Headlines: July 19, 2018
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A new firestorm has broken out over President Trump’s Monday meeting in Helsinki with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. On Wednesday Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was considering an offer from Putin to help with the Mueller investigation and in exchange would get the chance to interrogate some Americans including former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. At the Monday press conference this is President Trump referring to Putin’s offer.
On Wednesday this is how Press Secretary Sanders responded to a reporter asking if Trump would hand over Americans to Russia for interrogation.
The Washington Post reported that, “The willingness of the White House to contemplate handing over a former U.S. ambassador for interrogation by the Kremlin drew ire and astonishment from current and former U.S. officials. Such a proposition is unheard of. So is the notion that the president may think he has the legal authority to turn anyone over to a foreign power on his own.”
Ambassador McFaul tweeted angrily, “Hey WH press Corps, can you confirm tomorrow with @PressSec that Putin discussed me personally in his one on one with Trump? Did he suggest that I was part of some alleged money laundering scheme? And did Trump push back on this completely invented, whacko idea?”
Meanwhile, in an interview broadcasting Thursday, Trump was asked by CBS News who he would like to run against in 2020 when he’s up for re-election. Trump responded, “I dream about Biden.” The former two-term Vice President is among a handful of Democrats posturing for a 2020 run including former Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
On Wednesday the Republican-controlled Senate voted to confirm Andrew Oldham as a lifetime federal judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Oldham, who was nominated by Trump, faced criticism from more than 200 civil rights organizations over his record on restricting voting rights and his poor record on discrimination cases. When asked if he agreed with the 1954 school desegregation case Brown Vs. Board of Education Oldham shockingly refused to answer. The Leadership Conference on Human and Civil rights wrote a strongly worded letter to the Senate saying, “Refusing to say whether this most important of cases, which established so many of the rights that we enjoy today, was properly decided should completely disqualify a nominee seeking a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.” But every single Republican voted to confirm him nonetheless. According to the Huffington Post, “Oldham is Trump’s 23rd confirmed circuit judge ― a massive number for a president only 18 months into his first term. At this point in their presidencies, Barack Obama had nine of his circuit court nominees confirmed, George W. Bush had 16.”
Progressive members of Congress are forming a Medicare-for-All caucus today with 60 members. Vice News first reported the caucus on Wednesday saying, “The caucus is expected to have over 60 founding members, or approximately one-third of all the 193 House Democrats with more expected to sign on in the coming weeks. More could join following the 2018 midterms with many Democratic challengers embracing Medicare for All.” Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal said, “This is a sea change from just four or five years ago and people are more likely to see health care as a right.”
The Republican-controlled House on Wednesday introduced a symbolic measure to support the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that has come under fire in recent months. Amid calls to “Abolish ICE” that have taken hold all over the country, the GOP decided instead to pat the agency on the back with its non-binding measure which passed with most Democrats not voting for it. Eighteen House Democrats did vote for it.
After today’s headlines, our immigration correspondent Juan Escalante will give us a progress report on the government’s reunification of the families it separated. We’ll also discuss a devastating report that was filed in court detailing abuses of immigrants in ICE detention since June.
A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic has found that more than half of all white evangelical Americans oppose the idea of increased racial diversity. According to the poll, “52% of white evangelical Protestants say a majority of the U.S. population being nonwhite will be a negative development.” Among the public at large, the numbers are far more encouraging: about 2/3rds of the American population – white and nonwhite – thinks that a non-white majority country is a good thing. The poll also founds that 70% of all Republicans think the US is headed in the right direction, while only 8% of Democrats think so.
Meanwhile President Trump has strongly endorsed Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp as a candidate for Governor. Kemp is a controversial figure who has been accused of being an anti-immigrant racist after he issued an ad saying he wanted to, “round up criminal illegals” in his pickup truck. On Wednesday Trump tweeted his full-throated support for Kemp’s candidacy saying, “Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration.He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement.” Kemp is facing Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for the Governor position in a run-off primary election next Tuesday. The two candidates are neck-in-neck as per a recent poll. The winner of the run-off will face Democrat Stacy Abrams in November.
A California measure was blocked on Wednesday that would have placed a question on the ballot about splitting the state into 3 pieces. The State Supreme Court blocked the ballot measure dubbed “Cal 3,” which has been backed by a billionaire named Tim Draper. State Supreme Court justices ruled against the measure unanimously saying in their ruling, “We conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.” An environmental group called The Planning and Conservation League cheered the decision and issued a statement saying Cal 3, “was a costly, flawed scheme that will waste billions of California taxpayer dollars, create chaos in public services including safeguarding our environment.”
In international news, the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday condemned government violence in Nicaragua in a resolution. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has overseen a mass violation of human rights through a harsh government crackdown on protesters. Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Denis Moncada condemned the OAS resolution saying it was, “illegal, illegitimate and unfair,” and that Ortega’s government was only defending itself against, “attacks from terrorist groups to overthrow a legitimate government.” On the same day as the OAS resolution ten Senators in the US introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials who were responsible for human rights violations. The bi-partisan group of lawmakers also called for a diplomatic negotiated end to the crisis.
In Canada, the beating of a 39-year old Muslim man named Muhammed Abu Marzouk is being investigated as a hate crime. Abu Marzouk was returning home from a local community center in Mississauga with his family when two assailants kicked the car. When he left his car to confront them he was beaten so badly that he had a serious brain hemorrhage and was rushed into surgery. The men allegedly responsible for the beating are brothers – 27-year-old Adem and 19-year old Janis Corhamzic. The beating is being investigated as a “hate-motivated crime.” Mississauga is home to a large immigrant and South-Asian population.