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Who’s the father? White House isn’t owning family breakup policy

A boy and his father from Honduras are

A boy and his father from Honduras are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico Border on Tuesday near Mission, Texas. Credit: Getty Images / John Moore

Family devalued

Success has many fathers, or so it is said, but President Donald Trump and some in the White House still dispute his paternity of the policy to separate thousands of migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border, with gut-wrenching results.

“Nobody likes “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Reminded of a report that White House officials described the aim of the policy as building leverage for Trump’s border agenda, Conway said:

“As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience, and wouldn’t say the junk that somebody said, apparently, allegedly, I will tell you that nobody likes this policy. ... I think that’s a disgrace.”

Still, Conway toed the line that Democrats are to blame, though Trump could stop the “zero tolerance” party just as easily as he started it.

A White House hard-liner on immigration, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, has no misgivings, telling The New York Times it was a “simple decision” and “the message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

To former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon, the president doesn’t need to “justify” the policy — it’s what he ran on. See Newsday’s story by David M. Schwartz.

The kids aren’t alright

Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, saw a “devastating” scene at Texas shelter for the border children: A girl no more than 2, was screaming and pounding her fists on a mat, and the staff could not console her because of the rules: They’re not allowed to pick up, hold or otherwise touch them.

“The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met,” Kraft told The Washington Post. Such a situation could have long-term, devastating effects on young children, who are likely to develop what is called toxic stress in their brain once separated from caregivers or parents they trusted.

The New York Times reports some parents have been deported before recovering their children, which is not supposed to happen. A woman flown back to Guatemala doesn’t know how or when she’ll see her 8-year-old son again.

“There is a very high risk that parents and children will be permanently separated,” said John Sandweg, who was acting director of ICE during the Obama administration.

A riddle from Melania

Melania Trump usually steers clear of the most contentious issues facing her husband, but she wanted her views known about the border-children controversy.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the first lady “hates to see children separated from their families.” She hopes “both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform” — a statement consistent with Trump’s stand.

In addition, Grisham said the first lady believes “We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.” Meaning Trump could be more flexible? It was left unclear.

More forthright was former first lady Laura Bush in a Washington Post op-ed: “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Janison: Witchful thinking

No matter how much Trump and his backers try, the Justice Department inspector general’s report doesn’t buttress their claims that the Russia investigation is a conspiracy against him, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The IG focused on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. “The report does identify errors of judgment, violations of or even disregard for policy, and decisions that at the very least — with the benefit of hindsight — were not the best choices,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

It didn’t find Trump was at any point a victim of FBI machinations against him, nor does it delve into the origins of the Russia probe now in the hands of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Amneziya is Russian for amnesia

Roger Stone, the longtime Trump confidant, and Michael Caputo, a 2016 campaign official, say they forgot to tell congressional investigators about a Russian national who approached them offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton, The Washington Post reports.

Stone said the Russian wanted $2 million and the deal didn’t happen because Trump “doesn’t pay for anything.” Caputo said he was asked about the meeting by Mueller’s prosecutors last month.

Sizing up Singapore summit

It remains in dispute whether Trump got enough or gave up too much in his meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

An Asia expert tells Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez that the balance sheet favors Kim, “who got a huge propaganda win,” and more. But “the silver lining is that dialogue will continue, and where there is diplomacy, there is hope,” said Abraham M. Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Trump, as is often the case, felt underappreciated in a tweet Sunday: While in Asia, “They are so happy. ... In our country, some people would rather see this historic deal fail than give Trump a win, even if it does save potentially millions & millions of lives!”

An ABC News/Washington Post poll found 53% of Americans said it’s unlikely the summit will lead to North Korea giving up its nuclear arms. But by 41%-34%, they said Trump “made reasonable compromises” at the summit rather than giving up too much.

What else is happening

  • Trump, who’s had many misadventures with the English language, sent a tweet tweaking Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for saying the Singapore summit “was much more show than substance — what the Texans call ‘all cattle, no hat,’ ” (He meant all hat, no cattle.) Said Trump: “Thank you Chuck, but are you sure you got that right?” See Schwartz’s story for Newsday.
  • Peter Strzok, the FBI agent removed from the Russia probe for sending anti-Trump text messages, said is he willing to testify without immunity before any congressional committee.
  • Rudy Giuliani said Trump won’t issue pardons to targets of Mueller’s investigation while it’s going on, but could after it ends for those treated “unfairly.” He denied the pardon talk is a signal to aides about cooperating.
  • Fear of a trade war is causing economic strain around the world, The New York Times reports. Shipments are slowing, prices for crucial raw materials are rising, factory orders are being cut, investments delayed and American farmers are losing sales.
  • Bannon said the November midterm elections will be an “up or down vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump.” The GOP’s best strategy, Bannon said on ABC’s “This Week,” is to act as if Trump is “on the ballot.”
  • Senate GOP strategists are all but conceding that Democratic senators will be coasting to re-election in Rust Belt states that Trump narrowly carried in 2016, according to the National Journal. They include Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
  • Trump had a low opinion of Michael Cohen’s legal skills, but kept him on as a fixer and for various odd jobs, such as helping to compose mean tweets about Rosie O’Donnell, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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