Top White House official: Bloomberg abused “stop-and-frisk”

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters during his visit in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP)

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UPDATED 5:27 PM PT — Sunday, February 16, 2020

A top White House official said Michael Bloomberg abused the “stop-and-frisk” policy during his years as New York City’s mayor. Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short said in an interview Sunday, “stop-and-frisk” was enforced fairly under Bloomberg’s predecessor Rudy Giuliani.

However, Short said under Mayor Bloomberg, the number of arrests of African-Americans significantly increased. This came after President Trump criticized Bloomberg for his version of “stop and frisk,” despite supporting the policy in general.

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian associate of Rudy Giuliani who is awaiting trial on charges that he made illegal campaign contribution, walks out of federal court, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mariela Lombard)

Short claimed Bloomberg took the policy to the extreme.

“The president has said under Rudy Giuliani he thought ‘stop and frisk’ was applied legitimately.” stated Short.

Bloomberg has repeatedly apologized for alleged racial profiling as part of “stop and frisk,” but he insists the policy helped bring down crime rates in New York.

RELATED: President Trump: Bloomberg Is A Mass Of Dead Energy

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White House officials do not trust China’s reporting on coronavirus infection

A worker wearing a protective suit gestures to a driver outside a tumor hospital newly designated to treat COVID-19 patients in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

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UPDATED 11:47 AM PT — Sunday, February 16, 2020

White House officials appeared to have suspicions about the accuracy of China’s reporting of coronavirus cases. According to a report Saturday, the U.S. did not have high confidence in the information coming from China regarding the number of those affected by the disease.

This came as a number of officials have expressed doubt that China is being fully transparent, including White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a tv news interview at the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Last week, Kudlow addressed ongoing concerns following a change in China’s measuring criteria, which added 15,000 cases in a single day.

“We thought there was better transparency coming out of China, but it doesn’t appear to be,” stated the economic advisor. “It’s the great unknown and I wish we did know more because, you know, this should not be about politics or for that matter, trade.”

Chinese officials said the number of new cases are dropping overall.

RELATED:China Reports Over 2K New Cases Of Coronavirus, 143 Deaths

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Farm bill panned as mass ‘amnesty’ for illegal immigrants heads to vote in House

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Trump administration proposes changes to visa program for foreign workers on farms

The H-2A visa program has tripled in size over the last decade, with a quarter million temporary farm workers coming in this year; Dan Springer reports from Snohomish County, Washington.

As all eyes are on the House impeachment inquiry, elsewhere an agricultural bill that would provide a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants is rumbling through the chamber — leading immigration hawks to accuse lawmakers of trying to sneak in an amnesty while the nation is distracted.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, passed in the House Judiciary Committee last month, is scheduled for a vote on the House floor Wednesday. The bill provides a process for illegal immigrant farmworkers to seek a temporary five-and-a-half-year “Certified Agricultural Worker” status if they have worked for approximately six months in the industry in the last two years.

BORDER APPREHENSIONS DROPPED IN NOVEMBER FOR 6TH CONSECUTIVE MONTH, PER DHS DATA

That status can either be renewed indefinitely, or workers (along with their spouses and children) can begin a path to permanent legal status in the form of a green card. That path, according to the legislation, includes background checks and $1,000 fine.

To secure the green card, those who have worked in agriculture for 10 years or more must work for four more years, while those who've spent less than a decade in the sector would have to work eight more years. Once workers receive a green card, they are then free to pursue work in fields outside of agriculture.

The bill also streamlines the H-2A agriculture visa program, cutting processing time and costs for visa petitions. And it calls for the Department of Homeland Security to set up a pilot program that would give H-2A workers the ability to change jobs within the sector if they find work within two months.

“The men and women who work America’s farms feed the nation. But, farmworkers across the country are living and working with uncertainty and fear, contributing to the destabilization of farms across the nation,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Our bill offers stability for American farms by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers. In addition, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act addresses the nation’s future labor needs by modernizing an outdated system for temporary workers, while ensuring fair wages and workplace conditions.”

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It’s also strongly backed by a number of farm groups. The United Fresh Produce Association said it brings “much-needed reforms to secure a stable and legal workforce in agriculture, allowing current farmworkers to attain legal status and reforming the H-2A guest worker program to ensure a future source of workers on American farms.”

The bill has the support of at least 23 Republicans, a number of whom are co-sponsoring the legislation — likely assuring its passage in the House and raising the possibility that a form of such a bill could have a shot in the Republican-controlled Senate.

But immigration hawks have dismissed the claim that it is a modernization bill, instead calling it a thin cloak for yet another amnesty measure in the agricultural sector — similar to one in the 1980s that saw more than 1 million workers seek protection from deportation, and one that was seen as rife with fraud.

“A true Farm Workforce Modernization Act would encourage mechanization and automation through subsidies, not amnesty illegal aliens and guarantee a steady flow of cheap foreign labor,” RJ Hauman, head of government relations at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Fox News.

NEW ACTING DHS CHIEF CHAD WOLF TOURS NEW BORDER WALL AS CONSTRUCTION RAMPS UP, CALLS IT 'COMMON SENSE'

Such groups say that automation, not amnesty, is what the agricultural sector needs.

“Cracking down on cheap foreign labor would save the federal government and states billions, help American Workers, and prevent future illegal immigration,” Hauman said. “Agricultural automation is the future of the industry – another amnesty and massive expansion of a guest worker program isn’t. When will lawmakers understand this?”

The Heritage Foundation, meanwhile, described the bill as a “clear cut example of amnesty,” warning that it "threatens the legal immigration system’s legitimacy and incentivizes aliens and farmers to ignore the legal immigration system in the future if it best serves their needs."

While the bill has bipartisan support, it has also faced criticism from other Republicans lawmakers. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., cited estimates from liberal groups that as many as 2.7 million illegal immigrants could get legal status if the bill passes.

“While the 224 pages of H.R. 5038 make many more changes to the H-2A program — some good and some bad — one need look no further than the first few pages to figure out the real point of this bill: a path to citizenship for an unknown number of illegal immigrants who do some work in agriculture, along with their families,” he said at the Judiciary Committee markup last month.

He also said the bill’s document standards are low and could allow illegal immigrants with multiple DUI convictions and a history of Social Security fraud to get legal status.

As with most bills that include a path to legalization for those in the country illegally, there are some enforcement parts of the bill as well, but they are particularly flaccid in this instance.

While the bill would establish mandatory E-Verify (a DHS-run verification system for employers that has been seen as the holy grail for employment enforcement) for all agricultural employment, Lofgren’s office notes that that would be “phased in" and only "after all legalization and H-2A reforms have been implemented and included necessary due process protections for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.”

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This aspect is fueling concerns from immigration hawks that this bill goes the path of past “immigration reform” measures that pursue “amnesty first, enforcement later.”

Mark Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, argued in a recent op-ed that E-Verify would no longer be needed if the bill passes, “because with this kind of sweet deal, who’d bother to hire new illegals?”

Other conservatives warned that lawmakers were trying to push the bill through while attention was on impeachment. Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin accused lawmakers and groups in favor of open borders of “trying to ram this abomination through while [the] nation is distracted with bread and circuses.”

Should the bill pass and find support in the Senate, it is far from clear how President Trump would respond. He has pledged support for American farmers but has also promised to protect American workers from the flood of cheap labor from abroad.

If a version of the bill finds its way to the White House, that latter promise would face a high-profile test, possibly in an election year. So far the White House has not indicated whether or not it would veto the bill.

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Tulsi Gabbard accuses White House of defending Saudi kingdom after NAS Pensacola shooting: ‘Saudi Arabia is not our ally’

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Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, on Tuesday slammed the Trump administration, claiming it defended the Saudi kingdom in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

She also accused President Trump of failing to speak up for “for those families who just lost their loved ones.”

NAS PENSACOLA SHOOTING LEADS NAVY INSTRUCTOR PILOTS TO TELL TOP BRASS: 'ARM US'

”This was a terrorist attack that took the lives of three American service members and injured eight others,” Gabbard said in an interview on Hill.TV's “Rising.” “We need to call it for what it is instead of what President Trump has done with his own remarks, with Secretary Pompeo basically putting out messages as though they are the spokespersons for the Saudi kingdom rather than standing up for our country’s national security and what’s in the best interest of our country.”

“Saudi Arabia is not our ally. As president, I will state that very clearly and they will continue to not be our ally as long as they are both directly and indirectly supporting terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and others,” Gabbard said.

Also Tuesday, the Pentagon suspended all 852 Saudi military students at NAS Pensacola after a gunman opened fire there last week, killing three military members and injuring eight others before being shot dead by police. The FBI later identified the shooter as 21-year-old Saudi Royal Air Force Second Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani. The attack has prompted a broader Defense Department review of all international training on U.S. military bases.

After the attack, President Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

“King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida….” Trump tweeted Friday. “The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people.”
In his initial reaction to the shooting, Trump said: “Just received a full briefing on the tragic shooting at NAS Pensacola in Florida, and spoke to @GovRonDeSantis. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time. We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tweeted last week.

“I just spoke with Foreign Minister Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia who expressed his condolences and sadness at the loss of life in the horrific attack in Pensacola, Florida yesterday. The families and friends of those killed, and those wounded, will be in our thoughts and prayers,” Pompeo wrote.

Trump has faced backlash in the past over his support for the Saudi royal family in the wake of the slaying of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, who was allegedly killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last year.

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On Monday, Gabbard – a vocal critic of the Saudi kingdom in the past — announced she won’t be attending the Democrats’ next debate “regardless” of whether she qualifies for the Dec. 19 event in Los Angeles. She had met the donor requirement to qualify for the debate but had yet to meet a requirement that she earn 4-percent support in at least four national or early-state polls approved by the Democratic National Committee [DNC] — or hit 6 percent in two approved early-state polls. The cutoff date is Wednesday.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson, Bradford Betz and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

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Ronny Jackson, former White House doctor and VA nominee, running for Congress in Texas

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A former chief White House physician and one-time troubled nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is running for a congressional seat in Texas.

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson filed candidate paperwork in Austin to replace outgoing Rep. Mac Thornberry hours before the Monday deadline, The Texas Tribune reported. He will face 13 other candidates for the Republican nomination.

Thornberry's 13th Congressional District in the Texas Panhandle overwhelmingly voted for President Trump in 2016. The Republican Party of Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

FLASHBACK TO 2018: TRUMP IS IN EXCELLENT PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH, WH DOCTOR SAYS

In this April 2, 2018, file photo, then-White House physician and nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Ronny Jackson arrives at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Jackson is running as a Republican in 2020 for a rural congressional seat in Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In this April 2, 2018, file photo, then-White House physician and nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Ronny Jackson arrives at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Jackson is running as a Republican in 2020 for a rural congressional seat in Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Jackson, a Texas native, had worked as a White House physician since 2006 and was Trump's surprise choice last year to head the VA. He retired from the Navy last week.

His nomination ran into trouble when allegations of drinking on the job, creating a hostile work environment and overprescribing medications surfaced. He denied any wrongdoing and eventually withdrew his name from consideration.

Trump re-nominated Jackson earlier this year for a second star amid a Pentagon investigation into his conduct.

Dr. Ronny Jackson withdraws nomination for VA SecretaryVideo

Trump called him "one of the finest men I've ever met," noting that he received good evaluations from his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. The promotion was not approved by the Senate.

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In January 2018, Jackson gave Trump a glowing report on his physical and mental well-being in his first medical checkup since taking office, saying Trump was "in excellent health" at the time.

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