The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seeks tougher rules on asylum seekers




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President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE wants to deter asylum-seekers at the U.S. border by applying tougher standards of proof before accepting migrants’ explanations about why they fled their countries, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday.


The president — frustrated by what he sees as resistance inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to his policy goals — wants to push the envelope of immigration laws in order to discourage migrants from venturing to the United States. And he’s determined to elevate the federal personnel he thinks will deliver those deterrent policies by testing the fine print of statutes he condemns as weak and “ridiculous.”


The Hill: Trump eyes asylum crackdown.


The New York Times: Acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Top Democrat accuses White House of obstructing review related to Trump-Putin communications MORE bows to the president on immigration and other matters, encouraging him to follow his gut.


NBC News: About 90 percent of asylum-seekers pass what’s called a “credible fear” interview, but only about 10 percent go on to be granted asylum by a judge. Those who pass the initial interview live in the United States while waiting for their cases to be adjudicated. The president is searching for ways to deter their entry into the country.


“We need to close the borders,” he said.


On Tuesday, Trump denied he’s considering a return to separating migrant families at the southern border, a practice he ended after legal challenges and intense, bipartisan criticism. But he pointed to the end result that most appealed to him about separating children from their parents in order to deport many of the adults as law breakers.


"I'll tell you something: Once you don't have it, that's why you see many more people coming. They’re coming like it's a picnic because, 'let's go to Disneyland,' ” he told reporters.


The Hill: Trump says he has no plans to restart family separations.


The Associated Press: Family separation has been one of several ideas Trump revived in recent weeks as he and aides reckon with trying to deter an expanding number of Central American families from crossing into the United States.


The president’s agitation about the southern border has produced some escalating statistics. Apprehensions surged in March (The Hill) along with a persistent rise in the number of migrants seeking to enter the United States. And federal efforts are expensive, especially for the Department of Defense, which told Congress on Tuesday that the Pentagon’s price tag for border missions will be about $534 million by the end of September (The Hill).


Late on Tuesday the president tweeted, “The Border is being fixed! Mexico will not let people through!,” a reference to his unsubstantiated boast that he’s been successful in pressuring Mexico to block migrants from Central American countries from moving north because of his threats about tariffs and border closure. He urged Democrats in Congress to legislate changes to “get rid of the loopholes.”


The Associated Press: House Democrats are crafting legislation to address immigration from Central American countries. It has no chance of passage in the Senate.


Trump denies he’s cleaning house at the Homeland Security Department. However, the influence of 33-year-old White House adviser Stephen Miller and Trump’s eagerness to part company with Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Trump admin program sends asylum-seekers to await claims in Mexico, despite fears of violence: report MORE along with the head of the Secret Service this week have unnerved many lawmakers, including Trump’s allies in urging tough immigration enforcement. DHS acting deputy secretary Claire Grady resigned effective today, Nielsen announced in a Tuesday night tweet (The Hill).


The Hill: Trump’s eventual new nominees at DHS face high hurdles to clear Senate confirmation.


The New York Times: GOP senators also wary of pair of Trump’s announced picks for Federal Reserve.


"I think the White House needs to consult with the Senate before they make nominations because it's not a given that everybody they nominate is going to be confirmed," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Texas). “I think rather than have the embarrassment for the nominee and for the president or for senators, the thing I just encourage is there has to be consultation."


When asked about fellow Kansan Kris Kobach, a Trump ally and a possible appointee to DHS, Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEPA exempts farms from reporting pollution tied to animal waste Conservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries Juan Williams: Anti-abortion extremism is on the rise MORE (R-Kan.) told a reporter, “Don’t go there. We can’t confirm him” (The Kansas City Star).


Utah Republican Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Democratic challenger leads Tillis by 1 point in North Carolina poll The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider? MORE used prepared remarks on Tuesday to describe the DHS personnel upheaval and transition limbo at the department as “seriously troubling.”


And while the president says U.S. borders should close and tells the world the country has no more room for immigrants, the opposite is argued by economists, demographers, governors, mayors and policy analysts. An aging populace, declining birth rates and the exodus of younger workers from rural areas and smaller towns all suggest the United States should be throwing open its doors to an influx of newcomers (The New York Times):


“The older, historically declining cities need immigrants to reinvigorate their economies. And the expensive cities need them because, frankly, white people, African-Americans and middle-class people are leaving for more affordable areas,” said Joel Kotkin, executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism.





INVESTIGATIONS: In his first appearance on Capitol Hill since special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE’s investigation concluded, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations EXCLUSIVE: Trump declines to say he has confidence in FBI director MORE told lawmakers he will release a redacted version of Mueller’s report within a week, setting up a war of words with Democratic lawmakers who continue to press for an unredacted version of the report.





According to Morgan Chalfant and Olivia Beavers, Barr has said that the public version of the report will be redacted to conceal grand jury information, classified national security details that could reveal sources and methods, details that could compromise ongoing investigations, and information that could impact the privacy and reputation interests of “peripheral third parties.”


“The process is going along very well,” Barr said. “My original timetable of being able to release this by mid-April stands.”  


The comments came during testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee on the Justice Department’s fiscal 2020 budget request, with Barr slated to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday morning.


Barr said he will not release a full, unredacted version to the committees and Republicans are backing his decision. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTop Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan Ocasio-Cortez on concentration camp remarks: Liz Cheney, GOP 'manipulating pain for political purposes' GOP rep: Trump needs to retaliate against Iran to deter other hostile nations MORE (R-Calif.) argued he should not release it to lawmakers for a simple reason: no secret is safe on Capitol Hill.


“Do you think they would keep a secret? No. We would harm people,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “I’m sure they’ll keep a secret – the problem is the people they tell wouldn’t be able to keep a secret.”


Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing Hope Hicks: Trump campaign felt 'relief' after WikiLeaks released damaging info about Hillary Clinton House hearing marks historic moment for slavery reparations debate MORE (D-N.Y), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he will issue subpoenas to get the grand jury information if it is not included in the report handed over by the Justice Department.


Bloomberg: Barr forms team to review FBI actions in Trump probe.


ABC News: Vladimir Putin mocks Mueller's investigation: “A mountain gave birth to a mouse.”00:04


> The Trump administration is expected to miss a deadline to hand over the president’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocratic lawmaker calls Trump a 'moron' for his handling of Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief Treasury inspector general to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills MORE, a key player as Democrats seek to gain access to the returns from the IRS, said Tuesday it would be “premature” to comment on the request, adding the department will “follow the law.”


"I think it would be premature at this point to make any specific comments other than, as I've been consistent before in saying, it is being reviewed by the legal departments and we look forward to responding to the letter," he said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, one of two committee appearances he made Tuesday.





Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump's tax returns — DOJ trying to put off the inevitable? Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits MORE (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, made his request on April 2 and gave the IRS — which is within the Treasury Department — until April 10 to turn over six years of Trump’s tax returns. Democrats argue the law is clear on providing the documents, while Republicans believe the request is a political stunt.


The Hill: House Dems slow-walk interest in investigating Trump sexual misconduct allegations.


CONGRESS: On the eve of the opening of their annual issues conference, House Democrats were forced to scrap a key vote on a budget Wednesday after it became clear it would fail because of opposition from within party ranks.


As Niv Elis reports, House Democrats disagreed on top-line spending numbers. The bill would have increased defense spending in 2020 by $17 billion and nondefense spending by $34 billion, bringing the total to $664 billion for defense and $631 billion for nondefense spending.





Progressive members insisted on an amendment that would raise nondefense spending to the same level as defense spending, a position that was a non-starter. House leaders also faced concerns from a dozen centrist Blue Dog Democrats who threatened to oppose the bill without deeper spending reductions.


Without a new deal, a previous Obama-era law would impose deep cuts to defense and nondefense spending, reducing total spending by roughly $125 billion next year.


House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks Hispanic Caucus seeks to retain voice in House leadership GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (D-Md.) said Tuesday he anticipates the issue will be a major talking point during the three-day Democratic retreat that begins today in Leesburg, Va.


“Oh, I’m sure. Yes,” Hoyer said.


Meanwhile, House Republicans are looking on bemused about the new majority’s’ situation. After dealing with the demands of conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus members for eight years, they find themselves telling their Democratic colleagues “I told you so.”


“I warned many Dems this is exactly what would happen,” said Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups House panel advances election security bill requiring paper ballots MORE (R-Ill.). “In this environment, the far left can’t outflank their base and it leads to gridlock.”  


The Associated Press: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calls on Trump to sign Yemen resolution


> Facebook and Google on Tuesday sought to assure lawmakers they are cracking down on white nationalism and extremist content online, according to Emily Birnbaum.


Executives from the two tech giants came before the House Judiciary Committee as Facebook and Google face the threat of tougher regulations in the U.S. and abroad after the mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques, which was partly live streamed. But the hearing highlighted the challenges for the industry which is seeking to balance calls to take action against conservative allegations of censorship and bias.


Just two weeks ago, Facebook announced a new ban on "white nationalist" and "white separatist" content, which it had previously allowed on the platform, adding that the company is “reactively” removing content as it is flagged by users.


The Hill: A Senate Judiciary subcommittee rescinded Google's invitation to a Wednesday hearing on big tech's alleged "censorship" of conservative voices.

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Trump’s Iran sanctions could backfire, by David Ignatius, The Washington Post


Never comes tomorrow, and so will Trump’s tax returns, by Martin J. Sheil, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House meets at 9 a.m., and Democratic lawmakers later embark on an annual three-day retreat in Leesburg, Va., with invited guests and celebrities (Politico).


The Senate meets at 9:45 a.m. and considers Cheryl Marie Stanton to be administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief Pompeo meets with Saudi crown prince amid tensions with Iran Poll: 24 percent of voters want military action against Iran MORE testifies this morning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his department’s budget request. The Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies at 10 a.m. will question Attorney General William Barr and Lee Lofthus, who’s in charge of DOJ administration, about DOJ’s proposed budget and other matters. At 10:15 a.m., IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig testifies about the current tax filing season before the Senate Finance Committee.


The president travels to Texas today for GOP closed-door fundraisers in San Antonio and Houston. He’ll also discuss with a petroleum industry audience in Colby, Texas, actions he plans to take to boost oil and natural gas production. He’s visiting the training center for the International Union of Operating Engineers (The Hill).


Vice President Pence travels to New York City and speaks to a special session of the United Nations Security Council about events in Venezuela at 11:15 a.m. At 11:40 a.m., the vice president joins a call with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Pence headlines a Trump-Pence reelection event in the city at 12:50 p.m. and returns to Washington in the afternoon.


The Federal Reserve releases much-watched minutes at 2 p.m. from its March 19-20 policy meeting. The Wall Street Journal explains why analysts sift through the details.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the consumer price index for March and the real earnings report, both at 8:30 a.m. (The core inflation rate stands at 2.1 percent.)


Israel election: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory and expectations for a fifth term early today in Jerusalem after election returns showed the Likud Party winning narrowly over Israel’s centrist parties and opponent Benny Gantz (The Associated Press). With more than 97 percent of votes counted as Wednesday began, Netanyahu’s conservative party looked likely to muster enough support to control 65 of the Knesset’s 120 seats (Reuters). The final election tally will be official on April 17.


Public health: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered mandatory measles vaccination for all people living in parts of Brooklyn following an outbreak in the borough that he called a public health emergency (Reuters).


Brexit: Today, the leaders of the European Union in Brussels will consider a request from British Prime Minister Theresa May for an extension to June 30 to work out a divorce agreement (Reuters).


In The Know: Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law's effects Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward MORE (R-Iowa) and Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHouse Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill House hearing marks historic moment for slavery reparations debate Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments MORE (D-N.Y.) were honored at the annual “Grammys on the Hill” in Washington on Tuesday night for their work to pass the Music Modernization Act last year. The Recording Academy said they “helped achieve bipartisan support for the bill and met with members of the music industry to understand the issues and ensure proper representation within the legislation.” Grassley showed off his Grammy after being presented with it earlier Tuesday (The Hill).


Golf: We wanted to hail this fantastic photo taken by Doug Mills, who usually covers the White House and politics for The New York Times, but had his eyes trained on the Masters, for this shot on Tuesday.





And finally … The Washington Post reminds us that 80 years ago on Tuesday, celebrated singer Marian Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after being refused the largest indoor stage in Washington because she was black.


Early in 1939, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt worked behind the scenes to protest the refusal by the Daughters of the American Revolution to let Anderson perform in the organization’s Constitution Hall.


Anderson’s manager suggested the famous contralto instead be allowed to perform at the Lincoln Memorial, so the first lady along with NAACP officials brought the idea to Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, who obtained permission from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and announced the invitation on the same day.


When Anderson arrived in the nation’s capital the following week, she stayed at a private residence because no hotel in the city would welcome her as a guest. In a clear voice with her eyes closed, she sang on Easter Sunday in front of Abraham Lincoln’s seated figure.

“My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty …”

A recording from the radio broadcast on April 9, 1939, can be heard HERE. Newsreel footage and audio (1:19 long) is HERE on YouTube.