Lazy Saturday Reads: The So-Called President

The so-called president.

The so-called president.

 Good Afternoon!!

Last night a federal judge in Washington state blocked Donald tRump’s executive order on immigration nationwide. The Washington Post reported:

The federal judge’s ruling, which was broader than similar ones before it, set up a high-stakes legal confrontation between the new president and the judicial branch over his temporary ban on entry by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries as well as refugees. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart wrote that “fundamental” to the court’s work was “a vigilant recognition that it is but one of three equal branches of our federal government.”

“The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government,” he wrote.

The ruling is temporary, and the ultimate question of whether Trump’s executive order will pass constitutional muster will fall to higher-level courts. Legal analysts have said the ban could be difficult to permanently undo because the president has broad authority to set immigration policy.

Robart granted a request from the state of Washington who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order. Justice and State department officials had revealed earlier Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order. A U.S. official said that because of the court case, officials would examine the revoking of those visas so that people would be allowed to travel.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson hailed the case as “the first of its kind” and declared that it “shuts down the executive order immediately.” Robart, a judge appointed by George W. Bush, said in his written order that U.S. officials should stop enforcing the key aspects of the ban: the halting of entry by refugees and citizens from certain countries. He did not specifically address the matter of those whose visas already had been revoked.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart

Nevertheless the Department of Homeland Security has suspended tRump’s Muslim ban for now. CNN:

The Department of Homeland Security announced it has suspended all actions to implement the immigration order and will resume standard inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the travel ban.

Also, a State Department official tells CNN the department has reversed the cancellation of visas that were provisionally revoked following the President’s executive order last week — so long as those visas were not stamped or marked as canceled.

The State Department has said fewer than 60,000 visas were revoked since the signing of the order. It was not immediately clear how many from that group will continue to be without their visas because their visas were physically canceled.

Following the judge’s ruling — before the government’s announcements Saturday morning — the International Air Transportation Association, a leading airline industry group, wrote to its members to follow procedures “as if the executive order never existed.”

But tRump doesn’t like this one bit. As usual, he broadcast his tantrums on Twitter. Business Insider: Trump blasts ‘so-called judge’ who temporarily blocked immigration ban in morning tweetstorm.

President Donald Trump on Saturday blasted the federal judge who issued a nationwide hold on the executive order temporarily barring immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted.

“Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban,” the president continued. “They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!”

Yes folks, tRump referred to a Republican federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush as a “so-called judge.” Are we having a constitutional crisis yet?

Yesterday we learned that the tRump administration secretly ordered the revocation of as many as 100,000 legally issued visas. For now, that order has been reversed. The Washington Post:

The State Department says previously banned travelers will be allowed to enter the United States after a federal judge in Washington state on Friday temporarily blocked enforcement of President Trump’s controversial immigration ban.

“We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under” Trump’s executive order, a State Department spokesman said Saturday. “Those individuals with visas that were not physically canceled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.”

Department of Homeland Security personnel “will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure.”

Immigrant advocates said they were encouraging travelers from the affected countries to get on planes as soon as possible, since the Trump administration has said it plans to appeal the stay on the travel ban.

Solicitor General Noah Purcell (C) and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (R) speak at a press conference outside U.S. District Court, Western Washington, on Feb. 3, 2017

Solicitor General Noah Purcell (C) and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (R) speak at a press conference outside U.S. District Court, Western Washington, on Feb. 3, 2017

Now what? Supposedly the White House plans to fight the judge’s order, but they are going to have to come up with better arguments than what DOJ lawyers argued yesterday–basically that a president’s orders cannot be questioned. From MyNorthwest.com:

The DOJ argued that Washington’s case has no standing, or injury because of case-by-case waivers included in the executive order. The DOJ argued that the president is granted broad powers over immigration. The federal lawyer said that the ban does not target any religion, but favors those facing religious persecution.

Attorney Noah Purcell argued the case for the state.

“I did say at one point the Department of Justice’s argument was frightening,” Purcell said. “And the argument was, essentially, that if the president says, ‘I’m doing this in national security interest,’ then a court cannot review if that was the real reason, or if there is any rational reason for the president’s action. Our view is that’s not the law. That’s a scary view of the law. Luckily, the judge rejected that idea.”

While hearing arguments, Judge Robarts stated that he must decide if Trump’s executive order is “rationally based” in facts. The DOJ, however, disagreed that was necessary.

Wow. We’re way past Watergate at this point, and tRump has only been in office for two weeks. Josh Rogin has some background on the machinations that have been going on between the administration over the Muslim ban: Inside the White House-Cabinet battle over Trump’s immigration order.

On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 28, as airport protests raged over President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the man charged with implementing the order, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, had a plan. He would issue a waiver for lawful permanent residents, a.k.a. green-card holders, from the seven majority-Muslim countries whose citizens had been banned from entering the United States.

White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon wanted to stop Kelly in his tracks. Bannon paid a personal and unscheduled visit to Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security office to deliver an order: Don’t issue the waiver. Kelly, according to two administration officials familiar with the confrontation, refused to comply with Bannon’s instruction. That was the beginning of a weekend of negotiations among senior Trump administration staffers that led, on Sunday, to a decision by Trump to temporarily freeze the issuance of executive orders.

The confrontation between Bannon and Kelly pitted a political operator against a military disciplinarian. Respectfully but firmly, the retired general and longtime Marine told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command, two administration officials said. If the president wanted Kelly to back off from issuing the waiver, Kelly would have to hear it from the president directly, he told Bannon.

John Kelly and Steve Bannon in the foreground

John Kelly and Steve Bannon in the foreground

Bannon left Kelly’s office without getting satisfaction. Trump didn’t call Kelly to tell him to hold off. Kelly issued the waiver late Saturday night, although it wasn’t officially announced until the following day.

That did not end the dispute. At approximately 2 a.m. Sunday morning, according to the two officials, a conference call of several top officials was convened to discuss the ongoing confusion over the executive order and the anger from Cabinet officials over their lack of inclusion in the process in advance.

On the call were Bannon, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, White House Counsel Donald McGahn, national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson, who had not yet been confirmed.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

I’ll wrap this up with some corruption news.

The New York Times: Trust Records Show Trump Is Still Closely Tied to His Empire.

While the president says he has walked away from the day-to-day operations of his business, two people close to him are the named trustees and have broad legal authority over his assets: his eldest son, Donald Jr., and Allen H. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer. Mr. Trump, who will receive reports on any profit, or loss, on his company as a whole, can revoke their authority at any time.

What’s more, the purpose of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is to hold assets for the “exclusive benefit” of the president. This trust remains under Mr. Trump’s Social Security number, at least as far as federal taxes are concerned….

While the trust structure, outlined in documents made public through a Freedom of Information Act request by ProPublica, may give the president the appearance of distance from his business, it drew sharp criticism from experts in government ethics.

“I don’t see how this in the slightest bit avoids a conflict of interest,” said Frederick J. Tansill, a trust and estates lawyer from Virginia who examined the documents at the request of The New York Times. “First it is revocable at any time, and it is his son and his chief financial officer who are running it.”

Click on the link to read the rest.

Vincent Viola

Vincent Viola

Again from The New York Times: Vincent Viola, Nominee for Army Secretary, Drops Out.

Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader and President Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Army, abruptly withdrew his name for the post on Friday night after concluding it would be too difficult to untangle himself from his business ties, two government officials said.

Mr. Viola is an owner of the Florida Panthers hockey club and a majority shareholder in Virtu Financial and Eastern Air Lines, among a number of other business interests. This week The New York Times reported that Mr. Viola had been negotiating to swap his stake in Eastern Air Lines for a stake in Swift Air, an airline with government subcontracts.

If his nomination had continued, he would have faced certain scrutiny for potentially becoming a government official who benefits from federal contracts.

The Trump administration did not announce his withdrawal, which was first reported Friday by The Military Times, but a senior administration official and a Pentagon official separately confirmed his decision, which the White House accepted Friday. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.

That’s all I have for you today. Now I’m going back to bed to nurse my ongoing terrible cold. Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below, and have a nice weekend.

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31 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: The So-Called President”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    We are heading into mutinous territory here if this crap keeps happening. A revolt is on the horizon as this administration continues its assault on the public with “executive orders” that promise to harm the public at large.

    The most recent outrage – barely covered by the press – the deregulations against the EPA alone which will effect the nations food, water, and clean air is sheer insanity. It allows companies to allow its sludge to flow freely into waters without accountability. Lifting regulations on the financial industry responsible for the 2008 collapse is another insane issue that will allow the financiers to get away with fraud with impunity. Next up is the “religion clause” that will permit companies from hiring or withholding business from gays, an outright act of discrimination. This is not the America we know.

    And where is the GOP in all of this? Not many have stood up in favor of the nation. Instead we get daily lectures on how we need to “support” this madman and his corrupt henchmen leading the nation into the abyss as they go around shredding the Constitution and threatening war.

    These actions can only lead to a rebellion that could easily turn bloody. Lifting the ban on the ability of certifiably psychiatric patients to buy weapons is another insane move whose outcome will prove disastrous. What is the thinking behind this stupidity? Actions such as this merely invite dire consequences as this cabal continues to urge “fear” among its own citizens.

    It gets worse every day. We have crazies, fanatics, and stupid people steering this nation into a quagmire. How to stop it is the question.

    How it will end is another.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      It’s going to end when so many people take to the streets that they have no choice but to listen or beat us down and/or shoot us down. We know what happens when the later strategy is employed against unarmed citizens. Those actions basically led to the Civil Rights act of 1964 and an end to the Vietnam War. There’s supposed to be a demonstration in Houston tomorrow during the Super Bowl. I’m anxious to see the size of that crowd. Houston voted against trump so it wouldn’t surprise me if the crowd size is impressive.

    • gregoryp says:

      Just read an interesting article in the Jan 27th issue of Science. Essentially, it is believed that 21% of all the cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s are due to air pollution. This idea first came about more than a decade ago when researchers discovered dogs suffering from neurodegenerative disease in highly polluted areas of Mexico. As they stepped up their research they found that people who live close to high traffic areas are more prone to getting Alzheimer’s and it is believed that tiny particles in exhaust or cigarette smoke make their way to the brain and cause the amyloid beta plaque build up. Yikes. I am so glad that the Republicans are trying to get rid of the EPA. Such a grand and wonderful idea.

      • Enheduanna says:

        I’ve also read there could be a correlation between car exhaust and autism rates. If you think about it sitting in traffic for one or two hours a day exposes you to a whole lot of car exhaust and women work well into their pregnancies these days.

        • gregoryp says:

          Yep, we need to be moving away from the things we are doing yet so many seem to be entrenched in these concepts. When you think about it automobiles kill thousands every year, pollute our air, ground and water and we are now discovering that they also cause some serious illnesses as well. Seems like it would have been a really, really great idea to leave the oil in the ground and just invest those trillions we spend in wars and in gasoline on putting solar panels on everybody’s roofs and investing in electric cars primarily powered by solar. But leave it to Republican’s and our fellow crazy citizens of the USA to double down on a losing technology. I just read a comment on YouTube that blamed the problems in Flint on liberals. No matter what evidence you put in front of them these folks are always going to blame someone else for their bad policies and poor behavior. The good people of our country are NEVER going to catch on to reality. It is insane that 5% of the worlds population has decided that we won’t take any responsibility for our actions and alter our behavior when it is evident that because of our lifestyle rapid climate change will certainly mean impoverishment, misery and most likely death for millions if not billions of our species in the very near future.The models are just plain scary.

          • gregoryp says:

            Mass transit would also be really nice. Going back to Berlin this summer with my wife and you can just go anywhere you want using public transportation. There is just no reason why we can’t start doing things differently.

          • Enheduanna says:

            I’ve been teleworking for years and the relief from that horrible two hours a day in traffic has transformed me as a person.

            I also think we may be at a tipping point on climate already. Have you seen those spiral graph temperature charts showing how temps are flying off the chart since 2014? I think we may see things happening a lot faster than we think and none of it will be good.

          • gregoryp says:

            You know, I typed that last sentence correctly but I think windows got me. Should have read in the very near future. The models are just plain scary. Enheduanna I do think you are correct and things are going to happen at a much faster rate than accounted for.

          • Earlynerd says:

            And off road bike paths! This is the one thing that would transform what we have a surplus of – body fat – into what we have a shortage of: transportation.

            Most people I’ve ever known, in hilly cities as well as on the plains, would take bicycles or better yet, safe and stable three-wheelers, if there were somewhere safe to do so. Relying on the good will of drivers will never, ever cut it, but those places that allow bicycles (and pedestrians and dog-walkers, etc) a viable route away from cars are always jammed.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Thank you for the post BB. I hope you feel better soon. The flu is going around as well as some sort of respiratory virus. I was sick for about 2 weeks. I finally went to the doctor after the first week and she gave me a steroid shot and antibiotics for bronchitis. You better think about getting yourself to the Doc. Take care of yourself.

    • teele says:

      I agree with ANonOMouse re: getting to a doctor. I had something like that 2 winters ago, had no insurance, was terribly sick for weeks, and my best friends actually came and got me and paid for a trip to a walk in clinic. I got better fast. It just doesn’t go away on its own. I know your situation is rough right now, but I hope someone can get you to a medical center. You have been sick too long.

  3. NW Luna says:

    BB, this is a stupendous post for being sick!

    Judge Robarts stated that he must decide if Trump’s executive order is “rationally based” in facts. The DOJ, however, disagreed that was necessary.

    Rationally based vs alt-facts. One would think there could not be much of a judicial problem here. We are in appalling times.

    • Enheduanna says:

      It’s a fact zero Americans have been killed in a terrorist attack by anyone from the banned countries. Meanwhile how many people die at the hands of white male anti-government, misogynist, racist Christians?

      tRump also keeps calling it a Muslim ban. Doh. I’m not a lawyer but doesn’t that demonstrate the intent of the EO is to discriminate based on religion?

    • roofingbird says:

      Yeah, I thought it was pretty darned good too!

  4. NW Luna says:

    The Resistance grows!

    In Washington state, The Verge has learned, Democratic governor Jay Inslee has directed members of his policy and legal staff to work with a handful of state agencies to identify data that could be utilized by Trump’s deportation officials, and how, if possible, to shield any such information from federal authorities engaging in mass deportation. In California and New York, Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislation to block state data from federal immigration authorities. Democratic legislators have also proposed bills in Washington state, California, New York, and Massachusetts that would prevent state data from being used by federal authorities to build a registry of people belonging to a certain religion.
    “The battle over the federal government’s access to data has gone national”

    And it’s not only Democrats who are contemplating how to handle state data under Trump. On Monday, Vermont’s Republican governor Phil Scott condemned President Trump’s recent immigration order and called for the convening of a “civil rights and criminal justice” task force to identify state and federal laws Trump’s orders might be breaking and to recommend any action the state can take.

    http://www.theverge.com/us-world/2017/2/2/14483888/trump-immigration-ban-washington-state-immigrant-data-registry

    • dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’m very encouraged by the sanctuary cities and some state government efforts – such as CA proposing bans for candidates without tax returns on their ballots.

      Goddess knows the Beltway isn’t inspiring anyone (exceptions for Maxine Waters, John Lewis and a handful of others).

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. Fannie says:

    Take good care BB……………tRump doesn’t get it. The idiot said the judge was interfering with law enforcement. The courts are the law enforcers!

  8. roofingbird says:

    Sure wish there was some way to invalidate the whole ticket. I really don’t want to see Pence or Ryan left standing. If they must be left they really have to be hamstrung.

  9. purplefinn says:

    BB, thanks for noting what I’m calling our “small victories.” Any encouragement is welcome. I have the nasty cold/cough too. Hope you’re soon on the mend.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m a little better today, thanks. I have done nothing but sneeze and blow my nose for the past few days.