June 20, 2021

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Smart Brevity™ count: 1,302 words ... 5 minutes. Edited by Glen Johnson.

1 big thing: Pakistan PM mum about China's crackdown on Uyghur Muslims

Imran Khan with Jonathan Swan. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan repeatedly refused to acknowledge China's repression of Uyghur Muslims during an interview with "Axios on HBO," deflecting to other global human rights issues and citing China's denial of the crackdown in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: As one of the most prominent leaders in the Muslim world, Khan has otherwise been leading a public campaign against Islamophobia in the West — especially in Europe. His demurral hints at China's sway over his country, Axios' Zach Basu writes.

  • Khan is silent for a simple reason: cash-strapped Pakistan has become increasingly financially dependent on China, for billions in loans and investment.
  • These loans come at a price: the developing countries receiving them better not say anything publicly to incur China’s wrath. 

Between the lines: Khan delivered a powerful speech against Islamophobia at the United Nations and published an open letter urging other Muslim leaders to join his fight.

  • But Khan has been totally silent about China's detention of more than 1 million Muslim minorities just across his border.
  • It's part of a sweeping campaign by China of forced assimilation, forced labor and sterilization that the U.S. and several Western parliaments have deemed a genocide.

What they're saying: Pressed by Axios' Jonathan Swan about why he has been silent, Khan pointed to Beijing's repeated denials of the crackdown in Xinjiang — denials that fly in the face of mountains of witness testimonials, satellite images of detention camps and other evidence.

  • "Whatever issues we have with the Chinese, we speak to them behind closed doors. China has been one of the greatest friends to us in our most difficult times. When we were really struggling, our economy was struggling, China came to our rescue. So we respect the way they are," Khan said.
  • Asked if it makes him feel "sick" that he must be silent because of the money China has poured into Pakistan, Khan responded: "I look around the world what's happening in Palestine, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan. Am I going to start talking about everything? I concentrate on what is happening on my border, in my country."

Flashback: Khan says he will "absolutely not" allow the CIA to use bases in Pakistan for Afghanistan operations.

2. Katie Hill cites duality in sex-scandal outcomes

Katie Hill (left) and Alayna Treene. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) tells “Axios on HBO” she thinks her sex scandal was “politically survivable” and she's contemplating another run for Congress.

Why it matters: Hill cites a duality in outcomes for women and men. "Having seen other people who've had scandals since I left, (Andrew) Cuomo and, you know, of course, Matt Gaetz ... you see that and, of course, they don't resign," Hill told Axios' Alayna Treene.

  • "You really wonder how much of it was the pressure I put on myself because I was a woman, and because I'd been an advocate for the #MeToo movement, and how much of it was sexism and ... the public shaming aspect of it, the revenge-porn aspect of it."

Driving the news: Hill resigned from Congress in October 2019 after admitting to a sexual relationship with a campaign staffer following a flurry of leaked nude photos.

  • While saying she is considering another campaign for office, she said it would “take a lot” for her to run in 2022. Hill said she's much happier out of Congress than in it.

Yes, but: Hill also admits that what she did — having a sexual relationship with a subordinate — was wrong.

  • She had previously danced around the question, given the relationship was consensual.
  • "Would I ever do it again? No, absolutely not. I let those boundaries blur, and that shouldn't have happened," Hill said. "Was it the right thing to do? No."

The big picture: Hill represents a new generation of young people, particularly young women, who've lived their lives online as they've come into power.

  • Asked if young people can have a past and still run for office, Hill calls it "the question of our time."
  • "If we want to have authentic politicians, if we want to have people who represent us that have real lived experience, and who haven't been kind of sculpted as part of a political family, my hope is that we choose people who are not fake but that are real and that might have had messy lives."

Keep reading.

📺 Watch: Mike Allen also interviews Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge for "Axios on HBO" about how the burden of student debt affects the ability to buy homes, especially for people of color.

3. Scoop: White House eyes ending migrant family expulsion by July 31

A migrant child sent to live with relatives in the U.S. after her mother was expelled at the border under Title 42 is seen next to the Ohio River. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The White House is considering ending — as early as July 31 — the use of a Trump-era public health order that's let U.S. border officials quickly turn back migrant families to Mexico, Axios' Stef Kight has learned.

Why it matters: The policy known as Title 42 has resulted in tens of thousands of migrant family members, including asylum seekers, being sent away — as well as thousands of kids then separating from their families to cross into the United States alone.

  • Title 42 was rooted in protecting the United States from an influx of COVID-19. Maintaining its use has been harder to defend while the Biden administration touts climbing vaccination rates and slowing death and infection numbers.
  • Top Centers for Disease Control officials, as well as physicians who serve as consultants for the Department of Homeland Security, also have opposed using the public health order to expel migrants.

Between the lines: President Biden has been briefed on a plan for stopping family expulsions by the end of July, as well as the option of letting a court end it, Axios has learned.

  • The administration has been in negotiations with the ACLU, which has put a temporary hold on its lawsuit targeting the practice of expelling families.
  • Details of internal discussions relayed to Axios show top administration officials have suggested Biden seize the initiative by ending the order, which has been sharply criticized by immigration advocates and many of his fellow Democrats.
  • They argue that allowing the ACLU to sue would force the Justice Department to defend Trump's policy.
  • That, in turn, could result in sensitive information being released through the litigation process and could be seen as contradictory to Biden's commitment to asylum.

What they're saying: A White House official told Axios it's "a public health decision that will be made ultimately on those grounds," adding the administration would not get ahead of any CDC determinations.

What to watch: Over the weekend, the ACLU extended its pause on litigation until July 2.

  • White House officials believe there are far fewer risks in ending the policy on their own.
  • Still, they've also admitted there's a chance it could lead to an uptick of migrant families coming to the U.S.-Mexico border and could create more pressure to also end Title 42 for single adults.

Keep reading.

4. By the numbers: Title 42 expulsions

Migrants expelled under public health order Title 42
Data: U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Chart: Axios Visuals

Biden has faced mounting pressure to end the use of Title 42 because the order has resulted in tens of thousands of expulsions of family members and hundreds of thousands of single adults, Stef also writes.

By the numbers: The numbers aren't always instantly telling on their face, since there's been a rise in the number of migrants trying multiple times to cross into the U.S.

  • Some 38% of migrants encountered by border officials last month were people who had tried to cross at least one other time in the past year, according to administration officials.
  • Such repeat attempts have been included in government counts for years.

5. Tweet du jour

Via Twitter

The Nationals honored U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for his Jan. 6 bravery by having him throw out the first pitch Friday.

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