President Trump is facing mounting legal and political challenges after he declared a national emergency Friday in an attempt to circumvent Congress and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. This is Trump speaking in the Rose Garden Friday.
President Donald Trump: “The primary fight was on the wall. Everything else, we have so much, as I said, I don’t know what to do with it; we have so much money. But on the wall, they skimped. So I did—I was successful, in that sense, but I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”
In addition to the nearly $1.4 billion of border barrier funding contained in the newly passed spending bill, Trump plans to divert federal funds from the military and Treasury Department budgets, ballooning the overall cost for the border wall to $8 billion, far more than the $5.7 billion Trump previously argued for.
Trump also said he expects to be sued over the move, but believes he will ultimately prevail at the Supreme Court, citing his Muslim travel ban as a precedent for such a legal path. California, along with other states including Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico and Hawaii, is planning legal action challenging Trump’s emergency declaration.
House Democrats say they will pass a resolution disapproving the declaration, while the White House over the weekend indicated that Trump will veto any congressional efforts to block his plan.
Legal groups, including the ACLU and Public Citizen, are also planning to challenge the emergency declaration in the courts. Hundreds of protests have been planned around the country today.
In New York City, demonstrators turned out Friday evening in front of the Trump International Hotel to protest the emergency declaration. Multiple arrests were reported at the peaceful demonstration, after police blocked the sidewalks and protesters instead moved into the street. This is Jody Kuh of Rise and Resist, speaking to Democracy Now!
Jody Kuh: “It’s unconstitutional. It’s completely immoral. It’s against everything that we stand for. This is a nation of immigrants, and there is no reason that we should be keeping immigrants out. We should be celebrating them and welcoming them. If he’s going to mess with our business, we’re going to mess with his business.”
In Aurora, Illinois, a gunman went on a shooting spree Friday, killing five and wounding six others. Forty-five-year-old Gary Martin opened fire on his co-workers at water valve manufacturer Henry Pratt Co. after learning of his termination. The gunman, who was later killed by police fire, had worked at the company for 15 years. Martin had previously been convicted and served time for violence against a former girlfriend, including hitting her with a baseball bat and stabbing her with a knife. Police say Martin’s Smith & Wesson handgun was not legally obtained but that he did manage to obtain a firearm owner ID card despite having a felony record.
Venezuela expelled a group of visiting European lawmakers Sunday, as political tensions over the leadership crisis continue to mount. Meanwhile, the U.S. is continuing to deliver aid to the Colombian border with Venezuela in defiance of sitting President Nicolás Maduro. The United Nations, the Red Cross and other relief organizations have refused to work with the U.S. on delivering aid to Venezuela, which they say is politically motivated. The AP is reporting that U.S. military aircraft are now being used to transport U.S. supplies to the region. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó spoke at a rally in Caracas Saturday, calling for a “million volunteers” to go and retrieve international aid at the border on February 23.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has been outspoken in his support for Guaidó and his desire to oust Maduro, made a trip to Colombia over the weekend, where he, among others, ratcheted up the U.S.’s anti-Cuban rhetoric.
Sen. Marco Rubio: “The only military intervention that exists today in Venezuela is a Cuban intervention. All of the institutions and government organizations have been taken by them. They’ve been taken by the Cubans. How is that possible, that an official who has sworn to protect his country has delivered the control of his own homeland to Cuba, to another country?”
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference this weekend, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel and the United States of escalating the likelihood of war in the Middle East.
Mohammad Javad Zarif: “I think, last time I checked international law, violating Lebanon’s airspace and shooting into Syria is a violation of international law. … So, let’s wake up.”
Lyse Doucet: “So, the risk [of war with Israel] is great?”
Mohammad Javad Zarif: “Risk is great.”
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that a U.S.-convened conference in Poland was aimed at promoting war with Iran, while U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on European allies to pull out of the historic Iran nuclear accord. Germany has openly rejected this call, defending a multilateral approach to tackling the issue. Israel launched a series of airstrikes last month against facilities it says belonged to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Syria.
In Haiti, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant announced emergency spending cuts Saturday after nine days of anti-government protests, which resulted in at least seven deaths. Protesters have been calling for President Jovenel Moïse to step down over the country’s economic woes and a corruption scandal involving the suspected embezzlement of nearly $4 billion of Petrocaribe funds Haiti received as part of a Venezuelan oil subsidy program.
In Nigeria, at least eight people were killed Saturday in a suicide bombing in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. A joint task force said Boko Haram was responsible for the attack. In more news from Nigeria, officials announced Saturday presidential and parliamentary elections would be postponed by one week due to logistical reasons—just hours before Nigerians were set to head to the polls.
Pope Francis defrocked U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Saturday, after the Vatican found him guilty of sex crimes against children and adults, including using confessions to solicit sex. McCarrick was once considered to be the most powerful man in the American Catholic Church. The 88-year-old former archbishop of Washington, D.C., is the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be defrocked over the sex abuse scandal—which means he will be stripped of his duties and status as a priest. This marks the first time an American cardinal has ever been removed from the priesthood. This is Anne Barrett Doyle, an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members.
Anne Barrett Doyle: “The bishops who surrounded McCarrick and knew, or should have known, that he was a sexual predator, this, we believe, includes the pope himself, in that he knew, or should have known, from the earliest days of his papacy, that this prominent cardinal already had a file on him at the Vatican.”
On Friday, the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case to determine whether the Trump administration can legally include a question about citizenship in the 2020 census. The case will be heard in April, leaving just enough time for a ruling to be made before the census forms are printed in June.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has removed herself from consideration to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, according to a statement released Saturday. The withdrawal is reportedly due to Nauert’s past hiring of a nanny who did not have authorization to work in the U.S., and Nauert’s failure to pay taxes on time. The news comes after Trump’s National Golf Club was accused of hiring dozens of undocumented workers over the years, firing at least 18 from five golf courses in New York and New Jersey in the past two months.
In Louisiana, a judge handed down a 10-year prison sentence to Roland Bourgeois Jr., a white man who shot three black men in 2005 as they were trying to evacuate Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. In October, Bourgeois pleaded guilty to the hate crime—admitting he shot the men because of their race. At the time, he reportedly told a black neighbor, “Anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot.”
And in sports news, Colin Kaepernick and the NFL reached an undisclosed settlement Friday in Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league and its 32 teams. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback accused the NFL of preventing him from signing on to any team in retaliation for “taking the knee’” during the national anthem as a protest against police violence and racism. Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick’s who joined him in kneeling on the field in 2016, also settled his grievance against the NFL. Reid joined the Carolina Panthers last year after being temporarily unsigned.