Today in the Trump Administration
Appeals court hears arguments on reinstating travel ban
Here’s the live blog on the arguments, which started at 6 p.m: Appeals court hearing on Trump travel ban - live updates.
Mr. Trump’s travel ban faced its toughest test yet Tuesday as a panel of appeals court judges hammered away at the administration’s claim that the ban was motivated by terrorism fears while also directing pointed questions to the opposing attorney, who challenged the executive order on grounds that it unconstitutionally targeted Muslims.
The contentious hearing before three judges on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals focused narrowly on whether a restraining order issued by a lower court should remain in effect while a challenge to the ban proceeds. But the judges also jumped into the larger constitutional questions surrounding Trump’s order, which temporarily suspended the nation’s refugee program and immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries that have raised terrorism concerns.
Trump makes false claim about murder rate
President Donald Trump promulgated the falsehood that the murder rate in the United States is at the highest it has been in 47 years during a meeting with the National Sheriff’s Association on Tuesday morning at the White House.
“Didn’t you know that?” Trump asked the group of sheriffs in front of reporters. “I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised because the press doesn’t like to tell it like it is. It wasn’t to their advantage to say that but the murder rate is the highest it’s been I guess from forty-five to forty-seven years.”
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says she is impressed with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein met with Judge Neil Gorsuch on Monday. She said Tuesday that “he’s a very caring person and he’s obviously legally very smart.”
She added: “I think we are dealing with someone who is impressive, so we’ll see.”
She stopped short of saying she would vote for him, noting it’s a lifetime appointment and Gorsuch is only 49. Last week, Feinstein had said she wanted to take time to consider his record.
Betsy DeVos confirmed as secretary of education
In the most contentious confirmation vote yet, the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as President Trump’s secretary of education 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence having to cast the tie-breaking vote.
Lawmakers voted 50-50 to confirm DeVos, which forced Pence to break the tie, making history as he became the first vice president to resolve a deadlocked vote on Cabinet nomination.
The vote came after Senate Democrats pulled an all-nighter, speaking out against DeVos on the Senate floor Monday into Tuesday.
Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general clears procedural hurdle
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general has cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate.
The Senate voted 52-47 on Tuesday to move ahead on the nomination. Confirmation is expected on Wednesday in spite of Senate Democrats’ opposition to their colleague. No GOP senators voted against his confirmation. Sen. Sessions cast his vote as “present.”
The Trump travel ban: How to keep track of the legal battles
Since President Trump signed his “extreme vetting” executive order banning travel to the U.S. by individuals from seven countries, the measure has faced a number of legal challenges. The order has not been in effect since Feb. 3, when a federal judge in Seattle imposed a temporary restraining order, and it may well remain halted for the next few weeks -- at least. Here’s a timeline with the legal developments on the order.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg says Electoral College needs to be changed
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lamented partisanship in Congress during a talk at Stanford University on Monday and said she hoped it would return to an era when “it was working for the good of the country and not just along party lines.”
Ginsburg did not address the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia or President Trump’s travel ban, which could end up before the high court. But she did say she would like to change the Electoral College, a comment that drew applause from the packed, 1,200-seat Stanford Memorial Church. She did not elaborate.
Demand for tickets was so high, university officials used to lottery to determine who would get them, reports CBS San Francisco.
First lady: one libel suit settled, another filed
First Lady Melania Trump has settled her libel lawsuit against a Maryland blogger who wrote about rumors that Melania Trump had been a “high-end escort” and that she had “a mental breakdown” during the presidential campaign. As part of the settlement, the blogger, Wester Griffin Tarpley, issued a written statement and will, according to a statement from Trump’s lawyer, “pay a substantial sum as a settlement.”
The first lady’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail -- which published Tarpley’s post -- was dismissed in Maryland last week. The Daily Mail had argued that Maryland wasn’t the appropriate venue for the lawsuit, and Trump refiled it in New York on Monday.
At the heart of Trump’s argument is the claim that she lost out on earnings she could have generated while first lady, because the Daily Mail published the false allegation that she once worked as an escort. Her lawyers’ brief alleges that as a result of the statements about her, Melania Trump’s brand “has lost significant value, and major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her have been lost and/or substantially impacted.”
What you missed yesterday
Trump claims any negative polls are “fake news”
President Trump suggested Monday morning that any polls that signal public disapproval of him, his administration or his policies should be considered “fake news.”
The president seemed to suggest on Twitter that surveys measuring the public’s opinion of his executive order that instituted the travel ban and called for extreme vetting are not accurate.
Why DeVos is Trump’s most contentious Cabinet nominee
In Washington the pressure is even more intense. The Senate switchboard is swamped by hundreds of thousands of phone calls.
Some Democratic senators even took their own turn at the phones, like Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
Donald Trump tweets about New York Times’ “total fiction concerning me”
Donald Trump attacked the “failing @nytimes” on Twitter Monday, attempting to cast doubt on its reporting.
Mr. Trump was apparently responding to a Times story published online Sunday and in the paper Monday headlined “Trump and Staff Rethinking Tactics After Stumbles.” The story relies largely on interviews with dozens of unnamed government officials, congressional aides and former Trump staffers and includes anecdotes that have not been published before. One says that the president’s aides “confer in the dark because they can’t figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room.”
Trump claims media is covering up terror attacks, citing no evidence
President Trump on Monday said that news outlets are covering up terrorist attacks without citing any evidence that supports that claim.
He made the comment in a speech to U.S. servicemembers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida after receiving a briefing and eating lunch with troops.
The president began talking about how “radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland” as they did on 9/11, in the Boston bombings and in San Bernardino. He said it’s also happening “all over Europe” like in Paris and Nice.
“It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that,” Mr. Trump said.
There is no evidence that any media outlet is covering up terrorist attacks.