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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he “probably” will declare a national emergency if he can’t get Congress to agree to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will,” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed for a trip to McAllen, Texas, to see the border up close. “If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.”

His fight with lawmakers over the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall led to a partial government shutdown Dec. 22 that remains in effect, with the White House and Congress at an impasse over whether even a single dollar should be spent on the barrier he promised to build on Mexico’s dime during his 2016 campaign.

Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told him that Democrats would not agree to pay for the wall within 30 days if he consented to re-opening shuttered federal agencies.

Trump said Thursday that there are “various mechanisms” for circumventing Congress to get money for the wall and that White House lawyers have advised him that he has the authority to declare a national emergency. The most obvious pot of money is in the Pentagon’s budget, which allows the secretary of Defense to transfer up to $4 billion between accounts under certain conditions.

But he said going around Congress isn’t his preferred route.

“I would like to do the deal through Congress and because it makes sense to do it through Congress,” he said. “The easy route for me would have been to call a national emergency to do it.”

Pressed on why Mexico isn’t paying for the wall — a staple promise of Trump’s 2016 campaign — the president said he hadn’t meant that literally.

“When, during the campaign, I would say Mexico’s going to pay for it, obviously, I never said this, and I never meant, they’re gonna write out a check,” he said. “I said they’re gonna pay for it. They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made called the United States Mexico and Canada, USMCA deal.”

But Trump told the Washington Post in 2016 that Mexico could make a one-time payment for the wall, and economists have cast doubt on whether the trade deal — which is essentially an update of the old North America Free Trade Agreement — is likely to produce significant new revenue for the U.S. government.

Trump’s visit to Texas comes two days after he delivered a primetime address to the nation on what he repeatedly referred to as a “crisis” on the border and one day after brief talks with congressional leaders over the wall and the shutdown ended with him saying “bye-bye” and exiting the room.

On Thursday, he disputed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s claim that he had slammed the table before departing Wednesday’s meeting.

“I didn’t pound on tables. I didn’t raise my voice,” Trump said. “That was a lie. … Schumer always has his stand in line. ‘He had a temper tantrum.’ I don’t have temper tantrums, I really don’t. But it plays to his narrative.”

In retrospect, Trump said, maybe he should have displayed more anger.

“I didn’t smash the table,” he said. “I should have, but I didn’t smash the table.”

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Gun rights groups try last-ditch move to stop Trump ban on rapid-fire bump stocks



Breaking News Emails

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — Owners of bump stocks — attachments that allow rifles to be fired rapidly — are hoping a federal appeals court will relieve them of the legal duty to destroy the devices by Monday.

The Trump administration ordered a ban on bump stocks after they figured prominently in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 people and wounded 500 others. A police investigation revealed that Stephen Paddock, who carried out the massacre, had 22 semi-automatic rifles with him in his hotel room overlooking an outdoor concert that he attacked, and 14 of the weapons were equipped with bump stocks.

Under a federal rule that took effect in December, owners must destroy their bump stocks, which are usually made of plastic, by Monday or risk prosecution for a felony. The rule suggests smashing them with a hammer, cutting them apart with a saw, or turning them over to a local ATF office. It applies to individual owners, dealers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

Federal authorities estimate that half a million of them have been sold in the U.S.

The devices are attached to a rifle in place of the normal stock, the end piece that sit next to a user’s shoulder. Once in place, the bump stock absorbs the weapon’s recoil and alters the relationship between the trigger finger and the weapon.

Without a bump stock, the rifle remains stationary, and the trigger finger must be moved to fire each round. With a bump stock, after the trigger is pulled once, the recoil begins moving the trigger against the finger, which remains stationary, resulting in rapid firing like a fully automatic rifle.

For that reason, the Trump administration concluded that bump stocks violate a federal law that bans machineguns, defined as weapons that automatically fire more than one shot “with a single function of the trigger.”

Gun rights groups sued, arguing that bump stocks are intended to be used with AR-15 style rifles which are mechanically incapable of firing more than once with a single function of the trigger, because it must be released and moved again to allow the weapon to fire. They say the words of the statute — single function of the trigger — refer to the movement of the trigger itself, not whether the trigger is pulled by a finger or actuated by a bump stock.

“The government is just wrong to focus to focus on the behavior of the person rather than the function of the trigger,” said Erik Jaffee, representing the gun owners. “Function of the trigger means the trigger, not the shooter.”

The Justice Department told the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., on Friday that the courts have interpreted the phrase “single function of the trigger” to mean “single pull of the trigger.” A bump stock, government lawyers argued, allows a rifle to fire automatically once the trigger is pulled once, and that qualifies it as a machinegun.

An ATF spokeswoman said some owners have already turned in their bump stocks. But gun owner groups said others were waiting to see whether the appeals court agrees to put the rule on hold.

The court did not indicate when it might rule.

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‘I will TELEPATHICALLY stop you!’ Uri Geller sends Theresa May BIZARRE Brexit warning



PARANORMAL spoon bender Uri Geller has written a bizarre open letter to Theresa May, telling the Prime Minister he “loves” her but “will stop you telepathically” from carrying out Brexit.

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Rep. Steve King slammed as ‘white supremacist’ for remarks about Katrina victims



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/ Source: Associated Press

By Dartunorro Clark

WASHINGTON — GOP Rep. Steve King is under fire after he told constituents at a town hall that victims of Hurricane Katrina pleaded for help from the government in contrast to residents of his home state of Iowa who “take care of each other.”

“Here’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me?’ When FEMA responds to problems in Iowa, they’re just always gratified when they come and see how Iowans take care of each other,” the Iowa lawmaker told a town hall meeting in Charter Oak, Iowa, on Thursday.

King said he visited New Orleans, which is a majority black city, multiple times after the deadly 2005 storm. More than 1,800 people, mostly black, died from the disaster; however, government officials have noted that the true death toll could be much higher.

Recent spring flooding in the Midwest has devastated towns and rural communities across the region and has been blamed for three deaths.

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., whose district includes New Orleans, said in a tweet on Thursday that the remarks are more evidence that King is a “white supremacist.”

“My heart goes out to all Iowans. Though it unsettles me that @SteveKingIA would dare compare them to the countless victims of Katrina, many of whom lost their lives. When people show you who they are, believe them. Steve King is a white supremacist and I won’t stand for it,” Richmond said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, also blasted King in a tweet on Thursday, calling his comments “disgusting and disheartening.”

“These comments are disgusting and disheartening. When communities are affected by disasters, we come together to help each other, not tear each other down,” he said.

King was one of 11 members of Congress to vote against a bill to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 because he said the $51.8 billion aid package was too expensive. He called it a “good” and “principled” vote, according to HuffPost.

King’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

King has been under fire from his party for remarks about race. In January, GOP voted unanimously to remove King from all committees amid the uproar over his comments about white nationalism. The move came after he questioned why “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization” was offensive in an interview with The New York Times.

“How did that language become offensive?” he asked. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at the time that King’s language is “reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society.”

King later backtracked in a statement at the time, saying, “I reject white nationalism. I reject white supremacy. It’s not part of any of my ideology. I reject anyone who carries that ideology.”`

Associated Press contributed.

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