Trump's Former Campaign Manager Was Reportedly Wiretapped By US Investigators

Matt Rourke / AP

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election as part of an FBI probe that has grown to include Russia's meddling in the election, CNN reported on Monday.

Manafort, who resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016, has been known to be under investigation by the FBI — who notably searched his home in a raid this summer. The investigation is examining Manafort's business dealings with pro-Russia leaders in Ukraine as well as whether he or the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in swaying the results of the 2016 election, the New York Times has reported.

But Monday's CNN report shows that the FBI investigation has gone further than previously known. Intelligence gained from the wiretapping has led to some evidence — though possibly inconclusive — that Manafort may have encouraged Russians to help with Trump's campaign, the network reported.

Details from the wiretapping have been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election, CNN reported. The wiretapping came under the authority of two secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders: following the beginning of the FBI's investigation into Manafort in 2014, then another that allowed the wiretapping to continue until early 2017, CNN reported.

A spokesperson for Mueller did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment.

The news comes as the New York Times reported on Monday that Mueller's prosecutors have told Manafort he will be indicted. In the raid of Manafort's home, agents sought evidence that he had set up offshore bank accounts, the Times reported. The investigation is also considering whether Manafort was involved in money laundering, violating tax laws, or improperly lobbying, it said.

Whether Manafort is charged with any crime — or if it implicates the larger Trump campaign in wrongdoing — remains to be seen. But President Trump earlier this year was critical of wiretapping of his campaign and personally accused President Obama of tapping Trump Tower.


"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" Trump tweeted on March 4.

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy," he continued.

Monday's reports, however, did not state that Trump or his New York home had been wiretapped.

Irma knocked out power to over 3 million homes, businesses in Florida

Destroyed roofs at a residential areas are seen as Hurricane Irma passes south Florida, in Miami, U.S. September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Hurricane Irma knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses in Florida on Sunday, threatening millions more as it crept up the state’s west coast, and full restoration of service could take weeks, local electric utilities said.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, but by afternoon as it barreled up the west coast, it weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph).

So far, the brunt of the storm has affected Florida Power & Light’s customers in the states’ southern and eastern sections, and its own operations were not immune, either.

“We are not subject to any special treatment from Hurricane Irma. We just experienced a power outage at our command center. We do have backup generation,” FPL spokesman Rob Gould said on Sunday.

FPL, the biggest power company in Florida, said more than 2.9 million of its customers were without power by 7:40 p.m. (2030 GMT), mostly in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. More than 200,000 had electricity restored, mostly by automated devices.

The company’s system will need to be rebuilt, particularly in the western part of the state, Gould said. “That restoration process will be measured in weeks, not days.”

FPL is a unit of Florida energy company NextEra Energy Inc.

Large utilities that serve other parts of the state, including units of Duke Energy Corp, Southern Co and Emera Inc, were seeing their outage figures grow as the storm pushed north.

Duke’s outages more than tripled between 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m., rising to 178,053, and the company warned its 1.8 million customers in northern and central Florida that outages could ultimately exceed 1 million.

The company updated its website on Sunday evening with a warning to customers that outages may last a week or longer.

Emera’s Tampa Electric utility said the storm could affect up to 500,000 of the 730,000 homes and businesses it serves.

The utilities had thousands of workers, some from as far away as California, ready to help restore power once Irma’s high winds pass their service areas. About 17,000 were assisting FPL, nearly 8,000 at Duke and more than 1,300 at Emera.

Tampa Electric told customers on Sunday, however, that response crews were halting work because of the high winds.

FPL said on Friday that Irma could affect about 4.1 million customers, but that was before the storm track shifted away from the eastern side of the state. Its customers are concentrated in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.


The utility said its two nuclear plants were safe. It shut only one of the two reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear plant about 30 miles (48 km) south of Miami on Saturday, rather than both, because the storm shifted. It plans to leave both reactors in service at the St. Lucie plant about 120 miles (193 km )north of Miami because hurricane-force winds are no longer expected to hit the sites.

There is also spent nuclear fuel at Duke’s Crystal River plant, about 90 miles (145 km) north of Tampa. The plant, on Irma’s current forecast track, stopped operating in 2009 and was retired in 2013.

In a worst-case scenario, the spent fuel could release radiation if exposed to the air, but a federal nuclear official said that was extremely unlikely.

“That fuel is so cold, relatively speaking, it would take weeks before there would be any concern,” said Scott Burnell of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Duke was transferring the spent fuel to dry cask storage as part of the work to decommission the plant but suspended the effort temporarily ahead of Irma.

Irma begins to batter Florida with hurricane-force winds; tornadoes reported

Hurricane Irma is edging closer and closer to Florida as millions of residents -- more than 200,000 of whom are without power -- brace for the impact of the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade.

The National Weather Service measured a 74-mph gust in the Florida Keys on Saturday night, marking the beginning of hurricane-force winds that forecasters say will steadily intensify in the coming hours. A tornado watch is in effect across the area, and two such twisters have already been reported.

As of 12 a.m. Sunday, Irma's center was about 80 miles southeast of Key West with sustained winds of 120 mph. It was moving northwest at 6mph, and is expected to turn north and head up the western coast of Florida, making landfall on Sunday.

"Only minimal strengthening of Irma is being forecast before it hits the Florida Keys and the west coast of Florida on Sunday," ABC meteorologist Daniel Peck said. "But while winds have been adjusted a bit lower, they are still at powerful and dangerous levels. Life-threatening and significant storm surge is still a huge concern along with very heavy rain and flash flooding."

The worst and most extreme winds from Irma will begin to impact the Florida Keys shortly after midnight, with the center of Irma expected to pass over the Keys between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. ET, Peck said.


The storm, which was downgraded to Category 3 after making landfall as a rare Category 5 hurricane in Cuba overnight, has sent 75,000 people into shelters in Florida. More than six million people have been warned to evacuate its path.

A slew of counties and cities in south Florida have issued curfews. Counties include Broward, Flagler, Orange, Palm Beach, Volusia, and Seminole. The cities of Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Homestead, Key Biscayne, Melbourne Beach, Coral Springs, and Coral Gables also issued curfews.

Palm Beach and Broward counties entered a curfew earlier this afternoon, and Charlotte County and the City of Miami Beach will enter one later tonight.

Some 10,000 flights have been cancelled in anticipation of Irma, about 7,000 of them in Florida alone.

President Trump tweeted a video from a Cabinet meeting Saturday, telling people to "get out of" Irma's way.

"Property is replaceable but lives are not. and safety has to come first. Don't worry about it, get out of its way," Trump said.

PHOTO: Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Sept. 9, 2017. ABC News
Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Sept. 9, 2017. 
PHOTO: Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Sept. 9, 2017. ABC News
Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Sept. 9, 2017. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm unprecedented.

"This is a life-threatening situation," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday. "Our state has never seen anything like it."

The governor stressed the dangers of what he called a "deadly, deadly, deadly storm surge."

ABC News meteorologists are forecasting storm surges of 10 feet in Tampa and Sarasota, and 10 to 15 feet from Fort Myers to Naples. Somewhat lower storm surges of 3 to 6 feet may occur from Miami to Key Largo.

Winds were already picking up in Florida early Saturday, with gusts between 40 and 60 mph.

Hurricane-force winds with gusts over 115 mph are possible in the Keys by daybreak Sunday.

Power outages, halted flights and empty ATMs in Florida

PHOTO: The Interstate remains empty as the outer bands of Hurricane Irma reached South Florida early Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Miami. David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP
The Interstate remains empty as the outer bands of Hurricane Irma reached South Florida early Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Miami. more +

As of 11:30 p.m. ET Saturday, more than 200,000 customers of various Florida utility companies were without power. Florida Power and Light said 196,350 of its customers were without power. Keys Energy, which serves the Keys, said all of its 29,000 customers were without power. Another 10,000 customers of other utilities were in the dark around the state.

The state's residents should anticipate days-long power outages, FEMA said.

Ahead of Irma's arrival in the Sunshine State, the last flights departed Friday night from Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami's airport officially remains open, while Fort Lauderdale's airport is closed for Saturday and Sunday.

Many ATM machines across southwest Florida were out of cash by late Friday night after people stocked up in case Hurricane Irma causes power outages that make debit and credit card transactions impossible, The Associated Press reported.

Irma 'is going to devastate the United States': FEMA

The National Hurricane Center on Friday cautioned that Irma's winds would likely be strong enough to uproot trees, bring down power poles and rip off the roofs and some exterior walls of well-built frame homes.

"Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States," Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday morning. "We're going to have a couple rough days."

Millions evacuate; many others take shelter 

PHOTO: A child plays outside the Germain Arena as families wait to take shelter from Hurricane Irma in Estero, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017. Bryan Woolston/Reuters
A child plays outside the Germain Arena as families wait to take shelter from Hurricane Irma in Estero, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017. more +

Approximately 6.3 million Floridians are under mandatory or voluntary evacuations, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said Saturday. When evacuation orders in South Carolina and Georgia are included, the number climbs to 6.8 million.

PHOTO: An aerial photo shows the damage from Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, Sept. 6, 2017.Dutch Defense Ministry via AFP/Getty Images
An aerial photo shows the damage from Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, Sept. 6, 2017.

Germain Arena, a large shelter between Naples and Fort Myers along Florida's west coast, is already at capacity Saturday as hundreds of people were in line waiting to get in.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez said Saturday morning about 25,000 residents are sheltered in Miami-Dade alone, a number he called "unprecedented in our history." 

"We must remain vigilant," Giménez said. "The storm will still strengthen ... and we will be impacted." 

PHOTO: Hurricane Irma evacuating traffic streaming out of Florida creeps along northbound Interstate 75 after a vehicle accident in Lake Park, Ga., Sept. 6, 2017.Erik S. Lesser/EPA
Hurricane Irma evacuating traffic streaming out of Florida creeps along northbound Interstate 75 after a vehicle accident in Lake Park, Ga., Sept. 6, 2017.more +

Palm Beach County has issued a curfew to prevent looting and other criminal activity as the storm approaches, according to a press release. The curfew goes into effect Saturday at 3 p.m. It is unclear when it will be lifted. Broward County set a curfew for 4 p.m. Saturday and said no unauthorized vehicles will be allowed on the roads.

PHOTO: Annette Davis kisses her son Darius, 3, while staying at a shelter in Miami after evacuating from their home in Florida City, Fla., ahead of Hurricane Irma, Sept. 9, 2017. David Goldman/AP
Annette Davis kisses her son Darius, 3, while staying at a shelter in Miami after evacuating from their home in Florida City, Fla., ahead of Hurricane Irma, Sept. 9, 2017. more +

Irma turns to U.S. after pummeling the Caribbean leaving at least 20 dead

At least 20 people have died and thousands were left homeless after Irma battered a string of Caribbean islands on Wednesday, according to the AP. At the time, Irma was a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.

SLIDESHOW: Photos: Hurricane Irma tears through the Caribbean, heads to Florida
PHOTO: A view of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Sint Maarten Dutch part of Saint Martin island in the Caribbean, Sept. 6, 2017.Netherlands Ministry of Defense via Reuters
A view of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Sint Maarten Dutch part of Saint Martin island in the Caribbean, Sept. 6, 2017.more +

At least three people died from the storm in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

The U.S. evacuated some 800 U.S. citizens from the island of St. Maarten on Saturday. Evacuees interviewed by ABC News upon arriving in Puerto Rico told stories about hiding in their hotel bathtubs fearing for their lives as the storm raged, a bank robbery and a gang of men with "long swords" who reportedly showed up at a hotel.

Maureen Puckerin told ABC News the monster storm sounded like someone banging on a door accompanied by a deafening whistle that she said was "something I never want to hear again."

Puckerin said a group of men armed with what she called "long swords" had stormed her hotel and beaten up a tourist.

Others described looters stealing purses from hotel guests and how the Dutch military had arrived at their hotel in search of men who had just robbed a bank.

The Turks and Caicos islands were also hit hard as Irma passed over the tiny archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. A government spokesperson told ABC News the British overseas territory had sustained "catastrophic" damage.

The National Hurricane Center warned of a storm surge up to 20 feet on Turks and Caicos with 8 to 12 inches of rain for the low-lying islands through Sunday.

Long, the FEMA administrator, said Friday that the agency's primary goal is to "stabilize the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico" by restoring power, maintaining security and bringing in life-sustaining supplies.

ABC News' Daniel Peck and Max Golembo contributed to this report.

Opinions: Apparently, it’s illegal to laugh at Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the Justice Department. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Did you hear the one about Jeff Sessions?

I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. You see, it’s illegal to laugh at the attorney general, the man who on Tuesday morning announced that the 800,000 “dreamers” — immigrants brought here illegally as children — could soon be deported. If you were to find my Sessions jest funny, I would be an accessory to mirth.

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny).

Police asked her to leave the hearing because of her laugh. She protested and was charged. In May, a jury of her peers found her guilty of disorderly conduct and another offense (“first-degree chuckling with intent to titter” was Stephen Colbert’s sentence at the time). The judge threw out the verdict, objecting to prosecutors’ closing argument claiming that laughter alone was enough to convict her.

But at a hearing Friday, the Justice Department said it would continue to prosecute her. A new trial is scheduled for November. Maybe Sessions, repeatedly and publicly criticized by Trump, thinks Justice’s anti-laughing crackdown will protect whatever dignity he has left.

If Justice Department prosecutors are determined to go after those who laugh at Sessions, they are going to need an awfully big dragnet. Sessions’s mannerisms, the things he says and the way he says them dare you to laugh. It’s practically entrapment!

Sessions is a wiry man whose eyebrows soar and eyes bug out when he speaks. He often pecks his head forward, like a pigeon. His Alabama twang causes snobbish elites from outside the Deep South to snigger (thereby risking 30 days in prison). And some of what he says is so absurd the comedy must be deliberate.

At Tuesday’s announcement about the DACA program, Sessions explained that the protections would be rescinded after a delay (of six months) “to create a time period for Congress to act” on the dreamers. Congress acting on immigration in six months? Hilarious! You could give Congress six months to affirm that there are 13 stripes in the American flag, and Ted Cruz and the Freedom Caucus would insist on an amendment reducing the stripes to 11 to reduce the size of government. Nothing would pass.

Likewise, how do Trump and Sessions suppose they are going to deport 800,000 dreamers, many of whom have no memory of the lands they were brought from as children? Cull them in a big game of DACA, DACA, goose? Sorry, that wasn’t funny. Please don’t laugh, for your own protection.

I went to the Justice Department on Tuesday to watch the Sessions announcement, and it took strength not to commit misdemeanor mirth. Sessions had no fewer than five bodyguards — earpieces, lapel pins and menacing looks — to protect him from the credentialed press corps, more than the president uses in similar settings. He put his reading glasses on the tip of his nose, pecked his way through his written statement, mispronouncing various words, and turned to go.

NBC’s Kristen Welker and Politico’s Josh Gerstein shouted questions. Sessions didn’t answer, instead giving an awkward wave to the cameras and hastily deporting himself from the room.

It was darkly funny that Sessions thought he could banish 800,000 people, Americans in all ways but on paper, and then refuse to answer questions — just as it’s funny that he thinks people who laugh at him should be prosecuted.

But I bit my tongue. Sessions likes to prosecute journalists as well as people who laugh at his expense. To commit both crimes simultaneously might be a capital offense.

If the attorney general is going to continue doing laughable things and the Justice Department is going to keep making laughing at him a crime, we are going to need some new guidelines about which laughter is illegal (Fairooz claims her offense was “involuntary,” “reflexive” and at most a “chortle of disdain,” while others have described it as “two snorts” and a “giggle”) and a schedule of penalties.

A misdemeanor chuckle at the attorney general’s expense, for example, could be punished with up to 30 days in prison for first-time offenders. An aggravated guffaw would get you a year, and if you were to confront Sessions with a premeditated ROFLMAO, you’d be looking at 10 years, some of that in solitary listening to Sessions’s old Senate speeches. If you split your sides when you laughed at Sessions, your trial would be postponed until you were medically fit.

Of course, Sessions, as the victim of the crime, must recuse himself, and a special prosecutor for laughter must be appointed. I suggest James Comey, just for giggles.

Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act


Video link: https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000005403642/what-dreamers-gained-from-daca-and-stand-to-lose.html?action=click&contentCollection=us&module=lede&region=caption&pgtype=article

As President Trump moves to end the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, listen to a few of the 800,000 affected by the program. By A.J. CHAVAR on 
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months.

As early as March, officials said, some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who qualify for the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will become eligible for deportation. The five-year-old policy allows them to remain without fear of immediate removal from the country and gives them the right to work legally.

Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the change at the Justice Department, both used the aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists, arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native-born Americans by usurping their jobs and pushing down wages.

Mr. Trump said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Mr. Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Protests broke out in front of the White House and the Justice Department and in cities across the country soon after Mr. Sessions’s announcement. Democrats and some Republicans, business executives, college presidents and immigration activists condemned the move as a coldhearted and shortsighted effort that was unfair to the young immigrants and could harm the economy.

“This is a sad day for our country,” Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, wrote on his personal page. “It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.”

Former President Barack Obama, who had warned that any threat to the program would prompt him to speak out, called his successor’s decision “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” Mr. Obama wrote on Facebook.

Both he and Mr. Trump said the onus was now on lawmakers to protect the young immigrants as part of a broader overhaul of the immigration system that would also toughen enforcement.

But despite broad and longstanding bipartisan support for measures to legalize unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children, the odds of a sweeping immigration deal in a deeply divided Congress appeared long. Legislation to protect the “dreamers” has also repeatedly died in Congress.

Just hours after the angry reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision, the president appeared to have second thoughts. In a late-evening tweet, Mr. Trump specifically called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” something his administration’s officials had declined to do earlier in the day.

Mr. Trump also warned lawmakers that if they do not legislate a program similar to the one Mr. Obama created through executive authority, he will “revisit this issue!” — a statement sure to inject more uncertainty into the ultimate fate of the young, undocumented immigrants who have been benefiting from the program since 2012.

Conservatives praised Mr. Trump’s move, though some expressed frustration that he had taken so long to rescind the program and that the gradual phaseout could mean that some immigrants retained protection from deportation until October 2019.

The White House portrayed the decision as a matter of legal necessity, given that nine Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue to halt the program immediately if Mr. Trump did not act.

Months of internal White House debate preceded the move, as did the president’s public display of his own conflicted feelings. He once referred to DACA recipients as “incredible kids.”

The president’s wavering was reflected in a day of conflicting messages from him and his team. Hours after his statement was released, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had “great love” for the beneficiaries of the program he had just ended.

“I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” he said. But he notably did not endorse bipartisan legislation to codify the program’s protections, leaving it unclear whether he would back such a solution.

Mr. Trump’s aides were negotiating late into Monday evening with one another about precisely how the plan to wind down the program would be executed. Until Tuesday morning, some aides believed the president had settled on a plan that would be more generous, giving more of the program’s recipients the option to renew their protections.

But even taking into account Mr. Trump’s contradictory language, the rollout of his decision was smoother than his early moves to crack down on immigration, particularly the botched execution in January of his ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In addition to the public statement from Mr. Sessions and a White House question-and-answer session, the president was ready on Tuesday with the lengthy written statement, and officials at the Justice and Homeland Security Departments provided detailed briefings and distributed information to reporters in advance.

Mr. Trump sought to portray his move as a compassionate effort to head off the expected legal challenge that White House officials said would have forced an immediate and highly disruptive end to the program. But he also denounced the policy, saying it helped spark a “massive surge” of immigrants from Central America, some of whom went on to become members of violent gangs like MS-13. Some immigration critics contend that programs like DACA, started under Mr. Obama, encouraged Central Americans to enter the United States, hoping to stay permanently. Tens of thousands of migrants surged across America’s southern border in the summer of 2014, many of them children fleeing dangerous gangs.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, indicated that Mr. Trump would support legislation to “fix” the DACA program, as long as Congress passed it as part of a broader immigration overhaul to strengthen the border, protect American jobs and enhance enforcement.

“The president wants to see responsible immigration reform, and he wants that to be part of it,” Ms. Sanders said, referring to a permanent solution for the young immigrants. “Something needs to be done. It’s Congress’s job to do that. And we want to be part of that process.”

Later on Tuesday, Marc Short, Mr. Trump’s top legislative official, told reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House would release principles for such a plan in the coming days, input that at least one key member of Congress indicated would be crucial.

“It is important that the White House clearly outline what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said in a statement. “We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the president won’t sign.”

The announcement was an effort by Mr. Trump to honor the law-and-order message of his campaign, which included a repeated pledge to end Mr. Obama’s immigration policy, while seeking to avoid the emotionally charged and politically perilous consequences of targeting a sympathetic group of immigrants.

Mr. Trump’s decision came less than two weeks after he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who drew intense criticism for his aggressive pursuit of unauthorized immigrants, which earned him a criminal contempt conviction.

The blame-averse president told a confidante over the past few days that he realized that he had gotten himself into a politically untenable position. As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to comment on it and spoke on condition of anonymity.

But ultimately, the president followed through on his campaign pledge at the urging of Mr. Sessions and other hard-line members inside his White House, including Stephen Miller, his top domestic policy adviser.

The announcement started the clock on revoking legal status from those protected under the program.

Officials said DACA recipients whose legal status expires on or before March 5 would be able to renew their two-year period of legal status as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the announcement means that if Congress fails to act, immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children could face deportation as early as March 6 to countries where many left at such young ages that they have no memory of them.

Immigration officials said they did not intend to actively target the young immigrants as priorities for deportation, though without the program’s protection, they would be considered subject to removal from the United States and would no longer be able to work legally.

Officials said some of the young immigrants could be prevented from returning to the United States if they traveled abroad.

Immigration advocates took little comfort from the administration’s assurances, describing the president’s decision as deeply disturbing and vowing to shift their demands for protections to Capitol Hill.

Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, called Mr. Trump’s decision “nothing short of hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice.” Maria Praeli, a recipient of protection under the program, criticized Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump for talking “about us as if we don’t matter and as if this isn’t our home.”

The Mexican foreign ministry issued a statement saying the “Mexican government deeply regrets” Mr. Trump’s decision.

As recently as July, Mr. Trump expressed skepticism about the prospect of a broad legislative deal.

“What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan,” he told reporters. “But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”

As for DACA, he said: “There are two sides of a story. It’s always tough.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 Hurricane, Heads for Puerto Rico

Ellis Cerda hangs storm shutters at Boutique Chrisnelia, a clothing shop, on Tuesday in San Juan, P.R. Credit Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times
SAN JUAN, P.R. — Hurricane-force winds from Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, started to pummel the first Caribbean islands in its path early Wednesday morning as the mammoth Category 5 hurricane took aim at Puerto Rico and other islands.

Wind gusts around 50 miles per hour arrived in Antigua and Barbuda late Tuesday but picked up significant strength as the center of the storm swirled several dozen miles off its shores. The authorities cut off power on those islands before midnight, forcing residents to listen to the latest forecasts on transistor radios in the darkness.

Residents throughout the Caribbean scrambled on Tuesday to rush out of flood zones, stock up on the last available water, food and gas, shutter their homes and brace for what is now, and could remain, a mammoth Category 5 hurricane. On Antigua, many residents were spending the night in nearly 40 shelters set up before the storm because of concerns that their homes, even when boarded up, would topple in the destructive winds.

“We have to prepare for an event that we have never experienced here,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico said at a news conference earlier on Tuesday, calling the hurricane’s arrival imminent and its potential catastrophic.

Packing winds of up to 185 miles an hour, Irma threatened havoc and widespread destruction across Puerto Rico, a United States territory of 3.4 million people, the nearby island of Hispaniola (home to the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the United States Virgin Islands, among others. Cuba is also threatened. The storm is expected to rake or sideswipe Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Continue reading the main story

For One Family in Houston, an Overwhelming Start to Recovery SEPT. 2, 2017

Hurricane Irma, Now a Category 5 Storm, Threatens the Caribbean and Florida SEPT. 4, 2017
President Trump declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, Florida and the United States Virgin Islands on Tuesday.

Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center and Bryan Norcross, the hurricane specialist at The Weather Channel. The hurricane center said Irma had winds of up to 185 mph as it approached the Leeward Islands. There have been other storms with comparable winds in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, where the warm waters fuel particularly dangerous hurricanes.

With Harvey’s destruction still fresh on people’s minds, Florida hustled into action. Gov. Rick Scott activated the state National Guard to help with hurricane preparations and suspended tolls. The governor declared a state of emergency on Monday and spoke with President Trump, who offered “the full resources of the federal government,” Mr. Scott wrote on Twitter.

Most of the latest projections have Irma slamming into the state by Sunday, although it’s unclear where it may make landfall.

The Florida Keys, an especially vulnerable chain of islands, moved quickly to prepare for the crushing wind and its expected tidal inundation. On Wednesday, schools will be closed and mandatory evacuations will begin, county officials said. The Keys’ three hospitals started to evacuate patients on Tuesday.

Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county, announced that schools would close Thursday as officials kicked emergency plans into gear.

But it is Puerto Rico and the nearby northern Leeward islands that are expected to face Irma’s potentially catastrophic winds first. It has been nearly a century since Puerto Rico was hit by a Category 5 storm, Mr. Norcross said.

Puerto Rican officials have warned that the island’s fragile electrical grid could be shut down for days, weeks or even months in some areas. In his news conference, Mr. Rosselló and emergency officials warned that with such powerful winds expected to thrash the island, infrastructure, houses and the phone system will inevitably be damaged.

For Puerto Rico, the hurricane could not have come at a worse time. The island is deep in the throes of an economic crisis and does not have money for the long process of rebuilding.


Shoppers stocked up on supplies at Walmart in San Juan on Tuesday. Credit Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times
“This is not going to be easy,” said Héctor Pesquera, the superintendent of public security in Puerto Rico.

Abner Gómez Cortés, the head of Puerto Rico’s emergency agency, warned that coastal zones were particular vulnerable — not so much because of rain, as with Harvey — but because of high storm surges of up to 20 feet.

On Tuesday, the lines for fast-dwindling gas, food, water and hardware were interminable and anxiety mounted. One hardware store in San Juan had been nearly picked clean by afternoon.

“This has been like this for the last three days,” said Juan Carlos Ramirez, the store manager. “We’ve sold all of the most necessary items — flashlight, batteries, plywood.”

People standing in line said one their biggest worries was the expected loss of electricity for long periods. “The infrastructure can’t cope with a hurricane,” Ashley Albelo, a shopper, said.

Outside a Sears, Maria Ruiz could not help but remember Hurricanes Hugo and George, which badly damaged Puerto Rico. “Destruction,” she said. “That is what we can expect based on past experiences, and it’s already a Category 5.’’

Similar frantic scenes played out on other nearby islands. In Antigua, southeast of Puerto Rico, many businesses were closed. Supermarkets were overrun and gas stations were packed.

Some island residents sounded stoic and battle-tested. In Guadeloupe, Coralice Line, who was attending the front desk at the Le Creole Beach Hotel & Spa, said she was not particularly distressed. “We are not too worried because we are accustomed to it,” she said by phone from the hotel. “Hurricanes are part of life in the Caribbean islands.”

At the Sugar Bay Club hotel in St. Kitts and Nevis, Ophelia Gardiner, the front-desk supervisor, said that while some guests had fled the island on an American Airlines flight, others had decided to stay and ride out the storm.

“Everything is boarded up and put away and all we have to do is wait and see what happens,” Ms. Gardiner said. She laughed nervously. “I don’t know how you can prepare for a hurricane of that magnitude but we’re doing our best.”

In Miami-Dade County, which is still haunted by the ferocity and wreckage of Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, residents worried and began to prepare earlier than usual. For some, a sense of panic began to set in. Many hotels across Florida had already been booked for the weekend by hurricane-wary residents. Most stores had run out of water, flashlights and other key supplies. Gas stations ran out of fuel.

Hurricane Harvey in Texas also weighed heavily on people’s minds.

“I think because of Texas, people are freaking out,” said Yoseyn Ramos, 24, a Miami resident who said she was worried because she could not find gas anywhere.

In Brickell, a Miami neighborhood that abuts both the Atlantic and the Miami River, Lucas Mattout, 22, was dashing around Publix supermarket looking for water. “They are all sold out,” he said. “Of course, with Harvey, no one wants to take a chance.”

Every storm, though, has its rebels. Jose Fonseca, 52, a Coral Gables resident who works at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key, said he had not done or bought anything to prepare for the storm.

“I think people are panicking because of the news from Texas day after day,” he said. “I will buy some water.” Then, he added, “And some beer of course.”

Ivelisse Rivera reported from San Juan, and Lizette Alvarez from Miami. Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora and Frances Robles from Miami, Kirk Semple and Paulina Villegas from Mexico City, Carl Joseph in Antigua, and Niraj Chokshi and Matthew Haag from New York.

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