TrumpWatch, Day 16: Courts Block Muslim Ban, Trump’s Trust Issue


PHOTO: Travellers arrive in Boston’s Logan Airport after judge blocks Trump Administration’s visa suspension

Developments on Day 16 of the Trump Administration:

*The Justice Department filed filed an appeal against a federal judge’s ruling which blocked the “Muslim Ban” on Friday.

The appeal insisted the suspension of visas for citizens of seven mainly-Muslim countries is constitutional and said the decision of Judge James Robart, of the 9th Circuit Court in Washington State, “second-guesses the president’s national security judgment” and is causing harm.

[UPDATE: The three-judge Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate the Executive Order, saying the Administration must provide more information. Each side will file briefs by 3 p.m. local time (2300 GMT) on Monday.]

Small numbers of travelers from the previously banned countries are heading to the US, before the window closes if the Circuit Court of Appeals supports the Administration on Monday.

See also US VideoCast: Muslim Ban — Will Trump Fold or Go All-In?
TrumpWatch, Day 15: Judge Blocks Muslim Ban, Trump Shreds Financial Regulations, “Dress Like A Woman”

*Records indicate that Donald Trump is still closely tied to his business interests, despite declaring the establishment of a trust to prevent any conflicts.

The named trustees are Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., and Allen H. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer. Mr. Trump — who will receive reports on any profits or losses — can revoke their authority at any time.

The purpose of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is to hold assets for the “exclusive benefit” of the President. It remains under Mr. Trump’s Social Security number, according to arrangements for federal taxes.

Trump has refused to establish a blind trust.

Read the documents

The Washington Post revealed on Saturday that US taxpayers paid almost $100,000 to support a trip by Trump’s son Eric to Uruguay in early January to promote the Trump Organization.

The taxpayers’ bill was for Secret Service and Embassy staff, as Eric Trump met real estate brokers, dined at an open-air beachfront eatery, and spoke to hundreds at an “ultra exclusive” Trump Tower Punta del Este evening party.

*Trump tells Fox News that the US has not necessarily been any better than Russia’s Vladimir Putin in conduct of foreign and domestic policy.

Trump was asked by Bill O’Reilly about his oft-expressed respect for Putin. He responded that “if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world — that’s a good thing”.

Pressed by O’Reilly that Putin is “a killer”, Trump said, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

The interview will be broadcast just before American football’s Super Bowl tonight.

*Amid suspicions about Trump’s affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a US official says the President’s adivsors have sought information about Polish “incursions” in Belarus, despite no apparent evidence of such activities.

Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump’s comments on Russia and Putin.

*The Trump Administration pulls back on a draft executive order for a review of reopening CIA overseas “black site” prisons, accused of torture during the George W. Bush Administration.

Unnamed officials say the White House is circulating a revised version that removed language about the black sites. The revision still proposes expansion of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba center, where detainees have been held since 2002.

Officials said that it was unclear when any draft might be approved and that there were conflicting views within the administration on how to proceed.

*The New York Times summarizes the rush by a Republican-majority Congress to roll back environmental legislation affecting energy companies.

Congress has repealed a restriction on dumping coal waste near streams and nullified a measure intended to curb the venting of gas wells on federal lands. The House of Representatives has voted to end limits on methane emissions.

“It is a big, fat victory, after all this time,” says Luke Popovich, a vice president at the National Mining Association, an industry trade group.

In one of his first executive orders, President Trump ordered the renewal of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, despite concerns about environmental damage and the crossing of sacred Native American land.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been put under a White House gag order from circulating information to the media. Studies must be cleared by political advisors.

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