Fact Check: Trump’s prime-time speech on the government shutdown
President Donald Trump is holding court front and center tonight as he delivered remarks from the Oval Office in the hopes of convincing the American public and skeptical lawmakers that there is a crisis at the southern border. His goal: to secure billions of dollars in funds to build his promised „big, beautiful” wall amid a partial government shutdown that has no end in sight.Trump has a history of making statements on immigration that are often misinformed, inaccurate, or downright unfounded.ABC News is fact checking his latest claims tonight.Claim: „The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.”There is no evidence that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement deal would pay for the wall.(MORE: Trump claims, without evidence, that Mexico will pay for border wall via trade deal)The United States, Mexico, and Canada came to an agreement on the USMCA, which is essentially a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Congress still needs to approve the trade deal, which has provisions including requirements that 75 percent of auto content be made in North America and 40-45 percent of auto workers earn at least $16 per hour. It is unclear what funds, if any, would be available to pay for the wall.PHOTO: President Donald Trump deliver a televised address to the nation from his desk in the Oval Office about immigration and the southern U.S. border at the White House in Washington, Jan. 8, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters) Claim: „My fellow Americans, tonight I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day, customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.”Looking at the situation at the southern border by the flow of migrants alone, there is little justification to call it a „crisis” at this point in time. The numbers are clear. Total apprehensions by Customs and Border Patrol have been trending downward for the past two decades.According to Customs and Border Patrol Data, in 2001 there were 1,643,679 apprehensions at the border, compared with 396,579 in 2018.(MORE: How does the shutdown impact me? Answers to your frequently asked questions)While apprehensions are down in great numbers along historic trends, they have increased during the president’s most recent year in office. In 2018, there were roughly 92,000 more apprehensions at the southern border than 2017. In other words, they went up under his watch after a brief dip.Overall, the numbers have been under a million since 2007, and have been hovering under 500,000 since 2010.In fact, the lowest number of apprehensions in the past two decades came in 2017 – 303,916 – under President Trump.PHOTO: The sun sets while people walk close to the border fence between the U.S. side of San Diego, Calif., and Tijuana, in Mexico, Jan. 2, 2019. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP) Claim: „Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week 300 citizens are killed by heroin alone. 90% of which floods across from our southern border.”This is true. According to the DEA 2018 Drug Threat Assessment, the southwest border is where large amounts of drugs enter the U.S.But, it’s important to note those drugs largely come through legal points of entry. A border wall won’t fix that.Heroin claimed 15,958 lives in 2017. That works out to 306 deaths each week.(MORE: Why Fights Over Immigration Keep Shutting Down The Government)The rapid increase in the number of drug deaths in recent years is largely attributable to fentanyl. If there is a crisis, fentanyl is it. But the fentanyl is mostly coming through the points of entry at the southwest border and it’s not just coming into the country there – China is a significant source of fentanyl as well.
With government mostly shut, Trump repeats his demand for a wallDavid KnowlesEditor•Trump, in Oval Office, calls for support for a border wall, end of shutdown Trump, in Oval Office, calls for support for a border wall, end of shutdownYahoo News VideoScroll back up to restore default view.During Tuesday’s primetime address on border security, President Trump had a message for defiant congressional Democrats: Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi, build this wall.In his first address to the nation delivered from the Oval office, Trump warned of a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” but stopped short of declaring a national emergency to give him authority to start construction on a wall without going through Congress.Leaks and rumors had fed speculation that a national emergency declaration was in the offing, which would almost certainly have led to legal challenges and a potential Constitutional crisis. But the less-than-10-minute speech basically repeated claims Trump had been making at rallies and in tweets since his campaign began.Trump said “We are running out of space” to house those who cross the border, and suggested that “among the hardest hit” by ineffective border security and lax immigration laws are African-Americans.Citing the flow of illegal drugs into the country from Mexico, Trump noted that the number of Americans killed annually exceeds those who died in the Vietnam War. The president said the request for $5.7 billion to build a wall originated with law enforcement officials, and added that Democrats in Congress had asked that the barrier be built of steel.“At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall,” Trump said, without specifying when such a request had been made or which Democrats had made it. “This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.”Trump also blamed the continuing government shutdown on the refusal of Democrats to approve funds for a wall, despite his declaration last month that he would take take responsibility for the impasse.“Democrats in Congress have refused to recognize the crisis, and they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation,” Trump said.The singular sticking point in the nearly three-week-old government shutdown, the wall has been vehemently opposed by Democrats, many of whom view it as ineffective and a waste of money. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered the Democratic response to the president.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speak on Capitol Hill on Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Pelosi said the “president has chosen fear” to sell his proposal.“The fact is on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen and fund smart, effective border security solutions,” Pelosi said. “But the president is rejecting these bipartisan bills that would reopen government, over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall, a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.”Concluding his remarks on Trump’s demand for money for the border wall, Schumer was blunt. “Our suggestion is a simple one. Mr. President, reopen the government, and we can work to resolve our differences on border security. But end this shutdown now.”The construction of a border wall was Trump’s signature campaign promise during the 2016 presidential campaign, although he insisted that he would make Mexico pay for it. Mexico has made it clear that it has no such intention.In recent months, the president has shifted to the argument that the economic benefits of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will cover the cost of building a wall.“What we save on the USMCA — the new trade deal we have with Mexico and Canada — what we save on that, just with Mexico, will pay for the wall many times over in just a period of a year, two years and three years,” Trump said at a news conference on Jan. 4, adding, “So I view that as, absolutely, Mexico is paying for the wall.”
President Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office on Jan. 8, 2019. Reuters/Carlos BarriaEstimates for the cost of constructing a barrier, whether made of concrete or “steel slats,” as Trump has recently been pitching, vary wildly. While the president suggested it might be built for $12 billion, the Department of Homeland Security estimated in February that the wall would cost $20 billion. A report by Senate Democrats issued in 2017 put the total at $70 billion. The disparity stems in part from confusion over how much territory the wall will cover. The entire Mexico-U.S. border, parts of which already have barriers in place, runs for 2,000 miles.In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, which cost his party control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Trump sought to make border security a top issue. He seized on news that a migrant caravan from Central America was walking to the border to seek asylum as justification for construction of a wall, and eventually deployed 5,200 active duty troops from the U.S. military to deter them.
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpThe Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!Trump will follow up Tuesday’s speech by attending Senate Republicans’ weekly policy luncheon on Wednesday. Afterward, the president and the Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are scheduled to return to the White House to try to hammer out an end to the shutdown, but neither side appears eager to offer compromises.On Thursday, the president will continue his public relations offensive, traveling “to the southern border,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a tweet, “to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.”_Read more from Yahoo News:
The Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, the highest Orthodox authority, on Sunday presented a formal decree confirming the creation of an independent Ukrainian church to its leader, Yepifaniy, finalising a historic break with the Russian Orthodox Church.Moscow, in response, cut ties with the patriarchate in Istanbul.The decree opened the way for Ukraine’s Orthodox Church to be recognised by other branches of orthodoxy and other churches.Sawa on Monday also questioned Yepifaniy’s legitimacy, calling the 39-year-old a „layman” who was elected „illegally”.Yepifaniy was ordained by the Kiev Patriarch Filaret, excommunicated by Moscow for creating a dissident church in Ukraine in 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.Filaret was later recognised by the Istanbul-based Orthodox patriarch.Ukraine’s newly created independent Orthodox Church held its first Christmas service in Kiev Monday. Orthodox believers celebrate Christmas according to the Julian Calendar.For more than 300 years, the Ukrainian Church was split into three, with one branch overseen by the Patriarch of Moscow.The Kiev government considered this unacceptable given Ukraine’s ongoing war with Moscow-backed rebels in the country’s east, which has already killed more than 10,000 people.
Chinese state media says any U.S.-China trade agreement must involve ‘give and take’A woman walks past a bench painted in the colours of the U.S. flag outside a clothing store in Beijing, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas PeterSHANGHAI (Reuters) – China is keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States but will not make any „unreasonable concessions” and any agreement must involve compromise on both sides, state newspaper the China Daily said on Wednesday.U.S. and Chinese officials are conducting talks in Beijing, their first since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled global financial markets.The trade discussions, which began in Monday, are continuing into Wednesday for an unscheduled third day.The China Daily said in an editorial Beijing’s stance remains firm that the dispute harms both countries and disrupts the international trade order and supply chains.”However, it has also made it clear that it will not seek a solution to the trade frictions by making unreasonable concessions, and any agreement has to involve give and take from both sides,” it said.Trump and other U.S. officials have said the talks were going well and there have been signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased access to China’s markets.However, people familiar with the talks said the world’s two largest economies were further apart on Chinese structural reforms that the Trump administration is demanding in order to stop alleged theft and forced transfer of U.S. technology and on how to hold Beijing to its promises.(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Paul Tait)
US National Security Advisor John Bolton was in Ankara to discuss the planned US withdrawal from Syria (AFP Photo/NICHOLAS KAMM)Ankara (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday condemned comments by a key US envoy over the future of a US-allied Syrian Kurdish militia as a „grave mistake”, as tensions flared over Washington’s planned withdrawal from war-torn Syria.Erdogan’s comments came shortly after US National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks in the Turkish capital with Erdogan’s adviser Ibrahim Kalin, in a key meeting focusing on the surprise US decision to withdraw its troops from Syria.But it was comments made by Bolton on Sunday in Israel that had already raised hackles in Ankara, when he suggested the retreat was also conditional on the safety of US-backed Kurdish fighters, considered terrorists by Turkey.”John Bolton has made a grave mistake on this issue,” Erdogan told his party’s lawmakers in parliament.US President Donald Trump caused a political storm last month when he announced the troop pullout, claiming to have succeeded in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group.Fighting continues however, with Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying IS suicide attackers had hit the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria late on Sunday, killing 23 of its fighters.The pullout, which Washington has since stressed will be gradual, was hailed by Erdogan as the „right call” in a column published Tuesday in the New York Times.But it has also raised concerns that Kurdish fighters would be exposed to the threat of a cross-border operation by their archfoe Turkey.- ‘No promises’-US-led coalition forces have provided air power and other support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in its operation to flush out IS from the last rump of its now-defunct „caliphate”.As part of this, American forces have worked closely with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, seen by Ankara as a „terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.That US military support for the YPG has shaken relations between Washington and Ankara.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo drew the wrath of the Turkish leadership last week when he said Washington would ensure „the Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds” in Syria as American troops withdraw.”That Turkey targets the Kurds is the most vile, the most dishonourable, the ugliest and the cheapest slander,” Erdogan said on Tuesday.But the Turkish leader made it clear that Ankara would not soften its stance against the YPG.”Those who are in the terror corridor in Syria will learn necessary lessons,” he said.After meeting Bolton on Tuesday, Kalin also urged Washington to take back all the weapons provided to Syrian Kurdish militia forces.He denied comments by Pompeo that Turkey had promised the US not to attack the Kurdish fighters.”Nobody should expect Turkey to provide assurances to a terror organisation,” he told journalists in Ankara.Bolton’s spokesman Garrett Marquis described the talks as „productive” and centred on „the president’s decision to withdraw at a proper pace from northeast Syria”.- Military win ‘first step’ -When Trump first announced the pullout of 2,000 ground troops on December 19, Ankara was a lonely voice among NATO allies welcoming the decision.Erdogan has promised Trump that Turkey could finish off the remnants of IS in Syria.”A military victory against the terrorist group is a mere first step,” he said in the New York Times, warning against premature declarations of victory.Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security, said Ankara would need so much support from Washington to completely eradicate IS, that it would be „to the point where the US military would essentially still be inside Syria”.Trump on Monday conceded that the fight against IS was not over.”We will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!” he tweeted.Last month, Erdogan threatened to launch a cross-border operation against the YPG, east of the Euphrates River, which he said later would be delayed after Trump’s pullout order.Turkish military forces supporting Syrian rebels launched incursions into northern Syria against IS in August 2016 and against the YPG in January 2018
Meet „Dead Hand”: This Might Be Russia’s Most Terrifying Nuclear Weapons Idea YetMichael Peck•Michael Peck Security, Europe Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack. But the system, known as „Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever.Meet „Dead Hand”: This Might Be Russia’s Most Terrifying Nuclear Weapons Idea YetIf Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.Russia has a knack for developing weapons that—at least on paper—are terrifying: nuclear-powered cruise missiles, robot subs with 100-megaton warheads.Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack.(This first appeared last month.)But the system, known as „Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever.This comes after the Trump administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated the once-massive American and Russian stockpiles of short- and medium-range missiles. Donald Trump alleges that Russia has violated the treaty by developing and deploying new, prohibited cruise missiles.This has left Moscow furious and fearful that America will once again, as it did during the Cold War, deploy nuclear missiles in Europe. Because of geographic fate, Russia needs ICBMs launched from Russian soil, or launched from submarines, to strike the continental United States. But shorter-range U.S. missiles based in, say, Germany or Poland could reach the Russian heartland.Viktor Yesin, who commanded Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces in the 1990s, spoke of Perimeter/Dead Hand during an interview last month in the Russian newspaper Zvezda [Google English translation here]. Yesin said that if the United States starts deploying intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will consider adopting a doctrine of a preemptive nuclear strike. But he also added this:Zvezda: „Will we have time to answer if the flight time is reduced to two to three minutes when deploying medium-range missiles near our borders? In this version, all hope is only on Perimeter. And for a retaliatory strike. Or was Perimeter also disassembled for parts?Yesin: „The Perimeter system is functioning, it has even been improved. But when it works, we will have little left – we can only launch those missiles that will survive after the first attack of the aggressor.”It is not clear what Yesin meant when he said the system has been “improved,” or even exactly what he meant by “functioning.” Perimeter works by launching specially modified SS-17 ICBMs, which transmit a launch signal to regular nuclear-tipped ICBMs in their silos.David Hoffman, author of “The Dead Hand,” the definitive book on Perimeter, describes Perimeter in this way:“Higher authority” would flip the switch if they feared they were under nuclear attack. This was to give the “permission sanction.” Duty officers would rush to their deep underground bunkers, the hardened concrete globes, the shariki. If the permission sanction were given ahead of time, if there were seismic evidence of nuclear strikes hitting the ground, and if all communications were lost, then the duty officers in the bunker could launch the command rockets. If so ordered, the command rockets would zoom across the country, broadcasting the signal “launch” to the intercontinental ballistic missiles. The big missiles would then fly and carry out their retaliatory mission.There have been cryptic clues over the years that Perimeter still exists. Which illustrates one of the curiosities of this system, which is that the Soviet Union kept its existence secret from the American enemy whom it was supposed to deter.What is unmistakable is that Perimeter is a fear-based solution. Fear of a U.S. first-strike that would decapitate the Russian leadership before it could give the order to retaliate. Fear that a Russian leader might lose his nerve and not give the order.And if Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.Image: Creative Commons.
Goldman Asks What If Lebanon Is Forced to Restructure DebtPaul AbelskyGoldman Asks What If Lebanon Is Forced to Restructure Debt(Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. still sees an imminent debt restructuring in Lebanon as unlikely but is already turning its attention to how much investors could recover as one of the world’s most indebted countries teeters on the brink of financial crisi Under the U.S. bank’s base scenario, foreign investors would recover 35 cents on the dollar, Farouk Soussa, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said in a report. He added, however, that any debt overhaul would put the country’s banks first, meaning “the actual recovery value” would be significantly different to contain damage. Local lenders are among the biggest holders of Lebanon’s sovereign debt.Political turmoil and sluggish economic growth are prompting questions on how long Lebanon can avoid a financial meltdown that would further destabilize an area rattled by war in Syria and tension between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon’s sovereign debt risk surged 280 basis points over the past year to 800, making it the world’s third-worst performing among credit default swaps tracked by Bloomberg.“In the continued absence of significant improvements in the political, economic and financial prospects of the country, the possibility of a financial crisis and sovereign default is growing,” Soussa said.In his report, Soussa said the country is unlikely to make its debt sustainable through fiscal adjustment because that would require a sharp decline in interest rates or substantial economic growth. While possible, both “are largely outside the control of policymakers, and are highly dependent on regional economic and political developments,” he wrote.Some of Lebanon’s key challenges:Economic growth averaged about 1.6 percent between 2011 and 2018, IMF data show, compared with 7 percent in the preceding seven years.Political disputes between a pro-Saudi bloc and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah have prevented the formation of a government since May. The temporary resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in 2017, widely blamed on Saudi Arabia, has further undermined investor confidence in the economy.Deposit growth, key for local banks to buy government debt, has slowed.Starting in 2016, commercial lenders have been encouraged to draw new deposits and park their liquid foreign assets at the central bank.The “symbiotic” relationship between authorities and the banks complicates the math of easing one of the world’s biggest debt burdens, Soussa said in the report dated Jan. 4.“Any possible restructuring is likely to be designed in such a way as to minimize the fallout for the local banks,” he said.While Lebanon has long teetered on the brink of a full-blown crisis, it’s never defaulted despite a 15-year civil war, numerous flare-ups with Israel and a devastating war next door in Syria that cost its economy an estimated $18 billion.Lebanon’s financial system probably has enough foreign-currency liquidity to fund deficits “for the next couple of years, all else equal,” Soussa said.Foreign investors, however, aren’t discounting the possibility that this time may be different. Caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil admitted as much last month when he warned that “the crisis today has started to transform into a financial crisis from an economic crisis.”Goldman Sachs puts the exposure of local lenders to the government’s local debt and Eurobonds at some 55 trillion Lebanese pounds ($36.5 billion) almost double the capital base of the whole banking system.“The most important factor that will determine the outcome of any debt restructuring is the relationship between the sovereign and the banking sector,” Soussa said.(A previous version of this story corrected year of Hariri’s resignation.)(Updates with comment from Soussa in fourth paragraph.)–With assistance from Marton Eder.To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Abelsky in Prague at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at email@example.com, Alaa Shahine, Kevin CostelloeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.