DHS chief warns of ‘ter­ror­ist travel’

Alarm­ing an­nounce­ment backs up Trump’s case for tem­po­rary ban

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly sounded a loud alarm Tues­day over an “un­prece­dented spike in ter­ror­ist travel” in­clud­ing to the U.S., mov­ing to shore up the de­fense of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s travel ban one day af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump’s tweets seemed to un­der­cut his case be­fore the Supreme Court.

The threat from ter­ror­ist “foot sol­diers” is as great as ever, he said, and they are re­turn­ing from train­ing in Iraq and Syria home to Europe with or­ders to at­tack. Mr. Kelly said he ex­pects some will try to reach the U.S. — but his hands have been tied by the fed­eral courts.

The sec­re­tary dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions that Mr. Trump’s lat­est travel ban ex­ec­u­tive or­der dis­crim­i­nates against a re­li­gion, say­ing the pres­i­dent was re­ly­ing on lists drawn up by Congress and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to sin­gle out six coun­tries for a 90-day halt.

“Th­ese are coun­tries that are ei­ther un­able or un­will­ing to help us val­i­date the iden­ti­ties and back­grounds of per­sons within their bor­ders,” he told the Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee. “Bot­tom line, I have been en­joined from do­ing th­ese things that I know would make Amer­ica safe, and I anx­iously await the court to com­plete its ac­tion, one way or the other, so I can get to work.”

He said he is “chang­ing the cul­ture”

Re­pub­li­can, has re­it­er­ated sev­eral times that he is “not a fan” of the pres­i­dent’s tweets.

Pressed by re­porters about Mr. McCon­nell’s views, White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said the pres­i­dent “is the most ef­fec­tive mes­sen­ger on his agenda.” He stressed that so­cial me­dia gives the pres­i­dent “an op­por­tu­nity to speak straight to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, which has proved to be a very, very ef­fec­tive tool.”

The White House press corps also wanted to know if the tweets were of­fi­cials state­ments.

“Well, the pres­i­dent is the pres­i­dent of the United States, so they’re con­sid­ered of­fi­cial state­ments by the pres­i­dent of the United States,” said Mr. Spicer.

The in­sid­ers’ anger and dis­com­fort didn’t faze Trump back­ers.

Ted Hayes, a civil rights ac­tivist and ad­vo­cate for the home­less in Los An­ge­les, said the pres­i­dent had knocked the news me­dia off their pedestal.

“It’s good for them to rec­og­nize that they can no longer be the Pan­theon of Gods of the First Amend­ment,” Mr. Hayes said. “They keep talk­ing about their First Amend­ment, but what about our First Amend­ment? They are abus­ing the First Amend­ment. I think what Don­ald Trump is do­ing is teach­ing them a les­son. All other politi­cians should learn the same thing from him.”

Mr. Trump’s use of so­cial me­dia helped gal­va­nize grass-roots sup­port dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. His aides claim more than 110 mil­lion fol­low­ers across all plat­forms, in­clud­ing 31.7 mil­lion on Twitter alone. That is up from just 20 mil­lion the day he took of­fice in Jan­uary.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama still has him beat, with more than 90 mil­lion Twitter fol­low­ers — though @Barack­Obama is a much less in­ter­est­ing read than @Re­alDon­aldTrump.

Since he took of­fice, Mr. Trump has been in­volved in spats with high-pro­file lead­ers, de­manded crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, warned for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey to tread care­fully, set for­eign pol­icy and of­fered le­gal ad­vice to his own at­tor­neys.

Along the way, he has av­er­aged more than five posts a day, de­ployed some 385 ex­cla­ma­tion points, used “Fake News” 45 times and deleted some 27 mes­sages — in­clud­ing last week’s fa­mous “cov­fefe” tweet, which the White House in­sists wasn’t a mis­take but was ac­tu­ally a mes­sage to a select group of peo­ple. They won’t say who that group is.

The deri­sion voiced in news­pa­per op-ed pages and on TV news talk shows reached new heights Tues­day af­ter Mr. Trump’s Twitter tiff with Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan in the wake of the deadly ter­ror­ist at­tack at the Lon­don Bridge.

He also blasted his own le­gal team at the Jus­tice De­part­ment for de­fend­ing a “wa­tered down” and “po­lit­i­cally cor­rect” travel ban and said he wished they in­stead had de­fended his orig­i­nal pol­icy — an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that he him­self re­voked.

Mr. Trump took to Twitter to fire back at the chid­ing.

“The FAKE MSM is work­ing so hard try­ing to get me not to use So­cial Me­dia. They hate that I can get the hon­est and un­fil­tered mes­sage out,” he tweeted.

A short time later, he ham­mered home his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the news me­dia.

“Sorry folks, but if I would have re­lied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, wash­post or ny­times, I would have had ZERO chance win­ning WH,” he said.

The re­ac­tion to Mr. Trump’s tweets has il­lu­mi­nated the dis­con­nect be­tween the peo­ple and the press, said Karen North, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia An­nen­berg Dig­i­tal So­cial Me­dia pro­gram.

“One of the beau­ti­ful things about so­cial me­dia is it al­lows the con­ver­sa­tion to seem very per­sonal,” said Ms. North, a so­cial psy­chol­o­gist. “In all hon­esty, love him or hate him, he has cre­ated a per­sona and a sense that he speaks to peo­ple di­rectly.”

She noted that the ten­sion is not new be­tween the Wash­ing­ton press corps and pres­i­dents who cir­cum­vent them; only the medium has changed.

The press balked at Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s fire­side chats, Ron­ald Rea­gan’s mas­tery of the photo-op and Bill Clin­ton’s pref­er­ence for lo­cal news me­dia. The Amer­i­can pub­lic, how­ever, mostly liked it, she said.

“There is a de­sire and ex­pec­ta­tion for au­then­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” said Ms. North. “It can be seen by some peo­ple — in­stead of be­ing in­con­sis­tent and rais­ing prob­lems of un­cer­tainty — it can be seen as a guy who speaks the truth and doesn’t care.”

Ken Crow, a na­tional tea party leader based in Iowa who was an early Trump sup­porter, said Twitter is key to the pres­i­dent’s ap­peal, but he could ben­e­fit from mod­er­a­tion on so­cial me­dia.

“He needs to learn how to use his sur­ro­gates,” said Mr. Crow. “I’m not say­ing shut up. I’m not say­ing take his iPhone away from him. But he does need to tone it down a bit.”

Other Trump sup­port­ers doubted his tweets were dam­ag­ing and dis­missed his at­tor­neys’ fears that he has hurt his own case be­fore the U.S. Supreme Court.

“That’s the un­gen­er­ous ap­praisal of Trump’s op­po­nents,” said Craig Keller, a con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist in Seat­tle. “That crit­i­cism is com­ing from the left wing of the Re­pub­li­can Party. That crit­i­cism is com­ing from the left wing of the left wing, and it’s not com­ing from av­er­age, silent-ma­jor­ity Amer­i­cans who are ac­tu­ally giv­ing him a chance.

“They say give peace a chance. Let’s give Trump a chance,” he said.

Sue Payne, a Trump sup­porter in Mary­land, said the only peo­ple up­set by the pres­i­dent’s tweets are his op­po­nents, in­clud­ing those in the Re­pub­li­can Party, whom she re­ferred to as “RINOs,” or Repub­li­cans In Name Only.

“He’s not hurt­ing his case with his sup­port­ers and the peo­ple who stood in line six and eight hours to hear him at a rally. He might be hurt­ing his case with the likes of Juan McCain, who ought to have been out of the Se­nate 15 years ago,” said Ms. Payne, re­fer­ring to Sen. John McCain, Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can and fre­quent critic of Mr. Trump. “He might be of­fend­ing a few RINOs, and the more RINOs he of­fends, the bet­ter I like it.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALERT: Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly said the threat from ter­ror­ist “foot sol­diers” is as great as ever and ex­pects some will try to reach the U.S.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump’s tweeter feed is his way of cir­cum­vent­ing the main­stream me­dia and speak­ing di­rectly to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, his staunch sup­port­ers ar­gue.

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