The man that many — including myself — felt for sure a few months ago was the best person to win back the White House for the Democrats is losing his glow. Biden no longer looks like a sure thing, or even the best option, to topple President Trump.
And it’s not just a Lucy Flores, #MeToo moment problem.
Flores is a Democratic politician from Nevada, who alleges Biden acted inappropriately at a 2014 rally (she was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor), when he came up behind her, put his hands on her shoulders, sniffed her hair, then kissed her head. “I was shocked,” Flores wrote in an essay for The Cut, an arm of New York magazine. “I felt powerless.”
Biden at first dismissed her claims, but later clarified, saying: “In many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” the statement read. “And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested that I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
The hair-kissing story has captured headlines and raised new questions about Biden’s behavior. And a further allegation surfaced, adding to Biden’s immediate political problems: Amy Lappos, a former aide to US Rep. Jim Himes, told the Hartford Courant on Monday that then-Vice President Biden pulled her in to rub noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut.
But the truth is Biden’s problems are far deeper than this.
There’s also Anita Hill.
Nearly 30 years after he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing probing Anita Hill’s allegations that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, Biden still doesn’t accept the effect of his role. Not only did his handling of the hearing devastate and shame a credible, intelligent woman who bravely stood up against workplace harassment, but his failure to protect Hill made all women feel less safe in hostile workplaces. (Watch the disturbing supercut of hearing questions here.)
For me, Biden, as chair of that all-white-male Senate committee — intentionally, or not — helped to uphold the misogynistic culture that would ultimately allow Donald Trump to win the presidency.
Then there’s Biden’s mass incarceration problem.
Racial justice is now a front-burner issue for black and brown voters that every presidential candidate will have to address with a strategic plan for real justice reforms. But sadly, if we are seeking one of the main architects of the tough-on-crime laws that have led to America’s mass incarceration problem, we need look no further than Biden.
More than 2.2 million Americans are imprisoned today, and a majority of that population is black and brown.
There’s no arguing that Biden’s laws mostly targeted black and brown communities and have perpetuated the racial disparities in today’s justice system — from legislation he co-sponsored in 1988 that created huge sentencing disparities for possession of the cheaper crack cocaine (popular in black and brown communities) and powder cocaine (the chosen drug, then, of mostly affluent white users), to those that dramatically increased prison funding and established harsh mandatory drug sentences for low-level offenses.
One Biden-backed law, The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, allows police to seize personal property (cars, cash, entire homes) without even proving the person is guilty of a crime. Local and state police departments can then sell the property and profit from the value of those seizures, with little or no public accounting of how the money is spent.
Today, in cities such as Philadelphia, where hundreds of homes and cars are seized each year, such civil forfeiture is under attack. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has promised reforms, in light of a class action lawsuit that spotlighted abuses.
“We saw a lot of cases where there was a marijuana joint, and they would try to take the defendant’s car,” said Darpana Sheth, an attorney with the Virginia-based Institute for Justice who served as lead counsel in the class-action suit.
But Biden’s biggest influence on mass incarceration came in 1994 as a result of his teaming up with President Bill Clinton to pass a series of crime laws that imposed mandatory minimum drug sentences and dramatically increased funding for prisons, opening the door for unprecedented growth in the prison population.
The numbers have decreased in the past few years. Still, in 2016, the imprisonment rate (number of prisoners per 100,000 people) was 1,608 black prisoners for every 100,000 black adults — more than five times the imprisonment rate for whites (274 per 100,000) and nearly double the rate for Hispanics (856 per 100,000).
To his credit, Biden now says he realizes some of his tough-on-crime laws were a mistake. “I haven’t always been right. I know we haven’t always gotten things right, but I’ve always tried,” he said in January.
Clearly, he is trying. And though Biden has not yet said whether he’ll run for president in 2020, his responses to both the Anita Hill criticism and Flores will be problematic if he does. He has not apologized directly to Anita Hill, for one thing.
Many are questioning whether he can be trusted to connect with women on the issues we face.
Early thinking among some Democrats was that it would take an older white man, a more traditional-leaning, less progressive candidate to take Trump down. Democrats won’t win unless they can appeal to white voters, many said.
But if the midterms showed us anything, it’s that Biden won’t win if he can’t get black and brown votes, as well, or if women feel he’s disconnected from their agenda.
Many black voters fell in love with Biden after watching him play the affable, dependable VP to President Barack Obama. But that grace will only take Biden so far. Attitudes of race, gender and power have shifted since the Obama White House — we are more suspicious and less forgiving when it comes to accepting excuses and soft apologies for past racial biases and sexual misconduct.
We know Democrats face a tough, divisive fight in 2020. And before the battle, I want to know who has my back. Who will fight for us — all of us — when things get grimy?
Now, it’s hard to know if Joe’s right for this fight.

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

When photographer David McMillan first visited the city of Pripyat in 1994, he expected his movements to be restricted. Just eight years prior, a reactor at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant had exploded, forcing a region-wide evacuation and sending radioactive fallout billowing across Europe.

Yet, the photographer was not only free to roam the 1,000-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — which remains largely uninhabited to this day — he was able to get within meters of the damaged reactor.

“The challenge was finding people who could get me in,” he recalled in a phone interview. “I didn’t know where to go; I was at the mercy of drivers and my interpreter.

“I had no real sense of (the danger),” he added. “People just advised me that some areas were heavily contaminated, and that I should maybe only take a minute or two to photograph there.”

This initial trip resulted in a series of eerie images documenting derelict buildings, overgrown playgrounds and vehicles abandoned after the cleanup. It also sparked a curiosity that, over the next quarter-century, would bring the Canadian photographer back to the region more than 20 times.

Now, 200 of his photos are being published in the forthcoming book, “Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.” They provide an astonishing look at a ghost city largely untouched since the disaster, while exploring the enduring power of nature and the inevitability of decline.

David McMillan Chernobyl 19

McMillan’s images to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone reveal eerily abandoned buildings. Credit: David MacMillan

Remains of a ‘showcase’ city

Pripyat, in present-day Ukraine, was part of the Soviet Union at the time of the catastrophe in April 1986. Built in the previous decade to serve the power plant and its workers, the city was once home around 30,000 people.

“It must have been beautiful,” said McMillan, who has studied archive images of the area. “It was considered, at the time, to be one of the finest cities to live in the Soviet Union. There were lots of schools and hospitals, and facilities for sports and culture, so it was kind of a showcase city.”

These amenities now lie abandoned, having fallen victim to decay, rust and looting. Many of McMillan’s photos — whether showing empty swimming pools or deserted churches — reveal just how suddenly the city was evacuated.

“In the schools, it felt like it would have if the students had just left for the afternoon,” he said. “There were still teachers’ record books, textbooks, student artwork and things like that.”

The buildings thus served as time capsules, of sorts. Images showing faded portraits of Marx and Engels, or the bust of Lenin in an unkempt yard, capture a particular moment in political history.

But they also demonstrate the power of time. In some cases, McMillan photographed the same spot multiple times, over the course of many years, to highlight the deterioration of the built environment.

One of the most powerful examples is a series of images taken in a kindergarten stairwell. The first, captured in 1994, depicts brightly-colored flags of the former Soviet republics affixed to a peeling wall. By the time of the latest photograph, taken last November, just one remains — and it has been damaged and discolored beyond recognition.

David McMillan Chernobyl 21

McMillan shot the same spot multiple times. Credit: David MacMillan

“If you came upon it, you wouldn’t know what it had been; you wouldn’t even see that it might have been the representation of a flag,” McMillan said. “It seemed to me symbolic of the way our own memory of the Soviet era is vanishing into history.”

Photos of playgrounds and slides also provide pertinent symbols of time’s passing. The children that once played there will now be in their thirties or forties.

“Going into some of the kindergartens, where there were so many remnants of the children — and knowing that the incidence of thyroid cancer has spiked because of the accident, triggered a different sort of (emotional response).

“But there’s probably an unavoidable — and I’m reluctant to say this — beauty (to the decay),” he added. “I’ve found that the walls have sort of ripened.”

Nature’s return

As his book’s title, “Growth and Decay,” suggests, McMillan is concerned with both the retreat of humankind and the reappearance of nature. Landscapes in his photos, while bleak, feature blossoming plants and trees bursting through manmade structures.

“People weren’t around, and when nature wasn’t being cut back and cultivated, it just grew wild and reclaimed itself,” the photographer said. “I guess it was heartening to see this kind of regrowth, and inevitable to see culture vanishing.”

“There has been a repopulation of animals, and someone even told me that the birding (bird watching) there is among the best in Europe.”

David McMillan Chernobyl 14

Plants and trees have regrown in some of the buildings. Credit: David MacMillan

McMillan’s images also feature portraits of people he encountered within the Exclusion Zone, including engineers, laborers and scientists hunting wildlife to measure radiation in their organs. One image, taken in 1995, shows a woman returning to her village to clean ancestral graves.

Having met so many returnees, McMillan is relatively relaxed about the possible implications for his own health. Now 73, he typically visits for a week at a time, meaning that he has spent months — cumulatively — inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

One of his original guides has contracted lymphoma since leaving Ukraine for Canada, though the photographer said it’s unclear whether radiation is to blame.

“The thing about radiation is that it’s intangible,” McMillan said. “When I did bring a dosimeter with me on one occasion, (the radiation levels) were so irregular. They weren’t the same throughout the Exclusion Zone — it’s very variable.”

David McMillan Chernobyl 2

The Canadian photographer has visited the region more than 20 times. Credit: David McMillan

As contamination lessens with each passing year, so too does the risk, the photographer explained. A newly built “sarcophagus” (known as Chernobyl New Safe Confinement) now encases the reactor, replacing the temporary concrete wrapper first erected in 1986 to contain the fallout.

Tourists are also an increasingly common sight, according to McMillan, who sometimes encounters buses on day trips from Ukraine’s capital Kiev. Last year, a group of artists even staged a rave in Pripyat, with the site quickly becoming what the photographer called a “black Disneyland of sorts.”

“There are people living in some (nearby) areas that are less contaminated, so I’ve never worried,” he said.

“Now, a more real hazard is that the buildings are collapsing. They seem delicate sometimes, (and) when you’re walking through them, you just don’t know what could happen.”

Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone,” published by Steidl, is available from April 23, 2019.

Images from the book are on display in the exhibition “Apocalypse: Then and Now,” at the Shiva Gallery in New York, until April 5.

The 90-minute meeting was a listening session on a topic that’s long shown to be an emotional issue with strong feelings from members both for and against term limits in general.
Rep. Hank Johnson, who attended the meeting, told CNN he didn’t think it was “very productive” for the caucus to impose a term limit rule for its leaders, saying it would create lame-duck scenarios.
“It’s like shooting ourselves in the head,” the Georgian said after leaving the meeting.
Meanwhile, those in favor of term limits say it helps provide opportunities for members to rise up quicker to leadership positions and create a pattern of fresh ideas.
As CNN reported in December, the proposal would affect the top three House Democratic leaders, allowing them to serve three terms with the possibility of a fourth term, if re-elected with a two-thirds majority.
Because the deal is retroactive, Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn would be considered already in their third term since they served in their same positions last decade.
When Pelosi struck the deal, she announced the caucus would vote on the rules change on Feb. 15 — a vote that would mainly apply to Hoyer and Clyburn, since Pelosi is already on the record promising to adhere to the limits no matter what. Both Hoyer and Clyburn are vocal opponents of term limits.
But the discussion and vote were continually delayed due to the government shutdown and other issues that have dominated the first three months of this Congress.
Johnson, for one, said he doesn’t sense there is overwhelming support for change in the caucus rules and noted the small attendance of the meeting reflects how the issue has not been a priority.
“It seems like we’ve moved on,” Johnson said. “But this does provide an opportunity for those who are dwelling on that issue to be able to influence others who come.”
In another sign of fading interest on term limits, Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas — who was one of the more outspoken Democrats calling for change during last fall’s speaker race — was not at the meeting Monday night. But, he told CNN earlier in the day that he thinks Pelosi has done a “fantastic job” since becoming speaker again.
“I just felt like at the time we really needed fresh leadership,” he said, recalling last fall. “But I think she’s proven us wrong.”
It’s still the sense among several Democrats — on both sides of the debate — that the caucus will vote on the proposal at some point. But for now, members are in discussion mode to learn more about the various arguments.
At Monday night’s event, members had dinner and expressed both pros and cons of term limits, according to attendees. It was especially a chance for newer members to hear both sides of the debate.
“I’m maintaining an open mind,” freshman Rep. Chuy Garcia, of Illinois, told CNN, saying good arguments were made on both sides. “I haven’t made up my mind yet. I haven’t been swayed, either.”
The meeting was hosted by Rep. Grace Meng, who chairs the Committee on Caucus Procedures, and all Democrats were sent an invitation to the dinner.
Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has long been an opponent of term limits and said he expressed his concerns in the meeting.
“I feel that term limits are artificial,” he said. “We have term limits. They’re called elections.”

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Planned Parenthood alleges that the conduct of the anti-abortion rights group, the Center for Medical Progress, violated numerous state laws. The group argued that Planned Parenthood’s suit was barred by California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute, which stands for strategic lawsuits against public participation.
Monday’s ruling, issued without comment, leaves intact a federal appeals court ruling rejecting that argument.
The suit, first brought by Planned Parenthood in January 2016, was in response to the release of the heavily edited videos produced in 2015 by the Center for Medical Progress, which secretly taped Planned Parenthood officials talking about the sale of fetal tissue.
The videos sparked a political firestorm, with Republican lawmakers accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale and and spurring repeated efforts in Congress and states to block funding for the organization. Planned Parenthood officials have maintained that the group does not profit from its sale of tissue donations to medical research and uses any money received to cover its costs.
The Monday ruling from the high court allowed the solidly conservative body to stay out of the “messy dispute” on abortion rights, according to Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
“The anti-abortion group had tried to rely upon California’s ‘anti-SLAPP’ statute to argue that Planned Parenthood was trying to chill their First Amendment rights rather than sue them on legitimate grounds,” Vladeck said.
Planned Parenthood files suit against anti-abortion videos group

“The Court of Appeals rejected that argument, holding that Planned Parenthood’s claims were more than strong enough to overcome the anti-SLAPP statute, and allowing their case to go forward,” he added. “By leaving that ruling intact, the justices today stayed out, at least for now, of a messy dispute over alleged mischaracterizations of Planned Parenthood’s abortion-related activities.”
Planned Parenthood contends Center for Medical Progress engaged in crimes including wire and mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing. The lawsuit calls for damages and a court order barring the group from entering Planned Parenthood facilities under false pretenses and covertly recording the group’s officials and business.

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The Vermont independent, following the lead of some progressive legal scholars, floated a plan that would effectively end lifetime, uninterrupted appointments for Supreme Court justices.
“What may make sense is, if not term limits, then rotating judges to the appeals court as well,” Sanders said at the We the People Summit in Washington. “Letting them get out of the Supreme Court and bringing in new blood.”
Sanders stopped short of backing calls to add justices to the court, a strategy gaining steam with a new generation of left-wing activists, who are putting pressure on the Democratic candidates to address their concerns over the current conservative influence on the court with more ambitious plans.
“My worry is that the next time the Republicans are in power they will do the same thing,” Sanders said of the court-packing option. “So I think that is not the ultimate solution.”
Progressive legal scholars and activist groups have paid increasing mind to the courts in the aftermath of 2016, when Senate Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, denying him even a public hearing ahead of the election. Since then, President Donald Trump has appointed two justices, both confirmed nearly along party lines after the GOP did away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
“It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Politico in March. She also discussed rotating in lower court judges. Sen. Cory Booker, too, has suggested “term limits for Supreme Court justices might be one thing” to consider.
Brian Fallon, the former Clinton adviser who now runs the advocacy group Demand Justice, said Sanders’ remarks — which followed other similar calls from his fellow 2020 Democratic primary contenders — showed Democrats are beginning to prioritize the judiciary in ways they had previously avoided.
“There is a growing consensus in the Democratic party that the Supreme Court must be reformed,” Fallon told CNN after Sanders spoke. “The only debate is how to best reform it. But no one is any longer defending the status quo of just letting the Roberts Court block progressive proposals for the next 30 years.”
The path Sanders discussed is most like one proposed by the scholars Daniel Epps and Ganesh Sitaraman, who have set forth, among other options, what they described last year as a “panel solution.”
Spelling out their logic in an op-ed for Vox, the pair suggested it would be possible to “eliminate the high stakes of Supreme Court appointments” by rotating justices, “like a panel on a court of appeals.”
“Every judge on the federal court of appeals would also be appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ‘panel’ would be composed of nine justices, selected at random from the full pool of associate justices,” Epps and Sitaraman wrote. “Once selected, the justices would hear cases for only two weeks, before another set of judges would replace them.”
Despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ oft-stated goal of keeping the Supreme Court above the kinds of conflicts that have crippled the political branches of government, there are times when internal debates between the justices — and even some sniping — will seep out.
The justices are still bitterly divided over the execution of Domineque Ray, who claimed his religious rights were violated because he could not have an imam with him in the execution chamber, in February — so much so that they continued to litigate the case in an unrelated opinion issued on Monday.
Along with a third death penalty case involving the request for a Buddhist spiritual adviser last week, the issue clearly has the justices riled up. That’s likely to only intensify now that the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh has solidified the conservative bent of the court.
“The stakes do not get higher than they do in death penalty cases, and the arguments between the justices and rifts in the court may only get louder and deeper,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School.
She said the court is likely to move to the right in the coming years and “these three death penalty cases may demonstrate the court’s growing pains as it moves further away from the ideological center.”
Death penalty experts say that the court’s friction often arises in cases concerning lethal injection protocols and last minute stay requests. “As such, we start seeing these conflicts among the justices play out in unusual places and in unusual ways,” said Fordham law professor Deborah Denno.
Supreme Court rules against death row inmate with rare disease

In early February, the court’s 5-4 conservative majority provided very little reasoning for its decision to allow Ray’s execution to go forward. The Alabama prison allows a Christian chaplain in the room, but officials blocked the imam arguing that only prison employees could be present in the chamber for security concerns.
The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals had granted a stay of execution, but the high court lifted that stay and cleared the way for the execution, saying that Ray had waited too long — he made the claim fewer than two weeks before his execution.
The order prompted a stinging dissent from the liberal justices, led by Justice Elena Kagan, who argued that Ray had put forward a “powerful claim that his religious rights will be violated at the moment the State puts him to death.”
She accused the conservative majority of short-circuiting the “ordinary” process that should have taken place in the lower courts “just so the state can meet its preferred execution date.”
Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general for the Obama administration, said that the order would be remembered in the same category as some of the most infamous Supreme Court opinions. “100 years from now, law students will read about this decision. It may be read alongside Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu, and the Chinese Exclusion Act cases,” he tweeted.
The case also jolted religious conservatives who were stunned that the conservative majority had failed to act on the inmate’s request.
Last week, the controversy came up again, when the justices were faced with a similar petition from a Texas inmate, Patrick Henry Murphy, who argued that the state was violating his religious freedom because it refused to allow his Buddhist spiritual adviser into the chamber because the state only allowed Christian and Muslim chaplains who were employees of the prison.
This time, the court stayed the execution with very few clues distinguishing Murphy’s case from that of Ray. Only Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote separately to suggest that Murphy’s request was granted because he had filed it in a more timely fashion.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas noted their dissents, but it was unclear how Roberts or Justice Samuel Alito had voted.
Flash forward to Monday, when the court issued an opinion in a death penalty case brought by an inmate asking for relief for an entirely different set of circumstances out of Missouri. Russell Bucklew argued his planned lethal injection would cause “severe harm and suffering” because of the fact that he suffers from a rare and progressive disease.
Supreme Court halts execution of Texas inmate seeking to allow Buddhist spiritual adviser in death chamber

Supreme Court halts execution of Texas inmate seeking to allow Buddhist spiritual adviser in death chamber

Again, the court split 5-4 in the case, with Gorsuch writing the majority opinion and ruling against Bucklew.
In doing so, Gorusch returned to Ray’s execution to make a larger point that “last-minute stays should be the extreme exception.”
He accused the dissenters of attempting to “relitigate” Ray’s case by asserting that Ray’s appeal had been timely.
In a footnote, Gorsuch said that Ray had “long been on notice that there was a question whether his adviser would be allowed into the chamber,” yet he waited “just 15 days before the execution” to ask for clarification.
It appeared that Gorsuch was going out of his way to better explain the reasoning behind the Ray order. That was something that particularly bothered Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who struck back in her own footnote that the prison had “refused to give Ray” a copy of its own practices.
“Even today’s belated explanation from the majority rests on the mistaken premise that Domineque Ray could have figured out sooner that Alabama planned to deny his imam access to the execution chamber,” Sotomayor wrote.
Writing separately, Justice Stephen Breyer also cited Ray’s case and suggested that the majority had acted with unnecessary haste.
It may be that “there is no way to execute a prisoner quickly, while affording him the protections that our Constitution guarantees,” Breyer wrote.
'The Chief': John Roberts' journey from 'sober puss' to the pinnacle of American law

'The Chief': John Roberts' journey from 'sober puss' to the pinnacle of American law

Public sparring over a ruling in a previous case, especially one from just two months ago, is rare, Denno said.
“It was strange to see the justices discussing the merits of an entirely different case that had nothing to do with the case at hand,” she said.
The California Democrat’s haul, disclosed the day after the close of the fundraising period, exceeds the $7 million announced earlier Monday by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. They are the only 2020 contenders to reveal topline figures for the three-month period so far.
Pete Buttigieg says his team raised more than $7 million in first quarter

Details on candidates’ fundraising and spending are not due to federal election regulators until April 15, but candidates often provide totals as they jockey to demonstrate the financial strength of their campaigns.
In a news release, Harris said she had received 218,000 individual contributions during the first quarter and 98% percent of those contributions came in amounts smaller than $100. Small-dollar donors could prove crucial in a crowded Democratic primary because they can be tapped repeatedly for contributions before hitting the $2,800 limit on what an individual can donate to a candidate for the primary election.
Harris’ aides say that more than 99% of her current donors can contribute again without hitting the limit.
“A nationwide network of hundreds of thousands of grass-roots supporters has stepped up to lay the foundation for a winning campaign,” Harris campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a statement.
“This is a campaign powered by the people, focused on making health care a right, putting $500 a month in the pockets of working Americans, and giving every public school teacher in America a raise,” he said. “We’re excited by the support we’re already seeing.”
Harris did not disclose how much she has spent during the first three months of the year, nor how much cash she has remaining in the bank for the long primary fight.
It’s not known how the totals announced by Harris and Buttigieg compare with those of other candidates. But given the first-day hauls touted by two of their rivals, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke, they could be substantially outraised.
Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who’s making his second bid for the presidency, previously announced raising $5.9 million during the first day of his campaign. His aides say he went on to raise $10 million within a week of his campaign kickoff.
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman who raised a record-setting $80 million in his unsuccessful bid for the Senate last year, has said he raised $6.1 million during the first 24 hours of his White House campaign.
In a video released Monday night, Buttigieg — until recently a little-known figure in national politics — called his first-quarter haul “a big deal.” He said more than 158,000 people had donated to his exploratory committee, with an average donation of $36.35.
The $7 million his campaign raised “is way ahead of what our original, initial goals were,” Buttigieg said. “About two months ago … most people had never heard of me.”
Nielsen was in London on Monday for meetings with officials and was planning to head to Sweden on Wednesday for more bilateral meetings ahead of the G7 meeting in Paris at the end of the week.
First on CNN: Stephen Miller tells surrogates Trump hasn't yet decided to shut down the border, says it depends on coming days

The decision comes as President Donald Trump weighs shutting down the southern border. On Friday, Trump repeated his threat to shut down the border and said he would act this week if Mexico didn’t step up to stop undocumented migrants from Central America from coming into the US. White House adviser Stephen Miller told top surrogates on Monday the plan is to see how much progress is made in the coming days.
The official, who was speaking on background, said Nielsen left her European trip early because she wants to personally oversee certain aspects of the department’s response to the border situation. That includes the speeding up of the surge of at least 750 officers to assist US Border Patrol along areas of the southern border and the immediate expansion of the department’s policy of returning asylum-seekers to Mexico.
Fact-check: Can Trump close the border?

Fact-check: Can Trump close the border?

Nielsen has decided to fly to the border mid-week to assess the implementation of the new actions, the official said. She is delegating US representation at the overseas meetings to acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady.