US court to hear arguments on Donald Trump's travel ban: Tuesday morning briefing


Donald Trump sits down for lunch with troops during a visit to the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa 
Donald Trump sits down for lunch with troops during a visit to the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa  CREDIT: AFP

AUS federal appeals court will hear arguments on Tuesday over whether to restore president Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the most controversial policy of his two-week old administration.


In a brief filed on Monday, the Justice Department said last week's suspension of Mr Trump's order by a federal judge was too broad and "at most" should be limited to people who were already granted entry to the country and were temporarily abroad, or to those who want to leave and return to the United States.
Watch | Washington State Attorney General comments on Trump's blocked travel ban
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That language did not appear in the government's opening brief filed at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and could represent a softening of its position.

The 9th Circuit in San Francisco on Monday asked lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota and the Justice Department to argue whether the ban should remain shelved. The court set oral argument for 3pm local time (11pm GMT) on Tuesday.
The new Republican president has said the travel measures are to protect the country against the threat of terrorism. Opponents say the 90-day ban, barring entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and imposing a 120-day halt to all refugees, is illegal.
National security veterans, major US technology companies and law enforcement officials from more than a dozen states backed a legal effort against the ban.
The case may ultimately reach the US Supreme Court.
Ten former US national security and foreign policy officials, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, filed a declaration in the court case arguing that the travel ban served no national security purposes.
It was signed by former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and Michael Morell.
The court did say it would consider the government's request after receiving more information.
Mr Trump has reacted to challenges to the ban by attacking the federal judge in Seattle and then the wider court system.
"Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11," he said. "We need strong programs for people who love our country," Trump said, adding he did not want to allow "people who want to destroy us and destroy our country" into the United States.
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Kremlin demands apology from Fox News host for 'killer' comment on Putin

The Kremlin said on Monday it wanted an apology from Fox News over what it said were "unacceptable" comments one of the channel's presenters made about Russian president Vladimir Putin in an interview with US counterpart Donald Trump.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly described Mr Putin as "a killer" in the interview with Mr Trump as he tried to press the US president to explain more fully why he respected his Russian counterpart. O'Reilly did not say who he thought Mr Putin had killed.
"We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
O'Reilly dismissed the Kremlin's call for an apology.
Watch | Trump on 'killer' Putin: 'so our country is so innocent?'
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"I'm working on that apology but it may take a little time," he said on Fox News late on Monday. "You might want to check in with me around ... 2023."
Fox News is a top-rated US cable news network owned by Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox.
Mr Trump’s views on Mr Putin have been closely scrutinised in the United States. 
There are accusations Moscow sponsored computer hacking to help him win office, and critics say he is too complimentary about the Russian leader. 
Mr Putin has been accused by some Kremlin critics of ordering the killing of opponents, allegations Moscow has repeatedly denied as politically motivated and false. 
Litvinenko died after drinking tea spiked with a fatal dose of radioactive polonium-210. The Kremlin angrily dismissed the inquiry as a "quasi-investigation."
After the ruling, Mr Trump said he saw no evidence the Russian president was guilty.
Asked about those allegations on Fox, Mr Trump questioned how "innocent" the United States itself was, saying it had made a lot of its own mistakes. 
After that caused controversy, Mr Trump was asked in a later interview to clarify his remark. He told Westwood One Sports Radio: "Well, I don’t have to clarify it. The question was do you respect him – he’s a head of a major country.
The Kremlin is indignant over the comments of a Fox News host who called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "killer" in an interview with President Donald Trump.
In the interview broadcast over the weekend, Bill O'Reilly called the Russian leader "a killer." Trump replied that the US has killers, too.

Kellyanne Conway referred to 'Bowling Green massacre' that never occurred more than once

Kellyanne Conway has referred to the fictitious "Bowling Green massacre" on at least two occasions before the MSNBC interview that attracted ridicule over the weekend.
Ms Conway, a senior counsellor to Donald Trump, took to Twitter on Friday to correct and defend herself on her comments on the Kentucky attack that never occurred.
The campaign manager-turned-advisor said on Twitter that she meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists." 
Ms Conway told MSNBC on Thursday that Mr Trump's controversial temporary ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries was justified in part by the "Bowling Green massacre" of 2011. She added: "Most people don't know that because it didn't get covered." 
During the MSNBC interview Ms Conway told how two Iraqis who came to the United States and were radicalised "were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre." No such event occurred.
"I misspoke one word," Ms Conway told Fox News's Howard Kurtz in an interview aired on Sunday.
"They’re masterminds, I had said that before," Ms Conway told Fox. "I should have said plot or I should have just called them terrorists. […] I clarified immediately. I should have said terrorists and not massacre." 
However, this wasn't the first time Ms Conway used the phrasing "Bowling Green massacre" in an on-the-record conversation with a reporter.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan.com conducted by phone on January 29, Ms Conway used the same expression, claiming that president Barack Obama called for a temporary "ban on Iraqi refugees" after the "Bowling Green massacre," the website reported, clarifying that "the quotes did not appear in either of two stories recently published on Cosmopolitan.com".
"He did, it’s a fact," she said of Mr Obama. "Why did he do that? He did that for exactly the same reasons. He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, travelled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills, and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers' lives away."
Ms Conway later told Cosmopolitan.com by text message, "It was a plot to massacre and they were Bowling Green terrorists. That's what I should have said. I clarified.”
"Those were evil men who bragged about attacking American soldiers," she said.
Asked specifically where she got her information about the men joining ISIS and going back to the Middle East for training, she said, "I know when they were radicalised and received a briefing."
In a follow-up text exchange on Sunday night, Ms Conway wrote, "Frankly they were terrorists in Bowling Green but their massacre took place in Iraq.
Ms Conway also referred the "Bowling Green attack" Also on January 29, while speaking to TMZ. "The fact is that it was President Obama and the Congress who identified these seven countries so President Trump is just following on," Ms Conway said in a recorded comment. "President Obama suspended the Iraq refugee programme for six months in 2011 and no one certainly covered—I think nobody noticed."
"He did that because, I assume, there were two Iraqis who came here, got radicalised, joined ISIS, and then were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green attack on our brave soldiers," she added.
"The terrorists were in Bowling Green and their attack occurred in Iraq," Ms Conway told The Daily Beast via email.
In May 2011, two Iraqi men were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and charged with attempting to send weapons and money to al-Qaeda in Iraq. They admitted to using improvised explosive devices against US soldiers in Iraq.
Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi are in prison after pleading guilty. They were never accused of plotting to launch attacks inside the US.
Mr Obama never banned Iraqi refugees or other Iraqi travellers from entering the United States. His administration did slow down the processing for Iraqis seeking Special Immigrant Visas, which are given to translators and interpreters who worked with the US in that country.

Donald Trump accuses media of 'under reporting' terror attacks

The White House released a list of 78 terror attacks around the world on Monday, saying  most of them did not get sufficient attention from the media.
The release came after  President Donald Trump appeared to accuse the media of covering up terrorist attacks by not reporting them.
"You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it's happening," the president told military commanders at Central Command.  
"It’s gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
Mr Trump offered no evidence for the claim.
Sean Spicer, Mr Trump's spokesman, later said the president was accusing the media of "under reporting" rather than not reporting terrorist attacks.

'Trump' replaced with 'Steve Bannon' in web browser extension as president fumes over reports his adviser is 'calling the shots'

A new Google Chrome extension replaces the word "Trump" with "Steve Bannon" as part of an effort to highlight the influence that the White House chief strategist has on the president, Chris Graham writes. 
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon CREDIT: AP
American Bridge, a Democrat-aligned super PAC, produced the internet browser extension to show the "power" Donald Trump has ceded to his controversial right hand man. 
“It also comes with a warning: Anyone who thought the news about the Donald Trump administration was terrifying should exercise extreme caution when reading about the reckless and bigoted policies ordered by President Bannon,” American Bridge Vice President Shripal Shah told Business Insider.

Donald Trump appears to lose Kanye West's support as rapper deletes tweets about meeting

Kanye West, one of Donald Trump's biggest celebrity supporters, appears to have deleted his tweets about his meeting last year with the then US president-elect in which the two discussed multicultural issues.
Donald Trump and Kanye West pose for media at Trump Tower in Manhattan in December
Donald Trump and Kanye West pose for media at Trump Tower in Manhattan in December CREDIT: REUTERS
The influential rapper's handful of Twitter entries from their December 13 meeting at Trump Tower in New York, where West said he had wanted to discuss "bullying, supporting teachers, modernising curriculums and violence in Chicago," were missing from his account on Monday.
After the meeting, West had also tweeted that he felt it "important to have a direct line of communication with our future president if we truly want change".

'Any negative polls are fake news' claims Donald Trump

Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday to hit back against media reports indicating that a majority of Americans looked unfavourably on his presidency, saying "any negative polls are fake news," writes Adam Boult.
On Friday a CNN poll indicated that 53 per cent of Americans disapproved of the way Trump is handling his presidential transition, described by the network as "the highest disapproval for a new elected president since polls began tracking those results". 
In a run of tweets criticising mainstream media outlets Mr Trump said: "Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting."
Another tweet, thought to be a response to suggestions that chief strategist Stephen Bannon is holding the reins in White House decision-making, Mr Trump wrote: "I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!"

    Picture of the day

    A Donald Trump ice sculpture unveiled at Japan's Sapporo snow festival
    A Donald Trump ice sculpture unveiled at Japan's Sapporo snow festival CREDIT: TV HOKKAIDO

    Video of the day

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    Analysis of the day

    William Hague: The rule of law differentiates the United States from Russia – Trump would do well to respect it

    The Founding Fathers had no doubt, as they separated the nascent United States from our forebears, that their nation must be built on checks, balances, and an independent judiciary. John Adams said that “a good government is an empire of laws”. Alexander Hamilton argued that “liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone”, but everything to fear from it being too close to government. 
    The rule of law, including its independent interpretation, is one of the attributes that makes America and Britain such great places to live and so successful compared with countries without it.
    While we all disagree with many court judgments, it is being a society based on law that allows us to own businesses and property free from the fear of confiscation, to express opinions without risk of arrest and sign contracts in the knowledge they must be honoured.

    President on Twitter: tweets of the day

     Source: The Telegraph UK
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