WASHINGTON, June 5, 2018 — A White House event billed as a consolation for disappointed Philadelphia Eagles fans appears to have been attended mostly by Republican interns from across the nation’s capital.
The event was supposed to be a celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, but after President Donald Trump found out that only a small number of players planned to attend, it was listed on the president’s daily schedule as “A Celebration of America.”
“The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony—one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” Trump wrote Monday in a tweet.
But instead of entertaining the one thousand disappointed Eagles fans who, according to the president, had made the trip to Washington to celebrate their team, the U.S. Marine Band and Army Chorus appeared to perform for a hastily-assembled group that appeared to be comprised mostly of White House, Capitol Hill and Republican National Committee interns.
“We were invited by the White House earlier today — we got an email,” said Republican National Committee intern Jenna Webster.
Webster, whose status was made clear by an RNC intern badge hanging around her neck, explained that she and the rest of her fellow interns had only found out about the event that morning.
However, her tendency towards candor was not shared by most of the alleged members of the Eagles Nation who’d come to the White House. A number of them couldn’t remember the names of prominent Eagles players or their hometowns in Pennsylvania.
One such purported Eagles fan, Joe Zarriello, said that he’d come in spite of his hometown team’s absence to honor American service members.
But when asked where it was that he’d come from, Zarrello only replied “Pennsylvania.” Pressed further on the location of his home, he appeared to be at a loss for words for a period of several seconds, after which he could only point to Delaware County as his place of residence.
Although a few scattered Eagles caps could be seen bobbing from the South Lawn press riser, local Philadelphia reporters who’d made the trip had trouble finding anyone among the crowd who was both willing to speak to reporters and could correctly name the quarterback who’d led the Eagles to their Super Bowl victory this year.
“I’ve asked 6 of the “fans” at the White House who was the @Eagles quarterback during the super bowl. Not ONE person knew,” NBC Philadelphia reporter Tim Furlong said in a tweet.
Equally as suspicious was the fact that Eagles team attire appeared to be largely absent on Tuesday’s crowd, though one White House official suggested the crowd’s sartorial tendencies were solely a function of attendees’ respect for the White House.
However, a look at crowd photos taken at similar events revealed an equal mix of fans sporting team hats or jerseys, and Washington types wearing suits or other business attire.
Tuesday’s crowd appeared to be largely composed of the latter, many of whom could be spotted wearing or carrying White House or Capitol Hill intern badges.
When BeltwayBreakfast asked one badge-wearer if he was an Eagles fan who’d planned his trip in advance, his companion poked him in the ribs and chided him for not hiding his badge as she’d been told to do.
But the few people BeltwayBreakfast found who were willing to speak with reporters represented the exception, rather than the rule, as most refused to take any questions — another marked departure from the normally gregarious fan-filled crowds at similar events.
One attendee who began walking over to the press rope line in response to reporters’ shouts was pulled back by a friend, who, just loud enough to be heard, said: “You idiot! We’re not supposed to talk to reporters!”
When asked for a breakdown of how many at Tuesday’s event were Eagles fans who’d pre-registered — and how many were Republican interns from around Washington, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters cautioned against printing inaccurate crowd estimates, but at our deadline, had not yet responded to our request for crowd size and composition information.
Trump Declares National Emergency After He Doesn’t Get His Way With Border Wall Funding
WASHINGTON, February 15, 2019 — President Donald Trump on Friday reacted to Congress’ refusal to fully fund his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by invoking emergency powers which purportedly allow him to “reprogram” federal funds without the consent of Congress.
“Today I am announcing several critical actions that my administration is taking.”
“We’re going to confront the [national security] crisis on our souther border,” Trump said, adding: “Everyone knows that walls work,” Trump said, citing Israel’s security barrier along the West Bank in the Middle East.
Trump called the idea that most illicit drugs come into the U.S. through ports of entry a “lie” despite statistics from his own Department of Homeland Security which show that most illicit drugs are seized at ports of entry.
“You can’t take big loads through ports of entry,” Trump said. He also suggested that human trafficking was not possible through ports of entry because border agents would see women who are “tied up in the trunk.”
“It’s all a big lie, it’s a big con game. You don’t have to be smart to know you put up a barrier… and people can’t come in until they go right or left and there’s no barrier.”
Trump said that his declaration was not a significant departure from precedent because other presidents had used the National Emergencies Act many times since 1976, when it was signed into law by then-President Gerald Ford.
“It’s been signed many times before. They sign it, nobody cares, I guess they weren’t very exciting.”
“We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs,” he said, citing the existence of “Angel Moms,” a designation for mothers whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants. The designation was created by anti-immigrant group the Remembrance Project.
“So we’re going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said, calling it “a great thing to do” because of the “invasion” from our country.
He also suggested that China’s drug policy was superior to the United States’ because China executes drug dealers.
Friday’s announcement, the likes of which Trump has openly considered for months, will undoubtedly set up a confrontation between the executive branch and both the legislative and judicial branches as Congress seeks to retain its own constitutional authority over the public purse.
While Congress has seen fit to appropriate only $1.375 billion for border barrier construction, White House Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the declaration will allow Trump to redirect three “pots of money.”
These include 600 million from the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s anti-drug efforts, and $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s construction budget, regardless of Congress’ express intentions.
A senior administration official said the total of $8 billion will allow Trump to order construction of approximately 234 miles of “bollard wall” barrier.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted the president’s decision in a statement Thursday.
“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” they wrote
“It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law. This is not an emergency, and the president’s fear-mongering doesn’t make it one. He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”
Even some Republicans criticized the decision and suggested it exceeded the president’s constitutional authority.
“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement Thursday.
Maine Senator Susan Collins noted in a statement that the National Emergencies Act, the 1976 law the White House is making use of, was intended for natural disasters or terror attacks.
“It is also of dubious constitutionality, and it will almost certainly be challenged in the courts,” she added.
Collins’ and Rubio’s convictions may be put to the test if Pelosi and House Democrats pass a so-called “resolution of disapproval” to terminate the emergency, which would force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to hold a vote on the resolution.
McConnell had previously spoken out against the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency on the border, but changed his tune Thursday after the president told him that he’d be signing the appropriations bill needed to stave off another government shutdown.
While Democrats warned that Trump’s invocation of the National Emergencies Act could create a precedent for future Democratic president to follow to take action on gun control or climate change, a senior administration official said Trump’s declaration “creates zero precedent.”
“The president is not waving a magic wand,” the official said, adding that the authority to declare a national emergency has been on the books since 1976.
When asked whether the president was claiming he had authority to ignore specific prohibitions against use of appropriated funds for wall construction, the official claimed that the use of reprogrammed funds in violation of Congress’ prohibition is permissible because those prohibitions do not apply to the previously-appropriated funds the president will be reprogramming.
“This is common authority,” he said.
McConnell Says Trump to Sign Funding Bill, Declare National Emergency at Border
WASHINGTON, February 14, 2019 — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said that President Donald Trump will sign legislation to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, but will declare a national emergency to attempt to repurpose already-appropriated funds for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the president will both sign legislation to fund the government and “take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”
“The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country,” she added.
The decision to declare a national emergency will set up a confrontation with members of Congress, some of whom are protective of the legislative branch’s power to appropriate funds.
Under the National Emergencies Act, if either the House or Senate passes a so-called resolution of disapproval, the other chamber must hold a vote on the same resolution.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that she “may” challenge the president’s forthcoming declaration in court.
“I’m going to review our options” she said, calling Trump’s decision “an end-run on Congress.”
Pelosi added that the current situation at the border “is not an emergency,” and cautioned that Trump could be setting a dangerous precedent.
“The precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be greeted with great unease and dismay by the Republicans and we’ll respond accordingly,” she said.
Sanders later told reporters that the White House is “very prepared” for a legal challenge, but said there shouldn’t be any.
“The president is doing his job, Congress should do theirs, she said.”
Sanders Won’t Rule Out Another Shutdown, Leaves Open Possibility of Compromise Bill Veto
WASHINGTON, February 13, 2019 — President Donald Trump has not yet ruled out shutting down the government if he is unhappy with the compromise bill Congress plans to send him, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.
“We want to see what the final piece of legislation looks like,” Sanders said when asked about several media reports which indicated that the president would sign the bill, which has been assembled over the past few weeks by a House-Senate conference committee.
“It’s hard to say definitively whether or not the president is going to sign it until we know everything that’s in it.”
Sanders admitted there were “some positive pieces” in the proposed appropriations bill, which provides just over a billion dollars for improvements to existing fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, but rejected the idea that funding levels in the bill are similar to the deal the president blew up in December after being criticized by right-wing talk radio hosts.
She also stressed that a shutdown is “not what [Trump] wants,” but attempted to preemptively blame Democrats for any shutdown the president might cause by refusing to sign the bipartisan legislation.
“If [a shutdown] happens again, that will be because the Democrats completely failed to do their job and work with the president to secure our border.”
A decision by the president to veto the compromise legislation could lead the Congress to attempt to override that veto.
But the president has indicated that rather than veto the funding, he may take the constitutionally-questionable route of using executive authority to “reprogram” money appropriated for other purposes to build his wall, which was a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign but is overwhelmingly opposed by a majority of Americans.
Still, Sanders dismissed the suggestion that by attempting to reprogram already-appropriated funds — a decision which would almost certainly be challenged in the courts — the president was planning to “go it alone.”
“Most people across the country know that we need border security and the biggest responsibility the president has is to protect the people of this country,” she said. “I think he’s got the support of Americans all over this country and I’d hardly say that’s going alone.”