SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Arguments have concluded in a federal courtroom in California where billions of dollars that would allow President Donald Trump to build his border wall is at stake.
U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. heard arguments in two cases that seek to block the White House from spending money secured for wall construction under Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in February.
California and 19 other states brought one lawsuit; the Sierra Club and a coalition of communities along the border, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, brought the other.
They plaintiffs sought an injunction to block the government from moving forward with its construction plans. The judge said he will make a decision next week.
On Thursday, a federal judge in the nation’s capital will consider a bid by the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent Trump from spending any Defense Department money for a border wall.
Friday’s hearing in the Northern District of California, before Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., came on a motion by two sets of challengers — the coalition of states led by California and the Sierra Club — seeking a preliminary injunction to halt all contracts and construction while Gilliam considers the cases’ merits.
The plaintiffs allege that Trump’s actions violated the constitutional requirement that no money may be spent without an appropriation from Congress, and breached restrictions in the laws that the administration is attempting to use to transfer money that had been set aside mostly for military projects and programs.
The hearing was as notable for a subject that barely came up, Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, as it was for the issues that occupied the lawyers over three hours.
Trump’s declaration is a requirement for tapping an emergency military construction authority to obtain the wall-construction funds. But since the administration has yet do that, even though it’s by far the largest potential source of money, Burnham said “nothing has happened” for the court to consider.
The lawyers challenging the government expressed concern that the administration could at any time take the military construction money for the wall and asked Gilliam to enjoin such a move in advance.
It “concerns me too,” said Gilliam. “Is the government agreeing to forgo” use of that money, he asked Burnham.
Burnham responded that it was still under consideration but promised to “let the court rule” before “anything happens on the ground” involving military funds.
The hearing is the latest chapter in Trump’s quest for a “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border to keep out undocumented migrants. Construction of the wall, which the president has claimed would be financed by Mexico, was a central promise of his campaign. Trump allowed the federal government to shut down for 35 days over the winter because the Democratic-controlled House refused to appropriate the sum he wanted.
Trump authorized additional funding diversions from the Defense and Treasury departments never intended for wall-building. Billions of dollars have already been transferred from each.
All of the funding sources specified by the administration permit repurposing for certain needs, such as “unforeseen” military necessities. Whether wall-building qualifies as one of those needs is the big statutory question in these cases.
Burnham said it was “unforeseen” that Congress would balk at the money Trump requested, thus satisfying the statute’s definition.
The challengers argued that the law says the purpose for moving money — in this case Trump’s border wall — must have been “unforeseen.” It wasn’t, they contend, citing Trump’s constant pleading during the 2016 campaign and beyond.
Similar suits are pending in Texas, as well as D.C., where a Trump appointee, Judge Trevor McFadden, will hear arguments next week.
Gilliam was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Most expect that the matter will make its way to the Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Associated Press and Washington Post)
Trump told CBP head he’d pardon him if he were sent to jail for violating immigration law
During President Donald Trump’s visit to the border at Calexico, California, a week ago, where he told border agents to block asylum seekers from entering the US contrary to US law, the President also told the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, that if he were sent to jail as a result of blocking those migrants from entering the US, the President would grant him a pardon, senior administration officials tell CNN.
Two officials briefed on the exchange say the President told McAleenan, since named the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that he “would pardon him if he ever went to jail for denying US entry to migrants,” as one of the officials paraphrased.
It was not clear if the comment was a joke; the official was not given any further context on the exchange.
The White House referred CNN to the Department of Homeland Security. A DHS spokesman told CNN, “At no time has the President indicated, asked, directed or pressured the Acting Secretary to do anything illegal. Nor would the Acting Secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”
US States Sue To Block Trump Admistration From Diverting State Funds To Build Border Wall
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California and 19 other states that are suing President Donald Trumpover his emergency declaration to build a border wall have requested a court order to stop money from being diverted to fund the project.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Friday that the group took action to prevent $1.6 billion from being siphoned away from fighting drug trafficking and funding military construction projects.
Becerra says it’s important to block the diversion of funds before it happens because it will harder to replace if the money is committed to border wall construction .
The action is part of the states’ lawsuit challenging Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The coalition says the declaration was unconstitutional because it bypasses the role of Congress to authorize funding.
Trump Signs First Veto Of Presidency, Reversing National Emergency Rescission Passed Through Congress
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday issued the first veto of his presidency, rejecting legislation that opposed his declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall along the southern border. The bill blocking Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration had attracted significant Republican support in Congress.
“Today I am vetoing this resolution,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it.” The president called the resolution “dangerous” and “reckless.”
The president was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William P. Barr and Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary. Mr. Barr said that the president’s emergency order was “clearly authorized under the law” and “solidly grounded in law.”
The president’s veto, which was expected, will send the legislation back to Congress, which most likely does not have enough votes for an override, meaning that Mr. Trump’s declaration will remain in effect.
The national emergency declaration is back in effect.
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