White House looks to contain damage as Laura Bush joins critics of family separations

The Trump administration sought to distance itself Sunday from the controversial policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border amid condemnation from some prominent Republican voices — including former first lady Laura Bush.

“Nobody likes” breaking up families and “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, said during her weekend media blitz.

Conway also denied Trump was using the policy as leverage to force Democrats into negotiating immigration reform that also includes one of the president’s key campaign promises – the border wall.

Speculation about an elaborate strategy was fueled after Trump tweeted Saturday a call for Congress to work on a new immigration bill.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” he wrote.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

– President Donald Trump

The president previously pointed at Democrats for the existence of the “horrible law” and urged them to support its repeal.

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.” he tweeted last month.

AP

Former first lady Laura Bush has come out against the Trump administration’s policy of “zero-tolerance” to parents entering the U.S. illegally with their children.

 (Associated Press)

Over the weekend, Conway echoed the president, saying Democrats should begin working to get “real immigration reform” passed. She didn’t reveal if Trump was willing to stop the family separation policy, saying only that “the president is ready to get meaningful immigration reform across the board.”

The administration continues to face heavy criticism for enforcing the law, which has led to more than 2,000 children being separated from families who tried to enter the U.S. illegally in just the six weeks since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “zero-tolerance” approach.

The latest critics include former first lady Laura Bush, wife of former President George W. Bush, who deemed the policy as “cruel” and “immoral.”

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote in an op-ed article for the Washington Post.

“Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso,” she continued. “These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications director, also criticized the policy, saying it’s not “the Christian way” or “the American way,” though he hoped that the president would eventually end the policy.

“The President can reverse it and I hope he does,” Scaramucci tweeted.

He reiterated his feelings to Fox 11 in Los Angeles over the weekend, saying that he didn’t think it was a “humane” policy — but claimed the problem lies on both sides.

“People should sit down and have an honest conversation with the president and say, ‘This doesn’t reflect well on us,’” he said. “‘We have to fix this problem.’”

The policy even sparked a rare public statement from first lady Melania Trump, who generally stays out of her husband’s presidential affairs.

According to her spokeswoman, Melania Trump believes “we need to be a country that follows all laws,” but also one “that governs with heart.”

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the spokeswoman added.

Amid the criticism, Kirstjen Nielsen, head of the Department of Homeland Security, slammed the media on Sunday, tweeting “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

“This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry,” she added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

NJ governor sees guns, not shooter’s early prison release, as the problem

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy responded to Sunday’s deadly shooting at a Trenton arts festival by calling for new controls on guns. But the suspect’s gang membership — and early release from prison after Murphy took office — may have been bigger factors in an incident that left one person dead and 22 wounded.

Meanwhile, Murphy — a first-term Democrat in his first elected office — supports shorter sentences for offenders and cuts in prisoner rehabilitation programs.

The gunman, identified as Tahaji Wells, 33, opened fire before 3 a.m. at the Art All Night festival in New Jersey’s capital city, in what appears to have been a gang-related dispute. Wells was reportedly killed by police, and 17 of the 22 people injured reportedly suffered gunshot wounds.

Four of the injured were said to be in critical condition.

Less than 24 hours later, Murphy — a former Goldman Sachs banker who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany — began blaming guns for the shooting and called for gun control without addressing the circumstances that made Wells able to commit the crime.

“It’s yet another reminder of the senseless gun violence, even having signed six stringent gun laws last week,” Murphy said at a news conference Sunday following a service at Trenton’s Galilee Baptist Church.

During the service, he said he “and many others around this state are committed to ending this scourge of gun violence” and urged the Congress to take action on guns “as a national matter.”

On Twitter, the governor also said the immediate aftermath is the time to speak about possible gun control.

“These are not inappropriate times to talk about gun policy,” he wrote. “These are the most important times to talk about gun policy.”

“These are not inappropriate times to talk about gun policy. These are the most important times to talk about gun policy.”

– New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

But it turns out that Wells had been released from prison in February, despite receiving an 18-year state prison sentence in 2004 on an aggravated manslaughter conviction in the shooting death of a 22-year-old man, NJ.com reported.

In this photo provided by the New Jersey Governor's Office, Gov. Phil Murphy, center, signs several gun safety bills at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex Atrium in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, June 13 , 2018. The half-dozen new gun control laws tighten the state's already strict statutes. (Edwin J. Torres/New Jersey Governor's Office via AP)

June 13 , 2018: Gov. Phil Murphy, center, signs several gun safety bills at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex Atrium in Trenton, N.J.. The half-dozen new gun control laws tighten the state’s already strict statutes.

 (Associated Press)

And in 2010, while still in prison, Wells was sentenced to six additional years after pleading guilty to a second-degree racketeering charge. He reportedly helped a gang leader run the group from inside prison.

So despite two lengthy sentences that should have left Wells serving time behind bars into the 2020s, he was back on the streets and able to commit Sunday’s crime.

Murphy has decried the sentencing and incarceration of people throughout his campaign and time in office as part of his criminal justice reform agenda, which includes a review of sentencing laws in the state.

The governor’s efforts weren’t just promises, as earlier this year he resurrected the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission created in 2009, which never actually held any meetings due to former state Gov. Chris Christie’s reluctance to appoint any members.

“We can and must do better,” Murphy said in a statement announcing the restart of the commission. “A Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission can undertake the important review of our sentencing laws and recommend reforms necessary to ensure a stronger, fairer and more just state.”

Phil Murphy, a candidate for governor of New Jersey, speaks during the First Stand Rally in Newark, N.J., U.S. January 15, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith - RC1405F28E30

Phil Murphy, who became New Jersey’s governor in January, speaks at a campaign rally in Newark in 2017.

 (Reuters)

Another key promise of Murphy was to “expand re-entry services, so that the people coming out of prison have the support they need to return to productive lives” – a measure that should have supposedly prevented Wells’ shooting spree.

Yet, Murphy slashed all the money from a prisoner reentry program that was created by his fellow Democratic Party colleagues, NJ.com reported. The program provided training and helped former prisoners to find jobs and claimed it reduced recidivism rates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

Trump blasts ‘sick loser’ Peter Strzok, ‘sick deal’ with Comey, Mueller connections

President Trump took to Twitter Sunday to blast the FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after sending anti-Trump text messages to his mistress, calling his actions “Witch Hunt!” and “a really sick deal.”

Trump tweeted: “Why was the FBI’s sick loser, Peter Strzok, working on the totally discredited Mueller team of 13 Angry & Conflicted Democrats, when Strzok was giving Crooked Hillary a free pass yet telling his lover, lawyer Lisa Page, that ‘we’ll stop’ Trump from becoming President?”

The president added, “Also remember that they all worked for Slippery James Comey and that Comey is best friends with Robert Mueller. A really sick deal, isn’t it?”

Through his lawyer, Strzok announced Sunday he’s willing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee or any other congressional panel that invites him. The reported offer to testify came three days after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that Strzok’s messaged conversations with FBI attorney Lisa Page created the appearance that investigative decisions may have been motivated by bias against then-candidate Trump.

In the most notorious exchange, from August 2016, Strzok texted Page that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president.

Horowitz cited numerous exchanges between Strzok and Page, who were in a romantic relationship, but ultimately concluded that there was no evidence that anti-Trump bias played a role in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Strzok was a lead investigator on the Clinton case and later worked on the Russia investigation, but was removed from the Mueller probe last year after the Justice Department inspector general’s office brought the texts to Mueller’s attention.

Last week House Oversight Committee Chairman Gowdy, R-S.C., said findings in the IG report showed high animus.

“Once (Trump) won, (Strzok) got on the Mueller probe and wanted to impeach him,” Gowdy said on Fox News’ “Special Report.” “What a dark day it is for the FBI and for the DOJ.”

HHS releases videos of immigration detention facilities as Dems press for change

As a group of congressional Democrats visited shelters holding children separated from their parents suspected of illegal entry into the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services defends its role, while releasing new videos of two facilities for unaccompanied kids.

“Congress gave HHS the responsibility to care for these children and teenagers, and we take this legal mandate very seriously,” Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said in a statement. “It is our hope that as members tour the facilities they will see the facilities for what they are intended to provide: safe and healthy environments for children and teenagers to reside until such time as they can be released to an appropriate sponsor, while their immigration cases are adjudicated.”

Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy, which directs Homeland Security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the United States for prosecution.

Church groups and human rights advocates have criticized the policy sharply, calling it inhumane.

Noting the children were “vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse,” Hargan said, “The need for these facilities has grown over the last decade, in large part because of the flaws in our immigration system that draw many immigrants to try to cross our borders illegally.”

The videos of the two shelters, one in Texas and the other in California, showed the day-to-day lives of the unaccompanied kids: from their playtimes to their mealtimes.

After a tour of facilities in Texas, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., at a news conference, said although the Trump administration is calling their new strategy resulting in separation of families “zero tolerance,” he said that it is “zero humanity, and there is zero logic to this policy.”

He said Trump could change the policy now, calling it unacceptable and evil. “By inflicting this harm, this stress … (there isn’t) any moral code or religious tradition to inflict trauma on” these children for political leverage, teaching those who potentially would come illegally across the border a lesson.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, called the policy an ugly, vile program leading to child abuse.

Stories have spread of children being torn from their parents’ arms, and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone.

The separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border has drawn a good deal of criticism, targeting the policy instituted last month by Sessions. That policy says that any adult who enters the U.S. illegally is to be criminally prosecuted.

U.S. protocol does not allow children to be detained with their parents because they, unlike their moms and dads, aren’t charged with a crime.

Hargan added, “It is unfortunate that there are still some who fail to understand the role of HHS in caring for these children and teenagers. We need fewer media stunts and more real solutions. We welcome additional elected officials to visit these facilities, and it is my sincere hope that after their visit, Members of Congress heed the call of the Trump Administration to close dangerous loopholes in U.S. immigration laws that are the root cause of this issue. Until these laws are fixed, the American taxpayer is paying the bill for costly programs that can only temporarily try to address the consequences of our broken immigration system.”

President Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon about the bipartisan need to create solutions: “The Democrats should get together with their Republican counterparts and work something out on Border Security & Safety.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Who is Beto O’Rourke – Democratic Senate Candidate Challenging Ted Cruz

Here’s what I learned about Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign after a nine-town, 653-mile sprint through the rural and highly conservative Texas panhandle: It is remarkable in both style and substance, reaching a diverse group of people in far corners of the state.

There’s a widely held belief that the state of Texas is and always will be Red. A Democrat hasn’t won a Senate seat in Texas in three decades. Trump won the state by 10 percentage points. Challenging current junior senator Ted Cruz, a nationally known politician with deep pockets, seems like a fool’s errand.

But O’Rourke, a 45-year-old congressman from El Paso who once played bass in a punk band, is taking on that challenge. And he might actually succeed. After announcing his bid in March 2017, O’Rourke has barnstormed the state, visiting all 254 counties—often multiple times—and in spots that haven’t seen a statewide politician since the ’60s.

For two breathless days in May, I followed O’Rourke’s underdog campaign, photographing and watching as he won over voters with his boundless energy, charisma, and authenticity. Over that weekend, O’Rourke hosted town halls and knocked on doors in towns like Killeen, Eastland, Borger, Dumas, Waco, Paducah, Abilene, and Amarillo. He listened to every person that showed up, including voters from other parties and those who disagree with his politics.

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Polls have him within striking distance of Cruz. There’s the very real possibility that this long-shot candidate might inch Texas toward the blue category.


Friday Night. Austin.

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Before heading to Killeen and launching into his weekend on the road in the Panhandle, Beto speaks to a group gathered before sunset in Austin. Austin is sometimes referred to as a “blueberry in tomato soup”: it’s a Democratic stronghold in a sea of red.


Saturday Morning. Killeen.

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Runners gather at 5:45 a.m. as the sun starts to rise in Killeen for the start of one of O’Rourke’s “running town halls,” in which he jogs with potential voters. “These runs and this campaign are about meeting with people where they are,” he told me. “While some might come to a town hall meeting, others would prefer to be outside going for a run.” Day broke by the time the group members finish their three-mile run and are met by more supporters and voter registration volunteers.

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The running town halls have taken O’Rourke by the Colorado River in Austin, to the Alamo in San Antonio, along the gulf in Corpus Christi, and through Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, Fort Worth, and other communities across the state. “Each time people will jog alongside me and we’ll just have a conversation about what’s on their minds, their ideas, their concerns, what I should know about the town,” he said.

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O’Rourke pauses midway through the “running town hall” in Killeen to take questions. Killeen is home to Fort Hood, one of the largest military bases in the world.

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Killeen Councilwoman Shirley Fleming speaks with O’Rourke after his running town hall. Other attendees include the makers of an upcoming film Red: A Descent Into Darkness about human trafficking.

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A Killeen man waits to meet O’Rourke on Saturday morning. Strong opinions about marijuana reform came from places you wouldn’t expect in the Panhandle—and centered on hemp-based building materials and CBD oil for livestock healthcare. O’Rourke has introduced bipartisan legislation to end the federal prohibition on marijuana, a position he’s held since serving on the El Paso City Council and authoring the book Dealing Death and Drugs: An Argument For Ending the Prohibition of Marijuana.


Saturday Mid-Morning. Temple.

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O’Rourke goes door to door in Temple to meet residents and ask them what’s on their minds. (Prior to knocking on doors, he met with a crowd of local volunteers at Dewey Park before they took part in field organizing training.)

His sister Charlotte, who’s traveling with him, picks up a pink hat with the phrase “Smile More” from a yard sale. Moments later, wearing the hat, O’Rourke knocks on the door of Killeen resident Patsy Cummings. When she asks if he has another hat like the one he’s wearing, Beto hands it to her, saying, “Go ahead and take this one!”

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Saturday Afternoon. Waco.

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O’Rourke shakes hands with a woman in Waco who works in the school system. The woman had sought out O’Rourke to discuss solutions to the rampant bullying she sees.


Saturday Night. Abilene.

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O’Rourke speaks at a town hall of about 500 people at the Abilene Woman’s Club on a hot Saturday night. This is his third town hall in Abilene, a former frontier town, where a woman told me that she lived for years in fear of being fired if her boss discovered she was a Democrat. Many attendees talked about the surprise and excitement around the turnout—and the fact that Beto even showed up in Abilene.


Sunday Morning. Paducah.

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O’Rourke hands out roses on Mother’s Day to the women at an outdoor town hall in Paducah, a museum of a town with a declining population of 1,100 that calls itself the “Crossroads of America” because it’s where Interstates 70 and 83 meet. One of the event’s organizers—a woman who grew up in Paducah, before moving away—told me that you could probably count the number of Paducah’s Democrats on a few hands.

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O’Rourke takes questions on the steps of the 1930s-era Cottle County Courthouse in Paducah. He is greeted by a small group wearing Trump gear and gun rights T-shirts, who tell him that “anyone who is gonna come this far to our town deserves to have us come out and give you a listen.” A volunteer who knew one of the MAGA guys said he pulled her aside afterwards, saying of O’Rourke: “He’s good.”

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Sunday Afternoon. Wellington.

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O’Rourke talks with Sandy Martin on her farm in Wellington in Collingsworth County. Martin is a Republican business owner who wants a seat at the table for farmers and ranchers when decisions are being made that would impact their lives and work. She owns Running Arrow Longhorn Farm and sells jerky, jams, and honey out of a trailer. Martin said there hadn’t been any measurable rain in the area since last fall.


Sunday Late Afternoon. Dumas.

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A woman leaves Main St. Sweets and Eats with a lawn sign after O’Rourke’s town hall in the small town of Dumas. One of the employees giving out cookies at the town hall said: “We just feel so special that we’d get to have an event like this. Since when does anyone important bother coming to Dumas? It’s exciting! Everyone has been buzzing this week, waiting for him to arrive.”

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A man from Dumas, Conrad Deanda, speaks with O’Rourke at the Main St. Sweets and Eats. Conrad is from the Rio Grande Valley and moved to Dumas in the 1970s after serving in Vietnam. “Since I’ve been a Democrat, I have to do my own thinking,” he said. “This is my way of doing research for what’s coming up later.”

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A line forms to take pictures and meet O’Rourke after the Dumas town hall at Main St. Sweets and Eats. This visit to Moore County marked Beto’s 251st county in his pledge to visit all 254 in Texas.

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Sunday Night. Amarillo.

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In this midsize prairie city, where about a quarter of U.S. beef is processed, an ecstatic and diverse group of O’Rourke supporters show up in force for his third town hall here. For all the progressive energy in the room, Amarillo is home to only three elected Democrats in local government.

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O’Rourke takes pictures and a few last questions after his Amarillo town hall on Sunday night. This was his last stop on this two-day, 800-mile campaign trip. After the intimate town halls out on the plains, Amarillo is a full-parking-lot, standing-room-only night with live music and a ton of energy. The crowd includes members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities, people wearing #BlackLivesMatter buttons and Indivisible hats, as well as others wearing NRA tees.

“The fact that Beto is even here is courageous and a spearheading,” Craig Stewart, who attended the Amarillo event, told me. “It’s great to have democratic representation.”

He added: “I’m surprised at the number of people that are here tonight. I thought there’d be maybe 40 people.”


Charlie Gross is a Brooklyn-based photographer.

Bannon says MLK ‘would be proud’ of Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda

Steve Bannon took to the airwaves Sunday to claim that The Rev. Martin Luther King would be proud of President Trump.

“Martin Luther King … he would be proud of what Donald Trump has done for [the] black and Hispanic working class, OK?” Bannon told ABC News’ “This Week” Sunday, a claim he’s made before.

Bannon, previously CEO of the Trump campaign and a former executive chairman of Breitbart, has received pushback for his logic, but reiterated again Trump’s America First agenda.

“I was talking specifically about Donald Trump and his policies,” Bannon said Sunday. “His economic nationalism doesn’t care about your race, your religion, your gender, your sexual preference. Here’s what it cares about, that you’re citizens of the United States of America. We have all-time low unemployment among blacks in this country and 20-year low among Hispanics. The black working class and Hispanic working class are now getting the benefits of border security and economic nationalism.”

Bannon noted on ABC that Trump’s immigration policies help Americans of color: “This illegal immigration, the people that [are] hurt the most are the Hispanic and black working class. It suppresses their wages; it destroys their healthcare; it destroys their school systems.”

The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the legendary American, took offense to Bannon’s previous comments about her father and Trump’s policies; she tweeted in May that her father “would be proud of a livable wage for all and not merely a low unemployment rate.”

She also noted that her father had a global focus, advocating for human rights in general while also fighting for the civil rights of black people in the United States. “Further, he would not refer to people as ‘illegal aliens.’ The term is degrading and does not reflect his belief that we are all a part of the human family,” she tweeted.

She also wrote that her father “would be extremely disturbed by the climate created by leaders, who have emboldened people to easily express and demonstrate cruelty, predominantly toward people of color and immigrants.”

Bannon also took the time Sunday to explain comments he made in March to the French far-right. “Let them call you racist,” Bannon said at that event. “Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker.”

He said his quote was taken out of context. “The lead-in to that was saying, ‘When they can’t fight you on the facts, they’re going to call you racist,’” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

DHS Secretary Nielsen slams ‘irresponsible’ media, says no ‘policy of separating families at the border’

The head of the Department of Homeland Security bashed the media Sunday for their reporting on the increasingly volatile immigration controversy, writing in a string of tweets: “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen added: “This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry.”

She noted that no one is “breaking the law by seeking asylum at a port of entry.”

The Trump administration, which has called it “horrible” that illegal-immigrant children are sometimes separated from their parents when their parents enter criminal proceedings, has been criticized in recent weeks for increasing the prosecutions of illegal immigrants under a “zero-tolerance” policy that critics say leads to those separations.

A child illegally entering the U.S. is generally separated from adults at the border if the child is in danger, has no clear relationship to the adult, or if the adult enters criminal proceedings.

Through Twitter, Nielsen reiterated that current policies are derived from laws already in the books: “For those seeking asylum at ports of entry, we have continued the policy from previous Administrations and will only separate if the child is in danger, there is no custodial relationship between ‘family’ members, or if the adult has broken a law.”

She added: “DHS takes very seriously its duty to protect minors in our temporary custody from gangs, traffickers, criminals and abuse.”

Earlier this month, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon was denied entry at a detention center he attempted to visit in Texas after the police were called and an official told him to “please go away.” He and other Democratic politicians have visited other immigrant detention facilities successfully.

Peter Strzok, FBI agent pulled from Mueller probe over anti-Trump texts, open to testify to Congress

A top FBI agent who was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after the discovery of anti-Trump texts he sent to his mistress is willing to testify before Congress about his actions, his attorney confirmed Sunday. 

Aitan Goelman, the attorney for Peter Strzok, told The Washington Post that his client would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and would be willing to testify without an immunity deal.

“[Strzok] thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured,” Goelman said, “and he wants an opportunity to remedy that.”

When contacted by Fox News, Goelman confirmed the statement he gave to the Post was accurate. 

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told “Fox & Friends” Sunday morning that his panel had requested that Strzok appear “for quite some time now.”

“If an agreement is not reached in the next day or so to produce him voluntarily, we will issue [a] subpoena early this week,” Goodlatte said.

The reported offer to testify came three days after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that Strzok’s messaged conversations with FBI attorney Lisa Page created the appearance that investigative decisions were motivated by bias against then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In the most notorious exchange, from August 2016, Strzok texted Page that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president.

Horowitz cited numerous exchanges between Strzok and Page, who were in a romantic relationship, but ultimately concluded that there was no evidence that anti-Trump bias played a role in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Strzok was a lead investigator on the Clinton case and later worked on the Russia investigation, but was removed from the Mueller probe last year after the Justice Department inspector general’s office brought the texts to Mueller’s attention.

Fox News’ Bill McColl contributed to this report.

Peter Strzok, FBI agent pulled from Mueller probe over anti-Trump texts, reportedly open to testify to Congress

A top FBI agent who was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after the discovery of anti-Trump texts he sent to his mistress is willing to testify before Congress about his actions, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Aitan Goelman, the attorney for Peter Strzok, told the Post that his client would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and would be willing to testify without an immunity deal.

“[Strzok] thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured,” Goelman said, “and he wants an opportunity to remedy that.”

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told “Fox & Friends” Sunday that his panel had requested that Strzok appear “for quite some time now.”

“If an agreement is not reached in the next day or so to produce him voluntarily, we will issue [a] subpoena early this week,” Goodlatte said.

The reported offer to testify came three days after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that Strzok’s messaged conversations with FBI attorney Lisa Page created the appearance that investigative decisions were motivated by bias against then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In the most notorious exchange, from August 2016, Strzok texted Page that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president.

Horowitz cited numerous exchanges between Strzok and Page, who were in a romantic relationship, but ultimately concluded that there was no evidence that anti-Trump bias played a role in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Strzok was a lead investigator on the Clinton case and later worked on the Russia investigation, but was removed from the Mueller probe last year after the Justice Department inspector general’s office brought the texts to Mueller’s attention.

Fireworks expected as DOJ watchdog Horowitz, FBI boss Wray face Senate Judiciary for hearing

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz are expected to be the centers of attention Monday when they testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Horowitz’s bombshell report on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s personal email server.

Horowitz’s report, released Thursday, singled out then-FBI Director James Comey for harsh criticism and referred five other bureau employees for potential disciplinary action.

Most notably, Horowitz found that anti-Trump text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page “potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.”

However, the report also noted the FBI’s decision not to prosecute Clinton in July 2016 was not motivated by political bias against then-candidate Donald Trump.

In one text exchange from August 2016, Page texted Strzok: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded.

Another FBI attorney, who was the primary attorney assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation until this past February, messaged an FBI employee the day after Trump’s election as president that he was “just devastated.”

“I just can’t imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we made over the last 8 years,” the attorney, dubbed “FBI Attorney 2” in the report, later added.

However, the watchdog found that “no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.”

“The question I have [is] was the Department of Justice and the FBI, the people in charge of the Clinton investigation, were they really in the tank or not?” Judiciary Committee member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Thursday. “We’ll see what the conclusions are and I will challenge Mr. Horowitz [on whether] his conclusion that they weren’t in the tank makes sense. Time will tell.”

Horowitz also found that Comey had been “insubordinate” in announcing that Clinton would not be charged without informing then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch that he planned to do so.

In an ironic twist, Horowitz also found that Comey himself conducted FBI business using his personal email account in a manner “inconsistent with Department policy.”

During the hearing set for Monday afternoon, Republicans on the committee are likely to grill current FBI Director Christopher Wray, who insisted Thursday that “nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”

Wray told reporters that while he accepted Horowitz’s findings, he noted that the report only concerned “a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events.”