The Daily Moth 3-6-17

March 7, 2017

 

 

President Trump Accuses Obama of Wiretapping Trump Tower, Trump’s New Travel Ban, Supreme Court Cancels Transgender Student’s Case, North Korea and Iran Tests Ballistic Missiles 

 

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On Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted an accusation that Obama ordered phones in Trump Tower to be wiretapped during the presidential campaign last fall. 

 

Trump is accusing Obama of basically ordering people to “break in” the phone lines in and around Trump Tower and spy on phone communications. Trump said Obama was a bad or sick guy to do this and said it was illegal.

 

First — is wiretapping legal? Law enforcement can wiretap if they have a valid court order/search warrant or if one party on the phone call consents to it, if it is a criminal investigation. 

 

Our intelligence agencies (FBI, CIA, NSA) can also wiretap phones if it is related with foregin countries — to protect the country. This requires the approval of a secret FISA (Foregin Intelligence Surveillance Court) court. But U.S. law says it is illegal for the President to personally order a wiretap. 

 

So, did Obama order a wiretap of Trump’s phones in Trump Tower because there was an ongoing investigation of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign team? 

 

Trump thinks so. He said he’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case that Obama was tapping his phones in October, before the Election. It seems like Trump got the idea from media companies that quoted several European media companies who reported without naming sources that the FBI wanted to get warrants to look into Trump’s computer server/tap into phones because of suspicions of their connections with Russia.  

 

Of course, this has brought immediate controversy. Many have asked the White House on where the evidence is, but none has been given — instead they have called on Congress to investigate this. 

 

Obama’s spokesperson said it was not true — that neither Obama or any White House staff ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. 

 

Several media sources reported that the FBI Director James Comey asked the Dept. of Justice to publicly reject President Trump’s accusation of Obama, but the DOJ has not commented so far. 

 

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told media yesterday that there was no wiretap activity against Trump as a presidential campaigner or as a president-elect, that there was no court order to surveil the Trump Tower. 

 

Trump has put this incredible claim out there, now it’s up to the White House to follow up on it. We’ll see what happens — on if there will be a serious investigation into this, or if it will go nowhere like Trump’s previous claim that he lost the popular vote by 3-5 million illegal votes. He did want an investigation but so far, nothing has happened. 

 

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President Trump has issued a revised “travel ban” — an updated one from the previous ban that was blocked in federal court. 

 

It will temporarily bar people from six countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days: Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, but people with valid visas and green cards will be allowed to enter. 

 

Iraq is no longer on the list — after the Trump administration worked with the Iraqi government to improve vetting of its citizens. 

 

The U.S. refugee program will be suspended for 120 days and caps the number of refugees allowed in the U.S at 50,000 (the Obama administration capped it at 110,000 people). 

 

Refugees from Syria are treated the same as any other country — while the previous ban indefinitely suspended them. 

 

The Trump administration said the temporary ban is so they can put in stricter vetting procedures. The Dept. of Justice said there are 300 refugees that are under investigation by the FBI for potential terrorism-related activities. 

 

The Trump administration emphasized it was not a ban against Muslims but an action to protect the U.S. from terrorism.

 

But two Muslim congressmen criticized the ban, saying it targeted Muslims. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) said it was “Muslim Ban 2.0” — and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said this ban is a Muslim ban. 

 

This new ban will go effect within 10 days (on March 16) — on that day the previous ban will “dissolve” — and it might end various challenges in court against the first travel ban.

 

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The Supreme Court was supposed to hear arguments this month related to a transgender student — Gavin Grimm — and his right to access the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. 

 

This case was based on a Virginia school board disagreeing with the Obama administration’s guidelines that advised public schools to allow transgender students to use their preferred restrooms. 

 

But President Trump has rescinded that guideline two weeks ago, so the Supreme Court cancelled the scheduled arguments and directed the Fourth Circuit court of appeals to reconsider its decision to require the Virginia school board to allow the transgender student to use his preferred restroom. 

 

Now the Fourth Circuit has to hear arguments again and decide if blocking transgender students from choosing their restroom is considered to be a violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.

 

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Two countries recently launched ballistic missiles again — North Korea and Iran. 

 

North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that flew over 600 miles towards the Sea of Japan — with three of them landing within 200 miles of Japan, which is their economic zone.  It seems like N.K. did this in response to joint military drills (involving ground, air, and naval forces) between U.S. and South Korean soldiers that are routine for this time of the year. There are 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea — and 50,000 troops in Japan. 

 

Iran launched two short-range missiles from Iran into the Gulf of Oman. The first missed its target of a floating barge, but the second one was successful. They appear to be defiant, launching missiles after Trump put them “on notice.” 

 

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