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Travel Ban Block Highlights Importance of 116 Judicial Vacancies | Pressure on Trump to start appointing judges whose impact will last far beyond his presidency

Reported by Jim Stinson | Updated 20 Mar 2017 at 8:18 AM

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President Donald Trump must soon flood the federal judiciary with qualified conservative candidates, or he will allow Democrats to drag out the process over years. And the Senate needs to dispense with arcane rules that will allow Democrats to block Trump’s qualified nominees, says one legal expert.

The stakes are high after the latest judicial roadblock to slow down Trump’s second executive order related to travel and immigration.

On Wednesday, U.S. Judge Derrick K. Watson blocked Trump’s revised travel order restricting immigration temporarily from six predominantly Muslim nations. Watson, an Obama appointee based in a Honolulu federal court, cited Trump surrogates’ campaign-era comments about Muslim immigration in his decision, but ignored the relevant federal statute, which unquestionably gives Trump the right to restrict foreign travelers.

Watson argued the temporary ban is a thinly veiled attempt to ban Muslims based on their religion. Trump vowed to fight for the latest order all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The restraining order now placed on Trump’s travel order underscores the need for Trump to speed up his appointments.

“It is vital that Trump nominate as many judges as possible as quickly as possible,” said Joseph diGenova,  the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia under President Reagan. “[The nomination of Neil] Gorsuch demonstrates the lengths to which the Democrats will go to obstruct these nominees.”

Just by taking office, Trump gets to replace 13 percent of federal judges. That’s twice the number of judicial appointments Obama got to make when he assumed office in 2009. According to the federal judiciary’s official website, there are 116 vacancies on the U.S. district courts, the U.S. appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. There are 856 seats in the U.S. district courts and the U.S. appellate courts in total. There are another six open seats on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and two on the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Trump has already moved to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court with U.S. Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Watson, an Obama appointee, clearly helped influence policy and debate months after the president who appointed him had left office. The Watson opinion shows federal judges are the very definition of “legacy” for a president. They linger on federal benches for years, issuing opinions made in the spirit of the presidents who put them there.

It’s why some conservatives want the Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate by two votes, to abolish the filibuster for all judicial nominees. The Senate gets to vote on federal judges, but it needs 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. The GOP has just 52 senators.

“This is all about legacy,” said diGenova. “Clearly, if the Democrats persist in their obstructionism, the Senate should go full nuclear on all judicial nominees, including then the U.S. Supreme Court nominees.”

But diGenova is also concerned about another trick the Democrats can use to hamper the president’s ability to select judges.

“In addition to this obstructionism, there is the fact that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has adopted the ‘blue-slip-as-veto’ policy of his Democratic predecessors,” said diGenova. “That means that if a Democrat senator from any state objects (either says ‘no’ to a nominee or simply does not return the blue slip to Grassley) to a Trump nominee for a federal district court, a U.S. attorney, or a U.S. marshal, that person is dead as a nominee. The Democrats can thwart the will of the people in all states where they have at least one senator.”

DiGenova said the tactic was used in 2004, to help put in place the first federal judge to thwart Trump’s first order on the travel ban. That man was U.S. Judge James L. Robart of Washington State.

“That’s how Judge Robart, a nominal Republican, came to be in Washington State,” said diGenova. “He was nominated by President George W. Bush but was in fact the choice of the Democrats in that state who would not allow a conservative Republican to be nominated by Bush. The same thing will happen now unless the ‘blue slip’ policy of Chairman Grassley is changed to make the blue slip only one factor to be considered, and not allow the Democrats automatically to block Trumpers in their states from judgeships, U.S. attorney [posts] or marshal [jobs].”

The 19 federal agencies Trump wants to eliminate


The 19 federal agencies Trump wants to eliminate / © Greg Nash

President Trump’s budget blueprint proposes eliminating 19 federal agencies. Here’s a run-down of the agencies and what they do, from supporting arts and public television to building infrastructure and studying international relations.

  1. The African Development Foundation, which funds African agriculture, infrastructure and community development projects with grants.

  2. The Appalachian Regional Commission, which funds projects meant to bolster businesses, education, culture and economic development in Appalachia.

  3. The Chemical Safety Board, which investigates accidents in the chemical industry and makes safety recommendations.

  4. The Corporation for National and Community Service, which houses several public service organizations, including AmeriCorps.

  5. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio stations including PBS and NPR.

  6. The Delta Regional Authority, which funds businesses and infrastructure in the Mississippi River Delta region.

  7. The Denali Commission, which supports utilities and infrastructure in Alaska.

  8. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which funds U.S. museums and libraries with grants.

  9. The Inter-American Foundation, which provides financial aid to Latin America and the Caribbean.

  10. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency, which provides U.S. goods and services for foreign development projects.

  11. The Legal Services Corporation, which provides civil legal aid for low-income Americans.

  12. The National Endowment for the Arts, which funds American artists and projects through grants.

  13. The National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds American scholarship through grants.

  14. The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which funds community development project throughout the U.S.

  15. The Northern Border Regional Commission, which supports economic development in poor areas near the Canadian border.

  16. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which helps provide private U.S. capital to foreign development projects.

  17. The United States Institute of Peace, which aims to promote world peace through conflict resolution, training programs and scholarship.

  18. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates efforts to fight homelessness among nearly 20 federal agencies.

  19. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a prominent think tank studying international affairs and foreign policy.

ACLU Launches Nationwide Training on Protest, Resistance

Published by The AP | Mar 11, 2017 | 7:01 PM EST

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union staged a nationwide training event Saturday to make sure people are aware of their rights as protesters and urge organized, public resistance by those opposed to policies of President Donald Trump.

Organizers said the event at a sports arena on the University of Miami campus was livestreamed to locations in all 50 states. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said 200,000 people had signed up to attend one of an estimated 2,000 local events. The event, staged in town hall style, was aimed at capitalizing on numerous demonstrations since Trump’s election in November and to make sure people know their rights to protest, Romero said. He said priority issues are immigration, the First Amendment free speech and religious freedom rights, civil and reproductive rights and rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people.

“We will bring all the lawsuits necessary to defend these rights,” Romero said. “We’ll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets. People are motivated. They want to be engaged.”

The ACLU also launched a new grassroots online organizing platform called It’s billed as a way for people considering a local protest or rally to connect and coordinate with others around the country with similar intentions, and to provide details of ACLU initiatives.

Another plan is creation of “freedom cities” around the country that would encourage local officials to pass laws resisting Trump policies such as stepped-up deportations of people living in the country illegally, said Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director.

Other parts of Saturday’s event detailed the rules for demonstrations on streets, sidewalks and in public parks, and the rights people have when arrested such as the right to remain silent. ACLU attorney Lee Rowland said large demonstrations generally require a local permit, but government can’t typically shut down protesters in public places without good reason.

“The government can’t censor you just because it disagrees with your opinion,” Rowland said.

Also speaking at the event was Padma Lakshmi, an Indian-born cookbook author, actress, model and television host. She said she emigrated to the U.S. at age four and said the nation appears to be retreating from its welcoming ways. “Lately I’ve started to feel like an outsider,” she said. “What makes America great is our culture of inclusion. We must not tolerate the intolerance.”

Trump signs new extreme vetting order

Authored By S.A. Miller and Dave Boyer – The Washington Times – Monday, March 6, 2017

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President Trump signs a revised travel ban on March 6 that temporarily halts entry to the U.S. for people from six Muslim-majority nations who are seeking new visas, allowing those with current visas to travel freely. (White House)

President Trump signs a revised travel ban on March 6 that temporarily halts entry to the U.S. for people from six Muslim-majority nations who are seeking new visas, allowing those with current visas to travel freely. (White House) more >

President Trump signed a new executive order Monday that temporarily bans visitors from six Middle East and African counties while the administration creates an extreme vetting program, taking pains to remove the pitfalls of the original order and the perception that it’s a “Muslim ban.”

The new order also dropped Iraq from the list of seven predominately Muslim countries covered by the original Jan. 27 executive order that was blocked by federal courts. The ban will be phased in over a 10-day period to avoid the chaos at airports following the original executive order that caught travelers in transit, and the wording has been changed to avoid suspicions that it is a “Muslim ban,” said a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official.

“We are going to have a very smooth implementation period,” said the official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity. “The motivation behind it is a real concern by the American people for their security.”

The 90-day halt of visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will take full effect March 16, according to the official.

The official stressed that the Trump administration was confident that the original executive order would have eventually prevailed in court, but for expediency the president opted for a new order that addressed the courts’ concerns. The inclusion of Iraq in the original ban raised objections from some U.S. military officials and the Iraq government because of special consideration previously given to Iraqis who aided in the war effort, including translators. The administration said Iraq was removed from the list, despite the presence of Islamic State fighters in the county, because of extra steps the Iraq government was taking to share information and assist the U.S. in vetting travelers.

“As a result of this increased information sharing, Iraqi citizens are not affected by the Executive Order. Of course, all normal immigration processing requirements continue to apply, including the grounds of inadmissibility that may be applicable,” according to the fact sheet.

In an attempt to demonstrate that the order is not a “Muslim ban,” which was a chief criticism of the original order based on Mr. Trump’s comments during the campaign, the new order removes language that exempted religious minorities from the targeting predominately Muslim countries.

The new order exempts people who currently have visas or legal “green card” status in the U.S., a carve-out that was not included in the original order.

The modifications did not satisfy Mr. Trump’s critics.

“This isn’t about keeping America safe. Let’s call it what it is. This ban is a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to divide us up,” tweeted Sen. Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent who emerged as a leading voice for the left after his 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Another court challenge is likely for Mr. Trump’s order. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the new order had the “same fatal flaws” as the last one.

“The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban,” he said. “Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people.”

Jon Rainwater, executive director of the liberal activist group Peach Action, said the order was “the same Muslim ban with a fresh haircut, and a botched one at that.”

“It still blocks refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. It still violates core American values of religious tolerance and providing refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution. It still makes Americans less safe by feeding into the recruitment narratives of violent extremists,” he said. “There’s no evidence that banning travelers based on nationality actually protects anyone.”

The administration has delayed the signing as it works with federal agencies that will be responsible for enforcing the new order. The order on tougher vetting of travelers from terror-prone nations was one of Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges, and he signed the original order shortly after taking office. But a federal judge in Seattle blocked the action, and a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction. Since then, the administration has been working on a new directive while defending the initial order in court. In an address to Congress last week, Mr. Trump said his actions are justified due to national security concerns.

The extreme vetting program will include:

• Uniform screening standards for all immigration programs government-wide, as developed by DHS in conjunction with the Director of National Intelligence and State and Justice departments.

• A biometric entry-exit system for all targeted travelers entering and departing the U.S.

• A review by the State Department of all non-immigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal.

• New restriction on the Visa Interview Waiver Program and additional non-immigrant visa applicants will have to undergo in-person interview.

The executive order also temporarily halts the acceptance of new refugees into the U.S. for 120 days while DHS and other agencies review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk, according to a fact sheet provided by the Trump administration. In another change from the original order, Syrian refugees will not be subject to a permanent ban.

Upon resumption of the Refugee Admissions Program, the executive order calls for refugee admissions not exceed 50,000 for fiscal 2017, cutting by more than half the 110,000 refugees projected to be admitted this year under Obama administration guidelines.

Supporting claims that the U.S. is at risk because of its refugee policies, administration officials said that of the FBI’s 1,000 ongoing anti-terrorism investigations, 300 cases involved suspected terrorists who came to the country as refugees.

Unlike the public signing ceremony for the original order that Mr. Trump attended at the Pentagon on Jan. 27, the president signed the new immigration order at the White House without press coverage.

NYT: Obama WH Rushed to Preserve Russian Hacking Intel

waving flag disclaimerAuthored by NEWSMAX Wednesday, 01 Mar 2017 09:19 PM

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Image: NYT: Obama WH Rushed to Preserve Russian Hacking Intel / Former President Barack Obama (AP Photo)

White House officials scrambled in the final days of the Obama administration to spread information across the government about Russian meddling in the election — and possible contacts between Trump associates and Russians, The New York Times reported.

The effort was to thwart any future meddling, and to leave a “clear trail of intelligence for government investigators,” the Times reported.leading-propaganda-generator

According to the Times, the information included that from American allies, including the British and the Dutch, describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin – and Trump associates, the Times reported, citing three unnamed former American officials.

Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates, the Times reported.

According to the Times, some people in the Obama White House worried the intelligence could be covered up or destroyed — or its sources exposed — once power changed hands. The Times reported the push by intelligence agencies aimed to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low level of classification to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies.

“This allowed the upload of as much intelligence as possible to Intellipedia, a secret wiki used by American intelligence analysts to share information,” the Times reported.words-of-a-leftist-propagandist

White House spokesman Sean Spicer responded, “The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election.” “There continues to be no there, there.”

The FBI is conducting an investigation into Russia meddling in the election, and separately, the House and Senate intelligence committees are conducting their own probes.

Green Berets’ White House Visit Goes Viral When Trump Says, “We’re Not Suppose to Do This, But…”

waving flag disclaimerAuthored By on March 1, 2017

On February 26th, President Trump told those in attendance at the Governors’ Dinner at the White House, that he plans to rebuild our depleted military. That rebuilding includes increases in shipbuilding, increases in military aircraft, and increases in our troop sizes.  Trump plans to also increase our defense spending by 10% to $54 billion.

It’s no suprise that 60% our military personnel believe Obama’s decreases in military personnel, withdrawal of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with his “lack of focus” made America less safe. Trump’s about to change that….BIG LEAGUE!

Trump loves the military and has shown he has a new level of respect that our military personnel have not seen in the last 8 years. President Trump shared some of that respect recently when a class of Green Beret candidates visited the White House.


H/T Conservative Tribune:

The 18 Army officers in the Special Forces Qualification Course, or “Q-course” were visiting the National Security Council, when Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka suggested they meet the President.

“Halfway through the discussion, (Trump) said, ‘Hey — we’re not supposed to do this but follow me,’ and he brought them all into the Oval Office, took a group photograph around the Resolute desk, and then — throwing the schedules into a bit of a tizzy, said, ‘OK, that’s not good enough,’” Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka

Given all of the photos of Trump meeting with people in the Oval Office that have come out over the past month, this may not seem like a huge deal, but in fact it truly is. This was the first time in the Green Beret course’s history that candidates were inside the Oval Office. Nothing like this ever came close to happening under President Barack Obama.

“He said, ‘everybody stand in the corner.’ They all stood in the corner, and one-by-one we took photographs they can take home to their family with each future Green Beret next to the president at the Oval Office desk,” Gorka

What makes this story even more amazing was the fact that Trump kept this Feb. 7 meeting private. No photos have been released, and the Trump-hating press pool didn’t report on it, even though it was announced a day before it occurred. Trump could have used the opportunity as a publicity stunt, but instead he chose to (attempt) to keep it a private affair. That’s one hallmark of a real

“That’s how much he loves our soldiers — our warriors,” he said. Gorka had earlier brought up Cz5orEtUkAA9-VK-800x437the meeting during remarks on a panel at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. Under Obama, he said, they “wouldn’t have even gotten into the West Wing.


This ISN’T Obama’s America any more. With President Trump in the White House, America will see, not only will our military be rebuilt, but there will be more respect for our military and the morale of our troops will be increased. It’s time to ‘Make America Great Again’….and that includes making our military the best in the world!

Thank you, Mr. President for treating some of America’s finest…like the finest! God Bless Our Military!now-thats-my-president


Trump Meets With 100+ Black Leaders…But the Media Wanted to Focus on This ‘Scandal’

Written by Philip Hodges


President Trump met with numerous presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) at the White House on Monday. Trump signed an executive order that would result in the government issuing more contracts and grants to HBCUs. McClatchy’s article carried the headline: “Donald Trump will try to outdo Obama in backing black colleges.” From McClatchy:

“It would be truly, truly historic,” said Leonard Haynes, a longtime educator who ran the office and is helping to write the executive order. “It’s part of a long time dream…none of (the other presidents) had the courage to do it.”

Though African-Americans overwhelmingly support Democrats at the polls, many education experts credit Republican leaders for helping to improve HBCUs, the common shorthand for historically black schools. 

Some black college administrators say they were disappointed in President Barack Obama for not making the schools a priority and, in some cases, harming their financial health and contributing to declining enrollment with the changes he made to loan programs.

Some campuses are struggling, suffering from budget cuts, low endowments, aging facilities and fiscal mismanagement.

The schools receive money from the federal government through grants, contracts, appropriations and student aid. They received $4.7 billion in federal financial assistance in 2013, according to the latest annual report available. The money accounted for 2.8 percent of federal funds awarded to all institutions of higher education.

Obviously, it was a big deal, considering the media narrative that Trump and his administration – particularly Steve Bannon – are a bunch of white supremacist Nazis. So, it’s no surprise that some media networks wanted to focus on a more serious scandal – that of Kellyanne Conway sitting on the couch in the Oval Office…with her shoes on the couch. (gasp!)

Breitbart noted: “Leading the pack was Buzzfeed’s Deputy news director Jon Passantino, who said ‘Conservatives were pissed Obama put his feet on Oval Office desk. Watch their reaction tonight.’”


Phil has been writing about outrageous news and politics since 2012.  He is the Editor at and has written for, Last Resistance, Political Outcast, and Godfather Politics.

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