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National
Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder
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Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder

GRAPHIC VIDEO: Colorado Cop Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Armed Veteran Protecting Family From Intruder

Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder

A Colorado district attorney has cleared an Aurora police officer of criminal wrongdoing in the July shooting death of an armed Vietnam veteran who killed a naked intruder trying to drown his 11-year-old grandson.

Dave Young, district attorney for Colorado’s 17th Judicial District, on Monday announced his office’s decision in the July 30 death of Richard “Gary” Black Jr. Black, 73, was shot by Aurora police Officer Drew Limbaugh as officers responded to multiple 911 calls reporting an intruder in Black’s home. 

Black, who had just shot and killed the intruder, 26-year-old Dajon Harper, was shot in his living room after he did not respond to multiple officers’ orders to drop his weapon. His killing was caught on Limbaugh’s body camera. 

>> Read more trending news

Portions of two officers’ body camera footage were released Monday by the Aurora Police Department. Police Chief Nick Metz said in a statement that the footage was a “mutually-agreeable portion” released after consultation with Black’s family, who wanted the footage of his death released. 

The footage made public by Metz’s office was a big piece of the evidence that Young cited in making his decision not to prosecute Limbaugh. 

“Based on the evidence presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” Young wrote in his letter to Metz. “Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed against the law enforcement officer involved in this incident.”

Young wrote in his legal analysis that the body camera footage “corroborates the notion of uncertainty surrounding the dispatch call,” which was reported to officers as an “unknown problem” at Black’s home. He pointed out that responding officers, including Limbaugh, heard people outside the home talking about there being “blood everywhere” and that someone was hurting a child inside the house. 

The officers heard gunfire seconds after they approached the house, then saw the armed Black through the kicked-in front door. 

“Perhaps Mr. Black did not know that it was the police standing at his front door,” Young wrote. “Perhaps Mr. Black did not hear the police commands to drop the weapon. Either way, there is no evidence to contradict Officer Limbaugh’s reasonable belief that Mr. Black presented a threat to the officers because he did not drop the weapon and could shoot at any moment.”

Attorneys for the Black family disputed Young’s viewpoint, saying in a statement obtained by the Denver Post that the body camera footage proves Black never pointed his gun at the officers, but kept it at his side as he moved toward them. 

Officers also failed to identify themselves as police officers. 

“The district attorney’s report selectively emphasizes certain facts in order to justify its conclusion,” the statement by lawyers at Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC read, according to the Post. “But the report minimizes what is clear from the body camera footage: The officers who responded to the Black residence never identified themselves as law enforcement to Mr. Black prior to shooting him dead.”

Black was a licensed gun owner who had legally bought his handgun in 2009 and had a concealed weapon permit, the Post reported. An Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam -- earning four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart -- he suffered from significant hearing loss stemming from his time in the military, his family’s attorneys said.

“He was a dedicated family man and his last moments were spent heroically defending his family against intruders in his home,” the lawyers’ statement said. “As the district attorney’s report demonstrates, Mr. Black’s death was an unnecessary tragedy.”

His family is “extremely disappointed” that criminal charges are not being pursued against Limbaugh, the Post said.  

Aurora Police Department
Body camera footage recorded by Aurora police Officer Drew Limbaugh shows Army veteran Richard "Gary" Black Jr., 73, in his home moments before he was fatally shot by Limbaugh. Officers responding to Black's home the morning of July 30, 2018, came upon Black, a decorated Vietnam veteran, holding a flashlight and a handgun less than a minute after Black shot and killed Dejon Harper, 26, an intruder who kicked in the front door and attacked Black's 11-year-old grandson in the home's bathroom. Limbaugh, who opened fire after Black failed to heed officers' warnings to drop the weapon, seen in Black's right hand above, has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
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Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder

Photo Credit: Aurora Police Department
Body camera footage recorded by Aurora police Officer Drew Limbaugh shows Army veteran Richard "Gary" Black Jr., 73, in his home moments before he was fatally shot by Limbaugh. Officers responding to Black's home the morning of July 30, 2018, came upon Black, a decorated Vietnam veteran, holding a flashlight and a handgun less than a minute after Black shot and killed Dejon Harper, 26, an intruder who kicked in the front door and attacked Black's 11-year-old grandson in the home's bathroom. Limbaugh, who opened fire after Black failed to heed officers' warnings to drop the weapon, seen in Black's right hand above, has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

Black’s stepson, Chad Hayashi, told ABC 7 in Denver two days after the shooting that Black died like he lived. 

“It’s just heartbreaking. My dad was a hero,” Hayashi said. “My son wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. I don’t think any of us would be here.”

Fox 31 in Denver reported that Black’s death was the second fatal police shooting Limbaugh was part of in a 33-day span. Limbaugh, who shot and killed Joey Bronson, 39, in a June 27 incident at the Biltmore Motel, was on desk duty until July 18, when he was returned to patrol.

He had not yet been cleared of wrongdoing in Bronson’s death when he killed Black. 

One of the Black family’s lawyers said in the days immediately after Black’s shooting that his family was concerned that Limbaugh had been returned to the street too soon.

“Of course, had the officer been at his desk, this might have been very different,” Qusair Mohamedbhai told Fox 31

The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which covers the counties of Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln, cleared Limbaugh of wrongdoing in Bronson’s shooting on Aug. 29. District Attorney George Brauchler wrote in his own letter to Metz that Bronson, who had earlier fired two shots into the air from a .380-caliber handgun, was shot to death after he pointed his weapon at Limbaugh, and after two other officers had ordered him to drop his weapon at least three times. 

Metz said in his statement Monday that Limbaugh remains in a “non-enforcement role” since Black’s shooting. Now that the decision over criminal charges has been made, an internal investigation will be launched into the officer’s actions, the chief said. 

Click here for access to Brauchler’s report on Officer Limbaugh’s June 27 shooting of Joey Bronson. 

Young said that the findings of the criminal investigation into Black’s shooting, which was conducted by detectives with the Aurora and Denver police departments, were submitted to his office Oct. 9. He and his staff reviewed police reports, transcripts and videos of interviews with witnesses, photographs and diagrams of the crime scene and a total of 94 body camera recordings from officers at the scene.

“A thorough review of the initial responding officers’ recordings provides significant insight into the sequence of events from their perspective,” Young wrote

Young’s letter and summary of events, which includes details of 911 calls, witness interviews and body camera footage, paints a harrowing portrait of two families trying to stop a break-in and assault of a child that ultimately ended with both Harper and Black dead. 

‘That’s my Grandpa. He saved me.’

The first 911 calls came in at 1:28 a.m. June 30 from a home in the 1900 block of Iola Street, where Harper’s family had held a combination birthday party and celebration of his release from prison earlier in the day June 29, Young’s summary of events said. One of the calls came from Harper’s 12-year-old brother, who told a dispatcher that his brother was “going crazy” and was “out there trippin’.”

Neighbors of the Iola Street home, where Harper’s cousin lived, also called police to report a loud fight at the home. 

Interviews with several members of Harper’s family indicated that he began acting oddly at his cousin’s home, chanting and beating the end of a stick against the floor. Though none of them saw him take anything, they told investigators they believed he was on drugs. 

Harper’s autopsy confirmed that he had methamphetamine and marijuana in his system when he died, the summary said

Aurora Police Department via AP
Dejon Harper, 26, of Aurora, Colorado, is pictured in an undated booking photo. Harper was shot and killed after breaking into Army veteran Richard "Gary" Black Jr.'s home July 30, 2018, and attacking Black's 11-year-old grandson while high on methamphetamine and marijuana. Black, a decorated 73-year-old Vietnam vet, was fatally shot by police moments after he killed Harper. an intruder who kicked in the front door and attacked Black's 11-year-old grandson in the home's bathroom.
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Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder

Photo Credit: Aurora Police Department via AP
Dejon Harper, 26, of Aurora, Colorado, is pictured in an undated booking photo. Harper was shot and killed after breaking into Army veteran Richard "Gary" Black Jr.'s home July 30, 2018, and attacking Black's 11-year-old grandson while high on methamphetamine and marijuana. Black, a decorated 73-year-old Vietnam vet, was fatally shot by police moments after he killed Harper. an intruder who kicked in the front door and attacked Black's 11-year-old grandson in the home's bathroom.

Afraid after he punched his younger brother in the face, Harper’s family locked him inside a bedroom at the front of the home. He broke a window and escaped, leaving a trail of blood behind. 

That trail of blood led to Black’s front door about 300 yards away. 

Black’s wife, Jeannette Black, called police five minutes after that first 911 call to report someone breaking into their home, located across an intersection in the 10600 block of Montview Boulevard, Young’s summary of events said. 

“The nature of the call is chaotic -- sounds of banging and yelling can be overheard in the background,” the summary said. “The caller paused during the chaos and a different female voice can be overheard in the background saying something about being ‘in these people’s house,’ followed by, ‘I’m sorry, ma’am. He’s on some kind of drugs. This is my son.’”

Jeannette Black told the dispatcher that her son and grandson were trapped in the bathroom with the intruder and her grandson was “bleeding all over the place.” She said her husband was fighting with the intruder. 

Interviews with witnesses indicated that after fleeing his cousin’s house, Harper broke into a family member’s car, then ran across the intersection and kicked in the Blacks’ front door, which was partially torn from its hinges. The couple’s grandson, who was sleeping on the couch, awoke to see the door broken and his grandfather outside, looking for an intruder. 

While walking back to the bedroom where his father and sister were sleeping, the boy said he heard someone in the shower. 

“The door to the bathroom opened and K.H. saw a ‘random black guy’ with a ‘delusional look,’” the summary of his interview said. “The guy was naked.”

The boy told investigators Harper forced him inside the bathroom and locked the door before pulling his clothes off of him and throwing him in the shower. 

“The guy tried to strangle K.H. and pushed him under the water in the tub,” the summary said. “K.H. fought back. He heard his dad and grandpa trying to break down the bathroom door. There was blood all over the bathroom walls.”

Other interviews, including that of Hayashi, indicated that Harper’s mother, uncle and male cousin followed Gary Black back into his house to get Harper out of there. 

Hayashi told detectives that upon learning that Harper had his son in the bathroom, he ran to where his stepfather was trying to get inside. Once they and Harper’s uncle and cousin had the bathroom door broken open, Hayashi could see his son, naked and standing in the bathtub with a naked Harper holding him in a chokehold and biting his ear, the district attorney’s summary said. 

“Mr. Hayashi had no weapons, but got into the bathtub and tried to defend his son by grabbing at the black male’s neck and face,” the summary said. “He stuck his right thumb deep into the male’s left eye socket.”

Hayashi tried to get a “wet and slippery” Harper away from his son, at which point he said he saw Harper’s cousin, David Lovelace, “stomping on” Harper. Lovelace told investigators he told his cousin, “Get out of here, they’re going to kill you.”

See a portion of Aurora police officers’ body camera footage from the morning of July 30 below. Warning: The footage, which shows the fatal shooting of homeowner Gary Black, contains graphic images and language. 

Harper’s mother, Frances Shanelle Mayfield, screamed, “He’s got the baby!” or something similar, according to multiple interviews. 

Hayashi said Harper released his chokehold on his son after a struggle of about a minute to a minute and a half, at which point he pushed the intruder out of the tub. Lovelace remembered it slightly differently, saying he was eventually able to grab his cousin by his foot and pull him from the tub. 

By that point, Black had entered the bathroom with his 9mm Luger handgun.

Lovelace left the bathroom prior to Harper being shot, according to his interview. He told detectives that he saw police arriving and pointing weapons into the house, so he put his hands up and told them, “It’s not me.”

That portion of what happened was captured on officers’ body cameras. 

Hayashi told investigators that when Black came into the bathroom, Harper picked up a vase and struck his stepfather in the head, causing him to fall into the shower door. His stepfather fired two shots into Harper’s body. 

“Mr. Hayashi did not see the gun but saw the muzzle flashes near the male’s midsection,” the summary said. “The male slumped and fell to the floor with his head toward the bathtub.”

Harper was shot at 1:38 a.m., according to body camera footage that captured the gunshots. Ten minutes had elapsed since his family began calling 911 and five minutes since Jeannette Black made her call. 

Gary Black left the bathroom, Hayashi said, “presumably to chase the others out of the house.” Hayashi, who was still in the bathtub with his son, heard three gunshots.

He then heard police officers identify themselves, he said.

“At that point, Mr. Hayashi knew the police shot his stepfather,” the summary said. 

A few seconds later, officers came into the bathroom, where they gave Hayashi’s son a towel to wrap around his body and led him and his father from the house.

Both saw Black lying unresponsive on the living room floor as they walked by.

“That’s my Grandpa. He saved me,” the boy was heard saying on body camera footage

‘Gun, Gun! Drop the gun!’

The video footage released Tuesday by the Aurora Police Department backed up Black family attorney claims that officers failed to identify themselves to Black prior to the gunshots that took the Army veteran’s life. 

The five-minute-long video shows an officer arriving at Black’s home, where a woman outside is heard screaming, “There’s blood everywhere! Oh my God!” Harper’s mother, Shanelle Mayfield, tells the officer, “He’s on some kind of drugs,” and then appears to say something about her son hurting someone. 

“Just stay back,” the officer tells her in a gruff voice. 

A comparison of the video to the district attorney’s transcripts of several cameras’ footage shows that the officer wearing that camera is Limbaugh. 

Read 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young’s report on the shooting of Gary Black below.

Aurora Police Shooting Decision Letter by c_bonvillian on Scribd

As Limbaugh gets to the driveway of the home, a woman in a nightgown, later identified as Jeannette Black, is seen walking past, telling the officer, “He’s got guns.”

As Limbaugh approaches the porch, Lovelace is seen exiting the house.

“Is this the guy?” an officer on the porch says. “Who are you?” another voice asks Lovelace.

A second later, the two shots that killed Harper are heard from inside the house.

“Oh, (expletive),” someone says as the officers on the porch move back from the open doorway. 

Limbaugh pulls his weapon and activates the flashlight on it, aiming the handgun at the door. There is no movement from inside at first. 

“What do you got? What do you got?” an officer asks him. 

“Nothing,” Limbaugh responds.

A second or two later, Gary Black emerges from a hallway, wearing a bathrobe. 

“Gun! Gun! Drop the gun!” Limbaugh screams.

“Let me see your hands!” another officer yells as Black hovers in the doorway of the hall, appearing to look toward the doorway where officers stand outside. It is unclear if he can see them. 

“Drop the gun! Hey! Get your hands in the air!” Limbaugh shouts from his location at the foot of the porch steps.

Black moves to the other side of the hallway door, appearing to take cover. A couple of seconds later, he moves into full view, turning toward the door.

“Guy in a robe’s got the gun,” Limbaugh says. 

Black’s gun can be seen in his right hand, which is down at his side. He lifts his left hand, shining a flashlight at the doorway.

Limbaugh fires three shots and Black falls to the living room floor.

“You got it? You got it?” an officer asks Limbaugh.

“Yes,” Limbaugh says, firing another shot at Black. “Drop the gun!”

A few seconds later, another officer asks, “Is he down? Is he down?”

“He’s down. He’s down,” Limbaugh replies. 

Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via AP
In this July 30, 2018, photo, an Aurora police officer removes crime scene tape from the outside of a home where homeowner Richard "Gary" Black Jr., 73, was shot and killed by police that morning. Black, a Vietnam veteran, was killed moments after killing an intruder who broke into his home and attacked his 11-year-old grandson. The officer who killed Black has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
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Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder

Photo Credit: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via AP
In this July 30, 2018, photo, an Aurora police officer removes crime scene tape from the outside of a home where homeowner Richard "Gary" Black Jr., 73, was shot and killed by police that morning. Black, a Vietnam veteran, was killed moments after killing an intruder who broke into his home and attacked his 11-year-old grandson. The officer who killed Black has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

As Limbaugh approaches the door, a man’s voice can be heard screaming, “No!” repeatedly, though it is unclear if the voice is coming from inside the house or outside. According to reports about that morning, Harper’s family initially believed police officers had killed him.  

Limbaugh holds his gun on Black, shouting at him not to move toward his dropped weapon. Black, who lies mostly on his back, can be seen moving for several seconds as the officers determine how to enter the house. 

As other officers prepare to go inside, Limbaugh keeps his weapon trained on Black. 

“Somebody get some rubber gloves on,” the officer says in a shaky voice. “I’ve got you.”

An officer who spots blood in the vicinity of the front door tells the others to check themselves for gunshot wounds, but Limbaugh tells him no one was hit. 

Another officer, identified in documents as Sgt. Patricio Serrant, says in an urgent tone that there was supposed to possibly be a baby inside the house, drowning, so Limbaugh begins to enter the living room. He yells for anyone else in the house to make themselves known.

Black’s grandson can be heard yelling from the bathroom. The mortally wounded Black also speaks up.

“My son and my grandson are in the bathroom with the perpetrator,” he says from the floor. 

The public release of Limbaugh’s camera footage ends there, but Young’s summary of events said that the officer went to the bathroom, where the footage showed Hayashi and his son standing in the bathtub and Harper lying dead on the floor. Limbaugh then checks the rest of the house for additional threats.

The second officer’s camera footage begins in the Blacks’ driveway, where members of Harper’s family can be heard telling the officer he is inside “choking a kid.” The officer encounters Jeannette Black, who sounds tearful.

“Please!” she urges the officer, who the district attorney’s transcript identifies as Serrant. “He’s in the bathroom drowning my grandson, I think!”

“Who is? What’s his name?” Serrant asks. 

“A drug addict that’s their friend,” Jeannette Black says, indicating Harper’s family. “He broke our house in…” 

Her voice trails off as Serrant continues up the steps of the porch, where he encounters Lovelace. As he questions the man, the shots are fired from inside. 

As Serrant hurries off the porch toward the home’s garage, he calls in, “Cruiser 13, we got shots fired.”

AP Photo/Colleen Slevin
In this July 31, 2018, photo, workers clean up the crime scene at the Aurora, Colorado, home where Richard "Gary" Black Jr., 73, was shot and killed by police the day before. Black, a Vietnam veteran, was killed moments after killing an intruder who broke into his home and attacked his 11-year-old grandson. The officer who killed Black has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
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Colorado DA clears cop who killed armed Vietnam vet protecting family from intruder

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Colleen Slevin
In this July 31, 2018, photo, workers clean up the crime scene at the Aurora, Colorado, home where Richard "Gary" Black Jr., 73, was shot and killed by police the day before. Black, a Vietnam veteran, was killed moments after killing an intruder who broke into his home and attacked his 11-year-old grandson. The officer who killed Black has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

The sergeant’s body camera shows the shooting from his angle, which shows the broken door of the house and little else. The footage ends as he follows Limbaugh into the house and, with rubber gloves on his hands, approaches Black to offer medical aid. 

The event summary said Serrant stayed with Black as other officers cleared the home. When Hayashi and his son came out of the bathroom, he escorted the boy to the front door, where other officers took him outside. 

Serrant learned from Black that he was the homeowner. 

“I think he was trying to protect, but I don’t know,” Serrant said to other officers, according to the summary. “He had a gun. He wouldn’t drop it.”

Black’s autopsy showed that he was struck by three of Limbaugh’s four shots, according to Young’s summary of the shooting. Bullets entered his body in the right shoulder, the right chest and the upper back. 

“The gunshot wounds to the chest and back caused catastrophic injuries to the thoracic spinal cord and internal organs,” the summary said

The forensic pathologist also found evidence of blunt force trauma, apparently from Black’s encounter with Harper. 

Harper was killed by two shots to the chest at close range, his autopsy revealed. He also had abrasions, bruises and superficial cuts on his face, head, neck, chest, back, shoulders arms and hands, presumably from breaking out of his cousin’s house and into the Black home. 

The investigation of the case showed that Harper had a “significant history of arrests and convictions, both as a juvenile and an adult,” Young’s summary said. He was most recently arrested for robbery in November 2016, a crime for which he was sentenced the following April to 18 months in jail. 

Harper was sent in October 2017 to a state prison on a parole violation but was sent back to county jail in February to complete his misdemeanor sentence in the robbery case. 

He was out of jail just over 24 hours when he was shot and killed. 

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Update 10:50 a.m. EST Feb. 15: “I’m going to sign a national emergency,” Trump said. “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”  >> National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports Update 10:25 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Trump will declare a national emergency and use executive actions to funnel over $6 billion in funds from the Treasury Department and the Pentagon for his border wall, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported. “With the declaration of a national emergency, the President will have access to roughly $8 billion worth of money that can be used to secure the southern border,” Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters in a call before the president’s announcement. >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: White House: Trump using national emergency and executive actions for border wall Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 15: Trump is expected on Friday morning to deliver remarks from the Rose Garden on the southern border after White House officials said he plans to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall. Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 14: At 10 a.m. on Friday, President Donald Trump is expected to deliver remarks from the Rose Garden about the southern border. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Congress passes border deal as Trump readies emergency for border wall The White House announced earlier that Trump will declare a national emergency that would enable him to transfer funding from other accounts for additional miles of border fencing. Update 9 p.m. EST Feb. 14: The House easily approved border funding plan, as President Donald Trump prepared an emergency declaration to fund a border wall. The bill also closes a chapter by preventing a second government shutdown at midnight Friday and by providing $333 billion to finance several Cabinet agencies through September. Trump has indicated he’ll sign the measure though he is not happy with it, and for a few hours Thursday he was reportedly having second thoughts. Update 4:30 p.m. EST Feb. 14: The government funding bill that includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border wall, passed the Senate with a 83 - 16 vote. The bill will go to the House for a final vote Thursday evening. Update 4 p.m. EST Feb. 14: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says if President Donald Trump declares a national emergency at the border he’s making an “end run around Congress.” “The President is doing an end run around the Congress and the power of the purse,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who reserved the right to lead a legal challenge against any emergency declaration. Pelosi said that there is no crisis at the border with Mexico that requires a national emergency order. >> Trump's border wall: What is a national emergency? She did not say if House Democrats would legally challenge the president. But Pelosi said if Trump invokes an emergency declaration it should be met with “great unease and dismay” as an overreach of executive authority. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday afternoon that the White House is “very prepared” for a legal challenge following the declaration of a National Emergency. Update 3:15 p.m. EST Feb. 14: Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that President Donald Trump is going to sign a border deal and at the same time issue a national emergency declaration. The compromise will keep departments running through the fiscal year but without the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for the border wall with Mexico.  The House is also expected to vote on the bill later Thursday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sent a statement confirming that Trump intends to sign the bill and will issue “other executive action - including a national emergency.” An emergency declaration to shift funding from other federal priorities to the border is expected to face swift legal challenge. Update 12:40 p.m. EST Feb. 14: Trump said in a tweet Thursday that he and his team were reviewing the funding bill proposed by legislators. Congress is expected to vote Thursday on the bipartisan accord to prevent another partial federal shutdown ahead of Friday's deadline. Trump has not definitively said whether he’ll sign the bill if it passes the legislature. The bill would fund several departments, including Agriculture, Justice and State, until Sept. 30 but it includes only $1.4 billion to build new barriers on the border. Trump had asked Congress to provide $5.7 billion in funding. Update 9:55 a.m. EST Feb. 14: The more than 1,600-page compromise, made up of seven different funding bills, was unveiled early Thursday. It includes $1.4 billion to build new barriers on the border and over $1 billion to fund other border security measures. If passed, the bill would prevent a partial government shutdown like the 35-day closure that started after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise in December.  >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Five tidbits from the border security funding deal in Congress President Donald Trump has given mixed signals in recent days over whether he plans to sign the bill or not. He’s told reporters in recent days that a second government shutdown as federal workers continue to dig out from the last closure “would be a terrible thing.” However, Adam Kennedy, the deputy director of White House communications, told NPR that the president “doesn’t want his hands tied on border security.” 'I think the president is going to fully review the bill,' Kennedy said. 'I think he wants to review it before he signs it.' Original report: President Donald Trump is expected to sign the deal lawmakers have hammered out to avoid a second shutdown, CNN is reporting. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Trump hints at ‘national emergency’ to funnel money to border wall On Tuesday, Trump said he was “not happy” with the spending plan negotiators came up with Monday night, CNN reported. That deal includes $1.375 billion in funding for border barriers, but not a concrete wall, according to Cox Media Group Washington correspondent Jamie Dupree. “It’s not doing the trick,” Trump said, adding that he is “considering everything” when asked whether a national emergency declaration was on the table. He said that if there is another shutdown, it would be “the Democrats’ fault.” Trump also took to Twitter later Tuesday, claiming that the wall is already being built. >> See the tweet here The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • As President Donald Trump on Friday announced a pair of executive actions and declared a national emergency to funnel more money into border security, lawmakers in both parties in Congress were left in the dark on how the Pentagon would deal with the largest part of the President’s declaration, carving $3.6 billion out of military construction projects authorized and funded by the U.S. House and Senate. “I strongly believe securing our border should not be done at the expense of previously funded military construction projects,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), whose district is home to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which received $116 million in 2019 for construction of a new building for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. “We certainly cannot allow him to rob our military of $3.5 billion for critical construction projects that serve our troops, support our allies, and deter our adversaries,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). Congress approved $10.3 billion for military construction for Fiscal Year 2019, doling out money to dozens of domestic and overseas military facilities, projects which are often prized as bring-home-the-bacon items for Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress. The list of military construction projects in each year’s budget runs the gamut of military needs – from an F-35 maintenance hangar at Camp Pendleton in California, to a training facility at the Mayport Naval Base near Jacksonville, Florida, to a reserve training center at Fort Benning in Georgia, to a dry dock facility at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and much more. In all, military construction money was approved last fall by lawmakers for defense installations in 38 different states, and at least 14 overseas locations, some of those U.S. possessions. You can read through the list of projects from the bill here. A quick look at the list of military facilities with 2019 funding shows that many of them are located in House districts held by Republican lawmakers – who could find money for their local military project in jeopardy, as the President tries to funnel more money to his signature border wall. Democrats from around the country were quick to issue statements asking that their home state military construction projects be spared from any cuts, and challenging their GOP colleagues to do the same. Trump’s “National Emergency” strips billlions of dollars from base housing construction. Martha will you join me in opposing this farce? Who is more important the military spouses or your obedience to the President? https://t.co/Z56pZ9VRYr — Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) February 15, 2019 The President's unconstitutional action threatens to take money away from construction at Nellis Air Force Base, and local national security activities that keep Nevada families safe. I will support the House’s actions to restore order and protect Nevadans. — Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) February 15, 2019 Since Trump reportedly plans to take money from existing military construction projects for his #nationalemergency, this could steal millions in approved & necessary funding away from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. #mepolitics My full statement on his authoritarian power grab pic.twitter.com/djQdIcHmub — Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) February 15, 2019 The Pentagon and the White House had no answers for reporters on Friday on which military construction projects would be put on hold, whether from the 2019 budget, or from money approved by Congress, but not yet spent from previous years. “We would be looking at lower priority military construction projects,” a senior administration official told reporters on a Friday conference call before the President’s announcement. That official – and another senior White House official on the call – both downplayed the amount of money being taken from military construction, with one saying the budget was ‘substantially’ more than the $3.6 billion being diverted by the President. But that’s not the case. “I sit on the committee that funds Military Construction,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) tweeted on Friday. “Trump is taking $3.5 billion out of the $10 billion that’s in the account. That’s 35%.” Earlier this month, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee specifically said his biggest concern about an emergency would be taking money out of military construction, a point Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) emphasized again this week. “As I heard in a hearing yesterday, military housing and all military installations are facing disrepair and poor conditions,” Inhofe said. “We cannot afford to allow them to be further impacted.”
  • Can President Donald Trump declare a national emergency in order to fund the wall?  >> Read more trending news Here is a look at the powers that come into play when a president declares a national emergency and just what the law allows him to do. Can he do that? The president, at his or her discretion, has the authority to declare a national emergency. Historically, that authority comes from Congress, which by 1973 had enacted more than 470 statutes pertaining to the president’s authority during a national emergency.  In 1976, Congress enacted the National Emergencies Act that limited the scope of response to declared states of emergency.The act: Revoked the powers that had been granted to the president under the four states of emergency that were still active in 1976. Prescribed procedures for invoking any powers in the future. Declared that states of emergency would automatically end one year after their declaration unless the president publishes a notice of renewal in the Federal Register within 90 days of the termination date. He or she must also officially notify Congress of the renewal. Required each house of Congress meet every six months to consider a vote to end the state of emergency. The incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, D-Washington, agreed that Trump has the authority to declare an emergency and have the U.S. military build the wall. He said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that while Trump can do it, such an action would likely be challenged in court. >> National emergency likely to be blocked by courts, DOJ tells White House: reports “Unfortunately, the short answer is yes,” Smith said when asked if Trump has the authority to declare a national emergency and build the wall.“I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, ‘Where is the emergency?’ You have to establish that in order to do this,” Smith continued. “But beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars.”What is considered a national emergency?What constitutes a national emergency is open to interpretation, but generally, it is seen as an event that threatens the security of the people of the United States. According to the Congressional Review Service, a 1934 Supreme Court majority opinion characterized an emergency in terms of “urgency and relative infrequency of occurrence as well as equivalence to a public calamity resulting from fire, flood, or like disaster not reasonably subject to anticipation.”  What powers does a president have when a national emergency is declared?Through federal law, when an emergency is declared, a variety of powers are available to the president to use. Some of those powers require very little qualification from the president for their use. The Brennan Center for Justice lists 136 special provisions that become available to a president when he declares a national emergency. A CRS report states, 'Under the powers delegated by such statutes, the president may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.” However, under the National Emergencies Act, the president must name the specific emergency power he is invoking. How can he get funds for a wall by declaring a national emergency? Where does the money come from? According to U.S. law, a president can divert funds to a federal construction project during a declared national emergency. In the case of the border wall, the money could come from the budget for the Department of Defense under something called “un-obligated” money. Under federal law, un-obligated money in the Department of Defense's budget may be used by the military to fund construction projects during war or emergencies. Department of Defense spokesman Jamie Davis said in a statement that, “To date, there is no plan to build sections of the wall. However, Congress has provided options under Title 10 U.S. Code that could permit the Department of Defense to fund border barrier projects, such as in support of counter drug operations or national emergencies.” Can Congress get around it? Congress can end a president’s call of a national emergency with a joint resolution. A joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires the approval of both the House and the Senate. The resolution is submitted, just as a bill is, to the president for his or her signature, making it a law. 

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