Marco Rubio Archives - Page 4 of 196 - SaintPetersBlog

Richard Corcoran walks the walk, denies extra $13M for DEP water war

His job as Florida House Speaker requires Richard Corcoran to make some tough calls, but this one had to be easy for a man whose stated mission is to clean up the way Tallahassee operates.

While some politicians talk with a swagger (here’s looking at you, Marco Rubio) but don’t want the ball when the game is on the line, Corcoran has shown that his deeds match his words. He was at it again Monday when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection asked for an extra $13 million to fund its legal fight with the state of Georgia over water rights.

His blunt answer: Nope.

In addition to demanding more ethical behavior by House members, Corcoran guards the public’s purse like a hungry Rottweiler. He told the DEP that there will be no more money until it gives a full accounting of the approximately $98 million it already has spent.

That’s just common sense.

The bigger message was that this action came after Jon Steverson, who served as DEP head for the last couple of years, resigned his job to join the law firm of Foley Lardner.

Just what is Foley Lardner?

Why, one of four firms that is working on the lawsuit against Georgia that now is well into its second decade.

Corcoran has made it his mission to end that far-too-cozy relationship between the people’s representatives and those who would like to profit from that relationship.

“We won’t approve the money until an audit is done and we will pass legislation barring the revolving door from agency head to lobbyist/lawyer,” Corcoran said in a statement.

We can say this was an easy call because the conflict of interest is so obvious, but for years Tallahassee winked and nodded far too long as legislators slid seamlessly into lucrative lobbying. There is no calculating how many millions of dollars that likely cost the public

That is why Corcoran is so public about trying to stop stuff like this. Message sent. Was it received?

Saying no to DEP’s $13 million request is just the first step. We wait for the audit and what comes next. What we can hope comes out of this is more rigorous oversight in how taxpayer dollars are spent because, you know, take $13 million and $13 million there and soon we’re talking about real money.

I think Richard Corcoran already knows that.

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Donald Trump was right about ‘Little Marco’ all along

Little Marco.

Donald Trump had it right all along.

By announcing he will vote to approve Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, the fittingly titled junior U.S. senator from Florida proved he is compromised and cut down to size.

As they say out West, he is all hat and no cattle.

Under what certainly was significant pressure from the Republican Party and President Trump’s operatives, Marco Rubio confirmed that all that bluster he directed at Tillerson about the human rights violations in Russia was just for show.

Tillerson, of course, had extensive business dealings with Russia and Vladimir Putin. In the hearing, Rubio pointedly asked Tillerson if Putin should be considered a war criminal. It was a tough question and made for a dandy sound bite, but the real bite would have been if Rubio had stood on principle instead of politics and voted not to confirm.

Instead, he caved.

He can dress it up however he wants, but the fact is that with a chance to make a big statement Rubio shrank when the spotlight was the brightest.

This isn’t about whether Tillerson will make a good secretary of state. Opinions are mixed on that one, and Democrats seemed to have their eyes on blocking other targets. But with his mugging for the cameras at the hearing, Rubio defined the rules by how this confirmation will be judged.

I believe – well, believed – that Rubio’s concern about rights violations is sincere. If he really holds those core values, though, then he should have voted his conscience. The next time prattles on about the dictatorship in Cuba and all that, just tune him out. He is not prepared to back up his convictions with action.

If he voted no, there have been retribution from both his party and President Trump. Welcome to Washington. Surely, Rubio had known that before he went on his one-person jag while grilling Tillerson.

Did he really think all along he was going to vote to confirm and was just trying to make a statement that, roughly put, was, “OK, Rex, you’re approved, but I’m going to be watching every move.”

Or did he trade his principles for some political hay he can use later?

We may never know.

Here is what we do know.

After a disastrous run for the presidency and a flip-flop on whether he wanted to stay in the Senate, Rubio had an opportunity to reboot his political career by backing up his words with action. He would have climbed to the higher ground.

Instead, he proved again why voters have little to no faith in what politicians say versus what they do.

He wilted.

He melted.

He lived down to the name Trump hung on him.

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Rex Tillerson has Marco Rubio’s vote in Senate

The Latest on activities in Congress (All times EST):

10:35 a.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio says he’ll support President Donald Trump‘s nominee for secretary of state.

The Florida Republican ended nearly two weeks of “will he or won’t he” drama by announcing on his Facebook page that he’ll vote for Rex Tillerson to serve as the nation’s top diplomat.

Rubio says his backing is not without concerns. He worries that in years to come the U.S. “will not give the defense of democracy and human rights the priority they deserve.”

But he says it “would be against our national interests” for Tillerson’s confirmation to be unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy.

Rubio and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are scheduled to meet Monday afternoon to cast their ballots on Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO.

The senator clashed with Tillerson at his confirmation hearing earlier this month.

___

7:15 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says he can’t support President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland says in a statement that Rex Tillerson’s business orientation and confirmation hearing answers could compromise his ability to forcefully promote U.S. values and ideals.

Specifically, Cardin said he based his opposition on Tillerson’s unwillingness to call Russia and Syria’s atrocities “war crimes,” or to describe Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s extrajudicial killings as gross human rights violations.

Cardin also said the former Exxon Mobil CEO misled the committee about the company’s lobbying against sanctions, such as penalties against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

The Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on Tillerson’s nomination on Monday afternoon.

___

3:30 a.m.

All eyes are on Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as a Senate committee is poised to vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state.

The nomination of Rex Tillerson got a boost on Sunday after two influential Republican senators — John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — offered tepid endorsements of the former Exxon Mobil chief. The focus shifts to the Foreign Relations Committee on Monday afternoon as the members, including Rubio, cast their votes on Tillerson.

Rubio, whom Trump defeated for the GOP presidential nomination last year, clashed with Tillerson at a committee hearing earlier this month. Rubio bridled at his refusal to label Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” or condemn human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines in strong enough terms. He chided Tillerson over the need for “moral clarity.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, push their ‘parent penalty’ tax reform issue with leadership

Contending that parents are double-taxed for children, Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Utah’s Mike Lee are again pushing a plan to eliminate the so-called “parent penalty” in tax reform, with a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

“Our tax code today treats parents unfairly. The payroll taxes that help pay for federal retirement benefits fall on American parents who simultaneously bear the financial cost of raising their children, the next generation of workers whose paychecks will be taxed to fund federal retirement benefits. This function of the tax code creates an implicit ‘parent tax penalty’ – in effect, a tax bias against parents,” Lee and Rubio, both Republicans, argue in a letter they sent Wednesday to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The issue is one Rubio and Lee have pushed before, with a bill introduced in the last session of Congress. That measure sought to address what Rubio and Lee say is a double taxation parents pay, through the income tax and the payroll tax, while only get tax relief for children on the income tax side.

The bill would add an additional $2,500 tax credit per child. Critics, such as the moderately-liberal Brookings Institute, have argued that the notion of a “parent tax penalty” ignores the government benefits that the taxes support for children, including public education, that have no direct benefit to childless taxpayers.

Rubio and Lee suggest they see an opening and support for their proposal in the 115th Congress and in President Donald Trump.

“We have long advocated for reducing the burden of double taxation and freeing private-sector investment from tax penalties through full expensing, and we are glad to see House Republicans share these priorities,” they write.

“Of course, tax reform should not only reduce the burdens that businesses face, but also do the same for working families. Families are the building blocks of our country, the fundamental units of society, and vital to passing down our values from generation to generation. Strong families are also incubators of economic opportunity, financial security, and generate the social capital upon which our free enterprise economy and constitutional republic depend.

With this in mind, it is concerning that our tax code today treats parents unfairly. The payroll taxes that help pay for federal retirement benefits fall on American parents who simultaneously bear the financial cost of raising their children, the next generation of workers whose paychecks will be taxed to fund federal retirement benefits. This function of the tax code creates an implicit “parent tax penalty” – in effect, a tax bias against parents.

“President-elect Trump recognizes this problem, saying that “very little meaningful policy work has been done” to help parents afford the costs of raising children. In 2016, we proposed correcting this inequity with a larger child tax credit, applicable to both income and payroll taxes,” they write.

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Dominic Calabro: Keeping cigars in the Cigar City

Politicians talk repeatedly about doing things to help create jobs. But, sometimes, doing nothing is the best option. We hope that newly-elected lawmakers understand that less government intrusion is often the key to keeping the American Dream alive.

A great example is the 2009 “Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.” This innocuously named effort actually increased federal regulation in ways that even many of its supporters now regret.

The act gave the Food and Drug Administration the right to regulate all tobacco products, not just cigarettes. But bureaucracies tend to expand whenever they can and the agency soon extended its reach to premium cigars — a move that even the most liberal members of Congress said they never intended.

The result is a possible loss of jobs, the death of family-owned businesses and an unnecessary impediment to the American Dream.

A great example is the J.C. Newman’s Cigar Co. It is a classic “only in America” success story. Founded in 1895 in Ohio by an immigrant from Hungary, it is the nation’s oldest manufacturer of premium cigars.

In the 1950s, the business moved to Tampa, also known as Cigar City. What autos are to Detroit and movies are to Hollywood, cigars are the signature item in Tampa. The business flourished in this natural new home.

Cigars made by the 121-year-old family-run business are not marketed toward youth, nor are they used by younger consumers.

But the FDA, empowered to expand its reach without limit, has recently ruled that all cigar manufacturers must pay exorbitant “user fees,” undergo costly scientific tests that could run into the millions of dollars, fulfill new loads of paperwork and are now essentially prohibited from introducing new sizes, brands and blends. Samples provided for charity auctions or soldiers overseas are no longer allowed. And in a cruelly concurrent move, the federal government recently ruled that Cuban cigars will not only be allowed for sale in the United States, but they won’t have to meet the new requirements for American-made cigars.

The overall result is not an increase in consumer safety, but a potential death knell for companies like J.C. Newman’s.

The company has more than 125 employees in the Tampa Bay area, hardworking families with mortgages to pay and children to feed. Strangling their livelihood with no increase in consumer safety is ludicrous.

Thankfully, led by Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate and Bill Posey and Kathy Castor in the U.S. House, there has been bipartisan support from Florida’s legislative delegation to eliminate the job-killing provisions for premium cigar manufacturers. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has also presented President-elect Donald Trump with more than 200 regulations that could be immediately eliminated to help working Americans, including the job-killing provisions on premium cigars.

We hope the new administration and the FDA find the proper balance and remove this requirement that benefits nobody. And we hope that this classic example of unnecessary regulations strangling businesses becomes a warning against well-meaning mandates that too often spiral out of control.

___

Dominic Calabro is the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

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Donald Trump, government is not a business. Reject Rex Tillerson.

If it is to be believed, as Donald Trump evidently does, that government is just another business, then Rex Tillerson is a plausible nominee for secretary of state. Hasn’t he been running one of the most powerful and profitable businesses in this corner of the universe?

But government is not a business.

The duty of a business is to produce profits for its owners. Period. How it’s done rarely matters so long as there are profits. Whether a business treats its customers and employees with consideration or stiffs them, as Trump so often did to his, is “right” or “wrong” only in the light of the profit margin or loss. A CEO who doesn’t put profits first won’t last, and he or she is most unlikely to find a soft landing on a business school faculty.

The competitive situation of a business requires keeping certain secrets from the public. In a proper democracy, however, there are no secrets to be kept from the public, other than those that directly implicate national security. The personal assets of a wealthy Cabinet nominee are no such exception. And certainly those of a president are not. We deserve to know, we need to know, what conflicts of interest may exist. Florida Governor Reubin Askew maintained that full financial disclosure was the only way to earn the trust of the people, and the voters agreed with him overwhelmingly.

A business can fail. It can declare bankruptcy, freeing its owners to foist off the losses on other people and start over, as Trump has done four times. A local government can do that too, but a national government, one with the power and the duty to maintain the economy, cannot do that without catastrophic consequences. It cannot even suggest renegotiating its debts, as Trump casually speculated during the campaign, without risking the collapse of its currency and runaway inflation.

The fundamental duties of a government are so obviously different that they shouldn’t need explanation, but there seem to be more than a few folks who don’t grasp them.

One of the differences is that a government’s stockholders and its customers are one and the same, and its duty to them is to protect and serve them as efficiently as possible. There is no place for profit in that equation. Pay-as-you-go projects, like toll roads and park fees, should take in only enough revenue for operation, maintenance and improvement.

I’m speaking of a democracy, of course. The other kind of government, the kind run by Vladimir Putin, gauges its success by the extent of its power over its own people and others. Its loyalty is to the tyrant, not the citizens.

And that inescapably calls into question the loyalty of multinational corporations, like Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil, which occasionally find it necessary to do business with such despots. When a man who would be our secretary of state can’t acknowledge the simple fact that Putin’s conduct in Syria is that of a war criminal, he is tacitly confessing the moral cost of doing business with Putin. Tillerson’s professional accommodation to the realpolitik of the international energy market is an inherent conflict of interest with the duty of a secretary of state to put our country first and always.

We have Senator Marco Rubio to thank for making that point in his deft interrogation of Tillerson at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing. As someone who hasn’t exactly been one of his fans, I have to say that would have been anyone’s finest hour. It certainly was Rubio’s.

That brings us to the second profound difference between a democratic government and a business. Most people expect their government to embody, represent, assert and advance their national character and ideals. We don’t really expect that of a business. This is why the British still support and revere their monarchy long after it was reduced to a splendid but powerless symbol. This is why until now, Americans have believed that character is what defines the suitability of a candidate for president. When we think of George Washington, what comes to mind? His towering reputation for patriotism and personal integrity.

We revere our country. We don’t revere corporations, not even the ones we work for. We don’t sing, “My company, ‘tis of thee.” We sing of purple mountain majesties, not towering smokestacks. We pledge our allegiance to our flag, not to the Chamber of Commerce.

Americans have been accused, sometimes fairly, of preaching too much to people elsewhere about the superiority of our form of government. Most of the time, though, we do it for the best of reasons: our belief that democracy is the only suitable environment for personal liberty and economic opportunity and a sincere wish to see others enjoy what we do. We are proud of what we have. It speaks well of us that we want to share it. Our hearts fill with pride and admiration for those who gave their lives for our country and for those who still risk theirs.

That does not mean trying to be the “world’s policeman” in places where our influence is unwanted or likely to be ineffective. It does mean taking care, in consort with allies, to keep our part of the world safe from a hostile power’s quest for unhealthy dominance in trade and military affairs. World War II was in large part a consequence of the self-centered isolationism that led to the Senate rejecting the League of Nations and to our indifference as tyrants rose “over there.”

We expect — reasonably so — that those we elect or who are appointed to serve us will embody the ideals that make us proud to be Americans. That’s what so confounding about Trump’s impending presidency. What’s done is done, but as it considers the qualifications of his Cabinet nominees, the Senate can still redeem our national character. Rejecting Tillerson’s nomination would be a good start.

___

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

 

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At annual meeting, Republicans contemplate their place at the top after election wins

With big wins in the November elections and now about to control the House, Senate and the presidency, the Republican Party of Florida didn’t feel the need to shake up party leadership much — re-electing Blaise Ingoglia by a sizable margin at the 2017 annual leadership conference Saturday morning.

The RPOF spent much of the rest of the morning at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando on top of the world and in good spirits. But they also focused on the future and action, now that they have so much power in government.

Sen. Marco Rubio spoke about the need to not waste the chance to take action.

“We’ll veto a lot of the regulations put in place,” he said. “The Senate has moved to start repealing Obamacare. Donald Trump will be presenting his plan for a replacement within the next few weeks.”

Rubio said in the first half of this year, he anticipated Obamacare to be repealed and replaced.

He also said Republicans could look forward to a new Supreme Court justice replacing the late Antonin Scalia, who would hopefully serve for 20 to 25 years, and tax reform and fiscal plans in line with what they said would help fix the economy.

“We can provide an opportunity for the American dream,” he said. “The party will be organized around limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense. If we don’t do our jobs, there are no excuses. We control the House, the Senate and the White House. We can set the country on the right course.”

Palm Beach County official Michael Barnett won the Vice Chair seat, and he and others spoke of moving forward and expanding the party to include everyone.

Barnett, who previously served as the party’s Chairman of their Minority Engagement Committee, said it was important to show various minority communities that the Republican Party could serve their interests.

“We’ve made a good start with this election,” he said. “Eight percent of the black vote went to Donald Trump — double what Mitt Romney was able to get.

“We need to keep reaching out to the Haitian, Caribbean and other communities, and become a part of their community. We don’t all come from the same background, but we can share the same values.”

Though Ingogilia’s win was easy enough, not everyone was happy. Challenger Christian Ziegler was touted as the candidate who could devote full attention to RPOF chair, rather than wear more than one hat as Ingoglia does as a member of the Legislature. Ingoglia currently represents the Florida House in District 35.

Ziegler said he could act like a “CEO of a business” for the party, and always be available to people, no matter what.

Orange County Republican chair Lew Oliver voiced some displeasure with this to FloridaPolitics.com. Oliver thought the chair should be someone with no other interests or positions in politics.

“In politics, there are a lot of battles already,” Oliver said. “Members of Legislature are involved in a lot of struggles, factions and groups. You don’t want someone who may be motivated to have another set of battles.”

Ingoglia’s acceptance speech focused on the ability of the RPOF to create “a dynasty” that could keep the state in Republican control for the foreseeable future.

Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera noted it might be unwise for Republicans to get too complacent in their place at the top — the 2018 election cycle could be even more difficult.

“The Democrats suffered losses in this election,” he said. “They’re doing pretty bad. As low and as bad as they are, they may only have one place to go, though — unless we keep our place and not take this for granted. Because they’re not taking their losses for granted.”

“Because they’re not taking their losses for granted.”

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Marco Rubio to Florida Republicans: Re-electing Donald Trump begins now

It’s still six days before Donald Trump is sworn in as president and Sen. Marco Rubio is telling Florida Republicans they have to start working now to make sure he’s re-elected.

Rubio briefly addresses Republicans at the state GOP’s annual meeting Saturday and said Democrats will be working hard to try to take Trump out.

Rubio said, “Re-election has already started.”

Rubio was highly critical of Trump when both sought the Republican nomination for president, and he avoided talking about the billionaire developer after deciding to run for re-election.

But he says he looks forward to seeing what Trump and a Republican Congress can accomplish.

He also dismissed “chatter” that he could challenge Trump in four years, saying he will serve the full six years of his second term.

Republish with permission of The Associated Press.
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Marco Rubio backs James Mattis for Defense Secretary

While Sen. Marco Rubio has been a tough sell for some of Donald Trump‘s Cabinet nominees, he’s all in behind James Mattis as Defense Secretary.

A Friday statement from Rubio’s office made a strong case for Mattis at the Pentagon, saying he would serve “honorably and effectively as our next secretary of defense” and “will bring an unparalleled level of real-world experience, a pragmatic and clear-eyed view of the world and America’s unique role in it, and a principled commitment to America’s values.”

Rubio, noting that we live in a “dangerous world,” sees Mattis as the right man to confront global geopolitical challenges.

“As General Mattis clearly and unequivocally articulated in his confirmation hearing this week, the United States is ‘under the biggest attack since World War II,’ and ‘that’s from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.’ He understands these prime threats, and the many others he will encounter as defense secretary, including the need to rebuild our nation’s military after years of devastating defense cuts,” Rubio said.

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Advocates call on Marco Rubio to protect immigrant families as Donald Trump era begins

House Speaker Paul Ryan told a national cable television audience Thursday night that federal troops won’t be coming after undocumented immigrants once Donald Trump takes power next week.

But that comment alone isn’t likely to reverse the high anxiety felt in that community.

On Saturday, Latino immigrant rights groups are planning for a national day of protest and activities around immigrant and refugee rights. On Friday, representatives from various organizations expressed their own concerns at a news conference inside the West Tampa offices of Mi Familia Vota.

“We’re here today to call on our elected officials to do their duty and make sure that millions of people in this state stay protected,” said Michelle Prieto, the Tampa Area Coordinator, Mi Familia Vota. “Men, women and children, Latinos, Muslims, families and friends will be gathering together to deliver this message that anyone who has ever wanted to come to the United States of America to start a better life, and have their families live without fear of persecution, are able to do so and have that opportunity.”

Notwithstanding Ryan’s comments Thursday, Trump has been emphatic that he intends to boot out millions of undocumented immigrants from the U.S.

In his first televised interview after his stunning victory in November, Trump told CBS’ 60 Minutes that he planned to immediately deport or jail as many as three million undocumented immigrants.

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers … probably two million of them, it could be even three … out of our country, or we are going to incarcerate them,” Trump told correspondent Lesley Stahl.

The activists at Friday’s event specifically called on Florida Senator Marco Rubio to stand up to Trump if attempts to begin proceedings to deport millions of immigrants.

“Senator Rubio, like a lot of politicians, made a lot of promises in this election to be a check on the incoming administration,” said Prieto. “The Trump administration has made it clear that some of their first targets will be immigrant communities. Their aim is to deport millions of immigrants, rip millions of families apart, and drive tens of millions of immigrants and refugees into silence out of fear.”

“He promised he would be a check on the Trump administration,” added Jerry Green, Florida outreach director for VoteVets.org. “Hopefully, he lives up that promise.” But Green didn’t seem convinced that would happen, saying that the Florida GOP Senator has “remained remarkably silent during Election Day.”

That hasn’t exactly been the case. On Wednesday, Rubio was extremely aggressive in questioning Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice to become his Secretary of State. He has yet to announce whether he’ll vote to confirm him.

Green served in Iraq in the Gulf War. He said during Operation Desert Storm he personally served with “many noncitizens residents,” all of whom he said had served the U.S. with courage and honor. He also said that more than 100,000 men and women who have served overseas since 2002 had become citizens through their military service.

“As our military seeks to recruit the best and most able among us, forcing a whole group of people to stand in the shadows, and deny them the right to serve in uniform, hurts our military and security,” Green said.

Amina Spahic immigrated to America from Bosnia in 2001, where she said she and her family were escaping religious persecution. She asked for more Americans to be empathetic to the plight of refugees.

“It’s never anybody’s choice to be a displaced person,” she said solemnly. “I don’t think it’s anybody’s choice to be an immigrant. But we came here because we were told we would be safe and we would have better opportunities. And I still believe that’s the America that we have. And we’re all going to be working to make sure that it is.”

Ed Quinones, director of civil rights with The League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said he hadn’t heard Ryan’s comments that the House of Representatives would not approve sending a deportation force out to detain undocumented immigrants. He called the news a “terrific development.”

But he said he remained troubled, in particular by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for attorney general.

Quinones said Sessions was a “racist and an anti-immigration person.”

“If Trump is in the position to comply with his rhetoric and his base, what does that mean? If he’s now putting gin someone like Sessions for attorney general, look out. So I’m expecting the worst.

“I hope Mr. Ryan can talk some reason into him, and it might mitigate that of eleven million (undocumented), they might kick out two million. I don’t know. I hadn’t heard that from Mr. Ryan.

“I’m really encouraged by that.”

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