Trump: Sending cleric to Turkey 'not under consideration'

US President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, US, before his departure to California, November 17, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Trump: Sending cleric to Turkey 'not under consideration'

  • Fethullah Gulen has lived for nearly 20 years in self-exile at an Islamic retreat in the Pocono Mountains
  • He denies the allegations made by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump says extraditing a Turkish-born Muslim cleric blamed by Turkey for engineering a 2016 military coup attempt is "not under consideration."
Fethullah Gulen has lived for nearly 20 years in self-exile at an Islamic retreat in the Pocono Mountains. He denies the allegations made by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The US has told Turkey it must present convincing evidence for any extradition proceeding to go forward.
Trump tells reporters that "we are always looking at whatever we can do for Turkey," and he says the US is "having a very good moment" with Turkey following Turkey's recent release of a detained American pastor.
Trump is praising Erdogan as "a strong man," ''a tough man" and "a smart man."


Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

Updated 17 February 2019
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Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

  • President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval
  • Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.
According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.
“We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates,” Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.
“Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions,” Shanahan said.
He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.
Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.
The US defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.
Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.
“I am not required to do anything,” he said.
Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.
Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.
“Military housing, what’s been interesting- I’ve received a number of letters, I’ve had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway,” Shanahan said.
“As we step our way through the process, we’ll use good judgment,” Shanahan said.
The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.
Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.
“We are following the law, using the rules and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.