Trump travel ban: Judge expands definition of relatives

Grandparents and other family members to be allowed entry to US

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Did Donald Trump really propose a 20% tax on Mexican imports?

27 January

Donald Trump appeared to suggest the US could impose an import tariff on Mexican goods after President Enrique Pena Nieto called off a meeting between the two leaders scheduled for next week.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the proposed tariff "at 20 per cent of imports" would raise enough money per year to pay for Trump's border wall.

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"By doing it that way, we can do $10bn [£7.9bn] a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone," he said.

Spicer's announcement came despite warnings from Mexican economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo on 13 January that his country would be "prepared to immediately be able to neutralise the impact of a measure of that nature".

The US "should expect Mexico to retaliate" with tariffs of its own, says CNN Money.

Experts and senior Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham, denounced the plan.

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"The move would prove disastrous for Mexico, whose economy has become deeply entwined with that of the US since the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) came into effect in 1994," The Guardian says.

Edward Alden, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "The notion that a 20 per cent tariff is a way of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall, it's just a falsehood. It's a way of forcing American consumers to pay for the wall."

However, further analysis of Spicer's comments by economists cast doubt over whether the proposal is actually a tariff, or simply a part of the Republican Party's broader tax plan.

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"In other words, Spicer was really just saying that Trump will pay for the wall with the part of the Republican tax plan that increases revenue," says the New York Times Magazine. "This isn't a very good answer, since the revenue generated by border adjustment is already needed to offset the GOP's other tax cuts."

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus later told reporters the idea was only a proposal, not a policy, and is part of a "buffet of options" being considered.

Donald Trump: Waterboarding and torture 'absolutely work'

26 January

Donald Trump has said he believes waterboarding "absolutely" works and that he would support the reintroduction of currently banned "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

In his first TV interview since taking office, the US President told ABC News he would seek the advice of CIA director Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis before making a decision.

"If they don't want to do [it], that's fine. If they do want to do, then I will work toward that end," he said. "I want to do everything within the bounds of what you're allowed to do legally.

"But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works."

He added that extreme interrogation methods were justified by Islamic State atrocities in the Middle East: "As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire," he said.

Trump's comments came amid reports he is to rescind Barack Obama's ban on "black sites" - overseas CIA detention centres kept secret from the public.

During the Bush administration, black sites were used for "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as "extreme sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, forced nudity, confinement in coffin-like boxes, wall-slamming, chaining in painful stress positions and waterboarding", says the New York Times.

However, Trump could face a push-back from within his own party. His remarks were swiftly followed by a statement from Senator John McCain saying: "We're not bringing back torture."

He added: "The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law."

In 2015, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to limit interrogation techniques to those contained in the Army Field Manual, which, McCain said, "does not include waterboarding or other forms of enhanced interrogation".

McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam war, has become a leading voice in the Republican Party against enhanced interrogation. He has also been an outspoken critic of Trump's claims of mass voter fraud.

"The Arizona senator just won a six-year term so he isn't concerned about being re-elected," says USA Today, and less than a week into Trump's administration, has made it clear that "he has no problem speaking out against the president".

Donald Trump moves to 'build the Mexican wall' and ban refugees

25 January

US President Donald Trump is expected to start the process of building a wall on the border with Mexico today, along with a temporary ban on most refugees.

An executive order will direct federal funds towards building the wall on the southern border, reports the New York Times, adding it is "the first in a series of actions this week to crack down on immigrants and bolster national security".

The new President also plans to ban the entry of refugees into the US until "more aggressive vetting is in place", says Reuters, although religious minorities escaping persecution may be accepted.

Access to the country will also be restricted for some visa holders from a number of majority-Muslim countries, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Stephen Legomsky, former chief counsel at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Obama administration, said: "From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights.

"But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees."

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The executive orders follow an earlier edict from the White House which cut off all new contracts and grants for the Environmental Protection Agency and banned its employees from speaking with journalists or publishing anything on social media.

"Much of President Donald Trump's first weekend in the White House was driven by criticism from Trump and press secretary Sean Spicer of media coverage over the size of his inauguration crowd," says CNN.

"But the new administration is also driving policy changes that will have far more long-term significance."

Trump tears up Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal

24 January

Donald Trump has signed an executive order to cancel one of the country's biggest international free trade deals, signalling a break with more than 20 years of US economic consensus.

In his first executive action since being sworn in on Friday, the US President scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which had still to be ratified by Congress.

He also confirmed he is to renegotiate the terms of Nafta, a long-standing free trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Trump has been a vocal critic of these trade deals, saying they disenfranchise US workers by outsourcing production elsewhere.

He called Nafta "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere" and the TPP "a potential disaster for our country".

However, critics, including a majority of economists, say his moves will have a negative effect on workers as it will hit jobs and corporate activity.

Tom Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce, said: "You want to get rid of Nafta? Nafta is 14 million jobs in the United States."

The Independent says Nafta supporters "admit that it is in need of an upgrade", perhaps including rules covering digital trade and the movement of electronic business data.

"But few would go so far as suggesting the deal should be scrapped altogether," the paper adds.

Donald Trump spars with media on first weekend in office

24 January

Donald Trump's presidency has begun as his transition ended - with a war of words between his team and the US media.

On Saturday, a day after he was sworn into office, the new US President used his first address to CIA staff to "falsely accuse journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd", the New York Times reports.

Accusing the TV networks of showing "an empty field", Trump said: "We had a massive field of people, you saw that. Packed... It looked like a million, a million-and-a-half people."

Claiming the media was "among the most dishonest human beings on Earth", he added: "They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community."

Following that, Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, then "used his first White House briefing to shout at journalists about what he incorrectly termed 'deliberately false reporting' on Trump's inauguration", The Guardian says.

"These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong," said Spicer.

His assertion that "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration" contradicted "all available data", says CNN, citing photographs of the National Mall in Washington comparing Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration with Friday's event.

The claims continued yesterday, when senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on NBC's Meet the Press.

Asked by presenter Chuck Todd why Spicer had used "falsehoods" to dispute reports of the inauguration crowd size, she said: "You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that." she responded.

"Alternative facts are not facts," Todd replied. "They are falsehoods."

Conway also suggested such questions could change the White House's approach to the media. "If we're going to keep referring to the press secretary in those types of terms, I think we're going to have to rethink our relationship here," she said.

Donald Trump's first day: What can we expect?

19 January

While Hillary Clinton offered the American voter a platform of gradual improvement building upon the legacy of Barack Obama, her rival Donald Trump promised rapid and dramatic changes – beginning on day one.

But while Trump's inauguration will take place tomorrow, that will not be his first day in the Oval Office. Spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed the incoming US president will not start work officially until Monday.

However, he added, there were "four or five" executive orders lined up for Friday.

Spicer did not elaborate on what these were, but based on the Republican's campaign pledges, there are certainly plenty to choose from.

Here are the things Trump promised to do in his first 24 hours as commander in chief.

Pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Trump said: "I'm going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country."

Trump has frequently railed against the TPP and says the arrangement, which is supposed to facilitate trade between 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the US, Mexico, Australia and Japan, is a "bad deal" for Americans.

But while he said he would pull out of the deal on his first day in office, the incoming president may not actually have to lift a finger to fulfil his promise. The TPP has stalled since it was signed in February 2016 and many believe it will never be implemented.

Or, as one Trump staffer told Reuters: "TPP is dead."

Repeal protection for undocumented immigrants

Trump said: "We will immediately terminate President [Barack] Obama's two illegal executive amnesties."

Another "day one" promise is the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children and give them the right to work.

"It will be fully within Trump's power to act on this promise on Day One of his presidency," the Washington Post reports. However, Newsweek says it is "unlikely" he will do so as the issue remains controversial even among conservatives.

Relax gun laws

Trump said: "I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools and on military bases. My first day, it gets signed, OK? My first day. There's no more gun-free zones."

In reality, repealing gun-free zones would require Congressional approval, says The Atlantic, so an executive order is out of the question.

However, at least Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, seems on board. She drew titters from her confirmation hearing when, questioned as to why guns might be needed in schools, she cited a Wyoming school threatened by "potential grizzlies".

Repeal energy legislation

Trump said: "I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal."

The new president could well begin the process of reversing Obama's Clean Power Program on day one, says Newsweek, but the results will be far from instantaneous.

"The EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] would have to go through a comment-and-publication schedule that could take months and litigation would be sure to follow," the magazine notes.

Eliminate business red tape

Trump said: "I will formulate a rule which says for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. So important."

Promising to cut back on bureaucracy might have made a good soundbite, says CNN political commentator Errol Louis, but could be "harder to enact than [Trump] might think".

As regulations clarify points of law, simply removing them would create confusion, adds the journalist, so if Trump does issue such an executive order, bureaucrats will probably just "get rid of two old ones [and] write one new one that has sub-clauses that are basically the two old regulations".

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