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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it has given House Republicans new classified information related to the Russia investigation after lawmakers had threatened to hold officials in contempt of Congress or even impeach them.A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Saturday that the department has partially complied with subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees after officials turned over more than a thousand new documents this week. House Republicans had given the Justice Department and FBI a Friday deadline for all documents, most of which are related to the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and the handling of its probe into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails. Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said the department asked for more time and they will get it — for now.

“Our efforts have resulted in the committees finally getting access to information that was sought months ago, but some important requests remain to be completed,” Strong said in a statement Saturday. “Additional time has been requested for the outstanding items, and based on our understanding of the process we believe that request is reasonable. We expect the department to meet its full obligations to the two committees.”

The efforts by the Justice Department over the last week to deliver documents to the House Republicans appear to have at least temporarily diffused a monthslong standoff with Congress. Democrats have criticized the multiple document requests, charging that they are intended to discredit the department and distract from or even undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties and whether there was obstruction of justice.

In a letter sent to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., late Friday, the Justice Department said it had that day provided a classified letter to his panel regarding whether the FBI used “confidential human sources” before it officially began its Russia investigation in 2016. Bolstered by President Donald Trump, Nunes has been pressing the department on an informant who spoke to members of Trump’s campaign as the FBI began to explore the campaign’s ties to Russia. Trump has called the matter “spygate,” though multiple Republicans who have been briefed on the informant have downplayed its significance.

In the letter, the Justice Department’s acting assistant director of congressional affairs, Jill Tyson, said Nunes had also asked for transcripts of conversations between confidential human sources and Trump campaign officials. She said the department had referred that request to National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.

Tyson’s letter said the department had also given Nunes materials related to the department’s guidelines under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Republicans have for months questioned whether the department abused that act when prosecutors and agents in 2016 applied for and received a secret warrant to monitor the communications of Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

The department is also working to provide outstanding documents related to former British spy Christopher Steele, Tyson said, and the dossier he compiled of anti-Trump research during the presidential campaign. Trump and congressional Republicans have charged that the research in the dossier, paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was used inappropriately to obtain the warrant on Page.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has backed the document requests, and he led a meeting last week with committee chairmen and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to try to resolve the issue. In a television interview two days after that meeting, on June 17, Nunes said if they don’t get the documents by this week, “there’s going to be hell to pay” and indicated the House could act on contempt or even impeachment. A spokesman for Nunes did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

Tyson also wrote House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who have requested more than a million documents as part of multiple investigations into the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Russia and Clinton probes. Tyson said the department has already provided more than 800,000 documents for review and “the FBI produced over 1,400 pages of responsive materials” on Friday, among other documents already sent to the panel.

The letter says FBI is also working to address a request about “proposed, recommended or actual” surveillance on the Clinton Foundation. Tyson said the department was responding in a separate, classified letter, and that the request had proven “difficult to address.” She said the department hoped to talk to lawmakers further about it.

In the letters, Tyson said the department had built “new tools” to search top secret documents and had diverted resources from other congressional requests.


Read the letter to Nunes:

Read the letter to Goodlatte and Gowdy:

This post has been updated.

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The day before he signed an executive order regarding his administration’s migrant family separation policy, President Donald Trump told advisers “my people love it,” the New York Times reported Friday.

The Times cited an “unnamed person close to the President” in reporting the news. The White House did not respond to TPM’s request for comment about the report Saturday.

Trump signed an executive order Wednesday with the stated intent of keeping families together in detention centers while they await immigration proceedings. But it’s not clear what exactly will occur in practice: For one thing, the so-called Flores Settlement still limits time children and families can be held in migrant detention centers. (The Justice Department asked a federal court to modify the settlement on Thursday.)

A handful of reports from the border indicate that, contrary to Trump and the Justice Department’s claims, prosecutors may have ended their systematic pursuit of criminal charges against all parents apprehended with children at the border. But it’s unclear if those changes will become permanent or system-wide.

Those systematic criminal prosecutions were what made Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ April “zero tolerance” letter to prosecutors a de facto family separation policy: Because children cannot be held in criminal detention, they were placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and classified as “unaccompanied alien children” as their parents’ cases proceeded through criminal court.

According to the Times’ sources, Customs and Border Protection officials argued to Trump on Thursday that the Justice Department “and other law enforcement agencies” did not have the resources to criminally prosecute every family apprehended at the border.

USA Today reported Friday that in May, an assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego warned that focusing prosecutors’ energy on parents apprehended with children would divert resources away from pursuing more serious crimes like drug smuggling. 

And on Friday, the Times reported, CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan “question[ed] how his agency was supposed to detain parents and children together when the law requires that children not be held indefinitely in jail.”

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday that she was told to leave a Lexington, Virginia restaurant the previous night due to her role in the Trump administration.

The tweet, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub and others pointed out, came from Sanders’ government account.

In a play-by-play to the Washington Post Saturday afternoon, the co-owner of The Red Hen, Stephanie Wilkinson, said she drove down to her restaurant Friday night after hearing from a chef that Sanders had just arrived. Asked what they thought, Wilkinson recounted, the restaurant’s staff said they wanted Sanders gone.

“This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” she told the Post.

Wilkinson said she asked Sanders to step outside to the restaurant’s patio and then asked her to leave. “That’s fine. I’ll go,” Sanders said, according to Wilkinson.

The story first broke in a tweet early Saturday morning from Brennan Gilmore, executive director of the progressive political action committee Clean Virginia.

Gilmore posted pictures of what appeared to be a note with the instruction to “86” Sanders, and of a Facebook post from a server at the restaurant.

“I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner kicked her out along with 7 of her other family members…” the post read.

Asked for comment, Sanders referred TPM to her tweet Saturday.

The incident fits a recent pattern: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled with shouts of “Shame!” for several minutes at a Washington, D.C. Mexican restaurant on Tuesday.

Two nights earlier, White House adviser Stephen Miller was called a “fascist” at another District Mexican restaurant, the New York Post subsequently reported citing an unnamed source who saw it happen.

All three administration officials — Sanders, Nielsen and Miller — played leading roles in implementing or defending the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

Sanders’ father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, chimed in Saturday with his own folksy condemnation. It’s unclear if he was in attendance Friday night.

This post has been updated. 

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina lawmaker who defeated U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in his re-election bid was seriously injured in a vehicle crash on Friday and will require weeks of recovery and more procedures, a spokesman said.

State Rep. Katie Arrington underwent surgery for her injuries and was recovering Saturday at a Charleston-area hospital, Arrington spokesman Michael Mule said.

Arrington and a friend were traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 17 around 9 p.m. Friday when a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction hit their vehicle, according to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office

The driver of the other vehicle died at the scene, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Roger Antonio. Officials are awaiting autopsy results to determine the cause of death of 69-year-old Helen White of nearby Ravenel, the Charleston County Coroner’s Office said in a statement.

The crash remains under investigation.

The driver of Arrington’s vehicle, a friend identified as Jacqueline Goff of Mandeville, Louisiana, also sustained serious injuries.

Mule said the Summerville Republican sustained a back fracture, as well as several broken ribs, and underwent surgery to remove portions of her small intestine and colon.

Mule said Arrington would need more surgeries, as well as a stent to repair the partial collapse of the primary artery in her legs, and would need to stay in the hospital for two weeks. He told news outlets that Arrington was alert and talking Saturday morning.

“Katie asks for your continued prayers for the deceased and the deceased’s family, as well as prayers for a quick recovery for Katie and her friend,” Mule said in a statement.

Arrington, 47, defeated Sanford in a GOP primary earlier this month, repeatedly highlighting Sanford’s criticism of President Donald Trump. The president himself weighed in hours before polls closed on Election Day to endorse Arrington and denounce Sanford as “nothing but trouble.”

In a tweet Saturday, Trump said his “thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last nights car accident, and their families.”

Sanford, a former South Carolina governor, had never lost an election before the June 12 congressional primary, even after a high-profile extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina.

Sanford posted a link to a story about the wreck on Twitter , adding in a post: “Our thoughts and prayers this morning go to Katie Arrington, her family and those involved in last night’s automobile accident.”

In a message posted to Twitter on Saturday, Democratic nominee Joe Cunningham said that he was suspending his campaign until further notice.


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This post has been updated.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is headed to Nevada to help Sen. Dean Heller raise money.

Heller is the only Republican senator seeking re-election in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Trump is going to Las Vegas on Saturday to headline a fundraiser for Heller. He’s also delivering the keynote address at the Nevada GOP convention and holding a separate event to promote tax cuts he signed into law six months ago.

Heller’s race is one of the most consequential Senate races of the year as Republicans seek to expand their slim 51-49 majority in November’s elections.

Trump recently has picked up the pace of his political travel. He campaigned in Minnesota earlier this week, and he plans stops next week in South Carolina and North Dakota.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Two federal reports released this month blast the Department of Housing and Urban Development for failing to have procedures to adequately protect children in subsidized housing against lead paint exposure.

The reports, from the Government Accountability Office and HUD’s Office of Inspector General, paint a portrait of an agency without a clear set of policies for local authorities to follow when reporting cases of children with elevated blood lead levels in public housing units and properties occupied by voucher holders.

They also say HUD also lacks an adequate system of communication with the thousands of housing authorities it’s tasked with overseeing, with reports on such matters often incomplete or missing entirely. HUD has no uniform way of keeping track of the cases or ensuring that housing authorities are completing required inspections and fixing hazardous conditions, according to the audits.

“HUD lacked assurance that public housing agencies properly identified and mitigated lead hazards, thus increasing the potential for exposing children to lead poisoning due to unsafe living conditions,” the inspector general’s office said.

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changes to standards for lead-contaminated dust on floors and window sills, aimed at reducing exposure among children.

The agency said the standards apply to most housing built before 1978 and “child-occupied facilities, such as day care centers and kindergarten facilities.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”

The audit also found that instead of reporting cases of possible lead exposure to HUD headquarters, housing agencies sent reports to local offices. Of the 45 field offices, 24 of them don’t have established policies in place for handling such cases.

The inspector general also criticized HUD for not requiring public housing agencies to report and mitigate lead paint cases in public housing built after 1977, effectively failing “to determine the risk of lead paint exposure to children” living in those buildings.

“These weaknesses,” the audit said, “occurred because HUD lacked adequate policies, proceudres and controls for monitoring public housing agencies for compliance with its lead requirements.”

In its response to the audit, HUD noted that the agency revised its rule for handling lead paint cases in 2017, when it adopted a lower threshold for lead levels in children’s blood that would trigger action. But the agency pledged to review its processes and “follow up on all past incidences identified in the OIG’s audit, obtain missing documentation, and ensure that any remaining lead hazards are controlled.”

The GAO report to Congress also criticized HUD for lacking a detailed or streamlined procedure to evaluate whether housing authorities are in compliance with lead paint regulations and enforcement. It also blasted HUD for taking only limited steps to evaluate its own lead reduction efforts; the agency hasn’t released an annual report on its efforts since 1997.

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DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had a tough week.

She was determined to start it off with a bang, holding a press conference to set the record straight as Americans were inundated with pictures and recordings of distraught children ripped from their parents at the border.

But throughout the press conference, Nielsen lied over and over again, showing an utter lack of compassion for the panicked, isolated babies and their equally panicked parents.

A common theme of her remarks were variations on: “This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border.” This is a lie, as the practice is the direct result of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy for migrants who cross the border without documentation.

She also took a page out of Trump’s playbook and attempted to place the blame on Congress, specifically Democrats. This makes sense because everyone knows that the real power rests with the party shut out of both Congressional majorities and the White House. 

She then made a shocking and humbling admission to the room, that she had not yet discovered the Internet, and thus had not seen the videos of young children in cages or heard their desperate cries for their moms and dads.

In a normal assertion of a very stable genius, she came scarily close to echoing the conspiracy theories of the far right and claimed that videos and audio (which she has not seen or heard) are, in fact, just being used to further the anti-Trump agenda of the videographers. “I think that they reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives,” she said. “We don’t have a balanced view of what’s happening, but what’s happening at the border is the border is being overrun by those who have no right to cross it.”

Finally, she wrapped things up with competence and aplomb by contradicting what other administration officials have said, that these draconian measures are in place to deter other immigrants from entering this dystopian hellscape, and by flying into a snit on top of it.

“I find that offensive,” she said when asked if the policy was a deterrent. “No. Because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that.”

Good question.

What could have possibly prompted Nielsen’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad press briefing? Was she flustered by Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ steady stream of “where r u???” texts until she arrived? Was she frazzled when she realized that she left her “I don’t care” blazer at home?

No, it seems that Nielsen willingly became the face of the family separation crisis and the administration’s indifference.

But hey, at least there was one silver lining for Nielsen in that dumpster fire of a press conference. President Donald Trump sent a congratulatory tweet, telling Nielsen she did a “fabulous job.” As a rule, affirmation from those who humiliate her in Cabinet meetings is highly prized by our DHS Secretary.

As pressure mounted for the administration to deal with the bad optics (and a much lesser priority, the human suffering) of the immigration crisis, Trump signed an executive order asking for the ability to jail families together, rather than keep them in separate pens.

As Nielsen stood in the Oval Office, watching her boss sign with a flourish a document that showed undeniably that she lied on tape about the administration’s ability to address the separations, she felt a budding sense of pride.

She had won over her constant tormentor (for now). In a desperate bid to look “tough enough” to fulfill his toxic notions of masculinity and gender, she had successfully removed her own heart and tossed her credibility in the trash. Sure, she’ll never eat Mexican food again, but it’s a small price to pay for being the poster child of an administration’s nonchalant snatching of young immigrant children from their families.

As Trump swiveled in his chair and she took the signing pen out of his tiny hand, the exchange was complete. Kirstjen Nielsen had traded the lives of helpless immigrant children for the temporary affection of a mercurial, overgrown toddler.

For trading the safety, wellbeing, and happiness of thousands of children for a fancy pen, Kirstjen Nielsen is our Duke of the Week.


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Hello, Prime subscribers. Welcome to the weekend. Here’s what happened in Prime this week.

  • Cameron Joseph responded to a trio of questions from Prime member Dave Ricksicker about Democrats’ Senate chances in four states that aren’t often considered swing states: New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi.
  • Josh Marshall digs into why the New York office of the FBI had such animosity for Hillary Clinton, as documented in last week’s Department of Justice Inspector General’s report.
  • According to Trump, pretty much everyone was to blame for the border crisis. But not him.
  • When it comes to enforcing the law as it relates to migrants and refugees, the Trump administration has “zero tolerance.” When it comes to big banks and polluting industries, it’s much more open minded.
  • Josh takes a look at new evidence, first reported by The Guardian, of ties between Russia, pro-Brexit forces in the UK and the Trump campaign. In another post, he digs into the news that Roger Stone and Michael Caputo had a previously unreported meeting with a Russian claiming to have “dirt” on Clinton.
  • Speaking of that story, Allegra Kirkland gives a rundown of all six members of Trumpworld who we know were approached by a Russian proffering “dirt” on Clinton.
  • The latest guy you have to know in the Trump-Russia story: Adam Waldman, lobbyist to the plutocrats, including, notably, Oleg Deripaska.
  • Josh takes a look at Gene Hamilton, a hard-right, anti-immigration DOJ staffer who appears to be involved in Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border.
  • In his Weekly Primer on the Trump swamp, Matt Shuham runs through the Trump administration’s recent policy changes and actions impacting undocumented immigrants as the Trump administration continues to take flak for its “zero tolerance” policy.
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is holding up a court nominee over the administration’s Cuba and trade policy, is a longtime advocate for engaging with Cuba.
  • Even though Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has instructed clerks to comply with a judge’s ruling striking down the proof-of-citizenship requirement, Kobach still wants clerks to note which voters have submitted documents that prove their citizenship “for tracking purposes” as he repeals the ruling, Tierney Sneed writes.
  • North Carolina Republicans are taking another stab at curbing early voting opportunities in the state after a court threw out their previous bill with voter restrictions, Tierney Sneed writes in her Weekly Primer on voting rights.
  • A three-judge panel at a federal appellate court ruled that the Trump administration does not owe insurers payments from part of Obamacare’s risk corridor program, Alice Ollstein writes in her Weekly Primer on health care.
  • Michael Cohen signaled that he’s frustrated with Trump by complaining that the President isn’t paying his legal bills and with his resignation letter from the Republican National Committee, as Allegra Kirkland notes in her Weekly Primer on the Russia probes.

ALEXANDRIA, VA — Former Trump voter fraud commissioner J. Christian Adams was in a federal court in Virginia Friday to defend reports his group released in 2016 and 2017 alleging that thousands of non-citizens were illegally registered to vote and possibly voting in Virginia.

Adams and his group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, are being sued for defamation and voter intimation by four voters, all citizens, who were named in PILF’s reports that listed alleged non-citizen illegal registrants.

Attorneys for Adams and PILF argued that the reports were not targeting the defendants but rather the government officials who Adams claims are not enforcing voter fraud laws.

The plaintiffs argued that the report amounted to character assassination of those falsely alleged to be non-citizens. If anyone’s character was being assassinated, Adams’ attorney Michael Lockerby argued, it was those of the government officials who hadn’t prosecuted allegations of voter fraud.

The four voters — as well as the Richmond chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens — allege Adams and PILF violated the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act, as well as Virginia defamation law. Friday’s hearing, in front U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, was to hear arguments on the defendants’ motion to throw out the lawsuit.

Grady kicked off his questioning by asking Lockerby what responsibility Adams and PILF had to vet the public records they’d obtained from election registrars indicating voters who had been removed from the rolls. According to the complaint, one of the challengers was put on the registrars’ list of removals because a paperwork error.

“At the end of the day, these are public records,” Lockerby argued, blaming the government officials, rather than the defendants, for mistakenly listing the names.

He argued that PILF corrected the record for two of the plaintiffs and removed their names in the 2017 report. That claim was challenged by plaintiffs later in the hearing, who pointed out PILF was warned on multiple occasions it was mischaracterizing the voters, and only revised the second report after it had already been published.

Lockerby also argued that the publication of the reported was protected by the First Amendment and that Adams was exercising his right to draw attention to an issue of public interest.

“I can be worried about crime,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Cameron Kistler, a lawyer at the group Protect Democracy, “but that doesn’t mean I can falsely accuse my neighbor of being an ax-murderer to draw attention to the issue.”

Adams’ report, titled “Aliens Invasion,” claimed it found “1046 aliens who registered to vote illegally” and that “Each of the aliens we have discovered to have registered or voted has likely committed a felony.”

The follow-up report “Aliens Invasion II,” said that the Justice Department “has done nothing about the felonies committed by 433 suspected aliens registered in Prince William County alone.” The reports included appendixes that listed the names, and in some cases addresses and phone numbers, of the people alleged to be non-citizens who illegally registered.

Both sides encouraged the judge to read the report itself in assessing the issue.

Kistler argued during the hearing that it was not just the release of the public records themselves, but the “gloss they put on the public records” that was at issue.

Much of the hearing focused on whether LULAC had standing to bring the case, given none of its members were named and there was no explicit language referencing Latinos in the language of Aliens Invasion and Aliens Invasion II.

The judge offered questions skeptical of LULAC’s involvement in the case, suggesting that the “aliens” in the report could just as easily refer to Irish immigrants or immigrants of other nationalities.

He closed the hour-plus hearing promising a decision on the motion to dismiss soon, and telling the parties that discovery would not begin before that.

The case raised “very interesting issues,” he said.

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