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California to sue Trump over border wall emergency declaration

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Friday announced plans to sue President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is ‘clear abuse of presidential power’ O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE for declaring a national emergency to access funds for a southern border wall.

“President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and subvert the constitution,” Newsom said in a statement hours after the president’s declaration. “Our message back to the White House is simple and clear: California will see you in court.”

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California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal Appeals court sides with Trump in border wall prototype dispute The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump speech was great theater but unlikely to change much MORE said at a news conference that Trump does not have the power to “act frivolously” to redirect federal funding away from Congress, which has “power to direct dollars, the power of the purse.”

“This is not 9/11,” he said. “This is not the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. This is a president showing his disdain for the rule of law and the U.S. constitution.” 

Trump declared a national emergency to bypass Congress and spend roughly $8 billion on barriers along the southern border.

He is also expected to sign legislation that was approved by Congress to fund the government, which will prevent another government shutdown.

However, the legislation did not include the $5.7 billion Trump had demanded for the border wall.

Becerra said there was one thing Trump got right when he announced his declaration during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House. 

“President Trump got one thing right this morning about his declaration when he said he didn’t have to do this. He’s right,” Becerra said. “In fact, he can’t do this.” 

Trump’s concession that he “didn’t have to do this” was quickly seized upon by his critics to argue an emergency does not exist along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Newsom said it was “ironic and interesting” that Trump was focused on the U.S.-Mexico border instead of directing federal funding to “real disasters” such as the devastating wildfires that tore through the state last year. 

Becerra said that the state was reviewing the declaration closely and would likely file a lawsuit with other states. 

Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter defended former House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRubio discovers Native American heritage through TV show Feminine hygiene products to be available to House lawmakers using congressional funds Former Ryan aide moves to K street MORE (R-Wis.) after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is ‘clear abuse of presidential power’ O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE appeared to blame Ryan for the lack of a border wall. 

“This is not Paul Ryan’s fault. It’s not Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency MORE’s fault,” she tweeted. “Trump ran AGAINST the GOP and won. Responsibility is 100% his.”

Coulter has recently criticized the president. On Thursday, she ripped him and the GOP for passing a bill to fund the government that didn’t allocate all of the money Trump wanted to build a wall at the southern border. 

Trump declared a national emergency at the border with Mexico at a Friday press conference to receive money for the barrier. This would allow him to reallocate money from other projects. 

During the conference, he said of the wall, “I’m very disappointed at certain people, particular one, for not having pushed this faster.”

When a reporter asked him whether he was referring to Ryan, who served as Speaker during the first two years of Trump’s presidency, Trump said,  “Let’s not talk about it.” 

Police arrest two suspects in Jussie Smollett attack

Two suspects have been arrested in the reported racist and homophobic attack on actor Jussie Smollett. 

Chicago police said the two men were arrested Friday and that they have a “relationship” with the “Empire” actor, according to ABC News.

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“Police can detain the potential suspects for an additional 24 hours past the 48 hour holding period under special circumstances, but it must go through the prosecutors office and has to be clear process,” police said. “Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues.”

Smollett says he was attacked in Chicago late last month, and police earlier this week announced they had two persons of interest in the case.

Police have been investigating the incident as a possible hate crime after Smollett said two men beat him, poured an unknown chemical substance on him and placed a rope around his neck. 

Authorities said Thursday that they were questioning two persons of interest and that one had previously also appeared on “Empire.” The suspects are brothers and U.S. citizens of Nigerian descent, according to reports, and were arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport upon returning from a trip to Nigeria. 

Also on Thursday, police shut down rumors that the attack was a hoax, saying they “have no evidence” to support accusations that Smollett fabricated the story.

Police had said initially that phone records they requested provided by Smollett from during the investigation were “not sufficient,” as they were heavily redacted. The actor said that he was on the phone with his manager before the attack and was aiming to protect his privacy. 

The actor said in an interview this week that he was “pissed off” that people did not believe his story. 

Gloria Schimdt, the attorney representing the two persons of interest, told a Chicago CBS affiliate that the men were “horrified” to hear of the attack on Smollett. 

“This is someone that they know, this is someone that they work with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that,” Schmidt told WBBM. “They really don’t understand how [police] even got information that linked them to this horrific crime, but they’re not guilty of it.”

CBS leaves Trump for 'The Price is Right'

CBS cut away from President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is ‘clear abuse of presidential power’ O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE‘s declaration of a national emergency at the border on Friday to return to its regularly scheduled programming of “The Price is Right” on the East Coast.

All of the broadcast and cable news networks carried the declaration and press conference that followed, with only CBS deciding to cut away after 21 minutes before the event was complete.

Trump spoke from the Rose Garden of the White House to announce he was declaring a national emergency at the border to build barriers to guard against illegal immigration.

“I am going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said after the announcement was delayed from its original 10:30 a.m. start.

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“It’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people,” the president said in seeking to justify the need for an emergency declaration.

Trump hopes to redirect $3.6 billion in military construction funding toward the border project, $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug-interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset-forfeiture fund. The declaration is expected to be challenged in court. 

Kavanaugh shows his stripes on Supreme Court’s ‘shadow docket’

Over the last several weeks, the Supreme Court has issued a number of important rulings on its “shadow docket” — cases that are heard on motions to grant a stay or for other immediate relief without oral argument and usually without written opinions by the justices. In three of these rulings, Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland Virginia political scandals show why words, and their delivery, truly matter In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support MORE has more than lived up to President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is ‘clear abuse of presidential power’ O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE’s expectations that he will be far to the right on the court, including on crucial issues for the Trump administration.

In January, the court voted 5-4 to dissolve preliminary injunctions that had halted the Trump ban on transgender service members as the lawsuit against the ban moved forward. As a result, while the litigation continues over the next year or so, the military can prevent transgender individuals from enlisting and “courageous transgender service members will face discharges.”  As one veteran put it, in addition to the hardship and discrimination against transgender individuals, the court’s 5-4 ruling “has made it harder for every commander in the military,” since each will “have to look at some of the best troops we have and kick them out for being honest about who they are.”

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Kavanaugh cast one of the deciding votes to lift the injunction against the ban. This ruling, as well as the final vote on the ban in the future, could well have rejected Trump’s discrimination against transgender individuals if Justice Kennedy were still on the court. But as many have pointed out, Justice Kavanaugh has “evinced no interest in defending” the LGBTQ community’s rights or their dignity. Trump’s other Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, also voted to dissolve the injunction.

Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were part of the 5-4 majority again in February, when the court voted 5-4 to reverse an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had temporarily stayed an execution because of a “powerful” claim that prison officials had violated the prisoner’s religious liberty. The court of appeals was concerned that Alabama refused to allow a Muslim prisoner to have an imam present to offer him religious guidance in his last moments, even though it allows that religious accommodation for Christian prisoners. Even though Kavanaugh has been called a “warrior for religious liberty” by conservatives, he voted against religious liberty in this case. As Justice Kagan wrote in a strong dissent joined by the court’s other moderate justices:

“This Court is ordinarily reluctant to interfere with the substantial discretion Courts of Appeals have to issue stays when needed… Here, Ray has put forward a powerful claim that his religious rights will be violated at the moment the State puts him to death. The Eleventh Circuit wanted to hear that claim in full. Instead, this Court short-circuits that ordinary process — and itself rejects the claim with little briefing and no argument — just so the State can meet its preferred execution date.”

Votes by Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were recently almost enough to allow a restrictive Louisiana anti-choice law to go into effect, even though it is virtually identical to a Texas provision struck down by the Supreme Court three years ago.  By a 5-4 vote with Justice Roberts joining the court’s four moderates, however, the court halted the state law pending a decision on a request that the court review the case on the merits. As one commentator put it, if the court had declined the stay, the net result would have made Roe v. Wade “all but dead.”

Originally enacted in 2014, Louisiana’s restrictive law would severely limit women’s reproductive choice by imposing the onerous and medically unjustified requirement that doctors performing abortions have nearby hospital admitting privileges. The requirement was almost identical to a similar mandate passed by Texas that was struck down in a 5-3 vote by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt. The court had stayed enforcement of the Louisiana law in 2016 and directed the lower courts to reconsider the statute in light of the Texas decision.

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The district court in Louisiana then held a six-day trial and issued a 116-page decision entering a permanent injunction against the law in June Medical Services v. Gee in April 2017. The court specifically found that as a result of the law, there would be only “one provider and one clinic” in the entire state that could perform abortions, as opposed to six doctors and five clinics before the law was passed. The court concluded that “a substantial number” of Louisiana women – 70 percent of those who choose to seek abortion – would be unable to obtain one in the state. The court also found that the hospital privileges requirement would produce “no medical benefit” and would thus not further the state’s interest in women’ s health, but instead would increase delays and  health risks to Louisiana women, as well as substantially burdening their right to reproductive choice.

But the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision 2-1, with Reagan appointee Patrick Higginbotham vigorously dissenting. He explained that the majority “fails to give the appropriate deference” to the extensive factual findings of the district court, and instead was improperly and “essentially conducting a second trial” based on “the cold appellate record.” Based on the trial court record, Higginbotham explained, it was clear that the Louisiana law had both the purpose and effect of creating a “substantial burden” on women’s reproductive rights, as did the law in Texas. When the full Fifth Circuit decided not to rehear the case, the plaintiffs went immediately to the Supreme Court for a stay of the order.

On February 7, 2019, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to stay the Fifth Circuit ruling and prevent the law from taking effect, pending a decision on a request that the court review the case on the merits. Trump’s appointees both dissented, with Kavanaugh writing a separate dissent suggesting that the plaintiffs file another stay request later if needed. That dissent effectively disregarded the court’s Texas ruling that admitting privilege requirements are unconstitutional and provide no benefit to patients, thus effectively declaring “war on Roe v. Wade.”   Progressives have already referred to Kavanaugh’s vote and opinion in again criticizing Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for her key vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

The votes of Kavanaugh and Gorsuch could be critical when the Supreme Court considers the Louisiana law on the merits, which it is likely to do in 2019-20.  Chief Justice Roberts was one of the three dissenters when the court invalidated the Texas law in 2016. If he takes the same position when the Louisiana statute is reviewed on the merits, then the votes of Kavanaugh and Gorsuch could be decisive in effectively reversing the Texas decision and endangering Roe v. Wade.

Elliot Mincberg is a senior fellow at People For the American Way and a former chief oversight counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

Trump declares national emergency at border

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is ‘clear abuse of presidential power’ O’Rourke says he’d ‘absolutely’ take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE on Friday declared a national emergency to bypass Congress and spend roughly $8 billion on barriers along the southern border, a big step toward building his long-promised wall that also comes with significant political and legal risk.

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Trump’s move, announced in a rambling, improvised address from the Rose Garden shortly after signing the declaration, will launch a fierce constitutional battle in the courts with lawmakers and outside groups who say the president overstepped his authority.

“I am going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said after a long introduction that touched on trade, China, Syria and the caravans of immigrants that Trump made a political issue of ahead of last fall’s midterm elections.

“It’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people,” the president said in seeking to justify the need for an emergency declaration.

Trump predicted the move will be challenged in federal court, but said he would eventually prevail.

“I could do the wall over a long period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump said, a concession his critics seized upon to argue an emergency does not exist on the southern border.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency MORE (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency Christie: Trump doesn’t give nicknames to people he respects MORE (N.Y.), the top two Democrats in Congress, said they would use “every available remedy” to overturn the emergency declaration.

“The president’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe,” they said in a joint statement. “The president is not above the law. The Congress cannot let the president shred the Constitution.”

Trump is separately set to sign legislation approved by Congress that funds the government and prevents a new shutdown set to begin on Saturday.

But that legislation fell far short of his demands for $5.7 billion in wall funding, with Trump saying he tried his best to work with lawmakers to secure additional border security but “on the wall, they skimped.”

Trump also claimed “I’ve already done a lot of wall for the election — 2020,” even existing construction has repaired and replaced existing barriers instead of building new ones.

Trump plans to redirect $3.6 billion in military construction funding toward the border project, according to White House officials. Trump will also take separate executive action repurposing about $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug-interdiction program and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset-forfeiture fund.

Officials said the goal is to ultimately build roughly 234 miles of barriers along the border, including bollard-style wall.

An administration official did not identify which military construction projects would be affected but said funding would be taken from “lower-priority construction projects,” such as funding to fix or repair existing structures, and not from flood-mitigation efforts or projects that would affect military readiness. Disaster-relief funds will also not be touched.

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Lawmakers in both parties have criticized Trump’s decision to declare an emergency, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a ‘profound mistake’ Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency MORE (R-Ky.) did offer his support.

McConnell on Friday called Trump’s decision “the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest” and called on lawmakers to approve more border funding.

But House Democrats instead plan to introduce legislation that would block the declaration, which could pass both chambers and reach the president’s desk if Republicans who have criticized Trump’s decision vote for it.

That would force Trump to potentially veto the first piece of legislation as president, a move that could further divide his own party in the lead-up to the 2020 elections.

Democrats and liberal advocacy groups have said they also plan to file lawsuits to stop the move in federal court.

Pelosi, speaking Thursday on the anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings, said it could lead a new president to declare a national emergency on guns. Such a scenario is exactly what some GOP lawmakers have feared.

“A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.” 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP braces for Trump’s emergency declaration A year since Parkland: we have a solution Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 MORE (R-Fla.) made a similar argument, warning on Thursday that “a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”

“I will wait to see what statutory or constitutional power the president relies on to justify such a declaration before making any definitive statement. But I am skeptical it will be something I can support,” he said.

In a call to reporters preceding Trump’s announcement, acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyPuerto Rico governor threatens legal action over national emergency declaration: ‘See you in court’ Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency Trump touts deal as providing B for border security MORE pushed back against Democrats’ claims Trump’s move would allow a president from their party to declare an emergency over an issue like climate change and gun violence, saying it “actually creates zero precedent” and calling the claim “completely false.”

“This is authority given to the president in law already,” he said. “It’s not as if he just didn’t get what he wanted so he’s waving a magic wand and taking a bunch of money.”

Trump’s decision to sign the spending bill ends three weeks of uncertainty over whether he would trigger another shutdown over his demand for wall money.

The president reopened closed government agencies on Jan. 25 after a 35-day shutdown that resulted in a major blow to his approval ratings and no financing for a wall.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill spent the ensuing weeks hammering out a proposal that includes $1.375 billion in wall funding, only a fraction of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded.

Trump’s acceptance of the compromise marks a defeat for a president who touted his negotiating skills during the 2016 campaign, and it showed Democrats’ increased leverage under divided government.

The story was updated at 12:50 p.m.