Posts tagged with "House Foreign Affairs Committee"

Tillerson testifies that Putin outmaneuvered Trump at Hamburg summit

May 24, 2019

On Thursday, May 23, President Donald Trump lambasted former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—calling him “dumb as a rock” on Twitter—following his seven hours of testimony before members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee the day before.

Tillerson, whom Trump fired by tweet in March 2018, told the committee that Russian President Vladimir Putin was better prepared than Trump for a meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in 2017—putting the U.S. president at a key disadvantage during that first tête-à-tête, The Washington Post reported.

The two-hour conversation between the world leaders, which was not the “get-to-know-you” session expected by Trump, covered a full range of geopolitical issues.

“We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted,” a Foreign Affairs Committee aide told the Post. “There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.”

Trump fired back on Twitter, characterizing Tillerson as a man who was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, [and] made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin.”

Trump added, “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

According to the Post, in the past, Trump, has played down the importance of preparation—saying his gut instinct and ability to read a room are paramount for a successful summit.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump said ahead of his historic first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last year. “It’s about attitude, it’s about willingness to get things done. So this isn’t a question of preparation, it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.”

In another rebuttal to Tillerson, the Post reported, Trump noted that Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, is “doing a great job” and “agrees with my values.”

“Such a positive difference!” Trump added.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Shell game: Administration redirects funds to Mexico to conduct U.S. deportations

September 14, 2018

Build the wall! Build the wall!  That was the rallying cry from Trump’s base throughout his presidential campaign. After which the candidate would lead the chant, “Who’s gonna pay for it? Mexico.”

The times have changed—and the tables have turned. Now, as part of the administration’s campaign to stop illegal immigration, the United States plans instead to pay Mexico.

In a recent notice sent to Congress, the administration said it intended to take $20 million in foreign assistance funds and use it to help Mexico pay plane and bus fare to deport as many as 17,000 people who are in that country illegally, The New York Times reported on September 12.

According to the news outlet, the funding will help the POTUS to increase deportations of Central Americans, many of whom pass through Mexico to get to the American border.

In addition, in an effort to hype the plan to his nationwide base, the president has said that “any unauthorized immigrant in Mexico who is a known or suspected terrorist” will also be deported under the program, according to the notification, although such people are few in number.

Katie Waldman, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, told the Times that the program was intended to help relieve immigration flows at the United States border with Mexico.

“We are working closely with our Mexican counterparts to confront rising border apprehension numbers—specifically, a 38% increase in families this month alone—directly and to ensure that those with legitimate claims have access to appropriate protections,” Waldman said.

A spokesperson for the Mexican Embassy did not immediately respond to the news outlet’s request for comment.

Following the disclosure on September 13 that FEMA funds needed for hurricane recovery had been redirected to ICE for expansion of its detention center program, the plan to redirect foreign assistance funds becomes another example of the ways in which the administration is diverting money to serve its own priorities.

The administration has yet to spend nearly $3 billion in foreign aid, according to the Times—money allocated last year by Congress with broad bipartisan support. Hundreds of millions of dollars meant to help stabilize Syria and support Palestinian schools and hospitals already has been redirected.

The money will be transferred from the State Department to the Department of Homeland Security, and then sent to Mexico.

“Congress intended for this money to lift up communities dealing with crime, corruption and so many other challenges, not to expand this administration’s deportation crusade,” Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Times. “I want answers about why the State Department thinks it can ignore Congress and dump more cash into deportation efforts. Until then, I’ll do whatever I can to stop this.”

Under the program, Mexico would be responsible for detaining and providing judicial review of immigrants before deporting them. The sometimes cumbersome and lengthy legal process in the United States to deport asylum seekers has long frustrated President  Trump, who has often said the laws must be changed to speed deportations. Getting Mexico to do deportations instead would bypass that process.

 “We shouldn’t be paying another country to do our dirty work; we should actually be fixing our immigration system and helping these countries get back on solid footing,” said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “It smacks of desperation.”

Meanwhile, population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.

Research contact: @GardinerHarris