Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians

Trump blocks an immigration deal. Mueller indicts thirteen Russians who interfered in the 2016 election.

American president Donald Trump has for the second time torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill by threatening to veto it.

The reason, NBC News reports, is that he wants to keep immigration as a political issue to rally his base going into November’s congressional elections.

The cynicism is astounding. Chris Hayes points out on Twitter:

  • First the president unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors.
  • He gave Congress six months to fix the problem (he had created), promising to sign whatever bill lawmakers would put in front of him.
  • He was promptly brought a bipartisan deal, which combined increased border security with a pathway to legal status for the so-called Dreamers. He rejected it.
  • He was then brought a second bipartisan deal with even more support. He rejected that.

Clearly the president isn’t interested a solution. He lied — as usual.

Also read David A. Hopkins, who argues Trump has pushed Republicans to the right on immigration, and Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, who points out that the Republican position on Dreamers is far to the right of Middle America’s.

Developments in the Russia scandal

  • A federal grand jury has brought charges against thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian entities for violating criminal laws to interfere in the 2016 election. Key except, via Axios:
  • Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates and by early to mid-2016, defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Some defendants, posing as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

  • NBC News reports that Trump’s former campaign chairman and chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has given twenty hours of testimony to Robert Mueller, the former FBI chief who is investigating Russia’s attack on the election. Bannon, who was fired from the White House in August, earlier refused to answer questions from lawmakers.
  • Former campaign advisor Rick Gates is reportedly finalizing a plea agreement with Mueller, which would make him the third former Trump official to cooperate with the investigation, after Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. Gates was Paul Manafort’s business partner for many years before they both joined the Trump campaign in June 2016.
  • Trump’s former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, has revealed that the president did try to fire Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, only a week after firing FBI director James Comey for refusing to end the Russia investigation — something White House officials have always denied. More evidence Trump tried to obstruct justice.

Talks break down in Northern Ireland

Talks to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland have broken down after thirteen months. The British government in London will now assume direct rule.

Somewhat surprisingly (to an outsider anyway), the issue that divides nationalists and unionists isn’t Brexit but rather a Sinn Féin proposal to promote the Irish language.

John Garry and Jamie Pow write for The UK in a Changing Europe:

It’s as if the whole world is talking about the border conundrum and how to square the circle of the commitments made by the UK and EU in December while the parties in the affected geographical region effectively ignore the biggest issue of the day in their own set of talks.

The largest pro-British party in the province, the Democratic Unionists (DUP), may have felt less pressure to compromise now that they are needed to prop up Theresa May’s Conservative government in Westminster. Even if it takes over, the DUP retains an influence.

Also read Katy Hayward in The Guardian: The DUP loves power but hates responsibility.

Turbo democracy meets turbo capitalism

Henrik Müller argues in Der Spiegel that Germany is not immune from the trends that have affected other Western democracies: the collapse of traditional political parties, the loss of authority of the Church, the weakening of trade unions, the transformation of politics into entertainment.

“We live in times of turbo democracy,” writes Müller, “a system that although highly agile is also prone to the kind of crises seen in turbo capitalism.”

Even in boring Germany, “the ground is fertile for a countermovement that has the potential to muster support from large swaths of the political spectrum, from staunch conservatives all the way into the middle class.”