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Tag: border wall

Bannon Crony Will Plead Guilty In 'Border Wall’ Fraud

An ally of former President Donald Trump, who also led the campaign effort to raise funding to build the border wall, has agreed to enter a guilty plea on fraud charges amid accusations that he misappropriated funds for the project. The case is in connection with the We Build the Wall border project.

In addition to the fraud charges for attempt and conspiracy to commit wire, Brian Kolfage, a right-wing propagandist on social media, has reportedly agreed to enter a guilty plea for tax fraud for falsifying information on his 2019 taxes, according to court documents filed in the federal Southern District of New York.

Prosectors shared details about Kolfage's income claims noting that he "first claimed to have earned $63,574 that year and then filed a correction claiming $300,000, but officials claimed Kolfage's income for that year 'were materially in excess of that amount.'"

Although Kolfage initially claimed he "wouldn't earn 'a penny in salary or compensation'" from the efforts to raise funds for the border wall, federal prosecutors argue otherwise.

Per Reuters, prosecutors have indicated Kolfage "told prospective donors he would 'not take a penny' as he raised more than $25 million, yet took more than $350,000 and spent money on a boat, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, and cosmetic surgery, among other expenses."

Despite the staggering fundraising efforts, Fisher Sand & Gravel, the contractor employed to complete the project, also claims that the organization "pulled out of the $8 million project and paid for only $1.5 million of it," according to Buzzfeed.

The charges against Kolfage follow similar charges brought against former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon, who escaped prosecution when Trump pardoned him. Kolfage, who faces the possibility of a maximum of 20 years behind bars in connection with the wire and fraud charges, is expected to change his plea status on April 21.

Printed with permission from Alternet.

New Data Shows Trump’s ‘Impenetrable’ Border Wall Is A Costly Failure

When former President Donald Trump was on the campaign trail, he spoke numerous times about erecting an "impenetrable" border wall while promising his supporters that it would combat the uptick in illegal immigrants crossing the border. However, a newly-released report proves otherwise.

According to The Washington Post, the supposedly impassable wall, which spans over 458 miles across remote parts of Arizona and New Mexico, has reportedly been breached thousands of times. Details about the recorded breaches were reportedly found in unpublished data compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The information, which was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed Mexican smugglers managed to breach the wall a total of 3,272 times over three years."

The report also highlights the cost of expenses to repair the wall as a result of breaches. Between 2019 and 2021, the federal government spent approximately $2.6 million to repair the wall and, according to CBP, "the maintenance records show damage has been more widespread than previously known, pointing to the structure’s limitations as an impediment to illegal crossings."

So, how are smugglers able to break through the presumably impassable barrier? The report suggests it's not as difficult as one might assume. The Washington Post's Nick Miroff offered a quick breakdown of how the breaches are occurring.

Per the Post:

"Smuggling gangs typically cut the barrier with inexpensive power tools widely available at retail hardware stores, including angle grinders and demolition saws. Once the 18-to-30-foot-tall bollards are severed near the ground, their only remaining point of attachment is at the top of the structure, leaving the steel beam dangling in the air. It easily swings open with a push, creating a gap wide enough for people and narcotics to pass through."

Luis Miranda, a spokesperson for the government agency, weighed in on the report with facts about border security. According to Miranda, effective border protocols "requires a variety of resources and efforts, infrastructure, technology, and personnel.”

In a statement, he also noted that: “No structure is impenetrable, so we will continue to work to focus resources on modern, effective border management measures to improve safety and security."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Fox Host Bartiromo Attacks Security Measures At Biden Home

Fox News and Fox Business are criticizing the building by the Secret Service of a fence around the Delaware vacation home of President Joe Biden and his family. In segments broadcast on both networks, the building of the fence was juxtaposed with the halt in construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. Biden halted work on the wall on Jan. 20, his first day in office.

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On Fox, Stephen Miller Falsely Claims Migrant Kids Were ‘Humanely Returned’ To Families

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Former Trump administration senior adviser Stephen Miller appeared Thursday morning on Fox & Friends, to attack President Joe Biden's immigration policies. During the interview, Miller falsely claimed that the Trump administration maintained a practice of "safely and humanely" returning unaccompanied minor immigrants to their families.

In fact, the practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials during the Trump administration were notorious for their dysfunctional treatment of unaccompanied minors. A ProPublica report last year titled "The Trump Administration Is Rushing Deportations of Migrant Children During Coronavirus" included young children who had "a parent in the U.S. ready to receive them, and no one in their home country to care for them," and teenagers with dangerous family situations waiting for them back home.

The New York Times also documented that the administration had "deported hundreds of migrant children alone — in some cases, without notifying their families," which also included other relatives in the United States, and that "others have been pushed back into Mexico, where thousands of migrants are living in filthy tent camps and overrun shelters." The Times also reported the Trump administration had ordered the expulsion of minors who still had pending asylum appeals. Congressional Democrats had charged that the administration's practices violated the existing federal law for the treatment of unaccompanied children, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Miller played a key role in advocating for the worst abuses of Trump-era immigration policies, but on Fox & Friends, he claimed those policies actually "saved lives" and "kept children safe."

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Fox News has been continuously fearmongering against Biden's immigration policies, including a false claim that undocumented immigrants who committed violent crimes would not be investigated and deported, and alleging that immigration was the real insurrectionagainst America, rather than the attack against the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6. The network also recently attacked Biden's policies by repeatedly showing b-roll footage of a migrant caravan that had been broken up while crossing from Honduras into Guatemala, a 1,400-mile journey from U.S. territory.

'Promises Kept'? Eight Major Pledges That Trump Blew Off

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Donald Trump made hundreds of promises as a candidate about what kind of president he would be. As his final days in office tick down, it is clear that he has broken most of the biggest ones.

Some were silly — like his vows never to call Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "Supreme Leader" ("I'll say, 'Hey baby, how ya doing?'") and never to break his leg in a bicycle race. Others were hyperbolic, like an April 2016 boast that if he won the election, "all of the bad things happening in the U.S. will be rapidly reversed!"

But many of his unkept promises were fundamental actions he had claimed were the reason he should be elected president, things he would do to "Make America Great Again."

Economy

Trump has claimed that he created the greatest economy in history. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a massive economic downturn, the promises Trump made about what he'd do for the country's economy had not been fulfilled.

During a debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton not long before Election Day in 2016, Trump claimed that "we're bringing GDP from, really, one percent, which is what it is now, and if she got in, it will be less than zero. But we're bringing it from one percent up to four percent. And I actually think we can go higher than four percent. I think you can go to five percent or six percent."

But under Trump, growth of the country's gross domestic product never reached four percent in any quarter until the third quarter of 2020, and that was due to a partial rebound from a contraction of over 31 percent caused by the pandemic.

Rather than balance the budget and get rid of the national debt "fairly quickly," Trump's policies increased the debt by trillions of dollars, even before the 2020 pandemic relief bills.

His promised massive cuts to taxes paid by middle class Americans also never materialized, nor did the promised funding of massive infrastructure projects.

Health

Dozens of times, Trump made a vague but firm pledge to "immediately" repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, with something "terrific" that would provide health insurance coverage to every American.

Trump never actually revealed this supposed secret plan. Instead, he endorsed what he described as a "mean" congressional repeal legislation proposal that he admitted lacked "heart." The House, then controlled by Republicans, passed a version of the bill, but the effort failed in the Senate.

Trump's pledges to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country and solve the issues of cocaine and heroin abuse also did not come to fruition.

Immigration

Trump's most famous 2016 campaign promise was that he would quickly build a massive wall along the entire southern border between the United States and Mexico, and that Mexico would pay for it. When Mexico refused to pay, Trump diverted billions of dollars appropriated for military families and construction to pay for it.

According to a fact check published by USA Today in September, only five miles of the wall built under the Trump administration are new construction; the rest of the 307 miles U.S. Customs and Border Protection said had been built as of Sept. 1 replaced or reinforcing existing fencing.

Ethics

During his campaign for president, Trump vowed to "drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.," releasing a "Five-Point Plan for Ethics Reform" in government. He said he would completely disentangle himself from his financial holdings and have his kids take them over. He did neither, instead giving policy influence to donors, letting his children simultaneously take key roles in his business and political organizations, profiteering from his position, and running what the nonpartisan watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called the "most unethical presidency" in U.S. history.

He also promised voters, "I will always tell you the truth." As of this September, the Washington Post reported, Trump had made more than 23,000 false or misleading statements while in office.

Focus On The Job

During the 2016 race, Trump claimed that as president he would behave differently than he had as a candidate. "And after I win, I will be so presidential that you won't even recognize me. You'll be falling asleep, you'll be so bored," he said during an interview with reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. He also promised that if he was elected, he would stop tweeting.

"I would rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done," he said in 2015. "I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off."

Trump has made hundreds of trips to his own golf resorts and visited his properties on nearly a third the time he's been in office.

Personnel

Trump promised that he would staff his administration with only the "best and most serious people." But he frequently fired his own appointees — sometimes via tweet — and often attacked them for being totally incompetent.

According to a report published by the Brookings Institution, 91% of Trump's "A Team" of positions within the executive office, not including Cabinet members, turned over at least once during his four years in the White House, breaking records for turnover.

Public Safety

Trump told Americans that he would bring an end to violent crime. "The crime rate is through the roof. People can't walk down the street without getting shot. I'll stop that," he said. In his inaugural address, Trump announced an end to crime and poverty in inner cities, saying, "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."

While a decrease in violent crime that had been underway for decades mostly continued, the murder rate in many American cities shot up this year, possibly in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, experts speculate. Rather than highlight the incremental improvements, Trump actually made his failure to keep this promise a 2020 campaign talking point and frequently noted the increasing crime rates on his own watch.

Environment

While pushing climate denial, Trump framed himself as an environmentalist committed to "crystal clear, crystal clean" water and fresh air. "I will refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans," he promised.

Instead, his administration rolled back environmental protections and slashed funding for water infrastructure. The level of dangerous particle pollution in the air is basically unchanged since 2016, as the EPA ignores scientists' calls to impose lower limits on the pollutants.

Despite all of these, Trump sought a second term with the slogan "Promises Kept."

"I didn't back down from my promises and I have kept every single one," he claimed in a video shown at the Republican National Convention in August.

With a popular vote defeat by a margin of more than six million votes and a 306-to-232 defeat in the Electoral College in the 2020 election, it does not appear the American people bought it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Federal Records Show Trump’s Border Wall Costing Billions Extra

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

On the same day in May 2019, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a pair of contracts worth $788 million to replace 83 miles of fence along the southwest border.

The projects were slated to be completed in January 2020, the Corps said then. Four months into this year, however, the government increased the value of the contracts by more than $1 billion, without the benefit of competitive bidding designed to keep costs low to taxpayers.

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Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Use Of Military Funds For Border Wall

Reprinted with permission from The Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court ruled late Friday that President Donald Trump's use of his emergency powers to build his long-promised border wall with military funds is illegal, striking a blow to one of his signature campaign promises just weeks before the November election.

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If Trump ‘Disagreed’ With Private Border Wall, Why Did He Award Its Builder Big Contracts?

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

President Donald Trump complained via Twitter on Sunday that a privately constructed border wall in Texas was a bad idea and poorly done — not mentioning that his administration has awarded the builder a $1.7 billion contract to build more walls.

With the backing of Trump supporters, Tommy Fisher built a 3-mile border fence along the Rio Grande, calling it the “Lamborghini" of fences. But just months after completion of his showcase piece directly on the banks of the river, there are signs of erosion along and under the fence that threatens its stability and could cause it to topple into the river if not fixed, experts told ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

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