Mueller to testify publicly before House committees July 17
WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify publicly before Congress on July 17 after Democrats issued subpoenas to compel him to appear, the chairmen of two House committees announced Tuesday.
Mueller’s unusual back-to-back testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees is likely to be the most highly anticipated congressional hearing in years, particularly given Mueller’s resolute silence throughout his two-year investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump’s campaign. Mueller never responded to angry, public attacks from Trump, nor did he ever personally join his prosecutors in court or make announcements of criminal charges from the team.
His sole public statement came from the Justice Department podium last month as he announced his departure, when he sought to explain his decision to not indict Trump or to accuse him of criminal conduct. He also put lawmakers on notice that he did not ever intend to say more than what he put in the 448-page report.
“We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself,” Mueller said May 29. “I would not provide information beyond what is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
Those remarks did little to settle the demands for his testimony. The two committees continued negotiations that had already been going on for weeks, saying they still wanted to hear from Mueller no matter how reluctant he was.
Father-daughter border drowning highlights migrants’ perils
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.
The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.
According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.
The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene — “amid tears” and “screams” — Le Duc told The Associated Press.
Border official resigns amid uproar over migrant children
HOUSTON (AP) — The acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection resigned Tuesday amid an uproar over the discovery of migrant children being held in pitiful conditions at one of the agency’s stations in Texas.
Acting Commissioner John Sanders’ departure deepened the sense of crisis and added to the rapid turnover inside the agencies responsible for enforcing President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration priorities as the U.S. deals with record numbers of migrant families coming across the border.
In a message to employees, Sanders said he would step down on July 5. He did not give a reason for leaving.
“Although I will leave it to you to determine whether I was successful, I can unequivocally say that helping support the amazing men and women of CBP has been the most fulfilling and satisfying opportunity of my career,” he said.
Hours after Sanders’ departure became public, two officials told The Associated Press that he was being replaced by Mark Morgan, who was named acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement just last month. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about the move and declined to be identified.
Warren in the spotlight as Democrats gather for 1st debate
MIAMI (AP) — After circling each other for months, Democratic presidential candidates will converge on the debate stage in Miami on Wednesday as the campaign enters a new — and likely more contentious — phase.
Given the massive field , the debate will be split over two nights with 10 candidates appearing each evening. It’s the highest-profile opportunity yet for many White House hopefuls to offer their vision for the country and — if for just two hours — chip into a political news cycle often dominated by President Donald Trump.
Elizabeth Warren will take center stage at the debate’s opening night. The Massachusetts senator’s constant stream of policy proposals has helped her campaign gain ground, and she’s the sole top-tier candidate who will appear at the Wednesday debate. Widely viewed as a talented debater, Warren is well positioned to showcase her strengths, strategists say.
“I don’t think anyone else on that night has her level of skill and her level of experience in this format,” said Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist. “I think she should look at this as an opportunity to really shine and come out of the first night as the one that is dominating the conversation.”
Yet Warren could still face challenges. The other candidates on stage Wednesday aren’t as well known and could use the moment to take aggressive stances against Warren in an effort to find a breakout moment.
House passes emergency funding bill for migrant care crisis
WASHINGTON (AP) — It took last-minute changes and a full-court press by top Democratic leaders, but the House passed with relative ease Tuesday a $4.5 billion emergency border aid package to care for thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill passed along party lines after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quelled a mini-revolt by progressives and Hispanic lawmakers who sought significant changes to the legislation. New provisions added to the bill Tuesday were more modest than what those lawmakers had sought, but the urgent need for the funding — to prevent the humanitarian emergency on the border from turning into a debacle — appeared to outweigh any lingering concerns.
The 230-195 vote sets up a showdown with the Republican-led Senate, which may try instead to force Democrats to send Trump a different, and broadly bipartisan, companion measure in coming days as the chambers race to wrap up the must-do legislation by the end of the week.
“The Senate has a good bill. Our bill is much better,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told her Democratic colleagues in a meeting Tuesday morning, according to a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private session.
“We are ensuring that children have food, clothing, sanitary items, shelter and medical care. We are providing access to legal assistance. And we are protecting families because families belong together,” Pelosi said in a subsequent floor speech.
Iran says ‘idiotic’ new US sanctions shut doors of diplomacy
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran warned Tuesday that new U.S. sanctions targeting its supreme leader and other top officials meant “closing the doors of diplomacy” between Tehran and Washington amid heightened tensions, even as President Hassan Rouhani derided the White House as being “afflicted by mental retardation.”
President Donald Trump called that a “very ignorant and insulting statement,” tweeting that an Iranian attack on any U.S. interest will be met with “great and overwhelming force … overwhelming will mean obliteration.” His secretary of state said the Iranian statement was “immature.”
The sharp remarks from Tehran shows the pressure that the nation’s Shiite theocracy and its 80 million people feel over the maximalist campaign of sanctions by the Trump administration. From Israel, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Iran could walk through an “open door” to talks with America but also warned that “all options remain on the table” if Tehran makes good on its promise to begin breaking one limit from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The verbal volleys recalled North Korea’s statements about Trump before the dramatic change in course and the start of negotiations with Washington. In 2017, state media quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calling Trump “the mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”
However, there are no signs the Iranian leadership would welcome talks.
Federal judges send 2020 census lawsuit back to lower court
BALTIMORE (AP) — A lawsuit that alleges a 2020 census question pushed by the Trump administration violates minorities’ rights will be sent back to a federal court in Maryland so new evidence can be considered, U.S. appeals judges ruled Tuesday.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision comes a day after U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland suggested in an opinion that racial discrimination and partisan power plays could be the underlying motives in asking everyone in the country about citizenship status. The 4th Circuit’s order sending the case back to Hazel could be pivotal.
“The decision today opens up a potentially new legal front in the fight against the citizenship question,” said Thomas Wolf, counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice and an expert on census matters.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide this week whether the Trump administration can add its citizenship question to the 2020 population survey. However, the justices are not considering legal questions about whether the citizenship addition might be discriminatory.
Now that the 4th Circuit has sent this lawsuit back to the federal court in Maryland, Hazel could issue an injunction blocking the citizenship question. If that were to happen, the order issued by the lower court would have to hold until the Supreme Court can take up the matter, according to Wolf.
Cardi B pleads not guilty to new charges in strip club brawl
NEW YORK (AP) — Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B was arraigned Tuesday on new felony charges in connection with a fight last year at a New York City strip club.
“Not guilty, sir, honor,” said the rapper dressed in a dark blue and light pink pantsuit with her hair tinted blue as she pleaded in state court to two counts of attempted assault and various misdemeanor charges, including harassment, criminal solicitation, conspiracy and reckless endangerment.
The rap star, whose chart-topping hits include “I Like It” and “Bodak Yellow,” has showcased her fashion style at each of her court appearances. She didn’t speak to reporters as she entered and left the courthouse, but waved at a small crowd of fans who shouted her name and took video on their cellphones.
The 26-year-old Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, and her entourage argued with a bartender at Angels Strip Club, police have said. They say a fight broke out in which chairs, bottles and hookah pipes were thrown, causing minor injuries to the woman and another employee.
Cardi B had originally only been charged with misdemeanors. Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury after she rejected a plea deal that would have given her a conditional discharge.
Motor vehicle head resigns over fatal crash that killed 7
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The head of the Massachusetts motor vehicle division has resigned after her agency failed to terminate the commercial driving license of a man whose collision with a group of motorcyclists on a rural New Hampshire road left seven bikers dead.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to seven counts of negligent homicide.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said in a statement that the state Registry of Motor Vehicles failed to act on information provided by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles about a drunken driving arrest involving Zhukovskyy.
Pollack said the arrest should have cost him his commercial driving license. As a result, she accepted the resignation of Erin Deveney.
Manny Ribeiro, who survived the crash, said the resignation was just one of many revelations about the driver that indicated the crash could have been prevented. But Ribeiro said it also felt “like someone was running around from the problem.”
Yankees homer in 28th straight game to set MLB record
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees have homered for the 28th straight game, breaking a major league record.
And they wasted no time setting the mark Tuesday night.
DJ LeMahieu hit a leadoff shot into the second deck down the left field line against Toronto lefty Clayton Richard, giving the Bronx Bombers sole possession of the record. New York began the night tied at 27 games in a row with the 2002 Texas Rangers, a team that featured Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.
The Yankees quickly added another one, too. Aaron Judge followed LeMahieu with an opposite-field drive into the right field stands. It was the first home run since April 20 for Judge, who returned Friday from an oblique injury that sidelined him for two months.
It was the 11th time in franchise history the Yankees have started a game with consecutive home runs.
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