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Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Trump Travel Ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the executive order targeting six Muslim-majority countries. In a 10-3 vote, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the ban likely violates the Constitution. And it upheld a lower court ruling that blocks the Republican administration from cutting off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban unveiled in March. Trump’s administration had hoped it would avoid the legal problems that the first version from January encountered. A second appeals court, the 9th U.S. Circuit based in San Francisco, is also weighing the revised travel ban after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked it. White House spokesman Michael Short said the administration was confident that its order is legal. “These clearly are very dangerous times and we need every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence,” he said. The Supreme Court almost certainly would step into the case if asked. The justices almost always have the final say when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action. Trump could try to persuade the Supreme Court to allow the policy to take effect, even while the justices weigh whether to hear the case, by arguing that the court orders blocking the ban make the country less safe. If the administration does ask the court to step in, the justices’ first vote could signal the court’s ultimate decision. A central question in the case before the 4th Circuit was whether courts should consider Trump’s public statements about wanting to bar Muslims from entering the country as evidence that the policy was primarily motivated by the religion. Trump’s administration argued the court should not look beyond the text of the executive order, which doesn’t mention religion. The countries were not chosen because they are predominantly Muslim but because they present terrorism risks, the administration said. But Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote that the government’s “asserted national security interest … appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.” The three dissenting judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, said the majority was wrong to look beyond the text of the order. Calling the executive order a “modest action” Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote that Supreme Court precedent required the court to consider the order “on its face.” Looked at that way, the executive order “is entirely without constitutional fault,” he wrote. Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, said the partisan split was troubling. If the Supreme Court follows the same kind of partisan divide, the Trump administration may fare better since five of the nine are Republican nominees. Still, he said, it’s difficult to make a confident prediction because “Supreme Court justices don’t always vote in ideological lockstep.” The first travel ban issued Jan. 27 was aimed at seven countries and triggered chaos and protests across the country as travelers were stopped from boarding international flights and detained at airports for hours. Trump tweaked the order after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the ban. The new version made it clear the 90-day ban covering those six countries doesn’t apply to those who already have valid visas. It got rid of language that would give priority to religious minorities and removed Iraq from the list of banned countries. Critics said the changes don’t erase the legal problems with the ban. The Maryland case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of organizations as well as people who live in the U.S. and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries. “President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. “The Constitution’s prohibition on actions disfavoring or condemning any religion is a fundamental protection for all of us, and we can all be glad that the court today rejected the government’s request to set that principle aside.” (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Read More »

California May Bar Landlords From Reporting Immigrants

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Assembly has approved a bill to bar landlords from threatening to call immigration authorities on tenants. Lawmakers voted 46-15 to send the bill to the state Senate. The bill is one of two measures introduced by a San Francisco Democrat that would to regulate how landlords and private business owners interact with federal immigration agents. AB291 by Assemblyman David Chiu would prohibit landlords from disclosing tenants’ immigration status. Chiu also authored a measure currently in an Assembly committee to prohibit employers from allowing federal immigration agents into their offices or files without a warrant. Chiu says the measures will protect against mass deportation of immigrants. His bills are among several measures proposed by California lawmakers to thwart President Donald Trump’s vow to crack down on illegal immigration. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.) Read More »

Comey Agrees To Publicly Testify Before Senate Intelligence Committee

NEW YORK (CBSNEwYork/AP) — Fired FBI director James Comey has agreed to publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee announced Friday night that Comey will appear at an opening hearing on Capitol Hill sometime after Memorial Day. It will be the first time we hear from Comey in person since President Donald Trump  let him go on May 9, igniting a firestorm, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported. He’s expected to discuss the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election, as well as his firing. The announcement came just hours after the New York Times reported that Trump told Russian diplomats that firing the “nut job” FBI director had relieved “great pressure” on him. The newspaper cites the White House’s official written account of the Oval Office meeting. It says one official had read quotations to the Times and another had confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion. Friday’s report quotes Trump calling ousted FBI Director James Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job.” It says the president then told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador that he “faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Trump met with the Russians on May 10, the day after he fired Comey . “People are seeing things that they think are wrong, and that most people think is wrong. They’re seeing them unfold in front of them, and they want it out in the public, because there seems to be no way to stop it in private,” New York Times national security correspondent Matthew Rosenberg said following the report. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in part, “by grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.” He went on to say Comey’s firing would not have ended the Russia investigation, and the bigger story is the leaking of highly classified conversations. Trump has been narrowing a short list and interviewing candidates to replace FBI Director James Comey who he fired May 9. The president did not announce his pick for FBI director before leaving Friday on his first foreign trip. Trump said Thursday he was “very close” to naming a replacement and that former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman was among his top choices. Trump boarded Air Force One Friday without making any comment about the future leadership of the law enforcement agency. The president departed Friday afternoon on a four-country, nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that a senior White House adviser is a significant person of interest in the Russia investigation. In response to that article, Spicer said the investigation will conclude there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and any foreign entity. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Read More »

SWAMP Act Calls For Taxpayers To Be Paid Back For President’s Travels To Mar-a-Lago

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — A Torrance congressman wants to require President Trump to reimburse taxpayers for any public funds spent on travel to hotels or other properties that he owns. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif) says the Stop Waste and Misuse by the President Act (SWAMP) Act is aimed at ending what Lieu says is the American taxpayer “effectively subsidizing the President’s businesses” in travel to commercial entities owned in whole or in part by the President or First Family. Under the legislation, Trump and other senior officials with Secret Service protection would be required to pay back any costs stemming from visits to properties they own. According to the bill, Trump’s visits to Mar-a-Lago have racked up around $3.7 million for security costs for each trip, on top of travel costs and overtime pay for local law enforcement. “It is unacceptable for the President to maintain an interest in traveling to properties in which he has a direct financial interest, as the U.S. Government is responsible for renting space for personnel in said private commercial entities,” the bill states. Trump, Lieu says, is on track to spend more during his first year of office than all eight years of the Obama administration combined – which would mean he would have to spend nearly $100 million by the end of 2017, according to a new report. Records obtained from the Secret Service and the Air Force in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch showed the Obama family travel expenses topped $99,714,000 during Obama’s two terms in office. Lieu has been vocal about his opposition to the Trump administration: in March, he called the president “an evil man” and even started a “Cloud Of Illegitimacy” clock on his website days after Trump’s inauguration. Read More »

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