President Trump excuses Vladimir Putin's murderous reputation: 'What do you think? Our country's so innocent?'

US President Donald Trump has no problem with Russian President Vladimir Putin being a 'killer': "There are a lot of killers ... What do you think? Our country's so innocent?"

Fox News' O'Reilly Factor show has recorded an interview with President Trump to be aired shortly before the Superbowl tomorrow.

But today, it has been releasing 'teasers' as to what he will be saying.

In one snippet being promoted by Fox News, the President appears to attempt to excuse President Putin's ruthless reputation for disposing of dissenting voices.


O'Reilly: Do you respect Putin?

Trump: I do respect him, but ...

O'Reilly: Do you? Why?

Trump: Well I respect a lot of people but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him. He's a leader of his country. I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world - that's a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.

O'Reilly: But he's a killer though. Putin's a killer.

Trump: There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country's so innocent?


Trump's comment comes after news broke that a major critic of President Putin has been hospitalised with 'multiple organ failure'. Vladimir Kara-Murza had previously claimed to be poisoned in 2015.

"None of the medical staff can explain the reason for his current condition. Both last time and once again now," his lawyer said in a statement.

Kara-Murza is an anti-Putin activist calling for free and open elections.

It follows the high-profile killing of defecting sply Alexander Litvinenko who died from radiation poisoning in London in 2006.


The Fox News previews also have President Trump repeating his assertion that the US elections were distorted by voter fraud: "Let me just tell you - when you see illegals - people that are not citizens and they are on the registration rolls. Look Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this, it's really a bad situation, it's really bad."

President Trump is yet to present any evidence of any widespread fraud, however, and his own lawyers argued against the claims when Democrats called for recounts in some counties.

TRUMP PREDICTS EXECUTIVE ORDER RESTORED

President Donald Trump is predicting his administration will win an appeal of a judge's ruling temporarily halting his refugee and immigration ban.

The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal this morning as it took a step toward asking the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the judge's stay.

Asked about the appeal effort, Trump told reporters: "We'll win. For the safety of the country, we'll win."

Trump is staying at his private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, for the weekend and attending the annual gala of the American Red Cross at the club's ballroom.

About 3000 demonstrators have marched near President Donald Trump's Florida estate to protest his now-blocked executive order temporarily limiting immigration.

The protest began with a rally outside Trump Plaza, twin 30-story waterfront condo buildings in West Palm Beach. The march headed two miles to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, where the International Red Cross is holding a fundraiser.

Protesters shouted anti-Trump slogans and set up a flag-draped coffin that they said represented the death of democracy.

WHITE HOUSE FILES APPEAL TO TRAVEL-BAN LIFT

The Department of Justice has filed an appeal to overturn the ruling that has put a temporary halt to President Trump's controversial travel ban.

The White House's request for an emergency stay was filed with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.


The ruling by Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, yesterday nixed Mr Trump's order and ruled that travel restrictions across the country should be lifted immediately.

The ruling has caused the Department of Homeland Security to put aside elements of the President's executive order, allowing green car holders and other authorised visitors from seven primarily Muslim nations listed as 'terror risks' to enter the country again.

'BAD' PEOPLE 'POURING IN': TRUMP

US President Donald Trump has tweeted that he'll overturn a Seattle federal judge's nationwide block on an executive order that's temporarily barred refugees and nationals from seven countries from entering the US.

"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Mr Trump tweeted.

He went on to repeatedly Tweet that 'bad' people could be 'pouring into our country'.

Trump's direct attack recalled his diatribes during the election campaign against a federal judge of Mexican heritage who was overseeing a case against Trump University.



The Justice Department is expected to ask the 9th Circuit to set side Robart's ruling so the ban could go back into effect.

In his written order, Robart said it's not the court's job to "create policy or judge the wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches," but rather, to make sure that an action taken by the executive or legislative branches "comports with our country's laws".

The judge ordered Mr Trump's ban to be lifted "on a nationwide basis." Normal travel background and security checks still apply.

WHITE HOUSE BACKS OFF OPENING 'BLACK SITE' PRISONS

The Trump administration has for now backed off a draft executive order that would have called for a review of whether the US should reopen overseas "black site" prisons, where interrogation techniques often condemned as torture were used, US officials have told Reuters.

The New York Times, citing unidentified officials, said the White House was circulating a revised version that did not have language that contemplated reopening the prisons. It said the revised draft did, however, contain parts of the earlier draft, including expanding the use of the military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention centre.

A senior administration official confirmed the initial draft was no longer under consideration.

"It was a transition draft never under serious consideration by the administration," the official said. "We have abandoned that transition draft."

The now-defunct CIA program used so-called enhanced interrogation practices, including simulated drowning, known as waterboarding, that were criticised around the world and denounced by former President Barack Obama and other senior US officials as torture.

DEMOCRAT WANTS TRUMP PSYCH EXAM

A Democrat has taken a leaf out of the Donald Trump book, taking to Twitter to call upon the US President to undertake a mental health examination.

Representative Ted Lieu, California, tweeted: "Last 24 hours on Twitter, Donald Trump went on rant about 'death & destruction', 'FAKE NEWS,' & 'evil'. Should he get mental health exam?


Meanwhile President Trump has attacked the Times on Sunday for reporting the real estate mogul has not separated himself from his business interests as required under US law.

The story alleges this leaves the President exposed to allegations of conflict of interest.

President Trump claimed the Times had apologised for its article, but no such public apology has been made.

ART OF THE DEAL?

It might be called the art of the drug deal: Florida authorities seized scores of individually wrapped heroin packets stamped with the image of President Donald Trump.

The Tampa Bay Times reports law enforcement officers seized the heroin on January 27 in Hernando County.

Some of the packets bore the names or likenesses of other notorious figures, such as Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Authorities couldn't explain the markings' purpose.


Dealers often stamp heroin bags with street "brand names." The bust netted about 5550 heroin doses altogether.

Police arrested 46-year-old Kelvin Scott Johnson on suspicion of heroin trafficking and other charges. His bail is set at $75,000.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the dealer "made a big mistake" using Trump's picture.

SCRAMBLE TO BOARD FLIGHTS TO US

Visa holders from the seven majority-Muslim countries affected by President Donald Trump's travel ban hurried to board US-bound flights overnight, fearing they might have only a slim window through which to enter the country.

Those who could travel immediately were being urged to do so because of uncertainty over whether the Justice Department would be granted an emergency freeze of the order issued by US District Judge James Robart in Seattle.


Government agencies suspended enforcement of the week-old ban as the White House scurried to appeal Robart's order, although an immigration lawyer said passengers in at least one African airport were still being told they couldn't get on the planes.

Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan, told The Detroit News that her group is advising people to hurry. "We're ... instructing people who can travel immediately to the United States to basically go ahead and do that before anything further happens," Aoun said.

STATE DEPARTMENT REVERSES TRUMP'S BAN

The US State Department said on Saturday that it will allow people with valid visas into the United States, in order to comply with an opinion from a federal judge in Seattle barring President Donald Trump's executive action.

"We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas," the State Department official said in a statement on Saturday. "Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid."

The White House said late on Friday that it believed the ban to be "lawful and appropriate" and that the US Department of Justice would file an emergency appeal.


Still, just hours after the ruling, US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers who had been affected by the ban.

Mr Trump's January 27 order caused chaos at airports across the US last week as some citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were denied entry.


Virtually all refugees were also barred, upending the lives of thousands of people who had spent years seeking asylum in the US.

On Saturday, Mr Trump also tweeted: "Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it's death & destruction!"

"The Constitution prevailed today," said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who represented the state in a lawsuit against the order. "No one is above the law - not even the president."

US-BOUND SOMALIS SENT BACK TO REFUGEE CAMP

About 140 Somali refugees whose resettlement in the United States this week was stopped by President Donald Trump's executive order have been sent back to their refugee camp instead, one of the refugees said Saturday. It was not clear why they were returned a day after a US court order blocked Trump's ban on travelers and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Somalia.

The US Customs and Border Protection said it would swiftly move to honour all visas invalidated by the ban, opening the doors to travellers around the world.

The White House quickly struck back, issuing a statement that said the Justice Department would file an emergency stay of this "outrageous" order.

"The president's order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people," the statement said.


Minutes later, the White House issued a second statement that excluded the word "outrageous."

Mr Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida at the time the order came down. He was expected to stay there for the weekend to host a Super Bowl party.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) quickly pounced on Mr Trump, hailing the decision after the court ruling was issued.


"This ruling is a victory for the Constitution and for all of us who believe this un-American executive order will not make us safer," Schumer said in a statement.

"President Trump should heed this ruling and he ought to back off and repeal the executive order once and for all."

The decision by Robart set up a legal battle over executive power that could ultimately be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court.

Mr Trump's order, signed a week ago, sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travellers were detained or sent back to their points of origin. The White House has argued the order - which barred all refugees for 120 days and non-US citizens travelling from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen for 90 days - will make the country safer.

Washington state became the first state to sue over the order. Ferguson, the state attorney general, said the travel ban significantly harms residents and effectively mandates discrimination.

After the ruling, Ferguson said people from the affected countries can now apply for entry to the United States.

The challenge in the Seattle court was brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota. The judge ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration.

Washington's case was based on claims that the state had suffered harm from the ban, citing students and faculty at state-funded universities who were stranded overseas.

PENCE: SUPREME COURT PICK WILL BE APPROVED

Vice President Mike Pence is pledging that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will be seated on the high court "one way or the other."

Mr Pence's comments during a speech in Philadelphia to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, echoed President Donald Trump's comments from earlier in the week. Mr Trump urged the Senate's Republican leader to scrap longstanding rules and "go nuclear" if Democrats block Judge Gorsuch.

Mr Trump on Tuesday nominated the 49-year-old Gorsuch - a Denver-based US appellate court judge - to a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court. Pence says the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia's death belongs to the American people.

The vice president says he and Trump will work with the Senate to ensure Mr Gorsuch gets an up or down vote.

- news.com.au

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