Washington, Mar 9 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump will be making a significant request for border wall funds and seeking money to start up Space Force as a new branch of the military in the White House budget being released next week.
That's according to an administration official who was unauthorized to discuss the document ahead of its release and spoke on condition of anonymity.
For the first time, Trump plans to stick with the strict spending caps imposed years ago, even though lawmakers have largely avoided them with new budget deals. That will likely trigger a showdown with Congress.
The official says the president's plan promises to balance the budget in 15 years.
Trump will seek $750 billion for defense, while cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent, the official says.
London, Mar 8 (AP/UNB) — The newborn son of a U.K.-born teenager, who left her London home to join the Islamic State group in Syria, is believed to have died, Begum's lawyer said Friday.
Tasnime Akunjee tweeted that he has "strong but as yet unconfirmed reports that Shamima Begum's son has died. He was a British citizen."
He declined to provide further details.
Begum was 15 when she and two friends left London to marry IS fighters in Syria in 2015, at a time when the group's online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate.
Begum recently resurfaced in a refugee camp, and gave birth last month.
Begum, now 19, told journalists that she wanted to raise her son in Britain, but the government revoked her citizenship. Begum told reporters that she had lost two other children to malnutrition and disease.
Her Dutch jihadi husband Yago Riedijk, who is in a Kurdish-run detention center, said last week that he wanted to return to the Netherlands with Begum and their son.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said last month he had revoked Begum's citizenship — even while saying he wouldn't make a decision that would render a person stateless. Javid also confirmed that Begum's son was a British citizen, though he said it would be "incredibly difficult" to facilitate the return of a child from Syria.
Begum's parents are from Bangladesh but her family says she isn't a dual citizen. The family has said it plans to challenge Javid's decision.
Mexico, Mar 8 (AP/UNB) — Authorities in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas say at least 25 Central American migrants have died when the truck they were traveling in overturned.
The Chiapas state prosecutor's office said in a statement late Thursday that 29 others were injured in the accident. It appears the driver lost control of the truck around 6 p.m. near the town of Francisco Sarabia in the municipality of Soyalo.
The injured were transported to hospitals. Authorities did not provide the nationalities of the victims, and say the investigation continues.
Chiapas is the historic entry point for Central American migrants arriving in Mexico from Guatemala. The normal migratory flow has attracted additional attention will the arrival of several large migrant caravans from Central America during the past year.
Washington, Mar 8(AP/UNB) — A group of 23 Democratic and one Republican senators asked President Donald Trump Thursday to protect Venezuelan citizens currently in the United States from deportation, given the crisis rocking the South American country.
The 24 senators, including Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, asked Trump to designate Venezuelans for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Florida's Marco Rubio is the only Republican in the group.
The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Trump administration officials have moved to discontinue that specific protection for many countries, but a federal judge extended it last week for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador while a preliminary injunction remains in effect.
Several lawsuits have been filed to avoid the termination of the TPS program.
"Granting TPS to Venezuela is a concrete measure your Administration can immediately take to alleviate the suffering of innocent Venezuelan civilians and to demonstrate our nation's commitment to supporting a safe democratic transition in Venezuela so that individuals can safely return home soon," the senators wrote in a letter.
TPS is granted to countries ravaged by natural disasters or war and lets citizens of those countries remain in the U.S. until the situation improves back home. About 300,000 people have received those protections.
The economy of the oil-rich nation has shrunk by more than half since 2013, according to International Monetary Fund data. Hyperinflation and shortages of food and other necessities have driven at least 3 million Venezuelans out of their country, according to the United Nations.
The U.S. and more than 50 governments recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of the country.
They say President Nicolas Maduro wasn't legitimately re-elected last year because opposition candidates weren't permitted to run.
The letter comes a week after five senators introduced a bill to immediately grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans.
U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams told reporters earlier this week: "We have no U.S. Government decision. All I can say is we are aware of the problem."
Alexandria, Mar 8 (AP/UNB) — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in prison for tax and bank fraud related to his work advising Ukrainian politicians, much less than what was called for under sentencing guidelines.
Manafort, sitting in a wheelchair as he deals with complications from gout, had no visible reaction as he heard the 47-month sentence. While that was the longest sentence to date to come from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, it could have been much worse for Manafort. Sentencing guidelines called for a 20-year-term, effectively a lifetime sentence for the 69-year-old.
Manafort has been jailed since June, so he will receive credit for the nine months he has already served. He still faces the possibility of additional time from his sentencing in a separate case in the District of Columbia, where he pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal lobbying.
Before Judge T.S. Ellis III imposed the sentence, Manafort told him that "saying I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement." But he offered no explicit apology, something Ellis noted before issuing his sentence.
Manafort steered Donald Trump's election efforts during crucial months of the 2016 campaign as Russia sought to meddle in the election through hacking of Democratic email accounts. He was among the first Trump associates charged in the Mueller investigation and has been a high-profile defendant.
But the charges against Manafort were unrelated to his work on the campaign or the focus of Mueller's investigation: whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russians.
A jury last year convicted Manafort on eight counts, concluding that he hid from the IRS millions of dollars he earned from his work in Ukraine.
Manafort's lawyers argued that their client had engaged in what amounted to a routine tax evasion case, and cited numerous past sentences in which defendants had hidden millions from the IRS and served less than a year in prison.
Prosecutors said Manafort's conduct was egregious, but Ellis ultimately agreed more with defense attorneys. "These guidelines are quite high," Ellis said.
Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys had requested a particular sentence length in their sentencing memoranda, but prosecutors had urged a "significant" sentence.
Outside court, Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, said his client accepted responsibility for his conduct "and there was absolutely no evidence that Mr. Manafort was involved in any collusion with the government of Russia."
Prosecutors left the courthouse without making any comment.
Though Manafort hasn't faced charges related to collusion, he has been seen as one of the most pivotal figures in the Mueller investigation. Prosecutors, for instance, have scrutinized his relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate U.S. authorities say is tied to Russian intelligence, and have described a furtive meeting the men had in August 2016 as cutting to the heart of the investigation.
After pleading guilty in the D.C. case, Manafort met with investigators for more than 50 hours as part of a requirement to cooperate with the probe. But prosecutors reiterated at Thursday's hearing that they believe Manafort was evasive and untruthful in his testimony to a grand jury.
Manafort was wheeled into the courtroom about 3:45 p.m. in a green jumpsuit from the Alexandria jail, where he spent the last several months in solitary confinement. The jet black hair he bore in 2016 when serving as campaign chairman was gone, replaced by a shaggy gray. He spent much of the hearing hunched at the shoulders, bearing what appeared to be an air of resignation.
Defense lawyers had argued that Manafort would never have been charged if it were not for Mueller's probe. At the outset of the trial, even Ellis agreed with that assessment, suggesting Manafort was being prosecuted only to pressure him to "sing" against Trump. Prosecutors said the Manafort investigation preceded Mueller's appointment.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani echoed the defense argument Thursday night, saying: "I feel terrible about the way Manafort has been treated to this point. I think it's not American to keep a man in solitary confinement to try to crack him."
Giuliani said he hadn't spoken to the president about Manafort's sentence.
Manafort was convicted of eight felonies related to tax and bank fraud charges for hiding foreign income from his work in Ukraine from the IRS and later inflating his income on bank loan applications. Prosecutors have said the work in Ukraine was on behalf of politicians who were closely aligned with Russia, though Manafort insisted his work helped those politicians distance themselves from Russia and align with the West.
In arguing for a significant sentence, prosecutor Greg Andres said Manafort still hasn't accepted responsibility for his misconduct.
"His sentencing positions are replete with blaming others," Andres said. He also said Manafort still has not provided a full account of his finances for purposes of restitution, a particularly egregious omission given that his crime involved hiding more than $55 million in overseas bank accounts to evade paying more than $6 million in federal income taxes.
The lack of certainty about Manafort's finances complicated the judge's efforts to impose restitution, but Ellis ultimately ordered that Manafort could be required to pay back up to $24 million.
In the D.C. case, Manafort faces up to five years in prison on each of two counts to which he pleaded guilty. The judge will have the option to impose any sentence there concurrent or consecutive to the sentence imposed by Ellis.