Donald Trump Jr. has reached an eleventh-hour agreement to testify before the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, most likely in June, Fox News has learned.
The development capped a contentious episode that began when the panel, led by Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Ranking Member Mark Warner, D-Va., subpoenaed the president’s son over remarks he made while testifying before the committee in 2017.
Trump Jr. had been concerned about an open-ended time and subject commitment, Fox News is told. In addition, Fox News has learned Trump Jr. was prepared to make the committee hold him in contempt and had a defiant letter drafted and ready to send — but at the last minute, the committee reached out to resolve the dispute.
Ultimately, the panel agreed to limit questioning to 1 to 2 hours, with narrow room for follow-ups, Fox News has learned. A source familiar with the discussions told Fox News the panel never would agree to limit topics.
Trump Jr.’s letter of refusal – which was never sent — cited the 20-plus hours of testimony and thousands of documents that he has already given to congressional committees, as well as his exoneration in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The committee’s demand to have Trump Jr. testify again reportedly is related to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony earlier this year. Cohen, who reported to prison this week to begin a three-year sentence, told a House committee that he had briefed Trump Jr. approximately 10 times about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
But, in 2017, Trump Jr. told the Senate Intelligence Committee he was only “peripherally aware” of the proposal.
In his draft letter to the committee, Trump Jr. pointed out that Cohen has pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes, including lying to Congress.
The Intelligence Committee’s demand rankled top Republicans, including President Trump and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.
“Anything based on what Michael Cohen said is worthless testimony. Michael Cohen is a worthless witness, and if I were Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer I would tell him, ‘You don’t need to go back into this environment anymore, you’ve been there for hours and hours and hours. And nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation,'” Graham, R-S.C., said. “I would call it a day.”
Trump Jr. has testified before congressional committees multiple times as part of their Russia investigations. Trump Jr. first fell under scrutiny in the early summer of 2017, after it was revealed that he helped to organize, and then attend, a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower in New York City.
The meeting initially was billed as one where Trump Jr. and members of the Trump campaign could obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton for their benefit in the 2016 election. The meeting apparently did not reveal any dirt on Clinton, but Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort attended the June 2016 meeting. Special Counsel Robert Mueller also investigated the meeting.
Both the Moscow project and June 2016 meeting are top priorities for the committee’s questioning, the source said.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.
Republicans believe he already gave ‘clear, informative testimony’ to the Senate about the Mueller report
The House Judiciary Committee has been informed that Attorney General Bill Barr (shown above right, beside Robert Mueller) will not testify at a planned hearing Thursday, an aide to the panel told Fox News — even as the Democrats who lead the committee vowed to hold the hearing anyway and threatened a possible contempt citation against Barr.
The prospect of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveling a hearing with an empty chair came hours after Barr endured withering questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier on Wednesday.
A key sticking point was that Nadler wants to have House Judiciary Committee staff — rather than members of Congress — question Barr on his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
But DOJ officials said members should conduct the inquiry.
In remarks to reporters Thursday afternoon, Nadler said Democrats had “worked around the clock” to address Barr’s concerns and slammed what he called Barr’s “lack of candor.”
“He’s trying to blackmail the committee into not following the most effective means of eliciting the information we need,” Nadler said. “He is terrified of having to face a skilled attorney.”
Nadler also said the DOJ had denied House Democrats’ request for the full and unredacted Mueller report by Thursday, and said compliance with congressional subpoenas is “not optional.”
Although Barr has not yet been subpoenaed, Nadler said contempt citations could be possible down the road not only if the full Mueller report is not released, but also if Barr does not comply with a possible future subpoena.
“It’s a shame members of the House Judiciary Committee won’t get the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr this Thursday, because Chairman Nadler chose to torpedo our hearing,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said in a statement. “The attorney general gave clear, informative testimony in the Senate Wednesday, as he offered to do more than a month ago in the House tomorrow.”
Collins added, “By rejecting the chance to question Attorney General Barr or read the materials he’s provided, Democrats are trying to prolong an investigation the special counsel completed. Ultimately, though, they’re ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who want Congress to move on and secure our border and continue to strengthen our economy.”
“We’re not torpedoeing this hearing,” Nadler said, responding to Collins’ remarks.
He added that Barr has a “nerve” to challenge the panel’s ability to conduct its own hearing.
Republicans on the panel have echoed Collins’ argument for days.
“Attorney General Barr wasn’t asked to testify before the committee — he offered,” a spokesperson for House Judiciary Committee Republicans told Fox News earlier this week. “He provided the Mueller report voluntarily. He invited Democrat leaders to view the less redacted report in person. Yet the only thing, apparently, that will satisfy Democrats, who refuse to read the less redacted report, is to have staff pinch-hit when a cabinet-level official appears before us.”
The spokesperson continued, “What actual precedent is there for our committee making such demands of a sitting attorney general as part of our oversight duties? The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don’t constitute impeachment, so Democrats have yet to prove their demands anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee.”
It is unusual for committee counsels to question a witness, especially a high-ranking Cabinet official.
“The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don’t constitute impeachment.”
Several top Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, have called for Barr’s resignation in the wake of his Senate testimony on Wednesday. The hearing covered everything from Barr’s decision not to pursue an obstruction case against President Trump to process delays in getting a redacted version of Mueller’s report to the public to Mueller’s apparent concerns about how Barr initially relayed his findings to Congress.
Barr, for his part, called some of Mueller’s comments “a bit snitty,” and suggested that the brouhaha was bizarre political theater, given that the Mueller report has been released publicly already.
Separately on Thursday, Democrats said Carl Kline, the former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, had failed to substantively answer several questions posed by the House Oversight and Reform Committee during a closed-door hearing.
Illinois Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told reporters Kline will have to answer questions “one way or another.”
“I am not happy, since the White House is basically instructing the witness not to answer questions that are very pertinent to our inquiries,” Krishnamoorthi said. “We need to know about specific cases, specific individuals, and there seems to be some kind of blanket assertion that is not lodged in executive privilege or any kind of a recognizable basis for not answering questions. And so today’s a voluntary interview, but I suspect we’re going to be disputing this after today.”
Gregg Re is an editor and attorney based in Los Angeles. Fox News’ Jason Donner and Caroline McKee contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission.
President Donald Trump joins ‘Hannity’ in an exclusive interview to discuss to outcome of the Mueller report and the role the FISA abuse scandal played.
President Trump, in an exclusive wide-ranging interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ “Hannity,” vowed to release the full and unredacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and related documents used by the FBI to probe his campaign, saying he wants to “get to the bottom” of how the long-running Russia collusion narrative began.
Trump told anchor Sean Hannity that his lawyers previously had advised him not to take that dramatic step out of fear that it could be considered obstruction of justice.
“I do, I have plans to declassify and release. I have plans to absolutely release,” Trump said. “I have some very talented people working for me, lawyers, and they really didn’t want me to do it early on. … A lot of people wanted me to do it a long time ago. I’m glad I didn’t do it. We got a great result without having to do it, but we will. One of the reasons that my lawyers didn’t want me to do it, is they said, if I do it, they’ll call it a form of obstruction.”
Trump added: “Frankly, thought it would be better if we held it to the end. But at the right time, we will be absolutely releasing.”
Trump also accused FBI officials of committing “treason” — slamming former FBI Director James Comey as a “terrible guy,” former CIA Director John Brennan as potentially mentally ill, and Democrat House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as a criminal.
Redacted versions of FISA documents already released have revealed that the FBI extensively relied on documents produced by Christopher Steele, an anti-Trump British ex-spy working for a firm funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, to surveil Trump aide Carter Page. At least one senior DOJ official had apparent concerns Steele was unreliable, according to text messages exclusively obtained last week by Fox News.
“I think Brennan’s a sick person, I really do,” Trump said. “I believe there’s something wrong with him, for him to come out of the CIA and act that way was so disrespectful to the country and to the CIA. He was not considered good at what he did. He was never a respected guy.”
Brennan has since acknowledged he was wrong, but has said inaccurately that Mueller merely could not find evidence meeting the high bar needed for a criminal prosecution — when in fact Mueller found no evidence at all that the Trump team responded to Russians’ numerous efforts to involve them in a conspiracy.
“When I said there could be somebody spying on my campaign, it went wild out there,” Trump told Hannity. “They couldn’t believe I could say such a thing. As it turned out, that was small potatoes compared to what went on. … Millions and millions [spent] on the phony dossier, and then they used the dossier to start things. It was a fraud, paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”
Just hours earlier Wednesday, Trump made clear he was enthusiastic about the idea of appointing a second special counsel to review the origins of the Russia investigation when it came up during a meeting Tuesday with Republican senators, a source familiar with the discussions told Fox News.
“I had a lot of planes for a long time. I’ve never stopped the plane on the tarmac to let somebody on the plane,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton said he was there to play golf, but I know the area very well. Arizona. It’s a little warm at that time of year for golf, OK?”
In an apparent shot at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump also told Hannity “this all would not have happened” if Attorney General William Barr had been with his administration from the beginning.
Trump also noted that ratings for several networks that aggressively pushed the Russia narrative have “fallen off” dramatically. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s audience of 2.5 million on Monday was 19 percent below her average this year, and it went down further to 2.3 million on Tuesday, according to the Nielsen company.
“If you wrote this as a novel, nobody would buy it; it would be a failure, because it would be too unbelievable,” Trump said. “We’re getting to the bottom of it. This can never, ever happen to a president again. That was a disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. … Hopefully they won’t get away with it.
“We’ll have to see how it all started, but I’m going to leave that to other people, including the attorney general and others, to make that determination,” Trump continued. “Fifty years, 100 years from now — if someone tries the same thing, they have to know the penalty will be very very great if and when they get caught.”
Trump also lashed out at Schiff, D-Calif., who has pushed strongly for investigations into possible Trump-Russia links. “Schiff is a bad guy, he knew he was lying — he’s not a dummy. For a year and a half he would just leak and call up CNN and others. You know, I watch him, so sanctimonious … He knew it was a lie, and he’d get in the back room with his friends in the Democrat Party, and they would laugh like hell. In one way, you could say it’s a crime what he did — he was making statements he knew were false. He’s a disgrace to our country.”
The president insisted the U.S. should have a “great relationship” with Russia and China, but that the “fake news” and “nonsense” distorted his intentions into something more sinister.
Trump also criticized Comey, whom he’d fired in 2017, as a “terrible guy.” He insisted he did not fire him to obstruct justice, telling Hannity he knew that firing Comey would only increase scrutiny on the White House.
“You had dirty cops, you had people who are bad FBI folks … At the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly.” He said later, “We can never allow these treasonous acts to happen to another president.”
“I do, I have plans to declassify and release.”
— President Trump
Separately, Trump also said he hopes Democrats continue pushing the Green New Deal, which flamed out in a test vote on Tuesday, as most Democrats voted “present” instead of going on record supporting the sweeping transformation of the entire U.S. economy.
“I don’t want to speak badly about the New Green Deal, frankly, because I’m afraid they will stop using it,” Trump said. “I really do want to campaign against it. It’s ridiculous.”
Trump’s interview came as multiple GOP lawmakers have claimed the president may have somewhat undercut perhaps the best week of his presidency by backing the complete overturn of ObamaCare.
On Monday, the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to affirm last year’s ruling by a Texas federal judge stating that the Affordable Care Act was no longer constitutional because the 2017 tax reform legislation eliminated the health care law’s penalty for not having health insurance.
Multiple congressional Republicans told Fox News they were bothered by the timing of the Trump administration’s intervention in the matter, which came on the heels of the Mueller report findings, the House sustaining the president’s veto of a bill to halt the national emergency for the border wall and a Senate vote that shined a spotlight on what conservatives described as problems with the Green New Deal, championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Trump, despite the pushback, vowed that Republicans would soon be the “party of great health care.”
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.
Newly released transcripts from Page closed-door testimony show agency, DOJ conflicted on Clinton.
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page admitted under questioning from Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe last summer that “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information,” the congressman alleged in a social media post late Tuesday, citing a newly unearthed transcript of Page’s closed-door testimony.
Page and since-fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who were romantically involved, exchanged numerous anti-Trump text messages in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Republicans have long accused the bureau of political bias. But Page’s testimony was perhaps the most salient evidence yet that the Justice Department improperly interfered with the FBI’s supposedly independent conclusions on Clinton’s criminal culpability, Ratcliffe alleged.
“So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory,” Ratcliffe began as he questioned Page under oath, according to a transcript excerpt he posted on Twitter. “But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —”
Page interrupted: “That is correct,” as Ratcliffe finished his sentence, ” — bring a case based on that.”
The document dump was part of a major release by House Judiciary Committee Republicans, who on Tuesday released hundreds of pages of transcripts from last year’s closed-door interview with Page, revealing new details about the bureau’s controversial internal discussions regarding an “insurance policy” against then-candidate Donald Trump. Fox News has previously reviewed portions of Page’s testimony.
Responding to the transcript revelations, Trump on Wednesday tweeted: “The just revealed FBI Agent Lisa Page transcripts make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine. Hopefully, justice will finally be served. Much more to come!”
The just revealed FBI Agent Lisa Page transcripts make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine. Hopefully, justice will finally be served. Much more to come!
Page also testified that the DOJ and FBI had “multiple conversations … about charging gross negligence,” and the DOJ decided that the term was “constitutionally vague” and “had either never been done or had only been done once like 99 years ago,” and so “they did not feel they could sustain a charge.”
In July 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey publicly announced at a bombshell press conference that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information, but insisted that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against her.
Federal law states that “gross negligence” in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines, and there is no requirement that defendants act intentionally or recklessly.
Comey also said that “although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
He added that “prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges,” including “the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”
Lisa Page confirmed to me under oath that the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information. pic.twitter.com/KPQKINBtrB
Comey’s conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton has become the subject of significant debate in recent weeks. It was revealed last month that FBI’s top lawyer in 2016 thought Hillary Clinton and her team should have immediately realized they were mishandling “highly classified” information based on the obviously sensitive nature of the emails’ contents sent through her private server.
Strzok and Page were involved in the FBI’s initial counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 election, and later served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Among the texts between the two was one concerning the so-called “insurance policy.” During her interview with the Judiciary Committee in July 2018, Page was questioned at length about that text — and essentially confirmed this referred to the Russia investigation while explaining that officials were proceeding with caution, concerned about the implications of the case while not wanting to go at “total breakneck speed” and risk burning sources as they presumed Trump wouldn’t be elected anyway.
Further, she confirmed investigators only had a “paucity” of evidence at the start. Comey, last December, similarly acknowledged that when the FBI initiated its counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government in July 2016, investigators “didn’t know whether we had anything” and that “in fact, when I was fired as director [in May 2017], I still didn’t know whether there was anything to it.”
Then-Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., kicked off that section of questioning by asking about the text sent from Strzok to Page in August 2016 which read: “I want to believe the path you threw out in Andy’s [McCabe’s] office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take the risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
“So, upon the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, we had a number of discussions up through and including the Director regularly in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the [Trump] campaign who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton,” Page said. “And given that it is August, we were very aware of the speed and sensitivity that we needed to operate under.”
Page continued that, “if the answer is this is a guy just being puffery at a meeting with other people, great, then we don’t need to worry about this, and we can all move on with our lives; if this is, in fact, the Russians have coopted an individual with, you know, maybe wittingly or unwittingly, that’s incredibly grave, and we need to know that as quickly as possible.”
Page explained that the text message reflected their “continuing check-in” as to “how quickly to operate.”
“[W]e don’t need to go at a total breakneck speed because so long as he doesn’t become President, there isn’t the same threat to national security, right,” Page explained, while saying that if Trump were not elected president, the bureau would still investigate.
“But if he becomes president, that totally changes the game because now he is the President of the United States,” Page told lawmakers. “He’s going to immediately start receiving classified briefings. He’s going to be exposed to the most sensitive secrets imaginable. And if there is somebody on his team who wittingly or unwittingly is working with the Russians, that is super serious.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.
The Trump 2020 campaign is highlighting examples of the president keeping his promises, advisory board member Marc Lotter says.
The attorneys general of California, New York, and 14 other states on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit against the White House’s recent national emergency declaration over border security, claiming President Trump has “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”
The litigation, brought before a federal trial court in the Northern District of California, seeks an injunction to prevent Trump from shifting billions of dollars from military construction to the border without explicit congressional approval. The suit also asks a court to declare Trump’s actions illegal, arguing that Trump showed a “flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution” by violating the Constitution’s Presentment and Appropriations Clauses, which govern federal spending.
The litigation additionally includes allegations that Trump is violating the National Environmental Policy Act, by planning to build a wall that could impact the environment without first completing the necessary environmental impact reports.
The attorneys general specifically argue that the border wall does not “require use of the armed forces,” as mandated under 10 U.S.C. section 2808, the federal law which governs construction projects during national emergencies. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reportedly said this week he isn’t sure there is a military necessity at the border, or how much the agency would need to spend.
The states contend they have standing to sue the administration largely because, they allege, the federal funds could have been spent on their defense. “Maine is aggrieved by the actions of Defendants and has standing to bring this action because of the injury to the State and its residents caused by Defendants’ reduction of federal defense spending in Maine due to diversion of funding to the border wall,” one section of the suit reads.
“California is aggrieved by the actions of Defendants and has standing to bring this action because of the injury due to the loss of federal drug interdiction, counter-narcotic, and law enforcement funding to the State caused by Defendants’ diversion of funding,” reads another paragraph.
In addition to Maine, California, and New York, the group of states also includes Delaware, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico.
“Declaring a National Emergency when one does not exist is immoral and illegal,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who previously vowed to use “every area of the law” to investigate Trump and his family, said in a statement. “Diverting necessary funds from real emergencies, crime-fighting activities, and military construction projects usurps Congressional power and will hurt Americans across the country. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight using every tool at our disposal.”
In a separate statement, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, remarked, “President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and undermine the Constitution.”
The litigation came amid scattered anti-Trump Presidents Day protests across the country, including a group of more than a hundred demonstrators who waved signs at the White House while the president was speaking in Florida.
At a news conference outside the White House on Friday, Trump mockingly predicted legal challenges against his emergency declaration would follow a tried-and-true path.
“So the order is signed and I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office,” Trump told reporters. “And we will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court just like the ban. They sued us in the Ninth Circuit and we lost, and then we lost in the Appellate Division, and then we went to the Supreme Court and we won.”
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over all appeals coming out of the Northern District of California, where Monday’s lawsuit was filed. The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit has long been a legal stumbling block for conservative policies, and the White House has sought to appoint conservative justices to thin out the liberal ranks on the court. Last year, Trump bypassed traditional protocols and ignored the concerns of the state’s Democratic politicians to nominate prominent conservatives to the Ninth Circuit.
But, Democrats have said it’s the president who defies basic legal norms.
“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday. “He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”
In an interview, Becerra added, “Probably the best evidence is the president’s own words, [when he said], ‘I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” That was a reference to Trump’s comments on Friday.
Becerra also said Trump knew he would lose in the Ninth Circuit and wanted a “Hail Mary” win at the Supreme Court.
James, the New York attorney general, argued that the emergency declaration was not only legally unconstitutional, but also unnecessary as a practical matter, asserting that “unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in twenty-years, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry.”
Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, speaking exclusively to “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, disputed those arguments over the weekend. He said substantial border wall constructed should be completed by Sept. 2020 because of the emergency declaration.
“The problem with the statement that you’re ‘apprehending 80 or 90 percent of drugs at ports of entry’ — that’s like saying you apprehend most contraband at (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoints at airports,” Miller said. “You apprehend the contraband there because that’s where you have the people, the screeners. I assure you if we had screeners of that same density across every single inch and mile of the southern border, you’d have more drugs interdicted in those areas.”
In response to claims that the president was unconstitutionally taking power from Congress, Miller noted that the National Emergencies Act includes an express grant of power from the legislature to the executive branch — and also includes dispute mechanisms in case Congress disagrees with the president’s use of his authority.
“The statute, Chris, is clear on its own terms,” Miller said. “Congress has appropriated money for construction of border barriers consistently. This is part of the national security.”
Still, even a single federal judge could issue an order blocking the national emergency declaration, which has occurred nearly three dozen times so far under Trump’s watch.
The Trump administration repeatedly has condemned the increasingly common practice of one judge issuing such a sweeping order, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who concurred in the high court’s decision last year to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, wrote that such injunctions “take a toll on the federal court system—preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the executive branch.”
The stakes are high for the White House, which has struggled to see new wall funding win approval in Congress. On Friday, Trump signed a compromise spending bill that included just $1.4 billion for border security — far short of the $5.7 billion he’d requested for the wall.
The compromise legislation, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, contained enough funding for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles the White House has sought.
Still, neither party seemed enthused about the legislation, save for its provisions averting another partial federal government shutdown. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” called the bill “outrageous,” pointing to is provisions for what he called “welcoming centers for newly arriving illegal aliens, and all kinds of medical care” — a reference to the allocation of $192,700,000 in the bill’s conference agreement to enhance medical care and transportation for illegal immigrants in U.S. custody, including to shelters run by nonprofits.
The bill provided additional funding for 5,000 more beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could use to house illegal immigrants. But, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer illegal immigrants, Democrats ensured that the bill did not include funding for the 2,000 additional ICE agents requested by the Trump administration, or the 750 Border Patrol agents who also were sought.
Several Republicans, including Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy, voted against the bill, saying it didn’t properly address the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. Roy called the bill a “sham” and said it “undermines the whole point of an emergency declaration.”
Prominent Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, rejected the spending bill as well, saying it did not do enough to curb ICE.
A senior administration official told Fox News the White House planned to move $8 billion in currently appropriated or available funds toward construction of the wall. Of that, $3 billion could be diverted with help from the emergency declaration.
That money would include about $600 million from the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund. That money has been described as “easy money” that the White House can use however it wants. The White House also is expected to use drug interdiction money from the Defense Department.
But, by declaring an emergency, Trump is potentially able to unlock money from the Pentagon’s military construction budget, to the tune of $3.5 billion.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Kelly Phares, Kathleen Foster and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.
Illinois Democrats want to pass a new bill that would make gun buyers share their pubic social media accounts to police before granting them a firearm license. The bill’s proponents point to Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland High School shooter, and Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter, who both posted troubling comments before going on a rampage and killing innocent people.
Democrats this week approved legislation to require background checks for essentially all sales and transfers of firearms — but rejected GOP-led efforts to amend the legislation to alert law enforcement authorities when gun buyers, including illegal immigrants, fail those background checks.
The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the bill 23-15, in a strict party-line vote, sending it to the House floor. If approved by the full House, the bill would be the most significant gun-control legislation approved by either chamber of Congress in at least a decade — although it stands little chance of passage in the Senate, where Republicans command a slim majority.
Republicans in the House charged that H.R. 8, known as “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” should have included Florida Rep. Greg Steube’s proposed amendment to require that law enforcement be notified “when an individual attempting to purchase a firearm fails a federal background check.” (H.R. 8 was numbered in honor of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in Arizona on Jan. 8, 2011 by a mentally ill gunman.)
“Clearly, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee don’t care about preventing gun violence, they simply are playing politics with Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” Steube, a Republican, said after the vote. “The fact that Democrats do not want law enforcement notified if an individual attempting to purchase a firearm fails a background check is truly troubling.”
He continued: “In rejecting this amendment, the Democrats have shown their true colors. It is clear they are not interested in preventing gun violence or stopping the illegal purchase of firearms, but rather they are only interested in limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens to advance their own political agenda.”
Wednesday’s vote came a day before the one-year anniversary of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. However, Steube dismissed arguments that the massacre necessitated the new legislation.
“As written now, H.R. 8 would not have prevented any of the mass shootings in Florida in recent years,” Steube’s office said in a press release. “The shooter in Parkland passed a background check before purchasing a firearm, the shooter at Pulse Nightclub passed a background check before purchasing a firearm, and the shooter just weeks ago that murdered five women in District 17 passed a background check before purchasing the handgun he used in the commission of that heinous crime.”
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz echoed Steube’s concerns.
Democrats hate ICE so much, they would prefer to keep ICE from knowing when illegals try to get guns. https://t.co/S5r6fJva9z
“Democrats in the Judiciary Committee just voted against notifying ICE when an illegal alien fails a background check to buy a gun,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter. “They hate ICE so much that they’d keep ICE in the dark when illegals try to get guns!”
The vote on the bill came after a contentious, daylong hearing in which Republicans offered a series of other amendments in addition to Steube’s proposal, all of which were blocked by Democrats. Among the rejected amendments were some seeking to address background check fees, which Republicans said could be unduly burdensome for family members trying to transfer guns to relatives.
Republicans said they were ready to offer additional amendments when Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., shut off debate around 8 p.m., 10 hours after the hearing began.
Nadler called the background checks bill long overdue to address a “national crisis of gun violence” that claimed nearly 40,000 lives in 2017.
“Our country is awash in guns, and we have the shameful death toll to show for it,” he said.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the panel’s senior Republican, called Nadler’s action “disturbing” and said it did not bode well for the two-year congressional session.
“If this is the way the chairman wants to begin this session of Congress, I really wonder where we go from here” and whether the two parties can work together, Collins said.
But Democrats said Republicans were delaying a vote on the bill because they oppose universal background checks for gun purchases.
“This isn’t a debate, it’s a show,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla. She called universal background checks for all gun sales common sense and said, “Let’s move forward.”
At one point, Steube displayed a large cup that read, “The Second Amendment is my gun permit.”
Democrats have pledged additional gun legislation, including restrictions on high-capacity magazines and a measure to allow temporary removal of guns from people deemed an imminent risk to themselves or others.
Meanwhile, fellow freshman Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., said lawmakers “know background checks work, that they save lives, and yet we need to close loopholes” that allow some private purchases and transfers to be made without background checks.
“They hate ICE so much that they’d keep ICE in the dark when illegals try to get guns!”
— Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz
Instead of working with Democrats, “Republicans are adding more loopholes, which is shameful,” Dean said.
However, earlier this month, gun violence experts from the Center for Gun Policy and Research and the Violence Prevention Research Program conducted a study in Washington state, Colorado and Delaware to analyze whether state laws requiring more background checks actually resulted in more checks.
The results, published in medical journal Injury Prevention, suggest the laws had little impact.
Delaware was the only state that saw apparent results, with an increase ranging from 22 to 34 percent based on the type of firearm. But according to the study, “no overall changes were observed in Washington and Colorado.”
The study said data “external to the study” suggested Washington saw a “modest, but consistent” increase in background checks for private-party sales, and Colorado saw a similar increase in checks for non-gun show sales.
The push comes as reports emerged that an initial background check five years ago failed to flag an out-of-state felony conviction that would have prevented a man from buying the gun he used to kill five co-workers and wound six other people, including five responding police officers, at a suburban Chicago manufacturing plant this week, authorities say.
Gary Martin, who was killed in a shootout with officers Friday, ending his deadly rampage at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, was issued a firearm owner’s identification card in January 2014 after a background check failed to show a 1995 aggravated assault conviction in Mississippi, Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman said Saturday.
He bought the Smith & Wesson handgun he used in Friday’s attack two months later, on March 11, 2014, she said. Five days after that, he applied for a concealed carry permit, which included a more rigorous background check that used digital fingerprinting and that did flag his Mississippi felony conviction, which led the Illinois State Police to revoke his permit.
Separately, Republicans pushed to allow exceptions for victims of domestic violence and transfers among family members, but were dismissed by Democrats.
Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., a freshman whose son was killed by gun violence, said she has been working on gun legislation since his death more than six years ago.
“As a survivor of gun violence myself, I refuse to let my colleagues stand here and devalue the importance that this bill has,” she said.
And Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said that while the bill “can’t bring back” any of those killed in Parkland or other shootings, it will help reduce gun violence.
“If this legislation prevents one person wishing to do harm to others with a gun from doing that, it will be something we can be proud of,” he said.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.
Acting White House chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on the impact for the president’s agenda.
With less than a week to go until another potential partial federal government shutdown begins on Friday, bipartisan compromise talks on funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall have completely broken down, sources tell Fox News.
The sudden development again raised the possibility that Trump will declare a national emergency to access previously appropriated funds to initiate construction on a border wall. The White House agreed to a temporary spending bill late last month to end a historic 35-day government shutdown, although Trump said at the time that the move was not a “concession” and that he would not relent on his demands for a wall.
“Talks have broken down because Senate Republicans are refusing to compromise on limits to the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies,” a senior Democratic aide told Fox News on Sunday. “A deal that includes new physical barriers must also include limits on the number of ICE detention beds. If Senate Republicans won’t compromise with us on both, we can’t reach a deal.”
Added a GOP source: “The wall is a red herring for the Democrats. We got stuck on an interior enforcement cap.” Such a cap would effectively limit ICE’s ability to house illegal immigrants caught domestically by reducing the number of available beds in detention centers. The goal, Democrats say, is to force the Trump administration to prioritize arresting and deporting only violent criminals and dangerous offenders.
Fox News is told if negotiators can’t resolve the situation soon, they are likely looking at trying to pass another temporary continuing resolution to try to avoid a shutdown.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is leading negotiations on border wall funding, said Republicans don’t want to offer concessions on ICE enforcement.
“I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning, because time is ticking away, but we’ve got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE, that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S. and they want a cap on them,” Shelby said. “We don’t want a cap on that.”
In response to the news, Trump suggested on Sunday that Democrats are hoping to force another shutdown.
“I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal,” Trump wrote, referring to the bipartisan congressional committee working on a compromise. “They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!”
It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown. They want a new subject!
Trump added: “It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown. They want a new subject!”
As recently as last Friday, congressional negotiators said they expected a deal to be made, although some key players were pessimistic and Democrats indicated that money for physical barriers would likely end up well below the $5.7 billion that Trump has sought to begin construction of the wall.
Latest in stalled border security negotiation:
Dems want less detention beds so that we can’t hold as many people who break the law. We would have to release them.
They actually want to make it harder for DHS to enforce the laws that Congress wrote.
The amount discussed hovered much closer to $1.6 billion, participants in the negotiations said, a figure that was in a bipartisan Senate bill last year.
“That’s what we’re working toward,” said California Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard.
Speaking separately to “Fox News Sunday,” Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that an emergency declaration might not be required.
“There are other funds of money that are available to [Trump] through something called reprogramming, there is money he can get at and is legally allowed to spend,” Mulvaney said, noting that some funds were available even without declaring an emergency. “And I think it needs to be said again and again this is going to be legal — there are statutes on the book as to how any president can do this.”
Still, Mulvaney asserted that a national emergency was “absolutely on the table” and said that a wall will be built, one way or another.
“The president is going to build the wall,” Mulvaney said. “You saw what the Vice President said there, and that’s our attitude at this point ,is we will take as much money as you can give us and then we will go find money someplace else legally in order to secure that southern barrier. But this is going to get built with or without Congress.”
Earlier this weekend, Democrats seemed to draw a firm line on spending.
“Throughout the talks, Democrats have insisted that a border security compromise not be overly reliant on physical barriers,” said Evan Hollander, spokesman for Democrats who control the House Appropriations Committee. “We will not agree to $2 billion in funding for barriers.”
The White House has previously offered a three-year extension of protections for 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, in exchange for the $5.7 billion Trump has been seeking for a barrier along the nation’s southern border with Mexico. The offered deal would also extend protections for 300,000 recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program — which protects immigrants from designated countries with conditions that prevent nationals from returning safely.
Gallup Poll: “Open Borders will potentially attract 42 million Latin Americans.” This would be a disaster for the U.S. We need the Wall now!
But Democrats have called the border wall nothing more than a political stunt that they will never agree to fund, while Republicans point to what they have called a “crisis” at the border. Central Americans are increasingly entering the United States illegally in groups of at least 100 people in rugged, remote stretches of the Mexican border, authorities said Friday upon releasing January figures that show total arrests fell for a second straight month.
“The president is going to build the wall.”
— Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
A group of 325 Central Americans surrendered to agents Thursday near Lukeville, Ariz., according to Customs and Border Protection. Migrants told authorities that buses and trucks dropped them off throughout the night on a nearby Mexican highway that runs parallel to the border and they entered the U.S. together to wait for agents to find them. There were nearly 150 children, including 32 who were traveling alone.
The Border Patrol has encountered groups of at least 100 people 60 times since Oct. 1, compared to 13 during the entire 2018 fiscal year and two in the 2017 fiscal year, officials said. Many are in the desolate New Mexico Bootheel and Arizona deserts.
It is unclear what’s driving the sudden uptick of large groups in remote areas, but families, many of them Central American asylum seekers, make up a large and growing percentage of arrests across the border.
U.S. authorities arrested or stopped people for immigration violations 58,207 times in January, down 4 percent from 60,779 in December but up 62 percent from 35,905 in January 2018. It was the second straight monthly decline, though arrests typically fall from December to January.
Families and children traveling alone accounted for 33,861 of those encounters, or nearly 6 of every 10 stopped at official crossings or arrested for entering the country illegally between crossings, mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. That’s a dramatic change from several years ago, when most people who crossed illegally were single Mexican adults.
The large percentage of families and young children has stretched U.S. authorities even more in remote areas where staffing is thinner. Customs and Border Protection says medical attention was needed about 12,000 times for border crossers in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30.
On Jan. 14, a group of 376 Central Americans was arrested near San Luis, Ariz., the vast majority of them Guatemalan families who dug short, shallow holes under a barrier to cross the border, according to authorities.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.