From The President’s Desk
From The President’s Desk

President Trump’s Argument To The People

3 Highlights from the President’s first Oval Office Address.

“This is a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”

From The President’s Desk

Clarified Concession

Border wall doesn’t have to be a wall at all.

“…law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.”

Notable because Democrats in 2006 voted to fund a fence, not a wall, as part of a border security funding package.
From The President’s Desk

Addresses Critics

Democrats have often said a border wall is “immoral” and “ineffective.”

“… why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.”

Pres. Trump referenced crimes by illegal immigrants & influx of illegal drugs.
From The President’s Desk

Not Just a Wall

Pres. says Dept. of Homeland Security made request for funding.

“cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges, and bed space… Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support.”

From The President’s Desk

DEMOCRAT RESPONSE

“This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who spoke alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They called the President's policies cruel and accused him of misleading the public, operating out of malice and fear rather than facts.
From The President's Desk

The President invited congressional leadership to the White House Wednesday for further negotiations to end of the gov't shutdown, now officially the second longest in history. Dems want POTUS to divorce the issue of border security from gov't funding.

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From The President’s Desk

Border Emergency?

I can do it if I want… We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”

A president can declare a national emergency – EVERY president since 1976 has done so – *BUT* may President Trump do so in order to fund a border wall?

From The President’s Desk

The 1976 National Emergencies Act allows a president to declare an emergency in order to, among other things:

  • take property & commodities
  • limit travel & prohibit trade
  • invoke martial law & send troops

The Act does NOT define “national emergency.”  The president must use existing laws to do so.

From The President’s Desk

Presidential Power Limits

  • The president must identify an existing law to invoke the emergency power (example: use the legal definition of an “immigration emergency” to make his case).
  • Emergencies expire after one year UNLESS renewed.
  • Emergency can be rescinded any time via a joint resolution passed by both houses of Congress.
From The President's Desk

BOTTOM LINE: Yes, it is within President Trump's legal authority to declare a national emergency without Congressional approval, *HOWEVER* if he does so in order to build a border wall, he is all but guaranteed to face a legal challenge.

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From The President’s Desk

“We Won”

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

With one tweet, the President ignites a firestorm about whether the U.S. will completely withdraw from Syria.

As of today, we don’t know when…or how…but here’s why it matters.

From The President’s Desk

HOW MANY TROOPS?

  • Est. 2,000 U.S. troops serve mainly as “advisers” to different groups fighting ISIS. For context: est. 5,000 U.S. troops remain “next door” in Iraq; est. 15,000 serve in Afghanistan.
  • The White House says troops will begin to return home, but the U.S. remains committed to the mission against ISIS and will “transition to the next phase of the campaign.”
From The President’s Desk

WHY LEAVE?

ISIS lost territory: Dept. of Defense estimates 90% of ISIS captured territory is now reclaimed.
ISIS lost leverage: Areas once held by ISIS, like strategic cities like Raqqa, are now free from ISIS control.
Money: Pres. Trump has repeatedly said America has wasted money in the Middle East and he wants to reinvest elsewhere.

From The President’s Desk

WHY STAY?

  • Defense Dept reports 14,000+ ISIS fighters remain in Syria, but also says number is in flux.
  • In April, the Special Ops Gen. called Syria “the most aggressive electronic warfare environment on the planet” (Syria/Russia jam American aircraft).
  • Withdrawing U.S. troops may embolden anti-American actors: Russia & Iran.
From The President’s Desk

BIG PICTURE

“The biggest winners in this are ISIS and Iran.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who often supports the President, echoing others who believe countering Iran remains an important reason for the U.S. to maintain a presence in Syria. Iran, a state sponsor of terror, supports the Assad regime in Syria. Sen. Graham says this decision will make it more dangerous for Americans in the region & back at home.
From The President's Desk

The last American soldier killed in Syria died in a roadside bomb attack back in March - the same month the President said the U.S. would leave Syria "very soon." A total of 4 American soldiers have reportedly died in Syria since 2014.

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From The President’s Desk

Tightening the Border

U.S. asylum applications are up 200% in 5 years – the highest level in 2 decades.

Now, as a caravan of immigrants makes its way through Mexico toward the U.S., the Trump Administration has a new plan.

From The President’s Desk

Crossings Crackdown

  • WHAT: Immigrants who cross the border illegally will be stripped of their eligibility to receive asylum in the U.S., according to new rules.
  • WHY: To discourage asylum seekers from attempting to enter the U.S.
  • HOW: President Trump is expected to announce it Friday, invoking extraordinary national security powers.
From The President’s Desk

Why It Matters

  • Currently under federal law, immigrants are able to apply for asylum no matter if they cross legally – or illegally.
  • U.S. has backlog of more than 300K cases pending in immigration court, only 20% of applicants are approved.
  • Asylum seekers used to wait 60 days for a hearing, but now it can take 2-5 years
From The President’s Desk

“Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it.”

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker in a joint statement Thursday.
From The President’s Desk

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, setting up a legal challenge in the courts due to federal protections that allow anyone fleeing fear of persecution over their race, religion, nationality, political option or social group to seek asylum.
From The President's Desk

The caravan of several thousand people is still hundreds of miles from the border near Mexico City. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are among the top countries for asylum seekers in U.S. - the most applicants approved come from China.

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From The President’s Desk

RUNNING ON CORN

When you fill up the tank, chances are 10% of your gasoline is corn-based ethanol … President Trump now wants to make it 15%.

So what’s the big deal?

 

 

From The President’s Desk

About Pres. Trump’s Plan:

  • Backstory: Different blends of fuel are used in different seasons. One blend: E15 (15% ethanol, 85% gas) is banned in the summer due to smog concerns.
  • On Tuesday, while in Iowa (corn country), Pres. Trump said he’ll lift ban & allow E15 year-round to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and help U.S. corn farmers hurt by Chinese tariffs.
From The President’s Desk

Why It Matters:

  • May both save you money & damage your car.
  • E15 only approved for light-duty cars & those made after 2001.
  • Oil industry & automakers oppose E15 because it may damage engines & fuel systems in older vehicles in unaware consumers.
  • Renewable Fuels Assoc (ethanol lobbyist) says year-round E15 will save drivers $80/year.
From The President’s Desk

Bigger Picture

Unclear if U.S. is ready for E15. Gas producers don’t want to be liable for damage to cars & some states don’t have infrastructure (underground gas tanks, etc) for E15.

But ‘Renewable Fuels Standard’, which was created in 2005, requires oil companies to add 36B gallons of ethanol to gas supplies by 2022 (only 12B gals used now).

 

From The President's Desk

An E15 mandate may open up sales year-round, but that doesn't necessarily mean consumers will buy it. Gas stations now advertise "ethanol-free" gas to improve fuel economy, others drivers say they believe it extends the life of their vehicle.

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From The President’s Desk

Small Words: Big Meaning

“Not Good.”

The President used this phrase twice in his speech at the UN General Assembly.

When he used it and why it matters.

From The President’s Desk

“The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the people’s religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good.”

Pres. Trump, United Nations General Assembly, Sept 25, 2018
From The President’s Desk

What To Know:

  • Pres. Trump hitting a hot button issue in Iran: struggling economy.
  • High unemployment, falling currency & major drought.
  • Iran invested heavily in Syria, Iraq & Yemen to advance interests.
  • Nationwide protests organized to challenge Iranian leadership.
  • More U.S. sanctions to come = more potential internal strife in Iran.
From The President’s Desk

“OPEC and OPEC nations, are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good.

Pres. Trump referred to America as the "largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth" - a fact that U.S. oil production now outpaces all other nations.
From The President’s Desk

What To Know:

  • OPEC = Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
  • Members like Saudi Arabia & Russia supply nearly 50% of total world’s oil supply.
  • OPEC “stabilizes” oil markets by agreeing to certain production output; that supply impacts price.
  • Pres. Trump wants OPEC to keep oil supply up, so prices stay down. OPEC may not agree.

 

From The President’s Desk

Connecting The Dots

  • Iran is part of OPEC.
  • Expected U.S. sanctions will prevent some Iranian oil from hitting the market.
  • Less global supply = potentially higher oil prices.
  • Higher oil prices may impact U.S. economy. This is why Pres. Trump wants OPEC to ramp up production, in part, to cover U.S.-imposed loss of Iranian oil.
From The President's Desk

The President began his UN speech speaking about the American economy, stating "America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

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From The President’s Desk

“NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!”

President Trump via Twitter re: the special counsel investigation.
From The President’s Desk

WHAT IS A SPECIAL COUNSEL?

An independent prosecutor appointed by the Department of Justice to lead an investigation separate from the usual chain of command.

From The President’s Desk

BACKSTORY:

In March 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign.

In May 2017, the Deputy Attorney General appointed Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director (2001 – 2013), as Special Counsel to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation.

From The President’s Desk

The Order Appointing Mueller As Special Counsel Allows Investigation Into Any:

  • links / coordination between the Russian gov’t and 2016 Trump campaign associates;
  • matters that arise directly from the investigation; &
  • crimes intended to interfere with the investigation.
From The President’s Desk

“I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was …. the charges were legitimate, but the prosecution tried to make the case about the Russian collusion ….. I think that they used Manafort to try to get the dirt on Trump.”

Paula Duncan, one of 12 jurors who decided the Paul Manafort case, to 'Fox News At Night.' Duncan, a Trump supporter, said she (and 10 of her fellow jurors) would've found Manafort guilty of all 18 counts but for one holdout juror.
From The President's Desk

Since the Special Counsel's investigation began in May 2017, 26 Russian nationals, 4 former Trump aides, 1 California man and 1 Dutch lawyer have been charged. The case against Michael Cohen reportedly arose at of a referral from the Special Counsel.

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From The President’s Desk

WHO KEEPS OUR NATION’S TOP SECRETS?

4+ million Americans have security clearances.

President Trump revoked 1.

Why some say stripping former CIA Dir. John Brennan of his clearance is an attack on free speech, while others say it had to be done.

 

From The President’s Desk

Who Keeps Clearance?

  • Who: Former federal employees who had on the job security clearances.
  • Why: In case a need arises when he or she can be of use to the current administration.
  • How long: Clearance continues (with periodic reviews) as long as person avoids sharing classified info, getting into debt, & traveling to certain parts of the world, etc.
From The President’s Desk

Bigger Picture:

  • Current *Security Clearance* system deemed “high risk” by gov’t watchdog.
  • Too many people have security clearances (est. 1.4M at “top secret” level) & continual reviews of their eligibility are inconsistent.
  • Evaluations take too long. More than 700,000 people waiting for security clearance, according to most recent estimates.
From The President’s Desk

Why Revoke Brennan?

“Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the Internet and television — about this administration.

President Trump
From The President’s Desk

John Brennan’s Response:

“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”

 

Click: His Criticism
From The President's Desk

The topic of revoking security clearances came up several weeks ago when some, like Brennan criticized the President's meeting with Vladimir Putin. Is Brennan sowing "division & chaos" or exercising free speech? Does social media change the equation?

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From The President’s Desk

Pres. Trump’s Pick for the Supreme Court:



JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH

Pres. Trump nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy’s former law clerk to fill his seat.

From The President’s Desk

Brett Kavanaugh: The Man

  • 53-year-old Catholic
  • Lead author of the “Starr Report”, which led to the impeachment of Pres. Bill Clinton
  • Part of the legal team that helped George W. Bush secure the White House in 2000
  • Met his wife at the White House one day before 9/11 when was associate counsel for Pres. Bush
  • Ran the Boston Marathon twice
From The President’s Desk

Kavanaugh: The Jurist

  • “Washington insider” with strong conservative credentials
  • Served as a judge for 12 years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Authored over 300 opinions, including a ruling against the Affordable Care Act on the basis of religious liberty
  • Hired by Obama nominee & “liberal” Justice Elena Kagan to teach at Harvard Law School
From The President’s Desk

CRITICS

Good Example of What’s To Come

During the 2006 confirmation hearing following his appointment to the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, Sen. Schumer grilled Kavanaugh over his involvement in Pres. Clinton’s impeachment and his take on Roe v. Wade.

 

Watch It Here
From The President’s Desk

So Now What?

Republicans control the Senate by a 50-49 majority due to Sen. John McCain’s prolonged absence, limiting the impact of any efforts by the Democrats to thwart Trump’s nominee.

Click: SHN Refresher SCOTUS Process
From The President's Desk

Kavanaugh served as a law clerk for Justice Kennedy alongside Pres. Trump's 2017 Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Justice Kennedy was appointed by a republican president (Reagan) but was the court's "swing" vote not wedded to one ideology.

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From The President’s Desk

Executive Order
“Keep Families Together”

The President takes action on immigration as lawmakers struggle to find compromise. But even as Pres. Trump signed the order, he predicted a legal battle ahead – a similar battle confronted by the Obama Admin.

From The President’s Desk

What We Know:

  • Trump’s exec order will not change “zero tolerance” policy – govt will charge all who cross the border illegally.
  • However, it ends separations by keeping families together in detention centers, run with the help of Dept of Defense.
  • It does leave room to separate children from family, but only if it’s in the child’s best interests.
From The President’s Desk

Legal Trouble Ahead?

  •  A 1997 court order & related decisions said immigrants under 18 cannot be detained for longer than 20 days.
  • Trump’s executive order is written ordering AG Sessions to go before a federal judge to “modify” this agreement to allow more time for “criminal proceedings.”
  • TBD what L.A.-based Federal Judge Dolly Gee will rule.
From The President’s Desk

Past As Precedent?

“A federal judge, Dolly M. Gee, scuttled the Obama team’s efforts to jail families together in 2015 when she ruled that doing so violated the agreement and said migrant children couldn’t be held more than 20 days.”

WSJ. Trump admin will face same legal issue as Obama admin, and same judge. Children held now an ave of 40-50 days before placed w/sponsor family..
From The President's Desk

The President's Executive Order doesn’t change the status of children already separated. That’s TBD.

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From The President’s Desk

Pres. Trump & Kim Jong Un Sign A Historic Blueprint for Peace

“The past does not have to define the future. Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war. And as history has proven over and over again, adversaries can indeed become friends…. Peace is always worth the effort…. Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace.”

 

From The President’s Desk

What It Says:

“Chairman Kim and I just signed a joint statement in which he reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to complete denuclearizaton of the Korean Peninsula. We also agreed to vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement as soon as possible. And he wants to do that.”

Pres. Trump said NK will begin destroying missile testing site soon.
From The President’s Desk

What It Doesn’t Say:

  • Pres. Trump did NOT agree to pull U.S. troops out of SK.
  • Pres. Trump did NOT agree to lift sanctions.
  • NK’s human rights violations discussed; NO promises made.

We will be stopping the war games … unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”

From The President’s Desk

“Our unprecedented meeting, the first between an American president and a leader of North Korea, proves that real change is indeed possible. My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct and productive…. We’re prepared to start a new history and we’re ready to write new chapter between our two nations.”

Pres. Trump's remarks following Singapore Summit
From The President’s Desk

“I think without Otto, this would not have happened…. Otto did not die in vain. He had a lot to do with us being here today.”

In 2016, Otto Warmbier was a 21-year-old American student who was arrested in North Korea after he was accused of stealing a political (propoganda) poster and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. When he was released by North Korea after nearly a year and a half in captivity, he was in a coma and died days later.
From The President's Desk

The joint statement signed by Pres. Trump & Kim Jong Un is short on details. Pres. Trump said there wasn't enough time, but that more will be worked out in the future, and admitted that "if you don't get the ball over the goal line, it doesn't mean enough." Read it here:

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From The President’s Desk

A RIGHT TO TRY

“… thousands of terminally ill Americans will finally have the help, the hope, and the fighting chance … that they will be cured, that they will be helped, that they’ll be able to be with their families for a long time.”

Pres. Trump at the May 30 signing of the 'Right to Try' bill, aimed at helping the 1M+ terminally ill patients who die each year access drugs pending final FDA approval.
From The President’s Desk

The ‘Right To Try’ Law

  • Allows terminally ill patients in the 12 states w/o a ‘Right to Try law’ to sidestep the FDA.
  • Now, patients can reach out to directly to drug manufacturers in order to participate in clinical trials & access experimental drugs.
  • Drug must pass FDA approval phase #1.
  • Eliminates existing FDA application requirements.
From The President’s Desk

Why Does This Matter?

Current State: FDA Trials

  • Extremely co$tly.
  • Multi-stage process lasts 3-7 years on average, but some take even longer.
  • On average, a new cancer drug spends 14 years being studied and undergoing clinical trials BEFORE it gets approved.
From The President’s Desk

Something To Consider

“Right to Try” does NOT guarantee ACCESS or AFFORDABILITY

  • Insurance companies are NOT required to cover experimental treatments.
  • Drug manufacturers are NOT mandated to undergo clinical trials OR provide experimental drugs OR produce large enough amt of drugs to ensure availability.

 

From The President's Desk

Under its Expanded Access (Compassionate Use) program, the FDA already authorizes over 99% of expanded access requests it receives. But for some, it's still not fast enough. Read more about the program here:

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