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February 19, 2016
Alessandro Di Meo (AFP)-Steve Pope/Getty

Pope Francis and Donald Trump have some things in common: Both control prime pieces of real estate and priceless works of art, both claim to care for the working class, both men wear white.... But, as became clear Thursday, the pope and the GOP presidential frontrunner differ in their interpretation of the gospels. That isn't too unusual for a Catholic and Protestant, but this high-profile spat, in the middle of a heated presidential primary, is pretty remarkable.

Responding to Trump's words about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and deporting 12 million immigrants, the pope said "this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.... This is not the gospel." Trump said it was "disgraceful" for the pope to "question another man's religion or faith" and affirmed his Christianity. "If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS," Trump added, the pope will "have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president."

Trump's GOP rivals mostly steered clear of the dispute, but religious scholars suggested that the pope had raised a fair question about Trump's policies, if not his personal faith. "'Is the Pope Catholic?’ is a joke used to emphasize when something is blindingly obvious," Luke Bretherton, a professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School, said in a statement. "That the question 'Is Donald Trump a Christian?' is not a joke but a serious question should tell us something." He added:

That Pope Francis raises a question about whether certain political views are compatible with Christian belief and practice or not is wholly appropriate and something Christian leaders in North America, whether Democrat or Republican, seem all too happy to pronounce on on a regular basis. When politicians parade their faith as a vote-winning strategy, they necessarily invite comment on the status and coherence of their faith commitments with their political positions.

Bretherton's colleague Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology, was a bit more nuanced: "Donald Trump's proposal isn't consistent with deep Christian understandings of the movements of peoples across border; that, in turn, is perfectly consistent with Trump himself being a Christian — which is to say someone baptized in the triune name."

Slamming the pope isn't expected to hurt Trump in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, where 65 percent of the 2012 GOP primary voters were evangelical Christians and only 13 percent were Catholic. It could hurt him in the delegate-rich, heavily Catholic states in the Northeast. Peter Weber

5:04 a.m. ET

President Trump held a freewheeling meeting with House Republicans at the Capitol on Tuesday night, and while the hour-long session mostly dealt with immigration policy, Trump also reportedly jabbed at Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who was unseated in his Republican primary last week after Trump attacked him on Twitter and supported his rival. According to Politico, Trump's comments were not well-received:

"Is Mark Sanford here?" he asked as the room grew quiet. "I want to congratulate him on his race." When Trump called Sanford a "nasty" guy, the room moaned in disbelief. [Politico]

Sanford is a popular member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group that House leaders need to pass any legislation with only Republican votes. House GOP leadership had hoped Trump's endorsement of their "compromise" immigration legislation over a hardline alternative bill would win over Freedom Caucus members. Attendees were not sure, in the end, whether Trump had endorsed either bill, both, or neither. Peter Weber

4:30 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump met behind closed doors with House Republicans at the Capitol on Tuesday night, and according to attendees, he urged Republicans to send him an immigration bill that funded his border wall, dealt with the legal status of DREAMers, and curbed the separation of children from parents happening under his new "zero tolerance" policy. But attendees said they were not sure which of two rival House GOP bills Trump endorsed, a hardline bill or a "compromise" one put together by House Republican leaders.

"It did not move the needle at all," one top GOP lawmaker told Politico. "He made comments like 'I'm behind it 1,000 percent,' but what is 'it'?" The House is set to vote on both bills this week. Currently, neither bill has enough votes to pass in the House, and both would be expected to die in the Senate.

Trump also recounted his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, told the House Republicans that his tariffs are "gonna work out fine. ... Trade isn't tricky," and obliquely addressed the child-separation policy that has Republicans rattled. He told the House GOP caucus that his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump told him the images of children in cages and crying while being separated from their parents looked terrible and asked him, "Can we do anything to stop this?" one lawmaker recounted to The Washington Post. Another recalled that Trump said, "We have to take care of these separations." Lawmakers from both parties and outside analysts say Trump could end the family separation with the stroke of a pen. Peter Weber

3:03 a.m. ET

"Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three 'tender age' shelters in South Texas," The Associated Press reported Tuesday night, and "the government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday." The Houston facility would "house up to 240 children in a warehouse previously used for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey," AP says, continuing:

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. ... Decades after the nation's child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents. [The Associated Press]

On MSNBC Tuesday night, host Rachel Maddow broke down in tears trying to read the article.

Later on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell spoke with immigrant advocates and Catholic officials in South Texas, who described the detention facilities as "jails" and explained the challenges ahead for the young children reclassified as "unaccompanied alien children” after they are taken from their parents — as 2,342 have been since May, federal officials said Tuesday.

Health and Human Services official Steven Wagner defended the "specialized facilities that are devoted to providing care to children with special needs and tender age children," and AP says "doctors and lawyers who have visited the shelters said the facilities were fine, clean, and safe, but the kids — who have no idea where their parents are — were hysterical, crying and acting out." Read more at The Associated Press. Peter Weber

1:29 a.m. ET

President Trump's new policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border is still dominating the news, and "there are two ways to look at this story: Either you can be horrified, or you can work for Donald Trump," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. He started with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who opted out of Monday's press briefing, handing the show to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen because she didn't want to field questions about splitting apart families. Colbert wasn't sympathetic: "Sarah, you think you don't want to talk about child separation policy? Try doing it on a comedy show. 'Oh, you must love the Trump administration, Stephen — the sadness just writes itself.'"

"Your administration owns locking up children," Colbert told Sanders. "But if kids in cages is too much for you to defend, there is one option: You could resign. This is the White House, not an abandoned Walmart — you're allowed to leave." Still, he added, "there are some people who have no reservations about publicly defending Trump's monstrous policy — for instance, the monster in chief." He annotated and fact-checked his way through Trump's speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, ending with Trump's embrace of the American flag: "Oh say, can you see — that was not consensual. If only those colors could run."

"Of course, Trump isn't the only one defending the indefensible," Colbert said, sadly mocking Fox News host Laura Ingraham's "summer camp" analogy. "The point is, you can't hide from the horror," he said. "Our president is everywhere, literally." Even in the clouds.

Seth Meyers, unimpressed with the Trump team's response to anything, held his own White House press briefing on Tuesday's Late Night, and his "question" to Sanders about Germany was particularly cutting. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:31 a.m. ET

There are lots of ways to react to a story about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother by U.S. border agents and "put in a cage." Corey Lewandowski, President Trump's former campaign manager and current employee of Vice President Mike Pence's Great America PAC, went with the sarcastic sad-trombone sound on Fox News Tuesday evening.

Lewandowski's indignant sparring partner, former Democratic National Committee adviser Zac Petkanas, was referring to a story highlighted earlier Tuesday by Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who said the Mexican government was particularly concerned about the girl's fate. The girl, who crossed the border illegally with her mother and brother, was sent to a facility in McAllen, Texas, while her mother was sent to Brownsville, an hour away, Videgaray said, and the Mexican government had been in contact with the U.S. government "at the highest levels" to have the girl with Down syndrome released to her father, who is a legal U.S. resident.

Videgaray said that only 21 of the roughly 2,000 children separated from their parents since the beginning of May were originally from Mexico — most are from Central America — but while "the Mexican government in no way promotes illegal migration ... according to our constitutional principles and our convictions, we cannot be indifferent before an act that clearly represents a violation of human rights and that puts into a vulnerable position minors, children, including those with disabilities." Peter Weber

June 19, 2018

On Tuesday, Canada's Senate gave final approval to a bill that will legalize marijuana nationwide. The 52-29 vote makes Canada the second nation in the world to legalize and regulate cannabis, after Uruguay, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the news.

Trudeau's government had wanted the legislation to take effect by July 1, but it will now aim for September after determining that provincial and territorial governments — each province will set up its own marijuana marketplace — will need eight to 12 weeks to prepare. The law, which also needs royal assent, will allow each adult to possess up to 30 grams of pot and grow up to four plants, and the minimum age to purchase marijuana will be 18 or 19, decided by each province. That's younger than the minimum age in the nine U.S. states that have legalized weed, but the Trudeau government said setting the limit at 21 would encourage the creation of a black market. Canada's Conservatives oppose legalization. Peter Weber

June 19, 2018
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. is officially withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jointly announced Tuesday.

Haley first threatened to leave the council in a U.N. speech last June, slamming its inclusion of human rights abusers such as Venezuela as council members and condemning what she said was anti-Israel bias. Haley cited that warning in her announcement Tuesday, saying the human rights group was "not worthy of its name," per NBC News.

"Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council," Haley said. She also criticized the council's five resolutions against Israel this year, "more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined."

The move comes just a day after the council's high commissioner bashed the U.S. for "forcibly" separating children and parents at the border, calling on the U.S. to end this "abuse." Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero tolerance" immigration policy last month.

Former President George W. Bush refused to join the council when it was created in 2006, per The Washington Post, but the Obama administration opted for seat at the table in 2009. Kathryn Krawczyk

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