Donald Trump Archives - Page 6 of 249 - Florida Politics

No matter the issue, Donald Trump knows a guy

President Donald Trump knows a guy.

No matter what issue Trump is addressing, he seems either to know somebody with a relevant personal experience or he’s got a firsthand tale to recount.

When he met airline CEOs on Thursday, Trump said his own pilot — “who’s a real expert” — had told him about problems with obsolete equipment.

When he met business and economic experts a week earlier, Trump cited the difficulties his friends in business were having borrowing money from banks as he spoke about the need to reduce financial regulations.

When he approvingly sized up Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Trump said last month that he’d had a “very bad experience” in his own businesses when dealing with the EU bureaucracy.

“Getting the approvals from Europe,” he said, “was very, very tough.”

Call him the anecdotal president: For good or ill, Trump processes policy proposals through his own personal frame of reference.

“It’s all about him,” says Jeff Shesol, who wrote speeches for President Bill Clinton. “His frame for Europe, his frame for the airlines, his frame for the banking system … is himself.”

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to draw on real-world experiences in developing or justifying policy.

Plenty of presidents and politicians have recognized the value of anecdotal storytelling in advancing their agendas.

President Barack Obama offered his own improbable life story as a metaphor for the wide-open possibilities available to all Americans. And he frequently drew on the concerns that came up in the 10 letters a day that he read from people who wrote to the White House.

Clinton was famous for sketching his encounters with ordinary Americans.

President Lyndon Johnson drew on his early experiences teaching disadvantaged Mexican-Americans in stressing the importance of education and economic opportunity for all Americans.

“I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American,” Johnson said after signing the Higher Education Act of 1965.

“Great Communicator” Ronald Reagan related the story of a woman who falsely collected welfare payments — then parlayed it into a stereotype of “welfare queens” cheating the system.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania professor specializing in political communication, says that in his first three weeks in office, Trump has surpassed even Reagan in his reliance on the use of “argument by anecdote.”

“Given the extemporaneous nature of Trump’s presidency,” she says, “we can reasonably assume that these individual moments are playing a more important role for him” in developing policy than they did for presidents past.

The risk, she adds, is that an overreliance on personal experiences “can lead to the assumption that something is typical when it’s atypical.”

With Trump, it’s hard to tell exactly what goes into his policymaking. But the billionaire businessman-turned-politician cites experiences from his own, very rarefied world that wouldn’t necessarily track those of ordinary Americans.

When he complained about onerous EU regulations, Trump appeared to be alluding to his failure to get approval for a sea wall at the Trump Organization’s golf resort in Ireland.

When he talked during the campaign about crumbling airport infrastructure, he mentioned the potholes at New York’s LaGuardia Airport — where Trump would have landed in his gilded private jet.

When he talked about the dangers of nuclear weaponry during the campaign, he would often invoke the expertise of his “brilliant” late Uncle John, a scientist at MIT.

In some cases, Trump may be drawing lessons from somewhat scrambled tales.

In calling for an investigation into alleged wide-scale voter fraud, for example, Trump has privately related a story about a pro golfer who either told Trump he had trouble voting himself or who had a friend who wasn’t allowed to vote even as others who somehow looked like they should be eligible to vote cast ballots, according to The New York Times.

Golfer Bernard Langer, a German citizen who is not eligible to vote in the U.S., later issued a statement to Golf Digest saying that elements of the story had gotten lost in translation. Langer said he’d told a friend the story of someone who couldn’t vote, and that tale had made its way to someone with ties to the White House and “from there, this was misconstrued.”

As for Trump’s difficulties with the EU, he did run into regulatory problems with the proposed sea wall at his Irish golf course, but he also encountered local opposition to that project.

In an interview in December, Trump said he’d also sought approval for a “massive, beautiful expansion” of the course but had dropped the idea after getting the OK from Ireland because it would have taken years to get EU clearance. However, there’s no record of him seeking approval for such an expansion.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

From protests to ‘pussy hats,’ Donald Trump resistance brews online

The revolution may not be televised — but it apparently will be tweeted. And Facebooked. And Instagrammed.

Not long after President Donald Trump temporarily barred most people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., social activist Dex Torricke-Barton took to Facebook. “I’m thinking of organizing a rally,” he posted. Within a few hours, more than 1,000 people expressed interest. The resulting protest a week later, in front of San Francisco’s City Hall, drew thousands more.

Torricke-Barton is far from alone. From organizing protests on the fly to raising money for refugee and immigrant rights groups, people have been using social media to fuel the resistance against Trump in ways their organizing predecessors from the 1960s could have hardly imagined.


In Queens, New York, for instance, a group of 27 women met up to write postcards to their state and local representatives during a “Postcard-Writing Happy Hour” organized through Facebook.

And on Ravelry, the social network for knitters and crocheters, members have been trading advice and knitting patterns for the pink “pussy hats” that emerged as a symbol during the Women’s March on Washington and similar protests elsewhere after Trump’s inauguration.

“This is an incredible project because it’s mixed between digital and physical,” says Jayna Zweiman, one of the founders of the Pussyhat Project. “We harnessed social media for good.”

In 1969, activists planned massive marches around the U.S. to protests the war in Vietnam. The protests, called the Moratorium, drew millions of people around the world. But “it took months, a lot of effort, a national office of the organization to get it off the ground,” says Christopher Huff, a Beacon College professor focused on social movements of the 1960s. “The women’s march was achieved at a much larger scale at a fraction of the time.”

This immediacy is both an asset and a disadvantage. While online networks help people rally quickly around a cause, Huff says, they don’t necessarily help people grasp the “long-term effort” required to sustain a movement.


In Silicon Valley and across the tech world, Trump’s travel ban created a stir that went well beyond the industry’s usual calls for deregulation and more coding classes for kids. Between aggregating donations, issuing fiery statements, and walking out of work in protest, tech company executives and employees took up the anti-Trump cause at a scale not seen in other industries.

New York-based Meetup, for instance, broke with nearly 15 years of helping people form and join interest groups on a non-partisan basis. “We’re vital plumbing for democracy,” the company wrote in a Medium post this week. “But after Donald Trump’s order to block people on the basis of nationality and religion, a line had been crossed.”

So Meetup held a company-wide “resist-a-thon” — a riff on the hackathons tech companies hold to devise new technologies — to help people get involved in the anti-Trump movement known as “the resistance.” It then unveiled more than 1,000 new “#resist” Meetup groups that people can join for free (it’s normally $15 a month to run a group). As of Wednesday, some 35,000 people had joined the #resist Meetup groups, and scheduled 625 events around the world.

Torricke-Barton, who in earlier incarnations wrote speeches for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, said he and two sisters of Iranian descent organized their last-minute protest using Facebook groups and Messenger. That’s quite a contrast with Torricke-Barton’s earlier experience protesting violence in Darfur more than a decade ago.

Back then, “lawyers, marketers, communications people would help you get (the protests) off the ground … networks had to be created in advance,” he said. “Now, protests can start without any kind of infrastructure.”


Shortly after Trump’s order, the venture capitalist Bijan Sabet tweeted a link to the fundraising platform Crowdrise alongside an explanation of his support for the American Civil Liberties Union— and then asked his followers to do the same.

Sabet figured it might take as long as two months to reach his $50,000 goal. It took three days. That weekend, the ACLU raised $24 million, far more than the $4 million it receives in a typical year.

Sabet, whose father is from Iran, says he’s seeing civic involvement “level up,” and that social media is pushing that along. Previously, he said, people would maybe say, “yeah, I’m a bit frustrated, but I don’t have all the information, I don’t know how to get involved.” Now, there’s no excuse.


The effects of social media aren’t limited to huge efforts.

A week or so after the election, Marisa Frantz, an art director in Cerrillos, New Mexico, created a private Facebook group called “America is Watching.” To join, all people had to do was comment “yes.” If they then posted their zip code in comments, Frantz would send them contact information for their senators and representative, Frantz’s sister-in-law, Sarah Bailey Hogarty, explained in an email.

“Like many of us, I was floundering around feeling terrible and afraid,” said Hogarty, a digital producer for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “I wanted to do something, but I had no idea where to start.”

Hogarty called the group her “foothold to resistance.” Now, the group has more than 1,000 members across the U.S. and organizes weekly “calls to action,” such as contacting senators and representatives about a particular issue determined by a poll of the group.

Groups like this demonstrate how social media has helped “lower the barrier to entry” into social activism, in the words of Tarun Banerjee, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

“What social media can do really well is spread awareness,” Banerjee said. “Can people make President Trump back down because of social media? Probably not. But it can shine the light.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Federal judges’ lifetime tenure for good reason; Tallahassee should take note

There is a profound reason why the Founders gave life tenure to federal judges, subject only to impeachment for bad behavior. As Alexander Hamilton explained it in The Federalist No. 78:

“In a monarchy, it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a Republic, it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body…”

Judges subject to the whims of a president or the Congress to keep their jobs would be worthless. So would the Constitution.

The founding wisdom has been confirmed time and again, most famously when the Supreme Court ruled that Richard Nixon was not above the law, and most recently Thursday, when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Donald Trump is not above it either.

Although the effect is only that Trump’s immigration decree remains on hold while the court fully considers his appeal of the District Judge’s order suspending it, the three-judge appellate panel made an enormously important point.

Trump’s lawyers had argued, as the court put it, that his “decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.” The regime had also claimed, the court said, that “it violates separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge to executive actions such as this one.” (Emphasis supplied)

A president in office less than three weeks was asserting the powers of a dictator.

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the court said.

I hope they’re paying attention in Tallahassee, where some legislators seem to think they too are above the constitution and are trying to take down the state courts that sometimes disagree.

The current attack is led by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes. A constitutional amendment (HJR 1), sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, would prohibit Supreme Court justices and justices of the five district courts of appeal from qualifying in retention elections after serving more than 12 years in the same office.

Why term-limit only those judges? Circuit and county court judges have vastly more power over the lives and property of citizens. But it’s the appellate courts that rule on the laws that legislators enact and the decisions governors make.

Corcoran, whose ambition to be governor is no secret, has declared that his nine appointees to the new Constitution Revision Commission must be committed to neutering the judiciary.

This concerns conservatives no less than liberals. Both sides warned a House subcommittee Thursday that, as one speaker put it, the first-in-the nation term limit would “insure that the best and bright rarely, if ever, apply” for appellate court appointments.

The subcommittee approved the measure 8-7, with only Republicans voting for it. However, the two Republicans voting no portend the lack of a supermajority to pass it on the House floor.

Although there’s no precise Senate companion, term-limit legislation assigned to three committees there is in several ways worse. No one could be appointed to an appellate bench who is under 50 and it would restrict Supreme Court appointees to candidates who had been judges for at least one year.

That would have ruled out such widely-esteemed lawyers as Justice Raoul G. Cantero III (2002-2008) who was 41 when Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him in 2002 and, Justice Charles T. Wells (1994-2009). None of three significant justices in the 1950s, Steven C. O’Connell, B. Campbell Thornal, and E. Harris Drew, had previously been a judge. Nor had Attorney General Richard Ervin when Gov. Farris Bryant appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1964.

Conceptually, there is a form of term limit that would make sense: A single, nonrenewable term of 20 years, with the judge no longer having to face retention elections, and the judicial nominating commissions restored to the independence they had before Republican governors got total control over them. But what the legislators are proposing does nothing good.

As the subcommittee was told but apparently chose not to hear, there is already significant turnover in the judiciary, where judges must retire upon or soon after becoming 70. The Judicial Qualifications Commission has not been idle in getting bad ones kicked off the bench. (I’ll write more about that in a subsequent column.)

The Legislature’s attacks on the judiciary may not succeed, but the greater danger is that Constitution Revision commission, which can send amendments directly to the 2018 ballot. With the House speaker and Senate president each appointing nine members, Governor Rick Scott, another court-hater, naming 15 including the chairman; and the attorney general, Pam Bondi, as an automatic member, it will be the first of the three commissions since 1978 to be dominated by one party’s appointees and, likely, hostile to the courts at the outset. The three members whom Chief Justice Jorge Labarga named next week will have the fight of their lives to protect the courts from becoming subverted by the governor and legislature.

Labarga’s three are well suited for their mission.

Hank Coxe of Jacksonville is a former Florida Bar president and has served on the Judicial Qualifications Commission. The CRC will need to listen to him on that subject.

Robert Martinez, of Miami, is highly regarded as the former U.S. attorney there. “In addition to being a good person and excellent lawyer, with thoughtful and humane values, Bob is one of the most courtly and well-mannered people I know,” a former assistant told me.

Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa lawyer who served in both houses of the Legislature, can tell the CRC firsthand what happens when the courts and law don’t respect people’s rights. As a student in the 1950s, she took part in lunch counter sit-ins at Tallahassee and was jailed for trying to desegregate movie theaters there.

Scott, Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron have yet to make their CRC appointments. Let them follow Labarga’s examples of integrity, experience and wisdom. One can always hope.


Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Donald Trump’s options for restoring travel ban

President Donald Trump has promised more legal action after a federal appeals court refused to reinstate his ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Trump tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” after the decision came out Thursday, but what he has in mind remains to be seen.

Trump said Friday that he has “no doubt” he will win the case in court and told reporters he’s considering signing a “brand-new order” on immigration.

The 3-0 ruling means that refugees and people from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — can continue entering the United States for now. The administration has several options on how to proceed.

A look at where the legal fight goes from here.


The Trump administration could decide to ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the three-judge panel’s ruling. But the odds of success seem low, said Margo Schlanger, a law professor at the University of Michigan. She noted that the three-judge panel was unanimous and included a judge chosen by a Republican president.


The government could file an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court and ask the justices to restore the ban. But it would take at least five justices to overturn the ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and that may be a long shot. The high court still has only eight members since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — four conservative and four liberal justices.

“There are almost surely four votes to deny an emergency request to reinstate the order,” said Peter Spiro, a law professor at Temple University.

The last immigration case to reach the justices ended in a 4-4 deadlock last year. That suggests a similar split over Trump’s order, which would let the 9th Circuit ruling stand and keep the freeze in place.


If the Supreme Court declines to intervene right away, the case would remain in the 9th Circuit and ultimately be considered on its legal merits. It also could return to U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who temporarily blocked the ban after Washington state and Minnesota urged a nationwide hold on the Jan. 27 order.

The lower court action so far is temporary and hasn’t resolved broader questions about the legality of Trump’s order. It simply halts deportations or other actions until judges can more fully consider whether the order violates legal or constitutional rights.

Allowing the case to play out longer at the appeals court has one advantage: By the time a ruling on the merits comes down, the Senate may have confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That may improve Trump’s chances to prevail on appeal.

But just how the issue might reach the Supreme Court isn’t clear. Several other challenges have been launched in courts around the country, and the court could opt to wait before stepping in.


The White House could amend the executive order to expressly carve out existing green card holders and other people that already have some ties to the United States. Up to 60,000 visas were initially canceled in the wake of the ban, affecting the lives of students, professors and workers.

White House counsel Donald McGahn had issued guidance days after the executive order saying it didn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., but the appeals court said that was not enough.

“The government has offered no authority establishing that the White House counsel is empowered to issue an amended order superseding the executive order signed by the president,” the opinion said.

Revising the order “shifts the legal boundaries so that it becomes a tougher constitutional target,” Spiro said.

The appeals court issued a sharp rebuke to the Justice Department’s argument that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States to prevent terrorism, and that courts cannot second-guess that authority.

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the opinion said.

Washington state, Minnesota and other states say Trump showed his intent in the presidential campaign when he called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. They also say his order discriminates against Muslims because it provides exceptions for refugees who practice a religion that makes them a minority in their home country. That would favor Christians in the countries affected.

The appeals court said the administration failed to show that the order satisfied constitutional requirements to provide notice or a hearing before restricting travel. But it did not rule on whether the order violated religious protections under the First Amendment.

Justice Department lawyer Erez Reuveni told a Virginia judge hearing arguments in a similar case on Friday that the administration hasn’t decided what to do.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press. 

Being a White House kid comes with pluses and minuses

If it’s tough being a kid, try being a “first kid” — the child of an American president.

Just ask President Bill Clinton‘s daughter, Chelsea. Or President George W. Bush‘s twins, Jenna and Barbara. And now, President Donald Trump‘s youngest child, Barron, is finding out.

Ten-year-old Barron was the target of a poorly received joke tweeted by a “Saturday Night Live” writer on Jan. 20 as the new first family reveled in Inauguration Day events. Separately in Chicago, comedian Shannon Noll played the title character in “Barron Trump: Up Past Bedtime,” which had a recent run at a theater in Hyde Park.

Both instances have revived age-old questions about the sometimes less-than-kid-glove treatment of presidential kids.

“I think the children are off-limits,” said Lisa Caputo, who was White House press secretary when “Saturday Night Live” made fun of then-13-year-old Chelsea Clinton. “They didn’t run for public office, they don’t hold an official role.”

“SNL” cast member Mike Meyers sent the Clintons a letter of apology after the incident.

The teenage Chelsea Clinton also was mocked by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called her a dog.

Katie Rich, the “SNL” writer who tweeted about Barron, was suspended indefinitely. After deleting the tweet and deactivating her Twitter account, she reactivated the account, saying she wanted to “sincerely apologize” for the “insensitive” tweet and that she deeply regretted her actions.

“It was inexcusable & I’m so sorry,” Rich said. Fellow comedians have risen to her defense, but Noll told the Chicago Reader that she has been the subject of a social media backlash, including death threats, as well as homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic and racist comments directed at her. The theater also has been harassed.

All presidents and first ladies seek a life outside the spotlight for minor children who live in the 132-room mansion, except when they themselves put their kids in the spotlight.

Days after the incident involving Rich, the White House appealed for respect for Barron’s privacy.

“It is a longstanding tradition that the children of presidents are afforded the opportunity to grow up outside of the political spotlight,” the White House press office said in a brief statement. “The White House fully expects this tradition to continue.”

That same week, Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News that it was “a disgrace” for NBC “to attack my 10-year-old son.” Trump also suggested the dustup may have bothered Barron, who has only been seen publicly during big moments of the past year, such as the night Trump addressed the Republican National Convention and election night. He continues to live full-time in New York City with his mother, first lady Melania Trump.

“It’s not an easy thing for him. Believe me,” Trump said of his son.

In contrast, Trump’s adult children, Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany, are sharing the limelight with their famous father. Don Jr. and Eric are running the family business, and Ivanka could end up joining the administration. All three Trump children sat in on meetings their father conducted before and after he took office.

Doug Wead, who wrote a book about the children of presidents, said it’s the “ultimate hurt” when the offspring become the vehicle for the ire that some grown-ups wish they could direct toward the president. He said kids become targets because they’re seen as weak.

“Barron can’t fight back,” Wead said.

Anita McBride, who worked for three Republican presidents and was first lady Laura Bush‘s chief of staff, said President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, did a good job shielding their daughters from most public scrutiny. Bush’s daughters were college-bound when he was elected in 2000, so they didn’t live in the White House. But their underage drinking made headlines.

“Why in a matter of 24 hours should it be different for this child?” McBride said of Barron.

And Chelsea Clinton said on Twitter that “Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does — to be a kid.” But she also added that standing up for kids means opposing Trump policies that hurt them.

The supportive tweet from the former first daughter — who is good friends with Barron’s sister Ivanka — shed light on the exclusive club of “first children,” who seem to be looking out for one another.

Jenna and Barbara Bush recently applauded Malia and Sasha Obama for surviving the “unbelievable pressure of the White House” and enduring “harsh criticism of your parents by people” who don’t know them.

“Take all that you have seen, the people you have met, the lessons you have learned, and let that help guide you in making positive change. We have no doubt you will,” they encouraged the Obama girls in a letter. The Bush sisters also wrote a letter to the Obama girls when they moved into the White House in 2009 at ages 10 and 7.

Wead said few tears should be shed over the fact that these children sometimes get rough treatment from the public.

As children of privilege, they are steps ahead of so many of their peers.

“Two of them became presidents themselves,” Wead said, referring to George W. Bush, son of President George H.W. Bush, and John Quincy Adams, son of President John Adams.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Fed lawyers deciding next step in Donald Trump travel ban fight

Government lawyers fighting to defend President Donald Trump‘s executive order on immigration said Friday that “all options” are being considered after a federal appeals court ruled against the president’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

A Justice Department lawyer who spoke at a hearing in Virginia said the administration was weighing whether to challenge a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a temporary block on Trump’s ban, saying it was unlikely to survive a legal challenge.

“We may appeal. We may not,” attorney Erez Reuveni said. “All options are being considered.”

It could appeal the restraining order on Trump’s travel ban to the U.S. Supreme Court or it could attempt to remake the case in the district court.

Reuveni was appearing at a hearing before Judge Leonie Brinkema at which the state of Virginia was challenging the ban. The judge did not rule. She noted that “the status quo remains” because of the 9th circuit’s decision and suggested that a well-reasoned ruling would take time and could not be written “overnight.”

Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said Friday’s hearing in a federal court in a Washington, D.C., suburb posed the most significant state challenge yet to Trump’s order. In a statement, he said it “will be the most in-depth examination of the merits of the arguments against the ban.”

Lawyers for Herring, a Democrat, are asking the judge for a preliminary injunction barring the Trump administration from enforcing that portion of the Jan. 27 executive order that bars anyone from those countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The state is not challenging that portion of Trump’s order suspending entry of refugees for four months.

“If the Commonwealth is successful in securing a preliminary injunction, it would indicate that Virginia is likely to prevail on the merits of its challenge to President Trump’s ban, and it will be a more durable injunction that will last all the way through trial — so potentially weeks or months,” Kelly wrote.

In a court document filed ahead of the hearing, Virginia’s lawyers challenge the constitutionality of the executive order and say there is “overwhelming evidence” that the executive order “resulted from animus toward Muslims.” Virginia also says the state, its residents and its public universities are harmed. One example it gives: university students and faculty from countries named in the executive order who are in the U.S. on work or student visas can’t leave for fear of not being allowed back in.

Until it was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in Seattle a week ago, the ban made headlines amid tearful stories of families separated and lives upended. Among them were two Yemeni brothers whose family sued in Virginia before the brothers, both green card holders, were allowed back into the country. The federal government has since said green card holders will not be barred from re-entering the U.S.

In the specific Virginia challenge, lawyers for the federal government wrote in a court filing opposing a preliminary injunction that Virginia doesn’t have the right to challenge the ban — and that the court doesn’t have the power to review the president’s executive order.

“Judicial second-guessing of the President’s determination that a temporary suspension of entry of certain classes of aliens was necessary at this time to protect national security would constitute an impermissible intrusion” on his constitutional authority, lawyers Dennis Barghaan and Reuveni wrote.

Even if Virginia’s challenge is allowed to proceed, a preliminary injunction is not warranted, the U.S. government lawyers wrote.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Is Orlando a ‘sanctuary city?’ What’s a ‘sanctuary city?’

No one has identified Orlando as one of the “sanctuary cities” providing safe havens for undocumented immigrants while sustaining conservatives’ wrath and potential funding cuts from President Donald Trump‘s orders, but when the question comes up, Orlando responds with a puzzle.

“While it’s not clear exactly what the definition of a “sanctuary city” is, it is clear what Orlando is,” the office of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer responded Friday, in a statement, to a question about a sanctuary city status. “In Orlando, diversity and inclusion are a vital part of our way of life.”

Sanctuary cities can be difficult to identify because they do not have to be overt. Those that use city ordinances or written executive decisions to discourage or ban police from detaining undocumented immigrants, or from turning them over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, and to make sure all city services are extended to all residents regardless of immigration status, are obvious. Others, which discourage or decline to detain or turn over undocumented immigrants, while seeking to extend all services, based on policies or in-house legal interpretations, can have the same impact without codifying the practice.

And cities can pursue such policies to various lengths.

Last month Trump signed an executive order blocking sanctuary cities from qualifying for certain federal assistance.

Dyer, a Democrat, has not made any statements suggesting the city was informally pursuing sanctuary policies, but he also has not refuted the idea.

Orange County Republican Chairman Lew Oliver said he had not heard nor seen anything suggesting it was happening, adding, “My sense is it’s not the kind of thing our mayor or our city would be interested in doing.”

Still, the city’s statement, while making no explicit claims to any sanctuary policies, at least embraces some of the values of sanctuary.

“We have a long history of advancing policies that embrace diversity and celebrate our various cultures, including establishing a non-discrimination ordinance over 40 years ago,” the statement continues, citing various non-discrimination programs.

“This has made our City stronger and a more prosperous place for everyone.”

The statement also discusses how the city responded as united following the June 12 massacre at the popular gay nightclub Pulse, declaring, “we embraced and supported each other, no matter religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We responded together as one Orlando, a united Orlando.”

“As a City, we remain focused on continuing to find ways to work together to overcome hate, intolerance and injustice and embrace diversity, equality and fairness in Orlando and throughout the nation,” the statement continued. “Part of this effort means ensuring we remain a City and a government that values diversity in all that we do, continuing not to focus on immigration enforcement, but on being the best place in America to live, work, play and raise a family.”

Orange County, Orlando’s alter-ego covering the entire county population with its own ordinances, is clearer. It does not have sanctuary city policies, Mayor Teresa Jacobs said earlier this week in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. Jacobs responded to questions after a dozen or so immigration proponents and others urged the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday to consider adopting sanctuary policies. She said immigration policy was above the county’s authority, and that she believes “cities may find a way to try to intervene in the immigration debate,” Congress and the federal government need to address it.


Vern Buchanan predicts completion of GOP tax plan by August

An excited Vern Buchanan took to Fox Business News Channel Friday morning, predicting that a major tax reform bill will come out of the House of Representatives by the time Congress breaks for summer recess.

“The stars have aligned,” the Sarasota GOP congressman told anchor Charles Payne.

“I can just tell you, we’ve been working on this for the last six and a half years, but we’re very focused in the last three to four months, and as some of this gets out to more of the communities and various individuals, you’re going to get some feedback, but I’m very pro-growth,” he said.

“This is going to be a very pro-growth tax policy that I’m confident will get done, ideally by August, that’s the game plan. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Speaker [Paul] Ryan as well in the past six years, and I have a lot of confidence that we’re going to get this done.”

Buchanan serves on the House Ways & Means Committee, which is currently working on legislation based on a tax-reform proposal that House Republicans offered last June. The plan includes a border adjustment tax that has been somewhat problematic with GOP Senators.

On a proposed 20 percent tax on all imports, Georgia Sen. David Perdue called it “regressive, hammers consumers and shuts down economic growth.”

Several other Republicans have also expressed concerns about such a border adjustment tax.

On Thursday, President Trump said a “phenomenal” plan to overhaul business taxes might be released within the next “two or three weeks,” without offering any details, saying simply that his plans call for “lowering the overall tax burden of American businesses, big league.”

Buchanan hopes the reform plans will include full, immediate expensing for business equipment, which would let businesses immediately deduct expenses from their income.

“The idea that you can write off an asset the first year, a piece of equipment that’s $5 million the first year, is a big creates a lot of excitement for a lot of people in business,” Buchanan enthused.

Last year Buchanan offered up legislation aimed at ensuring that small businesses don’t pay higher rates than corporations. His plans called for lowering the rate for noncorporate businesses to 25 percent. Trump’s tax plan during the presidential campaign would provide a 15-percent rate for “all businesses, both small and large, that want to retain the profits within the business.”


Florida seniors, be careful what you wish for with Donald Trump, Medicare

Florida’s estimated 3.8 million senior citizens wanted change. They wanted to, how you say, drain the swamp? They voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in November.

With voters age 65 and over, Trump won Florida by 17 percent. That likely was the difference in a statewide race he won over Hillary Clinton by about 119,000 votes.

Here is part of the change they voted for. His name is Tom Price, just confirmed in the Senate as Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services by a party-line vote of 52-47. Seniors may become better acquainted with him the next few years. He is the guy who The Washington Post says wants to privatize Medicare and Medicaid.

“Under his vision, both programs would cease to be entitlements that require them to provide coverage to every person who qualifies,” the Post reported. “Instead, like many House Republicans, he wants to convert Medicaid into block grants to states — which would give them more latitude from federal requirements about eligibility rules and the medical services that must be covered for low-income Americans.

“This plan would also require ‘able-bodied’ applicants to meet work requirements to receive health care benefits — an idea that the Obama administration has consistently rebuffed.”

I wonder how that will go over with the good folks in Charlotte, Sumter, Sarasota and Citrus counties. They are among the 11 “grayest” counties in the country.

Sumter, with nearly 53 percent of residents age 65 or older, ranks No. 1 on that list compiled by Pew Research. It is the only county in the nation to have that distinction.

Sumter, by the way, voted 69 percent for Trump. Charlotte, the second-grayest county in the land, delivered 62 percent in favor of Trump. Citrus was 68 percent. Sarasota was 54 percent.

To be fair, some of the angst over Price is about what he “might” do versus what he “can” do. He can’t just wave a calculator and do away with traditional Medicare and Medicaid, and for the time being his focus likely will be on reconfiguring the Affordable Care Act into something that will suit conservatives.

Congress would have to approve any major changes to Medicare and Medicaid, and although Republicans control both chambers President Trump has said he wants to keep things the way they are.

PunditFact rated claims by a Democratic website that Price wants to “phase out” Medicare as false.

Phase out? No.

Change? You betcha.

In case Price gets any funny ideas, though, AARP — the advocacy group for seniors — sent a letter Jan. 30 to a House committee holding Medicaid hearings warning block grants are something that could “endanger the health, safety, and care of millions of individuals who depend on the essential services provided through Medicaid.”

Shifting these programs to block grants would have a huge impact on Florida’s budget, given the high percentage of seniors living here. Imagine how long it would take for state representatives to run those budget numbers and decide nope, we can’t afford that.

This is just the first inning of what promises to be a long game in the contentious debate over these social safety nets for seniors. It’s also true, though, that House Republicans have had this issue in their crosshairs for decades and now they have a shot at reform — whatever that means.

If that happens, it will be too late for Sumter, Charlotte, Citrus and Sarasota counties to demand a recount. Those voters wanted change. Careful what you wish for.

For Donald Trump, a solitary start to life in the White House

Around 6:30 each evening, Secret Service agents gather in the dim hallways of the West Wing to escort Donald Trump home.

For some presidents, the short walk between the Oval Office and the White House residence upstairs is a lifeline to family and a semblance of normal life. Others have used the grand residence for late night entertaining and deal-making with lawmakers.

For Trump, life in the White House residence is so far a largely solitary existence. With his wife and youngest son living in New York, and his grown children busy with their young families, Trump’s first evenings have been spent largely alone, tethered to the outside world only by his phone and his television. The dramatic change of scenery has left the 70-year-old president, a known creature of habit, a little adrift in the evenings, according to one person who spoke with him recently.

Another regular contact described the president as still adjusting to this new digs and his somewhat more confined schedule. His advisers initially said they expected him to spend his evenings holding working dinners, like one scheduled Thursday with Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

While Trump has marveled at the history and beauty of his new home, “it’s still government housing,” said Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a friend of the president’s.

A half-dozen other friends, advisers and associates of the president spoke about his first weeks in the White House on the condition of anonymity in order to detail private conversations.

The interviews underscore the relatively large circle of people who have spoken with the new president, despite the busy schedule and enormous pressures of the job. Trump has been spending his nights making and taking calls to an expanding network of old friends, lawmakers and others.

Calls often come in to Trump’s personal cellphone, which he fought staff and his security team to keep. Rather than hold lengthy conversations on the unsecured line, Trump often calls people back on other lines, sometimes going through the White House switchboard.

The president, who says he’s sleeping four or five hours a night, is dialing up associates late at night and early in the morning, before he returns to the West Wing. He recently reached House Speaker Paul Ryan while the Wisconsin Republican was in the middle of an early morning workout.

Ryan has become a more frequent point of contact for the president, who has been touting his improved relationship with the speaker in conversations with advisers and associates. Their discussions are said to largely focus on policy, including health care and tax reform, the latter an issue where the speaker’s office is trying to bring the White House closer to House Republicans’ position.

Trump has privately conceded some early missteps after a turbulent start to his term, including the flawed rollout of his controversial refugee and immigration plan and a lack of clear lanes for his top advisers. But despite public opinion polls showing less than 50 percent of Americans approve of his presidency thus far, Trump has sounded confident about his standing.

During one late night discussion, Trump was already talking about seeking a second term. When an associate suggested he was weakening Democrats by usurping some of the party’s best policy ideas, the president readily agreed.

When he isn’t talking about his early presidency, Trump — who is sometimes joined by his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller — is often watching others talk.

The president’s advisers have tried to curb his cable news consumption during the workday. But there are no limits when the president returns to the residence. During another recent telephone conversation, Trump briefly put down the phone so he could turn up the volume on a CNN report. When he returned to the call, he was complaining about “fake news.”

In some ways, his new lifestyle in the White House resembles the routines he created during decades living atop Trump Tower. He long has preferred the comforts of home, eschewing much of Manhattan’s social scene in favor of evenings in his penthouse with close friends, family and his television.

First lady Melania Trump and the couple’s 10-year-old son, Barron, are staying in New York at least until the end of the school year. Mrs. Trump hasn’t been seen in Washington since the weekend of the president’s inauguration, and Trump has yet to return to New York. The Trumps did spend last weekend together at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s palatial South Florida club.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, made the move to Washington, but have focused on getting their young family settled into life in a new city. The couple also spend some evenings dining with business and political contacts.

Trump is returning to Mar-a-Lago again on Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and may keep making weekend trips for the rest of the month. Friends who saw the president at the coastal estate last weekend described him as relaxed, particularly at a black tie gala for the Red Cross and on the golf course with some of his regular playing partners.

Despite Trump’s weekend escapes, advisers say he has taken to the White House. He’s told associates it feels like a movie set and has spent time making sure it looks up to his standards, according to one person who has been in contact with him. The Trumps have hired Tham Kannalikham, a low-profile interior designer, to help put their touch on the White House residence.

During a recent interview with Fox News, Trump said he was walking into the main entrance of the White House one day and said to himself, “This is sort of amazing.”

“It’s like a surreal experience, in a certain way,” Trump said. “But you have to get over it.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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