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BREAKING: Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation



President Trump in February asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, according to a short memo Comey reportedly wrote detailing the Oval Office conversation.

The memo was one of several Comey created that detailed conversations and interactions with the president in what he believed were improper attempts to influence the FBI’s investigation, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

“I hope you can let this go,” Trump reportedly told Comey, according to the memo, which was read to, not viewed by, a Times reporter.

The memo was a two-page, highly-detailed account of Comey’s interaction with Trump on Feb. 14, according to the Washington Post, which also confirmed the memo, as did NBC, CNN, and other news outlets.

After the New York Times story was published, the White House insisted the president has never asked Comey to end any investigation, including into Flynn.

“The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations,” officials said. “This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

A Department of Justice spokeswoman declined to comment on what happened to any records Comey created once he was fired.

When asked about the Times report, Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, told BuzzFeed News, “We decline to comment.”

After Comey was fired by Trump, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told a Senate committee last week that there had been no White House effort to impede the FBI’s investigation into Russia.

But according to the Times, Comey was at the White House Feb. 14 with other national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. Trump then asked all others in the room, including Vice President Mike Pence, to leave him alone with Comey.

During that conversation, according to the report, Trump suggested to Comey he should jail reporters for publishing classified information. He then began to speak with the FBI director about his agency’s investigation into Flynn.

Comey wrote the memo immediately after the meeting, the Times reported, and then shared it with senior FBI officials.

The FBI officials decided to keep the conversation secret so it would not affect the ongoing investigation into Flynn and Russia.

Shortly after the report was published, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants Comey to return to Congress to testify.

If the report is true, Schiff said, it raised the possibility that the president tried to obstruct an investigation, he told reporters.

“I think we know enough now,” Schiff said. “There’s been enough alleged publicly to want to bring the director back to testify, ideally in an open session before our committee or judiciary committee.”

Schiff said the committee should also also request for the notes taken or made shortly after Comey’s meetings and discussions with Trump.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “Congress really needs to get to the bottom of this.”

The Committee for Freedom of the Press also released a statement after news of the report leaked Tuesday, calling President Trump’s suggestion to jail journalists “a dangerous line.”

“No president gets to jail journalists,” the statement read. “The president’s remarks should not intimidate the press but inspire it.”

As news of Comey’s memo spread Tuesday afternoon, Trump — via the email address he used during the campaign — apparently attempted to raise money from the latest series of scandals. The email, which includes a request to contribute $1 to “drain the swamp,” began by saying the “media was out to get us,” adding that “there are people within our own unelected bureaucracy that want to sabotage President Trump and our entire America First movement.”

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Congress should subpoena Comey’s memos, transcripts of conversations, and any tapes Trump may have recorded during his meetings with the former FBI director.

“And we may well have another United States vs. Nixon if the president resists providing them,” he told reporters. “I think it’s absolutely stunning that anybody could be this brazen.”

He also reiterated his call for a special prosecutor to be appointed.

“You’re watching an obstruction of justice investigation developing in real time,” Blumenthal said. “I’m just staggered by this really, very threatening situation (…) I think our democracy is on a precipice.”

Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer also urged legislators to act.

“The country is being tested and unprecedented ways,” Schumer said. “I say to all of my colleagues, in the Senate, history is watching.”

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Ilhan Omar: No debate on ‘whether Trump is a racist’ | UpFront



Hers is a remarkable journey: from a refugee camp in Kenya to a state legislature in the United States. In 2016, Ilhan Omar became the first elected Somali-American Muslim lawmaker in the US, the same night that Donald Trump was elected president.

When asked about Trump’s role in the rise of anti-Muslim, far right, white nationalist hate groups in the country, Omar says she would come very short of holding him “exclusively responsible”.

“I think when you … demonise and dehumanise, it is easy for people to commit acts of violence against those individuals because they no longer see them as a person, as someone who has feelings, who’s worthy of respect,” says Omar.

“We are moving away from this idea that we are supposed to be a welcoming nation.”

In this special interview, we speak with Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar about Trump and the rise of Islamophobia in the US.

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Case of botched ICE flight to Somalia signals legal shift on deportations



The U.S. government’s prospects for deporting 92 people it unsuccessfully tried to fly to Somalia in December are getting murkier.

What’s more, a legal fight over the passengers’ fates — many of whom are from Minnesota — joins a string of recent cases that could stake out a more muscular role for federal courts in blocking deportations. The government has countered that Congress stripped the courts of any say in deportation challenges.

But a Miami federal judge ruled he has the power to keep the 92 Somalis in the United States, and he appears poised to give them time to fight their removals. That’s the latest example of judges reasserting an authority to stay removals, particularly in cases where authorities come for immigrants long slated for deportation but allowed to stay because of conditions in their home country. Just last week, a judge in California blocked the deportations of Cambodians, including at least one from Minnesota, ordered back when that country refused to take deportees.

“It’s really important to make sure the courts have some check on what could be unfettered federal government power over deportation,” said Michele McKenzie of Minneapolis-based nonprofit The Advocates for Human Rights, which has helped with the Somalia case.

In court filings, the government has suggested these judicial decisions will spur a flurry of last-ditch, frivolous court bids to win extra time in the United States. It has noted that some immigrants involved in the recent cases, such as two-thirds of the passengers on the botched flight to Somalia, have criminal convictions, including for murder.

A failed mission

A chartered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flight with the 92 Somalis made it to Senegal back in December. But according to a government account, logistical issues stranded the plane for 20 hours at a Dakar airport and led the agency to return the deportees to Florida.

Attorneys have said 28 of the passengers are from Minnesota. Some have lengthy criminal histories. Others, including a Rochester cardiovascular technician and an Owatonna police officer, built quiet lives after failed asylum claims years ago. ICE detained them amid a return to deporting immigrants to Somalia that began under the Obama administration and ramped up last year under President Donald Trump.

The Miami lawsuit alleges the detainees spent 40 hours sitting shackled on the plane and were struck, kicked, choked and disparaged by guards. Attorneys at the University of Minnesota’s Center for New Americans, the University of Miami and two other organizations argue the failed flight and international publicity surrounding it have made it more dangerous to return the deportees to Somalia. They asked the judge to block a do-over of the flight so the plaintiffs can file new cases in immigration court or with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

In January, attorneys also filed a complaint that said staff at a Florida detention center were abusive and denied plaintiffs enough access to lawyers and medical treatment.

ICE doesn’t comment on pending suits. But in court filings, officials denied the plaintiffs’ allegations, offering testimony from health care providers and saying the detention center segregated some after disorderly behavior, such as assaults on staff.

The government has argued the court has no jurisdiction in the case because the Real ID Act of 2005 placed deportation challenges in the hands of the immigration appeals board.

Judge Darrin Gayles ruled the case’s “extraordinary circumstances” give him limited jurisdiction to ensure due process for the plaintiffs, who might have new arguments for reopening their deportation cases.

Winning reprieves

Gayles will decide this month whether to continue blocking passengers’ deportations and for how long, but his order signaled he is open to giving the plaintiffs until they get a response on bids to reopen their cases.

The courts have also reclaimed a more active role in blocking deportations in recent cases involving Iraqi immigrants in the Detroit area and Indonesian Christians in New Hampshire. In late January, a federal judge in California stayed the deportations of about 90 Cambodian refugees detained nationwide. Linus Chan of the Center for New Americans said these cases are significant at a time of stepped-up enforcement. A district court in the Twin Cities also acted to keep several men off the December flight to Somalia.

The judges are saying you can’t just sit on these orders for five or 10 years and then deport people without giving them a chance to challenge their removals because so much has changed,” Chan said.

Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restricting immigration, said the rulings concern her — the judges are not accountable if those with convictions reoffend during these reprieves — but she believes they will be reversed: “The appeals courts and the Supreme Court are going to get very busy with all this lawfare aimed at undermining enforcement of our immigration laws.”

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Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered Pentagon and White House officials to begin planning a military parade in Washington similar to the Bastille Day parade he witnessed in Paris in July, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

At a meeting at the Pentagon on Jan. 18 that included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford, Trump said he wanted a military parade, the Post reported, citing a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” the military official said, according to the Post. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military,” the official added.

After the Post published its story, the White House issued a statement that said Trump “has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the parade planning was in the “brainstorming” stage and nothing had been decided, the Post reported.

The Pentagon was aware of a request for a parade but was only just starting to explore possibilities, including on timing, a Pentagon spokesman told Reuters.

Trump has said he was impressed by the military parade he watched in Paris on July 14. U.S. and French soldiers marched together to mark 100 years since the United States entered World War One and France’s annual Bastille Day holiday. It included tanks, armored vehicles and a flyover of U.S. and French military jets.

“To a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4 in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told reporters in September. “We’re actually looking into it.”

The U.S. capital has held large military displays to mark significant occasions, including victories in war, but rolling tanks and marching troops down Pennsylvania Avenue are not typically done on the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

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