Trump claims ‘obviously’ Mexico isn’t going to write a check for a border wall

(CNN)President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that his oft-made 2016 campaign promise that he would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it didn’t mean it would be a direct payment, despite outlining just that scenario during his campaign. Using a broad interpretation of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, Trump wrote in the memo that he would threaten to issue new regulations that would compel money transfer companies like Western Union to verify a client’s identity and legal status before authorizing a wire transfer. Trump now claims his renegotiated trade deal with Mexico and Canada would result in Mexico “indirectly” paying for the wall. But the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal has not yet been approved by Congress and even the perceived …

Pentagon approves additional military support for border

(CNN)The Pentagon has approved additional military support for the Department of Homeland Security on the Southwest border, the Defense Department confirmed Monday. By the end of November the military had already placed over 10 miles of wire obstacles in Texas, Arizona and California. This support request is separate from the White House-led effort to potentially use existing Pentagon funds and personnel to help build new sections of a border wall. US troops will also continue to provide aviation support to Customs and Border Protection, which has historically involved US military aircraft flying CBP personnel to locations along the border. Defense officials had previously told CNN that the new mobile surveillance would include troops manning mobile observation posts that would involve …

White House says tax ‘refunds will go out’ amid shutdown

Washington (CNN)Americans can still expect to get their tax refunds even though the Internal Revenue Service has been swept up in the federal government shutdown. At the time, the OMB’s general counsel disagreed with the IRS chief counsel’s position and said tax refunds could not be paid out during a shutdown. Faced with the latest shutdown, the Treasury Department last week asked the current OMB general counsel to revisit the 2011 memo and a supplemental memo was submitted to OMB this past Friday. In a statement, the IRS said the agency has always held the view that it has the authority to pay out tax refunds despite a lapse of appropriations during a shutdown. “We are committed to ensuring that …

After scathing op-ed, Romney says he’s not running against Trump in 2020, but he will ‘see what the alternatives are’ before endorsing

Washington (CNN)Sen.-elect Mitt Romney said Wednesday that while he would not run against President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race, he was not yet sure who he would endorse. “I think it’s important, as I begin this new job, to make it very clear where I stand,” Romney said. “And I also note that the departure of Secretary Mattis and the decision to pull out of Syria and the abrupt way it was done was a precipitating event for my finally going on this record.” Romney did say he planned to side with Trump and other Republicans on the border wall. “I would vote for the border wall. I’ve made that part of my platform for many, many years,” …

Federal employees union sues government over lack of pay

(CNN)A federal employee labor union is suing the US government for requiring “essential” employees to work without pay during the partial government shutdown. The union’s president, J. David Cox, called the requirement that some federal employees work without pay “inhumane” in a statement Monday. “Our nation’s heroes, AFGE members and their families deserve the decency of knowing when their next paycheck is coming and that they will be paid for their work,” he said, adding that many of the affected workers are veterans or law enforcement. “Our intent is to force the government and the administration to make all federal employees whole.” The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night. Original Article : HERE …

First on CNN: Hundreds of TSA screeners, working without pay, calling out sick at major airports

Washington (CNN)Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without paychecks through the partial government shutdown, have called out from work this week from at least four major airports, according to two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials. At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, as many as 170 TSA employees have called out each day this week, Thomas tells CNN. Officers from a morning shift were required to work extra hours to cover the gaps. Call outs have increased by 200%-300% at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where typically 25 to 30 TSA employees call out from an average shift according to a local TSA official familiar with the situation. Union officials stress …

Sanders says he was not aware of sexual harassment allegations on 2016 campaign, apologizes to women

(CNN)Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that he was not aware of the sexual harassment and pay disparity allegations during his 2016 presidential campaign, and apologized to “any woman who feels like she was not treated appropriately.” The former Democratic candidate stressed that his 2018 Senate re-election campaign had established new protocols for handling sexual harassment allegations. “We put forward the strongest set of principles in terms of mandatory training, in terms of women, if they felt harassed, having an independent firm that they can go to,” Sanders said. “And I think that that’s kind of the gold standard of what we should be doing.” “Of course, if I run, we will do better next time,” he added of a …

Graham: We’ll hold hearings on child migrant deaths

Washington (CNN)Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the likely incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that he will hold hearings on the deaths of migrant children at the border after two children in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection died in recent weeks. “These heartbreaking incidents are sadly consistent with previous reports of widespread abuse of children in immigration custody and the judgment of medical and mental health organizations that Border Patrol facilities are not adequately staffed or equipped to properly care for children,” she wrote in a letter to Graham. The latest death was that of an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala, who died on Christmas Eve at the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New …

Bipartisan criminal justice bill clears Congress

Washington (CNN)The House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed bipartisan criminal justice legislation, marking a win for Republicans, Democrats and the administration alike. “Congress just passed the Criminal Justice Reform Bill known as the #FirstStepAct. Congratulations! This is a great bi-partisan achievement for everybody. When both parties work together we can keep our Country safer. A wonderful thing for the U.S.A.!!” Trump tweeted on Thursday. Reps. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, Jerry Nadler, D-New York, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, and Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, assembled Thursday afternoon for a news conference after the passage of the “historic” bill, which the Senate passed earlier this week. “First of all, I want to say …

Mick Mulvaney in 2015: Trump’s views on border wall ‘simplistic,’ ‘absurd and almost childish’

(CNN)Incoming White House acting-chief of staff Mick Mulvaney once called President Donald Trump’s views on a border wall and immigration “simplistic” and “absurd and almost childish.” “A bunch,” Mulvaney responded. “The fence doesn’t solve the problem. Is it necessary to have one, sure? Would it help? Sure. But to just say build the darn fence and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and almost childish for someone running for president to take that simplistic of [a] view,” Mulvaney added, without making a distinction between a fence or wall. KFile uncovered the comments as a government shutdown looms over funding for Trump’s border wall. “Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!” Trump tweeted …