Posts tagged with "Attorney General Jeff Sessions"

Mueller to convey key findings of Russia probe after midterms

October 18, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to divulge key findings of his team’s 18-month-long Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections.

The news comes as Mueller faces mounting pressure, either to produce more indictments or shut down his investigation, according to Bloomberg sources, the business news outlet reported on October 17.

Specifically, two U.S. officials told Bloomberg, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on a couple of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry:

  • Were there clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign?
  • Did the president take any actions that constituted obstruction of justice?

That doesn’t necessarily mean, Bloomberg said, that Mueller’s findings would be made public if he doesn’t secure unsealed indictments. The regulations governing Mueller’s probe stipulate that he can present his findings only to his boss, who is currently Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The regulations give the special counsel’s supervisor some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released.

The question of timing is critical. Mueller’s work won’t be concluded ahead of the November 6 midterm elections—and, with just three weeks to go, it is unlikely that Mueller will take any overt action that could be turned into a campaign issue. Justice Department guidelines say prosecutors should avoid any major steps close to an election that could be interpreted as influencing the outcome.

Also complicating the release of findings is the fact that Mueller only recently submitted written questions to Trump’s lawyers regarding potential collusion with Russia—and his team hasn’t yet ruled out seeking an interview with the president, according to one of the U.S. officials.

What’s more, the news outlet reported, this timeline raises questions about the future of the probe, itself. Trump has signaled repeatedly that he hopes to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the election—a move that could bring in a new boss for Mueller or put the entire inquiry in jeopardy.

Rosenstein has made it clear that he wants Mueller to wrap up the investigation as expeditiously as possible, another U.S. official said. The officials gave no indications about the details of Mueller’s conclusions. Mueller’s office declined to comment for the Bloomberg story.

Research contact: @cstrohm

Judge: Airplane deporting asylum-seekers must be ‘turned around’

August 13, 2018

On August 9, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia heard about something that the Trump administration had just done that clearly angered him: The government, he learned, had deported an immigrant mother and daughter who were plaintiffs in a lawsuit that the judge had been hearing over asylum restrictions, NBC News reported.

Judge Sullivan was presiding over a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies on August 7. Earlier, he had been assured by the government in open court that no plaintiffs in the suit would be deported before midnight on August 10.

The ACLU said in a statement on its website, “Judge Sullivan was outraged, saying ‘it was unacceptable’ that someone who had alleged a credible fear and was ‘seeking justice in a U.S. court’ would be ‘spirited away’ while her attorneys were literally arguing on her behalf.”

So the judge took action: He demanded that the administration turn around the airplane carrying the plaintiffs to Central America and bring them back to the United States. And he ordered the government to stop removing plaintiffs in the case from the country who are seeking protection from gang and domestic violence.

What’s more, the jurist did something else out of the ordinary: He stated that if the government did not comply, “Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, III; Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Lee Francis Cissna; and Executive Office of Immigration Review Director James McHenry, preferably accompanied by their attorneys, shall be ORDERED to appear in Court to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be held in CONTEMPT OF COURT … ”

The plaintiffs on the plane are identified in the lawsuit as Carmen and her minor daughter J.A.C.F., although Carmen is a pseudonym, an attorney told NBC.

The plane was not able to turn around en route, but a Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News that the mother and daughter did not disembark in El Salvador Thursday evening and were being brought back to the United States.

“Carmen and her daughter are right now somewhere in the air between Texas and El Salvador,” ACLU’s lead attorney in the case, Jennifer Chang Newell, told NBC News just after the hearing.

If the ACLU succeeds in the lawsuit, the asylum restrictions ordered by Sessions could be deemed unlawful.

The ACLU commented, “What happened to Carmen embodies exactly why the stay [of such deportations] is necessary: This administration has shown time and time again that in its rush to deport as many immigrants as possible, they will flout the law and callously put the most vulnerable people’s lives in danger.”

Fifty percent of voters polled recently by Quinnipiac University said they thought the administration is too aggressive in carrying out deportations, while 33% said it is acting in an appropriate manner.

Research contact: @ACLU

Trump whacks Germany’s Merkel and U.S. Democrats, while defending his own immigration stance

June 19, 2018

Fully 56% of the 1,000 U.S. adults polled by Ipsos on behalf of The Daily Beast this week say that it is not “appropriate” to separate children from their parents at the border—and yet President Donald Trump continues to blame his administration’s zero-tolerance policy incorrectly on the Democrats and to assert that Germany’s more open immigration program has led to a rise in crime.

On June 18, the POTUS tweeted, “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up.”

Several minutes later, Trump added, “Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture! We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!”

However, according to a report by USA Today, in May, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior actually rebutted the claims that Trump currently is making—noting that the total number of crimes committed in the country in 2017 had fallen 5.1% from the previous year.

Case closed? Far from it: Just weeks later, Interior Minister Horst Seehoffer has turned on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, threatening her leadership.

Although he refuted the crime statistics, Seehoffer has created a so-called “migration masterplan” in the interim, according to the UK news outlet, The Daily Mail. Under his proposal, the German border police would be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union.

Merkel rejects the idea, believing that it would be perceived by the rest of her allies in the European Union as a “Germany First” decision—and that it would further burden such front-line Mediterranean countries as Italy and Greece.

On the other side of the pond, U.S. immigration rights advocates—most of them, Democrats—support Merkel and are fighting Trump’s hard-line “America First” stance.

With more than 2,000 children already torn from their parents’ arms, a contingent of Democratic legislators insisted on inspecting a facility in McAllen, Texas, where the youngsters were being held this week.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), who was part of that group, released a tweet on June 17: “Just left Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen—aka ‘the dog kennel.’ Witnessed loads of kids massed together in large pens of chain-linked fence …. @realDonald Trump, change you shameful policy today! #FamiliesBelongTogether

And even a few Republicans are pushing back. Representative Susan Collins (R-Maine) commented during an appearance on CBS-TV’s Face the Nation on Sunday that, “What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that, if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you. That’s traumatizing to the children, who are innocent victims and it is contrary to our values in this country.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, also on Sunday, in which she said, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And It breaks my heart.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan—who rarely says a word against the administration’s policies—admitted, “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” when asked by a pool of reporters, but blamed the situation on “a court ruling,” according to Time magazine.

Will the Trump administration budge? Not if you listen to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has shown little pity for the plight of the children. He spoke in support of the zero-tolerance policy earlier this month: “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.”

Research contact: gideon.resnick@thedailybeast

UN Human Rights Office condemns U.S. separation of immigrant children and parents

June 7, 2018

The current policy in the United States of separating “extremely young children” from their asylum-seeker or migrant parents along the country’s southern border “always constitutes a child rights violation,” the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), said on June 5.

Since last October, “several hundred” youngsters —including a 12-month-old infant— have been separated from their families while their parents serve out prison sentences for entering the U.S. illegally, or wait in detention while their asylum claims are processed, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland..

She said OHCHR had received information on cases dating from last October; although the policy had begun in January 2017 when the newly inaugurated president, Donald Trump, issued two executive orders related to migration.

The current separation of children “was a direct consequence of that decision,” Shamdasani said, adding that the policy is applied to asylum-seekers and other migrants “in vulnerable situations.” She noted that a class action has been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of hundreds of parents—mainly from Central and Latin American countries—who have been separated from their children.

Shamdasani noted that there is “nothing normal about detaining children”, and that it “… is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation”.

And on the legal issue of entering a country “without the right papers”, the UN human rights office spokesperson insisted that it should not be a criminal offence and “does not warrant jailing children”.

Once separated from their parents, Shamdasani said that children are often transferred into the care of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, and that efforts are made to find them a temporary guardian. When their parents are released, youngsters are reunited with them and deported back to their country of origin. For the majority this means to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where “rampant insecurity and violence” has forced them to flee, she explained.

In a call for an end to the practice, Shamdasani noted that the United States “generally held in high regard” the rights of children.

And although it is the only UN Member State not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it had signed the international accord and ratified others, which meant that it had legal obligations to children in its car, the OHCHR spokesperson explained.

For its own part, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says 700 children have been separated from their parents since the fiscal year began last October. In making the case for the program early last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” NBC News reported. Sessions added, “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

Administration officials explained that the goal of the program is 100% prosecution of all who enter the U.S. illegally. When adults are prosecuted and jailed, their children will be separated from them, just as would happen for a U.S. citizen convicted and jailed.

President Trump, himself, has said that the Democrats are to blame, because they will not fund his wall at the southern border.

Based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted in February, fewer than one in five Democrats (18%) support building a wall or fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, while two-thirds of Republicans (68%) support the measure. A majority of Republicans (63%) also support a movement to end the ability of legal immigrants to bring extended family members to the United States compared to 30% of Democrats and 49% of Independents.

Notably, two-thirds of all Americans (65%) support giving legal status to undocumented or illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, although partisan differences are still evident. Half of Republicans (51%) support this plan, along with two-thirds of Independents, and 81% of Democrats.

Research contact: @ipsosus