Trump administration suing to block California laws protecting illegal immigrants

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Trump administration is suing to block California laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally, the most aggressive move yet in its push to force so-called sanctuary cities and states to cooperate with immigration authorities. California officials remained characteristically defiant, vowing to defend their landmark legislation.FULL COMPLAINT: Full complaint from President Trump administration Justice Department officials said Tuesday that a trio of state laws that, among other things, bar police from asking people about their citizenship status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities are unconstitutional and have kept federal agents from doing their jobs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce the lawsuit Wednesday at an annual gathering of law enforcement officers in Sacramento. It names as defendants the state of California, Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra."I say, bring it on," said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the sanctuary state bill.It is the latest salvo in an escalating feud between the Trump administration and California, which has resisted the president on issues like taxes and marijuana policy and defiantly refuses to help federal agents detain and deport undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said it will increase its presence in California, and Sessions wants to cut off funding to jurisdictions that won't cooperate. At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!— Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 7, 2018 The lawsuit is being filed as the Justice Department also reviews Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's decision to warn of an immigration sweep in advance, which ICE said allowed hundreds of Continue Reading

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: President Trump’s administration is like a horror movie

NBA legend and former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a Muslim-American, took aim at President Donald Trump Monday, lambasting the leader of the free world as a "powerful but irrational specter." Abdul-Jabbar's blistering criticism of Trump appears in a column the basketball great wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, and the remarks come on the heels of the president's executive order which bars refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from the U.S. Abdul-Jabbar, who was born Lew Alcindor before converting to Islam, compares Trump's administration to the plotline of a horror movie. "For civilized societies, the absence of reason and compassion is the very definition of pure evil because it is a rejection of our sacred values, distilled from millennia of struggle. The manifestation of this evil can be supernatural (Poltergeist, The Conjuring), natural (Jaws, Alien), or a twisted version of humanity's worst behavior (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street)," Abdul-Jabbar writes. "President Trump's recent executive order to bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries has resulted in Muslim-Americans feeling as if we're now trapped in a menacing haunted house battling a powerful but irrational specter. There is no escape, nowhere to hide, no one believes us when we tell them about the horrible noises (‘Grab them by the pussy’), and no help from the authorities is coming because they're already possessed and mindlessly doing the creature's bidding." Abdul-Jabbar writes that Trump cites the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. as the rationale behind the executive order, but Abdul-Jabbar quickly points out that Trump's order does not include any country "that those hijackers came from (nor any countries that Trump does business with)." "The audience's willing suspension of disbelief is great for poorly written horror films, but when government tries to promote it to the Continue Reading

Retired generals, flag officers condemn President Trump’s transgender troops ban

A group of 56 retired generals and flag officers said stopping transgender troops from serving in the military would  would cause "significant disruptions" and would deprive the military of "mission-critical talent."Additionally, the statement released by the group through the Palm Center said that such a policy would "compromise the integrity of transgender troops would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy."The full-throated disavowal came less than a week after President Trump fired off a series of tweets that said the government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."Military leaders have since sought to assure transgender troops that their jobs and health care are safe for now. The White House has said there is no timeline for when the administration plans to implement the president's tweets."The proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," the statement from the retired group said. "Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving — and who want to serve — must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity."The statement was released by the Palm Center, an independent think tank that commissions research on sexual minorities in the military.Read their full statement and see the list of retired generals and flag officers here. Read more:  Continue Reading

President Trump’s budget reveals his major priorities: Here are the highlights

WASHINGTON — White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended Tuesday the major cuts to social safety-net programs included in President Trump’s budget proposal, saying there’s still plenty of funding for people who truly need help.“We are not kicking anybody off of any program who really needs it,” Mulvaney said after the White House sent Trump’s first full budget plan for fiscal year 2018 to Capitol Hill.But there are people getting food assistance or disability payments who should be working instead, and the federal government can’t afford to spend as much on health care programs for more than the most disadvantaged, Mulvaney said.With those and other program cuts, Trump’s proposal promises a balanced budget in 10 years while increasing funding for the president’s top priorities, including boosting national defense, building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and cutting taxes.“They are all campaign promises the president made,” Mulvaney said.To get there, the White House assumes the economy will grow faster than it’s projected to expand under current policies. And, budget experts say, the administration also relies on other unrealistic expectations, such as that the tax cuts won’t reduce federal revenue. It also promises to make to cuts that aren't actually detailed in the plan — and assumes future budget reductions Congress is unlikely to make.“This one has all the gimmicks you could possibly get,” said Stan Collender, a private budget analyst. Read more:Because the budget does not touch the two largest federal programs — Medicare and the non-disability portion of Social Security — the approximately one-third of federal spending primarily benefiting low- and middle-income recipients would bear the brunt of the burden to balance the budget.“Many of these programs need reform, and the goal of reducing public debt is Continue Reading

Winners and losers in President Trump’s first budget

President Trump's first budget request to Congress proposes to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years while making major increases in defense spending and border security. Here are some of the major winners and losers in Trump's budget plan — which Congress has already signaled it does not intend to pass as-is.Pentagon: The $639 billion slated for military spending would allow the Pentagon to bolster its ranks by more than 56,000 troops, buy more helicopters and trucks for the Army, boost the Navy’s fleet and pay for more stealth warplanes for the Air Force. In addition, the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the nation’s nuclear stockpile, would get an 11.4% increase, while other programs on that department face steep cuts.Social Security and Medicare: Although Medicare and the non-disability portion of Social Security are the largest cost-drivers in the federal budget, Trump does not want to break his campaign promise to protect them. Trump also promised not to cut Medicaid, but his budget would get a large chunk of its proposed savings from the health care program for the poor. The president also proposes cuts to the disability program run through the Social Security Administration, but the White House argues that's not what most people think of as Social Security so it's not a broken promise.Border security: The budget follows through on Trump’s promises to crack down on illegal immigration by building a wall along the southwest border with Mexico and strengthening immigration enforcement throughout the country. The Department of Homeland Security would get big increases to catch, imprison and deport undocumented immigrants, hire 1,500 new federal immigration agents, and expand and improve the border wall. The Department of Justice would also get more money to hire 75 new immigration judges to help Continue Reading

President Trump plans to declare national emergency in response to opioid crisis

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Trump said Thursday he intends to declare a state of national emergency in response to the opioid crisis, a move that would give the federal government expanded powers and additional resources to prevent and treat overdoses. “We’re going to make it a national emergency," Trump said from his New Jersey golf club. "It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Trump said he is "drawing documents now" to officially label the crisis as a national emergency, a formal action that would have both symbolic and legal power. The last time a president took similar action was in 2009, when President Obama declared a one-year state of national emergency to prepare for the H1N1 influenza virus.A formal presidential declaration — when coupled with a public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services — would give the administration additional powers to waive health regulations, pay for treatment programs, and make overdose-reversing drugs more widely available."Declaring it a national emergency instantly identifies this crisis as the most important public health emergency we've had since this nomenclature came about," said James Hodge Jr., a law professor at Arizona State University who specializes in public health law and emergency preparedness. "This is that serious of a crisis."Hodge said presidential action would focus national attention on a disease killing an average of 150 Americans a day. The governors of Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Virginia have issued some form of emergency declaration on opioids in their states.A presidential proclamation could also trigger some very specific tools for federal and state governments. They include: ► The availability of grants from the Public Health Emergencies Fund. Health and Human Services Department wouldn't say how much remains in that fund, but congressional sources But that fund has a Continue Reading

President Trump calls Filipino leader Duterte to hail his ‘great job’ fighting drugs

President Trump, in a recent phone call, congratulated Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte for a "great job" in his crackdown on drugs, which human rights groups and the United Nations have condemned as a vigilante-style campaign that has left thousands of suspected drug dealers and users dead.The exchange is found in a leaked transcript of a April 29 conversation between the two leaders published by The Washington Post and reported on by The New York Times."I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," Trump says, according to the transcript. "Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that."Duterte, who has boasted about personally shooting and killing at least three crime suspects, replies, "Thank you, Mr. President, this is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation."Trump then responds with an apparent swipe at former President Obama, who canceled a meeting with Duterte in September after the Filipino leader referred to him as a "son of a whore" for criticizing him over human rights abuses."I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before," Trump says.The Philippines Star reports that the American office of the Philippines' department of foreign affairs made the transcript and initially warned recipients not to disclose its contents. But the document — marked "very urgent and confidential" — began circulating Wednesday.A senior Trump administration official acknowledged to the Post that the transcript is accurate but declined to speak on the record about “a leaked document from a foreign government.”Duterte took Continue Reading

Fed Governor Jerome Powell is likely to be President Trump’s pick as next Fed chief

President Trump is likely to nominate Federal Reserve Gov. Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the central bank, a senior administration official said Monday.Powell is a Republican centrist who appears inclined to continue the Fed’s strategy of gradual interest rate hikes but may also be open to easing some regulations on banks.Trump hasn't made a final decision and could change his mind.The senior administration official asked not be named since a decision hasn't been announced. An announcement is scheduled for Thursday, the official said.Powell would represent a middle-ground pick for Trump, who is also considering current Democratic Fed Chair Janet Yellen as well as Stanford University economist John Taylor and former Fed governor Kevin Warsh. The latter two have supported sharper rate increases to ward off inflation and are favored by many Republicans in Congress. More: Fed chair decision: Why Trump's pick for Federal Reserve chief matters More: Yellen: Fed may have 'misjudged' inflation, keeping rates lower Powell, 64, has consistently backed Yellen’s plan to lift rates slowly to head off a potential surge in inflation without disrupting an economic recovery that remains fragile by some measures. He also supports Yellen’s blueprint for gradually shrinking the Fed's $4.5 trillion asset portfolio over the next several years, an initiative that’s expected to gradually push up long-term rates.Powell, however, has indicated he could be more receptive than Yellen to loosening some of the banking regulations adopted by the Fed since the 2008 financial crisis. Trump has suggested that higher capital requirements are discouraging more bank lending, for example.If named by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, Powell would be the first Fed chairman in nearly 30 years not to have a PhD in economics. Powell, who joined the Fed’s board of governors in 2012 to fill an unexpired term, is a Continue Reading

Stalled on health care, President Trump quietly scores wins on energy agenda

WASHINGTON — President Trump had barely settled into the Oval Office back in January when he signed executive orders opening the door for construction of the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.He was just getting started.In the following weeks, the Trump administration lifted a moratorium on coal leasing on federal land; blocked regulations on power-plant carbon emissions; overturned a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean; delayed rules intended to prevent methane leaks from oil and gas wells; and announced plans for the U.S. to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act suffered a stunning defeat in Congress, and the prospects for his tax-reform pledge are far from certain.But when it comes to energy policy, the administration has managed to forge ahead on numerous initiatives aimed at not only making the U.S. energy independent but turning it into a dominant energy force.“These are consequential changes in the sense that they move energy policy in a new direction — essentially a 180-degree turn from where we had been less than a year ago,” said David Konisky, an energy expert at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.Much of Trump’s early focus has been on dismantling rules and regulations put in place by former president Barack Obama to protect the environment, fight climate change and make the country less dependent on fossil fuels.Obama had killed the proposed Keystone XL project, for example, because of environmental concerns raised by the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline stretching from Alberta, Canada to Nebraska. In the final weeks of his administration, Obama also blocked the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois that had been the subject of heated protests by Native American groups and environmentalists.Trump has succeeded in moving his energy Continue Reading

Draft climate change report at odds with Trump administration

The average temperature in the United States is rising fast because of "human activities," and Americans are already feeling the impact of climate change, according to a draft federal report.The draft, first reported on by The New York Times, contradicts claims by President Trump and his team who have downplayed the human contribution to climate change and questioned the ability of scientists to predict its effects.The Times cites a scientist involved in the report, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying that he and others were concerned the report would be suppressed by the administration. The Times said the report had not yet been made public, but EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said the report actually has been in the public domain since January."We continue to discuss the best path forward for an honest, open dialogue in regard to climate science," she said in a statement.Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been among the most vocal challengers of studies indicating carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. In his previous job as Oklahoma attorney general, he repeatedly sued the EPA over its efforts to regulate smog and other types of pollution.  More: We're cooked: Earth's atmosphere to warm by at least another 2 degrees More:  Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ brings climate change debate into the Trump era The report was completed this year as part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. The EPA is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report this month. The draft report by scientists from those federal agencies says recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years.“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate Continue Reading