Trump, Week 23: Friday, 23 June – Thursday, 29 June 2017 (Days 155-161)

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 23 June 2017, Day 155:

 

Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, Friday, 23 June 2017: “Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried ‘eyes only’ instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race. But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump. At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks. But at the highest levels of government, among those responsible for managing the crisis, the first moment of true foreboding about Russia’s intentions arrived with that CIA intelligence. The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid…. This account of the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s interference is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue. The White House, the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.”

The emerging timeline of Obama and Russia that is giving Democrats heartburn, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 23 June 2017: “The Washington Post is reporting Friday morning that President Barack Obama knew in August that Russian President Vladimir Putin was waging an extraordinary cyberwar on the U.S. presidential campaign, both to discredit the election and try to help Donald Trump win. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge all of this until after the election, in December. In the last few months of the election campaign, behind the scenes — and sometimes publicly — Democrats  in Congress were extremely critical of the president for not telling the public about what was happening. Top members of the Obama administration have since defended that decision as the best of bad choices. Former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress earlier this week: ‘We were concerned that, by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the — of the election process itself.’ So what really happened? [This article presents] a timeline of how the Obama administration responded to the Russian meddling — and how he was criticized for it.”

Planned Parenthood Battle Could Sway Fortunes of Republican Health Bill, The New York Times, Avantika Chilkoti, Friday, 23 June 2017: “As the Senate barrels toward a vote next week to sever all federal support for Planned Parenthood, the 100-year-old organization is mobilizing furiously to bring down the Republicans’ broader legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act before it reaches President Trump’s desk. The fight over one provision — to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for a single year — may be tangential to the wider war over the American health care system. But with the Senate so narrowly divided, Mr. Trump’s vow to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement could rest on the hot-button issue of abortion. Republicans can afford to lose only two votes when the final tally comes as soon as Thursday. Moderate Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have expressed deep misgivings over the Planned Parenthood provision, which would deprive the organization of more than 40 percent of its funding, jeopardizing health care for women in states like theirs. But restoring Medicaid reimbursements to the women’s health organization could cost just as many votes on the right.”

Continue reading Week 23, Friday, 23 June – Thursday, 29 June 2017:

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Trump, Week 22: Friday, 16 June – Thursday, 22 June 2017 (Days 148-154)

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 16 June 2017, Day 148:

 

Trump Acknowledges He Is Under Investigation in Russia Inquiry, and He Attacks Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in His Latest Rebuke of the Justice Department, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 17 June 2017: “President Trump escalated his attacks on his own Justice Department on Friday, using an early-morning Twitter rant to condemn the department’s actions as ‘phony’ and ‘sad!’ and to challenge the integrity of the official overseeing the expanding inquiry into Russian influence of the 2016 election. Acknowledging for the first time publicly that he is under investigation, Mr. Trump appeared to accuse Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, of leading what the president called a ‘witch hunt.’ Mr. Rosenstein appointed a special counsel last month to conduct the investigation after Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. ‘I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!’ Mr. Trump wrote, apparently referring to a memo Mr. Rosenstein wrote in May that was critical of Mr. Comey’s leadership at the F.B.I. ‘Witch hunt,’ Mr. Trump added. The remarkable public rebuke is the latest example of a concerted effort by Mr. Trump, the White House and its allies to undermine officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. even as the Russia investigation proceeds. In the five weeks since Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey, he has let it be known that he has considered firing Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation. His personal lawyer bragged about firing Preet Bharara, the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was let go as part of the mass dismissal of top prosecutors. Newt Gingrich, an ally of the president’s, accused Mr. Mueller of being the tip of the ‘deep-state spear aimed at destroying’ the Trump presidency. Inside the White House, those close to the president say he has continued to fume about the actions of Justice Department officials, his anger focused mostly on Mr. Rosenstein for appointing Mr. Mueller and on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime political ally whose decision to recuse himself from the Russia case in March enraged Mr. Trump. What the president wanted out of the investigation was simple, several people close to him said: a public statement that he was not under a cloud. What he got instead were reports of Mr. Mueller’s intention to investigate him for possible obstruction of justice.”

Trump Transition Team Orders Former Aides to Preserve Russia-Related Materials, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and Matthew Rosenberg, Friday, 16 June 2017: “Members of President Trump’s transition team were ordered on Thursday to preserve documents and other materials related to the investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The memo, from the transition team’s general counsel’s office, is the latest indication that the investigation’s special counsel, the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III, is casting a wide net in his inquiry into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Moscow. The memo says former transition team members ‘have a duty to preserve any physical and electronic records that may be related in any way to the subject matter of the pending investigations.’ The so-called preservation order covers any transition team information involving Russia or Ukraine. It also seeks any background investigation records involving the former manager of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, and his business partner, Rick Gates; the former foreign policy adviser Carter Page; and the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of a call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. The memorandum also names Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to Mr. Trump. With the order, the transition team lawyers are indicating that they have reason to believe that the five men’s actions are part of investigations by the Justice Department or the House or Senate Intelligence Committees, or will be.” See also, Full text: Trump transition team memo on keeping documents on Russia and the election, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Friday, 16 June 2017.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issues a cryptic warning about the truth of stories ‘attributed to anonymous’ officials, The Washington Post, Fred Barbash, Friday, 16 June 2017: “Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein generated a lot of buzz but little clarity Thursday night with a statement urging Americans to ‘exercise caution’ when evaluating stories attributed to anonymous officials. Why Rosenstein would suddenly make that comment, or any comment, after having made no comment to story after story attributed to anonymous sources, remained a mystery. The full statement read:

Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch of agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself, Rosenstein is the Justice Department official directly responsible for matters relating to the investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016, including any possible role played by people associated with Donald Trump’s campaign. The statement follows several stories in the past few days in The Washington Post and New York Times quoting unnamed sources on the direction of the probe, now in the hands of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.” See also, Don’t Believe Anonymously Sourced Reports, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Says, The New York Times, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Friday, 16 June 2017.

Continue reading Week 22, Friday, 16 June – Thursday, 22 June 2017:

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Trump, Week 21: Friday, 9 June – Thursday, 15 June 2017 (Days 141-147)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 9 June 2016, Day 141:

 

Calling Former F.B.I. Director James Comey a Liar, Trump Says He Will Testify Under Oath, The New York Times, Friday, 9 June 2017: “President Trump on Friday accused James B. Comey, the fired F.B.I. director, of lying under oath to Congress, saying he would gladly provide sworn testimony disputing Mr. Comey’s charge that the president forced him out because of his handling of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. Mr. Trump asserted that the comments on Thursday by Mr. Comey, whom he called ‘a leaker,’ had proved that there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow, nor any obstruction of justice by the president. He hinted again that he had tapes of his private talks with the former F.B.I. chief that would disprove Mr. Comey’s account, but declined to confirm the existence of any recordings…. He dismissed Mr. Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is investigating whether his campaign worked with Russia to sway the election, as a politically motivated stunt orchestrated by adversaries bitter about his victory in November.” See also, Trump accuses James Comey of lying and says he’d ‘100 percent’ agree to testify in the Russia probe, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and David Nakamura, Friday, 9 June 2017: “Trump emphatically declared his innocence yet refused to solve a mystery of his own making by stating whether he has tapes of his one-on-one conversations with Comey. Any such recordings could prove which man’s account is accurate, but the president played coy, saying he would wait ‘a fairly short period of time’ to tell the public whether tapes exist, as he first suggested they might in May. ‘Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer,’ he told reporters. ‘Don’t worry.'” See also, Trump’s Interactions With James Comey: Criminal or Clueless? The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Friday, 9 June 2017: “Speaker Paul D. Ryan sought to excuse President Trump’s overtures to James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, about pulling the plug on an investigation as a stumble by a political novice unfamiliar with the strict conventions of the capital. ‘He’s just new to this,’ said Mr. Ryan, noting that Mr. Trump ‘wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols’ of how a president should interact with federal law enforcement agencies. To Mr. Comey, it was the opposite: When Mr. Trump pressed him on the inquiry into the ousted national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, and his contacts with Russian officials, the president was fully aware he was nearing if not overstepping a legal boundary into possible obstruction of justice. Mr. Comey suggested very strongly that Mr. Trump’s acute sensitivity to his behavior was why he cleared the Oval Office of other high-level officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence, before one particularly delicate discussion. As Thursday’s extraordinary Senate Intelligence Committee appearance by Mr. Comey unfolded, it quickly became clear that the interpretation of Mr. Trump’s intentions at that moment and in other crucial interactions with Mr. Comey will be a central element of the investigations by both Congress and the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.” And see also, Trump Calls Former F.B.I. Director James Comey a ‘Leaker.’ What Does That Mean? The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 9 June 2017.

Republicans’ Secretive Plan for Health Care, The New York Times, Miranda Yaver, Friday, 9 June 2017: “While many Americans make sense of James Comey’s testimony on his meetings with President Trump, Republican senators are quietly moving toward something that has been their party’s goal for nearly eight years: dismantling the Affordable Care Act. The question, of course, is how they plan to replace it. Republicans in the Senate will need 50 votes to pass their version of the American Health Care Act. Several senators have expressed reservations about the House version of the bill, which withdraws federal support for Planned Parenthood and rolls back the Medicaid expansion accomplished by the A.C.A.. Despite the lack of consensus within the party, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, on Wednesday began the process of fast-tracking the bill under Rule 14, which enables the Senate to bypass the committee process and instead move the bill on to the Senate calendar for a vote as soon as it is ready. This will allow the legislation to move much as it did in the House – swiftly and secretively. The Senate aims to vote by the end of the month, and will probably do so with no hearings. This stands in stark contrast to the process leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which included over 100 congressional hearings. The A.H.C.A.’s fast-tracking is not driven by necessity, but rather by the concern that a more transparent legislative process would lay bare the reality that the bill, if passed, would cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance and drive up costs for millions of others.”

Trump Commits the United States to Defending NATO Nations, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 9 June 2017: “President Trump on Friday reaffirmed the longstanding United States commitment to come to the defense of any NATO members that are attacked, more than two weeks after his refusal to do so during a trip to Europe stirred resentment among America’s traditional allies. The White House also announced that Mr. Trump will travel to Poland next month before heading to Germany for a Group of 20 summit meeting, a visit meant to reassure Eastern European allies at a time when they feel nervous about aggression by Russia after its intervention in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. European leaders were disappointed last month when Mr. Trump did not explicitly endorse the mutual defense doctrine articulated in Article 5 of the NATO charter while visiting the alliance headquarters in Brussels. A line in his speech was taken out at the last minute, to the chagrin of the president’s national security team. ‘I’m committing the United States to Article 5,’ Mr. Trump said during a news conference on Friday with President Klaus Iohannis of Romania in the White House Rose Garden. ‘And certainly, we are there to protect and that’s one of the reasons that I want people to make sure we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force. But yes, absolutely, I’d be committed to Article 5.’ Article 5 states that ‘an armed attack against one or more’ members ‘in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all’ and has been the bedrock of the trans-Atlantic relationship for nearly seven decades. Mr. Trump raised doubts about the commitment during his campaign last year when he said he would come to the defense only of allies that have fulfilled financial obligations.”

Continue reading Week 21, Friday, 9 June-Thursday, 15 June 2017:

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Trump, Week 20: Friday, 2 June-Thursday, 8 June 2017 (Days 134-140)

 

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 2 June 2017, Day 134:

 

Trump turns to the Supreme Court to move forward on his travel ban, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 2 June 2017: “The Trump administration late Thursday asked the Supreme Court to revive the president’s plan to temporarily ban citizens from six mostly Muslim countries, elevating a divisive legal battle involving national security and religious discrimination to the nation’s highest court. Justice Department lawyers asked the court to overturn a decision of the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that kept in place a freeze on President Trump’s revised ban. The 10-to-3 ruling last week was one in a series of legal defeats for the administration, as judges across the country have said Trump’s claim of protecting the nation was cover for making good on a campaign promise to ban Muslims from entry into the United States. The government’s filing late Thursday asks the justices to set aside the 4th Circuit ruling and accept the case for oral arguments. It also asks the high court to lift an even broader nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in a separate Hawaii case. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which covers Hawaii, heard the government’s arguments in that case last month, but has not yet ruled. In turning to the high court, Justice Department lawyers said the 4th Circuit should have considered only the language of the executive order and not second-guessed the president’s motivations.” See also, Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Revive Travel Ban, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 2 June 2017. And see also, The Supreme Court’s Options in the Travel Ban Case, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 2 June 2017.

World Leaders Lament U.S. Withdrawal From the Paris Climate Accord, but They Say It Won’t Stop Climate Efforts, The Washington Post, Michael D. Shear and Alison Smale, Friday, 2 June 2017: “World leaders vowed Friday to confront climate change in a new international coalition that no longer includes the United States government, moving quickly to reshape global environmental alliances after President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate accord. At the White House, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, declared that the president had ‘nothing to be apologetic about’ after announcing his decision on Thursday. He hailed Mr. Trump’s actions to ‘put America’s interests first’ and said that ‘exiting Paris does not mean disengagement.’ But in foreign capitals, and in communities across the United States that vowed to continue their efforts to combat the effects of climate change, that is exactly what Mr. Trump’s withdrawal seemed to mean. International officials set in motion plans to leave the American government behind while they look for ways to stave off the direst consequences of the warming of the planet. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Mr. Trump’s actions ‘will not deter all of us who feel obliged to protect this earth.’ Koichi Yamamoto, the Japanese environment minister, told reporters that Mr. Trump had ‘turned his back on the wisdom of human beings.’ Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said the fight against climate change ‘will continue with or without the United States.’ Turning that message quickly into action, European Union leaders on Friday concluded a two-day summit meeting in Brussels with Prime Minister Li Keqiang of China — a not-so-veiled diplomatic threat to Mr. Trump that Europe will find a partner to fight climate change, one way or another.” See also, Trump’s speech withdrawing from the Paris climate accords needs a serious fact check, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Friday, 2 June 2017: [Many of the reasons] “Trump gave for withdrawing seemed at best strained and at worst unfounded.” This article explores some of Trump’s claims and some of the problems with them. See also, For Climate Cause, Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord Is Just One Hurdle Among Many, ProPublica, Andrew Revkin, Friday, 2 June 2017: “Economic forces at work beyond the reach of the global climate agreement present their own enduring challenges.”

Does Donald Trump Still Think Climate Change Is a Hoax? No One at the White House Will Say. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 2 June 2017: “As a businessman, President Trump was a frequent and scornful critic of the concept of climate change. In the years before running for president, he called it ‘nonexistent,’ ‘mythical’ and a ‘a total con job.’ Whenever snow fell in New York, it seemed, he would mock the idea of global warming. ‘Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,’ he wrote on Twitter in 2012. In another post later that year, he said, ‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.’ A year later, he wrote that ‘global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!’ But on Friday, a day after Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate change accord, the White House refused to say whether the president still considers climate change a hoax. As other leaders around the world vowed to confront climate change without the United States, Mr. Trump’s advisers fanned out to defend his decision and, when pressed, said they did not know his view of the science underlying the debate.”

Continue reading Week 20, Friday, 2 June-Thursday, 8 June 2017:

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Trump, Week 19: Friday, 26 May – Thursday, 1 June 2017 (Days 127-133)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 26 May 2017, Day 127:

 

Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow that Jared Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller, Friday, 26 May 2017: “Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications. The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest. Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.” See also, Jared Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo, Friday, 26 May 2017: “Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.”

Jared Kushner trying to secretly talk to the Russians is the biggest billow of smoke yet, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 26 May 2017: “The Washington Post’s national security team just reported that during the transition, Jared Kushner proposed to the Russians that they set up a secret channel of communication using secure Russian facilities. That’s what the Russian ambassador to the United States told Moscow about a December conversation he had with Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser. This is a damning piece of news for the White House caught under an avalanche of revelations about its dealings with Russia. If it’s true, it’s the most difficult for them to explain in the context of an FBI investigation into Russia meddling in the U.S. election and whether Trump’s campaign helped. Why would Trump’s transition team need to secretly talk to the Russians, using their Russian channels? The White House declined to comment.”

Sources: Then-FBI Director James Comey acted on Russian intelligence he knew was fake, CNN Politics, Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz, and Gloria Borger, Friday, 26 May 2017: “Then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email was fake — created by Russian intelligence — but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe and the Justice Department itself, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the process. As a result, Comey acted unilaterally last summer to publicly declare the investigation over — without consulting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — while at the same time stating that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information. His press conference caused a firestorm of controversy and drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Comey’s actions based on what he knew was Russian disinformation offer a stark example of the way Russian interference impacted the decisions of the highest-level US officials during the 2016 campaign. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that this Russian intelligence was unreliable. US officials now tell CNN that Comey and FBI officials actually knew early on that this intelligence was indeed false. In fact, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe went to Capitol Hill Thursday to push back on the notion that the FBI was duped, according to a source familiar with a meeting McCabe had with members of the Senate intelligence committee.”

Continue reading Week 19, Friday, 26 May-Thursday, 1 June 2017:

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Trump, Week 18: Friday, 19 May – Thursday, 25 May 2017 (Days 120-126)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 19 May 2017, Day 120:

 

Russia probe reaches current Trump White House official, people familiar with the case say, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 19 May 2017: “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official. The revelation comes as the investigation appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said. The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”

Trump Told Russian Officials in the Oval Office on 10 May That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From the Russian Investigation, The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg, Friday, 19 May 2017: “President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. ‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,’ Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. ‘I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.’ Mr. Trump added, ‘I’m not under investigation.’  The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that the president dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing. The comments represented an extraordinary moment in the investigation, which centers in part on the administration’s contacts with Russian officials: A day after firing the man leading that inquiry, Mr. Trump disparaged him — to Russian officials. The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.”

First on CNN: Russian officials bragged they could use Flynn to influence Trump, sources say, CNN Politics, Gloria Borger, Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto, Marshall Cohen, and Eric Lichtblau, Friday, 19 May 2017: “Russian officials bragged in conversations during the presidential campaign that they had cultivated a strong relationship with former Trump adviser retired Gen. Michael Flynn and believed they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team, sources told CNN. The conversations deeply concerned US intelligence officials, some of whom acted on their own to limit how much sensitive information they shared with Flynn, who was tapped to become Trump’s national security adviser, current and former governments officials said. ‘This was a five-alarm fire from early on,’ one former Obama administration official said, ‘the way the Russians were talking about him.’ Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem. The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said. That relationship developed throughout 2016, months before Flynn was caught on an intercepted call in December speaking with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. That call, and Flynn’s changing story about it, ultimately led to his firing as Trump’s first national security adviser. Officials cautioned, however, that the Russians might have exaggerated their sway with Trump’s team during those conversations.”

Continue reading Week 18, Friday, 19 May – Thursday, 25 May 2017, Days 120-126:

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Trump, Week 17: Friday, 12 May – Thursday, 18 May 2017 (Days 113-119)

 

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 12 May 2017, Day 113:

 

Trump Warning to Comey Prompts Questions on Secret ‘Tapes,’ The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 12 May 2017: “President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director whom he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about him, saying that Mr. Comey ‘better hope’ that there are no secret tapes of their conversations that the president could use in retaliation. The suggestion that the president may be surreptitiously recording his meetings or telephone calls added a twist at the end of a week that roiled Washington. The president and his spokesman later refused to say whether he tapes his visitors, something Mr. Trump was suspected of doing when he was in business in New York. ‘James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to an article in The New York Times that said he had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty during a dinner at the White House shortly after the inauguration, only to be rebuffed by the F.B.I. director, who considered it inappropriate. Mr. Trump denied the account, but it was not clear whether he was genuinely revealing the existence of clandestine recordings or simply making a rhetorical point that Mr. Comey’s version of events was false.”

Trump threatens to cancel White House briefings because it is ‘not possible’ for his staff to speak with ‘perfect accuracy,’ The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Friday, 12 May 2017: “President Trump threatened Friday morning to end White House press briefings, arguing that ‘it is not possible’ for his staff to speak with ‘perfect accuracy’ to the American public. Trump’s comments come after his description of his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey in an NBC News interview Thursday flatly contradicted the accounts provided earlier by White House officials, including Vice President Pence, exposing their explanations as misleading and in some cases false. In a pair of tweets sent Friday, Trump suggested he might do away with the daily press briefings at the White House and instead have his spokesmen communicate to the public only via ‘written responses.'”

Trump reportedly wanted a loyalty pledge from Comey. The FBI says that ‘leads to tyranny.’ The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 12 May 2017: “There are now multiple reports that President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey in part because Comey didn’t provide him assurances of loyalty. The Washington Post has reported Trump ‘had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment.’ CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that a source close to Comey told him Comey’s lack of “any assurance of personal loyalty” was one of two main reasons Comey was fired. And now the New York Times is reporting that Trump asked for a loyalty pledge during a dinner about a week after Trump was inaugurated:

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not ‘reliable’ in the conventional political sense.

Trump would have known what Comey’s answer would be if he had taken the time to understand the oath taken by FBI officers — and members of the military for that matter. Those oaths are taken to the Constitution and not the president for a very specific reason. Right there on its website, the FBI says the bureau and its officials must only swear an oath to the Constitution — not even a president. The reason? Because the latter ‘too easily leads to tyranny’.”…

Continue reading Week 17, Friday, 12 May – Thursday, 18 May 2017:

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Trump, Week 16: Friday, 5 May – Thursday, 11 May 2017 (Days 106-112)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 5 May 2017, Day 106:

 

Measure on Pre-existing Conditions Energizes Opposition to the Republican Health Bill, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Abby Goodnough, Friday, 5 May 2017: “From the moment the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a plan to overhaul the health care system, an onslaught of opposition to the bill has been focused on a single, compact term: pre-existing conditions. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began running digital ads warning that the legislation would leave ‘no more protections’ for people with a history of illness or injury. Pointing to the power that states could have to set the terms for insurers under the G.O.P. bill, Democratic leaders announced they would make pre-existing conditions an issue in every gubernatorial and state legislative race in the country.” See also, Late-night hosts blast Republican health-care bill: ‘Those ramifications are disastrous,’ The Washington Post, Emily Yahr, Friday, 5 May 2017.

Senate Intelligence Committee Asks Trump Associates for Records of Communication With Russians, The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 5 May 2017:”The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked a number of high-profile Trump campaign associates to hand over emails and other records of dealings with Russians as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and is prepared to subpoena those who refuse to cooperate, officials said. The requests for the materials were made in letters sent by the committee in the past 10 days, said two officials with knowledge of the contents of the letters. The move is designed to accelerate the committee’s investigation, and represents a new bipartisan challenge to the Trump administration, which has sought to use Republican allies in Congress to blunt the inquiries. Among those who said they had received the requests were Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to President Trump, and Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, and Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, were also sent letters, the officials with knowledge of the investigation said. Representatives for those two men declined to comment. Any decision to issue subpoenas would require a majority vote by members of the intelligence committee.”

After promising to cooperate, ex-Trump adviser Carter Page turns the inquiry back on the Senate Intelligence Committee panel, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 5 May 2017: “Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser whose interactions with Russia are under FBI investigation, has repeatedly said he wants to cooperate with Congress’s Russia probes to clear his name. But in a letter this week to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Page appeared to initially duck specific questions regarding his interactions with Russian officials, suggesting that the panel seek that information from inside the U.S. government instead. In an email to The Post, Page characterized the letter as a ‘preliminary response’ to a Senate request that he begin providing detailed information no later than May 9, leaving open the possibility he will release more information to the committee in coming days. But he titled the letter a response to  ‘request for even more irrelevant data’ and asked that the committee first release to him information the government has collected through surveillance ‘as a starting point.’ The FBI last summer obtained a secret court order to monitor Page’s communications after convincing a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe the energy consultant was acting as an agent of the Russian government. Page has angrily denied that allegation in a series of media interviews and public statements, insisting he is the victim of a smear campaign by Democrats.”

 

Continue reading Week 16, Friday, 5 May – Thursday, 11 May 2017:

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Trump, Week 15: Friday, 28 April – Thursday, 4 May 2017 (Days 99-105)

 

There is no Planet B

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 28 April 2017, Day 99:

 

Trump signs executive order to expand oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts: ‘We’re opening it up.’ The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 28 April 2017: “President Trump signed an executive order Friday that aims to expand offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, as well as assess whether energy exploration can take place in marine sanctuaries in the Pacific and Atlantic. The ‘America-First Offshore Energy Strategy’ will make millions of acres of federal waters eligible for oil and gas leasing, just four months after President Barack Obama withdrew these areas from possible development. In late December, Obama used a little-known provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to bar energy exploration in large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia.” See also, Trump to Expand Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and to Reconsider Rules Designed to Prevent a Repeat of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, Bloomberg Politics, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Friday, 28 April 2017: “The executive order…instructs Zinke to review a raft of protections governing offshore drilling, including a measure designed to address shortcomings revealed by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, triggered when a BP Plc well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting explosion killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of crude.”

Trump Targets Undocumented Families, Not Felons, in First 100 Days, The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Friday, 28 April 2017: “In 2014, after years of bitter fighting in Washington over comprehensive immigration reform, Barack Obama announced that his administration would provide protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the country, shifting its enforcement focus to ‘felons, not families.’ The White House, by that time, had overseen the deportation of nearly 2 million people — according to an analysis by the New York Times, two-thirds of those cases involved individuals ‘who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.’ Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, operationalized the policy shift in a memo calling on his personnel to exercise prosecutorial discretion in order to prioritize enforcement of immigration laws against individuals who posed a threat to national security, border security, or public safety. The memo did not stop the Obama administration from deporting people who lacked criminal records or whose only offense was an immigration violation — a December 2016 analysis by the Marshal Project found roughly 60 percent of the 300,000 people deported after the president’s speech fit that description — and advocates would often argue that splitting the immigrant population into two groups created its own set of problems. Still, defenders of the administration’s efforts say, it was something. At the very least, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was supposed to be targeting its efforts with an eye toward more dangerous individuals, even if the reality on the ground was much different…. This month [April 2017], the Washington Post reported that arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled under the Trump administration. The paper described the push as ‘the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.’… [T]he ‘noncriminal’ ICE arrests seen during the first three months of the Trump administration are more than double those reported over the same period in 2016 — in fact, the numbers from this year are more than those from 2016 and 2015 combined. However, the number of noncriminal arrests over the first three months of 2017 is lower than the number of noncriminal arrests during the same period in 2014. During that three-month period, which was before the Obama-era prioritization memo was issued, ICE arrested 7,483 noncriminals and 21,745 criminals, compared to 5,441 noncriminals and 15,921 criminals under Trump. In other words, the Trump administration appears to be moving enforcement back to a pre-2014 prioritization memo framework, in which immigrants with clean criminal records are fair game for enforcement.”

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, Responds to Trump’s N.R.A. Speech With Photos of Shooting Victims, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Friday, 28 April 2017: “As President Trump took the stage to champion the Second Amendment at a National Rifle Association convention on Friday, a United States senator sought to counter his message by unleashing a Twitter storm using the names, ages and pictures of gun violence victims. Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who has fought for increased gun control since the 2012 school massacre in his home state, posted on Twitter on Friday morning to urge his followers not to watch Mr. Trump’s speech and instead, ‘think about who we are fighting for.'”

Continue reading Week 15, Friday, 28 April – Thursday, 4 May 2017:

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Trump, Week 14: Friday, 21 April – Thursday, 27 April 2017 (Days 92-98)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently.

I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 21 April 2017, Day 93:

 

Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US presidential election, Reuters, Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott, Friday, 21 April 2017: “A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters. They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election. The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office. The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals. It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said. A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said. The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes step toward enforcing threat to strip funding from ‘sanctuary cities,’ The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 21 April 2017: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday demanded that nine jurisdictions produce proof that they are communicating with federal authorities about undocumented immigrants or risk losing grant funding. Sessions sent letters to the nine jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, in the latest sign that the Trump administration intends to punish what are sometimes called sanctuary cities that do not cooperate in its promised crackdown on illegal immigration. President Trump signed an executive order in January declaring that sanctuary jurisdictions would not be eligible to receive federal grants, and Sessions vowed last month during a White House news conference to take Justice Department money from such places. How far Trump can go, though, and what jurisdictions can do to avoid his ire, remains unclear…. The letters were addressed to officials in New Orleans; Philadelphia; Chicago; New York City; Clark County, Nev.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Milwaukee County, Wis.; Cook County, Ill.; and the state of California…. The release said New York, for example, “continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.” New York, in fact, has seen significant recent reductions in crime.… The grants at stake provide federal funding for a host of functions in the criminal-justice system — including policing, victim-and-witness initiatives, crime prevention, drug-treatment programs and technology improvements…. When someone is arrested on a local crime, their fingerprints are run through the FBI database, and — whether local authorities like it or not — ICE can tell if they are in the country illegally. It then often will send a request to local authorities to detain such people. Refusing to honor such a request would not necessarily violate federal law. But telling local police officers, for example, that they could not give information to their ICE counterparts might.”

U.S. Rejects Exxon Mobil Bid for Waiver on Russia Sanctions, The New York Times, Clifford Krauss, Friday, 21 April 2017: “The Trump administration delivered a setback to Exxon Mobil on Friday, announcing that it would not grant the oil giant a waiver from sanctions against Russia that would allow drilling in the Black Sea. The decision, reinforcing barriers erected by the United States over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, was another sign that President Trump has been unwilling or unable to improve relations with the Kremlin early in his term, after pledging as a candidate that he would seek a thaw. ‘In consultation with President Donald J. Trump,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a terse, prepared statement, ‘the Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions.’ The prospect of a waiver had drawn denunciations from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers…. The matter was complicated by the continuing congressional scrutiny of reports of Russian intervention in support of Mr. Trump in last year’s election, and by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s role as Exxon Mobil’s chief executive until the president nominated him for his current position.”

Continue reading Week 14, Friday, 21 April – Thursday, 27 April 2017:

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