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5 questions on the future of Trump's travel ban

President Donald Trump’s travel ban gained legal traction at the Supreme Court Monday after months of setbacks from lower courts, but the justices may have ushered in a long summer of confusion about the impact of the controversial policy as lawyers on both sides prepare for arguments in the fall.

Trump quickly claimed victory after the Supreme Court pared back court injunctions that had blocked him from implementing his executive order to halt issuance of visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries and suspend admission of refugees from across the globe.

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However, critics of Trump’s directive said they believe the majority of travelers from those countries are likely exempt from the newly reinstated rules because the Supreme Court limited the application to people without ties to the United States — at least until the justices take up the case again in October.

Here are five outstanding questions after the Supreme Court's first ruling on the Trump travel ban:

Who really won?

Despite Trump's quick claim of a "clear victory for national security," the justices may have handed the president more of a rhetorical victory than a practical one — at least for the time being.

The justices said Trump's travel ban directive can take effect while the litigation goes forward, but the Supreme Court gave an exemption to "foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."

This means visa applicants who have some link to the United States, such as family members they're seeking to visit, can continue to receive visas, as can those who are admitted to U.S. universities, set to work at U.S. companies or even invited to speak by U.S. organizations.

"There's enough in that opinion for either side to claim victory, but on balance I'd say it's mostly a win for the plaintiffs" challenging the ban, said Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Washington University law professor.

While Trump may now proceed with parts of the 90-day visa ban on travelers from six countries and 120-day refugee ban, immigration advocates say a majority of those seeking to visit or live in the United States would likely be exempt because they have tangible ties to people or organizations here.

Trump's travel ban had already been substantially narrowed from an initial version released in January. Green-card holders and existing visa holders — such as foreign students — were carved out by the president in March in an effort (which he has since said he regrets) to bolster the legal defense of the rules. On Monday, the Supreme Court limited the rules' application even more.

In theory, refugees could be most affected, since about only 60 percent of those admitted to the U.S. have declared family ties here. But the Supreme Court ruling appears to count those already assigned by the government to a refugee organization, so many refugee cases in the pipeline likely will be


Heller’s hesitance on Obamacare repeal opens Dem divide

Sen. Dean Heller’s harsh critique of the Republican effort to kill Obamacare has broken open a Democratic divide — between those who want to unseat him and those who prefer to lock in his "no" vote first to save the health care law.

The Nevada Republican gave Democrats a gift on Friday when he issued a stinging analysis of the Senate' GOP health plan and signaled he may vote against it. His reward: vicious reviews from Democrats who sense a chance to defeat him in 2018.

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Heller was "cowardly," not courageous, argued Democratic super PAC American Bridge. He's "taking marching orders" from party bosses in Washington, said Senate Democrats' campaign arm. Nevada Democrats assailed his comments as "desperate," and EMILY's List called him "utterly spineless."

The assault, though, isn’t sitting well with some of the party's staunchest Obamacare defenders. Heller's defiance of GOP leadership may help Democrats stave off Republican efforts to gut the seven-year-old health care law this week. Attacking one of the few Republicans likely to break ranks feels disturbingly off-key, some Obamacare backers argued.

"Democrats look awfully disingenuous by attacking him for opposing a terrible plan that would punish his state and constituents," said David Axelrod, a top adviser to former President Barack Obama. "If Dean Heller stops a disaster for his state and people across the country, I'm not going to question his motives."

The tension over how to handle Heller reflects a broader conflict for the party. Democrats in Congress are desperate to stop a GOP health care push they warn will cause devastation for millions of families. But their outside allies tasked with chipping away at GOP control of Washington are solely focused on making vulnerable Republicans pay for the controversial bill.

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To liberal advocacy groups focused primarily on preserving Obamacare, Heller's remarks Friday came as welcome news.

“We do think we need to praise members when they do something right, for whatever reason,” said Angel Padilla, policy director at Indivisible, which has waged a national campaign to thwart Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.

“There are plenty of reasons to try to replace Heller,” Padilla added, “but on this he’s done the right thing.”

Another longtime Obama ally, Jesse Lehrich, called Democratic attacks on Heller "offensive" at a time when "thousands of lives are on the line."

Groups like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and American Bridge have their focus elsewhere — on the broader political effort to win back the Senate. In that effort, Heller is the most obvious target. He's the only Republican up for reelection in 2018 who hails from a state won by Hillary Clinton, and he's Democrats' best — if not only — shot to flip a GOP-held Senate seat next year.

"Some just are fighting for this one vote, but we're not just after his vote, we're


Senate Obamacare repeal on brink of defeat

Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal effort is on track to blow up before it even gets started.

The GOP is well short of the votes needed to bring its bill to the floor, and party leaders and President Donald Trump are kicking into overdrive to save their imperiled health care overhaul.

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At least four Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Dean Heller of Nevada and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have signaled they could oppose a key procedural vote that will occur either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday. A number of other senators, like Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Marco Rubio of Florida, are undecided.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his team are working furiously to round up 50 of the caucus’s 52 senators to even bring the bill to the floor, let alone pass it by week’s end.

GOP leaders said ultimately that even lawmakers who oppose the bill in its current form could be persuaded to allow the debate over the party’s long-sought Obamacare rollback to begin.

“I would hope … our members would at least let us get on it,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 GOP leader. “Everybody wants to exert whatever leverage that they can, where they can get the most leverage, but I would expect we’d be able to get on the bill.”

“I think we’re going to be in a good place,” added Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), the party’s chief vote counter.

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Simply overcoming the hurdle is becoming a massive headache for Republican leaders, and the Senate GOP seemed more divided than ever after the release on Monday of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis.

CBO estimated that 22 million more people will be uninsured over the next decade, but in good news for Republicans, the agency also gave them nearly $200 billion more to spend on the legislation to win over wavering senators with additional federal assistance.

Senators from Medicaid expansion states huddled on Monday evening, hoping to persuade McConnell to pour more money into Medicaid and opioid treatment, but budget hawks are eyeing an opportunity to pocket the savings and decrease the deficit.

“We’re trying to accommodate [senators’] concerns without losing other support,” Cornyn said.

Trump and GOP leadership are doing all they can to tamp down criticism of the legislation and a voting timetable that will provide perhaps just a couple of days for senators to review the final product before a vote.

But those efforts have been complicated by the Trump-linked super PAC America First Policies and its plans to attack Heller and four conservative senators for balking at the bill.

Sources close to McConnell said they were concerned the effort could backfire and jeopardize the entire bill by angering Heller, Johnson, Paul and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and


Goodbye Nonpartisan Journalism. And Good Riddance.

We don’t yet know to what extent Donald Trump will succeed in remaking the United States, but his candidacy and presidency are already remaking American journalism.

It is not just that the ranting and raving on talk radio, on cable news, on websites, on Twitter have grown, if anything, louder. What’s more significant is how the political world’s encounter with Trump is changing our most respected journalism organizations—including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the network evening newscasts and CNN.

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Yes, we have seen a new and welcome burst of investigative journalism at many of these news organs, as reporters have at the new administration’s generous supply of scandals and sort through an outraged bureaucracy’s abundant leaks about those scandals. But bursts of investigation come and go. The big news in American journalism today has been that reporters, editors and producers at legacy journalism organizations have become so eager to dispute the more questionable pronouncements and proposals of the Trump administration. Increasingly they are prepared to label the president’s wilder statements and tweets “falsehoods” or even “lies.” The big news is that many of our best journalists seem, in news coverage, not just opinion pieces, to be moving away from balance and nonpartisanship.

Is this the end of all that is good and decent in American journalism? Nah. I say good for them. An abandonment of the pretense to “objectivity”—in many ways a return to American journalism’s roots—is long overdue.

Journalism in the United States was born partisan and remained, for much of its history, loud, boisterous and combative. Note this appraisal of one of our presidents in the leading opposition newspaper of his time: “If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by …. .” The commander-in-chief—and alleged debaucher—whose name completed this sentence? George Washington.

This attack upon our now sainted first president was launched by a zealous anti-Federalist editor. Well into the 20th century, newspaper editors tended to be zealous something-or-others, and large numbers of the columns in their newspapers reflected their points of view. Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, was a Republican—a founding member of that party. Before and during the Civil War, Greeley’s Tribune was thoroughly Republican too.

And there were so many newspapers in a large city like New York, that there was room for one or more representing most political points of view. The journalistic market was thoroughly fractured. You attracted readers by being strawberry or butter pecan, not vanilla. Joseph Pulitzer, America’s leading publisher at the end of the 19th century, was passionately progressive, as was his newspaper, the New York World.

This all changed in the 20th century.

The man who would eventually do the most to bring nonpartisanship and balance to American journalism was Lowell Thomas—whose voice was heard on the country’s first network radio newscast beginning in 1930. By 1941 this one man was delivering the news every weekday evening to about 10 percent of the


Trump claims 'clear victory' after Supreme Court lets travel ban take partial effect

President Donald Trump.

"As President, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm," President Donald Trump said. | AP Photo

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