Trump will ‘temporarily hold off’ designating Mexican cartels as terror groups

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President Trump announced Friday that he will hold off on officially designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations while he works with the Mexican president "to deal decisively" with the issue.

"All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations," Trump tweeted Friday. "Statutorily we are ready to do so. However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel @lopezobrador_ we will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!"

Mexico's foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard thanked Trump on Twitter for his decision.

"I appreciate President Donald Trump's decision to postpone the designation of organizations as terrorists at the request of President López Obrador, who also respects and appreciates him," Ebrard said.

Obrador praised Trump's decision at an event Friday in his home state of Tabasco.

“I celebrate that he has taken our opinion into account,” the Mexican president said, according to The New York Times. “There has to be cooperation with respect for our sovereignties, cooperation without interventionism. And I think it was a very good decision that he took today."

Designating cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) could lead to tougher financial penalties and legal ramifications for those involved who are tried in the U.S. Once a group is designated a terrorist organization, known members are prohibited from entering the country and it is illegal for those in the U.S. to intentionally provide support. Financial institutions are barred from doing any type of business with the organization or its members. This could mean that an American selling drugs that originated south of the border could be prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws, and could possibly be given a life sentence.


Dozens of cartels are known to be operating across Mexico, but it's unclear which ones will receive the FTO label.

Mexican drug cartels are currently classified as drug trafficking organizations, but their criminal activity spans far beyond illegal drug trade, involving everything from murder, fraud, gun trafficking, bribery, money laundering and counterfeit smuggling, to human trafficking and extortion.


Amb. David Johnson, vice president of the International Narcotics Control Board, said the key difference between drug cartels and terror groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) is a profit motive versus a political motive.

“Terrorists use violence to expand a political goal. These criminals are interested in money, not politics. They don’t want the responsibility and headaches that come with political control since it could interfere with their profit-maximizing goals,” he explained. “The key reason for not labeling them terrorists is because that is not what they are. They are in it for the money. Period.”

Critics said the move could shake up bilateral relations between the U.S. and Mexico and hurt trade.


Clamping down on illegal migrants flowing across the U.S. southern border with Mexico, which Trump claims has contributed to an influx of drugs and violent crime in border states, has been a part of his agenda since the beginning of his administration. Efforts have been ramped up after the brutal killings of six children and three women with dual Mexican and American citizenship in the Mormon community of La Mora on Nov. 4. At the time, Trump called on Mexico to "wage war" on the cartels.

Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg temporarily blocks release of Trump’s financial records

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg released from hospital

Ginsburg spent two nights at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore where she received an IV with antibiotics and fluids; Kristin Fisher reports.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the rescue of President Trump Friday and allowed his financial records to remain secret from House Democrats – for now.

The liberal Supreme Court Justice granted an emergency request from Trump’s lawyers to delay enforcement of subpoenas House Democrats issued to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for Trump’s bank records.

A lower court Tuesday ordered the banks to cooperate with Congress in handing over a treasure trove of Trump’s financial dealings in the midst of the House’s impeachment inquiry. But Ginsburg stayed the ruling until 5 pm on Dec. 13.


That’s when the Supreme Court is expected to vote on whether to take up at least one of the two pending cases involving Trump’s financial records.

The latest dispute is over three subpoenas issued by the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee and House Financial Services Committee for bank records for Trump and three of his children, Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric Trump.

Trump’s lawyers argued the sweeping requests for records exceed the committee’s legal authority. But the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled Dec. 3 the committees had legitimate legislative purposes for issuing the subpoenas and ordered the banks to promptly begin transmitting the documents in daily batches starting next week.


Ginsburg signed the order because she’s in charge of deciding emergency appeals out of New York. Her decision in favor of Trump’s lawyers for a one-week delay isn’t considered an indication of how she’d rule on the merits of the broader records dispute between Trump and Congress.

Ginsburg – affectionately known as RBG – was nominated to the high court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The 86-year-old has become an icon for the liberal left and for the Trump resistance.

Before he won the election, Ginsburg called Trump a “faker” in a July 2016 CNN interview and faulted him for failing to disclose his tax returns — as is custom for presidential candidates.

"He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that,” Ginsburg said.


Trump punched back by tweeting Ginsburg’s “mind is shot” and urging her to resign.

Fox News' Shannon Bream contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court temporarily blocks Trump administration request to resume federal executions

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The Supreme Court on Friday blocked the Trump administration from resuming federal executions in an attempt to put to death four convicted murderers. The executions were slated to begin next week.

The justices upheld a lower court ruling imposed last month after inmates claimed executions by lethal injection would violate federal law.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., had imposed a temporary injunction on executions, saying they would conflict with federal law. That ruling was upheld Monday by a three-judge federal appeals court.


In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is preventing the Trump administration from re-starting federal executions next week after a 16-year break. The court on Friday denied the administration's plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Attorney General William Barr announced in July that the federal government would resume executions after a 16-year break, using a single drug — pentobarbital — to put inmates to death. A legal battle has drawn out over that time over the drugs used for lethal injections.

Federal executions were all but halted after the government found it difficult to obtain the three-drug cocktail needed for such injections.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal battle would continue.

"While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,” she said in a statement.

In a two-page statement, three justices — Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — wrote they expected the Trump administration to prevail in court.

"The Court has expressed the hope that the Court of Appeals will proceed with 'appropriate dispatch,' and I see no reason why the Court of Appeals should not be able to decide this case, one way or the other, within the next 60 days," Alito said.

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The government had scheduled the execution of Danny Lee, who was convicted of killing a family of three — including an 8-year-old — on Monday. Wesley Ira Purkey had been scheduled to be put to death Dec. 13 for the murder and dismemberment of a 16-year-old girl and the slaying of an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio.

Executions for Alfred Bourgeois, who beat, tortured and molested his 2-year-old daughter, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people — including two children, were scheduled for January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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