Lindsey Graham

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Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., lambasted President Trump’s immigration plan and labeled portions of it “very racist.”

“There should be comprehensive immigration reform and not immigration reform that is based on exciting and inciting those people who have negative thoughts about others coming across our border and basically working to use that information to promote himself in a campaign,” Waters said during an interview with CNN Friday morning. “And I think some of that is very racist. It is not keeping with what this country is supposed to be all about.”

President Trump rolled out his new immigration plan on Thursday, and calls for a “merit-based” system and demands future immigrants to learn English already be financially self-sufficient before they come to the U.S. They also would be forced to pass a civics exam.

“This business about you must speak English, we’re going to give you points for speaking English,” Waters said. “We don’t want poor people, we only want those people who are earning substantial wages already. All of those things are not keeping in step with the way that we treat human beings.”

Trump signaled that Democrats wouldn’t get on board with the proposal on Thursday, but said that he would try to get it passed after the 2020 elections in the event that Republicans regain control of the House.

“If for some reason, possibly political, we can’t get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high-security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election, when we take back the House, keep the Senate, and of course, hold the presidency,” Trump said. “But wouldn’t it be nice to do it sooner than that?”

Members of Trump’s own party have cast doubt on whether the proposal could be passed, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who said that the proposal is “not designed to become law.”

[Related: Ann Coulter: If Trump knew English he would understand the meaning of ‘WALL’]

Advocates are preparing for a legal battle after Alabama passed the strictest abortion bill in the country late Tuesday, part of a growing national push by abortion opponents to test whether the courts will curb constitutional protections for the procedure.

Alabama’s move, which would essentially ban abortion in most cases, could open the door to restrictions in other states — even though they will all likely be challenged in court. Other states are already pursuing and defending laws to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

[Trump civil rights official wants to defend abortion opponents and religious freedom]

“This is not just about Alabama. We are seeing these extreme bills being introduced across the country,” said Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen in a call with reporters Wednesday. “These extreme bans banning abortions at six weeks or earlier, before women even know we’re pregnant, is happening in 16 states.”

Alabama’s bill, which Wen called the most extreme abortion ban since the landmark Roe v. Wade case guaranteed a national right to abortion in 1973, would go farther than the approach taken in many other red states. The legislation would ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy, unless needed to save the life of the woman, and has no exceptions for rape or incest. Abortion providers who violate these terms could be charged with a felony and punished for up to 99 years in prison.

[She miscarried 8 times. Today she’s telling Lindsey Graham why abortion should remain legal]

“Doctors would be scared to provide needed medical treatment because we’d be worried that by doing what’s needed for our patients we could go to prison for a lifetime,” said Wen, who is also a trained emergency room physician.

Alabamians already face many barriers to abortion, including a 48-hour waiting period and mandated counseling. Half of the patients in Alabama and two other states served by Planned Parenthood Southeast travel over 100 miles to reach a clinic, said Staci Fox, who heads the group’s advocacy arm.

The American Civil Liberties Union has already signaled it will challenge the Alabama bill in court if Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who opposes abortion, signs it.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood also filed suit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio over Ohio’s six-week abortion law.

This year, four states have already passed bans after six weeks of pregnancy, and Missouri is expected to pass its own ban by Friday when the legislative session ends. The state legislature there is considering an omnibus abortion bill that would combine a number of restrictions.

Elizabeth Watson, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, on a separate press call, called the Ohio bill part of the growing “concerted national effort to limit abortion.”

“Let this be a warning to the anti-abortion politicians in Ohio and across the country: if you attack our right to abortion, we will always be here to defend it,” said Watson.

Ohio legislators, whose previous Republican governor vetoed two versions of abortion bans after six weeks, moved quickly on approving restrictions under its new, more conservative governor Mike DeWine.

Restrictions on funding for abortion in public programs are common, but the legislature is currently considering a bill that would ban even private insurance coverage of abortion — which, if passed, could pave a steeper path for women seeking the procedure in Ohio. Doctors and advocacy groups criticized the bill last week for including language that would require the re-implantation of ectopic pregnancies that occur when a fertilized egg is attached outside of the uterus — which is not a medically recognized procedure.

“What was considered too extreme for state politicians just a few years ago is becoming law in a few states,” said Wen.

Court battles

Anti-abortion groups see an opening for further policies like Alabama’s bill and are ready to fight in the courts with the goal of winning a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court on Monday overturned, 5-4, an unrelated 40-year-old precedent over the ability of individuals to sue a state in another state court, which could hint that the high court is more open to reviewing rulings decided decades ago like Roe.

Susan B. Anthony List is among the many anti-abortion groups hoping for a challenge to rise to the Supreme Court. The group pushed for the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year after swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement.

“It is clearer than ever that Roe is far from being settled law in the eyes and hearts of the American people, and this is increasingly reflected in state legislatures. The American people want a fresh debate and a new direction, achieved by consensus and built on love for both mothers and babies,” said SBA List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement. “The time is coming for the Supreme Court to let that debate go forward.”

Catherine Glenn Foster, the president and CEO of American United for Life, a legal advocacy group that opposes abortion, said Alabama has “created the opportunity to implement new, comprehensive policies to ensure the most life-affirming outcomes for both the mother and the child throughout life.”

Next week, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi will hear oral arguments in a hearing over whether to grant a preliminary injunction over the state’s six-week abortion ban.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit on behalf of the state’s only abortion provider — Jackson Women’s Health Organization — after the legislation was enacted in March. The ban is slated to take effect in July.

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There’s no reason for anyone to get excited about the White House’s “new” immigration proposal. If he treats it anything like he treated the nearly identical bill introduced two years ago by Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., President Trump will forget about it 10 days after it’s introduced.

White House officials have been dripping out details on the plan for two weeks, and so far it’s set to look more or less the same as the Perdue-Cotton plan. The main difference is that while that one sharply reduced legal immigration numbers, the White House one, hatched by senior adviser Jared Kushner, maintains the current level.

Otherwise, like the Perdue-Cotton bill, the crux of the “new” one is to put a priority on admitting foreigners who know English and have work skills. It will reportedly put more restrictions on who qualifies for asylum, which is very important, but it will also require that new immigrants pass some kind of dumb “patriotic assimilation” test.

Citing an unnamed “administration official,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday that green card applicants “would be required to pass an exam based on a reading of George Washington’s farewell address or Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.”

Literally anybody can memorize a speech or a letter. That is not what makes an American American. A more accurate assessment on a potential immigrant’s capacity and enthusiasm for assimilation would be to ask about their favorite (or least favorite) musicians or bands, favorite books, and favorite movies and actors. Do they watch “Big Brother” or “The Bachelor”? Have they seen “The Godfather”? Are they familiar with Oprah? How many strikes and you’re out? What’s their favorite NFL team?

And if they say they prefer soccer, they’re disqualified.

That’s a joke (sort of). But they should at least have a demonstrable knowledge and enjoyment of mainstream American culture.

Trump is the embodiment of an ideal 20th century secular American: Rich, famous, and influential. But I really don’t want to ask him to recite a George Washington speech from memory. Most Americans wouldn’t be able to do it.

The “new” White House proposal would use a type of scorecard to evaluate a candidate’s ability to contribute to society, such as their education level, their career field, and whether they have a job offer in the U.S. — preferably one with a high-paying salary.

That’s nice, but if the purpose is only to send a signal to Trump’s supporters ahead of 2020, and it is, this is a waste of time. Even Trump’s good friend Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday that the proposal is “not designed to become law.”

Trump is in the White House in large part because voters liked where he stood on immigration. He gave the issue a half-hearted effort during the first two years of his office, and if this “new” proposal is more of that, we can all ignore it.

President Trump’s son has reached a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee and will testify before the Republican-led group of senators in the coming weeks.

Donald Trump, Jr.’s testimony will be limited in both time and substance. The deal has Trump Jr. testifying for two to four hours sometime in mid-June, and the scope of the testimony will be limited to five or six topics related to his interactions with Russian officials.

In September 2017, Trump Jr. testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about proposed plans for a Trump Organization project in Moscow. During his testimony, Trump Jr. said he was just “peripherally aware” of the plans but was later contradicted by the president’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen who told the House Oversight Committee in February that he had briefed Trump Jr. on the project about 10 times.

Some prominent Republicans have defended Trump Jr. after the subpoena was announced. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday that he should comply with the subpoena but invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., told colleagues in private that the subpoena came after Trump Jr. twice agreed to sit for another interview but didn’t show up.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to summon special counsel Robert Mueller to testify because Attorney General William Barr, who was questioned last week by senators, is not trustworthy.

“We need special counsel Mueller to testify because, as we have seen, the attorney general has shown us he cannot be trusted on the matter of the Russia investigation,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., “has an obligation” to summon Mueller now that President Trump is trying to “silence the special counsel.”

Trump tweeted earlier that Mueller should not testify about his investigation, which did not find sufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy but made no determination on obstruction. “No redos for the Dems!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

Graham said he won’t call Mueller to testify about the 448-page report but has invited him to testify about a phone call from Barr, who called Mueller after the special counsel sent Barr a letter complaining about Barr’s own four-page report to Congress on the findings.

Democrats have turned on Barr and say they believe he lied to Congress about Mueller’s views of Barr’s memo. They want to hear from Mueller about the report.

Barr refused to appear before a House panel last week when Democrats planned to use committee lawyers to question him. Barr is now facing a contempt of Congress charge because he will not turn over the unredacted Mueller report, which by law must conceal grand jury and classified information.

Schumer pointed to Barr’s refusal to testify as “contempt for the oversight responsibilities of Congress,” and as further reason Mueller should come to the Senate.

While House Democrats like the fried chicken guy play grandstanding “gotcha” games against President Trump and attorney general William Barr, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has demonstrated how respectful congressional oversight should be conducted.

Not only did Graham run a hearing May 1 in which all sides had fair and ample opportunity to get their questions, answers, and points across, he has followed up on the most obvious question arising from that hearing. He did so in an appropriate way, with a request and an invitation rather than with threats or other heavy-handed tactics.

The question with which much of the media has obsessed is whether Barr badly misled the public about the key takeaways from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian perfidy. The logical way to find the answer to that question is to go to the source. That’s exactly what Graham did.

On May 3, Graham wrote a letter to Mueller inviting the special counsel’s thoughts on the subject. After a polite introduction and a paragraph of background summary, Graham wrote:

In response to questions by Senator Blumenthal, the Attorney General testified in essence that you told him in a phone call that you did not challenge the accuracy of the Attorney General’s summary of your report’s principal conclusions, but rather you wanted more of the report, particularly the executive summaries concerning obstruction of justice, to be released promptly. In particular, Attorney General Barr testified that you believed media coverage of your investigation was unfair without the public release of those summaries. Please inform the Committee if you would like to provide testimony regarding any misrepresentation by the Attorney General of the substance of that phone call.

Simple, clear, and direct. No extravagant language. No outlandish demands. No apocalyptic threats. And not a single word showing prejudgment of the issue at hand.

If Mueller declines the invitation, and if the question continues to appear tremendously important, Graham can always return with a sterner request, and then a direct summons. None of that should be necessary, though. This shouldn’t be about scoring political points, or showing who’s boss, or trying to reach some predetermined conclusion. The Senate merely needs valid information, without histrionics.

That’s what Graham is seeking, and he is using a model approach.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has reached out to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to verify whether Attorney General William Barr told the truth this week.

According to CNN, Graham — the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — sent Mueller a letter in regards to Barr’s characterization of a phone conversation the pair had several weeks ago. Mueller was reportedly frustrated with Barr’s initial summary of the Russia report.

“Please inform the Committee if you would like to provide testimony regarding any misrepresentation by the attorney general of the substance of that phone call,” Graham wrote.

Barr was asked during his appearance Wednesday before the Judiciary Committee about a letter he received from Mueller expressing concerns about his portrayal of the Russia probe. The letter was written on March 27 and was disclosed publicly on April 30, the day before Barr appeared before the committee. Barr responded he thought Mueller’s letter was “a bit snitty.”

Mueller’s report concluded that President Donald Trump did not conspire with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election. He did not say whether Trump obstructed justice, but Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was not sufficient evidence to pursue an obstruction case.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, launched a blistering verbal assault on the Trump Justice Department Friday, saying that it has been corrupted by the “moral dead zone” of the White House.

“You enter that dead zone and you end up with an attorney general who can’t even tell me that telling the White House counsel to lie is not okay,” Hirono said in an appearance on MSNBC. “He can’t answer that.”

Hirono generated one of the more dramatic moments of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday when she ripped Barr for his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

“Mr. Barr, now the American people know that you’re no different than Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway or any of the other people who sacrificed their once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office,” she said during the hearing.

She was cut off by Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-SC., who accused her of “slandering” Barr.

Hirono’s comments Friday were in reference to a revelation in Mueller’s report that President Trump had directed White House counsel Don McGahn to lie to federal investigators, an instruction McGahn ignored.

It was one of 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice identified in the Mueller report, in which Trump made veiled threats, complained about press coverage of the investigation, and talked about either ending the investigation or pressuring aides to make his biggest political problem go away.

Democrats have seized on these moments as examples of obstruction of justice and have criticized Barr for determining no such obstruction occurred.

“So this is the president, once again, doing the two things that he cares about most: protecting himself, and money,” Hirono said.

The senator’s comments echoed a recent op-ed in the New York Times by former FBI Director James Comey, who wrote Trump’s selfishness was “eating the souls” of otherwise good officials, such as Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“I agree with that,” Hirono said. “Anybody who disagrees with the president is out the door. All of the people around him can’t make decisions based on a moral compass because there is none. It’s all about protecting himself.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham invited Special Counsel Robert Mueller to “provide testimony” to the panel if Mueller wanted to discuss any discrepancies with Attorney General William Barr’s responses to questions from lawmakers this week about a phone call between the two men.

“Please inform the Committee if you would like to provide testimony regarding any misrepresentation by the Attorney General of the substance of that phone call,” Graham wrote to Mueller.

Graham said Wednesday he will not ask Mueller to testify before the panel about the 448-page report he completed that cleared the Trump campaign of collaborating with the Russians in 2016 but left open whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe.

Graham, R-S.C. said he would seek from Mueller testimony limited to the phone call if Mueller disputed Barr’s accounting of the exchange.

The call took place a few days after Mueller’s March 27 letter.

Barr called Mueller to ask him why he had sent Barr a four-page letter complaining about Barr’s own short memo to Congress about the report. In the letter, Mueller said Barr’s memo did not adequately capture all the findings in the report, which has now been released in a redacted version.

During the call, according to Barr, Mueller said he thought the press coverage was not accurate, but that Barr’s memo was not inaccurate.

Barr told the Senate he found the Mueller letter to be “snitty” and likely authored by Mueller’s staff.

Senate Judiciary Committee member Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., demanded Barr hand over his notes of the conversation during Barr’s appearance before the panel on Wednesday. Barr refused, and Graham promised to follow up with Mueller.

The bickering over Attorney General William Barr and the recently released Mueller report is just the latest in a series of partisan fights that are dividing lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

As The Hill noted, tensions were high between members of both parties during Barr’s Wednesday hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Panel chairman and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he had “never seen anything like it,” adding that he wondered “what has happened to the United States Senate.”

On Thursday, Barr declined an invitation to testify about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference with the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats responded fiercely, with one panel member — Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. — setting up a prop chicken at Barr’s empty seat and eating a bucket of fried chicken from KFC in the hearing room.

The tensions between Republicans and Democrats spilled out into the hallways of the U.S. Capitol, with members complaining to the media about their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 has led to a clear divide between Republicans and Democrats. Last fall, contentious Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh further divided the lawmakers — and the nation as a whole — over decades-old, unfounded allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at Kavanaugh. Republicans called it a political hit, while the far majority of Democrats in the Senate voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

The latest fight in Washington, D.C. is over Mueller’s Russia report and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia and if Trump himself obstructed justice. Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy and he declined to say whether obstruction occurred; Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein read the report and concluded there was not sufficient evidence to warrant an obstruction charge.

Further complicating matters is the White House’s continued assault on Mueller and his report. In a recent letter to Barr, White House legal counsel Emmet Flood wrote that Mueller and his team “failed in their duty” during their investigation that lasted nearly two years.

Source: NewsMax Politics

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