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By Jane C. Timm

President Donald Trump made several misleading or false claims on immigration and the border on Monday, after defending his administration’s use of tear gas on migrants attempting to gain entry to the U.S. over the weekend.

Here are his claims, made during a pair of campaign rallies and a law enforcement round table in Mississippi to bolster Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in her runoff election, and the facts.

Claim: More than 500 ‘serious criminals’ are in migrant caravan

“But I would say the violence is very strong. We have over 500 people that are serious criminals and gang members. And it’s a tough situation. We just don’t want that in our country. And we’re keeping it in Mexico,” Trump said at a law enforcement round table on Monday in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Trump’s administration has made this claim before, but has yet to offer evidence or say how officials identified more than 500 alleged criminals within the caravan of Central American migrants traveling toward the U.S. border with Mexico.

Claim: Three border agents were badly injured

“We had tremendous violence — three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones,” Trump claimed at the Gulfport round table.

That’s false, according to the president’s own administration. The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that there were no injuries during the weekend clashes in which border agents used tear gas against migrants seeking to enter the U.S.

Trump administration officials said the use of tear gas was justified because migrants were throwing “rocks and projectiles.”

“Our Border Patrol agents and officers responded admirably and responsibly to the events on Sunday. It is a testament to their training and professionalism that no one was injured,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Monday.

Claim: My wall stopped the migrants

“The wall has started very, very substantially and in fact you saw the other day the wall stopped everybody and it was only the section that’s now under construction. They’ve breached it but only momentarily, it didn’t take long. Momentarily. That was called a very momentary breach,” Trump said in the Biloxi rally.

This is misleading. Trump is currently repairing and replacing old border fence sections — just as previous administrations did — but he’s not building any new sections yet.

Migrants who attempted to enter the United States illegally on Sunday — by trying to cross on either side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry at the border between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego — were stopped by tear gas, pepper spray and manpower, according to a statement from Customs and Border Protection and eyewitness reports.

Claim: ‘Fake news’ ignores crimes committed by immigrants

“In the state of Texas alone, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, between 2011 and 2018, more than 663,000 crimes were committed by illegal immigrants. You know you hear these stories about ‘oh they don’t commit crimes, we commit crimes, they don’t commit crimes. Oh, it’s just us.’ No, no, it doesn’t work that way, it’s fake news. It’s fake news,” Trump said in the Biloxi rally.

Trump is inflating the numbers here, according to statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety. During that period, Texas data says there were 284,000 criminal offenses committed by people in the state that authorities knew were undocumented at the time.

Texas authorities estimate that about 270,000 undocumented immigrants were charged with crimes during this period. That’s about 16 percent of the undocumented population in Texas.

Overall, there’s no evidence foreign nationals or immigrants commit more crimes than Americans, which Texas’ data specifically notes.

Claim: Democrats want to harbor violent criminals

“Yet Democrats want to abolish ICE. They want to turn America into one giant sanctuary city for violent criminals and MS-13 and other gang killers,” Trump said in the Biloxi rally.

Trump’s claim about ICE is partly true, but requires some context, including that not all members of the Democratic Party are on board with calls to “abolish ICE.” While some Democrats have advocated for eliminating or restructuring the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency,none have advocated for ending immigration enforcement.

The second half of Trump’s claim is entirely unsupported, as NBC News has fact checked previously. Democrats have not expressed or even hinted at a desire to encourage and support crime or gang members.

In addition, there’s no evidence that sanctuary cities, which limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, foster crime or gangs, and authorities have said sanctuary policies actually help them fight crime.

Claim: ICE is hunting down dangerous people

“Every single day, we are finding the illegal alien gang members and predators and throwing them the hell out of here, putting them in jail, or just plain getting them out of our country as nicely as possible,” Trump said in the Biloxi rally.

This is partly true. ICE does target undocumented immigrants deemed dangerous by law enforcement, arrest and deport them, but it’s a small portion of their overall work. In fiscal year 2017, there were more than 181,000 arrests. Seventeen percent of those arrests were arrests targeting criminals, and 2.6 percent of the total were gang-related arrests. The rest were administrative arrests.

Claim: Obama separated families at the border, too

“Obama had a separation policy, we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently, but Obama had a separation policy, but people don’t like to talk about that,” Trump told reporters before heading to Mississippi.

That’s false. The Obama administration attempted to detain families together. It did not have a policy of family separation.



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In New Hampshire, a political fixture is on the ropes — and Trump is a big reason why

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By Mike Memoli

WASHINGTON — New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the stalwart protector of the state’s first in the nation primary status, has for decades welcomed a parade of political stars to his office to file to run for president. No sitting president ever stopped by to file for re-election, but Gardner has said Hillary Clinton promised to do so in 2020 if elected in 2016.

Clinton, of course, won’t be making that trip. And Gardner, 70, may not be there either, as New Hampshire lawmakers are poised this week to determine whether his outsize political role has finally run its course.

Gardner, a Democrat, has been in office since 1976 and won most of his 21 terms without contest. But quiet discontent in his party grew into an open rebellion in 2017 when Gardner agreed to serve on President Donald Trump’s so-called Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, formed in response to Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voting fraud.

For Democrats, who have become increasingly focused on expanding voting access and fighting Republican-led election law changes across the country, Gardner’s membership on the voting panel lent undeserved credibility to what many viewed as a partisan mission to erect new barriers to Americans’ voting rights.

Gardner’s status as the most prominent and influential secretary of state in the country could collapse on Wednesday, when the New Hampshire state House and Senate jointly convene to vote on constitutional officers

State House Democrats, who won back control of the chamber in the November midterm elections, voted overwhelmingly in a non-binding straw poll last month to support Gardner’s challenger, Colin Van Ostern, the party’s 2016 gubernatorial nominee. Gardner’s survival now rests in the hands of Republican legislators and a faction of longtime Democratic officeholders who could remain loyal to Gardner in the secret ballot.

The New Hampshire secretary of state’s portfolio includes administration of the state’s vital and corporate records and securities regulation. But the office’s occupant, uniquely empowered to set the date of the state’s presidential primary so that it falls before any other, has a crucial role in national politics.

Then-Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump holds up his form to be on the New Hampshire Primary ballot in front of New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, New Hampshire, November 4, 2015. CJ GUNTHER / EPA

Under Gardner, the state has successfully fought attempts by both national party committees and individual states to shake up the order of primaries.

Gardner has resisted the argument that New Hampshire is too small and not ethnically diverse enough to wield such great influence in winnowing the field of presidential candidates. And he points to New Hampshire’s long track record of high voter turnout and hyper-representative government — each member of the state House represents just more than 3,000 people, for instance.

Faced with a potentially career-ending vote, Gardner and his allies are mounting a furious last-minute campaign on his behalf, one that largely rests on his reputation as a nonpartisan broker and his evangelization of New Hampshire’s preeminent electoral role to argue he should remain in place.

In a New Hampshire Union Leader op-ed, Steve Duprey and Terry Shumaker, longtime Republican and Democratic National Committee members, argued that Gardner’s nonpartisan reputation has been an essential ingredient in helping build trust among other states to preserve New Hampshire’s position — one that Van Ostern, who hasn’t ruled out running for political office again, might imperil.

“The key to (Gardner’s) success has been that he was not a partisan Democrat or Republican with political ambitions, but a dedicated public servant who is fully trusted by both parties to do the right thing without concern for his own political future or that of any particular presidential candidate,” they wrote.

Five former governors — four Republicans and one Democrat — also endorsed Gardner last week, praising him for presiding over state elections “with absolute independence and incorruptible motive.”

But many local Democrats disagree with that assessment, saying they’ve been frustrated for years over how Gardner had come to support Republican efforts to institute new voting restrictions, including a voter ID measure and a pair of laws that impose requirements on new voters to prove they lived in the jurisdiction where they want to vote. The latter, critics charge, was a GOP effort to curb voting by college students.

Van Ostern has also argued the office is long overdue for modernization, writing in the Union Leader Tuesday about frustration with a web site “that is often broken; of forms that sometimes just don’t make sense; and arbitrary procedures dictated from the top that often seem locked in the past.”

Gardner’s willingness to join Trump’s election commission was the last straw for many.

Criticism of that decision grew exponentially after the panel’s vice chairman, Kansas Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, penned an op-ed just days before a meeting in New Hampshire last year claiming Democrat Maggie Hassan’s narrow victory over Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016 was “stolen through voter fraud.” The state’s Democratic congressional delegation issued rare public criticism of Gardner and called for him to resign from the panel.

Instead, Gardner used the commission meeting to respond publicly to Kobach. He huddled with long-serving advisors, who emphasized the need for a strong stand. Kobach would leave New Hampshire that day, one noted, but Gardner would remain to live with the consequences.

Gardner proceeded to sternly, though in his understated style, push back on Kobach, standing by the outcome of the Senate contest.

Maine Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, another member of the commission, defended Gardner, saying it was important for Democrats to serve on the commission to ensure the party had a voice in the process. Dunlap would eventually file a suit against the commission, which contributed to its disbanding.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office recommends little to no jail time for Michael Flynn in exchange for assistance

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 / Updated 

By Tom Winter, Ken Dilanian, Rich Schapiro and David K. Li

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn provided “substantial assistance” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and should receive little to no prison time, federal prosecutors said in court papers filed Tuesday.

Flynn met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team 19 times after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators, according to a sentencing memo filed by Mueller’s office.

The court papers offered few new details on the Russia probe but the prosecutors, citing Flynn’s extensive cooperation in “several ongoing investigations,” said a sentence that includes no prison time is “appropriate and warranted.”

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“The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” reads the heavily redacted memo.

The memo says Flynn began providing information to investigators “not long after the government first sought his cooperation.”

“His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation by (Mueller’s office),” the memo says.

Flynn’s cooperation extends to a “criminal investigation” that is separate from Mueller’s probe, according to the court documents. But the federal prosecutors released no details on that investigation, redacting nearly the entire section devoted to it.

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s outside attorney, told NBC News Tuesday night that he’s not concerned that Flynn shared anything with the special counsel that could implicate Trump.

“If he had information to share with Mueller that hurt the president, you would know it by now,” Giuliani said. “There’s a Yiddish word that fits,” Giuliani said, in a brief phone interview. “They don’t have bupkis.”

Giuliani insisted that “maybe this will convince all of America there was no collusion.”

The sentencing memo also says that Flynn lied to the Justice Department about his ties to Turkey. He made the false statements in documents that he filed to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department. In the documents, Flynn disclosed that in August 2016 he began working on a project that benefited Turkey and paid his company $530,000, the memo says.



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Brexit LIVE: Theresa May offered BRUSSELS LIFELINE – EU in desperate bid to SAVE PM

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THERESA MAY’s Brexit withdrawal agreement is facing defeat in a vote on December 11 – but EU given her a lifeline with the offer of an Article 50 extension.

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