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In our news wrap Tuesday, the Justice Department lost its bid to bring in new lawyers for the battle over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. A federal judge in New York called the request “patently deficient.” Also, a federal appeals court says President Trump may not ban critics from his Twitter account on the grounds doing so violates the First Amendment rights of those blocked.
U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is facing new demands to quit his post tonight over a plea deal he arranged with financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008.
Acosta was then a federal prosecutor in South Florida, and Epstein was accused of molesting teenage girls. The deal kept Epstein out of federal prison. But now federal prosecutors in New York have filed new charges.
Today, in the U.S. Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined other top Democrats condemning Acosta.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:
I am calling on Secretary Acosta to resign. It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta's ability to lead the Department of Labor. If he refuses to resign, President Trump should fire him.
Acosta himself called Epstein's alleged crimes horrific, and said he welcomes the new charges.
President Trump, in a meeting with the emir of Qatar, promised to review the plea deal, as he defended Acosta, whom he appointed to his Cabinet.
President Donald Trump:
He's been a great, really great secretary of labor. The rest of it, we will have to look at. We will have to look at it very carefully. But you're talking about a long time ago. And, again, it was a decision made, I think, not by him, but by a lot of people. So we're going to look at it very carefully.
Also today, Justice Department officials said Attorney General William Barr will stay out of reviewing the 2008 plea agreement. His former law firm represented Epstein during that period. We will discuss all of this after the news summary.
The Justice Department was rebuffed late today in its bid to bring in new lawyers in the 2020 census fight. A federal judge in New York said the move was — quote — "patently deficient" under court rules. The administration wants a new legal team to find a way to add a citizenship question to the census.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court ruled today that President Trump may not ban critics from his Twitter account. A three-judge panel agreed with a lower court that found the president violated the First Amendment rights of those he blocked. The Justice Department said it is exploring where to go from here.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer has announced that he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination after all. He passed on the race back in January, and, instead, pushed to impeach President Trump. Today, he said he wants to end — quote — "the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy."
Steyer joins some two dozen Democratic candidates.
Two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot died today at his home in Dallas. He had leukemia. The Texas billionaire, Perot is best remembered for his independent run in 1992, when he won 19 percent of the popular vote. Ross Perot was 89 years old.
And we will look back at his life later in the program.
In Hong Kong, chief executive Carrie Lam declared today that an extradition bill is dead, after weeks of mass protests. But she again stopped short of withdrawing the bill, which could send criminal suspects to communist-controlled mainland China to face trials.
Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists rejected the statement, and insisted the bill be formally withdrawn.
She only said that the bill is dead. We cannot find the word dead in any of the laws in Hong Kong or any of the legal proceedings in the legislative council. So how can the governments tell us that we should preserve our rule of law, when she herself doesn't use the rule of law?
Opponents of the extradition bill warn that Beijing would use it to crack down on dissent.
Warring factions in Afghanistan have ended a peace conference with calls for — quote — "zero casualties." The Afghan government, the Taliban and others met for two days in Qatar. They focused on a road map for peace, but made no mention of a cease-fire.
Meanwhile, a Taliban car bomb on Sunday killed 14 people, and an Afghan government airstrike today killed seven.
President Trump has fired off new broadsides at the British ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, for criticizing Mr. Trump and his administration. In a tweet today, the president called the ambassador — quote — "wacky" and said he is — quote — "a very stupid guy."
In London, their foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said U.S.-British ties remain strong, but he stood by the ambassador.
So, I think it's very important that our ambassadors and high commissioners around the world continue to feel that they are able to express those frank views, because we have one of the best diplomatic networks in the world.
A spokesman says British Prime Minister Theresa May telephoned the ambassador to offer her support.
In Virginia, the state legislature abruptly ended a special session today with no action on a raft of gun control measures. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam called the session after a May 31 shooting attack that killed a dozen people in Virginia Beach. But majority Republicans put off any action until after the state's November elections.
California lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed new rules to govern when police fire their weapons. They allow deadly force only if there is an immediate threat of death or serious injury to officers or bystanders. Supporters touted the rules as some of the nation's toughest.
Nearly two dozen governors are joining California's fight against easing fuel-efficiency standards. The governors, mostly Democrats, signed a pledge today. The Trump administration wants to roll back Obama era rules, and to end California's authority to set its own standards.
A federal court in Washington has blocked the Department of Health and Human Services from making drug companies show prices in their TV ads. The mandate was to take effect today, in a bid to bring about lower prices. But the court said that Congress never granted the power to enforce such a rule.
Wall Street had a lackluster trading day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 26783. The Nasdaq rose 43 points, and the S&P 500 added three.
And Volkswagen is ending production of the iconic Beetle this week. The idea for the car was born in 1938 in Nazi Germany, and years later, Beetles became an emblem of the 1960s counterculture in the United States. The last Beetle will roll off a production line in Mexico tomorrow.
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