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By Julia Ainsley and Heidi Przybyla

WASHINGTON — Talks to avert another government shutdown broke down over the weekend — this time over Democrats’ demand for a cap on the number of undocumented immigrants who can be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The issue has reared its head because the White House has asked for $4.2 billion for ICE to increase its capacity to detain immigrants to 52,000, up from 40,000 currently funded by Congress. Democrats want to cap the detention space ICE can use to hold immigrants in the interior of the country — away from the border — at 16,500.

Here’s a look at what’s driving both sides to their positions.

Why does ICE need more space?

Currently, ICE is already holding more immigrants than Congress has authorized. Although it is only authorized to hold 40,000, there were 49,057 immigrants in ICE detention as of Feb. 6, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee. An ICE spokeswoman said the average daily population for this year as of Jan. 26 was 45,671.

When ICE does not have funding for space, they may take funds from other areas or use contracts with prisons to find additional beds for immigrants.

In the interior of the country, where Democrats would like to see a limit of 16,500 immigrants in detention, there are approximately 20,800 migrants being held, according to an ICE official authorized to speak on the subject.

Who are these immigrants in ICE detention?

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said ICE is holding dangerous criminals, including murderers. While ICE held immigrants in fiscal year 2018 who collectively were convicted on 54,630 charges, only 1,641 of the charges were homicide. The most frequent charges were for driving under the influence, followed by drug offenses, traffic offenses and immigration offenses (such as re-entering the country after a deportation order.)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers frisk undocumented immigrants after detaining and bringing them to a processing center last April at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan.John Moore / Getty Images

Why are noncriminal or nonviolent immigrants in ICE detention?

Under President Barack Obama, ICE was told to prioritize immigrants convicted of serious crimes and those who posed threats to national security. As a result, in fiscal year 2016, 98 percent of immigrants arrested in the United States fit those priorities.

Trump changed that practice, making every immigrant in the country illegally a priority for arrest and deportation by ICE. As a result, in fiscal year 2018, 20 percent of immigrants arrested by ICE had no criminal conviction.

The ICE official told NBC News that 89 percent of immigrants currently being held in detention have been convicted or charged with crimes.

Criminal immigrants in ICE detention have served their time in the U.S. penal system and are awaiting deportation.

Why do Democrats want a cap?

After high-profile deportations and raids by ICE, including arrests at courthouses and deportations of military spouses, some Democrats began calling for ICE to be abolished.

Democrats on the conference committee negotiating the budget have pushed for ICE to cap its detention space so that noncriminals will be left out of ICE enforcement operations.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California and a member of the conference committee, said in a statement, “A cap on ICE detention beds will force the Trump administration to prioritize deportation for criminals and people who pose real security threats, not law-abiding immigrants who are contributing to our country.”

A Democratic aide who reviewed the White House’s January budget request said the proposal “continues to assume that the only approach to handling recent border crossers is detention. This is also an historically high number of beds to maintain and could be used as a ‘bail out’ for ICE, which has been consistently operating well over its appropriated levels for detention space in the past few years.”

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AGAIN?! Furious backlash as Nicola Sturgeon prepares new Scottish IndyRef2 demand TODAY



NICOLA STURGEON has been heavily criticised for ignoring the everyday problems faced by the people of Scotland ahead of yet another imminent statement on Brexit and a second Scottish independence referendum.

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Democrats say Trump impeachment proceedings ‘possibly coming’ after Mueller report



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By Allan Smith

Democrats “can foresee” the possibility of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Speaking on the Sunday political talk shows, the chairmen of three key House investigatory committees sounded open to the possibility of bringing impeachment proceedings against the president.

“I can foresee that possibly coming,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, adding that he is “not there yet” on impeachment.

The report itself, Cummings said, provides Congress with an investigatory “roadmap,” he said.

“I think [Mueller] basically said to us as a Congress, ‘It’s up to you to take this further with regard to obstruction and the other matters that might come up,'” Cummings said.

He cautioned that Democrats must “be very careful” regarding impeachment because many Americans don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue. However, Cummings said “history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution” if the House voted for impeachment but the Senate shot it down.

In his 400-plus page report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and whether the president sought to obstruct justice, Mueller was unable to establish a Trump-Russia conspiracy and said he could not come to a traditional prosecutorial decision regarding obstruction.

“In sum, the investigation established multiple links between Trump Campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government,” he wrote of possible collusion. “Those links included Russian offers of assistance to the Campaign. In some instances, the Campaign was receptive to the offer, while in other instances the Campaign officials shied away. Ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the Campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.”

On obstruction, Mueller wrote that if his team “had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” he wrote, later saying that Trump’s “efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

Impeachment chatter has picked up since the report’s release. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and a 2020 presidential contender, called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings as a result of the report.

“To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country,” Warren tweeted Friday. “The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”

But Democrats are clearly divided on the issue. On Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said impeachment wasn’t worthwhile.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said some of the accusations described in Mueller’s report “would be impeachable.”

“Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” he said.

Nadler’s committee has jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on ABC’s “This Week” that Warren, in her call for impeachment proceedings, is right “that the level of evidence in the Muller report is serious and damning and in a normal circumstance would be, I think without question, within the realm of impeachable offenses.”

“We are, unfortunately, in an environment today where the GOP leadership, people like Kevin McCarthy, are willing to carry the president’s water not matter how corrupt or unethical or dishonest the president’s conduct may be,” he added. “And in those kind of circumstances, when Mitch McConnell will not stand up to the president either, it means that an impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful.”

But Schiff said the House might “undertake an impeachment nonetheless.”

Trump has blasted the report in the days since a redacted version was released by the Justice Department, saying on Twitter that the report “was written as nastily as possible” and a “total ‘hit job.'”

“The president is not going to jail,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on “This Week.” “He’s staying in the White House for five and a half more years.”

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Rivals are scrambling to dig up dirt on Pete Buttigieg



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By Josh Lederman

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Caught off guard by his sudden surge, Pete Buttigieg’s rivals are scrambling to find vulnerabilities and lines of attack that can be used against him, five officials with opposing Democratic primary campaigns and Republican political groups tell NBC News.

The situation is different than with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, Democrats who have long been on the national scene and were widely expected to run for president. Potential rivals and GOP campaign groups have spent years hunting for dirt — known in political parlance as “opposition research” — that could be deployed against them. Major political groups had entire books of “oppo” ready to go by the time those candidates entered the race. Biden is expected to enter formally this week.

In contrast, Buttigieg was on nobody’s radar as a serious presidential contender until a few weeks ago. As a millennial who has never held an office higher than mayor of a midsize town, his record is largely unexamined.

Now his competitors are rushing to file a flood of Freedom of Information Act requests, according to officials, collecting everything he’s ever said in public or posted on social media, and poring over years-old budgets from South Bend, Indiana, where he’s served as mayor since 2012.

One official from a rival Democratic presidential campaign described Buttigieg as “a 37-year-old kid mayor, who nobody knows anything about.”

“He’s getting a very significant free pass on a lot of stuff that other candidates aren’t getting a free pass on,” the official said, citing his willingness to take money from lobbyists as an example. “There’s a novelty there. People don’t know anything about him, so he can kind of be whatever people want him to be. But if he sustains this, that will come down to earth.”

Until the last few weeks, the only group that had kept close tabs on Buttigieg and actively pushed back on him was the Indiana Republican Party. Officials said the state party took notice when Buttigieg in 2017 ran for Democratic National Committee chair, taking it as a sign that his ambitions extended beyond South Bend, population just over 100,000.

The Indiana GOP began opposing Buttigieg more aggressively in 2018, including criticizing his move that year to block the opening of a crisis pregnancy center that discourages abortion by overruling the municipal council’s zoning decision. The state party has also worked to impugn his broader record as mayor, emphasizing high rates of violence and downplaying the significance of his electoral victories in South Bend, a comparatively liberal enclave within conservative-leaning Indiana.

Yet since Buttigieg starting attracting national attention, catapulting into third place in Democratic primary polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the state GOP has been consulting with the Republican National Committee about ways to effectively counter Buttigieg’s campaign, officials said.

Officials with rival Democratic campaigns said that while they’re still early in the process of digging through his record, they’ve already identified his likely vulnerabilities. A few issues have already worked their way into national press coverage of Buttigieg, including a re-examination of a fraught episode in which he demoted the city’s black police chief, detailed in recent New York Times and NBC News reports.

“Our competitors can run their campaigns how they want,” said Lis Smith, Buttigieg’s top communications adviser. “We’re less interested in politics as usual and more focused on getting Mayor Pete’s hopeful message of generational change out there.”

Other potential points of vulnerability include his signature project as mayor, the “1,000 homes in 1,000 days” initiative to rid South Bend of abandoned homes, and his years at McKinsey and Co., a business consulting firm that has drawn intense scrutiny from Democrats over some of its business practices. His opponents also plan to hit him on his reluctance to take definitive stances on policy issues like health care and immigration, officials said.

Colin Reed, a Republican strategist who specializes in opposition research, said any campaign competing with Buttigieg would be working expeditiously now to piece together his record as mayor, including every interview he ever gave, unpopular personnel decisions he made and any municipal correspondence in the public record. He said Buttigieg’s work at McKinsey could be particularly ripe for “guilt by association” attacks given the current focus within the Democratic primary on “purity and corporate responsibility.”

“In 2020 it was never going to be like 2016, where all the Republicans knew that Hillary Clinton was going to be the nominee and you essentially had four years to build a formidable opposition arsenal against her,” said Reed, who constructed many of the earliest attacks on Warren as campaign manager for former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. “There was always going to be a bit of this scramble.”

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