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HC Wake-Up Call: Trump to Crack Down on Asylum Seekers, Mueller Writing Final Russia Probe Report & Trump’s Contenders for AG

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

President Trump to Crack Down on Asylum Seekers

Department of Justice and Homeland Security officials announced on Thursday that President Donald Trump would be making good on his promise last week to crack down on asylum seekers in response to the migrant caravan heading to the United States, ABC News reports.

Officials said that the president would sign a proclamation on Friday before he leaves for his trip to Paris, putting the new rules into effect.

Under current law, immigrants are permitted to apply for asylum regardless of how or where they enter the country, ABC News reports. Through Trump’s new rules, however, immigrants would only be allowed to apply for asylum at a port of entry.

via Marcus Moore/ABC News

Last week, the president announced at the White House that he would pursue a rule change. Before heading to a campaign rally last week, Trump said that migrants seeking asylum would be kept in “massive tent cities” with “the military’s help,” rather than released, before their cases are adjudicated in an immigration court. Officials have said that the Pentagon has not received a request to set up tents for detained migrants.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the president has the power to change the rules “if he determines it to be in the national interest,” and that it would mean “any aliens who contravene a presidential suspension … will be rendered ineligible for asylum.”

“Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it,” Whitaker said.

Senior administration officials have emphasized that this rule change would mean asylum claims are handled more efficiently.

When asked whether the mission of requiring immigrants to apply for asylum at a port of entry was to reduce the number of those who can claim asylum, a senior official said “the intention is to be able to more quickly arrive at a determination for those who have legit claims,” adding that officials are working on “staffing models to ensure that we can handle the claims we will be seeing.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is Writing the Final Russia Probe Report

Special counsel Robert Mueller, along with his team of prosecutors, are in the process of writing the final report of the nearly year and a half long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

It’s still unclear as to when the final report will be submitted by Mueller’s team, but sources say there isn’t a clear timeline for when the special counsel will conclude his investigation.

President Donald Trump’s legal team has begun working with the president to craft answers to questions from Mueller’s team as part of the Russia investigation, sources told ABC News, as the investigation has also been looking into any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The special counsel’s team remained largely quiet in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections, upholding a long-standing Justice Department guideline that calls for discretion when it comes to taking legal or law enforcement actions within 60 days of an election in order to not appear as if it is trying to sway voters.

According to ABC News, Mueller has indicted 32 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges relating to conspiracy, computer hacking and financial crimes.

The indictments have lead to six guilty pleas, including Trump’s previous national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Those indictments have also lead to three individuals being sentenced to prison.

President Trump Considering Christie, Bondi & Acosta for AG

President Donald Trump is considering former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to replace recently fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CNN reports.

Trump fired Sessions on Wednesday, but did not immediately name a replacement, instead making Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker acting attorney general.

Trump had long been frustrated with Sessions, particularly since his now-former attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation. Given the tension between Trump and Sessions, a number of individuals have become more friendly or close allies with the president,, including Whittaker, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), former Judge John Michael Luttig, Judge Edith Jones, former Judge Janice Rogers Brown, retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), CNN reports.

If Christie were to be chosen as the next attorney general, he could potentially face similar issues that Sessions faced in regards to recusing himself from the Russia investigation given that the former governor was close to the Trump campaign. However, unlike Sessions, there has been no indication that Christie had contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.

Despite Christie being a friend of Trump’s, he has been critical of the president’s handling of the Russia investigation and has praised Mueller when the president criticizes the special counsel.

“I’ve told him (Trump) many times that there’s no way to make an investigation like this shorter, but there’s lots of ways to make it longer, and he’s executed on a number of those ways to make it longer,” Christie said in May at the University of Chicago, calling Mueller “an honest … hard-working guy.”

Meanwhile, Bondi is on her second and final term as attorney general and will be leaving office in January. However, her spokesperson declined to say whether she is currently under consideration for Sessions’ former position.

“As the attorney general has repeatedly said, she has not yet made a decision as to what she will do next,” Whitney Ray, Bondi spokesperson, said.

Bondi could face some potential hurdles if she was chosen for the top Justice Department position. She was previously shrouded in controversy after the Trump foundation gave a $25,000 contribution to her political action committee during her 2014-reelection campaign, CNN reports. It was during that time that her office was investigating complaints about Trump University. Democrats had leveled allegations of impropriety after her office declined to pursue an investigation into the Trump University fraud allegations. Bondi was cleared of wrongdoing by a Florida ethic panel last year.

Acosta is seen as more of an easy contender, as he has already been confirmed. He also has tied to the White House and top Senate Republicans.

“Given Secretary Acosta’s track record — former Supreme Court clerk, former senior official at DOJ, former US attorney — he would be a strong choice to be the next attorney general,” Matthew Heiman, former Justice Department national security attorney, praised Acosta, among other notable Washington attorney and GOP members.

“There are many people in contention for that position just because there are many qualified people who would like to do it,” Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told reporters at the White House on Thursday, but wouldn’t name any of Trump’s contenders for the attorney general position.

Meanwhile, according to the federal Vacancies Reform Act, Whittaker can serve as acting attorney general for 210 days.

What to look out for…

Vanessa Hudgens’ new Netflix movie, The Princess Switch, is like A Christmas Prince meets The Parent Trap, and it looks absolutely amazing.

Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.
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