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'Born in the USA' may count for less if Trump gets his way

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump place stones and flowers at a memorial for those killed at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Credit: AP/Andrew Harnik

Another kind of birtherism

On the day before Halloween, Trump had a treat for voters who want fewer immigrants, saying he will sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship. Or is it a trick to keep stirring up his base?

Babies born in the U.S. automatically become American citizens, regardless of the status of their parents, because the right is specified in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." 

Trump said in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that he could undo that with a penstroke. "It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said. (Video link here.)

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Trump said. (Actually, there are at least 30 such countries, including Canada, Mexico and most others in the Americas.) Back to Trump now: “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

The doubters included Democrats, many legal scholars and even a fellow top Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan. "I'm a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case, the 14th Amendment’s pretty clear,” Ryan said.

But some Republicans in Congress liked the idea. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley said lawmakers should take the lead. While birthright citizenship for the children of permanent residents is settled constitutional law, there's “a debate among legal scholars about whether that right extends to the children of illegal immigrants,” Grassley said.

The president’s lawyers and top advisers have questioned whether such an executive order would be legal, The Washington Post reports, but Stephen Miller, Trump’s top immigration adviser, is all for it, The Washington Post reported.

Keeping up with the Conways (continued)

The birthright citizenship issue has caused another schism in the household of Kellyanne Conway, the White House top adviser, and George Conway, her Trump-loathing husband, who is a prominent conservative lawyer.

Kellyanne Conway said, "There are constitutional scholars who say the 14th Amendment has been misinterpreted" and the Supreme Court "never gave  a solid opinion on this.”

The Supreme Court would never let Trump get away with it, said George Conway in a Washington Post op-ed co-authored with liberal lawyer Neal Katyal.

"The challengers would undoubtedly win," they wrote, because "birthright citizenship is what our 14th Amendment is all about, bridging the Declaration of Independence’s promise that 'all men are created equal' with a constitutional commitment that all those born in the United States share in that equality." Its drafters, they said, "knew exactly what it meant."

Shunned in Pittsburgh

Trump visited Pittsburgh to pay his respects at the synagogue where 11 people were murdered by an accused neo-Nazi gunman who shouted his hatred of Jews and left a social-media trail of rants against migrants, report Newsday's Nicole Fuller and Bart Jones.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life synagogue welcomed him, while a banner hung from a house across the street said, "Words have consequences." Protesters who accuse Trump of fostering a climate that breeds extremist violence could be heard faintly within earshot chanting, "No More Hate!" and "Trump Go Home!" 

No high-level city or county officials met the president at the airport, and the leaders of both parties in Congress declined an invitation to accompany him, Melania Trump, and Trump's Jewish daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

From the synagogue, Trump went to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he met with four patients, three of them police officers injured in the gun battle.

Janison: Hate magnet

From Moscow to MAGA-land, the neither-saintly-nor-satanic George Soros has been the most interesting man in the world for those interested  in finding a diabolical villain to fit sinister conspiracy theories, including the Pittsburgh killer. It's not just a made-in-Trump's USA phenomenon, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

Long before Trump and his right-wing media allies accused the billionaire of being a hidden force behind the migrant caravan in Mexico, Antifa and protests against Brett Kavanaugh, Soros served as a piñata for Eastern European autocrats like Russia's Vladimir Putin, who accuse him of subversion.

What gets under their skin is his Open Society Foundations, which have promoted liberal democracy since the fall of communism. Soros, who as a teenager in Hungary survived the Holocaust, is reviled by its far-right leader, Viktor Orban.

The strangest Mueller investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office said it has asked the FBI to examine claims that women were offered money to accuse of Mueller of committing acts of sexual misconduct and harassment decades ago, The Washington Post reported.

Those who have been promoting the effort to tar Mueller, reported The Washington Post, include Jack Burkman, a conservative lobbyist who in the past pushed a tale that the 2016 murder of Democratic staffer Seth Rich was not a botched robbery, as police determined, but a political hit.

Another is Jacob Wohl, a 20-year-old Trump-worshiping Twitter personality. Calls to a supposed high-powered intelligence firm that Wohl said was hired to investigate Mueller were referred to another number, listed as belonging to Wohl's mom, according to The Atlantic.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the story Burkman and Wohl are pushing seemed far-fetched. “I’ve never had any issue with Bob’s character,” Giuliani told the Daily Beast.

Kanye: 'I’ve been used' 

Has the bromance between Trump and Kanye West run its course?

"My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in," the rapper tweeted Tuesday. "I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative!!!"

West seemed miffed that conservative activist Candace Owens associated him with her "Blexit" campaign urging African-Americans to leave the Democratic Party. "I have nothing to do with it," he said.

Other West tweets staked out beliefs at variance with Trump's, such as on Central American migrants. "I believe in love and compassion for people seeking asylum and parents who are fighting to protect their children from violence and war," he said.

Looks like a Ye-xit.

What else is happening:

  • Trump's "Fox & Friends" morning companions frowned Tuesday at his "enemy of the people" invective aimed at the news media. “I really wish he would lose that term. It doesn’t help anybody,” said Brian Kilmeade.
  • CNN said its analysis of thousands of tweets from accused letter-bomber Cesar Sayoc found some that directly parroted Trump. In a tweet directed at Fox News' Chris Wallace, Sayoc wrote, "The Press is enemy."  He also threatened a satirical outlet, The Onion.
  • The national news media are the main target of the president's grievances, but local journalists have become collateral casualties, The Associated Press reports. Hostile incidents include a video journalist covering Hurricane Florence flooding in North Carolina, who was attacked and punched in the face by a man whose friends muttered "fake news."
  • The Justice Department is investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for possibly using his office for personal gain, following a referral from the department's inspector general, CNN reported. The New York Times said the case likely involves a Montana land deal.
  • Mueller's investigators are pressing witnesses about longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone’s interactions with senior campaign officials and whether he had knowledge of the stolen Democratic emails from WikiLeaks, The Washington Post reports.
  • Trump tweeted that the stock market "is now taking a little pause" because "people want to see what happens with the Midterms. "If you want your Stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat," he added.

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