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'I Know What You're Doing!' MSNBC's Chris Mattews Lays Into Ex-Trump Aide for Pushing Nixon-Style Cover-Up of Russian Contacts

ALTERNET - vor 3 Stunden 5 Minuten
“The whole thing you’re doing smacks of something like John Dean and the Nixon cover-up," Matthews said.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday tore into Michael Caputo, a former aide to then-candidate Donald Trump, for his and his ally Roger Stone's recent revelation that they had previously undisclosed contact with a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

Both Stone and Caputo had repeatedly denied such a meeting ever took place — potentially even under penalty of perjury — and they are now trying to spin the story by claiming it was a setup by the FBI.

"This whole thing that you're coming out with at this convenient time two years later, the whole thing you're doing smacks of something like John Dean and the Nixon cover-up," Matthews said of the excuses while interviewing Caputo Monday. "It smacks of bringing out information way late, two-years later at your convenience."

"Why is this convenient for me?" Caputo show back.

"Because you're going to make the case that you were used!" Matthews said.

Caputo had no response for this argument, as it lays bare exactly what it appears he and stone are trying to do. Caputo said he thought they might be having difficulty with the audio system, and Matthews ended the interview.

"I know what you're doing!" Matthews said. "Good luck with your setup story."

Watch the clip below:

“The whole thing you’re doing smacks of something like John Dean and the Nixon cover-up. It smacks of bringing out information way late, 2 years late, at your convenience ... Good luck with your set-up story.” @HardballChris to @MichaelRCaputo. #Hardball pic.twitter.com/HJI5ZJF9Ra

— Hardball (@hardball) June 18, 2018  Related Stories
Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Judge Literally Sends Trump Ally Back to School After Slapping Down His Voter Suppression Scheme

ALTERNET - vor 3 Stunden 36 Minuten
This is a massive embarrassment for Kris Kobach.

On Monday, a federal judge slapped down a terrible Kansas voting policy that would have required proof of citizenship for Kansans to vote, which would have been a significant burden on voters.

The law was defended in court by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been the leading figure in President Donald Trump's manufactured battle against virtually non-existence voter fraud and even chaired the now defunct and disgraced Presidential Committee on Election Integrity. 

Even more embarrassing than the loss, though, is that the judge thought Kobach's performance in defending the policy was so bad that he literally has to go back to school.

The court cited Kobach for his "repeated and flagrant violations of discovery and disclosure rules."

“It is not clear to the Court whether Defendant repeatedly failed to meet his disclosure obligations intentionally or due to his unfamiliarity with the federal rules," the judge wrote. "Therefore, the Court finds that an additional sanction is appropriate in the form of Continuing Legal Education.”

He's only required to take a 6-hour course of study, but it's hard to exaggerate how embarrassing it is that a judge is actually requiring a secretary of state to go back to law school.  Kobach has until June 30, 2019, to prove to the court that he has undergone the required education.

"This decision is a stinging rebuke of Kris Kobach, and the centerpiece of his voter suppression efforts: a show-me-your papers law that has disenfranchised tens of thousands of Kansans," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, which brought the case. "That law was based on a xenophobic lie that noncitizens are engaged in rampant election fraud. The court found that there is 'no credible evidence' for that falsehood, and correctly ruled that Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution.”

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Kategorien: Externe Ticker

'I Find That Offensive': DHS Head Flails As Reporters Grill Her About Family Separation Policy

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 23:44
She tried defending the indefensible.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday tried defending the administration's policy of breaking up immigrant families at the border. 

It did not go well.

Stepping up at the White House press briefing in Sarah Sanders' place, apparently because the press secretary didn't want to face questions on the administration's catastrophic policy, Nielsen lied, twisted the truth and deflected to avoid taking any responsibility, on her own behalf or on behalf of the administration, for the policy being implemented.

"Are you intending for this to play out as it's playing out?" one reporter asked. "Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?" 

"I find that offensive. No." Nielsen said. "Why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that?"

As reporters in the room pointed out, though, this answer makes no sense. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has framed the zero-tolerance policy that leads to the high rate of family separations as a method to deter immigrants. And shortly after President Donald Trump's inauguration, Nielsen's predecessor, John Kelly, raised the idea of separating families specifically as a deterrent.

She also refused to comment on the lack of images of young girls and toddlers who are known to be in the federal government's custody. While the administration has released images of boys being kept in large cages, it hasn't shown similar images of the younger children or the girls — prompting many reporters to wonder if the government is trying to hide something.

When she said she hasn't heard the audio recording of children wailing and crying in one of the government's facilities, one reporter in the room began playing it aloud — though Nielsen didn't respond.

Nielsen also insisted that it wasn't true, as many have reported, that asylum-seekers are being turned away from ports of entry, forcing them to cross at unauthorized entry points. But then she went on to say, in fact, that families often are turned away when border agents don't have the resources to process them, though they are told to come back.

Watch the clip below:

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Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential Threat

The president of the United States told a blatant lie about Germany on Monday, claiming that the nation’s crime rate — which is at its lowest level in 25 years — has gone “way up” since Europe granted asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq.

The lie, posted on Twitter by Donald Trump, was an attempt to justify the exceedingly cruel measures he ordered to deter unauthorized immigration, including the arrest of asylum-seekers at the southern border and the removal of their children for detention in cages.

It was widely debunked and criticized by Germans, like the political scientist Marcel Dirsus.

We will not be lectured on immigration by a man who locks up children in cages. https://t.co/0Yfi361UiK

— Marcel Dirsus (@marceldirsus) June 18, 2018

As Mathieu von Rohr of the German magazine Der Spiegel pointed out, Trump’s false claim about crime in Germany — which is down 5.1 percent overall since last year and 2.4 percent for violent offenses — also misled readers about the continued popularity of Chancellor Angela Merkel, even as she resists calls for a crackdown on asylum-seekers from allied conservatives in the state of Bavaria.

Merkel is still the most popular politician in Germany btw
(cc @realdonaldtrump) pic.twitter.com/Mpk4ONqveP

— Mathieu von Rohr (@mathieuvonrohr) June 18, 2018

Jeremy Cliffe, the Berlin bureau chief of The Economist, noted that Trump’s grasp of the politics of immigration in Germany is also shaky. While it is certainly true that Merkel’s party has lost some support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, the far-right party is still supported by just 16 percent of the voters in recent polling, and its leader, Alexander Gauland, trails Merkel 50-12 in overall approval.

Undeterred by the facts, Trump followed his false claim with a second tweet, in which he revealed that the lie about Germany was part of a broader effort to cast immigration, at least by nonwhites, as an existential threat to both Europe and the United States.

We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018

While it was not clear what, exactly, Trump thinks is happening in Europe — where there has been a sharp decline in migration from the Middle East and Africa since 2015 — he repeated the comment in prepared remarks at the White House later on Monday. “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he said. “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places,” Trump added. “We can’t allow that to happen to the United States.”

"Not on my watch": Amid escalating scrutiny over border policy, Pres. Trump says U.S. "will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility." https://t.co/mvQYZyuXB7 pic.twitter.com/QWAaBx8M5x

— ABC News (@ABC) June 18, 2018

As he has in the past, Trump seems to be implying that harsh measures — like those taken recently by his administration and by far-right leaders in Italy and Hungary — were necessary to defend both the physical security of Europe and America, as well as to preserve their white, Christian majorities.

That underlying racist theme was, of course, the very loudly spoken subtext of Trump’s first speech as a candidate for the presidency, when he attacked Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. It was there too, in his nearly obsessive criticism of Merkel during his campaign, when his speeches were punctuated — again and again and again — by false claims about a nonexistent crime wave destroying Germany, where his grandparents were born.

Just two weeks before Merkel responded to the migrant crisis of 2015 by opening Germany’s borders to refugees, Trump told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business that the German chancellor was “a fantastic leader — I was with somebody the other day who thinks she’s the greatest leader in the world today, she’s the smartest and the greatest leader in the world today.”

Two months later, Trump told a crowd in Knoxville, Tennessee, that he no longer admired Merkel. “I think what she did to Germany is a disgrace,” he said. He went on to say that giving shelter to Syrians would “destroy all of Europe” and falsely claimed that “they’re having riots in the streets; they’re having crime that they’ve never had before.”

“We talk about immigration, we talk about borders. Do you see what she’s done to Germany?” Trump asked a crowd in New Hampshire two months later, after Merkel was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year instead of him. “The crime is astronomical. It’s not working. They’re having riots now in the street, and the German people are now saying, ‘We’ve had it; we’ve had it.’ We can’t let that happen to us.”

“Germany is a behemoth, an economic behemoth. It’s being destroyed by what Merkel has done there, what she has done to Germany,” Trump told supporters in South Carolina in February 2016. “I have friends from Germany, they’re leaving Germany,” he continued. “These are people who were so proud, a year ago, of being in Germany — German people. They were so proud, they used to brag. I said, ‘Are you still proud?’ Not so proud.”

The culmination of Trump’s attacks on the German leader for her openness to refugees from the Middle East and Africa was a line he trotted out in Ohio in August 2016. “Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel,” Trump read from a teleprompter, before pausing to allow for boos. “And you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany,” he continued. “Crime has risen to levels that no one thought they would ever, ever see. It is a catastrophe.”

Top Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked toward U.S. President Donald Trump during a gender equality meeting he arrived late for at the G7 Summit this month in Quebec.

The post Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential Threat appeared first on The Intercept.

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Sarah Sanders Refused to Lead Monday's Press Briefing to Avoid Questions on Family Separation Policy: Report

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 23:01
Instead, Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen agreed to take questions from the White House briefing room.

After the White House press briefing was delayed multiple times for several hours on Monday, it was eventually announced that press secretary Sarah Sanders would not be leading the briefing as she typically does.

The reason? According to CNN reporter Oliver Darcy, she didn't want to face questions about the administration's policy of separating immigrants families and detaining children.

"A White House official tells [CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny] that [Sanders] didn't want to do the briefing today amid questions on child separation policy, so [Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen] is being flown in from New Orleans to take questions," he wrote on Twitter.

As many people observed, New Orleans is quite a distance away from Washington, D.C.

Last Thursday, Sander appeared rattled as reporters grilled her about the cruel and abusive policy, about which the administration's policy has been wildly inconsistent.

“You’re a parent, don’t you have any empathy?” one reporter asked her last week. “Come on, Sarah, you're a parent. Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?”

She ignored the question.

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Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Gut-Wrenching Audio of Toddlers Ripped from Their Parents' Arms Includes Border Agents Mocking Them

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 22:22
The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children separated from their parents makes for excruciating listening.

Este articulo pronto estará disponible en español.

The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”

Then a distraught but determined 6-year-old Salvadoran girl pleads repeatedly for someone to call her aunt. Just one call, she begs anyone who will listen. She says she’s memorized the phone number, and at one point, rattles it off to a consular representative. “My mommy says that I’ll go with my aunt,” she whimpers, “and that she’ll come to pick me up there as quickly as possible.”

An audio recording obtained by ProPublica adds real-life sounds of suffering to a contentious policy debate that has so far been short on input from those with the most at stake: immigrant children. More than 2,300 of them have been separated from their parents since April, when the Trump administration launched its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which calls for prosecuting all people who attempt to illegally enter the country and taking away the children they brought with them. More than 100 of those children are under the age of 4. The children are initially held in warehouses, tents or big box stores that have been converted into Border Patrol detention facilities.

Condemnations of the policy have been swift and sharp, including from some of the administration’s most reliable supporters. It has united religious conservatives and immigrant rights activists, who have said that “zero tolerance” amounts to “zero humanity.” Democratic and Republican members of Congress spoke out against the administration’s enforcement efforts over the weekend. Former first lady Laura Bush called the administration’s practices “cruel” and “immoral,” and likened images of immigrant children being held in kennels to those that came out of Japanese internment camps during World War II. And the American Association of Pediatricians has said the practice of separating children from their parents can cause the children “irreparable harm.”

Still, the administration had stood by it. President Trump blames Democrats and says his administration is only enforcing laws already on the books, although that’s not true. There are no laws that require children to be separated from their parents, or that call for criminal prosecutions of all undocumented border crossers. Those practices were established by the Trump administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has cited passages from the Bible in an attempt to establish religious justification. On Monday, he defended it again saying it was a matter of rule of law, “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.” A Border Patrol spokesman echoed that thought in a written statement.

In recent days, authorities on the border have begun allowing tightly controlled tours of the facilities that are meant to put a humane face on the policy. But cameras are heavily restricted. And the children being held are not allowed to speak to journalists.

The audio obtained by ProPublica breaks that silence. It was recorded last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The person who made the recording asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. That person gave the audio to Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has lived and worked for four decades in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border with Mexico. Harbury provided it to ProPublica. She said the person who recorded it was a client who “heard the children’s weeping and crying, and was devastated by it.”

The person estimated that the children on the recording are between 4 and 10 years old. It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw. Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable.

The child who stood out the most was the 6-year-old Salvadoran girl with a phone number stuck in her head. At the end of the audio, a consular official offers to call the girl’s aunt. ProPublica dialed the number she recited in the audio, and spoke with the aunt about the call.

“It was the hardest moment in my life,” she said. “Imagine getting a call from your 6-year-old niece. She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone.’”

The aunt said what made the call even more painful was that there was nothing she could do. She and her 9-year-old daughter are seeking asylum in the United States after immigrating here two years ago for the exact same reasons and on the exact same route as her sister and her niece. They are from a small town called Armenia, about an hour’s drive northwest of the Salvadoran capital, but well within reach of its crippling crime waves. She said gangs were everywhere in El Salvador: “They’re on the buses. They’re in the banks. They’re in schools. They’re in the police. There’s nowhere for normal people to feel safe.”

She said her niece and sister set out for the United States over a month ago. They paid a smuggler $7,000 to guide them through Guatemala, and Mexico and across the border into the United States. Now, she said, all the risk and investment seem lost.

The aunt said she worried that any attempt to intervene in her niece’s situation would put hers and her daughter’s asylum case at risk, particularly since the Trump administration overturned asylum protections for victims of gang and domestic violence. She said she’s managed to speak to her sister, who has been moved to an immigration detention facility near Port Isabel, Texas. And she keeps in touch with her niece, Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid, by telephone. Mother and daughter, however, have not been able to speak to one another.

The aunt said that Alison has been moved out of the Border Patrol facility to a shelter where she has a real bed. But she said that authorities at the shelter have warned the girl that her mother, 29-year-old Cindy Madrid, might be deported without her.

“I know she’s not an American citizen,” the aunt said of her niece. “But she’s a human being. She’s a child. How can they treat her this way?”

Has your family been separated at the U.S., Mexico border? Are you a worker at a detention center or do you aid families who have been affected? Tell us more at border@propublica.org or 347-244-2134.

 

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Kategorien: Externe Ticker

How the War Industry Corrupts the U.S. Congress

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 22:09
Critical congressional votes, including the confirmation of Gina Haspel as CIA director, can be traced back to campaign donations by U.S. weapons-makers.

Former President Jimmy Carter has called U.S. politics a system of “legalized bribery” in which powerful interests spend billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign funding to ensure that members of Congress pay more attention to them than to the general public. With the upcoming midterm elections, we will see the full force of this tsunami of cash washing over our electoral system.

The human cost of this corrupt system has been searingly rammed home since the Parkland school shooting, as grieving high school students determined to curb America’s gun violence have found themselves in a pitched battle with the “gun lobby,” led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most entrenched and powerful interest groups in the country.

The gun lobby has already spent over $12 million on lobbying and given at least $1.1 million to members of Congress in this election cycle, 98 percent of it to Republicans. The gun lobby also wields power over Democrats through lobbying and public relations, and the threat of targeting individual Democrats who take a public stand for gun control.

But what about the even greater violence of America’s wars and the record military budget that makes them possible? U.S. weapons makers spend far more money on lobbying and campaign contributions than the domestic gun lobby: $162 million on lobbying and tens of millions in direct funding for members of Congress so far in the 2017-18 election cycle.

There is a strong correlation between campaign contributions from the companies that build America’s warships, tanks and warplanes, and critical votes in Congress to keep the guns firing, the missiles flying, the bombs falling and the cash flowing to the military-industrial complex.

When an evenly divided Senate voted to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director, six Democrats joined 48 Republicans to vote for her confirmation. But it was not just any six Democrats. In the 2018 election cycle, those six—Senators Nelson (FL)Donnelly (IN)Manchin (WV)Heitkamp (ND)Shaheen (NH) and Warner (VA)—have received an average of $170,220 each in campaign cash from the war industry, while the 43 Democrats who voted against Haspel took in an average of only $91,409 each.

Four of the Haspel Six (Nelson, Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp) also recently cast critical votes to confirm Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and to continue the murderous U.S.-Saudi war on the people of Yemen.

U.S. weapons companies have traditionally treated the Republican Party as their base in Congress, and they still contribute more to Republicans than Democrats. But as we can see in these three recent votes, hawkish Senate Democrats play a critical role as swing votes to keep the country at war and to ensure that the lion’s share of tax revenues keep flowing to the military-industrial complex.

The support of these hawkish Senate Democrats for endless war and record military spending stands in sharp contrast to the concerns of grassroots Democrats and Independents and even many Republicans, who are sick of the intractable cycle of violence and chaos that U.S. militarism has unleashed around the world since 2001.

The Haspel Six, who voted for a woman who oversaw horrific forms of torture, are not the only Democrats corrupted by the war industry. Many more regularly vote for record military budgets that hand over the lion’s share of U.S. tax revenues to war profiteers.

Thirteen Senate Democrats have already raked in more than $200,000 each in contributions from the war industry in this election cycle: Durbin (IL); Reed (RI); Kaine (VA); Schumer (NY); Nelson (FL); Leahy (VT); Murray (WA); Shaheen (NH); Warner (VA); Blumenthal (CT); Schatz (HI); Donnelly (IN); and Heinrich (NM). Of these, only Leahy had the integrity to vote against final passage of the $700 billion FY2018 military budget.

In this election cycle, the 49 Democrats and Independents in the U.S. Senate have raised $5 million dollars in direct campaign contributions from the war industry, plus an additional $2.3 million for their “Leadership PACs,” from which they distribute funds to other corporate politicians and candidates. That amounts to 44.5 percent of the war profits Lockheed Martin and other weapons makers have reinvested in the U.S. Senate in this election cycle, compared with $9.1 million, or 55.5 percent, to the 51 Republicans.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee may soon take up the Corker-Kaine Bill for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which would be an even more explicit blank check for endless war than the 2001 AUMF, which only authorized “...all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons (the president) determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons….”

Three successive U.S. administrations have interpreted that language to justify wars that have destroyed several countries, and killed and maimed millions of people who had nothing to do with the crimes of September 11th. Now we face the even greater danger that, instead of simply repealing the serially-abused 2001 AUMF, a Congress bought and paid for by the war industry will explicitly authorize endless war.

How can we, the public, make our voices heard by a Congress corrupted by war profiteers, when the war industry can buy a bipartisan majority for war and militarism in the U.S. Senate with such a tiny fraction of its profits?

How can we bring the same good sense and common humanity to America’s bomb problem that the students from Parkland have brought to our domestic gun problem?

CODEPINK and other groups of concerned citizens have started a campaign called Divest from the War Machine. We ask elected officials to refuse contributions from the NRA and the top five weapons manufacturers: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and General Dynamics. Since these officials are constantly voting on issues related to military spending, these decisions must not be tainted by the corrupting influence of weapons lobbyists. Check out the list of those who signed the pledge and help us get more officials on board.

Learn more about the campaign and join us in building an economy that is not dependent on killing and maiming people to boost the profits of weapons manufacturers.

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Ivanka Greeted By 'Trump is Nixon' Sign During Fresno Fundraising Event with GOPer Kevin McCarthy

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 22:06
The president's daughter and adviser went to Fresno, California, to support her father's congressional allies.

President Donald Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump was greeted by protesters in Fresno, California, on Monday as she arrived for a Republican fundraising event.

The Fresno Bee reported that one protester held two signs: One said 'Trump is Nixon," the other said "Trump-Nunes: It's Mueller Time."

The second sign refers to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), a Fresno-area lawmaker who is reportedly one of the reasons the first daughter has chosen to make the trip for the fundraiser.

"I don't think it's really a surprise, particularly for Nunes, given that he's been so loyal to the president," Michael Evans, chairman of the Fresno County Democratic Party, told The Hill of her visit. "I think they would be viewing this as some sort of payback, but it does raise the question are they concerned about Devin Nunes election prospects this year."

She will be appearing alongside House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at Harris Construction for the fundraiser.

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Kategorien: Externe Ticker

Donald Trump Has Replaced Photos of Him And French President Macron With Pictures of Kim Jong-un

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 21:17
How do you know you're in Trump's good graces? These gold picture frames might offer a clue.

Several garish gold frames having in the West Wing that used be adorned with pictures of Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron have been replaced with photos from the president’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender reports.

In April, Trump and Macron’s friendship appeared to reach new heights during a state dinner, when the French president praised their “great relationship” and Trump offered to wipe dandruff off Macron’s shoulder.

But at the G7 meeting in June, their union reportedly “soured.” Trump, who was more than an hour late for his scheduled meeting with Macron, left the G7 for Singapore, where he met with Jong-un and offered praise for the North Korean leader.

Jong-un, Trump said, has “a great personality,” and is “a funny guy, he's very smart.”

"When you take over a country—a  tough country, tough people—and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have. If you can do that at 27 years old, I mean, that's 1 in 10,000 that could do that,” Trump said.

Pictures of President Trump and Kim Jong Un in the West Wing of the White House. A few weeks ago, these frames surrounded pics of Trump with Emmanuel Macron, president of France, one of America’s closest allies. pic.twitter.com/RZja99SDnJ

— Michael C. Bender (@MichaelCBender) June 18, 2018
Kategorien: Externe Ticker

'It Is Child Abuse': Fox News Legal Analyst Says Trump Is Flagrantly Violating the Law with Family Separation Policy

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 21:02
"They're picking and choosing which rules they want to follow rigidly, and which rules they wish weren't there."

Fox News' legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano on Monday decried President Donald Trump's administration policy of separating immigrant families and placing children in detention centers, sending a strong signal that even many of the White House's conservative supporters will not defend this extremist acts.

"The administration is motivated by the president's skills at negotiation," Napolitano said on Fox News' "The Daily Briefing." "I think he's trying to use children to turn up the heat on the negotiators."

Host Dana Perino even noted that, despite Trump's false claims that he is required by law to carry out the family separation policy, the administration has elsewhere used its discretion to avoid supporting policies it dislikes, such as when it chose to stop defending Obamacare in court.

"Of course, they have discretion not to do this," Napolitano said of separating families. "In my opinion, it is child abuse to separate children from their parents unless it's necessary to save a human life, and that's not the case here."

He continued: "There's a federal statute that says you can't separate them for more than 72 hours. They know all of this! They're picking and choosing which rules they want to follow rigidly, and which rules they wish weren't there."

Watch the clip below:

Fox's Judge Nap tears into Trump's policy of separating children from families: "Of course they have the discretion not to do this, in my opinion it is child abuse to separate children from their parents ... They're picking and choosing which rules to follow." pic.twitter.com/ETzQ8gGhB5

— Lis Power (@LisPower1) June 18, 2018  Related Stories
Kategorien: Externe Ticker

'A Moral And Humanitarian Crisis': Hillary Clinton Slams Trump's 'Zero-Tolerance' Policy — And Sessions' Religious Defense of It

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 20:50
She also called his attempt to blame Democrats for the law an "outright lie"

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday delivered a scathing criticism of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy,” calling it a "a moral and humanitarian crisis."

“Let's be very clear, this is not happening because of the, quote, ‘Democrat's law,’ as the White House has claimed,” Clinton said in New York City. “Separating families is not mandated by law at all. That is an outright lie. “

“Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity,” Clinton added. Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited Roman 13 in defense of the controversial “zero tolerance” policy.

“I went to a lot of years of Sunday school,” Clinton continued. “I even taught it from time to time. I’ve studied the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament, and what is being done using the name of religion is contrary to everything I was ever taught. Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children unto me.’ He did not say let the children suffer.”

Watch below:

Kategorien: Externe Ticker

MoveOn Endorses Democratic Primary Challenger to the Potential Next Speaker of the House

The largest online progressive organization in the United States is breaking with House Democratic leadership and endorsing a primary challenge to Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, who is regularly floated as the next potential speaker of the House.

#MoveOn members in #NY14 have overwhelmingly voted to endorse @Ocasio2018 for the #NY14 U.S. House seat! pic.twitter.com/2FYFVDRCuC

— MoveOn (@MoveOn) June 18, 2018

The endorsement of challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’s running to represent the 14th District covering parts of the Bronx and Queens, gives a significant lift to her long-shot campaign in its final days, as Crowley has been blanketing the airwaves with television ads. The endorsement, regardless of its impact on the race, is extraordinarily damaging to Crowley’s hopes for leading the Democratic Party in the House once Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California steps aside.

Crowley has been positioning himself for a run as a liberal alternative to Pelosi’s longtime No. 2, Steny Hoyer of Maryland. But he had done so relying on an outdated frame of what constituted progressive politics, raking in Wall Street cash and generally marrying corporate-friendly politics with liberal approaches to marriage equality, environmental protection, and reproductive freedom. The race against Ocasio-Cortez has also brought an unhelpful spotlight on the inner workings of Crowley’s Queens machine, which runs a foreclosure mill, reaps profits from families who die without wills, and enriches Crowley’s friends and relatives.

The blow from MoveOn comes within a week of another setback from the left. After Crowley solicited an endorsement from Rep. Ro Khanna, a progressive freshman from Silicon Valley, Khanna faced a firestorm of protest. He quickly backtracked, announcing a dual endorsement of both Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez, effectively nullifying his initial nod.

Rather animated conversation between @repjoecrowley and @RoKhanna happening on the house floor right now. Wonder what that could be about?

— Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph) June 14, 2018

Crowley’s ability to sell himself as a progressive to his caucus in a leadership race is made difficult by Khanna’s public walk-back and the MoveOn endorsement of his challenger. Members of Congress who came of age in the past generation associate the group with grassroots liberal opinion.

Top photo: Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivers campaign posters throughout her neighborhood in the Bronx, New York, on April 21, 2018.

The post MoveOn Endorses Democratic Primary Challenger to the Potential Next Speaker of the House appeared first on The Intercept.

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Watch Former Bush Ethics Lawyer Extinguish a Literal Dumpster Fire in His First U.S. Senate Ad

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 20:30
The unintentionally hilarious ad is raising eyebrows across the country.

Cable news viewers will recognize Richard Painter as the former Bush White House ethics lawyer who really, really hates President Donald Trump.

He's now running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota after recently making an official switch to the Democratic Party in a bid for the seat held by former Democratic Senator Al Franken. 

Painter's viral-ready ad may bring him to wider public attention in a way he hadn't intended. The unintentionally hilarious ad finds Painter standing in front of a dumpster that is literally on fire.

“Some people see a dumpster fire and do nothing but watch the spectacle,” Painter says with his signature scowl and anachronistic drawl. “Some are too scared to face the danger, or they think it will benefit them if they let it keep on burning.”

Painter doesn't elaborate on what part of the U.S. finds residents feeling personally enriched by actual dumpster fires.

When viewers assume this couldn't get more ridiculous, a waterfall descends from the sky as Painter explains, "There is an inferno raging in Washington. But here in the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes,' we know how to put out a fire.”

Watch the ad below.

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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/18/2018

Today's Water Cooler: China trade, Sanders and taxes, Iowa, Wisconsin, ranked choice voting, housing, shipping, Tesla shorts, Audi CEO arrest, death of New York, consciousness
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'A Flagrant Violation of Human Rights': Amnesty International Blasts Trump's 'Spectacularly Cruel' Child Separation Policy

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 19:56
The administration faces extreme backlash across the political spectrum.

Amnesty International has released a blistering press statement accusing President Donald Trump's administration of violating international and domestic laws regarding torture for its inhumane treatment of migrant children.

“This is a spectacularly cruel policy, where frightened children are being ripped from their parent’s arms and taken to overflowing detention centers, which are effectively cages. This is nothing short of torture. The severe mental suffering that officials have intentionally inflicted on these families for coercive purposes, means that these acts meet the definitions of torture under both US and international law,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Director, said in the statement.

“There is no question that President Trump administration’s policy of separating mothers and fathers from their children is designed to impose severe mental suffering on these families, in order to deter others from trying to seek safety in the USA. Many of these families come from countries experiencing generalized violence and grave human rights violations, including Honduras and El Salvador," she continued. "This is a flagrant violation of the human rights of these parents and children and is also a violation of US obligations under refugee law."

Guevara-Rosas said the Trump administration is engaged in a "sick game" with refugees for political purposes.

Of the 17 families interviewed by Amnesty International who experienced forced family separation, only three had reportedly sought refuge from the U.S. outside of legal channels.

Amnesty International's statement joins a chorus of outrage across the political spectrum that has grown to include elected Republican officials, former First Lady Laura Bush and Christian leaders including those representing the Evangelical sects that supported Trump for president.

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GOP Governor Won't Send National Guard Troops to The Border Citing Trump's 'Inhumane Treatment of Children'

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 19:54
In April, Trump signed an executive order directed troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Massachusetts’ Republican Governor Charlie Baker on Monday announced his state will no longer send National Guard troops to the border, citing the “inhuman treatment of children” at the hands of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, WGBH News reports.

“Governor Baker directed the National Guard not to send any assets or personnel to the Southwest border today because the federal government’s current actions are resulting in the inhumane treatment of children,” Baker communications director Lizzy Guyton said in a statement.

As WGBH reports, Massachusetts sent “one helicopter, aircrew, and military analysts” to the border in June to “provide aviation reconnaissance to offer an additional tool for observation and tracking of unlawful activity in the region.”

Baker had previously said he has “a huge problem” with Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, a practice that’s received intense, bipartisan scrutiny in recent weeks.

Trump in Monday assailed Democrats for his own administration’s “zero tolerance policy,” which stems from an April 6 memorandum signed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That policy directed U.S. attorneys to “adopt a policy to prosecute all Department of Homeland Security referrals of section 1325(a) violations, to the extent practicable.”

In April, Trump signed an executive order directing National Guard troops to the border. As Politico reported Friday, those troops “fix flats” and perform maintenance on Border Patrol vehicles.

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Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty Appeal for Gay Man Sentenced to Die Because Jurors Thought He’d Enjoy Prison

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 19:19
“There was lots of discussion of homosexuality,” one juror recalled.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the case of a gay man, Charles Rhines, who says he was given the death penalty because jurors thought sending him to an all-male prison for life would be "sending him where he wants to go," to quote one juror. In other words, jurors allowed their prejudices of gay people to influence their decision.

"Before South Dakota jurors decided the fate of Charles Rhines in 1993, they sent a handwritten note to the judge. They had just found Rhines guilty of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer, an employee of Dig ‘Em Donuts in Rapid City, during a robbery a year earlier. But now they had some questions," The Marshall Project reports.

"If they didn’t vote for the death penalty, what would his life in prison look like? Would he be 'allowed to mix with the general inmate population'? Would he be able 'to create a group of followers or admirers'? Would he have a cellmate?"

“There was lots of discussion of homosexuality,” one juror recalled, according to affidavits later filed in court. “There were lots of folks who were like, ‘Ew, I can’t believe that.’” Another juror said they “knew that he was a homosexual and thought that he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.” A third recalled overhearing a fellow juror say that life in prison would mean “sending him where he wants to go.”

The State of South Dakota argued in its brief to the Supreme Court that homophobia in America has never been as harmful as racism.

"The state’s lawyers," the Marshall Project continues, "argue that discrimination against sexual minorities has not been as destructive — and thus in need of policing by the courts — as racial discrimination. 'No politician has ever proposed constructing a wall to keep homosexuals out of the country,' the state’s brief says. 'No civil war has been fought over [sexual orientation]. No nationwide pogrom has been perpetrated for the enslavement or eradication of homosexuals.'"

Discrimination doesn't have to be equal to be harmful.

The State also argued that there were plenty of other reasons to preserve the death penalty decision, including Rhines' own gruesome "bloodcurdling confession," and inhumane actions.

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Leaked State Department Memo Advised Trump Administration to Push for “Islamic Reformation”

The Trump administration, as part of a dual effort to counter both Iran and the Islamic State, should push for an “Islamic Reformation,” a State Department memo advised the White House last year.

The suggestion was ultimately not adopted as part of the National Security Strategy announced in December, but that a so-called reformation of Islam was up for discussion at the highest levels of the State Department and National Security Council underscores the extraordinary rise of a once-fringe, far-right approach to foreign policy. Were it to be adopted as official policy, it would mark a radical departure by directly inserting the U.S. government into a theological discussion that is carried out almost exclusively among anti-Muslim zealots.  

“The goal against Iran and ISIS is to break each’s brand and Islamic extremism,” reads the document, which was obtained by The Intercept. “In seeking a public diplomacy means for undermining the ideological basis for supporting the current Iranian or ISIS structures, an emphasis on ‘Islamic Reformation’ should factor in heavily.”

The document, on the subject of “ideological competition,” was submitted to the White House National Security Council by the State Department Policy Planning Staff in the summer of 2017 — a period in which the NSC was drafting the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy. The State Department at the time was helmed by Rex Tillerson, who distanced himself from President Donald Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric. Mike Pompeo assumed leadership in April, and his track record as an anti-Muslim ideologue has many worried about the State Department’s approach to Islam.

A State Department official confirmed the authenticity of the memo and told The Intercept that the paper was “one of dozens” of documents that helped inform the framing of the National Security Strategy. “As with all pre-decisional documents designed to stimulate discussion, a healthy dose of skepticism is appropriate as to how much of a single thought or phrase from the document survived debate and discussion,” the official wrote. “‘Islamic Reformation’ is a phrase that has been used and debated by analysts of Muslim world for decades, and was used in the article as an historical analogy, not a policy prescription.”

Founded in 1947, the Policy Planning Staff is the department’s in-house think tank. It is headed by the hawkish former Bush administration official Brian Hook, who was in charge at the time the memo was produced. According to the department’s website, Hook and his team “take a longer term, strategic view of global trends.” The document was finished shortly after Hook had purged career staffers he considered to be insufficiently loyal to Trump or too friendly with Iran. Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, for instance, was pushed out of Hook’s policy department following a right-wing smear campaign that questioned her loyalty to the United States, reporting falsely that she was born in Iran.

The policy shop, shorn of expertise and stocked with ideologues, is now producing material unlike anything it has before, according to a range of former State Department, Pentagon, and NSC officials, advisers, and lawyers consulted by The Intercept. They said that they had never seen the contentious and inflammatory phrase “Islamic Reformation” — a call for a Martin Luther-like figure to bring Islam into modernity that is rooted in tropes that presume Islam to be inherently violent and backward — used in an official U.S. government document before.

The lack of expertise comes through in the memo. “Iran is under increasing political and military pressure, giving support to domestic oppositional forces in both ISIS-held territory and within Iran. [U.S. government] ideological activity should find greater receptivity in such an environment,” the memo suggests. But the Shia ayatollahs of Iran and the Sunni militants of ISIS are openly hostile to each other, rendering the analysis nonsensical.

“These people are curating crap” from the far-right, anti-Muslim blogosphere.

“These people are curating crap” from the far-right, anti-Muslim blogosphere, said a separate senior U.S. government official, referring to the unnamed authors of the State Department paper. (The official spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to discuss these matters.)

The document goes into detail about how to bring about this so-called reformation, including a remarkable passage acknowledging the cynical use female empowerment as a means to further the goals of American empire. “Two practical target groups for this approach are women and youth, though they are by no means the only potential targets. Focusing on female-empowerment as the primary information messaging goal within the Islamic-influenced world will allow the United States to maintain a moral component for American power and its liberation narrative,” it reads.

“Demands for an Islamic Reformation are nothing new,” wrote Todd Green, an associate professor of religion at Luther College and a former U.S. State Department adviser on Islamophobia, in September 2017. “They have fueled the careers of some of the most prominent anti-Islam activists in the West today.” For example, conservative writer and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has expressed support for the Trump administration’s so-called Muslim ban, published the book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” in 2015.

Peter Mandaville, a former member of the Policy Planning Staff under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, told The Intercept there were a number of “political, intellectual, and legal” problems with the “Islamic Reformation” proposal. “First, the United States government has no standing to be taking positions on matters of Islam, or what is or is not a correct … understanding of a world religious tradition,” said Mandaville, a professor at George Mason University and the author of “Islam and Politics.”

“Second, the U.S. government pointing to a particular interpretation of religion, pointing to a particular religious scholar, and saying, ‘Hey, this guy, he is awesome, follow this guy’ would most likely have the effect of wrecking any standing that individual had. Third, the U.S. Constitution forbids the federal government from undertaking any kind of activity that expresses a preference for any particular religion or any particular interpretation of religion.”

Robert Tuttle, professor of law and religion at the George Washington University Law School and an expert on the Establishment Clause, said that “the United States government does not express its views on religious matters.”

It is not settled, however, whether the Establishment Clause applies to U.S. foreign policy. “You could argue that the Establishment Clause doesn’t apply overseas, instead it only applies domestically,” said Tuttle, author of the book, “Secular Government, Religious People.” “I don’t think that’s a very good argument and the Supreme Court has not settled the debate.”

Case law on the question is sparse, but a 1991 decision from the 1st Circuit held in Lamont v. Woods that “the operation of the Establishment Clause strongly indicates that its restrictions should apply extraterritorially.”

The Trump administration, of course, has already weighed in theologically in its own way. Trump ran for president on a platform of banning Muslims from the U.S. and one of his favorite phrases on the campaign trail was “radical Islamic terrorism.” He badgered his opponent Hillary Clinton, as well as former President Barack Obama, for avoiding the term, suggesting that uttering those words out loud would conjure up a patronus of sorts to counter the dark-spirited Dementors committing violence in the name of Islam.  

“A Horrendous Idea”

In addition to the issue of legality, there are fears that the Policy Planning Staff’s “emphasis on an ‘Islamic Reformation’” could backfire on the United States and do more harm than good.

“The idea of the United States promoting some sort of reform of Islam as a tool of foreign policy is a horrendous idea,” Green told The Intercept. “The last thing the United States needs to be doing is intervening in internal theological debates within Muslim communities, irrespective of whether those communities are located in Iran or here in the United States.”

For Green, the U.S. government delving into Islamic theology and “deeming which Muslims are acceptable and which are not” gets into “dangerous territory.” “Frankly, if you want to discredit those groups, the first thing you could do is prop them up and say, ‘This is the theologically correct version of Islam.’”

“This could be taken the wrong way, as some sort of an agenda to subvert Muslim societies.”

Qamar-ul Huda, a former senior policy adviser in the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs under both Obama and, for the first half of 2017, Trump, agreed with Green. “This could be taken the wrong way, as some sort of an agenda to subvert Muslim societies,” said Huda, who is Muslim and has an academic background in Islamic studies. “On the ground [in the Muslim-majority world], it will feed into the sense that the U.S. is turning into an anti-Muslim, Islamophobic country.”

At the height of the war on terror discourse, during the George W. Bush era, polls suggested that majorities of Egyptians, Pakistanis, Indonesians, and Moroccans believed that the United States was trying to weaken and divide the Muslim-majority world. Any evidence that members of the Trump administration, many of whom have strong ties to far-right, anti-Muslim groups, want to “reform” Islam could provoke similar concerns, and a backlash in Muslim communities and countries across the world.

A former senior U.S. diplomat who served in Afghanistan told The Intercept: “For a lot of people in the region, it will confirm their suspicions and conspiracy theories. When the leadership is bandying around these ideas, it sort of wipes out a lot of the good work that is being done on the ground [by U.S. diplomats].”

“This good Muslim/bad Muslim narrative … is a slippery slope,” said the former diplomat, who pointed to U.S. policymakers’ conflation of “Sunni and Shia groups together” as evidence of their inability to understand the basics of Islam, let alone reform it.

Distraction From Self-Examination

Huda suggested that the authors of the document lack religious literacy and are “very myopic.”

“I think there’s an unfortunate assumption by those in the policy world that … if you’re more religious or Islamically religious … you are more prone to radical thinking,” he said. “That’s nonsense because there’s no study I know of that shows the more religious you are, the less you become open for dialogue, and I’ve been studying this for 30 years.”

The assumption that Islam is the root cause of violence is “flawed,” Green agreed, and “reflects the shallow thinking that continues to infect far too many sectors of the U.S. government when it comes to the drivers of violent extremism.” According to “The Fear of Islam” author, “Most scholars who study terrorism and violent extremism argue that political and social conditions are the most important factors driving this violence. Islam certainly gets instrumentalized in this violence, but that’s different than claiming it is the cause.”

“As long as we focus on what Muslims need to be doing, we don’t need to do any self-examination of our own foreign policy.”

“Calling for an Islamic reformation has very little to do with what Muslims are or are not doing in terms of reform,” added Green. “It’s a distraction. As long as we focus on what Muslims need to be doing, we don’t need to do any self-examination of our own foreign policy and our role in the rise of violent extremism abroad.”

The Trump administration, however, has been keen to focus on the role that Islamic ideology, rather than geopolitical or socio-economic factors, supposedly plays in fomenting extremism and violence. The phrase “Islamic reformation” was not ultimately included in the final National Security Strategy, which was published in December 2017 and committed the United States to battling “jihadist terrorists.” Still, its inclusion in the State Department submission reflects the broader “thinking” on this issue of influential Trump administration officials, according to the senior U.S. government official who spoke with The Intercept.

The official pointed out that the environment today is much more favorable to such an ideology-heavy agenda, given the sacking of more moderate, less Islam-obsessed figures such as Tillerson and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, and the new “top cover” provided to anti-Islam ideologues inside the administration. Hook, who runs the policy department, has only seen his stature rise as more ideological allies have filled the building.

Green also highlighted the role played by a fringe far-right, anti-Muslim “Islamophobia network,” which has been mainstreamed by the Trump administration, in pushing conspiratorial and bigoted ideas about Islam and Muslims, from “no-go zones” to mass rape hysteria. “The secretary of state and the national security adviser have strong ties to this network,” he said, referring to Pompeo and John Bolton, respectively.

McMaster tried on multiple occasions to convince Trump to resist using language that conflated Islam with terrorism. The president fired McMaster in March and replaced him with hawkish neoconservative Bolton, the former chair of an anti-Muslim think tank.

“McMaster and Tillerson weren’t convinced of this [Islamic reformation] argument,” the U.S government official said. “Now you have Pompeo and Bolton who live and breathe this stuff.”

Top photo: Brian Hook, Director of Policy Planning for the Department of State, speaks at The 2017 Concordia Annual Summit in New York on September 19, 2017.

The post Leaked State Department Memo Advised Trump Administration to Push for “Islamic Reformation” appeared first on The Intercept.

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‘Cursing’ Truck Driver Who Hit Protester Outside Sessions’ New Orleans Speech Hasn't Been Arrested

ALTERNET - 18. Juni 2018 - 18:42
The NOPD interviewed the driver and said no charges had been filed.

A man who reportedly shouted profanity at demonstrators outside a New Orleans speech by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not been arrested after hitting a woman with his truck.

John R. Stanton, national correspondent for BuzzFeed News, tweeted that Sarah Morrison reports the driver “was cursing at protesters before he hit her.”

Photo: Woman struck by truck as protestors block street during family separation protest outside Jeff Sessions speech pic.twitter.com/qdwwIT5eZI

— Michael DeMocker (@MichaelDeMocker) June 18, 2018

Stanton said she doesn't believe she was intentionally struck.

The New Orleans Police Department says it "interviewed" the driver and "no charges have been filed nor have any arrests been made at this time.

'The intentional failure of the driver of a vehicle involved in or causing any accident, to stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident, to give his identity, and to render reasonable aid” is a misdemeanor or felony in Louisiana, depending on the level of injury.

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