ICE arrests drop as the agency shifts toward the surge of migrants at the southern border

(CNN)US immigration arrests are down compared with last year, as illegal migrant crossings spike at the southern border and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had to shift resources to the deal with the influx. ICE, the agency responsible for enforcing immigration law in the interior of the US, arrested 34,546 undocumented immigrants in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. During the same time period last year, the agency made 39,328 arrests. “There are less fugitive operations and less criminal alien arrests being done in the interior of the country,” a Department of Homeland Security official told CNN last month. The border surge has also caused a huge increase in releases of migrant families from ICE custody into the interior …

Beto O’Rourke’s launch: Big promises, apologies and unanswered questions

Madison, Wisconsin (CNN)The opening days of Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign were squarely focused on proving that he is the most electable candidate to take on President Donald Trump — in part because he will show up. O’Rourke’s three-day, 13-county swing through mostly rural eastern Iowa included eight counties that Democrats had carried in the 2012 presidential election but lost in 2016. His next four stops — Wisconsin on Sunday, followed this week by Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — put O’Rourke in the states many Democrats believe are most crucial to winning the presidency in 2020. His ability to maintain a grueling travel schedule is aided by his loss in the Texas Senate race last year: O’Rourke can stay on the …

Boeing a major lobbying player on Capitol Hill

Washington (CNN)Boeing, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, also is one of the biggest players in the Washington influence game — spending millions to lobby Congress and the executive branch each year. Further cementing the company’s Capitol Hill ties, a former Boeing lobbyist now serves as staff director on the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The committee on Tuesday announced it would hold a hearing at a future date about aviation safety, following Sunday’s deadly crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft on a flight from Ethiopia to Kenya. John Keast, a former principal at Cornerstone Government Affairs, lobbied the House and Senate last year on Boeing’s behalf, according to lobbying reports filed with the Senate. Boeing …

US to withdraw remaining US diplomatic personnel from Venezuela, Pompeo says

(CNN)The US is withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas, citing the “deteriorating situation in Venezuela,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced late Monday. “Nicolas Maduro promised Venezuelans a better life in a socialist paradise. And he delivered on the socialism part, which has proved time and time again is a recipe for economic ruin,” he said from the State Department briefing room. “The paradise part? Not so much,” Pompeo remarked. Venezuela is struggling with an ongoing power outage, that has paralyzed most of the country. Rampant inflation and food scarcity have gripped Venezuela under Maduro, and thousands have fled to neighboring countries as shortages, political turmoil and crime rates have soared. Speaking in a televised …

Details of Russian obstruction paint bleak picture for American held in Moscow

(CNN)As American security executive Paul Whelan enters his third month of detention in a Moscow prison with no end in sight, sources with knowledge of the situation paint a grim picture of Russia’s interference in US efforts to assist him. Whelan is not allowed any visits from friends or family, the sources say, and he hasn’t been given any of the more than 100 letters his family members have sent him. He has been able to send letters home, but the assumption is that they are being read by the Russian authorities. Also, Whelan is not allowed to discuss why he’s there or details of his case. The sources say US officials have complied with the rules so they don’t …

GOP congressional candidate calls for new election after irregularities investigation

(CNN)The Republican candidate in a US House race in North Carolina says a new election should be called after an investigation into election irregularities. On Wednesday, Harris’ son John testified that he had warned his father about a political operative who’s at the center of the investigation into election irregularities. The testimony was the first evidence that Mark Harris was told that operative Leslie McRae Dowless may have taken part in questionable ballot activity in the past. It marked a dramatic turn in the North Carolina Board of Elections’ evidentiary hearing, as John Harris contradicted his father’s previous assertion that he never heard any red flags raised about Dowless. Dowless is a convicted felon who was hired by a consulting …

Sanders’ evolution on race may not have come soon enough

Washington (CNN)Bernie Sanders’ biggest selling point in 2016 was that he was the only person in the Democratic primary running not named Hillary Clinton. So, where does that leave Sanders, particularly with African-American voters, the key group that he struggled with against Clinton? In South Carolina, he lost by nearly 50 points (50!) — and Clinton won 87% of the black vote. CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson explores the politics of identity in American life — race, religion, region, gender, class and party. Sanders is a Democratic socialist who has been hesitant to talk about race and showed a disdain for identity politics on one hand while never acknowledging it on the other hand. But, there are clear signs that he has …

Daughter and son-in-law of AG nominee leaving the Justice Department

Washington (CNN)The Barr family business is breaking up. It’s not clear if McGaughey’s switch is a result of Barr’s pending new role, and the kind of work he’ll be handling at the White House is not public knowledge. Daly’s husband will remain in his position in the Justice Department’s National Security Division for now. The moves were by choice and are not required under federal nepotism laws, but Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, called them “a good idea” to “avoid the bad optics that could come from the appearance of them working for him.” However, Shaub added that McGaughey’s detail to the White House counsel’s office was “concerning.” “That’s troubling because it raises further …