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Trump administration warns of record illegal border crossings ahead of vote by Congress

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Trump administration warns of record illegal border crossings ahead of vote by Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration warned Republican lawmakers Tuesday about record numbers of illegal crossings at the southern border with Mexico as Congress appeared to be on the verge of terminating President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency there.

Construction workers in the U.S. work on a new section of the border fence as seen from Tijuana, Mexico February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited the U.S. Capitol as the White House sought to discourage more Republican defections on the measure rebuking the president. Republican senators had a “spirited discussion” on the matter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Trump declared an emergency at the border Feb. 15, saying this allows him to use money that Congress has appropriated for other purposes in order to build a border wall. Trump says the wall is needed to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

The Democratic-majority House of Representatives already has approved a measure to overturn Trump’s border wall emergency, and the Republican-run Senate is expected to follow suit by the end of next week now that four Senate Republicans say they will join Democrats in passing it.

But there does not appear to be a super-majority in Congress to override an expected Trump veto.

Emerging from a lunchtime meeting with Nielsen, some lawmakers said she made a strong presentation about a crisis at the border, with record numbers of immigrants showing up.

“Secretary Nielsen just released the latest apprehension numbers,” with 60,000 apprehended at the border in January and 76,000 in February, Montana Republican Steve Daines said. “Based on the current trend lines this will be an all-time record year for illegal apprehensions” at the southern border, he said.

Daines supported Trump’s emergency declaration, saying, “I am a northern border-state senator with a southern border crisis. It is drugs, it is meth, it is destroying our communities and families in Montana.”

But Nielsen’s presentation did not convince Senator Rand Paul, who announced at the weekend that he would join three other Republican senators to vote to block Trump’s border emergency. This is enough for it to pass, assuming all Senate Democrats back it as well.

“To me it has nothing to do with immigration. It has to do with whether or not the president can spend money that Congress didn’t give to him,” Paul told reporters after the lunch.

Paul said he thought there are at least another six Republican senators who feel the same way he does but “I don’t know if they will all follow through with it” and vote to nullify the president’s declaration.

Paul also said he had spoken to Trump about the matter. “I talked to the president the other night about it. I think he understands that I have strong beliefs that the Constitution indicates only the Congress should spend money.”

Last month, Congress rejected Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to help build a border wall, prompting him to take unilateral action. Democrats insist there are better, less expensive ways to improve border security than building border walls.

If the Senate joins the House in voting to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, the president’s anticipated veto would be the first of his presidency. During his first two years as president, Republicans controlled the Senate, House and White House.

That is in contrast to Trump’s three immediate predecessors who all vetoed bills during the periods in which their party controlled the Congress and White House – and is a reflection of how closely Republican lawmakers and Trump have worked in tandem while in power.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Sonya Hepinstall and Lisa Shumaker

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Bernie Sanders’ hiring of non-American campaign advisers may violate federal election laws, complaint says

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New spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders won't be able to vote for him in 2020 -- she's an illegal immigrant

Bernie Sanders was hit a complaint this week, claiming his presidential campaign violated federal election laws by employing non-Americans in advisery positions.

A new complaint by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) notes that three members of the Sanders campaign are foreign nationals, which appears to be a violation of federal election laws that prohibit foreign interference.

NEW SPOKESWOMAN FOR BERNIE SANDERS WON’T BE ABLE TO VOTE FOR HIM IN 2020 — SHE’S AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT

Maria Belén Sisa, Sanders’ deputy national press secretary who joined the campaign last month, was among the staffers named in the complaint, as first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. Sisa claims to be an illegal immigrant whose residency is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program for assisting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Sisa recently caused an uproar after invoking an anti-Semitic “dual allegiance” trope of Jewish Americans while defending Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and questioning whether American Jews, including Sanders, were loyal to the United States.

The complaint notes that Sisa not only got a salary from Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, she also contributed money to it and is now serving in “an advisory position” in the 2020 campaign – all of which are “direct and serious violations” of federal election laws.

“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations,” the complaint reads.

“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations.”

— The complaint

BERNIE SANDERS AIDE DEFENDS OMAR WITH TERM SEEN AS ANTI-SEMITIC, APOLOGIZES

According to the FEC rules, foreign nationals, who aren’t lawfully admitted permanent residents, cannot directly or indirectly participate in political campaigns. Such individuals are also barred from making political contributions.

The complaint also names two other foreign nationals on the Sanders’ 2016 campaign, immigration activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who worked as the campaign’s national Latino outreach strategist and press secretary for Latino outreach, respectively.

“Due to the high profile of Cesar Vargas, Erika Andiola, and Maria Belén Sisa as leading activists in the undocumented community, there is reason to believe that respondents are ‘foreign nationals’ within the meaning of 52 U.S.C. § 301219b)(2), and in violation of 11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (i) and A.O. 2004-26, directly or indirectly participated in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2016,” the complaint continued.

“There is reason to believe, having previously employed Ms. Sisa, that Bernie 2020 is currently, and knowingly, permitting a ‘foreign national’ … to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2020.”

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The complaint calls on the FEC to investigate both the 2016 and the current presidential campaigns and take action to curb the violations.

“The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations,” the complaint read. “Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents’ future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

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Democrats vow to keep investigating Trump despite Mueller's conclusions, no new indictments

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Congressional Democrats vowed Friday to keep investigating President Trump, his family, and associates despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapping up his Russia investigation with no new indictments.

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‘There needs to be a reckoning’ for those who spread Russia collusion narrative: Mollie Hemingway

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MSNBC’s Chris Matthews livid over Mueller report: ‘How could they let Trump off the hook?’

Those who spent the last two years pushing the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election need to be held accountable, the Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway argued Friday.

Earlier in the day, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in its report on the Russia investigation to the Department of Justice and it was announced that no new indictments would be forthcoming.

During Friday’s All-Star panel segment on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Hemingway — along with Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti and Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason — weighed in on the breaking news that reverberated throughout Washington.

MUELLER SUBMITS LONG-AWAITED RUSSIA PROBE REPORT TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

Hemingway began by noting that the “Russia narrative” predates the Mueller probe, having begun circulating during the 2016 election after the creation of the infamous Clinton campaign-funded Steele dossier, which pushed the theory that then-Republican candidate Donald Trump was a “Russian agent.”

“We have, for the last three years … frequently [witnessed] hysteria about treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election,” Hemingway told the panel. “The fact [is] that there are no more indictments coming and the fact [is] that all of the indictments that we’ve seen thus far have been for process crimes or things unrelated to what we were told by so many people in the media was ‘treasonous collusion’ to steal the 2016 election.”

“If there is nothing there that matches what we’ve heard from the media for many years, there needs to be a reckoning and the people who spread this theory both inside and outside the government who were not critical and who did not behave appropriately need to be held accountable,” she added.

“The people who spread this theory both inside and outside the government … and who did not behave appropriately need to be held accountable.”

— Mollie Hemingway, senior editor, the Federalist

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Mason told the panel that there’s likely “some relief” in the White House, particularly from Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and top adviser. And while he insisted it was “too early” to draw major conclusions, he later added that those who attacked Mueller’s credibility throughout his investigation will have to walk back their hostility if he concludes that there was no collusion, including President Trump.

Meanwhile, Continetti suggested that the Mueller report could be the “greatest anticlimax in American history,” and that the entire investigation could be “for nothing” because it was “an investigation without a crime.” He did, however, insist that the “battle will continue” as the White House will fight Congress on transparency of the Mueller findings.

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