Trump Says Mexicans ‘Want To Take Advantage of DACA’ While Walking Into Church on Easter

What would a trip to church near Mar-a-Lago on Easter Sunday be for President Donald Trump without attacking one of our nearest and closest allies?

The president stopped and spoke with reporters alongside First Lady Melania Trump on Sunday, echoing tweets he posted to his Twitter page hours earlier. Trump slammed Mexico once again for refusing to fund his border wall proposal, saying “Mexico has got to help us at the border, and a lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA.”

As Trump was speaking, first daughter Tiffany Trump appeared to just arrive to the church, walking up to her father and blowing a kiss to the first lady. Trump, holding hands with Melania, did not acknowledge Tiffany as he continued to speak about issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’re going to have to really see, and they had a great chance — the Democrats blew it,” he added. “But Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico, they send them into the United States. It can’t happen that way anymore.”

Not exactly the typical message of unity and peace a president bestows on a holy day like Easter. But Trump will have another shot when he flies back to Washington later in the day to host Easter at the White House.

Watch a clip of the moment Trump stopped to speak with reporters outside of church via MSNBC above.

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 continues attacks on Amazon, Washington Post

President Donald Trump is continuing his attack against Amazon, accusing the company of scamming the US Postal Service.

“While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

“The Failing N.Y. Times reports that ‘the size of the company’s lobbying staff has ballooned,’ and that……does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a ‘lobbyist’ and should so REGISTER,” the President wrote. “If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.'”

He added, “This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now.”

Is it a ‘scam’?

The Postal Service is losing money, but its package delivery service is profitable, unlike its letter delivery.

The Postal Service is required by law to cover its costs for delivering competitive products, such as packages for Amazon, and the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the service, set the appropriate share of those costs at 5.5% a little more than a decade ago.

Since then, the service’s deliveries of those products have grown substantially, and the United Parcel Service argued in a submission to the commission in 2015 that a realistic appropriate share of costs for delivering packages should be about 24.6%.

A Citigroup analysis last year found that that difference would amount to about $1.46 per parcel, which might serve as the basis for Trump’s $1.50 figure. An op-ed penned in July by Josh Sandbulte in the Wall Street Journal cited that analysis in arguing the Postal Service’s estimate of costs for delivering packages should be revised. Sandbulte is co-president of Greenhaven Associates, a money management firm that owns FedEx common stock.

In response, US Postal Service executive Joseph Corbett wrote that the op-ed provided an “inaccurate and unfair account,” and that the Postal Regulatory Commission has determined each year that the service is covering its costs for package deliveries.

Corbett asserted the Postal Service’s financial insolvency is the result of its inability to overcome “systemic financial imbalances caused by legal and other constraints,” such as a price cap on revenue-producing products that doesn’t take changes in delivery volumes and costs into account.

The Postal Service’s biggest money problem is that it has billions in retirement obligations to its workers that it can’t afford.

So what does Amazon pay?

Amazon pays the US post office to deliver packages to customers’ doors, including on Sundays, and because Amazon ships so many packages though the post office, it’s charged at a lower rate than most customers, CNN has reported. But Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.

Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of its agreement, but the Postal Service says the deal is mutually beneficial.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted another accusation about Amazon not paying “taxes to state & local governments” and “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.”

Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, which is nearly every state. Amazon also pays local property taxes on its distribution centers as well as on the Whole Foods stores it purchased last year.

Amazon maintains it helps small businesses in a tough retail climate, helping vendors reach a mass audience.

This isn’t the first time Trump has accused The Washington Post of being a lobbying arm of Amazon. While both companies are owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon does not have a stake in The Washington Post.

[CNN]

Trump escalates attack on Amazon, slams it on taxes, shipping

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) with a list of complaints, a day after news website Axios reported that Trump wants to curb the mega retailer’s growing power using federal antitrust laws and led its shares to fall almost 5 percent.

“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” Trump said in a post on Twitter early on Thursday.

Amazon founder and chairman, Jeff Bezos, also privately owns the Washington Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize last year for its investigation of Trump’s donations to charities. The probe found that many of Trump’s philanthropic claims were exaggerated and often were not charitable donations.

Still, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah shot down the notion that Trump’s criticism was part of a personal grudge.

“A lot of people have made this, with respect to Amazon, about personalities and the CEO at Amazon – we’re talking about Jeff Bezos here,” he said on Thursday on the Fox News Channel. “It’s really about policy.”

Shah reiterated that Trump was not making specific policy changes.

“There are a number of proposals that have worked their ways through the House and the Senate or have been considered by the House and the Senate. He’d be supportive of such efforts,” he said.

Trump’s claims about Amazon’s state and local tax payments have been met with skepticism. While the company was once criticized for attempting to skirt state sales taxes, it currently has a reputation as a leader in collecting the levies, which can vary from state to state.

Legally pursuing Amazon could affect more than its share price, which was largely steady after Trump’s tweet. Amazon is currently in the process of establishing a $5 billion second headquarters which could bring 50,000 new jobs to the location it selects. In January, it winnowed the list of possible locations down to 20 metropolitan areas.

Apart from nationwide goods deliveries, Amazon’s services include video streaming, a digital home assistant known as Alexa, and an online payments program.

[Yahoo]

Reality

Trump was informed many times that the Postal Service actually makes money from Amazon, a lot, but he refuses to accept this information

Trump rips ‘so much fake news’ after Stormy Daniels interview

President Trump on Monday ripped “so much fake news” in a tweet following the highly anticipated “60 Minutes” interview with adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

“So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“But through it all, our country is doing great!”

Daniels claims she had an affair with Trump before he was president and was paid a sum of money before the 2016 election to keep quiet. A lawyer for Trump has denied the alleged affair.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, on Monday questioned why Trump is not tweeting about his client.

“Isn’t it interesting that we have a president that will tweet about the most mundane matters, but he won’t tweet about my client, the affair, the agreement or the $130,000 payment?” Avenatti told “CBS This Morning.”

“You know why he won’t tweet about it? Because it’s true. It’s 100 percent true.”

Trump earlier Monday tweeted about the economy, saying it is “looking really good.”

[The Hill]

Trump moves to ban most transgender troops

President Donald Trump on Friday issued orders to ban transgender troops who require surgery or significant medical treatment from serving in the military except in select cases — following through on a controversial pledge last year that has been under review by the Pentagon and fought out in the courts.

The memorandum states that while the secretary of defense and other executive branch officials will have some latitude in implementing the policy, “persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — including individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances.”

The document provides few details about how the ban will be implemented, what will happen to those who are currently serving and under which limited circumstances transgender troops may be able to serve.

The memo also said that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, “in the exercise of his independent judgment, has concluded [the policies] should be adopted by the Department of Defense.”

It added that “the Secretary of Homeland Security concurs with these policies with respect to the U.S. Coast Guard,” which would also be affected by the policy.

In a subsequent statement, the White House press office explained that the policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”

“The experts’ study sets forth a policy to enhance our military’s readiness, lethality, and effectiveness,” it continued, adding that officials “concluded that the accession or retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery — presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” the White House statement concluded.

LGBT advocates who have sought to head off such a move in the courts swiftly slammed the decision, calling it “appalling, reckless and unpatriotic.”

“Donald Trump and Mike Pence are literally wreaking havoc on the lives of our military families,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association. “This unconscionable attack on our military families cannot stand — we refuse to allow it.”

[Politico]

Trump Threatens Joe Biden, Saying He ‘Would Go Down Fast and Hard’ if They Fought

President Trump threatened former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday, saying in a tweet that Mr. Biden “would go down fast and hard” if the two men ever physically fought. Mr. Trump was responding to Mr. Biden’s comments on Tuesday about how, if he was in high school, Mr. Biden would “beat the hell” out of Mr. Trump for disrespecting women.

Mr. Biden, speaking at a University of Miami rally to combat sexual assault, said, “A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,’ ” referring to an Access Hollywood audio recording in which Mr. Trump is heard boasting about kissing and groping women without their consent. Mr. Biden said when he was asked if he would like to debate Mr. Trump, he said, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.”

The back-and-forth blustering between two men in their 70s comes a day after Mr. Trump criticized two of his predecessors, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, for not being able to improve relations with Russia. And Mr. Trump is facing revived sexual misconduct accusations after a New York state judge ruled that a defamation lawsuit from a woman who has said Mr. Trump made unwanted sexual advances could go forward.

Mr. Biden, who has been a longtime advocate for anti-sexual assault policies, has been on the road lately, campaigning for Democrats.

Earlier this month, he campaigned for a Democrat in western Pennsylvania who won a special congressional election in a district that had previously been considered Trump country. Mr. Trump campaigned for the Republican candidate who lost. Democrats see the loss as an indicator of a potential wave of Democratic wins in the upcoming midterm elections.

There has been talk of a possible 2020 presidential run, which could pit Mr. Biden, 75, directly against Mr. Trump, 71.

Mr. Biden considered running in 2016, but decided not to because of the death of his son. At the time, Mr. Trump said he thought Mr. Biden made the right choice for his family and that he would rather run against Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump has previously tweeted about Mr. Biden while he was vice president, commenting on Mr. Biden’s gaffes. In 2012, Mr. Trump said he felt sorry for Mr. Biden’s communications team.

[The New York Times]

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.”

Trump Goes After the ‘Crazed’ Media Over Russia Call, Defends His ‘Congratulations’ to Putin

President Trump this afternoon tweeted an attack on the media (again) over its “crazed” coverage of his call with Vladimir Putin.

“I called President Putin of Russia,” POTUS tweeted, “to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Some Republicans were critical of Trump congratulating Putin as well––particularly John McCain––but the President is standing by his message and dinging the media for getting worked up about it.

Oh, and he wasn’t done:

“They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race,” he continued. “Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn’t have the energy or chemistry (remember RESET). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!”

[Mediaite]

Notes, emails reveal Trump appointees’ war to end HHS teen pregnancy program

The Trump administration’s abrupt cancellation of a federal program to prevent teen pregnancy last year was directed by political appointees over the objections of career experts in the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the program, according to internal notes and emails obtained by NBC News.

The trove shows three appointees with strict pro-abstinence beliefs — including Valerie Huber, the then-chief of staff for the department’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health — guided the process to end a program many medical professionals credit with helping to bring the nation’s teen pregnancy rate to an all-time low.

Prior to serving at HHS, Huber was the president of Ascend, an association that promotes abstinence until marriage as the best way to prevent teen pregnancy.

The $213 million Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program was aimed at helping teenagers understand how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. It had bipartisan support in Congress and trained more than 7,000 health professionals and supported 3,000 community-based organizations since its inception in 2010.

In the notes provided to NBC News, Evelyn Kappeler, who for eight years has led the Office of Adolescent Health, which administers the program, repeatedly expressed concerns about terminating the program, but appeared out of the decision-making loop and at one point was driven to tears.

In a July 17, 2017 note, she says she was admonished to “get in line” and told it was not her place to ask questions about the agency’s use of funds. In a July 28 note, Kappeler recalled she was “frustrated about the time this process is taking and the fact that (her staff) has not been part of the discussions.” She described being “so rattled” that “my reaction when I got on (sic) the phone was to cry.”

She and her staff “were not aware of the grant action until the last minute” — an apparent reference to the decision, it says.

Last month, Democracy Forward, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group, sued the administration for unlawfully terminating the program after the agency took months to respond to its Freedom of Information Act request.

The group claims the newly obtained emails show that HHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act that bars arbitrary decision-making and that the political appointees thwarted the will of Congress.

“Now that we’ve seen these documents, there is no question to us why the Trump administration withheld” the emails, said Skye Perryman, the group’s lawyer. The decision to end the program “was made hastily, without a record of any reasoned decision making and under the influence of political appointees who have long opposed evidenced-based policy,” she said.

Parties suing over the action include the city of Baltimore and the Healthy Teen Network, which represents grantees across the country.

HHS has given different explanations about its decision to terminate the program, including claims that it was ineffective or that it did not conform to the president’s proposed budget. HHS did not respond to emails or answer questions about who was responsible for ending the program.

HHS spokesman Mark Vafiades directed NBC News to a fact sheet and announcement on the agency’s website. They state that 73 percent of the projects funded by the program “had no impact or had a negative impact on teen behavior, with some teens more likely to begin having sex, to engage in unprotected sex or to become pregnant.”

“The evidence stands in stark contrast to the promised results,” the statement says.

The story behind the program’s demise is one of a growing list of examples of the control Trump political appointees are exerting at federal agencies.

It is also part of a broader narrative about programs benefiting women and children becoming political targets under a president who insists he is an advocate for women’s rights and health. Under Trump, a mandate under the Affordable Care Act to cover contraceptive coverage has been rolled back, while Republicans in Congress have sought to defund Planned Parenthood and proposed budget cuts to Medicaid, which covers half of all births.

In July 2017, the Office of Adolescent Health notified 81 grantees including the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, that it would be discontinuing funding under the Obama-era program beginning this June, with some programs cut off immediately.

After the program’s 2010 inception, teen pregnancy and birth rates fell faster than ever. Health care experts say considerable research and money that has already been invested in the program will be wasted and the number of at-risk teens will increase.

The president of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and women’s health advocacy groups, such as Planned Parenthood, have expressed alarm.

Haywood L. Brown, president of ACOG, called the program “vital.” The administration’s decision, Brown said in a statement, is “highly unusual” and a “step backward for ensuring healthy moms and healthy babies.”

In an op-ed last year, Ron Haskins, previously a Republican co-chair of a bipartisan commission on evidence-based policy making established by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that by ending the program, Trump has “exploded one of our most promising evidence-based programs.”

In a June 21 note by Kappeler, Steven Valentine, Huber’s deputy, is described as having “taken the lead” in reversing the program. Valentine directed Kappeler to halt the review process for the grants, the notes say.

Before coming to HHS, Valentine was a legislative assistant to Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., an outspoken abortion rights opponent. Valentine also worked for a short time at the Susan B. Anthony List, a political organization that supports candidates who oppose abortion rights.

Don Wright, a senior career official at HHS, stated in a July 28 email to Kappeler that he himself was only “tangentially” involved in the discussions about the program’s termination. But one set of notes documents him instructing skeptical career staff members on the appropriate behavior of civil servants. He later complained to Kappeler about “rolling of the eyes by some staff,” her notes say.

Weeks later, Wright was made acting secretary of the department.

Also according Kappeler’s notes, some staff “expressed concerns about being able to ask questions in this environment and the lack of engagement by policy staff directly with the program office.”

Kappeler’s memos “are quite revealing of the agency’s improper and unlawful decision making,” said Perryman, Democracy Forward’s lawyer.

“The documents also show HHS disregarded the views of experienced career employees including those of the director of the Office of Adolescent Health,” she said.

Another appointee involved in terminating the teen pregnancy program was Teresa Manning, an anti-abortion activist and Trump appointee who was in charge of the department’s family planning programs and who has publicly questioned the efficacy of several popular contraception methods. She was previously a lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee and for the Family Research Council. In January, Manning abruptly resigned.

In November, HHS announced a $10 million research initiative to ensure “any sex education programs follow the science to improve youth health and well-being,” including “sexual risk avoidance.”

Despite their popularity in some conservative regions and school districts, abstinence-only programs have been shown not to work.

A June 2005 study conducted by Case Western Reserve University found that the sexual education programs that Huber ran in Ohio promoting abstinence-only education had “critical problems.” The study suggested the program conveyed “false and misleading information” about abortion, contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections and misrepresented “religious convictions as scientific fact.”

In King County, Washington — one of the parties in the suit challenging the program’s termination — grantees created a 15-lesson sex education curriculum known as Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH).

The FLASH program educates students on options including abstinence, the use of birth control and the importance of consent before engaging in sexual activity. It is now used in 44 states and taught in every school district in King County, which has seen a 63 percent drop in teen pregnancies since 2008.

King County was granted $5 million to conduct the first scientific evaluation of the FLASH program, and now it is unable to complete the study. The $3 million already spent is now wasted taxpayer dollars, according to King County spokesman James Apa.

[NBC News]

Reality

Data shows clearly that abstinence-only education as a state policy is ineffective in preventing teenage pregnancy and may actually be contributing to the high teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S

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