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For Trump, dehumanizing migrants is a feature, not a bug

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters after meting

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters after meting with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

Out of his world

They are helpless kids and desperate parents — some hoping to legally get asylum, others trying sneak in. There is undoubtedly a sprinkling of fakers and felons among them, not unlike the rest of humanity.

President Donald Trump referred to migrants Tuesday as an infestation — a term commonly used for insects or rodents. As a bipartisan outcry over his family separation policy grew louder, Trump again lashed out wildly at Democrats he has falsely called responsible for it.

The Democrats, he tweeted, “don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!”

When Trump denounced immigrants as “animals,” aides said he was referring specifically to brutal gangsters. But violent criminals are far more common in Trump’s distorted depictions than in real life among the immigrants here without documents, and whose crime rate is below that of native-born citizens.

The Washington Post reported recently on a White House scene from February 2017, before Trump’s first speech to Congress. When some advisers urged a gentler tone on immigration, Trump — acting if he was at a rally — recited made-up Hispanic names and crimes they could have committed.

It’s all of the same piece as the president’s contempt for immigrants from “shithole” countries: Where they come counts for more than who they are.

Trump adviser: Fear sells

The family separation uproar has been widely, if not universally, unwelcome by Republicans in Congress as the midterm elections draw nearer. They see the economy, tax cuts and falling unemployment as winning issues, The New York Times reports.

But Trump’s allies say a do-worry, don’t-be-happy message on immigration will do more to turn out voters for Republicans.

“People don’t turn out to say thank you,” said Corey Lewandowski, a 2016 Trump campaign manager who still talks to the president. “If you want to get people motivated, you’ve got to give them a reason to vote. Saying ‘build the wall and stop illegals from coming in and killing American citizens’ gives them an important issue,” he told the Times.

On Fox News Tuesday, when a Democratic commentator related a story about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome separated from her mother at the border, Lewandowski cut in with a mocking “Womp, womp.” (See video here.)

Separation of another kind

Team Trump and his cheerleaders have done their best to put a smiley face on the border debacle. “These minors are very well taken care of,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday. They’re being kept in facilities that are “essentially summer camps,” said Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

Facing sustained public outrage, Trump sawed off that limb in a meeting with dismayed House Republicans Tuesday, according to accounts from inside the meeting.

“We gotta take care of separation. It’s too nasty,” he reportedly said. Trump said his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump showed him photos of the family breakup scenes and asked, “Daddy, what are we doing about this?”

The president could call it off on his own, but he wants Congress to do it — as part of a broader package that gives him billions of dollars for a border wall.

Senate Republican leaders want a narrower bill. House Republicans are still fighting among themselves, with moderates wanting help for the “Dreamers” in a bill and conservatives resisting. See the story for Newsday by Tom Brune and Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Janison: Out of the game

While Trump keeps the U.S. on the sidelines, big trade alliances are forming among economic powers across the Pacific, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Ministers from 16 Asian nations, including China and India, are due to meet in Tokyo soon on a proposed trade pact with a combined 3.4 billion people and overall gross domestic product of some $49.5 trillion. By design, it will exclude the U.S. and Canada.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have excluded China and India, and offset the power of their prospective trade alliance.

Cohen to Trump: Go fund me

Michael Cohen has told associates he wants Trump to pay his legal fees for the investigation the president’s ex-lawyer is facing of his business dealings from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Cohen complains the expenses are “bankrupting” him and believes Trump owes him for his years of loyal service, the report said. The Trump campaign has covered almost $230,000 of Cohen’s legal costs from the separate Russia investigation.

Cohen has hired a new lawyer, according to Vanity Fair: It’s Guy Petrillo, who formerly led the criminal division of the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office.

Giuliani’s surprise guess

Rudy Giuliani said he was interviewed by FBI agents in February for the Justice Department inspector general’s review of how the bureau conducted the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

They wanted to know, said Giuliani, what prompted his October 2016 tease on Fox News that a “surprise” was coming — just before FBI Director James Comey announced the reopening of the Clinton investigation. Was it a leak from the FBI?

In an interview Tuesday with HuffPost, Giuliani said the surprise was a 20-minute national television ad he was urging Trump to buy for a hard-hitting speech on the Comey decision. He also told HuffPost and CNN that there was no leak — he was repeating speculation he heard from former FBI agents that another shoe was about to drop.

What else is happening

  • Eight children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are staying in a Long Island shelter run by MercyFirst, a Catholic human services agency, reports Newsday’s Bart Jones and Víctor Manuel Ramos. “Kids are very resilient, but it doesn’t take much for a kid to start crying and miss his mom,” the head of MercyFirst said.
  • Some 60 people protested the Trump policy as shameless and un-American Tuesday near the Melville offices of New York’s two U.S. senators, Jones reports.
  • Donald Trump Jr. pulled out of a New York City fundraiser for George P. Bush — eldest son of Jeb Bush — after his dad and aunt, former first lady Laura Bush, denounced the border policy. The younger Bush was the only member of his family to endorse Trump in 2016.
  • In the meeting with House Republicans, Trump couldn’t resist a taunt of Rep. Mark Sanford, a critic who lost a primary to a pro-Trump challenger. “I want to congratulate Mark on a great race,” Trump said. Some of Sanford’s colleagues booed. “A classless cheap shot,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
  • The Trump administration announced Tuesday it was leaving the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the council has shown “chronic bias against Israel” and includes countries that abuse human rights.
  • Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted that the president should fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and end special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. It wasn’t clear whether Parscale was speaking on his own or coordinating with Trump.
  • Could Trump pardon himself? By 64% to 18%, Americans surveyed in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll said no. Even among Republicans, just 29% say he has that power; 45% say he doesn’t.

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