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‘Fucking Idiot’: Murdoch mocked Trump after phone call on immigration, book claims

Author Michael Wolff describes alleged foul-mouthed comment by media mogul after discussing visas with the then president-elect

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Idiot’: Murdoch mocked Trump after phone call on immigration, book claims” was written by David Smith in Washington, for The Guardian on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 18.04 UTC

Rupert Murdoch described Donald Trump as “a fucking idiot” over his contradictory views on immigration policy, a new book reveals.

The remark is contained in a fly-on-the-wall account of internecine warfare in the White House written by Michael Wolff, a Murdoch biographer, a copy of which has been seen by the Guardian.

Wolff describes a Trump Tower meeting on 14 December 2016 – during the presidential transition – involving Trump and executives from Silicon Valley companies including Alphabet (parent of Google), Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Among the issues at stake was a potential crackdown by the incoming president on H-1B visas, the main visa used to hire foreign talent to tech companies.

Later that afternoon, Wolff writes, Trump called Murdoch, who asked how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” the president-elect said, according to Wolff’s account. “Really, really good. These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favourable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

The book records Murdoch’s reply: “Donald, for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

Trump is quoted as saying the companies “really need these H-1B visas”.

Wolff writes that Murdoch suggested a more liberal stance on H-1B visas would sit oddly with Trump’s hardline stance on immigration, to which the president-elect replied: “We’ll figure it out.”

Wolff writes that Murdoch shrugged as he got off the phone, and said: “What a fucking idiot.”

H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers plus 20,000 graduate student workers each year. Most are awarded to outsourcing firms, which critics say exploit loopholes to fill lower-level IT jobs with foreign workers, often at lower pay.

Promising to “Buy American, Hire American”, Trump offered varying positions on the issue several times during the election campaign. Last month his administration proposed eliminating a regulation that allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to work.

Murdoch’s remark is a rare, revealing moment of discord in his lockstep alliance with the president. According to New York Times reports last year, the two men speak “on the phone every week” or “almost every day”. Murdoch’s conservative Fox News has been a powerful cheerleader for Trump, who has frequently returned the compliment, urging his supporters to watch it.

The White House confirmed last month that Trump had spoken with Murdoch, 86, to congratulate him on the proposed sale of a significant chunk of 21st Century Fox to Disney for .4bn. According to Vanity Fair magazine, Trump spoke with Murdoch before the deal “to make sure Murdoch wasn’t selling Fox News”.

Trump has opposed AT&T’s attempted takeover of Time Warner, which owns CNN, the network often branded “fake news” by the president. The justice department has filed a lawsuit to block the bn deal.

Wolff, a media columnist, is the author of the Murdoch biography The Man Who Owns the News. His new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, published next week, offers an insight into the close ties between the Trump and Murdoch empires.

Wolff also describes a dinner where John Bolton, a favourite of the then Fox News chief executive, Roger Ailes, was touted for the job of national security adviser. Ailes is quoted as saying: “He’s a bomb thrower. And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? [The eventual appointee Michael] Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. [The eventual secretary of state Rex] Tillerson just knows oil.”

Steve Bannon, head of Trump’s election campaign and about to become his chief strategist, reportedly provided a bizarre objection based on facial hair: “Bolton’s mustache is a problem. Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”

Ailes died last May, aged 77. The book suggests there was anger that Trump failed to call Ailes’s widow, Beth. Sean Hannity, a pro-Trump host on Fox News, is quoted as asking: “What the fuck is wrong with him?”

Earlier on Wednesday the Guardian, which obtained Fire and Fury from a bookseller in New England, reported that Bannon told Wolff Donald Trump Jr’s June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians at Trump Tower was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”. Bannon also reportedly predicted of the Russia investigation: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

The book describes a poisonous atmosphere at the White House, with bitter infighting between factions. Wolff, who previously conducted interviews with Trump in June 2016 and Steve Bannon in November 2016 that were published in the Hollywood Reporter, gained unique access to the West Wing.

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Federal Judge Reverses Trump Asylum Policy Due To Government Failing To Abide By Administrative Procedure Act

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(Law & Crime) — A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening overturned the Trump Administration’s second and most restrictive asylum policy, all because the government failed to abide by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the judge reasoned.

In a 52-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly of Washington, D.C. held that in enacting the rule, which required immigrants to seek asylum in any country they passed through before they could claim asylum in the U.S., the Trump administration “unlawfully dispensed” with mandatory procedural requirements allowing the public to weigh in on proposed rule changes.

Kelly, who was appointed to the court in 2017, rejected the Trump administration’s assertion that the asylum rule fell within exceptions to the APA permitting the government to disregard the notice-and-comment requirement if there’s “good cause” such commentary is unnecessary or if the rule involves a military or foreign affairs function.

“[The court] also holds that Defendants unlawfully promulgated the rule without complying with the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, because neither the ‘good cause’ nor the ‘foreign affairs function’ exceptions are satisfied on the record here,” Kelly wrote. “Despite their potentially broad sweep, the D.C. Circuit has instructed that these exceptions must be ‘narrowly construed’ and ‘reluctantly countenanced.’ The Circuit has also emphasized that the broader a rule’s reach, ‘the greater the necessity for public comment.’ With these baseline principles in mind, the Court considers whether either the good cause or foreign affairs function exception applies here. Neither does.”

According to Kelly, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally allows any person physically in the U.S. seeking refuge to apply for asylum — with some exceptions for immigrants who have committed certain crimes or who had previously been “firmly resettled” prior to arriving in the U.S.

“The Court reiterates that there are many circumstances in which courts appropriately defer to the national security judgments of the Executive. But determining the scope of an APA exception is not one of them,” Kelly wrote. “As noted above, if engaging in notice-and-comment rulemaking before implementing the rule would have harmed ongoing international negotiations, Defendants could have argued that these effects gave them good cause to forgo these procedures. And they could have provided an adequate factual record to support those predictive judgments to which the Court could defer. But they did not do so.”

Claudia Cubas, the Litigation Director at CAIR Coalition, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, praised the decision as removing an “unjust barrier to protection” for those in need.

“By striking down this rule, Judge Kelly reaffirmed two fundamental principles. The protection of asylum seekers fleeing for safety is intertwined with our national values and that the United States is a country where the rule of law cannot be tossed aside for political whims,” Cubas said.

Read the full opinion below:

Asylum Ban Decision by Law&Crime on Scribd

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US Supreme Court Rules Public Funds Allowed For Religious Schools In State Tax Credit Program

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USA Today writes:

The Supreme Court delivered a major victory Tuesday to parents seeking state aid for their children’s religious school education. The court’s conservative majority ruled that states offering scholarships to students in private schools cannot exclude religious schools from such programs.

The decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has joined the liberal justices in three other major rulings this month. It was a decision long sought by proponents of school choice and vehemently opposed by teachers’ unions, who fear it could drain needed tax dollars from struggling public schools.

Read the US Supreme Court ruling here or below.

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U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Restrictive Louisiana Abortion Law

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday defended abortion rights by striking down a Louisiana law placing restrictions on doctors who perform the procedure, dealing a blow to anti-abortion advocates.

The 5-4 ruling, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberals justices in the majority, represented a major victory for Shreveport-based abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women in its challenge to the 2014 law. The measure had required doctors who perform abortions to have a sometimes difficult-to-obtain formal affiliation called “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the clinic.

Anti-abortion advocates had hoped that the Supreme Court, with its 5-4 conservative majority, would be willing to permit abortion restrictions like those being pursued by Louisiana and other conservative states.

The decision, authored by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, marked the second time in four years that the court ruled against an “admitting privileges” requirement.

In 2016, the court struck down a Republican-backed Texas law that mandated admitting privileges and required clinics to have costly hospital-grade facilities, finding that the restrictions represented an impermissible “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.

Several other cases involving legal challenges to abortion restrictions in other states are heading toward the justices that could provide other avenues for its conservative majority to roll back access to the procedure.

Two of Louisiana’s three clinics that perform abortions would have been forced to close if the law went into effect, according to lawyers for Hope Medical Group.

Read the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling here or below.

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