×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
June 14, 2018
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

One of the primary investigators in the probe into Hillary Clinton's private email server and into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign apparently texted a colleague in August 2016 to reassure her that "we'll stop" then-candidate Donald Trump from becoming president, The Washington Post reports. The text message from investigator Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved at the time, is reportedly included as part of the Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI and DOJ's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which will be released in full Thursday afternoon.

"[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page texted.

"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok replied.

The revelation, as well as the inspector general's likely condemnation of former FBI Director James Comey, are expected to be ammunition for President Trump, who was briefed on the report Thursday. Still, the Post writes that the inspector general's findings "fell significantly short of supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton," based on a conversation with someone familiar with the report's content.

The president has repeatedly tweeted about Strzok and Page, calling them "incompetent and corrupt FBI lovers" and citing them as proof that "SPYGATE is in full force!" Jeva Lange

11:11 a.m. ET
USAf/Getty Images

This spring, the Pentagon quietly upgraded U.S. Cyber Command, giving it authority to launch daily, offensive cyber attacks against foreign computer networks, The New York Times reported Sunday.

In the past, Cyber Command operated mostly in a defensive mode, neutralizing digital threats and only rarely making offensive strikes against targets like the Islamic State. Though those strikes have had "mixed" results and can the U.S. in difficult situations with allies, the Times notes, Cyber Command will now be able to engage in preventive, "constant, disruptive 'short of war' activities" against terrorist networks and state actors alike.

The decision to expand Cyber Command's power was not "formally debated inside the White House before it was issued," the Times reports, citing multiple current and former administration officials, all unnamed. In fact, shortly after National Security Adviser John Bolton took office this year, he eliminated the role of White House cybercoordinator. Bonnie Kristian

10:52 a.m. ET

President Trump has repeatedly tried to pass off his administration's new "zero tolerance" policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border on Democrats, even as other administration officials have doubled down on the practice. Here are some of the contradictory excuses offered by the Trump team for a policy that is being increasingly criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike. Jeva Lange

President Trump: "It is the Democrats' fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder Security and Crime. Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration. Change the laws!"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions: "I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: "I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible."

Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller: "It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law."

Legislative affairs chief Marc Short: "The policy is incredibly complicated and it is one we need to do a better job of communicating."

Former chief strategist Stephen Bannon: "We ran on a policy — very simply — stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back to help our workers, and so he went to a zero tolerance policy. It's a crime to come across illegally and children get separated. I mean, I hate to say it, that's the law and he's enforcing the law."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period."

10:51 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A majority of Americans oppose the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their families after they enter the U.S. illegally or seek asylum at the border, a new poll conducted by Ipsos for The Daily Beast reveals.

The survey asked respondents whether they agree with this statement: "It is appropriate to separate undocumented immigrant parents from their children when they cross the border in order to discourage others from crossing the border illegally." About 1 in 4 — 27 percent — said they agreed, and 56 percent said the separations are not appropriate.

While Democrats were more likely than average to oppose the policy and independents nearly matched the national average, a plurality of Republicans (46 percent) agreed with the statement, compared to 32 percent who said they do not agree.

This poll was conducted online from June 14 to 15, surveying about 1,000 people. Ipsos calculates a credibility interval, which is similar to a margin of error, of 3.5 percent overall and 6.1 to 7.8 percent for party loyalty subsets. Bonnie Kristian

10:49 a.m. ET

President Trump on Monday claimed that migrant families are being separated at the border because immigrant parents are choosing to bring their children as a way to game the system and enter the U.S.

Declaring migrant parents "some of the worst criminals on earth" is quite a departure from Trump's usual argument in defense of the separation practice. Just minutes after blaming immigrants from "the most dangerous places in the world" for forcing the separations, Trump reverted back to his usual punching bag: Democrats.

While Trump has never explained exactly how Democrats are responsible for his administration's decision to start separating families to criminally prosecute undocumented immigrants — perhaps because they're not — he has repeated the claim several times. Many members of the GOP have denounced the policy and pointed out that Trump has the power to stop it, telling Trump that he could end the practice with a simple phone call.

Rather than do that, though, Trump has shifted responsibility onto all of Twitter, vaguely calling to "CHANGE THE LAWS!" Summer Meza

10:33 a.m. ET

Even ex-White House staffers are lobbying President Trump to end the separation of children and parents at the border.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is the latest Trump affiliate to demand the president end the divisive immigration policy "today," calling the policy "atrocious" and "offensive to the average American" on CNN on Monday morning.

Scaramucci isn't blaming the policy on Trump. He just thinks the president can end it more quickly than Congress. It's just like the time the New York City government was struggling to complete a Central Park ice rink and Trump stepped in to get the job done, Scaramucci told CNN.

Scaramucci also suggested piling more blame on the president's advisers. The Department of Homeland Security, not Trump, envisioned the policy under former head John Kelly, Scaramucci said, so Trump should stop listening to those staffers. But ultimately, Trump is a TV star, so Scaramucci told CNN that he's confident the president will recognize how bad this situation looks and clean it up before it hurts Republicans in the midterm elections. "He doesn't need this type of visual or this type of imagery," he said, "aside from" the fact that the policy "is inhumane and it's cruel."

Watch the exchange below. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:29 a.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

As many as 30,000 migrant children could be separated from their families and held in detention centers by the end of the summer, an unnamed senior Trump administration official told The Washington Examiner for a report published Monday.

The source estimated the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been taking about 250 kids daily in recent days — a significantly higher tally than has been previously reported — and calculated that the total could reach 30,000 by August. As of Friday, the Examiner's source said, HHS already has 11,500 of these children detained.

The family separations are not required by law, as President Trump has claimed, and were instituted by his administration as an immigration deterrent. Some of the families affected have not crossed the border illegally but rather are following legal procedure to seek asylum. The Obama administration, which deported more people than any previous presidency, separated a few families after illegal border crossings, but more often it placed them, intact, in detention camps or released them to await their court dates. Bonnie Kristian

9:55 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R) went in on the Trump administration's new "no tolerance" policy of separating children from their parents at the border, calling it "wicked" and "harmful" in a powerful Facebook post published Monday. "The administration's decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice," Sasse wrote. "Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong."

Sasse joins a mounting, bipartisan chorus calling for President Trump to end the policy, which he has falsely blamed on Democrats. But while misinformation has been rampant, Sasse attempted to explain to his constituents that "this bad new policy is a reaction against a bad, old policy" that allowed for both unlawful immigration and human trafficking.

"This foolish catch-and-release policy had to be changed," Sasse wrote. "But changing from catch-and-release does not require adopting the wicked family separation policy. The choice before the American people does not have to be 'wicked versus foolish.'" Read his entire post at Facebook here. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads