Things That Matter

Trump Is Losing Big League At The Courts As His Plan To Build His Border Wall Hits Another Major Roadblock

A divided federal appeals court panel has declined to remove a major roadblock to President Donald Trump’s plan to spend more than $8 billion for border wall construction despite Congress agreeing to give him only a fraction of that sum.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked (once again) Trump’s attempt at using Pentagon money to build a border wall.

Credit: @NewsHour / Twitter

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted, 2-1, to deny the Justice Department’s request for an emergency stay of a lower court judge’s injunction that blocked a budgetary maneuver the Trump administration sought to use to fund border projects in Arizona, New Mexico, and California.

Two of the judges said in a 75-page order released Wednesday that the attempt to move Defense Department construction funds to the Department of Homeland Security appeared to be a violation of federal law and the Constitution’s delegation to Congress of the power to appropriate funds.

“The Constitution assigns to Congress the power of the purse. Under the Appropriations Clause, it is Congress that is to make decisions regarding how to spend taxpayer dollars,” Clifton and Friedland wrote. “Congress did not appropriate money to build the border barriers Defendants seek to build here. Congress presumably decided such construction at this time was not in the public interest. It is not for us to reach a different conclusion.”

For now, the administration is still prohibited from building a wall along the border.

Credit: @ajplus / Twitter

The administration said the U.S. needed emergency protection to fight drug smuggling. Its arguments did not mention illegal immigration or unprecedented numbers of Central American families seeking asylum at the U.S. border , which have dominated public attention in recent months.

The administration has awarded $2.8 billion in contracts for barriers covering 247 miles (390 kilometers), with all but 17 miles (27 kilometers) of that to replace existing barriers not expand coverage. It is preparing for a flurry of construction that the president is already celebrating at campaign-style rallies.

Trump inherited barriers spanning 654 miles (1,046 kilometers), or about one-third of the border with Mexico. Of the miles covered under Trump-awarded contracts, more than half is with Pentagon money.

While many were happy that this verdict likely means the president won’t be able to make good on one of his key campaign promises.

Credit: @AP / Twitter

And if he can’t keep his promises, many hope his supporters will be disillusioned with his performance as president and we won’t see another four years of this administration’s xenophobic, racist, hate-filled policies.

The House of Representatives celebrated the verdict but also was in disbelief over how many times Trump has to lose before he realizes he can’t build his wall.

Credit: @HomelandDems / Twitter

The Democrat-led House of Representatives also filed suit to block the disputed border wall spending, but its suit was thrown out by a federal judge in Washington last month. The decision is on appeal to the D.C. Circuit.

Kamala Harris also took to Twitter to remind people what big news this is.

Credit: @SenKamalaHarris

According to Sen. Harris, this is a major victory in the fight against the president’s border wall project.

And so did Senate Minority Leader, Chuch Schumer.

Credit: @SenSchumer / Twitter

Although the fight isn’t over, it’s definitely a verdict to celebrate and many especially wanted to thank the ACLU for their work in bringing the case before the 9th Circuit. It’s their hard work that helped make the case possible.

People took to Twitter to celebrate the court’s decision.

Congress and now two courts have said no border wall funds.

For the sake of our democracy and border communities, it’s time Donald Trump come to terms with the fact that America rejected his xenophobic wall and move on.

READ: President Trump Didn’t Get His Border Wall Funding So He Is Now Declaring A National Emergency

Group Gifted Trump A Portion Of The Berlin Wall To Tell Him Walls Don’t Work

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Group Gifted Trump A Portion Of The Berlin Wall To Tell Him Walls Don’t Work

TheWallAgainstWalls / Instagram

President Donald Trump is still eager to get his wall built at the southern border. It’s happening very, very (very), slowly. The matter of the border wall is actually a big wall of a mess. There are lawsuits going against Trump and his wall, a construction company has been ordered to stop building it, and there is still no direct funding for the wall itself. Yet again, that is his main initiative, and his supporters completely back him on it. It’s not a shocking sight to see Trump supporters picturing themselves in front of the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall while using hashtags such as #wallswork. So, it makes sense that people in Berlin are sending a strong message to Trump to show him, walls will only further divide a country, not unite Americans.

A Berlin-based pro-democracy group sent Donald Trump a piece of the Berlin Wall with a persuasive letter denouncing the use of walls to separate people. 

Credit: TheWallAgainstWalls / Instagram

“On the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we are sending one of the last sections of the infamous wall to Washington, D.C. as a letter to President Trump, to remind him of America’s commitment to build a world without walls. Wall against Walls is an initiative of the citizens of Berlin to express their gratitude for 30 years of freedom.” The project is an initiative by Offene Gesellschaft. 

The gift to the president is a 2.7-ton section of the Berlin Wall, which has been making its way from Berlin all across the country. 

Credit: TheWallAgainstWalls / Instagram

Here’s a portion of the letter: 

“Dear President Trump, 

This is an original piece of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years, it separated east and west, family, and friends. It divided not only Berlin and Germany but the whole world. Too many people died trying to cross it — their only crime being their desire to be free. Today, the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany is united again, and in Berlin, only a few scattered pieces remind us that no wall last forever. We would like to give you one of the last pieces of the failed Berlin Wall to commemorate the United States’ dedication to building a world without walls. 

Citizens of Berlin.”

The letter also added that it was because of former U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan that the Berlin Wall was able to be demolished.

People are encouraged to sign the letter if they are supportive of their statements. 

Credit: TheWallAgainstWalls / Instagram

On Nov. 9, they attempted to present the wall to the president in Washington D.C. Fox News reported that “it’s unlikely the Trump administration will accept as it contains a letter reminding the president of ‘America’s commitment to build a world without walls.'”

The wall has now been making its way to various locations across the country where people have been able to experience the Berlin Wall close up. 

Credit: TheWallAgainstWalls / Instagram

“For every German born after 1989, the Berlin Wall never stood in their way. They never had to experience being separated from their loved ones. They didn‘t have to risk their life in order to be free. They got to go wherever they wanted- because their parents and grand-parents took to the streets. Again. And again. And again. They proved: together, we have the power to overcome everything. Even a wall,” the official Wall Against Walls stated on their Instagram page. 

This wall also made its way to the Mexico border.

An organization from Germany gifted Trump a piece of the Berlin Wall with a message against the use of walls to separate people.
Credit: TheWallAgainstWalls / Instagram

“On the 5th Day of our trip through the US, the wall against walls made a tour stop with symbolic power – right next to the Mexico-United States border wall,” organizers said. “A brief, silent moment with an incredible emotional power made us think. From the first human settlements until 1848, this stretch of land has never been a border. Tribes, families, and communities lived on both sides of what is now a seemingly infinite fence. It might be considered necessary by some, but this wall is dividing people simply by place of birth. Let’s hope we will find better ways of encouraging those who contribute to our communities and hold responsible for those who don’t. Mr. President, in the words of Ronald Reagan: TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!”

To sign the letter on the Berlin Wall, click here

READ: New Report Confirms That Trump’s Border Wall Is Jeopardizing Native American History And Sensitive Environments

Witnesses From Third Day Of Impeachment Hearings Offer Information Defending And Implicating Trump

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Witnesses From Third Day Of Impeachment Hearings Offer Information Defending And Implicating Trump

PBS NewsHour / YouTube

Day three of the public impeachment hearings offered few positives for President Trump as the House Intelligence Committee heard from four more witnesses on Tuesday. The first part of the hearing featured vivid testimonies from two key witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who heard President Trump’s call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. The later part of the day was devoted to two witnesses called forth by Republicans, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former Trump foreign policy adviser Tim Morrison.

Unlike previous witnesses in the impeachment investigation, three of the four individuals who testified on Tuesday actually listened in on the July 25th phone call with Trump and Zelensky. All of them expressed serious concerns with President Trump’s phone call and spoke at length about the implications of his conversation with Zelensky. They say Trump used foreign policy to benefit his reelection campaign by using military aid in an effort to force Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. 

One of the most pivotal moments on Tuesday was the testimony from Lt. Col. Vindman who said that the phone call was “improper” and was concerned.

 The Iraq War veteran called out Trump saying that he acted out of duty and told a senior lawyer at the National Security Council about his concerns.

 “Without hesitation, I knew that I had to report this to the White House counsel,” Vindman said. “I had concerns and it was my duty to report my concerns to the proper people in the chain of command.”

 Vindman told committee members that he found many of the things that Trump discussed in the phone as troublesome. He implied that Trump could do further damage to both Ukraine’s efforts to establish itself as an independent nation as well as the national security of the United States.

“It was improper for the president to request to demand an investigation into a political opponent,” Vindman said. “This would have significant implications if it became public knowledge…It would undermine our Ukraine policy. It would undermine our national security.”

Republicans countered by questioning Vindman and his political standing throughout his testimony. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the head Republican on the Intelligence Committee, repeatedly jabbed at Vindman asking him if he could identify the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint helped trigger the impeachment proceedings. 

There was even some shots taken at Vindman from the White House’s social media page that tried to discredit his testimony. Vindman affirmed his loyalty to the U.S. and dismissed the idea that he was a “never-trumper”.  

“I’m an American,” Vindman said. “I came here when I was a toddler and I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them…the whole notion is rather comical.”

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, who also listened to the July 25 phone call, said it was “unusual and inappropriate.”

Credit: @KyleGriffin1 / Twitter

Williams said she found the president’s call unusual because it included discussion of a “domestic political matter.” She said that she wasn’t sure why aid was being withheld from Ukraine. Williams couldn’t recall any national security official in the U.S government who supported the decision to withhold the security aid for Ukraine. 

“I found the July 25 phone call unusual because, in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter,” Williams testified. 

President Trump took to Twitter to attack Williams and her testimony. “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Throughout the day Republicans attempted to discredit witnesses and testimonies. 

Committee Republicans quickly took to criticizing testimonies throughout the day claiming that Vindman and Williams were simply giving his personal opinion about the phone call. President Trump also chimed in on the hearings throughout the day portraying Vindman as a liar and a Democratic pawn. 

This seems to be continuing theme during the first few days of these hearings and show no sign of stopping anytime soon.  If these are the best defenses Trump and fellow committee republicans can come up, there is trouble on the way when it comes to a vote against impeachment.

READ: Democratic Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Discusses The Primary Process, DACA, And The Legacy Of His Campaign