Fact-checking Trump’s emergency declaration announcement

By Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly | Washington Post

Where to begin with President Donald Trump’s rambling news conference to announced he was invoking a national emergency to build a border wall? It was chock full of false and misleading claims, many of which we’ve previously highlighted, either in our database of Trump claims or our list of Bottomless Pinocchios. Here’s a summary of 13 of most noteworthy claims, starting with immigration ones first.

“So I’m going to be signing a national emergency. And it’s been signed many times before. It’s been signed by other presidents. From 1977 or so, it gave the presidents the power. There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it; nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting. But nobody cares. They sign it for far less important things in some cases – in many cases.”

We will leave it to the courts to sort out whether Trump’s action is constitutional or not, but Trump oversimplifies the rationale behind the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Previously presidents acted with authority inherent in the U.S. Constitution, but Congress intended to formalize the process, including terminating standing emergencies. The law was intended to clarify presidential power and give Congress the option to thwart a presidential declaration, not to give “the power” to presidents. Originally, that required simply passage of a resolution by both houses of Congress but a Supreme Court ruling in 1983 forced Congress to amend the law to require a presidential signature or overturning a presidential veto.

The Brennan Center at New York University has documented dozens of times that presidents have issued an emergency declaration under this law, often related to blocking property or transactions with certain foreign governments or individuals. The 1976 law has no definition of an emergency, and legal experts say no one appears to have …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Judge issues ‘modified’ gag order for Roger Stone

By Andy Sullivan | Reuters

WASHINGTON – Self-described “dirty trickster” Roger Stone will still be able to speak about his upcoming criminal trial under a gag order issued on Friday, but the U.S. judge handling the case warned the former adviser to President Donald Trump that he might want to choose his words carefully.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she was issuing the modified gag order to “maintain the dignity and seriousness of the courthouse” in a case that has attracted a carnival-like atmosphere since Stone was arrested in Florida on Jan. 25.

The order prohibits lawyers involved in the case from speaking with news media and prohibits other participants, like Stone himself, from making statements that may affect the case when they are near the courthouse.

It does not stop Stone from talking about his case when he is not near the courthouse. However, Jackson warned Stone that he may not help his prospects by speaking out.

“One factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself,” Jackson wrote.

Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges of making false statements to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow.

The 66-year-old self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” has embraced the spotlight since his arrest. Stone flashed twin “V for Victory” signs that were made famous by his former mentor, disgraced President Richard Nixon, after he was released from arrest.

He has criticized Mueller’s investigation as an “inquisition,” and told Reuters that his charges amount to “process crimes” that did not involve intentional lies.

Stone is accused of telling unidentified members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team that he had …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Europe defies US, says it will stick with Iran deal

By Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum | Washington Post

MUNICH – European officials insisted Friday they would remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal, a day after Vice President Mike Pence demanded that the continent’s major powers follow the United States out of the agreement and accused them of trying to bust U.S. sanctions.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference, where leaders from around the globe began to gather Friday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini held tough on the continent’s commitment to the Iran deal, saying that the 28-nation bloc regards the agreement as an effective guarantor of peace.

“I believe if it was not for the European Union and its member states, starting with France, Germany and the U.K., I am sure that the nuclear deal with Iran would have been dead long ago,” she said. “We believe it is fundamental and crucial for our security.”

The comments came after Pence used a speech in Warsaw on Thursday to deliver the most direct attack to date from a U.S. official on Europe’s attempts to salvage the agreement. Pence accused European powers of aiding “that vile regime” in Tehran with a new financial platform intended to allow trade with Iran to continue, even as the United States attempts to choke it off.

The blistering Pence speech appeared to have done little to alter the course of Europe’s Iran policy, or even provoke much reaction. Mogherini did not directly mention Pence’s statement, and the EU account of a meeting she held with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels earlier on Friday made no mention of the issue.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said Friday that Europe would seek to keep the deal alive. But pressed on what more Europe could do as its companies exit Iran under U.S. pressure, he declined to spell out …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Supreme Court will take up citizenship census question

By Robert Barnes | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court added a politically explosive case to its low-profile docket Friday, agreeing to decide by the end of June whether the Trump administration can add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form sent to every American household.

The census hasn’t asked the question of each household since 1950, and a federal judge last month stopped the Commerce Department from adding it to the upcoming count. He questioned the motives of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and said the secretary broke a “veritable smorgasbord” of federal rules by overriding the advice of career officials.

Those opposed to the question argue the census response rate will likely fall if households are asked whether undocumented immigrants are present, and make less accurate the once-a-decade “actual Enumeration” of the population required by the Constitution.

Because the administration said it needs to know by the end of June whether the census form can contain the question, the court bypassed its usual procedures to accept the case. The justices will directly review the 227-page opinion handed down by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of New York, rather than require it first to go through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

The Trump administration, as well as the 18 states, local governments and others challenging Ross’s decision, told the court that the decision was so important it warranted exceptional treatment.

As New York, the lead challenger, said in its brief to the court:

“The enumeration affects the apportionment of representatives to Congress among the states, the allocation of electors to the electoral college, the division of congressional districts within each state, the apportionment of state and local legislative seats, and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding.”

Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the court that Furman had …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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