The White House is set to unveil a sweeping new plan that would radically transform the makeup of immigrants in the United States, ending the visa lottery program and implementing a comprehensive merit-based admissions procedure, three senior administration officials told Fox News on Wednesday.
The move would more than quadruple the number of immigrants admitted because of their work-related skills, while dramatically slashing the number of immigrants admitted because of family ties. Currently, approximately 12 percent of immigrants are admitted based on employment and skills, while 66 percent are admitted based on family connections.
Those percentages, under the new plan, would shift to 57 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Ten percent of immigrants would be admitted on humanitarian or other grounds, but the plan would end the visa lottery program.
In its place: a new “Build America Visa” program that would recognize “extraordinary talent” and “people with professional and specialized vocations,” including exceptional students, Fox News has learned.
Potential immigrants would be assessed using a point-based system, accounting for factors including age, English proficiency, whether each candidate has an offer of employment above a certain wage threshold, and educational and vocational certifications. Pledges to invest and create jobs also would be considered.
The average yearly wage of immigrant families currently is approximately $43,000. The officials said immigrants admitted based on education and skills would have an average family income of $126,000, and they would expect the average yearly wage of all immigrant families to rise to roughly $96,000.
The Trump administration also said it has considered other similar immigration systems. When Canada implemented a merit-based system, it largely resulted in a “pooling” of immigrants from East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. To avoid pooling, the White House said it would add points to immigrant candidates from under-represented countries, but it would not impose caps on certain countries.
Trump is set to deliver a major immigration address Thursday afternoon, Fox News has learned, amid previous reports that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working to finalize a plan that focuses on border security and changes to the legal immigration system.
“I do believe that the president’s position on immigration has been maybe defined by his opponents by what he’s against as opposed to what he’s for,” Kushner said at the Time 100 Summit in New York City last month. “What I’ve done is, I’ve tried to put together a very detailed proposal for him.”
Kushner presented the plan to senators on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters after the presentation that White House officials seemed “well on their way” to winning consensus for a plan that would unite Republicans on the contentious issue. But, he added, “Whether it will or not, I don’t know.”
One Republican official briefed on Tuesday’s meeting said Kushner provided few details.
Fox News has been told the reason for the push for a skill-based system would be to attract the best and brightest talent, protect American wages, increase the gross domestic product (GDP), and preserve humanitarian values.
Other than adopting a merit-based admissions procedure, the plan also would update the asylum admissions procedure and expedite the adjudication process for people with legitimate asylum claims, the sources told Fox News.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
The White House is pushing back against the slew of Russia probe-related document requests from Democrats on Capitol Hill, accusing the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee of seeking to duplicate Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for political gain.
“Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice,” Pat Cipollone, counsel to the president, wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. on Wednesday.
Cipollone’s 12-page letter is in response to a March 4 request from Nadler for a wide-range of documents related to the Russia investigation.
The letter comes a week after the committee voted to recommend holding Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for Mueller’s unredacted Russia report and underlying documents, after President Trump asserted executive privilege in a bid to protect those files from release.
The White House does not assert executive privilege in the letter. But Cipollone argues that the request improperly seeks information that could be considered privileged.
Some of the requests include: information related to Trump’s contacts with then-FBI Director James Comey; the contents of meetings between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin; information related to possible pardons for former aides Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen; and other requests.
“Unfortunately, it appears that you have already decided to press ahead with a duplicative investigation, including by issuing subpoenas, to replow the same ground the Special Counsel has already covered,” Cipollone wrote. “I ask that you reconsider that approach.”
Still, Cipollone said the White House is open to reaching an accommodation with the committee. The letter asks the committee to “narrow the sweeping scope of the requests in the letter and articulate the legislative purpose and legal support for each of the disparate requests it wishes to pursue, including by addressing each of the legal deficiencies that I raise in this letter.”
In the March 4 request to the White House, Nadler said his committee is “determined to ask critical questions, gather all of the relevant information, judiciously assess the evidence, and present our findings to the American people, whatever those findings may be.”
Source: Fox News Politics
The White House asked former White House counsel Don McGahn to say publicly that he did not believe that President Trump obstructed justice, Fox News confirmed Friday — although McGahn’s attorney said they never perceived the request as a threat.
“We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made,” McGahn’s attorney William Burck said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that White House officials made the request to McGahn, but that McGahn declined — purportedly because he didn’t want to weigh in on the evidence in the report beyond his own testimony, and did not want to comment on his own testimony in isolation.
The request, made by White House lawyer Emmett Flood, came after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report last month. The report did not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and did not come to a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice.
However, it did outline a number of controversial actions and requests made by the president that were examined as part of Mueller’s obstruction inquiry.
One of those examples Mueller outlines was an instance in which Trump called McGahn and told him to have Mueller fired. McGahn is said to have ignored that request.
“On June 17, 2017, the president called [White House Counsel Don] McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” the report stated, referencing the Watergate scandal.
The report also said that when media outlets reported the president’s request for McGahn to have Mueller removed, the president directed White House officials “to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the special counsel removed.”
“McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening,” the report said.
Trump has denied the claim that he told McGahn to fire Mueller “even though I had the legal right to do so.”
“If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself,” he tweeted.
Democrats have quickly seized on the examples as proof that Trump did in fact obstruct justice, and have pushed for further investigations. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed McGahn to appear before the panel to testify and provide documents related to the Mueller probe, but the White House this week said it had ordered McGahn defy the subpoena and not appear for testimony.
“The White House provided these records to Mr. McGahn in connection with its cooperation with the Special Counsel’s investigation and with the clear understanding that the records remain subject to the control of the White House for all purposes,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
“The White House records remain legally protected from disclosure under longstanding constitutional principles, because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege,” he said.
The fight comes amid a broader battle between congressional Democrats and the White House over documents and testimony related to the Mueller report. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted this week to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for his refusal to hand over the full, unredacted report to Congress and the underlying evidence in response to a committee subpoena.
“We did not relish doing this, but we have no choice,” Nadler said after the vote. “We’ve talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it.”
The White House on Wednesday announced that President Trump had asserted executive privilege over the documents in a bid to protect them from release, criticizing Nadler’s “blatant abuse of power.”
“The Attorney General has been transparent and accommodating throughout this process, including by releasing the no-collusion, no-conspiracy, no-obstruction Mueller Report to the public and offering to testify before the Committee. These attempts to work with the Committee have been flatly rejected. They didn’t like the results of the report, and now they want a redo,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Wednesday.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
The White House tore into Robert Mueller and his investigators in a recent letter to Attorney General Bill Barr that argued the special counsel’s team included “political statements” in their Russia report and “failed” to act as traditional prosecutors — while stating President Trump reserves his right to invoke executive privilege on matters related to the report.
In the April 19 letter to the Justice Department obtained Thursday by Fox News, White House Counsel Emmett Flood laid out concerns with the Mueller report while asserting that Trump waiving executive privilege on the report does not constitute a blanket waiver, as senior aides face subpoenas on Capitol Hill related to the Russia investigation.
In the letter, Flood was sharply critical of the Mueller team’s handling of the investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice — namely, not reaching a determination on that question while still going into great detail about the probe’s findings and including a pointed passage that stated the probe did not exonerate the president.
“The Special Counsel and his staff failed in their duty to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors,” Flood wrote, complaining that the report “suffers from an extraordinary legal defect” by failing to comply with the “requirements of governing law.”
Flood noted prosecutors “simply are not in the business of establishing innocence.”
The key Mueller report passage read as follows: “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Flood also complained that the report is “is laden with factual information that has never been subjected to adversarial testing or independent analysis.”
Flood took issue with the analysis that Mueller intentionally didn’t issue a conclusion on obstruction, but rather decided to provide information about his investigation so Congress could decide whether to take action, like impeachment.
“By way of justifying this departure, it has been suggested that the report was written with the intent of providing Congress some kind of ‘road map’ for congressional action,” Flood wrote, adding if that’s the case, “it too serves as additional evidence of the [Special Counsel Office’s] refusal to follow applicable law.”
The letter comes as the White House has signaled it intends to vigorously oppose subpoenas that might run up against executive privilege, a power sanctioned by the Supreme Court that allows the president and members of the executive branch to shield certain internal communications from disclosure, absent a compelling overriding justification.
“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters at the White House last week.
Trump has argued that he has been “transparent” as president and had already turned over documents to Mueller’s team – suggesting it’s not necessary to cooperate with the Democratic probes.
The White House has signaled plans to fight House Democrats’ subpoena of testimony and documents from ex-White House counsel Don McGahn. The brewing fight over the McGahn subpoena was poised to set up a series of other contentious legal showdowns as Democrats seek to publicly question more current and former Trump aides who featured prominently Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
The Trump administration is denying congressional Democrats access to information regarding the background check and security clearance process for White House staff, in the latest step to push back on investigations emanating from Capitol Hill.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone penned a letter explaining the decision Wednesday to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who is leading a probe into potential misconduct concerning security clearances for White House officials.
“[T]he Administration respects the authority of Congress to conduct legitimate oversight and will work with the Committee through the constitutionally mandated accommodation process to provide the Committee with information it can properly seek,” he wrote. “However, to be clear, no employee of the Executive Branch is or has been authorized to disclose to the Committee information about individual security clearance files or background investigations.”
Cipollone, warning that the committee’s actions could discourage individuals from pursuing careers in government, called it “highly improper for the Committee to induce or encourage the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information in order to launch public political attacks on individuals as part of advancing a partisan political agenda.”
He added: “I respectfully urge the Committee to cease these improper methods of obtaining information to which it is not legally entitled.”
Cipollone said the White House will continue to work with the committee and provide materials that are properly requested.
“The Committee is not a law enforcement agency, and it is improper for it to be targeting and intimidating individual Americans under the guise of oversight,” Cipollone wrote. “Similarly, Congress does not have power to target individuals for the sake of ‘exposing’ alleged derogatory information to the public.”
Cipollone claimed that the committee’s request for individual security clearance files and information “has no legitimate legislative purpose.”
The White House also argued that the committee has requested documents that are “not subject to disclosure,” including requests that cover “communications to and from the President,” which are “at the heart of executive privilege,” and other “protected” communications. Cipollone further said the materials from individual security clearance files consist of information gathered by the FBI.
“Releasing information prepared by the FBI in connection with a security clearance review would undermine the investigative process, expose sensitive information that could jeopardize the FBI’s ability to conduct future investigations, and raise serious separation of powers concerns,” he wrote.
Cipollone’s letter comes after the president warned congressional Democrats he would fight “all” subpoenas issued to current and former administration officials as part of the Democrats’ sweeping Trump-focused investigations.
And the letter comes shortly before ex-White House security official Carl Kline is slated to appear before the committee for an interview related to his activities in his former position. The committee subpoenaed Kline earlier this month, but the White House blocked Kline from complying.
Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, then warned the White House that if they did not provide Kline for an interview, Cummings would likely begin contempt proceedings against him. Cummings indeed fired off a stern warning to Kline around that time.
“Your refusal to participate in a deposition last Tuesday pursuant to a duly authorized subpoena from this Committee is a very serious matter that places you in significant legal jeopardy,” Cummings wrote in a letter made public Sunday. “Your actions are particularly egregious because you did not even appear before the Committee as the subpoena directed. I understand that the White House ordered you not to appear, but that is not a valid legal reason to defy a congressional subpoena. The President asserted no Constitutional privilege and has not relieved you of the legal requirement the subpoena imposed.”
The White House and Kline ultimately agreed to the new interview format.
Kline’s subpoena was issued as part of the committee’s investigation into security clearances issued to senior Trump administration officials, including Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former White House aide Rob Porter.
The probe intensified after Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversaw the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, revealed that she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year, but had senior officials overrule those denials.
The White House’s defiance of the Kline subpoena comes after lawyers for Trump last week sued the committee to block subpoenas for the president’s financial records.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who frequently found himself in the political crosshairs due to his role in the special counsel’s Russia probe and whose departure has long been expected, submitted his resignation on Monday to President Trump, effective May 11.
Attorney General William Barr in a statement said Rosenstein served the Justice Department “with dedication and distinction.”
“His devotion to the Department and its professionals is unparalleled,” the statement read. “Over the course of his distinguished government career, he has navigated many challenging situations with strength, grace, and good humor.”
Rosenstein, 54, previously served as deputy assistant attorney general and U.S. attorney.
In February, Fox News reported that Barr picked Jeffrey Rosen, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to take over for Rosenstein.
A source told Fox News in March that Rosenstein had reached an agreement with Barr to stay at the DOJ “a little while longer” after it was reported he planned to leave by mid-March.
The deputy resigned following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia. Rosenstein served as the primary liaison between the department headquarters and Mueller’s office.
In recent months, Rosenstein became a frequent target of Trump’s ire, after FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe described private discussions about secretly recording and potentially ousting the president in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Trump accused them of pursuing a “treasonous” plot against him. Rosenstein, though, denied pursuing a recording of the president and has pushed back on claims he broached the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
First published by The New York Times last year, Rosenstein allegedly discussed wearing a “wire” to tape Trump and pursuing his removal from office in meetings and conversations with Justice Department and FBI officials. This would have been in the tumultuous days after Comey was fired as FBI director, with the president citing in part a memo penned by Rosenstein — reportedly catching him off guard.
Fox News has learned one key meeting took place on May 16, 2017 at Justice Department headquarters. Several people were in the room, including McCabe and former FBI counsel Lisa Page. Mueller was appointed as special counsel the next day.
Rosenstein’s conservative critics on the Capitol Hill seized on the reports, with North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, calling on him to appear before Congress to explain the comments. In July, Meadows and Jim Jordan of Ohio, another member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced five articles of impeachment against Rosenstein.
Those impeachment articles accused Rosenstein of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That effort was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it has not been voted upon.
Before named by Trump to serve as the No. 2 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Rosenstein took over the Russia probe after Sessions recused himself from the investigation. It was Rosenstein who later appointed Mueller to his post.
Fox News’ William Mears, Alex Pappas and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
The White House will fight House Democrats’ subpoena of testimony and documents from ex-White House counsel Don McGahn, Fox News is told — and almost immediately, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y, characterized the move as “one more act of obstruction” by the Trump administration.
The brewing fight over the McGahn subpoena was poised to set up a series of other contentious legal showdowns as Democrats seek to publicly question more current and former Trump aides who featured prominently in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.
Fox News is also told the White House intends to vigorously oppose subpoenas that might run up against executive privilege, a power sanctioned by the Supreme Court that allows the president and members of the executive branch to shield certain internal communications from disclosure, absent a compelling overriding justification.
Neither the “presidential communications privilege,” which protects discussions by the president and senior aides, and the “deliberative process privilege,” which protects even lower-level talks concerning policy discussions, were invoked by the White House to redact any sections of Mueller’s report.
But as Democrats ramp up their investigations following the report’s release, Trump and his team have begun pushing back on a campaign of probes they say are nakedly partisan.
The White House scored an early victory in that effort on Tuesday, after House Democrats agreed to postpone a subpoena deadline for Trump’s financial records, following Trump’s lawsuit challenging the subpoena.
Nadler on Monday subpoenaed McGahn to testify publicly next month. The top Democrat described McGahn, who stepped down as White House counsel in October 2018, as “a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Special Counsel’s report.”
In a statement Tuesday evening responding to reports that the White House would fight the subpoena, Nader called the subpoena “valid” and said he wouldn’t back down.
“We have asked him to supply documents to the Committee by May 7 and to testify here on May 21,” Nadler said. “Our request covers the subjects described by Mr. McGahn to the Special Counsel, and described by Special Counsel Mueller to the American public in his report. As such, the moment for the White House to assert some privilege to prevent this testimony from being heard has long since passed.”
Nadler added: “I suspect that President Trump and his attorneys know this to be true as a matter of law—and that this evening’s reports, if accurate, represent one more act of obstruction by an Administration desperate to prevent the public from talking about the President’s behavior. The Committee’s subpoena stands. I look forward to Mr. McGahn’s testimony.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace pressed Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on a section of the Mueller report outlining how Trump allegedly told McGahn to inform the acting attorney general that Mueller should be removed in June 2017 — a demand that McGahn ignored. Trump has strongly suggested that claim was ‘bulls—.'”
“If he had fired him, there wouldn’t have been an obstruction,” Giuliani began. “So, as long as he was replaced by somebody, which he would have been, and there were good reasons- arguable reasons.”
Giuliani insisted that accounts of McGahn’s story have changed multiple times and that Trump was merely calling for Mueller’s supposed conflicts of interests to be “considered.”
Mueller’s report contained purported conversations between Trump and McGahn that have raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill.
“Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes,” Trump said, according to Mueller’s report. The special counsel said McGahn responded that he keeps notes “because he is a ‘real lawyer’ and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing.”
These notes appear to have angered Trump, but also allowed Mueller to conclude that McGahn was a credible witness “with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House.”
Last week, Trump unleashed a series of broadsides concerning claims that his associates had given Mueller damaging information.
“Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,” Trump tweeted. “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.”
John Dowd, who served as a member of President Trump’s legal team from June 2017 until March 2018, backed up Trump on “Fox & Friends” Monday.
Asked when Trump said to fire Mueller, Dowd said: “He never did. I was there at the same time that the report says McGahn mentioned this, and I was assigned to deal with Mueller and briefed the president every day. … At no time did the president ever say, ‘you know, John, I’m going to get rid of him.’ It was the opposite.”
Dowd continued: “Here’s the message the president had for Bob Mueller, he told me to carry — number one, you tell him I respect what he is doing; number two, you tell him he has my full cooperation; number three, get it done as quickly as possible; and number four, whatever else you need, let me know. That was always the message and that is exactly what we did.”
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Lawyers for President Trump on Monday sued to block a subpoena issued by members of Congress that sought the business magnate’s financial records.
The complaint named Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter Kenny, the chief investigative counsel of the House committee, as its plaintiffs.
“We will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered,” said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.
Earlier this month, Cummings, D-Md., said the committee would subpoena accounting firm Mazars USA LLC for Trump’s financial information. Cummings cited February testimony from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who claimed the president inflated or deflated the value of his assets when it would benefit him.
Democrats sent a letter to Mazars in March requesting information about how Trump’s financial statements were prepared, but the firm said it could not voluntarily turn over documents unless subpoenaed.
In a statement about Monday’s suit to block the subpoena, Trump lawyers William Consovoy, of Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC, and Stefan Passantino, of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP said, “The Committee’s attempt to obtain years’ worth of confidential information from their accountants lacks any legitimate legislative purpose, is an abuse of power, and is just another example of overreach by the President’s political opponents. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ rights in this matter.”
Fox News’ Bill Mears contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
A man lit himself on fire while just outside the White House on Friday, officials said.
Secret Service agents responded to reports just after 3 p.m. that a man had set himself ablaze while positioned along the White House’s North Fence Line, according to a tweet.
The suspect was “operating an electric wheelchair-type scooter” when officials say he set his outer jacket ablaze. He was immediately met with Uniformed Division Officers who put out the fire and administered first aid, the Secret Service said in a separate tweet.
The man was taken to an area hospital, where he was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries. CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller tweeted an image of the suspect being carried away from the scene.
Secret Service agents reportedly cleared the North Lawn, and were canvassing the area for any additional devices that might have been brought to the area. Officials also shut down Pennsylvania Avenue to pedestrian traffic, while additional nearby streets were closed to vehicles.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Source: Fox News National
A man lit himself on fire while standing just outside the White House on Friday, law enforcement officials tell Fox News.
Secret Service agents responded to reports just after 3 p.m. that a man lit himself on fire just outside the White House along the North Fence Line, according to a tweet.
A law enforcement official confirmed to Fox News that a man on a scooter lit his jacket on fire while on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The fire department also responded and were providing the suspect with first aid.
Secret Service agents reportedly cleared the North Lawn, and were canvassing the area for any additional devices. Officials also shut down Pennsylvania Avenue to pedestrian traffic and additional streets were closed to vehicles.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Source: Fox News National