Donald Trump said his administration is indeed “giving strong considerations” to placing detained migrants in sanctuary cities, citing unwillingness by Democrats to “change our very dangerous immigration laws,” sparking nationwide backlash.
The president’s response to claims the White House had proposed sending detainees to sanctuary cities twice in the last six months came hours after White House officials said the idea had been proposed but ultimately rejected.
Mr Trump doubled-down on the possibility while speaking at the White House, prompting mayors of “sanctuary cities” to dismiss the president’s claims.
During his White House appearance Friday, the president also discussed the nation’s plans for implementing 5G wireless network.
According to the president and the FCC, the US will have the largest number of 5G networks of any country by the end of the year, a race Mr Trump said America “must win”.
In addition to bringing faster data speeds, the wireless industry’s plans to invest millions into 5G networks would create 3m jobs and add “$500bn to our economy,” according to the president.
Also on Friday, reports emerged that the president told the head of Customs and Border Protection that he would pardon him if he were sent to jail for violating immigration law.
Ivanka Trump was also involved in controversy Friday after the president revealed in an interview with The Atlantic that he had considered nominating her for president of the World Bank because she is “very good with numbers”.
Follow events as they happened.
Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.
Donald Trump yesterday moved to distance himself from WikiLeaks following the arrest of the site’s founder, Julian Assange, who now faces extradition to the US after the Ecuadorian embassy in London revoked his asylum, ending a seven-year stay in Knightsbridge.
Speaking at a news conference at the White House alongside South Korean president Moon Jae-in, Trump said: "I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing and I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I've been seeing what's happened with Assange."
Really? According to ABC News, Trump mentioned the site no fewer than 141 times on the road during the 2016 presidential campaign, as this montage amply demonstrates:
White House officials tried to pressure US immigration authorities to release migrants detained at the border into so-called sanctuary cities such as San Francisco to retaliate against President Trump's political adversaries, The Washington Post reports.
The Post, which reviewed emails on the issue and spoke to unnamed officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said the White House proposed the measure at least twice in the past six months. Sanctuary cities are those where local officials decline to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.
A DHS spokesman told Reuters in a statement the plan was "a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion."
Trump administration officials proposed the measure in November as a caravan travelled through Mexico with mostly migrants from Central American countries toward the southern US border. The proposal emerged again in February during a standoff with Democrats over funding the president sought to build a wall on the border, one of the signature issues of his 2016 election campaign and presidency.
The Post said a 16 November 2018 email broached the proposal, asking officials at different agencies whether members of the migrant caravan could be detained at the border, then bused to "small and mid-sized sanctuary cities," where local officials refuse to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco was one of those the White House considered targeting, The Post cited the DHS officials as saying.
Ashley Etienne, a spokeswoman for Pelosi, denounced the administration for its "cynicism and cruelty" over the plan.
"Using human beings including little children as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonise immigrants is despicable, and in some cases, criminal," she said, adding that Americans had "resoundingly rejected this administration's toxic anti-immigrant policies."
During his Q&A with the Washington press corps on Thursday, the president also backed up attorney-general William Barr’s suggestion to the Senate his campaign had been spied upon.
Here he is on the subject:
"There was absolutely spying into my campaign. I'll go a step further: In my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying, and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again. And I think his answer was actually a very accurate one. And a lot of people saw that, and a lot of people understand - many, many people understand the situation and want to be open to that situation. Hard to believe it could have happened, but it did. There was spying in my campaign."
Former FBI director James Comey, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have all come out against the attorney-general over the controversial statement.
Trump also said he is considering a potential third nuclear summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
“We will be discussing that and potential meetings, further meetings with North Korea and Kim Jong-un,” Trump said in the Oval Office alongside the South's President Moon.
A third summit would follow on from Trump’s historic breakthrough last year, when he met Kim in Singapore, and a follow-up this February in Hanoi that ended without progress in getting North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.
Trumps’s suggestion came as North Korea replaced its long-serving nominal head of state with a close aide to leader Kim Jong-un, who was placed on a US sanctions list last year for alleged human rights abuses.
Kim Yong-nam, who held the position for almost 20 years, was replaced by Choe Ryong-hae, who will take over the role of representing Pyongyang at international engagements, the state news agency KCNA said.
Both Trump and Moon are heavily invested in bringing North Korea out of the cold. But the unsuccessful summit in Vietnam was a setback for the two allies that has yet to be resolved.
At the White House, the US president insisted that a peaceful resolution of the North Korea standoff remains within reach and that he continues to place considerable hope in his personal brand of diplomacy.
“I enjoy the summits, I enjoy being with the chairman,” he said.
While one of Trump's controversial nominees to join the board of the Federal Reserve - former Godfather's Pizza and Burger King executive Herman Cain - looks set to miss out on the post due to Republican opposition, the president did get his way on another key appointment yesterday.
Despite the best efforts of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, ex-oil industry lobbyist David Bernhardt was confirmed as the new secretary of the interior by the Senate, placing him in charge of public lands and waterways despite significant conflict of interest concerns.
Here's Clark Mindock's report.
With treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin stalling over the House Ways and Means Committee's demand he turn over Trump's tax returns, the great state of Illinois has a new idea for forcing his hand.
Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would exclude Donald Trump's name from ballot papers in November 2020 if he fails to open his books to the public, according to USA Today.
The state Senate passed legislation on Thursday requiring people running for president or vice-president release five years of their most recent tax returns to the Illinois secretary of state, who would then post them on his office's website.
"If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't worry about anything," said Democratic state Senator Tony Munoz, grinning like a crocodile.
The president has repeatedly insisted he cannot release his returns because he remains under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. This is simply not true. Being under audit does not prevent him from being allowed to do so should he wish to.
Here's Tom Embury-Dennis with more.
President Trump spent his afternoon yesterday in the company of Second World War veterans, joking with three aged over 100: "You don't look a day over 90."
He later invited 101-year-old D-Day combatant Paul Wigfield out for a ride in his presidential plane: "You’ll like Air Force One."
Here's Chris Riotta's report.
One of the president's most-trusted outside advisers on immigration is Fox News host Lou Dobbs.
Yesterday, he tweeted a screenshot of a favourable approval rating from Dobbs's show that later turned out to be wrong.
Fox issued an on-air correction and apologised. Trump left the tweet exactly where it was, apparently non-plussed if it misled his followers.
Popular Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has leapt to the defence of her colleague Ilhan Omar after the conservative tabloid The New York Post ran an inflammatory front page accusing the Muslim politician of trivialising the 9/11 terror attack.
Omar had been attacked online by Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw after a short excerpt of a speech she made to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles on 23 March was circulated, in which she discussed the rise of Islamophobia in the US post-2001.
AOC attacked Crenshaw in no uncertain terms.
Here's Zamira Rahim's report.
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