July 25, 2021

Trump fires acting attorney general who said travel ban was not lawful – live

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The office of White House press secretary Sean Spicer has issued a statement saying that Sally Yates has been “relieved … of her duties” as acting attorney general...

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Trump fires acting attorney general who said travel ban was not lawful – live” was written by Claire Phipps (now) and Amber Jamieson in New York (earlier), for theguardian.com on Tuesday 31st January 2017 03.29 UTC

In a sign of the turbulent waters in which Trump is swimming, it is unclear if the new acting attorney general can sign national security surveillance requests.

According to the seminal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the central pillar of domestic national security surveillance law, only the attorney general, deputy attorney general or designated assistant attorney general for national security may sign off on surveillance requests submitted to the secret Fisa court.

But the attorney general and deputy attorney general require Senate confirmation. The assistant attorney general for national security’s designation requires approval by the attorney general. (The justice department’s national security division is currently run by an interim appointee.)

Although the new acting attorney general Dana Boente was confirmed by the Senate as a US attorney in Virginia, it is an unsettled question whether his current interim role gives him sufficient powers for the sensitive surveillance requests.

Mike German, an FBI counterterrorism agent and surveillance law expert, said the Boente appointment had created an “unprecedented” situation for surveillance law, but thought that the Fisa court was unlikely to stand in the way of a surveillance request.

“The Fisa court doesn’t have a long history of finding reasons to reject [requests], and if it were to err here, it’d be on the side of authorizing the new acting attorney general to sign the warrants,” German said.

The White House indicated to pool reporters it believes Boente would possess the requisite surveillance authority.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, says news of Yates’ sacking is “chilling”, pointing out that the attorney general’s duty is to the law and the constitution, rather than to the president:

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the house, says Trump fired Yates “to get the answer he wants” on the legality of his travel ban:

Tonight, the acting attorney general was fired for upholding the constitution of the United States. What the Trump administration calls betrayal is an American with the courage to say that the law and the constitution come first.

President Trump’s executive order violates the constitution, dishonors our values, and weakens the security of the United States. National security experts are warning that the president’s ban will make it harder, not easier to defeat terror.

Earlier tonight, House Republicans blocked Democrats’ emergency bill to rescind this dangerous and unconstitutional executive order. Now, President Trump has fired the acting attorney general to get the answer he wants.

Republicans will have to decide whether they will be complicit in the President’s reckless, wrathful and unconstitutional agenda.

Some support for Trump from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who labels Yates “insubordinate” for her judgment that the president’s executive order was not lawful:


Sally Yates found out she had been fired via “a hand-delivered letter from the White House’s office of personnel”, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Dana Boente has already been sworn in as acting attorney general, the White House confirms, at 9pm ET.

The White House said he is now authorised to sign foreign surveillance warrants (Yates was previously the only person who could do so).

Boente would not have been the automatic next-in-line to Yates, some have pointed out:


Political reaction to Trump’s sacking of Sally Yates is coming in:

(In 1973, in the so-called “Saturday night massacre”, Richard Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general over their refusal to oust the Watergate prosecutor.)


Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post says Dana Boente, the new acting attorney general, has already confirmed to him that he will reverse Yates’ position and tell justice department lawyers to defend the travel ban:

Yates fired: full text of White House statement

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.

“I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected,” said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.

The new acting attorney general – until Trump’s nominee, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed – will be Dana Boente, US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, the White House says.

Sally Yates fired

The office of White House press secretary Sean Spicer has issued a statement saying that Sally Yates has been “relieved … of her duties” as acting attorney general:


Donald Trump might still be plugging away on Twitter now he’s in office, but at least one of his appointees with similarly eyebrow-raising tweet tendencies now appears to have gone offline.

General Michael Flynn, national security adviser to the president and formerly tweeting at @GenFlynn, seems to have deleted his account.

CNN has a roundup of Flynn’s more controversial tweets, including one from February 2016 in which he declared:

Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.

Flynn also had to apologise last year after retweeting an antisemitic comment.


The internal department of homeland security document seen by Reuters has some figures on the numbers of people already directly affected by the travel ban.

Between late Friday and early Monday, it said:

  • 348 visa holders were prevented from boarding US-bound flights.
  • More than 200 people landed in the US but were denied entry.
  • More than 735 people were taken aside for questioning by customs and border protection officers in US airports.
  • 394 of those were legal permanent US residents holding green cards.


China cautiously weighed in on Donald Trump’s controversial ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying “reasonable concerns” must be taken into account.

“China believes that adjusting immigration and entry and exit policy is an act within each country’s sovereignty,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“At the same time, relevant moves must also consider the reasonable concerns of relevant countries.”

The statement didn’t elaborate beyond that vague language.

China often says it is inappropriate for countries to “comment on the internal affairs of others”, in an attempt to deflect frequent criticisms of its own affairs by the US and Europe.

But as China works to take a greater role in global diplomacy, especially in the Middle East, it is having to rethink this long-held stance.

Sudan and Iran are both close allies of China, and were both targeted in the Trump executive order. And while China does not deny entry to entire countries, the government heavily restricts international travel based on ethnicity of its own citizens, particularly Muslim Uighurs and Tibetans.

Democrats have been protesting outside the supreme court on Monday evening against Trump’s travel ban.

(Separately, on Tuesday evening, the president is set to announce his nomination for the vacant seat on the supreme court. Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March last year, an appointment that was blocked by Republicans.)

Tom Perez, one of the contenders for DNC chair, has come out fighting for Sally Yates:

For nearly three decades, acting attorney general Sally Yates has served presidents of both parties, defending the constitution and holding terrorists and other criminals accountable. Acting attorney general Yates’s record is simply beyond reproach – that’s why she was confirmed with strong bi-partisan support.

The fact is that acting attorney general Yates, and every law enforcement official and credible attorney, knows Trump’s Muslim ban is illegal.

The acting attorney general is standing up to this dangerous executive order that goes against everything we stand for as a country and only puts more American lives at risk. We’re fortunate to have such dedicated public servants across the federal government who are committed to doing the right thing.

Her independence and commitment to upholding the constitution is exactly what our country lacks if the Senate confirms Sen. Jeff Sessions. We’ve got to fight like hell to prevent that from happening.

Trump has – of course – hopped on to Twitter to respond to the move by Sally Yates, acting attorney general (and an Obama nominee who’s in post until Trump’s own pick, Jeff Sessions is confirmed), who has instructed justice department lawyers not to defend the president’s travel ban.

I had assumed there was a follow-up tweet coming, but 25 minutes later am concluding that this might be it:

Associated Press says the man Trump has cited as a source for his unsubstantiated claim that millions of people voted illegally in the election is himself registered to vote in three states:

A man who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press has learned.

Gregg Phillips, whose unsubstantiated claim that the election was marred by 3 million illegal votes was tweeted by the president, was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states. He voted only in Alabama in November, records show.

Trump has made an issue of people who are registered to vote in more than one state, using it as one of the bedrocks of his overall contention that voter fraud is rampant in the US and that voting by 3 to 5 million immigrants illegally in the country cost him the popular vote in November.

The AP found that Phillips was registered in Alabama and Texas under the name Gregg Allen Phillips, with the identical social security number. Mississippi records list him under the name Gregg A. Phillips, and that record includes the final four digits of Phillips’ social security number, his correct date of birth and a prior address matching one once attached to Gregg Allen Phillips. He has lived in all three states.

At the time of November’s presidential election, Phillips’ status was “inactive” in Mississippi and suspended in Texas. Officials in both states told the AP that Phillips could have voted, however, by producing identification and updating his address at the polls.

Protests across UK over proposed Trump visit

Thousands of people have gathered across the UK to protest against Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, his indefinite bar on Syrian refugees and his planned UK state visit.

About 10,000 people were thought to have marched on Downing Street in London, with the crowd stretching the length of Whitehall by 7pm. Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham also had large demonstrations.

Protesters showed their anger on the day that a petition calling for the US president’s state visit to the UK to be axed passed 1.5m signatures.

Thousands protest Trump Muslim ban in London

Also on Monday night MPs unanimously passed a motion condemning the “discriminatory, divisive and counterproductive” travel ban, after an emergency debate called by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Baghdad and risked being banned from the US.

(UK officials have since advised that UK dual nationals will not be affected, but this remains unclear.)


Full letter from acting attorney general

Here is the full letter from Sally Yates, acting attorney general, to justice department lawyers (bolding for emphasis is mine):

On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order regarding immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries. The order has now been challenged in a number of jurisdictions. As the Acting Attorney General, it is my ultimate responsibility to determine the position of the Department of Justice in these actions.

My role is different from that of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which, through administrations of both parties, has reviewed Executive Orders for form and legality before they are issued. OLC’s review is limited to the narrow question of whether, in OLC’s view, a proposed Executive Order is lawful on its face and properly drafted. Its review does not take account of statements made by an administration or it surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order’s purpose. And importantly, it does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just.

Similarly, in litigation, DOJ Civil Division lawyers are charged with advancing reasonable legal arguments that can be made supporting an Executive Order. But my role as leader of this institution is different and broader. My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.

Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.


872 refugees will come to US this week under waivers

Reuters reports that – despite the executive order banning all refugees from entering the US for 120 days – hundreds of refugees will be permitted to come to America this week:

The US government has granted waivers to let 872 refugees into the country this week, despite President Donald Trump’s executive order on Friday temporarily banning entry of refugees from any country, according to an internal department of homeland security document seen by Reuters.

A homeland security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the waivers, noting that the refugees were considered “in transit” and had already been cleared for resettlement before the ban took effect.

Refugees preparing for resettlement typically have severed personal ties and relinquished their possessions, leaving them particularly vulnerable if their plans to depart are suddenly cancelled.

It was not known if additional waivers would be granted, the official said. The document did not give the nationalities of the refugees.

The 872 refugees to be admitted this week, under the waivers, were screened using Obama administration procedures, which typically take two years and include several interviews and a background check.

Before news broke of the instruction by the acting attorney general that justice department lawyers will not defend Trump’s travel ban, a number of legal challenges had already been made to the executive order.

Over the weekend, federal judges in four states ordered that no one who was en route or had reached the US with a valid visa or green card at the time the executive order was signed could be deported. They did not decide whether Trump’s measures – to suspend travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days; to suspend the Syrian refugee program indefinitely; to suspend all refugee admissions for 120 days; and to prioritize refugees of minority – were constitutional.

Rulings were made in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington, each of which differed slightly.

Attorney generals in New York and Washington state have already called the executive order unconstitutional.

In the New York court on Saturday night, government lawyers defending the case were visibly unsure what to say. Attorney Susan Riley told the court:

This has unfolded with such speed that we haven’t had an opportunity to address the issues, the important legal issues.

More from the letter sent by acting attorney general Sally Yates to justice department lawyers, according to a report in the New York Times, which has seen the letter:

For as long as I am the acting attorney general, the department of justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.

Yates is acting attorney general only until Trump’s own pick, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed.

Trump does have the power to fire Yates ahead of that moment.

Acting attorney general Sally Yates.
Acting attorney general Sally Yates. Photograph: Pete Marovich/Getty Images


Attorney general tells justice department lawyers not to defend travel ban – reports

CNN is reporting that Sally Yates, acting attorney general, has advised justice department lawyers not to defend Trump’s travel ban.

According to CNN, Yates – who is an Obama appointee in the role until Trump’s nominee, Jeff Sessions, is approved – “does not believe the substance of the order is lawful”.

The New York Times also reports from a letter reportedly sent by Yates to justice department lawyers:

I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.

At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.


Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, steps up now.

The order will make us unsafe, the order will make us inhumane and the order will make us less American.

The nations of the world will no longer look up to us …

We will fight this with everything we have and we will win this fight.

Right now, Democrats are holding a protest against Trump’s travel ban on the steps of the supreme court. They want the president to rescind the executive order.

Nancy Pelosi, the house minority leader, says:

What the president did undermines our values.

What the president did is not constitutional … In the view of many of us, it is immoral.

Pelosi says the move is “reckless and rash”.


fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.

stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold.

  • The Council on American–Islamic Relations (Cair) has issued a lawsuit claiming the ban violates the first amendment of the constitution, which establishes the right to freedom of religion.
  • Thousands of people across the UK joined protests against the travel ban, marching in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and other cities.
  • The UN high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said he was “deeply worried” about the executive order, which halts all refugees admissions for 120 days and suspends Syrian refugees indefinitely:

Refugees are anxious, confused and heartbroken at this suspension in what is already a lengthy process.

  • But the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the ban was “about the safety of America”:

I think it’s a shame that people were inconvenienced, obviously, but at the end of the day we’re talking about a couple of hours.

Being able to come to America is a privilege, not a right.

Find more in Tom McCarthy’s daily roundup here.

Imraan Siddiqi, the head of CAIR Arizona and one of the activists involved in the CAIR legal suit against Trump’s executive order, tweeted about the lawsuit:

UNHCR ‘deeply worried’ about Trump travel ban

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is “deeply worried” about Trump’s travel ban executive order, which halts all refugees admissions for 120 days and suspends Syrian refugees indefinitely.

In a statement, Grandi noted that 800 refugees due to arrive in the United States this week are now barred from entry.

“UNHCR estimates that 20,000 refugees in precarious circumstances might have been resettled to the United States during the 120 days covered by the suspension announced Friday, based on average monthly figures for the last 15 years. Refugees are anxious, confused and heartbroken at this suspension in what is already a lengthy process,” reads the statement.

Last year 96,874 refugees resettled in the United States, with 15,479 of them coming from Syria, according to US state department figures. But Trump’s decision affects the US’s global standing, said Grandi:

For decades, the United States has been a global leader in refugee protection, a tradition rooted in the tolerance and generosity of the American people. UNHCR hopes the US will continue its strong leadership role and its long history of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.

Women’s March organizer launches legal action against Trump

Activist Linda Sarsour addresses the crowd during a protest against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, in New York City on January 29, 2017.
Activist Linda Sarsour addresses the crowd during a protest against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, in New York City on January 29, 2017. Photograph: Stephanie Keith/Reuters

The Council on American‐Islamic Relations launched legal action against Donald Trump and his executive order travel ban in the eastern district court of Virginia today, calling

The lead plaintiff of the case is Linda Sarsour, the executive director of Arab American Association of New York and an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington on January 21.

The plaintiffs, a high-profile group of Muslim activists, lawyers and politicians, call it an “unconstitutional order” by a president who has led a campaign to fuel fear and discrimination against Muslims and that the order is “a legal manifestation of those bigoted views”.

The legal complaint reads:

President Trump’s Muslim Exclusion Order imposes upon Islam—the religion to which all of the Plaintiffs belong—the stigma of government disfavor. This condemnation, which has been cast to the general public pursuant to the Muslim Exclusion Order, signals to Plaintiffs’ fellow citizens that their faith is uniquely threatening and dangerous insofar as it is the only religion singled out for disfavored treatment.

Sarsour, a Palestinian-American who was born in Brooklyn, also led protests at JFK airport and in Battery Park over the weekend against the travel ban.


A reporter asks about the 300 people around the world awaiting to board planes to the US and were not allowed because of the travel ban. Spicer dodges the question.

Spicer again speaking about the travel ban.

“This is about the safety of America. This is why the majority of Americans agree with the president… these steps are frankly common sense steps to make sure we’re never looking at the rear-view mirror asking ‘we should have done something’”, says Spicer.

Does Trump have anything to say to protesters and those who the travel ban affects, a reporter asks.

“I think it’s a shame that people were inconvenienced, obviously, but at the end of the day we’re talking about a couple of hours,” says Spicer, saying he’d rather people had to wait at airports than encounter terrorism.

“Being able to come to America is a privilege, not a right,” says Spicer.

“We have to wait in lines too,” says Spicer.

When quizzed if other countries would be added to the list of seven, Spicer says: “We don’t have to look at the families of the Boston marathon, the San Bernardino, to ask if we can go further. He adds that it’s possible extra countries will be added to the list.

Obama: ‘heartened’ by protests over travel ban

He’s back! A statement from Barack Obama about the mass rallies of people protesting around the country all weekend over Trump’s travel ban executive order.


Sean Spicer: ‘I feel confident’ about legal challenges over travel ban

Journalists quiz Sean Spicer about legal action being taken against Trump’s executive order.

Spicer mentions the Brooklyn federal court decision on Saturday evening, and adds: “We won’t have to prevail in that case, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s about people being deported. The process was never about that.”

Spicer says that in a 24-hour period over the weekend, 109 were stopped for additional screening out of 325,000, a number he saw as minor.

“The majority of Americans agree with the president. They recognize the steps he’s taken,” he says.

Journalists note that the Brooklyn federal court is just one of four federal court actions that have already ruled against parts of the order, but Spicer says he’s not concerned.

“I don’t think any of the others are pertaining… all of the forces and actions protecting the order are in place now… I feel confident,” says Spicer.

Sean Spicer: Trump’s migration order is about putting US safety first


Spicer is asked about the travel ban affecting seven Muslim-majority countries and whether it is more extreme than any action from the Obama administration.

“We’ve going to put the safety of Americans first … We’re not going to wait until we get attacked and figure out how it’s going to happen again,” says Spicer.

“That’s the key point in this: how do we keep ahead of threats?” adds Spicer.

“That’s what the president has done… putting America’s safety and security first and foremost,” says Spicer.

“His view is not to wait to get ahead of the curve … we don’t know when that hour comes, we don’t know when the individual comes to do us harm.”


Spicer says this morning’s executive order about regulation will help small business. But he makes no mention of the travel ban before heading to questions from the press.


Spicer talks about how Trump is concerned about Isis and terrorism, and the “the United States must take decisive action and the president is taking the right steps.”

He mentions the calls that Trump has taken with foreign leaders, including Middle Eastern leaders, over the weekend.

“Notably he did all this in the face of supreme obstructionism from Democrats in the Senate,”, says Spicer, saying 17 nominees still await confirmation.

“These cabinet members are all unbelievably qualified and will all be confirmed by the Senate, and Democrats know this,” says Spicer.

“There’s been a lot of misreporting this week about what this memo does and does not do,” says Sean Spicer, referring to the changes made by Trump to the National Security Council, where controversial advisor Steve Bannon is now on the panel and the director of intelligence and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff will not always attend the principals committee.

“This idea there’s been a change or a downgrade is utter nonsense,” says Bannon.

Spicer says they called several outlets “who had been misreporting this memo to explain what it means” yesterday.

Trump will now amend the memo to add the CIA into the memo, says Spicer, saying that the Obama administration had not included the CIA.


Sean Spicer starts off his press briefing by saying Trump has spoken with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to give his condolences over the shooting at a Quebec mosque where six people were killed.

Spicer notes that the “tragic” event is a reminder “why the president is taking steps to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to keeping citizens safe.”

That’s presumably a reference to Trump’s executive order banning travel to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.


Video: Sean Spicer gives White House press briefing

Washington state launches lawsuit against Trump travel ban

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks out against the actions of US President Donald Trump at a rally for immigrants and refugees in Seattle, Washington on January 29, 2017.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks out against the actions of US President Donald Trump at a rally for immigrants and refugees in Seattle, Washington on January 29, 2017. Photograph: Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

The Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, announced on Monday his state was launching a legal challenge against Trump’s travel ban executive order, the first state to do so.

“The judicial system is adept at protecting the constitution. President Trump may have his alternative facts, but alternative facts do not work in a courtroom,” said Inslee, as he announced the lawsuit with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, in a press conference shown on Facebook live.

“This is real hope that this outrage will not stand… we’ve already seen the president retreat on the green-card holder issue… This is not over, people need to have hope,” he said.

Inslee noted that since September 11, 2001 there have been 700,000 refugees admitted to the Untied States, there was not one single fatality from a crime by a refugee from any of the seven Muslim-majority countries as part of the ban.

“That is a fact. And facts tend to become somewhat relevant in a courtroom, even if they aren’t in reality TV,” said Inslee.

He said the classification of banning immigrants based their country of citizenship goes against state statutes to stop discrimination based on place of birth or nationality.

When asked about Trump’s power to make immigration decisions in his role as president, Ferguson said: “I understand that is their argument. But those powers are not without limit… we are confident that our lawsuit exposes those limits and makes it clear he is acting beyond those limits”.


Coming up at 1:30pm ET is a briefing from Sean Spicer, White House press secretary.

There’s been a large number of protests against the travel ban arranged in the UK today, including evening events towns and cities as far aparts as Aberdeen, Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

Here are some photos from the protests taken by Guardian colleagues reporting on them in Wales and in Manchester.

From Guardian reporter Frances Perraudin in Manchester:

The crowd is gathering in Manchester’s Albert Square outside the city’s town hall. Over 2,600 people have said they will attend tonight’s demonstration against Donald Trump’s immigration directive.

The site for the demonstration is a stone’s throw from Lincoln Square, where a statue of US president Abraham Lincoln was erected to give thanks to Lancashire’s cotton workers for “their fight for the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War”. (An economic blockade of slave-picked cotton from the southern states caused massive unemployment in the region’s cotton industry.)

Dean Smith, a 24-year-old sports journalist, is the main organiser of this evening’s demo. Smith says it was a tweet by the writer David Slack that prompted him to act on his horror at Trump’s directive. The tweet reads: “Remember sitting in history, thinking ‘If I was alive then, I would’ve…’ You’re alive now. Whatever you’re doing is what you would’ve done.”

Video: Donald Trump says migration orders were a ‘good day’

Donald Trump says migration orders were a ‘good day’

Donald Trump on Monday said he was happy with the imposition of a travel ban on Muslim-majority nations.

“We actually had a very good day yesterday in terms of homeland security and someday we were hoping to move and we decided to make a move,” Trump told reporters while meeting with small business owners at the White House.

Over the weekend a Facebook post by data scientist Nazanin Zinouri, who is Iranian and lives in South Carolina, went viral after Zinouri wrote about being unallowed to return to the US because of the travel ban, although she has an apartment, job, friends, dog and life here.

She expanded on her post in an article in the Washington Post, discussing her experience after being banned from boarding a flight in Dubai to the United States:

A million thoughts rushed through my mind, from the practical to the philosophical: What happens to Dexter [her dog] now? He is waiting for his mom to come home. Who is going to take him for doctor visits? What happens to my car parked at the long-term lot at the Atlanta airport? What happens to all the stuff I had collected during 6½ years living in the United States? What about my lease? Will my landlord think I just left town? What happens to my job, my life, my American Dream? I flew back to Tehran to stay with my family and figure out what to do next, stung by the realization that as far as the U.S. government is concerned, my life doesn’t matter. Nothing I worked for all these years matters.

Read the rest here.

UK arranges deal with US over travel ban for British citizens

British Prime Minister Theresa May with US President Donald Trump at The White House on January 27, 2017.
British Prime Minister Theresa May with US President Donald Trump at The White House on January 27, 2017. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK government has hammered out a new deal with Donald Trump’s administration under which anyone carrying a British passport will not be banned from entering the US.

The foreign secretary told parliament that further talks with senior figures inside the White House had secured a more detailed agreement that dual nationals would not be stopped, even if they were travelling from one of the seven countries covered by the US ban.

Johnson made clear that the new US immigration policy, which he described as “highly controversial”, was not a measure that the British government would consider.

Following talks between himself and the home secretary, Amber Rudd, and their US counterparts, he said: “I’m able to provide the following clarification. The general principle is that all British passport holders remain welcome to travel to the US. We have received assurances that this executive order will make no difference to any British passport holder irrespective of their country of birth or if they hold another passport.”

Read the rest here.

Syrian refugee men lift weights while practicing at a makeshift gym in Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.
Syrian refugee men lift weights while practicing at a makeshift gym in Frakapor refugee camp on the outskirts of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. Photograph: Muhammed Muheisen/AP

Helena Smith, our correspondent in Greece, the county long on the frontline of the refugee crisis, reports on Syrians being the biggest victims of Trump’s travel ban.

The implications of the freeze may still be unclear but of one thing human rights groups are sure: Syrian refugees fleeing atrocity and war are among the biggest losers not least because the U.S. has resettled more Syrian refugees to date than any other country.

“What is very clear cut is that Syrian refugees have now lost one of their very few tickets out,” Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, Gauri Van Gulik, told the Guardian.

“The U.S. has been the biggest re-settler country. For Syrians who had some hope of being resettled, that hope is now shut. It’s a huge loss,” said Van Gulik.

Around 800,000 Syrians fled to Europe via Greece at the height of the conflict in 2015. The vast majority made their way further north until borders along the Balkan corridor were closed and thousands were subsequently stranded in Greece.


Trump just signed another new executive order, this one on the theme of cutting regulation.

The purpose of the order states that:

for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.

It’s being done as a cost-cutting measure, although it’s not yet clear the practicalities of cutting two regulations for every new regulation to be implemented.

State Dept circulating ‘dissent channel’ memo against Trump’s travel ban

Screengrab of the dissent channel memo draft circulating at the State Department
Screengrab of the dissent channel memo draft circulating at the State Department Photograph: Washington Post

A “Dissent Channel” memo slamming Trump’s executive orders as “counter to core American values” and saying the changes will instead aid terrorists is circulating amongst State Department staffers, reports the Washington Post.

The memo, which is titled “Alternatives to Closing Doors in Order to Secure Our Borders” according to the draft published in the Washington Post, is being signed by State Department staff.

Then, it will be sent officially through the Dissent Channel, a channel used to communicate dissenting opinions on government policy without fear of retribution.

Trump’s travel ban will “sour relations” with the named countries and also others in the Muslim world, says the memo, noting that it will “increase anti-American sentiment”. The memo also states the US will suffer economically and that there is a humanitarian responsibility to allow travel for needs such as medical needs or to attend funerals.

“Looking beyond its effectiveness, this ban stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values that we, as federal employees, took an oath to uphold,” it reads.

Instead, the memo calls for wider vetting of people from all countries, including holders of US passports, not just the seven Muslim-majority countries named.

Steve Herman, a diplomatic reporter reporter at Voice of America, published a statement from the State Department confirming the authenticity of the memo.

Read the whole draft memo here.

Live video of British MPs discussing the Trump administration and the Trump executive order.


Coffee giant Starbucks announced overnight a promise to hire 10,000 refugees, in response to Trump’s executive order travel ban.

As Adam Vaughan and Dominic Rushe report:

Howard Schultz, the coffee chain’s chief executive, said he had “deep concern” about the president’s order and would be taking “resolute” action, starting with offering jobs to refugees.

“We are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” he told employees in a strongly-worded note.

He added that the move was to make clear the company “will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration’s actions grows with each passing day.”

Read the rest here.

Syrian refugees in Rome have a message for the US president, as criticism grows over Donald Trump’s freeze on America’s refugee program.

Syrian refugees to Trump: ‘We are full of friendship’ – video


Good morning and welcome to our continuing coverage of the fallout from Donald Trump’s executive order on refugee admission and travel from some Muslim-majority countries.

After a weekend of mass protests and disruption – with people detained at airports, refused entry to planes and removed from the United States – legal challenges continue to be launched, challenging the validity of the order.

“We have a constitutional crisis,” Congressman Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, wrote on Twitter on Sunday after Customs and Border Patrol officials refused to release people from Dulles Airport, despite federal court rulings that temporarily stayed the Trump order.

Having government and public officials abide by the law and court orders is one of the hallmarks of the nation, notes Trevor Timm.

Trump is standing by the ban and the decision to implement it immediately, with no warning:

John Kelly, the new secretary for homeland security, released a statement clarifying that green-card holders, who are legal permanent US residents, will not be affected by the travel ban.

Today, among other things, we’ll be keeping our eye on Trump spokesman Sean Spicer’s 1.30pm ET press briefing, where journalists will be likely quiz him on the ban and the administration’s handling of it.

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