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January 12, 2018

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) began their New York Times op-ed on President Trump and immigration by recapping the tale of Elián Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy who made it to Florida in 1999 and then, when U.S. courts ruled he had to return, was "pulled from the arms of a sheltering adult by a team of heavily armed federal agents," a scene "seared in the minds of many people as a low point in the immigration debate." Under Trump, "brace yourself for the possibility of seeing this kind of scene again," they wrote.

Bush and Kasich were focusing on Trump's decision to rescind residency and work protections for about 200,000 Salvadorans invited in by the U.S. after a 2001 earthquake in a "merciful act." They collectively had 190,000 kids in the U.S. and "it is wrong to potentially break up so many families that have for so long made the United States their home — legally and at our invitation," the governors write.

The Republican Party has "consistently and rightly advanced policies to support the essential role of families in America," and "singling out Salvadoran families for separation is simply a bad idea that should be dropped," Bush and Kasich write, quoting former President Ronald Reagan. Securing the U.S. border and figuring out how to normalize the status of "the 10 million to 15 million undocumented immigrants" already here — "who, let's be honest, will not and should not be forcibly removed" — are the two biggest challenges, they add, and "when prioritizing the immigration problems we face, the case of 200,000 Salvadorans who accepted our invitation to live and work here legally would not even make a Top 10 list."

Kasich and Bush wrote their op-ed before Trump reportedly called El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations "shithole countries," but Bush tweeted that he hoped the president's alleged words "were just a crass and flippant mistake, and do not reflect the hateful racism they imply." Peter Weber

4:37p.m.

The House's next GOP leader isn't blaming any Republicans for his party's smaller, largely homogenous new coalition.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) easily beat Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to become the GOP's next minority leader on Wednesday. Afterward, NBC News' Kasie Hunt reminded McCarthy that he's slated to lead an overwhelmingly white and male group in January, and he quickly jumped on the defensive.

Presidents typically lose seats "in their first off-year election," like how former President Barack Obama saw 63 spots flip red in 2010, McCarthy affirmed on Wednesday. After all, billionaire politician "Michael Bloomberg spent more than $100 million," to elect Democrats, McCarthy said, adding that "Bloomberg was very effective in defeating a lot of Republican women." House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) can be spotted behind McCarthy mouthing "That's true."

The number of Republican women in the House fell from 23 to 13 this election, reports The Associated Press. That means the House GOP will be 90 percent white men, while more than 60 percent of Democrats will be women, people of color, or LGBT.

McCarthy has long taken issue with Bloomberg's election contributions, declaring "we cannot allow [liberal philanthropist George] Soros ... and Bloomberg to BUY this election" in an October tweet. The tweet was sent just after a bomb arrived at Soros' home, and McCarthy later deleted it. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:08p.m.

Democrats are continuing to add to their new majority in the House of Representatives — the party just flipped a seat held by a Republican who was key in the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare.

Andy Kim, who served as a national security aide to former President Barack Obama, defeated two-term Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) in the race for New Jersey's 3rd District, The Associated Press projected on Wednesday.

Prior to the election, this race had been classified as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Kim declared victory on Election Night, but MacArthur did not concede the race, per Asbury Park Press. Elected in 2014, MacArthur was the architect of the controversial MacArthur amendment, a part of the GOP's proposed ObamaCare repeal which would have allowed states to opt out of some of the health care law's requirements.

Since Election Day, Democrats have continued to pull off victories in key House races that had remained undecided last week. In New Jersey, in particular, they have made significant gains, as this is the fourth House seat the Democrats have won from the GOP in the state this year, reports The Hill. Kim's victory means that in the 116th Congress, New Jersey will have just a single Republican representative for the first time since former President Theodore Roosevelt's administration, The New York Times reports. Brendan Morrow

3:42p.m.

It has clearly been quite some time since President Trump's last trip to the grocery store.

In a new interview with The Daily Caller Wednesday, Trump pushed for strict voter ID laws, using as part of his argument the completely made-up fact that "if you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID." Trump had previously said in August that you need to show photo ID to buy groceries, and apparently nobody has bothered to correct him in the past three months.

Trump in this interview also tossed out a voter fraud conspiracy theory that's even weirder than usual: he contends that there are people who illegally vote by showing up to the polls, voting, and then switching into another outfit in the parking lot so they can get back in line and pretend to be somebody else like something out of an episode of The Simpsons. "Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again," Trump claimed without evidence, adding that it's "really a disgrace what's going on.”

This came after Trump baselessly declared that the only reason "Republicans don't win" is because of these "potentially illegal votes," although voter impersonation is actually extraordinarily rare. As Democrats continue to pick up seats in the House of Representatives, don't be surprised by the increasingly nonsensical voter fraud conspiracies, and surprisingly ridiculous misunderstandings of grocery store protocol, to come. Brendan Morrow

3:31p.m.

Looking for the latest scoop on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation? Check out Guilty Pleasures, an ice cream truck that started serving up Russia probe-inspired flavors around Washington on Wednesday. Putin's Vanilla Delight, Fudge the Truth Chocolate, and Mueller-Berry are some of the options, and are all served for free in a cup or a Cohen.

Per its Twitter bio, Guilty Pleasures is "the only ice cream truck defending the independent investigation by Robert Mueller into Trump's ties to Russian attacks on our democracy," which is probably true. It's the creation of progressive organization Move On, reports The Washingtonian, and the company is pushing for Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller's probe. Whitaker assumed oversight of the probe after Jeff Sessions was ousted as the Justice Department's leader, which has Move On worried Trump could inhibit Mueller's investigation or even fire the special counsel, Move On's website reads.

The truck/political statement only spent an hour outside the Department of Justice on Wednesday, but it'll be serving up Indict-Mint Chip and other sweets outside the Trump Hotel in D.C. on Thursday. That is, if the whole concept of churning a months-long investigation of a sitting president into a dessert didn't leave a sour taste in your mouth. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:59p.m.

Jennifer Aniston brings all the pomp and circum-sass in the first trailer for her upcoming film, Dumplin'.

Netflix dropped the trailer for the comedy, written by Kristin Hahn and directed by Anne Fletcher, on Wednesday. Based on Julie Murphy's 2015 novel, Dumplin' follows Willowdean "Dumplin'" Dickson (Danielle Macdonald), a plus-size teen trying to step out from her beauty queen mother's shadow. In one attempt to find herself, Dumplin' signs up for a pageant in her small Texas hometown, which is being judged by her mom (Aniston).

With the help of her best friend Ellen (Odeya Rush), Dumplin' plunges into a world of very high heels, dance classes, lots of hairspray, and fabulous Dolly Parton drag queens.

Aniston and Macdonald are accompanied by Life of the Party's Luke Benward, Disney Channel's Dove Cameron, Lost's Harold Perrineau, Hairspray's Maddie Baillio, and Ginger Minj of RuPaul's Drag Race.

The trailer gives a sneak peek at the movie's soundtrack, which features several songs by Parton and Linda Perry, reports Entertainment Weekly. Sia also joined in, collaborating with Parton to record "Here I Am." Dumplin' will hit Netflix, and select theaters, on Dec. 7. Watch the full trailer below. Amari Pollard

2:43p.m.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will serve as House minority leader, the Republican Party's top position in the next Congress, fending off a long-shot challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

McCarthy was elected to the position in the 116th Congress this afternoon with 159 votes to Jordan's 43, per NBC's Alex Moe. This news comes after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were both re-elected to their respective roles of Senate Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader as expected, reports Vox.

Jordan, an ally of President Trump's, had announced last week that he intended to challenge McCarthy for the position of minority leader, saying that Americans elected Republicans to "come here and change this town" in 2016 but that "I don't think they see the same intensity from folks in Congress" as they do from Trump, per The Hill. Politico reports that Trump had waded into the fight and encouraged some sort of deal between McCarthy and Jordan. It's unclear what that deal might have been, although Politico reports there's speculation that Trump may push for Jordan to become the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Steve Scalise (R-La.) has also been re-elected as the party's whip. CNN's Chris Cillizza argues that the fact that Republicans have maintained the same leadership in the House after losing over 30 seats indicates that "everyone in Congressional GOP believes Trump is fully to blame" for the flip in power. Brendan Morrow

2:25p.m.

The "caravan" used to make a near-daily appearance in President Trump's vocabulary. But political discussion of the migrant group rolled away as quickly as it arrived, and the word "caravan" hasn't been seen on Trump's Twitter feed since Halloween, CBS News' Kathryn Watson points out.

The real caravan, though, has not exactly disappeared. It's still a group of about 3,600 Central American migrants headed through Mexico to claim asylum in the U.S., NPR reports. And it's in Guadalajara, still more than 1,000 miles from reaching the border, because it opted for a "safer, longer route" to cross just south of San Diego in Tijuana, Fox News reports. A small group of largely LGBT migrants arrived in Tijuana by bus Tuesday, splitting off amid discrimination from other caravan members, they tell The Washington Post.

While Trump may have forgotten about the caravan, perhaps because Election Day is over, the troops he directed to the border haven't. Thousands of troops spent Veterans Day waiting at the border for the caravan's arrival, and will likely be there through Thanksgiving, The New York Times reports. And seeing as they've mostly been tasked with work the National Guard already has under control, veterans say the Army will likely have a morale issue on its hands.

Trump, meanwhile, has moved on to other migrant-blocking, border-strengthening measures — with very limited mentions of the caravan he once considered of peak importance. Kathryn Krawczyk

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