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US judge deals blow to Trump’s border wall plans in sharply worded ruling

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President Trump discusses border security with CBP Commissioner McAleenan, Acting Border Patrol Chief Provost, and San Diego Border Patrol Sector Chief Patrol Agent Scott during a visit to the border wall prototypes and mockups. DHS photo by Jetta Disco.

A US federal judge dealt a blow Friday to President Donald Trump’s signature wall project, issuing a temporary injunction against using Defense Department funds to pay for barriers on the border with Mexico.

Trump declared an emergency in a bid to bypass Congress to obtain money for border wall construction after a standoff over funding for the project led to the longest government shutdown in US history.

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About 20 states, including Democratic strongholds New York and California, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), environmental groups and border communities are involved in suits that claim the emergency declaration violates the constitution.

Trump administration officials “are enjoined from taking any action to construct a border barrier in the areas defendants have identified as Yuma Sector Project 1 and El Paso Sector Project 1 using funds reprogrammed by DoD,” Judge Haywood Gilliam ordered, referring to the Department of Defense.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the diversion of funds from the department’s counter-narcotics budget for ultimate use in the construction of barriers in those areas — a move that was in turn funded by the diversion of $1 billion from army personnel funds, according to Gilliam’s order.

The judge granted the preliminary injunction because plaintiffs are likely to show that Trump administration officials “exceeded their statutory authority, and that irreparable harm will result from those actions.”

– ‘Unlawful power grabs’ –

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“Congress’s ‘absolute’ control over federal expenditures — even when that control may frustrate the desires of the Executive Branch regarding initiatives it views as important — is not a bug in our constitutional system,” Gilliam wrote.

“It is a feature of that system, and an essential one.”

The case — which was brought by plaintiffs including the Sierra Club environmental group — names Trump as well as Shanahan, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as defendants.

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“We applaud the court’s decision to protect our Constitution, communities, and the environment today,” Sierra Club managing attorney Gloria Smith said in a statement.

“We’ve seen the damage that the ever-expanding border wall has inflicted on communities and the environment for decades. Walls divide neighborhoods, worsen dangerous flooding, destroy lands and wildlife, and waste resources that should instead be used on the infrastructure these communities truly need,” Smith said.

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“Yet again, the American people have had to look to our courts for a check on President Trump’s unlawful power grabs.”

Trump made the construction of a wall to stem illegal immigration from Latin America central to his successful 2016 campaign for the presidency.

But despite saying Mexico would pay for the barrier, he has had to ask Congress for money to make the project happen, and the tug-of-war over funding for the barrier caused a record 35-day federal government shutdown beginning on December 22, 2018.

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2020 Election

Trump’s attacks on voting ‘backfired and only inspired people to march early to the polls’: report

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Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph Gloria has had three decades of election experience in Nevada, but had never seen a "perfect storm," as he called it, like this before. With all hands on deck for this election cycle, Gloria helped put together an entire mail-in voting system in less than 90 days to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m as comfortable as I can be because I have an excellent staff,” Gloria said. “We learned some things in the primary and are feeling good about this cycle, but unfortunately we have people at the national level who are encouraging people to do things that disrupt the polling place and make it a challenge for us to process votes.”

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2020 Election

Watch Kamala Harris laugh out loud when 60 Minutes asks her if Trump is racist

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) laughed when asked if President Donald Trump was racist during a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday evening on CBS.

"Do you think the president is racist?" Nora O'Donnell asked.

"Yes, I do," Harris replied, with a laugh. "Yeah, I do."

"You can look at a pattern that goes back to him questioning the identity of the first Black president of the United States," she said, referring to the racist "birther" conspiracy theory he pushed against Barack Obama.

"You can look at Charlottesville, when there were peaceful protesters and on the other side neo-Nazis and he talks about fine people on either side," she continued. "Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals? His first order of business was to institute a Muslim ban?"

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2020 Election

Lesley Stahl takes Trump to task for still not having a health care plan as 60 Minutes airs interview

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CBS News' Lesley Stahl took heat from President Donald J. Trump for asking him "tough questions" during their interview for 60 Minutes and the train wreck will air Sunday night in primetime.

But in the meantime, there's this:

Lesley Stahl: But you're okay with some tough questions?

President Donald Trump: No, I'm not. I mean--

Lesley Stahl: (LAUGH) You're not okay with tough questions?

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