Current Events
Current Events

IS THERE AN END TO THE SHUTDOWN IN SIGHT?

Three things you should know about President Trump’s latest proposal aimed at ending the longest partial gov’t shutdown in U.S. history.

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What Pres. Trump Wants:

The bid to end the shutdown seeks $5.7B in border funding for “steel barriers in high-priority locations” – “not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea.”

The New Offer: 3-year extended protections (NOT amnesty or pathway to citizenship) for some groups in exchange for border $$.

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Pres. Trump’s Offer:

Extend Protections For Those Whose Legal Status Is In Peril

  • Approx. 700K enrolled in Obama-era program called “DACA” who entered by 2007 illegally as minors w/ their parents.
  • Approx. 300K with “Temporary Protected Status” who fled their countries due to disaster/violence & face expiration of status.
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Bipartisan Critics

  • Dems Say It’s A Nonstarter: Top Dems like, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have dismissed it, saying it won’t make America safer & contains similar ideas already rejected.
  • Some On The Right Seem Not Too Keen On It Either: Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and conservative commentator Anne Coulter.
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However some Republicans are open to this proposal as the start of more negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to bring Pres. Trump’s proposal to the Senate floor for a vote on Tuesday, which will be day 32 of the partial government shutdown.

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HONORING THE FALLEN

Five Americans died in service to the nation last week…

Their sacrifice & what to know about the global war on terror.

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Sgt. Cameron Meddock

  • Army Ranger (26) died as a result of wounds battling ISIS in Afghanistan during his 2nd deployment.
  • His wife is expecting their first baby, according to reports.

“The entire nation should strive to emulate the warrior, patriot and husband that Cameron was.”

Col. Brandon Tegtmeier
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AFGHANISTAN
What To Watch:

  • ISIS “spin-off” groups have grown in the lawless country where Americans have spent most of their time and resources in our longest war battling the Taliban.
  • REPORTS:  Peace talks between the Taliban and U.S. reportedly stalled. Taliban claim U.S. making demands to release American hostage.
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Chief Warrant Officer
Jonathan Farmer

  • Army Special Forces aka “Green Beret” (37) died in suicide attack in Syria.
  • Married with 4 children.
  • 6 combat tours overseas.

“…the kind of person you want to be around, you want your kids to be around.”

Cathy White, friend & neighbor
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Chief Shannon Kent

  • Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (35)
  • 1st U.S. woman killed in combat against ISIS.  Spoke 7 languages.

“Those of us who knew her personally will remember her brilliant mind, loving nature, and always hold her as our small-town hero.”

Gregg Pulver, family friend
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Scott Wirtz

  • Civilian & former Navy SEAL (42) working for the Defense Intelligence Agency, serving “multiple deployments.”

“He was the ultimate hero… He was a true warrior with the heart of a teddy bear.”

Matt Shadow, cousin
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SYRIA

How will conflict end *OR* evolve?

  • While America’s role in Syria remains uncertain: Russia, Turkey, Iran & America’s 70+ coalition partners remain active.
  • Despite loss of key territory, ISIS claimed responsibility for attack that killed 4 Americans.
  • Israel hits Iranian targets inside Syria after missiles fired at Israel.
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One American who made the ultimate sacrifice in Syria remains unidentified - a practice often reserved for those who have worked in the clandestine units of the U.S. military.

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*UPDATE*
Children Separated At U.S. Southern Border

 

A new gov’t report reveals more children may have been separated than previously reported & sheds lights on reunification efforts.

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A Look Back At 2018:

April – June: Est. 2,342 children were separated from families & put in gov’t custody under the “zero tolerance” policy (req’d arrest of any adult crossing illegally). Previously, adults w/ child(ren) may avoid arrest.

June: Federal court ordered gov’t to end to policy & reunify all children separated (then at 2,654) of families who met certain criteria.

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Latest From New Report:

  • Widespread practice of separating dates back to at least Summer 2017. Before then, separations were used sparingly.
  • The total number of children separated is unknown.
  • In December, HHS identified a total of 2,737 separated children of families who met the reunification criteria, 77% (2,131) of whom were reunified with family.
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What About The Rest?

  • 526 children were released to a sponsor (typically a parent or close relative living in U.S.)
  • 95 children’s parents declined reunification
  • 28 children had a parent deemed unfit & ineligible for reunification
  • 28 children were improperly classified as separated
  • 8 children were in the process of reunification
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“HHS faced challenges in identifying separated children… The effort undertaken by HHS was complex, fast-moving, and resource-intensive. (The IG) report provides a window into the herculean work of the HHS career staff to ‘rapidly identify children in (its) care who had been separated from their parents and reunify them.”

HHS Statement on IG Report
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In addition to the minors (under 18) separated from their families or guardians at the border, the gov't has another 10,000 who crossed the border alone (commonly referred to as Unaccompanied Alien Children ) in custody awaiting judicial resolution of their immigration status.

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Current Events

TIME IS ALMOST UP

Brexit Breakdown

UK’s Parliament rejects the “only deal on the table” as Prime Minister Theresa May faces the fight of her political life.

And Big Ben ticks on – with just 10 weeks until Britain is set to leave the European Union.

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Brexit Latest

  • On Tuesday, UK Parliament rejected PM May’s Brexit deal.
  • Remember: In June 2016, 52% of Britons voted to leave the EU.
  • Elected officials *now* overwhelming defeated May’s deal with a 432-202 vote.
  • EU has warned: no more discussion on the Brexit deal.
  • With or without a deal, Britain is set to leave EU on March 29th.
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What’s the Problem?

Critics argue the terms are too strict – it keeps the UK too dependent upon the EU.

Others want Brexit but don’t want ANY terms; They want to leave the EU with no conditions, something others fear would cause havoc on the UK, politically & economically.

Others never wanted Brexit at all.

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“The idea that everything could fall to bits, and basic things could just stop, it’s not really imaginable to us. There’s an idea that we’ll all be all right in the end. Well, we may not.”

Rob Ford, a professor of political science at the University of Manchester, on the unpredictable future for the world's fifth-largest economy.
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What’s Brexit “Plan B”?

  • Stop the Clock: Extend deadline to renegotiate. But will EU agree?
  • Second Vote: Repeat 2016 vote to learn what citizens want *now*.
  • New Election: Held if PM May is forced to resign *or* to give PM May the political support needed to get a Brexit deal done.
  • No Deal: Both sides want to avoid, likely cause economic & geopolitical drama.
Current Events

EU Council President says the Brexit deal looks "impossible," suggesting the UK should cancel it altogether. PM May faces a challenge to her leadership on Wednesday that she's expected to survive. She has until Monday to present a back-up plan.

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Current Events

DEMOCRATS DIVE IN

 

 

22 months from the next Presidential election, the field gets more crowded.

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Why So Early?

The earlier you announce you can:

  • Do Media (Name Recognition)
  • Raise Money
  • Travel To Key States

Just *saying* you’re running gets you started, but you still have to register (it’s one form!) & get your name on state ballots (differs state-by-state).

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“There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) says she will officially announce her candidacy this coming week. Gabbard served in the Army National Guard and deployed twice to Iraq. She's 37 years-old and currently serving her fourth term in congress.
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“…I’m under no illusion that accomplishing something like Medicare-for-all would be easy. But I do believe that in this nation, in the richest nation on Earth, that not a single person should be without health care when they need it.”

Julián Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary in the Obama Administration announced his intention to run for President this weekend in his hometown of San Antonio, where he served as mayor.
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“What the American people are really looking for is a leader to try to bring us together, not actually talk like half the country’s entirely wrong about everything they believe.”

John Delaney, formerly a Maryland congressman, was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in 2017. This weekend, he announced he'd only work on bipartisan proposals for his first 100 days in office. He's visited Iowa & New Hampshire, 21 & 12 times respectively, two important early states in presidential elections.
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Something To Consider:

“If past presidential campaigns are prelude to the present, there’s every reason to believe an unknown will emerge and win the Democratic presidential nod. Barack Obama did it in 2008. Bill Clinton in 1992 and Jimmy Carter in 1976…”

Brad Bannon, Democratic Pollster, Bannon Communications Research
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30+ candidates may seek the Democrat Party's nomination for President. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced in Dec. she has an exploratory committee - a team recognized by the Federal Elections Committee - that's a sign of "seriousness" of intent.

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Current Events

AN EYE ON THE EAST

While the debate rages about security at America’s Southern Border, our Sec. of State heads on a week-long tour of the Middle East to reassure allies of America’s priorities.

But what are they?

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Why Is He Going? 

Sec. Pompeo’s 2 declared priorities:

  • U.S. will continue to battle ISIS, but change tactics (withdraw troops from Syria, though he sets no timeline. Nat’l Sec. Advisor Bolton echoed this sentiment in Israel over the wknd).
  • U.S. will continue to work to thwart Iran & its “dangerous” activities in the Middle East.
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Why Now?

“This is the reality setting in that you’ve got to plan this out.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), responding to a question about whether the President's declaration that 2,000 U.S. troops will withdraw from Syria was a "mistake." A day after Pres. Trump's announcement, fmr. Sec. of Def Mattis resigned & emphasized the importance of America's allies. NS Advisor John Bolton & Sec. Pompeo are now meeting with key regional Mideast allies.
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“One day he (President Trump) is saying we are in Syria for the long term to fight Iran. The next day Trump says we’re leaving in 30 days and Iran can do whatever it wants in Syria. It’s impossible to be effective in this environment.”

Ilan Goldenberg, fmr. Obama official, now w/the bipartisan nonprofit Center for a New American Security. Sec. Pompeo plans to speak about America's Middle East policy while in Cairo - the same city Pres. Obama delivered a speech on the same topic.
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YOUR SAFETY AT STAKE

  • ISIS: Last week, two Americans were reportedly captured fighting with ISIS in Syria – a reminder of the terrorist group’s powerful ideology despite loss of territory.
  • Iran: Funds terrorist organizations, wants to expand anti-American influence in region and is suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons.
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Also on Agenda: Yemen

  • Yemen, site of a major civil war & humanitarian crisis.
  • Home to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a dangerous branch that plots against U.S & plays a role in the terrorist group’s global leadership.
  • On Jan. 1, a U.S. airstrike killed a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist.
  • Ally support makes these drone strikes possible.
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Sec. Pompeo's trip follows NS Advisor, John Bolton's trip to Israel & Turkey (2 countries Sec. Pompeo is not scheduled to visit). Though he *may* reportedly stop in Israel or Iraq). The current itinerary: Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman & Kuwait

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Historic Shutdown

The current government shutdown is *already* slated to become at least the second-longest in American history.

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HISTORICAL CONTEXT

This is the 20th funding gap since 1976 when the modern-day budget process was established.

Before 1980, the gov’t continued operating during funding gaps.

10 shutdowns lasted 3 days or less.

The longest gov’t shutdown took place in 1995 and lasted 21 days.

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What Is A Gov’t Shutdown?

  • Also known as a “funding gap“, a shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass 12 appropriation bills, which set spending limits for various federal agencies.
  • A shutdown ends when Congress either passes the 12 requisite spending bills OR a continuing resolution (a temporary funding measure) to give Congress more time to pass the 12 spending bills.
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Why It Matters

  • Federal agencies cease operating all non-essential discretionary functions (ex: museums).
  • Individual gov’t agencies decide what are essential & non-essential functions; some services are delayed due to fewer workers.
  • Gov’t workers who perform essential duties still report to work & get paid (ex: military), others work & don’t get paid (ex: TSA).
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Current Shutdown: Details

  • In October, Congress passed 5 of the 12 appropriation bills, funding about 75% of the federal gov’t.
  • Fully shut down agencies employ approx. 800,000 who make about $1.4B / week. Other agencies are partially shut down (ex: IRS).
  • Approx. 380,000 working WITHOUT pay (ex: Homeland Security) will likely get paid after shutdown – unclear when.
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How It Impacts You:

  • Your Safety: Some TSA workers are reportedly calling in sick as opposed to working with no pay.
  • Your Fun: Fewer nat’l park workers mean more unkempt grounds and less security.
  • Your Money: Home loans and small business loans maybe delayed due to lack of gov’t forms through IRS. Fewer IRS workers could lead to delayed refunds.
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WHEN WILL THE SHUTDOWN END? Nobody knows! Congressional representatives and senators ARE paid during the shutdown. Congress gets back to work late Tuesday. If the shutdown extends beyond next weekend, it will be the longest in history.

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MAJOR RESIGNATION

A day after President Trump announces the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, Secretary of Defense James Mattis hands in his resignation letter.

Sec. Mattis will leave at the end of February.

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Why Is He Leaving?

“Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours … I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

Sec. Mattis
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What Else His Letter Says:

  • Calls out China & Russia as two actors who want to extend their “authoritarian model” of the world.
  • Says he values “treating allies with respect” & being “clear-eyed about maligned actors and strategic competitors.”
  • Mentions the importance of alliances like NATO, and the 74 nation Defeat-ISIS coalition.
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“During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!”

President Trump via Twitter
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Widely respected in the military for his 4-decades of service, Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis' upcoming departure raises many questions about what's next for the President's strategy in Syria, Afghanistan and beyond. Read Sec. Mattis' resignation letter for yourself.

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Current Events

Healthcare Havoc?

 

 

A federal ruling declares the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.
What does this mean for America’s healthcare?

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Timeline

  • 2010: Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare) signed into law
  • 2012: Supreme Court held the ACA’s “individual mandate”, which requires people to buy insurance or pay a penalty, is constitutional under Congress’ power to tax.
  • 2017: Congress eliminated the ACA tax penalty as part of the GOP’s tax overhaul in December.
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The Latest

In February, 20 states (led by TX) sued to have the ACA declared unconstitutional after the tax penalty for the uninsured was removed.

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that w/o the tax penalty, the ACA is no longer a valid exercise of Congress’ power, & because it cannot be separated from the ACA, declared the entire ACA unconstitutional.

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“Today’s ruling halts an unconstitutional exertion of federal power over the American healthcare system…. which will give President Trump and Congress the opportunity to replace the failed social experiment with a plan that ensures Texans and all Americans will again have greater choice about what health coverage they need and who will be their doctor.”

TX Attorney General Ken Paxton
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“Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare, and on America’s faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans… The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court.”

CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra
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Now What? Nada! All of the people insured under the ACA or the state marketplace insurance plans remain insured. Last week's ruling is NOT final and will be appealed. ACA is still the law of the land and it will remain so unless it is repealed or the Supreme Court strikes it down.

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Targeting Terrorists

American airstrikes target
Al-Qaeda in Africa… the same enemy an American soldier died fighting this year.

What this tells us about
America’s War on Terror

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America Targets In Africa

  • American airstrikes this weekend kill 62 al-Shabab militants in Somalia.
  • al-Shabab is an ally or arm of al-Qaeda’s in Africa.
  • America also recently targeted al-Qaeda’s militants in Libya (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb).
  • Strikes continue against al-Qaeda’s in Yemen (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula).
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Why It Matters

It’s not just airstrikes; an American soldier died in June (others injured) during an al-Shabab raid.

Political instability rampant in Africa provides a vacuum for terrorist groups to recruit, grow & gain power.

An American soldier died this year fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

 

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“Were we not to put the pressure on Al Qaeda, ISIS and other groups in the region that we are putting on today, it is our assessment that in a period of time their capability would reconstitute. They have today the intent and would have in the future the capability to do what we saw on 9/11.”

Gen. Dunford, nation's highest military officer, explaining broader threat of terrorist groups & why he says the U.S. should not withdraw from Afghanistan.
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Attacks against al-Qaeda's branches in Somalia & Yemen both increased under Pres. Trump. However, the administration is negotiating directly with al-Qaeda ally, the Taliban, in Afghanistan.

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BORDER BATTLE

Debate over security at the U.S. Southern Border hits center stage in Washington D.C., as the death of a child highlights a crucial challenge of our times.

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BIG PICTURE: NOVEMBER

  • 25,000+ “family units” apprehended at border. Family units = # of individuals (adult or child) apprehended with a family member.
  • 5,200+ *unaccompanied* children (under age of 18) *also* apprehended at border.
  • Family Units or children = more than half of the total 51,856 border apprehensions.

 

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Why So Many Families?

“Central Americans know they will have a better chance of avoiding deportation, at least temporarily, if they are processed along with children.” ~ Washington Post

  • In 2018, Guatemala had the most illegal border apprehensions.
  • Guatemalan community leaders worry some children are victims of human trafficking. (WAPO)
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Child Death: Details

  • 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died at hospital Dec. 8, in custody of U.S gov’t.
  • She traveled with her father, part of 163 people who turned themselves over to 3 border patrol agents in an extremely remote part of New Mexico.
  • 50 children in group, traveling without parents or guardians.
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“Please, we are begging you, present yourselves and your children at a port of entry and seek to enter legally and safely.”

Statement from Dept. of Homeland Security, mapping out events of the death of a 7-year-old girl while in the custody of border patrol. Border Patrol says they've rescued more than 4,300 people in the past year.
click here: Read It
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Something To Consider:

  • Illegal border apprehensions up 25% in 2018 vs. 2017 (historic low).
  • Death of little girl highlights the record increase of family units illegally crossing border (& whether Border Patrol has appropriate resources to handle).
  • Debate this week will focus on funding for a border wall or fence as immigration reform remains illusive to both parties.
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Congress has to agree on a funding bill by Friday to avoid a partial gov't shutdown. Pres. Trump wants $5B for a border wall; Democrats want to extend current border security funding at $1.3 or a new funding level as high as $1.6B.

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Special Counsel Investigation Update

 

As Pres. Trump’s former personal attorney (Michael Cohen) faces sentencing, a look back at what’s happened in the nearly 19 months since Fmr. FBI Dir. Robert Mueller was appointed to lead the Special Counsel investigation.

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Where Does The Investigation Stand Today?

  • Indictments: 36 (incl. Russians).
  • Cost: $17M through March 2018 (latest data available).
  • Guilty Pleas: 6 people linked to Pres. Trump, most of whom are former associates or advisers.
  • Prison Time: 3 people received sentences adding up to about 7.5 months. Cohen faces many years when he’s sentenced Wednesday.
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Why Is It Taking So Long?

DOJ order appointing Mueller is very broad & allows investigation into:

  • links / coordination between the Russian gov’t and 2016 Trump campaign associates;
  • matters that arise directly from the investigation; &
  • crimes intended to interfere with the investigation.
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What Does It Mean For Pres. Trump?

Recent gov’t filings implicate Pres. Trump in his fmr. attorney’s (Michael Cohen) campaign finance law violations, however, to date, there is no indication that he committed a crime OR colluded w/ Russians.

Something To Consider: According to DOJ, a sitting president can’t be indicted, but he can be impeached.

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Special Counsel investigation could have an impact outside the courtroom. House of Rep. has the power to introduce impeachment charges for federal officials who are suspected of committing a crime or acting improper. Senate decides whether or not to convict.

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