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Trump blames Democrats for separating migrant families at the border

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort’s attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE on Saturday called for an end to his administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant families at the border for legal prosecution, blaming Democrats for inaction on immigration policy. 

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” Trump tweeted.

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A Trump administration policy announced by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ Don’t let them fool you — Republicans love regulation, too Sally Yates: Trump’s demand for FBI investigation is ‘a step beyond dangerous’ MORE and the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier this month mandates the prosecution of adults separately from children when families arrive at the U.S. border seeking asylum. 

“If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”

Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy, and accuses Democrats of desiring “open borders” that would allow criminal migrants, such as members of the gang MS-13, into the country.

FBI obtained wiretap conversations of Kremlin-linked banker who met with Trump Jr: report

The FBI has obtained wiretapped conversations of a Kremlin-linked banker who later met with Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr.: Instagram warning says my name ‘encourages’ harmful behavior Trump resort in Scotland pays women less than men: report Dem senator: Trump Jr. may have given ‘false testimony’ about meeting with foreign nationals MORE during the 2016 presidential election. 

Spanish national police provided the FBI with tapes of Russian oligarch Alexander Torshin’s phone calls with a convicted Russian money launderer, according to a special prosecutor from Spain’s attorney general’s office, Yahoo News reported

“Just a few months ago, the wiretaps of these telephone conversations were given to the FBI,” according to the special prosecutor, José Grinda Gonzalez, speaking at the Hudson Institute on Friday.

Torshin, a close supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, briefly met with Trump Jr. at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention in Louisville, Ky., in May of 2016. Torshin was known to leverage his membership in the NRA for meetings with high-profile officials.

“Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned,” Grinda said of Torshin’s meetings, according to the report.

The FBI did not say why it sought to obtain the recordings, according to Grinda. Spanish police have investigated Torshin for involvement in a money laundering scheme.

It is not clear what time period the wiretaps were from. 

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Torshin previously sought to set up a summit between Putin and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort’s attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE in 2016 that never took place, and again tried to meet the president last year during his visit to the U.S. as part of the Russian delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast. 

The oligarch is one of several with ties to Putin who were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department last month to curb their business activities, under a law aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election. 

Torshin is a longtime member of the NRA and one of 23 individuals with ties to Russia that the gun rights group has admitted to accepting donations from since 2015.

— Updated at 10:58 a.m.

WikiLeaks's Assange reportedly offers to show Schiff ‘there was no collusion’

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is willing to meet with Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff on Trump’s ‘spygate’ claims: He is asserting an imagined world is real Trump: ‘Spy’ was placed in campaign ‘way earlier than the Russian Hoax’ The Hill’s Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, to prove there was “no collusion,” according to an intermediary who spoke with MSNBC.

New York radio personality Randy Credico told MSNBC’s Ari Melber on Friday that Assange told him he is willing to be interviewed by Schiff to prove there was no collusion in the 2016 presidential election.

“He’s ready to show that there was no collusion … he’s willing to sit with Schiff and be interviewed,” Credico said.

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Credico said Assange wants to talk to Schiff because “he can clear it all up.”

Schiff reportedly said that he would talk to Assange but only if he were in U.S. custody. Assange is currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid arrest and possible extradition to the U.S. on allegations of espionage. 

“Our committee would be willing to interview Julian Assange when he is in U.S. custody, not before,” Schiff’s office said in a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner on Friday.

Assange’s WikiLeaks was responsible for releasing hacked emails from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonElection fears recede for House Republicans To woo black voters in Georgia, Dems need to change their course of action Trump lawyer touts petition to stop ‘soft coup’ against Trump MORE’s presidential campaign that many claim came from Russian sources.

Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneThe Hill’s Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — The art of walking away from the deal Mueller probing Roger Stone’s finances: report Hillicon Valley: Experts worry North Korea will retaliate with hacks over summit | FBI works to disrupt Russian botnet | Trump officials look to quell anger over ZTE | Obama makes case for tighter regs on tech MORE, who worked on the Trump presidential campaign, has been criticized for appearing to have collaborated with WikiLeaks on the release of the stolen emails. Credico reportedly acted as a go-between for Stone and Assange in 2016, and was subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee to discuss it.

Stone has denied having any knowledge the emails would be published despite publicly appearing to hint he knew they would be released.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, is examining Stone and his associates.

The House Intelligence Committee was also probing the issue, but Republicans on the committee announced earlier this year that their investigation found no evidence of collusion, leading Democrats in the committee to accuse Republicans of closing the probe too early.

McConnell sees Ohio in play as confidence about midterms grows  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGiuliani: White House wants briefing on classified meeting over Russia probe GOP senators introduce Trump’s plan to claw back billion in spending The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump now says Korea summit could still happen June 12 MORE (R-Ky.) in an interview with The Hill said he thinks Republicans can make a play for Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems to Mnuchin: Don’t index capital gains to inflation Trump on collision course with Congress on ZTE Pa. health secretary: ‘Sustainable funding’ needed to attack opioid crisis MORE’s seat in Ohio.

Brown, a Democrat, previously hadn’t been a top target of McConnell’s, who just last week left Ohio off a list of Democratic-held seats he saw as top midterm targets.

His new comments point to the growing optimism among Republicans that they can widen the map, and that their electoral prospects are improving with a strengthening economy and an uptick in President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort’s attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE’s approval numbers.

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“I saw a survey within the last week in Ohio indicating that race is very competitive. I would certainly add Ohio to the list,” McConnell told The Hill.

A Republican strategist said internal polling shows the race between Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciKoch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by CVS Health – A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration MORE (R-Ohio) is “within the margin of error.”

“Within the past week a number of Republicans have been talking about it behind the scenes,” said the GOP source. “The survey has given Republicans reason for hope. It’s internal polling.”

The strategist conceded that it would be difficult to defeat Brown, a two-term incumbent who is rumored to be a potential White House candidate in 2020, but argued it’s looking more likely than before.

McConnell’s growing confidence about the midterm election is fueled by what he says is the most productive record by a “right-of-center” Congress in more than 30 years.

“I’m now in my third decade in the Senate. This has been the best period, the best period right-of-center over the last 17 months, in the time that I’ve been here. It’s been a period of extraordinary accomplishment,” he said.

“We think we have made a very significant difference for the country in measurable ways,” McConnell added. “Conveying that to the voters in places that we have Senate races is going to be a big part of being competitive.”

McConnell said he wants Trump to do more to talk up the Congress’s accomplishments, something GOP senators requested of the president during a recent meeting on Capitol Hill.

“I’d like the president to talk about it more often and I believe he will going into the fall campaign,” he said.

He pointed to what Republicans say is the best economy in 18 years, last year’s $1.5 trillion tax reform package, increased spending for the military, 15 repealed regulations, the confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court justice and 21 conservative circuit court judges.

Republicans also opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and repealed ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of tax reform.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal this past week, McConnell identified six states as “legitimate pick up opportunities” — Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida. That left out Ohio and Pennsylvania, though he said those states could “get on the radar.”

McConnell told The Washington Post earlier this month that the battle for the Senate will run through Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida.

The Post noted that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were absent from that list. 

The source said Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine has a strong get-out-the-vote operation that will help “pull up other candidates down the ticket.”

Democrats are projecting confidence in Ohio.

They note that Renacci has struggled to raise money from donors. He reported collecting $4.6 million as of mid April, including $4 million he loaned to his own campaign.

Even so, they expect the race to be close.

“It’s an Ohio statewide election in a midterm year, of course it’s competitive,” said Preston Maddock, Brown’s campaign spokesman.

Brown has been running television advertisements since last week defining Renacci.  

“We’re running against Jim Renacci who has a unique amount of baggage,” said Maddock. “We’re drawing a contrast between Sherrod Brown, who fights for workers every day, and Renacci who looks out for himself.”   

McConnell said he expects the GOP base to make up a bigger portion of the electorate in the midterms than in the 2016 presidential election and said Trump will be key to mobilizing conservative voters in red states.

“We know the base will probably be a more significant part of the election than in a presidential year, but that doesn’t mean independent voters aren’t important too,” he said.

McConnell said “base voters are pretty dominant in places where we have a good chance of success,” citing Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and West Virginia.

Trump won all these states by double digits in 2016, ranging from a 42-point margin of victory in West Virginia to 19-point wins in Missouri and Indiana.

He said Trump “indicated he’s really willing to help,” noting that the president visited Indiana two days after the primary and also has been in West Virginia.

“I think you’re going to see him in all of these red states where his standing is quite high,” he added.

McConnell conceded in a New York Times interview earlier this year that Senate Republicans had a “fund-raising problem,” referring to the money advantage the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has accumulated over the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

The DSCC has reported $32.3 million in cash on hand compared to the NRSC’s $16.8 million.

Senate Democratic incumbents have also outraised their GOP challengers.

“The Democratic incumbents in red states are clearly benefiting from the energy on the left,” McConnell noted, pointing to the $4 million Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillProtect air ambulance services that fill the health care access gap in rural America Dems seek to chip away at Trump’s economic record The Hill’s Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling MORE (D-Mo.) raised during the first three months of the year.

But he told The Hill he’s confident that outside GOP-allied groups will help make up the difference.

“When you consider the total firepower — candidates, campaign committees and super PACs — I don’t think we’ll lose a single race because we were swamped financially,” he said. “I think the cumulative firepower on each side is likely to be in the end roughly equal.”

McConnell also said he expects the Republican National Committee to help.

Juston Johnson, the RNC political director, sparked grumbling among Senate Republicans last month when he declared that his “No. 1 priority is keeping the House” and that the committee crafted its budget on that basis.

McConnell, however, has made it clear to RNC officials that protecting the Senate GOP should be an equally high priority.

“I believe they’ll be helpful to us,” he said. “They’re kind of the marquee committee of the campaign committees on our side and they’ve done an absolutely spectacular job during the Trump administration.

“I’ve talked to them about it. Everybody understands if you lose the Senate, the president will be knee-capped the last two years of his term when it comes to appointments,” he said.

The RNC has $43.8 million in cash on hand, according to its last fundraising report, significantly more than the $8.9 million reported by the Democratic National Committee.

Trump and Kim fight PR war as summit talks collapse

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are locked in an international public relations battle after Trump cancelled their planned summit.Pyongyang responded to Trump’s cancelation with uncharacteristic…

Trump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Judge rejects Manafort’s attempt to throw out some charges Dem: Trump’s policy of separating children, parents at border ‘would shock Jesus’ MORE late Friday appeared to confirm that his administration had reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company ZTE back in business.

In a pair of tweets, the president blasted the Obama administration and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill’s 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Schumer: Trump should take Kim Jong Un off ‘trip coin’ Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war ‘on hold’ MORE (D-N.Y.), accusing them of letting the telecom giant “flourish with no security checks.”

“I close it down and let it reopen with high level security guarantees, change of management and board, must purchase U.S. parts and pay $1.3 billion fine,” Trump wrote. “Dems do nothing but complain and obstruct.”

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The tweets came hours after a senior congressional aide told Reuters that a deal had been reached to allow ZTE to resume business with U.S. companies pending a change in management and a major fine.

Reports have circulated for days that the Trump administration and Beijing were working to secure a deal to save the Chinese telecom giant, which was banned by the Commerce Department from buying tech components after ZTE violated U.S. sanctions by selling equipment to North Korea and Iran.

The reported deal with ZTE raised alarms among lawmakers from both sides of the aisle this week, including Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump appears to confirm deal on Chinese firm ZTE Hillicon Valley: Experts worry North Korea will retaliate with hacks over summit | FBI works to disrupt Russian botnet | Trump officials look to quell anger over ZTE | Obama makes case for tighter regs on tech Putting pressure on Trump, House passes bill barring government from doing business with ZTE MORE (R-Fla.), who criticized Trump over a previous tweet announcing the deal’s progress.

“Are you kidding me? $1.3 billion? And the other sanction, guess what it is? We’re going to force you to buy more things from America. Well, that’s not a punishment. That’s a reward. That’s exactly what they want. … That’s a terrible deal,” Rubio said on the Senate floor.

Schumer issued his own statement rebuking Trump for the reported deal earlier Friday, accusing the president of “helping make China great again.”

“Simply a fine and changing board members would not protect America’s economic or national security, and would be a huge victory for President Xi [Jinping], and a dramatic retreat by President Trump,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Both parties in Congress should come together to stop this deal in its tracks.”