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Supreme Court to hear Trump travel ban case, allows part to go into effect

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The US Supreme Court will hear arguments about President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban against foreign nationals from six majority-Muslim countries in their next term. In the meantime, people with no relationship with the US won’t be able to enter.

The case will be heard “during the first session of October Term 2017,” as the government “has not requested that we expedite consideration of the merits to a greater extent,” the court said.

Foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who have a “bona fiderelationship” with the United States ‒ such as a relative or a work or educational opportunity ‒ will still be able to enter the country.

A “bona fiderelationship” would mean “a close familial relationship” to qualify for the exemption, the court said. “As for entities, the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading” the executive order. Such an entity could be an educational institution or a business that is hiring the foreign citizen.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented in part, noting that he would grant the government’s request in its entirety and objecting to the court “keeping the injunctions in place with regard to an unidentified, unnamed group of foreign nationals abroad.”

The compromise will invite “a flood of litigation until this case is finally resolved on the merits,” Thomas wrote. His dissent was joined by two of his fellow conservatives on the bench, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump earlier this year.

The justices will hear arguments about the second iteration of Trump’s travel ban, which was issued in early March, after the first, harsher version was put on hold by multiple courts. The second executive order, which Trump has complained was “watered down,” was set to go into effect on March 16 for a 90-day review period, but was halted before that could happen.

In mid-June, the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals upheld the majority of an injunction issued by US District Court Judge Derrick Watson in March. His injunction blocked the Trump administration from enforcing two sections of their revised travel ban. However, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit later concluded that the injunction was too broad.

The court granted the government’s application to stay the lower courts’ injunctions that prevent enforcement “with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

“We leave the injunctions entered by the lower courts in place with respect to respondents and those similarly situated, as specified in this opinion,” the court wrote.

The 9th circuit’s decision to stay the suspension of refugee admissions was also partly overturned, and narrowed to apply only to those who have a “bona fide relationship” to an American individual or entity.

“But when it comes to refugees who lack any such connection to the United States, for the reasons we have set out, the balance tips in favor of the Government’s compelling need to provide for the Nation’s security,” the court said.

Trump called the Supreme Court’s announcement a “clear victory for national security.”

“Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland,” the president said in a statement. “I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0.”

Two days after the 9th Circuit upheld much of the injunction, Trump had issued a memo to his secretary of state, attorney general, secretary of homeland security and director of national intelligence, instructing their agencies to begin internal vetting reviews and to activate the travel and refugee bans 72 hours after the injunctions are lifted.

America

Trump prepared to meet Kim again: Pompeo

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Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said President Donald Trump was prepared to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un again.

“President Trump very much is prepared to meet with Chairman Kim at the right time, and we hope that’ll happen in the not-too-distant future,” the top US diplomat told NBC on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The White House revealed over a week ago that it has been coordinating a possible second summit between Trump and Kim after Pyongyang sent a letter to Washington in early September requesting another top-level meeting following the first one in June in Singapore.

“We have to build it out, we have to set up the logistics, we’ve got to set the right conditions,” said Pompeo.

Tension on the Korean Peninsula has been further eased as South Korean President Moon Jae-in paid a historic trip to Pyongyang last week, bonding closer ties with Kim and signing the Pyongyang Declaration on further steps towards the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearization.

Welcoming the positive steps on inter-Korean relations, Pompeo announced earlier that he has invited his North Korean counterpart to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in the following week.

However, differences remain in current North Korea-US talks, including the scale of denuclearization, US sanctions, and whether to issue a war-ending declaration.

The US State Department said on Thursday the denuclearization of Pyongyang has to come first before the US side gives any corresponding reciprocal measures.

The US so far has largely ignored North Korea’s request in the Pyongyang Declaration for “corresponding measures” as the precondition for its further actions on the denuclearization, such as the permanent destruction of its main Yongbyon nuclear facility.

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Trump announces White House counsel to quit in fall

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Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday on Twitter that White House counsel Don McGahn, who has played a key role in defending the President in the Russia probe, will leave his post in the fall.

McGahn, who began serving as White House counsel in January 2017, was questioned several times by the special prosecutor heading the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller, and his testimony could be key for determining if Trump tried to obstruct that investigation, Efe reported.

“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!” tweeted Trump.

Although it had nothing to do with McGahn’s departure, Trump took advantage of the occasion to mention in his tweet the process of confirming Kavanaugh, his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat, who must receive the approval of the Senate.

Trump’s announcement comes a few hours after the Axios Web site, citing White House officials and sources close to McGahn, reported that the White House counsel was intending to leave his post as the administration’s top legal adviser sometime this autumn.

According to Axios, McGahn wants his successor to be veteran attorney Emmet T. Flood, who was one of the lawyers who represented former President Bill Clinton during his 1998 impeachment in Congress after lying to lawmakers about his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.

Trump hired Flood last May with the aim of making his legal strategy more “aggressive” in responding to the Mueller investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign’s potential connections with the Kremlin.

Since May 2017, May has been investigating the scope of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 vote and whether there was any kind of coordination between Moscow and members of the Trump campaign.

According to The New York Times earlier this month, McGahn has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation and during the past nine months has been questioned by the special counsel’s team three times.

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Trump once again compares Russia probe to McCarthyism

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Washington, Aug 20 (IANS) President Donald Trump on Sunday once again, as he has regularly done, compared the Russia probe investigation to McCarthyism, the anti-communist campaign pursued by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!” said Trump on Twitter.

This kind of comparison has become a staple of Trump’s tweets, in which he regularly refers to the probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as McCarthyism and a “witch hunt,” Efe reported.

Since May 2017, Mueller has been tasked with heading an independent investigation of possible links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin.

US media reported Saturday that Mueller’s team of prosecutors have proposed up to six months in prison for George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to Trump, for having lied to the FBI during questioning of him for the Russia probe.

Papadopoulos is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 7.

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