Why Robert Mueller Probably Has Trump’s Tax Returns

Why Robert Mueller Probably Has Trump’s Tax Returns

As the special counsel’s probe continues, actions point to access to the president’s closely held financial information.

Left: President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. (AP/Evan Vucci) Right: Then-FBI director Robert Mueller speaks during an interview at FBI headquarters in Washington on Aug. 21, 2013. (AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump, left, has said Robert Mueller, right, shouldn’t be delving into his corporate finances. (Evan Vucci, AP)

It now appears likely special counsel Robert Mueller has crossed what President Donald Trump has said is a clear red line by gaining access to the president’s tax returns as part of a broadening investigation looking for links between Trump’s business interests, his presidential campaign and Russia.

In fact, it seems almost certain the FBI–special counsel investigation has its hands on the president’s tax returns.

“Mueller would be engaged in malpractice if he didn’t” already have access to the president’s tax returns, a member of Congress on one of the congressional committees looking at Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election told me.

In fact, people familiar with the type of investigation that Mueller is now running signal the near-certainty that Mueller has access to the president’s tax returns. The purpose would be to use the tax returns as a road map to investigate potential Russian financial influence within Trump Organization limited liability companies.

“I believe Mueller has already obtained tax returns in the Russia investigation,” Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, said on Twitter on Aug. 10. He later wrote in The Hillhe often used tax returns in his own federal investigations, and that it is almost a necessity in an investigation like Mueller’s. It’s also done without knowledge of the subjects of the investigation.

“A federal prosecutor obtains tax returns by seeking an ex parte order from a federal judge. That means that the person who is being investigated doesn’t know that the tax returns are being sought or if the judge issues the order,” he said. “Basically, it’s done in secret.”

Mariotti also said that “the July FBI raid at the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort tells us a great deal about the status of … Mueller’s investigation.”

Before taking “an aggressive, public action” like having the FBI search a subject’s home, Mariotti wrote, a “typical step” federal prosecutors take in white-collar investigations is obtaining tax returns.

“A prosecutor would first take steps that can be done covertly, without the subject knowing, to gather evidence that can serve as the basis for more aggressive actions like search warrants,” he wrote. “I worked with federal prosecutors who obtained tax returns in every single white-collar investigation they worked on.”

Mariotti also said it ordinarily would require a senior Justice Department official to sign off on a request to the IRS for tax returns in a non-tax federal investigation. But, in this case, Mueller already has that authority.

“Mueller has authority to do so because the statute permits ‘United States attorneys’ to obtain tax returns and he has the power of a ‘United States attorney’ pursuant to the special counsel regulations,” he wrote, noting that “even the tax return of someone other than Manafort” could be helpful to Mueller, and that “he could have tax return information for many individuals.”

Does Mueller have the president’s tax returns?

“I would be surprised if Mueller hadn’t obtained some tax returns by now. The question is just whose tax returns he has,” Mariotti wrote.

Bloomberg reported in late July that Mueller had expanded his probe to Trump’s business interests – prompting the president’s lawyers to complain that such an investigation was outside the scope of his remit and leading to considerable public speculation about the scope and direction of the special counsel’s investigation. Meanwhile, Trump a day earlier pointed to Mueller examining his finances as a red line that should not be crossed.

An even surer sign that such a red line has likely been crossed now, experts say, is the direct involvement of the IRS’ vaunted Criminal Investigation unit – the one that once put mob boss Al Capone away on a tax conviction and has deep expertise in such matters.

The Daily Beast has reported exclusively that Mueller’s team has, in fact, begun to work closely with this IRS department. Obtaining Trump’s tax returns as a routine part of that inquiry is not just possible – it’s likely, experts say.

“Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit,” Daily Beast political correspondent Betsy Woodruff reported on Aug. 31.

“This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering,” she reported. “A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney. And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.”

Every American’s personal tax information is sacred to the IRS. That includes the president of the United States. Any IRS employee is fired on the spot if they’re caught even looking at someone’s personal tax information outside of an audit. That, too, includes Trump’s tax returns.

But, as Mariotti pointed to, there is one time-honored avenue for access to someone’s personal tax records – and it doesn’t require a subpoena or necessarily notifying the subject of the IRS or FBI investigation. Any U.S. attorney (or a special counsel acting under U.S. attorney powers) can request access to tax returns through an ex parte court order, and the request is nearly always handled without further review up the line at the IRS.

Now, quite obviously in this case, it would be nearly impossible for Mueller to obtain the president’s tax returns without triggering an intense reaction inside the agency and the FBI hierarchy. But once the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit is involved – as appears to be the case, according to the Daily Beast’s reporting – then that process is well-known, understood and compartmentalized.

A longtime congressional oversight staff director who has overseen dozens of similar investigations pointed me to this particular section in the criminal resource manual for U.S. attorneys, which describes what they need to do in order to obtain someone’s tax returns as part of an FBI investigation.

“United States Attorneys may have occasion to seek access to tax information (returns and return information) for use in non-tax criminal matters,” it reads. “Title 26, United States Code, Section 6103(i)(1) provides for tax information to be obtained upon the grant of an ex parte order by a Federal district court judge or magistrate judge for use in criminal investigations.”

Bringing in the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit makes this process even easier, and more likely. IRS officials then make those records available – without necessarily notifying anyone outside the investigating teams of the request. The FBI has that sole authority to request this of the IRS. When both the FBI and the IRS are working together, the circle is close-knit.

We may not know, for sure, whether Mueller’s team has access to the president’s tax returns until he takes an action publicly. Congressional oversight committees conducting their own investigations aren’t likely to know, either.

Congressional access to tax return information from the IRS is quite limited, a senior congressional oversight investigator told me. Only the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees have the authority to look at individual tax returns from the IRS, and neither panel is involved in the congressional Russia investigations.

They’re completely focused on tax reform at the moment. It’s also highly unlikely any of them will seek those returns, this aide told me. “Even if they were briefed, I would assume that they would hold that information very close,” the aide said.

And Trump’s attorneys may have no way of knowing whether that red line has been crossed, either, even though it certainly appears likely that it has been. They, too, might be forced to wait and see how the Mueller investigation concludes.

Trump Preps UN Address as Mueller, Obamacare Loom
Bloomberg

Trump Lawyers Overheard Debating Russia Probe in Public

Trump Lawyers Overheard Debating Russia Probe in Public

Trump’s legal team talked about the Russia investigation over lunch – while a reporter sat nearby.

By Megan Trimble, Associate Editor, Social Media |Sept. 18, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

Sometimes, they’re served them loudly and with a side of salad.

Over the weekend, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, members of President Donald Trump‘s legal team, were overheard discussing details of the Russia investigation during what appeared to be a working lunch at BLT Steak in Washington, just feet from the Washington Bureau of the New York Times.

New York Times investigative reporter Kenneth P. Vogel on Sunday tweeted a photograph of the pair from his seat at the next table. The steakhouse, the New York Times notes, is popular in the city.

“Here’s a photo of Ty Cobb & John Dowd casually & loudly discussing details of Russia investigation at @BLTSteadDC while I sat at next table,” Vogel wrote.

Here’s a photo of Ty Cobb & John Dowd casually & loudly discussing details of Russia investigation at @BLTSteakDCwhile I sat at next table. pic.twitter.com/RfX9JLJ0Te

View image on Twitter

Vogel reported he overheard them debating how to respond to investigators’ requests in the Russia probe, as well as discussing White House counsel Donald F. McGhan and Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law. Federal investigators are probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election and its possible collusion with associates of the Trump administration or members of the president’s campaign team.

“Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed ‘a McGahn spy’ and saying Mr. McGahn had ‘a couple documents locked in a safe’ that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to,” according to the Times story. “He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for ‘some of these earlier leaks,’ and who he said ‘tried to push Jared out.'”

The New York Times published a full story on the lawyers’ meeting with the headline, “Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry.”

And for inquiring minds wanting to know, Vogel tweeted that he ordered the tuna Niçoise salad.

 Here’s a photo of Ty Cobb & John Dowd casually & loudly discussing details of Russia investigation at @BLTSteakDC while I sat at next table. pic.twitter.com/RfX9JLJ0Te

10 things to know for today

10 things to know for today

Larry Dimas walk around his destroyed trailer in Immokalee, Florida, on Monday. –The Associated Press

1. Trump denies deal with Democrats on ‘dreamers’

The president is denying assertions by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi that they have an agreement with him that will preserve protections for young immigrants in the U.S. illegally while adding border security without the wall he has coveted.

2. Older residents coming into focus after Irma

Florida emergency workers are urged to check the welfare of those in nursing homes after eight people died in a scorching facility in Hollywood that lost its air conditioning during the hurricane.

3. Hurricane pushes Florida poor closer to ruin

In places like poverty-stricken Immokalee near the Everglades, the day-to-day struggle to survive is now an hour-to-hour fight.

4. Where Trump is headed

The president will hear directly from Floridians affected by Irma’s fury as he makes his third visit in less than three weeks to the storm-wracked South.

5. ‘None of this has a reasonable explanation’

New details the AP has learned about a string of mysterious “health attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Cuba indicate the bizarre incidents were narrowly confined within specific rooms or parts of rooms.

6. Iraq’s Kurds to vote on independence

That strong prospect of a “yes” outcome alarms nearly everyone else — the Baghdad government, Turkey, Iran and the Kurds’ own ally, the United States.

7. ‘The wall shouldn’t have been there’

A fire that blocked the only exit to an Islamic school dormitory killed 24 people, mostly teenagers, on the outskirts of Malaysia’s capital, officials say.

8. Medicare cards getting a makeover

The move, to fight identity theft, would replace Social Security numbers with unique new numbers to identify beneficiaries.

9. A different Sean Spicer pays visit to ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

A smiling, chill Spicer, showed up on the late-night show in marked contrast to the six hot-tempered months he spent as White House Press Secretary.

Officials: Student killed confronting shooter at high school

Officials: Student killed confronting shooter at high school

Shooting At Washington State School Leaves One Dead
Inform

ROCKFORD, Wash. (AP) — A student who opened fire in a hallway at a Washington state high school killed a classmate who confronted him Wednesday and wounded three others before being stopped by a custodian, authorities said.

The suspect, who a classmate described as being obsessed with previous school shootings, was taken into custody. The wounded victims were seriously injured but expected to survive, officials said.

The shooter brought two weapons to Freeman High School in Rockford, south of Spokane, but the first one he tried to fire jammed, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told reporters.

“He went to his next weapon,” Knezovich said. “A student walked up to him, engaged him, and that student was shot. That student did not survive.”

The sheriff said the shooter fired more rounds down the hallway, striking the other students, before a school custodian approached the shooter and ordered him to surrender, Knezovich said.

Knezovich called it a courageous act that prevented further bloodshed.

The sheriff said a deputy who works as a school resource officer arrived shortly thereafter and took the shooter into custody.

Elisa Vigil, a 14-year-old freshman, told The Associated Press that she saw one male student shot in the head who janitors covered with a cloth and another female student wounded in the back.

Michael Harper, a 15-year-old sophomore, said the suspect had brought notes in the beginning of the school year, saying he was going to do “something stupid” and might get killed or jailed. Some students alerted counselors, the teen told AP, but it wasn’t clear what school officials did in response.

A call to the school was not immediately returned.

Harper said the shooter had many friends and was not bullied, calling him “nice and funny and weird” and a huge fan of the TV show “Breaking Bad.” He also said the suspect was obsessed with other school shootings.

Students say the shooter was armed with a pistol and rifle and had carried a duffel bag to school. After shots were fired, students went running and screaming down the hallways, Harper said.

Authorities didn’t release the suspect’s identity or a possible motive. The victims also were not named.

Luis Prito, an assistant football coach at Freeman High, called the shooting devastating. A vigil took place Wednesday evening at a nearby church.

“This is a real close-knit community,” he said.

A two-lane road into the town of about 500 people near the Idaho border was clogged as worried parents sped to the school. Some people abandoned their cars on the street to make it to their children.

Cheryl Moser said her son, a freshman, called her from a classroom after hearing shots fired.

“He called me and said, ‘Mom, there are gunshots.’ He sounded so scared. I’ve never heard him like that,” Moser told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. “You never think about something happening like this at a small school.”

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital received three pediatric patients, spokeswoman Nicole Stewart said. They were in stable condition and surrounded by family, she said.

Stephanie Lutje told AP she was relieved to hear her son was safe after his high school near Freeman High was put on lockdown. She commended the school district for its communication.

“It’s been amazing, within probably 15-20 minutes of hearing about it, I’d already received a phone call, I’d already received a text message saying that their school is OK,” she said.

She still worried for others she knew, including a co-worker who had yet to hear from her son, a sophomore at Freeman.

“My stomach’s in knots right now,” she said.

Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that “all Washingtonians are thinking of the victims and their families, and are grateful for the service of school staff and first responders working to keep our students safe.”

 

Supreme Court Weighs in on Travel Ban, Refugees

Supreme Court Weighs in on Travel Ban, Refugees

The justices sided with the Trump administration, blocking a lower-court ruling to ease the refugee ban.

By Joseph P. Williams, Staff Writer |Sept. 13, 2017, at 9:39 a.m.

CBS Los Angeles

The legal saga of President Donald Trump’s travel ban took another turn late Tuesday when the Supreme Court granted the administration a partial win, blocking a lower-court order that would have allowed refugees from Muslim-majority countries into the United States and allowing the ban to continue until the issues are sorted out in court.

In a one-sentence order issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court agreed with a White House argument that the ban should continue until states who sued the administration over the ban submit their arguments to the court.

It takes a vote of five justices to grant a stay application.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has allowed the government to keep in place the protections for the Nation’s safety and security provided by the Executive Order,” Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, told Breitbart.com. “We look forward to full argument on October 10th.”

But Naureen Shah, a senior official with the human rights group Amnesty International, said the high court has dealt “yet another devastating blow to vulnerable people who were on the cusp of obtaining safety for themselves and their families.”

Refugees from the nations affected by the ban “continue to be subjected to unimaginable violence and fear while their lives are in limbo,” Shah said in a statement. “This ban is inherently cruel and no part of it should be allowed to stand.”

At issue is a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week, in which the court found that a relationship between refugees and resettlement agencies who want to bring them in is “bona fide,” as defined by the Supreme Court in an earlier ruling.

The White House ban allowed only some close relatives of U.S. residents to enter the country while excluding others, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles.

In last week’s opinion, however, the 9th Circuit ruled the government couldn’t deny entry to extended family members. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall said the administration had decided not to fight the “close-family aspect of the district court’s modified injunction.”

But advocates suggested that the relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee family fits the definition of “bona fide.” If it had been allowed, the designation based on the appellate court ruling would have given the green light to as many as 24,000 refugees who want to enter the U.S.

Tuesday’s order, however, isn’t the Supreme Court’s last word on the travel policy that Trump rolled out in January as his first major national-security initiative. And as the case winds its way through the federal court system, it’s not clear what will be left for the court to decide.

On Oct. 10, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the legality of the ban, which keeps out travelers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees anywhere in the world. The 90-day travel ban, however, lapses in late September and the 120-day refugee ban will expire a month later.

In a series of district- and appellate-court rulings earlier this year, judges have found that the bans violate the Constitution and federal immigration law. The Supreme Court has agreed to review those rulings and the ban writ large; in the meantime, the high court has been called upon to evaluate what parts of the policy can take effect in the meantime.

The White House hasn’t said if it would try to renew the bans, take action make them permanent or expand the travel ban to other countries.

Supreme Court temporarily upholds Trump refugee ban
Inform News

Irma Weakens to a Tropical Depression

 

National News

Irma Weakens to a Tropical Depression

Alexa Lardieri | Sept. 12, 2017

Though weakened, the storm continues to devastate the Caribbean and parts of the Southeast.

Hurricane Irma: Cops warn looters they’re making ‘fairly bad life choice’

Hurricane Irma: Cops warn looters they’re making ‘fairly bad life choice’

Police in Fort Lauderdale said nine were arrested in connection to a sportswear store burglary. The group, which was filmed by a local news staton, allegedly stole sneakers.

Police Chief Rick Maglione warned people in the statement that “Going to prison over a pair of sneakers is a fairly bad life choice” and residents should instead “Stay home and look after your loved ones and be thankful they are all safe.”

The Miami-Dade Police Department also said on Twitter that there were 28 arrests for looting.

Similar warnings were issued by other police departments across the state. “Any looters who come to Pembroke Pines will be greeted by our officers. Choose wisely and stay home,” wrote the Pembroke Pines Police Department.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, wrote: “ATTENTION LOOTERS; Every incident will be investigated. Evidence collected will be used to pursue charges after the fact.”

Irma Heads Toward Florida

Irma Heads Toward Florida

Hurricane Irma, downgraded to a Category 4 storm, is expected to hit the Bahamas Friday and continue moving westward to Florida.

By Alexa Lardieri, Staff Writer |Sept. 8, 2017, at 8:23 a.m.

Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday as the fearsome Category 5 storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed a number of people.

Hurricane Irma has destroyed homes and left thousands without power in Barbuda. (Anika E. Kentish/AP)

The devastating Hurricane Irma, which was once one of the strongest storms the Atlantic had ever seen, has been downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, with winds as strong as 155 mph. Despite its downgrade, the National Hurricane Center still classifies Irma as “extremely dangerous.”

Irma “will continue to bring life-threatening winds, storm surge, and rainfall hazards to the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas through Saturday,” the center said Friday in a forecast discussion.

Irma is expected to remain a Category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall in Florida Saturday. Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged residents to evacuate and not try to ride out the storm. Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis ordered evacuations for six southern islands — Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island, CNN reported.

The hurricane, which had record-breaking winds of 185 mph, has left at least 11 people dead, hundreds of thousands without power, and tens of thousands without water. More than half of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was without power Thursday and President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for the island, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  
Irma ‘Downgraded’ To Category 4 Storm
WTVF – Nashville, TN

Solar Storms May Ignite South-Reaching Auroras

Solar Storms May Ignite South-Reaching Auroras

Skygazers in the northern United States may be able to witness the extraterrestrial light show.

A general view of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights on the Stokkedalsvelen E6 between Rafsbotn and Alta on March 30, 2017, in Finnmark, Norway. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

A general view of the northern lights on the Stokkedalsvelen E6 between Rafsbotn and Alta on March 30, 2017, in Finnmark, Norway. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Eyes to the sky, Hoosiers! Northern lights may be visible in Indiana Wednesday night

A geomagnetic storm headed from the sun toward Earth will crash into the atmosphere overnight Wednesday, triggering an extraterrestrial light show across the night sky, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Space Weather Prediction Center.

The sun emitted a huge cloud of super-heated plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection, on Monday, NOAA reported. The plasma, traveling at a speed of about 200 miles per second, is expected to crash into the Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday, triggering strong geomagnetic storms. Exciting oxygen and hydrogen atoms in the atmosphere to release their photons in green, red and orange colors, the geomagnetic storms are expected to trigger auroras, the ghostly light shows also known as the northern and southern lights.

The storms are expected to light up unusually south-reaching auroras, observable from parts of the northern United States. The auroras might be visible from northeast Montana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, northeast South Dakota, Illinois and Oregon. People living in Canada are expected to get the best views, but those living in Scotland, northern England and Scandinavia will also likely be able to see the display, according to NOAA.

On Wednesday, space weather forecasters issued a watch for the G3-level (strong) geomagnetic storm, the middle classification on the five-level geomagnetic storm scale, above ‘moderate’ and below ‘severe.’ The storms could affect spacecraft operation or power grids, but the effects are expected to be minor. They may also impact migratory animals, such as sperm whalesbirds and honey bees, by temporarily altering the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Auroras are best seen in extremely dark skies with minimal light pollution. A full moon will rise Wednesday night, though, which may limit skygazers’ visibility.

The solar storm is projected to ignite the night skies as Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, on track to make landfall in the U.S. early next week.

Trump Administration Announces End to DACA

Trump Administration Announces End to DACA

But in rescinding the program, the president gave Congress wide latitude to step in and save it.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department Sept. 5, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Sessions announced that the Trump Administration is ending the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protect those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, with a six-month delay for the Congress to put in replacement legislation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department on Sept. 5, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Trump administration confirmed Tuesday that it will rescind an Obama-era program that had granted some 800,000 young people in the country illegally work permits and a temporary reprieve from deportation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke formally announced that President Donald Trump will end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The DACA program will not be fully rescinded for six months, effectively forcing on Congress the final say over whether to provide a long-term fix that would stave off deportation for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Introduced in 2012 as a stop-gap measure, the program had allowed people who had arrived in the country at age 16 or youngerto obtain two-year work permits and a reprieve from deportation.

It was instituted in the wake of a pair of high-profile failures by Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, stoking fierce criticism by conservative Republicans and immigration hard-liners that DACA amounted to executive overreach – including from Sessions, a former Republican senator from Alabama, who lambasted DACA in announcing its end Tuesday in remarks at the Justice Department.

“This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens,” the attorney general said. “The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”

 Sessions, though harshly critical of the program itself, also framed the administration’s decision as one spurred in large part by legal concerns: Republican leaders in 10 states sent a letter July 29 threatening to expand an ongoing lawsuit if the Trump administration failed to fulfill the president’s campaign promise to rescind DACA.

The letter set a deadline of Tuesday to act. The states had previously sued to challenge a companion program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, a program that a federal court blocked in 2015.

“Our collective wisdom is that the policy is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with respect to the DAPA program, which was enjoined on a nationwide basis in a decision affirmed by the 5th Circuit,” Sessions said. “If we were to keep the Obama administration’s executive amnesty policy, the likeliest outcome is that it would be enjoined just as was DAPA.”

The attorney general did not take questions at the briefing.

Under the guidance issued by the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, DHS agencies that oversee immigration enforcement will immediately stop considering any new DACA applications.

However, those currently enrolled in DACA whose benefits are set to end within the six-month period that ends March 5, 2018, have a one-month period to apply for renewal ending Oct. 5.

Additionally, people who have already submitted an application – either to obtain new DACA status or to have their current benefits renewed – will have their paperwork considered on a case-by-case basis, DHS officials said. All other applications will be rejected.

The president’s decision to end DACA has stoked fears of a crackdown on those enrolled in the program. Applicants are required to submit a raft of personal information to authorities and attest that they are in the country illegally, which has spurred some advocates to question whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will now simply turn to the records they already have on hand to track down people for deportation.

 A senior administration official, speaking during a background DHS press call ahead of the attorney general’s remarks, confirmed that ICE is not barred from working with its sister agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, to obtain people’s immigration records and personal information.

However, the official added that such requests would likely be reserved for higher priority cases, such as when ICE officers are searching for people accused of felonies, serious misdemeanors or when they pose a potential threat to national security, as opposed to simply losing their DACA status.


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Michael Claros, 8, of Silver Spring, Md., attends a rally in favor of immigration reform, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at the White House in Washington. The eight-year old is a U.S. citizen whose parents would have been eligible for DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, an Obama era policy memo that the Trump administration has since formally revoked. The protesters are hoping to preserve the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The Trump administration has said it still has not decided the DACA program's fate.

The GOP’s DACA Disgrace


“Out of all the people that we are targeting in the cases that we are working, that’s a very baseline charge. And with our limited resources, we’re usually focused on higher level targets,” the official said.

That said, the official continued, “I think the thing that they should focus on is following the instructions that have been put out here today and that have continued to be put out by USCIS and go from there.”

A broad range of groups and lawmakers, including some Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lambasted the administration’s decision to rescind DACA, portraying it as a betrayal of trust for immigrants who volunteered their information to authorities.

“President Trump’s action today is an affront to who we are as Americans,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “He is needlessly targeting children who know no other country as home than America. This does not make our communities safer or our economy stronger. In fact, it does just the opposite.”

 Gillibrand called on lawmakers to once again take up the issue of immigration reform. Congress already has a full agenda this fall, with major issues like tax reform, raising the debt ceiling and passing relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Nonetheless, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced plans to hold a press briefing to promote their immigration bill hours after Sessions’ remarks Tuesday afternoon. The House passed a version of the so-called DREAM Act in 2010, but it stalled in the Senate, falling eight votes shy of the 60 needed to pass.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who led the coalition of states that threatened to expand its lawsuit to halt DACA, said he was pleased with the Trump administration’s decision.

“I applaud President Trump for phasing out DACA. As the Texas-led coalition explained in our June letter, the Obama-era program went far beyond the executive branch’s legitimate authority,” Paxton said in a statement. “Had former President Obama’s unilateral order on DACA been left intact, it would have set a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to bypass Congress and change immigration laws.”

Nonetheless, while the president’s decision may have staved off one court challenge, others appear to be on the horizon: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both Democrats, have said that New York will sue to stop DACA from being rescinded.

Sessions: Dreamers Program is “being rescinded”
Inform Raw

Trump Administration Announces End to DACA

Trump Administration Announces End to DACA

But in rescinding the program, the president gave Congress wide latitude to step in and save it.

Sept. 5, 2017, at 12:32 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration at the Justice Department on Sept. 5, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 The Trump administration confirmed Tuesday that it will rescind an Obama-era program that had granted some 800,000 young people in the country illegally work permits and a temporary reprieve from deportation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke formally announced that President Donald Trump will end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The DACA program will not be fully rescinded for six months, effectively forcing on Congress the final say over whether to provide a long-term fix that would stave off deportation for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Introduced in 2012 as a stop-gap measure, the program had allowed people who had arrived in the country at age 16 or youngerto obtain two-year work permits and a reprieve from deportation.

It was instituted in the wake of a pair of high-profile failures by Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, stoking fierce criticism by conservative Republicans and immigration hard-liners that DACA amounted to executive overreach – including from Sessions, a former Republican senator from Alabama, who lambasted DACA in announcing its end Tuesday in remarks at the Justice Department.

“This policy was implemented unilaterally to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits on numerous occasions to this same group of illegal aliens,” the attorney general said. “The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”

 Sessions, though harshly critical of the program itself, also framed the administration’s decision as one spurred in large part by legal concerns: Republican leaders in 10 states sent a letter July 29 threatening to expand an ongoing lawsuit if the Trump administration failed to fulfill the president’s campaign promise to rescind DACA.

The letter set a deadline of Tuesday to act. The states had previously sued to challenge a companion program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, a program that a federal court blocked in 2015.

“Our collective wisdom is that the policy is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with respect to the DAPA program, which was enjoined on a nationwide basis in a decision affirmed by the 5th Circuit,” Sessions said. “If we were to keep the Obama administration’s executive amnesty policy, the likeliest outcome is that it would be enjoined just as was DAPA.”

The attorney general did not take questions at the briefing.

Under the guidance issued by the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, DHS agencies that oversee immigration enforcement will immediately stop considering any new DACA applications.

However, those currently enrolled in DACA whose benefits are set to end within the six-month period that ends March 5, 2018, have a one-month period to apply for renewal ending Oct. 5.

Additionally, people who have already submitted an application – either to obtain new DACA status or to have their current benefits renewed – will have their paperwork considered on a case-by-case basis, DHS officials said. All other applications will be rejected.

The president’s decision to end DACA has stoked fears of a crackdown on those enrolled in the program. Applicants are required to submit a raft of personal information to authorities and attest that they are in the country illegally, which has spurred some advocates to question whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will now simply turn to the records they already have on hand to track down people for deportation.

 A senior administration official, speaking during a background DHS press call ahead of the attorney general’s remarks, confirmed that ICE is not barred from working with its sister agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, to obtain people’s immigration records and personal information.

However, the official added that such requests would likely be reserved for higher priority cases, such as when ICE officers are searching for people accused of felonies, serious misdemeanors or when they pose a potential threat to national security, as opposed to simply losing their DACA status.


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Michael Claros, 8, of Silver Spring, Md., attends a rally in favor of immigration reform, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at the White House in Washington. The eight-year old is a U.S. citizen whose parents would have been eligible for DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, an Obama era policy memo that the Trump administration has since formally revoked. The protesters are hoping to preserve the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The Trump administration has said it still has not decided the DACA program's fate.

The GOP’s DACA Disgrace


“Out of all the people that we are targeting in the cases that we are working, that’s a very baseline charge. And with our limited resources, we’re usually focused on higher level targets,” the official said.

That said, the official continued, “I think the thing that they should focus on is following the instructions that have been put out here today and that have continued to be put out by USCIS and go from there.”

A broad range of groups and lawmakers, including some Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lambasted the administration’s decision to rescind DACA, portraying it as a betrayal of trust for immigrants who volunteered their information to authorities.

“President Trump’s action today is an affront to who we are as Americans,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “He is needlessly targeting children who know no other country as home than America. This does not make our communities safer or our economy stronger. In fact, it does just the opposite.”

 Gillibrand called on lawmakers to once again take up the issue of immigration reform. Congress already has a full agenda this fall, with major issues like tax reform, raising the debt ceiling and passing relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Nonetheless, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced plans to hold a press briefing to promote their immigration bill hours after Sessions’ remarks Tuesday afternoon. The House passed a version of the so-called DREAM Act in 2010, but it stalled in the Senate, falling eight votes shy of the 60 needed to pass.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who led the coalition of states that threatened to expand its lawsuit to halt DACA, said he was pleased with the Trump administration’s decision.

“I applaud President Trump for phasing out DACA. As the Texas-led coalition explained in our June letter, the Obama-era program went far beyond the executive branch’s legitimate authority,” Paxton said in a statement. “Had former President Obama’s unilateral order on DACA been left intact, it would have set a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to bypass Congress and change immigration laws.”

Nonetheless, while the president’s decision may have staved off one court challenge, others appear to be on the horizon: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, both Democrats, have said that New York will sue to stop DACA from being rescinded.

US Will Sanction 4 Countries For Refusing Deportations
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Report: Prison security concerns unheeded before deadly riot

Report: Prison security concerns unheeded before deadly riot

FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2007 file photo, Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, Del., remains on lockdown following a disturbance. An independent review team is releasing its final report on a deadly inmate uprising and hostage-taking at Delaware’s…

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Independent investigators say prison administrators dismissed warnings of trouble brewing at Delaware’s maximum-security prison in the days leading up to a deadly inmate uprising and hostage-taking.

Investigators said in a report released Friday that after some inmates at Vaughn Correctional Center became unruly in January, correctional officers told supervisors the instigators should be moved to another building for security reasons. The request was dismissed by higher-ranking officials.

Among those asking that the troublemakers be moved was correctional officer Steven Floyd, who was killed during the uprising two weeks later.

The independent review ordered by Gov. John Carney suggests that dismissal of the security warnings was indicative of a prison plagued by mismanagement, a lack of communication, a culture of negativity and adversarial relationships among prison staff, administrators and inmates.

Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Texas Chemical Plant Explodes In the wake of flooding from Hurricane Harvey, explosions are reported at Arkema chemical plant.

Texas Chemical Plant Explodes

In the wake of flooding from Hurricane Harvey, explosions are reported at Arkema chemical plant.

By Alexa Lardieri, Staff Writer |Aug. 31, 2017, at 8:42 a.m.

Texas Chemical Plant Explodes
The Arkema Inc. chemical plant is flooded from Tropical Storm Harvey, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, in Crosby, Texas.

Two explosions were reported at the Arkema chemical plant. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Explosions Rip Through Arkema’s Texas Chemical Plant
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Two explosions were reported at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, near Houston, Thursday morning following “unprecedented flooding,” according to a press release from the plant. Arkema explained the overwhelming flood waters caused its primary and secondary power sources to break down and the facility lost vital refrigeration of various products, which caused them to burn.

 Shortly after the explosions around 2 a.m. CDT deputies responded to the scene and were exposed to a “non-toxic irritant.” One deputy was hospitalized and nine others drove themselves to the hospital as a precaution, the sheriff’s office said.

The facility closed and was being closely monitored leading up to Harvey’s arrival and the surrounding area was evacuated. However, “the high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it [the fire],” Rich Rowe, Arkema’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The company also warned that these two explosions may not be the only ones. The organic peroxides that caused the fires are stored in multiple locations and there is a risk for additional explosions. Arkema is urging residents not to return to the area until authorities can announce that it is safe to do so.

 

Harvey: Thousands waiting for rescue, estimated 30,000 – 40,000 home destroyed in Houston area

Harvey: Thousands waiting for rescue, estimated 30,000 – 40,000 home destroyed in Houston area

PHOTO: Residential neighborhoods near the Interstate 10 sit in floodwater in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Aug. 29, 2017.Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris
COMING UP:  Harvey expected to move north after hitting Louisiana

Thousands of people likely remain stranded and an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed in the Houston area as Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, continues to batter the Gulf Coast region with torrential rains, flooding and strong winds, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett told ABC News.

Harvey made its third landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana, at 4 a.m. CT Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service. As of 7 a.m. CT, the slow-moving storm had picked up some speed moving north and its center was about 25 miles away from Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Ahead of that, it battered the Port Arthur area in southeast Texas, dumping as much as 2 feet of rain in some parts.

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PHOTO:
.&lid=view[Slideshow]” target=”_blank”>SLIDESHOW: Slideshow: Hurricane Harvey devastates Gulf Coastmore +

“We have people who are on the second flood of their homes; they’re riding it out and they’re waiting for the waters to go down,” Emmett said today in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”

“We’ve got probably 30-40,000 homes that have been destroyed,” Emmett added.

Although the storm has begun to shift the brunt of its impact to western Louisiana, Emmett said Texas’ Harris County must now help residents return to their homes.

“The biggest challenge is going to get people back in their homes,” he said. “We’ve got to get those people back into their normal lives as soon as possible.”

Harvey, which first came ashore last Friday in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, dumped more than 51 inches of rain on some parts of the state, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service. The storm is responsible for at least 11 deaths, all in Texas, over the past four days.

The tropical storm is expected to weaken and continue moving to the north and east across the Lower Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley through Thursday. But the National Weather Service said Harvey still has the potential to cause “life-threatening flooding.”

“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues in southeastern Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana,” the National Weather Service warned in its advisory Wednesday morning. “Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low-lying spots.”

The situation became serious in eastern Texas in the early hours of Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning for parts of southeast Texas, including Beaumont and Port Arthur, which received as much as 2 feet of rain in some areas during the early morning hours.

Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman urged residents to get to higher ground in a Facebook post early Wednesday.

“Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!” Freeman wrote in one post. “Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try stay out of attics.”

Officials were forced to evacuate the shelter at the Bob Bower Civic Center in Port Arthur on Wednesday morning after it began to fill with water. One witness, who was forced to relocate, said some areas of the center had almost 4 feet of water inside. Displaced residents were taken to a secondary evacuation site at the Carl Parker Center, ABC affiliate KBMT said.

The flash-flood warning for Port Arthur was in effect until 9:15 a.m. CT. The National Weather Service was forecasting 1 to 2 inches of additional rainfall in the region Wednesday morning.

Relief Efforts at Capacity as Harvey Turns to Louisiana

Relief Efforts at Capacity as Harvey Turns to Louisiana

The tropical storm continues to wreak havoc several days after making landfall.

By Katelyn Newman , Digital Producer, Staff Writer Aug. 29, 2017, at 9:21 a.m.

A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Spring, Texas. Experts say only two of ten homeowners living in Harvey’s path of destruction have flood insurance. (AP/David J. Phillip)

A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Monday in Spring, Texas. (DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP)

 All eyes remain on southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana as Tropical Storm Harvey moves northeast and continues to bring rain, causing extreme flooding, mass evacuations and damage beyond established federal, state and local relief capacities.

Originally making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, Harvey downgraded to a tropical storm Aug. 26, maintaining 45 mph winds as of Tuesday. It is expected to produce 7 to 13 inches more of accumulated rain through Friday over parts of the upper Texas coast and southwestern Louisiana, the National Weather Service reported. Some isolated storms may cause areas of the upper Texas coast, like the Houston/Galveston metropolitan area, to reach storm totals of 50 inches of rain – surpassing state records and causing catastrophic flooding.

At least 10 people have lost their lives in relation to the storm, though that number is expected to rise in the next few days, local officials announced Monday.

Damage inflicted by Harvey has been initially estimated to cost up to $30 billion, well above the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s allotted $3.8 billion budget. The cost for Texans is further compounded by the fact that less than a third of property owners in Texas have flood insurance on their homes and businesses.

About 30,000 are expected to seek emergency shelter and more than 450,000 people are likely to seek federal aid, which will be needed for years, FEMA said Monday. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to fly to Texas Tuesday, visiting Corpus Christi and then traveling to Austin for multiple briefings on the damage and ongoing relief efforts.

 Elsewhere, Harvey is expected to yield 5 to 15 inches of rain across south-central Louisiana as well as 5 to 10 inches across southeast Louisiana, coastal Mississippi and Alabama through Friday, the National Weather Service reported.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price declared a public health emergency in Texas on Saturday and in Louisiana on Monday in response to the storm. His department has so far deployed about 550 personnel to help state and local authorities respond to communities’ medical needs, according to a press release.

“As Louisiana and Texas contend with the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, HHS is committed to doing all that we can to ensure that those affected by this storm receive the vital assistance and support they need,” Price said in a statement.

NASA astronauts are also keeping an eye on the storm, tweeting images of the incredible storm from the International Space Station as well as sending well wishes to those affected.

“#Harvey – still a menace! Hearts & prayers go out to families, friends, & fellow Texans dealing with this storm. #TexasStrong #HoustonStrong,” Astronaut Randy Bresnik wrote Monday evening.

More than 30000 people expected in shelters after Harvey

Calif. National Guard soldiers to keep $190M in mistaken bonuses: Pentagon

Calif. National Guard soldiers to keep $190M in mistaken bonuses: Pentagon

More than 17,000 California National Guard soldiers won’t have to payback more than $190 million in enlistment bonuses and other payments that had been handed out in error between 2004 and 2010, the Pentagon said.

The decision comes several years after an audit revealed the Guard was overpaying bonuses as it faced pressure to hit enlistment goals during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

California lawmakers in Congress successfully pushed for the Pentagon to waive any repayments unless it could provide evidence a solider knew or should’ve known they weren’t eligible for the money.

“I am pleased that an overwhelming majority of the service members affected by the California National Guard’s bonus clawback will be able to get their bonuses back,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said in a statement. “These enlistment bonuses and other benefits were accepted in good faith and were given in exchange for serving the nation.”

A report by the Pentagon found that a vast majority of the 17,485 soldiers that got bonuses or loan aid won’t have to repay it or will be refunded if they already did. The report, given to the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees on July 31, was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The Guard paid out $194.6 million in bonuses and $6.4 million in student loan repayments between 2004 and 2010 to California soldiers, the report found. More than 1,400 soldiers had been asked to pay back the debt when former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter suspended the recoupment plan in late 2016. An additional 16,000 who were given bonuses during the same time period were included in the Pentagon’s review.

Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, who helped craft the legislation requiring the Pentagon evaluation, criticized the U.S. Department of Defense for taking so long to “admit their mistake.”

“The men and women who wear the cloth of this nation deserve the security of knowing that the country they swore an oath to protect has their back at the end of their service,” Denham told the Times.

The “overwhelming majority” of soldiers given bonuses — a total of 17,092 — won’t be asked to pay back any money or will receive a refund.

The remaining 393 cases involved soldiers who did not complete their enlistment terms, because they were absent without leave, failed to show up for basic training or had a substance abuse problem, the report said. Those soldiers can appeal their cases.

Texas Braces for Hurricane Harvey

Texas Braces for Hurricane Harvey

The major hurricane is expected to make landfall late Friday night.

By Katelyn Newman , Digital Producer, Staff Writer Aug. 25, 2017, at 8:26 a.m.

Texas Braces for Hurricane Harvey

A sign reading “Be Nice Harvey” was left behind on a boarded up business Thursday in Port Aransas, Texas. (ERIC GAY/AP)

Residents and officials on the east coast of Texas are making last-minute efforts Friday to prepare for Hurricane Harvey ahead of its pending landfall.

As of 8 a.m. EDT, the storm was categorized as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, with maximum wind speeds reaching 110 mph. It is 140 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, moving northwest at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A sign reading "Be Nice Harvey" was left behind on a boarded up business, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Port Aransas, Texas. Port Aransas is under a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Harvey. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas Braces for Hurricane Harvey


Weather models predict that Harvey will drench east Texas with 15 to 25 inches of rain, with up to 35 inches in some isolated areas along the middle and upper Texas coast through Wednesday. Storm surge warnings and watches have also been issued along the majority of Texas’ eastern shores, with the largest surge, estimated between 6 to 12 feet, expected to impact land stretching from the north entrance of Padre Island National Seashore to Sargent.

Slowing down closer to the coast, Harvey is expected to make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning as a Category 3 hurricane. It will be the first hurricane to hit Texas’ coastline since 2008 and the first major hurricane to slam into the U.S. in 12 years, since Hurricane Katrina.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pre-emptively declared a state of disaster for 30 counties Wednesday. On Thursday, he discussed hurricane preparedness with President Donald Trump, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long, according to the governor’s office. Trump told Abbott that the federal government will assist the Lone Star state in preparations as well as rescue and recovery efforts as needed.

Abbott also activated 700 members of the Texas National Guard ahead of the hurricane and has military helicopters on standby in Austin and San Antonio if needed for rescues and emergency evacuations.

Officials in Calhoun, Victoria, Jackson, San Patricio and Refugio counties north of Corpus Christi issued evacuation orders Thursday, along with the cities of Portland, Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Ingleside and Robstown. All residents of Brazoria County who live on the Gulf side of the Intracoastal Canal have been ordered to evacuate as well.

Corpus Christi’s Mayor Joe McComb strongly advised residents to evacuate the city Thursday, but did not implement an evacuation order.

“We could mandate it, but people need to make a decision of their own. I’m not going to risk our police and fire people going to try and drag somebody out of the house if they don’t want to go,” McComb said at a press conference.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, issued a statementThursday asking Texans in the hurricane’s path to remain vigilant as they brace for the storm.

“As Texas prepares for the potential impact in the Gulf Coast region from [Hurricane] Harvey, I urge all Texans in the path of the storm to heed warnings from local officials, know your evacuation route, and avoid all high water areas,” Cruz said.

Tropical Storm Harvey Expected To Pound Texas With Heavy Rainfall
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Tags: TexasLouisianahurricanesweatherfloodsemergency planningGulf of MexicoUnited States

Navy Commander Relieved of Duties After Collisions

Navy Commander Relieved of Duties After Collisions

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin’s exit comes amid the search for 10 missing sailors of the USS John S. McCain.

By Katelyn Newman , Digital Producer, Staff Writer Aug. 23, 2017, at 8:38 a.m.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, speaks during a press conference, with damaged USS Fitzgerald as background at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, on June 18, 2017. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

U.S. officials said that U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, is being relieved of duty after a series of ship accidents in the Pacific. (EUGENE HOSHIKO/AP)

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, has been relieved of his duties following two fatal ship collisions within two months under his command, U.S. officials announced Wednesday.

Aucoin was expected to retire in a few weeks, but Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved him prematurely “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the Navy said in a short statement Wednesday. He will be replaced immediately by Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, who was already confirmed to take over the position following Aucoin’s exit.

Aucoin’s removal was the latest official step after a Navy destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, was traveling to a port in Singapore Monday morning when it was struck by the Alnic MC, a Liberian oil tanker. The destroyer was damaged near its rear on the left-hand side. Ten sailors remain missing, though divers found and are working to identify the remains of some of the sailors.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divers located some remains during an ongoing search-and-rescue effort into sealed compartments and other damaged parts of the ship, Swift said Tuesday. The Malaysian Navy also reportedly found a body 8 nautical miles northwest of the crash, and is working to identify it. It is expected to send the remains to the U.S. Navy Wednesday.

The collision came two months after a separate U.S. destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, crashed into a freighter off the coast of Japan. Seven American sailors were killed in the incident, and two officers as well as the senior enlisted sailor were relieved of their dutiesFriday following an investigation into the fatal strike.

The Navy announced a rare pause in operations Monday to allow fleet commanders, leaders, command officials and sailors to assess safety measures as investigations continue into the causes of both accidents.

Aucoin, a navy flight officer who received his commission in 1980 from the University of North Carolina Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, has served as a pilot and commander on a number of aircraft carriers and worked for the Pentagon throughout his tenure. He became the commander of the Seventh Fleet in September 2015, according to the Navy.

The 7th Fleet commands as many as 70 ships, 140 aircraft and 20,000 sailors at a time. Headquartered in Japan, it operates from bases in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, “providing security and stability” to a 48 million-square- mile area in the Indo-Asia Pacific.

Australia Locates Submerged U.S. Aircraft
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Chelsea Clinton Defends 11-Year-Old Barron Trump

Chelsea Clinton Defends 11-Year-Old Barron Trump

A conservative news outlet criticized the 11-year-old for dressing like he’s on “a trip to the movie theater.”

By Megan Trimble, Associate Editor, Social Media Aug. 22, 2017, at 10:03 a.m.

US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron, walk to board Air Force One prior to departure from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, August 20, 2017, as Trump returns to Washington, DC, following a 17-day vacation at his property in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The Daily Caller criticized 11-year-old Barron Trump for wearing a T-shirt and shorts alongside his parents, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, on Sunday. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

 Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is defending President Donald Trump‘s youngest son Barron after he was the subject of online attacks.

Conservative news outlet The Daily Caller on Monday published a story titled “It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House” that criticized the 11-year-old for the way he dresses. The story included multiple photographs of Barron dressed in a T-shirt and shorts while boarding Air Force One for the White House on Sunday.

“I’ve been on the Barron Trump train from the start, but it’s about time the president’s son starts dressing the part,” reporter Ford Springer wrote.

He went on to say Barron looked as if he was headed to the movies and not as if he was in a public appearances with his parents, who Springer said were dressed in “their Sunday best.” Barron wore a red T-shirt with the words, “On your mark tiger shark,” khaki shorts and loafers.

Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, promptly stood up for Barron as the story drew attention on Twitter.

 “It’s high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves,” Clinton tweeted Monday evening with the link to the article.
 Clinton hasn’t always gotten along with the Trump family, often sparring with the president over social media. But when it comes to the privacy of first children, she draws a firm line.

Clinton also defended Barron’s right to a typical childhood in January when he was again the subject of internet attacks.

“Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid. Standing up for every kid also means opposing @POTUS policies that hurt kids,” she wrote.

 Clinton was just two years older than Barron in 1993 when she moved into the White House.

The solar eclipse is here

The solar eclipse is here

Story highlights

  • Think of the eclipse as the moon’s day in the sun
  • “This will be like Woodstock 200 times over”
  • A once-in-375-years chance of seeing an eclipse where you live

For complete coverage of the Eclipse of the Century go to cnn.com/eclipse. Watch live, in virtual reality, as the eclipse moves coast to coast Monday.

(CNN)It’s not fake news; it’s good news. It’s a story that could eclipse all other stories.

There is no way you can stop today’s total solar eclipse from happening. It is celestial, and we have no control over it. The only way to stop it would be to extinguish the sun or knock the moon or Earth out of orbit.
Over the past few millennia, people who knew nothing about eclipses couldn’t explain the natural phenomena. Many cultures thought it was a sign from their sun god; it is even known to have ended full-flung battles.
Today, we understand how it works and how it looks. People chase eclipses like storm chasers chase weather.
But don’t try to keep up with the eclipse. You can’t catch it unless you’re in a jet traveling beyond the speed of sound — which NASA plans on doing.
Science geeks have been counting down to the millisecond for today’s eclipse.
Eighties music lovers have been humming “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for weeks.
Scientists are making last-minute preparations for experiments they have been planning for years, even decades.
Professional photographers and amateur astronomers have bought and tested special solar filters for their cameras.
Even the surfers at surfline.com have gone along the Oregon coast and cleaned the lenses off their surf cameras so they can catch the first glimpses of the moon’s shadow reaching the western shore.
Now, the day is here. And the rest of the country is joining in the excitement.

Sunrise, sunset and a starry night, all in the same sky

“The hair on the back of your neck is going to stand up, and you are going to feel different things as the eclipse reaches totality. It’s been described as peaceful, spiritual, exhilarating, shocking,” said Brian Carlstrom, deputy associate director of the National Park Service Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate.
If you don’t believe, stop, watch and listen.

On mountaintops and in open fields, in the middle of America’s vast wilderness, people will stand together. They will stand on rooftops and city sidewalks. From big surf on beaches on the West Coast to wide-open sweeping beaches on the Eastern Seaboard, the moon’s shadow will fall. Towns in the path of totality that normally have 200 people will multiply by the thousands.
Millions are forecast to flock to the very narrow — 70 miles wide — swath that hugs the country like a belt.
“This will be like Woodstock 200 times over — but across the whole country,” said Alex Young, solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The Federal Highway Administration is calling this a “planned special event for which there has been no recent precedent in the United States.”
The moon, which many of us often take for granted, will quite literally have its day in the spotlight.
In this celestial dance, the moon moves perfectly in between the Earth and the sun. During a total solar eclipse, the moon and the sun both appear to be about the same size from the ground.
According to NASA, this is a “celestial coincidence,” as the sun is about 400 times wider than the moon and about 400 times farther away. From certain vantage points on Earth, the moon will completely block the sun. This is called totality.
Then, it is just basic geometry. When the Earth, moon and sun line up just right, the moon blocks the sun’s entire surface, creating the total eclipse.
Even if you’re not in totality, everyone in North America will experience some version of a partial eclipse. Just make sure that you don’t look directly at the sun without your eclipse glasses.
If you pay close attention, you may notice that things you walk every day all of a sudden look a little bit different.
In New York, for example, stop by a tree in Central Park. Watch the shadows underneath the big oak trees and look for the small crescent shapes that the moon will leave fluttering on the ground.
No matter where you live in the United States, the environment around you is likely to change.
Some animals will go into their bedtime routines, while nocturnal animals will jump up from deepaily slumber. Streetlights will come on, and the stars will come out. It will be like you have sunrise, sunset and the night sky all at the same time.

Do you have FOMO? Experts say ‘don’t miss it!’

Just like you count on the sun to rise every morning and set every night, you can rely on this happening precisely, down to the millisecond. In fact, NASA has made those calculations for us.
You have now probably realized that the science geek in your office asked for a day off on this random August Monday over a year ago. Now, you are stuck covering for them.
People look into the sky near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

Look at your calendar and block out the hours from 1 to 3 p.m. EST. Cancel your meetings, or have them outdoors. Take a break or have a late lunch.
According to NASA, experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live happens about once in 375 years. So unless modern medicine advances considerably in the next few years, you might not make it to the next one.
The last time anyone in the United States witnessed a total solar eclipse was almost 40 years ago, on February 26, 1979. It’s been even longer — 99 years — since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The total eclipse on June 8, 1918, passed from Washington to Florida.
It is an event made for sharing. This evening, we can all sit around the dinner table and say, “this is what it looked liked where I was.”
It is one of the first eclipses since the beginning of our recent technological advances. Most everyone in the path will have a phone capable of taking a photo of their surroundings.
Could this eclipse be the biggest thing on social media ever? No one really knows. But it could be the biggest social media event since the presidential election in November.
If you have FOMO (fear of missing out) — don’t. We have your back. If you’re not in the path of totality, still take in everything you can where you are. Or if you’re in the path but socked in with clouds that won’t dissipate, see how the world around you still is maybe a little bit different.
And no matter where you are in the world, you can immerse yourself in totality with us by watching the first ever live virtual reality broadcast that starts at 1 p.m.

Precision timing

The lunar shadow first crosses the West Coast at 9:05 a.m. PDT.
People in Lincoln City, Oregon, will be the first in the continental United States to see the total solar eclipse, beginning at 10:15 a.m.
A total solar eclipse can sometimes take as long as 7½ minutes. The longest eclipse duration for this event will occur near Carbondale, Illinois, and will clock in at two minutes, 43 seconds, beginning at 1:20 p.m. CDT.
Eventually, all good things must come to an end, and the lunar shadow will depart the East Coast at 4:09 p.m. EDT.
This will be the last total solar eclipse in the United States until April 4, 2024.
It’s not quite as long of a wait as you might have thought, but the next one won’t stretch the width of the country. Instead, it will move from Mexico to Maine and then traverse New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
For another eclipse similar to this year’s, one that moves from coast to coast, you will have to wait until August 12, 2045.