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LIVE STREAM: White House press briefing with Sarah Sanders (2/12/18)

Watch the White House press briefing LIVE from Washington D.C.

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(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – The White House will hold a press briefing Monday afternoon with press secretary Sarah Sanders.

The briefing is scheduled to start at 2 p.m., EST - you can watch it LIVE here on ClickOnDetroit.com.

Here are some other headlines from around Washington:

Congress takes on immigration issue amid election pressures

The Senate begins a rare, open-ended debate on immigration and the fate of the “Dreamer” immigrants on Monday, and Republican senators say they’ll introduce President Donald Trump’s plan. Though his proposal has no chance of passage, Trump may be the most influential voice in the conversation.

If the aim is to pass a legislative solution, Trump will be a crucial and, at times, complicating player. His day-to-day turnabouts on the issues have confounded Democrats and Republicans and led some to urge the White House to minimize his role in the debate for fear he’ll say something that undermines the effort.

Yet his ultimate support will be vital if Congress is to overcome election-year pressures against compromise. No Senate deal is likely to see the light of day in the more conservative House without the president’s blessing and promise to sell compromise to his hard-line base.

Trump, thus far, has balked on that front.

“The Tuesday Trump versus the Thursday Trump, after the base gets to him,” is how Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a proponent of compromise, describes the president and the impact conservative voters and his hard-right advisers have on him. “I don’t know how far he’ll go, but I do think he’d like to fix it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., scheduled an initial procedural vote for Monday evening to commence debate. It is expected to succeed easily, and then the Senate will sort through proposals, perhaps for weeks.

Democrats and some Republicans say they want to help the “Dreamers,” young immigrants who have lived in the U.S. illegally since they were children and have only temporarily been protected from deportation by an Obama-era program. Trump has said he wants to aid them and has even proposed a path to citizenship for 1.8 million, but in exchange wants $25 billion for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall plus significant curbs to legal immigration.

McConnell agreed to the open-ended debate, a Senate rarity in recent years, after Democrats agreed to vote to end a three-day government shutdown they’d forced over the issue. They’d initially demanded a deal toward helping Dreamers, not a simple promise of votes.

To prevail, any plan will need 60 votes, meaning substantial support from both parties is mandatory. Republicans control the chamber 51-49 but GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona has been home for weeks battling brain cancer.

Seven GOP senators said late Sunday that they will introduce Trump’s framework, which they called a reasonable compromise that has White House backing. The group includes Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas and Iowa’s Charles Grassley.

Democrats adamantly oppose Trump’s plan, particularly its barring of legal immigrants from sponsoring their parents or siblings to live in the U.S. It has no chance of getting the 60 votes needed to survive. The plan will give GOP lawmakers a chance to stake out a position, but it could prove an embarrassment to the White House if some Republicans join Democrats and it’s rejected by a substantial margin.

Another proposal likely to surface, backed by some Republicans and many Democrats, would give Dreamers a chance at citizenship but provide no border security money or legal immigration restrictions. It too would be certain to fail.

Votes are also possible on a compromise by a small bipartisan group led by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. It would provide possible citizenship for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, $2.7 billion for border security and some changes in legal immigration rules. McCain and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., would offer legal status but not necessarily citizenship, and require tougher border security without promising wall money.

Trump has rejected both proposals.

Some senators have discussed a bare-bones plan to protect Dreamers for a year in exchange for a year’s worth of security money. Flake has said he’s working on a three-year version of that.

“I still think that if we put a good bill to the president, that has the support of 65, 70 members of the Senate, that the president will accept it and the House will like it as well,” Flake told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Underscoring how hard it’s been for lawmakers to find an immigration compromise, around two dozen moderates from both parties have met for weeks to seek common ground. So have the No. 2 Democratic and GOP House and Senate leaders. Neither group has come forward with a deal.

In January, Trump invited two dozen lawmakers from both parties to the White House in what became a nearly hour-long immigration negotiating session. He asked them to craft a “bill of love” and said he’d sign a solution they’d send him.

At another White House session days later, he told Durbin and Graham he was rejecting their bipartisan offer. He used a profanity to describe African nations and said he’d prefer immigrants from Norway, comments that have soured many Democrats about Trump’s intentions.

Trump made a clamp-down on immigration a staple of his 2016 presidential campaign. As president he has mixed expressions of sympathy for Dreamers with rhetoric that equate immigration with crime and drugs.

Last September he said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which lets Dreamers temporarily live and work in the U.S. Trump said President Barack Obama had lacked the legal power to create DACA.

Trump gave Congress until March 5 to somehow replace it, though a federal court has forced him to continue its protections.

The court’s blunting of the deadline has made congressional action even less likely. Lawmakers rarely take difficult votes without a forcing mechanism — particularly in an election year. That has raised the prospect that the Senate debate launching Monday will largely serve to frame a larger fight over the issue on the campaign trail.

White House response reflects obstacles facing abused women

When Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness stepped forward to tell the story of how they were physically, verbally and emotionally abused by their ex-husband, who had since become a top White House aide, President Donald Trump had nothing but good things to say about the man they had accused of domestic violence.

Rob Porter “did a great job while he was at the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career,” Trump said Friday, adding that the aide had vehemently maintained his innocence.

The president followed that up Saturday with a tweet that “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

Porter’s resignation was announced Wednesday, just hours after a photograph was published of Holderness with a black eye, allegedly inflicted by Porter. Trump’s staff secretary called the allegations from his former spouses “outrageous” and “simply false.”

Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, had defended Porter on Tuesday as “a man of true integrity and honor” and “a friend, confidante and trusted professional.” By some accounts, White House counsel Don McGahn had been apprised of some accusations about Porter at least four times, including as early as January 2017.

The White House response serves as a high-profile illustration of the obstacles many women face in speaking out about their abuse. First and foremost: Will anyone believe them?

“It so clearly illustrates that even today, in 2018, a lot of people react to these sorts of allegations by assuming that the woman is lying, or by indicating that, in essence, how a man behaves with women is nobody’s business, that it’s irrelevant,” said Emily Martin, National Women’s Law Center general counsel and vice president for education and workplace justice. “It suggests that what we really need to worry about is how these allegations will impact the man who is accused.”

Months before Willoughby spoke to reporters and identified Porter by name, she published a blog post explaining the fear and anxiety she felt about leaving her marriage and going public about the abuse she said she had suffered at the hands of a powerful man who was well-liked and well-respected.

“Everyone loved him. People commented all the time how lucky I was. Strangers complimented him to me every time we went out. But in my home, the abuse was insidious. The threats were personal. The terror was real. And yet I stayed,” she wrote. “When I tried to get help, I was counseled to consider carefully how what I said might affect his career. And so I kept my mouth shut and stayed.”

In an interview on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Willoughby said she’s often asked why she stayed in a relationship with Porter if he was a “monster.”

“The reality is he’s not a monster,” she said. “He is an intelligent, kind, chivalrous, caring, professional man. And he is deeply troubled and angry and violent. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive.”

Martin said victims of domestic violence and abuse often hesitate to come forward or to leave their relationships, no matter how toxic, because they worry nobody will believe their accounts, particularly when the balance of power between the abuser and the victim is uneven.

“That dynamic leaves many simply unwilling to consider the possibility that he has engaged in acts of violence, and when people aren’t willing to imagine that, the easiest thing to do is disbelieve the woman making these allegations,” Martin said.

Both Holderness and Willoughby spoke of how Porter’s abuse shattered their confidence and manipulated their emotions, making the women feel powerless. In an interview with NBC, Willoughby said she didn’t even realize she was in an abusive relationship until she had been suffering for a year.

Jessica Corbett is the wife of David Sorensen, who on Friday resigned as a White House speechwriter amid allegations that he physically and emotionally abused her. She wrote in a blog post that she was “embarrassed to tell anyone because I thought that this wasn’t something that happened to women like me; it didn’t happen in my social circles.”

“It’s lonely enough being a victim of abuse,” she wrote. “It’s even worse when the victim is made to stand alone.”

Sorensen has denied the allegations.

Debby Tucker, president of the board of directors for the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, said women are far more likely to be accused of fabricating stories than men. Such long-standing social biases play into victims’ reluctance to share their stories.

“The societal belief system supports the idea that women are vindictive, spiteful, and lie for advantage in custody and other matters,” she said.

In the days since Willoughby’s story became public, comments on social media from abuse survivors tell stories of being afraid to come forward — and not being believed when they do.

Vice President Mike Pence, striking a markedly different tone than Trump, said in an interview Friday on MSNBC that “there’s no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse.”

But this is not the first time the White House has found itself in the middle of the #MeToo moment.

Trump, who was recorded on tape prior to his presidency boasting about sexually assaulting women, has denied allegations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women, and said he was the victim of a “smear campaign.”

Apart from disbelief, the White House also has showed ambivalence about allegations of mistreatment of women: Steve Bannon was brought on as Trump’s chief strategist despite misdemeanor charges in a 1996 domestic violence case. After Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested and charged with assaulting a female reporter, Trump asked, “How do you know the bruises weren’t there before?”


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