Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Southern Border Roberta Jacobson said Friday that she is leaving government at the end of the month, making the announcement a day after U.S. Customs and Border Protection released data showing record numbers of illegal immigrants are pouring into the U.S. from Mexico.
What are the details?
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying that Jacobson would be “retiring from her role as Coordinator” at the end of this month, saying the move was “consistent with her commitment at the outset to serve in the [Biden] Administration’s first 100 days.”
Jacobson, the former ambassador to Mexico, confirmed the news to The New York Times while praising the Biden administration, saying, “They continue to drive toward the architecture that the president has laid out: an immigration system that is humane, orderly and safe.”
She added, “I leave optimistically. The policy direction is so clearly right for our country.”
The Times reported that Jacobson intends to leave government entirely at the end of April, adding:
The timing of her departure is nonetheless striking, coming in the middle of the administration’s efforts to reduce the flow of immigration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Ms. Jacobson had been charged with leading that effort when her appointment was announced this year.
On Thursday, the CBP reported that according to their numbers, March saw the highest monthly total of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico in more than a decade, hitting 172,000 — a 71% increase from the month before.
More than two weeks ago, President Joe Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris would be taking the lead for the administration to stem the surge of migration at the southern border, but Harris has yet to hold a press conference on the matter or to visit the area.
In Sullivan’s statement on Friday, he reiterated that Biden asked Harris “to lead the Administration’s work on our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle, a testament to the importance this administration places on improving conditions in the region.”
Jacobson denies that Harris being tapped to handle the crisis had any bearing on her decision to step down, telling The Times, “I briefed and worked in support of the vice president’s leadership on this issue. Nobody could be more delighted to see the vice president take on that role. It didn’t have anything to do with my decision.”
Mensah posted on Facebook that protesters “tried to kill me. I was unarmed and tried to defend my property and the property of my girlfriend. We were both assaulted, punched, and ultimately shot at several times. A shotgun round missed me by inches. Not once did I ever swing back or reciprocate any the hate that was being directed at me. I am all for peaceful protests, even against me, but this was anything but peaceful. They threw toilet paper in her trees, broke her windows, and again, shot at both of us as they were trying to kill me. There are children that live there any the knew that. The irony in all of this is that they chanted Black Lives Matter the entire time, but had zero regard for any of the black children that live there or me, a black man.”
Wauwatosa police said between 50 and 60 people gathered at the home to protest Mensah on the night of Aug. 8, where he was physically assaulted and a single shotgun round was fired into the home, the Journal Sentinel noted in another story.
Police added that protesters began to vandalize the home around 8 p.m. and that while Mensah “attempted to establish a dialog,” he “was ultimately physically assaulted,” the Journal Sentinel said, citing a police department release.
As Mensah went inside, “armed protesters approached the rear door and a single shotgun round was discharged by a member of the group into Officer Mensah’s backdoor,” the paper added, citing the release.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called the incident “domestic terrorism” and said officials “must take action”:
This is domestic terrorism. Local, county, state, and federal officials must take action. https://t.co/YF3ZhIV0bF
“To call me a murderer, without any conviction, without any charges, and then to do something like this, again, I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m confused,” he said during the interview, the paper reported.
Mensah added that “it’d be one thing if there was any kind of cause, whatsoever, for my actions. But I defended myself, several times. Proven that I defended myself several times,” the Journal Sentinel said.
He also said he believes he was suspended to appease protesters, WITI-TV reported.
“They knew all about this in 2016,” Mensah said, according to the station. “They didn’t have an issue with it in 2017. They didn’t have an issue with it back in 2018. They didn’t have an issue in 2019. Now, it’s 2020. Let’s just suspend him for no reason.”
A GoFundMe for Mensah’s legal fees set up in mid-July raised over $78,000.
What’s been happening lately?
Before Mensah’s resignation was announced Tuesday, a hearing before the police and fire commission was scheduled for Dec. 16 in which Mensah would have had the opportunity to regain his job, the Journal Sentinel said.
More from the paper:
The commission was the only panel that could fire Mensah. But others have weighed in throughout the year.
On the same day that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm cleared Mensah of any criminal wrongdoing in his third fatal shooting, an independent investigator hired by the commission recommended that Mensah be fired.
Steven Biskupic wrote in his report released Oct. 7 that the potential for a fourth fatal shooting by Mensah “creates an extraordinary, unwarranted and unnecessary risk to the Wauwatosa Police Department and the City of Wauwatosa.”
He said there was “just cause” for Mensah to be fired since he made “inconsistent and misleading” public statements about the shootings, which violated a department policy and which could compromise his ability to testify in court.
Mensah later filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County, contesting there wasn’t “just cause” for his suspension. Mensah’s attorney, Jonathan Cermele, said in advance of the December hearing that Mensah would have been “completely capable” of performing his duties as an officer and that suspending him violates his due process because “one simply cannot be disciplined for an act that has yet to occur.”
The city is asking the commission to meet as soon as possible to dismiss the charges pending against Mensah, the Journal Sentinel added.
“Now is the time for all of us to come together and heal,” Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride said, according to the paper.
A Maryland public school board member is resigning Tuesday after posting on Facebook that she hopes President Donald Trump dies of the coronavirus, WFMD-AM reported.
What are the details?
The Washington County Board of Education — which is in Hagerstown — issued a statement Sunday noting that it will formally accept board member Jacqueline Fischer’s resignation at Tuesday evening’s meeting, the station said.
After Trump indicated that he tested positive for COVID-19, Fischer published several posts on her personal Facebook page, WFMD said. One of them stated, “Of course Trump wouldn’t wear a mask and kept posing [with] people. He is an … [expletive] who does not give a fig about anyone but himself. He could care less how many Americans die from this virus even if he is the one who expose them. I hope he dies from it. That would take care of a lot of America’s problems.”
“Since he has tested positive for VOVID19 [sic], maybe the country will get lucky and he will die. Wouldn’t that be an act of karma!”
“Trump keeps down playing [sic] the virus, either by ignoring it or by lying about it. Now that he and Melania have tested positive for the virus, maybe he will change his tune. But I doubt it. Only if he dies of COVID19 [sic] will there be a change of attitude in the White House!”
Fischer told the outlet that her posts came after she got into an argument about the presidential debate.
“I said it in a heated moment after that terrible debate thing that happened the other night,” she added to Herald-Mail Media. “That’s what set me off.”
In the aftermath Fischer added to the outlet in regard to her wish that Trump would die that “I don’t really agree with that. I don’t wish anyone to die. It was just out of frustration. I really wish he would lose the race is what I should have said.”
But the damage was done.
Jerry DeWolf, chairman of the County Republican Central Committee, told the Herald-Mail that the organization planned to file a formal ethics complaint with the county and a complaint with the state board of education.
“I think she should resign immediately or be forcefully removed by the state board of education,” DeWolf added to the outlet. “I would advocate that for anyone of any political persuasion who is calling for the death of the president of the United States of America. It is absolutely sickening and disgusting.”
Prior to her resignation announcement, Fischer told the Herald-Mail that she should probably delete the posts and can understand the upset over them.
“This is a very diverse country, and people’s feelings range to a full spectrum of emotions,” she added to the outlet. “Obviously there would be some people who would be very upset at that. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are very upset at some of the stuff Trump says and does.”
While the school board is nonpartisan, Fischer told the Herald-Mail she is a Democrat and anti-Trump.
DeWolf noted to the outlet that, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but as an elected official I think these are absolutely disgusting and abhorrent comments. This is a disgusting comment for any American to make, but particularly that she is an elected board of education member. She’s in charge of 3,000-plus employees and 22,000 students for the Washington County public school system. Although it’s her personal page, her page was public. She wants people to be able to see what she’s writing. And she’s telling the world that she hopes the president of the United States will die. She does it repeatedly.”
How did the local GOP react to her resignation announcement?
“THANK YOU Ms. Fischer for your resignation,” the Republican Central Committee said, according to WFMD, adding that “we look forward to the conclusion of this situation on Tuesday when her resignation is official … Our community can now begin the healing process and work to build a better educational system deserving of our great county.”
A number of prominent left-wing figures were positively giddy over the news that Trump had contracted COVID-19. Card-carrying Trump-hater Kathy Griffin — who won’t soon live down her bloody Trump head stunt or her embarrassing apology for it — tweeted to the president that, “I’d like to volunteer to be your caregiver. I’m a patriot.”
Trump on Monday said he would be leaving the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the evening after spending the weekend there for coronavirus treatment.
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted.” Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Weiss noted in her lengthy resignation letter to publisher A.G. Sulzbergerthat her hiring three years ago came “with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers.”
But Weiss said her stint at the Times was filled with opposition from colleagues hell-bent on advancing and preserving a leftist point of view at the so-called “paper of record”:
My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.
There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.
I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.
Weiss in her letter also criticized the Times for its internal outrage over an op-ed by Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, which advocated for President Donald Trump to use military force to stop the rioting that erupted from protests inspired by George Floyd’s death. In the wake of the op-ed, editorial page editor James Bennet resigned.
She noted that such a chilling incident “bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.”
What did the Times have to say?
A Times spokesperson sent Vice the following statement from Kathleen Kingsbury, acting editorial page editor:
We appreciate the many contributions that Bari made to Times Opinion. I’m personally committed to ensuring that The Times continues to publish voices, experiences and viewpoints from across the political spectrum in the Opinion report. We see every day how impactful and important that approach is, especially through the outsized influence The Times’s opinion journalism has on the national conversation.
Here’s a clip of Weiss speaking about Trump on “Real Time With Bill Maher”:
The Woonsocket School Committee voted 5-0 to accept a settlement agreement with Amy Bednarz on Wednesday night, the station said, adding that she tendered her resignation as part of the agreement. There was no report on other details of the settlement.
What’s the background?
“Somebody with Covid-19, I will pay you to cough on #Trump,” Bednarz allegedly tweeted in March, WJAR said.
Image source: Twitter
The user identified herself as a sixth-grade English Language Learner teacher at Villanova Middle School in Woonsocket in a subsequent post, WJAR reported, adding that the account has been deleted.
A district investigation into the Twitter post was launched in late March.
What did a state education official have to say about the tweet?
“I was saddened & disappointed to see this tweet — it is unprofessional and sends the wrong message during a time when our whole education community is setting a national example,” the state’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angelica Infante-Green tweeted. “This is not acceptable and certainly not representative of the overwhelming majority of RI teachers.”
How are folks reacting to the teacher’s resignation and settlement?
Commenters on WJAR’s Facebook page were almost universally pleased that the accused teacher resigned — but wanted more done to her:
“Good. She is a first class piece of crap!”
“Trump Derangement Syndrome…still can’t get over he won.”
“She needs professional help!
“Only in RI do teachers [who] encourage endangering the president’s life get paid to quit their jobs.”
“But the taxpayers still have to pony up $!”
“She’ll be picked up by some liberal college to teach.”
“Turn the lights off, I have left the plantation,” Jones said in a statement, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Someone else can occupy that suite. Therefore, I intend not to complete my term effective April 22, 2020.”
Jones’ spokesman told the paper he won’t seek re-election.
“I don’t plan to leave the Democratic Party because somebody’s got to be in there to hold them accountable — hold them accountable to how they are treating black people [and] root out the bigotry,” Jones said on “The Rashad Richey Morning Show” shortly after announcing his resignation, the Journal-Constitution reported.
The paper said Jones ended the fiery, sometimes combative talk-radio discussion early, which prompted Richey to say, “Hang up on this clown, please.”
“It’s very simple to me,” he told the paper. “President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically black colleges, and his criminal justice initiatives drew me to endorse his campaign.”
He added to the Journal-Constitution that “a lot of African Americans … clearly see and appreciate he’s doing something that’s never been done before. When you look at the unemployment rates among black Americans before the pandemic, they were at historic lows. That’s just a fact.”
In a statement to WGCL-TV, Jones had more praise for Trump regarding criminal justice reform — and criticism for former President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on the issue.
Attacks from fellow Democrats
Jones’ fellow Democrats attacked him for endorsing Trump. The Journal-Constitution said, “Democratic officials tried … to disown Jones,” and chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party — state Sen. Nikema Williams — called Jones an “embarrassment.”
Fellow Democratic Rep. James Beverly told the paper that “we’re not sure what was on Vernon’s mind. It’s antithetical to what we believe in.”
‘Sick and tired’
“I’m sick and tired of me and my family being attacked and harassed by the Democrat Party for putting my country before my party,” Jones said, according to the Journal-Constitution.
He added to the paper in a statement concerning his resignation that “I intend to help the Democrat Party get rid of its bigotry against black people that are independent and conservative. I endorsed the white guy [Donald Trump] that let blacks out of jail, and they endorsed the white guy [Joe Biden] that put blacks in jail.”