Proof Of Trump’s Policy To Separate Children From Parents At Border

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE WASHINGTON INSIDER’)

 

Conclusive proof that it is Trump’s policy to separate children from their families at the border

Border Patrol Child Girl
A Honduran mother with her daughter shortly before the two were separated at the US-Mexico border.
John Moore/Getty Images
  • The Trump administration has repeatedly denied that its policy is to separate children from their parents when families cross the US border illegally.
  • But its own internal documents contradict that.
  • The Department of Homeland Security’s website put out a press release on Friday saying it would separate children from their families.
  • A “zero tolerance” policy from Attorney General Jeff Sessions mandates that anyone illegally crossing the border be treated like a criminal.

The Trump administration has repeatedly sought to distance itself from its policy separating children from their parents when families cross the US border illegally, but its own internal documents contradict those efforts.

President Donald Trump had previously tried to blame the policy on Democrats, but over the weekend his secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, flat-out denied that such a policy existed.

“We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” Nielsen tweeted.

But the Department of Homeland Security does separate children from their parents at the border, and it just put out a press release about it on Friday, explaining its new “zero tolerance” policy for border crossers.

From the DHS website:

“The Attorney General directed United States Attorneys on the Southwest Border to prosecute all amenable adults who illegally enter the country, including those accompanied by their children, for 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), illegal entry.

“Children whose parents are referred for prosecution will be placed with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).”

Another FAQ section deals with questions including “Why Are Parents Being Separated From Their Children?”; “Where Are Children Going?”; and “What Happens to Children in HHS Custody?”

DHS separates families border children
An image of the memo from the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS.gov

The DHS made a step-by-step guide for detained adults who are trying to reach their children called “Next Steps for Families.”

Furthermore, the rise of facilities that house children separated from their families at the border during Trump’s administration has been well documented.

Nielsen’s real argument is that border crossers are criminals

friendship park us mexico border
Mexicans at the US-Mexico border fence on May 1, 2016, in Tijuana, Mexico.
Getty Images

Nielsen continued: “For those seeking asylum at ports of entry, we have continued the policy from previous Administrations and will only separate if the child is in danger, there is no custodial relationship between ‘family’ members, or if the adult has broken a law.”

Unauthorized border crossings have always been illegal, but previous administrations did not criminally prosecute all border crossers the way Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has.

Detainees in the US who are charged with criminal wrongdoing have always been separated from their children; by treating all adult border crossers as criminals, Trump’s administration has therefore crafted a policy that leads families to be separated at the border.

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August, officials say

The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 illegal immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted.

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks. HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families.

An HHS official added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August.

The HHS official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.

The practice of separating children from illegal immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and is something Democrats have highlighted as a practice that needs to stop.

The Trump administration has defended the policy by saying illegal immigrants need to know that if they try entering the U.S., they will be prosecuted, which could lead to separation from their children. Officials have said U.S. citizens face the same risk when they commit crimes.

But administration officials have also said they support a change to the federal law that requires prosecution and family separation, and have blamed Democrats for current law.

Illegal immigration along the southwestern U.S. border has spiked in the last few months, even though administration officials have said they expect Trump’s zero-tolerance policy to eventually dissuade more from coming. A Justice Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner last week the zero-tolerance policy is not expected to lead to a decline in the number of illegal immigrants attempting to make the trek to the U.S. from primarily Central American countries until early fall.

Under current practice, HHS takes care of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children as well as now those under the age of 18 who must be cared for while the adults they were apprehended with are prosecuted for illegal entry. This spring, Sessions directed federal prosecutors stationed at the border to bring charges against all migrants that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took into custody.

However, family units that arrive at ports of entry and request asylum will not be prosecuted because they have not attempted to enter the country illegally, several DHS officials confirmed to the Washington Examiner. They will also be kept together as they go through the asylum process. These groups are detained in DHS facilities while minors are directed to HHS.

In an attempt to secure housing for the coming flood of children, HHS selected the Tornillo Land Port of Entry near El Paso, Texas, last week as the first back-up site to temporarily house around 360 minors.

The Trump administration is also advancing a plan to tentatively house unaccompanied minors in tent cities located on three Texas military bases due to increasing border apprehensions and a shortage of beds for the underage immigrants.

“[Health and Human Services] is running out of space because of the implications of the zero tolerance policy, but also because we continue to see this uptick in numbers,” an official confirmed to the Washington Examiner last week.

HHS officials are looking at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, the official confirmed.

Trump Says He Will Probably Support Marijuana Legalization Bill

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE)

 

Trump Defies Sessions by Saying He Will ‘Probably’ Support Marijuana Bill

The president appears to be joining a group of lawmakers pushing back on the attorney general’s marijuana policy

Could Trump really support a bill that would end federal marijuana prohibition? Evan Vucci/AP/REX Shutterstock

Before heading on a trip abroad that will take him to the G-7 summit in Canada on Friday, and then to Singapore to meet with Kim Jong-un early next Tuesday, President Trump hinted that he is likely to support a bill introduced Thursday that would protect state marijuana laws from federal interference. “I really do,” Trump said when asked outside the White House on Friday whether supports the bill, which was co-authored by Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado. “I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting it, yes.”

Though over half of all states have passed some form of legislation legalizing marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law, which classifies it as a Schedule I narcotic along with heroin, LSD and other drugs the government deem to have “no currently accepted medical use.” Marijuana business is growing rapidly in states where it is legal, but federal restrictions have led to a number of complications. Most banks, for instance, refuse to have relationships with marijuana-related companies, for fear prosecution from federal law enforcement.

“There are federal laws about not being able to put your money into banks if the money comes from illegal activities,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, who co-authored the bill with Gardner, explained Thursday morning on MSNBC. “So long as the sale of marijuana is illegal at the federal level, that means that marijuana stores that are perfectly legal in Colorado or Massachusetts or other states have to do an all-cash business. It’s dangerous and it’s dumb.”

The STATES – or Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States – Act would remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances in states where it is legal, and allow financial institutions to deal with marijuana businesses as long as those business are legal under state law. The Tenth Amendment reserves that states are in control of all “powers” not outlined in the Constitution. “Our founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory, but its created significant conflict between state law [and] federal law,” Gardner said alongside Warren as they introduced the bill on Thursday.

Though the bill would largely strip away federal influence from how states are able to enforce their marijuana laws, there are a few caveats. The bill holds that employees of marijuana businesses must be 18 years or older, and that recreational marijuana may only be sold to people 21 and over. It also stipulates that dispensaries may not be set up at rest stops along interstate highways.

Though the president has in the past voiced a desire to leave marijuana legalization up to the states, many have wondered if this latest expression of support may be a result of his intensifying feud with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who is a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization and has used his position as the government’s chief legal authority to crack down on convictions related to the drug. In January, Sessions put an end to an Obama administration policy that limited the degree to which federal authorities could enforce marijuana law in states where the drug was legal. Gardner, whose home state of Colorado has legalized recreational use of marijuana, criticized the move immediately.

Cory Gardner

@SenCoryGardner

This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.

Cory Gardner

@SenCoryGardner

I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.

Gardner isn’t the only lawmaker pushing back against Sessions’s draconian stance on the drug, and those supporting reform have stressed the bipartisan nature of their efforts. In April, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Kamala Harris wrote a letter to the attorney general asking him to cease blocking research in to marijuana’s medicinal properties. As Gardner and Warren introduced the STATES bill on Friday, Representatives Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, introduced a companion bill in the House. At a news conference Thursday, Warren said, “lining them up like Noah’s Ark as they come on two-by-two,” in reference to her and Gardner’s desire to match each of the bill’s co-sponsors with one from the other party.

Despite the attorney general’s vigilant opposition to any form of legalized pot Gardner has said he’s received multiple assurances from President Trump that he would support a bill giving power back to the states, and the president’s comments Friday morning reinforce the belief that he will ultimately endorse the bill. Trump has in recent months made good on several controversial campaign promises, including removing American from the Iran deal and relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Marijuana reform could soon be added to the list.

“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump told the Washington Post while campaigning back in 2015. “Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen – right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

Trump’s lies betray his desperation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Column: 

Trump’s lies betray his desperation

Here’s what I hope Robert Mueller will conclude when he is done investigating Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign: The president is innocent of criminal wrongdoing. He did not know of or approve contacts with Russians to influence the election. His interactions with FBI Director James Comey and other Justice Departmentofficials never rose to the level of obstructing justice.

But it would require an extraordinary faith in Trump’s character and a stubborn disregard for his behavior to expect that outcome. If there is one inference to be drawn from everything he has done with respect to the investigation and the Russian government, it’s that he suffers from a powerful consciousness of guilt.

The latest came in a tweet expressing bitter regret that he didn’t choose someone other than Jeff Sessions for attorney general — because Sessions recused himself and therefore can’t send Mueller packing. Trump doesn’t want a fair and impartial investigation; he wants no investigation.

He insists over and over that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. But we already have evidence there was — in the form of guilty pleas by Trump aides Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russians.

We have evidence in the 2016 meeting hosted by son Donald Jr. and attended by son-in-law Jared Kushner with a Russian lawyer who had promised information from the Kremlin incriminating Hillary Clinton. Meeting secretly with Russians in hopes of cooperating for mutual benefit is collusion, whether illegal or not.

This week, we got confirmation that the statement Donald Jr. issued — claiming the meeting was primarily about adoption issues — was dictated by his father. When The Washington Post reported that last year, the White House denied the story. In a memo to Mueller obtained by The New York Times, however, Trump’s lawyers admitted it was true.

Yet he has insisted that “nobody’s found any collusion at any level.” The assertion is not only false; it’s flagrantly, obviously false.

Over and over, Trump has resorted to complaints, attacks and deceptions. He fired Comey ostensibly because of how the director mishandled the investigation of Clinton. But Trump went on to say repeatedly that he did it because of the Russia probe. Recently, though, he tweeted, “I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Lying is generally not a manifestation of innocence.

His shifting position on being interviewed under oath by Mueller likewise betrays him. When the question first was posed, Trump declared himself “100 percent” willing. Or maybe it’s zero percent. In January, his lawyers sent a letter to Mueller rejecting the idea.

“Your office clearly lacks the requisite need to personally interview the President,” they told him. “Having him testify demeans the Office of the President before the world.” One of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, added another reason for this reluctance, expressing concern that Mueller might “trap him into perjury.”

But someone who tells the truth is in no danger of committing perjury. What Trump might be in danger of is admitting to crimes that could lead to his indictment or impeachment.

Giuliani, however, has not ruled out that Trump, if subpoenaed, might invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. (Trump in 2016: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”) Nor has Giuliani ruled out refusing to submit to a subpoena.

If that weren’t enough to indicate the president has a large pile of things to hide, Trump now claims the power to grant himself a full pardon. But a pardon would be necessary only if he is guilty of specific crimes.

It’s impossible to exaggerate his lawyers’ claims about his impunity. They say a president may not be indicted. Giuliani said Trump could not be indicted even “if he shot James Comey.”

The president can’t obstruct justice, his team insists, because the president has complete power over federal law enforcement. Anything he does in that realm is therefore legal.

Maybe his pattern of chutzpah and untruth is just the essence of his toxic character, which bubbles over no matter what. But more likely, the conduct of Trump and his attorneys reflects their knowledge that he is guilty of serious offenses and their fear that he will be exposed and punished. He looks like someone terrified of going to prison.

Even congressional Republicans say he won’t do anything so foolish as to fire Mueller or pardon himself. But desperate men do desperate things.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

[email protected]

Twitter @SteveChapman13

Trump again expresses regret for choosing Jeff Sessions as attorney general

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(opinion)(Donald Trump is a far bigger crook and traitor than even Richard Nixon!)(oldpoet56)

Trump again expresses regret for choosing Jeff Sessions as attorney general

 0:40
Trump: Sessions made ‘a very terrible mistake for the country’

President Trump on April 9 said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake for the country” by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. 

May 30 at 10:57 AM
President Trump said Wednesday that he wished he had picked someone other than Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, renewing a slight of the former senator who recused himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
In morning tweets, Trump quoted Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who during a Wednesday morning television interview on CBS voiced sympathy for Trump’s past expressions of frustration with Sessions’s recusal from the inquiry.
“If I were the president and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘Oh by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too,” Gowdy said, according to Trump’s tweets. “There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!”
After that, Trump added, in his own voice: “And I wish I did!”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment about Trump’s assessment of Sessions. As president, Trump has the power to end Sessions’s employment at any time.


President Trump walks from the Oval Office across the South Lawn to board Marine One at the White House on Tuesday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Sessions, one of Trump’s biggest boosters during the 2016 campaign, recused himself in March 2017 from any investigations related to the campaign. The announcement came a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions had twice met with Sergey Kislyak, the U.S. ambassador to the United States, during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.
Career lawyers at the Justice Department had advised Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, to step aside, citing ethics guidelines about impartiality and his role as a prominent Trump supporter.
Since then, Trump has repeatedly berated Sessions for his decision, at one point last summer calling it “very unfair” to him.
The New York Times reported Tuesday night that Trump, during a meeting at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida shortly after Sessions’s announcement, lambasted Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, but Sessions refused.
Since that encounter, Trump has called Sessions “beleaguered,” among other derogatory terms, and questioned why the Justice Department has not been as aggressive about investigating Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as it has his campaign.
Associates have said that Trump believes that if Sessions had not recused himself, a special counsel never would have been appointed to investigate possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
Trump’s response to the inquiry also has raised the possibility of obstruction of justice charges, which special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating.
Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after Sessions recused himself.
Trump’s tweets Wednesday come as he and his lawyers have been seeking to discredit Mueller’s investigation and have cast doubt on whether Trump will voluntarily submit to an interview by Mueller’s team.
On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said that he will not agree to an interview until prosecutors allow the president’s legal team to review documents related to the FBI’s use of a source to interact with members of Trump’s campaign.
In a separate television interview on Tuesday night, Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI was justified in using a secret informant to assist in the Russia investigation — an assessment at odds with Trump’s recent complaints that it amounted to illegal spying.
Gowdy attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week about the FBI’s use of the confidential source, identified as Stefan A. Halper, a former university professor.
Trump’s tweets Wednesday did not mention Gowdy’s comments about the informant.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Rep.Trey Gowdy, “I don’t think so, I think what the President is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward. If I were the President and I picked someone to be the country’s….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘oh by the way I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office, I would be frustrated too…and that’s how I read that – Senator Sessions, why didn’t you tell me before I picked you…..

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” And I wish I did!

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

Trump Blames Own Border Policy on Democrats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FACTCHECK.ORD)

 

Trump Blames Own Border Policy on Democrats


President Donald Trump wrongly blamed Democrats for a Trump administration policy that will separate parents and their young children caught entering the U.S. illegally.

“We have to break up families,” Trump claimed, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.” But there is no such law. Instead, it’s the administration’s decision to criminally prosecute all immigrants who cross the border illegally that will cause children to be separated from their parents.

In early May, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen directed her department to refer all unauthorized immigrants who cross the U.S. border to federal prosecutors. It’s in accordance with the Department of Justice’s new “zero tolerance” policyon illegal immigration at the Southwest border.

Parents would be sent to federal court under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and then placed in a detention center, according to a DHS spokesperson. Their children, minors who cannot be housed in a detention center for adults, would be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services for placement in a juvenile facility or foster care if they have no other adult relative in the U.S. who can take them in.

“It is the government’s choice whether to criminally prosecute someone for illegal entry or reentry,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., told us.

Trump made his remarks at a White House meeting on so-called “sanctuary city” policies in California. He told Nielsen, who was in attendance, that Democrats were responsible for the “tough” situation involving immigrant families.

Trump, May 16: I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough. But those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law. It’s a horrible thing. We have to break up families.

The Democrats gave us that law and they don’t want to do anything about it. They’ll leave it like that because they don’t want to make any changes. And now you’re breaking up families because of the Democrats. It’s terrible.

Since at least the administration of George W. Bush, a Republican president, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held many parents and children who crossed the border seeking asylum in family detention centers. Those families have been kept together until they go before an immigration judge or are formally removed from the U.S.

Prior to that, “family units were hardly ever detained, but rather processed and released with a notice to appear at immigration court, especially if they met the credible fear of persecution criteria for a claim to asylum,” according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that promotes bipartisan policy solutions.

So, to what Democratic law is Trump referring?

A White House spokesman referred us to a DHS statement regarding a 1997 legal settlement and 2008 antitrafficking law affecting minors who are apprehended without a parent present:

  • Under the 1997 settlement, DHS could detain unaccompanied children captured at the border for only 20 days before releasing them to foster families, shelters or sponsors, pending resolution of their immigration cases. The settlement was later expanded through other court rulings to include both unaccompanied and accompanied children.
  • The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada to be placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or relatives in the U.S., while they go through removal proceedings. The bipartisan bill was approved by unanimous consent and signed by Bush.

(We wrote about both when Trump also wrongly faulted Democrats for the so-called “catch and release” policy that allows some immigrants caught in the U.S. without proper documentation to be released back into the U.S. while they await an immigration court hearing. See “FactChecking Trump’s Immigration Tweets” for more details.)

But neither the court settlement nor the 2008 law require the Trump administration to “break up families.”

They require the government to release children from custody after a certain period of detainment, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. But they don’t require that parents continue to be held in immigration detention.

“The government absolutely has the option to release the parents,” as well, Pierce said. That’s as long as they aren’t a flight or safety risk, she added.

Brown, of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the Trump administration’s decision to bring criminal charges against the parents — rather than follow the civil removal process — will result in children being separated from their parents.

“It is the government’s choice whether to criminally prosecute someone for illegal entry or reentry,” Brown wrote in an email to FactCheck.org. “That is the quintessential definition of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’”

“Historically, most immigrants were not prosecuted, even when the law allowed for it, they were simply removed in civil proceedings,” she said. “The significant uptick in criminal prosecution began under President George W. Bush, and continued through the early Obama administration.”

U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the new enforcement actions on May 7.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”

Because minors cannot be kept in jails for adults, children would be separated from parents charged with committing a crime, Brown explained. Children would then be considered unaccompanied minors and turned over to the refugee resettlement office.

In fact, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was Homeland Security secretary before Nielsen, indicated in March 2017 that DHS was considering splitting up parents and children as a strategy to deter other families from illegally immigrating to the U.S.

Other administration officials — including Nielsen and ICE’s top official, Thomas Homan — have since denied that is the intent.

“I want to be clear. DHS does not have a blanket policy on separating families as a deterrent,” Homan, reportedly said at the press event with Sessions. “Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents from children when they’re arrested for a crime. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Even so, the decision to prosecute all offenders is one that was made by the current administration. It is not a law that “Democrats gave us,” as Trump said.

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Donald Trump
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“We have to break up families” entering the country illegally, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.”

Trump likened to mob boss, called ‘unethical and untethered to truth’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

James Comey book: Trump likened to mob boss, called ‘unethical and untethered to truth’

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/video/embed/33783779?sitelabel=reimagine&continuousplay=true&placement=uw-smallarticleattophtml5&keywords=james-comey%2Cdissolution%2Ctorment%2Coverall-negative&simpleTarget=&simpleExclusion=disasters&pagetype=story

Police are investigating a “prior relationship” between the gunman who wounded two students inside his Maryland high school Tuesday morning and a female victim. The shooter died during a confrontation with a school resource officer. (March 20)AP, AP

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James Comey’s tell-all book details his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and private interactions he had with President Trump, a man he blasts as “untethered to truth,” according to multiple reports.

Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is set to hit shelves on Tuesday but copies were obtained by several media outlets, including the Associated Press, The Washington Post and New York Times. 

Comey likens Trump to a mob boss while writing about his career as a prosecutor and highlights “loyalty oaths,” one of which he claims Trump asked of him. The former FBI director describes Trump as creating a “cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us,” according to The Washington Post.

The book is filled with vivid details of his encounters with many of Washington, D.C,’s elite — both Democrats and Republicans, including members of Trump’s Cabinet. It details Comey’s career and “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency” that he says led to the end of it.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes in the book, according to The New York Times. “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

In one of the more salacious tidbits, the book alleges Trump asked Comey for an investigation of the alleged “golden shower” tape to reassure his wife that it was fake, according to a report by the New York Post.

The unsubstantiated allegations, which were described in a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, say that Trump hired prostitutes to urinate in front of him in a hotel room in Moscow.

“He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’ … adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true,” Comey wrote, according to the Post.

Trump continued unprompted, Comey said, “explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him.”

More: Comey’s book promises ‘truth’ about troubled FBI tenure

Related: Comey: ‘Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon’

Comey cautioned the president that any probe might “create a narrative” that the FBI was investigating him, the Post reported.

Privately, Comey wrote, he wondered why there would even be a 1 percent chance Melania Trump would believe the allegations.

“In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?” he wrote in the book.

Comey also talks about his inner battle with how he handled the Clinton email investigation, even talks he had with President Obama and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view,” Obama told Comey in a private Oval Office meeting, according to The Washington Post. 

Comey describes Lynch as having a “tortured half-out, half-in approach” to the Clinton investigation and that she had asked him to refer to the probe as a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”

‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(Is The ‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?)

Right Turn

Trump melts down after Cohen raid — and only hurts himself

  
 April 10 at 9:00 AM 
 2:01
Trump fumes ‘attorney-client privilege is dead’ after FBI raid

President Trump tweeted his outrage at an FBI raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home and offices, calling it a “witch hunt.”

In an extraordinary series of events, the FBI executed a no-knock raid on President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel. The president, seated alongside his top military and civilian national security advisers to discuss a response to the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons, launched into a rant in which he did not rule out firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, accused law enforcement of bias, whined that Hillary Clinton was not being prosecuted, suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had behaved improperly in signing off on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, railed again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself (and thereby allowing the investigation proceed) and deemed execution of a warrant signed off on by a federal judge and approved by a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, both of whom he appointed, to be an “attack” on the country.
Let’s start with the raid. The Post reports:

Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, the second person said.
In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”

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What we don’t know is whether the suspected wrongdoing extends to Trump or is solely attributable to Cohen. (By referring the matter to the New York prosecutor, Mueller may have signaled this is not germane to the Russia investigation; however, any possible crimes concerning Stormy Daniels, for example, may or may not implicate Trump.) Whatever the FBI sweeps up may very well further enmesh Trump in an investigation in which what seemed like a series of separate topics — Trump’s personal finances, potential obstruction of justice, possible Russian collusion and hush money paid to a porn star — have begun to bleed into one another. Trump is as vulnerable as he has always been, in part because he plainly does not know what federal prosecutors now have in their possession and because intense pressure may be brought to bear on Cohen to “flip” on Trump.
Trump cannot take much comfort in the attorney-client privilege. For one thing, it applies to legal communications; if Cohen is acting as a businessman/”fixer,” no privilege may attach. Moreover, the attorney-client privilege cannot apply to communications that are part of a crime (e.g., a conspiracy to obstruct justice). Trump once said investigating his finances were a “red line” for Mueller; the latest move in raiding Cohen transgresses any limitation Trump could possibly have dreamed up. His reaction reflects his fury in not being able to fend off Mueller.
Trump’s response was disturbing on multiple levels.
First, Trump in essence declared war on the rule of law. “It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” said the president, who now equates the operation of the criminal-justice system under the rule of law to be an attack on the country. He is the country in his eyes. Those who challenge him are enemies of the country. There is no better formulation of his authoritarian, anti-democratic mindset than this.

 3:03
Opinion | Trump can fire Mueller, but that won’t get rid of the Russia investigation

Opinion | If President Trump fires the bane of his legal troubles, he could spark a legal and constitutional crisis.

Second, his tirade against Sessions should rekindle concerns that he is contemplating firing him and putting in a flunky to protect himself. “The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself,” Trump said. “Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.” That, too, is a picture-perfect distillation of his warped view of the presidency. He hands Mueller another admission that he thinks the DOJ should protect him from, instead of conducting investigations into criminal and counterintelligence matters.
Third, Trump’s attempts to discredit Mueller’s team and the FBI should highlight the necessity of Congress protecting the special counsel. (“This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”) When he says the investigation is a “witch hunt,” he may be plowing the way to fire Mueller and/or Rosenstein or refuse to cooperate with an interview. In either event, we would face a constitutional crisis.
Fourth, Trump’s insistence that his campaign has been exonerated from “collusion” (“So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, ‘Well, let’s keep going.’”) is baseless. More than 70 different contacts between Trump team and Russian-related figures have been found. Multiple indictments and plea deals have been struck. The investigation continues. His false certainty that there is no evidence of collusion can now be seen as the motive for his attempts to discredit and derail the investigation, to obstruct justice, in other words.
Finally, Trump’s rambling, unhinged reaction — after his attorneys no doubt counseled him to keep quiet — should shake his supporters. The pressure of the investigation and vulnerability to prosecution and/or impeachment are not going to vanish. His family and his fix-it lawyer won’t stop Mueller. His TV friends cannot keep the FBI at bay. He lashes out like a cornered animal. The angrier and more panicked Trump becomes, the greater chance he will behave in extreme and destructive ways.
“The president cannot help himself,” former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told me. “Instead of doing his job as our chief federal law enforcement official and allowing the rule of law to operate unimpeded, he lashes out when he feels personally threatened.” He adds, “The president’s words were more befitting a mob don when the feds are closing in. Given Michael Cohen’s role in Trump’s past, perhaps they are. The American people will not stand for any Trump attempt to match his hostile words with aggressive action against Mueller, Sessions, Rosenstein or other DOJ officials. If he does, it will be the beginning of the end for his presidency.”
Now would be a good time for Republicans to find their spines, remember their oaths and act to insulate Mueller and Rosenstein from Trump. A simple declaration that firing either would be an impeachable offense would, frankly, be a help to Trump. He could use some outside restraint.

How Medical Marijuana Reduces Opioid Use; Saves Lives, Money

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘INSURANCE JOURNAL’)

(SIMPLY PUT: JEFF SESSIONS AND DONALD TRUMP ARE IDIOTS AND MORONS ON POWER TRIPS)

How Medical Marijuana Reduces Opioid Use; Saves Lives, Money

By  | April 3, 2018

Medical marijuana laws could be a boon to those battling the opioid epidemic, according to researchers who have identified a link between increased access to medical marijuana and a reduction in opioid prescriptions.

The studies suggest medical marijuana laws (MMLs) have helped save and could continue to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars now being lost to opioid addiction.

There is a downside: The promise of MMLs in reducing opioid use shows up thus far in urban areas, but not in rural America.

The marijuana laws have an effect similar to when any replacement for a drug is introduced, say researchers. In this case, marijuana appears to be a substitute for opioids as a pain medication in many cases.

This week the JAMA’s Journal of Internal Medicine published two studies that conclude that medical marijuana (or medical cannabis) laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescriptions. One study looked at Medicare Part D patient data and the other at Medicaid enrollee data.

The Medicare study (Association Between US State Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Prescribing in the Medicare Part D Population by Ashley C. Bradford, BA; W. David Bradford, PhD; Amanda Abraham, PhD; and Grace Bagwell Adams, PhD, at the University of Georgia) found that opioid prescriptions fell in states that permit medical marijuana. Prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year from an average of 23.08 million daily doses per year when a state instituted any medical cannabis law. Prescriptions for all opioids decreased by 3.742 million daily doses per year when medical cannabis dispensaries opened.

A second JAMA Journal study (Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees, by Hefei Wen, PhD, and Jason M. Hockenberry, PhD, Department of Health Management & Policy, University of Kentucky College of Public Health) found that “medical and adult-use marijuana laws have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a segment of population with disproportionately high risk for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose.” Using Medicaid prescription data for 2011 to 2016, the researchers found lower opioid prescribing rates where there were medical marijuana laws (5.88 percent lower) and adult-use marijuana laws (6.38 percent lower).

One of the MML researchers, Dr. W. David Bradford, discussed his past and recent research into medical marijuana and opioid prescriptions as well as other research at the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) annual symposium last week in Boston.

Among Bradford’s observations: the effect of MMLs on lowering opioid prescribing, while encouraging, is not fairly distributed.

“All of this is happening in urban areas. We can find no benefit, in this or any of our studies in rural America. As is often the case, people in rural sections of the country are getting a little left out from innovations,” Bradford said.

Bradford is the George D. Busbee Chair in Public Policy at the University of Georgia and former director and founder of the Center for Health Economic Policy Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina. He has been a visiting faculty member at Yale Medical School, and a tenured faculty member in the Department of Economics at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Bradford has over 70 publications.

Bradford and his fellow researchers, including his daughter who is also a professor, looked at whether medical marijuana is being used as a substitute for other pain medications including opioids, as well as the effect this usage has on spending and on opioid mortality.

“We wanted to compare changes in pain medication use for people in states that don’t have medical cannabis and how those changes compare to the changes for people in states with medical cannabis laws,” he said of their first foray into the field.

They considered whether the state allows home cultivation or requires dispensaries. With dispensary-based distribution, it’s a lot easier to have “surety of the supply, a lot easier to get very finely defined hybrids that have the particular mix of cannabinoids,” according to Bradford.

They reviewed Medicare Part D enrollee data from 2010 to 2014 and then later updated this to include 2015 data. The number of states with an MML grew from 15 in 2010 to 24 over these years. They compared physician prescriptions in states with and without an MML for nine drug groupings: anxiety, depression, glaucoma, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity.

In their analysis, they found that the use of prescription pain drugs fell significantly after a medical marijuana law went into effect. There were 1,230 fewer annual doses for all pain medications for these conditions per physician under all medical marijuana laws. They found 2,338 fewer daily doses per year for dispensary-based laws and 1,193 fewer daily doses per year for home-cultivation-only laws.

In their recent follow-up research, they focused specifically on opioid prescriptions. They found about a nine percent reduction in opioid prescriptions under any MML – but a higher 14 percent reduction in states with dispensaries. There was about a seven percent reduction in home cultivation states.

As Bradford puts it, when MMLs are implemented, use of prescription drugs falls “just as would happen if any effective new drug were approved by the FDA [Federal Drug Administration].”

Bradford and his colleagues did similar research using Medicaid data and came to the same conclusion that MMLs reduce use of prescriptions and opioids.

However, one troubling finding is that nearly all of the effect is happening in counties with more than 50,000 residents. “There was no benefit for rural counties,” he said.

They also calculated the financial impact. The combined 2014 savings to Medicare and Medicaid were $1.04 billion for states that had MMLs. Bradford said this could have been savings of $3.4 billion if all states had an MML.

“So these are nontrivial savings to Medicaid and Medicare – about one and a half percent of prescription spending is possibly diverted away from the programs,” he said, noting that the enrollees are the ones paying for the marijuana, not the payers.

Opioid-Related Deaths

They also have conducted research that is under review on the effect of MMLs on opioid-related deaths, using data on all non-heroin opiate related deaths for all 3,144 counties in the U.S. from 2000 to 2015. For all prescription opioid related deaths, they found: statistically significant reductions in mortality associated with any MML for all years from 2010 to 2015 in all counties together and no statistically significant effects in rural counties. For only non-synthetic opioid related deaths (i.e., no fentanyl) they found statistically significant reductions in mortality associated with any MML and with dispensary-based laws for all years from 2010 to 2015 in all counties together.

“We’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of a 20 to 30 percent reduction in mortality over what it would be,” Bradford said.

Bradford referred to a 2014 study by researchers at Albert Einstein Medical School in New York that also found a connection between MML states and a reduction in opioid deaths. This study (Study on the relationship between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose deaths) reviewed 1999-2010 data from 23 states with MMLs. The authors compared opioid overdose death rates in states with medical cannabis programs to overdose deaths rates in states with no cannabis laws. They found about a 25 percent reduction, which translated to an estimated 1,729 fewer deaths than expected. The authors excluded opioid deaths from suicide and included overdose deaths related to heroin, since heroin and prescription opioid use are interrelated for some individuals.

“It looks like access to cannabis, when you design the policies appropriately, can save both lives and money,” Bradford told the WCRI audience.

“But again, in rural counties, there is zero estimated effect. We’re not finding any benefit in terms of mortality for the rural counties,” he reiterated.

Federal Marijuana Policy

Currently cannabis is listed in the Controlled Substances Act under Schedule 1, which means that it is a drug along with LSD, peyote heroin and others that have been “deemed to have no medically recognized uses and a high potential for abuse and therefore completely illegal.” It’s the most restrictive category. Physicians cannot prescribe cannabis, people cannot possess it, no one can sell it under federal law.

The view that marijuana has no medically recognized uses was challenged in January of 2017, when the National Academy of Scientific Engineering and Medicine published what Bradford considers a landmark study. The NAS reviewed more than 10,000 peer-reviewed clinical publications to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding the medical application of cannabis.

“What they concluded is that there is indeed conclusive evidence that there are benefits to cannabis for chronic pain in adults, for nausea associated with chemotherapy and for spasticity and seizures. There is moderate evidence for many other conditions,” Bradford said.

The 2017 NAS report is “quite good evidence that cannabis is useful and, of course, what this implies is that a fine reading of the Controlled Substances Act would reschedule cannabis away from Schedule 1 and then to probably a 3 or a 4. That would be a level that physicians could prescribe it and could get involved.”

The Trump Administration has taken a harder line against legalized marijuana than did the Obama Administration, thereby complicating how medical marijuana laws and usage may play out. Currently 29 states and D.C., representing two-thirds of the U.S. population, have some form of medical cannabis law that runs counter to federal policy.

Public opinion on the subject has largely been supportive of legalizing marijuana for medical use. A January Quinnipiac Poll found that 91 percent of Americans support allowing people with their doctor’s assistance to get access to cannabis. The same poll found voters oppose 70 to 23 percent enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

Workers’ Comp Reimbursement

The workers’ compensation industry has generally been focused on the impact of medical marijuana on employees and safety in the workplace. As Bradford noted, patients, not insurers, are typically the ones now paying for their medical marijuana, even where it is a replacement for an opioid prescription.

There have been several court decisions approving reimbursement by health insurers or self-insured employers but for the most part states have remained silent on the matter of if and when reimbursement by an insurer or workers’ compensation carrier is allowed or required.

However, even in this uncertain legal environment, medical marijuana is gaining traction as an accepted treatment paid for by workers’ compensation, at least anecdotally, according to experts in a recent Claims Journal interview.

Brian Allen, vice president of government affairs for Mitchell, and Mark Pew, senior vice president of PRIUM, a division of Genex Services, said there is some reimbursement for medical marijuana being done on a voluntary basis when it is deemed a reasonable and necessary treatment. “The decision is really based on whether that patient is achieving benefit from it,” Pew said.

Pew said that carriers paying for medical marijuana treatment are not necessarily making it public.

When such cases reach courts, Allen thinks judges will be reluctant to get in the middle of a doctor-patient relationship. “I think the courts are going to defer to the doctors every time,” said Allen.

Pew agrees. “I think any court is probably going to lean towards the anecdotal story of the individual patient and if it’s helping with their pain and it’s reasonable and necessary based on the advice of doctors in that state,” he told Claims Journal. “I would assume that most states are going to come to that same conclusion.”

While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, the Trump Administration has indicated that marijuana enforcement will be at the discretion of local assistant U.S. attorneys. Allen believes it’s unlikely they will pursue a medical marijuana case, unless there is some “egregious abuse.”

Both agree that for marijuana to become a more widely accepted alternative to opioids, researchers will have to shed light on the drug’s side effects. “They talk about the pluses. We really don’t hear a lot about the minuses, and we know there are some out there,” Allen said.

Pew believes more research needs to be done into the many chemicals within marijuana. “Just saying we’re going to reclassify marijuana or make it legal — it’s much more complicated,” Pew said.

Related:

ICE spokesman in SF resigns and slams Trump administration officials

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

ICE spokesman in SF resigns and slams Trump administration officials

  • A spokesman in San Francisco’s division of ICE resigns
  • He says statements from ICE acting director and Jeff Sessions were ‘misleading’

San Francisco (CNN)James Schwab, a spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has resigned, citing what he says are falsehoods being spread by members of the Trump administration including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I just couldn’t bear the burden — continuing on as a representative of the agency and charged with upholding integrity, knowing that information was false,” he told CNN on Monday.
Schwab cited Acting Director Tom Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as being the purveyors of misleading and inaccurate information, following Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s controversial decision to warn the community of an upcoming ICE raid.
ICE released a press release on February 27 about the operations in Northern California in which Homan stated that “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”
Sessions also repeated a similar estimate in his remarks while visiting Sacramento last week.
“Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community — 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more dangerous situations, all because of one mayor’s irresponsible action,” Sessions had said.
Schwab said he took issue with their characterization.
“Director Homan and the Attorney General said there were 800 people at large and free to roam because of the actions of the Oakland Mayor,” he told CNN. “Personally I think her actions were misguided and not responsible. I think she could have had other options. But to blame her for 800 dangerous people out there is just false.”
“It’s a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets. And to say they’re a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading.”
Schwab said he brought up his concerns to ICE leadership and was told to “deflect to previous statements. Even though those previous statements did not clarify the wrong information.”
“I’ve never been in this situation in 16 almost 17 years in government where someone asked me to deflect when we absolutely knew something was awry — when the data was not correct” he said.
The Oakland mayor said in response to the former spokesman speaking out, “I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie. Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard.”
Schwab also said he is a registered Democrat, but has been a loyal federal servant, regardless of which party is in power.
CNN has reached out to ICE in Washington and the Department of Justice for comment.
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