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July 11, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence reacted to news that Donald Trump Jr. met knowingly with a Kremlin source for information about Hillary Clinton by distancing himself as much as possible. "The vice president is working every day to advance the president's agenda," the statement from the vice president's press secretary began. "He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focused on stories about the campaign — especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign."

Or, the tl;dr version:

As Axios has written, "the most awkward waiting game in Washington is being endured by Vice President Mike Pence, who can't look like he's distancing himself from his boss, but has to protect his own viability amid the chaos at 1600." Jeva Lange

3:56 a.m. ET

Mexico and the U.S. "share a 1,900-mile border, and they're our third-largest trading partner — and something massive is about to take place there," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, previewing next Sunday's landmark national elections. Sure, "the biggest election in Mexico's history" may not "mean much to most Americans — it's like saying the biggest mattress sale in Dutch history," he said. But Oliver, being Oliver, made his rundown entertaining, informative, and a little disturbing.

Mexicans are sick of the status quo and the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto — Oliver repeated the NSFW chant Mexicans have for him, in English and Spanish — and they are expected to go in a radically different direction, election populist firebrand Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known by his initials, AMLO.

Oliver explained why Peña Nieto and his PRI party are so unpopular — endemic corruption, murder, crime — and walked through some candidates who won't win, most entertainingly the Santa Claus–hating independent Jaime "El Bronco" Rodriguez. "Center-right policy wonk" Ricardo Anaya is No. 2 in the polls, but AMLO is expected to win. "And you can kind of see the appeal," Oliver said, playing a clip. "AMLO is kind of like Bernie Sanders, but with a better haircut and significantly better Spanish." The details of AMLO's policies are "pretty sketchy," though, he said, and in some ways "he's actually more reminiscent of a Mexican Donald Trump — which I know is a weird image to conjure up, like Orthodox Hitler or jacked Gandhi."

"The point here is, while the hope in AMLO is real, the content is a question mark," Oliver said. "And it says something about how entrenched the problems in Mexico are and the level of dissatisfaction that they seem so willing to take a gamble on him." Bobby Moynihan's autoerotic Santa Claus is one of the many NSFW parts of this episode, but if you're game, watch below. Peter Weber

2:46 a.m. ET
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If you've ever wondered why President Trump's Oval Office desk is so clear, he keeps most of his paperwork, plus stacks of newspapers, on the table in the president's private dining room right off the Oval Office, a former Trump administration official tells Jonathan Swan at Axios. This is where Trump spends a good chunk of his workdays, including his morning "Executive Time" of watching cable news.

In the dining room, the former official said, Trump is "constantly referencing articles and columns in the Times, WSJ, or Post, watching TV and responding in real time — like, a good interview with an elected official might get them a phone call. Unexpected criticism might get them one too." Aides will come in with something to sign or a phone call or a proposed tweet, and Trump apparently rewatches confidante Sean HannityHannity's Fox News show from the night before, the official said. "I remember one specific time when he was watching a Hannity replay and he interrupted the conversation and turned up the volume, 'Wait, wait for it ...' (Hannity says whatever it was defending DJT.) 'So good,' Trump said. 'He's so good.'" You can read more at Axios. Peter Weber

1:47 a.m. ET
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On Saturday night, the Trump administration released a plan to reunite the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents under President Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy, but immigrant advocates and shelter operators say that will be no easy feat. The children, some barely old enough to speak, are spread around the U.S. in groups as small as 10, "in Michigan and Maryland, in foster homes in California and shelters in Virginia, in cold, institutional settings with adults who are not permitted to touch them or with foster parents who do not speak Spanish but who hug them when they cry," The Washington Post reports. Already, "the children have been through hell," the Post says:

And now they live and wait in unfamiliar places: big American suburban houses where no one speaks their language; a locked shelter on a dusty road where they spend little time outside; a converted Walmart where each morning they are required to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, in English, to the country that holds them apart from their parents. Why must they say those words, some of the children ask at the shelter in Brownsville, on the Mexican border in Texas? "We tell them, 'It's out of respect,'" said one employee. [The Washington Post]

The toll-free Office of Refugee Resettlement hotline migrant parents are being told to call to locate their children is jammed and uninformative, and "U.S. authorities are compiling mug shots of the children in detention" to help connect parents with kids, the Post says. "Immigration lawyers who have seen the pictures say some of them show children in tears."

The children are fed and offered activities, including arts-and-crafts classes and rudimentary "Know Your Rights" presentations delivered by outsider lawyers, the Post says. "Some kids engage. Some remain silent. Some have not spoken for weeks." You can read more about how these children are living at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

1:39 a.m. ET
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While traveling from Boston to Portland, Oregon, last week, Clara Daly, 15, used her knowledge of American Sign Language to make the flight easier for a fellow passenger.

Tim Cook, 64, is blind and deaf, and was unable to communicate with the flight attendants. They asked if anyone on board knew ASL, and Daly, who took classes for a year, volunteered to help. She signed letters into his hand, first asking, "Are you okay?" They communicated that way throughout the flight, with Cook telling Daly about the sister he had been visiting in Boston and Daly telling him about her life in California.

Fellow passenger Lynette Scribner was impressed by Daly, and said her assistance helped reduce Cook's frustration. "You could see him light up," she told The New York Times. Scribner took a photo of the pair and shared what she saw on Facebook, and the post has been liked and shared hundreds of thousands of times. Cook, who lost his hearing and sight as an adult, told KGW he is used to feeling isolated, and was "very moved" by Daly's act of kindness. Catherine Garcia

1:09 a.m. ET
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Buzz Aldrin and two of his children are now engaged in a legal fight, with Janice and Andrew Aldrin asking to be appointed his co-guardians because he's in "cognitive decline," a charge he forcefully denies.

Buzz Aldrin, 88, told The Wall Street Journal he was blindsided by his children's request, made last month in a Florida court. The legendary former astronaut said his children and former business manager Christina Korp are trying to wrestle away control of his private company, Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, and his nonprofit, ShareSpace Foundation, by claiming he's being manipulated by strangers and experiencing paranoia and confusion.

Aldrin has agreed to undergo a competency evaluation this week by three court-appointed specialists, telling the Journal, "Nobody is going to come close to thinking I should be under a guardianship." Aldrin is also firing back with his own lawsuit, accusing Andrew Aldrin and Korp of elder exploitation, unjust enrichment, and converting his property for themselves, and Janice Aldrin of conspiracy and breach of fiduciary trust.

Aldrin says his son and Korp improperly transferred nearly $500,000 over the last two years from his savings account to Buzz Aldrin Enterprises and ShareSpace Foundation for their own personal use, and he was forced into attending events and taking endorsement deals he didn't want. For more on the Aldrin family saga, visit The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

12:43 a.m. ET
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Under President Trump's recently amended "zero tolerance" border policy, U.S. federal border agents separated children from their parents either right away, at massive processing facilities like one in McAllen, Texas, known as "la hielera" (freezer), or on the morning parents were bussed to court to be charged with illegal entry, typically a misdemeanor. "Border officials told parents they'd see their children when they got back from court," The Washington Post reports, adding:

But when they returned, their children were gone, taken to federal shelters. Some parents were told that their children were being taken for a bath, but then the kids did not come back. At a shelter in McAllen, as word spread that children were being pulled from their parents, some mothers and ­fathers took to sleeping with their legs wrapped around their children so they couldn't be snatched. [The Washington Post]

Detained parents at a facility outside Houston and their lawyers tell The Texas Tribune that U.S. officials are giving them a choice: They will be reunited with their children at the airport if they voluntarily give up their asylum claims and agree to be deported. One Honduran man, "Carlos," said he agreed to be deported "out of desperation" to see his 6-year-old daughter, but now he's trying to get out of his agreement. He said he's spoken to his daughter once since she was taken in late May and "she can't talk, she cries because she's locked up."

Immigration lawyers are skeptical federal officials would even be able to keep that promise. Cynthia Milian, a lawyer who has spoken with Carlos, told The Texas Tribune she doubts the feds "would put his child on a plane to get her to where he would get deported out from, especially if she's in Arizona," where Carlos was told she is being kept. "I just don't see that happening." Read more at The Washington Post and The Texas Tribune. Peter Weber

June 24, 2018
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President Trump's tweet chastising Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has resulted in a windfall for a Texas nonprofit that helps immigrants and refugees.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fallon said he received instant backlash after he asked to tousle Trump's hair on the Sept. 15, 2016, episode of The Tonight Show. People accused Fallon of "normalizing" Trump, he said. "It just got bigger and out of control."

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that Fallon is now "whimpering" and saying "that he would have now done it differently because it is said to have 'humanized' me-he is taking heat. He called & said 'monster ratings.' Be a man Jimmy!"

Not long after, Fallon made a big announcement on Twitter: "In honor of the President's tweet I'll be making a donation to RAICES in his name." The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a nonprofit that assists underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in central and south Texas. Catherine Garcia

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