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Trump’s White House: Five takeaways from Monday

Washington, United States | AFP | 

President Donald Trump returned to Washington Monday from a weekend trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida — stopping off at a US military base where he made the provocative, and unexplained, claim that the media was deliberately disregarding jihadist attacks.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, in California, the US government filed court documents formally defending Trump’s controversial travel ban.

Here are five takeaways from Monday’s events:

– Last filing –

After a weekend of back-and-forth as to the measure’s legality, the US government formally defended Trump’s travel ban Monday as a “lawful exercise” of his authority.

On Friday, a federal judge ordered the temporary nationwide suspension of the president’s executive order that summarily denied entry to all refugees, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In a brief filed to an appeals court in San Francisco, Justice Department lawyers argued that “the executive order is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees.”

“The district court therefore erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order. But even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” it said.

The government again asked that the ban be reinstated. A hearing has been set in the case for Tuesday at 3:00 pm Pacific time (2300 GMT).

– Tech firms –

A coalition led by some of the world’s biggest tech firms — including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter — filed a joint legal brief arguing against the temporary ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Their legal challenge suggests the important tech sector — which overwhelmingly opposed Trump in the November election — is likely to be headed for more battles with the new administration.

Tesla and SpaceX were among another 30 companies that added their names to the filing late Monday, pushing the total to more than 120. The brief said the order has already created disruption in the sector, which depends heavily on foreign-born talent.

– ‘Very, very dishonest press’ –

During a visit to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, the president launched one of his now-customary attacks against the media, which ended in new territory, with an accusation that the media is purposefully ignoring jihadist atrocities.

After listing a string of attacks that have recently occurred around the world, Trumps said: “And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.”

“They have their reasons, and you understand that,” he concluded, without providing further explanation.

Asked to expand on the president’s statement, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said “we’ll provide a list later.”

– Football star to pass on Trump –

If the New England Patriots professional football champions receive the traditional Super Bowl winner’s invitation to the White House, tight end Martellus Bennett will not attend the visit to see Donald Trump.

He told the Dallas Morning News he would not be involved in the usual honor ceremony from the US president, all-but certain given Trump’s public support of the Patriots and star quarterback Tom Brady.

“I’m not going to go,” Bennett said. “It is what it is. People know how I feel about it. Just follow me on Twitter.”

-‘Killer’ apology –

The Kremlin on Monday urged US network Fox News to apologize after its presenter called President Vladimir Putin “a killer” while interviewing his US counterpart Donald Trump.

“We consider such words from a Fox News correspondent unacceptable and offensive,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly in an interview broadcast Sunday pressed Trump on Putin’s alleged links to extrajudicial killings of journalists and dissidents, saying: “he’s a killer though, Putin’s a killer.”

Trump answered: “We’ve got a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

“Take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes,” the US president added.


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