Liberals’ worst nightmare: a second supreme court pick for Trump

A future conservative nominee could affect issues ranging from womens reproductive health to LGBT rights

When, merely weeks after taking office, Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the supreme court, the freshly minted US president made good on a central promise of his campaign: to replace the late justice Antonin Scalia with a bona fide conservative.

That moment portended what is shaping up to be among the most indelible of Trump’s triumphs- the reshaping of the federal judiciary with the appointment of dozens of judges with an ideological bent toward the administration’s agenda.

Republicans are working with Trump to make a record-breaking number of appointments to federal tribunals. These new, largely young, white men will be in a position to rule on legislation that could change America for years.

But the most contentious appointment would be a second nomination to the highest court in the land. The supreme court has over decades delivered landmark decisions on issues from abortion to affirmative action and same-sex matrimony. The possibilities for Trump to install another justice on the nine-seat bench, some legal expert argue, could have profound repercussions on issues ranging from women’s reproductive health to LGBT rights.

With speculation mount over the possible retirement of supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy, Trump could have a lasting impact on reshaping America’s most important court.

” If President Trump fills another vacancy on the court it will have an enormous effect ,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley School of Law at the University of California.

” It will create the most conservative court since the mid-1 930 s ,” he added.” It would entail a majority to overrule Roe v Wade and to allow states to prohibit abortions, to eliminate all manner of affirmative action, to eliminate constitutional limits on illegal police conduct .”

The president himself underscored the power of future vacancies earlier this year, where reference is tweeted that Republican” must ALWAYS hold the Supreme court !”.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrat would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme court!

March 28, 2018

While it is not unusual for presidents to appoint supreme court justices with similar ideological tilts, Trump’s comments all but reinforced that he is unlikely to nominate a consensus pick if the opportunity. In November, the president updated his shortlist of nominees for a hypothetical vacancy, adding to a roster of proven judicial conservatives.

While the likelihood of a pending vacancy is far from corroborated, judicial watchers have set their sights on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon who turned 85 this year, and Kennedy, a critical sway election who has been the subject of retirement rumors for the second straight year.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest sitting magistrate at age 85, was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/ AP

Any vacancy prior to 2020 would almost certainly be filled by Trump, and a rules change adopted by Republican during the Gorsuch nomination oppose enabled the Senate to confirm supreme court justices with a simple majority vote.

Under the current balance of the court, Kennedy and the chief justice, John Roberts, though conservative appointees, have at times sided with the bench’s liberal justices.

Kennedy was the architect of several major decisions on LGBT rights, most notably the supreme court’s milestone ruling in 2015 establishing same-sex wedding as the law of the land. He is being closely watched as the likely choosing vote on the court’s highly expected decision considering a example of a baker in the state of Colorado who refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Camilla Taylor, the director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, their own nationals civil rights group focused on LGBT issues, said Kennedy’s previous decisions in the LGBT community’s favor” helped bring our relationships and our families out of the shadows and recognized the full human beings and citizenship of our community on the court “.

Taylor voiced concern thata second Trump supreme court nominee would present” an immediate and unambiguous threat to the LGBT community .”

” Another conservative Trump justice would jeopardize our right to marry who we love, and also our fundamental equality under the law including protections from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment and education .”

Some nonetheless argue that if the supposition around Kennedy’s departure proved true, it would not fundamentally alter the supreme court.

Brian Fitzpatrick, a professor of statute at Vanderbilt University, said Republican pledges to overrule Roe v Wade, the supreme court’s 1973 ruling that decriminalize abortion in the US, are more designed to energize conservative voters than they are grounded in reality.

” Even if we have a more conservative replacement for Kennedy, the conservatives are not going to overrule the human rights of an abortion, they’re not going to overrule lesbian wedding ,” Fitzpatrick said.

” The reality is the big cases where he goes with the liberals are cases that I doubt the conservatives have the belly to reverse, even if they had the votes next year.

” That would be too dramatic a change in national societies ,” he added.” It would cause all kinds of turmoil and backlash in the political system. People like Chief Justice Roberts, he’s a very institutionally minded person. He’s not going to risk the supreme court’s credibility and consistently by operating it like a weathervane .”

If Trump were to oversee a supreme court vacancy, a prevailing topic remains as to whether Democrat in the Senate would force a similar blockade of the seat as Republican did under former chairperson Obama – should they retake the Senate in November’s elections

Democratic wounds have yet to mend over the repudiation of Republican to grant Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia in 2016, a hearing or a election.

The Republican opposition went despite the fact that Garland held a reputation as a widely respected centrist judge on the US appeals court.

Progressives now believe Democrat should devote any future Trump nominee what has become known in Washington as” the Garland treatment “.

Prominent Democrat have signaled reservations about resorting to the same tactics, which they argue would risk further eroding institutional norms. But Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, suggested an overtly partisan pick by Trump would not receive much of an audience with Democrats.

” The topic is who you put up ,” Warren said in an interview with Pod Save America, a political podcast hosted by former Obama aides.

” The people that George W Bush would put in wouldn’t be exactly the same as the people that Barack Obama would put in. But they’d be along the same road .”

Warren noted that the climate had changed, even as she conceded it was counterproductive to follow in McConnell’s footsteps and state from the outset that Democrats would block any Trump nominee regardless of background.

” I think that’s wrong ,” she said.” But I do think you send a Neil Gorsuch to us, and the answer is no. We do hearings, we do it substantively, but the answer would be no .”

McConnell, for his part, has said any supreme court vacancy this term would be dealt with expeditiously and before the midterm elections.

” It would be a top priority ,” he told NPR last week.

” If we get a vacancy on the supreme court this year, we’ll dealing with this problem .”

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US on brink of trade war with EU, Canada and Mexico as tit-for-tat tariffs begin

Jean-Claude Juncker pledges retaliation as EU companies face 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminiumTrump imposes tariffs business live

The United States and its traditional allies are on the brink of a full-scale trade war after European and Canadian leaders reacted swiftly and angrily to Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium producers.

The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, promised immediate reprisal after the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, told EU companies would face a 25% responsibility on steel and a 10% responsibility on aluminium from midnight on Thursday.

Europe, along with Canada and Mexico, had been granted a temporary reprieve from the tariffs after they were unveiled by Donald Trump two months ago.

However, Ross sent shudders through global financial markets when he said insufficient progression had been constructed in talks with three of the US’s traditional allies to reduce America’s trade deficit and that the waiver was being lifted.

Wall Street slumped as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 250 points as investors sold off shares in manufacturers and corporations with global reaching. Shares across Europe also declined.

The move from Washington- which comes at a time when Trump is also threatening protectionist action against China- triggered an immediate and angry response from Canada, Brussels and from individual European capitals.

Juncker “ve called the” US move ” unjustified” and said the EU had no choice but to hit back with tariffs on US goods and a case at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

” We will defend the Union’s interests, in full compliance with international trade statute ,” he added. Brussels has already announced that it would target Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and bourbon whiskey.

The UK, which has hopes of agreeing a trade liberalisation deal with the US after Brexit, carried alarm at Ross’s announcement.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, told Britain would not rule out countermeasures or taking Washington to the WTO, which arbitrates on global trade disputes.

Speaking to Sky News he attacked the tariffs as “patently absurd” and recommended the US to think again.” It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest friends .”

A spokesman for Number 10 said the government was ” profoundly disillusioned” the US had decided to apply the tariffs and that Theresa May would raise the issue with Trump at next week’s meeting of the G7 industrial nations in Canada.

” The UK and other European Union countries are close allies of the US and should be permanently and fully exempted from the American measures on steel and aluminium .”

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, called the US tariffs illegal and a mistake, while the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, issued an immediate like-for-like reaction- announcing tariffs of up to 25% on US importations worth up to 16.6 bn Canadian dollars( PS9. 6bn ), which was the total value of Canadian steel exportations to the US last year. The tariffs will encompass steel and aluminium as well as orange juice, whiskey and other food products.

With the White House having used national security legislation to introduce the tariffs, Trudeau called the measures an “affront” to Canadians who had opposed alongside their American comrades in arms.” That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the US is inconceivable .”

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, went further calling her country’s $16.6 bn retaliatory tariffs” the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the postwar era. This is a very strong response. It is a proportionate reply, it is perfectly reciprocal … this is a very strong Canadian action in response to a very bad US decision .”

Mexico also denounced the move, saying it” deeply regrets and disapproves” the US decision.

The economics minstry said it would adopt equivalent measures on a variety of products, including flat steel, lamps, pork legs and shoulders, sausages and food preparations, apples, grapes, cranberries, various cheeses, and other products,” up to an amount comparable to damage caused by the United States’ action “.

It added:” This measure will be in force for as long as the US government preserves the imposed tariffs .”

Hopes remain that the fallout could be contained. Analysts at the research firm Oxford Economics said the economic hit for Europe would be well below 0.1% of GDP, as steel and aluminium merely make up a small part of the bloc’s overall exports around the world. However, they warned a tit-for-tat escalation leading to tariffs on other goods, such as vehicles, would have dire repercussions for global trade.

Last week, the Trump administration launched a national security investigated by car imports on national security grounds that could lead to tariffs on automobiles from Europe, Japan and South Korea, should trade tensions spiraling further out of control.

For the struggling UK steel industry, the news of US tariffs inspired fresh alarm. The director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, told:” President Trump had already loaded the gun and today, we now know that the US administration has unfortunately fired it and potentially started a damaging trade war.

” Since President Trump stated his plans to impose blanket tariffs on steel imports nearly three months ago, the UK steel sector had hoped for the best but still dreaded the worst. With the expiration of the EU exemption now confirmed to take effect tomorrow[ Friday, 1 June ], unfortunately our cynicism was justified and we will now find damage not only to the UK steel sector but also the US economy .”

Representatives for the US metal industry also expressed disappointment.” Make no mistake: restricting the raw material render in the U.S. and imposing tariffs on imports from our closest trading partners places American producers directly in harm’s style ,” said Paul Nathanson of The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users.

The CBI cautioned the EU against overreacting to Washington’s move. Ben Digby, international director at the employers’ organisation, told:” The president’s measures are deeply concerning for firms in the UK, for close trading partners and across supplying chains .”

Trump announced his tariffs in March as a route of protecting US firms from inexpensive imports but Digby said the problem was caused by global overproduction of the metals and needed to be tackled jointly by Brussels and Washington.

” There are no winners in a trade war, which will damage prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. These tariffs could lead to a protectionist domino effect, damaging firms, employees and consumers in the US, UK and many other trading partners. Now is not the time for any disproportionate escalation, and we urge the EU to consider this when initiating its response .”

But neither side showed any immediate sign of being willing to defuse the tension. Cecilia Malmstrom, the European trade commissioner, said the Brussels response would be proportionate and in accordance with WTO rules. Ross shrugged off the threat of EU retaliation, saying it would have little impact on the US economy.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s party, the largest group in the European parliament and a key ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel, warned that treating the EU as the “enemy” would damage US consumers.

” Europe does not want a trade conflict. We believe in a fair trade regime from which everybody benefits ,” he told.
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” We have tried everything to build dialogue and mutual understanding predominate. If President Trump decides to treat Europe as an adversary, we will have no choice but to defend European industry, European jobs, European interests .”

Ross blamed insufficient progress in talks with Mexico and Canada over changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement( Nafta) for the US’s decision to slap tariffs on its two neighbours.

Mexico’s under-secretary of foreign trade, Juan Carlos Baker, tweeted:” Mexico categorically rejects any unilateral, protectionist measures that distort trading in North America .”

China, too, warned that it would respond with tit-for-tat action of its own.

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Trumps visa restrictions aimed at Chinese STEM students to start in June

In a policy change situated for next month, the Trump administration is moving to abbreviate visas for Chinese students in fields like tech and engineering. While most visas are issued for the longest possible length of time under law, the new policy will allow U.S. officials to set a one-year cap on visas for Chinese graduate students who are” studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing ,” according to the Associated Press.

A State Department official told The Hill that” Although the large majority of visas issued to Chinese nationals are issued for the maximum legality, consular officers may limit the validity of visas on a case-by-case basis” under the new rules.

Beyond the student restrictions, U.S. consulates and embassies reportedly received instructions that any Chinese citizen applying for a visa will need to secure additional special permission form the U.S. if they work in research or management for any company the U.S. Commerce Department listings as an entity” involving higher scrutiny .”

Trump readying’ all of the above’ fusillade on Chinese tech

The new visa policy changes go as Trump is knee-deep in a controversial new tariff scheme targeting Chinese trade and is intended to protect against the stealing of U.S. intellectual property, or so the reasoning goes.

The visa change was signaled in the National Security Strategy report that the Trump administration issued in December. That document explains the rationale clearly 😛 TAGEND

The United States will be examined by visa procedures to reduce economic stealing by non-traditional intelligence collectors. We will consider restrictions on foreign STEM students from designated countries to ensure that intellectual property is not transferred to our challengers, while acknowledging the importance of recruiting the most advanced technological workforce to the United States.

The State Department noted these changes will go into effect starting on June 11.

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China protests ‘provocation’ after two US ships sail near disputed islands

Chinese ships and aircraft sent to warn US ships to leave after move made as White House seeks co-operation on North Korea

Two US warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, two US officials told Reuters, in a move likely to anger Beijing as Donald Trump tries its continued cooperation on North Korea.

China’s defence ministry duly conveyed its opposition to what it called ” provocation “. The US action severely infringed upon Chinese sovereignty because the warships entered Chinese territorial waters without permission, the ministry said in a short statement.

Chinese ships and aircraft were sent to warn the US ships to leave, it said.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic water. The operation was planned months in advance and such operations have become routine but it came at a particularly sensitive period, days after the Pentagon uninvited China from a major US-hosted naval drill.

The US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disagreements with its neighbors. The US ships carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands, one of the officials said.

Trump’s cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has put further strain on US-China ties amid a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. Kim and South Korea president Moon Jae-in fulfilled on Saturday in an attempt to reinstate the summit. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that US officials had traversed into North Korean territory as preparations for Trump’s meeting with Kim continued.

Critics of the naval operations, known as a” freedom of navigation”, have said that they have little impact on Chinese behaviour and are largely symbolic. The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by friends, and that they are separate from political considerations.

Satellite photographs taken on 12 May presented China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missile at Woody Island. Earlier this month, China’s air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exert of the states of the region, triggering fear from Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US military did not directly comment on Sunday’s operation, but said US forces-out operate in the region on a daily basis.

” We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future ,” the US Pacific fleet said in a statement.

Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and using South China Sea islands to gather intelligence of the states of the region. In March, a US destroyer carried out a” freedom of navigation” operation close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing home countries in suspicious, “cold war” terms.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about$ 5tn in shipborne trade pass each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The US has said it would like to see more international participation in freedom-of-navigation operations.

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North and South Korean leaders meet as US indicates summit may yet happen

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in meet in perimeter village, days after Donald Trump told schemed summit in Singapore was cancelled

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, gratified his South Korean equivalent on Saturday, two days after Donald Trump cancelled a planned summit with Kim.

Moon Jae-in traversed into the north at the border village of Panmunjom, where the two gratified for the first time in April, the South Korean president’s office told. The two leaders discussed the US-North Korea summit, as well as implementing the joint statement released at the end of their earlier meeting.

The surprise meeting highlighted Moon’s efforts to get the historic US-North Korea talks back on track, and depicted inter-Korea relations are in a far better nation than those between Washington and Pyongyang.

On Friday, Trump made a partial climbdown, saying the summit could still be held in Singapore on 12 June if conditions are right. On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Sanders told White House staffers and state department officials would still travel to Singapore for a logistics session,” in order to prepare should the summit take place “.

In a pair of angry tweets, Trump said there was ” ZERO discrepancy” within his administration about North Korea but” if there was it wouldn’t matter “. He also disputed a report in the New York Times about the issue, claiming the” senior White House official” citied in the narrative “doesn’t exist”.

Reporters from outlets including the Times pushed back , noting that the quote to which Trump appeared to be objecting was from a background briefing on North Korea that was fully sanctioned by the White House.

Trump has faced fierce criticism over his inconsistency as a partner in the high-stakes talks. Adam Mount, director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said on Saturday Moon’s” bold but risky” meeting with Kim was a” clear demo of how dangerous Trump’s temper tantrum was “.

” When Kim Jong-un was allowed to split the negotiations into separate ways with Trump and Moon, he gained leverage over both ,” Mount wrote on Twitter.” Moon was sitting too alone at the table today, without the full weight of the United States.

” Trump says’ everybody plays games ‘,” Mount added, referring to Trump’s response when asked about North Korea’s posture on Friday.” Moon Jae-in is not playing a game: he must keep his people safe from war. Each of Trump’s whims shakes the walls of the Blue House .”

Photos released by the South Korean presidential office indicated the two leaders espousing, shaking hands and holding intimate talks, accompanied by a single aide each. Moon was expected to announce further details on Sunday.

In their first summit in April, Kim and Moon announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and peace, which Seoul tried to sell as a breakthrough to set up the summit with Trump. But relations chilled as North Korea canceled a high-level meeting over South Korea’s military exercises with the US.

The South was caught off guard by Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the Singapore summit, quoting aggression in recent Northern korean comments. Moon said Trump’s decision left him “perplexed” and was ” very regrettable” and urged Washington and Pyongyang to establish” more direct and closer dialogue between their leaders “.

Trump’s behaviour has fanned anxieties in South Korea regarding a rival intent on driving a wedge between Washington and Seoul and a US president who believes less of a traditional confederation than his predecessors. The decision to pull out of the summit came just days after Trump hosted Moon in a White House meeting where he cast doubts on the Singapore summit and offered no support for inter-Korean progress.

In his letter to Kim cancelling the summit, Trump objected to a statement from senior envoy Choe Son Hui, who referred to vice-president Mike Pence as a” political dummy” and said it was up to the Americans whether they would” gratify us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown “.

North Korea issued an unusually restraint response, saying it was still willing to sit for talks with the US” at any time,( in) any format “.

” The first session would not solve all, but solving even one at a time in a phased style would induce the relations get better rather than attaining them get worse ,” vice-foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

A Tv screen proves Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. Photograph: Ahn Young-joon/ AP

Notably, the statement did not appear in Saturday’s edition of Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling party. The newspaper focused on Kim’s visit to Wonsan to inspect a beachfront tourist complex.

Analysts say Kim’s outreach after nuclear and missile exams in 2017 indicates he is eager for sanctions relief and international legitimacy. Earlier this month, Kim released three US citizens. This week, Pyongyang invited international journalists to find what it claim was the dismantling of its only known nuclear test site. The regime has also declared that it no longer needs to conduct tests.

There is also skepticism whether Kim will ever agree to relinquish his nuclear weapon, which analysts believe he sees as his only guaranty of survival. Remarks in nation media indicate Kim ensure any meeting with Trump as a negotiation between nuclear countries. The North has said it will not participate if it is pressured to give up its arsenal.

In Washington, a cadre of Trump’s most fervent Republican supporters in Congress have nominated the president for a Nobel peace prize. The Trump administration also issued an official but widely taunted summit commemorative coin, featuring profiles of Trump and Kim against the backdrop of their countries’ flags.

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Donald Trump Jr met Gulf states emissary offering election help report

New York Times reports August 2016 session at Trump Tower it says also included Israeli social media expert and Blackwater founder Erik Prince

Donald Trump Jr met with an emissary for foreign governments seeking to help his father’s presidential campaign three months before the 2016 election, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing several anonymous sources with knowledge of the session, the Times said Trump Jr met at Trump Tower on 3 August 2016 with an emissary for the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Also present, the paper told, were an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation, Joel Zamel, and Erik Prince, the founder of the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater.

Zamel represented a firm that applied several Israeli former intelligence officers and specialized in data collection and social media persuasion. At the time of the meeting, the Times stated,” the firm had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr Trump “.

The meeting, which the Times said was facilitated by Prince, is the first evidence that countries other than Russia sought to influence the US election in favor of Donald Trump.

The US intelligence community and the Senate judiciary committee agree that Russian election interference aimed to help Trump defeat his Democratic adversary, Hillary Clinton. The special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating that interference and alleged links between Trump aides and Moscow. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion and called the investigation a “witch-hunt”.

During the Trump Tower meeting, the Times said, George Nader, the emissary for the two crown princes, indicated that leaders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE wished to help Trump. Nader, the Times said, is now cooperating with Mueller.

Under US law, the involvement of foreign governments or individuals in American elections is illegal.

It is not known if anything came of the alleged offer for assistance. The Hour stated that Trump Jr responded “approvingly”.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr, told the Hours:” Prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader and another individual which are likely to Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr Trump Jr on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it .”

A lawyer for Zamel told the Times neither he,” nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign “. The lawyer also said Zamel had” provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation “.

The paper told Prince declined to comment. It quoted a lawyer for Nader as saying he had” fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation and will continue to do so “. The report cited” a senior official in Saudi Arabia” who it said denied Nader had ever been authorized to speak for the Saudi government.

The White House did not immediately return a request for commentary.

The allegations will bring further scrutiny to Trump Jr’s activities during the campaign. The president’s oldest son emerged as a central figure in the Russia investigation after it was disclosed last year that he facilitated a now infamous June 2016 session at Trump Tower that also involved the Trump aides Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and a group of Russians including a lawyer with links to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

The White House issued a misleading statement about the meeting, claiming it was about adoptions. It was later disclosed that the encounter was arranged when the Russians offered to provide incriminating information about Clinton. Informed of the offer, Trump Jr responded:” If it’s what you say, I love it “.

The president’s son has said his father was not well known Trump Tower session. But according to a transcript of his testimony to congressional examiners released the coming week, Trump Jr was unable to recall if any of three calls he placed to a blocked number before and after the session were to his father.

The August meeting reported by the Times was not previously known to the public. Nader became a close ally of Trump officials. He satisfied frequently with Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior consultant, and Michael Flynn, who would become Trump’s first national security adviser.

In November, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the former Russian ambassador to the US. He has been cooperating with the special counsel.

Trump has closely aligned himself with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. His first foreign trip was to Riyadh. Last year, Trump embraced a Saudi-led siege against Qatar, a key US ally, against the counseling of his foreign policy consultants. Lately, the president withdrew from the Iran nuclear bargain- a move championed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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Trump administration to revive Reagan-era abortion ‘gag’ rule

Rule will ban federally funded clinics from discussing abortion with women and bar them from sharing space with abortion providers

Donald Trump’s administration will reinstate a decades-old policy that they are able to strip federal monies from family planning clinics abortion or related services, marking its latest salvo to curtail women’s reproductive rights.

The Department of Health and Human Services will announce the proposal on Friday, an administration official confirmed to the Guardian. The move would resurrect a policy first to comply with Ronald Reagan in 1988, which effectively barred reproductive health organizations that received federal awards from providing or even discussing abortion with patients.

The policy has been mocked as a “gag rule” by abortion rights advocates and medical groups, and you are able to trigger suits that could keep it from taking consequence.

” This is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights, period ,” Dawn Laguens, the executive heads vice-president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

She added:” Everyone has the right to access information about their health care- including information about safe, legal abortion- and every woman deserves the best medical care and datum , no matter how much money she makes or where she lives. No matter what. They won’t get it under this rule .”

The Reagan-era rule never went into effect further written, although the US supreme court ruled that it was an appropriate use of executive power. The policy was repealed under Bill Clinton, and a new rule went into impact that required “nondirective” counseling to include a range of options for women.

Federal funds are already barred from was for abortion services under current US law.

The move will galvanize activists on either side of the abortion debate ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

Doctors’ groups and abortion rights supporters say a ban on counseling females trespasses on the doctor-patient relationship. They also believe such rules would avoid patients from being able to obtain family planning or other preventive care from reproductive health care providers, and undermine access to safe, legal abortion, particularly among low-income women.

Abortion opponents have long argued that a taxpayer-funded family planning program should have no connection whatsoever to abortion.

” The notion that you would withhold information from a patient does not uphold or preserve their dignity ,” told Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning& Reproductive Health Association, which represents family planning clinics.” I cannot imagine a scenario in which public health groups would allow this effort to go unchallenged .”

She told requiring family planning clinics to be physically separate from facilities in which abortion is provided would disrupt services for women across the country.

Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America also backed the move. She said:” Abortion is not healthcare or family planning and many women want natural healthcare selections, rather than hormone-induced changes .”

Abortion adversaries claim the federal family planning program in effect cross-subsidizes abortion services provided by Schemed Parenthood, whose clinics are also major recipients of grants for family planning and basic preventive care. Hawkins’s group is circulating a petition to urge lawmakers in Congress to support the Trump administration’s proposal.

Known as title X, the nation’s family-planning program serves about 4 million girls a year through clinics, at a cost to taxpayers of about $260 m. Schemed Parenthood clinics also qualify for Title X grants, but they must keep the family-planning fund separate from monies used to pay for abortions.

The Republican-led Congress has unsuccessfully tried to deny federal funds to Schemed Parenthood, and the Trump administration has vowed to religious and social conservatives that it would keep up the effort.

In one of his first acts as chairwoman, Trump reinstated a” global gag rule” policy that restricted the US government from providing funds to international family-planning organizations offering abortion-related services or information about the procedure.

Global health advocates have since bemoaned the closure of abortion facilities overseas, with developing areas the most acutely impacted. Trump afterward expanded upon the action, affecting virtually$ 9bn in funding to combat global health issues such as HIV/ Aids, Zika and malaria.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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US threatens European companies with sanctions after Iran deal pullout

Bolton and Pompeo push hardline Trump White House position, with French and German companies among those with interests in Iran

Donald Trump is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies that do business in Iran following his withdrawal of the US from the international nuclear deal, his government reiterated on Sunday.

Trump’s most senior foreign policy aides signalled that the US would continue pressuring allies to follow Washington in backing out of the pact, which gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear programme.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security consultant, predicted that” the Europeans will see that it’s in their interests to come along with us” rather than continue with the 2015 deal, under which major European firms have signed billions of dollars of contracts in Iran.

Asked on CNN’s State of the Union whether that meant the Trump administration would impose sanctions against those firms, Bolton said:” It’s possible. It depends on the conduct of other governments .”

US sanctions on Iran reimposed following Trump’s withdrawal not only block American firms from doing business in the country, but also bar foreign firms that do business there from accessing the entire US banking and fiscal system.

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, said on Sunday wealth created in Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal” drove Iranian malign activity” in the region. He declined to rule out sanctions against European firms.

” The sanctions regime that is in place now is very clear on what specific requirements are ,” Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday.

Trump’s decision to scrap the nuclear deal was sharply criticised by European leaders, who have pledged to uphold their side of the agreement.

Alarm has been particularly high in France, whose energy giant Total last year signed a$ 5bn bargain to extract Iranian natural gas. Airbus, the French-based aircraft manufacturer, has already begun delivering airplanes to Iran Air under a multi-billion dollar contract.

Volkswagen, the German automaker, has resumed exporting vehicles to Iran. Richard Grenell, the new US ambassador to Berlin, alerted this week in a tweet:” German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations instantly .”

Some European leaders have called for measures to nullify the US sanctions. Bruno Le Maire, the French ministers of finance, said last week:” We have to work among ourselves in Europe to defend our European economic sovereignty .”

European Union officials have indicated they may threaten similar measures to those that pressured then chairperson Bill Clinton to give waivers to European companies under US sanctions on countries such as Cuba during the 1990 s.

Trump himself hinted that there would be no concessions to European firms during remarks at the White House last week in which he corroborated the US withdrawal, which he promised during the 2016 presidential campaign.

” We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions ,” Trump said.” Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States .”

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi meets Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing. Photo: Thomas Peter/ Pool/ EPA

Trump claimed the nuclear bargain was ” decay and rotten” despite general consensus that Iran was complying with it, had dismantled its nuclear programme and was allowing international inspections. Trump officials also complained about clauses in the deal that would have relaxed restrictions on Iran after about a decade.

On Sunday, Bolton asked on ABC’s This Week:” Why would any business, why would the stockholders of any business, want to do business with the world’s central banker of international terrorism ?”

The US has said it will allow” wind-down periods” of 90 to 180 days, depending on the industry involved, for companies to scrap existing contracts in Iran. New business deals have been instantly barred.

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has embarked on a tour of the deal’s other member states. He spoke hopefully in Beijing on Sunday, alongside Chinese officials. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, told Trump’s decision was a” violation of morals” but said his country would remain in the deal.

” If the remaining five countries continue to abide by the agreement, Iran will remain in the bargain despite the will of America ,” Rouhani said, in remarks broadcast on state television.

Doubt has been cast over the survival of the deal by senior Iranian clergymen and Revolutionary Guard officials. On Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May told Rouhani in a phone call Britain and its European partners will remain committed to the deal as long as Tehran continues to meet its obligations. The British, German, French and Iranian foreign ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

Late on Sunday, Trump returned to the issue on Twitter.” Remember how badly Iran was behaving with the Iran Deal in place ,” he wrote.” They were trying to take over the Countries of the middle east by whatever entails necessary. Now, that will not happen !”

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Trump ’embarrassed, frankly’ by Mueller investigation, John Kelly says

Chief of staff who calls Trump a super-smart guy says investigation unavoidably crops up when chairman hosts foreign leaders

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has said Donald Trump is” somewhat embarrassed” by the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Kelly told National Public Radio( NPR ) in a rare interview broadcast on Friday that Robert Mueller’s investigation inevitably crops up when the US president hosts his foreign counterparts.

” There may not be a cloud, but surely the president is, you know, somewhat embarrassed, frankly ,” Kelly, a retired four-star marine corps general, said.” When world leaders come in, it’s kind of like you know Bibi Netanyahu[ of Israel] is here and he- who’s under investigation himself- and it’s like, you know, you walk in and you know the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing .”

Kelly, who is Trump’s second joint chiefs of staff, said he spends five to eight hours a day with the president. His tenure has been the subject of recent supposition after reports that his influence is waning and that he branded the president an “idiot” . But he told NPR he thinks Trump is” a super-smart guy “.

He added:” My opinion is to speak truth to power. I always give my opinion on everything. He always listens. Sometimes he takes the opinion, sometimes he doesn’t .”

Kelly denied reports he had threatened to resign but acknowledged :” There’s times of great frustration, mostly because of the stories I read about myself or others that I think the world of, which is just about everybody who works at the complex, and wonder whether it’s worth it to be subjected to that .”

He did not name his predecessor, Reince Priebus, but said he wishes he had been in the role sooner.” I think in some cases in terms of staffing, or serving the president, that first six months was pretty chaotic and there were people some people hired that maybe shouldn’t have. It’s not that things were a disaster that first six months, but I believe they could have been better .”

Kelly also addressed the Trump administration’s efforts to combat illegal immigration. He told most people coming into the country without documentation” are not bad people”, but they will not assimilate easily.

” They’re overwhelmingly rural people ,” he said.” In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are various kinds of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t integrate well; they don’t have abilities .”

Kelly was seen as a hardliner on immigration in his pre-chief of staff role as head of the Department of Homeland Security. Now questions have also been raised about the future of Kelly’s successor at the DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen. The New York Times reported that she had drafted but not submitted a resignation letter after Trump lambasted her at a meeting for failing, in his view, to procure US borders.

The DHS denied the claim. Spokesman Tyler Houlton tweeted :~ ATAGEND” The NY Times article alleging that the secretary drafted a abdication letter yesterday and was close to resigning is false .”

Nielsen herself issued a statement that said:” The chairman is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of congressional action have prevented the authorities concerned from fully securing the border and protecting the American people. I share his frustration .”

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White House aide dismissed McCain’s views because ‘he’s dying anyway’ report

In closed-door meeting, Kelly Sadler reportedly said McCains opposition to Trumps CIA nominee didnt matter

A White House official reportedly attained what some watched as an insensitive comment about the ailing Arizona senator John McCain at a faculty session Thursday, and McCain’s wife speedily came to his defense on Twitter.

The official, Kelly Sadler, was discussing McCain’s opposition to Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, when she allegedly claimed “it doesn’t matter” because” he’s dying anyway “.

That is according to a person in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.

The White House did not dispute the remark but said in a statement:” We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time .”

The Hill newspaper first reported the comment.

Cindy McCain reacted a few hours later with a tweet tagged to Sadler:” May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 “childrens and” 5 grandchildren .”

Sadler is a special deputy to the president. She did not respond to a request for remark Thursday evening.

The 81 -year-old senator was diagnosed in July with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He left Washington in December and underwent surgery last month for an infection.

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