Trump directs creation of ‘space force’ as sixth branch of military

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he has ordered the creation of a new military branch, the “Space Force.”

Trump directs creation of ‘space force’ as sixth branch of military

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he has ordered the creation of a new military branch, the “Space Force.”

President Trump doubles down on immigration amid backlash

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

“Crime in Germany is way up,” the president tweeted while warning that migrants have “so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

President Trump doubles down on immigration amid backlash

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

“Crime in Germany is way up,” the president tweeted while warning that migrants have “so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

President Trump doubles down on immigration amid backlash

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

“Crime in Germany is way up,” the president tweeted while warning that migrants have “so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

President Trump doubles down on immigration amid backlash

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

“Crime in Germany is way up,” the president tweeted while warning that migrants have “so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

Border crisis roils key campaigns in the battle for Congress

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Candidates across the country and from both parties in key midterm races are grappling with how to respond to the backlash over the controversial separation of undocumented immigrants and their young children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

It is a situation that is becoming more complicated by the day and by a president who as recently as Monday doubled down on his charged rhetoric.

Texas Rep. Will Hurd, who faces a competitive race this fall in a swing district that spans some 800 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, pushed back on the policy Monday morning, the day after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s denial over the weekend that the Trump administration has a policy of separating families at the border.

There is currently no law mandating separation of families, and the so-called “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings, set forth by Trump and implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has come under sharp criticism by lawmakers, advocates, and the religious community. That policy has led to children being separated from parents caught illegally crossing the border.

“This is part of the problem with this administration on this policy. There’s different elements of the government that don’t understand what’s really going on,” Hurd told NPR’s Morning Edition in an interview, “This is just absolutely unacceptable, taking kids from their mothers is not preventing terrorists or drugs from coming into this country.”

Nielsen defended the administration and her department’s handling of the situation Monday at a conference of the National Sheriff’s Association in New Orleans.

“It’s important to understand that these minors are very well taken care of. Don’t believe the press,” Nielsen said.

Hurd’s Democratic opponent Gina Ortiz Jones, a U.S. Air Force Veteran a first-generation American, joined a march to Tornillo, Texas, a port of entry into the United States, to protest the policy alongside other Democratic candidates running in Texas this cycle, including U.S. Senate candidate and El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke and gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez.

O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger to incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, directly disputed Nielsen’s claim that the administration does not have a policy of separating families, tweeting Monday morning, “You do. I’ve met moms held in cells w their young kids before you take them. Seen the kids behind cyclone fences after you’ve “unaccompanied” them. Been w parents prosecuted like common criminals for doing what any parent would do, through tears asking me where their kids are.”

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, the Democratic vying to unseat GOP Rep. John Culberson in a swing district in the Houston suburbs, urged Congress to protect both families seeing asylum at the border, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“There is no doubt that we need to fix our immigration system, and the residents in this district have told me how concerned they are about doing so,” Fletcher said in a statement provided to ABC News, “Right now, Congress needs to perform its essential function to check the Administration’s devastating separation of asylum-seeking families at the border and needs to keep the promises we made to DREAMERs.”

While the controversy has become front and center in many high-profile Texas races, it’s impact has spread to races across the country.

In Nevada, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is hoping to unseat GOP Sen. Dean Heller, joined a group of her colleagues in condemning the separation of families at the border.

“The images we’re seeing of children crying alone while being held in detention centers are heart-wrenching and demand action from Congress,” Rosen wrote in a press release last week, “Parents are being separated from their kids every day, even though there is no mandate in the law requiring border agents to do so.”

In a break from the Trump administration, Heller said he does not support the policy of separating families, and called on Congress to act to solve the problem.

“Senator Heller doesn’t support separating children from their families, and he believes that this issue highlights just how broken our immigration system is and why Congress must act to fix it,” read a statement from Heller’s office provided to ABC News.

In a sign that Democrats appear united in their opposition to the policy, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced Monday that the party’s entire caucus in the Senate supports her bill to end the separation of families at the U.S. Mexico border, dubbed the “Keep Families Together Act.”

In Florida, competitive races for the U.S. Senate and governor’s mansion, coupled with the political omnipresence of sitting Gov. Rick Scott, has generated a number of passionate responses from candidates of both parties.

“First the reports you see, it’s disturbing, it’s disgusting. It just shows you that Congress has not done their job,” Gov. Scott, who is mounting a bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, told a local television station, “We need to have an immigration policy that people understand, we need to secure our borders, but we can’t have people being treated unfairly.”

Andrew Gillum, the current mayor of Tallahassee and a Democratic candidate running in the race to succeed Scott as the state’s next governor, lambasted Scott for not speaking out forcefully enough during a “moral crisis.”

“I demand that Governor Scott — who is now asking for our vote to be our next Senator — stand up to the Trump Administration and support S. 3036, the Keeping Families Together Act,” Gillum wrote in a statement released Sunday, “Yesterday he didn’t have much to say on this crisis, but in times of moral crisis we need our leaders to step forward. We demand the reconciliation and reunification of families.”

Former Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham, another contender in the gubernatorial race, weighed in with a short response to President Trump’s Monday morning barrage of immigration-related tweets.

In the border state of Arizona, which is also holding elections for the U.S. Senate and governor’s mansion in November, one Democratic gubernatorial candidate

“Ducey is either afraid of Trump or he agrees with him; either way his silence is de facto support for Trump. Arizona needs a governor with the guts to say to Trump that what he is doing is inhumane, un-American and it must stop now,” Garcia wrote in a statement last week.

Ducey, who officially launched his re-election campaign Monday, did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In California, a Democratic running in a heated congressional race in Orange County called the separation of families “immoral.”

“Immigrant children should not be separated and put in cages. Refusing abused women seeking asylum is immoral,” Democratic candidate Harley Rouda, who is one of two Democrats hoping to take on GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, tweeted last week.

While candidates in swing states and districts spar over the controversy, President Trump again inserted himself into the debate.

Just this morning, the President continued to fume on Twitter over inaction on the issue of immigration, pointing the finger once again at Democrats who he claims aren’t coming to the table to negotiate, a claim many Democrats dispute and say is disingenuous.

“If the Democrats would sit down instead of obstructing we could have something done very quickly,” President Trump said Monday from the White House at a meeting with the National Space Council.

In a rare policy statement released over the weekend, first lady Melania Trump urged Congress to find a bipartisan solution to the issue.

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart,” a statement released Sunday from the First Lady’s Communications Director Stephanie Grisham read.

Former first lady Laura Bush called the separation of families at the border “cruel” in an op-ed published over the weekend in the Washington Post.

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” Bush wrote.

Amidst the back and forth between campaigns, the president, and multiple cabinet members is a Congress that continues to struggle to find a bipartisan consensus on the issue of immigration.

Neither of the immigration bills slated for a vote this week in Congress looks like they have garnered enough support from a majority of the Republican Party or a coalition that stretches across party lines.

The House is expected to take up two GOP immigration bills this week that will each include a provision Republicans say would keep unaccompanied alien children together with parents and legal guardians while in the custody of the Justice Department or Department of Homeland security. Critics argue that the provision would allow the government to keep families in custody indefinitely.

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Trump directs creation of ‘space force’ as sixth branch of military

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced Monday that he has ordered the creation of a new military branch, adding the “Space Force” to the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space. Very importantly I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces, that is a big statement,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council on Monday. “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the space force, separate but equal, it is going to be something.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family separation policy starts dividing Republicans

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Outrage is growing among Democrats and some Republicans over the forced separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border

Family separation policy starts dividing Republicans

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Outrage is growing among Democrats and some Republicans over the forced separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border

A conservative Republican senator calls for action on ‘acute’ suicide crisis for LGBTQ youth

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A conservative Republican senator marked Pride Month on the Senate floor with a call to action over an “acute” suicide crisis among LGBTQ youth.

“A suicide epidemic has touched all sectors of our society,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said last week. “But the problem is particularly acute among LGBT youth who experience bullying and discrimination at every turn. In the most devastating cases, these teenagers even face estrangement from their own families.”

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, the Centers for Disease Control reported in 2016.

About 40 percent of transgender adults reported having attempted suicide at least once, and nearly all of those instance — 92 percent — were when they were younger than 25, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Hatch’s speech Wednesday came after a new report by the CDC found suicide rates have risen in nearly every state, including a 46.5 percent increase in Utah between 1999 and 2016.

The conservative GOP legislator, who is retiring after this year, said he was devoting much of his speech to “my young friends in the LGBT community.” But he also went broader in light of the spiking suicide rates around the country.

“It is also a call of action to Americans of all political stripes,” Hatch said. “Regardless of where you stand on the cultural issues of today, whether you are a religious conservative, a secular liberal or somewhere in between, we all have the special duty to each other. That duty is to treat one another with dignity and respect. It is not simply to tolerate, but to love.”

Hatch has not shown himself to be a liberal on social issues. Last week, in a statement, that he applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that a Colorado baker has a First Amendment right to refuse to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couples.

The Trevor Project, which is dedicated to preventing suicides among LGBTQ youth, hopes federal legislators can help stem the crisis.

“As The Trevor Project works with legislators to educate them on the negative impact that results from cultural rejection of LGBTQ youth, senators like Hatch realize that it is up to them to use their voice and platform to save lives,” the group’s advocacy director said in a statement to ABC News.

The advocacy group cited Hatch’s support for a bill to create a three-digit national suicide hotline number, similar to 911.

“Every minute we wait we have helpless, hundreds of Americans who are struggling with suicidal thoughts,” Hatch said of the proposed hotline in his speech. “There are literally lives on the line and leaving them on hold is not an option.”

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President Trump blames Democrats, doubles down on immigration amid backlash

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As the outcry over the nearly 2,000 child separations caused as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings grows, President Donald Trump doubled down on Monday down on his controversial policies and blamed them on Democrats.

He also tried to divest himself of any responsibility for the practice, heartbreaking photos of which are becoming more and more readily available.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he said during an event on space policy.

Earlier in the day, he issued a series of tweets and claimed that crime has risen in Germany as a result of migration.

“Crime in Germany is way up,” the president tweeted while warning that migrants have “so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

The latest government statistics show that crime actually decreased in Germany in 2017 by 5.1 percent to its lowest level since 1992.

The president also continued to blame Democrats, tweeting in all caps “CHANGE THE LAWS!”

Enacted earlier this year, the administration’s dictates that every adult caught illegally crossing the US southern border face criminal prosecution. As a result, children found making the illegal crossings along with those adults have been separated and sent to detention centers.

The president and his allies also have been increasingly accusing Democrats, while decrying the child separations, of not showing adequate outrage over killings and crime by undocumented immigrants.

The president tweeted Monday asking “where is the outrage” over killings carried out by undocumented immigrants.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley echoed the president’s argument in an interview with FOX Monday, contrasting the permanent separation caused when a loved one is killed to the “temporary separation of families.”

“Where is the outcry for permanent separation when one of these people come to the country, commit a crime, kill an American citizen with their own hand or via the drugs they distribute, no one comes to their defense?” Gidley asked rhetorically. “The permanent separation is the biggest abomination, and Democrat is decrying that at all.”

But as the White House and its allies continue to make crime-based arguments in justifying tough policy stances as it relates to illegal immigration, multiple academic studies have not found any evidence that undocumented immigration increases crime.

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Supreme Court puts off weighing in on partisan gerrymandering

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Monday put off weighing in on whether gerrymandering is unconstitutional – allowing, for now, maps in Wisconsin and Maryland to stand.

The cases deal with, gerrymandering, the method of drawing maps that some argue is politically motivated to give one party an advantage in elections.

In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court said the plaintiffs in the case didn’t have enough standing to challenge the statewide assembly maps. The case was sent back to the lower courts.

The Supreme Court said the lower court must reconsider that case so the plaintiffs can make a more detailed argument about how the districts impacted their civil rights.

The opinion says that plaintiffs can argue that their personal vote was diminished because their district was configured to favor one political party over another but that they can’t sue to challenge the whole state’s map.

“Here, the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims turn on allegations that their votes have been diluted. That harm arises from the particular composition of the voter’s own district, which causes his vote- having been packed or cracked- to carry less weight than it would carry in another, hypothetical district. Remedying the individual voter’s harm, therefore, does not necessarily require restructuring all of the State’s legislative districts,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the opinion.

The court also upheld a lower court’s opinion not to issue an injunction to allow officials to redraw the congressional map in Maryland before the 2018 election, supporting the District Court’s decision that it was too close to the election for the court to interfere with the district map.

The District Court in the Maryland case said it wanted to wait until the Supreme Court ruled in the Wisconsin case to take further action,

“The Court reasonably could have concluded that a preliminary injunction would have been against the public interest, as an injunction might have worked a needlessly “chaotic and disruptive effect upon the electoral process”,” the court wrote in an unsigned decision.

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Billionaire Kochs won’t back GOP nominee for Virginia Senate

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A tea party group backed by billionaire conservatives plans to sit out the U.S. Senate race in Virginia

Billionaire Kochs won’t back GOP nominee for Virginia Senate

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A tea party group backed by billionaire conservatives plans to sit out the U.S. Senate race in Virginia

Roger Stone ‘not concerned’ he failed to tell Congress about 2016 Russia contact

Posted on: June 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The longtime Trump confidant failed to tell Congress about the Russian contact.

Melania Trump ‘hates to see’ families separated at border, hopes for immigration reform

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Melania Trump, who typically shies away from the political spotlight, waded into the controversial immigration debate when her office released a statement Sunday saying she “hates to see children separated from their families.”

The first lady issued the unusual statement in response to the growing outrage over the separation of children from their parents who illegally crossed the southern border into the United States.

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”

The current policy stems from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” towards people crossing the border illegally. As migrants who illegally crossed the border await trial, their children are separated from them and sent to a separate facility while their parents go through the criminal process.

The policy, set forth by President Donald Trump and implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has come under sharp criticism by lawmakers, advocates and the religious community — including some in the president’s base.

Despite the backlash, the president has defended the policy, which went into effect in May.

“I hate the children being taken away,” he said Friday. “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

Trump has falsely placed the blame on Democrats, saying they need to get behind Republican legislative efforts. However, there is no law mandating the separation of families.

The first lady’s comments are consistent with the president, who says that the current situation on the border can be remedied with immigration reform.

Next week, Congress is set to vote on two immigration proposals –- the conservative McCaul-Goodlatte bill, and a more moderate House GOP bill. Trump will make a rare trip up Pennsylvania Avenue to talk to the House GOP conference about immigration.

“The president is fully committed to both of these bills. He has put the full weight of his office behind it,” said House Homeland Security Committee chairman McCaul, who spoke with the president on Saturday.

Included in the moderate House GOP bill is a measure that would stop family separations at the border.

Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway slammed the policy of separating children from their parents during an appearance on NBC News, saying she doesn’t like it.

“As a mother, as [a] Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience,” she said. “I will tell you that nobody likes this policy.”

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Democratic lawmakers meet detained asylum seekers on Father’s Day, call for end to family separation policy

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —   A group of Democratic lawmakers toured an immigration detention facility in New Jersey Sunday, meeting with detained asylum seekers who have been separated from their families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

“Today, on Father’s day, we spoke to fathers whose children have been ripped from their arms, who have no idea when or if they will see their children again,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler said during a press conference with reporters after the surprise visit.

The House Judiciary Committee Ranking member led the group of seven lawmakers — including Reps. Frank Pallone and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, and Reps. Albio Sires, Carolyn Maloney, Hakeem Jeffries and Adriano Espaillat of New York — for the excursion to Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey.

The House members lambasted immigration officials for delaying their entry into the facility to meet with those caught illegally crossing the southern U.S. border and torn from their families as part of the administration’s new approach on illegal immigration.

On April 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a Justice Department memo that the Trump administration was implementing a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

The policy of treating people who try to illegally cross the border as criminals and thus separating them from their children went into effect in May, according to the Associated Press. From April 19 to May 31, 1,995 children were separated from 1,940 adults, according to Homeland Security statistics cited by the AP.

Nadler called out Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and the local police department on Twitter for delaying the group and using “stalling tactics.”

Maloney added in a tweet that they were “made to wait for over an hour” after dealing with “local PD.”

Pascrell detailed how the facility staff was covering the windows to prevent members of the press from taking photos, but he warned, “We’ll tell everything we’ve seen inside.”

A spokesman for ICE’s Newark office said the facility, despite being surprised, worked with the members of Congress.

“ICE can state that the congressional reps showed up unannounced at the facility and were accommodated so they were able to meet with several ICE detainees,” the spokesman, with ICE’s enforcement and removal operations, said.

They said after banging on the door, and speaking with ICE officials over the phone, they were granted access to meet with the detained individuals, who Nadler later said during the press conference, “came to this country in search of the protection and refuge that the proud inscription on the Statue of Liberty promises to those fleeing terror.”

But he asserted, “Instead, they are being welcome by more terror.”

Over a roaring crowd of protesters, Pascrell told reporters, “We will have zero tolerance for anything that deviates from that inscription on the Statue of Liberty.”

Sires, who immigrated to this country when he was 11 years old, shared some of the stories of the detainees with reporters and protesters standing outside of the facility. Among the detainees the group met, one individual was separated apart from his 7-year-old brother and another individual came with his 5-year-old daughter who was taken from him while he was sleeping. He begged and cried as U.S. officials took her away, according to their accounts.

“It’s pretty heart wrenching what I saw in there,” he said. “I came to this country when I was 11 years old, that’s not the country that I can remember that’s in there.”

“One individual, they took his daughter away from him, she may be in Michigan, he hasn’t heard from her,” the New Jersey congressman said. “The other individual, he can’t go back to his country because he was being harassed by gang members and he had to take his daughter. They went to his house, they went to her school. That’s why he decided to come to this country.”

The people in the facility, according to Pallone, came to the United States because “they were being persecuted, and they came with their kids, this is Father’s Day, they came with their kids to protect them.”

The group, who visited the detention facility to “mitigate the horrors of the Trump administration’s cruel, inhuman and un-American family separation policy,” Nadler said, pressed the White House to end its enforcement of an immigration policy that separates families.

“This must not be — must not be — who we are as a nation,” he urged. “That is why we have come here today, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, to stand with those who merely seek refuge in our country. To stand with those who’ve had their small children ripped from their arms and taken away from them, to stand with those who don’t where their children are … and to shine a light on the cruel and inhumane policies that are tearing families apart.”

Jeffries added, “We will not rest until we shut that policy down.”

“We have a message for the president,” he said. “The Republicans control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency. Stop lying to the American people, this is your policy and you are the one who we will force to shut this down.”

House Democrats are planning to introduce legislation on Tuesday to stop the family separation policy.

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Bannon says Trump never lies to the American people, he ‘speaks in a particular vernacular’

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said that to his knowledge, President Donald Trump has never lied to the American people.

Bannon was responding to ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl after he played video of Trump on the campaign trail in August 2016 telling supporters, “I will never lie to you. I will never tell you something I do not believe… I will always tell you the truth.”

“You famously kept a white board of presidential promises to keep track of,” Karl said, referring to Bannon’s practice when he was at the White House. “That’s a promise that [Trump] obviously broke. He has not always told the truth.”

Bannon replied, “I don’t know that … From what I see … he has [told the truth.] This is another thing to demonize him.”

Karl pressed, “The president has never lied?”

“Not to my knowledge, no,” Bannon said.

Karl cited Trump’s false claim Friday that this week’s Justice Department Inspector General report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation “totally exonerated” the president of any collusion or obstruction in the Russia investigation. The report makes no such conclusion.

“He says things that are not true all the time,” Karl said.

“I don’t believe that,” Bannon said. “I think he speaks in a particular vernacular that connects to people in this country.”

Some news outlets have made a practice of tracking statements by Trump that are false or erroneous.

On Friday, the president gave an impromptu press conference that was “packed with falsehoods,” ABC News reported.

The false claims at the press conference included Trump’s repeated assertions that his administration’s new policy of separating migrant parents and children who try to cross the U.S. border illegally is due to a law passed by Democrats. There is no law requiring the separation of families trying to cross the border illegally.

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Bannon says Trump is trying to be a ‘peacemaker’ with North Korea but is being ‘vilified’

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist said the president is trying to make peace with North Korea but is getting unfairly “vilified” following his summit with Kim Jong Un.

“President Trump is trying to be a peacemaker,” Steve Bannon said in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on This Week Sunday. “He is being vilified.”

Trump and Kim signed a one-page letter at their meeting in Singapore announcing the intent to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The president afterward said he wanted to end the United States’ joint military exercises with South Korea.

The summit and Trump’s later comments have raised questions and drawn some criticism, including over whether the president has lavished too much praise on Kim, a brutal dictator; when any specifics will be announced on ending North Korea’s nuclear program; and whether Trump is working closely enough with U.S. allies South Korea and Japan on North Korea policy.

Bannon continued that Trump’s meeting with Kim helps to curb Chinese influence in the Far East.

“Donald Trump is handed cards, OK, with the inexorable rise of China and — and Korea, it’s vassal state as a — as a nuclear threat to our allies in the northwest Pacific in the United States. That’s what he’s dealt with,” Bannon said. “And — and what does everybody say about Trump? ‘Oh he’s an isolationist, he’s going to go it alone.'”

Bannon suggested that Republican members of Congress should be touting Trump’s North Korea summit rather than criticizing its outcome.

“Where is the Republican establishment on Capitol Hill? Where are [Sen. Bob] Corker and all those guys flooding these Sunday morning shows? Why am I here?” Bannon asked. “Why are they not flooding these Sunday morning shows, talking about how the president of the United States is finally engaged with our allies in the Pacific to stop Chinese hegemony?”

Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that he was “happy” the president met with Kim, but he questioned the strength of the document Trump and Kim signed in Singapore.

“I read the statement and it’s difficult for me to see if something was actually agreed to or not,” Corker said. “I don’t think we know enough to challenge or celebrate.”

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Bannon says it’s not necessary to justify separating kids, parents at border

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said President Donald Trump doesn’t need to “justify” the policy of separating children from parents who are caught illegally crossing the southern U.S. border because it is part of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” approach on illegal immigration.

“It’s zero tolerance. I don’t think you have to justify it,” Bannon, who was also CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign, said to ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview on This Week Sunday.

“We ran on a policy — very simply — stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back to help our workers, and so he went to a zero-tolerance policy,” Bannon said. “It’s a crime to come across illegally, and children get separated. I mean, I hate to say it, that’s the law and he’s enforcing the law.”

Nearly 2,000 migrant children — 1,995 — were separated from 1,940 adults between April 19 and May 31, after being caught illegally crossing the border, a Department of Homeland Security told reporters Friday.

The separation policy follows Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on April 6 of a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that includes criminally prosecuting illegal border-crossers, thus separating them from children who under U.S. law cannot be held in criminal detention centers.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions told a conference of state criminal investigation agencies in Arizona in April. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Karl asked Bannon on Sunday about the widespread criticism of the family separation policy, including from religious leaders such as top evangelical Franklin Graham, a Trump supporter, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York.

Pope Francis posted a tweet last week that some interpreted as referring to the new U.S. practice of placing migrant children in centers separate from their parents.

“The pope more than anybody else has driven the migrant crisis in Europe,” Bannon responded, noting that he is himself a Catholic. “The Catholic Church is one of the worst instigators of this open-borders policy.”

Trump has repeatedly, falsely asserted that a law passed by Democrats is to blame for the family-separation policy. Just on Friday, an ABC News fact check found that Trump repeated this false claim at least seven times.

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MLK ‘would be proud’ of what Trump has done for blacks, Hispanics: Bannon

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The former WH chief strategist said illegal immigration most hurts these groups.

No need to justify separating kids, parents at border: Bannon

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The former White House chief strategist said Trump is "enforcing the law."

Rudy Giuliani differs with Trump on IG report: ‘I don’t think it exonerates him’

Posted on: June 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The president said on Thursday that he was cleared of collusion by the report.

Trump to be ‘special guest’ during House GOP Immigration Conference

Posted on: June 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Leon Neal/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Trump will be making a rare trip up Pennsylvania Avenue next week as a “special guest” at an additional House GOP Member Conference meeting to talk about immigration, a GOP source confirmed.

News of the meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday comes just one day after the president created a state of confusion on Capitol Hill after he dismissed one of the immigration measures in his spontaneous interview with FOX & Friends on the White House North Lawn. Trump’s comments sent lawmakers into a last-minute tizzy as they prepare for potential votes in the coming week.

“I wouldn’t sign the moderate bill. I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that,” Trump said.

A White House official said the president had misunderstood the question, and later the White House issued a statement to clear up the confusion.

“The President fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill. In this morning’s interview, he was commenting on the discharge petition in the House, and not the new package. He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership bill,” said White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

The House may take up an immigration bill next week although nothing is on the schedule yet.

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Trump taps Kathy Kraninger to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Posted on: June 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump plans to nominate Kathy Kraninger to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the White House announced Saturday.

Kraninger currently works under Mick Mulvaney at the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney has been working as acting director of CFPB after Richard Cordray, an appointee of President Obama, stepped down to run for Ohio governor. Cordray won the Democratic primary last month.

The bureau, which has been the subject of partisan bickering since its creation under the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, has undergone major changes at the direction of Mulvaney.

The White House says Kraninger would plan to continue reforms enacted by Mulvaney at CFPB.

Calling Kraninger a “staunch supporter of free enterprise,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement that the White House hopes for a swift confirmation.

“She [Kraninger] will bring a fresh perspective and much-needed management experience to the BCFP, which has been plagued by excessive spending, dysfunctional operations, and politicized agendas,” the statement says.

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Cartoonist fired for being critical of Trump: ‘They’ve not silenced me’

Posted on: June 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Rob Rogers, an award-winning editorial cartoonist whose sketches have been critical of President Donald Trump, was fired from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Cartoonist fired for being critical of Trump: ‘They’ve not silenced me’

Posted on: June 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) — When Rob Rogers met with human resources representatives of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week, he didn’t expect to be fired right then and there.

Rogers, 59, had been the editorial cartoonist for the daily newspaper in Pittsburgh for a quarter century, winning a number of awards for his work. And although he had clashed with the paper’s leadership in recent months over his critical depictions of President Donald Trump, Rogers said he was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

But he left Thursday’s off-site meeting with a severance offer — which he said he has not yet signed — in place of his employee identification badge.

Rogers said he should have seen it coming and, in hindsight, he realizes he actually did.

“The only thing I think they had in mind was, ‘We need him out of here,'” Rogers told ABC News in a telephone interview Saturday morning. “They were determined to either get me in line or fire me, and that part is clear to me.”

There had been a shift at the traditionally left-leaning newspaper in the months and years leading up to Rogers’ ousting.

Rogers, who was hired in 1993, said he first noticed a change at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2010 when the editorial board endorsed Tom Corbett, then-Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor.

Then, in late 2015, Rogers said the newspaper’s chairman, publisher and editor-in-chief, John Robinson Block, indicated to the editorial board that they might endorse Trump for president, leading the editorial page editor and Rogers’ longtime supervisor, Tom Waseleski, to take a buyout and retire a few months later.

Rogers, who was drawing critical cartoons of Trump, said tensions were high within the editorial board and he was nervous about navigating the waters without Waseleski. But he decided to meet with Block to address the elephant in the room.

“I just said, ‘I’m going to continue drawing Trump.’ And he said, ‘Well it’s not that I don’t want you to draw Trump but they’re just so negative and they’re just so angry.’ And I said, ‘I disagree,'” Rogers told ABC News.

The meeting ended with Rogers and Block both agreeing that the paper shouldn’t be publishing cartoons about Trump every day, which Rogers said he wasn’t doing at the time and didn’t want to do anyway. So Rogers returned to his drawing table but still got push-back from Block, mostly on cartoons that involved Trump or racial issues, he said.

“I was still doing only an average of two [Trump cartoons] a week,” Rogers told ABC News. “I was spreading them out. I was trying to be a diligent journalist and cartoonist in terms of my topics … I felt like I was doing a fair balance of Trump versus non-Trump.”

Rogers said he often made changes to his sketches at an editor’s request before going to press, and the publisher wouldn’t always provide an explanation if his cartoons were killed. But Rogers said he began to notice a pattern in the ones that wouldn’t get the green light.

“What I felt like they wanted were humorous cartoons that just poked light fun at Trump if I was going to do something on Trump. But they didn’t want anything that was too provocative or too scathing or too critical,” he said.

In January of this year, the editorial board ran a piece defending Trump’s use of the term “shithole countries” when referring to African nations as well as Haiti and El Salvador. The editorial, titled “Reason as racism,” sparked outrage among current and former employees at the newspaper, including Rogers who described it as “blatantly racist.”

Then, in March, Block named Keith Burris the editorial director over both The Toledo Blade and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, making him Rogers’ new supervisor.

“I knew then, I knew at that moment I was counting the days,” Rogers told ABC News. “I knew he was brought in to be the guy to get me in line.”

Rogers said he met with Burris over lunch that month, who informed him that Block believes the editorial cartoonist should reflect the opinion of the paper’s publisher.

“And I said, ‘Well that’s news to me because that’s not the condition under which I was hired and I don’t believe that’s the way most editorial cartoonist work,'” Rogers told ABC News. “So I just said, ‘I totally disagree,’ and we left it at that.”

Up until this point, Rogers said only a few of his cartoons would be nixed every year. But over the next three months, he had 19 cartoons or proposals that were rejected, including six in a single week that illustrated a range of topics. One of them — depicting a Klu Klux Klan member in a doctor’s office asking, “Could it be the Ambien?” — was even killed after it was sent for syndication, according to Rogers.

Neither Block nor Burris responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

In an interview this week with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Burris said he didn’t “suppress” his cartoons but was trying to address the “tone and frequency” of his drawings of the president. He claimed that Rogers was not willing to “collaborate.”

“We tried hard to find a middle way, an accommodation to keep him at the paper,” Burris told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“We never said he should do no more Trump cartoons or do pro-Trump cartoons,” he added. “For an in-house staff cartoonist, editing is part of it. Rob’s view was, ‘Take it or leave it.'”

Rogers told ABC News that Burris’ comment about him being unwilling to work with editors is “a total lie.”

“I was more than willing to work with him and I changed my cartoons many times. But the thing I would not do was draw something I did not believe in or water down what I was trying to say,” Rogers said during the telephone interview Saturday. “Sometimes we’d reach an impasse.”

Rogers said he had reached a stalemate with the newspaper’s leadership, where he would send emails defending his sketches and asking why they were rejected, but he’d never hear back.

“I’d just get crickets,” he said. “Then it wouldn’t be in the paper.”

On May 31, Rogers sent them another email, demanding an explanation and that he allowed to return to his usual work flow. They responded a few days later, calling him in for a meeting with human resources representatives and giving him a set of “guidelines” to follow.

Rogers said he told them “no” and spelled out the reasons why it was “totally unacceptable.” He also suggested that they instead move his cartoons to the op-ed page.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well, they’re clearly not doing anything to keep me,” Rogers told ABC News.

On June 6, Rogers decided to take some vacation days while still trying to iron out the issues with his employer. He didn’t hear from them for a week until one of the human resources representative returned his phone call and suggested they all meet again Thursday, according to Rodgers.

“That’s the day I was fired,” he said.

Rogers added that he and his lawyer are still in negotiations with the newspaper over the severance deal that was offered to him.

Editorial cartoon by Rob RogersWhen The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published its own article on Rogers’ sacking, it included a statement from the newspaper’s chief human resources officer, Stephen Spolar.

“The Post-Gazette does not provide details about employment matters, but in light of Mr. Rogers’ public comments today, we do want to acknowledge his long service to the newspaper and our community. Any further discussions will be conducted with Mr. Rogers as a private matter,” Spolar said in the statement.

Spolar has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last published one of Rogers’ editorial cartoons on June 5 — a sketch criticizing the United States for waging a trade war with Canada, Mexico and Europe. His last cartoon to appear in the newspaper before that was on May 24 — a sketch lambasting the Republican-led Congress alongside a remark from Rogers, saying, “I really hope the midterm elections stick it to cowardly Republicans who won’t stand up to Trump or defend the rule of law. Disgusting.”

Rogers said the changes at the local paper are emblematic of a wider issue happening in newsrooms across the country, at a time when the sitting president has declared the media America’s “biggest enemy.”

“It’s not about me. It’s about where the paper’s going, where the country’s going and what journalism means in this country and whether it means a variety of opinions or just one opinion,” he told ABC News. “By only representing one view that is favorable to the president, you’re not keeping him accountable.”

Still, Rogers said, “They’ve not silenced me.”

“I love doing what I do and I’m going to continue doing it in some form, whether its for syndication or for a more permanent outlet,” Rogers said. “But as long as this president is in office, I’ll be drawing.”

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Rich Alaskan donor gave $250K to Trump after EPA reversed decision on Pebble Mine

Posted on: June 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A wealthy activist from Alaska donated $250,000 to Trump’s victory fund after the EPA decided to block a mine he opposed from moving forward.

Trump says US policy separating migrant families is law. It’s not.

Posted on: June 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump told reporters on Friday, when asked about separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border: “I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

No, it’s not. No law mandates separating families.

The administration’s current policy was announced April 6 and went into effect in May. From April 19 to May 31, 1,995 children were separated from 1,940 adults, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokesman.

Because of the policy, more adults have been jailed and more children have been shipped elsewhere. Previously, people who entered the country illegally and had no criminal record were detained or referred for deportation, and mothers and children usually remained together.

Government officials have said minors shouldn’t be housed with adults in criminal holding facilities and that such a policy also should deter border crossings, even from those seeking asylum. There’s a limit on how long children can be held before being transferred to a licensed family facility. More generally, the government is supposed to house minors in the least restrictive way possible.

“From a law enforcement perspective, this zero-tolerance approach makes little sense,” said John Cohen, an ABC News consultant and former acting Homeland Security undersecretary. “The majority of those detained are non-violent individuals or families who have committed what amounts to a misdemeanor. Incarcerating these individuals, as opposed to issuing a notice to appear, is resource intensive, and as a result vital law enforcement resources and attention are being diverted from dealing with more serious border security issues.”

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