Before turning to a key development in the Trump-Russia Timeline, this week’s update pauses to ask a simple question about the border crisis:
If Americans allow Trump to get away with this, what have we become?
At protests around the country on June 30, we’ll learn the answer.
In the aftermath of Trump’s executive order purporting to solve the family separation crisis that his zero tolerance policy alone created, a lot has happened — none of it good.
The Rule of Law Under Assault Again
It’s critical to note that most undocumented immigrants arrive at the border seeking asylum — a right afforded them under international law. US judges have been granting about half of those requests.
It’s also important to realize that the US Supreme Court has reaffirmed repeatedly the constitutional due process rights of such individuals: “[T]he Due Process Clause applies to all persons within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence here is lawful or unlawful.” Zadvydas v. David, 533 US 678 (2001). See also, Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 (1982) (illegal aliens entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment).
On June 24, Trump tweeted that he wants the power to demand the immediate and summary deportation of immigrants (“no Judges or Court Cases”). That violates the US Constitution.
If Trump thinks he can use extortion to circumvent the Constitution, he’s wrong about that, too. Nevertheless, apparently he’s now offering immigrants a deal: waive your constitutional rights, agree to deportation, get your kid back, and leave the United States. Some incompetent attorney-enabler probably told Trump that kidnapping immigrant minors, using them as hostages, and asking their parents for ransom in return for their release would be permissible. It’s not.
Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe observes, “That’s flatly unconstitutional extortion under Speiser v. Randall (1958), Sherbert v. Verner (1963), and Agency for Int’l Dvlp v. Alliance for Open Society (2013).”
Meanwhile on June 22, Trump used another of his circus acts to divert attention from his devastating policy. Into the national spotlight he paraded representatives of family members who had been killed by illegal immigrants. Trump said they had suffered “permanent separation” from loved ones. I guess that meant we shouldn’t weep for the children Trump has damaged.
Trump’s false moral equivalences are always striking, but this one is especially absurd. To state the obvious, none of the 2,500 children separated from their parents since May 5 has killed anyone.
But the more important point is that Trump still hasn’t admitted that his zero tolerance was a mistake. Rather, his executive order doubled-down on it. Since then, he hasn’t taken his foot off the accelerator.
How Many Kids and Where Are They?
On June 20, the Department of Homeland Security said it had separated 2,342 children from their parents along the border between May 5 and June 9. Three days later, DHS said that, as of June 20, the number was up to 2,575. Of that group:
— 522 kids had been reunited with their families,
— 2,053 remained in the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS),
The frightening possibility is that many of those 2,053 children will never see their families again. As The Washington Post reports: “Further complicating matters are bureaucratic errors that could leave government officials unaware that a child’s parent is detained in the United States. Attorneys also worry that some toddlers, or children who speak indigenous languages, might not have been able to give officials their parents’ complete names.”
The Post continues:
“In the case of one Guatemalan family, the Border Patrol failed to note in its apprehension report that a mother and daughter crossed the border together…. Without that information, government officials might not be aware that the child’s parent is detained in the United States.
“In other cases,…children arrive at shelters without the facility knowing that they have been separated from their parents, meaning they could be considered unaccompanied minors rather than children in need of reunification.”
To borrow Trump’s phrase from his June 22 parade of victims, “permanent separation” from their families is now a likely outcome for some of the 2,053 children awaiting reunification. Whatever the number, it’s too big. And the damage done — even to those kids eventually reunited — is too great.
Coming Soon: Worse
Conspicuous silence from Republicans in Congress proves that it will take a Democratic majority there to unearth the whole truth about this tragedy. Meanwhile, lest anyone doubt that Trump is doubling down on this ignominious episode, the US Navy is reportedly planning tent cities to house tens of thousands of families pursuant to Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.
If you’re hearing echoes from the darkest chapters in world history, you’re not alone. And if you’re wondering whether family internment camps are incubators for radicalization against America, time will tell.
Is this really America?
On June 30, find a protest location near you and show up.
Just show up.
Future generations will ask if you did.
Back to Trump-Russia: Aretmenko
As it should, the border crisis dominated the week’s news. But the Trump-Russia Timeline rolled on. The week’s biggest revelation came from a pro-Putin Ukrainian lawmaker who has now earned the latest spot on the Trump-Russia Timeline’s name filter: Andrey Artemenko. Click on his name and take a look at the resulting entries.
Recently, Artemenko told McClatchy that back in February 2016, he had begun developing a Ukrainian “peace plan” with Ukrainian-American billionaire Alexander Rovt and former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) (he had known the latter “for almost a decade”).
Artemenko took the plan to Moscow, where the ideas got a “positive” response. A few weeks before the election, he spoke with Felix Sater about it.
Now go to the Timeline and click on Sater’s name. Here are just a few highlights:
2002: Sater enters Trump’s life and becomes a business associate for the next 15 years. He concentrates on helping Trump develop a Trump Tower in Moscow — an effort that continues well into the 2016 election campaign and includes Michael Cohen.
July 2016: Sater visits Trump Tower on “confidential business.”
Election Day 2016; Sater reportedly attends a VIP election celebration.
Late January 2017: At a Manhattan hotel, Artemenko and Sater give Michael Cohen a Ukrainian “peace plan” for delivery to Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn. The plan would cede Crimea to Russia and lift US sanctions.
Bringing It All Together
Now superimpose another storyline that the Timeline depicts in detail. Throughout the campaign and thereafter, Trump has denied that there were contacts between his campaign and Russia. But more than a dozen Trump people had more than 50 such contacts. Throughout the campaign and thereafter, Trump has refused to criticize Vladimir Putin. Throughout the campaign and thereafter, Trump has been a leading critic of US sanctions against Russia.
And since special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation began, Trump has been doing everything he can to undermine it.
Here is a complete list of this week’s Trump-Russia Timeline updates:
FEB. 1, 2016: Artemenko, Ukrainian Billionaire, and former US Congressman Work on “Ukrainian Peace Plan”
JULY 2016: Sater Says He Visits Trump Tower (revision of previous entry)
FEB. 28, 2018: FBI Interviews Giuliani
JUNE 18, 2018: Trump Tweets About Strzok, Comey and Mueller
JUNE 18, 2018: DOJ Inspector General Horowitz and FBI Director Wray Testify Before Senate Judiciary Committee
JUNE 19, 2018: Cohen Hires New Lawyer; Complains About Legal Fees; Resigns RNC Finance Committee Post
JUNE 19, 2018: Trump Tweets About IG Report
JUNE 19, 2018: Parscale Calls for Firing Sessions, Ending Mueller Probe
JUNE 19, 2018: Strzok Escorted from FBI Building; House GOP Grills Horowitz; Strzok Wants to Tell His Story
JUNE 20, 2018: Trump Tweets About IG Report
JUNE 22, 2018: DOJ Provides Internal Investigative Documents to Congress
JUNE 23, 2018: Trump Tweets “Witch Hunt”