She met with a President inside the White House. Now she’s protesting outside.

(CNN)Blanca Gamez uses one word to describe the day the President of the United States opened the door to the Oval Office and invited her inside: insanity.

The scene that February morning more than two years ago would have been unimaginable a decade earlier. Gamez was one of six undocumented immigrants meeting face to face with then-President Barack Obama.
The official White House photographer chronicled the visit, capturing images that showed the group telling Obama how his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program had changed their lives.
The program gave so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, temporary work permits and protection from deportation.
Now, tens of thousands of DACA recipients have only a day left to file renewal applications before the Trump administration stops accepting them.
As that deadline looms and lawmakers debate whether to keep protecting these immigrants from deportation, CNN caught up with several of those who met Obama to see where they are now and how they feel about their future in the United States.

‘Everything’s different’

Back then, Gamez was living in Las Vegas, a recent college graduate with bachelor’s degrees in political science and English. She thanked Obama for creating the program that helped her land her first job as a nonprofit caseworker. Now 28, she lives in Washington DC, and works as a digital organizing strategist for the ACLU. Her office is just a few blocks from the White House.
The building she once saw as warm and welcoming now carries another meaning for her.
“It’s a different feeling now,” she says. “Now I go over there to protest and shout outside the White House because … everything’s different.”
Gamez’s parents brought her to the United States from a small town in Mexico’s Sonora state when she was an infant. She’s one of nearly 700,000 people facing an uncertain future after the Trump administration’s announcement last month that it’s ending DACA. If Congress doesn’t pass a permanent fix, her protection from deportation will expire in November 2018.
“There’s a constant fear in the back of my head. I still have a year. A lot of things can happen, and things can change,” she says. “And it’s a whole different feeling knowing that the White House is literally two or three blocks away from my office.”
But Gamez says she’s trying to stay focused on the present rather than panicking about the future.
“Even the President is saying Congress needs to take action,” she says. “That’s something that I’m still hopeful for.”

‘A complete 180’

In remarks to reporters after the 2015 meeting, Obama offered what he said was a message for Dreamers across the country about his plans to expand DACA: “I want you to know that I am confident in my ability to implement this program over the next two years, and I’m confident that the next President and the next Congress and the American people will ultimately recognize why this is the right thing to do.”
Fast forward to 2017.
Obama’s DACA expansion, which would have protected millions more people from deportation temporarily, was blocked by the courts and never implemented.
And last month the Trump administration announced plans to end DACA altogether.
For Rishi Singh, being invited to the White House that day in 2015 was a “surreal moment.” And now, he says, it feels like Washington has done “a complete 180” when it comes to immigration.
But there’s still a lesson to be learned, he says, from that photo of him and other Dreamers meeting with Obama. The meeting itself never would have happened if it weren’t for years of advocacy work persuading politicians to take action.
“I don’t believe in politicians and their willingness to do what is right,” he says. “I believe in the ability of people in our communities to put pressure and organize and make the change we need to see in our communities.”
Singh, 32, is the director of youth organizing for New York-based DRUM, which advocates for South Asian immigrant workers and their families.
His family brought him to the United States from Trinidad on a tourist visa when he was 10, and it wasn’t until he was finishing high school, he says, that he learned he was undocumented. A decade later, DACA gave him a chance to get a job and health insurance.
“I bought a car. I was thinking about buying a house. All these different things, now I’m not even sure what’s going to happen. It just puts people in a limbo,” he says. “But even though things look really bleak right now, there’s also a lot of opportunities to come together.”
Singh says immigrant communities are resilient and will endure, even as the Trump administration enacts tougher policies.
“We’ll figure out ways to continue to survive, and hopefully thrive, and continue to fight to make sure that we don’t have to live in that fear or in the shadows,” he says. “That’s what the administration wants to do, continue to fearmonger and push people underground. If we allow that to happen, then they win.”

‘It’s going to require more work’

When she met Obama, Maria Praeli says, she told him about the moment she knew she wanted to devote her life to fighting for immigrants’ rights: the day of her grandmother’s funeral.
Praeli’s mother, an undocumented immigrant, couldn’t fly back to Peru to attend. Instead, she watched the service on an iPad from Connecticut.
“I still vividly remember my mom hugging the iPad and screaming and crying about her mom,” Praeli says. “It really opened up my eyes to the reality that many people have to live with every single day. This issue wasn’t about me not being able to drive, or not being able to go to the college of my choosing, this issue was about a really broken system.”
More than four years later, Praeli says the system is still broken — and she’s more determined than ever to keep pushing politicians to fix it.
“It’s hard, because things have been so negative lately. We’ve heard things on the campaign trail, and we’ve seen things under this administration. But the President himself has also called for comprehensive immigration reform at some point, so I’m still hopeful,” she says. “I just think it’s going to require more work.”
Praeli, who was 5 when she came to the United States from Ica, Peru, is now an immigration policy associate at, an advocacy group started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders.
The 24-year-old is one of more than 150,000 Dreamers facing this week’s deadline. Her DACA protection is set to expire early next year, meaning she falls into a group that has until Thursday to submit renewal paperwork. They’re the last Dreamers who can file to renew before DACA ends under the Trump administration’s action.
Praeli says she’s sent in her application and gone to an appointment where officials recorded her biometric data.
“Now it’s just kind of a waiting game,” she says.
She has plenty to keep her busy while she waits to hear if her renewal is granted.
This week, more than 100 Dreamers from across the United States are traveling to Washington, just as she did when she met with Obama back in 2015.
The group is meeting face to face with members of Congress.
This time, Praeli is looking on from behind the scenes. She’s helping organize the visit.

Read more:


White House chief of staff: Americans should be concerned about North Korea

(CNN)White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday that Americans should be concerned about North Korea’s ability to reach the United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile, cryptically telling reporters that if the threat grows “beyond where it is today, well, let’s hope that diplomacy works.”

Significantly, Kelly noted that Pyongyang “is developing a pretty good nuclear re-entry vehicle.”
For a missile to successfully strike a target it would have to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without breaking up.
Kelly’s comments seem to indicate that the US believes that North Korea is close to achieving what would be a key breakthrough for their missile program.
North Korea has tested over a dozen missiles since February, including its first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.
Pyongyang has said the US mainland is now within range.

Why does North Korea keep launching ICBMs?

Tensions rise

North Korea and the Trump administration have exchanged a barrage of verbal volleys for months, ratcheting up the tension on the Korean peninsula and around the world as the rogue regime in Pyongyang openly threatens the United States.
Trump has mocked North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, labeling him “little Rocket Man” and promising “fire and fury” if the country continues to threaten the United States.
Most recently, North Korea’s foreign minister said the President has “lit the wick” of war with his rhetoric, according to a Russian state news agency.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, told reporters Thursday that North Korea is a pariah that cannot be allowed to threaten the United States.
“The American people should be concerned about a state that has developed a pretty good ICBM capability and is developing a pretty good nuclear re-entry vehicle,” Kelly said in his first White House press briefing since joining the administration earlier this year.
“I would believe, I think I speak for the administration, that that state simply cannot have the ability to reach the homeland.”
US officials have rarely offered a specific assessment as to North Korea’s development of a reliable re-entry vehicle but in July, one official indicated that it remained a challenge.
North Korea can currently get a missile “off the ground,” a lot of undetermined variables remain about guidance, reentry and the ability to hit a specific target, the official said at the time.
Kelly added: “Right now there is great concern about a lot of Americans that live in Guam. Right now we think the threat is manageable but over time, if it grows beyond where it is today, well, let’s hope that diplomacy works.”

How far can a North Korean missile reach?

Trump’s threats

Trump has used bellicose rhetoric to describe North Korea.
During his remarks at the United Nations last month, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the rogue nation.
White House aides — and Trump himself — have argued that the President’s blunt style is a departure from years of failed negotiations with North Korea.
“Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Policy didn’t work!”
Since Trump took power in January, the administration has been accused of sending mixed messages over the US policy on North Korea.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Defense Secretary James Mattis attempted to present a united front in August in a co-authored opinion piece that said the US was pursing a campaign of “peaceful pressure” on North Korea.
Trump has left the door open for potential military action, saying it’s not the first option but one that would be “devastating” for North Korea.
Once again, this month Tillerson stressed that the US was interested in pursuing peace through talks, however Trump hit back on Twitter saying he was “wasting his time.”
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…” Trump tweeted.
He continued, “…Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
The public display of disagreement within the White House contributed to suggestions that Trump and Tillerson’s relationship was on the rocks.
Trump denied that but made it clear his opinion on North Korea is ultimately what counts.
“We actually have a very good relationship,” he said, going on to concede that his views on North Korea do differ from those of his top diplomat.
“I think I have a little bit different attitude on North Korea than other people might have. And I listen to everybody,” he said. “But ultimately my attitude is the one that matters, isn’t it? That’s the way it works.”

Read more:

Phoenix mayor: Trump continued ‘to divide this country’ with rally speech

Washington (CNN)Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was not a fan of President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday in his city.

Stanton, a Democrat, told MSNBC on Wednesday Trump’s speech was “unfortunate,” and that “it wasn’t the right time for a campaign rally here.”
“It’s very unfortunate what occurred last night with regard to the President’s speech,” he said. “The President failed to show real moral leadership after (the Charlottesville protests). His words tended to divide the country, not unite the country.”
He continued: “Unfortunately, the President last night gave a speech that did continue to divide this country. He did nothing to unite this country.”
GOP Arizona Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who’s considering challenging GOP Sen. Jeff Flake for his seat, felt differently about Trump’s visit.
He told Fox News on Wednesday it was an “amazing opportunity” to ride on Air Force One, after Trump invited him. DeWit has had multiple conversations with Trump about running for Flake’s seat, sources familiar with those talks told CNN.
On Fox, DeWit added he believes the media has been unfair to Trump, especially after the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests.
“The media is treating President Trump very unfairly,” he said. “But the one thing he has that I think drives the media crazy is he has Twitter and also the big rallies.”
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted about the rally, “Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!
Flake has broken with Trump on several high-profile issues since the election — including the President’s positions on pulling back on ties to Cuba, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the travel ban.

Read more:

Rep. Adam Schiff: Proposed Trump Tower in Moscow shows Trump was ‘dishonest’

Washington (CNN)The revelation that President Donald Trump’s attorney reached out to the Kremlin for assistance in building a Trump Tower in Moscow well into Trump’s presidential campaign show that the then-candidate misled the public about whether he had business interests in Russia, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday.

“The President was dishonest when he said during the campaign that he had no business in Russia, was pursuing no business in Russia,” Schiff told Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added that the proposed project or any others like it could have spurred the Trump campaign to take a more favorable stance toward Moscow.
“If they were pursuing business in Russia during the campaign, that might have influenced the positions that the candidate took in a more pro-Russian direction,” Schiff said. “After all, if they were going to be criticizing Putin, criticizing Russia, that would diminish the chances that this deal would go through.”
Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has told CNN that he emailed a top aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, about the proposed building, saying the message “went unanswered” and “was solely regarding a real estate deal and nothing more.” Cohen also said he contacted Peskov after it was suggested that the proposal would require approval by the Russian government, but that approval was never provided.
Cohen added that he discussed the proposal with Trump three times, saying he “never considered asking Mr. Trump to travel to Russia in connection with this proposal” and did not brief on him on his decision to terminate the development.
Trump has denied any financial connection to Russia, which US intelligence agencies allege meddled in the 2016 election in an effort to help Trump win. Lawyers for Trump have said the President’s tax returns showed few dealings with Russia, although Trump has refused to release his tax returns.
Schiff, the top Democrat involved in the House investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s election, characterized the news about Cohen’s efforts on the potential Moscow project as “yet another” misleading statement from the Trump administration about Russia.
He said the House intelligence committee, of which he is the ranking member, would likely question Cohen and Russian-born developer Felix Sater, who communicated with Cohen about the proposal. The Democratic congressman noted the committee had already subpoenaed Cohen for documents.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schiff’s remarks.
Previous reports have indicated that efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow were underway during the presidential campaign in 2015, but it had not been reported that those efforts continued into 2016.
In a written statement, Cohen characterized the proposal as “simply one of many development opportunities that the Trump Organization considered and ultimately rejected.”
“In late January 2016, I abandoned the Moscow proposal because I lost confidence that the prospective licensee would be able to obtain the real estate, financing and government approvals necessary to bring the proposal to fruition,” he added. “It was a building proposal that did not succeed and nothing more.”
Cohen’s own attorney provided documents to the House intelligence committee that included a reference to the Moscow project. Cohen also said in a statement that the proposal “was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Both I and the Trump Organization were evaluating this proposal and many others from solely a business standpoint, and rejected going forward on that basis.”
Cohen told CNN that his three conversations with Trump about the proposed construction project were “short.” The first was to inform him about negotiations happening for a possible deal, the second time was to sign a letter of intent, and the third time was to let Trump know that the deal was off.
Cohen said the proposal was under consideration from September 2015 until the end of January 2016 and progressed to soliciting building designs and negotiations over financing.
The Washington Post, citing several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers, first reported the proposed project was under consideration well into Trump’s campaign.
Trump’s involvement and awareness of the negotiations remains unclear and there is no public record that Trump has ever spoken about the effort to build a Trump Tower in 2015 and 2016.
Trump denied having any business interests in Russia in July 2016, tweeting, “for the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.” He then reiterated that point again at a news conference the following day, telling reporters “I have nothing to do with Russia.”
However, Trump has spoken out in news interviews and in sworn depositions about his previous efforts to develop properties in Russia, which date back decades, praising the market there as ripe for investment.
Sater has confirmed to CNN that he put together a real estate proposal for the development of “the world’s tallest building in Moscow” in the latter half of 2015, and presented the development to Cohen, which resulted in a signed Letter of Intent for the project. Cohen was the only member of the Trump Organization he communicated with on the project, Sater said, adding that he would not have been compensated by the Trump Organization if the project had been successful.
While Cohen was working on the Trump Tower deal, Trump was speaking positively about working with Putin and also minimizing Russia’s aggressive military moves around the world. His openness to Putin, and his willingness to accept narratives favored by the Kremlin, contrasted strongly with not only his Republican opponents but also with the Obama administration.
“I would talk to him, I would get along with him,” Trump said about Putin at a Republican primary debate in September 2015. “I would get along with a lot of the world leaders that this country is not getting along with.”

Read more:

Clinton ‘convinced’ there was collusion between Trump aides, Russia

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton says she’s “convinced” there was collusion between Russia and members of Donald Trump’s team during the 2016 campaign, according to a Monday night interview with USA Today.

“I happen to believe in the rule of law and believe in evidence, so I’m not going to go off and make all kinds of outrageous claims,” the former Democratic presidential hopeful said. “But if you look at what we’ve learned since (the election), it’s pretty troubling.”
Ahead of the release of her new memoir, “What Happened,” Clinton has been discussing her experiences from the campaign trail and the time following her loss to Trump.
But in the interview with USA Today published Monday, Clinton seemed to go a step farther on the subject of possible Russian influence on the election.
“There certainly was communication and there certainly was an understanding of some sort,” Clinton said in the interview. “Because there’s no doubt in my mind that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wanted me to lose and wanted Trump to win. And there’s no doubt in my mind that there are a tangle of financial relationships between Trump and his operation with Russian money. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the Trump campaign and other associates have worked really hard to hide their connections with Russians.”

Read more:

Congress switches gears on proposed FEMA cuts post-Harvey

Washington (CNN)As Texas continues to attempt managing the destruction from Hurricane Harvey, Congress is due to consider an appropriations package that, as is, would rescind nearly $876 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.

But with the proposal written prior to Hurricane Harvey, lawmakers are now expected to pivot funding directives to match the needs of the programs aiding recovery efforts.
The spending cuts in the initial package were intended help cover costs of administration priorities in the homeland security bill, which includes President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
Trump assured Texans that areas affected by Hurricane Harvey would see swift action from the government.
“You’re going to see very rapid action from Congress — certainly from the President,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Insistent that Texas would get the funding it needed for recovery, Trump added that he thought it would come from outside the larger budget package.
GOP leaders are working on sending additional funds through a supplemental spending bill, and if spending legislation is passed in September, the disaster relief fund will get additional money, according to a GOP aide.
Federal Emergency Management Agency director Brock Long predicted on Saturday that the agency will be in Texas “for years” following the devastation from Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey made landfall Friday night and has since broken the US record for rainfall from a single storm, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said — with some areas of the state seeing almost 52 inches of rain.
“It is simply too early at this point to determine whether FEMA may need supplemental funding. The FEMA Disaster Relief Fund is funded, as planned, to meet disaster needs this fiscal year. The committee will proceed accordingly should the need arise for supplemental funding after damage and recovery assessments can be made,” Chris Gallegos, the Republican spokesperson for the Senate Appropriations Committee, told CNN earlier this week.
Friday, Trump announced a major disaster declaration, which directed federal aid to affected areas after Thomas Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser, said Friday that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested the disaster declaration earlier Friday.

Read more:

These Trump supporters think Charlottesville was a false flag operation

(CNN)The whole Charlottesville protest was a purposeful provocation by the liberal left to hurt President Trump.

“I think a great portion of it is a conspiracy,” said L.A. Key. “I think it was a setup.” Asked by Camerota who organized this conspiracy, Key responded: “I think people who want to derail our President.”
Later, Key added that protesters were “coming off the same bus with some wearing Black Lives Matter and some wearing the KKK shirts. They were brought in to cause a controversy. Right?”
Added Robert McCarthy, another Trump supporter: “The protesters, the antifa people had an ad on Craigslist recruiting people for $25 an hour to show up for the protest in Charlottesville. It’s all over the place.”
(CNN’s Leigh Munsil did some searching to find these alleged videos. The closest she could find was this video — in which a man in a car recounts these “stories” about people in KKK shirts and BLM shirts getting on buses next to one another. The narrator of this video appears to be citing something he was told by someone else.
And the $25-an-hour rate showed up in posts like this one, which showed a screenshot of an unverified Craigslist ad for actors wanted in *Charlotte, North Carolina* — but with the headline: “Did Crowds on Demand bus rioters into Charlottesville, Virginia?”)
Asked what he meant by having seen the information “all over the place,” McCarthy said he had see “a lot of it on Facebook” — a source he said he trusts far more than the mainstream media, despite the fact that he couldn’t necessarily trace the origins or source of the videos he was watching or information he was reading.
At another point in the conversation with Camerota, another female Trump supporter said that she saw videos on Facebook which prove that Trump was right when he said not everyone protesting in Charlottesville was a neo-Nazi or a white supremacist. Pressed by Camerota on whether the videos could be fake, the woman responds “could be.”
So, here we are.
It’s important to note that roughly 63 million people voted for Donald Trump. The six people Camerota interviewed represent .000009% of those Trump voters. So, to say “everyone” who supports Trump thinks exactly like this is a vast over-simplification and flat-out wrong.
Still, the Camerota interview sheds light on a few common elements among those who still remain totally committed to Trump:
  1. Massive distrust of the media
  2. Dependence on a group of like-minded Facebook friends to curate the news for them
  3. A deep-seated belief that “both sides do it” — regardless of what “it” is — but the media only covers conservatives doing it
  4. Willingness to engage with conspiracy theories that affirm points 1-3
The idea that a man sitting in a car recounting something someone told him about Charlottesville is cited as real evidence of a false flag operation speaks to how people are forever in search of things that affirm their points of view — and a search on Facebook appears all-too-willing to accommodate.
That’s a scary place to be — no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

Read more: