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Trump's own officials warned that migrant family splits would scar the kids

Maria holds her 4-year-old son Franco after he

Maria holds her 4-year-old son Franco after he arrived at the El Paso International Airport on Thursday in El Paso, Texas. The two had been separated for more than six weeks. Credit: AP/RUBEN R. RAMIREZ

Fears for children went unheeded

A majority of the migrant children separated from their parents at the Mexican border are back with their moms and dads, but many show signs of continuing psychological trauma, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Who saw that coming? It wasn’t just advocates for the families. So did officials inside the Trump administration, according to testimony at a Senate hearing Tuesday.

For months before the “zero tolerance” policy was launched, “We raised a number of concerns in the program about any policy that would result in family separation,” said Commander Jonathan White, the U.S. Public Health Service’s coordinating official for family reunifications.

"There is no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child," he said.

When five top officials were asked at the hearing to raise their hands if they thought that the “zero tolerance” immigration and family separation policies were good ideas, none of them did.

Some officials defended efforts to care for the children after they were taken from parents. Matthew Albence, an ICE official for enforcement and removal operations, defended the agency’s family residential centers as "more like a summer camp" with food, medical care and access to education and recreation.

What's not like summer camp: A federal judge Monday found migrant children in a Texas facility were given psychotropic medications such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants without efforts to seek consent from parents or guardians, in violation of state child welfare laws. Judge Dolly Gee ordered officials not to dispense the drugs without consent or a court order except in dire emergencies.

Loose talk on collusion

After Rudy Giuliani road-tested his new defense argument against special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation — there was no collusion, but so what if there was — Trump embraced it on Twitter Tuesday.

“Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!" Trump tweeted.

Saying it’s not a crime doesn’t quite square with Trump’s tweets in the past — like on Sunday — complaining: “Why isn’t Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity & real Russian Collusion on the Democrats side.” Whatever.

For more, see Laura Figueroa Hernandez’s story for Newsday.

It's OK to send Kelly green bananas

Trump has John Kelly just where he wants him — in the job of White House chief of staff, but no longer in the president's way.

Kelly told senior aides this week he agreed to Trump's request to stick around at least through 2020 . The president asked him to stay even longer, but Kelly wouldn't commit to that far in the future, a White House official told Politico.

Installed a year ago to bring order and discipline, Kelly has accepted a more circumscribed role in which managing the White House doesn't include managing Trump.

Janison: Spitting out Diet Kochs

The Republican Party used to pride itself on being a big tent. But Trump has little patience with dissonant  voices, even when they belong to the biggest elephants. On Tuesday, he went after the billionaire Koch brothers, belittling the megadonors as a "total joke in real Republican circles."

The insult followed a weekend gathering of Koch officials who repeatedly condemned Trump's trade policies, the explosion of government spending under his watch and his divisive tone. Trump has resented the Kochs for their coolness to his 2016 run for president.

An escalation of the feud could be awkward for longtime Koch allies, including Vice President Mike Pence, and damaging to Republicans in the midterm elections. GOP members of Congress also are leery of Trump's latest threats to shut down the government if Congress doesn't fund his border wall. See Dan Janison's column for Newsday on the latest schisms in Trump's party.

He don't care, do u?

Trump dug in on his willingness to use the shutdown weapon in tweets Tuesday afternoon:

"I don’t care what the political ramifications are, our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown," He called it "a very small price to pay for a safe and Prosperous America!"

Manafort blames ex-partner

The ruptured relationship between the president and his ex-fixer Michael Cohen isn’t the only bad breakup under the pressure of criminal investigation in Trump’s world.

The fraud trial of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort opened Tuesday, with the defendant’s lawyer blaming his ex-partner Rick Gates — also a former Trump campaign official — for committing the misdeeds after he was entrusted with keeping track of the millions of dollars pouring in from their political consulting work in Ukraine. Gates turned on Manafort after their indictment to become a witness for Mueller’s office.

Prosecutors said it was Manafort who orchestrated a scheme to evade tax and banking laws to support a lavish lifestyle. That included more than $6 million worth of real estate paid for in cash, a $21,000 watch and a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich, they said.

What else is happening:

  • This doesn't check out, because neither has Trump: At a rally in Florida Tuesday night, Trump offered this justification for voter ID laws: “You know if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID.”
  • Trump tweeted that he's looking into his administration’s approval of 3-D printable guns, but did not say if he will reverse the policy that could lead to do-if-yourself production of untraceable and undetectable firearms, Newsday's Figueroa reports. Spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump supports the existing ban on wholly plastic guns.
  • Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has privately told senators he views the appointment of a special counsel by the Justice Department as appropriate, but has also stood by his views that question whether a sitting U.S. president can be indicted on criminal charges, CNN reported.
  • Mueller has referred several cases to the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office concerning   high-profile lobbyists and operatives who investigators say failed to register their work as foreign agents, CNN reported. They include Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign chairman, John Podesta.
  • A U.S. defense official said that when North Korea handed over 55 boxes of bones that it said are remains of American war dead, it provided just a single military dog tag and no other information that could help U.S. forensics teams identify those remains, according to The Guardian.
  • To justify reversing a plan for tougher fuel standards, the Trump administration says poorer gas mileage will make cars safer. Among the reasons: People will drive less if their vehicles get fewer miles per gallon, lowering the risk of crashes. Also, new vehicles with up-to-date safety features would be cheaper, so more people would buy them. Safety experts interviewed by The Associated Press were skeptical.

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