Trump defends move to block impeachment testimony, says he is protecting ‘future presidents’

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State Department officials defy Pompeo, testify before Congress

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on officials testifying in House impeachment inquiry.

President Trump on Tuesday defended blocking top officials from testifying as part of the House impeachment inquiry, arguing the decision was made to protect the office of the presidency and “future presidents” — even as he claimed he'd otherwise support the testimony.

“The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress. I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

“Other than that, I would actually like people to testify,” he continued.

He claimed that former national security adviser John Bolton, whom Democrats have sought for testimony due to his involvement in discussions central to the impeachment inquiry, could actually back his claims. While Democrats allege Trump delayed aid to Ukraine in order to seek the launch of politically advantageous investigations, Trump said Bolton “may know that I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country, & I wanted to know why nearby European countries weren’t putting up money also” — an argument Trump allies have made.

He added: “Likewise, I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony Impeachment Hoax. It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!”

The president’s tweet comes as the House is winding down its impeachment inquiry. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was largely leading the inquiry, said Monday that the panel would be working on its report to transmit to the House Judiciary Committee, which could prepare potential articles of impeachment, after Thanksgiving.

Democrats have subpoenaed top administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for records or testimony — but the administration has blocked them.

When asked Tuesday about the president's tweet on testimony, Pompeo said cryptically, "When the time is right, all good things happen.”

Top current and former administration officials who testified last week as part of public impeachment hearings suggested that officials like Pompeo, Mulvaney and Perry were involved in efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations of Democrats.

The plot thickened as a federal judge on Monday ordered former White House counsel Don McGhan to comply with a congressional subpoena issued earlier this year in a separate matter.

The White House and McGhan have argued his testimony was protected by executive privilege, and therefore he was not able to testify as part of any congressional probes.

But U.S. District Court Judge Ketanki Brown Jackson ruled on Monday that if he wanted to assert executive privilege to avoid testifying, he would need to appear before Congress and do it himself, on a question-by-question basis.

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News the department would appeal Jackson's decision and seek a stay pending that appeal. The order stirred immediate speculation about the implications for impeachment proceedings.

Should a higher court uphold the ruling, it could set a binding precedent affecting future disputes between Congress and the White House involving executive privilege, which generally allows the president and high-level officials to refuse to answer certain questions that might impair deliberative processes or compromise presidential communications and the separation of powers.

House Democrats, meanwhile, withdrew a subpoena earlier this month for former White House Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, less than two weeks after Kupperman asked a federal court whether he should comply with the order. Kupperman, who left the administration when Bolton exited in September, was slated to appear before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees as part of their impeachment investigation.

On Tuesday, his attorney said in a statement that the McGahn ruling does not affect his situation, and he continues to seek a ruling "resolving the question whether he is constitutionally obliged to obey the House’s demand that he testify or the President’s conflicting demand that he decline to do so."

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House.

TRUMP CALLS FOR SENATE TRIAL, SEEKS WHISTLEBLOWER, SCHIFF AS IMPEACHMENT WITNESSES

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Fox News’ Gillian Turner and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for financial records

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Federal judge dismisses Trump lawsuit over providing state tax returns

District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, ruled that the D.C. federal court did not have jurisdiction over the New York tax commissioner or the state attorney general; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump wants the Supreme Court to keep House Democrats from getting his financial records at least until the justices resolve a broader fight over efforts to subpoena a sitting president’s records.

Trump filed an emergency appeal with the court Friday in a case from Washington, D.C., over a subpoena from a House committee for financial records held by Trump’s accountants. The request comes a day after he urged the high court to rule that a president cannot be prosecuted or even investigated for crimes while in office.

The Thursday filing involves a subpoena issued by the Manhattan district attorney demanding Trump’s tax returns from the same accounting firm.

A temporary order blocking the enforcement of the House subpoena could allow the court to consider the two cases together. The New York dispute is on a fast timetable under which the high court is being asked to render a decision by late June.

Without an order from the justices, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform would be able to ask for the records from the Mazars USA firm as early as Wednesday. Mazars has indicated it will comply with the subpoena unless ordered not to.

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Trump directed his request to Chief Justice John Roberts because he handles emergency matters arising from courts in the nation’s capital. Roberts could ask the full court to weigh in, but he has the authority to issue an order on his own.

The two subpoenas are similar. Indeed, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has said he copied the House subpoena, although he substituted tax returns for the financial records the House is demanding. The House subpoena does not specifically mention Trump’s tax returns.

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Trump asking Supreme Court to block subpoena for his tax returns

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President Trump loses appeal over subpoena for tax returns

Federal appeals court rules Trump's tax returns must be turned over to a state grand jury; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports from the North Lawn.

President Trump has asked the Supreme Court to block a subpoena for his tax returns, according to a filing on Thursday.

Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, said in a statement to Fox News: “We have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the Second Circuit decision regarding a subpoena issued by the New York County District Attorney."

"The Second Circuit decision is wrong and should be reversed," Sekulow continued. "In our petition, we assert that the subpoena violates the U.S. Constitution and therefore is unenforceable."

"We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant review in this significant constitutional case and reverse the dangerous and damaging decision of the appeals court," he added.

TRUMP ATTORNEY VOWS TO GO TO SUPREME COURT IN TAX RETURN CASE AFTER APPEALS COURT ALLOWS SUBPOENA

Trump has refused to release his tax returns, something other presidents have done in the past. The returns are currently held by Trump's accountants.

Sekulow vowed to go to the top court in the land after a federal appeals court ruled in early November to allow New York City prosecutors to proceed with a subpoena for records, including the president's tax returns.

President Trump wants the court to decide the case by late June, under a deal to keep the Manhattan district attorney from enforcing the subpoena in the meantime. The justices may not decide whether to hear the case for at least another month.

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The justices could also weigh in more broadly on Trump's claim that sitting presidents can't be prosecuted or investigated for crimes, according to The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Dems introduce legislation to block G7 summit at Trump’s Doral resort

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Trump National Doral Miami to host G7 summit in 2020

The White House says holding the summit at the president's golf resort will save millions of dollars.

A trio of House Democrats introduced legislation Friday to block President Trump from hosting next year's G7 summit at one of his Florida resorts.

Reps. Lois Frankel from Florida, Bennie Thompson from Mississippi and Steve Cohen from Tennessee proposed the Trump's Heist Undermines the G-7 (THUG) Act. A companion bill sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., will be introduced in the Senate, according to lawmakers.

The House bill would prohibit funding for the three-day summit at Trump National Doral Golf Club in June. It would also require Trump to submit to Congress documents related to the decision to host the summit at Doral, lawmakers said.

"[Trump] is unashamed of his corruption,” Frankel said in a press release. “He is abusing the office of the presidency and violating law by directing millions of dollars of American and foreign money to his family enterprises by holding an important meeting of world leaders at his Doral resort.”

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made the announcement on Thursday that next year’s G7 meeting will be held at Doral June 10-12.

Mulvaney said the decision will save taxpayers millions because the resort will provide its services at cost.

Democratic lawmakers claimed Friday that past G7 summits have cost "upwards of $40 million."

ANDREW MCCARTHY: TRUMP DORAL RESORT PICK FOR G-7 A 'REAL UNFORCED ERROR'

Doral was selected out of 12 potential sites to host the international gathering, with Trump personally recommending his resort. Mulvaney told reporters Thursday it was "the best place."

When questioned about the optics of hosting the event at a Trump resort — and any potential financial gains the president might realize as a result — Mulvaney said the Trump brand "doesn't need any help."

"The Trump family made their money before they went into politics," he said.

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Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and Julia Musto contributed to this report.

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California governor pardons 3 convicted immigrants to help block deportations

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday he’s pardoning three immigrants who've been convicted of crimes as part of an effort to protect them from deportation to their home countries.

The three men — originally from El Salvador, Iran and Cambodia — broke the law as teens or young adults, served their sentences and have taken steps to rehabilitate themselves, the governor’s office said.

CALIFORNIA SALON OWNER BLASTS GOV. NEWSOM OVER HOMELESS CRISIS: HE'S MORE CONCERNED WITH 'TROLLING' TRUMP

But Newsom’s pardons do not completely shield the men from deportation. The move instead erases the mens' criminal records to prevent past offenses from being considered in their deportation cases. All three men live in Los Angeles County and were brought to the U.S. legally as children, the governor’s office said.

“The Governor regards clemency as an important part of the criminal justice system that can incentivize accountability and rehabilitation, increase public safety by removing counterproductive barriers to successful reentry, and correct unjust results in the legal system,” a news release said.

The governor, a Democrat, pardoned 38-year old Victor Ayala, who in 2001 at age 21 was convicted of felony robbery and sentenced to probation for pushing a security guard while shoplifting from an electronics store, The Sacramento Bee reported. He also had four prior misdemeanor convictions for theft and a hit-and-run in which no one suffered injuries, Los Angeles' KTLA-TV reported.

According to the governor’s office, Ayala’s parents brought him legally into the U.S. from El Salvador when he was 2. He is now a father of three who owns a carpet-cleaning business.

Newsom also pardoned 41-year-old Thear Seam, who at age 18 was convicted of robbing a man’s wallet and backpack. He was convicted as an accessory the next year after leading police on a high-speed chase while helping another man, a car thief whole stole a separate vehicle, evade arrest, KTLA reported.

Seam entered the U.S. legally as a 4-year-old refugee fleeing Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge. His wife and daughter are both U.S. citizens and he’s worked for 17 years at an aviation company.

The third immigrant to be pardoned was Arnou Aghamalian, 42, who as a 22-year-old in 1999 was convicted of helping his cousin set a nightclub owner’s unoccupied car on fire after a dispute. Newson’s office said Aghamalian entered the U.S. with his family at age 15 as a refugee from Iran. He and his wife are the parents to newborns twins. He now owns a solar energy company.

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In addition to pardoning the three immigrants, Newsom pardoned a fourth man, 59-year-old Curtis Reynolds of Sacramento Country, who was convicted of six drug felonies including possession for sale between 1998 and 2003, The Bee reported. Newsom said since his convictions, Reynolds has dedicated his life to volunteering to help those struggling with addiction.
Newsom also commuted the sentences for two men previously facing life in prison. Esdvin Flores, 44, has served 20 years behind bars for robbing a woman at gunpoint at age 23. Jensen Ramos, 35, has served 17 years for attempted murder after firing at a car fleeing a brawl at a house party when he was 17. The governor’s office said both men have taken steps to rehabilitate themselves from behind bars. The commutations make both eligible to enter into parole hearings.

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Beto O’Rourke: Congress should block Trump from hosting G-7 at his Doral resort

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Trump blasts Beto O'Rourke over gun policy, proposal to black tax exempt status from certain churches

The president criticizes the 2020 Democratic candidate during rally in Dallas, Texas.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, one of the Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020, urged Republicans in Congress to envoke a clause of the Constitution that potentially would block President Trump from hosting the G-7 summit at a Trump resort in Doral, Fla.

The White House announced the venue of the summit, scheduled to take place between June 10 and 12, at a news conference on Thursday, which incited controversy immediately, raising questions about the optics and ethics of the president personally profiting off an official government event.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney attempted to quell outcry by telling the media that Trump will not make any money off the event, adding that the Trump National Doral Golf Club will be providing the location and services at a cost.

"The Constitution clearly bars the president from accepting gifts from foreign powers," O'Rourke tweeted. "Congress must use its authority to enforce the Emoluments Clause now to stop President Trump from profiting off of the G-7 Summit by hosting it at his own property."

"The question isn't whether President Trump has violated the emoluments clause– or committed other high crimes. The question is whether Republicans in Congress believe our president is above the law," he also wrote.

The emoluments clause was intended to prevent foreign states from influencing the U.S. government and generally prohibits presidents from taking any forms of payment from other nations.

Trump has argued that the clause referred to a ban on outright bribes, not business transactions, and that he will continue to do business with foreign governments at his hotels.

Trump repeatedly has faced allegations of enriching himself by utilizing his business entities around the globe to house or host foreign dignitaries and domestic politicians.

White House announces Trump-owned resort will host G-7 summitVideo

Another presidential candidate, Julián Castro, a former San Antonio, Texas mayor who later served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, also slammed Trump over his decision to hold the summit at one of his properties, which was one of 12 potential sites being considered for the event, according to Mulvaney.

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"It's a terrible decision by President Trump to put the G-7 on a gulf course at his own hotel," Castro said at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday. "He's putting the G-7 at his own resort to try and make money. It's unethical. It's one more example of why he is so unfit for office and he's going to have the American taxpayers pay for security costs and everything else that goes into hosting the G-7 straight into his pocket and it's completely inexcusable and the American people should hold him accountable for that."

In September, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also looking to take the White House in 2020, accused Trump of urging Vice President Pence to stay at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, Ireland, on an official trip in hopes of cashing in from the stay.

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Justice Dept. joins bid to temporarily block NY prosecutors’ subpoena for Trump’s tax returns

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The Justice Department asked a federal judge Wednesday to temporarily block a subpoena from New York prosecutors for eight years’ worth of President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns as part of a criminal probe into possible campaign finance violations.

Top Justice Department lawyers, Manhattan’s U.S. attorney, Geoffrey S. Berman, and Jeffrey Oestericher, chief of the office’s civil division, all submitted written arguments to the court Wednesday, asking the judge to “support interim relief as necessary to allow for appropriate briefing of the weighty constitutional issues involved.”

They also argued that U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, should retain jurisdiction over the case instead of allowing a state court to decide any issues.

TRUMP FILES LAWSUIT IN BID TO PROTECT PERSONAL, CORPORATE TAX RETURNS FROM RELEASE

President Trump fights effort to release tax returnsVideo

Trump filed a lawsuit in federal court last month against his own accounting firm, Mazars USA, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance — who’s investigating alleged hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential race.

Vance, a Democrat, moved to have the tax return dispute moved to state court. Trump’s lawyers have said the investigation is politically motivated and the quest for the president's tax records should be stopped because he is immune from any criminal probe as long as he is president.

The subpoena was initially issued in August after federal prosecutors in Manhattan completed their investigation into payments made by Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and other crimes and is currently serving a three-year sentence in federal prison.

Cohen orchestrated a payment of $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who said she had a sexual encounter with the president in 2006, in the weeks prior to the election. The president had reimbursed Cohen for the money paid, but denied the alleged affair, saying that the payments were personal matters, not campaign expenses.

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Earlier this week, a federal judge in California released his written opinion to block a state law that would have required Trump to release five years’ worth of his personal income tax returns in order to be included on the state's primary ballot in March 2020.

Democratic-led congressional committees also are trying to obtain Trump's tax returns and other records that could provide a window into his finances. Trump and three of his children sued in April seeking to block two House committees from getting records that his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, has said include tax returns.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sen. Cruz urges Trump administration to block China’s next UN power play

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Sen. Ted Cruz is calling on the Trump administration to block China from installing a controversial former head of the Hong Kong police force at the helm of a United Nations office meant to fight drug trafficking, organized crime and corruption.

China’s candidate Andy Tsang-Wai-hung was nominated by Beijing earlier this summer to be the next executive director of the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). His candidacy, critics warn, marks yet another sign of China’s growing influence at the world body.

The annual budget of the organization for the year is around a quarter-billion dollars. Texas Republican Sen. Cruz — who has sponsored legislation to halt Chinese infiltration on U.S. campuses and research institutions — told Fox News in a statement that such Chinese efforts need to be stymied.

HONG KONG'S CARRIE LAM FORMALLY WITHDRAWS EXTRADITION BILL

"The Chinese Communist Party has systematically pursued a policy of joining and exploiting international organizations to advance their agenda. The pattern is the same across issues as varied as the WTO, Internet governance, Interpol, and human rights bodies,” he said.

The Texas senator who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called on the administration to make sure Beijing is halted in its ambitions.

“The UN has no business putting yet another Communist Party cutout in a leadership position, especially one with a direct history of advancing China's abuses in Hong Kong. The Trump administration should use its voice and vote to block this appointment."

Sen. Cruz: Freshman Democrats are radical and extreme with a troubling history Video

As Hong Kong police chief in 2014, Tsang was responsible for putting down pro-democracy protesters who demanded democratic elections for chief executive. More recently he served as China’s deputy director for its narcotics control commission.

Gordon Chang, a China expert, told Fox News that Tsang was “known to be a hardliner” when he ran the Hong Kong police.

“[He] headed the police in 2014 when the police used tear gas during the Occupy protests," Chang said. "The use of tear gas reignited the protests as ordinary citizens immediately turned off their televisions and took to the streets to show their indignation. Tsang, whether he made the decision to use tear gas or merely followed the orders of Chief Executive C. Y. Leung, was held responsible for one of the worst moves during that time.”

HONG KONG POLICE ARREST AT LEAST 3 PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS

Chang also noted Tsang’s current position. “Any candidate proposed for a drug enforcement post by a one-party state behind some of the world's most dangerous drug networks should be rejected out of hand.” He said Tsang did not stop China's fentanyl rings “even though he had all the tools of a semi-totalitarian state at his disposal.”

He asked: “Is he really going to be more effective because he would move to Vienna? This would be a hideous appointment.”

But Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said over the summer that Tsang’s candidacy demonstrated, “China's concrete action in support of multilateralism and work of the UN. We will devote more efforts to fighting transnational organized crime and strengthening international counter-narcotic cooperation.”

How will Hong Kong protests end? Video

China in recent years has become the second-largest contributor to the U.N. after the U.S., and has sought to widen its sphere of influence. It now runs four out of 15 U.N. specialized agencies.

A State Department official recently stated to Fox News that the U.S. was not retreating from the U.N. and said the administration was well aware of China’s ambitions.

“China’s concerted push has more to do with advancing its self-serving interests and authoritarian model than demonstrating genuine leadership consistent with the principles and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the U.N Charter,” the official said.

And while some diplomats at the U.N. feel Tsang’s candidacy is unlikely to result in another win for China, the government's U.N. engagement is on full display all the same.

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A Heritage Foundation report titled, “How the U.S. Should Address Rising Influences at the United Nations,” authored by senior research fellow Brett Schaefer, noted China’s rise at the U.N. is “not a recent phenomenon.” The claim runs against news reports that assert China’s ascension is due to the Trump administration's pullback from the world body.

China's Chief Executive Carrie Lam says there are no plans to send the military to Hong Kong as protests continue Video

The report also said the U.S. should “focus its effort and resources on countering Chinese influence, advancing U.S. policy preferences, and increasing employment of U.S. nationals, particularly in senior positions, in those organizations whose remit affects key U.S. interests.”

Read moreSen. Cruz urges Trump administration to block China’s next UN power play

Anti-ICE protesters block rush-hour traffic in Boston area; 12 arrested for trespassing at Amazon

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Police in Massachusetts reportedly arrested 12 pro-immigration protesters Thursday after hundreds of demonstrators marched through the Boston area, blocking rush-hour traffic.

The group, arrested for trespassing at the Amazon building in nearby Cambridge, across the Charles River via the Longfellow Bridge, were advocating for private businesses to stop cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Cambridge police said, according to The Hill.

The unscheduled route frustrated passengers and police. “It’s rush hour, there’s only one way (on the bridge). Take some other way around,” a man said to WBZ-TV in Boston. The protesters reportedly refused to tell police their planned route.

“It’s rush hour, there’s only one way (on the bridge). Take some other way around.”

— Boston-area rush-hour commuter

PROTESTERS IN NYC RIP ICE, TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION POLICIES; COUNTER-PROTESTERS SAY DEMS TO BLAME FOR BORDER CRISIS

"Never Again Is Now" protesters rally at the New England Holocaust Memorial and then march across the Longfellow bridge into the Amazon local business building lobby, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 in Cambridge, Mass. (Associated Press)

"Never Again Is Now" protesters rally at the New England Holocaust Memorial and then march across the Longfellow bridge into the Amazon local business building lobby, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 in Cambridge, Mass. (Associated Press)

The organizers, "Never Again Action: Jews Against ICE," posted on Facebook they were specifically protesting Amazon’s contracts with ICE and the company’s reported attempts to sell its facial recognition technology to the agency, The Hill reported.

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Eighteen people were arrested at a similar "Never Again" protest in July.

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AIPAC chides Israel for decision to block Omar, Tlaib visit

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Israel blocks entry to Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

The Israeli government makes a last-minute decision to ban the progressive 'Squad' members from entering Israel ahead of their scheduled visit on Friday; Trey Yingst reports from Jerusalem.

In a surprise move, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee chided the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for barring two freshman Democratic congresswomen from entering the country ahead of a planned visit.

In a tweet, AIPAC stated that while the organization does not agree with the support Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota have voiced for a Palestinian-led boycott movement – or for Tlaib’s calls for a “one-state solution” to the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians – it believes the two lawmakers should be permitted to enter Israel.

“We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution,” AIPAC tweeted on Thursday. “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”

AIPAC's nonprofit arm, the American-Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), hosts annual Israel trips for freshman lawmakers. Critics have argued those trips cast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a negative light for Palestinians.

HOUSE OVERWHELMINGLY OKS RESOLUTION OPPOSING ISRAEL BOYCOTT IN RARE BIPARTISAN VOTE

The unprecedented move to bar Tlaib and Omar from visiting marks a deep foray by Israel into America's bitterly polarized politics. It came shortly after President Trump tweeted that the Israeli government would "show great weakness" if it allowed the lawmakers into the country. It is also a sharp escalation of Israel's campaign against the international boycott movement.

"They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds," Trump said before calling the two congresswomen "a disgrace."

In a statement, Netanyahu said Israel is "open to critics and criticism," except for those who advocate boycotts against it.

"Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress," Netanyahu said. He added that their itinerary "revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel's legitimacy."

NEW ‘SQUAD’ TALKING POINT: BOYCOTTING ISRAEL LIKE BOYCOTTING NAZI GERMANY

The two newly-elected Muslim members of Congress are outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Tlaib's family immigrated to the United States from the West Bank. Israel said it would consider any request from Tlaib to visit relatives on humanitarian grounds.

Israel has sought to combat the BDS movement, which advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli businesses, universities and cultural institutions. The country passed a law permitting a ban on entry to any activist who "knowingly issues a call for boycotting Israel."

Katie Pavlich: Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib set up IsraelVideo

The decision to ban the congresswomen could further sharpen divisions among Democrats over the issue of Israel ahead of the 2020 elections. Republicans have amplified the views of left-wing Democrats like Tlaib and Omar to present the party as deeply divided and at odds with Israel. Democratic leaders have pushed back, reiterating the party's strong support for Israel, in part to protect representatives from more conservative districts.

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Other American Jewish organizations also have objected to barring the two lawmakers from entering the country. The American Jewish Congress said that despite Omar and Tlaib's planned "propaganda exercise," it believed that "the costs in the U.S. of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative."

Rep. McCarthy: Democratic support for Israel weakeningVideo

Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, said that he knew of "no such precedent" for Israel barring an elected American official from entering the country. He called the government's decision "short-sighted."

"There's no reason to prevent members of Congress, including critical ones, from coming, seeing and learning, offering them every possible briefing," Shapiro said. "By refusing them entry, it will only fuel the very things that Israel claims to be unhappy about" when it comes to calls for boycotts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article