Trump be­moans courts, mi­grants, praises him­self dur­ing Thanks­giv­ing Day call to troops

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

PALM BEACH — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump used a Thanks­giv­ing Day call to troops de­ployed over­seas to pat him­self on the back and air griev­ances about the courts, trade and mi­grants head­ing to the US-Mex­ico bor­der.

Trump’s call, made from his op­u­lent pri­vate Mar-a-Lago club, struck an un­usu­ally po­lit­i­cal tone as he spoke with mem­bers of all five branches of the mil­i­tary to wish them happy hol­i­days.

“It’s a dis­grace,” Trump said of judges who have blocked his at­tempts to over­haul US im­mi­gra­tion law, as he linked his ef­forts to se­cure the bor­der with mil­i­tary mis­sions over­seas.

Trump later threat­ened to close the US bor­der with Mex­ico for an undis­closed pe­riod of time if his ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ter­mines Mex­ico has lost “con­trol” on its side.

US Chief Jus­tice John Roberts point­edly de­fended the in­de­pen­dence of the fed­eral ju­di­ciary on Wed­nes­day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump crit­i­cised the courts once again.

The call was a uniquely Trump blend of boast­ing, pep­pered ques­tions and off-the-cuff ob­ser­va­tions as his com­ments veered from vent­ing about slights to prais­ing troops — “You re­ally are our he­roes,” he said — as club wait­ers worked to set Thanks­giv­ing din­ner ta­bles on the out­door ter­race be­hind him.

And it was yet an­other show of how Trump has dra­mat­i­cally trans­formed the pres­i­dency, eras­ing the tra­di­tional di­vi­sions be­tween do­mes­tic pol­icy and mil­i­tary mat­ters and ef­forts to keep the troops clear of pol­i­tics.

“You prob­a­bly see over the news what’s hap­pen­ing on our south­ern bor­der,” Trump told one Air Force brigadier gen­eral sta­tioned at Ba­gram Air­field in Afghanistan, adding: “I don’t have to even ask you. I know what you want to do, you want to make sure that you know who we’re let­ting in.”

Later, Trump asked a US Coast Guard com­man­der about trade, which he noted was “a very big sub­ject” for him per­son­ally.

“We’ve been taken ad­van­tage of for many, many years by bad trade deals,” Trump told the com­man­der, who sheep­ishly replied that, “We don’t see any is­sues in terms of trade right now.”

And through­out, Trump was sure to con­grat­u­late him­self, telling the of­fi­cers that the coun­try is do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well on his watch.

“I hope that you’ll take so­lace in know­ing that all of the Amer­i­can fam­i­lies you hold so close to your heart are all do­ing well,” he said. “The na­tion’s do­ing well eco­nom­i­cally, bet­ter than any­body in the world.”

He later told re­porters “no­body’s done more for the mil­i­tary than me”.

In­deed, asked what he was thank­ful for this Thanks­giv­ing, Trump cited his “great fam­ily”, as well as him­self.

“I made a tremen­dous coun­try,” he said.

But Trump con­tin­ued to warn about the sit­u­a­tion on the south­ern bor­der as he took ques­tions from re­porters, point­ing to the caravans of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants that have been mak­ing their way to­ward the US and warn­ing that, “If we find that it gets to a level where we lose con­trol or peo­ple are go­ing to start get­ting hurt, we’re go­ing to close en­try into the coun­try for a pe­riod of time un­til we get it un­der con­trol.”

He said he had the au­thor­ity to do so by ex­ec­u­tive or­der and claimed he’d al­ready used it ear­lier this week. “Two days ago, we closed the bor­der. We ac­tu­ally just closed it, said no­body’s com­ing in be­cause it was just out of con­trol.”

By no means did he seal the bor­der with Mex­ico. Of­fi­cials did shut down one port of en­try, San Ysidro, in Cal­i­for­nia, for sev­eral hours early on Mon­day morn­ing to bol­ster se­cu­rity be­cause of con­cerns about a po­ten­tial in­flux of mi­grant car­a­van mem­bers. They closed north­bound lanes into the US and re­opened most of them be­fore the morn­ing rush.

Trump’s bor­der threat came days af­ter a fed­eral judge put the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s at­tempts to over­haul asy­lum rules on hold. Courts have also blocked sev­eral ver­sions of the pres­i­dent’s travel ban as well as his at­tempt to end a pro­gramme that al­lows young im­mi­grants brought to the dif­fer­ence in this coun­try il­le­gally as chil­dren to live and work in the coun­try.

Trump prob­a­bly could close the en­tire south­ern bor­der by or­der, at least tem­po­rar­ily, in­vok­ing na­tional se­cu­rity pow­ers. But do­ing so could cause ex­traor­di­nary dam­age to bi­lat­eral re­la­tions as well as to cross-bor­der com­merce be­tween the US and Mex­ico, its third largest trad­ing part­ner. It would not nec­es­sar­ily stop mi­grants from com­ing ei­ther; Trump would have to con­tend with the same asy­lum laws al­ready vex­ing his ef­forts to har­den the bor­der. Among other sub­jects the pres­i­dent touched on in his ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion with the Press:

Trump dis­puted re­ports the CIA has con­cluded that Saudi Ara­bia’s crown prince was re­spon­si­ble for jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi’s killing. “The CIA points it both ways,” said Trump. “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”

Asked who should be held re­spon­si­ble for the killing, Trump re­sponded that, “Maybe the world should be held ac­count­able ‘cause the world is a vi­cious place”.

Trump said he’d be in­ter­view­ing can­di­dates for po­ten­tial open­ings in his ad­min­is­tra­tion – but wouldn’t say for what po­si­tions. “I’m very happy with my Cab­i­net and the peo­ple work­ing for me and for us. ... They’re ab­so­lute stars.” But, he said, “there’s al­ways a lot of change. I’ll prob­a­bly be chang­ing a cou­ple.” — Al Jazeera

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