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Trump folds in latest round of perennial American battle: Citizenship and the census

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WASHINGTON — After the courts deprived him of his census — at least the version he wanted — President Donald Trump promised Thursday that he would fight like heck to let Americans know how many residents of the country are citizens and how many aren’t.

“We are not backing down,” he declared under a foreboding sky in the White House’s Rose Garden as he blamed “unfriendly” federal judges and “left-wing” opponents for a legal tangle that forced him to abandon plans to include a citizenship question on the questionnaire the Commerce Department uses in its decennial population count.

Then he announced an executive order directing federal agencies to share with the Commerce Department any information that would help sort people into citizenship-status categories — a process that already occurs in significant measure — to obtain what will perhaps be a slightly more detailed version of a picture that has long since been painted.

“It’s really just a repackaging of what the government already does,” Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference Education Fund.

It was played up as a major defeat for Trump by Gupta and other critics of the president, who noted that there had been nothing preventing him from issuing the order before a series of adverse court rulings pushed him up against a deadline to start printing the questionnaire so that it could be distributed in time.

“Trump’s attempt to weaponize the census ends not with a bang but a whimper,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.

But the fight isn’t over — a reality that Attorney General William Barr nodded to in remarks delivered right after Trump spoke.

The latest dustup was merely a skirmish in the larger war over using citizenship status to help determine which party controls the White House and the House in the future, as well as how federal money is distributed.

“That information will be used for countless purposes,” Barr said. “For example, there is a current dispute over whether illegal aliens can be included for apportionment purposes. … We will be studying this issue.”

For most Americans, “apportionment” is a pretty meaningless word. But in politics, it’s freighted with power.

Every 10 years, after the census is taken, the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are reapportioned based on each state’s share of the national population. The allotments are based on a formula that assigns the most seats to the states with the largest number of people and the fewest seats to those with the least number of people — with each state getting at least one representative in the House.

California, the most populous state in the country, has 53 House seats. If there were fewer people in California — or a large proportion of its population were not counted — it might lose representation to another state.

It doesn’t just matter for the House. Because the number of votes each state gets in the electoral college is based on its congressional representation — one elector per House member plus one for each senator — a change in apportionment could also affect presidential elections.

Additionally, many federal programs distribute funds to states or local governments through population-related formulas.

All of that is to say, it matters how many people are counted in the census — and where.

Trump’s opponents in the census fight say there are at least two ways in which he’s been threatening to significantly tilt political power. The first is the imposition of a chilling effect that makes it less likely that non-citizens will respond to census questions — not to mention citizens who worry that they might be misidentified or who become mistrustful of government.

On a longer horizon, the legal action Barr referred to could result in a determination that undocumented immigrants cannot be counted for purposes of apportionment. It’s the latest tangle over a question — who gets counted, and how — that has been perhaps the most divisive political issue in American history.

When the Constitution was written, the same “enumeration” clause that established the census and apportionment rules also mandated that slaves would each be counted as three-fifths of a person — the notorious “three-fifths” compromise that allowed slave-holding states to have power in the federal government while denying liberty and rights to millions of slaves.

In a case that is still moving through the courts, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and the state of Alabama have sued the Commerce Department to try to block the counting of undocumented immigrants for purposes of apportionment. The Trump administration sought and failed to have the case dismissed on the grounds that neither Brooks nor the state had standing to sue, meaning that it will move forward.

But when Barr raised the issue Thursday, he suggested that the information the census obtains could used for the purpose of excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment figures — a point that could suggest Justice isn’t that invested in continuing to fight Brooks.

For now — and with future court cases more likely to affect the 2030 census than the 2020 round — Trump is casting himself as an agent of transparency, and his political opponents as impediments to the count.

“Far left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst,” he said Thursday.

Yet it is Trump whose party will be most pleased if undocumented immigrants aren’t counted in the future, and Democratic-leaning constituencies who stand to lose if they aren’t — which is why they celebrated Thursday’s capitulation on the citizenship question as a big loss for the president who’d pushed so hard for its inclusion.

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Labour manifesto 2019: Labour Party policies – what is in Corbyn’s election manifesto?

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CAMPAIGNING has begun in preparation for the December 12 general election, but what are the Labour party’s policies? What will be in Jeremy Corbyn’s election manifesto?

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Roger Stone will not testify as his criminal trial nears an end

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Roger Stone, the longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, will not testify in his criminal trial in Washington, his defense attorney Robert Buschel told the court Tuesday.

Stone is accused of lying to Congress and pressuring another person to do the same.

The prosecution rested Tuesday after former FBI agent Michelle Taylor was recalled to testify about Stone’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, specifically when he told the committee about his thoughts about the potential connection between Guccifer 2.0 and the Russian government.

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Stone’s defense team told the court they plan to play a 50-minute clip of Stone’s testimony before the committee for the jury, after which they will rest their case. Federal District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said closing arguments are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The defense team also plans to file a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case, asserting that the prosecution didn’t prove its argument.

A Trump friend for more than 30 years, Stone was arrested in January and charged with misleading the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 about his efforts to find out when WikiLeaks would be releasing emails hacked from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The charges, which include giving false statements, obstruction and witness tampering, were the last to be filed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team before their investigation ended.

Stone, 67, could face prison time if convicted. He has denied knowing about the WikiLeaks’ releases ahead of time.

Stone also served early on as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and has called himself the victim of a political prosecution. During the months leading up to the trial, he was repeatedly admonished by the judge to stop making public comments about the case that could influence the potential jury pool.

Prosecutors said Stone asked Randy Credico, a standup comedian turned radio talk show host, to be an intermediary between him and WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange. The charges say Stone urged Credico to lie to the Intelligence Committee about those contacts.

“Stonewall it. Plead the fifth,” Stone texted him, and even threatened to take away Credico’s dog, Mueller’s team said.

According to prosecutors, Stone also urged Credico to emulate a character from “The Godfather Part II,” Frank Pentangeli, who is called to testify against mob boss Michael Corleone. But Pentangeli changes his testimony when his brother from Italy enters the hearing room; he then claims to know nothing about Corleone, played by Al Pacino, saying, “I was in the olive oil business with his father, but that was a long time ago.”

Court documents said Stone urged Credico to tell the House committee: “Sure I know Roger Stone. He was in the olive oil business with my father. But that was a long time ago.” Prosecutors sought permission to show a clip from the movie during the trial, but the judge declined to allow it. The judge also informed the jury to not watch the film.

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Foreign Aid SCANDAL: £1.5m of British taxpayers money spent on ‘drink less’ texts in India

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BORIS JOHNSON has been urged to slash foreign aid after a report revealed UK taxpayers helped fund a number of “pet projects” abroad.

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