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Trump returns to the immigration playbook

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And speaking of bullying and creating alternative realities, here’s Jill McCabe, wife of fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, writing in the Washington Post: “Andrew’s involvement in the Clinton investigation came not only after the contributions were made to my campaign but also after the race was over. Since that news report, there have been thousands more, repeating the false allegation that there was some connection between my campaign and my husband’s role at the FBI… To have my personal reputation and integrity and those of my family attacked this way is beyond horrible. It feels awful every day. It keeps me up nights. I made the decision to run for office because I was trying to help people. Instead, it turned into something that was used to attack our family, my husband’s career and the entire FBI.”

Update on Trump’s Great Economic Experiment

A month ago, we noted that Trump – cutting taxes during a time of near full unemployment and instituting new tariffs that could potentially spark a trade war – was embarking on a great economic experiment. Well, here’s an update:

“The Chinese government hit back Monday at President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum by acting on a threat to put tariffs as high as 25 percent on imports of 128 American-made products, including pork and seamless steel pipes,” the New York Times says.

What’s more, the Times adds, stock markets plunged yesterday. “Even after a fast start to 2018, stock markets finished the first quarter down for the year — the first quarterly decline since 2015. It suggested that a period of calm and steadily rising markets had given way to a turbulent new era with a bearish bent.”

By the way, the Dow has been up 19 percent since Trump took office. By comparison, it was up 32 percent for Barack Obama during the same time period (from inauguration to the April of his second year as president).

Roger Stone’s August 2016 email

“I dined with Julian Assange last night”: Turning to the Russia investigation, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has insisted he was joking about his references contacting WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. But the Wall Street Journal has this: “In an email dated Aug. 4, 2016, Mr. Stone wrote: ‘I dined with Julian Assange last night,’ according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Stone is a longtime informal adviser to President Donald Trump who at that point had no official campaign role.”

“In an interview, Mr. Stone said the email to Mr. Nunberg was a joke and that he never communicated with Mr. Assange in 2016. ‘I never dined with Assange,’ he said. The email ‘doesn’t have any significance because I probably didn’t go…there was no such meeting. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. This was said in jest.'”

This would be pretty easy to fact-check: Was Stone in London in August 2016?

Embattled Esty won’t run for re-election

“Connecticut U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty said Monday she won’t seek re-election amid calls for her to resign because of her handling of a sexual harassment case involving her former chief of staff,” the AP wrote yesterday. “The Democrat issued a statement saying she has determined it’s in the best interest of her constituents and her family to end her time in Congress at the end of this year ‘and not seek re-election.’ Esty is in the middle of her third term.”

The Connecticut Post first reported last week on Esty’s handling of that sexual harassment case.

The Cook Political Report has moved the race from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic, writing: “The 5th CD is the most competitive district in Connecticut. Its Cook PVI score is D+2, making it less Democratic than all but two other New England districts. In 2016, it voted for Hillary Clinton 50 percent to 46 percent, down from President Obama’s eight-point margin in 2012… In light of her self-inflicted scandal, Esty’s exit is probably good news for Democrats’ chances of holding the seat. Connecticut’s filing deadline (June 8) and primary (August 14) are relatively late, so both parties more than two months to plot their course.”

Rundown on the 2018 midterms

In case you missed them, here are some of the recent midterm developments that we’ve chronicled on our “Rundown” blog: Dem donor Tom Steyer, who has been airing TV ads calling for President Trump’s impeachment, said he’s not looking beyond the midterms… And late last week, Joe Biden said he was endorsing Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

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Hard-right Republicans forming new caucus to protect ‘Anglo-Saxon political traditions’

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WASHINGTON — A group of ultra-conservative House Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, are discussing launching an “America First Caucus” that would protect “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told reporters on Friday that he’s “looking at” joining.

“There is an America First Caucus,” he said, confirming that Greene is involved.

The formation of a caucus could be another sign of an emboldened faction of House Republicans who are known for nativist ideas and have been criticized by Democrats as racist.

A seven-page organizing document that includes the group’s name and a logo, first reported by Punchbowl News, says: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

It adds that “societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.”

The document also backs infrastructure projects — a topic currently being debated in Congress — as long as they befit “the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom.”

Greene spokesman Nick Dyer confirmed that a platform is being written but complained about “dirty backstabbing swamp creatures” who leaked the document, and did not confirm or deny its authenticity.

“Be on the look out for the release of the America First Caucus platform when it’s announced to the public very soon,” Dyer said.

Gohmert said the group will focus on issues, “that will sustain us for the future,” but added that he hadn’t seen the platform language about Anglo-Saxon traditions.

“It’s not supposed to be about race at all. We’re stronger as diversified. But there are some things that help make us strong. Slavery nearly destroyed us,” he said.

He compared it to putting on one’s mask on an airplane before helping others: “If we let our country go without taking care of America and making sure we’re viable for the future, then we’re not going to be in a position to help the other countries.”

The term “America First” was used as a campaign slogan by former President Donald Trump, but received criticism because it was also used during World War II by those who opposed intervention in Europe to help stop German advances, even amid reports that Nazis were committing genocide against Jewish people.

Greene has advocated for extreme positions and dangerous conspiracy theories, including the QAnon conspiracy movement. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has condemned her for spreading “loony lies” and the Democratic-controlled House removed her from committees in February.

Punchbowl News reported that Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., is also involved with the group. His office didn’t return a request for comment.

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., was reported as a potential recruit.

His office said Moore “will not agree to join any caucus until he’s had an opportunity to research their platform, which he has not had the chance to do so with the America First Caucus and therefore has not joined.”



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Keir Starmer's Labour Party plummets as Boris Johnson doubles lead in new poll

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THE TORIES have doubled their lead over Labour in the latest YouGov poll as Boris Johnson’s party continues to enjoy favourable ratings thanks to the huge success of the Covid vaccine rollout.

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Attorney General Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees

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WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday rescinded a Trump-era memo that curtailed the use of consent decrees that federal prosecutors have used in sweeping investigations of police departments.

Garland issued a new memorandum to all U.S. attorneys and other Justice Department leaders spelling out the new policies on civil agreements and consent decrees with state and local governments.

The memo comes as the Justice Department shifts its priorities to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

In easing restrictions placed on the use of consent decrees, the Justice Department is making it easier for its prosecutors to use the tool to force changes at police departments and other government agencies with widespread abuse and misconduct.

The memo in particular rescinds a previous memo issued by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly before he resigned in November 2018.

Democrats have long argued the ability of the Justice Department’s civil rights division to conduct sweeping probes of police departments had been curtailed under President Donald Trump. The so-called pattern or practice investigations examine whether systemic deficiencies contribute to misconduct or enable it to persist.

“This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce,” Garland said.

The Justice Department didn’t totally ban pattern or practice investigations under Trump, but former Attorney General William Barr suggested they may have been previously overused.

As attorney general in the Obama administration, Eric Holder frequently criticized violent police confrontations and opened a series of civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices. The civil rights investigations often ended with court-approved consent decrees that mandated reforms.

The consent decrees included those with the police in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown and in Baltimore following the police custody death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

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