Tag Archives: thursday

Trump Still Wants to Keep Syria’s "Beautiful Babies" Out of the US

Mother Jones

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The graphic images of the youngest victims of the recent sarin attack on Khan Sheikoun, Syria, apparently prompted President Donald Trump to have a change of heart about the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me—big impact,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday. “My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.” In a statement last night, after he gave orders to strike the Syrian air base from which the chemical weapon attack originated, Trump said, “Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”

Yet the Trump who fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria out of professed humanitarian concerns is the same one who not so long ago insisted he could look Syrian children “in the face and say, ‘You can’t come here.'” A week into his presidency, he signed an executive order that would indefinitely ban Syrians, even beautiful babies, from seeking refuge in the United States.

The irony of Trump’s sudden flare-up of compassion is not lost on the human rights advocates who have been pushing back against Trump’s attempt to shut out Syrians. “This would be a great opportunity for the president to reconsider his previous statements and to think about the fact that these refugees are fleeing precisely the type of violence we are seeing this week in Syria,” says Jennifer Sime, a senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee‘s United States programs. Trump’s newfound humanitarian concerns, Sime says, provides an opportunity “to reconsider the travel ban, to reconsider the cap on the total number of refugees who can enter this country, to reconsider the suspension on refugee resettlement in the United States, and to make our country again a welcoming country for refugees.”

A statement from the International Refugee Assistance Project following the missile strikes took a similar tone. “Rather than pay lip service to the plight of innocent Syrian children, President Trump should provide actual solutions for the children who have been languishing in refugee camps for years,” it reads. “Many refugee children have been left in life or death situations following the President’s executive order, which suspends and severely curtails the U.S. resettlement program.”

Trump has repeatedly called for the “extreme vetting” of refugees and has suggested that some, including a Syrian family with young children, might be ISIS sleepers. Kirk W. Johnson, a former United States Agency for International Development worker who has led an effort to resettle Iraqis in the United States, told Mother Jones in January that Trump’s refugee ban “reads as though 9/11 happened yesterday, and that 9/11 was carried out by refugees, which it wasn’t, and it creates a series of policy prescriptions to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, as if the stringent measures that have been put in place over the past 15 years to screen refugees don’t exist.”

After the 2013 attack in eastern Ghouta, in which the Syrian government killed more than 1,000 people with chemical weapons, Trump penned dozens of tweets imploring President Barack Obama to do nothing. “President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside,” read one. “Save your ‘powder’ for another (and more important) day!” Despite the fact that the Assad government has been responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties in the Syrian civil war, Trump previously excused its brutality by arguing that while it was bad, it was also “killing ISIS.”

If Trump’s strike on Syria was intended to curtail Assad’s ability to launch more attacks on civilians, it does not seem to have worked. An American official told ABC News that 20 Syrian aircraft were destroyed in Thursday’s strike on the Shaayrat airbase, but the runway was left untouched. Syrian warplanes have already resumed using the base to launch air strikes on rebel-held areas.

More than six years since the conflict in Syria began, nearly a half million people are dead, 6.3 million are displaced inside the country, and 4.8 million refugees have sought safety in neighboring countries. “These people didn’t flee because they wanted a change in scenery,” says Sime. “They fled because of the extreme violence, and the United States, along with other countries in the international community, should open their doors to provide refuge to these people who have been through these terrible circumstances.”

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Trump Still Wants to Keep Syria’s "Beautiful Babies" Out of the US

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Republicans Pull Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Mother Jones

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In a stunning defeat to House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump, Republicans on Friday pulled from the House floor their bill to repeal and replace the Obamacare, abruptly cancelling a vote that was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The GOP plan was originally scheduled for a vote on Thursday but was postponed amid doubts about whether it could pass. The vote was rescheduled for Friday, but apparently Republicans were still unable to cobble together enough support. Trump reportedly warned House Republicans that if they failed to pass the health care legislation, he was prepared to move on and keep Obamacare in place.

This is a breaking news post. We will update when more information becomes available.

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Republicans Pull Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

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Sean Spicer Keeps Trying to Mislead the Press About Donald Trump’s Bogus Wiretap Claims

Mother Jones

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On Thursday, mere hours after Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to fellow members of the House intelligence committee for his wild stunt the day before, White House flack Sean Spicer defended Nunes, mischaracterized what he’d revealed, and tried to perpetuate his boss’ bizarre claim that President Barack Obama had ordered “tapps” on his Trump Tower phones during the election season.

In case you missed it, Nunes, a California Republican who was on Trump’s transition team, called a press conference Wednesday to announce that he’d seen intelligence reports indicating that communications of Trump associates—maybe even Trump himself—may have been intercepted in the course of lawful intelligence-gathering on foreign targets after the election. Nunes was so “alarmed” by this that he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan, reporters (twice), and Trump himself before he shared the information with the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, which is investigating possible Trump-Russia collusion.

That Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, was incensed. In a statement Wednesday, Schiff said he’d expressed his “grave concerns” to Nunes, and told him that “a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.” Did Nunes intend to lead the Trump-Russia probe, Schiff said, “or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both.”

“The reality is that Nunes made a decision,” Spicer said at Thursday’s White House press briefing. “He briefed the press first…I don’t hear too much crying about that.”

Spicer said there was absolutely nothing wrong with Nunes going to Trump because the information had “nothing to do with Russia.” He then proceeded to mischaracterize that information, saying: “It was helpful for the president to know that the investigation as he had asked for was starting to bear fruit.” Spicer was referring to Trump’s March 5 request for Congress to investigate the president’s baseless wiretapping tweets. “What Chairman Nunes said is that there was evidence of surveillance that occurred during the election, and I think that’s important to note.”

As his boss might say: Wrong! Nunes never indicated that any Trump associates were under surveillance prior to the election. What Nunes said was that they might have been caught on tape incidentally during the transition—after the election. Nunes’ revelations in fact undermine the claim that Obama ordered Trump’s phones tapped. Ordering the illegal wiretap of an American citizen would be a serious crime. And Trump and Spicer, of all people, should know that falsely accusing someone of a serious crime is defamatory at best—if done with malicious intent, it’s also libelous.

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Sean Spicer Keeps Trying to Mislead the Press About Donald Trump’s Bogus Wiretap Claims

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It’s Raining Shoes in the Jeff Sessions Affair Today

Mother Jones

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OK, I’m back from lunch. Have any more shoes dropped in the Jeff Sess—

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process….The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and did not disclose that fact to Congress during his confirmation hearing.

Okey doke. I guess we all saw that coming. Anything el—

Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

Huh. Well, Kushner is supposedly going to be dealing with foreign policy issues, so I suppose that makes sense. It’s all above board and—

Look, can I finish a question, please? Obviously we don’t know what Sessions and Kislyak talked about, but is there any evidence at all linking their meeting to Russian hacking? Even something circumstantial?

Well, I’m sure there’s an innocent explanation for all this. Probably lots of senators chat with Kislyak now and again just to size up Russia’s intentions, don’t you think? Especially those with direct concerns about Russia, like Sessions’ fellow members of the Armed Services Committee.

Come on. All this happened while I was at lunch?

Yes.

I can hardly wait for dinner.

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It’s Raining Shoes in the Jeff Sessions Affair Today

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Republicans Finally Have a Plan to Replace Obamacare. But They Won’t Let Anyone See it.

Mother Jones

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Congressional lawmakers are scrambling to get their hands on the latest draft legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, after top Republicans moved to keep the new proposal out of sight and “under lock and key” in the basement of Congress.

Bloomberg reports the draft legislation will likely be reviewed by only members of the House Energy and Commerce panel Thursday, but physical copies of it will not be distributed for other lawmakers or the general public.

The extraordinary effort to conceal the contents of the latest replacement plan comes amid intense debate within the GOP over the extent to which the healthcare law should be changed: some favor a full repeal, while others in the party advocate keeping certain parts of the law intact. The current secrecy is also likely a response to last Friday’s leak of a now outdated version of the proposal.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined several other lawmakers on Thursday for the frantic search to find the draft bill:

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was even spotted lamenting to a bust of President Abraham Lincoln during the hunt:

The spectacle on Thursday follows a wave of rowdy town halls across the country, where thousands of protesters packed into public meeting spaces to complain to Republican lawmakers about dismantling Obamacare. Several Republican lawmakers have since voiced serious concern over repeal efforts, and the potential fallout such a repeal could have on their political futures.

The secretive, hurried process to repeal and replace Obamacare also has its ironies; Republicans were furious with Democrats for what they saw as a rushed effort starting in 2009 to pass the healthcare law without any GOP input.

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Republicans Finally Have a Plan to Replace Obamacare. But They Won’t Let Anyone See it.

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