Ex-Trump Official to Fox & Friends: Dems Don’t Want Wall Because Illegal Immigration Helps Them Politically

Former Trump official Michael Anton baselessly claimed on Fox & Friends that Democrats are in favor of illegal immigration because changing demographics help them politically.

Fox & Friends‘ Brian Kilmeade interviewed Anton — who left the White House earlier this year — about the battle to avoid a government shutdown, and President Donald Trump‘s request for $5 billion to fund his border wall. Democrats have rejected that request, instead offering $1.6 billion for border security.

Kilmeade asked Anton if Trump has “any leverage over Chuck and Nancy” to get his wall funded, to which Anton replied: “He has the American people’s public opinion on his side, he won the election largely on this issue.” (Note: A recent poll found most Americans think Trump should compromise on his border wall.)

Anton went on to baselessly suggest that Democrats don’t want security on the border because illegal immigration helps them politically:

“They don’t want a wall, they don’t want greater security, and they really don’t care about the consequences,” he said. “Because for them, the consequence is the more immigrants come in, the more the demographic change there is in the United States of America, the more that benefits Democratic politicians. And that’s what they care about the most.”

No pushback from Kilmeade.

[Mediaite]

Trump Falsely Claims Democrats Want ‘Open Borders’ Bringing ‘Crime and Disease’ in Morning Tweetstorm

President Donald Trump opened his communications strategy Tuesday morning with a series of tweets focused on the current immigration problems, particularly on the Southern U.S. border.

Trump has threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress does not approve the appropriate budget allocations to build the border wall that was so central to his campaign in 2016, despite the fact that candidate Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would be paying for the wall.

[Mediaite]

Don’t condemn white nationalists, Veterans Affairs’ diversity chief was told after Charlottesville, emails show

A top White House appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs sought to silence the agency’s chief diversity officer, who — in the aftermath of last year’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville — pushed for a forceful condemnation that was at odds with President Trump’s response, newly disclosed emails show.

The tense exchange between Georgia Coffey, a nationally recognized expert in workplace diversity and race relations, and John Ullyot, who remains VA’s chief communications official, occurred during a low point in Trump’s presidency: when he blamed “many sides” for the deadly clash in Charlottesville without singling out the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who rallied there.

One woman was killed and dozens were injured in the August 2017 protest, which began over the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park and ended when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-racism protesters.

VA’s secretary at the time, David Shulkin, made headlines that week when he appeared to break with Trump, telling reporters the violence in Charlottesville “outraged” him. Coffey, a career senior executive at VA, pressed the agency’s leaders to issue a statement making it clear that VA stood against such a “repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan,” according to the emails.

The emails were provided to The Washington Post by the nonprofit watchdog group American Oversight, which obtained them via the Freedom of Information Act. The correspondence sheds new light on the politically delicate decisions federal agencies faced as officials sought to balance the need to address employee concerns with a desire not to upset the White House.

A statement from VA leaders was necessary, Coffey wrote in one email to Ullyot, because the agency’s workforce was unsettled by the uproar caused by the Charlottesville violence. Minorities make up more than 40 percent of VA’s 380,000 employees, the federal government’s second-largest agency.

Ullyot told Coffey to stand down, the emails show. A person familiar with their dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ullyot was enforcing a directive from the White House, where officials were scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump’s comments, and they did not want government officials to call further attention to the controversy.

VA spokesman Curt Cashour said the agency received no such guidance from the White House.

Coffey, who declined to comment, retired from VA shortly after the dust-up, frustrated with what she felt was a lack of support from the Trump administration, according to her former colleagues. She now works as senior manager for diversity and inclusion at Lockheed Martin.

Ullyot, a seasoned media professional who worked on Trump’s campaign, is VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. His exchange with Coffey was respectful, and he noted that he was acting at Shulkin’s direction, according to his emails. Shulkin, whom Trump forced out of the Cabinet post in March, and other officials were copied on the messages.

At VA, the fallout from Charlottesville remains a sensitive subject. In response to a request seeking comment for this report, VA’s current secretary, Robert Wilkie, issued a statement affirming that “John Ullyot is on the VA team because he is committed to veterans and has spent a lifetime of exceptional service as a Marine and public servant.”

Ullyot referred questions to VA’s public affairs office.

On Aug. 17, days after the Charlottesville violence, Coffey — then deputy assistant secretary for diversity and inclusion — emailed public affairs. She shared a draft of her statement and accompanying remarks, and requested help disseminating it to employees and the public.

Her remarks said the incident served “as a tragic reminder that our work in civil rights and inclusion is not finished.” She called on VA employees to be mindful of federal anti-discrimination policies and the agency’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The response from a staffer in public affairs said, “John Ullyot does not want to post the message, as the Secretary previously made statements in the news media on this topic earlier this week.”

In an emotional statement the day before, at Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Shulkin said he gave “my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American. . . . And for me in particular, I think in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable.”

Other top administration officials echoed his sentiments.

Coffey urged expediency, telling Ullyot that she had sent the statement to Shulkin and his chief of staff for their review, according to their email exchange.

Ullyot then indicated that after consulting with Shulkin, the secretary said that “we should all feel free to share our own personal views on the recent events . . . as he did.’’ Ullyot wanted to remove the statement’s more incendiary language but told Coffey she could keep the part that reminded employees of VA’s “strong commitment” to equal employment opportunity and diversity, their emails show.

Coffey told Ullyot that she worried his edits would “dilute my message and fail to convey the sense of condemnation that I hope we all feel,” the emails show. She offered to remove Shulkin’s name from the statement, but Ullyot told her that he and Shulkin had agreed not to use it.

Shulkin said in an interview that he does not recall his conversations with Ullyot about how VA should respond to the incident. “I’ve been pretty public about my opinions on the Charlottesville events . . . and of course I think all Americans should express their views,” he said.

Coffey’s staff worried that she would get in trouble if she disregarded Ullyot’s guidance, according to other emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group that first publicized the episode last year. The staff suggested that she should tone down her remarks, but Coffey declined. She posted the full remarks under her name in the monthly newsletter posted online by VA’s diversity office. Agency officials removed it and reprimanded her. She retired soon after.

Cashour said Shulkin had “dictated explicitly to John how he wanted this particular issue handled.” The secretary, Cashour said, was “adamant that VA employees keep their personal views on the Charlottesville issue out of official VA communications, as Shulkin had done himself in public comments two days beforehand. John was simply ensuring that Coffey understood and followed Shulkin’s guidance.”

The agency has grappled with issues surrounding race in recent years.

VA has long had an Office on Diversity and Inclusion to help improve race relations internally, and during the Obama administration appointed a senior official to travel around the country to set up conversations on race. The official, John Fuller, retired last year, citing a lack of support from the Trump administration.

In October, a senior official in VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization was forced to remove a portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard, from his office in Washington after offending employees. The official said he was unaware of Forrest’s affiliation with the hate group.

The same month, VA took down a placard outside a conference room in the same office that employees had named for Stonewall Jackson, another Confederate general. Cashour said officials were unaware the room had been named for Jackson and blamed a contractor employed by VA and the contractor’s supervisor. The contractor was instructed to take down the placard but had failed to do so, Cashour said.

[Washington Post]

Trump says country ‘would save billions’ if Democrats agreed to fund border wall

President Trump on Monday claimed that the country would “save billions of dollars” if Democrats voted to provide billions of dollars in funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president went on to repeat a threat to close the southern border and said that immigrants will not be allowed in the “country illegally.”

“Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally! We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary. Also, STOP THE DRUGS!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump has previously threatened to shut down the southern border in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants.

He has additionally directed thousands of troops deployed to the border, and attempted to curb certain immigrants from being able to claim asylum as the group of migrants trekked toward the U.S. border.

The president revived his calls for a border wall on Monday as Congress grapples over wall funding while trying to pass spending bills and avert a partial government shutdown.

The Senate passed its version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill with bipartisan support over the summer. The measure would allocate $1.6 billion for border security, including fencing.

The White House has since demanded $5 billion for border security, including wall funding, putting Democrats and the president at an impasse.

Trump has threatened to veto a bill that does not include adequate funding, while Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Democrats oppose spending more than $1.6 billion.

Cracking down on illegal immigration and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has been a hallmark of the Trump administration after focusing heavily on the issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Congress has until Dec. 7 to pass seven appropriations bills to keep the entire government funded. The president previously signed five funding bills in September, and agencies covered by those bills would not be affected by a shutdown this month.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route back from the Group of 20 Summit on Saturday that he would consider approving a two-week extension of government funding to provide more time in the wake of the death of former President George H.W. Bush.

[The Hill]

Trump Announces All Asylum Seekers Must Now ‘Stay in Mexico’ Until Claims Approved in Court

On Saturday, President Donald Trump announced via a pair of tweets that migrants seeking asylum will now have to remain in Mexico until their claims are approved in court.

“Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No ‘Releasing’ into the U.S.,” Trump wrote.

He then added in a second tweet: “All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!”

Trump’s announcement comes just days after the Washington Postreported on plans to implement the policy as early as Friday.

According to DHS memos obtained by The Washington Post on Wednesday, Central American asylum seekers who cannot establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution in Mexico will not be allowed to enter the United States and would be turned around at the border.

The plan, called “Remain in Mexico,” amounts to a major break with current screening procedures, which generally allow those who establish a fear of return to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation and remain in the United States until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump despises this system, which he calls “catch and release,” and has vowed to end it.

At the time, Department of Homeland Security spox Katie Waldman said the policy will not start “this week.”

Yet, Trump also teased plans to close the entire border while speaking with reporters on Thanksgiving Day.

Earlier today, WaPo also reported that the Trump administration had reached a deal with Mexico to allow migrants to wait in the country. However, incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez has since deniedsuch deal exists.

The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is likely to meet court challenges in the days ahead especially since just this past Monday a San Francisco judge ruled Trump may not rewrite immigration laws.

[Mediaite]

Trump Warns ‘Whole Border’ Could Be Shut: We May ‘Close Entry Into the Country for a Period of Time’

After speaking with members of the military who are deployed around the world, President Donald Trump took questions from the media, and said that he might have to close the southern border altogether.

He talked about the border, as he did on the call with the military members, and said that the U.S. border had been entirely closed two days ago, and may have to be closed again.

Speaking specifically about the caravan, Trump said that if the military has to, they’ll use lethal force. He cited the reaction of the people of Tijuana, Mexico to the massive influx of people from the caravan.

“You ask the people in Tijuana, Mexico, they opened up with wide arms, just come in, come in, let me help you, let us take care of you. And within two days, now they’re going crazy to get them out. They want them out,” he said. “Because things are happening, bad things are happening in Tijuana. And again, it’s not in this country because we’ve closed it up.”

“Actually, two days ago, we closed the border. We actually just closed it. We say nobody is coming in because it was out of control,” he said.

A reporter asked, “What do you mean you closed the border and nobody is coming in? What do you mean by that?”

“If we find that it’s uncontrollable, Josh, if we find that it’s — it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” he answered.

A reporter asked, “do you mean the entire border?”

“The whole border. I mean the whole border,” the President confirmed. “And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many at great benefit to them — not a great benefit to us, by the way. But at least now we have a good new trade deal with Mexico and with Canada. But we will close the border. And that means that Mexico is not going to be able to sell their cars into the United States until it’s open.”

“We’re going to either have a border or we’re not. And when they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border,” he repeated. “And we have a very powerful border. We built a very strong border in a very short period of time.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Returns To Bashing The Migrant Caravan, Calling It A ‘Big Con’

After a brief respite from attacking the migrant caravan traveling to the U.S. border, President Donald Trump slammed it again Friday, calling it a “con” because the travelers were waving flags from their own countries.

Trump relentlessly lashed out at the caravan during his flurry of campaign appearances stumping for Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections. He also dispatched 5,200 U.S. troops to the border.

But then he was uncharacteristically mum on the issue after the GOP lost control of the U.S. House to the Democrats. Voter exit polls revealed that Americans were more concerned about health care than immigration, suggesting that Trump may have overplayed his caravan hand.

But he was back at it Friday on Twitter. Trump tweeted that it was “ironic” that people seeking asylum in the U.S. were waving the flags of their countries. He said it was proof that their search for safety in America was “all a BIG CON.”

Several responses pointed out that it is possible to love one’s country yet be fearful enough to leave during dangerous times — or to have very mixed feelings about a nation and its government.

[Huffington Post]

Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico

President Trump reportedly wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico to aid its recovery from Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster on record to affect the island. 

Axios reported on Sunday that Trump has told GOP leaders and appropriators he does not want to provide more disaster relief funds to Puerto Rico, claiming without evidence that the money is being misused and mismanaged.

Trump also said he wants to roll back some of the funding Congress has already set aside for Hurricane Maria relief, which he cannot do.

The White House declined to comment for the Axios report and did not immediately respond to The Hill.

The president’s reluctance to provide funding stems in part from a misreading of a Wall Street Journal article, Axios reported. The Journal article from October reportedly led him to believe the Puerto Rican government has been using disaster relief money to pay off its debt, though that is not the conclusion of the piece.

Trump’s remarks leave in doubt whether he will sign a future spending bill that includes money for Puerto Rico.

A new study commissioned by the Puerto Rican government over the summer estimates Hurricane Maria killed 2,975 people on the island, finding the risk of death was 45 percent higher for “populations living in low socioeconomic development municipalities” and men aged 65 years and older.

Trump without evidence cast doubt on the official death toll of nearly 3,000, while the researchers have stood by their conclusion.

The Category 5 hurricane devastated the island’s infrastructure and resources in 2017, causing lasting damage to the livelihoods and homes of thousands of Puerto Ricans.

The federal government has spent around $6 billion on recovery from Hurricane Maria so far, less than it spent on Hurricane Katrina, Axios noted.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a report released in July admitted the agency was significantly underprepared to deal with the crisis wrought by Hurricane Maria.

“FEMA leadership acknowledged that the Agency could have better anticipated that the severity of hurricanes Irma and Maria would cause long-term, significant damage to the territories’ infrastructure,” the report reads.

Trump in the days after the storm blamed the Puerto Rican government for the significant damage, pointing to the island’s debt.

[The Hill]

Trump to African American reporter: ‘You ask a lot of stupid questions’

President Trump on Friday criticized a question from CNN reporter Abby Phillip as “stupid” while speaking with reporters on the White House lawn on Friday.

In a gaggle with reporters, Trump was asked by Phillip if he was hoping that Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general appointed on Wednesday and a past critic of Robert Mueller‘s special counsel investigation, would “rein in” the Russia probe.

“Do you want [Whitaker] to rein in Robert Mueller?” Phillip asked.

“What a stupid question that is,” Trump responded. “What a stupid question.”

“But I watch you a lot,” the president continued. “You ask a lot of stupid questions.”

Declining to answer, Trump then walked away from the gaggle as Phillip and other reporters shouted questions in response.

Trump’s comments aimed at Phillip come as he increasingly feuds with CNN, the cable news network he has long battled.

Trump also called April Ryan, a contributor to the network, a “loser” on Friday. And he again criticized CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta, with whom he is feuding.

On Wednesday night, the White House suspended Acosta’s press pass after the reporter pressed Trump on his statements about a migrant caravan at a press conference earlier that day.

The White House then tweeted out an apparently doctored video first posted by the conspiracy site InfoWars to claim that Acosta physically struck a White House intern who was attempting to take his microphone.

Acosta’s arm briefly brushed the White House aide’s arm as she reached in to take his microphone, but Acosta did not put his hands on the aide.

“We will … never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”

CNN responded in a statement, stating that Sanders “lied” about the incident between Acosta and the intern, and used a “fraudulent” explanation to justify rescinding Acosta’s press pass.

“It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” the network said. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better.”

[The Hill]

President Trump signs order denying asylum to illegal border crossers

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.

Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.

“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” Trump said Friday as he prepared to depart for Paris.

The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border. But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to turn around and come back to make their claims.

The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said Thursday. It’s unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold. Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but doesn’t allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump’s hardline stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap them.

The new changes were likely to be met with legal challenges, too. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Thursday they were clearly illegal.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” he said.

Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.

He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 U.S. troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.

Trump also suggested he’d revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive “tent

The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the U.S. with work permits.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the U.S., and it doesn’t matter how they arrive — illegally or through a border crossing.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing.

In 2017, the U.S. fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, nearly double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

It’s unclear how many people en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles from the U.S. border. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. The migrants are largely poor people and many say they’re fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. Most have passed largely unnoticed.

[Chicago Tribune]

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