WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump hardened his stance on immigration talks Friday, saying it may not be possible to reach a deal with Democrats before March 5, when protections for thousands of young undocumented immigrants are set to expire.
“I would say we want to make a deal. I think they want to use it for political purposes,” Trump said at a Customs and Border Protection roundtable in Sterling, Va,, referring to immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “I really am not happy with the way it’s going from the standpoint of Democrats negotiating.”
Trump’s comments echoed pessimistic comments earlier this week about the chances of reaching a deal with Democrats for the so-called Dreamers. While Trump has said he wants to help Dreamers, he’s made it conditional on securing funding for a wall along the southern border, a move firmly opposed by Democrats.
“They’ve given up on DACA, and that’s supposed to be theirs,” Trump said Friday. “It’s ours. Because we’re the ones taking care of DACA, not them.”
Former Trump aide implicated in Russia probe gives up bid for ambassadorship amid Senate opposition
WASHINGTON — K.T. McFarland, a former White House official whose nomination to be ambassador to Singapore was blocked in the Senate amid questions about her ties to Russia, withdrew from consideration on Friday.
President Donald Trump said in a statement he was “disappointed” by the withdrawal of McFarland, who’d been a national security aide, and blamed Democrats for opposing her confirmation.
“Unfortunately, some Democrats chose to play politics rather than move forward with a qualified nominee for a critically important post,” Trump said.
Senate Democrats charged last year that McFarland falsely testified about her ties to Russian officials when she was the deputy to Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was fired last February and since has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster, ousted McFarland in April.
Her nomination for ambassador was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September. Before the full Senate could vote, however, Flynn’s guilty plea on Dec. 1 implicated McFarland.
She was not mentioned by name in Flynn’s plea, but references to her were later confirmed by a former White House official.
—Tribune Washington Bureau
State Department releases batch of Hillary Clinton emails from private server
The State Department has released a batch of emails between Hillary Clinton and her associates sent to and from her private email account.
More than 50 emails appeared on the department’s Freedom of Information Act portal on Thursday, and showed her interacting with aides such as Huma Abedin and her then chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
They show her and Abedin used @clintonemail.com addresses to set up travel plans and meetings with foreign dignitaries, as well as requests to print documents such as discussions of aid to Haiti.
Some portions, such as discussion of a call with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in July 2011 and a trip in October 2009, have been largely redacted.
The emails declassified as of the end of January, released after a FOIA request from BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold, follow the late December release of another tranche of messages that were stored on the backup program Abedin shared with her husband, disgraced New York congressman Anthony Weiner.
Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business including some classified information became a major focus of her critics during her 2016 presidential campaign. Then-FBI Director James Comey said that her actions were “extremely careless” but did not rise to the level of a crime.
—New York Daily News
Man who sold Las Vegas gunman ammunition charged with making armor-piercing bullets
LAS VEGAS — A man who sold ammunition to Stephen Paddock, the gunman who carried out the massacre in Las Vegas, has been charged with manufacturing armor-piercing bullets, according to court documents.
The charges against Douglas Haig were filed in federal court Friday. The documents said that unfired armor-piercing bullets found inside the hotel room where Paddock staged his attack carried Haig’s fingerprints.
The charges were filed the same day Haig held a news conference to address his contact with Paddock before the shooting. Neither armor-piercing bullets nor the charges came up during the news conference. Instead, Haig discussed how his life had changed after it was revealed this week that he had sold tracer rounds to Paddock.
Recounting events from Friday, Haig said the last doorbell ring at his house came at 2 a.m. Up until that point, it had been a steady stream of rings and knocks at his home. One woman shouted through his door that he should die.
There have been death threats too, Haig said.
“I don’t know who they are or what they want,” Haig said. “I’d just keep the lights off and stay quiet.”
The 55-year-old Arizona man’s life has been upended over the last four days after his name was mistakenly released Tuesday as a “person of interest” amid hundreds of pages of unsealed search warrants connected to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October.
—Los Angeles Times
Tillerson tries to ease Mexican worries about NAFTA, immigration and Trump
MEXICO CITY — U.S. relations with Mexico have been in a tailspin for the last year over President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant jibes, his threats to scuttle a crucial trade pact, demands that Mexico pay for a border wall and his apparent antipathy toward Mexico’s president.
On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson assumed his now-familiar role of damage controller and held talks with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and other senior officials in an effort to repair relations with one of the United States’ largest trading partners and, historically at least, one of its closest allies.
If there were no breakthroughs, there were no ruptures either after Tillerson met with the Mexican and Canadian foreign ministers, Luis Videgaray and Chrystia Freeland. All three are involved in trying to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trilateral trade deal that Trump has threatened to kill.
At a news conference after the meetings, Tillerson defended Trump’s attempts to “modernize” the NAFTA agreement, and to crack down on both legal and illegal immigration. He said the president wants to “clean up” the troubled U.S. immigration system and “lift the cloud of uncertainty” on immigrants living without proper documentation.
“I know it’s painful, the process,” Tillerson said as the three diplomats stood before their nations’ flags.
—Tribune Washington Bureau