Trump Tells Border Agents to Break the Law. Court Evangelicals Remain Silent

families

Jake Tapper of CNN is reporting that Donald Trump told immigration officials on the Mexican border to essentially ignore court orders allowing Central American migrants seeking asylum into the country.  Here is a taste of Tapper’s piece:

Three Thursdays ago, in a meeting at the Oval Office with top officials — including Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, top aides Jared Kushner, Mercedes Schlapp and Dan Scavino, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and more — the President, according to one attendee, was “ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue.”

Senior administration officials say that Trump then ordered Nielsen and Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. The plan was that in subsequent days the Trump administration would shut down other ports.

Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad and even dangerous idea, and that the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, has been very supportive of the President.

She proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports. She argued that if you close all the ports of entry all you would be doing is ending legal trade and travel, but migrants will just go between ports.

According to two people in the room, the President said: “I don’t care.”

Ultimately, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to have been able to talk the President out of closing the port of El Paso. Trump, however, was insistent that his administration begin taking another action — denying asylum seekers entry. Nielsen tried to explain to the President that the asylum laws allow migrants from Central America to come to the US and gain entry. She talked to the White House counsel to see if there were any exceptions, but he told her that her reading of the law was correct.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to official requests for comment.

Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”

Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”

After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.

Read the entire piece here.

Some will say that Tapper represents the “left-wing media” who is out to get Trump.  I have a few thoughts on this:

  1.  Tapper is an excellent reporter who is one of the most fair-minded interviewers on CNN.
  2.  What Tapper is reporting here fits very well with everything we know about Donald Trump.
  3.  A question for Trump supporters (or “left-wing media” haters):  Is there anything  that the CNN or New York Times could uncover about Trump that might actually be true?

Tapper’s piece is just further proof that Trump is a populist tyrant.  He won in 2016 by promising to build a wall.  His immigration policy thus far has been draconian.  Some of the children he separated from their parents are lost and it will take up to two years to find them.  Today he falsely claimed that Obama is to blame for the separation of these children. He believes that he has a mandate from the people (or at least the ones who elected him) to do these things and, as a result, he does not pay much attention to the rule of law, checks and balances, or time-honored American institutions.

Trump’s populism reminds me of Andrew Jackson’s rationale for removing the Cherokees from their homeland and sending them on the so-called “Trail of Tears.”  The white men who voted for Jackson wanted the Cherokee gone.  Jackson listened and responded.  This is what democracy meant in the early 19th century.  Maybe this is why Michigan conservatives do not want students to study “democracy” in their history classes.

And where are the Trump court evangelicals today?  What do they have to say about his disregard for the law, his separation of children, and his constant lies?  Here is what they are up to today:

Bob Jeffress, with his snarky laugh and Trump name-dropping, is still obsessed with the fact that Pete Buttigieg is gay, progressive and pro-choice.  (By the way, Jeffress’s defense of Mike Pence here does not seem to hold-up when compared to past Pence statements on the subject).

Jack Graham is hanging out with the “My Pillow” guy:

I am not sure if Paula White has any followers among the separated families on the border, but if she does, they are going to have a hard time taking her advice here:

 

19 thoughts on “Trump Tells Border Agents to Break the Law. Court Evangelicals Remain Silent

  1. Dave,
    I think Tony did a good job of addressing your Barr concerns.

    Your first paragraph about Obama circumventing the law and Trump doing the same is less cut and dried. You will have to state specific things each man has allegedly done before I can comment.

    James

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  2. What does it profit a child to be free from cages and kidnapping if it ruins his or her eternal destiny?

    Clearly we need to have our priorities straight because we all know the purpose of life is to avoid lax theology so when we die we go to heaven.

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    • Paul,
      You are correct that eternity should dictate the ultimate perspective of Christians. With that vision as the governing principle, it follows that there are still temporal truths. Didn’t the late Francis Schaeffer, coin the appropriate term, “How then shall we live?”
      James

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      • If eternity (life after death) really is the most important aspect of our existence, why is it not mentioned in the entire Hebrew Bible?

        The fact is that Jesus, his first followers and Paul all thought the Kingdom was going to be a place on earth. But of course, Christianity has come to be defined by something totally opposite what was taught by the writers of scripture and what is actually in the Bible.

        But let’s forget theology for a minute, and answer the question of “How then should we live?” Any standard which supports children being kidnapped and caged, has no empathy for the foreigner, no compassion for the poor, which attempts to draw divisions between people, which supports torture and war, that’s a poor standard. That Christianity has come to be defined by those things is evidence that it is a false religion.

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        • Paul,
          First, you raise a good question about the afterlife in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Concept of Sheol is taught but not clearly defined. Sheol was the abode of the dead. The concept of resurrection is clearly taught in several verses, however. That was, of course, one of the hallmarks of at least one major Jewish factions in Christ’s day.

          The Bible contains progressive revelation. Accordingly, Christ and other New Testament teachers taught a more clearly defined concept of the afterlife. The externality of the soul was meshed with Old Testament bodily resurrection. There are theological reasons for this which I’d be happy to discuss if you wish, Paul.

          As far as defining the Kingdom of God, a lot of that depends on whether the student takes a dispensational approach or a more traditional approach to the subject. You might have noted that Matthew speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven while Luke and Mark speak of the Kingdom of God. This is significant from a dispensational perspective but less do from a traditional amillennial view. There is a good introductory explanation of this phenomenon at Matthew 3:2 in the Old Schofield Reference Bible. That’s just a starting point if you happen to have access to one of them. Find a good Catholic or Reformed study Bible and the angle will differ. Regardless of a student’s final position on the definition of the kingdom, there are perfectly consistent ways of reading Christ’s remarks whether you are an orthodox Catholic, Baptist, Jew, Presbyterian, or Plymouth Brethren.

          Finally, regarding the moral issues you raise, Christians should not support kidnapping. War can sometimes be justified under the Catholic Just War concept. Torture is possibly justifiable if a greater good comes of it. For example, if the authorities could save 500 innocent civilians from death by torturing a terrorist for information, how could you fault that act? I understand that certain people say that torture doesn’t always get the desired result. That may be true, but I am speaking in abstract moral terms now. To continue with your list, Paul, compassion for the poor and empathy for others is Christian.

          Keep in mind, however, that few governments in any century have ever been based consistently on strict Christian principles. They rule by force, power, and coercion.

          Paul, I might add in closing that I perceive you have read a bit of polemical material which aims to show inconsistencies in Christianity and/or the Bible. I doubt that Dr. Fea wants his site to become a Bible debating venue, but I can tell you that every concern of yours has been answered by able Christian apologists, and I am happy to discuss it with you.

          James

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          • “Progressive revelation” means people just make things up as they go along, and they can still say that the Bible supports their positions.

            If you think about it for more than a minute, it makes no sense. The Bible is supposedly the perfect conveyer of truth, but we can redefine it constantly. So tomorrow we can believe the opposite of today and it’s all from God, because progressive revelation.

            Thanks for the offer, but I don’t want to talk to you more. I’ve spent a half century in churches listening to people with your views. I had to stop because I was getting PTSD.

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    • Clearly we need to have our priorities straight because we all know the purpose of life is to avoid lax theology so when we die we go to heaven.

      “So what if I rack him ’til he die?
      For I shall have Saved His Soul.”
      — “The Inquisitor”, Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

      P.S. Wasn’t the ORIGINAL Christian afterlife Resurrection of the Body and Triumph Over Death?
      Not piously floating around as a “Soul” in Fluffy Cloud Heaven?

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  3. The societal effects of climate refugees are kind of the biggest “known unknown” of the climate crises. We have a very good understanding of CO2 and its direct affects (global warming, ocean acidification, decreasing nutrient concentration in plants). The indirect affects are slightly less well understood, but projections are still very useful (climate change, sea level rise, ecosystem collapse, mass extinction, increased reach of infectious diseases). But as the uncertainty stacks estimates become less useful. While we know the quantity of refugees from sea level rise alone will be unprecedented in human history, it could realistically be as ‘small’ as ten million a year, or as large as a hundred million a year. How that will affect the world’s societies is really anyone’s guess. But the recent rise of nationalism in response to refugees is very scary and does not bode well for the future. I’ve been praying that the Church steps up mightily as the body of Christ, and I’ve been volunteering for my church’s refugee resettlement program to do my part. Because this is only going to get worse.
    BTW, people often question why Musk and Bezos want to establish a society on mars and in space (respectively) when nothing could possibly make Earth any less hospitable to life than the conditions on mars and in space. What they don’t tell you is it’s in part because refugees (and the wars that often accompany the instability they create) cant reach mars or space. Gravity is their “wall”.

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    • Alex: are you saying that Musk and Bezos are motivated by a desire to strand refugees on Earth while they create VIP-entry only Elysium on Mars? What is your basis for this claim?

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      • I will admit I don’t follow Bezos closely and made an assumption. But here’s Musk at SXSW: “It’s important to get a self-sustaining base on Mars because it’s far enough away from earth that [in the event of a war] it’s more likely to survive than a moon base”. But I also want to tweak your characterization. It’s Musk’s goal to make Mars affordable for literally anyone. It will not be “VIP-entry only”. And his goal is not a comfortable society, but one that tirelessly preserves art and knowledge during a future “dark age” (which he considers likely) from which to reseed society on earth. “we want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring it back and shorten the length of the dark ages”
        *Clarifying Musk’s mars plans does not mean that I endorse his plans.* Just that Musk never expects the martian environment to be more hospitable than earth’s, but that the reason for living on mars is to get away from the dangers of *people* on earth.

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      • And if you’re not familiar with Musk’s statements on climate refugees and climate change:

        “Today’s refugee problem is perhaps a small indication of what the future will be like if we do not take action with respect to climate change. Today the challenge is based on millions of people, but in the future, based on what the scientific consensus is the problem will be hundreds of millions and much more severe”

        “There are a lot of things that are happening in the world today that are important, and that deserve our attention, but I think it is also important to ask ‘what is the most important in the long-term? What are the actions that if we don’t take them today they will result in a terrible future?'”

        “It’s very important that we take action today and recognize that we are making a very significant change to chemical constituency of atmosphere and the ocean and one that is **impossible to reverse**.” (emphasis mine)

        “In 20, 30, 40 years in the future what do you say to your kids or your grandkids?…When they ask ‘Why didn’t you do anything?’ What will you tell them?”

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        • “In 20, 30, 40 years in the future what do you say to your kids or your grandkids?…When they ask ‘Why didn’t you do anything?’ What will you tell them?”

          “But Christ was supposed to return before any of this could happen!”?

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  4. John: A few thoughts:

    First, as it pertains to CNN and Tapper, that network has forfeited all journalistic credibility as one of the leading, spittle-flecked cheerleaders for the Russia Collusion hoax. I agree that Jake is likely the best of their crew (damning him with faint praise), but he is tainted by association. Just off the top of my head, I can think of 3 major “bombshell” stories that CNN breathlessly reported, which turned out to be utterly false. CNN claimed Scaramucci was linked to a Russian hedge fund under FBI investigation; that story was baseless and the 3 reporters who worked on the story left the network. CNN claimed that Cohen was going to tell Mueller that Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower meeting. That, too, turned out to be a total fabrication; indeed, CNN initially lied about its source — who was Cohen’s lawyer, Clintonista and D operative, Lanny Davis — who then was forced to admit it was entirely bogus. CNN announced another exclusive, walls-are-closing-in, this-is-the-collusion-smoking-gun scandal: Trump Jr. was offered access to the Wiklileaks email trove in advance of publication. Cue the hysteria and the articles of impeachment! Er, wait … nevermind. Also totally baseless.

    What’s notable here is not just the pattern of journalistic malpractice, the failure to confirm facts, the rush to get any damaging information on air, but that all of these erroneous stories — which are just a representative tip of the iceberg — tilted in the same direction (odd nobody ever had to retract any pieces which reflected well on the administration) and were based on “anonymous sources” and “senior administration officials” and “some guy in a trench coat we talked to whose nephew knows somebody at the CIA.”

    So, what do we read here, re: supporting the claim that Trump directed immigration officers to break the law? “Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, Trump told border agents not to let migrants in.”

    Oh. Well, that seems rock solid. First, it’s telling that they don’t even provide a descriptive hint — like “senior level official” or “serious looking guy in a fedora who took copious notes” — about who these unnamed sources are. They literally could be anybody. We can’t even tell from what is reported whether these sources claimed to be present when Trump said this. Are they merely reporting hearsay? Double hearsay? Summarizing triple hearsay? Impossible to know. And we’re supposed to give CNN the benefit of the doubt on this, given its stellar track record and its open membership in the Resistance? Sorry, no sale.

    And let me be clear, in response to your question “might this be true?” my answer is — absolutely. I have no trouble believing that Trump would say something like this, and if he did, it is wrong, indefensible and should be called out. No President is above the law. (If only CNN and the rest of the media had these deep and genuine concerns about executive overreach when their guy, Barack, was using his enlightened pen and phone to override existing immigration laws.) But anyone who has been paying attention to the media’s self-beclowning over the last two years should cast a skeptical eye on this anonymously sourced report. Bottom line: CNN does not deserve to be trusted. And CNN has only itself to blame for trashing its reputation.

    Final point: by hyperbolically calling Trump a “tyrant” you render that word, as it is commonly understood in historical context, meaningless. If Trump is a tyrant for allegedly telling border agents not to allow migrants in the country, Obama is a tyrant for implementing DACA after admitting he lacked the legal authority to do so. Of course, we know that neither are tyrants. People who have lived under actual tyranny can point out the differences.

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  5. If I had a dollar for every time one of my evangelical brothers or sisters expressed outrage that President Obama was overstepping authority, flouting traditional political conventions, using executive orders to bypass Congress, stepping foot on a golf course, etc., etc., I would have a tidy sum. President Trump does all of these things exponentially more frequently and more extensively, but not a peep of concern is raised. In fact, he is applauded for it. Sorry, I’ll go even a step further . . . he is idolized for it. In the Biblical sense of “idol.” All in the name of “owning the libs.”

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    • Dave H.

      There is a big difference, Dave. We know that Obama did circumvent legislative action in reaching his goals, most of which were happily undone during Trump’s first year. We don’t know if Jake Tapper’s story on Trump’s supposed lawbreaking is any more accurate than the previous CNN Russia hoax reporting.

      Coincidentally, have you seen the downward slide in their viewership ratings since the Mueller Report was completed? It has dropped steadily because their crazed viewers can no longer tune in for a daily fix of collusion hysteria. Is it possible that Jake Tapper is doing his best to inject adrenaline into a wearied viewership?
      James

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      • My observations went quite beyond just the particular topic of this CNN report. It dealt with a variety of ongoing actions which are clear and observable and not much in debate, and my observation was that when Obama did them, my fellow evangelicals said that not only the results, but the actual actions were wrong. Then they give Trump hearty approval on doing those very same things because this time they like the results.

        Either the actions were wrong or they weren’t. That is my point. Many of my fellow evangelicals seem to have gladly become “the ends justifies the means” utilitarian relativists, and I take issue with that. Over decades of church, I was consistently warned that the horrors of relativism were solely the province of those nasty liberals.

        On your separate point about the Mueller report, I was never one who thought that it would show collusion. That is an awfully high bar to clear, and I always thought it more likely that the Trump campaign was simply happy to vicariously and willingly benefit from the Russian influence/meddling in our election that was taking place regardless. But I also don’t think we have been given a full understanding of the report’s findings solely from Barr’s whitewashed summary that essentially says, “Just trust me, nothing to see here.” I suspect there are findings that are damaging to campaign personnel and current administration members despite not rising to the level of “indictable offense.” I am sure you disagree. But since the Trump administration is intent on keeping the report under lock and key and to reveal nothing more than how Barr chooses to selectively characterize it, I guess neither of us will never really know, will we?

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        • Dave: it is inaccurate to say that the Trump administration is “intent upon keeping the Mueller report under lock and key.”

          AG Barr — presently testifying before Congress — has said the report will be released in the next week. Barr has been working cooperatively with the special counsel to determine what parts of the report must be redacted as per governing law. This isn’t an arbitrary or unilateral, let’s-hide-the-bad-stuff operation.
          Redacted material will be color-coded to provide the reader with an explanation for why they were made: grand jury material, classified, ongoing investigation, etc. Again: Mueller’s team is participating in this process.

          As it relates to grand jury testimony, disclosure is precluded under rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The D.C. Circuit has held that there are no exceptions within the rule which allow for disclosure to Congress. (Congress could change this, if it so desired.)

          There is no hide-the-ball going on here, as much as outfits like CNN would like to impute malign motives.

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