10 things you need to know today: June 20, 2018
Trump urges GOP to pass an immigration bill, the U.S. withdraws from the U.N. Human Rights Council, and more
Trump urges Republicans to pass immigration bill
President Trump met with House Republicans on Tuesday and urged them to pass one of their sweeping immigration bills as outrage builds over the administration's policy of separating undocumented migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump did not say whether he preferred the plan drafted by conservatives or the one proposed by moderates, suggesting he would sign either one. In the Senate, Republicans started rallying behind a proposal to allow detained families to stay together during expedited hearings and possible deportation proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) endorsed a narrow bill authorizing detaining children with their parents, saying "all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together."
U.S. withdraws from U.N. Human Rights Council
The Trump administration on Tuesday withdrew the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council, accusing the organization of anti-Israel bias and making "a mockery" of human rights. "For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias," said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Haley noted that the council's members include Venezuela, China, Cuba, and Democratic Republic of Congo, nations she said displayed "an appalling disrespect for the most basic rights." Critics of the withdrawal said it would mark a setback for human rights. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said the decision "sends a clear message that the Trump administration does not intend to lead the world when it comes to human rights."
United Methodist clergy, churchgoers file complaint against Jeff Sessions
More than 600 United Methodist Church pastors, churchgoers, and leaders signed a letter condemning Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Trump administration's policy of separating undocumented migrant children from their parents. The signatories of the letter accused Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, of child abuse, immorality, and racial discrimination under church law. They also accused Sessions, who defended the policy as consistent with the Bible's call to obey laws, of "dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church." A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.
Several states cancel agreements to send National Guard troops to border
New York, Colorado, and Massachusetts on Tuesday canceled agreements to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in protest against the Trump administration's policy of separating undocumented migrant children from their parents. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) called the policy "cruel and inhumane." Governors in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut also have said they would not dispatch National Guard members. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Tuesday his state also plans to file a lawsuit over the family separations, accusing the Trump administration of "violating the constitutional rights of thousands of immigrant children and their parents who have been separated at the border."
Trump administration holding detained babies, toddlers in 'tender age' shelters
Trump administration officials have sent small children — including babies — separated from their undocumented migrant parents to at least three "tender age" shelters in southern Texas, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The federal government reportedly is preparing to open a fourth shelter in Houston, where city officials denounced the plan. Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the shelters said they saw preschool-age children crying in play rooms. The administration has detained more than 2,300 children at the U.S.-Mexico border since announcing its "zero tolerance" policy in May. "It is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it," said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. "Toddlers are being detained."
Walgreens replaces GE in Dow index
Industrial giant GE was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday and replaced with drug-store chain Walgreens. GE was one of the 30 original stocks in the index in 1896, and it had been on the list continuously since 1907. The company's stock has struggled over the past year. GE's leaders are implementing a turnaround plan, and the company said getting booted from the Dow "does nothing to change those commitments or our focus in creating a stronger, simpler GE." David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said replacing GE with Walgreens boosts the index's coverage of the consumer and health-care sectors, making it "a better measure of the economy and the stock market."
Another top White House aide leaves
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin plans to step down next month, depriving President Trump of one of the most experienced government veterans in a White House staffed mainly by newcomers. Hagin served 14 years under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He played a key role in planning Trump's summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week. A senior White House official said Hagin's ties to the Bush family made him a target of some in Trump's circle who questioned his loyalty. Hagin said those reports were "overblown" and had nothing to do with his departure. He said he had committed to serve for a year, and stayed longer to see through plans for the summit.
Embattled FBI agent escorted from headquarters
Longtime FBI agent Peter Strzok, a former lead Russia investigator who sent text messages disparaging President Trump, was escorted out of the agency's headquarters ahead of expected disciplinary action, his attorney confirmed to Politico on Tuesday. Trump has pointed to texts Strzok exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page as evidence of agency bias in favor of former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Strzok worked both the Clinton email investigation and the early phase of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. Calls by Trump and his allies to boot Strzok from the bureau intensified after last week's release of a report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who said Strzok's texts "cast a cloud" over the FBI's investigation.
Canada legalizes recreational marijuana
Canada's Senate passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana use on Tuesday. The 52-29 vote made Canada the second country in the world to approve the creation of a legal marijuana market. Uruguay legalized the production, sale, and use of marijuana in 2013. Canada's House of Commons approved the measure in November, making the Senate vote the bill's final hurdle. The Cannabis Act stemmed from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign promise to keep marijuana away from children. After the Senate vote, Trudeau tweeted that the law would allow the government to regulate marijuana and keep it away from kids. "It's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that," Trudeau tweeted.
Japan makes World Cup history with win over Colombia
Japan upset Colombia 2-1 on Tuesday in the World Cup, becoming the first Asian country to beat a South American nation in the history of the global soccer tournament. Japan's path to victory began within the first 10 minutes of the game, when Carlos Sanchez used his hand to block midfielder Shinji Kagawa's shot. Sanchez received a red card and Kagawa scored on the penalty. Playing with just 10 men, Colombia's Juan Quintero managed to score the equalizer on a free kick in the 39th minute, but Japan pulled ahead again in the 73rd minute thanks to Yuya Osako. Colombia, which lost 2-1 to Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals in 2014, is stuck at 0 points in the group stage due to the loss.