 2021.

Democrats said the decision was irresponsible and ill-considered, noting it comes as the pandemic is raging and international cooperation is vital to confront the crisis.

“This won’t protect American lives or interests – it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after receiving the White House’s notification. “To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice.”

Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the WHO, said the organization had received reports of the United States’ formal notification. “We have no further information on this at this stage,” he said. 

The formal withdrawal comes as the United States nears 3 million reported coronavirus cases and more than 130,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 11.6 million cases and almost 540,000 deaths.

Trump and his advisers have blasted the WHO for failing to press China to be more transparent about the scope and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China.

Trump has said that China “has total control” over the WHO, even though it contributes far less than the US to the health organization’s budget. The U.S. has contributed approximately $450 million dollars a year.

Menendez and other Senate Democrats have introduced legislation to reverse the decision and restore U.S. funding to the WHO. It’s unclear how far that could get in the GOP-controlled chamber, although some Republicans have also expressed concern with Trump’s decision.

Critics said Trump’s WHO attacks are an attempt to deflect blame from his own mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak – and one that will end up hurting the U.S. 

Amanda Glassman, a public health expert and executive vice president of the Center for Global Development think tank, noted the world doesn’t just face today’s threat of COVID-19 but also the treat of future pandemics, which are more likely because of increased zoonotic transmission

The probability of a high lethality strain of influenza in the next decade or so is also significant, said Amanda Glassman, a public health expert and executive vice president of the Center for Global Development think tank. She said corrective measures at the WHO are needed but can only happen with the United States staying engaged.

“Withdrawal is counterintuitive at best and dangerous to human life at worst. The US Congress should immediately explore what power it has to prevent this from happening,” Glassman said

Gayle Smith, president and CEO of The ONE Campaign, an advocacy group focused on improving global health and eliminating poverty, echoed that assessment. “The US should use its influence to strengthen and reform the WHO, not abandon it at a time when the world needs it most,” said Smithwho served on the National Security Council and other top positions in the Obama administration.

[USA Today]

Trump attacks NASCAR and Bubba Wallace over Confederate flag banning, noose incident

President Donald Trump on Monday took aim at NASCAR’s Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, a prominent Black driver, falsely claiming on Twitter that the sport’s recent anti-racist stance had lowered its television ratings.

“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?” Trump tweeted. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”

Utilizing his Twitter account on Monday to criticize NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag and separately two sports teams considering changing their names, Trump demonstrated his eagerness to make his views on race a central part of his re-election campaign amid the growing national conversation after George Floyd’s death on May 25 in police custody.

In a statement posted on his Twitter page, Wallace framed his response as advice to young people, saying, “All the haters are doing is elevating your voice and platform to much greater heights!”

“Last thing, always deal with hate being thrown at you with LOVE!” he said. “Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS.. Love wins.”

NASCAR drivers have rallied to support Wallace. NASCAR Cup Series driver Tyler Reddick tweeted in response to Trump, “We don’t need an apology.”

“We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support,” he continued. The tweet was later deleted.

NASCAR released a statement saying the organization “continues to stand tall with Bubba.”

“We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership,” the statement said.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News said Trump’s tweet was part of a “broader point” about the “rush to judgment.”

“The president is merely pointing out that we have to let facts come out before we rush to judgment,” she said.

Reporters grilled McEnany over the tweet during Monday’s press briefing, questioning her about Trump’s claim that banning the Confederate flag was bad for ratings.

McEnany said Trump was not taking a stance on the Confederate flag nor whether it was a good or bad decision for NASCAR to ban it. Instead, McEnany argued that that “NASCAR men and women” are “being called racist” and that Trump was defending them.

“He stands against the demonization of Americans and he stands firmly on the side of preserving our history,” she said.

Asked whether a Confederate flag would be permitted at a Trump rally, McEnany said the campaign does not allow flags other than official Trump campaign gear into rallies. Trump campaign national deputy press secretary Courtney Parella confirmed the policy to NBC News, saying, “We do not permit rally attendees to bring their own signage or displays of any kind and only allow approved rally signs inside our events.”

Speaking with Fox News Radio, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and a prominent Trump ally, said he didn’t think Wallace “has anything to apologize for.”

“You saw the best in NASCAR,” he said. “When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace, they all rallied to Bubba’s side. So I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax.”

Since NASCAR announced a ban on the Confederate flag last month, the sport has seen a boost in television ratingsOvernight ratings following the sport’s June race at Martinsville, Virginia, which immediately followed the banning announcement, were up 104 percent over a comparable 2019 race.

The Talladega race in Alabama later in June, where the noose incident Trump referred to happened, rated as the most-watched Monday contest in years. NASCAR has also benefited from being one of the few live events on TV, as most other sports remain idled in the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before Talladega, a door-pull rope shaped like a noose was found in Wallace’s assigned garage, raising questions about whether it had been placed there intentionally in response to his outspokenness in support of banning the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. Fellow NASCAR drivers marched alongside his car in a show of unity afterward. The FBI investigated the incident and ruled out a hate crime, citing video evidence showing the rope was in the stall months before it was assigned to Wallace. NASCAR released a photo of the rope to dispel the idea it was a hoax.

“I was relieved just like many others to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me,” Wallace told Craig Melvin on NBC’s “TODAY” last month. “But it’s still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you, and that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around now.”

As a politician, Trump’s history with NASCAR dates to early in his presidential campaign when he won the endorsement of the sport’s top leadership. At this year’s Daytona 500, Trump took the presidential limo on the track as a pace car before the race began. And at this weekend’s Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, one driver began racing in a fully decked-out pro-Trump branded car. He crashed a few laps into the race.

This weekend, Trump delivered a lengthy speech on defending statues from being removed or torn down and has increasingly bashed protesters.

Recent tweets have also gotten the president into hot water, such as when he promoted and then deleted a video showing an apparent Trump supporter shouting “white power.”

The White House said he didn’t hear the comment when he posted.

[NBC News]

Trump Vows to Veto Defense Bill Over Amendment to Rename Military Bases Named After Confederates

President Donald Trump vowed to veto a $740 billion defense spending bill unless Congress drops a proposed amendment to rename U.S. military bases named after Confederate leaders.

As the country faces ongoing social unrest over the death of George Floyd, the public debate continues on whether Confederate figures deserve to be publicly honored with statues or major instillations bearing their names. Amid these calls for racial justice, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has proposed an amendment for the Defense Authorization Bill that would require the names of Confederate leaders to be completely scrubbed from several military bases over the next 3 years.

Trump has repeatedly defended monuments honoring Confederates in recent weeks, and on Tuesday night, he used his racially-charged insult for Warren again while promising to veto the bill if her amendment gets through.

[Mediaite]

Trump Slams Fox News for Hiring Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile: ‘Where Are You Roger Ailes?’

President Donald Trump took yet another swipe at Fox News for hiring Democratic pundits, this time former DNC Chair Donna Brazile.

Brazile trended on Twitter after getting into it with co-hosts on The Five Tuesday afternoon. In response to one tweet saying Brazile should not be on Fox News, the president went after Fox in a tweet referencing the infamous CNN debate questions controversy and invoking the late Roger Ailes.

“She gets fired by @CNN for giving Crooked Hillary the debate questions, and gets hired by @FoxNews. Where are you Roger Ailes?” Trump tweeted.

UPDATE: After some Twitter comments remarking upon how Ailes is dead, the President of the United States actually tweeted a clarification that “I know better than anyone that my friend Roger Ailes died 3 years ago”:

[Mediaite]

Trump Says He May End Housing Desegregation Rule

President Donald Trump said he may get rid of a fair housing rule originally designed to desegretate neighborhoods, which some say in practice simply means building more housing. His administration has been trying to revise an Obama-era regulation on how to enforce the Civil Rights-era law; opponents say it’s an effort to weaken the rules.

Trump in a Twitter post though suggested he may want to go further. “At the request of many great Americans who live in the Suburbs, and others, I am studying the AFFH housing regulation that is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas,” Trump said in a tweet. “Not fair to homeowners, I may END!” Trump didn’t offer additional details about his plans.

[Bloomberg]

Trump Tweets Video of St. Louis Couple Aiming Guns at Protesters

President Donald Trump on Monday retweeted a widely scrutinized video of a St. Louis couple aiming guns at a protest march.

The couple, who are White, stood in front of their home, both armed with guns, shouting back and forth with a march that included Black Lives Matter protesters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. One of the people was aiming a gun directly at demonstrators, who were marching on the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand her resignation after she read aloud names and addresses of protesters who wanted to cut police funding.

Trump retweeted the ABC News video without comment, appearing to endorse the couple’s stance. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Sunday, Trump retweeted a video of his supporters arguing with critics in Florida, including one who shouted “white power.” Trump later deleted his tweet, and the White House said he hadn’t heard the phrase.

The president on Monday also retweeted a series of wanted posters from U.S. park police seeking to identify people suspected of vandalizing statues near the White House.

[Bloomberg]



Trump Tweets, Thanks Florida Supporter Chanting ‘White Power’

Donald Trump tweeted a video of someone in a golf cart shouting the racist slogan, “White Power” and others yelling, “Fuck Trump” on Sunday morning. The video was originally posted by the Twitter handle Fifty Shades of Whey, which noted that the seniors of The Villages in Florida were “protesting against each other.” Trump was seemingly unaware that those protesting against him, who were holding up signs that accused him of racism, were apparently also residents of The Villages. Nevertheless, the president thanked area denizens in his post, writing, “Thank you to the great people of The Villages. The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!”

[The Daily Beast]

Update

Trump deleted the tweet and claimed he wasn’t aware. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the “white power” chant occurs in the first few seconds of the video. Second, why is a President sharing content without vetting it?

Trump targets individual anti-racism protesters in post-golf tweetstorm

The leader of the free world went after individual anti-racism protesters on Saturday.

Trump escalated his war on protesters by posting “attempt to identify” wanted posters of protesters who allegedly vandalized a statue of former President Andrew Jackson.

The statue is in Lafayette Square, which was the scene of the gassing of peaceful protesters so Trump could hold a photo-op posing with a Bible.


[Raw Story]

1 2 3 339