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Today in Trump: February 8, 2017

Trump travel ban fight

Today in the Trump Administration

Travel ban

The 9th Circuit Court could rule as soon as today on whether to reinstate the president’s travel ban.

Defends travel ban

President Trump addressed the Major Cities Chiefs Association -- at one point during the speech, he talked about and read from his executive order banning immigrants from seven countries.

“[The executive order] couldn’t have been written any more precisely....It was written beautifully,” he told police chiefs and sheriffs this morning. He blasted the courts for seeming to be “political” and later discussed the “real wall” proposed along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Mr. Trump said was “getting designed right now.” 

Neil Gorsuch says Trump’s attacks on judges are disheartening

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was reportedly critical of President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the judiciary during a meeting with a Democratic senator Wednesday.

CBS News’ Margaret Brennan confirmed that Gorsuch, whom Mr. Trump nominated to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, discussed the president’s sustained attacks on the federal court system in his meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).

A source on the Supreme Court nomination team said the two talked about Mr. Trump’s recent attacks on the judiciary. Blumenthal feels disheartened by what the president has said about several judges, and thinks the attacks are abhorrent. Gorsuch reportedly agreed that it was disheartening and said it was“demoralizing.” CNN and the Hill first reported the remarks. 

Trump tweets

The president lashed out at @Nordstrom today, claiming daughter Ivanka “has been treated so unfairly” by the retailer.

The retailer’s shares dipped a little after the tweet, but rebounded soon after. 

Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s brand earlier this month because of lackluster sales. “Based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season,” a spokesperson for Nordstrom said. 

Yemen raid was “absolutely a success,” says Spicer

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Wednesday said the recent U.S. raid in Yemen, which killed a U.S. commando and at least 30 others, was “absolutely a success.” 

“Anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens,” Spicer said at the daily White House press briefing, referring to the U.S. commando who was killed during the raid. “He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission.”

Spicer’s comments came the same day that sources told CBS News the Yemeni government had withdrawn its permission for the U.S. to launch future Special Operations ground missions inside the country. Yemeni officials later denied that drastic change in the country’s cooperation with the U.S. military.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, described the raid to reporters on Capitol Hill this week as “a failure.” In a statement released after those comments, McCain didn’t use the word “failure” again, but said he would not describe it as “a success.”

Melania Trump won’t try to profit as first lady

That’s according to her lawyer in a libel law suit against British media company Mail Media, which owns The Daily Mail. 

“The First Lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so,” Charles Harder, of the Beverly Hills-based firm Harder, Mirell, and Abrams, said in a statement Wednesday. “It is not a possibility. Any statements to the contrary are being misinterpreted.” 

The Cabinet

The Senate is expected to vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation to be attorney general -- that could take place as soon as this evening.

Meetings:

The president will be meeting with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich this afternoon. 

What you missed yesterday

Appeals court hears arguments on reinstating travel ban

An appeals court in San Francisco heard arguments on whether to reinstate President Trump’s 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 Cabinet

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.” 

GOP senators silence Elizabeth Warren over Sessions

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has earned a rare rebuke by the Senate for quoting Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor. 

The Massachusetts Democrat ran afoul of the chamber’s arcane rules by reading a three-decade-old letter from Dr. Martin Luther King’s widow that dated to Sen. Jeff Sessions’ failed judicial nomination three decades ago.  

Coretta Scott King wrote in her letter that, when acting as a federal prosecutor, Sessions used his power to “chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.” 

Quoting King technically put Warren in violation of Senate rules for “impugning the motives” of Sessions, though senators have said far worse stuff. And Warren was reading from a letter that was written 10 years before Sessions was even elected to the Senate.  

Supreme Court

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.

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.”  


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