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By Dartunorro Clark, Allan Smith and Hallie Jackson
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is “extremely unhappy” with the bipartisan deal lawmakers reached to avert a government shutdown this week that provides money for a southern border fence, but he vowed to build a border wall anyway.
“I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “It’s sad. They’re doing the country no favors. They’re hurting our country very badly. But we certainly don’t want to see a shutdown.”
Trump added that he is considering all options to fund his proposed border wall. A White House official told NBC News earlier Tuesday that even if Trump signs off on the agreement reached Monday night to keep the government open, other options were on the table to build a more substantial barrier.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tweeted Tuesday that Trump “should take executive action” to secure the border.
Trump also said Tuesday that he didn’t think there would be another government shutdown this Friday, which would come on the heels of the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. But “if you did have it, it’s the Democrats’ fault,” he said.
“And I accepted the first one, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished because people learned during that shutdown all about the problems coming in from the southern border,” Trump added. “I accept it — I’ve always accepted it. But this one, I would never accept it if it happens, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. But this would be totally on the Democrats.”
The deal that Democrats in Congress agreed to, however, includes billions for Department of Homeland Security priorities like new technology and more customs officers as well as the border barrier.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he thinks the compromise is “a good step in the right direction” and that the measure would get support from Republican lawmakers.
“From a Republican point of view, there is money in there for new barrier fencing, and there is no cap on interior enforcement,” McConnell said. “It’s not everything the president hoped to get, but I think it’s a good step in the right direction. I hope he’ll decide to sign it. We’re all quite interested in that, as you can imagine.”
On the possibility that Trump could redirect federal money through executive action, McConnell said, “I think he ought to feel free to use whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his effort to secure the border.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday on the Senate floor that the government spending agreement was “a path forward for our country,” adding, “I strongly urge President Trump to sign this agreement.”
Trump tweeted Tuesday evening that he had been presented with the deal and doubled down on his promise to build the wall anyway, praising Republicans for putting up with the “Radical Left” during border negotiations.
“Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources….,” the president tweeted. “Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!”
The government is set to run out of money again on Friday after having been partially shut down for 35 days. That shutdown occurred because lawmakers did not provide Trump with his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall. But Trump eventually relented and signed a short-term funding package that expires in days.
Over the weekend, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the administration would secure the border, one way or another.
“We’ll take as much money as you can give us,” he said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to Congress, “and then we will go off and find the money someplace else legally in order to secure that southern barrier.”
Mulvaney added Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that regardless of what money lawmakers provide, Trump will “do whatever he legally can to secure that border.”
On Monday night, a bipartisan group of congressional negotiators announced they had reached an “agreement in principle” to avert another shutdown and further fund border security, though it would not include money for a concrete wall.
The agreement would provide nearly $1.4 billion for new border fencing, which could include steel slats and other “existing technologies,” and an additional $1.7 billion for other Homeland Security priorities like new technology and more customs personnel, multiple sources told NBC News. The deal funds about 55 miles of new border barrier, and Democrats dropped a demand to cap the number of beds for undocumented immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that the bipartisan group “put together a deal that we think is fair, that represents our values and will do the job.”
McConnell called the agreement “good news” on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
“I look forward to reviewing the full text as soon as possible, and hope the Senate can act on this legislation in short order,” McConnell said.
But some of Trump’s allies were apoplectic about the agreement.
“$1.3 billion? That’s not … even a wall, a barrier,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his program Monday, asking how any Republican could support “this garbage compromise.”
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter criticized Trump on Twitter for what she claimed was his unwillingness to fight for a wall.
“Trump talks a good game on the border wall, but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it,” Coulter wrote Tuesday. “Call this his ‘Yellow New Deal.'”
Trump calls supporter whose weight he mocked after mistaking him for a protester
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump called a supporter from Air Force One on Thursday night after mistakenly identifying him as a protester during a campaign rally and mocking him from the stage.
“That guy’s got a serious weight problem,” Trump said earlier that night in New Hampshire, as security officers confronted a group of protesters seated in the stands behind the president’s podium. “Go home. Start exercising. Get him out of here, please,” he added.
“Got a bigger problem than I do,” Trump added, making a self-deprecating joke about his own weight struggles.
The president appeared to have mistaken Frank Dawson, a retired law enforcement officer, for a protester, as Dawson got mixed in the shuffle while trying to break up the protestors’ disruption.
In an interview after the rally with Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, Dawson said he did not hold the president’s mockery against him, characterizing it as a misunderstanding and laughing about the incident.
“He didn’t see me rip the signs away from those three people sitting near us,” Dawson said, wearing a navy blue “Trump 2020” T-shirt. “They were trying to cause a ruckus and they jumped up and started yelling.”
Trump called him from Air Force One Thursday night after the rally and left a voicemail, according to a senior administration official.
A man who answered the phone at Dawson’s home and identified himself as the Trump supporter said he had not seen the president’s call on his phone until he got home because of poor cell service at the venue.
He said the voicemail had not been an apology. “[Trump] did not apologize to me, nothing to apologize for,” he said. “He thanked me for his support. It was a ‘thank you,’ he did not apologize to me.”
“I owe [Trump] depth of gratitude because he called me,” he added. “I was honored to be called…. He’s a stand-up guy.”
Asked for his reaction to the president’s apparent commentary on his weight, Dawson brushed it off. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. … I really don’t care.”
Sally Bronston and Kristen Welker contributed.
AG Barr’s Justice Department has whole lotta love for Led Zeppelin
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is coming to the defense of Led Zeppelin in a copyright dispute over the opening passage from one of rock’s best-known anthems, “Stairway to Heaven,” a melody and chord sequence that nearly every aspiring guitarist tries to master.
The Justice Department filed a friend of court brief late Thursday supporting Led Zeppelin against a claim that it stole the musical passage from an earlier recording, “Taurus” by Spirit. The legal battle of the bands has played out in federal courts in California for the past five years.
Trustees for the songwriter of “Taurus,” Randy Wolfe — who called himself Randy California and has since died — accuse Led Zeppelin of violating his copyright by appropriating the “distinct plucked guitar line and melody.” The case went to a jury, which ruled for Led Zeppelin in 2016.
At the trial, the jury heard from a member of Spirit, Led Zeppelin musicians Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and musical experts — but jurors never heard the actual recording of either song in court. The judge ruled that because “Taurus” was written in 1967, it fell under an older version of federal copyright law, which protected only the sheet music for the song, not the sound recording.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case sent back for another trial, ruling that the jury should have heard the recordings to demonstrate that Led Zeppelin had access to “Taurus.” But in June, the full Ninth Circuit said it would hear the appeal again.
In its brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department said the trial judge got it right when he ruled that the only work subject to copyright protection was the sheet music, because the song was written before Congress changed the law in 1972, which gave protection to sound recordings.
The similar-sounding qualities of the two passages, consisting of an A-minor chord and descending bass line in a chromatic scale, deserve protection only if they are virtually identical, the government said. And under that test, the brief said, Led Zeppelin should prevail.
A victory for Spirit would re-write a chapter of music history, involving bragging rights to one of rock’s most famous guitar passages. “Stairway to Heaven” is number 31 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
The appeals court will hear the case in September.
America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and over 200 Latino artists ‘speak out loudly against hate’
Actresses Eva Longoria, America Ferrera and more than 200 other Latino artists and civil rights leaders on Friday penned a letter of support to the Latino community in the United States after a mass shooting in Texas and immigration raids in Mississippi.
Musicians Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Lin-Manuel Miranda gave their backing to the letter, which called on those outside the Latino community to “speak out loudly against hate.”
“If you are feeling terrified, heartbroken and defeated by the barrage of attacks on our community, you are not alone,” said the letter, addressed to the Querida Familia Latina (Dear Latino Family) and published in the New York Times, La Opinion and other newspapers.
The letter followed a shooting targeting Mexican-Americans and Mexicans in the predominantly Latino border city of El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3 that killed 22 people, as well as the arrest of nearly 700 people in immigration raids last week on seven agricultural processing plants in Mississippi.
Both followed accusations that President Donald Trump has stoked racial divisions with his rhetoric and his crackdown on immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico.
“We will not be broken. We will not be silenced. We will continue to denounce any hateful and inhumane treatment of our community. We will demand dignity and justice,” the letter said.
It called on allies of the Latino community to “speak out loudly against hate, to contribute your resources to organizations that support our community, and to hold our leaders accountable.”
Former “Desperate Housewives” star and the executive producer of ABC’s “Grand Hotel” Longoria said in a statement that the U.S. is facing “a moral crisis … and we chose to use this moment to raise our voices and speak up.”
The letter was signed by many of the leading Latino voices and activists in United States, including veteran labor leader Dolores Huerta, novelist Sandra Cisneros and Voto Latino political group president Maria Teresa Kumar.
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