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Maryland goes to court to challenge Trump’s attorney general pick

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The state of Maryland launched a court challenge on Tuesday to the legality of President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting U.S. attorney general, saying the president overstepped his constitutional authority and broke federal law.

Trump installed Whitaker as acting attorney general last week after ordering Jeff Sessions to resign from the post. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself in March 2017 from the federal investigation, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, a probe Trump has called a “witch hunt.”

Democrats in Congress have voiced concern that Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, could undermine or even fire Mueller.

Maryland asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander in Maryland to bar Whitaker from appearing in an official capacity as acting attorney general in existing litigation related to the Affordable Care Act healthcare law and to substitute Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in Whitaker’s place.

The city of San Francisco, also involved in litigation against the Trump administration, on Monday also told the Justice Department it may sue to challenge Whitaker’s appointment.

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Whitaker’s appointment as the top U.S. law enforcement official gives him authority over Mueller’s investigation, which already has led to criminal charges against a series of former Trump aides and has cast a cloud over his presidency. Whitaker, who had served as chief of staff for Sessions, previously questioned the scope of Mueller’s investigation and spoke about the idea of reducing funding for the special counsel so the probe “grinds to almost a halt.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott and James Dalgleish

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Donald Trump is gambling racism will win for him in 2020

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Can we retire the phrases, “double-down” and “triple-down” please? Trump made them meaningless this week as he repeatedly made racist attacks on the four female Democratic members of congress who have become known as “The Squad.” They are the four women who got themselves elected to congress and together represent 2.9 million Americans.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Just to put that in perspective, 15 states have populations smaller than the number represented by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Talib of Michigan. Trump’s racist attacks on the four members of congress implied that they are not adequately “American.” In fact, three of them are citizens born in this country, and one, Ilhan Omar, came here at the age of 10 and is a naturalized citizen. Trump’s demand that they “go back” to their countries of origin, apart from its obvious racism, belies the fact that they symbolically represent a huge swath of the American population which Trump doesn’t count among his supporters.

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Stephen Miller wants zero refugee admissions in 2020 — and he might just get it

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Trump adviser Stephen Miller, a hardline immigration hawk who has quietly taken over the administration’s border policy, is pushing to stop all refugee admissions to the United States.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Miller allies urged the administration to slash refugee admissions to zero during a key meeting with security officials last week, Politico reported. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official John Zadrozny and State Department refugee chief Andrew Veprek, whom Politico described as “proxies” for Miller, argued that the government needs to severely limit the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S., due to unspecified “security concerns.”

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Trump keeps up racist attacks by promoting fan praising him for ‘send her home’ rally chant by his ‘big and patriotic crowd’

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In an early morning tweet where it appears Donald Trump is trying to have it both ways, the president writes he was not "particularly happy " with the racist "send her home" chant at his North Carolina rally, while at the same time retweeting a fan who encouraged him to make the attacks on immigrants his new 2020 campaign slogan.

The president wrote: "As you can see, I did nothing to lead people on, nor was I particularly happy with their chant. Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA!"

However the clip the president included came with the encouragement: "New Campaign slogan for #2020? 'Don’t love it? Leave it!' Send her back is the new lock her up. Well done to #TeamTrump."

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