Judges' immigration evasion
The Supreme Court dodged action Tuesday on a big case involving U.S. residents brought here illegally as children. This high-court punt means the Trump administration cannot, for now, kill the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as it intended.
President Donald Trump wanted a decision in his favor to help him pressure Democrats into allocating $5.6 billion in border wall money in exchange for keeping DACA. Instead, prior lower-level court orders will keep the program temporarily in place. That takes away some of the urgency for "Dreamer" supporters to see a deal and devalues a potential Trump bargaining chip.
Federal litigation over the program's legality will continue.
"It will be in the United States Supreme Court," Trump said of the case during a Jan. 2 Cabinet meeting. "So if we win that case — and I say this for all to hear — we'll be easily able to make a deal on DACA and the wall as a combination."
So chalk up Tuesday's ruling as yet another legal setback for the president.
Transgender ban OK'd
Also Tuesday, the court's conservative 5-4 majority allowed the administration to proceed with its plan for restricting military service by transgender men and women while litigation continues on that front. The order was terse, with no commentary from the justices. The court has yet to take up the merits of the Trump policy, which reverses an Obama directive as in the DACA case.
Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco sought the ruling, but with an unusual complaint. “It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Mr. Francisco wrote. “Unfortunately, this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”
Funding feud drags on
With only competing partisan proposals on display in Congress, a path to resolution of the record federal-government shutdown has yet to appear, reported Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
An estimated 800,000 federal workers are expected to miss another paycheck Friday, she reports.
Experts are trying to parse the expected negative impact on the gross domestic product.
Trump is due to deliver his State of the Union speech next week, but aides say he is preparing two versions, one that could be delivered in Washington and another for elsewhere in the country, according to The Washington Post.
The Department of Agriculture has announced it will reopen Farm Service Agency offices nationwide to process loans, tax documents and trade aid payments to farmers and ranchers, The Associated Press reported.
The messages from Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani grow foggier each day regarding just what the president-to-be did in trying to reach a Moscow hotel deal while he was a candidate — and what his campaign's many contacts with Russians added up to.
A New Yorker interview with the ex-mayor quotes him as saying he instantly perceived the falsity of a BuzzFeed story that reported that special counsel Robert Mueller gathered evidence of Trump telling lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. That story prompted Mueller to issue a rare denial.
Giuliani said he knew the piece was wrong "because I have been through all the tapes. I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the emails, and I knew none existed. And then, basically, when the special counsel said that, just in case there are any others I might not know about, they probably went through others and found the same thing."
Which tapes, he was asked. "I shouldn’t have said 'tapes,’ ” he said. "They [BuzzFeed] alleged there were texts and emails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the President told him to lie. There were no texts, there were no emails, and the President never told him to lie."
So, The New Yorker asked, you heard no tapes? "No tapes. Well, I have listened to tapes, but none of them concern this."
Reports spread Wednesday that a testy Trump has had it with Giuliani's media miasma.
President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that he told White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders "not to bother" with press briefings, predictably blaming the news media, predictably without citing specifics. She has not held a briefing since Dec. 18.
"The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the 'podium' much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press."
"I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!" he moaned.
What else is happening:
- Given that kids in the controversial — and widely mischaracterized — Lincoln Memorial demonstration videos wore MAGA hats, it was only to be expected that Trump would skip any "fine-people-on-both-sides" stuff and would dub them victims of "evil."
- Democratic hopefuls are hewing toward their party's version of populistic stances with the 2020 primary season on the horizon.
- Former Marine Paul Whelan from Michigan, detained in Russia on spying charges since last month, didn't know he had state secrets on a flash drive in his possession, his Moscow lawyer told The Wall Street Journal.
- Vice President Mike Pence issued a message of support for those backing an opposition movement in Venezuela.
- The administration asked the Supreme Court to skip its normal process and decide in a hurry if a controversial citizenship question can go on the 2020 census.