Day 631: Optics.
1/ The Trump administration is considering new rules to separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border. One option is for the government to detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days, then give parents a choice to stay in family detention together or allow children to be taken to a government shelter so relatives or guardians can seek custody. Some inside the White House and Department of Homeland Security are concerned about the “optics” of the so-called “binary choice” option. (Washington Post)
2/ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discussed adding a citizenship question to the U.S. census with Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach despite previously saying he hadn’t spoken with anyone at the White House about the addition. Ross original claimed that a citizenship question would allow the government to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, which is meant to protect voters from discriminatory policies. However, emails reveal that Ross was instead concerned that not adding a citizenship question “leads to the problem that aliens who do not actually ‘reside’ in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment purposes.” (Washington Post)
3/ Wilbur Ross shifted his explanation for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, saying he now recalls discussing it with Steve Bannon. Ross faces a court order to provide a deposition to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to remove the question from the census. (New York Times / NPR / Politico)
4/ Trump could fire Jeff Sessions and then replace him with a temporary attorney general who would then reduce Robert Mueller’s budget “so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.” Matthew Whitaker made the comments in July 2017. Trump is considering as many as five candidates to replace Sessions if he leaves as attorney general, including Whitaker. Trump declined to deny that he is considering replacing Sessions with Whitaker, but he has talked with Whitaker about replacing Sessions in the past. (Washington Post)
5/ Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Hatch Act complaint against Sarah Huckabee Sanders for using her official government Twitter account to tweet a photo of herself with Kanye West, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in the Oval Office. The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” (The Hill / CREW)
poll/ 51% of Americans disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court – and 53% favor further investigation by Congress that could lead to efforts to remove him from office. 58% of women and 47% of men support an investigation. (ABC News / Washington Post)
The Turkish government told U.S. officials that they have audio and video recordings that prove Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The recordings show that Khashoggi was detained inside the consulate by a Saudi security team before being killed and dismembered. “You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic” on the audio recording, one person with knowledge of the recording said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” (Washington Post)
Trump on Khashoggi: “It’s in Turkey, and it’s not a citizen, as I understand it.” Trump later added: “Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen. Is that right?” (Washington Post)
Two Arizona Republicans tried to make a donation to a Democratic congressman as members of the Communist Party in an attempt to link him to the far left. Two men walked into first-term Democrat Tom O’Halleran with a jar of $39.68 and insisted that the Northern Arizona University Community Party wanted them to get a receipt for the donation. When O’Halleran’s finance director drove to the local Republican field office to return the money, one of the men appeared from inside the offices and was identified as the man who tried to donate the money. (The Guardian)
Senate Democrats agreed to confirm 15 lifetime federal judges in exchange for the ability to go into recess through the midterms, allowing Democrats to campaign. (Politico)
Georgia sued for placing 53,000 voter applications – 70% by African-Americans – on hold weeks before November’s midterm election. The lawsuit charges that the “exact match” method that Secretary of State Brian Kemp uses to verify new voter registrations is discriminatory. (NBC News)
Melania Trump said she has “more important things to think about” than her husband’s alleged affairs, adding that the allegations are “not concern and focus of mine” because she’s “a mother and a first lady.” (ABC News / CNN / The Guardian)
Trump made 129 false claims last week – his second-most-dishonest week as president. (Toronto Star)
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