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Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke criticized both the Obama and Trump administrations for their immigration practices Wednesday at the “She The People Forum” at Texas Southern University in Houston.

O’Rourke, 46, was asked if the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be disbanded. An audience member was heard replying, “Yes, come on.”

“I hear you on this,” the former congressman replied. “The practices under this president, the practices under the last president where families were broken up. Where you had internal enforcement I think in one year alone in the previous administration 400,000 deportations from inside the United States.”

O’Rourke was referring to 2012 where U.S. deportations reached 409,849 people, according to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations report. In 2015 and 2016, the numbers fell to 235,413 and 240,255, respectively.

BETO O’ROURKE COMPARES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RHETORIC TO NAZI GERMANY

The 2020 candidate continued to say: “Some people who had been here for decades who posed no threat to their families, to their communities to this country in fact in any way that you can measure are contributing fare more than they are taking.”

O’Rourke said he believed that “we don’t need those internal roundups and deportations and enforcement.”

“We do need to make sure that whoever threatens the lives of our fellow Americans or has used violence that there is accountability,” he continued.

He concluded his remarks by saying that the internal operations by ICE “is not the way to do it.”

When pressed on whether ICE would exist if he was president, O’Rourke replied, “Yes.”

“But it will not employ those practices we’ve seen not just under this administration but under the previous administration,” he said.

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ICE has become a topic for debate for presidential candidates. During the midterm elections, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who is also running for president, said ICE should be disbanded and rebuilt.

“I believe that it has become a deportation force. And I think you should separate out the criminal justice from the immigration issues,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency, with a very different mission, and take those two missions out. So we believe that we should protect families that need our help, and that is not what ICE is doing today.”

In June 2018, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also called on replacing ICE “with something that reflects our morality and that works,” according to The Hill. Warren is also part of the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

Source: Fox News Politics

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On the roster: Biden makes it all about Trump – I’ll Tell You What: Yawp or yawn – Buttigieg crowding out Beto – Senate majority may come down to Colorado – Watch parrot

BIDEN MAKES IT ALL ABOUT TRUMP 
Fox News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden, in an online video Thursday, officially declared his candidacy for president in 2020, capping off weeks of intrigue and media speculation. He enters a crowded field of Democratic contenders aiming to unseat President Trump — nearly 32 years after he announced his first campaign for president. The campaign is Biden’s third for the White House, having also unsuccessfully run in 1988 and 2008. ‘The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America — America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,’ Biden tweeted early Thursday. With the announcement, which followed months of deliberations, Biden becomes a front-runner in an incredibly crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders all vying to face off next year against Trump. … Biden is expected to follow up the announcement with his first high-dollar fundraiser in the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen Thursday evening and appear at a local union hall in Pittsburgh on Monday.”

No easy task – FiveThirtyEight: “…Biden’s path to the nomination is [not] easy. Not by a long shot. … Arguably, in fact, media elites have the same blind spots for Biden that they had for Trump. … [T]here’s a gap between where [BernieSanders is polling and where Biden is, and empirically, it’s a relevant one. Based on historical data, we estimate that candidates with high name recognition who are polling at 20 percent (Sanders) in early national polls can expect to win their nominations about 15 percent of the time, other factors held equal. But candidates who are polling at 28 percent (Biden) win their nominations something more like 35 percent of the time, or roughly twice as often. It’s also possible that Biden will get a bounce in his polls after his announcement, as Sanders did and as Kamala Harris did and as Beto O’Rourke sorta did.”

Biden tells donors he needs big bucks on day one – Politico: “On the eve of announcing his presidential bid, former Vice President Joe Biden raised the alarm about fundraising in a Wednesday conference call with top donors and supporters. ‘The money’s important. We’re going to be judged by what we can do in the first 24 hours, the first week,’ Biden told the group, according to one participant, whose recollections of the quotes were confirmed by two others on the call. ‘People think Iowa and New Hampshire are the first test,’ Biden said. ‘It’s not. The first 24 hours. That’s the first test. Those [early states] are way down the road. We’ve got to get through this first.’ Biden — noting that ‘I hate to do this’ in discussing the fundraising — said he would be flying around the country for fundraisers with the participants but urged them to do what they can as soon as possible.”

Ocasio-Cortez allies attack ‘out-of-touch’ Biden – Fox News: “A progressive political group that boosted New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s bid for Congress last year vowed to oppose former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, blasting him as part of the ‘old guard’ and accusing him of standing in opposition to the ‘center of energy’ in the Democratic Party. ‘While we’re going to support the Democratic nominee, we can’t let a so-called ‘centrist’ like Joe Biden divide the Democratic Party and turn it into the party of ‘No, we can’t,’’ the group Justice Democrats said Thursday. … The group added: ‘Joe Biden stands in near complete opposition to where the center of energy is in the Democratic Party today.’”

Cindy McCain denies Biden endorsement report – Fox News: “Cindy McCain, the widow of late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., responded to the reports that her family will endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. McCain tweeted Wednesday: ‘Joe Biden is a wonderful man and dear friend of the McCain Family. However, I have no intention of getting involved in presidential politics.’ Her daughter, ‘The View’ host Meghan McCain retweeted the remarks. … McCain’s comment comes after a report in the Washington Examiner that said the McCain family would support Biden. The report cited sources close to the family.”

THE RULEBOOK: DIFFERENT COURSES FOR DIFFERENT HORSES
“It will not be alleged, that an election law could have been framed and inserted in the Constitution, which would have been always applicable to every probable change in the situation of the country; and it will therefore not be denied, that a discretionary power over elections ought to exist somewhere.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 59

TIME OUT: DRAFTING THE FUTURE 
Nat Geo: “Although his paintings are far better known, Leonardo [da Vinci’s] wealth of manuscripts and drawings lay bare the inner workings of his genius. His fertile mind … is evoked on every one of the 7,000 sheets preserved… As the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death is commemorated this year, the artist’s notebooks are experiencing a renaissance of their own. Museums are mounting exhibitions of his sketches, and scholars are publishing new analyses, delving ever deeper into the full spectrum of his creations. Most remarkably, pages from Leonardo’s notebooks are finding their way into the hands of experts in the very fields Leonardo studied, from medicine and mechanical engineering to music. Reaching back centuries, they’re reaping fresh insights, probing Leonardo’s work to inform their own. Even as science, medicine, and technology have pushed past the boundaries of what we can do and how we can do it, Leonardo’s notebooks reveal how much we still have to learn.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52 percent
Net Score: -9.2 points
Change from one week ago: no change 
[Average includes: Fox News: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; Monmouth University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 45% approve – 51% disapprove; GU Politics/Battleground: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve – 52% disapprove.]

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: YAWP OR YAWN
This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the growing 2020 Democratic field, who cries more between the two of them and Dana talks sports. Plus, Dana answers thoughtful mailbag questions and see how Chris does with trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

BUTTIGIEG CROWDING OUT BETO 
NYT:  “In a Democratic race filled with voters who say they are hungering for a next-generation candidate, the contest between Mr. [Beto] O’Rourke, 46, and Mr. [Pete] Buttigieg, 37, is emerging as something of a parallel primary, with many voters attending events for both of them and, in some cases, agonizing over which one to support. … But it is unlikely that as the nominating contest moves past the early-voting states next year, there will be room for two white men under 50 who present themselves as mainstream progressives. Both men are fresh faces in a party that often covets newness, and each is difficult to pin down on policy, hailing from neither the establishment nor the insurgent wing and centering their appeal in biography as much as ideology. … The first votes are still more than nine months away, and Mr. O’Rourke has ample opportunity to regain momentum. But even some of the attendees at his events who were clad in Beto gear said they were unsure how to choose between him and Mr. Buttigieg.”

Mayor Pete’s secret weapon – Vanity Fair: “Buttiegieg’s sexual orientation is not a central theme of his campaign message, but it doesn’t need to be for prominent L.G.B.T. donors who have grown accustomed to supporting candidates who are friendly on their issues, but never one their own. … But before Buttigieg could even think about catching fire, he had to find a way to pay for a staff, travel, and digital advertising. He initially followed [HowardDean’s counsel, cracking open wallets in L.G.B.T. donor networks even if he was unable to lock down full-blown commitments from major bundlers. … It worked… Many L.G.B.T. donors who gave early to multiple candidates are now either firmly in Buttigieg’s corner or lining up to host big money events for his campaign. … In May, Buttigieg will attend a fundraising event in the Washington area hosted by lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, a top Hillary Clinton bundler who recently told CNBC that he’s fully in Buttigieg’s corner in the 2020 race.”

Beto hires big Iowa staff – Des Moines Register: “Beto O’Rourke has hired 16 people in Iowa as he works to catch up to the organizing pace set by many of the other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. O’Rourke entered the race later than many of his competitors, announcing in mid-March that he would run for president. By that time, many others had made key hires, opened field offices and dispatched volunteers and organizers across the state. ‘There’s no question that getting into the race a little bit later puts us a little bit behind in the organizing effort,’ said Norm Sterzenbach, who will lead O’Rourke’s Iowa efforts as state director. ‘So we definitely are making a conscious effort to get a good, expansive team in place as quickly as possible.’”

Booker’s tax returns show lucrative speaking gigs, royalties – Fox News: “Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker’s tax returns show most of his wealth stems from lucrative speaking engagements and royalties. Booker, the 2020 candidate who has yet to make a splash in the crowded Democratic field, released 10 years of tax returns on Wednesday after numerous other candidates released their records in recent weeks. The New Jersey senator reported income of $152,715 in 2018 for his salary, $22,781 in taxes which amounts to an effective tax rate of 15 percent, significantly lower than Sen. Kamala Harris’ 37 percent or Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 26 percent. Most of Booker’s wealth comes public speaking fees and royalties, including $2 million in speaking fees between 2009 and 2014, nearly $1 million in royalties from 2015 to 2017 after the release of his book, ‘United.’”

Dems focus on new voting bloc: Renters – NYT: “Renters hold little sway in Washington. They vote at lower rates than homeowners. … And their problems, if anyone considers them at all, are typically waved off as problems for local government. It’s striking, then, that several Democratic candidates for president are now approaching renters in a way they’ve seldom been treated before — as a voting bloc. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, senators from some of the most expensive housing markets in the country, have proposed substantial bills to alleviate the housing crisis. They’re not talking in gauzy terms about homeownership, the rare housing topic that usually gets a nod. They see unsustainable, raw-deal, skyrocketing rents, and they’re not hesitant to sermonize about it.”

SENATE MAJORITY MAY COME DOWN TO COLORADO 
FiveThirtyEight: “Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is arguably the most endangered Republican senator running for re-election in 2020. He is one of two GOP senators defending seats in states that lean Democratic and only narrowly won his race in 2014. Gardner could also face stiff competition — more than 10 Democratic challengers have already stepped forward for the opportunity to take him on. … Ideologically-speaking, Gardner has occupied the middle lane of his party, which is good for a Republican running in a state that leans blue. But in the Senate, Gardner has voted in line with President Trump’s position more often than Colorado’s 2016 presidential result would suggest. This could be a problem for him in 2020, considering Gardner’s narrow victory in 2014 and that the Democratic nominee for president has won Colorado three times in a row. … Regardless of who faces off in the general election, the Colorado race will most likely be crucial to deciding which party wins a Senate majority.”

Heitkamp, Donnelly pair up to help 2020 candidates – Axios: “Former Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly, who both lost their 2018 re-election races in North Dakota and Indiana, respectively, are launching the One Country Project to help their party win back rural voters ahead of the 2020 cycle. Why it matters: Their team looked at rural votes by county and state from 2000 to 2018 and found that if Democrats don’t break their performance with rural voters, they’re projected to once again win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College in 2020. Their focus is primarily on Democratic Senate races and the presidential election, but they eventually want to work with races up and down the ballot in these rural areas. Heitkamp and Donnelly will work with campaigns before the election, giving them messaging, data, polling, and a strategy to break through with these voters who ‘didn’t feel that we shared their beliefs’ in past elections, Donnelly told Axios in an interview.”

THE JUDGE’S RULING: ON OBSTRUCTION, BARR IS WRONG
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains obstruction of justice: “The essence of obstruction is deception or diversion — to prevent the government from finding the truth. To Mueller, the issue was not if Trump committed crimes of obstruction. Rather, it was if Trump could be charged successfully with those crimes. Mueller knew that Barr would block an indictment of Trump because Barr has a personal view of obstruction at odds with the statute itself. Barr’s view requires that the obstructer has done his obstructing in order to impede the investigation or prosecution of a crime that the obstructer himself has committed. … So, the dilemma for House Democrats now is whether to utilize Mueller’s evidence of obstruction for impeachment. They know from history that impeachment only succeeds if there is a broad, national, bipartisan consensus behind it, no matter the weight of the evidence or presence of sophisticated legal theories.” More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Pergram: How Congress could be facing not one, but two shutdowns – Fox News

Barr to testify to Senate on Mueller report next week – National Review

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has homes and City Hall office raided by feds – Fox News

AUDIBLE: CASHING IN  
“I’ve been raising money since 1977. And I’ve never had anybody complain about not getting an invitation to a fundraiser. That shows you the depth of enthusiasm, the depth of relationships that the vice president has built over the years.” – Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell talking to the Daily Beast about the clamor for invitations to Joe Biden’s first fundraiser.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“You mentioned Ms. Harris might think about the difference between leadership and popularity next time she is onstage w/ hard questions coming her way. I would have to agree. I think it might be interesting if you and Brianna came up with the Ten Traits of Effective Presidential Leadership and then figure out how to pose a question to each candidate, early on, as to how he/she intends to demonstrate those Traits if elected. What say youse all (used to live in MI…diction from the Land of Yoopers)?” – Rick Schuknecht, Bradenton, Fla.

[Ed. note: I like it, Mr. Schuknecht! This is also something I will talk about with Dana Perino on “I’ll Tell You What.”]

“Chris, Which do you think would be more helpful for a potential voter to pick a President, review of the tax returns or have them produce a list of their potential cabinet positions?  It seems to me, that electing a president is a lot like getting married, you don’t just marry the bride you also marry the whole family. You keep writing and I will keep reading.” – Michael Strader, Toccoa, Ga.

[Ed. note: I think your point about cabinet members is an excellent one, Mr. Strader. It would present a challenge in terms of actually assembling the cabinet since it’s different to be asked to accept an actual spot versus a hypothetical one from a candidate. But even just choosing, say, a secretary of state and an attorney general could go a long way. Those things, though, are very different than the question of tax returns. Presidential candidates release their tax returns to demonstrate that they are not corrupt – that the money they have earned was lawful and does not come from sources that could prove compromising in office. I guess if you made me choose between the two, I’d have to go for transparency and accountability over cabinet composition.]

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WATCH PARROT 
WaPo: “A parrot was taken into custody Monday after nearly spoiling a raid while playing lookout for two crack-dealing suspects by repeatedly yelling, ‘Mamãe, polícia!’ according to Brazilian police in the state of Piauí. The phrase means, ‘Mama, police!’ Police encountered the unnamed parrot at the home of the two alleged crack cocaine dealers, perched inside a small brick one-story home with a windowless facade, Brazil’s R7 news channel reported. As police searched for the suspects, it seemed the lime-green bird knew exactly what to do. ‘He must have been trained for this,’ one officer involved in the operation said of the parrot’s attempt to interfere with law enforcement, the Guardian reported. ‘As soon as the police got close he started shouting.’ The bird’s efforts were not successful, however.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I don’t think either [Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are] defensible. It is a question of how skillfully the other uses it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) said on “Special Report with Bret Baier” on Oct. 7, 2016.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Source: Fox News Politics

Almost anywhere in the world where the United States is pushing back against a despotic or rogue regime – from Iran, Syria and North Korea to Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Sudan – Russia has made no secret of its efforts to step in and provide a lifeline to the other side.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin upped the ante, following a failed February summit between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, by hosting talks with the Chairman. While the Kremlin insisted that they are by no means attempting to undermine Trump’s diplomatic efforts, many geopolitical analysts argue it’s all part of a broader Putin power plan.

“What Putin is trying to build is nothing short of an authoritarian axis, or a group of like-minded states that all share one goal: trying to damage or dilute US power and influence all over the world,” Harry J. Kazianis, policy expert and the director of Korean studies at the Center for the National Interest, told Fox News.

KARRY KAZIANIS: PUTIN AND KIM JONG UN SEEK IMPROVED RELATIONS IN SUMMIT

According to James Carafano, Vice President for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, its first and foremost a quest to hollow U.S. control over the situation.

“Putin is the ultimate scrounger. He is always looking for ways to show he is relevant and a key player on the international stage. Russia and North Korea have had a relationship for decades, and if there was game-changer that they could have pulled off, they would have done that a long time ago,” he said. “Russia’s embrace of dictators helps advance its own strategic interests, not least of which is countering U.S. regional goals.”

While nothing concrete seems to have stemmed from the Kim meeting itself, with many critics labeling it a show of hot air and optics, many contend that this is merely a piece of a potentially dangerous puzzle. Although still steeped under hefty U.S. sanctions and a troubled economy, Russia’s distinction as a permanent member to the U.N Security Council – thus its potent ability to veto resolutions that would otherwise hold rogue regimes accountable for their misdeeds and crimes against humanity – is a ticket highly coveted by leaders under fire to retain power.

“For Putin, the meeting underscores Russia as a great power, as well as having a long and deep relationship with North Korea,” said John Wood, analyst and author of “Russia, the Asymmetric Threat to the United States.” “Sticking it to the U.S. over its inability to get a deal done is merely icing on the cake.”

And while Russian foreign policy staunchly centers on the notion of sovereignty and the idea that outside countries should stay out of meddling in internal affairs, it also perceives itself as a mediator and broker of peace in places like Syria, Afghanistan and possibly Venezuela if the U.S. gets its wish in driving Nicolas Maduro out of power.

WHY RUSSIA, CHINA ARE FIGHTING U.S. PUSH AGAINST VENEZUELA’S MADURO

But it is not only outlier governments that Russia has routinely propped up. The Kremlin too has aligned itself with various rebel factions, including the likes of the Taliban in Afghanistan, which Moscow in recent years came to consider a national security ally fighting burgeoning threats such as ISIS coming closer to its doorstep.

Then there is the matter of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine and support of separatist fighters elsewhere in the bordering country, of which the U.S. and much of the international community has rallied vehemently against, yet Russia has remained resolute in digging its heels in for the long-haul.

TRUMP TEAM VOWS TO HIT BACK AGAINST RUSSIA AND CHINA’S ‘POLAR SILK ROAD’ WITH ARCTIC DEFENSE STRATEGY

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on December 5, 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on December 5, 2018. (AFP/Getty)

Other experts also view the incessant Russian involvement against U.S. positions as an image issue. While it has been almost 30 years since the Cold War came to an end and the Soviet Union crumbled, the quest to climb back into the ranks of global power status is one that defines Putin’s ambitions and cements his popularity in the homeland.

“All of these political decisions are a form of Russian nation building. This is Russia’s desire to show its importance in the geopolitical sphere. It’s really a post-Soviet search for identity and the construction of Russia as a player on the world stage,” noted Vitali Shkliarov, a Russia-U.S. political analyst. “This is not a play or a desire to start a war, but rather a pathway to greater importance. Of course, a major tool in this plan is the distortion and destabilization of the West in order that Russia will not appear like a failing or collapsing state.”

Dan Hoffman, former CIA Chief of Station and Fox News contributor, concurred that Putin himself is deeply “nostalgic” of the Soviet era and has set about white-washing history books, but also pointed out that not all interests between the U.S. and Russia are out of sync.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to the media after his talks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019. President Vladimir Putin says after talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Pyongyang is ready to proceed toward denuclearization, but that it needs serious security guarantees to do so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to the media after his talks with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un talk in Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, April 25, 2019. President Vladimir Putin says after talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Pyongyang is ready to proceed toward denuclearization, but that it needs serious security guarantees to do so. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP)

“We have lots of interests which are in common such as counter-terrorism and arms control,” he said. “But for Russia, it is a zero-sum game. When the U.S. is strong, Russia is going to feel weak.”

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Yet whether or not Putin’s apparent long-term plan of global supremacy will come to fruition, is yet to be determined.

“Moscow has undertaken a major military modernization project that has shifted the balance of military power in key regions – undermining American security and increasing the chances America will confront a military conflict we could struggle to win,” said Brad Bowman, Senior Director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Putin’s success or failure will depend primarily on how the U.S. and our allies respond. If we restore U.S. military supremacy, strengthen our alliances, and reassert American international leadership, I am optimistic. If not, we could find ourselves in costly conflicts we could have prevented.”

Source: Fox News World

A Massachusetts judge and a court officer accused of helping an illegal immigrant flee an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent waiting to take him into custody were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and three other counts, officials said.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling was set to officially announce the charges at a 12:45 p.m. news conference, according to a tweet from the office’s official account.

Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Joseph and the court officer, identified in court documents as Wesley MacGregor, face several charges stemming from an April 2, 2018 incident in which the pair allegedly helped Jose Medina-Perez get out of the courthouse via a back door in order to elude the ICE agent who sought Medina-Perez. They’re both charged with obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting; obstruction of a federal proceeding, aiding and abetting; conspiracy to obstruct justice; and perjury.

Medina-Perez, a twice-deported illegal immigrant with a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania, had been in Joseph’s courtroom in order to be arraigned on drug charges.

ICE issued a detainer on Medina-Perez, a written request to hold an individual wanted for deportation for up to 48 hours, and had an agent waiting outside the courthouse to detain Medina-Perez after the arraignment. But during the hearing, Joseph reportedly warned Medina-Perez’s attorney “ICE is going to get him,” according to courtroom recordings obtained by the Boston Globe in December.

His lawyer was also heard telling Joseph “ICE will pick him up if he walks out the front door. But I think the best thing for us to do is clear the fugitive issue and release him.”

“What if we continue [the case]?” the judge said before the courtroom’s audio recorder was shut off, leaving the next 58 seconds unrecorded.

Minutes later, Medina-Perez walked out of the courthouse without being seen by the ICE agent.

Joseph was appointed Newton District judge by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in 2017 after several years serving as a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor, the Boston Globe reported.

After reports of Joseph’s alleged intervention emerged in December, Baker told reporters he believed Joseph should be benched while the incident was investigated.

“I don’t believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved,” Baker said about Joseph. “Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice. And as far as I can tell, based on the facts as they were presented, she clearly violated the court’s own policies with respect to the way they’re supposed to handle continuance and involve federal immigration enforcement.”

Medina-Perez’s freedom was short-lived. He was arrested later that same month in Roslindale and again let go, this time by an immigration judge who freed him on bond. That case is currently pending, officials said. The 38-year-old native of the Dominican Republic had been previously deported in January 2003 and June 2007, ICE said. His real name is Oscar Manuel Peguero, although he goes by several aliases.

Source: Fox News National

The California Democratic Party was hit Wednesday with a lawsuit by a former employee who alleged that the party’s former chairman groped and sexually assaulted him.

William Floyd, who served an assistant to former CDP Chairman Eric Bauman, alleges in the lawsuit that his former boss performed oral sex on him without his consent on at least three occasions and threatened him – allegedly telling Floyd “If you cross me, I will break you.”

The 28-year-old Floyd’s lawsuit seeks damages for lost income, emotional distress and pain and suffering, along with punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The suit names the CDP and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party – arguing that the two parties did nothing to stop Bauman’s alleged behavior and retained him in “conscious disregard of the rights and well-being of others.”

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR RESIGNS AMID SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CLAIMS 

“We have not yet been formally served with this lawsuit and have only learned about the filing of it through media inquiries this evening,” said Neal S. Zaslavsky, Bauman’s attorney, according to the Los Angeles Times. “As with the other pending matter, Mr. Bauman will not be trying this case in the media. Mr. Bauman denies the allegations in the complaint and looks forward to complete vindication once the facts come out.”

Bauman resigned from his post as CDP chair last November amid a slew of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him.

Bauman, who allegedly made sexually explicit comments while at work and sometimes touched staffers without permission, said it was “in everyone’s best interest” for him to step down from his post.

Multiple staffers said that Bauman, the party’s first openly gay chairman, would often make sexual comments to men and women at work.

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One woman told the newspaper Bauman said he wanted to have sex with her and suggested she would have been a gay man in a previous life.

Grace Leekley, a 21-year-old temporary worker in the party’s communications department, said she arranged for her own transportation when the party traveled around the state with candidates earlier this month because she did not want to be on a bus with Bauman.

At a lunch on the trip, she claimed Bauman asked her and another woman if they were having an affair in front of other colleagues. Although they said no, Bauman allegedly continued to press the pair.

Fox News’ Matt Richardson contributed to this report. 

Source: Fox News Politics

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte isn’t done with the dramatics just yet.

Though his government is walking back threats of war, the f-bomb dropping leader is now vowing to sever diplomatic ties with Canada if it doesn’t retrieve 2,000 tons of trash that was accidentally sent to Manila in 2013 and 2014.

“The 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries will be put to naught if Canada will not act with dispatch and finality the resolution of this undiplomatic episode to which we take outrage,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also acts as chief presidential legal counsel, said in a statement.

CANADA-PHILIPPINES TRASH WAR: WHO WOULD WIN IF DUTERTE ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH HIS THREAT?

He added that Canada can’t “dilly dally” on picking up the trash that purportedly contains household garbage and used adult diapers.

“It must retrieve them pronto or we throw them back to its shores,” Panelo added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) talks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines,13 November 2017.  (Reuters)

Thursday’s threats to cut ties comes two days after Duterte said he would declare war on the North American nation if they didn’t clean up their mess. The nation’s unconventional leader went all-in on Canada, slamming them during a televised meeting with local officials after visiting earthquake-hit Pampanga province, north of Manila.

PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE GIVES CANADA 1 WEEK TO TAKE BACK GARBAGE OR ‘WE WILL DECLARE WAR’

“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and pour their garbage there,” Duterte said, adding he would ask Canadian officials to “prepare a grand reception.”

“Celebrate because your garbage is coming home,” he said. “Eat it if you want to.”

Despite the soundbites, Duterte’s Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana chalked up the threats of war to a “figure of speech.”

“It’s a figure of speech meant to dramatize his extreme displeasure,” he told reporters Wednesday night. “But if it were me, I would run after the importer of the garbage.”

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The Canadian Embassy in Manila has said it was “strongly committed to collaborating with the government of the Philippines to resolve this issue.”

Source: Fox News World

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his 2020 candidacy official on Thursday, but even his entry into the crowded Democratic primary field isn’t enough to move former President Barack Obama off the sidelines.

Biden announced his run for president in an online video Thursday, after weeks of speculation and anticipation. After his announcement, Biden was asked why his former boss of eight years isn’t publicly backing him.

“I asked President Obama not to endorse,” Biden told Fox News on Thursday outside an Amtrak station in Delaware, adding that “whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”

JOE BIDEN OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES 2020 PRESIDENTIAL BID

Obama’s team released a statement praising Biden on Thursday but didn’t offer an explicit endorsement.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement Thursday morning. “He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.”

Meanwhile, sources close to the Obamas have told Fox News that the former president has made clear that he doesn’t plan on endorsing early in the primary process—if at all.

“President Obama is excited by the extraordinary and diverse talent exhibited in the growing lineup of Democratic primary candidates,” a source close to Obama told Fox News Thursday. “He believes that a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate but a better president, too. And because of that, it’s unlikely that he will throw his support behind a specific candidate this early in the primary process – preferring instead to let the candidates make their cases directly to the voters.”

BIDEN 2020 ANNOUNCEMENT MET WITH QUICK ENDORSEMENTS, PUSHBACK FROM DEMOCRATS

Republicans have used the non-endorsement to attack Biden, with RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeting that Obama has “chosen *not* to endorse his right-hand man.”

But former communications director for the Democratic National Committee and former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign Mo Elleithee said he doesn’t view the decision as a snub, saying it is appropriate for Obama to remain on the sidelines.

“I think it’s pretty clear that President Obama wants to play a neutral role in the primary process, and there are a number of candidates in this field that he has a relationship with,” Elleithee, a Fox News contributor and executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, told Fox News. “I think he wants to focus more on helping set the table for a successful election for the party, rather than necessarily helping to pick the candidate.”

Elleithee said that Obama has praised a number of candidates in the race, but said “he hasn’t put out a statement like he did for Biden today for anyone else.”

“I think Biden holds a special place in Obama’s political heart, and he wanted everyone to know that, without going so far as to put his thumb on the scale one way or the other,” he said.

Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Jessica Tarlov agreed.

“It’s definitely not a snub at Biden or any reflection of how he feels about his former vice president who he is obviously very close with,” Tarlov told Fox News. “President Obama and Michelle have both made it clear that they want the Democratic process to play out, as it should.”

Despite a lack of an Obama endorsement, Biden was met with support quickly after his official announcement. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Penn. and Chris Coons, D-Del., were among the first to officially get behind his campaign.

Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Kristin Brown and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The massive migrant caravan said to be making its way toward the U.S.-Mexico border is a result of Congress “not acting and continuing to encourage illegal immigration”, according to a border agent and top union official.

Hector Garza, the vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, made the comments on ‘Fox & Friends’ Thursday following the release of a video showing nearly 300 migrants entering Texas. Behind them, a new caravan estimated to contain up to 10,000 migrants is now heading through Mexico, with America its intended destination.

“This caravan is no accident. It’s actually the result of all these sanctuary policies,” Garza said. “It’s the result of Congress not acting and continuing to encourage illegal immigration.”

NEW MEXICO MILITIA DETAINS MIGRANTS AT GUNPOINT UNTIL BORDER PATROL ARRIVES: REPORT

THOUSANDS MORE CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANTS APPROACH U.S.-MEXICO BORDER

Garza says migrants are taking advantage of the way the U.S. immigration system processes asylum seekers in order to gain entry to the country.

“President Trump is doing everything in his power to be able to stop this crisis but Democrats and some activists are just doing everything behind his back to undermine his authority,” he told ‘Fox & Friends’.

Garza says some of the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates are admitting that there is a problem ongoing at the U.S. border, but ultimately, he believes they aren’t doing enough.

“If you hear what Senator Bernie Sanders has been saying and Cory Booker they are already acknowledging that there is a crisis on the border,” he said. “But the question is, ‘what are you doing about it’?”

Central American migrants ride atop a freight train during their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border, in Ixtepec, Oaxaca State, Mexico, on Tuesday.

Central American migrants ride atop a freight train during their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border, in Ixtepec, Oaxaca State, Mexico, on Tuesday. (AP)

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Garza hailed Trump for drawing attention to the surge in migrants, saying “no other president has held Mexico accountable” like him.

“They are acting, they are moving and they are stopping some of these caravans because if not the situation at the border will only get worse,” he added.

Source: Fox News National

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Thursday Congress can impeach anyone they want “for the reasons set forth in the Constitution and the courts have no say in it,” responding to President Trump’s pledge that he would go all the way to the Supreme Court if the “partisan” Democrats try to impeach him.

Napolitano made the statement on “Fox & Friends” Thursday, the morning after President Trump vowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court, asserting there are “no crimes by me at all” following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Trump tweeted Wednesday: “The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG. If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Napolitano weighed in on Thursday, saying: “The bottom line is, there’s nothing he can do about it because impeachment is political. There has to be a legal basis for it. Treason, bribery, and then there’s that fudgy phrase, other high crimes, and misdemeanors.”

“When Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were the subject of articles of impeachment the high crimes and misdemeanors included obstruction of justice. So we know historically obstruction of justice can be a basis for impeachment but the courts won’t get involved.”

DEM LEADERS REJECT IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS

The president’s tweet came as congressional Democrats debate whether to initiate impeachment proceedings against him. During a conference call on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., along with her leadership team, was clear that there were no immediate plans to move forward with impeachment.

Meanwhile, on Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify publicly next month following last week’s release of Mueller’s Russia report.

MUELLER REPORT REVEALS CLASHES IN TRUMP’S INNER CIRCLE OVER RUSSIA PROBE

Nadler described McGahn, who stepped down as White House counsel in October 2018, as “a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Special Counsel’s report.”

In response, Napolitano said Thursday: “This will get to the courts because these subpoenas are valid and when they ask you to come and testify, you can ignore them. When they send you a subpoena you can’t ignore them, you have to do something with the supoena. Either comply with it or bring it to your lawyer and have your lawyer challenge it, which is apparently what the president is going to do.”

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“Don McGahn doesn’t work for the government anymore, so he could walk in to Jerry Nadler’s committee hearing room and just take the oath and start testifying, I don’t think he’s going to do that, I think he’s going to defer to the White House’s wishes, which is to challenge the subpoena. So ultimately a judge will decide.”

Source: Fox News Politics

MCALLEN, Texas — The issues on the U.S.-Mexico border could soon start impacting the price of fruits and vegetables.

For fresh produce, time is of the essence. Now that wait times have increased on border crossings — because of a shift in personnel to address the border crisis — it’s been tougher for U.S. companies to bring fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico.

And experts say that will impact prices.

Fruit and vegetable distributors that stock the shelves of grocery stores throughout America, including tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, carrots, pineapples, among others —rely on farms in Mexico for that produce. Forty-three percent of all U.S. fruit and vegetables come from Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Carlos Ayala, Amore Produce owner, shows Fox News produce refrigerated stockroom

Carlos Ayala, Amore Produce owner, shows Fox News produce refrigerated stockroom (Fox News)

“(The) Mexican border, it’s one of the most important crossings to the United States,” said Joshua Duran, Amore Produce sales representative.

“It's going to be felt at the grocery stores when we start paying more for limes and our avocados at the grocery store,” Contreras said.

“It’s going to be felt at the grocery stores when we start paying more for limes and our avocados at the grocery store,” Contreras said. (Fox News)

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But over the past three weeks, distributor Amore Produce truck drivers carrying that produce have seen up to three times the wait at the border, stuck in sometimes 15 hours of log-jam traffic to cross into the U.S. as they carry produce in their trucks. Duran said truck drivers are seeing only one or two gates open at the border.

“Now we are having a lot of problems in the border,” Duran said. “So, let’s say we used to have like five hours. We’re getting 10 or 15 hours to pass that truck to the United States…one or two (gates) are not enough to get all the entire trucks coming from Mexico and not only for produce, for all the products that people here in the United States get from Mexico.”

“Now we are having a lot of problems in the border,” Duran said. “So, let’s say we used to have like five hours. We’re getting 10 or 15 hours to pass that truck to the United States…one or two (gates) are not enough to get all the entire trucks coming from Mexico and not only for produce, for all the products that people here in the United States get from Mexico.” (Fox News)

“Now we are having a lot of problems in the border,” Duran said. “So, let’s say we used to have like five hours. We’re getting 10 or 15 hours to pass that truck to the United States…one or two (gates) are not enough to get all the entire trucks coming from Mexico and not only for produce, for all the products that people here in the United States get from Mexico.”

BORDER HITS ‘BREAKING POINT’ IN EL PASO, CBP COMMISSIONER SAYS

It’s caused the McAllen produce distributor, located just 20 minutes from the border, to have less produce than usual. Duran said the company is not able to deliver the fresh produce to the 10 states they distribute to, including Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Colorado—because their truck drivers are waiting longer which gives more time for the produce to rot quicker and not make it fresh to the consumer.

“We couldn’t get it here and we couldn’t send it to the customers in the north,” Duran said.

Amore Produce, the McAllen produce distributor, located just 20 minutes from the border, has less produce than usual.

Amore Produce, the McAllen produce distributor, located just 20 minutes from the border, has less produce than usual. (Fox News)

Marabella Produce owner Alejandro Knight has to throw produce out because by the time it gets to him, he notices they will spoil when they’re delivered to the customer and hit grocery store shelves. Knight said his fridge warehouse is almost always full, even with the floor covered in pallets. It hasn’t been like that recently, as floors have been bare and some parts of the facility have been empty.

“We cannot deliver a fresh product anymore if we have to wait for each load to cross, five to six days, it’s impossible to work like this,” Knight said.

BORDER SLOWDOWN LEAVES PORTS OF ENTRY VULNERABLE TO DRUG TRAFFICKING, CRITICS SAY

Knight said the Mexican growers are now “afraid” to send the fruit (and veggies) because of the border wait time, so they keep the produce in Mexico.

Marabella Produce normally sends seven to 10 loads with 1,800 cases of produce per week. But now, it just has three to seven loads a week. The company usually distributes to Chicago, North Carolina, Maryland, Atlanta—but lately, has had to limit the shipments to Texas.

Knight said his fridge warehouse is almost always full, even with the floor covered in pallets. It hasn’t been like that recently, as floors have been bare and some parts of the facility has been empty.

Knight said his fridge warehouse is almost always full, even with the floor covered in pallets. It hasn’t been like that recently, as floors have been bare and some parts of the facility has been empty. (Fox News)

“They won’t get fresh produce in their houses, they won’t get fresh tomatoes or pineapples, or they will have very ripe fruit in their stores, so it’s not the same,” Knight said.

If this keeps up, it could lead to everyday American consumers finding produce more expensive with the supply drying up. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley economist, Salavador Contreras, said Americans are likely to feel the effects of these longer wait times.

“It’s going to be felt at the grocery stores when we start paying more for limes and our avocados at the grocery store,” Contreras said.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol temporarily reassigned 545 CBP officers from ports around the nation’s border to help Border Patrol in the surge of apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied minors from Central America that have “overwhelmed Border Patrol capabilities and facilities.”

Over the past three weeks, distributor Amore Produce truck drivers carrying that produce have seen up to three times the wait at the border, stuck in sometimes 15 hours of log-jam traffic to cross into the US with the produce in their trucks. Duran said their truck drivers are seeing only one or two gates open at the border.

Over the past three weeks, distributor Amore Produce truck drivers carrying that produce have seen up to three times the wait at the border, stuck in sometimes 15 hours of log-jam traffic to cross into the US with the produce in their trucks. Duran said their truck drivers are seeing only one or two gates open at the border. (Fox News)

“Facilitation of legitimate trade and travel remains a priority for CBP at its 328 ports of entry nationwide,” a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said. “While the current southwest border security and humanitarian crisis is impacting CBP operations, we are working to mitigate the effects as much as possible…Travelers are urged to plan accordingly and check the CBP wait times page for the most up-to-date border crossing information.”

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said the long wait times vary from location and time of day. They update their data hourly.

CBP anticipated this and advised border communities late March of the changes: “There will be impacts to traffic at the border. There will be a slowdown in the processing of trade, there will be wait time increases in our pedestrian and passenger vehicle lanes.”

Contreras said reducing the number of customs agents at the border has an economic impact on the U.S. economy.

“It’s been estimated that staffing one to three additional booths increases U.S. GDP by $2 million and adds roughly 33 additional jobs,” Contreras said. “So, trade flows are very important for the U.S. economy. They have a big impact on the U.S. economy. And if we reduce the number of agents at customs and increase the wait times, then that would have the opposite effect of reducing U.S. GDP and then reducing U.S. jobs.”

Vehciles wait in line on bridge leading to US. “Facilitation of legitimate trade and travel remains a priority for CBP at its 328 ports of entry nationwide," a US Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said. "While the current Southwest border security and humanitarian crisis is impacting CBP operations, we are working to mitigate the effects as much as possible."

Vehciles wait in line on bridge leading to US. “Facilitation of legitimate trade and travel remains a priority for CBP at its 328 ports of entry nationwide,” a US Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said. “While the current Southwest border security and humanitarian crisis is impacting CBP operations, we are working to mitigate the effects as much as possible.” (Fox News)

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced bipartisan legislation early this month to address the border personnel shortages by hiring officers until 2020 “until the agency’s staffing needs are met.”

In the meantime, produce distributors are hopeful things will turn around quickly.

“I hope the authorities open their eyes and notice that this is affecting not only in economic terms but also in every family,” Knight said. “The United States, all the people should be served the best produce on the tables. They won’t get it like this.”

Source: Fox News National


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