Trump directs Army Corps of Engineers to find money to help fund border wall: Sources

Political News Trump directs Army Corps of Engineers to find money to help fund border wall: Sources

Official White House Photos by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to find money is its own budget that could be used to fund the president’s desired border wall under a national emergency declaration, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The White House has specifically asked the Army Corps of Engineers to examine what funds could be redirected to the border wall from a $13.9 billion February 2018 emergency supplemental that was designed to fund more than 50 disaster relief projects, including in California, Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, among other states, according to a congressional aide with knowledge of the matter.

One U.S. official said the money could be used to build as much as 315 miles of border wall under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment.

President Donald Trump toured a portion of the southern border and visited with border patrol agents and local leaders in Texas on Thursday as he continued to make his case for a wall along the southern border to stop illegal immigration.

His trip came on the Day 20 of a partial government shutdown triggered by the president’s demand that Congress pay $5.7 billion for a border wall, which Democrats refuse to do.

During a roundtable discussion at the border patrol station in McAllen, the president again contended – falsely – that he never said Mexico was going to provide a direct payment for a border wall and attempted to gloss over his past comments to the contrary by arguing he simply intended for the wall to be paid for through the revised NAFTA agreement.

“When I say Mexico is going to pay for the wall, that’s what I said, I didn’t say they are going to write me a check,” Trump said. “I didn’t mean please write me a check, I mean very simply, they are paying for it in the trade deal.”

The president again blasted Democrats, claiming falsely that “Democrats will not fund border security plain and simple” and said their position of “no barrier, no wall is indefensible.”

Asked how long he thought the shutdown could continue, the president wouldn’t offer a prediction but continued to dangle the possibility that he may declare a national emergency as a way to circumvent Congress.

As he left Thursday morning to head to the border, Trump said he “probably … I would almost say definitely” declare a national emergency to get funding for a border wall if he can’t reach a deal with congressional Democrats. “I would say 100 percent,” the president continued. “I don’t want to say 100 percent because maybe something else comes up.”

While the president continues to say he’d rather make a deal with Congress, he again lashed out at Democrats over the current impasse, denied that he pounded on the Situation Room table and said he didn’t “rant or rave” at the latest round of White House talks Wednesday before walking out. “I didn’t raise my voice. That was a lie,” Trump said.

“I don’t have temper tantrums,” the president said, pushing back on how Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had characterized how Trump had acted when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had again told him “no” when he asked whether Democrats would agree to wall funding if he re-opened the government.

Pelosi challenged Trump’s desire to not only build a border wall but to end the partial government shutdown.

“I don’t even know if the president wants the wall,” Pelosi, D-Calif., doubted during a news conference at the Capitol. “I think he just wants just wants the debate on the wall.”

Pelosi recapped her version of the “soap opera” atmosphere of negotiations with the White House, dubbing Trump as “unpresidential” in a meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday afternoon when he walked out in protest of Democratic objections to building a border wall.

Pelosi suggested Trump lied when he recounted his version of that exit to reporters, claiming that Democratic objections to “border security” more broadly prompted his premature departure.

“He knows, the people in the room know, that that is not what happened,” Pelosi said. “What he said, ‘In 30 days will you support a wall?’ And I said ‘no.’ He went out and said something completely different because he knows we all support border security and that there’s a better way to do it.”

The president also said China was more “honorable” in negotiations than the Democrats.

“We’re negotiating and having tremendous success with China, and I find China, frankly, in many ways, to be far more honorable than Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy. China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party,” Trump said.

Pelosi cracked the door open to cutting a deal through comprehensive immigration reform, even before the government reopens, but pointed to the president’s obsession with the border wall as an obstacle to negotiations on a broader agreement.

“We haven’t had that discussion. What we’re talking about now is just the president’s insistence on a wall,” Pelosi said. “We need to have comprehensive immigration reform.”

Nevertheless, Pelosi said her aides have continued exploring options at the staff level with the White House, but charged the administration keeps changing its position.

“We have been having conversations. We don’t want to be a backdrop for the president to stomp the table and get up and walk out,” Pelosi said. “Our staff all weekend – Saturday, Sunday, have been engaged in these conversations.”

“The president just keeps upping the ante,” Pelosi continued. “In fact, I said to him you’re moving the goal post so many times, they are out of the stadium.”

Pelosi said Democrats have offered to fund all the border security elements from the administration’s budgetary request for Homeland Security – excluding the wall.

“Don’t think of this as normal, because as I say the goalposts keep getting moved,” she said. “But what we did give the president, the White House, is exactly what the Homeland Security department asked for in the budget. But they’ve moved the goalposts.”

Also on Thursday, the president tweeted that he had canceled his trip to Davos, Switzerland, 11 days ahead, for the World Economic forum, blaming the shutdown — and Democrats.

The White House has said the president’s trip to Texas, part of his PR blitz for a border wall, was designed to allow him to meet with those individuals who are “on the front lines” of what they have called a “national security and humanitarian crisis.”

He also made his way to the Rio Grande, the winding river separating the U.S. and Mexico.

Whether the president has the legal authority to build a wall by declaring a national emergency — in which he would circumvent Congress to get military funding for the project — was under review by White House lawyers, but Trump said he had the power to do so.

“The lawyers have so advised me,” Trump said. “I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will. I have no doubt about it, I will. I have the absolute right to declare,” Trump said. Later, he added he has a “tremendous” amount of funds available if he chooses that route.

Pelosi refused to tip her hand regarding how the House may react if Trump declares a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval, but she expressed doubt that congressional Republicans would be satisfied if the president took executive action to circumvent Congress.

“If and when the president does that, you will find out how we will react. But I’m not going to that place now. But I think the president will have problems on his own side of the aisle for exploiting the situation in a way that enhances his power. But not to go there. Let’s see what he does,” she said. “Right now there’s a path. Open up government. Let’s have this discussion on where we can agree on the best ways to protect our borders, to secure our borders, to do so in a way that honors our values.”

Should the president go forward with the move, it would almost certainly be challenged in court.

“I don’t think he really wants a solution,” Pelosi stressed. “I think he loves the distraction that this is from his other problems and that’s most unfortunate. It’s a luxury our country can’t afford under any circumstance. It’s certainly a luxury we can’t afford when he has shut down government, takes pride in it, and says months or years. That’s not the action of a responsible president of the United States.”

The White House has struggled to make the case that there is, in fact, a crisis at the border, with the number of illegal apprehensions trending downward over the last two decades. But the administration points to an uptick of illegal border crossing apprehensions in recent months as evidence.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Senate negotiations fall apart as shutdown deadlock continues

Political News Senate negotiations fall apart as shutdown deadlock continues

lucky-photographer/iStock(WASHINGTON) — On Thursday, Day 20 of the government shutdown and one day after an explosive White House meeting, senators headed home exasperated after a last-ditch effort to strike a deal to re-open the government fell apart.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham – who had been trying to negotiate with a handful of fellow Republicans on some kind of solution that addressed a Democratic demand to extend DACA, the Obama-era program that protects children brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents, simply threw in the towel.

“I see no way forward. I was hopeful last night. Not hopeful today,” Graham, a top Trump ally, said. “I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don’t see a pathway forward. Somebody’s gotta like, get some energy to fix this.”

Just Wednesday, Graham appeared hopeful that he could get Democrats on board with giving the president money for his border wall if he could secure continued protections for DACA recipients.

But after meeting with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence Thursday morning, it became clear his plan to woo Democrats was going nowhere.

In a pen and pad session with reporters on Capitol Hill, Pence said Trump’s preference is to allow the Supreme Court to rule whether President Donald Trump’s order in September 2017 to rescind DACA was constitutional before addressing the legal status of recipients, suggesting – until Trump says otherwise – that they want to keep this debate focused on border security.

“We feel confident that the Supreme Court will find DACA to be unconstitutional,” Pence said.

Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican, when asked by ABC if the shutdown is heading into next week, replied, “Unfortunately, yes.”

“Unfortunately, this is a binary issue that those two individuals have to come to an agreement on,” Rounds said, referring to Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“There should never be a government shutdown. It should be off limits in our discussion,” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said. “I’ve recommended that we find provisions for border security that we voted for before and enact them, and re-open the government.”

Earlier Thursday, Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, attempted to ask for unanimous consent to hold votes that would re-open the government.

The Democrats wanted votes on measures passed in the House last week.

McConnell rejected the effort immediately, calling it “pointless, absolutely pointless.”

As he left Thursday morning to head to the border, Trump said he “probably … I would almost say definitely” declare a national emergency to get funding for a border wall if he can’t reach a deal with congressional Democrats.

“I would say 100 percent,” the president continued. “I don’t want to say 100 percent because maybe something else comes up.”

Should the president go forward with the move, it would almost certainly be challenged in court and some congressional Republicans strongly oppose the president using his executive power to secure border funding.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if this bears fruits statutorily. I’m a pretty hawkish guy on powers of the commander in chief,” Graham said.

Late Thursday, the Senate passed a measure that would guarantee back-pay for federal employees affected by the government shutdown.

“I had an opportunity to talk to President Trump a moment ago and wanted to indicate to our colleagues that he will sign the bill that we’ve been discussing here to guarantee that government workers displaced as a result of the shut down will ultimately be compensated,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs found alive after she was kidnapped, parents murdered

U.S. NEWS Missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs found alive after she was kidnapped, parents murdered

Barron County Sheriff’s Office(BARRON, Wisc.) — Missing 13-year-old Jayme Closs, who was kidnapped after her parents were found murdered in their Wisconsin home, has been found alive, police say.

Jayme was located in Douglas County, Wisconsin, officials said.

A suspect has been taken into custody, the Barron County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. Police did not release any other details about the arrest or how Jayme was located.

Authorities have scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. on Friday to discuss the case.

“We want to thank the Douglas Co Sheriff’s Department and agencies assisting them tonight. We also want to thank all the Law Enforcement agencies across the state and county that have assisted us in this case. We also could not have endured this case without the support of the public and I want to thank them for all the support and help,” police said in a statement

Investigators believe Jayme was abducted Oct. 15 before dawn after her parents, James and Denise Closs, aged 56 and 46, were gunned down in their home in Barron.

Police responded to the house after a strange 911 call just before 1 a.m. local time when someone called 911 from Denise Closs’ cellphone, and the 911 dispatcher heard “a lot of yelling,” according to records from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department obtained by ABC News. The dispatcher called the number back but was unable to leave a voicemail.

More attempts were made, but the phone went unanswered. Authorities also tried calling the home’s landline but it was disconnected, records show.

When authorities responded to the home minutes later, they found the front door kicked in and the couple had been shot to death.

Jayme was believed to be home when they were killed but had been abducted by the time authorities arrived.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Mnuchin defends plan to ease sanctions on Russian oligarch’s companies before Congress

Political News Mnuchin defends plan to ease sanctions on Russian oligarch's companies before Congress

dkfielding/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon to defend the Treasury Department’s plans to lift sanctions on companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, pushing back on Democrats’ suggestions that the administration is going easy on Russia.

“This administration has been tougher on Russia and done more Russia sanctions than before. We will continue to do that,” he said to reporters after the appearance.

Seven top House Democrats, newly-installed as committee chairs, wrote to Mnuchin earlier this week demanding his appearance on the Hill to answer questions about the move.

The briefing, panned by Democrats, was one of the first administration responses to a major oversight request from the House Democratic majority, who are planning to conduct oversight of the Trump administration and lead investigations on a variety of fronts, from the administration’s foreign and immigration policy, to the president’s potential conflicts-of-interest.

“This was — stiff competition, mind you — one of the worst classified briefings we’ve received from the Trump administration,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. “The secretary barely testified, he answered some questions but he didn’t give testimony. They had an intelligence briefing which I wont go into, and then they read a document which was unclassified, wasting the time of members of Congress.”

Mnuchin pushed back on that characterization, saying he answered more than half of the questions and deferred to the department’s technical efforts who accompanied him to the briefing. He also said he would give Congress an “appropriate amount of time to review” the potential easing of sanctions, leaving the door open to delaying the move.

In December, the Department of the Treasury announced plans to lift sanctions placed on several of Deripaska’s energy and aluminum companies after the Russian oligarch agreed to give up some control over the companies. The sanctions, placed in April 2018, were in response to accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Deripaska, a close friend of Putin, who has made billions off of his work, remains personally under sanction.

Deripaska hired Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, for investment services long before Manafort joined the Trump campaign, according to court documents.

The announcement that sanctions would be dropped drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers who said lifting the sanctions would send the wrong message to Russia, and who have argued that Deripaska is still maintaining significant sway in the companies.

Mnuchin defended the move in a statement Thursday.

“These entities are undergoing significant restructuring and governance changes that sever Deripaska’s control and significantly diminish his ownership,” he said of EN+, Rusal and ESE, some of the companies linked to Deripaska. “They have committed to provide Treasury with an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control. As a result, these entities will no longer be designated for sanctions.”

“Treasury will be vigilant in ensuring that En+ and Rusal meet these commitments. If these companies fail to comply with the terms, they will face very real and swift consequences, including the reimposition of sanctions.”

The sanctions are set to be lifted on Jan. 19 unless the decision is blocked by Congress, a move that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer laid the groundwork for last week in a filed resolution. Both the House and Senate are reviewing the administration’s decision before deciding on whether to push forward with disapproving the lift.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, also said he was disappointed with the briefing.

“During today’s briefing with Secretary Mnuchin, I pressed the secretary on deep concerns I have about the potential for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and other Kremlin allies, to exercise continuing influence and control over the sanctioned companies,” he said in a statement. “His testimony and that of the other briefers did not resolve those concerns.”

“Deripaska was sanctioned for his role in Russia’s malign activities and I have yet to see how this deal advances the objective of deterring further malevolent conduct. It will be incumbent upon Congress to maintain pressure on the Treasury to explain its reversal of course and why Deripaska or his companies are suddenly deserving of this relief.”

Thursday’s meeting won’t be the last time Democrats expect to deal with Mnuchin this year.

Later this year Democrats are expected to request the president’s tax returns from the IRS and Treasury, and anticipate that Mnuchin could resist their request and prompt a legal challenge.

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Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Trump denies knowledge of Manafort’s alleged contact with suspected ex-Russian agent

Political News Trump denies knowledge of Manafort’s alleged contact with suspected ex-Russian agent

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed he had no knowledge that Paul Manafort, his onetime campaign chairman, allegedly shared internal 2016 Trump campaign polling data with a suspected former Russian intelligence officer.

When asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, “Did you know Paul Manafort was sharing polling data from your campaign with the Russians? Trump responded, “No. I didn’t know anything about that.”

News of Manafort’s coordination with the Russian, Konstantin Kilimnik, came to light by mistake on Tuesday when his defense team failed to properly redact portions of a court document meant to defend their client from accusations he lied to investigators.

Legal experts told ABC News this week that sharing campaign polling data with a foreign person is not a crime, but could be an important piece to the puzzle concerning possible Trump campaign coordination with Russians during the 2016 campaign – a subject being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

Manafort already faces lengthy prison sentences for charges brought by Mueller’s office in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

A jury convicted Manafort on eight counts of tax and bank-fraud in August during his trial in Alexandria, Virginia. On the eve of a second trial in Washington, D.C., the next month Manafort struck a plea deal with prosecutors. he agreed to fully cooperate with prosecutors and plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy in a separate case in Washington, D.C.

But that plea deal fell apart after prosecutors accused him of lying.

Manafort’s sentencing in Virginia is scheduled for February 8 and in Washington, D.C., on March 5, but the president hasn’t ruled out a pardon for his former campaign chairman.

Trump, asked by the New York Post in November whether he was considering a pardon Manafort, said that he “wouldn’t take it off the table.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Norovirus outbreak on Royal Caribbean cruise ship sickens more than 270 passengers

WORLD NEWS Norovirus outbreak on Royal Caribbean cruise ship sickens more than 270 passengers

Aitormmfoto/iStock(NEW YORK) — The Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship is cutting its journey short after 277 passengers and crew members have been infected with a norovirus, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced Thursday.

“We think the right thing to do is to get everyone home early rather than have guests worry about their health” the cruise line said in a statement, adding that returning early “also gives us more time to completely clean and sanitize the ship before her next sailing.”

Guest and crew members began getting sick when the ship departed the Port Canaveral in Florida on Jan. 6. The ship, originally scheduled for a 7-night cruise, made its first stop in Haiti Tuesday where the ship hosted a lunch buffet on land, said Abby Perrin, a passenger on the ship told ABC News. That night, Perrin said she and her mother began experiencing symptoms associated with food poisoning, like vomiting.

The next day, the ship arrived to Jamaica, but passengers said they weren’t allowed to leave the vessel.

Thursday morning, the ship headed for its next scheduled destination in Cozumel, Mexico, but officials canceled the cruise enroute. Now it is on its way back to Florida.

“It was pretty upsetting that we weren’t able to get into Jamaica at all,” Perrin said. “Then we were supposed to be in Mexico tomorrow, which we were really excited about, and it turns out we’re going back to Florida instead.”

About 3 percent of people aboard the ship are affected by the norovirus, according to the cruise company.

Alan Thomas is currently aboard the ship with his spouse and two friends.

“People are still getting sick,” he told ABC News. “At a cafe next to Guest Services last night, there was a kid vomiting in the trash can.”

Thomas shared a video on Twitter of crew members cleaning the ship. He told ABC News that crew members are not allowing guests to serve themselves food or drinks.

Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. A person can become infected through having direct contact with another infected person, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching their nose and mouth after touching contaminated surfaces, according to the CDC.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., according to CDC.

It is not yet known what caused the outbreak, but most instances of norovirus occur in food service settings like restaurants, according to the CDC.

The Royal Caribbean advertises the Oasis of the Seas as one of the world’s largest ships.

In 2017, about 220 passengers aboard a five-night Royal Caribbean cruise suffered from a gastro-intestinal illness.

All of the current Oasis of the Seas passengers will receive a full refund, Royal Caribbean Cruises said in the statement.

“Our guests sail with us to have great vacations, and we are sorry this cruise fell short,” the statement reads.

The cruise company said the ship is scheduled to return to Florida on Saturday.

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Posted On 10 Jan 2019

‘The Punisher’ gets bloody — again — in Netflix’s final trailer for season two

Entertainment News  'The Punisher' gets bloody -- again -- in Netflix's final trailer for season two


Netflix(NEW YORK) — With eight days until its release on Netflix, the final trailer for the second season of The Punisher has arrived.

Set to Alice in Chains’ grunge classic “Would?,” the snippet shows Jon Bernthal’s Marvel alter-ego Frank Castle trying to keep a low profile — until duty calls. 

Castle comes to the aid of a young woman who’s been targeted by a group of men for reasons unknown. The Punisher’s reaction is characteristically bloody, and he’s the only one left standing.

“It’s almost like you were happy for the excuse,” Giorgia Whigham, who plays the woman, remarks to Castle.

The trailer also shows more of Ben Barnes’ character Billy Russo/Jigsaw, Castle’s former friend-turned nemesis.  It hints that he’s raised an “army” of baddies who wear masks like him.  But in his case, he’s wearing one to hid the scars Castle gave him at the end of season one.

“He thinks he has the right to judge me?” Jigsaw says as Castle is shown being captured. “I want him to feel what I felt.”

The Punisher season two premieres January 18 on Netflix.

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Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Despite damage, Joshua Tree National Park stays open and will increase access during government shutdown

U.S. NEWS Despite damage, Joshua Tree National Park stays open and will increase access during government shutdown

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Officials at Joshua Tree National Park say some of the iconic trees and landscape have been damaged by visitors and motorists during the government shutdown.

Earlier in the week the park said it would have to close to address “sanitation, safety, and resource issues” but said Thursday that they were able to avoid closing and restore access to campgrounds and other areas that were previously closed.

Because of the National Park Service’s decision to tap into previously collected fees to restore services like trash pickup and maintenance, Joshua Tree National Park stayed open and even re-opened some more areas Thursday.

National Parks Traveler, an independent news site about national parks, reported that Joshua trees were cut down to make new roads and there were a dozen instances of high vehicle traffic off roads.

“While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days that have precipitated the closure. Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol the park and enforce the closure until park staff complete the necessary cleanup and park protection measures,” park officials said in the release.

The National Park Service recently announced that parks could bring back some staff and provide more services,such as trash pickup, using money collected from fees in many parks.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt wrote in a memo the park service could use all the funds collected from fees to maintain services during the shutdown, which could leave even less money for maintenance projects in the parks going forward.

Open-air national parks stayed open during the shutdown but with more limited staff than usual. Park rangers still enforced rules within the parks but ABC News reporters witnessed people allowing their dogs off leash and walking in protected areas last week.

Some campgrounds in Joshua Tree and other parks closed last week citing health concerns after toilets could not be serviced.

Visitors to multiple parks reported that trash was piling up and restrooms were not being serviced, despite volunteers efforts to keep the area clean.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Trump claims he ‘never said’ Mexico would pay for wall with a check

Political News Trump claims he 'never said' Mexico would pay for wall with a check

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that while he repeatedly said during his campaign and after gaining the White House that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall, he “never meant they’re going to write out a check.”

But in 2016, his campaign’s plan for financing the wall called for a one-time payment from Mexico … basically, a check.

In a two-page memo posted on its website , the Trump campaign outlined how he and his administration would compel Mexico to pay for the wall: rewrite financial laws so that “no alien may wire money outside of the United States unless the alien first provides a document establishing his lawful presence in the United States,” preventing Mexico from collecting approximately $24 billion in remittances, or ask Mexico to make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion for the wall.

Trump responded to what he called “fake news” reports questioning his claim that Mexico would pay for the wall as he left the White House Thursday on his way to McAllen, Texas, to highlight his push for a border wall amid a now 20-day government shutdown.

“When — during the campaign, I would say, “Mexico is going to pay for it,” obviously, I never said this and I never meant they’re going to write out a check. I said, “They’re going to pay for it.” They are,” Trump said, going on to repeat his repeatedly debunked claim that Mexico would pay for the wall through the newly-revised NAFTA trade deal, now known as the USMCA agreement, still unapproved by Congress.

“They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made, called the United States, Mexico, and Canada USMCA deal. It’s a trade deal. It has to be approved by Congress. It probably will be, other than maybe they even hold that up because they want to have — you know, they want to do as much harm as they can, only because of the 2020 presidential election,” he said.

“So, Mexico is paying for the wall indirectly. And when I said Mexico will pay for the wall, in front of thousands and thousands of people, obviously they’re not going to write a check. But they are paying for the wall indirectly, many, many times over, by the really great trade deal we just made,” the president said.

During the 2016 campaign, President Barack Obama called the idea “half-baked.”

“The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico – good luck with that,” Obama said.

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Posted On 10 Jan 2019

Meningitis warning follows man’s death days after Facebook video at police station

WABC-TV(PATERSON, N.J.) — The death of a man who broadcast his final conscious moments on Facebook Live from a Paterson, New Jersey, police station has triggered a warning from health officials for anyone who came in contact with him to get examined immediately for bacterial meningitis.

Jameek Lowery, 27, died on Monday at a hospital, two days after he walked into the lobby of the Paterson Police Department headquarters and said in his Facebook Live broadcast that police officers were going to kill him. He had earlier called 911 to say he was high on the drug ecstasy, according to the Passaic County Prosecutor, whose office is investigating his death.

Lowery’s death has sparked protests in Paterson, and Lowery’s family attended a city council meeting Tuesday to demand answers.

Dr. Paul Persaud, director of the Paterson Health Department, told ABC News on Thursday that tests are underway to determine if Lowery had contracted Neisseria meningitis, a potentially deadly illness that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The illness is also called meningococcal meningitis.

“It’s under investigation, but it has not been confirmed,” Persaud said. “But we are providing chemoprophylaxis to those who were in close contact with the gentleman, Mr. Lowery.”

Chemoprophylaxis refers to medicine, including antibiotics, used to prevent disease. Officials have not specified how the suspicion of meningitis came about.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh told ABC News Thursday that he had come in contact with Lowery recently and that he was examined for meningitis late Wednesday night. He said he was treated with antibiotics.

“I met him a week before his death,” Sayegh said. “I was in a restaurant and [Lowery] spotted me from outside. He came in, we hugged, he took a picture, I told him to come and see me at City Hall anytime he liked and that was it.”

“It’s unfortunate,” the mayor said. “I felt badly. I mean, here was a young man I just met, had a favorable impression of, took a liking to him, and now he’s no longer here.”

The New Jersey Department of Health is working with the Paterson Department of Health and Human Services to “identify and notify individuals who had close contact with the suspect case of meningococcal disease since Dec. 29, 2018, the date the person might have first become infectious to others,” New Jersey health officials said in a statement.

Persaud said a number of police officers and emergency medical service workers who had contact with Lowery at the Paterson Police Headquarters have already been examined and treated with antibiotics.

He said it was unclear how many people had been in close contact with Lowery.

“We are in the process of determining that. So, this can take some time to determine,” Persaud said.

He said some people who had contact with Lowery have shown up at St. Joseph’s, a hospital in Paterson, to be examined.

Health officials said symptoms of meningococcal include fever, headaches, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and altered mental status.

The cause of Lowery’s death is under investigation and pending the results of an autopsy, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said in a statement earlier this week.

A preliminary investigation showed that while “police used physical force and compliance holds to secure Mr. Lowery in an ambulance,” hospital records “indicate no acute trauma” was evident on Lowery’s body, according to a statement from Valdes.

Lowery called 911 about 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, saying he had taken ecstasy and was paranoid, Valdes said.

An emergency medical services crew from the Paterson Fire Department responded, according to Valdes, and took Lowery to St. Joseph’s hospital.

“Mr. Lowery left the hospital sometime after becoming erratic at the hospital,” Valdes’s statement reads.

Lowery called 911 again about 3:42 a.m. Saturday, claiming people were trying to kill him in the area of Broadway and Memorial Drive, near Passaic County Community College, according to Valdes.

Three minutes after placing the second 911 call, Lowery walked into the lobby of the Paterson Police Department headquarters and began broadcasting on Facebook Live.

“I need water. I thought I was gonna throw up,” Lowery told three officers standing in the lobby, according to his Facebook Live broadcast.

“Y’all gonna kill me. They’re gonna kill me. Please help me,” he said. “Mom, I’m sorry. They’re gonna do this to me. They’re gonna kill your baby boy. Alright, go ahead and kill me. Please don’t shoot me.”

A police officer told him, “Just relax,” but officers declined his request for water, according to the five-minute Facebook Live broadcast.

When an EMS crew arrived at police headquarters, Lowery’s broadcast ended.

“Paterson Police and Paterson Fire Department records indicate the transportation from headquarters to the hospital took approximately five to 12 minutes,” Valdes said in her statement. “Upon arrival at the hospital, Mr. Lowery was unresponsive.”

The officers filmed in Lowery’s Facebook Live broadcast have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.

“We want facts. I’ve been working on this since Saturday. I’ve canceled appointments on Monday and Tuesday so I can focus on getting not just answers, but accurate answers,” Mayor Sayegh told the crowd at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

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