Pentagon to deploy 5,200 active duty troops to Mexico border as Trump escalates threats against migrant caravan

A week out from the midterm elections, the Pentagon said Monday it is sending 5,200 troops, some armed, to the Southwest border this week in an extraordinary military operation to stop Central American migrants traveling north in two caravans that were still hundreds of miles from the U.S. The number of troops is more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump, eager to focus voters on immigration in the lead-up to the elections, stepped up his warnings about the caravans, tweeting: “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

His warning came as the Pentagon began executing “Operation Faithful Patriot,” described by the commander of U.S. Northern Command as an effort to help Customs and Border Protection stiffen defenses at and near legal entry points. Advanced helicopters will allow border protection agents to swoop down on migrants trying to cross illegally, he said.

“We’re going to secure the border,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Northern Command leader, said at a news conference. He spoke alongside Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

Eight hundred troops already are on their way to southern Texas, O’Shaughnessy said, and their numbers will top 5,200 by week’s end. He said troops would focus first on Texas, followed by Arizona and then California.

The number of people in the first caravan has dwindled to 3,500 from about 7,000, though a second one was gaining steam and marred by violence. About 600 migrants in the second group tried to cross a bridge from Guatemala to Mexico en masse on Monday but were met by ranks of Mexican federal police who blocked them from entering. The riverbank standoff followed a more violent confrontation Sunday when the migrants used sticks and rocks against Mexico police. One migrant was killed Sunday night by a head wound, but the cause was unclear.

The first group passed through the spot via the river — wading or on rafts — and was advancing through southern Mexico. That group appeared to begin as a collection of about 160 who decided to band together in Honduras for protection against the gangs who prey on migrants traveling alone and snowballed as the group moved north. They are mostly from Honduras, where it started, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala.

Overall, they are poor, carrying the belongings that fit into a knapsack and fleeing gang violence or poverty. It’s possible there are criminals mixed in, but Trump has not substantiated his claim that members of the MS-13 gang, in particular, are among them.

The president’s dark description of the caravan belied the fact that any migrants who complete the long trek to the southern U.S. border already face major hurdles, both physical and bureaucratic, to being allowed into the United States. Migrants are entitled under both U.S. and international law to apply for asylum, but it may take a while to make a claim. There is already a bottleneck of asylum seekers at some U.S. border crossings, in some cases as long as five weeks.

McAleenan said the aim was to deter migrants from crossing illegally between ports, but he conceded his officers were overwhelmed by a surge of asylum seekers. He also said Mexico was prepared to offer asylum to the caravan.

“If you’re already seeking asylum, you’ve been given a generous offer,” he said of Mexico. “We want to work with Mexico to manage that flow.”

The White House is also weighing additional border security measures, including blocking those traveling in the caravan from seeking legal asylum and preventing them from entering the U.S.

The military operation drew quick criticism.

“Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money, but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities,” said Shaw Drake of the American Civil Liberties Union’s border rights center at El Paso, Texas.

Military personnel are legally prohibited from engaging in immigration enforcement. The troops will include military police, combat engineers and others helping on the southern border.

The escalating rhetoric and expected deployments come as the president has been trying to turn the caravans into a key election issue just days before the midterm elections that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress.

“This will be the election of the caravans, the Kavanaughs, law and order, tax cuts, and you know what else? It’s going to be the election of common sense,” Trump said at a rally in Illinois on Saturday night.

On Monday, he tweeted without providing evidence: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border.”

“Please go back,” he urged them. “you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

The troops are expected to perform a wide variety of functions such as transporting supplies for the Border Patrol, but not engage directly with migrants seeking to cross the border, officials said. One U.S. official said the troops will be sent initially to staging bases in California, Texas and Arizona while the CBP works out precisely where it wants the troops positioned. U.S. Transportation Command posted a video on its Facebook page Monday of a C-17 transport plane that it said was delivering Army equipment to the Southwest border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot.

The U.S. military has already begun delivering jersey barriers to the southern border in conjunction with the deployment plans.

[CNBC]

Kellyanne Conway cites ‘anti-religiosity’ in Pittsburgh shooting

Kellyanne Conway cited “anti-religiosity” on Monday in discussing the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Conway’s remarks during a discussion on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” came less than 72 hours after the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, targeted Jews online and made anti-Semitic comments during the shooting, law enforcement officials said.

“The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue and funny, to make fun of anybody of faith. To constantly be making fun of people who expresses religion,” said Conway, who serves as counselor to President Donald Trump.

“The late night comedians. The un-funny people on TV shows. It’s always anti-religious. And remember, these people were gunned down in their place of worship’,” Conway continued. “As were the people in South Carolina several years ago. And they were there because they’re people of faith and it’s that faith that needs to bring us together.”

As the weather gets colder and furry intruders start looking for shelter, the only animals people want in their houses are their family pets.

“This is no time to be driving God out of the public square. No time to be making fun of people.”

Conway’s comments, which went unchallenged on the program, were made just before she told reporters that she was “very happy” that Trump condemned anti-Semitism following the massacre, which left 11 dead. The President’s combative rhetoric has been scrutinized in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting as well as last week’s potential explosive devices that were sent to several of Trump’s political opponents.

“I was very happy he came out with very strong words over the weekend though, condemning anti-Semitism and asking the country to rise above hate and evil and unify,” she said outside the White House on Monday.

Conway was referring to comments Trump made on Saturday in Illinois as he responded to news of the shooting. “It looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime, and that is something you wouldn’t believe could still be going on,” he said at the time.

Asked if Trump would denounce white nationalists, Conway said, “Please don’t lose the lesson of today which is anti-Semitism in all forms. It is evil and it still is being perpetrated around this world. Please remember the 11 who were murdered because of their faith.”

Conway’s husband, George Conway, a frequent public critic of the President despite his wife’s position, also weighed in on Monday morning. Instead of directly commenting on the matter, Conway tweeted a quote from a Washington Post op-ed published on Sunday by Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan.

“This president will never offer comfort, compassion or empathy to a grieving nation. It’s not in him. When questioned after a tragedy, he will always be glib and inappropriate. So I have a wild suggestion: Let’s stop asking him. His words are only salt in our wounds,” the tweet read, citing Davis’ op-ed.

[CNN]

Trump congratulates Brazil’s Bolsonaro on presidential win

President Trump on Sunday evening called Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro to congratulate him on his win.

Trump and Bolsonaro told one another that they are looking forward to working “side-by-side” as “regional leaders of the Americas,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Bolsonaro, the controversial right-wing populist who has been nicknamed “Trump of the Tropics,” won 55.1 percent of the vote with 99 percent voting by Sunday evening in the U.S.

The longtime Brazilian congressman has been fiercely criticized for his incendiary rhetoric that opponents and activists have called racist, sexist and anti-LGBTQ. He has faced multiple fines and charges for statements targeting black, gay and indigenous Brazilians.

He has long touted his anti-LGBTQ stance, encouraging parents to beat their gay children, and has criticized Brazil’s former brutal military dictatorship for not going “far enough” in their mass killings.

His rise has troubled anti-fascists who follow Brazilian politics, as he has endorsed the authoritarian violence that was endemic in the country under its previous military rule.

A movement of mainly women called “Ele Não,” or “not him” rose up to oppose Bolsonaro in Brazil over the past year, drawing parallels to the U.S.’s “Me Too” movement which has vehemently opposed Trump.

Bolsonaro is set to become the most right-wing politician in the region.

[The Hill]

Trump Rails Against ‘Fake News’ for Blaming Him for the ‘Division and Hatred’ in the Country

On Sunday night, President Donald Trump lashed out at the media for blaming him for the “division and hatred” in the country.

“The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!”

Trump’s tweet comes on the same week as Cesar Sayoc, who attended a Trump rally and had Trumpian slogans and photos plastered on his van was arrested for sending explosive devices to CNN, the Obamas, the Clintons and others.

The tweet also comes just one day after suspected shooter Robert Bowers opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11.

Bowers was also reportedly sparked to action, in part, over rhetoric about the migrant caravan.

[Mediaite]

Trump Blasts ‘Crazed & Stumbling Lunatic’ Tom Steyer Days After He Was Targeted By Bomb

Mere days ago, President Donald Trump was calling for a new “tone and civility” in politics after the arrest of a man accused of mailing pipe bombs to several top Democratic leaders. On Sunday, that was all out the window as he slammed Democratic donor Tom Steyer following an interview with CNN. Steyer was the intended recipient of one of the more than a dozen pipe bombs that were sent to Trump critics.

On Sunday, Steyer talked on CNN about the “political violence” that Trump and the Republican Party had created across the country. Shortly after the interview, Trump took to Twitter to blast the billionaire Democratic activist. “Just watched Wacky Tom Steyer,” Trump wrote. “He comes off as a crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon. As bad as their field is, if he is running for President, the Dems will eat him alive!”

Steyer, who has repeatedly called for Trump’s impeachment, hit back at the president on Twitter. “It is unthinkable that in the midst of the horrible political violence our president would resort to name-calling instead of repairing the damage to the fabric of our country,” Steyer wrote.

During the interview with CNN, Steyer said that while there had been “bad behavior” by members of both parties, he noted Republicans are less likely to condemn those who say violent things. “You don’t find prominent Democrats who are leading chants with violent overtones like ‘Lock her up,’ ‘CNN sucks’ ― all the kinds of attempts to play to people’s strongest emotions,” Steyer said. “That creates an atmosphere where anything can bubble up and anything is bubbling up.”

[Slate]

Trump Posts Breitbart Story on Media ‘Smearing His Supporters’ After Bomb Scare

President Donald Trump is doubling down on defiance in the face of critics who suggested he tone down his anti-media rhetoric after a man sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and the CNN headquarters in New York.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted out a story from right-wing website Breitbart — “Donald Trump Thunders at Media for Trying to Smear His Supporters after Bomb Scares” — that detailed his attacks on the media at a rally Friday night.

Per the Breitbart story Trump linked to:

Trump condemned political violence and called for an end to the politics of personal destruction, especially from the media.

“Political violence must never ever be allowed in America and I’ll do everything in my power to stop it,” he said. “The media has a major role to play, whether they want to or not.”

The president paused as his supporters continued to chant “CNN SUCKS!”

“They have a major role to play as far as tone, as far as everything,” Trump said. “The media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.”

The man suspected of sending the pipe bombs to the president’s critics was arrested on Friday. He appears to be a fanatical supporter of Trump, and his white van was plastered with decals of the president — as well as one saying “CNN SUCKS.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Mocks Elizabeth Warren at Event: I Have ‘More Indian Blood’ Than She Does

President Donald Trump mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren at an event on Saturday

Appearing at the Future Farmers of America convention in Indiana, Trump delivered a rally-style speech. After speaking out about the mass shooting at a Pennsylvania synagogue on Saturday morning that left at least 11 dead, Trump turned to his usual topics.

He apparently referenced Warren’s recent claims to Native American heritage when imagining debating her in the 2020 campaign.

“Maybe Elizabeth Warren is gone,” Trump said. “She may be gone. She may be gone. What a sad thing happened to her. Turned out that I had more Indian blood in me than she has.”

As the crowd began to cheer, Trump continued: “What a sad event. And I have none.”

“We can’t resist,” he added. “Can we resist?”

Trump is also set to hold a rally Saturday afternoon. He said he was considering calling off the political rally after the morning’s mass shooting, but later announced it would go on as planned.

[Mediaite]

Donald Trump lies about crowd size again –vastly inflates number in migrant caravan

At an Illinois campaign rally on Saturday, President Donald Trump again lied about crowd size.

Specifically, Trump more than doubled the size of the migrant caravan currently passing through Mexico.

The migrants are fleeing drug war-torn nations in central America and are planning to come to the United States to apply for asylum, as international law allows.

“If you look at that large group, sometimes it gets up to 17,000 people, they say,” Trump said. “Today they say it gets bigger and bigger—doesn’t make any difference because they’re not getting in…. They can’t come in.”

The UN says there are about 7,000 people in the caravan, less than half the number Trump claimed.

The number has also shrunk, not grown.

[Raw Story]

Trump Jr. calls Tester ‘a piece of garbage’ at Montana rally

Donald Trump Jr. blasted Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) at a boisterous rally in his home state on Friday, calling him a “piece of garbage” for sinking Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) earlier this year.

Trump Jr., who headlined a rally for Tester’s GOP Senate rival Matt Rosendale and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R), slammed Tester over Jackson’s failed VA nomination, saying the Democratic senator had “ruined this guy’s life” after a bitter confirmation process.

President Trump‘s eldest son accused Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, of putting out “all sorts of baseless accusations” on the orders of Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

“To go after and try to assassinate with no proof, no basis, no nothing, a good man simply because my father wanted to elevate him and put him in charge of an organization,” Trump Jr. fumed. “When Jon Tester, who is this lap dog, does that, what happened?”

Trump Jr. argued that no proof of the allegations against Jackson has surfaced publicly since his nomination failed in April, adding Tester has yet to pay a political price for taking down the nominee.

“Where’s the accountability to Jon Tester who did that? Because that makes you a piece of garbage in my mind, and it should to all of you and anyone I know in this state,” Trump Jr. said.

“You have the chance to unseat someone who plays the game, he pretends he’s one thing and he does the opposite,” he added, noting that Tester was found to be the top recipient of campaign contributions from lobbyists in Congress for a time.

Jackson’s nomination was torpedoed after former members of the White House medical staff came forward anonymously with a variety of serious allegations, which Tester made public in embarrassing detail.

During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Tester said “the word is” that on overseas trips Jackson would freely hand out drugs such as Ambien and Provigil, which help people fall asleep and wake up.

“These are called controlled substances for a reason,” Tester said. “That’s the reports we got from the twenty-some people who got a hold of us and said, ‘We have a problem, this doctor has a problem, because he hands out prescriptions like candy.’ ”

“In fact in the White House they call him the candy man,” Tester added.

Jackson eventually withdrew his nomination, but the White House is still looking for revenge over the episode.

The president made a similar attack against Tester when he hosted a rally for Rosendale last week.

Trump at last week’s rally acknowledged that Jackson “might not have been qualified” but praised him as “a doctor at a high level” and “a man that everybody respected.”

Tester also said on CNN that Jackson was allegedly drunk while on duty on overseas trip with then-President Obama.

“Adm. Jackson was the primary health-care provider for the president. If you’re drunk and something happens with the president, it is very difficult to treat the president,” Tester said at the time. “Multiple people told us this was the case on several different trips.”

Tester said that there “were comments” about Jackson being so drunk that he wasn’t able to respond to people who asked him to do things.

He also raised anonymous allegations that Jackson kissed up and kicked down.

“We were told time and time again that people above him he treated like gold and people below him he belittled,” he said.

The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General opened an investigation into the allegations in June.

But Trump Jr. said Jackson never recovered and that Tester “ruined this guy’s life.”

“Where’s the proof?” he asked.

“This is what bothered me the most,” Trump Jr. said of Tester’s record in Washington. “To go out there on TV and attack a good man.”

“That to me is a character flaw.”

[The Hill]

Trump Warns: ‘I Could Really Tone Up’ Rhetoric Against the Media

On his way to yet another rally Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump suggested that he has toned down his rhetoric and, if anything, he could “tone it up.”

When asked by a reporter on the White House lawn if he saw his face plastered all over suspect Cesar Sayoc‘s alleged van, Trump said he did not but admitted he heard that the suspect was “a person that preferred me over others.”

Then when asked about toning down his rhetoric, Trump said this: “Well, I think I’ve been toned down, if you want to know the truth. I could really tone it up. Because, as you know, the media has been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party.”

Then continuing on his media grievances he added, “I think the media has been very, very unfair. In terms of the Republican Party. And the way it’s been covered. And they understand that.”

[Mediaite]

Media

1 11 12 13 14 15 29