A U.S. federal judge has cleared the Trump administration’s decision to end a program that reunited Central American immigrants with family members living in the United States. The program allowed parents legally living here to apply to bring children or even other family members to the U.S., a program admitting 1,300 people to the country between 2014 and 2016. Immigrants rights activists had sued to overturn the change, but Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler threw out the bulk of the lawsuit, but said the administration’s decision to revoke 2,700 applications that had already been approved was arbitrary and capricious.
The Supreme Court opted against reviewing three cases relating to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. In a 6-3 vote, the high court declined to take up the issue of whether states can strip the abortion provider of Medicaid funds if it’s found the group is harvesting and selling “fetal materials.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Planned Parenthood in 2015 in the cases; the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case upholds that decision. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas accused the court majority of playing into political concerns.
ALSO—Disappointing liberals who insisted Brett Kavanaugh was the next Hitler, the newest Supreme Court justice sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s liberal bloc in declining to hear the case, effectively siding with Planned Parenthood.
—QUOTABLE: “So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?…I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood’…Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty…If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.” -Thomas opinion
Dean Martin’s daughter is defending her dad’s beloved song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Politically correct activists complain that the noted song contains supposedly sexist lyrics suggesting date rape and #MeToo infractions—lyrics Deana Martin says are being twisted by a generation of overly sensitive perverts into something sinister. The song is a “sweet, flirty, fun holiday song” and her dad would be going insane over the insinuation there are impure motives behind it, Martin said on Fox News on Monday.
—QUOTABLE: “There’s nothing bad about that song. And it just breaks my heart and I know my dad would be going insane right now … He would say, what’s the matter with you? You know, get over it. It’s just a fun song…I was absolutely flabbergasted…It’s just insane. When I heard it and I said, this can’t possibly be. You know, it’s a sweet, flirty, fun, holiday song that, well, it’s been around for 50 years.” -Deana Martin
There’s a “now hiring” sign outside the White House—figuratively speaking. After Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers announced he would not be the replacement for outgoing White House Chief John Kelly, the hunt has moved on for President Trump’s top aide. Trump is considering a handful of choices—among them, Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Others being looked at are Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and financier Wayne Berman. No one candidate is currently leading the pack for the notoriously difficult job.
—QUOTABLE: “I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!” -Trump tweet
Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina is changing her “not guilty” plea. The 29 year old Russian gun rights activist is preparing to admit that she worked as a foreign agent of the Kremlin, according to filings by her lawyers on Monday. In other words, she will admit she worked on behalf of Russia without registering as a foreign agent. Butina has been accused of posing as a conservative activists in order to get close to President Trump’s campaign with the intent of setting up a relationship between Trump’s operation and the Kremlin.
President Trump is fighting back against his former top legal counsel. Former Trump Organization lawyer and presidential adviser Michael Cohen has admitted to deeper involvement in a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and circumventing campaign finance laws than he previously admitted. Court filings indicate Cohen acted at the direction of an individual assumed to be Trump when paying off porn stars Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump a decade ago. In a Twitter storm Sunday, Trump expressed his disapproval of the turning of the tables by Cohen.
—QUOTABLE: “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking [sic] Gun…No Collusion…That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution…which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!” -Trump tweets
The number of asylum claims at the border has skyrocketed by 67 percent in 2018, according to Homeland Security officials on Monday. There’s just not enough space to process all the claims and hold people who want to enter the country—in fiscal year 2018, 93,000 people took the first step in requesting asylum, which has become the new process for attempting to gain entry into the U.S. after tougher border enforcement by President Trump’s administration. 14 percent of those caught trying to jump the border used the asylum process to try and stay, along with almost one third of those who showed up at a port of entry without paperwork. That’s up from just over 55,000 claims last year. Federal officials say drug cartels are coaching the migrants on what to say to obtain asylum.
—QUOTABLE: “Migrants may have to need to stay and wait in Mexico until space opens up…This number would be higher, again, if not for the facility and resource constraints at the ports of entry.” -Anonymous Customs and Border Protection official
Liberals are scrambling to stop a proposed Trump administration requirement that immigrants demonstrate they’re not a burden to the public. The administration is moving fast to finalize the new rule, perhaps the most significant change to legal immigration in a generation. Under the rule, if an immigrant wants to extend their visa or get on a path to citizenship they must show they’re not welfare cases and contribute meaningfully to society—a reaction to reports that some 63 percent of households led by noncitizens use at least one welfare program. Immigrant groups object to the proposed regulations as mean and racist, but immigration hawks say the American people should be self sufficient and come in as contributing members of society.
—QUOTABLE: “I think they’re going to implement them as is or with some tweaks. This is the kind of thing he was elected for…While there might be advocacy groups that object to that idea, the fact is most Americans think immigrants should be self-sufficient, so I think they’re on pretty strong ground.” –Steven A. Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies
As Robert Mueller starts wrapping up his probe, damning details are starting to leak out. Mainly, the probe will connect President Trump with directing hush money payments prior to the 2016 election, which if true would be a federal crime. While it doesn’t look like there’s proof Trump knowingly and purposely directed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay porn stars Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep quiet about their affairs with Trump a decade earlier, prosectors in Cohen’s case clearly believe Trump knew about the payments.
MEANWHILE—Rep. Adam Schiff says President Trump might be facing the “real prospect of jail time” after prosecutors last week indicated he may have directed illegal hush money payments during the 2016 presidential campaign. That may not happen until he leaves office, Schiff said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But it could also fuel Dems’ calls for impeaching the president.
—QUOTABLE: “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. That he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.” -Schiff
President Trump announced an extreme makeover to his White House leadership team over the weekend. Mainly, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be out by the end of the year, the president told reporters on Saturday. While the two have clashed—and Kelly has clashed with some of Trump’s influential family members—Trump called Kelly a “great guy” while announcing the end of Kelly’s 17 month tenure in the infamously difficult job.
REPLACEMENT?—The word in D.C. circles had been that the president has already picked Vice President Mike Pence’s 36 year old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, as Kelly’s replacement, but on Sunday word got around that Ayers and Trump reached an impasse when it came to potential length of service—Trump wants his new chief to be around through the 2020 election. And Ayers himself then tweeted his thanks to Trump and Pence and that he’d be willing to help assist some other new chief of staff. No word on who Trump might have in mind besides him.
MEANWHILE—President Trump has announced his pick for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Trump made the announcement Saturday. Milley, who has served in the U.S. Army for 35 years, will replace outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Joseph Dunford, who has served in the role since 2015.
The Clintons’ speaking tour is hardly a box office smash. With the “Evening With The Clintons” tour now on a holiday hiatus, number crunchers are looking at sales of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s international speaking tour—designed like a concert tour—and the numbers are underwhelming at best. Some tickets were discounted to as low as $6.55. Other seats have been discounted by more than half, and at their Toronto stop, only 3,300 tickets were sold for a venue that holds 19,000 people. Their latest market effort had them trying to gin up aftermarket sales of the tickets on Groupon, which is selling tickets ranging from $89 to $399 at as low as $35.
Democrats could be facing some major problems headed into the 2020 election. The Democratic National Committee is struggling with fundraising challenges—they raised just $120 million, compared with the Republican National Committee’s $227 million in the 2018 election cycle. They’re also struggling to consolidate all their voter data into a single entity to emulate what the GOP has done, but they’re facing resistance from state and local branches of the party. And they’re considering cutting a $10 million grant program for state Democrat parties. All that has top Clinton adviser Robby Mook concerned that the party is in a crisis that could pose a serious strategic problem in the next election.
—QUOTABLE: ”We have a crisis…Republicans are going to have a major strategic advantage over us in 2020 if we don’t fix it.” -Robby Mook, Clinton campaign manager in 2016
The City of Lights is the city of tire fires and tear gas for yet another weekend. Businesses, museums, and other attractions in the City of Lights shut down again on Saturday as some 125,000 demonstrators hit the streets across France, including 10,000 in Paris. About 120 protesters and 20 law enforcement officials were injured over weekend, while 1,400 were arrested in the latest in a string of violent protests stemming from French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to put the screws to middle and lower income people in a quest to fight global warming through new taxes on carbon emissions and gasoline. Protesters donning yellow vests again called for the resignation of Macron, whose approval rating remains at an absolute rock bottom.
China has summoned the U.S. ambassador in a protest over the arrest of a bigwig of one of the country’s top electronics giants by U.S. authorities. The American Department of Justice arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of cell phone giant Huawei Technologies, in Vancouver last weekend for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on selling technology to Iran. In response, the Chinese government summoned ambassador and former Iowa governor Terry Branstad to have some words about the arrest on Saturday and said their government will take “further action” if needed. The action came just days after both the U.S. and China tried easing market tensions over a supposed trade deal struck between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart just over a week ago.
Former FBI Director James Comey says the FBI’s probe of Russia initially looked into the activities of four Americans. In newly released closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Comey said the counterintelligence investigation probed the four Americans with Trump campaign connections and their possible connections with efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, but he did not name who they were. Those investigations happened before the Steele Dossier came to light. Comey also denied having any personal connection with special counsel Robert Mueller, despite the insistence by President Trump that they’re practically golfing buddies.
—QUOTABLE: “I admire the heck out of the man [Mueller], but I don’t know his phone number, I’ve never been to his house, I don’t know his children’s names…” -Comey said, adding he has “never hugged or kissed the man…A relief to my wife.”
ALSO—Comey told the congressional panel during closed-door testimony on Friday that he ordered a leak probe into the FBI’s New York field office after he suspected agents were leaking top-level information to Trump supporter Rudy Guiliani. He suspected the leaking was happening after Guiliani made public statements indicating he had inside knowledge of the FBI probe at the time.
As the clock winds down on a Republican-controlled Congress, House members are rushing to load down critical spending bills with their own priorities. Proposals including a farm bill, Saudi sanctions, and prison reform are being considered as add-ons to a massive spending bill that would keep dozens of departments and agencies funded through the next year. But Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby said, “You don’t want to overload the truck,” but he might consider the farm bill. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham is pushing for a prison and sentencing reform proposal favored by President Trump, and the Democrats are insisting on a measure that would protect Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump—even though the Mueller investigation is in its final stages as we speak.
MEANWHILE—The GOP has passed just five of 12 spending bills necessary to keep the government funded, setting up another government shutdown showdown that will come to a head just before Christmas. Democrats are refusing to entertain even a red cent of spending on a border wall, even rejecting a “DACA” fix in exchange. Lawmakers need to pass seven spending bills covering NASA and the Justice, Commerce, Agriculture and Homeland Security departments to stave off a partial shutdown right before Christmas. Trump is insisting on $5 billion in funding for the border wall.
—QUOTABLE: “Over my dead body will we provide another nickel for these folks to do what they are doing here.” -DEM Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut
—QUOTABLE: “We want to protect Bob Mueller, and I’m not going to vote for any spending bill that doesn’t protect Bob Mueller.” -DEM Rep. Eric Swalwell
Sen. Joe Manchin is backing off his support for a key nominee of President Trump. The West Virginia Democrat is withdrawing his support for Robert McNamee to be on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after intense pressure from environmental activists in his party. Manchin unexpectedly voted against McNamee in a Wednesday procedural vote in the Senate. Despite being a Democrat, Manchin’s opposition was unexpected because he’s from a strongly pro-Trump state, he’s supported Trump’s energy agenda in the past, and he voted for NcNamee in committee just two weeks ago. Manchin cited recently released video of the Trump nominee trashing renewable energy as the reason for his no vote.
—QUOTABLE: “After viewing video footage, which I had not previously seen, where Bernard McNamee outright denies the impact that humans are having on our climate, I can no longer support his nomination to be a FERC commissioner.” -Manchin
The United States military flew an “extraordinary” mission over Ukraine in a show of aggression against Russia. The Department of Defense announced the flyover, conducted under the Open Skies Treaty, as a protest of Russia’s aggressive posture toward Ukraine—particularly its seizure of three Ukrainian ships several weeks ago. President Trump added that he is not happy with Russia’s latest actions, and cancelled a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit last weekend.
—QUOTABLE: “Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!” -Trump on Twitter
—QUOTABLE: “Today the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty. The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations…Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch strait is a dangerous escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity.” -Dept. of Defense
CNN hack Don Lemon just can’t help himself. On Wednesday, the cable news host said that he would not have shaken President Trump’s hand at the memorial service for President George H.W. Bush if he had been in former president Barack Obama’s place. He’s not nearly as big a man as Obama, who did shake the president’s hand, Lemon proclaimed in a nauseating attempt at broadcasting his humility. But fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo condemned Lemon—it’s about showing respect in an important moment for the country, Cuomo rebutted. The Obamas don’t have to show respect, Lemon said—and shouldn’t, given Trump’s attitude toward Barack, he went on.
—QUOTABLE: “Nope, couldn’t do it. I’m not that big a person. I would hope that I would be, but I don’t — I can’t fake the funk as they say. I’m not saying the Obamas did that, but there they go, right there.” -Lemon
—QUOTABLE: “I don’t think it’s about faking the funk. I think it’s about showing respect for something bigger than them.” -Cuomo
The head of the Democratic Party is unhappy that with Republicans going to church. “People buy” what they hear at church, and that’s usually a conservative message—and that gives the GOP an unfair advantage, according to Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez in comments recently before a left-wing political group. Republicans have churches, Fox News, and the NRA, which are the only voices most people in rural Republican areas listen to, Perez implied.
—QUOTABLE: “I’ve learned this from the outreach we’ve done at the DNC. Why aren’t we penetrating, I ask? And I had someone in northwest Wisconsin tell me: ‘You know what? For most of the people I know, their principle sources of information are Fox News, the NRA newsletter and the pulpit on Sunday.’ And it should come as a surprise to no-one that our message doesn’t penetrate.” -Perez
Whistleblower advocates are condemning an FBI raid of a Clinton Foundation insider who reported possible wrongdoing involving the so-called charity, nuclear material broker Uranium One, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 16 FBI agents raided the home of Dennis Cain on Nov. 19, who used to work for an FBI contractor. According to the Daily Caller, those familiar with the raid said it should’ve never happened because Cain had been granted whistleblower status by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Raiding his home goes against the spirit of laws designed to protect people who report nefarious activity, experts say.
—QUOTABLE: “This isn’t how we should be treating whistleblowers who are coming forward with information about high level wrongdoing…It sends a very strong message that you will be treated as a criminal even though what you’re trying to do is expose crime or a potential crime.” -Nick Schwellenbach, Project on Government Oversight
A drug dealer let out of a Pennsylvania prison was in a big hurry to go back to the slammer. 36 year old Thomas Lee Williams was let out of jail Tuesday, but minutes later he decided it’d be a great next move to hijack a woman’s SUV. He threw her out and peeled out with the woman’s one year old grandson still in the back seat—and crashed 15 minutes later. After fleeing on foot, the hapless criminal fled on foot into the woods, but was apprehended shortly afterwards and put back behind bars.
It looks like Michael Bloomberg is serious about running for president. The New York billionaire is advising Democrats to “do something” now that they’ve won control of the House, not just rest on their laurels. In a CNN interview during a day trip to Iowa—an important early presidential primary state—Bloomberg talked about his green energy objectives and his hypothetical approach to campaigning. The media mogul, prominent gun rights foe, and former New York City mayor recently registered as a Democrat after years as an independent. He spent some $110 million getting Democrats elected in November.
—QUOTABLE: “I do think that after 12 years in City Hall, dealing with international problems and security problems and economic problems and creating jobs and the environment and guns and women’s rights and tobacco and these things, that I have a lot of experience which would be useful if I was President of the United States.” -Bloomberg
Former lawyer and top confidante to President Trump, Michael Cohen, is probably providing information to special counsel Robert Mueller…but it likely has nothing to do with Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Although that’s what Mueller is supposed to be confined to investigating, Cohen is on the record time after time denying any involvement in such a scheme. And Cohen was indicted for lying to Congress, but not for when he made those denials. Which means Cohen—who has worked for the Trump Organization since long before he became president—could be telling Mueller where the bodies are, figuratively speaking, buried.
Buzzfeed is mischaracterizing the recent riots that tore Paris apart. They are the result of Facebook! the left-leaning website proclaimed, blaming the outpouring of violence and vandalism on recent changes Facebook made that allowed so-called “Anger Groups” to spread their message more easily. That ignores the real cause of the riots, which was a proposal by French President Emmanuel Macron to jack up the country’s carbon and gas taxes to pay for his fight against global warming. A petition protesting the taxes garnered more than a million signatures, a clear sign that while Facebook might’ve made the protests easier to organize, the root cause is the French president’s Ahab-like global warming quest.
—QUOTABLE: “Due to the way algorithm changes made earlier this year interacted with the fierce devotion in France to local and regional identity, the country is now facing some of the worst riots in many years — and in Paris, the worst in half a century.” -Buzzfeed writer Ryan Broderick.