DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST: KIRSTJEN NIELSEN IS A BUREAUCRATIC SUPER SYCOPHANT! – Duh! Why Do You Think She Got The Job?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-way-madness-lies/2018/01/16/0b627fe2-fb0a-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html

Milbank writes:

“This way madness lies.

I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.

What I was not expecting was that Nielsen would raise a question about whether Norwegians are mostly white.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) displayed a poster from the dais proclaiming, in big letters, “Trump: Why allow immigrants from ‘Shithole Countries’?” An aide held the poster aloft right behind Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who, along with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), was at the infamous meeting with Trump and told others about his racist language.

Nielsen, who was also in that meeting, was now under oath, and she wiggled every which way to excuse Trump without perjuring herself: “I did not hear that word used. . . . I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language.”

Leahy moved on to Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants. “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” he asked, rhetorically.

“I actually do not know that, sir,” Nielsen replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

Just as Nielsen “imagines” Norwegians are white, I imagine that she, in her denial of the obvious and defense of the indefensible, is the latest Trump sycophant to trash her reputation. She joins the two Republican senators, David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), who were in the room for the “shithole” moment but not only denied that it was said (Trump’s use of the vulgar word was widely confirmed, even by Fox News, and not denied by the White House until Trump tweeted a partial denial the next day) but also disparaged the integrity of Durbin for being truthful.

It’s clear they, like Nielsen, do this so they don’t get crosswise with the volatile president — but in the process shred their own integrity.

Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president’s whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign — protecting the immigrant “dreamers” while also providing funding for his border security “wall” — but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.”

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Read the rest of Milbank’s op-ed at the above link.

Obviously, Neilsen got the job of DHS Secretary because she was perceived by the Trumpsters to be a lightweight sycophant who wouldn’t “rock the boat.” After all, a truly independent individual at the head of DHS might stand up to the wasteful and immoral “Gonzo” enforcement program being pursued by Trump, Miller, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, and the rest of the Administration’s “White Nationalist Cabal.”

How dumb and complicit is Nielsen? Well, she’s been “reassuring” the “Dreamer community” that even if the budget deal falls through they won’t be an “enforcement priority!” She ignores, of course, the fact that without DACA or legislation, the Dreamers will lose their hard-earned legal work authorizations and, in many cases, their ability to pursue higher education.

In plain terms, they will be “forced underground” where they will be subject to employer abuse, won’t be able to pay taxes, won’t be able to realize their full potential, and, naturally, will be unable to report or act as witnesses to crimes because of fear of removal. Plus, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and Tom Homan have assured Dreamers that if they happen to get caught up in any of ICE’s “dragnet” operations, their “nonpriority” status won’t save them from deportation. Also, once “underground” and no longer required to apply to the DHS for renewals, those few “Dreamers” who do go “off the tracks” will not have their records periodically reviewed by the Government. We won’t even have a real idea of how many actually are in the U.S. any more. So, how is this sane government?

The Obama Administration correctly determined that removal of the Dreamers was not an enforcement priority and not in the national interest. In other words, they that they should receive “prosecutorial discretion,” or “PD” pending an appropriate legislative resolution which was not immediately available.

Rather than leaving it to a myriad of local enforcement officials to arbitrarily exercise PD, the Obama Administration established a program where Dreamers were carefully reviewed by professional DHS adjudicators who consistently applied written, transparent criteria. If qualified, Dreamers were given legal authorization to work and documentation that, for the most part, allowed them to pursue higher education, get drivers licenses, etc. What a reasonable and rational way to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” or “PD.” Indeed, a model program.

A real DHS secretary might have stood up to bullies Trump, Kelly, Miller, and Sessions by arguing that the DACA program should be reinstated. The opportunity certainly presented itself. The Administration could simply drop its opposition to the order of the U.S. District Judge Alsup blocking the rescission of DACA. That also would offer the Administration “legal cover” if any of the restrictionist GOP state AGs challenge DACA. They would have to deal with a highly skeptical Judge Alsup.

A real DHS Secretary might also not have had “bogus amnesia” and have reported accurately under oath what the President really said. A real DHS Secretary might also have “Just Said No” to the cruel and irrational termination of Salvadoran TPS. Yeah, the President could fire her for either of those things. But, no Cabinet Secretary job is forever anyway. If you’re going to go down, having it be for courageously telling truth to power, when power is being abused, isn’t the worst way to go out.

Instead, Neilsen will go down as just another bureaucratic sycophant who “went along to get along” no matter what the cost to her country and to her own integrity.

PWS

01-17-18

 

LAUREN & TAL @ CNN: Dreamer Relief Still Appears Likely, But Maybe Not This Year! — Pressure Shifts To Dems!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/democrats-daca-shutdown-plan/index.html

 

Lauren Fox & Tal Kopan report for CCN;

“For Democrats, a tough choice on DACA
By: Lauren Fox and Tal Kopan, CNN
With just two weeks until Congress is expected to leave town, the fate of roughly 700,000 young immigrants still hangs in the balance.
And, it could be up to Senate Democrats now to decide whether they will make protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients a condition of their support for a must-pass spending bill or punt the issue to next year when they still have months to work it out.
There’s a whole host of issues that must be dealt with by the end of the year including reauthorizing a spying program, funding disaster relief and paying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has all sparked questions about whether Democrats will insist DACA also be included in that list of year-end spending priorities.
“There’s no reason it can’t get done, but there’s a lot that needs to be done in the next 10 days,” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Senate Democrats’ leadership, said about DACA on Monday evening. “We have the CHIP re-authorization, we need the budget numbers, we have to have some decisions on a number of things.”
Asked if Democrats would reject a spending bill that punted DACA to January, independent Maine Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, said, “I can’t answer that.”
Republican leaders have thrown cold water on the idea that a DACA deal could get attached to a year-end spending package, leading to questions about whether Democrats — under pressure from their base — would shut down the government over a program that doesn’t begin to expire fully until March. Activists and some Democratic members point out that the must-pass spending deadline could be the party’s best opportunity to exert pressure on Republicans who don’t want a government shutdown to occur when they control all levers of government.
“That’s a complex question that’s not amenable to a simple answer. There’s a whole lot of things that are not resolved right now. Republicans control the whole government — House, Senate and White House. We are what, 69, 70 days past CHIP authorization. I’ve got folks pressing every day on wildfire relief, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico … CHIP and Dreamers,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Deleware, a Democrat. “I think we ought to be able to fix all of that, and if it takes another week or two to resolve all of those, I think folks will forgive us. But I don’t think we should go home or close out the year without a clear path to resolving it.”
Most Democrats in the Senate say they are optimistic that an immigration bill will be passed by the end of the year or close to it and that they’ll never be forced to decide between funding the government or giving certainty to DACA recipients. But, with fewer than two weeks until Congress faces its spending deadline and no real, concrete compromise on DACA at this point, it’s unclear how Democrats will proceed if they are faced with no solutions for young immigrants.
“There’s still some negotiations going on between some Democrats and some Republicans about how to get this done,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. “I’m hopeful that will produce a positive outcome.”
Talks have circled for months on a fix to DACA, but sticking points remain. Working groups and bipartisan negotiations have formed and faltered in both chambers, with some continuing under the radar even as leadership focuses on bigger picture issues like tax reform and spending cap negotiations. On the House side, rank-and-file members in the Problem Solvers Caucus are trying to reach a bipartisan compromise, while Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois continues to negotiate with a range of Republicans interested in a deal on the Senate side.
Pressure has been increasing on leadership from both sides as the end of the year looms. Democrats on the left, especially Congressional Hispanic Caucus members in the House, have pushed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to hold firm on wanting something by the end of the year. Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said it would be a “betrayal” to push the fight until January, and just last week Pelosi pledged to not go home for the year without a fix.
Moderate Republicans have also sought to push their leadership for a fix by the end of the year, with nearly three dozen House Republicans urging House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to come up with a solution by then. But on the other side, conservatives like the House Freedom Caucus have also threatened a political price if Ryan were to attach a deal to a spending package.
In private, Democratic staff have been concerned about being able to reach a compromise by the end of the year, and whether Republicans will cave in the face of a potential shutdown, potentially forcing Democrats’ hand. Still, at least one Senate Democratic aide on Monday remained optimistic, saying back room talks were making more progress than public posturing might indicate.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, who has been working on a DACA deal, said he wouldn’t negotiate publicly about what Democrats will do if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the year, but that his group continues to work.
“It should have been done five months ago,” the Vermont Democrat said.
Throughout the entire process, President Donald Trump has remained the mystery. Lawmakers know that his blessing could allow a deal to happen rapidly — while his public opposition to a deal could prove its death knell. The President had spoken favorably in September about DACA recipients and pushed Congress to reach a deal, but in recent weeks ne has taken to hardline rhetoric on illegal immigration and blaming Democrats for crime.
Republicans — who do support a fix to DACA — say that it’s still an open question whether a deal will come together by the holiday, but that no matter what, they hope to see Republicans and Democrats come together to keep the government funded.
“I support marrying up DACA reform to border security and a break in chain migration on the spending bill,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. “I support that. I’m not going to shut down the government over it.”

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What’s going to happen with DACA was a major area of concern on the Spanish language radio programs I did in Richmond, VA last Friday. As I said on radio, I remain “cautiously optimistic” on an eventual legislative solution for “Dreamers.” But, probably not before the end of this year. Stay tuned! And many thanks to Tal & Lauren for staying “on top” of this story which is so important for so many!

PWS

12-12-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Senators Frustrated By Gonzo’s Inability To Get His Story Straight – How Many Chances Will He Get To “Correct and Clarify” His Testimony?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/top-senate-judiciary-committee-democrat-wants-jeff-sessions-to-clarify-russia-testimony_us_59ff27f3e4b0baea26324570

Jessica Schulberg reports for HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said on Sunday she wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify again before the panel to clarify past claims that he was unaware of any communication between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials.

Sessions has already testified before the committee twice under oath ― during his confirmation hearing in January and during a routine oversight hearing last month ― that he was unaware of communications between the Trump team and Russia. But according to recently unsealed court documents, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos spoke multiple times with Russians about setting up a meeting between then-presidential candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Papadopoulos, according to the documents. described his efforts during a meeting on March 31, 2016, that included Trump and Sessions.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on CNN she plans to discuss summoning Sessions back before the Judiciary Committee with the panel’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). She declined to say whether she believed Sessions intentionally misled the committee in the past ― but said the attorney general should focus on getting his facts straight.

“Maybe he has a faulty memory. So, there are a lot of excuses one can make.” Feinstein said. “But at this stage, he’s got to narrow his recollections. When he comes before the committee again, he has to be precise, and it has to be accurate,” she said.

. . . .

“I don’t think he told me the truth,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told ABC late last week. “I think that on different occasions he either has a terrible memory or he is deliberately not telling me the truth.”

Lawmakers’ frustration with Sessions may be gaining bipartisan traction.

“This is getting a bit old with Jeff Sessions,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday. “He probably should come back and answer the question, yet again, ‘Did you know anything about an effort by the Trump campaign to meet with Russia?’”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Wow, the irony is rich! Gonzo never misses a chance to “pop off” with some misleading story being spread by White Nationalist/restrictionist groups about how vulnerable immigrants struggling to vindicate their legal rights (and often to save their lives) and the lawyers trying to represent them are “abusing the system.” But, he abuses the time and processes of the U.S. Senate, where he used to sit. He’s obviously disdainful of his former colleagues, since he doesn’t even bother to check the accuracy of what he says under oath. Like many “arrogant overprivileged White Guys,” he just doesn’t believe that the rules actually apply to him. Just like his “Supreme Leader,” Trump!   

PWS

11-05-17          

GONZO’S WORLD: THE “KING OF OBFUSCATION” “STONEWALLS” THE US SENATE! — “He Don’t Know Nothin’ ‘Bout Nothin’” — But He Can’t Tell You Why He Can’t Talk About Why He Doesn’t Know! — And, He Bristles With Righteous Indignation If Anyone Accuses Him Of Not Being Very Forthcoming!

What Jeff Sessions wouldn’t say was more revealing than what he did
How the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Jeff Sessions

THE BIG IDEA: Jeff Sessions was the personification of a hostile witness whenever a Democratic lawmaker questioned him during a contentious five-hour oversight hearing on Wednesday.

The attorney general set the tone early in his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since his January confirmation. “I can neither assert executive privilege nor can I disclose today the content of my confidential conversations with the president,” Sessions said in his opening statement.

There were several yes-or-no questions that should have been easy for Sessions to answer, but he refused. Sometimes what someone will not say is more interesting than what they do.

THE SPECIAL COUNSEL:

— Sessions said he has not been interviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But has his team requested an interview? “I don’t think so,” the attorney general told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), reflecting the cautiousness he showed all day. “I don’t know … I don’t want to come in here and be trapped. … I will check and let you know.” Later, Sessions announced: “My staff handed me a note that I have not been asked for an interview at this point.”

— The attorney general declined to express personal confidence in Mueller, a former FBI director: “I think he will produce the work in a way he thinks is correct and history will judge,” Sessions said.

— He also declined to say whether he would resign if President Trump tried to fire Mueller. Sessions said getting rid of Mueller would be up to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because he has recused himself. (Rosenstein was interviewed by Mueller’s team this summer.)

Sessions says he can’t disclose ‘confidential conversations’ with Trump

“THE CLOUD”:

— Sessions declined to discuss anything the president told him before firing James Comey. He pointedly refused to answer multiple questions about whether Trump told him that getting rid of the FBI director would “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. “I do not confirm or deny the existence of any communication with the president,” Sessions replied. Yet he didn’t hesitate to defend the president’s dubious rationale for axing Comey, which was the former FBI director’s alleged mishandling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

— If Trump hadn’t mentioned “the cloud,” why not just say so? In sworn testimony this June, Comey recounted a phone call he received from Trump at the FBI on March 30: “He described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ … He finished by stressing ‘the cloud’ was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated.”

Trump called again on April 11 to ask for an update on when Comey was going to announce publicly that he was not personally under investigation. “I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back,” the former FBI director said. “He replied that ‘the cloud’ was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. … That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.”

— Sessions also would not say whether he was aware of Trump’s draft letter detailing some of the real reasons that he wanted to remove Comey, which Mueller has been reviewing.

Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio campaign together in Iowa last year. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio campaign together in Iowa last year. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

PARDONS:

— Can the president pardon someone under investigation by Mueller before they’ve been charged? “Well, the pardon power is quite broad,” Sessions replied. “I have not studied it. I don’t know whether that would be appropriate or not, frankly.” Pressed further, he added later: “My understanding is a pardon can be issued before a conviction has occurred.” (He said that he’d like to reply with more detail in writing. That was one of his go-to lines throughout the day, though Democrats have complained for months that the Justice Department doesn’t respond to their letters.)

— Could the president pardon himself? Sessions again said he hadn’t studied the issue.

— Did Trump discuss pardoning Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio with Sessions before he announced it? “I cannot comment on the private conversations I’ve had with the president,” he replied.

— What was the process that led to Arpaio’s pardon? “I don’t know that I remember or I know it precisely,” Sessions dodged.

Sessions: ‘I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment’ to not jail reporters

JAILING REPORTERS:

— Will he commit to not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs? “Well, I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect,” Sessions replied to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). “But I would say this: We have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point. But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues, that put our country at risk, and we will utilize the authorities that we have, legally and constitutionally, if we have to.”

Durbin slams Sessions for wanting safer cities, withholding police grants

LGBT DISCRIMINATION:

— Two weeks ago, Sessions sent a memo to all federal agencies on “protections for religious liberty.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked about it: “Could a Social Security Administration employee refuse to accept or process spousal or survivor benefits paperwork for a surviving same-sex spouse?

After four seconds of silence, Sessions replied: “That is something I have never thought would arise, but I would have to give you a written answer to that, if you don’t mind.”

Durbin followed up: Would the guidance Sessions released permit a federal contractor to “refuse to provide services to LGBTQ people, including in emergencies, without risk of losing federal contracts?”

“I’m not sure that is covered by it,” Sessions said, “but I will look.”

“The questions were hardly out of left field — or unfamiliar to the Justice Department,” BuzzFeed notes, adding that the Justice Department has been declining to answer them for weeks.

— The evasiveness played out on a host of other policy questions:

Did Sessions talk with the Texas attorney general about DACA before convincing Trump to end the program? He said such a conversation, if it happened, would be tantamount to “work product” and thus privileged.

Is there any evidence to support Trump’s claim on Monday that the Cuban government was behind the sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats in Havana? “I’m just not able to comment,” Sessions replied.

Democrats noted that Sessions, when he was a member of the committee, would never have tolerated one of Barack Obama’s appointees being so evasive.

— Republicans mostly rallied to Sessions’s defense. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, noted that Eric Holder refused to turn over documents relating to the Fast and Furious program by asserting executive privilege. Though, Grassley added, “The American people have a right to know why (Comey) was fired.”

Jeff Sessions testifies. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Jeff Sessions testifies. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sessions stumbles through questions about communicating with Russia

RUSSIA CONTACTS:

— The main headline out of the hearing is that the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is still getting his story straight on his interactions with the Russians: “Sessions offered a slightly new wrinkle Wednesday, asserting that he may have discussed Trump campaign policy positions in his 2016 conversations with (Ambassador Sergey) Kislyak,” Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Devlin Barrett report. “The attorney general said it was ‘possible’ that ‘some comment was made about what Trump’s positions were,’ though he also said, ‘I don’t think there was any discussion about the details of the campaign.’The Post reported in July that Kislyak reported back to his superiors in the Kremlin that the two had discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow. Sessions has previously said he did not ‘recall any specific political discussions’ …”

— Another significant admission: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) asked whether the U.S. government is doing enough to prevent Russian interference in future elections. “We’re not,” Sessions responded.

— In the testiest exchange of the day, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) sparred with Sessions over whether he told the truth during his confirmation hearing:

Al Franken Cross-Examines Jeff Sessions On Lying About Russian Meeting

HOW IT’S PLAYING:

— On the left:

  • Slate: “Jeff Sessions Is Using Phony Executive Privilege to Shield Trump, and GOP Senators Are Letting Him.”
  • Esquire: “Jeff Sessions Is Not Donald Trump’s Lawyer. And that suggestion could be a license for corruption.”
  • Mother Jones: “Justice Department Has Communicated With Controversial Election Commission, Sessions Confirms. The revelation fuels concerns over voter suppression efforts and could raise legal questions.”
  • The Nation: “Jeff Sessions Keeps Lying to the Senate. Sessions once claimed he never met with the Russians. Well, sorta, kinda, maybe. It depends…”
  • Los Angeles Times editorial page: “Trump and Sessions are still telling different stories about Comey.”

— On the right:

  • Daily Caller: “Sessions Admits The Wall Won’t Run Full Length Of The Border.”
  • Breitbart: “Sessions: ‘We’re Not’ Doing Enough to Prepare for Future Info Interference By Russia and Other Countries.”
  • Fox News: “Sessions tangles with Durbin over Chicago violence.”
  • Washington Examiner: “Sessions is confident Trump’s travel ban will win in Supreme Court.”
  • Washington Free Beacon: “Franken, Sessions Spar Over Time Restrictions During Russia Hearing: ‘No, No, No.’”

— All politics is local:

Here’s a link to Hohmann’s complete rundown, which contains lots of other news beyond today’s “Gonzo Report:”

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=amVubmluZ3MxMkBhb2wuY29t&s=59e886a9fe1ff6159ed350e0

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Gonzo would have been a “perfect fit” in the Nixon Administration which gave birth to the term, “stonewalling!”

Let’s see, Gonzo’s “progressed” from saying under oath that he had no contact whatsoever with any Russians during the campaign, to later “clarifying” that he met with none other than the Russian Ambassador during the campaign (while at least implying that these meetings were in his capacity as a Senator, not a campaign official), to saying that he “may have discussed Trump campaign policy positions in his 2016 conversations with (Ambassador Sergey) Kislyak.” Gosh, that sounds to me like enough to sustain an “adverse credibility finding” in U.S. Immigration Court if said by an immigrant!

But, Gonzo says it’s all the fault of bullies like Sen. Al Franken for springing “trick” questions on him. After all, who would have thought that a major figure in the Trump Campaign (one of his earliest, most vocal, and proudest supporters) would be asked nasty questions about the Russia probe?

Gonzo basically refused to discuss the dark implications of his war on LGBTQ Americans, while allowing as how he might target reporters in the future (this Dude recently made speeches on the First Amendment?) if necessary to stop national security leaks.

And, on DACA, Tal Kopan reports for CNN:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions told senators they have an “opportunity to do something historic” on immigration on Wednesday as he was pressed repeatedly on the administration’s move to terminate a popular protection for young undocumented immigrants.

“We have got to have more than just an amnesty,” Sessions said in his opening remarks. “We need a good improvement in the illegality that’s going on, and there is an opportunity right now, I’m telling you, an opportunity to do something historic.”

Despite multiple follow-ups, Sessions did not diverge much from the remarks, repeatedly telling lawmakers the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was in their hands.

Testifying before the Senate judiciary committee, the longtime immigration hardliner was asked by senators from both parties about the administration’s plans for DACA, which President Donald Trump has opted to end, citing Sessions’ recommendation.

. . . .

Sessions did not lay out details of what the administration may want to do for the Obama-era program, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. Sessions has long railed against the program and once again expressed his belief that the executive action was unconstitutional.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, though, who has pursued legislation that would offer DACA-like protections for nearly two decades, pressed Sessions on how he could recommend to Trump that the program is unconstitutional and would be found the same in the courts when the Justice Department still maintains a 2014 Office of Legal Counsel memo on its website that found DACA would be constitutional.

“I believe this is accurate, that the so-called approval of DACA by OLC, Office of Legal Counsel, was based on the caveat or the requirement that any action that’s taken be done on an individual basis,” Sessions said, then appeared to mix up court precedent on the issue.

Sessions said a court had struck down the program because individual decisions were not made, but was seemingly referring to a decision made about an expansion of the program to parents. Courts have not found DACA to be unconstitutional to date. 

Durbin noted that each DACA applicant is evaluated individually. All go through background checks before receiving the two-year permits.

Growing frustrated at Session’s answers, Durbin referenced his former colleague’s past on the other side of the dais. “I believe this is just about the moment that Sen. Sessions would have blown up,” Durbin said. 

Later in the hearing, Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, also a lawyer, asked Sessions if he considered any due process or “bait and switch” issues in recommending the program be ended, since DACA recipients willingly gave the Department of Homeland Security their information in exchange for protection when the program was created. Sessions said he didn’t believe it was discussed.

“It’s a valid issue,” Sessions said. “You’re right to raise it.”

But when Hirono pressed Sessions on what might happen to the individuals covered under the program if it ends in six months, Sessions deflected.

“The answer to that is in your hands,” he said. “Congress has the ability to deal with this problem in any number of ways.” He reiterated he did not support “simply an amnesty” without additional anti-illegal immigration measures, but said “if we work together, something can be done on that.”

Here’s the link to Tal’s report:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/18/politics/jeff-sessions-hearing-daca-remarks/index.html

In other words, Sessions continued to assert his conclusory, essentially “law free” position that DACA is unconstitutional. He didn’t even know which case he was wtalking about (and it’s not that he didn’t have any idea that Durbin and others were going to quiz him on DACA). At the same time, he can’t bring himself to acknowledge that the DACA young people have been a great boon to the US and to our economy and that they deserve a path to citizenship. Indeed, if Gonzo had his way and the “Dreamers” were actually removed from the US, it would actually “TANK” our economy by reducing our GNP by nearly one-half trillion dollars! See CNBC, John W. Schoen, “DACA deportations could cost US economy more than $400 billion,” available at this link:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/05/daca-deportations-could-cost-us-economy-more-than-400-billion.html

And, Gonzo goes on to press his absurd demand that any relief from “Dreamers” be “offset” by  Trump’s “off the wall” immigration restrictionist program. Dreamers are contributing over $400 billion to our GNP, so what’s there to “offset?” We should be happy to have them as permanent members of our society.

No, the real problem here is that the Dreamers and their families (who also are contributing to our society and economy) should have been screened and admitted through our legal immigration system. The solution isn’t to extract a “penalty” from the Dreamers, but rather to expand our legal immigration system so that future Dreamers and their hard-working productive families can be properly screened and legally admitted into the United States in the first place!

That Gonzo, others in the Administration, and the “restrictionist wing” of the GOP keep pushing in exactly the opposite direction is truly reprehensible. The real  “national debate” that we should be having on immigration is how to get Dreamers and other law-abiding undocumented residents on a track to full integration into our society, how many MORE legal immigrants we should admit each year, and how we should select them to achieve the most both for our country’s future and for those vibrant, hard-working, and much-needed future immigrants that we should be attracting! Legal immigration is a good thing, to be valued and welcomed! It’s NOT something to be feared and restricted as Gonzo and his cronies would have us believe! And, by converting most of the flow of “undocumented migrants” into “legal immigrants” we would reduce the need for DHS enforcement directed at the immigrant community. Those resources could be redirected at removing the “real bad guys.”

 

PWS

10-19-17

BREAKING: I-TEAM 4 UNCOVERS HARD EVIDENCE THAT TRUMP ADMINISTRATION POLICIES ARE MAKING IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS WORSE! — “ADR” Rips Off Taxpayers While Denying Due Process! — See More Of Award-Winning Investigative Reporter Jodie Fleischer’s Interview With Me!

Here’s the video and graphs:

http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Federal-Records-Show-New-Immigration-Policies-Delay-Local-Cases-Increase-Court-Backlog-449104633.html

Here’s the story:

“By Jodie Fleischer and Rick Yarborough

Newly released records obtained by the News4 I-Team show the severe impact new immigration policies have in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area; one former judge says it’s making the huge immigration court case backlog even worse.
Records from January through July of 2017 show immigration judges around the country were forced to postpone 24,806 cases, because those judges were not in their courtrooms to hear cases.
In the Virginia and Maryland court locations, which serve the D.C. area, more than 2,700 local cases have been pushed off, sometimes for years, because the judges were instead reassigned to hear cases at the border.
“What it isn’t serving, I think, is due process and the ends of justice,” said Judge Paul Wickham Schmidt, who retired from the immigration court in Arlington in 2016, “I think it’s a misuse of resources.”

 

Source: Federal Records Show New Immigration Policies Delay Local Cases, Increase Court Backlog – NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Federal-Records-Show-New-Immigration-Policies-Delay-Local-Cases-Increase-Court-Backlog-449104633.html#ixzz4uUmx6bGk
Follow us: @nbcwashington on Twitter | NBCWashington on Facebook

Schmidt said he’s glad he left the bench, because it allows him to speak freely about what he’s seeing in the court system today.
“It’s a disaster. I think it’s moving toward implosion,” he added, directing his barbs at current immigration policies and the shift in which types of cases are now a priority.
“They’re trying to detain everybody who arrives, so they’ve assigned more judges to the southern border,” said Schmidt. “And those judges leave behind full dockets.”
DC-Area Immigration Courts Scheduling Hearings for 2021
The News4 I-Team learned in the first seven months of this year, the Department of Justice reassigned judges from around the country more than 200 times, usually for two weeks or more. Additional reassignments are ongoing and more are scheduled later this year.
In Arlington, Virginia records show at least 15 reassignments, and while the judges were gone, they had to postpone 2,580 local cases. Only Los Angeles, New York and Miami had more.
“But since most judges are backed up for years, they don’t have any vacant (slots). It’s not like they move them to next week. They move them to slots 3 to 4 years down the road,” said Schmidt. “Why would you use people in an office like Arlington that’s overwhelmed?”

 

Source: Federal Records Show New Immigration Policies Delay Local Cases, Increase Court Backlog – NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Federal-Records-Show-New-Immigration-Policies-Delay-Local-Cases-Increase-Court-Backlog-449104633.html#ixzz4uUnE6DPv
Follow us: @nbcwashington on Twitter | NBCWashington on Facebook

The Arlington court is already scheduling cases for December 2021. That’s the second longest delay in the nation.
In May alone, five of the seven Arlington judges had weeks of reassignment to the border. Records show they delayed 946 cases as a result.
“When you can’t give people hearing dates that are reasonable dates, which they can count on, they know it’s actually going to take place, then as a judge I feel you lose credibility,” said Schmidt.
Immigration: Crisis in the Courts
Schmidt said to make matters worse, while judges are reassigned, they cannot work remotely on cases back at their home courts because the files are all on paper, not electronic.
He said at the border, many cases involve people who recently arrived in the United States and haven’t had time to get a lawyer, so a lot of those cases are not even ready to be heard and get delayed as well.
Published 2 hours ago | Updated 50 minutes ago

 

Source: Federal Records Show New Immigration Policies Delay Local Cases, Increase Court Backlog – NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Federal-Records-Show-New-Immigration-Policies-Delay-Local-Cases-Increase-Court-Backlog-449104633.html#ixzz4uUncKBbO
Follow us: @nbcwashington on Twitter | NBCWashington on Facebook

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What kind of “court system” puts “Gonzo Enforcement” first and Due Process last? A “captive” one run by incompetentent politicos!

I hope that when Sessions finally shows up for his long-awaited hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy will grill him on his biased and incompetent administration of the U.S. Immigration  Courts as well as the false narratives and  misrepresentations Sessions spreads about Dreamers and migrants generally.

PWS

10-03-17

 

 

TAL KOPAN FOR CNN: SENATE HEARING WITH ADMINISTRATION ON DACA SOWS CONFUSION! — Only One Thing Clear: Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) Knows That Sessions’s White Nationalist Narrative On Dreamers Is A Lie — And, He’s Anxious To Have A Crack At “Gonzo-Apocalypto” Under Oath!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/03/politics/daca-hearing-lawmakers-frustrated/index.html

Tal reports:

There were other tense exchanges as well, including from the former top Democrat on the committee, Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy, who especially took issue with the Justice Department representative. At the outset of the hearing Chairman Chuck Grassley noted that DOJ had not submitted written testimony for the hearing, and acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler, of the civil division, said he was limited in speaking outside of what was already public because of ongoing lawsuits over the administration’s termination of DACA.

Leahy pressed Readler on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ letter about the rescission of DACA, which suggested lax immigration enforcement was responsible for crime, violence and even terrorism.
“Can you provide this committee with any examples of Dreamers being involved in terror activity? … You don’t have to give me hundreds, just give me one!” Leahy said, raising his voice.
“I’m not aware of any examples,” Readler said.
“Neither is the attorney general when he said that,” Leahy said.
After further back-and-forth about what Sessions meant, Readler noted he would be testifying before this committee himself this month.
“He’s taken longer than any attorney general since I’ve been here, but I’ve only been here 42 years,” Leahy said.

Under questioning from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who has co-sponsored Durbin’s bill, the DHS officials did say they supported a pathway to citizenship for DACA-eligible individuals in an eventual solution — and said they were largely the type of people the US should want.
“They’re a benefit to the country as are many immigrants coming in,” Dougherty said. “They are a valuable contribution to our society, we need to regularize their status through legislative means.”
He also said DHS did not support the notion of creating a permanent visa status that would never allow people to be naturalized — saying the White House would be of the same mind.
“I think creating second-class citizens or people who are never able to naturalize is not a good model,” Dougherty said, adding “I do” when asked if he thinks the President agrees.”

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Read the rest of Tal’s article at the link.

Pretty obvious why Gonzo would rather spend his time  spreading lies and bogus, alarmist narratives about American young people and immigrant communities rather than facing Sen. Leahy under oath.

Liz was right!

PWS

10-03-17

 

 

Think The Federal Courts Are Going To Save Our Republic From Trump? — Guess Again! — Trump (Or, More Accurately The Heritage Foundation) Is About To Remake Them In His Own Image!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-judicial-nominees-federalist-society_us_59497166e4b04c5e50256f0c?lq

HuffPost reports:

“WASHINGTON ― Most days, it seems like President Donald Trump is sabotaging his own agenda, one tweet at a time. But the White House has been quietly plowing ahead in one area that will affect generations of people: the courts.

Trump is unbelievably well-positioned to fill up federal courts with lifetime judges. He inherited a whopping 108 court vacancies when he became president ― double the number of vacancies President Barack Obama inherited when he took office.

The reason Trump gets to fill so many seats is partly because Obama was slow to fill court vacancies early in his tenure. But the main reason is Republicans’ years-long strategy of denying votes to Obama’s court picks. They refused to recommend judicial nominees, filibustered others, used procedural rules to drag out the confirmation process and, by Obama’s final year, blocked nominees they had recommended just to prevent him from filling more seats.

ALISSA SCHELLER/HUFFPOST

Court vacancies have only increased since Trump took office, as older judges have steadily retired. Trump has already nominated more than three times as many judges as Obama had at this point in his presidency ― 21 compared with six for Obama.

With Republicans in control of the Senate, Trump’s court picks will have a relatively easy time getting confirmed, too. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), has hinted that he may tweak the committee’s rules to make it easier for Republicans to advance some of Trump’s nominees without Democratic support. And once nominees make it to the Senate floor, it takes only 51 votes to advance their nominations and confirm them. There are 52 Republicans, which means they could confirm all of Trump’s district and circuit court nominees without a single Democratic vote.

It used to take 60 votes to advance district and circuit court nominees, but Senate Democrats changed the filibuster rule in 2013 in order to get around a Republican blockade on Obama’s court picks. Now Trump benefits from that change.

It is, in effect, the perfect combination of factors for conservatives eager to tilt the nation’s courts to the right. Trump has piles of seats to fill, a list of nominees recommended to the White House by outside conservative groups, and a Republican Senate eager to confirm them.

“It is a huge opportunity,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in judicial nominations. “The question is how quickly they will move in the future. A lot of what they’ve done so far is low-hanging fruit and pretty easy to do.”

ALISSA SCHELLER/HUFFPOST

A good chunk of Trump’s judicial nominees so far have come through recommendations from The Federalist Society, a right-wing legal organization. Its executive vice president, Leonard Leo, was instrumental in helping the White House put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. He recommended Gorsuch to Trump last fall and took a temporary leave from his job earlier this year to help prepare Gorsuch for his Senate confirmation hearing.

Leo also gave Trump a list of names of potential judicial picks that conservatives would like to see on the federal bench. Trump has already nominated several of them.

One of them is John Bush, a Kentucky lawyer who runs a local chapter of The Federalist Society. Trump nominated Bush, 52, last month to a lifetime post on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Progressive groups are vowing to fight his confirmation given some of his past remarks, which include comparing abortion to slavery and referring to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” Bush has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.

Damien Schiff, also a member of The Federalist Society, is Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The 37-year-old attorney at the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation would serve a 15-year term if confirmed. He came under fire for calling Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy “a judicial prostitute” on a blog several years ago. He has also criticized efforts to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students, referring to messages of equality as “teaching ‘gayness’ in schools,” and has argued that states should be allowed to criminalize “consensual sodomy.”

Both of those nominees had their Senate confirmation hearings last week. They’re now waiting for the Judiciary Committee to reconvene and vote out their nominations.

It’s not unusual for a president to consult with outside groups for potential judicial nominees. What’s different, says Tobias, is how heavily Trump seems to be relying on this particular group versus working directly with senators for judicial recommendations from their states, which is the standard path.

“I think Leonard Leo is just feeding him those people,” he said. “There are real questions about that, whether that’s good for the courts and gets us the finest nominees.”

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Read the entire article at the above link.

Remember, folks, these are lifetime appointments, so although, one way or another, Trump will eventually be gone, his judges will be around for decades. And, because Democrats can’t win Senate elections, they have lost their power to exert any influence whatsoever over Trump’s choices.

PWS

06-22-17