Tag Archives: thursday

Trump Repeatedly Ducks Questions About Alleged Campaign Contacts With Russia

Mother Jones

In a wide-ranging and at-times erratic press conference that lasted more than an hour Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he had “nothing to do” with any possible contacts between his campaign associates and Russia during last year’s election. But he repeatedly declined to assure reporters that no such contacts took place.

“Well I had nothing to do with it,” Trump said when pressed on whether his campaign aides had conversations with Russian intelligence. “I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no deals there.”

At another point during the press conference, he said “nobody that I know of” from his campaign had contacts with Russia during the election.

The press conference took place two days after the New York Times reported that according to current and former US officials, intercepted phone calls showed that “members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.” On Thursday, Trump referred to that story as “a joke.” He decried “fake news put out by the media,” which he claimed was spread by “people, probably from the Obama administration, because they’re there, because we have our new people going in place, right now.”

On Monday night, Lt. General Mike Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser following a Washington Post story revealing that Flynn had discussed US sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador after the election but before Trump took office—despite denials to Vice President Mike Pence, among others.

Trump said Thursday that Flynn’s talks with the Russian ambassador weren’t the problem; rather he fired Flynn for lying to Pence: “He didn’t tell the vice president of the United States the facts, and then he didn’t remember, and that just wasn’t acceptable to me,” Trump said.

Trump denied ordering Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador, adding that Flynn was “doing his job.”

“Flynn was calling other countries and his counterparts,” said Trump. “So it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it. I didn’t direct him, but I would have directed him because that’s his job.”

Trump characterized the various stories about Russia as “ruse” used to distract from Hillary Clinton’s election loss. “You can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a fake news fabricated deal to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats, and the press plays right into it,” he said.

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Trump Repeatedly Ducks Questions About Alleged Campaign Contacts With Russia

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Trump Asks African-American Reporter to Arrange Meeting with Congressional Black Caucus

Mother Jones

During a chaotic and rambling press conference on Thursday, April Ryan, an African-American journalist with the American Urban Radio Networks, asked President Donald Trump if he would be arranging a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss actions he might be taking to help inner cities.

“Well I would,” Trump said. “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up the meeting!”

The bizarre exchange follows Trump’s repeated claims that he is the “least racist person” people would ever meet.

Following the press conference, Ryan appeared on MSNBC to discuss Trump’s comments. “I’m not a facilitator, I’m not a convener,” she said. “I am a White House correspondent. I am a reporter—a journalist.”

She did go on to note that many of the CBC members she covers were eager to meet with Trump about the administration’s policy agenda. Indeed, shortly after the press conference concluded, the CBC tweeted the following:

Ryan said on MSNBC that she would be happy to cover such a meeting between Trump and the CBC as a reporter. But she added: “I will not convene, facilitate, nothing.”

Watch:

This story has been updated with April Ryan’s MSNBC comments.

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Trump Asks African-American Reporter to Arrange Meeting with Congressional Black Caucus

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Andrew Puzder Withdraws as Labor Secretary Nominee

Mother Jones

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On Wednesday, millionaire fast-food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to become President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor. Puzder’s confirmation hearing, delayed weeks due to his failure to submit required financial and ethics paperwork, was set for Thursday.

With his nomination facing stiff opposition from labor groups, Puzder had been bleeding support in recent days. On Wednesday, Mother Jones published details of some of the 39 labor violation claims that have been brought against his company, CKE, which owns both Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Also on Wednesday, Politico obtained and published video of a 1990 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, wore a disguise and claimed he abused her. (Winfrey handed over the tape at the request of senators.)

Earlier in the day, National Review tried to get ahead of the nomination’s impending collapse by opposing it on immigration grounds. But as MoJo‘s Kevin Drum noted, it was probably just to change the narrative.

Well, it turns out he’s soft on immigration: he supports comprehensive immigration reform rather than walls and high-profile raids. Can’t have that. And just by coincidence, NR’s opposition comes shortly after we learned that Puzder “employed an undocumented housekeeper for several years and failed to pay related taxes.” I don’t think NR actually cares about that, though. They only care that it gives Democrats a hook to fire up the opposition. Why give them a victory that will just make them even smugger than usual? Might as well pull the plug now and pretend that it was all because conservatives have such high moral standards.

This is a developing story and we’ll update as more information becomes available.

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Andrew Puzder Withdraws as Labor Secretary Nominee

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The Trump Deportation Regime Has Begun

Mother Jones

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Early Thursday, immigration attorneys in Los Angeles started getting calls from clients across the city. Some callers reported being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at their homes. Others were caught at their workplaces, including one man detained at a Target store. The first round of Trump-era deportation sweeps had begun.

The news quickly filtered back to immigrant rights activists, who confirmed the detentions and alerted their networks. According to Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), as many as 134 immigrants were detained in the sweep. Based on her conversations with lawyers, many of those detained had outstanding orders for deportation—and some were sent back to Mexico as early as Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday evening, activists held a vigil at ICE’s downtown Los Angeles field office. Later, an estimated 100 to 150 protesters blocked a nearby highway on-ramp:

In a Friday afternoon press release, ICE said 160 immigrants were arrested during what it called a “five-day targeted enforcement operation” in Southern California that was “aimed at at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives.” Of the 160, ICE claimed that 150 had criminal histories, and that 5 of the remaining 10 had final orders of removal or had been previously deported. While the release said “many of the arrestees had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses,” ICE did not give a full breakdown of those convictions.

Earlier Friday, an ICE spokeswoman told Mother Jones that “enforcement surges have been part of our operational play book for many years.” The subsequent press release echoed that line: “The focus was no different than the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis.”

The sweep was the second high-profile ICE action in two days. On Wednesday night, immigration agents in Phoenix found themselves swarmed by protesters when they attempted to deport Guadalupe García de Rayos, a 35-year-old Mexican immigrant with two teenage children who are American citizens. García de Rayos had been caught using a fake Social Security number during an ICE workplace raid in 2008.

García de Rayos’ deportation sent shock waves through the immigrant rights community and dominated Spanish-language media on Thursday. Ever since the 2008 raid, she had checked in annually with ICE to review her case—brief meetings that always resulted in her walking free, even though she had been convicted of a felony and later had a deportation order against her. This partly reflected the Obama administration’s emphasis on deporting serious criminal offenders. But her deportation to Nogales, Mexico, signals that the Trump administration plans to follow through with its plans to remove all undocumented immigrants who’ve committed “acts that constitute a chargeable offense”—which, as Vox‘s Dara Lind has pointed out, could include everything from entering the country illegally to driving without a license. (In a statement to reporters Thursday, ICE said it will “focus on identifying and removing individuals with felony convictions who have final orders of removal.”)

Indeed, social media was abuzz Friday with rumors of deportation raids throughout the country. On a conference call late in the day, Dave Marin, ICE’s LA field office director for enforcement and removal operations, confirmed that there were also operations in Atlanta, Chicago, and New York during the week. And Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted Friday afternoon about additional ICE activity in South and Central Texas:

“A lot of things have changed since January 20,” says CHIRLA’s Salas. She notes that during the Obama years, ICE would typically give groups like CHIRLA basic information such as names and the number of people detained following any large sweep or workplace raid. But Salas says she finds it troubling that following Thursday’s actions, there was little to no communication with the agency. “It’s important that we don’t get used to the idea that they don’t have to give out this information,” she says.

CHIRLA is currently focusing on educating immigrant communities on civil and constitutional rights. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, greater Los Angeles is home to 1 million undocumented immigrants—second only to the New York City area, which is home to 1.15 million. On Friday, the group ran hourly know-your-rights workshops, and it’s also holding legal clinics where immigrants can get advice. Similar efforts have been happening nationwide: Earlier this week, for example, public school educators in Austin, Texas, handed out flyers to students in English and Spanish about what to do in an encounter with immigration officials.

Salas says that organizers’ next step is to continue to engage elected officials. Notably, Rep. Ruben Gallegos (D-Ariz.) and California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León have criticized ICE on Twitter over the last day.

“We have to set the tone,” Salas says, “that this is not acceptable.”

This story has been updated.

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The Trump Deportation Regime Has Begun

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Top General Tells Senate We Can Win in Afghanistan With Just a “Few Thousand” More Troops

Mother Jones

I almost forgot about this:

The commander of the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, warning that the United States and its NATO allies are facing a “stalemate,” told Congress on Thursday that he needed a few thousand additional troops to more effectively train and advise Afghan soldiers.

“We have a shortfall of a few thousand,” Gen. John W. Nicholson said in a sober assessment of America’s longest war to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A few thousand! We weren’t able to stamp out the Taliban and train the Afghan army when we had over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, but Nicholson wants us to believe we can break the current stalemate with just a few thousand more troops? Is he serious?

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Top General Tells Senate We Can Win in Afghanistan With Just a “Few Thousand” More Troops

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