Trump travel ban dealt a legal blow

THE acting US Attorney General who declared a White House immigration ban illegal has been fired by President Trump.

Sally Yates earlier today issued a letter to her staff stating she was ‘not convinced the Executive Order is lawful’ and that ‘as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defence of the Executive Order’.

She is no longer the Acting Attorney General.

President Trump has just publically sacked the legal head in a blistering statement.

“The acting attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States...

“Ms Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

“It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme.”

President Trump has appointed Dana Boente, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to take up the role in her stead.

TRUMP MULLS EXPELLING UNEMPLOYED IMMIGRANTS

President Trump is considering an executive order targeting immigrants for deportation if they are dependent on government assistance, a draft document suggests.

The draft order obtained by The Associated Press calls for the identification and removal “as expeditiously as possible” of any foreigner who takes certain kinds of public welfare benefits.

Such immigrants have been barred from the US for the better part of a century and they can already be deported. The proposed order appears to signal a Trump administration effort to vigorously crack down on such welfare cases.

Another draft order under consideration would make changes to several of the government’s foreign worker visa programs. The White House did not immediately respond to AP requests for comments on the draft orders.

media_cameraWhite House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, left, and senior adviser Steve Bannon. Picture: AP

TRUMP TRAVEL BAN DEALT A LEGAL BLOW

‘I am not convinced the Executive Order is lawful’. With those words, the acting US Attorney General has ordered her lawyers not to defend President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

In a statement issued late this morning, Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said: “My responsibility is to ensure the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of the facts ... At present, I am not convinced the defence of the Executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is Lawful.

“Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defence of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”

But her decision is likely to be just another hiccup in President Trump’s campaign to halt immigration from seven mainly Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Ms Yates is due to be ousted once the President’s nominee, chief Trump campaign adviser Jeff Sessions, is confirmed in the role by the US Senate.

Until then, Ms Yates is the only person with the authority to sign foreign surveillance warrants. If Trump fires her, intelligence agencies will be hamstrung until Sessions can take up the post.

media_cameraGregg Phillips, who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud, was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election. Picture: AP

TRUMP VOTER FRAUD EXPERT “REGISTERED IN THREE STATES’

A man who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press has learned.

Gregg Phillips, whose unsubstantiated claim that the election was marred by 3 million illegal votes was tweeted by the president, was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states. He voted only in Alabama in November, records show.

In a post earlier this month, Phillips described “an amazing effort” by volunteers tied to True the Vote, an organisation whose board he sits on, who he said found “thousands of duplicate records and registrations of dead people.”

Trump has made an issue of people who are registered to vote in more than one state, using it as one of the bedrocks of his overall contention that voter fraud is rampant in the US and that voting by 3 to 5 million immigrants illegally in the country cost him the popular vote in November.

It has since emerged that President Trump’s own daughter, Tiffany, and several key advisers — including National Security Council member Stephen Bannon and Treasury Department Nominee Steven Mnuchin — were also registered in multiple states.

media_cameraSpecial relationship ... President Donald Trump holds British Prime Minister Theresa May's hand as they walk along the colonnades of the White House in Washington on Friday. Picture: AP

IT’S A DATE: MAY INSISTS TRUMP WILL VISIT UK

BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to back down on inviting US President Donald Trump for a glitzy state visit, despite a petition gaining more than 1.5 million signatures and protesters rallying across the country.

May is standing firm on the invitation, which would see Trump honoured by parliament and Queen Elizabeth II, despite the PM’s office saying she does not agree with his controversial ban on refugees and citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries.

“The United States is a close ally of the UK, we work together across many areas of mutual interest and we have that special relationship between us,” May told a press conference in Dublin alongside her Irish counterpart Enda Kenny.

“I have issued that invitation for a state visit to President Trump to the UK and that invitation stands.” The British PM added: “In relation to the policies that have been announced by the US, the UK takes a different approach.”

media_cameraDemonstrators hold a sitting protest outside Downing Street against US President Donald Trump's ban on travel from seven Muslim countries. Picture: Getty

May announced the state visit during a meeting with Trump at the White House on Friday, which was intended to boost trade ties after Britain leaves the European Union.

But her closeness to the erratic billionaire drew fire at home, particularly when she initially failed to condemn the travel ban, saying it was a US affair.

Protesters rallied in cities across the UK this morning, with a police source telling AFP the crowd in London stood at tens of thousands.

“Don’t hold hands with Nazis” and “No to racism, no to Trump” read placards in London, while the crowd chanted: “Shame on you Theresa May.”

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the smaller Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have all called for the state visit to be cancelled, as have some from May’s own party.

Conservative Muslim lawmaker Sayeeda Warsi told BBC radio that Britain should question whether it should roll out the red carpet for “a man who has no respect for women, disdain for minorities ... and whose policies are rooted in divisive rhetoric.”

British foreign minister Boris Johnson told parliament it was “divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality”, confirming that, after talks with the US administration, most Britons would be exempt.

However, Johnson said there was “no reason” why Trump shouldn’t receive a state visit, calling the US-UK relationship the “single most important geopolitical fact of the last 100 years”.

media_cameraWhite House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks about the National Security Council during a press briefing at the White House. Picture: AFP

‘WHAT IF SOMEONE WAS KILLED’: PRESS SECRETARY

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has defended President Trump’s controversial travel ban — stating ‘what happened if we didn’t act and someone was killed?’.

“There was a very short period of time in which we had something to execute that would ensure that the people of the United States were safe,” Spicer told MSNBC this morning.

“We act now to protect the future.”

At a White House press conference a short time later, Spicer stated: “Being able to come to America is a privilege, not a right.”

He defended the lack of consultation over the executive order with key agencies, Congress and the Senate as being due to ‘national security reasons’.

If immigrants had been given notice, this would enabled more to rush in before the ban took effect, he said.

“Everybody was kept in the loop at the level necessary to make sure that we rolled it out properly,” Spicer told the press gallery.

“The system worked well ... that’s the takeaway.”

Trump signed an executive order on Friday barring citizens of seven Muslim countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — from entering the US for at least 90 days. He also imposed a 120-day suspension of the US refugee program and blocked Syrians from entry indefinitely.

The move triggered protests, confusion at US airports and wider concerns over global trade. But a Trump aide hailed it a “massive success story”.

When addressing internal dissent by diplomats of the State Department, Press Secretary Spicer stated this called “into question whether or not they should continue” to serve under a Trump administration.

“I think they should either get with the program or they can go.”

The comments came after diplomats circulated a memo arguing that the executive order Trump signed last week will not make the US safe, runs counter to American values and will fuel anti-American sentiment around the world. “

A policy which closes our doors to over 200 million legitimate travellers in the hopes of preventing a small number of travellers who intend to harm Americans from using the visa system to enter the United States will not achieve its aim of making our country safer,” the diplomats wrote in a so-called “dissent cable” being drafted for State Department leadership.

“This ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold,” a draft of the cable said.

media_cameraUS President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. Picture: AFP

TRUMP’S TWEETSTORM DEFENCE

Donald Trump has defended his “Muslim” travel ban and shifted the blame for the ensuing weekend chaos, as he prepared to reveal his Supreme Court nominee.

The US president blamed airline Delta’s power outage, not his executive order on immigration, for causing more than 100 people to be detained at airports across the country over the weekend.

“Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,” Trump declared in a blaze of early morning tweets on Monday.

Watch first press briefing since ban

UNDERSTAND THE BAN: How Australian travellers are affected

However, The New York Post reports the nationwide Delta ground stop, caused by a computer problem, only took place overnight on Sunday — while refugees and immigrants have been detained since Trump issued the executive order on Friday.

“There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country. This was a big part of my campaign. Study the world!” Trump added.

His statements come as the Department of Homeland Security said all detainees from across the country have been released.

CALLS OF ‘CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS’

A Federal Court judge at the weekend placed an emergency stay on deportations under President Trump’s executive travel ban order as the act could expose travellers to ‘irreparable harm’.

But, four days later, some Customs and Border Control branches are continuing to ignore the judge’s ruling.

“We have a constitutional crisis today,” US House of Representatives member Don Beyer tweeted this morning. “Four Members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”

The main standoff is at Dulles International Airport, Washington, where border officials have reportedly refused lawyers access to detainees and refused to report their activities.

Democrats Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer of Virginia, and John Delaney and Jamie Raskin of Maryland were denied access to the Dulles Border Control facility.

Beyer called the situation a “constitutional crisis,” saying border patrol police had a “responsibility to be responsive to Congress and obey those congressional orders.”

The powerful National Border Patrol Union publicly endorsed President Trump during his election campaign,

media_cameraProtesters gather in their thousands outside Downing Street on January 30, 2017 in London. A British petition asking for the downgrading of Trump's State visit passed one million signatures this morning. Picture: Getty

UK PROTESTERS FLOOD CITY STREETS

Tens of thousands of protesters have flooded city streets across the UK as outrage continues to rumble over Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

Theresa May has come under renewed pressure to toughen her stance on the controversial tycoon after he closed US borders to a host of Muslim-majority nations.

In London, one of the city’s most recognisable streets was gridlocked as thousands of activists gathered opposite the gates of Downing Street. Similar protests took place in cities including Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham.

Whitehall was turned into a sea of placards and traffic came to a standstill as the sprawling crowd spilled into the road.

Chants including “Donald Trump has got to go” rippled up the street throughout the evening.

Speakers from across the political spectrum addressed those gathered in London alongside campaigners and performers.

There were similar scenes up and down the country, with huge crowds in the shadow of landmarks such as Manchester Town Hall and Grey’s Monument in Newcastle.

Thousands also packed the streets in Scotland, where the largest protests were in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with smaller events in Aberdeen and Dundee.

In Nottingham, hundreds of people congregated at Speakers Corner to protest. People held banners with a range of messages including “I’m Syrian Not A Terrorist” and “Trump: Make America Hate Again”.

The action comes after a petition calling for the US president’s UK state visit to be axed surged to more than 1.5 million signatures after his executive order. Earlier on Monday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson sought to restore calm by telling Parliament the ban would make “no difference” to British passport holders.

Downing Street has stood firm on the decision to extend an invitation to Mr Trump, saying: “We look forward to hosting the president later this year.”

media_cameraA mural of US President Donald Trump displayed on the side of a home in Tijuana, Mexico. Picture: Getty

MEXICO APPLAUDS ‘CARTELS TO PAY’ PLAN FOR WALL

Mexico has welcomed a senior US official’s suggestion that drug cartels could pay for a controversial border wall.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said there was a “buffet of options” to fund the wall along the 3200-kilometer border.

“There is no final conclusion on exactly how this wall is going to be paid for by the Mexican government,” he told CBS on Sunday. “It can either be through a tax on goods coming across the border. It can be through tax reform and a formula on import and export taxes and credits. It could be on drug cartels. And it could be on people that are coming here illegally and paying fines. Or it could be all of the above.”

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has estimated the wall’s cost at between $12 and $15 billion.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who was in Washington last week for talks with US officials, welcomed the suggestion that cartels pay for the wall.

“It’s undoubtedly positive progress that they are talking about someone that is not Mexico. Narcos are not Mexico,” Videgaray told the Televisa network.

“It’s a signal that — at least that’s how I interpret it — must be welcomed because we are already seeing how the discussion is changing.”

media_cameraCharles Koch, the billionaire industrialist, and his chief lieutenants offered a more delicate response this weekend when asked about President Donald Trump's plan to block immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. They described Trump's plan as "the wrong approach" that violated its dedication to "free and open societies." Picture: AP

CONSERVATIVE ‘KING’ KOCH ON TRUMP

Conservative patriarch Charles Koch and his vast network is vowing to oppose President Donald Trump if and when he deviates from their dedication to “free and open societies.”

AP reports that Koch at the weekend raised concerns about whether the Republican president will adopt an “authoritarian” governing style. Koch’s chief lieutenants condemned the nascent administration’s plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. And the Koch network’s many donors lashed out at Trump’s push to block immigration from several Muslim-majority countries.

“It doesn’t do any good for us to be positioned as hating whole classes of people,” said Erick Brimen, who, like the other 550 or so donors who gathered at a luxury California hotel this weekend, will pay at least $100,000 this year to fund Charles and David Koch’s nationwide network of policy and political lobbying organisations.

Many who attended this weekend’s Koch donor conference reported anxious optimism about the extraordinary opportunity for conservatives. They highlighted strong ties between the Koch network and the Trump administration. And even before it is announced, Koch’s team is preparing to devote its tremendous resources to defend Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court.

Yet there are also deep concerns about a new president with no long-term commitment to conservative priorities like free trade, free markets and small government.

“Our suspicion is we’re going to get three parts good and one part bad,” said Chris Wright, a Colorado-based energy entrepreneur. “We’re worried about the one part bad.”

media_cameraFormer President Obama waves from the helicopter he departs the US Capitol after inauguration ceremonies in Washington, DC, on January 20. Picture: AFP

OBAMA WEIGHS IN

Former US President Barack Obama has stated he ‘fundamentally disagrees’ with travel bans which he says targets people based on their religion.

“American values are at stake,” the statement reads.

But Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, says he “is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake”.

It’s the first time he’s spoken out at political issues since leaving the White House on January 20.

TRUMP TO ANNOUNCE SUPREME COURT PICK

Trump says he will announce his pick for the Supreme Court at 8pm Tuesday local time (midday Wednesday AEDT). The court has been working with eight justices since the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Former President Barack Obama had nominated Merrick Garland for the post, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take up the nomination.

LAWSUIT FIGHTS ‘FEAR-MONGERING’ TRAVEL BAN

US Muslim leaders have filed suit against President Donald Trump over an immigration order that they said was a “fearmongering” attempt at keeping members of their religion out of the country.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, joined 26 others as plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleging that Trump’s temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries was in fact a “Muslim exclusion order” that violates the US constitution’s religious freedom protections.

“Donald Trump’s executive order is not based on national security, it is based on fearmongering,” Awad said overnight.

“This is not a Muslim ban, it is a Muslim exclusion order.”

Besides excluding Muslim refugees and immigrants from abroad, the suit alleges Trump’s executive order will force out US-resident Muslims from those seven countries “by denying them the ability to renew their lawful status or receive immigration benefits ... based solely on their religious beliefs.”

That will lead to “the mass expulsion” of both immigrant and non-immigrant Muslims, the suit, filed in the district court in Alexandria, Virginia, alleged.

media_cameraDemonstrators protest President Donald Trump's executive immigration ban at O'Hare International Airport. Picture: AFP

IRAQ RETALIATES AGAINST ‘MUSLIM BAN’

Baghdad has called on Trump to review its “wrong decision” to prevent Iraqis from entering the country as parliament backed reciprocal restrictions if Washington does not change course.

“We see it as necessary for the new American administration to review this wrong decision,” the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement. “It is very unfortunate that this decision was issued towards an allied state linked by strategic partnership with the United States.”

Parliament, meanwhile, voted to enact a reciprocal travel ban on Americans if Washington doesn’t rescind its order.

It said that if the US does not roll back the move, this “will push Iraq to take policies and decisions commensurate with the preservation of its interests.”

It’s not clear how the vote will impact American citizens currently in Iraq, or co-operation between the two countries in the ongoing battle against IS.

media_cameraProtesters gather at the Los Angeles International airport's Tom Bradley terminal to demonstrate against President Trump's executive order. Picture: AFP/Konrad Fiedler

TRUMP ‘CUTS REGULATIONS’ FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Trump on Monday signed an executive action aimed at “cutting regulations massively for small business”, saying it will be the “biggest such act that our country has ever seen.”

He was photographed signing the order surrounded by small business owners in the Oval Office.

Earlier, White House officials called the directive a “one in, two out” plan. It requires government agencies requesting a new regulation to identify two regulations they will cut from their own departments.

AIRBNB OFFERS FREE ACCOMMODATION TO REFUGEES

Home-sharing website Airbnb is offering free accommodation to refugees and others barred from entering the US due to Trump’s immigration curbs.

In a note posted on its website, the company said it was working with partners to identify people who were unexpectedly stuck in limbo by the new restrictions and in need of a short-term place to stay.

The company, which helps users rent out their homes, also set up a web page to enlist volunteers wishing to host affected refugees and immigrants.

“We must stand with those who are affected,” said Brian Chesky, the California-based company’s CEO, in the blog post.

“Barring refugees and people who are not a threat from entering America simply because they are from a certain country is not right.”

TRUMP CALLS CANADIAN PM OVER MOSQUE SHOOTING

Trump has called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express his condolences about the Quebec City mosque attack that killed six. Trudeau’s office says Trump also offered to provide any necessary assistance.

It comes after Trudeau signalled his disapproval of Trump’s travel bans by tweeting about Canada’s acceptance of refugees.

TRUMP, SAUDI KING AGREE TO ‘SAFE ZONES’

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in a telephone call on Sunday with Trump, agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, a White House statement said.

Trump, during his presidential campaign last year, had called for Gulf states to pay for establishing safe zones to protect Syrian refugees.

A statement after the phone call said the two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of Islamic State militants.

“The president requested, and the King agreed, to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the statement said.

The Saudi Press Agency said the two leaders had affirmed the “depth and durability of the strategic relationship” between the two countries.

The agency later said “the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques had confirmed his support and backing for setting up safe zones in Syria”, but did not mention Yemen, where a Saudi alliance is fighting against the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order intended to sharply cut the number of federal regulations, a move the White House believes will spur economic growth. Photo: Getty

Trump Signs Executive Order to Cut Regulations

Originally published as ’You’re fired’: Trump

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