Trump thanks Cambodia over ship in rare message to China-ally- •Passengers Stranded In WesternDam Cruise Over Coronavirus Fear Disembark in Cambodia
In a statement, acting ICE director Matthew Albence said help from CBP, another agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is necessary because of the „significant amount of additional time and resources” involved in enforcement operations within communities that refuse to hold undocumented immigrants in jails until his agents can apprehend them.
Albence said that ICE would be using CBP to help with „enforcement activity in response to the resource challenges stemming from sanctuary city policies.”
Homeland Security officials said that the 5,300 deportation officers ICE has at its disposal lack „sufficient resources” to apprehend and detain unauthorized immigrants who have been prioritized for deportation.
But it’s not clear which interior enforcement operations CBP officers will take part in. ICE said it does not reveal details about planned operations because of „law enforcement sensitivities” and the need to protect its officers.
The assignment, first reported by The New York Times, represents the latest move by the Trump administration to ramp up pressure on „sanctuary” cities — a frequent target of President Trump’s ire.
U.S. Border Patrol agents hold a line during a pro-migration protest in San Diego as seen through the border fence from Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, December 10, 2018. Rebecca Blackwell / AP
After the president, in his State of the Union address, accused Democratic-controlled states and cities of harboring undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes, the top official at DHS, Chad Wolf, announced that New Yorkers would no longer be eligible to enroll or renew memberships in programs designed to expedite the vetting of travelers at airports and border checkpoints. The department said the move was warranted because state law in New York prevents its officials from accessing certain data from the state’s motor vehicle department.
The Justice Department recently mounted legal challenges against immigration policies in Washington, California and New Jersey. The administration has also tried to withhold federal funds from „sanctuary” jurisdictions, but its efforts are still being adjudicated by the courts.
Jurisdictions that adopt so-called „sanctuary” policies see them as necessary to safeguard public safety and to maintain a good relationship between local law enforcement and immigrant communities. Helping the federal government apprehend and detain unauthorized residents, the cities argue, will deter immigrants from helping local authorities fight crime and participating in other community initiatives.
Friday’s announcement drew a sharp rebuke from immigrant advocates, who believe Mr. Trump may be emboldened to ramp up in his crackdown on undocumented immigrants after the Republican-led Senate acquitted him of the articles of impeachment the House leveled against him.
„I think not only is this a sign of things to come in an election year, I think if Trump, God forbids, gets reelected, we will see the acceleration and expansion of this kind of heavy-handed police state tactics,” said Frank Sherry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a group that supports liberal immigration policies.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the administration’s top foes in court, said any potential litigation depends on the legal authorities DHS will cite for the new assignment. Naureen Shah, a top lawyer at the ACLU, said there may be concerns surrounding the legal limits CBP officers have outside the 100-mile border zone, in which they have broad authority to search and seize.
„They certainly do have that authority within the 100-mile zone and so whether or not there are legal issues with their conduct is actually turn on what exactly that conduct is and if it is going far beyond just kind of standing side while ICE conducts an arrest,” Shah said.
Before breaking his silence Thursday in an interview with ABC News, Attorney General William Barr complained privately „for weeks” to President Donald Trump about his tweets and public statements related to Justice Department investigations, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
MORE: Barr blasts Trump’s tweets on Stone case: ‘Impossible for me to do my job’: ABC News Exclusive
Despite those apparent warnings, however, Trump over the past several weeks was unrelenting in his targeting of his various political enemies in speeches and over Twitter like former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Donald J. Trump
FBI Director Christopher Wray just admitted that the FISA Warrants and Survailence of my campaign were illegal. So was the Fake Dossier. THEREFORE, THE WHOLE SCAM INVESTIGATION, THE MUELLER REPORT AND EVERYTHING ELSE FOR THREE YEARS, WAS A FIXED HOAX. WHO PAYS THE PRICE?….
….This is the biggest political crime in American History, by far. SIMPLY PUT, THE PARTY IN POWER ILLEGALLY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE ELECTION, IN ORDER TO CHANGE OR NULLIFY THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION. IT CONTINUED ON WITH THE IMPEACHMENT HOAX. Terrible!
Donald J. Trump
A lot of very good people were taken down by a small group of Dirty (Filthy) Cops, politicians, government officials, and an investigation that was illegally started & that SPIED on my campaign. The Witch Hunt is sputtering badly, but still going on (Ukraine Hoax!). If this….
In fact, Barr sat in the front row during a post-impeachment event at the White House where President Trump rattled off what amounted to an ‘enemies’ list, fumed that Comey had been „caught… in the act,” and suggested he belonged in jail.
MORE: Entire Roger Stone prosecution team withdraws after DOJ lowers sentencing recommendation
„Had I not fired James Comey, who was a disaster, by the way, it’s possible I wouldn’t even be standing here right now,” Trump said. „We caught him in the act. Dirty cops. Bad people. If this happened to President Obama, a lot of people would have been in jail for a long time already. Many, many years.”
It’s not clear what Trump meant by his remarks. While the DOJ inspector general has found that Comey violated several of the FBI’s ethics rules, the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. declined to prosecute him and he has faced no other charges of criminal wrongdoing.
In his exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, Barr indicated that the culmination of comments by the president this week surrounding the Stone case were what led him to drag his private criticism into the public sphere — an unprecedented rebuke for a Cabinet official during Trump’s time in office.
Specifically, Barr took issue with Trump’s attack on U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, whom Trump attacked over Twitter this week for her handling of the sentencing of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking! https://twitter.com/katiephang/status/1227286936701718530 …
✔@KatiePhangReplying to @KatiePhang
FYI: The judge presiding over this case, Amy Berman Jackson, is the same judge who had Manafort and Gates and van der Zwaan.
„If you have a case before a judge to be attacking the judge, you know, it is not helpful or productive at all,” Barr told ABC News. „And also, you know, I think attacking- for people to attack people here in the department or in the FBI in general terms is unfair.”
MORE: President Trump does not say if he will pardon former political adviser Roger Stone
The public pressure facing Barr to reassert the DOJ’s independence only further escalated following a tweet by Trump congratulating Barr for „taking charge” of the Stone case, just hours after he ordered the reversal of the previous sentencing recommendation put forward by prosecutors of seven to nine years.
Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
„I think I can understand why people are concerned that it could influence the work of the department,” Barr said when asked about the tweet.
„He just needed to [speak out] in light of what was happening,” the person familiar with Barr’s deliberations said.
According to the person, the Justice Department had disclosed to the White House that the interview with ABC News would occur, though they said the White House was not made aware about what Barr would say or his plan to criticize the president until after the interview taped.
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday renewed pressure on China to join nuclear arms control talks with Washington and Moscow, seeking to overcome Beijing’s long-standing opposition to entering such a dialogue.
„China has long said it will never enter into an arms race and does not seek numeric parity with the U.S and Russia. Now is the time for China to put its money where its mouth is, and prove that it is a responsible international actor,” said a senior Trump administration official.
The official was one of several who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
The nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia dwarf that of China. But Beijing’s military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region has alarmed U.S. allies and policymakers.
President Donald Trump has sought to entice China into joining the United States and Russia in talks on an arms control accord to replace the 2010 New START treaty between Washington and Moscow that expires next February.
China has rejected Trump’s proposal, arguing that its smaller nuclear force is defensive and poses no threat.
„Continued silence from China creates uncertainty about their intentions and only brings about the need for a renewed focus on deterrence and military readiness for the United States,” said one administration official.
New START maintains the only remaining limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear deployments. Some experts and lawmakers have called Trump’s proposal to include Beijing in a new treaty a „poison pill” strategy aimed at killing New START and ending the restraints on U.S. deployments.
New START restricted the United States and Russia to deploying no more than 1,550 nuclear warheads, the lowest level in decades, and limited the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers that deliver them.
It can be renewed for up to five years if both sides agree. Moscow has offered to immediately extend the treaty. Washington has yet to decide.
„On New START, we have made no decision on a possible extension as we are focused on addressing a broader range of threats beyond just the weapons subject to the treaty,” said an official.
China is estimated to have about 300 nuclear weapons.
The official said China, „as a major military power,” also has major responsibilities.
„You cannot ask for global status without assuming global responsibilities for world order and this is why we believe it is high time for China to participate in arms control alongside the United States,” the official said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, additional reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Tom Brown)
Immigration policy and data disaggregation were among the topics that Democratic presidential candidates were challenged on during a historic Twitter town hall focused on Asian American and Pacific Islander issues Thursday.
NBC Asian America moderated the #AAPI2020 online discussion in which the presidential hopefuls took on issues Asian American and Pacific Islanders care about during the current primary season.
The virtual town hall — which was hosted by nonprofits Asian Pacific Islander American Vote, Asian American Journalists Association, AAPI Data, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans — marked the first of its kind to require Democratic candidates to answer to the AAPI constituency. Many social media users noted that the event was one of the rare times they witnessed AAPI issues being discussed at the national level.
Eight candidates took part in the event, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, entrepreneur Tom Steyer, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, the only Pacific Islander candidate in the race, also participated.
Candidates were challenged on a number of community-specific topics including data disaggregation and immigration policy, as well as those that impact the larger society, such as gun safety and student debt.
The hourlong forum included a number of significant moments. Gabbard, who is of Asian, Polynesian, and Caucasian descent, spoke out for indigenous voices, claiming they would “be heard and will have a seat at the table in my administration” if elected. Warren, who released her plan to disaggregate data on AAPI across federal agencies the same day, further discussed the topic in the town hall, adding that “data equity is a civil rights issue.” Biden took part in a portion of the town hall and his Asian American surrogate, former Olympian Michelle Kwan, participated on the candidate’s behalf as well.
Thus far, Asian American and Pacific Islander voters have not leaned into any single candidate. Two in 5 Asian American registered voters did not identify themselves as either Democrat or Republican, according to a 2018 survey. An informal survey of 500 voters across Virginia, Texas and Pennsylvania, released by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund showed that the group favored Biden and Warren. However a separate survey showed that in California, the state with the group’s largest population, 45 percent of Asian American voters found Biden favorable and Sanders followed closely behind at 43 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday there is no investigation into the Army officer who until last week worked at the White House National Security Council and was a key witness in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
McCarthy said Lt. Col. Alex Vindman has been moved to a short-term assignment at Army headquarters until he starts a regularly scheduled stint at a military college later this year. McCarthy’s comments at the National Press Club appeared to put an end to any debate about potential punishment of the officer, who came under fire for raising concerns about Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president.
Trump on Tuesday suggested the Pentagon should review Vindman’s conduct and said any potential disciplinary action would be up to the military. He said military officials “can handle him any way they want,” but added that the military would certainly take a look at his conduct.
Vindman was detailed by the Pentagon to the White House and testified before the House impeachment panel that Trump inappropriately pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Last week, just two days after the Senate acquitted Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, Vindman was ousted from his NSC job. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who worked as an ethics lawyer at the NSC, also was removed from his job and was re-assigned to the Army General Counsel’s Office.
Vindman also got support from Trump’s former chief of staff earlier this week. John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, said that Vindman did exactly as he was trained by raising concerns to his superiors after hearing “questionable” comments from Trump, according to a report by The Atlantic magazine.
Trump on Thursday lashed out against former White House chief of staff John Kelly for being disloyal after he came to the defense of the former national security aide who offered key testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
The president’s comments came after Kelly defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was among the administration officials who raised concerns about Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president. That call spurred the president’s impeachment trial, which ended in acquittal last week.
McCarthy did not provide details about Vindman’s new assignment.
It’s routine for up-and-coming officers to go to war college or another advanced school when they are lieutenant colonels, as part of the process for likely promotion to higher rank.
Images of health workers have dominated the airwaves as the government tries to shield itself from public rage over the handling of the deadly outbreak
Beijing (AFP) – China’s government is purging unpopular local officials and commandeering heroic stories of doctors on the frontline as it tries to shield itself from public rage over the handling of the deadly coronavirus epidemic.
Facing the biggest challenge of his presidency, Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has cast the crisis as a „people’s war” and state media have gone into overdrive to regain control of public opinion.
Images of doctors and nurses in masks and full protective suits, leaving their families behind to care for patients, have dominated the airwaves.
Government censors, meanwhile, have made rare exceptions to allow for criticism online — but mostly when directed at local officials accused of negligence in central Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
One comment that was allowed to circulate on the Twitter-like Weibo platform declared that „scores should be settled against all the officials in Wuhan after the crisis”, which has claimed more than 1,500 lives and infected some 66,000 people.
An investigation into health inspectors in neighbouring Hunan province who had leaked residents’ personal information also became a trending search on the platform.
On Thursday, the political chiefs of Hubei and Wuhan were sacked and replaced with Xi loyalists with security backgrounds. The province’s top two health officials were also fired.
Senior Beijing law enforcement official Chen Yixin was also appointed to manage local efforts against the epidemic.
Every part of Beijing’s messaging is designed to „deflect from the centre: failings at the local level, the heroism of medical staff, the resilience and unity of the Chinese people in the face of great difficulties,” Jonathan Sullivan, a China expert from the University of Nottingham, said.
In Hubei, local Red Cross leaders had also come under fire on Weibo for allegedly mismanaging donations of masks and other medical supplies.
Authorities reacted quickly, sacking the local Red Cross vice president Zhang Qin for dereliction of duty.
– Heroes –
The death of Li Wenliang, a whistleblowing doctor punished in January by Wuhan police for sending text messages about the illness, prompted a national outpouring of grief and anger that Beijing was quick to redirect towards local officials.
The 34-year-old, who died after contracting the virus from a patient, was mourned on Weibo but his death also triggered calls for freedom of speech and the downfall of the Communist Party.
Within hours, however, hashtags and posts related to free speech disappeared from the platform.
Two open letters, including one signed by 10 professors in Wuhan, were circulated on social media days later but were quickly removed by censors.
At the same time, the central government announced that it would send a team to Wuhan to investigate how Li’s case had been handled.
State media and officials sought to paint Li as a hero who was part of a „joint” battle against the epidemic.
Chinese ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming denied in a BBC interview that „Chinese authorities” had punished Li, emphasising it was local authorities who had done so.
„Let’s win battle against novel coronavirus for deceased Doctor Li,” the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, urged readers.
Other individuals have also been singled out by state media and government representatives as heroes, usually for making massive individual sacrifices.
State news agency Xinhua highlighted on Tuesday 87-year-old Ni Suying, a woman from Chongqing in the southwest, who had donated 30 years savings to help fight the epidemic.
„Salute to these angels!#EverydayHero,” reads a tweet by the People’s Daily showing nurses with marks and sores on their faces left by the masks they have worn during hours of duty.
– Stability first –
The focus on individual sacrifice „obscures the state’s failure to discharge its duty to provide public safety,” Ling Li, a lecturer in Chinese politics at the University of Vienna, said.
Tear-jerking „hero” stories distract from a „rational understanding of the causal link between the mess of a crisis and the origin of the crisis,” Li told AFP.
But there are signs the tolerance for public criticism of officials is beginning to end.
Multiple people took to Weibo last week to complain that they had been permanently locked out of their WeChat accounts for allegedly spreading misinformation, after posting about the epidemic in the popular social media app.
The officials brought in to replace the sacked Hubei leaders have strong backgrounds in security, „hinting at the emphasis on maintaining stability,” Sullivan told AFP.
At the start, „the flow of information coming out from citizens and Chinese journalists was too abundant to contain,” Sullivan said.
Now, „an element of narrative control has been re-established,” he said.
Colombo (AFP) – Sri Lanka arrested a former ambassador to Russia after he was extradited from Dubai Friday to face money laundering charges over a controversial MiG aircraft purchase, police said.
Udayanga Weeratunga was taken before a magistrate in Colombo who remanded him in custody till Monday pending a further hearing.
Police in a statement said Weeratunga, who is also closely related to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s family, was arrested in connection with an investigation into the Sri Lankan military’s 2006 purchase of four second-hand MiG-27 aircraft from Ukraine.
There had been an international warrant for his arrest. At the time of the purchase, President Rajapaksa was the secretary to the ministry of defence. Weeratunga was Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia from 2006 till former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election defeat in January 2015.
The MiG-27 ground attack aircraft formed part of the military’s armoury in crushing separatist Tamil Tiger rebels and ending the island’s 37-year-long ethnic war by May 2009.
Weeratunga has been accused of kickbacks in the aircraft deal, but he has denied any wrongdoing.
Venezuela’s Guaido looking to reboot Maduro challenge
Juan Guaido, speaking at a rally on February 11, returned to Venezuela with renewed vigor and the belief he can fire up street protests once again
Caracas (AFP) – Fresh off a three-week international tour, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido is hoping to ramp up pressure against President Nicolas Maduro but must first overcome his supporters’ increasing listlessness.
Having flouted a travel ban imposed by the Maduro regime to shore up support abroad and meet with foreign leaders such as those of Britain, France and the United States, Guaido must now find a way to reinvigorate his base.
The National Assembly speaker rose to prominence in January 2019 when he declared himself the country’s acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro, whom he deems an illegitimate leader due to a 2018 re-election widely derided as rigged.
– ‘Collapse of expectations’ –
While Guaido has called for mass mobilization against Maduro, his supporters are suffering from a „collapse of expectations,” said Benigno Alarcon, head of political studies at Andres Bello Catholic University.
The 36-year-old attracted tens of thousands of people to his rallies at the start of 2019 and garnered the support of more than 50 countries, but by the end of the year only a few hundred supporters would turn up.
And his popularity rating dropped from 63 percent to 39 percent, according to pollsters Datanalisis.
That said, his international tour was „a fleeting work of art” considering his failure to deliver on the home front, said Luis Vicente Leon, Datanalisis president.
On Wednesday, Guaido did manage to generate some excitement as university students took part in a demonstration against Maduro in Caracas.
– Sanctions ‘on everyone’ –
After Guaido’s meeting with US President Donald Trump, Washington expanded its Venezuela sanctions to include state airline Conviasa.
The United States has already sanctioned state oil company PDVSA and imposed a financial blockade that prevents Venezuela from renegotiating its $140 billion debt.
„There will be more sanctions… on everyone who supports the dictatorship,” Guaido warned on Wednesday.