Trump confirms possible plan to send immigrants to sanctuary cities, contradicting White House denials Christopher Wilson Senior Writer•Trump tweets possible plan to send immigrants to sanctuary cities, contradicting White House denials President Trump confirmed Friday that the White House is considering a plan to transport detained immigrants to “sanctuary cities” and release them there as a way to punish his political enemies.Late Thursday night, the Washington Post published a report about the proposal. A White House official downplayed the story, telling the Post in a statement, “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.”A day later Trump said he was giving “strong considerations” to the plan.President Trump speaks to the press prior to departing for Texas on April 10. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities,” said Trump Friday afternoon in a series of tweets. “Only The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!”At an afternoon event at the White House laying out a pushing the deployment of 5G technology, Trump again boasted of trying to punish states and cities that have adopted sanctuary policies for immigrants by sending them those who enter the country seeking political asylum.“We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it, whether it’s a state or whatever it might be,” Trump said. “California certainly is always saying ‘Oh, we want more people,’ and they want more people in their sanctuary cities, well, we’ll give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply and let’s see if they’re so happy.”According to the Post’s report, May Davis, deputy assistant to the president and White House policy coordinator, wrote to immigration officials in November asking about the viability of transporting migrants arrested at the border to cities that generally did not cooperate with federal immigration enforcements.“The idea has been raised by 1-2 principals that, if we are unable to build sufficient temporary housing, that caravan members be bussed to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities,” Davis wrote. “There is NOT a White House decision on this.”Immigrations and Custom Enforcement deputy director Matthew Albence replied that the idea “would create an unnecessary operational burden” and added, “Not sure how paying to transport aliens to another location to release them — when they can be released on the spot — is a justified expenditure. Not to mention the liability should there be an accident along the way.”The White House broached the subject again in February, shortly after the federal government shutdown caused by the Trump administration’s insistence on getting funding for border security, including a wall.“It was retaliation, to show them, ‘Your lack of cooperation has impacts,’” a Department of Homeland Security official told the Post. “I think they thought it would put pressure on those communities to understand, I guess, a different perspective on why you need more immigration money for detention beds.”The term „sanctuary city” refers to localities where officials generally do not inform federal immigrant agencies about undocumented immigrants who come to their attention. The intent is humanitarian and also to encourage immigrants to cooperate with police and other government agencies without fear of deportation.Those areas have been a target since the early days of the Trump administration, when he signed an executive order attempting to deny funding to jurisdictions that did not cooperate with federal immigration officials. The order was blocked by a federal judge.It is an article of faith with Trump that immigrants bring crime and disease to the United States. But studies have found that sanctuary cities have either lower or equal crime rates to non-sanctuary cities. A study of Texas in 2015 found that crime rates among immigrants were lower than among native-born citizens.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was one of the areas considered as a release point for immigrants detained at the border.“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” said Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne in a statement to the Post. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”
Man arrested after setting clothes on fire near White House originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
A man was arrested after trying to set his clothes on fire near the White House on Friday.
According to Secret Service, a male individual in a motorized wheelchair scooter on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House lit his jacket on fire while he was wearing it.
The Secret Service responded immediately, extinguished the fire and rendered first aid after pulling him back towards Lafayette Park, an official said.
The man was then evaluated on the scene and transported to an area hospital. The Secret Service said he was being treated for what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
President Donald Trump was inside the White House at the time but it’s unclear whether he was made aware of the incident. Members of the White House press corps were told by Secret Service officers to stay in the press briefing room for more than an hour as the scene was cleared.
The White House has deferred any further comment to the Secret Service.
ABC News’ Luke Barr contributed to this report.
NEW YORK ― On the same day as Julian Assange’s arrest on a single conspiracy charge from U.S. prosecutors, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said the WikiLeaks co-founder must now face the consequences of his past actions.
“The bottom line is he has to answer for what he has done ― at least as it’s been charged,” Clinton said.
British police arrested Assange on Thursday at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where had spent the past seven years to avoid capture. Assange became exposed to arrest and U.S. extradition when his diplomatic immunity was terminated.
Assange was initially arrested and found guilty on charges that he breached bail conditions related to a Swedish rape case in 2012 before being arrested on the conspiracy charge.
In New York City, during the first night of a speaking tour with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, she made it clear that she felt the arrests were justified.
“Look, I’ll wait and see what happens with the charges and how it proceeds, but he skipped bail in the U.K.,” the former secretary of state added.
In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential campaign, WikiLeaks disseminated hacked materials from the Democratic National Committee that damaged the Clinton campaign. Assange’s conspiracy charge is on the grounds that he and former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning conspired to steal military secrets from the U.S. government.
Assange’s attorney, Jennifer Robinson, reportedly said Thursday that the extradition could set a “dangerous precedent” for journalists who publish “truthful information about the United States.”
“Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges,” said another one of Assange’s lawyers, Barry Pollack.
Thursday evening, Clinton pushed firmly back against that narrative.
“It is clear from the indictment that came out: It’s not about punishing journalism, it’s about assisting the hacking of the military computer to steal information from the United States government,” Clinton said.
At the end of her answer, Clinton added a quip, much to the audience’s delight.
“I do think it’s a little ironic that he may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States,” she said.
Assange could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
Washington (AFP) – US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday defended what some say is his boss Donald Trump’s puzzling position over the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Repeated past praise for WikiLeaks from Trump was not „an endorsement,” Pence told CNN.
Republicans generally celebrated the capture of Assange, who had been taking shelter at Ecuador’s London embassy for nearly seven years until British police took him into custody Thursday.
But Trump’s first reaction was dismissive, telling reporters „I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.”
„I know nothing really about him,” he said of Assange.
This raised eyebrows because during his 2016 presidential campaign Trump repeatedly lauded and encouraged the hacking and information-dumping platform, which six years earlier had caused a massive scandal by publishing thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.
„I love WikiLeaks,” he said on one occasion, as the platform leaked stolen emails that proved damaging to his opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign — even though WikiLeaks is alleged to have been working in close coordination with Russian intelligence.
Pence told CNN that Trump simply backed the exposure of information during the election, not the WikiLeaks organization itself.
„I think the president always, as you and the media do, always welcomes information,” Pence said. „But that was in no way an endorsement of an organization that we now understand was involved in disseminating classified information by the United States of America,” he said.
Other Republicans appear less satisfied with Trump’s position on the drama over Assange, who faces extradition to the United States.
„You need to talk to the president about his comments,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said.
(Bloomberg) — A Chinese woman detained at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was indicted by a federal grand jury in Palm Beach County for unlawful entry and making false statements to a Secret Service agent.
Yujing Zhang was caught at the resort with four mobile phones, a laptop computer, external hard drive and a thumb drive containing suspected malware. Trump was golfing nearby when Zhang was taken into custody.
Nothing in the indictment refers to possible espionage, which is in line with remarks made by prosecutor Rolando Garcia at Zhang’s April 8 detention hearing in West Palm Beach. But Garcia told the judge that the U.S. continued to look into that possibility.
The case has attracted scrutiny of security procedures at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s so-called winter White House. The president regularly visits the property and conducts official business there, but it also operates as a private business dependent on traffic from members and special events.
Investigators continue to look into Zhang as part of a broader FBI-led investigation into whether Chinese operatives are targeting Trump and Mar-a-Lago to get information about the administration’s policies regarding China, according to a person familiar with the probe, who asked not to be identified because the inquiry is ongoing. The counterintelligence investigation, which began in December, has expanded since Zhang’s arrest, the person said.
Forensic FBI investigators have been analyzing the malware inside the thumb drive and Zhang’s other electronic devices for any connection to China’s intelligence operations, the person said. Information from some of Zhang’s electronics devices was used to draw up the grand jury indictment, the person said.
Security at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club Scrutinized Following Arrest
U.S. prosecutors in Miami opened the counterintelligence investigation after information led investigators to focus on Li Yang, a Florida businesswoman who goes by Cindy, one of the people said. Yang is the former owner of a South Florida massage parlor that was caught up in a prostitution scandal, in which Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was charged with solicitation.
Zhang’s lawyer, public defender Robert Adler, said at the April 8 hearing that she had a legitimate reason to be at the property, planning to attend an event that had apparently been scheduled but later canceled.
Zhang “well knew no such event was scheduled at Mar-a-Lago and its grounds,” prosecutors said in the indictment.
Adler also denied that Zhang explicitly misrepresented herself. She was apparently allowed into the club in part because her name was the same as that of a club member. But Adler said any inference that she was related to the other Zhang could have arisen from a misunderstanding. Zhang is a native Mandarin speaker, and hers is a very common name in China, the lawyer said.
The balance of Zhang’s detention hearing and her arraignment are scheduled for Monday in federal court in West Palm Beach.
Separately, the White House announced April 8 that Secret Service director Randolph Alles would leave the administration as part of a shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security.
At a hearing Friday, prosecutor Greg Kridos said the investigation of the massage parlor started as a probe of suspected human trafficking but there is no evidence to support that claim now. No one in the case will be charged with human trafficking, he said.
Kridos made the comment at a hearing in which media organizations sought the release of video showing Kraft at the massage parlor. A judge didn’t immediately rule on that request.
The case is U.S. v. Zhang, 19-cr-80056, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Palm Beach).
(Updates with Secret Service director leaving. Earlier version of this story corrected to remove reference to arrest in seventh paragraph.)
–With assistance from Chris Strohm.
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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Countries in the western Balkans aspiring to join the European Union, such as Serbia and Kosovo, should be given a clear pathway to membership provided they solve their differences, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday.
At a conference of foreign ministers of the so-called Berlin Process, which brings together those aspiring states and some EU members, Maas said it was „very important to offer the countries in that region a clear perspective of membership.” provided any differences including any lingering from the wars of the 1990s are resolved.
The meeting in Warsaw was held in preparation for a summit on EU enlargement scheduled in Poland in July.
„Our hand remains extended and that means that offering a European perspective to western Balkans is meant not only as a promise to the countries in the region, but it is also in the interest of the European Union,” Maas told a news conference later.
The Berlin Process, initiated by Germany, is a platform for bringing closer to the EU the aspiring states: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia.
On an invitation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Berlin is also to host a meeting of western Balkan and EU high representatives April 29.
Maas encouraged western Balkan nations to find solutions to difficult issues in the region and pointed to the example of North Macedonia, which recently changed its name to settle a conflict with Greece, as a case of „good will that brings success.”
He said those who do not seek reconciliation with neighbors will remain stuck in their past, also in the area of economy and social welfare.
Internal conflicts in the Balkans and a split between those supporting ties with the EU and those opting for Russian links have stalled the EU enlargement process.
BELGRADE, April 12 (Reuters) – A young vulture who got stranded last year in Turkey more than 2,000 km from her nest flew home to Serbia on Friday – by plane.
Dobrila, a young female griffon vulture, is part of a protected colony of around 70 pairs in western Serbia’s Uvac Gorge.
She was found injured and exhausted last year over 2,200 km (1,370 miles) away near the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, where authorities intervened to get her repatriated.
She returned to Belgrade to a celebrity welcome, flown back on a Turkish Airlines commercial plane in a special crate and met on arrival by Serbian environmental protection minister Goran Trivan and Turkey’s ambassador Tanju Bilgic.
„I am happy our operation was a success … Dobrila will now go back to Uvac and if she ever returns to Turkey we would be glad … to take care of her,” Bilgic told reporters.
Dobrila (‘The Good One’ in Serbian) will now undergo health checks before be returned to the Uvac Gorge where she will be initially placed in a cage to adapt and learn how to feed on her own.
Griffon vultures nest on steep cliffs and feed on animal carcasses. The young birds often start wandering until they reach maturity and choose a colony.
They can fly great distances and birds marked in Serbia have been spotted as far away as Israel and near Basra in Iraq, ornithologists say. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; editing by John Stonestreet)
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Did Western media and government hypocrisy bring about Julian Assange’s arrest, or was it his bad manners?
The dramatic end to Julian Assange’s asylum has sparked curiosity about his seven-year stay inside Ecuador’s embassy in London that officials there say was marked by his late-night skateboarding, the physical harassment of his caretakers and even the smearing of his own fecal matter on the walls of the diplomatic mission.
It would’ve tested the patience of any host. But for tiny Ecuador, which prides itself on its hospitality and spent almost $1 million a year protecting Assange, it was also seen as a national insult.
„We’ve ended the asylum of this spoiled brat,” a visibly flustered President Lenin Moreno said Thursday in a fiery speech explaining his decision to withdraw protection of Assange and hand him over to British police. „From now on we’ll be more careful in giving asylum to people who are really worth it, and not miserable hackers whose only goal is to destabilize governments.”
Others, including former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum in 2012, said that while Assange violated the terms of his asylum and was a burden on Ecuador „that’s no excuse for throwing him to the lions.”
Ecuador emerged as a safe haven for the WikiLeaks founder in 2012 as his legal options to evade extradition to Sweden over sex crime accusations dried up in the United Kingdom. On a June day, he moved into the country’s embassy near the upscale Harrods department store for what most thought would be a short stay.
Instead, the cramped quarters, where a small office was converted into a bedroom, became a permanent address that some likened to a de facto jail.
As the asylum dragged on, his relations with his hosts soured and his behavior became more erratic. Embassy staff complained of him skateboarding at night, playing loud music and walking around in his underwear with no apparent concern for others in the tiny embassy.
One senior Ecuadorian official described his room as a „sovereign territory within a sovereign territory” that none of the staff at No. 3 Hans Crescent could enter. But the stench from going weeks without a shower, and dental problem born of poor hygiene, was a constant nuisance, according to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to discuss details of Assange’s behavior.
Then there was the issue of Assange’s poop, which authorities said he spread across embassy walls on at least one occasion in an act of open defiance showing how little he thought of his hosts.
„When you’re given shelter, cared for and provided food, you don’t denounce the owner of the house,” Moreno said Thursday to applause.
Within months of taking office in 2017, Moreno’s government scolded Assange again for meddling in international affairs by voicing his support for Catalan secessionists from the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Relations grew so prickly that last year Ecuador increased its restrictions on his Internet access and required him to clean up after his cat James. The rules said that if the feline wasn’t properly fed and cleaned up after, it would be sent to the pound.
Assange tried challenging the restrictions in Ecuadorian court, to no avail.
More recently, as the feuding became more public, Ecuadorian officials say he started physically and verbally harassing his caretakers, accusing them of being U.S. spies looking to exchange information on WikiLeaks in exchange for debt relief for Ecuador.
Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said audio recording a few months ago captured a moment when Assange threatened Ambassador Jaime Merchan with pressing some sort of panic button that he said would bring devastating consequences for the embassy in the event of his arrest. Although it wasn’t clear what he meant by the threat, authorities shared their concerns with British authorities and in carrying out the raid Thursday were careful to prevent Assange from returning to his room to execute any possible emergency plans.
The final straw for Moreno was WikiLeaks’ decision to spread information about a purported offshore account controlled by the president’s brother. Personal photographs of Moreno lying in bed, as well as images of close family members dancing, were also leaked, further incensing him.
Correa, however, criticized a „double standard” by Western media and governments who he said have been quick to condemn Assange for publishing sensitive information about U.S. national security interests.
„Although Julian Assange denounced war crimes, he’s only the person supplying the information. It’s The New York Times, the Guardian and El Pais publishing it. Why aren’t those journalists and media owners thrown in jail?” he said in an interview in Brussels.
He said that if Assange had been a Chinese dissident exposing Russian secrets instead of facing arrest and extradition „he’d be receiving awards right now in the U.K. and U.S.”
Armario reported from Bogota, Colombia, and Goodman from Caracas, Venezuela. AP writer Mike Corder contributed to this report from Brussels.
Follow AP’s coverage of the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange here: https://www.apnews.com/WikiLeaks