Monday morning news: February 18, 2019


President’s emergency declaration sparks fierce debate » President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to access billions in funding for a border wall is sparking fierce debate on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Delaware Senator Chris Coons said Sunday that Congress should be united it its response…

COONS: Make it clear that the Article One branch, the Congress, is going to jealously defend our right to be the body that decides on federal spending, and not let the president use this extreme measure as a end-around our appropriations process. 

Democrats are united on the matter. Republicans are not.

GOP leaders have voiced support for the president’s declaration, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

But North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis warned of taking the country down a “rabbit hole” with future presidents seizing unchecked executive power. And Florida Senator Marco Rubio said—quote—“No crisis justifies violating the Constitution.”

But White House advisor Stephen Miller argued the president is not violating the Constitution, but upholding it.

MILLER: What the president was saying is that like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have. But that’s not what he’s going to do.

As expected, the declaration triggered an immediate legal battle.

The state of California plans to file a lawsuit fighting the move. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Friday and an advocacy group filed suit on behalf of three Texas landowners whose property could be used to build the wall.


Heather Nauert withdraws from U.S. ambassador consideration » President Trump’s pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is backing out.

Heather Nauert said in a statement—quote—”the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration.”

Nauert is a former Fox News Channel reporter, who is now a spokeswoman at the State Department. Some on Capitol Hill said she would have faced tough questions in the Senate over her relative lack of foreign policy experience.

The president named Nauert as his top choice after Ambassador Nikki Haley announced her departure late last year but he had not yet officially nominated her.  


Sen. Graham wants McCabe, Rosenstein to testify about 25th Amendment claim » Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham says he plans to get to the bottom of an explosive claim by former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe.

GRAHAM: It’s stunning to me that one of the chief law enforcement officers in the land, the acting head of the FBI, would go on national television and say, oh by the way, I remember a conversation with the deputy attorney general about trying to find if we could replace the president under the 25th Amendment. 

McCabe last week repeated his claim that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein once discussed contacting Cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment to oust President Trump.

Rosenstein has denied that claim, but Graham said he wants both McCabe and Rosenstein to testify under oath. The senator said the public needs to know if this was an attempted “bureaucratic coup.” And he added that he plans to subpoena both men if they won’t testify voluntarily.  


Police investigating why Aurora shooter had legally purchased gun » Investigators are still piecing together how and why 45-year-old Gary Martin shot and killed five co-workers at a suburban Chicago manufacturing plant.

One of the unanswered questions: How did a man with a violent criminal rap sheet have a legally purchased gun?

ZIMAN: That’s what we’re determining right now as part of our investigation is what happened with that, and we’re hoping to be able to report that to you at a later time, but absolutely, he was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm. 

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said Martin bought the Smith & Wesson handgun he used in Friday’s attack back in 2014. An initial background check failed to flag an out-of-state felony conviction. The check did not require fingerprints.

But five days after that, he applied for a concealed carry permit, which did reveal his felony conviction.

ZIMAN: As part of the conceal and carry, that is when the fingerprints came back from that arrest in Mississippi.

State police then sent Martin a letter demanding he voluntarily surrender the weapon. Investigators are looking into whether police took any other measures to confiscate it. Martin died in a shootout with officers on Friday.


Former Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison » Former Congressman Anthony Weiner has been released from a federal prison in Massachusetts. The 54-year-old New York Democrat was serving time for illicit online contact with a 15-year-old girl in 2017.

He is reportedly now at a halfway house in Brooklyn. It’s not yet clear exactly when Wiener was transferred there. But he’ll have to register as a sex-offender and spend three years on supervised release.

Weiner was slated to complete his sentence in May, but may have earned early release because of good conduct in prison.


(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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