Trump thumped by appeals court

Some people say America has the best checks and balances. President Donald Trump isn’t saying that.

A unanimous decision by three judges — two Democrats and one Republican — on the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reinstate Trump’s hurriedly ordered ban on U.S. entry from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The court said the government presented no evidence to explain the urgent need for an immediate ban. It rejected the argument that presidential actions on national security are none of the courts’ business.

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the court said. The judges also indicated that arguments by the ban’s foes that it is discriminatory should be heard.

Trump reacted immediately by tweet: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

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The case could go to the Supreme Court. But the Justice Department said it is “reviewing the decision and considering its options” — which likely include weighing the risk that Trump will keep on losing.

Trump is the word

Trump — the verb, not the 45th president — was part of the ruling.

On pages 16-17, it said: “While counseling deference to the national security determinations of the political branches, the Supreme Court has made clear that the Government’s ‘authority and expertise in [such] matters do not automatically trump the Court’s own obligation to secure the protection that the Constitution grants to individuals,’ even in times of war.”

For a full text of the decision, click here.

Kellyanne Conway, unplugged

It turns out there is a line that even the Trump White House and its allies understand can’t be crossed in promoting family business, and Kellyanne Conway stepped beyond it.

Conway went on “Fox and Friends” from the White House briefing room Thursday morning to talk about Trump’s complaints against Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s fashion line. She urged viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”

Federal employees are barred by law from using their office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Conway has been “counseled.” He would not elaborate. That’s not enough, said House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who asked the Office of Government Ethics to review Conway’s commercial plug and recommend disciplinary action.

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On Fox Thursday night, Conway wouldn’t comment on the uproar, but said Trump supports her “100%.”

The take-away: Trumps on sale

Conway didn’t create the sell-sell-sell Trump presidency — she just signed up for it, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The campaign featured product placements for Trump water, Trump wines and Trump steaks. The Trump news conference walking back birtherism was tied in with a walking tour of Trump’s Washington hotel. A White House website gave details of Melania Trump’s jewelry line at QVC.

Gorsuch’s so-called criticism

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Trump accused Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut of misrepresenting remarks by Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the White House said it was a generic remark — that Gorsuch wasn’t lamenting the president’s attacks on federal judges.

But other senators and Gorsuch’s White House handlers relayed essentially the same thing — that Gorsuch, asked about Trump’s broadsides, found attacks on judicial integrity “demoralizing and disheartening.” See Newsday’s story by Emily Ngo.

Vietnam flashbacks

To deflect Gorsuch’s remarks, Trump revived a Blumenthal scandal that erupted in 2010: the Democrat had given audiences the impression he served in the Vietnam War when he had really remained stateside during six years as a Marine Corp reservist.

Also, Trump again went after a genuine Vietnam hero — Sen. John McCain, tortured during 5 1⁄2 years of captivity after his fighter plane was shot down.

Bristling over McCain’s characterization of last week’s Yemen raid as a failure, Trump tweeted: “He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.” During the campaign, he said McCain was “not a war hero,” adding, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump never served in the military. He received student and medical deferments during the Vietnam War.

A new conspiracy theory

Blumenthal and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), still dubious about confirming Gorsuch, called on the nominee to repeat in public what he said in private meetings about attacks on the judiciary.

“To whisper to a senator, but to refuse to say anything public is not close to a good enough show on independence,” Schumer said Thursday.

The Democratic National Committee floated a conspiracy theory of sorts — that Gorsuch’s comments were a ruse. “This is clearly a meaningless, White House-orchestrated attempt to help Judge Gorsuch pretend he won’t be a rubber stamp for the Trump administration,” said a DNC spokesman.

What else is happening

  • Back-channel contacts between presidential adviser / son-in-law Jared Kushner and the Mexican government reveal him to be almost a "shadow" secretary of state, the Washington Post reports.
  • Hillary Clinton trolled Trump on Twitter after the Court of Appeals decision. Her tweet said simply: “3-0.” Conway cannily retorted in kind: "PA, WI, MI," the key states Clinton lost.
  • The president is frustrated by all the leaks, obstacles and complexity, Politico reports.
  • The Trump administration is considering revving up the U.S. space program with a return to the moon by 2020, construction of privately operated space stations and more NASA emphasis on “large-scale economic development of space,” Politico reported.
  • On a phone call with Vladimir Putin, Trump was at first uncertain what Russia’s leader was talking about when he suggested extending a 2010 treaty that caps U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads, Reuters reports. Then he denounced it as a bad deal. Trump also talked about his popularity.
  • Trump signed orders seeking to develop strategies against drug cartels, violent crime and crimes against law enforcement officers, Ngo reports.
  • The errors and falsehoods on Trump tweets are so frequent that it takes a while and some space to account for them.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry praised Trump for expressing a desire for a “constructive relationship” in a letter to President Xi Jinping, which also expressed belated well-wishes for the Lunar New Year. Trump riled China with criticism in his first few weeks and a phone call with Taiwan’s president before he took office.
  • But now he's backing the one-China policy.
  • Meeting with senators from both parties, Trump said he was open to comprehensive immigration reform, but opposes a Senate-passed 2013 plan because it gave “amnesty” to immigrants without documentation, The Washington Post reports.
  • California farmers who backed Trump now worry his immigration policies could lead to a crippling labor shortage, according to The New York Times.
  • Flight restrictions when Trump is at Mar-a-Lago are taking a bite out of Palm Beach-area airports and aviation businesses, the Palm Beach Post reports.