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By Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff

WASHINGTON — In defending the use of tear gas, troop deployment and other crowd control measures on the border, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last week that 600 of the 8,500 migrants waiting to enter California from Mexico as part of the Honduran caravan were confirmed as convicted criminals.

NBC News has learned that more than three-quarters of those 600 have been charged with illegal entry into the United States, illegal re-entry after a deportation order, and drunk driving, according to two sources. The remainder have been charged with more serious crimes.

Kirstjen Nielsen, from center, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, tours the border area with San Diego Section Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, from left, at Borderfield State Park along the United States-Mexico Border fence in San Ysidro, California on November 20, 2018.Sandy Huffaker / AFP – Getty Images file

The breakdown of charges provides context over what has become a fraught political issue. President Donald Trump repeatedly warned of dangers posed by the caravan ahead of the midterm election, even saying there could be terrorists from the Middle East among them

Immigrants routinely cross between ports of entry illegally because they are forced to wait for long periods in dangerous border towns if they attempt to cross at legal ports, and doing so does not make them a public safety threat, said Greg Chen, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“Many people who cross the border between ports of entry have valid asylum claims and have previously attempted to cross at ports of entry. People we have talked to have been blocked from entering and forced to return in weeks, or even months,” Chen said.

Still, some of the convictions are for more serious crimes. Those include at least one case each of murder, assault and sexual exploitation of a minor.

“I’d push back on the notion that because the crimes aren’t heinous they are not criminals,” said one official on the condition of anonymity.

Under U.S. law, it is a felony to re-enter the United States after being ordered deported. The Obama administration included these immigrants who attempted reentry as priorities for deportation when it focused Immigration and Customs Enforcement resources on criminals.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker recently used his authority to review an immigration court case that could set precedent for whether multiple convictions of driving under the influence should be taken into account in determining whether someone has “good moral character” and should be ruled ineligible for asylum.

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EU believes second referendum MORE LIKELY likely than no deal says Hague

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THE European Union believes a second Brexit referendum is more likely to happen than the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal, former Tory leader William Hague has said as he set out exactly what Theresa May should say to European leaders to get a new deal.

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Trump ally Roger Stone says he still has not been contacted by Mueller’s team

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Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

By Anna Schecter and Michael Cappetta

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has never contacted former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone during its 19-month investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Stone and his attorney said in interviews Tuesday.

Stone has told reporters in the past that he’s had no contact with Mueller, and that remains true as 2019 approaches.

“Nothing’s changed,” Stone said during an interview with NBC News on Capitol Hill while he was protesting with InfoWars’ Alex Jones outside a hearing where Google CEO Sundar Pichar answered lawmakers’ questions about alleged political bias.

Stone’s ties to President Donald Trump go back four decades. He worked for the Trump campaign as an adviser for a short time in 2015 and continued as an informal adviser after leaving his role. During the summer of 2016, he made several public statements that seemed to indicate he had spoken to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or could be interpreted to mean he had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks was going to release hacked Democratic emails, which he denies.

More than 10 of his associates have now been called before a grand jury in D.C. to answer questions from Mueller’s prosecutors related to Stone and WikiLeaks.

Stone said several months ago that he expects to be indicted. Even though he says he has not been contacted by Mueller’s team, he wrote in an August email to supporters that “Robert Mueller is coming for me” and that Mueller’s investigators are “examining every aspect of my personal, private, family, social, business and political life.”

Legal analyst Daniel Goldman said based on the number of witnesses interviewed there is no question the special counsel is conducting a serious and intensive investigation into Stone, but that his appears to be a tricky case and it is by no means a certainty he will be charged.

“In order for Stone to be charged with conspiring with others to interfere with the fair and proper administration of the 2016 election, the special counsel must determine that he took specific actions to coordinate with WikiLeaks and assist in the dissemination of the hacked emails… If he merely learned about it and did not take any steps to assist or coordinate, then he did not commit a crime,” said Goldman, an NBC News legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Stone testified before the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017 about Russia and Trump and Tuesday he stood by his testimony saying everything he told the committee “is true and accurate.” He noted he supplemented his testimony with four documents at the request of the committee, which “bolsters my testimony.”

In one of the supplemental documents he provided the committee he named Randy Credico as his backchannel to WikiLeaks. When asked Tuesday why he didn’t initially name Credico, Stone said he “feared professional reprisal against [Credico] in the workplace, yet I was persuaded by the committee and my own attorneys to identify him which I did.” Stone and Credico texted about WikiLeaks during the summer and fall of 2016, with Credico texting at one point he was “best friends” with Assange’s lawyer. Credico has repeatedly denied that he got any inside information from WikiLeaks.

In another supplemental document for the committee Stone acknowledged a brief meeting in Florida with a Russian named Henry Greenberg during the campaign.

“The question before House Intelligence Committee was did I meet with any representatives of the Russian State. [Greenberg] does not qualify,” he said Tuesday.

Stone recently declined to speak with the Senate Judiciary Committee in its Russia probe.

During the heat of the campaign in June 2016, Assange announced he had emails damaging to Clinton. Communications reviewed by NBC News show that Stone and others made efforts to try to learn details about what was coming. The Friday before the Democratic National Convention, Assange released the first batch of DNC emails.

On Aug. 8, 2016, Stone told the Southwest Broward Republican Organization, “I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

On Aug. 21, 2016, he tweeted, “Trust me, it will soon [sic] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Two months later Assange began releasing Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. His attorney notes that this tweet followed a series of tweets about Podesta the week before. Podesta was the subject of Republican opposition research during the campaign and some in Stone’s camp have said that it was not out of the blue that Stone would text about Podesta.

Stone has been saying for months that the statements he made in 2016 were political bluster in the heat of a campaign, and his attorney said that media focus on them takes them out of context. Stone maintains he has never spoken to Assange, and while he may have asked people to find out details about the content and timing of WikiLeaks’ publication of Democrats’ emails that would be damaging to Clinton, he in no way colluded with WikiLeaks and did nothing illegal to try to help the campaign of Donald Trump.

In the wide-ranging interview with NBC News Stone said he never spoke to candidate Trump about WikiLeaks during the campaign.

Stone’s friend Jerome Corsi has been questioned by Mueller’s team and was offered a plea deal for lying to investigators, which he rejected. Corsi has sued Mueller and other government agencies for allegedly trying to blackmail him into lying. Asked what he thinks about Corsi’s approach, he said, “I wouldn’t do it the same way.”

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Michael Cappetta reported from Washington, D.C.

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Theresa May FINALLY wins a vote after Brexit SHAMBLES – but its not what you think

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THERESA May has finally won a vote after her chaotic Brexit shambles and opposition from all sides on her withdrawal agreement. But it’s not what you think.

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