The U.S. at a glance ...
Sioux City, Iowa
King’s incendiary tweet: Outspoken Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa was denounced on both sides of the political aisle this week after posting an inflammatory tweet in support of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders that read, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The post was praised by a neo-Nazi website and white supremacist David Duke, who tweeted, “God bless Steve King!” But King was strongly criticized by his fellow lawmakers. “Do I qualify as ‘somebody else’s baby?’” responded Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, who is of Cuban descent. King, who was an early and outspoken supporter of President Trump, doubled down on CNN, saying he “meant exactly what I said.” He added, “I’d like to see an America that’s just so homogenous that we look a lot the same.” King finished the interview by recommending a French novel set in a Europe overrun by immigrants.
Tornillo and Donna, Texas
Crackdown working? The number of undocumented immigrants apprehended while trying to cross the southwestern border has dropped dramatically for the second month in a row, according to new government figures released this week. About 840 people a day were caught or stopped from entering the U.S. from Mexico in February, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection,down from about 1,370 a day in January. In previous years, Border Patrol agents have typically seen a 10 percent to 20 percent surge of people making the journey in February. “The early results show that enforcement matters,” said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. President Trump has ratcheted up rapid deportations and signed executive orders to hire 15,000 new Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The drop in border apprehensions enabled federal authorities to shutter two temporary holding facilities in Donna and Tornillo, both in Texas.
New Brown footage: Protests re-erupted in Ferguson this week, more than two years after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, after newly disclosed surveillance footage raised questions about events leading to the unarmed black teenager’s death. Police said that Brown, 18, stole a box of cigarillos from a convenience store moments before he was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. But surveillance footage in a new documentary, Stranger Fruit, shows Brown visiting the store hours before the supposed robbery and handing a clerk a small package. Filmmaker Jason Pollock claims Brown had bartered marijuana for the cigarillos, and left them behind the desk to pick up later. The convenience store’s employees disputed the filmmaker’s version of events, while prosecutor Robert McCulloch called the documentary’s conclusions “pathetic.”
GOP gerrymandering: A panel of federal judges ruled last week that Texas’ Republican-led legislature violated the Voting Rights Act when it gerrymandered some of the state’s congressional districts to limit the growing influence of minority voters. The congressional redistricting plan, drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2011, carved up Latino areas in south and west Texas—diluting minorities’ voting power. In a 2-1 decision, the panel for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas found that the plan amounted to racial discrimination and ordered lawmakers to redraw those districts. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court freed Texas and eight other states with a history of discrimination—most of them in the South—of having to gain federal approval for changes in their election laws. Because last week’s decision found evidence of discriminatory intent, it could force Texas back under federal oversight.
New York City
Preet’s dramatic exit: U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, was fired from his post last week after refusing a sudden order to resign. Bharara was one of 46 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys ordered to step down by Attorney General Jeff Sessions—and the only one to refuse. During his tenure, Bharara indicted 17 prominent Democratic and Republican politicians, and carried out high-profile investigations into insider trading on Wall Street. The mass ouster of U.S. attorneys is standard practice during presidential transitions, but Bharara said President Trump had previously asked him to stay on. Bharara’s office was investigating Fox News’ payouts to women who said they were sexually harassed by former chairman Roger Ailes. Ailes’ lawyer, Marc L. Mukasey, is reportedly being considered as Bharara’s replacement.
New York City
Trump’s taxes leaked: President Trump paid $38 million in federal income tax on more than $150 million in income in 2005, and wrote off $105 million in depreciation losses that year, according to two pages of his tax returns that leaked this week. The returns, which journalist David Cay Johnston said h e received in the mail from an anonymous sender, show Trump paid an effective tax rate of 24 percent, mostly because he was forced to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. Trump has proposed eliminating the AMT. The White House said the “illegally published” returns prove only that Trump “was one of the most successful businessmen in the world” and paid “no more tax than legally required.” Johnston said there was reason to suspect that Trump himself selectively leaked two pages of one year’s returns to distract the news media from coverage of Ryancare’s troubles and the president’s controversial claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones.