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US appeals court will not put Trump travel ban case on hold

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A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a U.S. Department of Justice request to place on hold an appeal over President Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries.

The order from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could increase pressure on the Trump administration to clarify its intentions regarding the controversial executive order.

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The 9th Circuit suspended Trump’s travel ban earlier this month while litigation over the measure proceeds. Trump has said he will soon issue a new executive order that addresses concerns raised by the appeals court judges.

The president’s Jan. 27 order caused chaos at airports around the world as visa holders heading to the United States were pulled off planes or turned around upon arrival at U.S. airports.

Trump has said travel limitations are necessary to protect the United States from attacks by Islamist militants. His original order barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. Refugees were banned for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

Americans were deeply divided over the measure, which was condemned by prominent U.S. companies and allies and challenged in court by the state of Washington.

The 9th Circuit had directed the Justice Department to file a legal brief defending the travel ban later this week. Given Trump’s intention to issue a new order, however, the Justice Department asked last week for the appeal to be placed on hold.

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In a response, the state of Washington said the Trump administration has said both that it would pursue an appeal, and that it would issue a new order.

“Throughout these proceedings, there appears to have been a lack of communication between the Department of Justice and the White House,” the Washington attorney general’s office said in a court filing arguing that the 9th Circuit move forward now.

Representatives for the Justice Department declined to comment.

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After stating that a new travel ban would be issued last week, a White House official said on Wednesday that a new order would come sometime this week.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Frances Kerry)

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AG Bill Barr will ‘try to interfere’ in the 2020 election to re-elect Trump: MSNBC national affairs analyst

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Attorney General William Barr will use the Department of Justice to "try to interfere" in the 2020 presidential election to re-elect Donald Trump, MSNBC's national affairs analyst predicted on Tuesday.

John Heilemann was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's "The Last Word."

"The attorney general, from the moment he walked into this job, has behaved in a -- as a ruthless, relentless political hack and a thug and who has behaved not as attorney general of the United States," Heilemann said.

"He made a travesty of the Mueller report and continues to lie on Donald Trump's behalf at every opportunity," he added.

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Trump welcomed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to the White House — to humiliate us all

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Despite the fact that President Donald Trump still refuses to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington for an officials meeting — a topic at the center of the scandal driving Trump’s impeachment — the White House hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

And while Lavrov was honored with his second private Oval Office meeting (the first one was a cataclysmic disaster) and a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the foreign minister took his opportunity here to repeatedly humiliate the United States.

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United States, Mexico, Canada finalize Donald Trump’s USMCA trade deal

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The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.

However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay Congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In reality, it is the second time the three countries have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, which President Donald Trump complains has been "a disaster" for the US.

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