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Immigration officers union opposes Trump’s pick to lead key agency

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Immigration officers union opposes Trump's pick to lead key agency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A union representing U.S. immigration and customs agents urged the Senate on Tuesday to block confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the immigration enforcement agency, citing past racially tinged and controversial comments.

Acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) Ronald Vitiello listens as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks at ICE headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, which represents more than 7,000 agents, endorsed Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But it opposes the Republican president’s nomination of Ronald Vitiello to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

A letter from union President Chris Crane to the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, seen by Reuters, said the nominee “lacks the judgment and professionalism to effectively lead a federal agency.”

An ICE representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Senate committee is scheduled to vote on Wednesday on whether to approve Vitiello’s nomination and send it to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Vitiello, a former top Customs and Border Protection official, was named as ICE’s acting director in the summer, shortly after Trump ended a contentious policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.

Vitiello could face some opposition from Democrats, particularly after he refused during his confirmation hearing on Nov. 15 to rule out reinstating the child separation policy.

“We will get less people bringing their children. So it is an option,” he said at the time.

Tuesday’s letter marked the first time the union has openly opposed the nomination of any presidential appointee. The union broke with its parent organization, the American Federation of Government Employees, when it endorsed Trump in 2016.

In the letter, Crane cited numerous concerns that ranged from allegations of whistleblower retaliation and lying to lawmakers during Vitiello’s confirmation process, to offensive tweets that Vitiello made while serving at Customs and Border Protection.

In one social media post, Vitiello suggested the Democratic Party should be renamed as “NeoKlanist,” a reference to the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group, and in another Vitiello compared then-candidate Trump to the troublemaking Dennis the Menace newspaper comic character. At the time he did this, Crane wrote, Vitiello’s Twitter account showed him wearing a Border Patrol uniform.

Crane wrote that such comments violate official codes of conduct at the Department of Homeland Security and could jeopardize criminal cases that go to trial because they could be used by the defense to impeach ICE’s credibility.

“This type of conduct would result in a rank and file ICE employee being disciplined, if not possibly removed from employment,” Crane wrote.

“We are not aware that Mr. Vitiello was ever disciplined for his actions and instead of being demoted or fired, if confirmed as ICE Director, he will be promoted to the highest position in one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies,” the union president wrote.

Although an ICE official could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday, the department denied many of Crane’s allegations when he first leveled them in November ahead of Vitiello’s confirmation hearing. The nominee told lawmakers during the hearing that his tweet about the Democratic Party was a mistake.

“I was trying to make a joke,” Vitiello said at the time, adding that he thought he was sending it as a private direct message on Twitter rather than publicly on the social media platform, and that he deeply regretted it.

Whether the union’s opposition to Vitiello could move the needle enough to block him will largely turn on how Republicans respond. Republicans hold 53 Senate seats, and only a simple majority in the 100-seat chamber is needed to approve a nomination.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

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Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives at his office in Washington, U.S., April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday called on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized Attorney General William Barr for writing what they called a “slanted” summary letter and for planning a press conference before the expected release of the report detailing the probe’s findings on Thursday.

“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement.

(This story has been refiled to correct the sequence of events of press conference and report.)

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Left will continue to ‘believe in Russia collusion’ even after Mueller report release, Byron York says

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Left will continue to 'believe in Russia collusion' even after Mueller report release, Byron York says

The Russia collusion narrative is unlikely to go away even after the Robert Mueller report is released later today, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York predicts.

“A lot of Democrats have invested the last two years of their life in believing that there was collusion between Russia to fix the 2016 election. Don’t think they gonna give it up just because of this,” York told “Fox and Friends”.

“A lot of Democrats have invested the last two years of their life in believing that there was collusion between Russia to fix the 2016 election. Don’t think they gonna give it up just because of this.”

— Byron York

The prediction comes as Washington, D.C. is bracing for the release of the Mueller report that according to Attorney General William Barr didn’t establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

IN MUELLER REPORT’S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

York pointed out that after Barr outlined the report’s conclusions in a letter and quoted Mueller stating that the evidence didn’t establish a conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, many Democrats began doubling-down on the collusion charges.

“Immediately people on the left said maybe he couldn’t prove a criminal conspiracy but maybe there was some other sort of conspiracy. Or maybe he couldn’t prove to beyond a reasonable doubt but maybe there is evidence that the rest of us can believe,” York said.

“I really think we have already seen and they already tipped their hands that they are going to continue to believe in collusion.”

“I really think we have already seen and they already tipped their hands that they are going to continue to believe in collusion.”

— Byron York

On the obstruction of justice charges, York says those opposing President Trump will have even more to talk about after the report release as Mueller himself didn’t reach a conclusion about obstruction charges.

“If the Barr summary is pretty accurate, Mueller did not reach a conclusion about obstruction. That’s a question right there. He is a prosecutor. He has all the evidence. Why didn’t he reach some sort of conclusion?” he said.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

“There will be a lot of ammunition, we know that already for Trump’s critics who say that firing James Comey or the Lester Holt interview or something else was proof of obstruction right there in front of our eyes. So I don’t think that argument is going to go away at all.”

Lastly, even if the Mueller report doesn’t find wrongdoing by Trump, it’s unlikely to end the talk of impeachment by Democrats even as the 2020 election nears.

“If you believed in impeachment before the Mueller report, why would you stop believing in it now?,” York said, pointing that there’s a conflict within the Democratic Party on how to proceed with this.

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“You have a lot of the leadership like Nancy Pelosi wanting to move on, these are the more senior people wanting to move on, wanting to focus on the legislative agenda,” he continued.

“But you are going to have the investigative committees, the judiciary committee, the intelligence committee investigating this stuff all the way until the next election.”

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Fox Nation takes you behind the scenes of Bernie Sander’s Fox News town hall

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Bernie Sanders' plans will cost $20G per taxpayer, blow hole in budget, nonpartisan group's president says

2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,  told voters and Fox News viewers why they should vote him into the White House in a special town hall event Monday night.

Sanders spent an hour answering questions from potential voters and Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, before thanking the audience and viewers.

WATCH: FOX NATION’S BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT BERNIE SANDERS’ TOWN HALL

The senator defended his wealth, outlined his health care plan, and critiqued President Trump in what was the most watched town hall event so-far this election season.

But that wasn’t the whole story…

HOW BERNIE WENT FROM SOCIALIST GADFLY TO FRONTRUNNER

Fox Nation took a behind the scenes look at Monday’s Town Hall as Fox News crews worked tirelessly setting up the event and reaching out to the local community about the important issues that Sanders needed to address.

The crew even dealt with a weather situation that threatened the event.

“Due to the weather conditions in the area they’re worried about a power cut from the local utility,” Roger Germinder, Coordinator Operations and Engineering for Fox News revealed in the Fox Nation special.

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To see how the Town Hall was put together, how the anchors prepared and more go to FoxNation.com.

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