Saturday 20 July 2019

Unpaid federal staff sue Trump administration over shutdown

President also in strife over FBI probe into whether he was Russian agent, and citing white supremacist

Snow falls on the White House as a winter storm arrives in the region during the longest government shutdown in US history (Alex Brandon/AP)
Snow falls on the White House as a winter storm arrives in the region during the longest government shutdown in US history (Alex Brandon/AP)

Tom Embury-Ennis

US President Donald Trump's administration is being sued by federal employees as the ongoing government shutdown continued to wreak havoc across the country, having prompted the closure of a major international airport terminal.

The lawsuit was filed as hundreds of thousands of workers continued to go without pay and the partial shutdown entered its 24th day, the longest in history.

Employees at US customs and border protection, the bureau of prisons and federal aviation administration had already filed lawsuits but a new case has now invoked the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.

In the growing controversy over sensational claims that Mr Trump was secretly working on behalf of Moscow, he said yesterday he never worked for Russia - his first direct denial after a media report that the FBI in 2017 investigated whether he acted against US interests.

"Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question because it's a whole big fat hoax," Mr Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a trip to Louisiana

He suggested that falling energy prices in the US are evidence he has never been a secret agent.

"Gas prices drop across the United States because President Trump has deregulated Energy and we are now producing a great deal more oil than ever before," he wrote on Twitter.

"But this is bad news for Russia, why would President Trump do such a thing? Thought he worked for Kremlin?" Mr Trump added sarcastically.

The tweet appeared to be part of the president's ongoing angry reaction to the revelations that the FBI launched an investigation into him.

The 'New York Times' reported last week law enforcement officials launched the probe following Mr Trump's sacking of former FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

Experts have cast doubt on Mr Trump's claims he is responsible for falling gasoline prices. Market forces outside a president's control are widely considered a far greater driver of falling prices than anything Mr Trump is able to do.

Mr Trump also shared a tweet by Geraldo Rivera, a lawyer and frequent Fox News host, who claimed any FBI investigation into the president said "more about anti-Trump bias" in the Justice Department than it did about Mr Trump.

An internal review by the Justice Department found there was no evidence an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia were motivated by political bias.

In further tweets, Mr Trump commented on the US government shutdown, again blaming Democrats for the continued closure of a number of federal agencies.

"Nancy and Cryin' Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes. At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault," Mr Trump tweeted, referring to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Irish Independent

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