In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The top Republican on the House subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security demanded that the Trump administration end its forced separation of parents and children at the U.S. border, going further than many of his congressional colleagues in his demands.

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for him to end the controversial policy.

“I ask that you take immediate action to end the practice of separating children from families at the border,” Yoder says in the letter. “Separating children from their parents should not be used as a deterrent.”

The letter is the latest but far from the only plea from congressional Republicans for President Trump and his administration to end this policy, which by the Department of Homeland Security’s own numbers say have separated 2,000 families in recent weeks.

But while Yoder highlights areas of agreement with Trump about other immigration concerns, his language is less mealy-mouthed blaming both sides than other rank-and-file Republicans’ (like this from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)).

The letter comes just hours after a Quinnipiac University poll found that fully 66 percent of voters oppose the policy, with just 27 percent in favor, though a majority of Republicans supported the policy in the survey.

Notably, Yoder is facing a tough reelection fight in his swingy suburban Kansas City district.

And he’s not the only campaign-minded Republican who bucked Trump on the policy Monday: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) also called on the administration to “stop needlessly separating” families on Thursday:

Trump’s deeply controversial plan has earned criticism from other Republicans as well — but most of the elected officials until Monday afternoon had been the Republicans who’d already shown a willingness to criticize Trump in the past, like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), or those out of office, like former First Lady Laura Bush.

That’s begun to change, as Yoder’s letter indicates. And others are beginning to split off as well, like Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), another member facing a tough reelection fight, who called the policy “ugly and inhumane” in a statement. And even some rank-and-file Republicans who aren’t facing a tough reelection began to speak out:

While DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen continued to falsely insist the new policy was not new policy on Monday afternoon, Republicans increasingly sounded increasingly skeptical of her misleading claims.

It remains to be seen whether enough Republicans break with the administration to actually force change, however, as they don’t yet appear to have a serious legislative response even as they ready a House vote on other immigration measures later this week.

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Voting rights advocates did not get the Supreme Court decisions they were looking for on Monday, when the court punted on partisan gerrymandering cases coming out of Wisconsin and Maryland. But they didn’t get the door shut on them, either.

“I am disappointed, but not devastated in any way,” said Michael Li, a senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, which filed briefs supporting the challengers in both cases.

“These are important decisions that actually move the ball forward and the court isn’t walking away from the issue. It didn’t make the issue messier than it was. They clarified the issue—that’s a big step forward,” Li told TPM.

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Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Monday that his office received a referral from the FBI about the disclosure of memos written by former FBI Director Jim Comey to the press.

He was asked about the memos — and particularly whether there was an investigation into whether their release transmitted classified information inappropriately — by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during a committee hearing.

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The Supreme Court rejected a challenge brought against the Republican-drawn legislative map in Wisconsin, in an unanimous decision that said the challengers who had sued over the map did not have standing.

Monday’s decision appeared to punt on the substantive issues in the case: whether an extreme partisan gerrymander can amount to a constitutional violation. The high court is sending the case back down to the lower court to allow the challengers to Wisconsin’s map to narrow their lawsuit.

“We express no view on the merits of the plaintiffs’ case,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority’s opinion. 

 Justice Elena Kagan wrote a concurring opinion, where she was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Clarence Thomas also wrote a concurring opinion where he was joined in part by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Roberts, in his opinion, wrote that the voters could only challenge the drawing of the specific districts in which they vote, and not the entirety of a state’s map, as had been done in the Wisconsin case before the court, Gill v. Whitford.

“To the extent the plaintiffs’ alleged harm is the dilution of their votes, that injury is district specific. An individual voter in Wisconsin is placed in a single district. He votes for a single representative,” Roberts said. “The boundaries of the district, and the composition of its voters, determine whether and to what extent a particular voter is packed or cracked.”

The case was highly watched for whether the Supreme Court would intervene in partisan gerrymanders. Those hoping that the court would clear up when a legislature went too far in boosting a partisan advantage in drawing legislative districts were left disappointed Monday.

“We leave for another day consideration of other possible theories of harm not presented here and whether those theories might present justiciable claims giving rise to statewide remedies,” Roberts said.

Rather than directly dismiss the case, Roberts said that the high court was sending it back to the lower court level “so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence—unlike the bulk of the evidence presented thus far—that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes.”

Kagan, in her concurrence said she supported Roberts’ move to let the challengers offer more evidence that their votes voters had been diluted by Wisconsin’s map, but said that statewide evidence should also play a role in assessing their claims. She said that a state-wide remedy may also ultimately be warranted.

“It all depends on how much redistricting is needed to cure all the packing and cracking that the mapmakers have done,” she said.

Thomas’ concurrence said that he agreed with Roberts that the challengers lacked standing, but argued that their case should have directly dismissed rather than sent back to a lower court.

The Court also declined Monday to address the merits in a Maryland partisan gerrymandering case brought against the state’s Democratic-drawn legislative map. The Supreme Court said in a per curiam decision — meaning one not ascribed to any individual justice — that the lower court had been correct in rejecting the challengers’ request that it temporarily block Maryland’s map.

Read the Wisconsin opinion:

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The scandal that forced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) from office did some collateral damage to Republicans’ hopes of flipping a key Senate seat, according to a new survey conducted for Democrats’ main Senate super PAC.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) leads Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) by 47 percent to 41 percent in the poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group and released by Senate Majority PAC. That’s up from a 46 percent to 44 percent lead in April, when the Greitens affair was just starting to boil over.

In the poll, McCaskill’s job favorability numbers have held steady, with slightly more voters approving than disapproving of her. But Hawley’s have slipped. In April, 30 percent of voters approved to 22 percent who disapproved. Now those have reversed, with 21 percent of voters approving and 29 percent disapproving.

It appears that’s mostly a factor of Greitens’ implosion. In mid-April, he was at 39 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval. By mid-June, weeks after he was forced to resign, he had sunk to 24 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval.

Hawley is caught in a bit of a vice on this issue. Democrats slam him for failing to investigate Greitens’ use of lists from his private charity to boost his gubernatorial campaign until he was under glaring scrutiny for his messy sex scandal, while Greitens’ core supporters are furious at Hawley for abandoning the governor during the scandal and contributing to his being forced from office.

The scandal figures to be a major factor in one of the Senate’s top Senate races, as McCaskill tries to once again pull a rabbit out of her hat in the Republican-leaning state.

Global Strategy Group’s live-caller survey of 804 likely Missouri midterm voters was conducted from June 11-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Partisan polls should always be taken with a grain of salt. These numbers still show a tight race, and there’s a good chance Hawley will be able to move past this issue as it fades from the headlines. But right now it appears that she has an edge heading into the home stretch of the campaign.

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The first legal challenge to the Trump administration’s crusade for Medicaid work requirements came before a federal judge in Washington on Friday, where attorneys representing 16 low-income Kentuckians argued they would be unlawfully stripped of Medicaid coverage should the court allow the state’s waiver to take effect in July. The groups challenging the policy said the work requirements violate Congress’ original intent for the Medicaid program and instead are a mere cover for cutting tens of thousands of people from the rolls.

In response, attorneys representing the Trump administration and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) warned U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of dire consequences should he rule against their new Medicaid rules.

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A federal judge in Washington expressed concern Friday morning about giving a Russian company charged with conspiring to influence the 2016 presidential election via a social media troll campaign access to sensitive information about American citizens.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered the company’s attorney and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to craft an agreement within 10 days that will govern what data the defendants can see and what should be withheld out of fear it could be passed into the hands of hostile foreign agents, namely Russia intelligence.

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Journalists wined and dined FBI employees and gave them perks like tickets to sporting events, according to the report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG).

The report focused on the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. But it also noted:

We identified instances where FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were the guests of journalists at nonpublic social events.

Those interactions “were, at a minimum, inconsistent with FBI policy and
Department ethics rules,” the report said. It didn’t offer details on the episodes, saying they’ll be documented in a forthcoming report.

Very few FBI employees are actually authorized to even talk to the media, but the IG investigation found that the policy was “widely ignored” in 2016. The IG expressed “profound concerns about the volume and extent” of these unsanctioned contacts.

The report also notes that these frequent interactions made it difficult to determine the source of leaks. Many FBI employees had access to sensitive government information and were in contact with the press.

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A new immigration bill crafted by GOP leadership would bar the Trump administration’s current forced separation of parents and children who cross the U.S.-Mexico border and give legal status to undocumented immigrants brought here as children in exchange for a big down payment on Trump’s proposed border wall.

The bill, whose contours were shared with rank-and-file Republicans on Thursday, would let most of the 1.8 million DREAMERs remain in the U.S. and work legally on six-year renewable visas, with an eventual path to citizenship.

It would also provide $25 billion for border security measures including funding for Trump’s long-demanded border wall.

And it would bar the administration’s highly controversial and cruel separation of asylum-seeking parents from their children when they cross the U.S. border that the Trump administration began in recent weeks.

The deal was struck after moderate Republicans came up just short of forcing a vote on a clean DREAM Act, partnering with Democrats, and is largely based on the “four pillars” of immigration reform the White House has demanded be included. And it tilts closer to conservatives’ vision of how the law should be than what moderates had initially wanted.

The bill would also restructure the current visa system to emphasize education and employment over family reunification and diversity, priorities long pushed by conservatives and championed by Trump.

The House is scheduled to vote on this bill next week, along with a more conservative one authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

It’s unclear if this bill can even pass the House, since most Democrats will likely oppose it, let alone get Senate approval and support from the White House. But it’s the closest that Congress has come to actually acting to help DREAMers after Trump moved to end President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program more than a year ago.

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