Headlines: April 12, 2019
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The Washington Post reported that according to Department of Homeland Security officials speaking anonymously the Trump administration last November considered busing undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border to so-called sanctuary cities in the US. According to the paper the move was part of a plan to, “retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries,” and that, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target.” Officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) were apparently alarmed by this idea and rejected the plan. Although a White House official told the paper that the idea was briefly discussed and no longer under consideration, President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted, “Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only…” A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated…Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”
In other immigration news, NBC News reported on Friday morning that at a gathering of national security advisers this week Trump officials considered using the US military to build tent encampments to hold migrants in detention and discussed whether it was legal to let the military run the camps. Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday called for talks with Democrats to take on immigration laws. He said, “What we need to do is sit down in a serious, adult, bipartisan basis and try to fix the problem, because the problem is pretty obvious…Border security is a part of it, but that doesn’t solve the asylum issue, and that can’t be solved, I don’t think, without some kind of statutory adjustment.” President Trump has claimed that immigrants are surging at the border – a claim that some critics call a “manufactured crisis.” He has also attempted to force DHS officials to break asylum laws. News also emerged that Trump is reportedly considering Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, to head the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Kirchner’s organization was deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In other news a federal judge sentenced a man named W. Samuel Patten on Friday to probation for, “steering $50,000 from a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician to Trump’s [inaugural] committee.” Patten was a political consultant hired by the Trump campaign and the case involving him was one of many that have spun off from the Special Counsel’s investigation. Patten pleaded guilty to the charge of moving a $50,000 contribution from a Ukrainian politician backed by Russia. His probation sentence lasts 3 years and includes community service and a nominal fine. On Thursday, a man named Greg Craig was indicted by a federal grand jury in a case that also sprung from the Mueller investigation. The 74-year old attorney is the highest level Democrats to be indicted and involves false statements and work he did for Ukraine. Meanwhile in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke out about the criticism that his boss Attorney General William Barr is coming under over the Mueller report. Rosenstein told the paper, “He’s being as forthcoming as he can, and so this notion that he’s trying to mislead people, I think is just completely bizarre.” Conservative outlets have seized on Rosenstein’s words after spending months maligning him.
Researchers at Clemson University, in collaboration with the Washington Post have concluded that there was a concerted campaign headed by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency to convince supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. One example cited is a tweet from an account called Red Louisiana News that read, “Conscious Bernie Sanders supporters already moving towards the best candidate Trump! #Feel the Bern #Vote Trump 2016.” The extent of the campaign to target Sanders’ supporters was much larger than previously known.
Pizza magnate, Republican Presidential candidate, and Trump supporter Herman Cain is reportedly withdrawing his name from consideration of a Federal Reserve Board seat. Trump’s nomination of Cain came under broad criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for being utterly inappropriate for the position but it was apparently GOP members that tanked his nomination. Trump also nominated another equally unqualified nominee for a vacancy on the same board – Stephen Moore but Moore, who is white, appears to not be facing as much opposition from Republicans yet as Cain who is black.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Thursday signed into law a so-called Heartbeat bill making his state one of a growing number of Republican controlled legislatures that are passing unconstitutional abortion bans. The bill named the Human Rights and Heartbeat Protection Act, according to critics tramples on the human rights of actual humans – namely the pregnant women it would apply to. Like similar laws being passed in states like Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi, it claims fetal tissue is equivalent to a human being. They are all expected to be legally challenged – an move that anti-abortion advocates say is part of their plan to mount a federal challenge to Roe. Vs. Wade at the US Supreme Court.
Leading Democrats on Thursday announced plans for a broad $2 trillion plan to upgrade aging infrastructure all over the US including roads, bridges and schools.White House spokesman Judd Deere told Reuters that Trump met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and, “agreed to meet soon to discuss working together on infrastructure.” Republicans want to spend about half as much as Democrats do. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I’m all for taking it (infrastructure legislation) up once the president and Democrats, everybody says: ‘OK, here’s how we’re going to pay for it.’ As soon as that magically appears, I think we have a way forward.” McConnell has rarely if ever, raised the question of how to pay for expenditures that involve war funding and defense contracts.
The Chicago Sun Times on Thursday released a surveillance video it obtained showing a brutal police beating of a high school student at Marshall High School on the West Side. The shocking video shows two police officers dragging the black 16-year old girl down a set of stairs, punching her repeatedly and then tasing her. Officers had initially released statements claiming that the girl Dnigma Howard, had initiated the violence but the new video contradicts their claims. The girl’s family has hired lawyers to sue the district.
The US Supreme Court in a 3 am decision on Friday morning ruled in a narrow 5-4 vote allowing the execution of an Alabama Death row prisoner to proceed. The inmate in question, named Christopher L. Price, was scheduled to be killed on Thursday evening. He had asked for his death to be administered by nitrogen gas instead of by a three-drug cocktail known to cause excruciating pain. The New York Times explained that, “The replacement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was a moderating force in capital cases, with the more conservative Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh has hardened the divide between the two sides.”
And finally the Justice Department on Friday said that General Electric will pay $1.5 billion in fines related to its role in the Subprime Mortgage crisis. According to Reuters the settlement is the result of a lengthy government investigation into “defective subprime mortgages offered by [GE’s] former WMC Mortgage unit prior to the 2008 global financial crisis.” In its agreement to settle GE did not admit any wrongdoing in the crisis.