When President Trump announced a new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office and hotline in last year's State of the Union address, he said he would be "providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests." Almost a year later, VOICE, run by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has improperly released private and legally protected information about people who call into the hotline and the people they are calling about, potentially undermined the trust of crime victims, and callers are improperly treating the hotline as a crime tip line, The Arizona Republic reports.
Last year, ICE posted summaries of call logs on its website that included names, addresses, and phone numbers of crime victims and immigrants accused of being in the U.S. illegally or crimes, plus identification numbers and employers of the immigrants. The Arizona Republic said that for its part, it filed a Freedom of Information Act request for "any and all criminal activity" called in to the VOICE line in July, received a spreadsheet with 643 callers on Sept. 8, then got a "clawback response" letter on Oct. 4 saying the September release inadvertently contained "personally identifiable information of third parties, law enforcement sensitive information, and potentially deliberative information."
The Republic illustrated the problems with the case of Elena Maria Lopez, who called the VOICE hotline to improperly report that her Dutch ex-husband had married her for a green card then threatened her; was told that there was nothing VOICE could do; then received a call informing her that the information she had provided in confidence was released to the newspaper. "The same agency that claimed it had to protect my ex-husband's rights just destroyed my privacy and my safety," Lopez told the Republic. David Bier, an immigration analyst at the Cato Institute, called this a predictably "serious problem" that has undermined trust in the government on immigration issues. Peter Weber
Democrats can thank women voters for their surging advantage on a generic ballot ahead of the hugely important 2018 midterm elections, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll has found. Although white women supported Trump by nine points in 2016 and by 14 points in the 2014 midterm, the demographic has since swung to favor Democrats over Republicans by 12 points on a generic ballot.
Overall, women voters favor Democrats by a 26 point advantage, double Hillary Clinton's margin in 2016. Independents have also swung to favor Democrats, 50 percent to 34 percent. "The swing group has been decisive in three consecutive midterm election waves, backing Republicans by 19 points in 2010 and 12 points in 2014, but supporting Democrats by 18 points in 2006 as they retook control of the House," The Washington Post writes.
Across the board, Democrats have a 15 point advantage over Republicans on a generic ballot among likely voters. In the same Washington Post/ABC News poll in November, that margin was slightly smaller, an 11 point advantage. Experts caution none of this means the Democrats will necessarily take back the House, qualifying a flip as "possible" but not "likely." Despite a generally favorable map, "Democrats would fall five seats short even if they won all contests the Cook Political Report classifies as solidly Democratic, leaning Democratic, or toss-ups," the Post adds.
George Stephanopoulos coolly backs Sarah Huckabee Sanders into a corner over Trump's hand in the shutdown
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos was a man of relatively few words during his interview with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday morning, but what he did say raised serious questions about President Trump's own potential hand in the ongoing government shutdown.
Sanders began the interview by using Stephanopoulos' opening question to blast Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for the shutdown. "I know sometimes members like Sen. Schumer need a little help and guidance getting through big policy negotiations like that," she told Stephanopoulos, "but the president's laid out what he wants and if they need help understanding it, we'd be happy to send some people over there to explain it to them."
Stephanopoulos didn't take the bait. "Do you really want to be questioning Sen. Schumer's knowledge of this legislation?"
Sanders laughed the question off, but Stephanopoulos followed up by asking why Trump hasn't called "everyone down to the White House today, Democrats, Republicans, together in the Oval Office."
"The president has been engaged," Sanders replied. "Different circumstances call for a different type of leadership."
"No meetings this weekend, Sarah," Stephanopoulos simply interrupted. Watch the full back-and-forth below. Jeva Lange
Press Sec. on gov't shutdown: "I think frankly and sadly that Sen. Schumer is playing games. Look, he wants to make it like this is the president's fault and that the president hasn't been anything but clear, but he has." pic.twitter.com/vxmPEexOYG
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 22, 2018
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' propensity for falling asleep at meetings is not helping his standing in the eyes of President Trump, who is already frustrated with the 80-year-old over "no good," "terrible" trade deals, Axios reports.
"Wilber is good until about 11 a.m.," one former administration official admitted. Politico's Eliana Johnson tweeted that she has heard similarly:
A source I had contacted about something more important responded that not only has Wilbur Ross fallen asleep at every meeting he’s been in with source, but that he drools - and uses his tie to clean it up.
— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) January 22, 2018
White House officials rallied to defend Ross, with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn telling Axios "Secretary Ross remains an important member of the president's economic team" and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer adding "Secretary Ross and I work together every day."
Speaking of the speech, he put wilber Ross to sleep pic.twitter.com/ZZxjAF3e7k
— Matt, VP Essential Consultants LLC (@MattM0720) May 21, 2017
Neither confirmed nor denied reports of Ross' sleeping habits. Jeva Lange
Jared Kushner is qualified to broker a Middle East peace deal because he was given 'a lot of responsibility' as a child, father claims
If Jared Kushner can't broker peace in the Middle East, then "no one can," President Trump has declared, although so far that hasn't gone as smoothly as everyone hoped. "The entire Middle East, from Palestine to Yemen, appears set to burst into flames after this week," The Guardian's Moustafa Bayoumi wrote in December, blaming Kushner for "wreaking havoc" in the region. The president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, has refused to talk to Kushner, with the foreign minister asking: "What is the use of holding any meetings with them when they close our office?" Even Israel has insisted that Kushner is doomed to failure unless he can get Saudi Arabia on board, Newsweek reports.
Jared Kushner, call your office. https://t.co/1N16gc3F2j
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) July 21, 2017
At least one person isn't sweating it: Kushner's dad, Charles Kushner. The elder Kushner told The Washington Post that his son is perfectly capable of handling everything on his plate because "we didn't raise our children as typical children."
"They were taught if you have wealth, it is not something to be spoiled about, it is a lot of responsibility, which requires you to do more, better than if you didn't have the money," Charles Kushner went on. "So my children, they are more mature than their years and they were raised that way." Spoken like a proud father, he added: "I see my son taking up the Middle East, the impact on the world could be dramatic."
Monday's Morning Joe on MSNBC started off with video of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talking about the impossibility of negotiating with President Trump on immigration and the government shutdown, then Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blaming the partial shutdown on 32-year-old Trump aide Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner.
In case it wasn't clear which party Morning Joe's anchors blame for the shutdown, Mika Brzezinski quoted The Washington Post: "Yet another period of Trump-fueled tumult [...] pinging from one upheaval to the next — while clearly not understanding the policy nuances of the negotiation." Joe Scarborough, who counseled Democrats to stay resolute in the face of Republican intransigence, exclaimed, "A 32-year-old aide has shut down the government!"
Government shutdown: Day 3 pic.twitter.com/gCa3eBeph1
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) January 22, 2018
While the Morning Joe crew has the blame game figured out, The Washington Post also noted Monday that it's still "unclear whether the public would blame the Republicans, who control the White House and Congress, or Democrats taking a stand on immigration while shuttering government agencies." Peter Weber
On Monday, residents of Seattle will have the chance to shop at Amazon Go, the online retail giant's brick-and-mortar grocery store, becoming the first people outside Amazon to try out the cashier-free shopping. Amazon employees started using the convenience store in December 2016, and mastering the technology of using cameras and sensors to charge people the correct amount for their purchase proved harder than expected. Issues included differentiating shoppers with similar body types and dealing with children eating items in-store or rearranging them on shelves, Reuters reports.
Shoppers pass through a turnstile to get into the store, scanning a smartphone app that links them to a credit card on file. Cameras and weight sensors on shelves determine what customers buy, and they are charged for whatever they still have with them when they walk out through the turnstiles again. Reuters correspondent Jeffrey Dastin tried out the store, and he got in an out with a bottle of water in under 30 seconds.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) January 22, 2018
Since customers like speed, Amazon's checkout-free technology could upend retail stores more than its online store already has. But the company says it has no plans to introduce this technology to Whole Foods Market stores, which are bigger and more complicated than Amazon Go shops; Amazon purchased Whole Foods last year for $13.7 billion. Peter Weber
Mitch McConnell blocked a Democratic measure to pay troops during the shutdown, but nobody told Mike Pence
On Sunday, during his shutdown-exempted trip to the Middle East, Vice President Mike Pence criticized Democrats for the partial government shutdown, telling U.S. service members they "shouldn't have to worry about getting paid" — which would happen if the shutdown lasts past Feb. 1 and Congress doesn't act. "Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay," Pence said, explicitly telling NBC News that "it was the Democrat leadership and vast majority of Democrats in the Senate that decided to say no to government funding."
On CBS Face the Nation on Sunday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney noted that "traditionally every single time there's a shutdown, Congress has voted to go and pay [troops] retroactively, and we support that." On Saturday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of five Senate Democrats who voted for the stopgap spending bill (five Republicans voted against it), proposed paying the troops now, as Congress did in 2013; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked the measure.
Watch the moment Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tried to pass a bill guaranteeing military pay and death benefits during the gov’t shutdown — and GOP leader Mitch McConnell blocked it pic.twitter.com/RNIdMvvfLx
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 20, 2018
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq in 2004, reminded Republicans later on Saturday that they had shot down the military pay measure, asked them to reconsider, and noted that President Trump was attacking Democrats on Twitter as "holding our Military hostage." "I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible," Duckworth said. "Sadly, this is something the current occupant of the Oval Office does not seem to care to do — and I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger."
Duckworth even coined a nickname for Trump, "Cadet Bone Spurs," that sounds almost, well, Trumpean. Peter Weber