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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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More than 20,000 Haitians are gathered in Colombia for possible migration to U.S.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. officials are tracking large groups of Haitians in Latin America, including more than 20,000 in Colombia, who like the thousands now massed on the Texas border may soon try to reach the U.S., according to an internal document obtained by NBC News.

The Department of Homeland Security document also said the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility, the agency’s internal watchdog, is investigating an incident in which a Border Patrol agent on horseback in Del Rio, Texas, grabbed a Haitian migrant by the shirt. The incident, captured by a news photographer, drew widespread criticism Monday, prompting White House press secretary Jen Psaki to describe it as “horrific.”

In addition to the 20,000 Haitians gathered in northern Colombia, DHS is also monitoring groups of about 1,500 in Panama and 3,000 in Peru, the document said. A senior DHS official said it remains to be seen when and whether those migrants will come to the U.S., but they have begun “staging” in the various countries, potentially signaling they are planning to travel in large numbers.

Like the surge of 15,000 Haitian migrants who arrived in Del Rio over the past week, most of the migrants in Central and South America left Haiti years ago, many of them after the 2010 earthquake, and have been living in other countries.

Recent economic conditions in those countries, as well as what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas described as misinformation about the Biden administration’s willingness to take in Haitians, have triggered many to seek protections in the U.S.

When DHS has previously monitored caravans of migrants headed to the U.S. border in large numbers, there has been a two to three-week lag between their departure and their arrival. But many of the recently arrived Haitians took buses through Mexico, expediting their arrival and increasing their numbers.

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CIA director’s team member reported Havana Syndrome symptoms during India trip

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A CIA official reported symptoms consistent with so-called Havana Syndrome, a mysterious affliction that has struck diplomats, spies and other government workers at home and abroad, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Monday.

The unidentified employee was traveling with CIA director Bill Burns during a trip to India this month. The employee was immediately tested as part of a protocol the CIA has established to deal with the mysterious brain symptoms typically associated with Havana Syndrome and is receiving medical treatment, the sources said.

The incident was first reported by CNN.

This is the latest reported case of a U.S. government employee reporting symptoms associated with the mysterious ailment. Havana Syndrome first came into public view in 2017 after U.S. diplomats and other government workers stationed in Cuba reported feeling unusual physical sensations after hearing strange high- and low-pitched sounds. U.S. government employees have also reported cases while in China and the Washington, D.C. area.

In late August, at least two U.S. diplomats were medically evacuated from Vietnam after Havana Syndrome incidents were reported in the capital city of Hanoi ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris’ arrival.

“The health and well-being of American public servants is of paramount importance to the administration, and we take extremely seriously any report by our personnel of an anomalous health incident,” a senior administration official said Monday night. “It is a top priority for the U.S. government to determine the cause of these incidents as quickly as possible and that we ensure any affected individuals get the care they need.”

Many people who have experienced Havana Syndrome report experiencing vertigo, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and intense headaches. Some describe it as being hit by an invisible blast wave. Some have no longer been able to work.

The India incident has raised questions about whether a foreign adversary had intentionally targeted the CIA director’s staff, but the sources said the agency is unclear what exactly could have caused the incident. The case is one of a number of new incidents in recent months involving CIA personnel who experienced what U.S. officials call “anomalous health incidents,” the sources said.

A CIA spokeswoman declined to confirm the case in India but said the U.S. government and the agency are taking every incident seriously.

“Director Burns has made it a top priority to ensure officers get the care they need and that we get to the bottom of this,” the spokeswoman said. “We’ve strengthened efforts to determine the origins of the incidents, including assembling a team of our very best experts — bringing an intensity and expertise to this issue akin to our efforts to find Bin Ladin.”

The spokeswoman added that a panel of experts has been convened from across intelligence agencies “to work collectively to increase our understanding of the possible mechanisms that could be causing [anomalous health incidents].”

Many U.S. officials suspect the incidents, which have caused permanent brain injuries in some victims, are a result of an attack or surveillance operation by Russian spies, but the evidence is inconclusive.

The National Academies of Sciences said in a report last year the most likely cause of the injuries was directed microwave energy, but that conclusion is being debated in the scientific community.

Last week, deputy CIA director David Cohen said the agency is getting closer to solving the mystery, but there are limitations.

“In terms of have we gotten closer, I think the answer is yes — but not close enough to make analytic judgment that people are waiting for,” he said.

Josh Lederman contributed.



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Boris Johnson tells jab-sceptic Brazilian President to get 'great' AstraZeneca vaccine

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BORIS JOHNSON has told the jab-sceptic Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to get a dose of the “great” Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine.

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