The Hill’s Morning Report — Exploding immigration controversy vexes Washington
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America’s long-running and politically charged immigration debate has turned U.G.L.Y.
President Trump lit the fuse with his administration’s policy of separating families that crossed the southern border illegally. His executive order to end the practice has done nothing to quell the outcry.
Here’s a rundown of what to watch for on this exploding controversy in the week ahead:
> Congress: The House may or may not vote this week on a so-called compromise bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” partially fund the border wall and prevent families from being separated at the border. GOP leaders pulled the same bill from consideration last week when it was clear it did not have enough support to pass. ABC News is reporting that the House will also consider a narrow immigration bill that would allow immigration officials to keep children in detention with their families for longer than 20 days.
And in the Senate, a new bipartisan “Gang of Four” will meet for the first time. Those negotiations, however, appear to be in limbo after the president tweeted that Republicans should stop “wasting their time” on immigration until after the election.
The Hill: Trump, midterm pressures complicate immigration fight.
Bloomberg: Trump’s immigration rhetoric roils political outlook for GOP.
> The White House: Trump is sending conflicting messages over his Twitter account, alternately blaming Democrats, asking for their support, telling Congress to get to work or telling Congress not to bother. But the president is very much driving the conversation, as he did on Friday with a White House event highlighting families who lost loved ones who were killed by immigrants in the country illegally.
The Associated Press: Trump tries to change focus of border debate.
The Memo: GOP laments chaos sowed by Trump.
Reuters: Trump tweet raises questions about due process.
> The agencies: The government is scrambling to react to Trump’s hastily written executive order not to separate children from their parents at the border. The Department of Homeland Security has created a task force to reunite children with their families. The agency insists it knows the location of all the children in its custody, but the massive task of reuniting hundreds of children with families cuts across federal agencies and state lines.
CNN: Government details how separated families will be reunited — eventually.
The New York Times: In tense meeting, Trump officials debate how to process migrant families.
> The streets: Demonstrators are out in force, making it difficult or impossible for Trump administration officials to eat out at restaurants, blocking buses carrying detained immigrants and protesting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The protest that has Washington buzzing: The Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Va., refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her group. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) criticized the restaurant, while blaming the “tone” of the debate on the administration.
The Associated Press: Protesters, Democrats want immigrant families reunited.
The Washington Post: Let the Trump team eat in peace.
> The courts: To enforce Trump’s executive order, the Justice Department has asked a federal court to relax a restriction that says the government can only keep children detained for 20 days in an effort to keep children with their parents. But Trump’s former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert is predicting the order will get swatted down by the same 9th Circuit judge who previously called former President Obama’s immigration enforcement actions “inhumane.”
NBC News: Desperate parents at the border turn to attorneys to locate their children.
> The media: The opinion pages are on fire. Here are a few choice selections.
Carl Cannon: A sane and moral approach to immigration.
Andrew Sullivan: It’s time for Democrats to give Trump his wall.
Rick Wilson: Trump has lost on immigration.
Ross K. Baker: Trump’s immigration policies might not help Democrats in November.
LEADING THE DAY
CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Trump heads to Columbia, S.C., today to stump for a loyal 2016 backer, Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who finds himself in a tight primary runoff against businessman John Warren, who has been described as a Trump-like outsider.
The Associated Press: Trump to test his powers in South Carolina.
Vice President Pence swung through South Carolina and Pennsylvania on Saturday to campaign for McMaster and Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), respectively.
It’s part of an increased focus by the White House on politics as midterm campaigns swing into high gear. The president has prioritized the Great Plains states and will continue that trend on Wednesday with a visit to Fargo, N.D. He’ll also be in Wisconsin on Thursday for fundraising and official events.
Over the weekend, the president visited Nevada on behalf of Sen. Dean Heller (R), considered by many to be among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018. There, Trump unveiled a new nickname, calling Heller’s opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), “Wacky Jacky.”
Beyond the name-calling, The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker notes that the president has made immigration central to his campaign pitch.
From the campaign trail … Reid Wilson has the races to watch as primary voters head to the polls in Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah on Tuesday (The Hill) … The bitter primary between Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-N.Y.) and former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) will be decided (The New York Times) … Fiscal credibility is a worry for incumbent Republicans seeking reelection after the passage of a massive spending bill (The Hill) … GOP pollster Ed Goeas says Democrats are poised to capture the House majority (Hill.TV).
INTERNATIONAL: And … there’s a lot happening around the world this week.
Russia: The Hill: Trump is eager for another headline-making summit, one with Russian President Vladimir Putin, likely next month. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said national security adviser John Bolton heads to Moscow “Sunday or Monday” to discuss a potential meeting between the two leaders. The optics for Trump, who expresses admiration for Putin, are as fraught as the policy tensions between the United States and Russia.
OPEC: Today, Brent crude oil fell 1 percent as investors prepared for an extra million barrels per day in output to hit the markets (Reuters). The 15-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries met in Vienna with Russia and other oil-producing allies on Saturday to agree to raise output, a day after agreeing to a production hike within the group itself. But OPEC confused the market about how much more oil it will pump. Trump was among those wondering: “Hope OPEC will increase output substantially. Need to keep prices down!” the president tweeted. The United States, China and India had urged oil producers to release more supply to prevent an oil deficit that could undermine global economic growth (Reuters).
Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday she would seek direct deals with separate European Union states on migration, conceding the bloc failed to find a joint solution to the gnawing issue that is threatening her government (Reuters).
South Korea: The United States and South Korea agreed to indefinitely suspend military training exercises, the Pentagon announced Friday. The freeze is seen as a concession toward continued nuclear talks with North Korea and comes after the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this month (Reuters).
Turkey election: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said he won reelection as Turkey’s president, although returns were not official. His opposition disputed the outcome, as reported by state-run media (USA Today).
Mexico elections: Andrės Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s answer to Donald Trump, is likely to become the country’s next president after July 1 elections (The Economist) … Opinion: Why Mexico’s presidential election is important to Americans, by Matthew Dowd (ABC News analyst)
Jordan: The Hill/Amman: The impact of the U.S. travel ban and reductions in international aid are visible in Jordan, where many Syrian refugees felt the devastation of rejection over the past year, following applications for resettlement in the United States. Trump meets with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the White House today. The Hill’s Alicia Cohn reports from Jordan.
Middle East peace: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said Washington’s Middle East peace plan is near, adding the United States will move ahead with or without Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Reuters).Trump’s son-in-law has been meeting leaders in the region, but not Abbas. Kushner told Palestinian newspaper Al Quds in an interview published in Arabic on Sunday that he doubts whether the Palestinian president is willing or able to seal a deal.
Saudi Arabia: With the lifting of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, job growth could be one result (BBC) … One Saudi woman spoke about empowerment as she took the driver’s seat (Al Arabiya English) … For Saudi women, challenges go well beyond driving (The New York Times).
U.S. tariffs – European automobiles: Trump on Friday threatened to escalate a trade war with Europe by imposing a tariff of 20 percent on all U.S. imports of European Union-assembled cars (Reuters).
U.S. tariffs – corporate waivers: International companies seeking to avoid U.S. tariffs on metals began securing waivers last week from the Commerce Department. But thousands of companies have applied and remain in limbo (The New York Times).
U.S. tariffs – economic fallout: The effects of Trump’s trade policies are beginning to ripple through the U.S. economy as steel tariffs disrupt domestic supply chains and global trading partners retaliate against a wide variety of American products, such as peanut butter, whiskey and lobster (The New York Times).
U.S. tariffs – Congress: The Hill: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said support is growing in the Senate for legislation that would check the president’s power to levy tariffs without congressional support. “I don’t know a senator that isn’t concerned about the broad use of this,” Corker said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I think there’s a jailbreak brewing.”
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
➔ ADMINISTRATION & WHITE HOUSE: Immigration and trade are not the only policy and political challenges brewing inside the executive branch this week.
Interior Department – ethics: Emails raise questions about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s link with an oil executive. House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation, seeking information about a land deal between Zinke’s family foundation and a real estate project with ties to the oil and gas company Halliburton (Yellowstone Public Radio/NPR). Last week, Politico reported possible unethical ties between the foundation and a proposed real estate development in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont.
EPA – water rule: The Environmental Protection Agency plans to replace an Obama-era landmark clean water regulation, which has been on hold in the courts, with a version designed to be more industry friendly. Here are five things to know about the Trump administration’s deregulatory move (The Hill).
> EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt remains under close scrutiny for his management decisions. The Sierra Club expressed skepticism, after suing to obtain Pruitt’s work-related external emails, that the administrator sent only one message from his official EPA account to a recipient outside the government in more than a year, which is what the agency maintains.
Pentagon – cyber security and espionage: Lawmakers worry the Department of Defense, the Education Department and other agencies are not doing enough to protect sensitive U.S. military, research and technological secrets from the Chinese and other foreign intruders (The Hill).
> Related: Secretary Pompeo, during an interview Friday, said cyber intrusions and attacks will be met by the United States by “incredibly capable cyber teams … in the Department of Defense and elsewhere.” He told conservative journalist Hugh Hewitt that he and Secretary of Defense James Mattis “agree … that a cyber attack does not necessarily need to be responded through – only through a cyber means. That is, if they engage in something that approaches or becomes a true act of war, then the response that the United States need to take aren’t limited just to a cyber response. There will be times when the United States government decides that’s the most appropriate place, because you can, in fact, do it quietly.”
> Trump relies more on Pompeo and Bolton than on Mattis for advice on international policy, frequently leaving his defense secretary out of the loop, NBC News reports.
➔ INVESTIGATIONS: The Washington Post reports that special counsel Robert Mueller has added new federal prosecutors to his team, suggesting he is preparing to hand off the responsibility of prosecuting the Russian people and entities accused of online interference in the 2017 election.
The key paragraph: “The development suggests Mueller is contemplating the end of his work and farming out any potentially outstanding prosecutions to other parts of the Justice Department.”
The Associated Press: Looming question for Mueller probe — how much to make public?
Another big story from the weekend: The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department has handed over some of the documents pertaining to the origins of the investigation of the Trump campaign to House Republicans.
Republicans have accused the DOJ of stonewalling and were threatening to unload everything in their arsenal to obtain what they’ve requested. The exchange of documents should tamp down tensions, at least for now.
Elsewhere, the House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed FBI agent Peter Strzok, a key figure in the investigations into Trump and Hillary Clinton whose anti-Trump text messages are seen as evidence of political bias at the bureau.
Sharyl Attkisson: What did Peter Strzok do?
Bad news for former Trump attorney Michael Cohen: Most of the documents the FBI seized are not protected by attorney-client privilege, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has ruled (Reuters).
Meanwhile, Cohen put to bed the rumors started by comedian Tom Arnold that he was going to take down Trump.
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Vote Against the GOP in November, by columnist George F. Will, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2KdSVrG “The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers.”
Hell on the border, editorial, The Washington Times. https://bit.ly/2KhQK9v “The tears of children are always genuine, but the designs of those who would use children as political props are not. The histrionics will end if Congress summons the courage to enact a fair and effective immigration bill, and get on with building the wall. The alternative is permanent chaos.”
An identity crisis for Republicans, Op-Ed by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2tzuMVh “President Trump is not the first executive to want compliance from a legislative body, but he has taken it to a new level. … We should all be alarmed when dissenting voices are quashed.”
WHERE AND WHEN
The House is in recess until Tuesday.
The Senate convenes at 3 p.m.
The president meets with the secretary of state at the White House. Then Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome to the White House King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. The two men are expected to discuss terrorism, Iran, Syria, and potential peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Later, Trump will fly to West Columbia, S.C., to headline a rally for Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who is seeking reelection.
Vice President Pence tonight begins a trip to Brazil, Ecuador and Guatemala. He returns to Washington June 29.
U.S. Supreme Court nears the end of its term and will release orders from the June 21 conference at 9:30 a.m. and one or more opinions in argued cases at 10 a.m. SCOTUSblog.com will stream news from the court live beginning at 9 a.m.
> Civil War burial pit reveals soldiers’ remains, which will now be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Bones and two almost-complete skeletons were unearthed in a shallow burial pit in Manassas, Va., where about 15,000 Union soldiers died at the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1862. (History.com)
> Drink Up! Caffeine could protect the heart by helping it make energy, new study finds. (ABC News)
> Can science-based video games help kids with autism? “Several small pilot studies have produced promising results for games designed to help children with autism, showing that they may improve a range of abilities — including balance, attention and gaze control.” (Science magazine)
And finally … We need some uplifting news this morning. How about a heroic Midwestern teacher whose quick actions are being celebrated far and wide? Back in May, Noblesville, Ind., science teacher and football coach Jason Seaman, 29, was shot three times while defending his students against a male pupil who entered his classroom wielding two handguns. Seaman is credited with ending the mayhem, which resulted in the shooter’s arrest. Seaman recovered after surgery, as did one of his female students, shot seven times. Accolades and tributes he’s received in the last few months include Southern Illinois University’s invitation last week to make Seaman, its graduate, the university’s homecoming grand marshal in October.
“It was just a bad accident,” Seaman says of the shooting in his classroom. “We’re all in this together.”
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