Goodman: With DACA decision, Trump sells out American Dream to pander to his base

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces “wind down” of a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Signaling sympathies to white supremacists in Charlottesville. Pardoning Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And now ending the DACA program.

In the space of a few weeks, President Donald Trump has turned the federal government — for at least 50 years the protector of civil rights for vulnerable, maligned minorities — into an instrument for the very opposite.

Today’s announcement that he is rescinding the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has offered protections for nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought here as children with no intent of their own — including nearly 40,000 in Florida — is arguably the worst.

As Jennifer Rubin, the conservative writer of the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog put it:

Of all the actions Trump has taken, none has been as cruel, thoughtless or divisive as deporting hundreds of thousands of young people who’ve done nothing but go to school, work hard and present themselves to the government.

As if he didn’t have the nerve to face the public himself, Trump sent his attorney general, the former senator with the past of racist accusations against him, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions 3rd, to announce the decision. Sessions’ statement was filled with claptrap about restoring the rule of law and constitutional order after President Barack Obama’s “overreach” in signing the program into existence by executive order.

Trump’s DACA cancellation doesn’t get fully implemented for six months, supposedly to give Congress time to come up with a legislative solution: a way for Dreamers to earn their right to stay here as legal citizens. Fat chance of that. It was because Congress failed so many times to grapple with the complications of illegal immigration that Obama finally decided to act: If he couldn’t solve every issue, at least he could help the most innocent of the people caught between two worlds.

Diego Rios, 23, of Rockville, Md., rallies in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, outside of the White House on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

About 70 percent of voters in most polls, Republicans and Democrats, back the DACA program, believing that Dreamers deserve sympathy and support. And why not? They are doing everything we expect of citizens. Ninety-one percent of Dreamers are working. They are projected to contribute $460.3 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade — that is, if they aren’t mindlessly kicked out of the country.

Even Trump has said, “We love the Dreamers…We think the Dreamers are terrific.”

But Trump loves the crowds at his rallies even more. Increasingly, he is defining himself as the president of his base  — a base burning with white grievance — not president of the United States.

A real president of the United States would know in his soul that we’re a nation based on an essential bedrock of inclusion. It’s in our motto: E pluribus unum.

Out of many, one.

Goodman: Answer Comey’s firing with an independent probe into alleged Trump-Russia ties

In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017, photo, then-FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9, ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

UPDATE 12:34 p.m.

The New York Times and others are reporting that just days ago Comey asked Justice Department officials for a significant increase in money and personnel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Times attributes its information to three congressional sources briefed on the request.

The timing of Mr. Comey’s request is not clear-cut evidence that his firing was related to the Russia investigation. But it is certain to fuel bipartisan criticism that President Trump appeared to be meddling in an investigation that had the potential to damage his presidency.

The F.B.I. declined to comment. But Sarah Isgur Flores, the Justice Department spokeswoman, said “the idea that he asked for more funding” for the Russia investigation was “totally false.” She did not elaborate. (New York Times)

****

President Donald J. Trump’s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey instantly brings back the sick-to-the-stomach feeling of former President Richard Nixon’s infamous Saturday Night Massacre.

Once again, a president under investigation for suspected illegalities in his election has fired the man leading the investigation against him.

Once again, an existential question hovers over Washington and the nation at-large: Can the president be above the law? And if not, how is he to be held to account?

Trump’s stated reasons for firing Comey, as expressed in a memo prepared by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — that Comey was unfair to Hillary Clinton by discussing her mishandling of emails in a press conference, though he declined to recommend her prosecution — makes no sense. If that were the reason, why now, 100-plus days into Trump’s presidency? And why should Trump, who led avid crowds in choruses of “Lock her up!” fire anyone for any lack of kindness to Hillary Clinton?

On the other hand, Trump gave Comey the boot on Tuesday afternoon just hours after CNN learned that federal prosecutors had issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of  former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as part of the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Comey publicly confirmed the existence of that probe at a Senate hearing last week, disclosing that the investigation was being led jointly by the Alexandria U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation. (CNN.com)

The worry now, by some Republicans in Congress as well as Democrats, is whether a Justice Department headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who concurred in Comey’s firing despite saying he would recuse himself from the both the Russia meddling and Clinton email matters, can be trusted to continue this investigation.

The investigation is crucial not for the purpose of damaging the president for partisan purposes, but to understand the depth of a foreign adversary’s interference in the exercise of American democracy.

It is imperative now that Congress regain its bearing as a co-equal branch of government and authorize or organize an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the election, and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with those efforts.

Anyone out there disagree? Take our poll …

 

Christie: GOP silencing of Elizabeth Warren was outrageous, divisive

The U.S. Senate’s rebuke of Elizabeth Warren last night for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King that criticizes Sen. Jeff Sessions is an outrageous abuse of freedom of speech and a dismaying display of the extreme partisanship that has helped poison our politics.

Republican senators formally silenced Sen. Warren, the Democratic firebrand from Massachusetts, during debate on Sessions’ nomination for attorney general as she read from a letter that King wrote in 1986, when Sessions was being considered for a federal judgeship.

In that 31-year-old letter, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged senators to reject the then-U.S. Attorney in Alabama because he had “used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, interrupted Warren as she read the letter, objecting that she had demeaned a peer, invoking a rule against insulting fellow senators. The Senate then voted, 49-43, along strict party lines, to force Warren into silence, at least on the Senate floor, until the battle over Session’s attorney general confirmation is finished.

In one blow, the Republicans moved to muzzle both Warren, who has been a piercing critic of the new Trump administration, and Mrs. King, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.

They looked clumsy in doing so. Warren later went on Facebook Live outside the Senate chambers to read the letter in full. Twitter and social media erupted with support for her.

And hours later, Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, picked up the Coretta King letter and read it in full. He received no censure.

That fact alone suggests powerfully that, as much as Republican senators wanted to protect the reputation of Sessions, one of their own, they were equally keen to squelch Warren. She must be getting under their skin.

They sure didn’t worry about the optics of sexism. Especially when McConnell justified his move by saying this:

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The hashtag #ShePersisted became a top trender on Twitter.

And quite frankly, the notion of being forbidden to criticize a fellow senator when that senator is up for confirmation for a Cabinet post — especially top law-enforcement official — is ludicrous.

Animosities are clearly rising to boiling point in the Senate, where the Democrats are doing all they can to slow, if not defeat, the confirmation of Trump cabinet nominees. Republicans, some of whom had once promised to be a check on Trump, are complaining that the Democrats are being obstructionist. But the Democrats are fighting an almost comically inappropriate host of nominees: an education secretary who doesn’t believe in public education; an Environmental Protection Agency administrator who opposes the Environmental Protection Agency; and an attorney general who disdains the Voting Rights Act.

But these heavy-handed tactics by McConnell are likely to backfire. Yes, the Republicans look like heroes to their base, but Warren is also looking more heroic to progressives.

As Barack Obama’s former political adviser, David Axelrod, put it: