A look at President Trump's administration and the rest of Washington:

Trump administration rescinds guidelines on protections for transgender students


The Trump administration rescinded an Obama -era directive Wednesday aimed at protecting transgender students’ rights, questioning its legal grounding.

Under the guidelines, schools had been required to treat transgender students according to their stated gender identity, and either allow access to restrooms and locker rooms for the gender they identify with or provide private facilities if requested. The Obama administration had said that students’ gender identities were protected under Title IX requirements, which prohibit federally funded schools from discriminating on the basis of sex.

But officials in the Education and Justice departments said that their predecessors failed to make their case, citing “significant litigation” spurred by the policy.

Immigration Protests

Americans in Mexico protest Trump’s 'inflammatory rhetoric' during Tillerson visit

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico. (Getty Images)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico. (Getty Images)

A group of Americans living in Mexico is planning a protest Thursday to send a message to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson .

Their gripe?

President Trump’s "inflammatory rhetoric."

That's according to a draft of a letter that several groups organizing the protest hope to deliver to Tillerson, who is in town along with Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly for talks with top Mexican officials.

The letter, which will be cosigned by the Mexican chapter of Democrats Abroad, as well as other groups, complains about Trump's "hostile" attitude toward Mexico, which it says is engendering "nationalistic sentiments" in Mexico.

Among Trump's hostile acts, the letter says, is Trump's vow to build a border wall and force Mexico to pay for it.

"The idea of building a wall ... frames Mexico and Mexicans as foreign invaders," the letter says.

It also criticizes Trump for pledging to renegotiate NAFTA,  saying, "The U.S. and Mexico are deeply connected economies and it is in the interest of the United States to strengthen the regional production network to boost manufacturing employment in the U.S. and ensure the long-run competitiveness of manufacturing in the region."

There are more than a million U.S. citizens living in Mexico, and many have been vocal since Trump's election. Last month, thousands turned out for a women's march outside the American Embassy that saw crowds chanting anti-Trump slogans.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico


Mexico will never accept 'unilateral' American immigration rules, foreign secretary says

Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said defending the rights of Mexican immigrants is “the first point in the agenda” for talks with U.S. officials. (Christian Palma / Associated Press)
Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said defending the rights of Mexican immigrants is “the first point in the agenda” for talks with U.S. officials. (Christian Palma / Associated Press)

Mexico will reject any “unilateral” effort from the United States to impose immigration or other policies on the Mexican government, the country’s foreign secretary said Wednesday.

“I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that, in a unilateral way, one government wants to impose on another,” Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said in public comments. “That we are not going to accept.”

He spoke a day after the Trump administration unveiled tough new measures to enforce immigration laws and deport people who are in the country illegally  — proposals that were widely portrayed in the Mexican media as a prelude to massive deportations.

On Wednesday, two top Trump administration cabinet members — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly — were arriving in Mexico  for talks with that nation's officials, including Videgaray. Immigration, trade and law enforcement issues were expected to be discussed at a tense moment in U.S.-Mexican relations.

In his reported comments, the Mexican secretary did not single out any specific U.S. proposal as objectionable.  Mexican officials have acknowledged there is little they can do to counter U.S. immigration policies.

Among other things, the Trump administration has proposed sending non-Mexican citizens detained along the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico. Mexican officials would presumably have to sign off on such a plan.

Mexico already detains and deports thousands of Central Americans annually who cross Mexican territory with the hope of entering the United States illegally via the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. authorities have worked with their Mexican counterparts to halt the Central American influx.

The Mexican foreign secretary made it clear that immigration would be at the top of the list of items to be discussed during meetings with the U.S. Cabinet secretaries.

Defending the rights of Mexican immigrants is “the first point in the agenda,” said Videgaray. He also said Mexico could take the issue of the rights of Mexican immigrants to the United Nations and other international agencies.

Both in power and in turmoil, conservatives head to Conservative Political Action Conference to see what's next

Josh Platillero (Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times)
Josh Platillero (Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times)

The eyes of men in crisp blazers darted toward passing faces and identification badges, looking for a familiar face, a famous name. As Fox News host Sean Hannity prepared to broadcast a live show from a ballroom, a brief chant burst out from the audience: "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

It's that time of year again: Hundreds of Republicans began arriving Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., just south of Washington, for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. CPAC, as it's best known, is a place for conservative political figures and activists to gather, schmooze, hammer out new ideas and audition for starring roles in the Republican Party.

And this year, CPAC attendees have a lot to talk about. Their party is in control of Congress, the White House and dozens of state governments across America, and yet not at all at peace with itself.

President Trump is expected to address the conference later in the week after winning on a platform of populist nationalism that some conservatives have accused of not being conservative at all.

Breitbart News, the brash rising star of right-wing media, is one of the conference's top promoters, but one of its staffers, Milo Yiannopoulos, lost his speaking slot at CPAC and resigned from the news organization after video circulated showing him appearing to promote pedophilia. Some conservatives had backed Yiannopoulos and cried censorship when the provocateur offended liberals at college speaking events, but now they had become offended themselves.

Still, as CPAC began on Wednesday, the mood was upbeat. This was a victorious movement, after all.

Many new guests were greeted by the sight of Josh Platillero, 23, wearing a cartoonishly large stovepipe hat and a suit the colors of the American flag.

"I love networking," said Platillero, who recently lived in Knoxville, Tenn., before moving to the D.C. area to work with a conservative nonprofit, the Leadership Institute. It's his second year attending CPAC, and he was excited about the lineup of speakers, which include some of the White House staff.

"I think our new president is not perfect, but I think he's doing good things," he said.

Ariel Kohane, 45, who came from the Upper West Side in Manhattan, stood in the lobby holding signs that read, "Jews for Trump," in both English and Hebrew.

"I love the fact that I can get together with many of my fellow conservative friends and colleagues and we can all be very proud of ourselves with all our accomplishments and the fact that we get to strategize and plan ways to further expand conservatism across America and across the whole world," Kohane said.

White House

Pence condemns Jewish center bomb threats and visits desecrated cemetery in Missouri

 (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Visiting Fenton, Mo., on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence condemned a string of bomb threats against Jewish community centers around the nation and the desecration of a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery over the weekend.

"Speaking just yesterday, President Trump called this a
horrible and painful act. And so it was. That along with other recent threats to the Jewish community centers around the country," said Pence, who was visiting the headquarters of the Fabick Cat machinery company. "He declared it all a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil. We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetuate it in the strongest possible terms."

The vice president said it was "inspiring" how the "people of Missouri have rallied around the Jewish community with compassion and support."

Among those showing solidarity with the Jewish community is a group of Muslims who launched an online fundraising campaign to help repair the cemetery. Donors had pledged more than $90,000 by Wednesday afternoon.

Pence later visited the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo., where nearly 200 tombstones had been toppled over the weekend.

Among Republicans, Trump is more popular than congressional leaders

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) walk together. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) walk together. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

Amid strain between the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress, the White House holds the high ground, a new survey indicates.

Among Republicans, President Trump has greater popularity than the party's congressional leaders. Asked specifically who they would trust if the two sides disagreed, most Republicans chose Trump over their party's leadership.

The findings, from a new survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center underscore Trump's continued sway with the Republican congressional majority. Although the president has historically low job approval ratings among the public at large, he remains highly popular among Republican partisans and in Republican districts.

As for Democrats, they're strongly in an oppositional mood. Asked if they were more worried that Democrats in Congress would go too far in opposing Trump or not go far enough, more than 70% of Democrats said they feared their party would not go far enough. Only 20% said they worried the party would go too far.

Republicans in Congress have eyed Trump warily on several fronts. His positions on trade and entitlement reform break with years of the party's positions. His reluctance to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin has generated tension. And the administration's lack of clarity on healthcare and tax policy have Republican leaders guessing which way to turn on major issues.

But Republican partisans have fewer reservations than their elected representatives. Eighty-six percent to 13%, those who identify as Republicans or as independents who lean Republican have a favorable view of Trump, the Pew survey found.

By comparison, 57% have a favorable view of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, with 22% unfavorable and 21% having no opinion. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is slightly better known, with 65% of Republicans holding a favorable view, 23% an unfavorable view and 13% having no opinion.

Asked who they would trust if the two sides disagreed, 52% of Republicans said they would side with Trump and 34% with the Republicans in Congress. Republicans younger than 40 were the only major exception; 52% to 36%, they said they would side with Congress.

At the same time, Republican partisans now have a warmer opinion of their party leadership than they had during most of President Obama's tenure.

During the Obama years, GOP partisans tended to be frustrated that their side could not reverse the president's initiatives, even with a majority in the House, starting in 2010, and then in the Senate for Obama's last two years. Their view of the GOP leadership has rebounded strongly since the election.

Democrats' view of their congressional leadership has been more stable. And both sides widely dislike the other party's leaders.

Media Watch On the Right

Trump's move on transgender bathroom access sparks interest

 (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

For President Trump, commenting on social issues — such as same-sex marriage and abortion — has never seemed much of a priority.

Indeed, throughout the campaign, Trump hardly discussed the topics.

When asked about transgender bathroom access at a town hall in April 2016, Trump said people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose. He then moved on from the question, offering little else.

Now it appears his administration is set to wade into the controversy.

It's a topic the conservative media loves to explore.

Here are some of today’s headlines:

Return to normalcy: Trump readies reversal of transgender bathroom lunacy in public schools (Daily Caller)

What will the Trump administration do about transgender bathroom access?

The Caller highlights White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s pronouncement on the issue: “This is a states rights issue and not one for the federal government,” Spicer told reporters.

The ‘lunacy’ referred to is the federal guidance President Obama issued prior to leaving office directing schools that receive federal funding to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that match their gender identities.

Several states filed suit to overturn the directive, and a federal judge issued a temporary injunction barring its enforcement, which remains in place.

Several states, following the lead of North Carolina, are seeking to implement legislation that bans transgender people from using the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.

66 percent of Trump voters change the channel when awards shows get too political (Daily Caller)

When Meryl Streep criticized President Trump last month in her Golden Globes speech, he replied quickly.

“Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn't know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes,” Trump tweeted.

Well, Trump can probably expect more barbs as actors (in overwhelmingly liberal Hollywood) take the stage at the Oscars on Sunday.

Lots of Trump voters can be expected to change the channel, according to this piece, which highlights a new poll on the subject.

The Hollywood Reporter says that 66% of Trump voters said they have stopped watching an awards show because a celebrity started talking about politics while accepting an award. By contrast, only 19% of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have done so.

Trump talks tolerance, decries anti-Semitism, but media remain skeptical (Fox News)

Well, Trump finally did say something to condemn the anti-Semitic vandalism and threats that have taken place since his presidential victory.

“Anti-Semitism is horrible,” Trump said in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday.

In the Fox News piece, Howard Kurtz argues the media should give the president more credit for speaking out.

“I always think it’s unfair to blame a political leader for violence or vandalism carried out by people who support him,” he writes. “I felt the same way about critics who blamed Barack Obama for urban riots or shootings of police officers.”

Supreme Court

Supreme Court rejects use of 'racial stereotypes' in death penalty cases

The Supreme Court rejected the use of "racial stereotypes" in death penalty cases Wednesday, reopening the case of a black man in Texas who was sentenced to die after his jury was told African Americans are more likely than whites to commit crimes.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said this testimony had no place in a sentencing hearing and "appealed to the racial stereotype that black men are prone to violence."

"Our laws punish people for what they do, not for who they are," the chief justice said in the courtroom.

The 6-2 decision faults Texas authorities for refusing to give a new sentencing hearing to Duane Buck, a Houston man who was convicted of shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and seriously injuring her new boyfriend in 1995.

Buck was found guilty of murder, but when his jury was debating his fate, his court-appointed defense attorney put on the witness stand an expert who cited statistics showing blacks are more likely to commit future crimes than whites.

After hearing this testimony, the jury decided to sentence Buck to death.

Years later, Texas state attorneys set aside the death sentences for six other black defendants whose juries heard similar testimony, but they refused to reopen Buck's case.

In Buck vs. Davis, the high court said that was a mistake. The jury was deciding "the question of life or death," and this is no place for the introduction of a "particularly noxious strain of racial prejudice," Roberts said.

The court sent the case back to judges in Texas to reconsider the death sentence.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, along with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Thomas said Buck was properly sentenced to die for a brutal murder, and he insisted the court should not have heard the case for procedural reasons. "Having settled on a desired outcome, the court bulldozes procedural obstacles and misapplies settled law to justify it," he wrote.

At Rep. Tony Cárdenas' town hall, Democrats worry about what Donald Trump may do

 (Kurtis Lee/Los Angeles Times)
(Kurtis Lee/Los Angeles Times)

They arrived with soggy jackets, hats and umbrellas.

The topic was supposed to be the Affordable Care Act. But many who attended Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas' town hall meeting Tuesday night in a crammed auditorium at the Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies came with a question: What can we  -- as Democrats -- do to help you?

“Show up and vote,” said Cárdenas, who represents a slice of the staunchly liberal San Fernando Valley. (Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in this district by nearly 60-percentage points in the fall election.)

“Sign people up, get people involved,” he said.

At times the meeting had the feel of a therapy session for Democrats, wondering aloud how to function under a Trump administration.

“Where is the anger among Democrats?” asked one man. “I want to see more anger.”

Cárdenas, standing at a lectern on an elevated stage, offered a stern look and nodded in agreement as rain could be heard splattering on the roof above.

The complaints included Republicans' efforts to repeal Obamacare and Trump’s new immigration mandates.

“Trust me, I’m pissed. I’m upset,” Cardenas said. “But we have to act constructively. We have to be responsible.”

Last month, Trump signed executive orders directing the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the removal of people in the U.S. illegally who have criminal convictions.

In addition to speeding up the deportation of convicts, Trump’s orders also call for quick removal of people in the country illegally who are charged with crimes and waiting for adjudication.

And in recent days, a handful of people who have received protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents nationwide.

Cárdenas said that for him, the issue is personal. His parents were immigrants from Mexico, who lived in the San Fernando Valley for decades, raising 11 children, he said. Today his district is nearly 70% Latino.

“I’m going to fight for you,” he said. “I’m going to fight for the people who are my immigrant father.”

When a young man, a DACA recipient, asked him, via Twitter, if he’ll be safe in the weeks ahead, Cárdenas seemed at a loss.

“I pray that [Trump] doesn’t go after you,” he said.

Killing with kindness, GOP's McClintock faces down hostile questioners as town hall goes into overtime

 (Mark Z. Barabak/Los Angeles Times)
(Mark Z. Barabak/Los Angeles Times)

The last time Rep. Tom McClintock held a town hall meeting, earlier this month in the Sacramento suburbs, he left under police escort.

His session Tuesday night in Mariposa, a small tourist way station on the road to Yosemite, drew plenty of barbed questions, criticizing the five-term GOP congressman and attacking President Trump.

But the more than half dozen California Highway Patrol officers arrayed around the auditorium at the fairground hardly seemed necessary.

McClintock ceded no ground on his deeply conservative beliefs and staunchly and repeatedly defended the president -- often to jeers and catcalls.

But even some of the harshest questions McClintock faced were prefaced with thanks for his willingness to show up early and stay late. Many of his GOP colleagues have ducked such confrontations, refusing their constituents' requests.

"God bless all of you for being here," he said at one point, after a woman in the audience said the huge turnout -- about 900 people -- was a show of resistance to Trump. (In fact, about a third or so of the crowd appeared strongly supportive of the president.)

It is highly doubtful if any minds were changed during the session, which went more than an hour past schedule.

But in the end, McClintock managed to outlast many of his inquisitors. By the time he took his last question, after more than two hours and 20 minutes, the hall was close to half empty.

Florida congressman finds hostile crowd at town hall

An overflow crowd awaits Dennis Ross at a town hall in Clermont, Fla. (John Cherwa / Los Angeles Times)
An overflow crowd awaits Dennis Ross at a town hall in Clermont, Fla. (John Cherwa / Los Angeles Times)

Florida Rep. Dennis A. Ross learned on Tuesday that winning an election with 58% of the vote is no indication of how the crowd will shape up at a town hall.

Appearing before about 250 people and one comfort dog, Ross dodged questions, catcalls and boos.

The Republican answered 21 questions in the 56 minutes he stood before the crowd, pacing back and forth over a large water stain that adorned the carpet at the Clermont City Center.

Most of the constituents posed adversarial questions. Three offered their support (one wished that God bless both Ross and President Trump).

The main topics had a familiar sound to them: keeping the Affordable Care Act, not cutting Social Security benefits, opposing the travel ban and protecting the environment.

Ross stuck to the party script except to say that he didn’t always condone “or defend what the president is saying or tweeting.”

Ross has been a strong supporter of President Trump and attended his rally in Melbourne, Fla., last week. He also served on Trump’s transition team.

Ross was swept into office in 2010 as part of the tea party movement.

The last question -- from a Trump critic -- had three parts: Ross was asked about the expense to taxpayers when the president spends weekends at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S.’ ties to Russia and Trump’s still unseen tax returns.

“This is the first anyone has brought that to my attention,” Ross said of the reported $10 million that it has cost to shuttle Trump between Florida and Washington three times.

The boos were hearty and long, drowning out the rest of Ross’ answer. The congressman was then hustled out the back door to the continual chant of “Do your job.”

A town hall in Savannah, Ga., tests its reputation for civility

 (Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)
(Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)

The boos began as soon as Rep. Buddy Carter, a two-term Republican representing a staunchly conservative stretch of coastal Georgia, tried to present his plans to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“You know about the promises and you know about the reality,” Carter told constituents who packed a town hall meeting in Savannah on Tuesday, noting that healthcare premiums had gone up by $4,300 for the average family. "Look, folks, Obamacare is collapsing."

“You collapsed it!” one man in the audience shot back as the crowd roared.

More than 300 people, many wearing Planned Parenthood T-shirts and waving pink and purple paper hearts, squeezed into an auditorium at Armstrong College for the standing-room-only event. Outside, scores more chanted, "Let us in!"

Throughout, the meeting tested this traditional Southern town’s reputation for gentility, with some members of the crowd jeering and crying, “Shame on you!" while others pleaded for quiet.

“If you’ve got something to say, use your manners and raise your hand,” one Trump supporter burst out.

“Why don’t YOU raise your hand?” a man across the room hollered back.

The crowd’s concerns ran the gamut from rising sea levels and Russia’s influence in U.S. politics to abortion access, President Trump’s attacks on the news media and the teaching of religion in public schools. Some needled Carter for his support of Trump, with one man asking if he stood by a president who had not released his tax returns.

“I am not here to tell you Donald Trump is perfect,” Carter responded. “I am not going to tell you I agree with everything he has done. Those of you who have studied the Bible know that God has used imperfect people to do great things.”

Yet it was Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act that caused the most ire. A local owner of a small jewelry business told Carter that if the act had not been in effect when he had major abdominal surgery a few years ago, he may have had to lay off an employee.

“Look, for every story like this there are 20 stories that are just the opposite,” said Carter, a pharmacist. As Republicans developed a more affordable and accessible healthcare alternative, the new plan would be rolled out incrementally, he said. Health coverage would not be denied because of preexisting conditions, he added.

“These are divisive times,” Carter finally admitted, reminding his audience that “we live in the greatest country in the world.” But even that could not bring agreement. The meeting ended with a chorus of “No!”

Supreme Court justices appear split over whether Constitution extends to Mexican teenager shot across the border

Maria Guadalupe Guereca, 60, visits the grave of son Sergio Hernandez at the Jardines del Recuerdo cemetery in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (Yuri Cortez / AFP-Getty Images)
Maria Guadalupe Guereca, 60, visits the grave of son Sergio Hernandez at the Jardines del Recuerdo cemetery in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (Yuri Cortez / AFP-Getty Images)

The Supreme Court justices debated border shootings and drone strikes Tuesday in a case that could preview the legal battle over President Trump’s proposed ban on foreign travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries.

But the eight justices sounded evenly split over whether the parents of a Mexican teenager can sue the U.S. border agent who shot and killed him as he stood on the Mexican side of the border.

At issue is whether the Mexican family can invoke the Constitution’s protections against excessive force and for due process of law to restrain the conduct of the American agent, or whether U.S. law stops at the border.

Immigration White House

Sweeping new immigration guidelines emphasize more enforcement, deportations

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. (Associated Press)
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. (Associated Press)

Immigration enforcement officers are free to target any of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally for removal, the Trump administration said Tuesday, a vast expansion of the federal government's deportation priorities as the president pursues his promised crackdown on illegal immigration.

The new guidelines , in two memos issued by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, also call for the hiring of thousands more enforcement agents as the agency moves to implement President Trump's executive order on immigration issued during his first week in office.

"All of those in violation of immigration law may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States," the department wrote on its website.

Though the guidelines emphasized that authorities should focus on convicted criminals or those charged with crimes, immigration groups reacted with alarm to what they described a radical shift in policy and enforcement tactics.

“These memos lay out a detailed blueprint for the mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants in America," said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice Education Fund, an advocacy group. "These memos amount to an instruction manual for the coast-to-coast, fast-track deportation of everyone in the United States without papers, no matter how long they’ve been here, how strong their family ties, and how much they contribute."

Under the Obama administration, officials took a far less aggressive stance on immigration, despite deporting a record number of migrants, by focusing on those who were either convicted of multiple offenses or had repeatedly entered the country illegally.

The memos did not specify how the Trump administration plans to deal with 750,000 so-called Dreamers, migrants brought to the country illegally as children and granted work permits, a key Obama administration program.

Trump has publicly wavered on whether to deport the Dreamers, and the White House has identified ways to remove them from the U.S. without Trump's fingerprints.

The instructions also expand so-called expedited deportations, under which someone who is in the U.S. illegally is detained and thrown out without appearing before an immigration judge. Such deportations, which were limited by the Obama administration to people caught within 100 miles of the border and within two weeks of entering, now include people caught anywhere in the country within two years of arriving illegally.

In addition, the guidelines call for hiring 10,000 more immigration enforcement officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents and for the immediate planning and building of a wall along the southern border, all of which Trump ordered earlier.

Those steps would require additional funds from Congress, and it is unclear whether Republican lawmakers will sign off on them.

Kelly's memos also called for the expansion of a program in which local police help capture those violating immigration laws.

Homeland Security will also establish an office to assist those who are victims of crimes committed by those in the country illegally, according to the memos.

Trump administration officials said they were fulfilling the pledge of the president who promised more aggressive enforcement of immigration laws and are also reacting in response to a spike of illegal border crossings.

"A surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States," Kelly wrote in one of the memos, adding that immigration courts are experiencing "a historic backlog of removal cases."

In October and November, the Obama administration apprehended more than 90,000 immigrants along the southern border, an increase of about 42% over the same period in 2015, according to Kelly.

Scott Pruitt tries to calm a rattled EPA workforce

Even as the newly installed Environmental Protection Agency chief sought to calm employees anxious about his longtime opposition to the agency, Scott Pruitt managed to rattle them a little more.

Concerns about the direction he will take the EPA grew with publication over the weekend of his first interview as agency chief.

During it, he suggested to the Wall Street Journal that the EPA, which has taken the lead in federal efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, may not even be equipped to be playing much of a role at all.

He left open the possibility that the agency will look for leadership on global warming from the GOP Congress, where there has been a persistent opposition to meaningful climate action and mainstream climate science.

During his first agency-wide address Tuesday, Pruitt focused on his favorite themes of federalism, the need for predictability among regulated industries and the dangers of agency overreach. But he also sought to reassure the staff by remarking repeatedly about how much he values its work.

He expressed admiration for the many employees he met during his first meetings at the headquarters who have been with the agency for decades.

“You can’t lead unless you can listen,” Pruitt said. “I seek to listen, learn and lead with you.” But he also bemoaned the “toxic” nature of modern politics.

Conservatives have accused the EPA of taking actions outside the rule of law in pursuit of a liberal environmental agenda. That’s not how many employees of the 15,000-person agency view their work over the last several years. Their relationship with the new boss is certain to be tense. Just before Pruitt was confirmed Friday, 773 former employees signed a letter urging the Senate to reject him.

On Monday, Greenwire reported that Pruitt, a frequent target of protesters, is requesting round-the-clock security protection from the Secret Service. The protests may only intensify as Pruitt sets about dismantling the last administration’s work on the environment.

“John Muir is rolling over in his grave at the notion of someone as toxic to the environment as Scott Pruitt taking over the EPA,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said after Tuesday's speech.

Media Watch On the Right

What's going on in Sweden?

 (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

What’s going on in Sweden?

If you ask President Trump, it’s absolute chaos.

“You look at what's happening last night in Sweden,” Trump, at a rally in Florida on Saturday, said about the Scandinavian country that has accepted large numbers of refugees. “Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible.”

Actually, not much happened in Sweden on Friday night. But Monday night, riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant suburb of Stockholm, ensuring that Sweden was in for another cycle through the conservative news spin machine.

Here are some of today’s headlines:

Riots in Sweden. Cars ablaze, rocks thrown after arrest in migrant area (Fox News)

In the hours after a man was arrested for suspected drug charges, violence erupted on Monday evening in Rinkeby, a suburb of Stockholm that has experienced a large influx of refugees. No injuries were reported, yet the headline – prominently displayed on the home page -- does make it appear there was a major disturbance in the area.

The article notes that Trump had been “mocked” for his comments about Sweden days before, and goes on to cite recent crime reports on the country:

“Reports of rapes in Sweden jumped 13% in 2016 compared to the previous year, and reports of sexual assaults were up 20%, according to preliminary data from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.”

There was no linkage made in that report, however, between crime statistics and the presence of refugees in the country.

Breitbart led its website with the headline Sweden: Looting, cars torched,police attacked as riots break out in migrant suburb

“Riots broke out on Monday night in the suburb of Rinkeby, where a majority of residents were born overseas, just hours after the country’s Prime Minister attacked U.S President Donald J. Trump for linking mass migration with rising violence in Sweden,” says the lede of its story, alluding to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who said Monday that facts matter when discussing Trump’s comments about his country.

In other conservative news:

Another Trump campaign rival is making pilgrimage to White House (Daily Caller)

President Trump regularly reminiscences about the 2016 campaign.

Now he’s making an effort to meet with former GOP adversaries.

In the past month, he’s dined with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). This week, Trump is set to meet with Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Oval Office.

Kasich consistently castigated Trump throughout the Republican primaries and into the general election.

He refused to endorse Trump after he secured the Republican nomination. He boycotted the Republican National Convention in July even though it was in his home state and wrote in Sen. John McCain on his absentee ballot last fall, notes the article.

Trump and the media (American Spectator)

Alas, it seems to be a daily battle.

During the general election, Trump’s prime enemies were Hillary Clinton and the media. Now it’s just the media – some of which he asserts is nothing more than “fake news.” (It is, of course, not new for presidents to battle the press , but Trump does take it to another level.)

“Trump is not wholly right about the “fakeness” of the news he delights in castigating. He is not wholly wrong either,” writes William Murchison.

The piece seeks to find common ground between the media (which often does tilt liberal) and the president.

“The major media’s liberalism — brighter, smokier than in Vietnam-Watergate days — is a problem more intense than when Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, at Richard Nixon’s bidding, lit into the media’s ‘nattering nabobs of negativism,’” he writes.

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