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December 18, 2017
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A small group of Senate Democrats want Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to walk back his resignation, Politico reported Monday. Franken announced from the Senate floor on Dec. 7 that he would leave Congress "in the coming weeks" after more than three dozen of his Democratic colleagues called for his resignation following allegations of sexual harassment.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was one of Franken's biggest defenders, telling Politico that the Democrats' cornering of Franken was "atrocious." Even if Franken doesn't reverse his decision, Manchin said, "I hope [Senate Democrats] have enough guts ... and enough conscience and enough heart to say, 'Al, we made a mistake asking prematurely for you to leave.'"

Franken was accused of sexual harassment by eight women and said that he would "fully gladly cooperate" with an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into his behavior, but instead announced he would resign after his party colleagues spoke out against him. Manchin was absent from the Democratic chorus calling for Franken's resignation, but apparently some of the senators who did speak out are also questioning their decision; Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) apparently told Franken "privately" that he "regrets" calling for the senator to step down, Politico reports.

A third senator, who declined to be named because of "political sensitivity," lamented: "I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts. In retrospect, I think we acted too fast." Read more at Politico. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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 "he 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
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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

June 19, 2018
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The deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House will step down next month after serving under four Republican administrations as a top aide, CNN reported Tuesday.

Officials announced the departure of Joe Hagin, who took the reigns in planning the logistics of the summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un that took place earlier this month, on Tuesday, explaining that he plans to work in the private sector. In a statement, Trump said he would "miss him in the office and even more on the road. I am thankful for his remarkable service to our great country."

Hagin worked as an aide under former Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, reports Reuters. He is one of the highest-ranking members of the White House staff. Hagin's departure is the latest in a Trump White House with a record-breaking turnover rate.

Hagin reportedly wanted to resign several months ago, but was persuaded to stay aboard by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Commenting on his departure, Kelly praised Hagin's "selfless devotion to this nation and the institution of the presidency." Summer Meza

June 19, 2018
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The government didn't really lose 1,500 migrant children after they left federal custody.

It may be four times that.

McClatchy reviewed U.S. government data and found that during the Trump presidency, the government appears to have lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied immigrant minors. The widely reported smaller number referred only to a three-month span last fall.

Yet contrary to assumptions that sparked outrage last month, an untraceable child could be better off. The Office of Refugee Resettlement couldn't get ahold of 1,475 resettled immigrant children 30 days after their release after placing a single phone call, per policy. But those families often have a good reason for not picking up, New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer Paige Austin told WNYC's On the Media last month: Families may wish to cut ties with the government in an effort to protect other undocumented immigrants they may be living with. Ninety percent of resettled children end up with a family member, per ORR data, and those people may or may not have legal status.

The number of actually lost children gets trickier to solidify, seeing as some families did answer and confirmed a child was gone, McClatchy says. And the numbers are only from 2017. Things could fluctuate further now that children and parents are being separated at the border, leaving more children unaccompanied and more immigrants afraid of authorities. Read more at McClatchy. Kathryn Krawczyk

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