Court sides with House Democrats in challenge to Trump’s border wall spending

The Constitution gives Congress spending authority, the court said, and it “requires two keys to unlock the Treasury, and the House holds one of those keys. The Executive Branch has, in a word, snatched the House’s key out of its hands,” according to the opinion from Judge David B. Sentelle, who was joined by Judges Patricia A. Millett and Robert L. Wilkins.

House Democrats went to court claiming Trump violated the Constitution by ignoring congressional spending limits and diverting more than $6 billion allocated for other purposes to fund the wall at the border with Mexico. The administration invoked statutes it said allowed the president to repurpose appropriations.

The D.C. Circuit panel on Friday said the Trump administration had essentially cut the House out of the appropriations process “rendering for naught” its vote to withhold border wall funding. The judges also rejected the Justice Department’s argument that the House cannot go to court to protect its interests without consent of the Senate.

“The ironclad constitutional rule is that the Executive Branch cannot spend until both the House and the Senate say so,” according to Sentelle’s opinion. “Unlike the affirmative power to pass legislation, the House can wield its appropriations veto fully and effectively all by itself, without any coordination with or cooperation from the Senate.”

Sentelle was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Millett and Wilkins were nominated by President Barack Obama.

In August, the full D.C. Circuit held that a single house of Congress did have standing to pursue litigation against the administration and sent the case back to the three-judge panel to consider other aspects of the administration’s challenge to the House’s claims.

The three-judge panel was reviewing a 2019 decision from District Court Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump nominee, who held that the House lacked legal grounds or standing to bring the lawsuit.

The ruling Friday is unlikely to be the final word in the controversy. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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‘Murders at White House Farm’ actor captures many sides of killer

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 23 (UPI) — On Aug. 8, 1985, five members of the Bamber family were killed in Nevill and June Bambers’ home in Essex, England. The new HBO Max series, The Murders at White House Farm, explores how son Jeremy Bamber kept the community debating his guilt, even after his conviction for the murders.

Freddie Fox plays Jeremy, who is serving a life sentence for the murders. When the series begins, Jeremy calls police to the scene at White House Farm, claiming his sister Sheila (Cressida Bonas) sounded erratic on the phone.

“Director Paul Whittington and I decided that we wanted to create as plausible an appearance of somebody suffering in grief for as long as possible,” Fox said on a recent Television Critics Association panel. “There’s a certain elliptical quality, an enigmatic nature to the character, which I really wanted to play up.”

Series creator and executive producer Kris Mrksa said Jeremy’s behavior in the aftermath of the murders led to a lot of the disagreements about the case. It was important to Mrksa that Fox’s performance capture how much Jeremy fluctuated.

“[Jeremy goes] from enormously demonstrative grief to almost a flippancy,” Mrksa said. “He is so unpredictable and mercurial, moving from charming to cold and disengaged.”

Controversy still surrounds the case. A Jeremy Bamber Innocence Campaign is fighting for his release.

“Jeremy Bamber recently had his third appeal and has a huge support group suggesting that he didn’t do it,” Fox said.

The series bases its depiction of events on two sources. Carol Ann Lee researched the case and wrote the book, The Murders At White House Farm. Colin Caffell, Sheila’s husband, wrote the book, In Search of Rainbow’s End, which the series also credits.

“I was then very fortunate to spend quite a lot of time with Colin,” Fox said. “He was incredibly open and giving with his memories.”

Fox also visited locations relating to the Bamber family. He said he went to the church graveyard where the Bambers are buried, Jeremy’s house and even pubs that Jeremy frequented.

“I would meet people,” Fox said. “They would all be giving me their different views on what the case or the outcome of the case.”

In addition to the Bamber family and people in the Essex community, Fox said he also spoke with criminologists, criminal psychologists and officers who worked the case. One person Fox did not consult was Jeremy. Fox says he avoided Jeremy for the actor’s own well-being.

“Were I to have met the real Jeremy Bamber, there would have been a certain amount of baggage that I wouldn’t have been able to escape,” Fox said.

Fox said no video of Jeremy speaking exists, but he had a wealth of audio recordings to which he listened. Tapes of Jeremy guided Fox’s performance, though the actor said he did not mimic Jeremy’s voice.

“I created my own Bamber as opposed to a facsimile of the Bamber,” Fox said.

As much attention as Mrksa

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Two Gulf nations will recognize Israel at the White House. Here’s what’s in it for all sides

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will join the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House to mark historic normalization agreements between Israel and the two Arab countries.

a man wearing a suit and tie: WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump said tomorrow he will announce the administration's much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

© Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 27: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump said tomorrow he will announce the administration’s much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The last time such a ceremony took place in Washington was in 1994, when President Bill Clinton looked on as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordanian King Hussein signed a declaration that paved the way for a peace deal months later.

For Trump, the timing is crucial. Less than two months before an election in which he trails in the polls, normalization agreements between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain are major foreign policy achievements, even if the region was gradually moving towards these relationships regardless of who occupied the White House.

How did we get here?

For years, Israel has had covert relations with many of the Sunni Gulf states, driven in recent years by a mutual de facto alliance against Iran. Even so, the relations pre-date the Iran nuclear deal by more than a decade in some cases, as Gulf states looked to take advantage of Israel’s high-tech scene and Israel looked to secure its place in a turbulent Middle East.

Chief among these behind-the-scenes relations was the United Arab Emirates, with numerous public examples of the growing ties between the two states becoming more common. In late-2015, Israel opened a diplomatic-level mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi. In 2018, then-culture minister Miri Regev made a state visit to the Grand Mosque on the heels of an Israeli gold medal at a judo tournament in the Emirates. Israel was also invited to Expo 2020 Dubai, a world expo that has since been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

a large building with White House in the background: The White House stands in Washington D.C., on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.

© Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The White House stands in Washington D.C., on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.

Like the UAE, Bahrain also had covert ties with Israel stretching back years. In addition, Bahrain has a small but sustained Jewish community, with one of its members serving as the country’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-2013. The small Gulf kingdom also hosted the unveiling of the economic portion of the White House’s plan for Middle East peace, signaling a willingness to engage with the US — and subsequently Israel — on the issue, even at a time when no progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears possible.

Crucially the UAE and Bahrain are also close allies of the US, with each country hosting a significant US military presence. The US Air Force has deployed F-35 fighter jets to an air base in Abu Dhabi, while the Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Central Command are based in Bahrain.

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