Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months.

As early as March, officials said, some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who qualify for the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will become eligible for deportation. The five-year-old policy allows them to remain without fear of immediate removal from the country and gives them the right to work legally.

Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the change at the Justice Department, both used the aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists, arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native-born Americans by usurping their jobs and pushing down wages.

Mr. Trump said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Mr. Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Protests broke out in front of the White House and the Justice Department and in cities across the country soon after Mr. Sessions’s announcement. Democrats and some Republicans, business executives, college presidents and immigration activists condemned the move as a coldhearted and shortsighted effort that was unfair to the young immigrants and could harm the economy.

“This is a sad day for our country,” Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, wrote on his personal page. “It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.”

Former President Barack Obama, who had warned that any threat to the program would prompt him to speak out, called his successor’s decision “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” Mr. Obama wrote on Facebook.

Both he and Mr. Trump said the onus was now on lawmakers to protect the young immigrants as part of a broader overhaul of the immigration system that would also toughen enforcement.

But despite broad and longstanding bipartisan support for measures to legalize unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children, the odds of a sweeping immigration deal in a deeply divided Congress appeared long. Legislation to protect the “dreamers” has also repeatedly died in Congress.

Just hours after the angry reaction to Mr. Trump’s decision, the president appeared to have second thoughts. In a late-evening tweet, Mr. Trump specifically called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” something his administration’s officials had declined to do earlier in the day.

Mr. Trump also warned lawmakers that if they do not legislate a program similar to the one Mr. Obama created through executive authority, he will “revisit this issue!” — a statement sure to inject more uncertainty into the ultimate fate of the young, undocumented immigrants who have been benefiting from the program since 2012.

Conservatives praised Mr. Trump’s move, though some expressed frustration that he had taken so long to rescind the program and that the gradual phaseout could mean that some immigrants retained protection from deportation until October 2019.

The White House portrayed the decision as a matter of legal necessity, given that nine Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue to halt the program immediately if Mr. Trump did not act.

Months of internal White House debate preceded the move, as did the president’s public display of his own conflicted feelings. He once referred to DACA recipients as “incredible kids.”

The president’s wavering was reflected in a day of conflicting messages from him and his team. Hours after his statement was released, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had “great love” for the beneficiaries of the program he had just ended.

“I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” he said. But he notably did not endorse bipartisan legislation to codify the program’s protections, leaving it unclear whether he would back such a solution.

Mr. Trump’s aides were negotiating late into Monday evening with one another about precisely how the plan to wind down the program would be executed. Until Tuesday morning, some aides believed the president had settled on a plan that would be more generous, giving more of the program’s recipients the option to renew their protections.

But even taking into account Mr. Trump’s contradictory language, the rollout of his decision was smoother than his early moves to crack down on immigration, particularly the botched execution in January of his ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In addition to the public statement from Mr. Sessions and a White House question-and-answer session, the president was ready on Tuesday with the lengthy written statement, and officials at the Justice and Homeland Security Departments provided detailed briefings and distributed information to reporters in advance.

Mr. Trump sought to portray his move as a compassionate effort to head off the expected legal challenge that White House officials said would have forced an immediate and highly disruptive end to the program. But he also denounced the policy, saying it helped spark a “massive surge” of immigrants from Central America, some of whom went on to become members of violent gangs like MS-13. Some immigration critics contend that programs like DACA, started under Mr. Obama, encouraged Central Americans to enter the United States, hoping to stay permanently. Tens of thousands of migrants surged across America’s southern border in the summer of 2014, many of them children fleeing dangerous gangs.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, indicated that Mr. Trump would support legislation to “fix” the DACA program, as long as Congress passed it as part of a broader immigration overhaul to strengthen the border, protect American jobs and enhance enforcement.

“The president wants to see responsible immigration reform, and he wants that to be part of it,” Ms. Sanders said, referring to a permanent solution for the young immigrants. “Something needs to be done. It’s Congress’s job to do that. And we want to be part of that process.”

Later on Tuesday, Marc Short, Mr. Trump’s top legislative official, told reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House would release principles for such a plan in the coming days, input that at least one key member of Congress indicated would be crucial.

“It is important that the White House clearly outline what kind of legislation the president is willing to sign,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said in a statement. “We have no time to waste on ideas that do not have the votes to pass or that the president won’t sign.”

The announcement was an effort by Mr. Trump to honor the law-and-order message of his campaign, which included a repeated pledge to end Mr. Obama’s immigration policy, while seeking to avoid the emotionally charged and politically perilous consequences of targeting a sympathetic group of immigrants.

Mr. Trump’s decision came less than two weeks after he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who drew intense criticism for his aggressive pursuit of unauthorized immigrants, which earned him a criminal contempt conviction.

The blame-averse president told a confidante over the past few days that he realized that he had gotten himself into a politically untenable position. As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to comment on it and spoke on condition of anonymity.

But ultimately, the president followed through on his campaign pledge at the urging of Mr. Sessions and other hard-line members inside his White House, including Stephen Miller, his top domestic policy adviser.

The announcement started the clock on revoking legal status from those protected under the program.

Officials said DACA recipients whose legal status expires on or before March 5 would be able to renew their two-year period of legal status as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the announcement means that if Congress fails to act, immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children could face deportation as early as March 6 to countries where many left at such young ages that they have no memory of them.

Immigration officials said they did not intend to actively target the young immigrants as priorities for deportation, though without the program’s protection, they would be considered subject to removal from the United States and would no longer be able to work legally.

Officials said some of the young immigrants could be prevented from returning to the United States if they traveled abroad.

Immigration advocates took little comfort from the administration’s assurances, describing the president’s decision as deeply disturbing and vowing to shift their demands for protections to Capitol Hill.

Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, called Mr. Trump’s decision “nothing short of hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice.” Maria Praeli, a recipient of protection under the program, criticized Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump for talking “about us as if we don’t matter and as if this isn’t our home.”

The Mexican foreign ministry issued a statement saying the “Mexican government deeply regrets” Mr. Trump’s decision.

As recently as July, Mr. Trump expressed skepticism about the prospect of a broad legislative deal.

“What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan,” he told reporters. “But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”

As for DACA, he said: “There are two sides of a story. It’s always tough.”

In: nytimes

La Casa Blanca prepara la documentación para el perdón a Arpaio

Ex Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Imagen en:

(CNN) – Mark Goldman, abogado del polémico exsheriff Joe Arpaio, dijo que aprecia “muchísimo” lo que dijo el presidente Donald Trump sobre su cliente. “Apreciamos muchísimo los comentarios que hizo sobre el sheriff Arpaio. Él no recibió un juicio justo y parece que los errores de la justicia serán rectificados pronto”, le dijo Goldman a CNN este miércoles.

Según un funcionario, la Casa Blanca ya ha preparado la documentación para que el presidente Trump perdone al exsheriff cuando tome la decisión de hacerlo.

Trump insinuó este martes que, algún día en el futuro, perdonará a Arpaio.

“¿Saben qué? Haré una predicción: creo a él le irá bien”, dijo Trump. “Pero no lo haré esta noche, porque no quiero causar ninguna controversia”, agregó ante sus seguidores en Phoenix (Arizona).

La Casa Blanca también ha preparado mensajes incluyendo uno que destaca que Arpaio ha servido a su país por 50 años. Añaden que no es apropiado enviarlo a prisión por hacer cumplir la ley y mantener a salvo a la gente.

Aunque aún no se sabe cuándo ocurrirá, Trump dijo que sería pronto.

MIRA: “Las prácticas del sheriff Arpaio eran de lo más discriminatorias”

El 31 de julio pasado, el exsheriff del condado de Maricopa (Arizona) fue hallado culpable por desacato judicial, en un caso de arrestos a inmigrantes.

El oficial fue juzgado porque supuestamente desobedeció la orden de un tribunal de suspender los arrestos dirigidos a inmigrantes, en un caso de perfil racial. Según la acusación, Arpaio violó la orden al enviar patrullas continuas contra esta población.

En 2011, el juez federal Judge G. Murray Snow emitió por primera vez una orden temporal, en la que le prohibía a Arpaio detener personas basándose únicamente en su estatus inmigratorio. Dicha decisión fue permanente dos años más tarde.

MIRA: Este es el polémico sheriff de Maricopa, Joe Arpaio

Por su parte, Arpaio sostuvo que la orden no estaba clara y que él no tenía la intención de violarla. Sin embargo, los fiscales federales alegaron que su desafío fue deliberado y que él creía que podía salirse con la suya.

Arpaio de 85 años, quien se autodenominó el “sheriff más duro de Estados Unidos”, podría enfrentar hasta seis meses de prisión cuando sea sentenciado el próximo 5 de octubre.

En: cnn

Donald Trump’s Addled and Ominous Interview with the Times

The big “get” of President Trump’s interview with the New York Times was confirmation of a story that’s been going around Washington for months. Photograph by Mark Peterson / Redux

It is often said, and with ample reason, that much of what Donald Trump says isn’t worth a jot. As Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter, noted last year, “lying is second nature to him.” When he isn’t telling outright whoppers, he exaggerates things outrageously, and his utterances often bear little resemblance from one day to the next. On Tuesday, he said that Republicans should let Obamacare crash and burn. On Wednesday, he said that he wanted to see it replaced.

But, whereas Trump’s statements often fail to withstand inspection when examined individually, analyzing a group of them together can sometimes provide valuable insights into his mind-set, which, at this time, appears to be even more addled than usual. The interview that Trump gave on Wednesday to three reporters from the Times offers us that opportunity.

A partial transcript of the interview, which the Times posted online, shows him eager to impress his interlocutors despite the fact that they work for a publication he has many times described as “failing” and “fake news.” He boasted about the response he received to the speech he recently gave in Poland, and how much the French President, Emmanuel Macron, likes him. (“He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.”)

At one point, Trump even played the role of amateur historian, pointing out how the armies of Napoleon and Hitler came to grief in the Russian winter, and adding that Napoleon “didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.”

That claim might be dubbed “fake history,” but it wouldn’t do to dwell on it because the interview also covered many more consequential subjects, including the Russia investigation and the now infamous meeting that his son, Donald Trump, Jr., arranged at Trump Tower last June. The overwhelming impression from the transcript is of a President who considers himself above the law, and who believes himself to be, through no fault of his own, besieged by internal and external enemies, particularly in the Justice Department and the F.B.I. As he put it at one point, “I have headaches, that’s what I have, I have headaches.”

As usual, Trump reserved some of his vitriol for James Comey, the man he fired as F.B.I. director. He repeated his unfounded claim that Comey leaked classified information, and accused him of lying to Congress. He also claimed that Comey had been looking for “leverage” when he warned Trump in January about an opposition-research dossier that contained salacious allegations about the President. (How would this be leverage? It is unwise to follow Trump’s logic too closely.)

The big news “get” in the interview was confirmation of a story that’s been going around Washington for months: Trump blames many of his woes on one of his own key lieutenants, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, who recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have—which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.”

Although Trump doesn’t say it straight out, this transcript makes it clear that he thinks that Sessions, despite all the questions he was facing about his own contacts with the Russian Ambassador, should have refused to recuse himself from the investigation and protected the White House as the Russia investigation proceeded. Instead, Sessions failed him, with consequences that Trump immediately went on to detail.

TRUMP: It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

Actually, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy Attorney General, grew up in Pennsylvania. He did serve for twelve years as the U.S. Attorney for a district encompassing Baltimore, a city that Trump views as a Democratic swamp. And it was Rosenstein, with Sessions recused, who appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate the alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump also considers this appointment to have been unnecessary. “I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case.”

Of course, Rosenstein also did Trump a favor earlier on in his Administration: he submitted a letter to Sessions saying that James Comey should be replaced as F.B.I. director because of his mishandling of the agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. In the interview, Trump concedes as much, saying, “O.K., he gives me a letter about Comey . . . and it certainly didn’t hurt to have the letter.”

But in Trump’s mind it is clear that that incident was ancient history, and Rosenstein is now part of a cabal of Washington insiders—officials, prosecutors, and investigators—who are out to get him, regardless of his innocence. In addition to Rosenstein, these insiders include Mueller, whom he accused of having undisclosed conflicts of interest, and Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the F.B.I., whose wife, Jill, ran as a Democrat for a seat in the Virginia state Senate in 2015.

To Trump, who views everything through a lens of self-interest, there are no matters of legitimate public interest at stake in the Russia story; no public-spirited officials trying to fulfill their duty to the public; no duty on his part to respect the need for distance between the White House and the Justice Department when it comes to matters having to do with the President. It is all just a political racket, and he is the one getting screwed.

In truth, of course, Trump has himself to blame for Mueller’s appointment. By going ahead and firing Comey, Trump prompted Comey to leak incriminating details about their meetings. And that left Rosenstein little choice but to set up an investigation that was independent of the Justice Department.

Practically everybody in Washington agrees that Trump made a monumental error in firing Comey. But when one of the Timesreporters raised this possibility, Trump, characteristically, refused to admit it, saying, merely, “I think I did a great thing for the American people.”

Another problem with Trump’s narrative is that significant new information keeps emerging about links between Russia and his campaign, including the now infamous sitdown that Trump, Jr., had with a Russian lawyer. When the Times reporters pressed him on this, Trump restated his position: it was a routine meeting, and he wasn’t told about it at the time. But he also made a new point—new to me, anyway—arguing that, by last June, when the meeting took place, he didn’t even need any more dirt to hurl at Clinton: he already had plenty.

“There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” he said. “I was talking about, she deleted and bleached, which nobody does because of the cost . . . 33,000 emails. I talked about the back of the plane, I talked about the uranium deal, I talked about the speech that Russia gave Clinton — $500,000 while she was secretary of state . . . honestly, Peter, I mean, unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”

You have to give points for creativity, I suppose. Like many con men, Trump never lacks a defense. But what he said in the interview was directly contradicted by his own words on July 27, 2016, just weeks after the Trump Tower meeting, when he publicly urged the Kremlin to hack Clinton’s e-mail, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the thirty thousand e-mails that are missing.”

It is a pity the Times reporters didn’t present this quote to Trump. No doubt, he would have come up with another bogus explanation. He always does. At some point, though, as the Russia investigation gets ever closer to him, he will almost certainly have to answer questions under oath, and there is no knowing how he might react. At the end of the interview, one of the reporters asked Trump if he would fire Mueller if his investigation “went outside of certain parameters.” Trump’s answer was instructive: “ I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

El fracaso de Trump en la reforma sanitaria destapa sus problemas de liderazgo

El republicano sigue siendo un presidente de excepción, apoyado por un núcleo duro, pero rechazado por el resto.

Donald Trump en su reunión con senadores republicanos tras el fracaso de la reforma sanitaria. REUTERS

Donald Trump sigue solo. Tras seis meses en el poder y una agenda en agitación permanente, el multimillonario neoyorquino no ha sido capaz de romper con la maldición de su mandato. Continúa siendo un presidente de excepción, apoyado por un núcleo duro de votantes, pero rechazado por el resto. Una fractura, cristalizada en su bajísima valoración en las encuestas, que el fracaso en la aprobación reforma sanitaria ha dejado en evidencia. Ni siquiera en el proyecto más emblemático y anhelado de la derecha ha logrado unir a su propio partido.

La división republicana ha dejado el liderazgo de Trump por los suelos. El legado de Barack Obama ha mostrado mucha más resistencia de la que se suponía y ha permitido que las carencias del multimillonario afloren. Las encuestas lo han señalado desde el primer día. Su valoración es la más débil de un presidente a esta altura del mandato, y su vertiginosa gestión solo polariza más. Pero esta limitación no implica que haya perdido el apoyo de sus bases. Los sondeos, como indica a este periódico el profesor Larry Sabato, director del Centro para la Política de la Universidad de Virginia, se elaboran sobre población general pero a efectos electorales solo importan los votantes registrados, y ahí Trump permanece incólume. Sin otros aliados, pero fuerte.

Con este bagaje, Trump ha entrado en el laberinto. Fracasado su plan de liquidar el Obamacare y aprobar al mismo tiempo un proyecto propio, está tratando de hallar una nueva salida: votar la eliminación del actual sistema y dejar para una discusión posterior su alternativa. El plan es de alto riesgo. Tres republicanos moderados ya han alertado de que no piensan dar ese paso y que sumaran sus votos a los demócratas. Dada la exigua mayoría republicana en el Senado (52 escaños frente a 48), es casi imposible que la iniciativa prospere.

Pero Trump no ha tirado la toalla. Ha pedido al líder de la mayoría republicana en el Senado, Mitch McConnell, que someta a votación el fin del Obamacare la semana que viene, y paralelamente él mismo ha convocado una serie de reuniones con los senadores, la primera este miércoles, con el objetivo de recuperar terreno perdido y taponar una fuga irreversible en su presidencia. “La inacción no es solución. Tengo una pluma en la mano lista para firmar. No deberíamos dejar la ciudad hasta tener un plan y sacarlo adelante”, les dijo.

La Casa Blanca es consciente de que sin una mayoría estable en el Senado no sólo la reforma sanitaria, sino su plan fiscal y los presupuestos del año próximo corren peligro. Ante este espectro, Trump, el antisistema que venía a drenar el pantano, ha empezado a buscar su apoyo. No será tarea fácil.

Los republicanos tienen la mayoría en las dos Cámaras, pero forman un universo fractal que hizo de la obstrucción un arma mortal contra Obama y cuyo aguijón sigue vivo. Irredentos, centrados en sus intereses de circunscripción y ultrasensibles a las elecciones de 2018 (renovación total en la Cámara de Representantes y un tercio en el Senado), usan su poder hasta la extenuación y no perdonan los deslices. Trump lo ha sentido en carne propia.

El líder que se presentaba como el gran hacedor de pactos ha cometido en la tramitación de la reforma sanitaria graves errores de estrategia. El primero se vio en marzo cuando intentó forzar la votación de una primera versión en la Cámara de Representantes sin tener mayoría asegurada. In extremis tuvo que retirarla y volver a negociar a puerta cerrada.

El bochorno se ha repetido ahora. En esta segunda fase, obligó al líder de la mayoría republicana en el Senado, Mitch McConell a imponer un doble juego:eliminar el Obamacare y aprobar un proyecto alternativo al mismo tiempo. McConnell y otros senadores le advirtieron de la complejidad de la jugada. Demasiado ambiciosa para lograrla de una sola tacada. Trump insistió. Y la fractura volvió a emerger.

Para los moderados, el plan presentado era excesivamente duro en sus recortes a los más desfavorecidos y hacía prever un colapso en la cifra de asegurados de clase trabajadora (unos 15 millones menos en dos años). Y para los radicales, la ley dejaba escapar con vida el Obamacare. El descontento era evidente. Y Trump no supo manejarlo.

El mismo lunes el presidente cenó con un nutrido grupo de senadores y dedicó la mayor parte de la reunión a recordar sus viajes. “No habló más que de Francia y del Día de la Bastilla”, señaló con sorna un senador republicano. Poco después, la rebelión tomó cuerpo y con la oposición de solo cuatro legisladores la ley se hundió.


Donald Trump ha jugado contra las encuestas en la reforma sanitaria. La última elaborada por The Washington Post-ABC y publicada este domingo pasado ya revelaba la falta de confianza en su proyecto. Aunque es cierto que el Obamacare no gusta del todo (sólo el 37% lo apoya con fuerza), aún gusta menos el proyecto alternativo auspiciado por la Casa Blanca (sólo 17% lo apoya con fuerza). Un resultado que se repite incluso entre los trabajadores blancos sin estudios superiores, el sector de voto duro de Trump.

A este factor se suma la propia polaridad del presidente. Excepto en el área económica, donde el 43% aprueba su gestión frente 41% que la rechaza, en el resto de baremos el mandatario suspende. Así el 58% es contrario a su gestión presidencial (36% a favor) y el 55% considera que no ha logrado avances significativos, frente al 38% que sí.


En pleno debate interno, el Partido Republicano sufrió un nuevo jarro de agua fría. La Oficina Presupuestaria del Congreso, un organismo independiente, pronosticó este miércoles que derogar partes de la ley sanitaria actual sin sustituirlas por una alternativa dispararía el número de personas sin seguro médico en EE UU: 17 millones más en 2018 y 32 millones en 2026. Es una cifra muy superior a los 22 millones de personas más sin seguro en nueve años que había calculado el organismo ante la primera propuesta de reforma republicana.

Ante la incapacidad de sumar los votos republicanos necesarios para avanzar con su propia reforma, Donald Trump ha instado a los senadores a derogar primero Obamacare y luego votar por una propuesta que lo sustituya. Pero esa estrategia parece contar con aún menos apoyos entre los legisladores, lo que posiblemente se acentuará con el pronóstico de la Oficina Presupuestaria.

En: elpais

Todos los hombres del Rusiagate

Donald Trump Jr., hijo del presidente de EEUU, sale de un ascensor de la Torre Trump. BLOOMBERG

Apenas ha comenzado julio y, como las series de televisión pasadas de moda, el Rusiagate – el escándalo causado por la presunta interferencia de Rusia en las elecciones de EEUU de 2016 – ha vuelto. Ahora, con un nuevo personaje: el hijo del protagonista. O sea, Donald Trump ‘junior’, primogénito del presidente de EEUU.

En la nueva temporada del ‘culebrón’, resulta que el joven Trump celebró el 9 de junio de 2016 una reunión con la abogada rusa Natalia Veselnitskaya, muy cercana al Kremlin, porque ésta le había ofrecido información comprometedora sobre Hillary Clinton. Al encuentro también asistieron dos de los asesores de Trump más involucrados en la trama rusa: su yerno y máximo asesor en la Casa Blanca, Jared Kushner, que entonces dirigía la operación ‘online’ de la campaña del ahora presidente, y el entonces jefe de campaña de Trump, Paul Manafort.

Pero el encuentro no ha sentado nada bien a los enemigos políticos de Trump. El domingo por la noche, el republicano -como Trump- Richard Painter, que sirvió en Oficina de Ética de la Casa Blanca con George W. Bush entre 2005 y 2007, declaró en la cadena de televisión MSNBC que la reunión entre Trump ‘junior’, Kushner, Manafort, y Veselnitskaya, “roza la traición”. Painter continuó ayer los ataques en Twitter, donde escribió que, “cuando un agente ruso llama ofreciendo información sucia [sobre un candidato, en este caso Hillary Clinton], un estadounidense leal llama al FBI”.

Quien más daño se ha hecho a si mismo es el propio Turmp ‘junior’, porque ha dado cuatro explicaciones diferentes. En marzo, en una entrevista al ‘New York Times’, negó todo tipo de encuentro. “¿Me he reunido con rusos? Desde luego. Pero en ningún caso en encuentros organizados”, dijo entonces. El sábado, cuando ese mismo diario publicó la reunión, el hijo del presidente dijo que “discutimos sobre todo un programa sobre la adopción de niños rusos”, y trató de distraer la atención al estilo de su padre: retuiteando un vídeo en el que el actor Tom Cruise, en la película de los ochenta Top Gun, derriba dos aviones con el logo de la cadena de televisión CNN.


El truco funcionó a Donald padre, pero no al hijo. Así que éste emitió un comunicado el domingo declarando que “la mujer [sic] dijo que tenía información de que individuos conectados a Rusia estaban financiando el Comité Nacional Demócrata y apoyando a la señora Clinton”. Finalmente, ayer, en Twitter, admitió que se había reunido con Veselnitskaya para lograr información sobre Hillary Clinton.

Esto es lo que ha enfurecido a muchos en EEUU. Una cosa es investigar a los rivales políticos – algo para lo que hay incluso empresas especializadas en EEUU – y otra, muy diferente, pedir ayuda para ello a una potencia extranjera. Lo segundo es susceptible de ser considerado, como señala Painter, como traición. Trump ‘junior’ reaccionó ayer a la tormenta ofreciéndose a testificar ante el Congreso sobre la reunión.

Encima, ‘The Washington Post’ publicó ayer que la reunión fue organizada por Aras Agalarov, un empresario ruso muy bien conectado con Vladimir Putin, que ha sido calificado como el ‘Trump ruso’ por su propensión a poner su nombre en todo lo que construye, y que, además, es amigo personal del presidente estadounidense desde que ambos organizaron el concurso de Miss Universo en Moscú en 2013. Ahí la trama da un giro más propio de Berlanga que de Ian Fleming (el creador de James Bond): la reunión del joven Trump con Veselnitskaya fue organizada por Emin Agalarov, hijo del empresario y estrella del pop ruso.

Así que Donald Trump ‘junior’ ya está hasta las orejas en el ‘Rusiagate’. Su nombre, así, se une a una larga lista de involucrados. Entre las más de dos docenas de personas investigadas por Richard Mueller, el fiscal especial del caso, destacan:

1. Mike Flynn. Él es, por ahora, el centro de la trama. Tuvo que dimitir del cargo de consejero de Seguridad Nacional en febrero después de que el ‘Washington Post’ informara que había hablado con el embajador ruso, Sergey Kislyak, sobre el levantamiento de las sanciones de EEUU a ese país cuando Obama todavía era presidente, aunque Trump había ganado las elecciones.

2. Donald Trump. El presidente podría estar siendo investigado por su decisión de cesar al director del FBI, James Comey, por su investigación acerca de los lazos del general retirado Mike Flynn con Rusia.

3. Jared Kushner. El yerno y máximo asesor del presidente celebró encuentros secretos con Flynn, Kislyak, y Sergey Gorkov, el máximo responsable de VEB, un banco del Estado ruso actualmente en quiebra que ha llevado a cabo operaciones de espionaje en EEUU.

4. Jeff Sessions. Del máximo responsable del Departamento de Justicia de EEUU ha ocultado tres reuniones que mantuvo con Kislyak y otros altos cargos rusos durante la campaña electoral de 2016.

5. Paul Manafort. El jefe de campaña de Trump tuvo que dimitir del cargo en agosto de 2016 tras haber ocultado que había trabajado en secreto para el Gobierno proruso de Viktor Yanukovich, en Ucrania.

6. Roger Stone. El asesor electoral de Trump estuvo con WikiLeaks y con Guccifer, el ‘hacker’ que entró en los servidores del Comité Nacional Demócrata.

7. Carter Page. El ex asesor electoral de Trump lleva tiempo siendo investigado por el FBI por posibles actividades de espionaje en favor de Rusia.


Los secretos de la abogada rusa del hijo de Trump

Muchos ven en Natalia Veseltnitskaya como una apisonadora en los juicios. CRÓNICA. Imagen:

  • A sus 42 años y 300 casos ganados, incluido uno contra Ikea, Veseltnitskaya es una alfil de Moscú en la torre Trump.
  • Al poco de reunirse con Donald júnior, el entonces candidato a presidente dijo que tenía munición contra Hillary Clinton
  • Sus contactos tienen mucho que ver: estuvo casada con el viceministro de Transporte de Moscú

Para que Natalia Veseltnitskaya se sentase una tarde de junio del año pasado en el despacho del hijo de Donald Trump hizo falta una burbuja inmobiliaria en Moscú, un abogado muerto a palos en una prisión rusa, que decenas de huérfanos se quedasen sin padres adoptivos y que el actual presidente de EEUU saliese en un vídeo musical del hijo de un oligarca ruso. La letrada que hoy copa las portadas de los diarios de todo el mundo se graduó en 1998 en la Academia Jurídica Estatal de Moscú, y después de trabajar durante tres años en la oficina del fiscal estatal fundó Camerton Consulting. Para entonces ya sabía que en la Rusia de Putin todo es posible.

Las tierras de pasto que rodean Moscú siempre han dado poco fruto a los que las trabajan. Pero el crecimiento económico que logró encarrilar el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, durante la década pasada disparó su valor y decenas de burócratas bien conectados se lanzaron al abordaje legal. En esos pleitos la leyenda de Veseltnitskaya evoca a la de una Juana de Arco rusa capaz de luchar por unos pocos para salvar a muchos más. Es una apisonadora para algunos. Una gran profesional del derecho para muchos más.

A sus 42 años ha ganado más de 300 casos y sabe infundir miedo a sus demandados en los pasillos de los juzgados. “Se ha enfrentado a Ikea por la propiedad de unos terrenos, está en el ojo del huracán”, dice Ekaterina, que trabaja en una firma de abogados y teme dar su apellido. “Los años de la mafia rusa han pasado, pero en casos como el de Ikea siguen existiendo guerras políticas sin extinguir y lo puedes perder todo”, explica un destacado hombre de negocios en la capital rusa. Esas tinieblas legales auparon a la correosa Natalia, cuya frase favorita es “nunca supliques nada a nadie”.

Dicen que ante el tribunal interpreta su papel como una soprano, ajustando el timbre de voz, dramatizando cada gesto, dejando las manos volar en las argumentaciones. Si además de todo esto tiene unas cuantas conexiones con la élite, el éxito está al alcance. Veseltnitskaya estuvo casada con el viceministro de Transporte de la región de Moscú Alexander Mitusov. El jefe de su entonces marido era Peter Katsyv, hoy un oligarca que ha usado sus contactos para hacerse con valiosos terrenos donde se dejó de sembrar patatas para plantar ingentes centros comerciales.

Años después Veseltnitskaya salvaría al hijo de Katsyv Denis de las garras de la justicia norteamericana, que pretendía procesarlo por blanquear dinero en Manhattan. Y el negocio de los centros comerciales condujo a ambos ante Aras Agalarov, uno de los oligarcas más importantes del país gracias a la explosión del shopping. Agalarov es en cierto modo un Trump a la rusa: vividores, amigos del show business y de los pelotazos inmobiliarios. Sus caminos tenían que cruzarse.

Ahí comienza la segunda vida de esta abogada de los suburbios, una guerrera legal que vio convertidos en oro los lodazales de la carretera por la que iba hasta su trabajo cada día en el suburbio moscovita de Jimki. En Rusia el patriotismo puede ser una actividad muy rentable y Veseltnitskaya se convirtió en una de las escuderas llamadas a defender al país de los ataques de gobiernos extranjeros. Así, en su trayectoria profesional ha destacado su incansable presión contra la ley Magnitski, aprobada en 2012 para sancionar a las personalidades relacionadas con la muerte en prisión del abogado Serguéi Magnitski. La norma indignó al Kremlin, que no dudó en utilizar al eslabón más débil de la cadena que unía a Rusia y EEUU y canceló las adopciones por parte de padres norteamericanos, hasta entonces una importante vía de salida de los nutridos orfanatos del país.

Veseltnitskaya se ha presentado en EEUU como alguien que trata de desbloquear estas adopciones, pero la llave maestra de ese candado es que Washington ceda y olvide su lista negra: una victoria para Moscú. En una cuenta a su nombre en redes sociales hay más ataques contra los adversarios de sus clientes que menciones a los niños rusos. En Rusia la defensa de la patria con frecuencia empieza por la parte alta de la escala social: la labor de Veseltnitskaya en EEUU se ha centrado en frenar los posibles perjuicios de esta ley sobre los rusos más acaudalados. La reunión con Donald Trump júnior en la Torre Trump tuvo lugar precisamente cuando la abogada había viajado a Norteamérica a colaborar en la defensa de Denis Katsyv, acusado de participar en el blanqueo de los fondos procedentes de la macroestafa del caso Magnitski.

Los Katsyv “están muy conectados con el fiscal general, Yuri Chaika”, desvela a Crónica William Browder, jefe del fallecido Mangnitski e impulsor de la ley del mismo nombre. Y Chaika es uno de los sospechosos de haber sido la fuente de la información que la abogada ofreció a los Trump. En cuanto a su manera de actuar, Browder la define como entrenada “a la vieja usanza rusa de tomar una posición extrema sobre cada asunto, incluso aunque esta postura radical no sirva a sus intereses a largo plazo”.

Aquel caso contra Katsyv se cerraría con una compensación de unos seis millones de dólares sin admisión de culpa. Gracias, casualmente, a la intervención de Trump, que tras ganar las elecciones destituiría al fiscal que tenía acorralado a su cliente. Ella colocó la bandera rusa en su perfil: Rusia gana.

El sueño (anti)americano de Veseltnitskaya se acelera a la vez que la campaña de Trump. Se reúne con miembros del Congreso, organiza reuniones y la acusan de pasar al Gobierno facturas de hoteles de 900 euros la noche. Pero la Torre Trump es demasiado alta para escalarla y alguien le echa una mano desde Rusia. Los informes que manejaba Moscú desde hacía años sobre el empresario Trump recogen dos intereses con los que la élite rusa sabe jugar: los negocios audaces y las mujeres bonitas. Aquí reaparece el Trump ruso: Aras Agalarov, el rey de esos centros comerciales a quien Veseltnitskaya ayudó. El norteamericano lo conoció en un hotel de Las Vegas cuando se dedicaba a organizar Miss Universo. A Agalarov, considerado próximo al Kremlin, le encanta recordar el saludo del hoy presidente de EEUU.

-¡Mira quién viene por aquí, el hombre más rico de Rusia!

Era 2012. Un año más tarde Trump estaba en Moscú para hacer negocios… y para presidir junto a Agalarov el certamen de Miss Universo. Hicieron buenas migas: “¡He conocido a la mejor familia de Rusia!”. Tan íntima fue la relación que el hoy presidente salió en un vídeo musical de Emin, el hijo del oligarca, y publicitó su álbum en Twitter. Años más tarde, con el republicano despuntando en la campaña electoral, Emin se puso en contacto con Trump júnior para decirle que una abogada del Estado ruso se podía reunir con él. Era Veseltnitskaya, que -como han recordado tanto ella como el Kremlin- no trabaja para el Estado. Pero era el alfil apropiado para pasar una información valiosa compilada por Moscú de la que poco se sabe… salvo que horas después de esa cita en junio de 2016, el candidato Trump anunció que tenía munición sobre las fechorías de Hillary Clinton.

Veseltnitskaya, como buena soprano, ha saludado tirando de modestia al acabar la primera función. Diciendo que no conoce a nadie en la élite y que en su cesta no llevaba gran cosa a la Torre Trump. ¿Era una abogada oportunista o una enviada del Kremlin? En Rusia, como se vio en la invasión de Ucrania, todo es “potencialmente híbrido”, señala el analista Mark Galeotti: incursiones que pueden funcionar o no, pero que se pueden negar sin pillarse los dedos y que, llegado el momento, serán recompensadas por una élite que sabe quién es el jefe.


Los indocumentados reciben (pocas) ayudas y pagan (bastantes) impuestos, pese a lo dicho por Trump

El discurso del republicano choca con el hecho de que los inmigrantes en situación irregular tienen vetado el acceso a la mayoría de servicios públicos federales.

Imagen: Tres situaciones cotidianas en las que normalmente un indocumentado pagaría impuestos. Getty Images

“Vamos a proteger nuestra Seguridad Social y nuestro Medicare”, exclamó el candidato Donald Trump en su discurso de este miércoles, en el que perfiló en varias ocasiones a los inmigrantes indocumentados como personas que se aprovechan de los servicios públicos estadounidenses.

De hecho, entre sus promesas desde Phoenix, Arizona, el republicano dijo:

“Los que abusan de nuestro sistema del bienestar serán prioritarios para la inmediata expulsión”
Sin embargo, varios estudios demuestran lo contrario para las arcas federales: que los indocumentados pagan bastantes más impuestos que los servicios públicos que reciben. A escala estatal y local, depende del caso.

La mayoría de programas de asistencia federal prohíben a los indocumentados usar sus beneficios y piden prueba de su estatus migratorio. Según Politifact, a diferencia de lo asegurado por Trump, estos inmigrantes no tienen acceso:

  • ni al programa de alimentos food stamps,
  • ni a ayudas en efectivo,
  • ni al programa para personas de bajos recursos Medicaid,
  • ni a los beneficios de Obamacare.

De hecho, un cálculo hecho por la Seguridad Social en 2013 dice que los indocumentados reciben servicios de esta institución por valor de 1,000 millones de dólares, pero aportan en impuestos 13 veces más que eso.

Los indocumentados viven en la sombra para las autoridades migratorias, pero no para las fiscales.

Elisabeth, por ejemplo, tiene 34 años, trabaja en el campo en el sur de Florida y vive en un cuarto rentado por 450 dólares con sus tres hijos. Desde hace cinco años, tiene un número de identificación fiscal y, con él, visita una vez al año a un contador para pagar sus impuestos.

Sí, es indocumentada y paga impuestos. Eso Trump lo omitió en su más de una hora de discurso. Así es cómo contribuyen los indocumentados a las arcas públicas:

Cuando presentan sus impuestos

Como el resto de inmigrantes y ciudadanos, una parte de ellos declara sus impuestos al acabar el año.

A escala estatal, se recaudan unos 1,100 millones de dólares en este concepto cada año, según The Institute on Taxation.

A escala federal, el Consejo Nacional de la Raza calculó en 2008 que hasta tres cuartos de los indocumentados pagan impuestos sobre sus ingresos anuales.

Y, pese a que viven sin autorización en Estados Unidos, la agencia federal que recauda los impuestos (IRS) lo admite. De hecho, en 1997, creó un número de identificación fiscal para quienes no tienen permiso de trabajo: el ITIN. Hay unos tres millones de contribuyentes que pagan sus impuestos nacionales así.

Según el IRS, contribuyen a las arcas públicas con unos 9,000 millones de dólares al año. El 80% de ellos son latinos y la mayoría cobran muy por debajo de la media nacional: menos de 25,000 dólares al año.

Sin embargo, no todos pagan sus impuestos a través del número ITIN. También hay quien usa números de seguro social (SNN) caducados o falsos.

Cuando reciben su salario

Y es así, con los números de seguro social caducados o falsos, cómo los indocumentados también contribuyen (ilícitamente) a los presupuestos públicos: a través de las nóminas (paychecks).

Esos números de seguro social pueden ser viejos (de cuando no existía el ITIN), caducados (si el indocumentado entró con un permiso temporal y se quedó ilegalmente), prestados (amigos que dejan el número) o directamente robados.

Trump subrayó ese incumplimiento de la ley y dijo sobre el sistema de verificación de números de seguro social:

“Vamos a asegurar que e-verify se usa en su máxima capacidad y que el Congreso expanda esta ley”

Cada año, a través de esas nóminas con deducciones, se recaudan al menos 7,000 millones para la Seguridad Social y 1,500 millones para Medicare, el programa sanitario para la gente mayor, según el cálculo de La Raza en 2012.

Otro estimado, hecho por la misma Seguridad Social en 2013, elevaba la contribución hasta 13,000 millones gracias a 3.1 millones de indocumentados con esos números.

Pero, en cambio, esos inmigrantes solo recibieron servicios de la Seguridad Social por valor de 1,000 millones, ya que como indocumentados no pueden solicitar la mayoría de prestaciones.

De hecho, este mismo año, el comisionado del IRS, John Koskinen, admitió en el Congreso que su agencia recauda dinero gracias a los números de seguro social falso… y que eran contribuciones necesarias:

“Son extranjeros indocumentados. Pagan sus impuestos. Es del interés de todos que sigan pagando los impuestos que deben”.

Cuando pagan la vivienda

Las autoridades locales recaudan impuestos de propiedad, y los indocumentados también los pagan. A través de la vivienda, pagan millones en impuestos.

Directamente, aquellos que son propietarios de sus casas y que abonan una media del 1% del valor del inmueble cada año.

O lo pagan indirectamente, a través de la renta que entregan al propietario, quien suele incluir la mitad del impuesto de propiedad en las sumas que pagan los inquilinos.

Los indocumentados contribuyen con cerca de 3,600 millones de dólares al año en este concepto, según The Institute on Taxation.

Cuando compran el almuerzo

Bueno, el almuerzo, el café, unos zapatos o una nevera. Como cualquier ciudadano, inmigrante o incluso turista, los indocumentados pagan impuestos cuando compran productos o consumen servicios en Estados Unidos.

Los estados, los condados y los municipios, que suelen recaudar esos impuestos, consiguen hasta 7,000 millones de dólares al año gracias a las compras que realizan los indocumentados, según The Institute on Taxation.


Cuando se inscriben en la universidad

“La inscripción de estudiantes indocumentados puede llevar a la creación de más empleos, no solo entre profesores, sino también en cualquier servicio vinculado a la educación”, decía un estudio sobre el impacto económico de los inmigrantes irregulares en el Journal of Sociology en 2012.

En efecto, más allá de la creación de empleos, los indocumentados financian las universidades públicas en las que se inscriben, como la University of Texas o University of California.

El grupo Educator for Fair Consideration calcula que entre 7,000 y 13,000 indocumentados estudian cada año en la universidad.

Actualmente hay un mínimo de 18 estados que permiten que estos estudiantes paguen la matrícula en universidades públicas al mismo precio que un alumno residente en el estado. En el resto, deben pagar al (astronómico) precio de estudiante internacional.

Cuando se sacan la licencia de manejo

Eso solo pasa en 12 estados y el Distrito de Columbia, donde hay legislación que les permite sacarse la licencia de manejar con una prueba de domicilio, un número ITIN o un documento similar.

En California, el estado con más inmigrantes en estatus irregular, unos 605,000 indocumentados lograron licencia de manejar en 2015, el primer año en que estuvo en vigor la ley que se lo permite.

  • PROS Y CONTRAS >> Los expertos en fiscalidad que defienden una reforma migratoria aseguran que legalizar a los cerca de 11 millones de indocumentados que hay en Estados Unidos inyectaría miles de millones al año en impuestos, porque los deberían pagar todos, recibirían mejores salarios y consumirían más. Sin embargo, los grupos más críticos con la inmigración ilegal se quejan del uso que hacen de servicios públicos como la educación, la sanidad y la infraestructura. Uno de esos grupos es Center for Inmigration Studies, a favor de reducir la población inmigrante, y que Donald Trump citó en su discurso migratorio de Arizona. El estudio que el republicano mencionóasegura que un 62% de los hogares liderados por un indocumentado tiene acceso a ayudas públicas, pero lo no detalla es que en esas casas suele haber miembros (especialmente hijos) que sí son residentes o ciudadanos.

En: univision

Tapper: So how is Melania’s anti-cyberbullying campaign going?

CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned how first lady Melania Trump’s cyber bullying initiative was coming along minutes after President Trump bashed the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Twitter.

“This reminds me: how is @FLOTUS’s campaign against cyber-bullying going?” Tapper tweeted.

Trump criticized the “Morning Joe” co-hosts in a series of early morning tweets that referenced a “face-lift” for co-host Mika Brzezinski.

“I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore),” Trump tweeted Thursday.

“Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

The president often rails on the media and refers to certain networks and stories as “fake news.”

He has repeatedly attacked the “Morning Joe” co-hosts, who have not been shy about returning fire on social media or on their show.

After Trump’s tweet Thursday, Brzezinski fired back at the president with a personal attack of her own, tweeting an image of the back of a cereal box labeled “made for little hands.”

Scarborough has previously commented on the trip to Mar-a-Lago, saying he and Brzezinski were working to get an interview with Trump. The two hosts came under some criticism at the time for attending the party and being too cozy with the then-president-elect.

Such criticism of “Morning Joe” was common during the 2016 GOP primary, though the program’s coverage appeared to get tougher on Trump during the general election.

Since Trump’s election, Trump and the show’s hosts have frequently feuded.

Melania Trump said in the past that as first lady, she would focus on issues including eliminating cyber bullying.

Other reporters on Twitter also raised questions about the first lady’s cyber bullying initiative after her husband’s early-morning attack.

In: thehill 

Trump Mocks Mika Brzezinski; Says She Was ‘Bleeding Badly From a Face-Lift’

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out Thursday at the appearance and intellect of Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” drawing condemnation from his fellow Republicans and reigniting the controversy over his attitudes toward women that nearly derailed his candidacy last year.

Mika Brzezinski in Trump Tower in November. Credit Evan Vucci/Associated Press. Image:

Mr. Trump’s invective threatened to further erode his support from Republican women and independents, both among voters and on Capitol Hill, where he needs negotiating leverage for the stalled Senate health care bill.

The president described Ms. Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and claimed in a series of Twitter posts that she had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social gathering at Mr. Trump’s resort in Florida around New Year’s Eve. The White House did not explain what had prompted the outburst, but a spokeswoman said Ms. Brzezinski deserved a rebuke because of her show’s harsh stance on Mr. Trump.

The tweets ended five months of relative silence from the president on the volatile subject of gender, reintroducing a political vulnerability: his history of demeaning women for their age, appearance and mental capacity.

“My first reaction was that this just has to stop, and I was disheartened because I had hoped the personal, ad hominem attacks had been left behind, that we were past that,” Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who is a crucial holdout on the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said in an interview.

“I don’t think it directly affects the negotiation on the health care bill, but it is undignified — it’s beneath a president of the United States and just so contrary to the way we expect a president to act,” she said. “People may say things during a campaign, but it’s different when you become a public servant. I don’t see it as undermining his ability to negotiate legislation, necessarily, but I see it as embarrassing to our country.”

A slew of Republicans echoed her sentiments. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who, like Ms. Collins, holds a pivotal and undecided vote on the health care bill, tweeted: “Stop it! The presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down.”

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who opposed Mr. Trump’s nomination during the presidential primaries, also implored him to stop, writing on Twitter that making such comments “isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.”

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, added, “The president’s tweets today don’t help our political or national discourse and do not provide a positive role model for our national dialogue.”

Ms. Brzezinski responded by posting on Twitter a photograph of a box of Cheerios with the words “Made for Little Hands,” a reference to a longstanding insult about the size of the president’s hands. MSNBC said in a statement, “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”

Mr. Trump’s attack injected even more negativity into a capital marinating in partisanship and reminded weary Republicans of a political fact they would rather forget: Mr. Trump has a problem with the half of the population more likely to vote.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and others in the House criticized President Trump’s remarks on Thursday. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times. Image:

Christine Matthews, a Republican pollster who specializes in the views of female voters, said the president’s use of Twitter to target a prominent woman was particularly striking, noting that he had used only one derogatory word — “psycho” — to describe the show’s other co-host, Joe Scarborough, and the remainder of his limited characters to hit upon damaging stereotypes of women.

“He included dumb, crazy, old, unattractive and desperate,” Ms. Matthews said.

“The continued tweeting, the fact that he is so outrageous, so unpresidential, is becoming a huge problem for him,” she added. “And it is particularly unhelpful in terms of building relationships with female Republican members of Congress, whose votes he needs for health care, tax reform and infrastructure.”

But it was unclear whether the vehemence of the president’s latest attack would embolden members of his party to turn disdain into defiance.

Senior Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, cycled through what has become a familiar series of emotions and calculations after the Twitter posts, according to staff members: a flash of anger, reckoning of possible damage and, finally, a determination to push past the controversy to pursue their agenda.

“Obviously, I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,” the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, said during a Capitol Hill news conference. Then he told reporters he wanted to talk about something else.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, demanded an apology, calling the president’s Twitter posts “sexist, an assault on the freedom of the press and an insult to all women.”

A spokeswoman for the president, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, urged the news media to move on, arguing during the daily White House briefing that Mr. Trump was “fighting fire with fire” by attacking a longtime critic.

Ms. Brzezinski had called the president “a liar” and suggested he was “mentally ill,” added Ms. Sanders, who defended Mr. Trump’s tweets as appropriate for a president.

Melania Trump, the president’s wife — who has said that, as first lady, she will embark on a campaign against cyberbullying — also rejected claims that her husband had done what she is charged with undoing.

“As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman wrote in a statement, referring to the first lady’s remarks during the campaign.

Current and former aides say that Mr. Trump was chastened by the furor over the “Access Hollywood” tape that emerged in October, which showed him bragging about forcing himself on women, and that he had exhibited self-restraint during the first few months of his administration. But in the past week, the sense that he had become the victim of a liberal media conspiracy against him loosened those tethers.

Moreover, Mr. Trump’s oldest friends say it is difficult for him to distinguish between large and small slights — or to recognize that his office comes with the expectation that he moderate his behavior.

And his fiercest, most savage responses have almost always been to what he has seen on television.

”Morning Joe,” once a friendly bastion on left-leaning MSNBC, has become a forum for fiery criticism of Mr. Trump. One adviser to the president accused the hosts of trying to “destroy” the administration over several months.

After lashing out at Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski at one point last summer, Mr. Trump told an adviser, “It felt good.”

Even before he began his campaign two years ago, Mr. Trump showed a disregard for civility when he made critical remarks on television and on social media, particularly about women.

He took aim at the actress Kim Novak, a star of 1950s cinema, as she presented during the 2014 Academy Awards, taking note of her plastic surgeries. Chagrined, Ms. Novak later said she had gone home to Oregon and not left her house for days. She accused Mr. Trump of bullying her, and he later apologized.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump was insensitive to perceptions that he was making sexist statements, arguing that he had a right to defend himself, an assertion Ms. Sanders echoed on Thursday.

After the first primary debate, hosted by Fox News in August 2015, Mr. Trump trained his focus on the only female moderator, Megyn Kelly, who pressed him on his history of making derogatory comments about women.

He told a CNN host that Ms. Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever,” leaving Republicans squeamish and many thinking he was suggesting that Ms. Kelly had been menstruating. He refused to apologize and kept up the attacks.

Later, he urged his millions of Twitter followers to watch a nonexistent graphic video of a former Miss Universe contestant, Alicia Machado, whose weight gain he had parlayed into a media spectacle while he was promoting the pageant.

Mr. Trump went on to describe female journalists as “crazy” and “neurotic” on his Twitter feed at various points during the race. He derided reporters covering his campaign, Katy Tur of NBC and Sara Murray of CNN, in terms he rarely used about men.

His tweets on Thursday added strain to the already combative daily briefing, as reporters interrupted Ms. Sanders’s defense of the president to ask how she felt about them as a woman and a mother.

She responded that she had only “one perfect role model”: God.

“None of us are perfect,” she said.


One of the reporters on this story, Glenn Thrush, has a contract for regular appearances on MSNBC.

Rosenstein’s Case Against Comey, Annotated

Contextualizing the deputy attorney general’s memorandum on the former FBI director

Depúty Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Image:

In a surprising move on Tuesday, President Trump abruptly fired James Comey, the director of the FBI and the official leading the investigation into whether Trump aides colluded with Russia to sway the U.S. presidential election. In his letter dismissing Comey, Trump told him: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

The White House said that Trump acted on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The longest letter released was a memorandum to Sessions from Rosenstein laying out the case for Comey’s dismissal. In the memo, Rosenstein criticizes Comey for his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and offers examples of bipartisan condemnation of Comey’s actions.

For context, we’ve annotated Rosenstein’s letter below.

May 9, 2017





The Federal Bureau of Investigation has long been regarded as our nation’s premier federal investigative agency. Over the past year, however, the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. That is deeply troubling to many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens.

The current FBI Director is an articulate and persuasive speaker about leadership and the immutable principles of the Department of Justice. He deserves our appreciation for his public service. As you and I have discussed, however, I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.

It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other officials to step in when a conflict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5, however, the Director announced his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.

Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.

In response to skeptical question at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his remarks by saying that his “goal was to say what is true. What did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it.” But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then – if prosecution is warranted – let the judge and jury determine the facts. We sometimes release information about closed investigations in appropriate ways, but the FBI does not do it sua sponte.

Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would “speak” about the decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or “conceal” it. “Conceal” is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.

My perspective on these issues is shared by former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties. Judge Laurence Silberman, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President Ford, wrote that “it is not the bureau’s responsibility to opine on whether a matter should be prosecuted.” Silberman believes that the Director’s “Performance was so inappropriate for an FBI director that [he] doubt[s] the bureau will ever completely recover.” Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton, joined with Larry Thompson, Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush, to opine that the Director had “chosen personally to restrike the balance between transparency and fairness, departing from the department’s traditions.” They concluded that the Director violated his obligation to “preserve, protect and defend” the traditions of the Department and the FBI.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under President George W. Bush, observed the Director “stepped way outside his job in disclosing the recommendation in that fashion” because the FBI director “doesn’t make that decision.”

Alberto Gonzales, who also served as Attorney General under President George W. Bush, called the decision “an error in judgement.” Eric Holder, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton and Attorney General under President Obama, said the Director’s decision“was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and traditions. And it ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season.” Holder concluded that the Director “broke with these fundamental principles” and “negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI.”

Former Deputy Attorneys General Gorelick and Thompson described the unusual events as“real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation,” that is “antithetical to the interests of justice.”

Donald Ayer, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President H.W. Bush, along with former Justice Department officials, was“astonished and perplexed” by the decision to “break[] with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections.” Ayer’s letter noted, “Perhaps most troubling… is the precedent set by this departure from the Department’s widely-respected, non-partisan traditions.”

We should reject the departure and return to the traditions.

Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly. I agree with the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials. The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.

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