A US Citizenship and Immigration Services representative floated the idea during a meeting last week, Politico reports. But the proposal has alarmed Pentagon officials, who fear that it could jeopardize relations with Iraqis who have risked their lives assisting US forces in the country.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security responded to the zero-admissions proposal by suggesting capping admissions between 3,000 and 10,000. The Trump administration has already cut refugee admissions by a third this year, down to 30,000.
But a virtual shutdown of the refugee program could give Trump a powerful talking point in an election that he has sought to focus on immigration — first by proposing to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and more recently by pushing to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The report about the refugee program also comes as Trump continues his attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American congresswoman who first came to the United States as a child while fleeing her war-torn country and had spent time in a refugee camp.
Two 2020 Democrats being pushed to exit the race
Two of the Democratic presidential primary’s lower-polling candidates — former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and former congressman John Delaney — are being urged to leave the race.
Some of Delaney’s senior advisers sat him down last week to encourage him to drop out of the primary by mid-August, according to Axios. Even though he was the first prominent Democrat to announce his bid all the way back in July 2017, the former Maryland congressman has failed to catch fire despite lending his campaign more than $11 million. His aides believe he has no chance of making the fall debates and that he would better position himself for a Cabinet position or gubernatorial bid if he dropped out before September.
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper can’t avoid the same nagging advice from strategists and former constituents: you should have run for the Senate. Colorado’s Republican senator, Cory Gardner, is up for reelection next year, and many Democrats in the state think Hickenlooper would have the best chance to beat him. The popular former governor has ruled out the idea, but Democratic strategists are reminding him that he still has time to change his mind as his presidential campaign struggles.
House Democrats are hoping that special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance on Capitol Hill next Wednesday will allow them to make their argument that Donald Trump clearly obstructed justice. Democrats on the House judiciary committee intend to focus on five episodes from Mueller’s report, including Trump’s efforts to fire the special counsel and his attempts at witness-tampering, which they feel could have constituted chargeable offenses.
Meanwhile, the House intelligence committee will zero in on the report’s account of contacts with the Russians and WikiLeaks, including Trump’s advance knowledge of WikiLeaks obtaining emails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But both Democrats and Republicans in the House are preparing extensively for Mueller’s appearance, even holding mock hearings with senior aides standing in for the former special counsel.
Their efforts to sharpen their questions before the back-to-back hearings underscore the high drama surrounding Mueller’s testimony, which Democrats hope will shift the public opinion on whether Trump obstructed justice and should be impeached. The overwhelming majority of Americans have not read Mueller’s full report, a group that includes some prominent lawmakers.
Democratic lawmakers say Mueller’s appearance on Capitol Hill — and by extension on television — could force Americans to more sharply consider the events the report describes. As one judiciary committee official said, “Not everybody is reading the book, but people will watch the movie.”
Another foreign leader has weighed in on Trump’s racist comments about “the Squad.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the president’s remarks run counter to “the strength of America.”
Our correspondent Kate Connolly reports from Berlin:
“The German chancellor voiced her solidarity towards the Democratic politicians who were told by Trump this week to ‘go back…to the places from which they came’, saying:
‘I firmly distance myself from (the attacks) and feel solidarity towards the attacked women.’ She added: ‘the strength of America lies in the idea that people of different origins contribute to what makes the country great.’”
Connolly also noted that reporters at Merkel’s annual summer press conference were surprised by the chancellor’s forthright tone, marking an impressive end to her 90-minute appearance. The comments make her the latest foreign leader – in addition to Britain’s outgoing prime minister, Theresa May, and Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau – to condemn Trump’s comments.
Good morning, live blog readers!
My name’s Joanie Greve, and I’ll be covering the blog through the 2020 campaign and beyond – touching on Russian election interference, race-baiting immigration policy and any other pertinent topics that may come up along the way. If you have any ideas about what issues you want to see covered here, you can tweet at me @joanegreve. And thank you to my wonderful Guardian colleagues who have steered the blog so well over the past few months.
Donald Trump has kicked off the morning by accusing the media of stirring up controversy over the racist “send her back” chant at his North Carolina rally, even though a number of Republicans publicly criticized the attack on Representative Ilhan Omar. The president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump even encouraged her father to repudiate the racist chant, according to the New York Times.
“It is amazing how the Fake News Media became ‘crazed’ over the chant ‘send her back’ by a packed Arena (a record) crowd in the Great State of North Carolina, but is totally calm & accepting of the most vile and disgusting statements made by the three Radical Left Congresswomen,” Trump wrote this morning on Twitter, going on to slam “Foul Mouthed Omar.” It’s unclear which three congresswomen he’s referring to, given that “the Squad” is usually identified as four minority women lawmakers – Omar of Minnesota, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
But it’s clear that the chant has struck a chord with many people on both sides of the aisle. Rabbi Avi Olitzky, a religious leader from Omar’s home district, even compared the rhetoric to that seen during the rise of Hitler. “This is a very eerie wave of similar situations in history, be that Nazi Germany or elsewhere,” the rabbi told ABC News.