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By Julia Ainsley
WASHINGTON — As the government shutdown drags on, lawyers from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon are meeting to discuss whether President Donald Trump can declare a national emergency to deploy troops and Defense Department resources to build his border wall, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions.
One of the sources, a senior administration official, said the White House has kept this option on the table for some time, but is now considering it more seriously.
“Depending on the severity of crisis, it’s always been an option. Now that things are getting worse, we are looking at how that could be operationalized and used to confront the crisis,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The official said the talks are ongoing and will continue over the weekend as details are worked out.
ABC News first reported that the White House was considering declaring a national emergency to build the wall.
Trump said at a press briefing Friday he was considering declaring a national emergency in order to bypass Congress.
“We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country,” Trump said at the press briefing in the Rose Garden.
However, the numbers of border crossers are not at all-time highs. Fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, saw a lower numbers of illegal border crossings than fiscal year 2014 or fiscal year 2016.
Asked if the Department of Defense was open to the idea of using its resources to build the wall, the official simply said the president would use his power as the commander in chief.
The official did not rule out that the Federal Emergency Management Administration, a part of DHS, may also be used as part of a national emergency response.
Maine becomes 8th state to legalize assisted suicide
Maine legalized medically assisted suicide on Wednesday, becoming the eighth state to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with prescribed medication.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who had previously said she was unsure about the bill, signed it in her office.
Oregon was the first state to legalize such assistance, in 1997, and it took over a decade for the next state, Washington, to follow suit. While still controversial, assisted suicide legislation is winning increasing acceptance in the United States, and this year at least 18 states considered such measures.
Maine’s bill would allow doctors to prescribe terminally ill people a fatal dose of medication. The bill declares that obtaining or administering life-ending medication is not suicide under state law, thereby legalizing the practice often called medically assisted suicide.
The proposal had failed once in a statewide vote and at least seven previous times in the Legislature. The current bill passed by just one vote in the House, and a slim margin in the Senate.
The signing Wednesday was a relief to Mainers such as Staci Fowler, 47, who’s taken on the fight for such laws in honor of her late friend Rebecca VanWormer.
VanWormer, whose breast cancer spread to her bones, had pushed for such a bill in 2015 — two years before she died in 2017.
“This is what she wanted,” said Fowler, an educational consultant in Gardiner. “And now everybody has the option that she didn’t have.”
Maine joins seven other states and Washington, D.C., that have similar laws, according to the Death With Dignity National Center and the Death With Dignity Political Fund. The states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and New Jersey, whose governor signed the legislation earlier this year.
Montana doesn’t have a specific law on the books, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that doctors could use a patient’s request for life-ending medication as a defense against criminal charges.
Maine’s population has the oldest median age, and, as in other states, the proposal has exposed divisions that defied party lines.
Supporters, including Democrats and a small group of Republicans, say the terminally ill should have the right to choose a peaceful end.
Opponents, meanwhile, have said the legislation puts the terminally ill in “grave danger.”
“Assisted suicide is a dangerous public policy that puts the most vulnerable people in society at risk for abuse, coercion and mistakes,” said Matt Valliere, executive director of Patients Rights Action Fund, an advocacy group. “It also provides profit-driven insurance companies perverse incentives to offer a quick death, rather than costly continuing quality care.”
The bill’s Democratic sponsor said the latest language addresses criticism of past efforts that have failed in Maine.
The legislation defines “terminal disease” as one that is incurable and will likely end in death within six months.
The bill requires a second opinion by a consulting physician, along with one written and two verbal requests. Physicians would screen patients for conditions that could impair judgment, such as depression.
The law criminalizes coercing someone into requesting life-ending medication, as well as forging a request for life-ending medication.
Boost for Boris! Theresa May’s former right-hand man backs Brexiteer for Tory leadership
Trump says he’d accept dirt on an opponent from a foreign government
President Donald Trump said in an interview excerpt aired Wednesday that he might take help from a foreign government offering information on an opponent.
Trump made the comment to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos while discussing why his son, Donald Trump Jr., didn’t go to the FBI after he spoke with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump Jr. spoke to Congress for three hours Wednesday to discuss answers he gave in an interview to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017, including those regarding emails leading up to the meeting which promised dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent.
The president told Stephanopoulos that “life doesn’t work that way” when asked why his son didn’t go to the FBI. Trump also said he would want to hear if another country had information on another candidate and called it “oppo research.”
“It’s not an interference, they have information,” Trump said. “I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI.”
Stephanopoulos then pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agency should know about contacts from foreign governments.
“The FBI director is wrong,” Trump said.
Trump was at the center of a two-year probe of Russian election meddling and possible obstruction conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The 448-page report, released in April, avoided making a decision on obstruction, but Mueller did conclude that there was Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American,” Mueller said at a May press conference.
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