Headlines: February 25, 2019
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Nearly 60 former national security officials are expected to issue a statement on Monday in opposition to President Donald Trump’s National Emergency declaration to obtain funds for his border wall. The statement will bear the names of former State Secretary Madeleine Albright and former Defense secretary Chuck Hagel among others, and says in part, “Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border.” It will be issued on the eve of the House voting on a resolution disapproving of Trump’s move and will also be entered into the Congressional record. The statement will support the numerous lawsuits that have been filed against the President’s declaration.
Some members of Trump’s own party may be planning to vote with Democrats on the House and Senate bills expressing disapproval of the declaration. Among them are GOP Senator Roy Blunt, chair of Senate Rules committee, who said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that Trump made a, “unfortunate decision.”
Meanwhile President Trump is sending an additional 1,000 US troops to the border with Mexico, bringing the total by early March to 6,000. A Defense Department official explained the troops’ mission saying, “We are now transitioning to supporting [areas] between the ports of entry…We’re laying down another 140 miles of concertina wire — [we’re] about 30 percent done with that — as well as providing a ground-based detection and monitoring mission in support of [Customs and Border Protection].” Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan visited troops stationed at the border on Saturday along with Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. While there, Shanahan tested several riot control weapons, firing them while standing right at the border – a highly unusual and symbolic move.
The President headed to Vietnam on Monday for high-level talks with North Korea’s leadership and a one-on-one meeting with Kim Jong Un. It is the second meeting between the two leaders. After the first meeting, US representatives expected North Korea to begin denuclearizing immediately but that has not yet happened and the White House is now lowering expectations for the outcome of this second summit. Trump said to a group of US Governors on Sunday, “We have a special feeling…I think it’s gonna lead to something good. But maybe not.” He also said that he would not be pressuring North Korea to give up its weapons immediately, saying, “I’m not in a rush. I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing…As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.”*
Speaking about on-going trade talks between the US and China, Trump said on Sunday that he was delaying tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports because of “substantial progress” made between the two countries. He announced that he was going to hold a summit at his private golf resort in Florida with the Chinese leadership to sign a deal to that effect.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report is expected to be delivered to Attorney General William Barr any day now. If Barr does not make the report public House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff wants Mr. Mueller to testify publicly, as he said in an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
A major Vatican summit on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ended on Sunday and after four days of hearing testimonies from survivors and others, few if any concrete resolutions emerged. According to the Washington Post the summit, “left the Catholic Church much where it started at the beginning of the week: asking for more time from an impatient faithful to draw up ways to reliably police itself.” Pope Francis in a speech said, “We are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth,” but offered few specifics.
On Venezuela, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Fox News Sunday said that all options were on the table. He also dishonestly claimed that the man who has declared himself interim President was “duly elected” and, without a hint of irony that he wanted to make sure that “democracy reigns” in Venezuela while implying the possible use of military foreign intervention.
A videotaped exchange between a number of children and California Senator Dianne Feinstein at her office in San Francisco on Friday afternoon has gone viral. The young people – one as young as 7 – asked Feinstein to support the Green New Deal resolution. Instead Feinstein responded in a way that has widely been denounced as condescending.
And finally Sunday’s Academy Awards disappointed many with the Best Picture win going to the highly polarizing film Green Book, a story about a white man hired by a black musical artist to keep him safe on a tour of the South. Critics have denounced it as a, “white saviour film.” Filmmaker Spike Lee also won Best Director for BlacKkKlansman and gave this acceptance speech. President Trump slammed the speech on Monday as a “racist hit” in a tweet. This year’s Oscar’s broke the record for the most black awardees ever, with seven African Americans winning in 6 categories.
*ERRATUM: In an original version of our headlines we quoted a tweet by Trump that was from 2018 instead of 2019.