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As soon as it became clear that the two suspects in the Boston bombing were legal immigrants from Dagestan, a mostly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform went on the attack.

Purposely outrageous Republican columnist Ann Coulter tweeted, “It’s too bad Suspect # 1 won’t be able to be legalized by Marco Rubio, now.”

Christian conservative radio host Bryan Fischer didn’t bother with nuance: “I think we can safely say that Rubio’s amnesty plan is DOA. And should be. Time to tighten, not loosen, immigration policy.”

And Republican senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), whose vote will help make or break any bill, made it clear that he feels the identity of the suspects should pause the momentum for reform.

“Given the events of this week, it’s important for us to understand the gaps and loopholes in our immigration system,” Grassley said. “While we don’t yet know the immigration status of the people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out, it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.”

“How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil?” he continued. “How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?”

Critics of the bill have been trying to figure out a way to slow or stop reform for months. And the suspects in Boston may have finally given them the opportunity they’ve been hoping for.

The Republican establishment is so sure that immigration reform is necessary for the future of the GOP that they recommended it specifically as part of its “Growth and Opportunity Project” autopsy rebranding. Rubio took the lead and negotiated a compromise with a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that fit the president’s guidelines for reform while emphasizing the border security important to the Republican base.

Monday’s bombings slowed the rollout of the bill but an actual draft of the legislation was released late Tuesday.

Immediately far-right site Breitbart invented “MarcoPhones,” smearing Florida senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) with one of the right’s favorite attacks on President Obama during the 2012 election. It’s a claim as ridiculous and purposely mendacious as the Obamaphone slur — still, misinformation has a way of lingering on the right. Some Republicans criticized the site for cannibalizing one of their most popular politicians for pursuing a essential bill.

Despite the support from the party’s mainstream, Rubio’s attempts to sell the bill to Rush Limbaugh and other AM radio talkers didn’t go — to put it mildly — well.

Still most believed that this time was different — until the photos of the Boston bombing suspects led to a robbery and then a continuing manhunt that has the nation on edge.

As Americans winced at the violence, immigration reform’s opponents went on the attack.

One of the bill’s leading Democratic supporters, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), pushed back Friday morning.

“I’d like to ask that all of us not jump to conclusions regarding events in Boston or conflate those events with this legislation,” he said. “In general, we’re a safer country when law enforcement knows who is here, has their fingerprints, photos, etcetera, conducted background checks … Two days ago, as you may recall, there was [sic] widespread erroneous reports of arrests being made. This just emphasizes how important it is to allow the actual facts to come out before jumping to any conclusions.”

The notoriously anti-immigrant Steve King (R-IA) made the case just hours after the blasts that the bombing on Patriots’ Day should halt reforms, surprising no one.

Rubio immediately responded, “We should really be very cautious about using language that links these two things in any way. We know very little about Boston other than that it was obviously an act of terror. We don’t know who carried it out or why they carried it out, and I would caution everyone to be very careful about linking the two.”

Now that the link is more easily made, Rubio doesn’t appear ready to retreat. The junior senator from Florida has launched a site to defend the reforms and his spokesman says that reform should continue despite the events in Boston.

Both he and his opponents recognize that the key moment for immigration reform has arrived. Whoever takes control of the argument now will likely decide the fate of those 11 million people waiting for an answer from Washington.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall. File

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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