Fuel-guzzling California threatens Trump administration over fracking plan

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California leads the nation in the consumption of gasoline and jet fuel. The oil and gas industry provides more than 360,000 jobs and fracking helps the sector to pump annually into the state economy more than $55 billion in tax revenues.

Yet, today, state officials are threatening legal action after the Trump administration opened 1.2 million acres of federal land to drilling after a six-year moratorium.

“The Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to expose more than a million acres of public land in Central California to drilling and fracking using a patently deficient environment impact study,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “That’s not how we do things in California. We’re prepared to do whatever we must to protect the health and safety of our people. We intend to be good stewards of our public lands.”


Unlike drilling on private or state lands, the federal government collects a 12.5-percent royalty on every barrel of oil and gas produced on federal lands, providing billions to programs Congress approves. The BLM says drilling on the newly approved lands could generate $200 million annually and create 3,500 jobs in the Central Valley.

“This is a good thing, it gives California an opportunity to produce more of its own oil," said Bob Poole, of the Western State Petroleum Association.

"Currently, California uses 2 million barrels a day. Of those two million, we import over a million every day. This gives us the most opportunities available for us to produce our own energy under the most stringent environmental regulations.”

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in for Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis - RC1F370F7150

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremonial swearing-in for Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis – RC1F370F7150

Environmentalists are not buying it. They oppose any new drilling and fear fracking will pollute groundwater and nearby waterways.

“We won’t let California’s stunning public lands be fracked and drilled without a fight,” said Clare Lakewood, an attorney for the Center for Biodiversity. “Trump and the oil industry want to expose our communities and wildlife to more toxic pollution. The future of our state and our fight against the climate crisis depend on stopping this vast fracking expansion in its tracks.”

The BLM says its court-ordered analysis found no adverse environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing or drilling.


The administration's decision in California comes less than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would impose a moratorium on new high-pressure steam injection wells and review of all fracking permit applications.

“These are necessary steps to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on clean energy sources,” Newsom said in a written statement.

But the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog claims Newsom approved 17 percent more drilling permits this year than it greenlighted under former Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration last year.

"Natural gas is the backbone of the generation sector in California," said Christopher Guith, of the U.S. Chamber's Global Energy Institute. "You can't have the massive amounts of renewables that California wants without gas. They need gas and their policies don't work without it. They should be thanking the Trump Administration for providing additional sources of gas that will help them run their economy."

A FracTracker website maps where new oil and gas wells are approved in California. Among others, it claims Newsom isn't doing enough to ban fracking and halt new permits. It shows Newsom approved more fracking permits than Brown.


Fracking, which injects water, sand, and certain chemicals at high pressure into tight rock formations, is common in the 10 California counties that produce oil. In Kern County, California's major oil-producing area, up to 60 percent of new oil wells are fracked, according to estimates by Halliburton.

Original Article

Trump administration sanctions Nicaraguan president’s son for alleged corruption, money laundering

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The son of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega faced financial sanctions from the White House on Thursday, after the Trump administration reprimanded him for alleged corruption and money laundering.

Rafael Ortega incurred the wrath of the U.S. government officials after committing human rights violations and acts of financial deception, according to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"This new action furthers the United States’ unwavering commitment to use all economic and diplomatic tools to hold the government of Daniel Ortega accountable for acts of corruption and unconscionable human rights violations, and to support the Nicaraguan people’s struggle for a return to democracy," Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo cited an executive order from President Trump as the foundation for freezing Rafael Ortega's assets and accused him of working in secret to launder ill-gotten gains through seemingly legitimate enterprises.

"Rafael Ortega is a key money manager for the Ortega family, working alongside the previously sanctioned Vice President of Nicaragua and First Lady Rosario Murillo," Pompeo continued.


"Rafael Ortega uses at least two companies under his control, Inversiones Zanzibar, S.A and Servicio De Proteccion Y Vigilancia, S.A., to generate profits, launder money, and gain preferential access to markets for the Ortega regime. He uses Inversiones Zanzibar to obscure the transfer of profits from Distribuidor Nicaraguense de Petroleo, also designated today, and as a front company to procure fuel stations in an attempt to obscure DNP’s ownership of such fuel stations," he said.

The State Department also alleged that Ortega granted non-competitive government contracts to his cronies in an effort to reward political allies and stifle healthy competition.

"The United States urges the Ortega regime to resume dialogue with the opposition and restore democracy in the country, thereby fulfilling its obligations under the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Pompeo said.

"Nicaragua’s painful political crisis can only be resolved through free and fair elections that credibly reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people and with full respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms," he added.


In July 2018, Daniel Ortega rejected calls for an early election in response to the country's political unrest. His tenure has been rocked by protests and accusations of dictatorial corruption. His current term is up in 2021.

Original Article

Trump administration’s new food stamp policy stirs debate over work requirements

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How the Trump administration's new food stamp restrictions may affect certain states

The Trump administration last week proposed a new rule implementing work requirements for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP. Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile argues policies like these are why President Trump was elected while Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein counters that the latest announcement is just another addition to the Trump administration's unrelenting attack on low-income people in need of food assistance.

The Trump administration's proposal to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients has ignited a debate over benefits for low-income people and cuts to government spending.

Last week, the administration proposed a new rule targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, which feeds more than 36 million people. The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.


Hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the program could be adversely impacted, critics of the proposal say.

In an interview with Fox News, Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein argued that the latest announcement is just another example of the Trump administration’s attacks on low-income people in need of assistance. Weinstein said President Trump’s food stamp proposal “will take the poorest of the poor and deny assistance to nearly 700,000 of them, and that means there'll be more hunger, and less access to food."

Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile, however, argued that policies like these are why Trump was elected, saying it will not only encourage self-sufficiency, but it will save taxpayers dollars. The Agriculture Department has claimed it could save $5.5 billion over five years.

“This is what the president was elected to do. To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

— Tom Basile

“This is what the president was elected to do,” said Basile. “To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week argued the move would encourage self-sufficiency and employment.

"Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” Perdue said.

Weinstein argued that calling the food stamps a “handout” is a mischaracterization and that they provide a modicum of stability in the lives of America’s very poor.

“The food assistance America’s poor get, which is very modest, around $160 a month, helps them stabilize their lives just a little bit,” Weinstein said. “It makes work more possible, and by cutting that away from them, work will be even harder.”

Trump administration set to tighten work requirements for food stampsVideo

Both Weinstein and Basile offered words of advice to the Trump administration. Basile advised highlighting fiscal responsibility, the low unemployment rate, and job openings across the country.

“For the Trump administration to say that we want to try to responsibly bring down the number of people who are on food stamp programs, if they are able-bodied adults, is not only the responsible thing, but will save taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Basile. “It will contribute to the ultimate goal of greater stability and economic prosperity.”

Weinstein, however, argued that the SNAP is a basic aid that helps secure people’s lives.

“That ought to remain the underpinning for moving people to more stable employment in a strong economy,” said Weinstein. “It should be especially a time when we offer training and support to people. So if there are jobs they can take, they can connect to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Supreme Court temporarily blocks Trump administration request to resume federal executions

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The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from resuming federal executions in an attempt to put to death four convicted murderers. The executions were slated to begin next week.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling imposed last month after inmates claimed executions by lethal injection would violate federal law.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., had imposed a temporary injunction on executions, saying they would conflict with federal law. That ruling was upheld Monday by a three-judge federal appeals court.


In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Attorney General William Barr announced in July that the federal government would resume executions after a 16-year break, using a single drug — pentobarbital — to put inmates to death. A legal battle has drawn out over that time over the drugs used for lethal injections.

Federal executions were all but halted after the government found it difficult to obtain the three-drug cocktail needed for such injections.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal battle would continue.

"While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,” she said in a statement.

In a two-page statement, three justices — Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — wrote they expected the Trump administration to prevail in court.

"The Court has expressed the hope that the Court of Appeals will proceed with 'appropriate dispatch,' and I see no reason why the Court of Appeals should not be able to decide this case, one way or the other, within the next 60 days," Alito said.

Federal government to resume capital punishment for first time since 2003Video


The government had scheduled the execution of Danny Lee, who was convicted of killing a family of three — including an 8-year-old — on Monday. Wesley Ira Purkey had been scheduled to be put to death Dec. 13 for the murder and dismemberment of a 16-year-old girl and the slaying of an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio.

Executions for Alfred Bourgeois, who beat, tortured and molested his 2-year-old daughter, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people — including two children, were scheduled for January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration releases $105M military aid for Lebanon after months of delay

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The Trump administration has released $105 million in military assistance to Lebanon after months of delay without providing an explanation.

The money for the Lebanese Armed Forces had languished in the Office of Management and Budget since September even after it won congressional approval.

No reason was ever given for not releasing it, even as Lebanon descended into anti-government protests after leaders announced new taxes on calls made using social media apps like WhatsApp.


Lebanese marine special forces soldiers march during a military parade to mark the 76th anniversary of Lebanon's independence from France last month. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Lebanese marine special forces soldiers march during a military parade to mark the 76th anniversary of Lebanon's independence from France last month. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Prime Minister Saad Hariri was forced to resign last month over the mass demonstrations.

The funds were released just before the Thanksgiving holiday and lawmakers were notified on Monday, The Associated Press reported. The White House has not explained the reason for the delay.

The withholding of foreign aid by the White House has become a central focus of House Democrats' impeachment efforts in recent weeks. They allege that Trump withheld $400 million in military aid for Ukraine until that country's government opened an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and Hunter's actions while on the board of natural gas company Burisma Holdings.

David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department brought up the aid to Lebanon while testifying in an impeachment hearing last month, saying diplomats had growing concerns about the delay.

Some Democratic lawmakers pressed the White House for an explanation last month for a reason for the delay.

Lebanese protesters wave their national flag, as they march in Beirut, Lebanon on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese protesters wave their national flag, as they march in Beirut, Lebanon on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The State Department called on Lebanon to use the money to rein in corruption and implement economic reforms.


The aid is intended to counter Iran's growing influence in Lebanon, which is home to Hezbollah, a Shiite militant and political party aligned with Iran. The U.S. has designated the group as a foreign terrorist organization.

The national security community believes the aid will be used to purchase U.S.-made military equipment for the Lebanese army.

Original Article

As Trump administration confronts migrant crisis, detention centers are clearing out

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Inside Trump’s immigration tent courts

An inside look into President Trump’s immigration tent court system.

DONNA, Texas — As the migrant crisis at the southern border hit its peak over the summer, media outlets were filled with stories of overcrowded detention centers, adults and children living in squalid conditions, and overworked and exhausted border agents.

But now, the situation on the ground has changed significantly.


Amid a series of sweeping actions from the Trump administration — including the expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) that return migrants to Mexico to await their immigration hearings, increased cooperation with countries south of the border like Guatemala, and new border wall — apprehensions have declined dramatically by more than 70 percent since May.

Soft-sided migrant facilities in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

Soft-sided migrant facilities in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

It means that a number of the soft-sided facilities here in Texas, which were packed during the summer, are now sparsely populated by comparison.

Migrants mill around in holding areas, watching movies on big-screen TVs and playing soccer in the vast empty spaces. At a facility in Donna, Texas, which new Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf toured last week, accompanied by Fox News, there were storage units with piles of clothes, food, drinks and snacks piled high for migrants brought to the center.

Supplies in a migrant detention facility in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

Supplies in a migrant detention facility in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Rodolfo Karisch told Fox News at the facility that the difference from the summer is dramatic. While agents had been apprehending 12,000 migrants per week in the sector at one point, now that rate is about 2,000 per week.

“The number of people we were holding here in the summer was 9,000, and if you look through the entire sector now we only have 1,000 people in custody, so it shows how numbers have steadily declined, primarily because of the assistance we've received from Mexico, but also initiatives like MPP … that have reduced the flow,” he said. In Donna, Karisch said roughly 400 people in custody are spread across three facilities.


What has also helped agents, specifically in terms of supplies, is the $4.6 billion emergency funding supplemental for the border that was passed in June and provided humanitarian aid for dealing with the migrant crisis.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf tours a migrant facility in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf tours a migrant facility in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

"My only regret is that Congress didn't provide that supplemental funding quicker," Wolf told Fox News after the tour. "Had they provided it quicker, you'd have seen those resources up quicker and a lot of those conditions and the like would have been averted."

Helping capacity challenges is that, with methods in place to speed up deportations and send migrants to Mexico for their hearings or to Guatemala, the average stay for a migrant in detention is less than 60 hours, officials say.

To be sure, the detention facilities are a stark holding center for migrants. Simple mattresses line the floor, as guards stand watch over those inside. The centers are not where they wanted to end up in their journey north.

But conditions have improved, with officials pointing to the quality of care those seeking asylum in the U.S. receive. Officials say that apprehended migrants are given an initial medical screening in the field, then another when brought to the center. Migrants are then given clean clothes, while the clothes in which they arrived are washed and given back to them.


“We take every precaution to make sure we can care for people as best we can, showers, we’ve got washing machines, pods where people are watching television while waiting for them to be transported elsewhere,” Karisch said.

There are also security measures in place, including rapid DNA testing when officials suspect that there is an instance of family fraud.

"We were finding about 30 percent of individuals that were coming across with children have no family ties and often were complete strangers," Karisch said. "At the height of the summer that number increased to about 50 percent but that has since lowered."

A processing room at a Texas migrant detention facility sits empty. 

A processing room at a Texas migrant detention facility sits empty.

It is unlikely to stop the criticism that federal immigration authorities are facing. Democratic presidential hopefuls such as Sen. Bernie Sanders have called for the closing of detention centers, as well as a moratorium on deportations. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is due to rule soon on MPP, which Trump administration officials have warned could spark a fresh migrant crisis if it is shut down.

Meanwhile, Democrats are continuing to hit Trump for family separations resulting from the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on border crossings it adopted in May 2018 and then rescinded. A new report from the Homeland Security inspector general said they could not even count the total number of separations and eventual reunifications because DHS lacked computer systems to track all of them, and “various ad hoc methods” caused “widespread errors.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the new chairwoman of House Oversight Committee, said in a statement that the report “pulls back the curtain on the Administration’s cruelty, incompetence, and indifference to the suffering of children who were taken from their parents under President Trump’s child separation policy.”

Pro-migrant and humanitarian groups also have expressed concern at sending migrants back to Mexico and Guatemala, saying this exposes them to risks of persecution and poor conditions.

Beds at a migrant detention facility in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

Beds at a migrant detention facility in Texas. (Adam Shaw/Fox News)

In addition, there have been increasing reports of poor and squalid conditions in Mexico, suggesting to immigrant rights activists that the system has simply pushed these conditions south of the border.

But the Trump administration claims to be pursuing a balanced approach — getting tough at the border while also caring for migrants in custody.


"The men and women of Border Patrol often get wrongfully criticized — they do fantastic and outstanding work each and every day protecting the homeland dealing with a crisis that I don't think anyone truly understands," Wolf said.

"They did the absolute very best they could and are operating what I consider just almost first-class facilities given the resources they have, caring for the migrants at the facilities and making sure they get the resources they need, food clothing, shelter, showers and the like," he said.

He noted that officers on the ground don't necessarily sign up for doing humanitarian work when they join Border Patrol, wanting instead to protect America's border.

"But you know what, they don't complain about it, they accept that's part of their job and do it each and every day," he said.

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration to expand ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ program at key border crossings

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Inside Trump’s immigration tent courts

An inside look into President Trump’s immigration tent court system.

MCALLEN, Texas — The Trump administration is strengthening a key immigration program in two critical areas along the southern border – as officials say they must keep up with shifting migrant flows that are adapting to U.S. efforts.

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, was established in January and expanded over the summer amid greater cooperation with Mexico. The policy involves returning migrants to Mexico as they await their immigration hearings, with courtrooms set up at key border sites, instead of them being released into the interior.


Beginning Friday, the agency is further expanding MPP to the Tucson Sector of Arizona. It comes in response to a surge in migrant flows in that area, reflecting groups adapting to the implementation of MPP at other hotspots along the border.

Officials say that migrants crossing the border there will now be bussed over to El Paso, where they can be returned to Mexico and there is capacity and shelter — and MPP has already been in place for six months.

“We track pretty specifically the different flows and where folks are crossing the border, and what we saw as we turned on MPP across the border, the flows stopped in those locations and they went to a different location,” Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News. “So this continues to be a dynamic process, and it’s not ‘we put one thing in place and it solves the problem.' Every day and every week we’re having to adjust.”

The strengthening at Tucson was first reported by The Washington Post, which reported that officials estimate DHS will send at least one busload a day to El Paso.

In addition to Tucson, the agency is planning on strengthening MPP at Del Rio Sector as well in the coming days and weeks, Fox News has learned.

Officials will use similar measures as in Tucson but also intend to make this a location where migrants can be returned to Mexico as well, and then return to Laredo, Texas for court proceedings. But this requires cooperation with Mexico, as well as additional preparations across multiple agencies that can take weeks.


“We’re strengthening our MPP program in Tucson sector and Del Rio sector because what we’ve seen as we’ve tracked these flows is they’re going in these sectors where MPP is maybe not as strong as it could be,” Wolf told Fox News. “So we’re continuing to reassess that and putting in and strengthening those measures, and we’ll see them move elsewhere but that’s part of what Border Patrol does, what CBP does and what DHS does.”

Mark Morgan: Mexico is doing exactly what they promised to stop migrant caravansVideo

MPP has been a cornerstone of the administration’s immigration policy, specifically in its quest to end “catch-and-release” where migrants are released into the U.S. to await hearings. The administration flagged that practice as a pull factor that was drawing migrants north at a rate that marked a new migrant crisis for the region and for the U.S.

But, as the Mexican government increased cooperation with the U.S. after President Trump threatened to slap tariffs on its southern neighbor, it has coincided with dramatic results at the border – including a 70 percent decrease in apprehensions since the highs of May. It has been combined with a series of regional agreements on migration – including one with Guatemala, which saw migrants starting being flown there on Thursday.


While humanitarian groups have expressed concerns about MPP, warning the migrants could face violence on return to Mexico, the Trump administration says it drastically cuts down the time it takes to adjudicate a claim from years to just a few months.

However, the program faces a significant headwind in the form of a court challenge that could wreak havoc on those efforts. The liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule on the case in the coming weeks.

Original Article

Trump administration delivers warning to liberal states moving to bar ICE from courthouses

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Are sanctuary cities doing more harm than good?

Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren says 'no one is safer' under sanctuary city and state policies.

EXCLUSIVE: Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf are warning state supreme courts in Washington and Oregon that moves to stop federal immigration enforcement from making arrests in and around courthouses will create an “unacceptable risk” by letting illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes loose in communities.

“Regardless of how one views our immigration laws, we should all agree that public safety should be of paramount concern,” says the letter from Barr and Wolf to chief justices in those states, obtained by Fox News. “Court rules that would purport to further restrict the lawful operations of federal law enforcement officials only serve to exacerbate sanctuary laws and policies that continue to place our communities at unacceptable risk.”


Letter from DOJ and DHS to Oregon and Washington courts by Fox News on Scribd

The letter comes after Oregon’s Supreme Court restricted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from making arrests of illegal immigrants in and around courthouses without a judicial warrant. Washington is reportedly considering adopting similar rules.

The Trump administration as a whole has been aggressively pushing back against “sanctuary city” policies that bar state and local cooperation with detainers issued by federal immigration authorities. Those detainers are requests that ICE be notified when an illegal immigrant is due to be released from custody so they can be deported.

While advocates of those sanctuary policies say that they encourage cooperation of immigrant communities with law enforcement, opponents note the countless number of criminals who have been released onto the streets, with many going on to re-offend.

“These states laws and policies force state and local officers to release criminal aliens into communities in your States, endangering the public and forcing it to bear the cost of any additional criminal acts they may proceed to commit,” Barr and Wolf said. “These policies have resulted in the release of criminal aliens with convictions for serious and violent offenses, such as domestic violence assaults, firearms offenses, drug trafficking offenses, and violation of protection orders.”

ICE says Los Angeles' sanctuary city policy releases 100 criminals a dayVideo

With the letter, the administration includes examples in Oregon and Washington of convicted criminals who have been released, with some going on to re-offend. One of those cited is the case of an illegal immigrant from Honduras with prior criminal convictions, for whom ICE lodged a detainer in 2017 – but he was released from a Washington state jail. In January 2018, the man was arrested again and booked for the second-degree murder and the dismemberment of his cousin.


“Put simply, the policies you are considering endanger the public and hamper law enforcement by interfering with that lawful process,” the letter says.

The letter, coming from two top department chiefs, is the latest sign of the administration ramping up its efforts against sanctuary cities. Acting ICE Director Matt Albence has held a series of press conferences highlighting the dangers of sanctuary policies, while the department is releasing lists of those with serious arrests who could one day be released into communities.

That push has seen signs of success already.


Montgomery County, Md, recently rolled back some of its policies amid intense criticism from administration officials, after a series of released illegal immigrants were later arrested on suspicion of sex offenses.

Meanwhile, voters in Tucson, Arizona this month voted against a measure to make the city an official sanctuary city and impose even more measures on officers trying to enforce federal immigration law.

Original Article

Graham demands documents on Ukraine, Bidens, Obama administration from 2016

closeGraham demands Biden documents from the State DepartmentVideo

Graham demands Biden documents from the State Department

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Hunter Biden, impeachment hearings on 'Hannity.'

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Graham’s letter, which was released as the final day of public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump wrapped up, asked Pompeo to release a series of documents and transcripts of conversations in 2016 between Biden and Poroshenko in relation to an investigation into the Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings.

Burisma – and more specifically, Hunter Biden’s role on the company’s board of directors – has become one of the main talking points from Trump and the Republicans amid the impeachment inquiry into the president.


Speaking on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Wednesday night, Graham said the phone calls between Biden and Poroshenko coincided with the time frame in which a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was fired.

“I want to know, are there any transcripts or readouts of the phone calls between the vice president and the president of Ukraine in February [2016] after the raid on the gas company president's house,” Graham said. “After this raid, Hunter Biden kicks in. Hunter Biden's business partner meets with [then-Secretary of State] John Kerry, and Vice President Biden on three occasions makes a phone call to the president of Ukraine and goes over there in March and they fire the guy, and this is the same man that the ambassador wanted investigated in 2015.”

Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings at a time when Hunter Biden sat on its board and while the vice president was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, many Western nations had supported Shokin’s firing.

Fiona Hill: Many officials 'bet on the wrong horse'Video

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, have been pushing Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., to subpoena Hunter Biden.

Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., along with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, penned a scathing letter to Schiff in which they slammed the “sham ‘impeachment inquiry’” and notified the chairman of their intent to subpoena Biden and the whistleblower whose report sparked in the inquiry. Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, has been appointed as a temporary member of the House Intelligence Committee.

“The American people understand how you have affirmatively prevented Republicans from examining serious issues directly relevant to the issues,” the two GOP lawmakers told Schiff in their letter. “Therefore, to provide some basic level of fairness and objectivity to your ‘impeachment inquiry,’ we intend to subpoena the anonymous whistleblower and Hunter Biden for sworn testimony in closed-door depositions.”

Bret Baier on fallout from Gordon Sondland's testimony, future of Democrats' impeachment pushVideo

The whistleblower last August reported that Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a public investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why the former vice president pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin. The complaint questioned whether Trump withheld military aid and the opportunity of a White House meeting from Zelensky until Ukraine publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens. Trump and the White House repeatedly have denied the president did anything wrong.

On Wednesday, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said he never heard directly from Trump on a quid pro quo linking military aid for Ukraine to politically advantageous investigations.

But, Sondland said, “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if Zelensky agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the Bidens. And, he testified that he came to presume aid was linked to investigations too.


He said he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy Departments and White House staff.

Sondland added: “It was no secret.”

Fox News Charles Creitz contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration begins sending migrants to Guatemala as part of ‘safe third country’ agreement

The Trump administration on Thursday announced that it has started to send migrants to Guatemala as part of its “safe third country” agreement with the Central American country – a boost for the administration’s effort to enlist other nations in the fight against the migrant crisis.Original Article

Trump administration eases US stance toward Israeli settlements in West Bank

closeTrump administration reverses Obama policy on Israeli settlementsVideo

Trump administration reverses Obama policy on Israeli settlements

Rich Edson report Secretary Mike Pompeo announced a major change on Israel policy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the U.S. government will ease its stance on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in the latest move by the Trump administration to bolster Israel's position and undermine Palestinian claims regarding land sought for a future state.

Pompeo essentially rejected a 1978 State Department legal opinion holding that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” He also said the White House was reversing an Obama administration directive that allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law.

"The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration's opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank," Pompeo said. "The establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is not inconsistent with international law."


Pompeo added that the Trump administration believes that calling the Israeli settlements illegal under international law is not moving a peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians forward.

“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” he said. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”

Pompeo added: "The vision of peace this administration has, we've created space for this."

Trump already broke with his predecessors by deciding earlier to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy to that city and closing the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.

Even though the decision is largely symbolic, it could give a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections.

Israel says airstrikes on terror targets in Gaza are complete, will abide by cease-fireVideo

In addition, it could spell further trouble for the administration’s oft-promised peace plan, which is unlikely to gather much international support by endorsing a position contrary to the global consensus.

The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements just last week when the European Court of Justice ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such.


The 1978 legal opinion on settlements is known as the Hansell Memorandum. It had been the basis for more than 40 years of carefully worded U.S. opposition to settlement construction that had varied in its tone and strength depending on the president’s position.

The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory.

"It hasn't worked," Pompeo said about the Obama administration's move. "It hasn't advanced the cause of peace."

Israel hits targets in Gaza as rocket fire resumesVideo

Pompeo said that the U.S. would not take a position on the legality of specific settlements and that that the new policy would not extend beyond the West Bank and create a precedent for other territorial disputes. He added that the decision did not mean the administration was prejudging the status of the West Bank in any eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

“This is only solved by negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinians,” he added.

The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, along with AP reporting, has found a sharp increase in settlement planning and construction since Trump took office.

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and quickly began settling the newly conquered territory.

Today, some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the two areas, which are both claimed by the Palestinians for their state. After the war, it immediately annexed east Jerusalem, home to the holy city’s most important religious sites, in a move that is not internationally recognized.


But Israel has never annexed the West Bank, even as it has dotted the territory with scores of settlements and tiny settlement outposts. While claiming the fate of the settlements is a subject for negotiations, it has steadily expanded them.

Some major settlements have over 30,000 residents, resembling small cities and serving as suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Palestinians and supporters say the settlements undermine hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up land sought by the Palestinians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Attorney General Barr accuses the left of systemic ‘sabotage’ of Trump administration

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Left accuses Trump of witness intimidation during impeachment hearings

Reaction and analysis from Claremont Institute senior fellow John Eastman and former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray.

Attorney General Bill Barr accused congressional Democrats Friday of “using every tool” to “sabotage” the Trump administration by setting a “dangerous” precedent in implying that the government is illegitimate.

During a speech at the Federalist Society’s dinner in Washington, Barr took aim at the “resistance,” accusing liberal lawmakers of attacking the very foundations of the Constitution.


“I deeply admire the American presidency as a political and constitutional institution,” he began. “Unfortunately over the past several decades, we have seen a steady encroachment on executive authority by the other branches of the government.”

Barr said the “avalanche of subpoenas” and constant attempt to derail appointments by the Trump administration have only served to “incapacitate” the executive branch.

“Immediately after President Trump won the election, opponents inaugurated what they called the ‘resistance’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.”

“The cost of this constant harassment is real,” he continued.

Bar likened the language used by Trump’s opponents to that of groups who attempt to overthrow militant rule of seized governments.


Critics cry 'witness intimidation' over Trump tweets on impeachmentVideo

“Now resistance is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous and, indeed, incendiary notation to import into the politics of a democratic republic.”

He continued: “They essentially see themselves engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.”

Barr claimed that while Trump’s presidency falls outside the norm of previous administrations, he was elected with the public fully aware of this.

“The fact is, that, yes, while the president has certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio, he was upfront about what he was going to do and the people decided that he was going to serve as president."


Barr’s comments came on the same as Congress held a second public hearing in the House impeachment inquiry.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration proposes fees on asylum applications, DACA renewals

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Trump allows border agents to interview asylum seekers

Reaction and analysis from former acting ICE director and Fox News contributor Tom Homan.

The Trump administration announced Friday that it is proposing to increase fees on immigrants seeking to enter the U.S., including a controversial $50 fee on asylum applications that quickly drew Democratic opposition.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a proposed rule that would adjust fees in what it says is a move to meet operational needs. It says the average increase is 21 percent. If left at their current level, USCIS would be underfunded by $1.3 billion a year, the agency said.


Among the most controversial fees would be a $50 fee on affirmative asylum applications. These are asylum claims made from within the U.S., and therefore would not apply to people arriving across the U.S.-Mexico border or other ports of entry.

The rule would also slap a $275 fee for the two-year renewal of recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the Obama-era policy that shielded some illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors from deportation. Separately, green card holders applying to become citizens would be charged $1,170 for filing the form, rather than $640.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

“Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request,” he said.

Ken Cuccinelli: Trump administration will succeed on immigration if 'the courts don't get in our way'Video

However, the move came under fire from Democrats and even former USCIS officials who were particularly enraged by the asylum fee.


Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, pledged to fight the proposed introduction of the asylum fee.

“People seeking asylum have to deal with enough challenges already. Tacking a fee on to their troubles would be cruel,” she said. “I will fight against this proposed policy and every single one that further harms people who are fleeing violence, abuse, and poverty.”

“This administration repeatedly claims it is only going after irregular migration but this rule is very specifically about legal immigration,” Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel for USCIS, told Buzzfeed News, which first reported on the rule. “This rule shows their true colors.”

The proposals come as part of a series of measures that the administration has pushed that opponents say have increased barriers to poorer immigrants and asylum seekers seeking to make a home in the U.S.


USCIS over the summer announced the public charge rule, which tightens guidance about whether immigrants who are deemed likely to be reliant on welfare should be granted green cards. It also issued a rule that would require immigrants applying for visas to prove that they have health insurance or can cover medical costs while in the U.S.

Both rules have been blocked by federal judges in recent weeks.

Fox News' Melissa Leon contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration must provide mental health services to migrant families, federal judge says

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A federal judge in California earlier this week ruled that the Trump administration must provide mental health services to thousands of migrant parents and children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a report.


Judge John Kronstadt of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles said that under the “state-created danger” doctrine, the federal government is liable for inflicting psychological trauma on those families separated between 2017 and 2018, the New York Times reported.

A group of migrant families filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in September, arguing that they suffered “life-altering” trauma that would “continue to affect their mental and emotional well-being for years to come.” Several plaintiffs claimed that for months parents were not given clear information about the whereabouts of their children and were unable to communicate with them on a regular basis.

Tuesday’s decision said these services would include mental health screenings, psychological counseling and possibly other forms of long-term treatment.


Under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, the Justice Department began to criminally prosecute and jail adults who crossed the border illegally from Mexico. About 3,000 migrant children were separated as a result, according to figures from the federal government released last month. Following months of public outcry, Trump suspended the policy in June 2018 after a federal judge forced the government to start the process of reunifying families.

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Trump administration sanctions 5 Venezuelan officials

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President Trump confirms conversations with Venezuela's disputed government

Governments in Washington and Caracas confirm talks are ongoing over the Venezuela crisis as U.S. Southern Command prepares for disputed President Nicolas Maduro's exit; Ellison Barber reports.

The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed sanctions on five Venezuelan officials for allegedly committing violence against opposition protesters or having benefited from the "corrupt" government of Nicolás Maduro, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

The move coincided with the removal of some sanction restrictions for U.S. companies who were banned from dealing directly with the Venezuelan government under an Aug. 5 executive order, Reuters reported.

Government supporters chants slogans in favor of President Nicolas Maduro as they march in Caracas, Venezuela last month.

Government supporters chants slogans in favor of President Nicolas Maduro as they march in Caracas, Venezuela last month. (AP)

The officials sanctioned Tuesday were previously targeted by the European Union and Canada.

The blacklisted officials include an admiral of the Venezuelan Navy, a major in the National Guard, the secretary general of the National Defense Council, a deputy of the National Constituent Assembly, and a senior official in the National Intelligence Service.

“Treasury is identifying high-level officials acting on behalf of the oppressive regime of former Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, which continues to engage in egregious levels of corruption and human rights abuses,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.


The U.S. and more than 50 governments recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country. They say Maduro wasn't legitimately re-elected last year because opposition candidates weren't permitted to run.


Maduro, a socialist who has presided over the collapse of his corruption and human rights violations, has repeatedly blamed the U.S. for Venezuela’s woes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Trump administration proposes HHS rule letting faith-based adoption groups deny would-be LGBT parents

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Crackdown on faith-based adoption centers to end

A newly proposed regulation from the Trump administration will end the Obama-era policies restricting federal funds from flowing to some faith-based adoption organizations.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a new rule Friday that would allow faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to continue receiving federal money even if they turn away same-sex couples on the basis of the agencies' religious beliefs.

The new rule would roll back regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation as a protected trait under anti-discrimination protections. Under the current law, religious groups must request a waiver in order to apply for an HHS grant.

The Trump administration argues that the new rule is necessary to support the efforts of religious providers who are willing to help vulnerable communities. It would apply to a broad range of organizations that receive federal support, such as those that get federal funding to help the homeless or prevent HIV.


The Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group, said charities would no longer have to choose between "abandoning their faith or abandoning homeless children."

"Thanks to President Trump, charities will be free to care for needy children and operate according to their religious beliefs and the reality that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.

The proposed grant regulation targets the current Obama rule saying that it could "reduce the effectiveness of programs funded by federal grants by reducing the number of entities available to provide services under these programs."

But LGBT groups said the administration's plan would reduce the pool of qualified parents wanting to adopt or foster a child. They said that nearly 123,000 foster children are awaiting adoption, and the rule would make even fewer families available to them."Religious liberty is not a license to discriminate," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote on Twitter. "The needs of children in our foster care system must come first."


"Even worse: It would impact hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds and recipients of a broad range of services including individuals experiencing homelessness, those in HIV prevention programs and children and families involved in the foster care system," the ACLU added.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., accused the Trump administration of working overtime to "implement cruel and discriminatory policies, and wasting taxpayer dollars in its obsessive pursuit."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump administration sues California over cap and trade agreement with Quebec

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The Trump administration on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against California, alleging that the state exceeded its constitutional authority by joining with the Canadian province of Quebec in a program to cut fossil fuel emissions.

The complaint, filed in California federal court, names Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and others. It alleges California bypassed federal power to conduct foreign policy and make international accords when it signed onto a cap and trade program with Quebec.

President Trump's administration has filed suit over a California arrangement with Quebec.

President Trump's administration has filed suit over a California arrangement with Quebec. (AP)

The program, which lets businesses pay to buy pollution credits, was started by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. Quebec signed on about a decade later.

California "veered outside its proper constitutional lane" by signing an international accord, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a statement.

Newsom said Wednesday that the administration was "continuing its political vendetta against California, our climate policies and the health of our communities."

Trump, who is an outspoken climate change skeptic, has made reviving the sagging U.S. coal industry and expanding the country's oil and gas boom central to his platform. As one of the first acts of his presidency, he declared his intention to pull out of the globally accepted Paris climate accord.

Wednesday lawsuit adds to dozens of others filed by California and other states to challenge the Trump administration’s rollbacks of environmental regulations and laws. Tensions between Newsom and the administration escalated this year, when Trump tried to compel California to join in his proposal to relax Obama-era mileage standards for passenger vehicles.

In September, the Justice Department launched an antitrust probe of four automakers that agreed to follow California's tougher mileage standards. Other administration moves against California since then include threatening to withhold billions from California’s highway funds over the state’s purported failure to tackle air pollution.


Constitutional expert Cary Coglianese, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said the new lawsuit raises questions about whether Trump’s inaction on climate change amounts to an international and domestic policy that states are obliged to follow.

Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law, said the lawsuit "has some merits … regardless (of) what you think of global warming.”


"The gist of the complaint … is that California's conduct interferes with the idea that the nation speaks with a single voice on climate — in this case, by pulling out of the Paris accord," said Deborah Sivas, a professor at Stanford Law School.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ninth Circuit blocks Trump administration birth control exemptions

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A federal court on Tuesday blocked new rules established by the Trump administration that would have allowed employers with religious or moral objections to opt out of an Obamacare requirement that includes birth control coverage in employee health insurance plans.

Two out of the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit concluded that a birth control exemption violated the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, which requires all employers to provide birth control coverage with no co-payment.


The Health and Human Services Department, Labor Department, and Treasury Department in 2017, started adopting new rules that allowed religious groups, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, to opt out of the requirement to provide birth control coverage for employees, the National Review reported. The rules were finalized in 2018 but have not been enforced.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spearheaded a lawsuit with 13 other states against the religious exemption rules.

“It’s a simple concept: a woman and her doctor are the only people qualified to decide what’s best for her health. Today will serve as a reminder to the Trump Administration that politicians and employers certainly have no business interfering with women’s reproductive healthcare,” Becerra said in a statement, according to the Washington Times.

Tuesday's decision blocked the new rules from going into effect in California, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Washington, Minnesota, Connecticut, North Carolina, Vermont, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia, Bloomberg Law News reported.

Judge J. Clifford Wallace, who was nominated by President Nixon, wrote in the majority decision that “the religious exemption contradicts congressional intent that all women have access to appropriate preventative care and the exemption operates in a manner fully at odds with the careful, individualized, and searching review mandated by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”


Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld, who was nominated by President George H. W. Bush, dissented, writing that the 14-state lawsuit was brought before the court in an effort to save states money, not to protect women's reproductive rights. He also wrote that a ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which blocked the implementation of the Trump administration rules nationwide, renders this case moot.

“The casual reader may imagine that the dispute is about provision of contraception and abortion services to women. It is not.” Kleinfeld wrote. “No woman sued for an injunction in this case, and no affidavits have been submitted from any women establishing any question in this case about whether they will be deprived of reproductive services or harmed in any way by the modification of the regulation. This case is a claim by several states to prevent a modification of a regulation from going into effect, claiming that it will cost them money.”

Original Article

Mueller was pursuing FBI director job when he met with Trump in 2017, administration officials say

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EXCLUSIVE – Multiple administration officials tell Fox News that when Robert Mueller met with President Trump in May of 2017, Mueller was indeed pursuing the open post as the director of the FBI – something the former Russia probe special counsel denied under oath during congressional testimony this summer.

These officials also told Fox News government documents showed Mueller was pursuing the job as a candidate himself.

It came as emails released this month through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Judicial Watch seemed to indicate Mueller knew there was a real possibility he could be named special counsel if he wasn’t chosen as the next FBI director.


“The boss and his staff do not know about our discussions,” then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in an email to Mueller on May 12, 2017. Rosenstein’s boss was then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia probe, meaning the president would not have known either.

A source close to Rosenstein confirmed to Fox News that he had confidential conversations with Mueller about whether he would be willing to serve in the event he needed to appoint a special counsel. These conversations began on May 12, 2017, prior to Mueller's meeting with the president on May 16, 2017, the source acknowledged.

New memo shows Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire into the Oval OfficeVideo

At the time of the now-famous May 16, 2017 meeting, James Comey had been fired as FBI director just days before and — unbeknownst to the president — Mueller would end up being named special counsel the very next day to oversee the Trump-Russia probe.

The president has repeatedly claimed that Mueller – who served as FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama – met with him about returning to lead the Justice Department. The president has pointed to this to argue it was a conflict for Mueller to become special counsel, saying he opted against hiring Mueller as FBI director.

But Mueller, in his July congressional testimony, denied the claim, saying he believed he was giving “input” to the president about the position.

“My understanding was I was not applying for the job,” Mueller said on July 24. “I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job.”

John Dowd, who served as the president’s attorney during the probe, ripped Mueller for meeting with Trump, calling it the “most dishonorable conduct I have ever witnessed.” He added, “Capt. Robert Mueller, USMC, sits in front of his commander-in-chief being interviewed for FBI director knowing he is going to investigate the president and never says a word.”

The president himself has claimed there were “numerous witnesses” to the meeting.

Trump rips Mueller after hearingVideo

"It has been reported that Robert Mueller is saying that he did not apply and interview for the job of FBI Director (and get turned down) the day before he was wrongfully appointed Special Counsel" Trump tweeted the day of Mueller’s Capitol Hill testimony. "Hope he doesn't say that under oath in that we have numerous witnesses to the interview, including the Vice President of the United States!"

Mueller did not immediately return a request for comment from Fox News on Tuesday.


It was announced earlier this month that Mueller rejoined the WilmerHale law firm, after concluding his work as special counsel.

In April, Mueller’s team released a report about their findings, indicating they did not find evidence of coordination between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia while declining to reach a conclusion on whether the president's conduct during the probe amounted to obstruction.

Fox News’ John Roberts and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Original Article

Border apprehensions down for fourth consecutive month; administration touts ‘unprecedented achievement’

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Border Patrol head touts progress on border wall

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan says 71 miles of border wall are complete with 164 miles under construction; William La Jeunesse reports from Los Angeles.

Border officials apprehended just over 52,000 migrants at the southern border in September — another drop in numbers for the fourth consecutive month — as administration officials said Tuesday the numbers are proof that policies at the border are working.

Total encounters, making up those apprehended or turned away, were 52,546 in September, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced. It marks a drop of almost 65 percent from the 144,000 encountered in May, and an 18 percent decline from August, when just over 64,000 were apprehended.


"This represents the fourth month in a row of a steady decline in apprehensions," Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters. "This is an unprecedented achievement."

Morgan pointed to agreements with other countries such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which involves sending migrants back to Mexico to await their hearings. MPP is currently facing legal challenges, as well as objections from activists that the protocols involves migrants being sent back to potentially dangerous areas where they can be attacked by smugglers and gangs.

But Morgan said that CBP has enrolled more than 51,000 migrants in MPP and said they receive protection and permission to work while in Mexico.

“With MPP, migrants are receiving due process and protection while the United States is restoring integrity to our immigration system,” he said. “We're closing the loopholes and diminishing the smuggling organizations' ability to profit on the back of these migrants, while simultaneously exploiting our system.”

Morgan also cited the administration’s efforts to end the 1997 Flores settlement that limits the amount of time minors can be kept in detention.

He also pointed to regional agreements with countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador.

CBP data shows new progress on border wallVideo

However, Morgan said that the numbers are still too high, calling the average of 1,700 apprehensions a day “unacceptable,”and repeated his calls for Congress to act to end loopholes in the U.S. immigration system.


“The bottom line: We still need Congress to pass meaningful legislation to address our broken legal framework when it comes to immigration,” he said. “And while Congress has failed to bring a single piece of meaningful legislation to the floor, this president, this administration is doing exactly what he promised the American people.”

The good news from the border comes at an important time for the administration and the White House, as it gears up for the 2020 election campaign. Immigration is likely to be a key issue, and Trump is looking to be able to tout his success in reducing illegal immigration — something that was a central 2016 promise.


As part of that effort, the administration is increasing its efforts in building the wall at the southern border, with plans to construct upwards of 450-500 miles by the end of 2020.

Morgan on Tuesday gave an update to reporters, saying that 71 miles had been completed so far, and that the administration was on its way to its goal.

“This isn't what the president asked for, this is what the experts asked for to help them do their job to safeguard and protect this great nation,” he said. “The president has simply listened to them and he's delivering his promise.”

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