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Texas Diverts $359.6 Million From Prisons to Keep Greg Abbott’s Border Mission Operating



Texas diverts $359.6 million from prisons to keep Greg Abbott’s border mission operating” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Gov. Greg Abbott said on Thursday that he and other state leaders are pulling $359.6 million out of the state prison system’s budget to fund his Operation Lone Star border security operation through the next 10 months.

So far, more than $4 billion has been spent to keep thousands of Department of Public Safety troopers and Texas National Guard members stationed along the Texas-Mexico border and other areas of the state.

This latest infusion was among $874.6 million in “emergency” budget transfers authorized by Abbott at the request of the Texas Legislative Budget Board, composed of GOP state leaders and budget writers.

The transfers will support not only Operation Lone Star but also fund public school security measures, COVID-19 response expenses and a new elementary school in Uvalde, the site of a mass shooting in May, according to the governor’s office.

The proposal from the Legislative Budget Board said the lack of funds for border security, public health and school security constituted an emergency.

The money for Operation Lone Star is being transferred from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice directly into Abbott’s disaster fund, which he uses to distribute money for the operation.

Of that, $339 million will go to the Texas Military Department to pay for Texas National Guard troops involved in the operation, while another $20.6 million will go to other agencies not named in the letter that also support the operation.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to questions regarding the specifics of the Operation Lone Star funding, including which other agencies would be getting the money and what their involvement is.

In addition to border funding, state leaders authorized the use of $15 million to build a replacement for Uvalde’s Robb Elementary, the site of the shooting on May 24 that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Another $400 million will go toward security measures in school districts statewide — paying for upgrades and replacements to doors, windows, fencing and communications systems at schools. That money would come from a surplus in the Texas Education Agency’s Foundation Schools Program, which funds public schools, as allowed in the 2022-23 budget, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

“These funds will continue to support the community of Uvalde in the wake of such a devastating tragedy earlier this year and will help bolster the safety of Texans,” said Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan. “School security will be a priority for the Texas House during the 88th Legislature, and this additional funding is a meaningful step we can take in the meantime.”

To cover COVID-19-related expenses, $100 million will be moved from the Texas Department of State Health Services’ public health preparedness budget and transferred to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, which worked closely with DSHS on the state’s pandemic response. A spokesperson for DSHS said the transfer from that agency would be done with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and would not have an impact on the agency’s budget. ARPA funds are intended to help states recover from the economic hardships created by the pandemic.

The new funds are authorized to be spent only through next August, when the current biennium ends. Any funding beyond that for Operation Lone Star and other programs supported by Thursday’s transfers will need to occur in the next budget cycle, Abbott said.

The authorization letter did not detail how many schools, what kind of pandemic expenses or how many troops the new funding would finance.

Additional funding for both school safety and border security will also be considered during the next legislative session, which begins in January, Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in an emailed statement.

Sweeping money out of Texas prisons

Leaders of the two agencies charged with carrying out Operation Lone Star on the state’s border with Mexico — the Texas Military Department and DPS — have been signaling the need for another infusion of money to continue the operation at its current pace.

Military department officials had said that funding for the current level of National Guard presence on the border, about 5,000 troops, would run out in September.

Three weeks ago, that agency’s director said he was confident that the money would come through.

Earlier this month, DPS Director Steve McCraw reminded budget officials that their last appropriation for the agency’s role in Operation Lone Star was set to end in November.

DPS did not get any new funding for Operation Lone Star on Thursday, but officials said the agency, which has involved troopers and other resources into the effort, will continue its involvement using the agency’s existing border security funds and will be considered for additional funding for the operation during the next session, state leaders said.

Operation Lone Star’s finances have come under increased scrutiny for the past year. In September 2021, the Texas Legislature approved nearly $2 billion to ramp up the border operation — only to see the governor repeatedly transfer more money from other agencies to the initiative ever since.

Abbott — with the backing of GOP legislative and budget leaders — has moved money several times from the state prison system and other agencies to keep Operation Lone Star in place. It’s the cornerstone of his immigration policy — and a high-priority issue in his campaign for reelection.

The $359.6 million being transferred out of TDCJ is the same amount of ARPA dollars allocated to the agency by state lawmakers last year.

In April, $53.6 million was taken from TDCJ funds for the operation, just three months after Abbott moved $426.9 million from the system to fund Operation Lone Star through the spring.

The Texas prison system itself is beset by understaffing and rising health care costs, and officials there are asking lawmakers for $90 million for staff raises in the next biennium. Last August, TDCJ had about 67% of its officer positions filled. Some larger prisons in Texas had less than 40% of its officer positions filled.

A TDCJ spokesperson told The Texas Tribune that the transfer of the money would not negatively impact the agency, saying that the same amount would be allocated to the agency for “pandemic related expenses” but did not elaborate on where that funding would come from or when.

Previous budget transfers to Operation Lone Star have come from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees child and adult welfare investigations, the state’s juvenile justice system and Texas Health and Human Services, among other agencies.

Since Operation Lone Star launched a year and a half ago, Abbott has taken drastic measures to curb illegal immigration, including starting construction of a state-funded border wall, deploying thousands of National Guard members, arresting and jailing migrants on state criminal charges and spending millions on bus tickets to send migrants to other cities run by Democrats.

At the time of the launch, Abbott cited an urgent need to stop the flow of drugs and undocumented immigrants into the state through Mexico.

But the initiative has become a political wedge between those who sharply criticize President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and critics who call it a blank check for a governor facing a tough reelection in November and an ineffective financial boondoggle for Texas taxpayers.

Abbott has repeatedly blamed Biden for an increase in migrant crossings and called for the federal government to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s tougher immigration policies.

Senate Finance Chair Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican, said on Thursday that the border program was vital to protecting public safety and must continue.

“As the crisis at our border continues, it is critical that the legislature continues to fund Operation Lone Star as the flow of illegal immigrants, weapons, and drugs has hit unprecedented levels,” Huffman said. “Because the federal government has completely neglected this emergency, imagine how unsafe communities across the country would be had Texas not stepped up to provide its full support.”

Abbott’s office has said it will hold off on asking for specific funding for Operation Lone Star until lawmakers can address it during budget hearings. Patrick, who is running against Democrat Mike Collier in the November election, predicted more action on border security in the upcoming session.

“Securing the safety of our children and our southern border are issues of paramount importance,” Patrick said in the authorization letter. “This action ensures that Texas is in a strong position to confront these issues head-on during the upcoming legislative session.”

Jolie McCullough contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at

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Trump Indicted by Grand Jury: Reports



Donald Trump’s attorneys have been notified a grand jury has voted to indict the ex-president on numerous federal charges and ordered to appear in a Miami court next Tuesday, according to ABC News, CNN, and NBC News. Trump on his Truth Social account made a similar claim..

“Former President Donald Trump has been indicted in the special counsel’s classified documents probe, sources familiar with the matter tells CNN,” the network reports. “Trump has been charged with seven counts in the indictment, according to another source familiar with the matter.”

“We’re learning from our sources that there appears to be at least seven counts here,” ABC News’ Katherine Faulders reported on-air, ABC News online reports.. “This ranges from everything from the willful retention of national defense information to conspiracy to a scheme to conceal to false statements and representations.”

MSNBC on-air reports NBC News has confirmed the Trump indictment, and NBC News online reports the indictment is “in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents that were discovered last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, making the twice-impeached former commander-in-chief the first former president to face federal criminal charges.”

Watch this currently ongoing ABC News live streaming video:

In three separate entries on his Truth Social platform, Trump writes: “The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted,” along with several false allegations NCRM will not publish.

“I have been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM,” he adds.

He also declares he is “innocent.”

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.

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‘Where’s the Money?’: Biden Laughs Out Loud, Mocks GOP’s Allegations



Just as his press conference with the U.K. Prime Minister was coming to a close and reporters were asked to remain seated, a jovial President Joe Biden stayed and took several questions from reporters desperate to ask about Republicans’ baseless and unsubstantiated claims he accepted millions in bribe money when he was vice president.

Shouting “bribery allegations,” one reporter told the President, “Congresswoman Nancy Mace says there’s damning evidence in an FBI file that you sold out the country.”

As a smile worked its way across the President’s face, the reporter continued saying: “Do you have a response to congressional Republicans?”

The President did.

“Where’s the money?” he deadpanned.

“I’m joking,” he added.

READ MORE: Watch: Stunned Bill Barr Speechless After Fox Host Asks Why DOJ Is Pursuing Trump ‘In the Middle’ of an Election

“That’s a bunch of malarkey,” Biden ultimately responded, denying the claims which were fueled by FBI Director Chris Wray’s decision to allow the entire House Oversight Committee, in eluding far-right Republicans, access to an old FBI form documenting a second-hand tip alleging bribery.

NBC News Peter Alexander then threw a curious question at the President.

“Mr. President, what do you say to Americans to convince them that they should trust the independence and fairness of the Justice Department when your predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks it?”

Biden quickly became less jovial.

READ MORE: SCOTUS ‘Surprise’ Voting Rights Decision Could – and Did – Have Big Implications for Democrats, Legal Experts Say

“Because you notice,” he said very seriously, pointing his finger at the reporter, “I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative bringing a charge or not bringing a charge.”

“I’m honest,” he stressed.

Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf responded to the video clip, stating: “Questions like these are not serious journalism.”

Watch below or at this link.


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Watch: Stunned Bill Barr Speechless After Fox Host Asks Why DOJ Is Pursuing Trump ‘In the Middle’ of an Election



Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, once one of the ex-president’s top defenders, appeared stunned and speechless Thursday afternoon when a Fox News host surprised him by asking why the U.S. Dept. of Justice is pursuing a criminal investigation against Trump over classified documents while he is running again for president.

“Why is this process happening so quickly in the middle of a presidential election?” Fox’s Martha MacCallum asked. She neglected to mention that Donald Trump reportedly announced his presidential campaign to avoid being charged.

Barr, who is on record stating he opposes Trump’s actions surrounding the hundreds of classified and top secret documents he likely unlawfully removed from the White House and refused to return, paused for several seconds before replying.

“Uh,” Barr finally replied, “This, this was a fairly simple case,” he said, appearing to defend DOJ.

READ MORE: SCOTUS ‘Surprise’ Voting Rights Decision Could – and Did – Have Big Implications for Democrats, Legal Experts Say

“The Mar-a-Lago case. This is a case that can be done relatively quickly, and that’s why I thought, it’s the main – because it’s a very limited question,” Barr explained, shifting gears. “It relates to, ah, one collection of documents and and why they weren’t given to the government once they were subpoenaed. And it’s a pretty simple case.”

Moving on, MacCallum asked, “And you believe that the charge will be obstruction, based on what you’ve said before?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Barr responded, seeming to not want to bet pinned down to an answer, “if I had to bet I think that that there’s going to be an indictment here on that basis, but it’s not going to be because he took the documents, or even had the documents for a while. I think it’s because they believe that he acted deceitfully once the government tried to get the documents back.”

On Tuesday, Barr spoke with CBS News to refute his ex-boss’s “witch hunt” claims, said the ex-president had “jerked” DOJ around over the hundreds of classified and top secret documents he refused to return, and added there was “no excuse” to do so.

READ MORE: Biden Launches Major Initiative to Protect LGBTQ Community Ahead of Massive White House Pride Celebration

Watch Barr below or at this link.

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