Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)-Weeks 4-6: Friday, 10 February-Thursday, 2 March 2017

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is a work in progress, and I will be adding material frequently.

 

For up-to-date- information about Donald Trump’s nominations for cabinet positions, cabinet-rank positions, and other top positions please see Who Trump is Putting in Power, ProPublica, by Jessica Huseman and Rob Weychert.

 

Friday, 10 February 2017, Day 22:

 

Tom Price Is Sworn In as Health Secretary Amid Senate Disunity, The New York Times, Robert Pear and Alan Rappeport, Friday, 10 February 2017: “Mr. Price was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence just hours after the Senate, by a party-line vote of 52 to 47, confirmed his nomination in the early hours of Friday morning…. Senate Democrats and the chamber’s two independents said they feared the worst, based on Mr. Price’s 12-year record as a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Georgia. They said that Mr. Price had led efforts to repeal the health care law and slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid by shifting some costs to beneficiaries and trimming payments to some health care providers. ‘This is a sad evening,’ said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. ‘People will look back and say that the Republicans’ war on seniors began at 2 a.m. Friday morning when the Senate unfortunately confirmed Representative Price.’ The depth of concern about Mr. Price was illustrated by the comments of Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats but is not given to hyperbole. ‘To put somebody in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services that is inimical to Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act — this guy is a wrecking ball,’ Mr. King said. ‘He is not a secretary. He is going into this agency to destroy it. He wants to undercut and diminish and, in some cases, literally destroy some of the major underpinnings of providing health care to people in this country.’

51% of Trump voters think the “Bowling Green massacre” justifies Trump’s Muslim ban, Mic, Anna Swartz, Friday, 10 February 2017: “A new poll suggests that more than half of Trump voters believe the Bowling Green massacre is a prime example of why President Donald Trump’s travel ban is so necessary. Apparently they don’t realize the “Bowling Green massacre” is a complete fabrication. The new national poll, released on Friday by the North Carolina-based organization Public Policy Polling, surveyed 712 registered voters. When asked if they either disagreed or agreed with the statement, ‘The Bowling Green massacre shows why we need Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration,’ a full 51% of Trump voters said they agreed that the supposed massacre was a justification for Trump’s ban, while just 23% said they disagreed (for comparison, 90% of Hillary Clinton voters said they disagreed with the statement).  …[T]he ‘Bowling Green massacre’ is a lie, a made-up terrorist attack that seems to have come straight from the mind of Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, who mentioned it in a Feb. 2 interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.”

Pence was told Flynn didn’t discuss sanctions with Russian ambassador, aides say, Politico, Matthew Nussbaum, Friday, 10 February 2017: “Reports that national security adviser Michael Flynn may have discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador before President Donald Trump’s inauguration has revived concerns about Flynn’s relationships with Moscow — and threatens to entangle a member of the administration who has so far mostly dodged controversy: Vice President Mike Pence. Pence said in a Jan. 15 appearance on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ that Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were ‘strictly coincidental’ and had nothing to do with the Obama administration’s decision to punish Russia for meddling in the November election. ‘They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,’ Pence told CBS. An administration official told POLITICO that Pence’s remarks came after a conversation with Flynn and were guided by that conversation — leaving open the possibility that Flynn misled the Vice President just as he repeatedly denied the allegations to the Washington Post before acknowledging the topic may have been discussed.

Democrats seek investigation into national security adviser Michael Flynn, Associated Press: The Big Story, Ken Thomas and Julie Pace, Friday, 10 February 2017: “Congressional Democrats on Friday called for an investigation into whether White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions in phone calls with Russia’s ambassador while President Barack Obama was still in office, conversations that may have broken U.S. law aimed at barring private citizens from conducting diplomacy. The White House said President Donald Trump had ‘full confidence’ in Flynn, a show of support coming as the administration scrambled to manage the fallout from reports that Flynn addressed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call late last year. The report contradicted both Flynn’s previous denials, as well as those made by Vice President Mike Pence in a televised interview.”

Trump says he’s unaware of reports Michael Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Jeff Zeleny and Elizabeth Landers, Friday, 10 February 2017: “President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon he was unaware of reports that his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, may have spoken about sanctions with the Russian ambassador before the inauguration. Trump, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, said he will ‘look into that.'”

CIA freezes out top Flynn aide, Politico, Kenneth P. Vogel and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 10 February 2017: “A top deputy to national security adviser Michael Flynn was rejected for a critical security clearance, effectively ending his tenure on the National Security Council and escalating tensions between Flynn and the intelligence community. The move came as Flynn’s already tense relationships with others in the Trump administration and the intelligence community were growing more fraught after reports that Flynn had breached diplomatic protocols in his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the NSC, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.”

Trump Drops Defense of Obama Guidelines on Transgender Students, The New York Times, Liam Stack, published on Saturday, 11 February 2017: “A nationwide injunction that has kept transgender students from using school bathrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity will remain in place after the Trump administration decided not to challenge it in court. The move, announced Friday, ended an effort mounted by the Obama administration after the order was announced last year. The injunction was issued in August by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas as part of a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen states over the Obama administration’s position that Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, protects transgender students. Under that interpretation, transgender students have access to facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, a proposition to which social conservatives strongly object. They argue that allowing transgender students to use those facilities poses a threat to the privacy and safety of other students…. The decision changed little in the short term because the nationwide injunction has been in effect since August, but it signaled a significant change in the government’s approach to transgender issues under President Trump. Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called the move a ‘callous attack’ on ‘the dignity and safety of transgender students.’ ‘While the immediate impact of this initial legal maneuver is limited, it is a frightening sign that the Trump administration is ready to discard its obligation to protect all students,’ she said in a statement. ‘Transgender students are not going away, and it remains the legal and moral duty of schools to support all students.’ The Obama administration evolved into an ardent defender of transgender students, suing North Carolina over a law there restricting transgender people’s access to public bathrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms. In May, the administration warned public school districts that they could face lawsuits or a loss of federal funds if they did the same.

Saturday, 11 February 2017, Day 23:

 

Trump tweeted about US legal system and refugees at 7:12 am on Saturday, 11 February 2017: “Our legal system is broken! 77% of refugees allowed into U.S. since travel reprieve hail from seven suspect countries.” (WT) SO DANGEROUS!”

Trump Says Refugees Are Flooding U.S. in Misleading Allusion, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Saturday, 11 February 2017: “President Trump said on Saturday that judicial decisions that halted his executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries had allowed a flood of refugees to pour into the country. ‘Our legal system is broken!’ Mr. Trump wrote in a Twitter posting a day after he said that he was considering a wholesale rewriting of the executive order to circumvent legal hurdles quickly but had not ruled out appealing the major defeat he suffered in a federal appeals court on Thursday. ‘SO DANGEROUS!’ the president added. Mr. Trump cited a report in The Washington Times that asserted that 77 percent of the refugees who entered the United States since Judge James L. Robart of Federal District Court in Seattle blocked the order on Feb. 3 had been from the seven ‘suspect countries.’ Still, his allusion to a rush of dangerous refugees is somewhat misleading. According to an analysis of data maintained by the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center, the percentage of refugees arriving from those countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — has risen considerably since the directive was suspended, but the weekly total of refugees arriving from the targeted countries has risen by only about 100. And all are stringently vetted…. At the same time, refugee arrivals from countries not affected by the order have fallen sharply. Since the judge blocked the ban, 1,049 of the 1,462 refugees who have arrived in the United States, or 72 percent, were from the seven countries affected. In Mr. Trump’s first week of office, before he issued his order, more refugees arrived, 2,108, and 935 of them, representing 44 percent, were from those seven nations. The figures suggest that the State Department and refugee resettlement agencies, which meet weekly to determine which individuals and families to admit to the United States, may be stepping up their efforts to help refugees from the seven countries.”

Trump: Border wall price ‘will come WAY DOWN’ when I negotiate, The Hill, Elliot Smilowitz, Saturday, 11 February 2017: “President Trump on Saturday responded to reports that the cost of his proposed border wall is much higher than expected, insisting that it will be much cheaper after he gets involved in negotiations.  ‘I am reading that the great border WALL will cost more than the government originally thought, but I have not gotten involved in the … design or negotiations yet. When I do, just like with the F-35 FighterJet or the Air Force One Program, price will come WAY DOWN!’ Trump wrote in a series of tweets [at 8:18 and 8:24 am]…. Reuters on Thursday [9 February] reported that the planned wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would cost as much as $21.6 billion — nearly double the $12 billion price tag that Trump has claimed in the past.”

Losing Hope in U.S., Migrants Make Icy Crossing to Canada, The New York Times, Catherine Porter, Dan Levin and Ian Austen, Saturday, 11 February 2017: “Almost three months after Bashir Yussuf watched Donald J. Trump win the presidential election, he made his way to Noyes, Minn., where he set off at night into the snow-filled woods and crawled across the unmarked border into Canada…. After a three-hour walk, much of it through deep drifts, Mr. Yussuf arrived in Emerson, a small farming town in sight of the snow-swept border with both North Dakota and Minnesota…. The morning before Mr. Yussuf arrived with another Somali last Sunday night, 19 other Africans had emerged on the Canadian side of the border, cold and hungry after walking much of the night across frozen farm fields. There were too many to fit into the small border office for processing, so the people of the town rushed to open the community hall, where the new arrivals could get warm, doze on sleeping mats and refuel on Nutella sandwiches, tea and coffee…. Over the past couple of years, a small number of people have been sneaking across the border at Manitoba from the United States and then filing for asylum, Canadian Border Service Agency statistics show. But since the fall, refugee workers in Winnipeg say, there has been a noticeable surge. The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, known locally as Welcome Place, typically serves 50 to 60 asylum seekers per year, said its executive director, Rita Chahal. ‘Since April, we’ve seen already 300,’ she said…. A loophole in the rules covering asylum seekers has led some to walk for as long as eight hours in the middle of the night, through wintry landscapes and biting prairie cold, before arriving in Emerson. While an agreement between Canada and the United States makes it impossible for them to simply present themselves at the border and claim asylum, those who make it into the country and then present themselves to border guards can do so. Now, in light of the uncertainty and disruption created by President Trump’s executive order on immigration, refugee advocates and human rights groups in Canada are demanding that the government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspend or cancel the refugee pact, which is known as the Safe Third Country agreement…. On Wednesday, the immigration and refugee clinical program at Harvard Law School issued a report stating that Mr. Trump’s executive orders on immigration made the United States ‘not a safe country of asylum’ for people fleeing persecution and violence. ‘When Canada sends someone back to the U.S., we are saying we have confidence the U.S. is going to protect them if they need protection. We don’t see how we can have confidence to say that in the current context,’ said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council For Refugees, a nonprofit umbrella organization of 170 refugee advocacy groups.” See also, The new underground railroad to Canada, Maclean’s, Jason Markusoff, Photographs by Nick Iwanyshyn, Friday, 3 February 2017.

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile, Challenging Trump, The New York Times, Choe Sang-Hun, Saturday, 11 February 2017: “North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward the sea off its eastern coast on Sunday, in what South Korea called the North’s first attempt to test President Trump’s policy on the isolated country. A projectile believed to be a modified version of the North’s intermediate-range ballistic missile Musudan took off at 7:55 a.m. from Banghyon, a town near North Korea’s northwestern border with China, and flew 310 miles before falling in the sea, the South Korean military said. Earlier, the United States Strategic Command issued a statement identifying the missile as a medium- or intermediate-range system that ‘did not pose a threat to North America.’… Mr. Trump and Mr. Abe hastily arranged a joint appearance in response. ‘North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,’ Mr. Abe said, calling on the country to comply with all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Looking grim, Mr. Trump said nothing about the missile launch, but pledged to staunchly back Japan. ‘I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,’ he said. The two leaders are at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla., where they are meeting over the weekend.”

Trump turns Mar-a-Lago Club terrace into open-air situation room: How a Trump national security meeting ended up on social media, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Karen DeYoung, published on Monday, 13 February 2017: “It was Saturday night, and Palm Beach’s tony Mar-a-Lago Club was packed. There was a wedding reception in the ballroom. There was a full house for dinner on the terrace. And at one table on the terrace, there was the president and the leader of a major U.S. ally, hashing out a national security problem in the open air. ‘Someone opened up a laptop, and at the table . . . a group of Japanese people stood around the prime minister and Donald, and they were all looking at the laptop,’ said Jay Weitzman, a member of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and founder of the Pennsylvania-based parking management company Park America. He was sitting three tables away from Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday evening…. As Weitzman and other patrons watched Saturday evening, Trump and Abe remained at the table and discussed their response to a ballistic missile test by North Korea. While waiters came and went — and while one club member snapped photos — the two leaders reviewed documents by the light of an aide’s cellphone. That strange scene — in which Trump turned his table into an al fresco situation room — astounded White House veterans, who were used to presidents retiring to private, secured settings to hash out such an event.”

 

Sunday, 12 February 2017, Day 24:

 

Stephen Miller’s bushels of Pinocchios for false voter-fraud claims, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Sunday, 12 February 2017: “White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appeared on ABC’s ‘The Week’ on Sunday, spouting a bunch of false talking points on alleged voter fraud. (He also repeated similar claims on other Sunday talk shows.) To his credit, host George Stephanopoulus repeatedly challenged Miller, noting that he had provided no evidence to support his claims. But Miller charged ahead, using the word ‘fact’ three times in a vain effort to bolster his position.”

Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned’, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Monday 13 February 2017: “Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows…. …[A]mid all [his] baseless and false statements about electoral integrity, Miller did something even more controversial: He expanded upon his boss’s views of whether judges are allowed to question President Trump’s authority. And at one point, Miller even said Trump’s national security decisions ‘will not be questioned.’ Here’s the key exchange, with “Face the Nation’s” John Dickerson:

DICKERSON: When I talked to Republicans on the Hill, they wonder, what in the White House — what have you all learned from this experience with the executive order?

MILLER: …The end result of this…is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

‘Will not be questioned.’ That is an incredible claim to executive authority — and one we can expect to hear plenty more about. Trump has beaten around this bush plenty, yes. But Miller just came out and said it: that the White House doesn’t recognize judges’ authority to review things such as his travel ban. It might have been excused as a little over-exuberance, except that Miller said similar things in his other Sunday show appearances.”

Trump undertakes most ambitious regulatory rollback since Reagan, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Sunday, 12 February 2017: “President Trump has embarked on the most aggressive campaign against government regulation in a generation, joining with Republican lawmakers to roll back rules already on the books and limit the ability of federal regulators to impose new ones. After just a few weeks in office, the new administration is targeting dozens of Obama-era policies, using both legislative and executive tactics. The fallout is already rippling across the federal ­bureaucracy and throughout the U.S. economy, affecting how dentists dispose of mercury fillings, how schools meet the needs of poor and disabled students, and whether companies reject mineral purchases that fuel one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. The campaign has alarmed ­labor unions, public safety advocates and environmental activists, who fear losing regulations that have been in place for years, along with relatively new federal mandates. Business groups, however, are thrilled, saying Trump is­ responding to long-standing complaints that a profusion of federal regulations unnecessarily increases costs and hampers their ability to create jobs.”

 

Monday, 13 February 2017, Day 25

 

Steven Mnuchin Is Confirmed as Treasury Secretary, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Monday, 13 February 2017: “The Senate confirmed Steven T. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood film financier, to be Treasury secretary on Monday, putting in place a key lieutenant to President Trump who will help drive the administration’s plans to overhaul the tax code, renegotiate trade deals around the world and remake financial regulations. By a vote of 53 to 47, the Senate confirmed Mr. Mnuchin, who was Mr. Trump’s top campaign fund-raiser. During a long debate over Mr. Mnuchin’s credentials, Democrats argued that his experience on Wall Street exemplified corporate malpractice that led to the 2008 financial crisis…. While Mr. Mnuchin’s financial acumen has been praised by Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress, Democrats have argued forcefully that he is not up to the job. They have painted him as a symbol of everything that is wrong with corporate America. ‘He was part of the cadre of corporate raiders that brought our economy to its knees,’ Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said on the Senate floor on Monday. There was also no shortage of name-calling. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, referred to Mr. Mnuchin as the ‘foreclosure king.’ Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, described him as ‘greedy’ and “unethical” while arguing the case against him. ‘Whether illegally foreclosing on thousands of families, skirting the law with offshore tax havens or helping design tactics that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, Steve Mnuchin made a career — and millions of dollars — pioneering increasingly deceptive and predatory ways to rob hardworking Americans of their savings and homes,’ Ms. Duckworth said.”

Justice Department warned White House that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say, The Washington Post, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Philip Rucker, Monday, 13 February 2017: “The acting attorney general [Sally Yates] informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said. The message, delivered by Sally Q. Yates and a senior career national security official to the White House counsel, was prompted by concerns that ­Flynn, when asked about his calls and texts with the ­Russian diplomat, had told Vice ­President-elect Mike Pence and others that he had not discussed the Obama administration sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, the officials said. It is unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did with the ­information. Flynn resigned Monday night in the wake of revelations about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.”

Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Apuzzo and Glenn Thrush, Monday, 13 February 2017: “Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Mr. Flynn, who served in the job for less than a month, said he had given ‘incomplete information’ regarding a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before President Trump’s inauguration. Mr. Flynn previously had denied that he had any substantive conversations with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, and Mr. Pence repeated that claim in television interviews as recently as this month. But on Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow…. Officials said Mr. Pence had told others in the White House that he believed Mr. Flynn lied to him by saying he had not discussed the topic of sanctions on a call with the Russian ambassador in late December. Even the mere discussion of policy — and the apparent attempt to assuage the concerns of an American adversary before Mr. Trump took office — represented a remarkable breach of protocol…. The F.B.I. had been examining Mr. Flynn’s phone calls as he came under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council. The blackmail risk envisioned by the Justice Department would have stemmed directly from Mr. Flynn’s attempt to cover his tracks with his bosses. The Russians knew what had been said on the call; thus, if they wanted Mr. Flynn to do something, they could have threatened to expose the lie if he refused.… Officials said classified information did not appear to have been discussed during the conversation between Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, which would have been a crime. The call was captured on a routine wiretap of diplomats’ calls, the officials said. But current Trump administration officials and former Obama administration officials said that Mr. Flynn did appear to be reassuring the ambassador that Mr. Trump would adopt a more accommodating tone on Russia once in office. Former and current administration officials said that Mr. Flynn urged Russia not to retaliate against any sanctions because an overreaction would make any future cooperation more complicated. He never explicitly promised sanctions relief, one former official said, but he appeared to leave the impression that it would be possible.”

Non-Citizens Are Not Voting. Here Are the Facts, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, Wendy R. Weiser and Douglas Keith, Monday, 13 February 2017: “The Trump administration continues to double down on its false and widely-criticized assertion that 3 to 5 million non-citizens illegally voted in the 2016 election. On Sunday [12 February 2017] , White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller claimed 14% of non-citizens are registered to vote. ‘We know for a fact, you have massive numbers of non-citizens registered to vote in this country,’ he said, appearing on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos. ‘The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud.’ Actually, it hasn’t. Nevertheless, President Trump announced earlier this month, despite the lack of evidence, that Vice President Mike Pence will lead a federal investigation into voter fraud.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump Try to Bridge Some Gaps While Avoiding Others, The New York Times, Richard Pérez-Peña and Ian Austen, Monday, 13 February 2017: “Despite sharp differences on immigration, refugees, trade and climate change, President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada struck a cordial tone on Monday in their first meeting, alternating between attempting to bridge those gaps and steering clear of them. Mr. Trump has called for a halt to the admission of refugees, saying that terrorists might slip into the United States among them, while Mr. Trudeau has held out Canada as a haven for refugees, particularly people who have fled the war in Syria, publicly hugging newly arrived families…. Mr. Trudeau declined to say whether he agreed with the president’s executive order restricting immigration. ‘The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves,’ he said. Maintaining the country’s close political and economic links with the United States was top of the Canadian leader’s agenda before his visit to Washington. Mr. Trudeau had forged an unusually close relationship with former President Barack Obama, but many of Mr. Trump’s policies, particularly his protectionist stance on trade and his call for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, are chilling for Canadians. They count on trade with the United States for about 25 percent of their country’s gross domestic product…. Mr. Trudeau appears determined to maintain friendly relations with Mr. Trump despite their differences, while signaling to Canadians who are wary of their powerful neighbor that Canada still charts its own course.”

David Shulkin unanimously confirmed to head Veterans Affairs, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Monday, 13 February 2017: “David J. Shulkin, an internist and longtime health administrator, was unanimously confirmed Monday to lead the troubled Veterans Affairs Department, becoming the first of President Trump’s Cabinet picks to be embraced by all Republicans and Democrats. He is the sole holdover from the Obama administration. No senators dissented on Shulkin’s nomination in a rare show of bipartisanship following contentious battles over other Trump Cabinet selections. Shulkin’s approval makes him the 11th high-ranking Trump official to be confirmed by the Senate.”

Ethics office: Kellyanne Conway committed ‘clear violation’ with Ivanka plug, Politico, Kyle Cheney, published on Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Donald Trump committed a ‘clear violation’ of ethics rules when she hawked Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on Fox & Friends last week, the federal government’s ethics watchdog said in a letter released [Monday]. ‘I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway’s actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her,’ Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub wrote in the letter, which is dated Feb. 13 and was posted online by Democrats on the House oversight committee. Conway offered what she described as a ‘free commercial’ for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line after Nordstrom pulled her items from its racks, drawing a Twitter rebuke from President Donald Trump…. In his letter, Shaub notes that Conway’s appearance on Fox & Friends was held in the White House’s press briefing room, signaling that she was conducting the interview in her ‘official capacity.’ ‘She used that interview, however, as an opportunity to market Ms. Trump’s products,’ Shaub wrote.”

White House Grants Press Credentials to a Pro-Trump Blog, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Monday, 13 February 2017: “The Gateway Pundit, a provocative conservative blog, gained notice last year for its fervent pro-Trump coverage and its penchant for promoting false rumors about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health that rocketed around right-wing websites. Now the site will report on politics from a prominent perch: the White House. The Trump administration has granted press credentials to Lucian B. Wintrich, the Washington correspondent for Gateway Pundit, to attend White House press briefings and ask questions of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer.”

Tuesday, 14 February 2017, Day 26:

 

Trump tweeted at 9:28 am that “illegal leaks” were responsible for Michael Flynn’s downfall: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?”

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Trump says the ‘real story’ is ‘illegal leaks’, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Jenna Johnson, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “President Trump on Tuesday blamed “illegal leaks” for the downfall of national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned late Monday amid reports of potentially illegal interactions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump was sworn in as president. In a tweet, Trump expressed frustration with what he views as a culture of leaks in the nation’s capital. “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” he wrote. “Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea etc?”

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s Downfall Sprang From ‘Eroding Level of Trust’, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “Just days into his new position as President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn found himself in a meeting that any White House official would dread. Face to face with F.B.I. agents, he was grilled about a phone call he had had with Russia’s ambassador. What exactly Mr. Flynn said has not been disclosed, but current and former government officials said on Tuesday that investigators had come away believing that he was not entirely forthcoming. Soon after, the acting attorney general decided to notify the White House, setting in motion a chain of events that cost Mr. Flynn his job and thrust Mr. Trump’s fledgling administration into a fresh crisis…. Given his short stay at the top, Mr. Flynn’s case might be quickly forgotten as an isolated episode if it did not raise other questions, particularly about what the president knew and when. Even more broadly, it underscores lingering uncertainty about the relationship between the Trump administration and Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, a subject of great interest given American intelligence reports of Moscow’s intervention in last year’s elections in the United States…. …[A]ides privately said that Mr. Trump, while annoyed at Mr. Flynn, might not have pushed him out had the situation not attracted such attention from the news media. Instead, according to three people close to Mr. Trump, the president made the decision to cast aside Mr. Flynn in a flash, the catalyst being a news alert of a coming article about the matter…. The issue traced back to a call last December between Mr. Flynn, then on tap to become Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. President Barack Obama was imposing new sanctions on Russia and expelling 35 diplomats after the election meddling. The day after the sanctions were announced, Mr. Putin said Russia would not retaliate in kind, as has been the custom in the long, tortured history of Russian-American relations, instead waiting for a new administration that he assumed would be friendlier. Inside the Obama administration, officials were stunned. Mr. Trump publicly welcomed the decision. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” he wrote on Twitter [at 2:41 pm on Friday, 30 December 2016]. “I always knew he was very smart!” On Jan. 12, David Ignatius, a columnist for The Washington Post, reported that Mr. Flynn had called Mr. Kislyak, setting off news media interest in what was said. Mr. Spicer, then the spokesman for Mr. Trump’s transition team, went to Mr. Flynn, who he said told him that sanctions had not come up during the call. Briefing reporters the next day, Mr. Spicer repeated the misinformation, saying that the conversation had ‘never touched on the sanctions.’ Mr. Flynn told the same thing to Mr. Pence and Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, who were scheduled to go on the Sunday talk shows and expected that they would be asked about the matter, according to the two men. On [Sunday] Jan. 15, Mr. Pence went on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS and on ‘Fox News Sunday’ and repeated that sanctions had not been discussed, while Mr. Priebus said much the same on “Meet the Press” on NBC.” See also, The Fall of Michael Flynn: A timeline: How Michael Flynn got back to the White House, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 14 February 2015. This timeline starts with April 2014.

Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation. But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer [2016], Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public. [Wednesday, 27 July 2016: ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,Mr. Trump said during a news conference here in an apparent reference to Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails. ‘I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’] The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.”

Senators from both parties pledge to deepen probe of Russia and the 2016 election, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “Top Republican and Democratic senators pledged Tuesday to deepen their investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election in the wake of Michael Flynn’s resignation as President Trump’s national security adviser, opening a new and potentially uncomfortable chapter in the uneasy relationship between Trump and Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said such an investigation is ‘highly likely,’ and the top two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), stood side by side Tuesday to announce that the committee’s ongoing probe must include an examination of any contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.”

Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump, The New York Times, Michael R. Gordon, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: ” Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile that American officials say violates a landmark arms control treaty, posing a major test for President Trump as his administration is facing a crisis over its ties to Moscow.”

Trump signs law rolling back disclosure rule for energy and mining companies, The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “President Trump signed a measure Tuesday that could presage the most aggressive assault on government regulations since President Reagan. The bill cancels out a Securities and Exchange Commission regulation that would have required oil and gas and mining companies to disclose in detail the payments they make to foreign governments in a bid to boost transparency in resource-rich countries.”

House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz probes Trump’s security protocols at Mar-a-Lago, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz is pressing White House officials for details on why President Donald Trump conducted some of his response to a North Korean missile test in a public dining room at his Mar-a-Lago club. In a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, Chaffetz requested answers about security protocols at Mar-a-Lago; the details of potentially sensitive documents that Trump and his aides perused in the presence of diners and waitstaff; and whether any sensitive material was discussed in public. The Utah Republican is also seeking information about whether guests are vetted to ‘ensure that they are not foreign agents or spies on behalf of a foreign government.’… Pictures and videos of Trump’s chaotic dinner — with top aides holding up cell phones in the darkened room as Trump, alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, considered their response to the missile test — surfaced quickly over the weekend, posted by fellow diners.”

A DREAMer Was Arrested During A Raid And Now Immigration Officials Have Been Ordered To Explain Why, BuzzFeed News, Adolfo Flores and Chris Geidner, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “A federal magistrate judge has ordered officials to defend the arrest of an undocumented immigrant who has protection from deportation during a raid last week, BuzzFeed News has learned. Daniel Ramirez [Medina] was detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Seattle on Feb. 10 and threatened with deportation, despite being a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, a lawsuit filed on Monday alleges. About 750,000 young immigrants — referred to as DREAMers because of the protections sought for them by the DREAM Act — were shielded from deportation and received work permits under then-President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive actions that deprioritized the deportations of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records.”

 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017, Day 27:

 

Trump’s early morning tweets on Wednesday, 15 February 2017: At 7:08 am Trump tweeted: “This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.” And at 7:19 am Trump tweeted: “Information is being illegally given to the failing & by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia.” And at 8:13 am Trump tweeted: “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by “intelligence” like candy. Very un-American!”

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Was Brought Down by Illegal Leaks to News Media, Trump Says, The New York Times, Mark Landler and Richard Pérez-Peña, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “President Trump lashed out at the nation’s intelligence agencies again on Wednesday, saying that his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was brought down by illegal leaks to the news media, on a day of new disclosures about the Trump camp’s dealings with Russia during and after the presidential campaign. ‘From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked,’ Mr. Trump said at a White House news conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. ‘It’s a criminal action, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time before me, but now it’s really going on. And people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.’ With his statement and a burst of early-morning posts he made on Twitter, Mr. Trump tried to shift attention from damaging questions about contacts with Russia by Mr. Flynn and others close to the president, arguing that the outrage is not those contacts, but the leaks about them. He revived his charge that the allegations of a ‘Russian connection’ were nothing more than a Democratic conspiracy, fed to a receptive news media to distract from the mistakes made by Mrs. Clinton during the campaign…. The White House has said that Mr. Trump demanded Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night [13 February], after it was revealed that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his conversations with a Russian diplomat. But on Wednesday [15 February], the president said that Mr. Flynn had ‘been treated very, very unfairly by the media,’ undercut by ‘documents and papers that were illegally — I’d stress that, illegally — leaked.‘”

After Election, Trump’s Professed Love for Leaks Quickly Faded, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “As a candidate for president, Donald J. Trump embraced the hackers who had leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails to the press, declaring at a rally in Pennsylvania, ‘I love WikiLeaks!’ To the cheering throngs that night, Mr. Trump marveled that ‘nothing is secret today when you talk about the internet.’ The leakers, he said, had performed a public service by revealing what he called a scandal with no rival in United States history. Now, after less than four weeks in the Oval Office, President Trump has changed his mind. At a news conference on Wednesday and in a series of Twitter postings earlier in the day, Mr. Trump angrily accused intelligence agencies of illegally leaking information about Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser, who resigned after reports that he had lied about conversations with the Russian ambassador.”

Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdraws, Politico, Burgess Everett, Tara Palmeri and Marianne Levine, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “The fast-food exec faced numerous scandals, including a video of his ex-wife accusing him of abuse on ‘Oprah’ in 1990…. Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination Wednesday to be secretary of labor after Senate Republicans informed the White House that he lacked the votes to be confirmed…. The number of issues plaguing the fast-food executive could fill an opposition research book: His ex-wife accused him of abuse on ‘Oprah’ in 1990, he was tutored by a mob lawyer and recently admitted to failing to pay taxes on the undocumented immigrant he employed. He also drew criticism for his companies’ risque advertisements and labor practices.” See also, Democrats Set Sights on Blocking Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 14 February 2017: “Signs of the fast-food restaurant executive’s vulnerability have been swirling in recent weeks as his hearing was delayed several times because of the complexity of his vast financial portfolio, including millions of dollars in preferred stock in the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., CKE. Protesters have swarmed those fast-food restaurants across the country to express outrage that the person chosen to look out for America’s wage workers has a record of fighting for owners’ interests.… ‘Puzder literally likes robots more than workers and does not believe in raising the minimum wage,’ said Ben Jealous, a former head of the N.A.A.C.P. and founding board chairman of the labor group Good Jobs Defenders, who is organizing protests…. Democrats are also expected to seize upon comments that Mr. Puzder has made in support of automation and his stances against overtime pay. The provocative television commercials featuring bikini-clad models eating juicy hamburgers that were produced by CKE during his tenure are also likely to come up. One news release in 2011 explained the company’s marketing strategy when it blared: “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.”

Trump, Meeting With Netanyahu, Backs Away From Palestinian State, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Mark Landler, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “President Trump jettisoned two decades of diplomatic orthodoxy on Wednesday by declaring that the United States would no longer insist on the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians…. ‘I’m looking at two-state and one-state’ formulations, Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference with Mr. Netanyahu. ‘I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.’ At the same time, Mr. Trump urged Mr. Netanyahu to temporarily stop new housing construction in the West Bank while he pursues a deal, echoing a position past presidents have taken. ‘I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit,’ he told Mr. Netanyahu.”

When Trump was asked about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during his campaign and after his election, he talked about his electoral college victory: Transcript and Analysis: Trump and Netanyahu Hold Joint Press Conference, NPR, NPR Staff, Wednesday, 15 February 2017:

Question: Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic — anti- Semitic incidents across the United States. And I wonder, what do you say to those among the Jewish community in the states and in Israel and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?

Donald Trump: Well, I just want to say that we are, you know, very honored by the victory that we had–306 electoral college votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221, but then they said there’s no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there. I will say that we are going to have peace in this country. We are going to stop crime in this country. We are going to do everything within our power to stop long simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on. There’s a lot of bad things that have been taking place over a long period of time. I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation, very divided. And hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that. And I, you know, it was something that was very important to me. As far as people, Jewish people, so many friends; a daughter who happens to be here right now; a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren. I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening. And you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love. OK? Thank you.

Senate Blocks Obama-Era Rule Tightening Checks On Mentally Ill Gun Buyers, NPR, Colin Dwyer, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “By a 57-43 margin, the Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to repeal an Obama-era regulation designed to block certain mentally ill people from purchasing firearms. The vote, which approves a House resolution passed earlier this month, now sends the measure to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The rule on the verge of rollback would have required the Social Security Administration to report the records of some mentally ill beneficiaries to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Those who have been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs — roughly 75,000 people — would have been affected by the rule, according to NPR’s Susan Davis. It was implemented by former President Obama after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, which saw 20 students and six teachers killed at an elementary school by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. The Hill reports that the rule was set to take effect in December.”

Do voter identification laws suppress minority voting? Yes. We did the research, The Washington Post, Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi and Lindsay Nielson, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “…[V]oter identification laws are spreading rapidly around the country. Before 2006, no state required photo identification to vote on Election Day. Today 10 states have this requirement. All told, a total of 33 states — representing more than half the nation’s population — have some version of voter identification rules on the books. As we detail below, our research shows that these laws lower minority turnout and benefit the Republican Party…. Critics claim that voter ID laws serve as effective barriers that limit the legitimate participation of racial and ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups…. Scholars have been able to show that racial and ethnic minorities have less access to photo IDs, and extensive analysis reveals almost no evidence of voter fraud of the type ostensibly prevented by these laws…. [There is] a significant drop in minority participation when and where these [ID] laws are implemented. Hispanics are affected the most: Turnout is 7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries in strict ID states than it is in other states. Strict ID laws mean lower African American, Asian American and multiracial American turnout as well. White turnout is largely unaffected…. …[W]hen strict ID laws are instituted, the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points. Likewise, the turnout gap between conservative and liberal voters more than doubles from 7.7 to 20.4 points. By instituting strict voter ID laws, states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right. Where these laws are enacted, the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows. Unsurprisingly, these strict ID laws are passed almost exclusively by Republican legislatures.”

White House Plans to Have Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies, The New York Times, James Risen and Matthew Rosenberg, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “President Trump plans to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials, an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview. The possible role for Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump blamed leaks from the intelligence community for the departure of Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, whose resignation he requested. There has been no announcement of Mr. Feinberg’s job, which would be based in the White House, but he recently told his company’s shareholders that he is in discussions to join the Trump administration. He is a member of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council…. Bringing Mr. Feinberg into the administration to conduct the review is seen as a way of injecting a Trump loyalist into a world the White House views with suspicion. But top intelligence officials fear that Mr. Feinberg is being groomed for a high position in one of the intelligence agencies.”

The EPA Posted a Mirror of Its Website Before Trump Can Gut the Real One, Vice, River Donaghey, published on Thursday, 16 February 2017: “On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency posted a mirror of its website capturing the way it looked on January 19, 2017—the day before Trump took office. Trump has proved himself to be delete-happy when it comes to the web presence of federal agencies. He’s already axed big chunks of the Department of Education and the USDA sites, and his White House website is significantly more stripped down than Obama’s. The EPA’s move will allow for an archive of its site to exist long after Trump eventually guts the main one.”

Thursday, 16 February 2017, Day 28:

 

Trump Denounces ‘Low-Life Leakers,’ Pledging to Hunt Them Down, The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “President Trump escalated his attacks on the intelligence community on Thursday, promising to catch the ‘low-life leakers’ who have supplied the ‘fake news media’ with information on his administration’s ties to Russia, information that he dismissed as a political excuse for Democratic losses.” At 6:58 Trump tweeted: “Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing (and others) must apologize!” At 7:02 he tweeted: “The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!” At 9:10 he tweeted: “FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and “sources,” is far more effective than the discredited Democrats – but they are fading fast!” And at 9:39 he tweeted: “The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!”

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn in FBI interview in January denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador, The Washington Post, Sari Horwitz and Adam Entous, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “Former national security adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month [January] that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies, current and former U.S. officials said. The Jan. 24 [Tuesday]  interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy. Lying to the FBI is a felony offense. But several officials said it is unclear whether prosecutors would attempt to bring a case, in part because Flynn may parse the definition of the word ‘sanctions.’ He also followed his denial to the FBI by saying he couldn’t recall all of the conversation, officials said. Any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department.”

Trump’s Thursday Press Conference, Annotated, NPR, Thursday, 16 February 2017: Some excerpts:

Trump: I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved….

Question: I just want to get you to clarify this very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign? And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?

Trump: Well the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake…. I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and, you know, over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that. But I’m not OK when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred….

Question: You said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake. I guess I don’t understand. It seems that there’s a disconnect there. If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

Trump: The reporting is fake. Look, look…. You know what it is? Here’s the thing. The public isn’t — you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved. I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved. So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things. And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone.’ The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that — the tone is such hatred. I watched this morning a couple of the networks. And I have to say, Fox & Friends in the morning, they’re very honorable people…. Now, they’ll take this news conference — I’m actually having a very good time, OK? But they’ll take this news conference — don’t forget, that’s the way I won. Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day. OK? No, that’s how I won. I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure. But I’m having a good time. Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But — but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it. But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves.’ I’m not ranting and raving…. Well, I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse. That’s a ruse. And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. Now tomorrow, you’ll say ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.

Question: On the travel ban — we could banter back and forth. On the travel ban would you accept that that was a good example of the smooth running of government….

Trump: Yeah, I do. I do. Let me tell you about this government…

Question: Were there any mistakes…

Trump: Wait. Wait. I know who you are. Just wait. Let me tell you about the travel ban. We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court, got a bad decision. We had a court that’s been overturned—again, may be wrong, but I think it’s 80 percent of the time. A lot. We had a bad decision. We’re going to keep going with that decision. We’re going to put in a new—a new executive order next week sometime. But we had a bad decision….

A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well, The New York Times, Laurie Goodstein, published on Friday, 17 February 2017: “Jake Turx is a newly minted White House correspondent for a publication that has never before had a seat in the White House press corps: Ami Magazine, an Orthodox Jewish weekly based in Brooklyn. He is a singular presence in the briefing room: a young Hasidic Jew with side curls tucked behind his ears and a skullcap embroidered with his Twitter handle. When President Trump called on him at a news conference on Thursday, saying he was looking for a ‘friendly reporter,’ Mr. Turx was prepared. He had spent an hour crafting a question about a recent surge of anti-Semitism, with a preamble that he hoped would convey his supportive disposition toward Mr. Trump….

Mr. Turx: Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren…. However,..what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——

At that, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was ‘not a fair question.’ ‘Sit down,’ the president commanded. ‘I understand the rest of your question.’ As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, ‘So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.’ Mr. Turx tried to interject, realizing how the encounter had turned. He said he had wanted to clarify that he in no way meant to accuse Mr. Trump of anti-Semitism but instead intended to ask what his administration could do to stop the anti-Semitic incidents. Mr. Trump would not let [Mr. Turx] speak again, saying, ‘Quiet, quiet, quiet.’ As Mr. Turx shook his head with an incredulous look on his face, Mr. Trump accused him of having lied that his question would be straight and simple. Mr. Trump said, ‘I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me.’ … He went on to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, during his visit to the United States on Wednesday, had vouched for Mr. Trump as a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people and no anti-Semite. Mr. Trump concluded that Mr. Turx should have relied on Mr. Netanyahu’s endorsement, ‘instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.’ ‘Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,’ Mr. Trump said.”

‘They friends of yours?’: Trump asks black reporter to set up meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “Over the course of the lengthy and bizarre news conference that President Trump held Thursday, few moments crystallized the unusual nature of his presidency as effectively as an exchange he had at the end with April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks. Ryan asked Trump if he would include the CBC in discussions about his agenda for addressing urban policy. The CBC, for those unaware, is the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of African American legislators that is often a leading voice on the Hill for issues dealing with the black community. Trump appeared briefly to be unaware of what the initials stood for, and so Ryan asked more pointedly. ‘Am I going to include who?’ he asked. ‘Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus,’ Ryan, who is black, asked, ‘and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as well as …?’ ‘Well, I would,’ Trump interrupted. ‘Tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting.’ Ryan pointed out to the president that she is a journalist and that, while she does know members of the CBC, that’s not her role. “I’m sure some of them are watching right now,” she added.”

Trump Calls Press ‘Dishonest,’ Then Utters Falsehoods of His Own, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “President Trump took aim at reporters on Thursday for more than an hour at an impromptu White House news conference. ‘The press has become so dishonest,’ he said, and not talking about it would be ‘doing a tremendous disservice to the American people.’ He added that the ‘level of dishonesty is out of control.’ In accusing the news media, though, Mr. Trump uttered several falsehoods of his own.” (See the article for a list of some of the most important falsehoods.)

Scenes from the ‘Day Without Immigrants’ marches that took place across America, Fusion, Rafi Schwartz, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “In cities across the United States, immigrants and their allies have taken to the streets in massive shows of solidarity as part of the nationwide ‘Day Without Immigrants’ strike. The marches are, perhaps, the most visible portion of a day which has seen hundreds of restaurants and storefronts close as immigrants—particularly those from Latinx communities—highlight their vital role in society and protest the Trump administration.” See also, On a ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ Workers Show Their Presence by Staying Home, The New York Times, Liz Robbins and Annie Correal, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “It first spread on social media, rippling through immigrant communities like the opposite of fear and rumor: a call to boycott. In the New York region and around the country, many cooks, carpenters, plumbers and grocery store owners decided to answer it and not work on Thursday as part of a national “day without immigrants” in protest of the Trump administration’s policies toward them. The protest called for immigrants, whether naturalized citizens or undocumented, to stay home from work or school, close their businesses and abstain from shopping. People planned for it in restaurant staff meetings, on construction sites and on commuter buses, but the movement spread mostly on Facebook and via WhatsApp, the messaging service. No national group organized the action.”

Trump Will Issue New Travel Order Instead of Fighting Case in Court, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “The Justice Department told a federal appeals court on Thursday that it would not seek a rehearing of a decision that shut down President Trump’s targeted travel ban. Instead, the administration will start from scratch, issuing a new executive order, the department said. Last Thursday [9 February], a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, blocked the key parts of the original executive order, which suspended the nation’s refugee program as well as travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The panel said the original ban was unlikely to survive constitutional scrutiny.”

Environmental Protection Agency Nominee Pruitt Ordered to Produce Documents About Fossil Fuel Ties, InsideClimate News, Nicholas Kusnetz, published on 17 February 2017: “An Oklahoma judge on Thursday [16 February] ordered the state’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, to quickly release thousands of pages of documents after years of delay. The records could reveal details of his relationship with the fossil fuel industry, which he will be in charge of regulating nationwide once confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The ruling, in response to a public records request from an advocacy group, came a day before a planned Senate vote to confirm Pruitt as Donald Trump‘s chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. The state judge gave Pruitt’s office until Tuesday to produce the records. Senate Democrats who have been seeking some of the same records tried to delay the confirmation vote, arguing that the documents requested could shed light on Pruitt’s ties to industries he would be charged with regulating as EPA administrator.”

Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns, The Wall Street Journal, Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. The officials’ decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him.” See also, CIA director denies withholding intelligence from Trump, The Hill, Katie Bo Williams, published on Friday, 17 February 2017: “CIA Director Mike Pompeo flatly denied a report that the U.S. intelligence community is withholding intelligence from the president, in a statement issued late Thursday. ‘The CIA does not, has not, and will never hide intelligence from the President, period. We are not aware of any instance when that has occurred,’ Pompeo said, calling a Wall Street Journal report to that effect ‘dead wrong.'”

More Democrats call on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to withdraw from Russia probe, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, published on Friday, 17 February 2017: “Dozens of House Democrats are calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s review of contacts between President Trump’s associates and Russian government operatives. Fifty-five lawmakers, led by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), signed a letter sent to Sessions late Thursday asking him to withdraw based on his ties to Trump’s campaign and key figures who have been alleged to have ties to Russia. The letter comes days after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned under pressure following reports from The Washington Post and other news organizations that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. ‘The revelations of the past few days regarding contact between high-level Trump Administration officials and Russian intelligence operatives have been a blow to public confidence in our institutions and to the integrity of our national security,’ the letter reads. ‘These allegations must be met with a thorough, complete and impartial examination. Given your relationships with those who will be under investigation, we urge you to recuse yourself going forward.'”

Trump family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’–at taxpayer expense, The Washington Post, Drew Harwell, Amy Brittain and Jonathan O’Connell, Thursday, 16 February 2017: “Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents — a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term. Adding to the costs and complications is Trump’s inclination to conduct official business surrounded by crowds of people, such as his decision last weekend to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a working dinner while Mar-a-Lago members dined nearby.”

 

Friday, 17 February 2017, Day 29:

 

Scott Pruitt, longtime adversary of the Environmental Protection Agency, confirmed to lead the agency, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Friday, 17 February 2017: “Scott Pruitt woke up Friday morning as Oklahoma’s attorney general, a post he had used for six years to repeatedly sue the Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to regulate mercury, smog and other forms of pollution. By day’s end, he had been sworn in as the agency’s new leader, setting off a struggle over what the EPA will become in the Trump era. Pruitt begins what is likely to be a controversial tenure with a clear set of goals. He has been outspoken in his view, widely shared by Republicans, that the EPA zealously overstepped its legal authority under President Barack Obama, saddling the fossil-fuel industry with unnecessary and onerous regulations. But rolling back the environmental actions of the previous administration won’t happen quickly or easily. Even if President Trump issues executive orders aimed at undoing Obama initiatives to combat climate change, oversee waterways and wetlands and slash pollution from power plants — as he is expected to do as early as next week — existing regulations won’t disappear overnight.”

Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People’, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Friday, 17 February 2017: “President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media ‘is the enemy of the American people.’ Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks. At 4:32 p.m., shortly after arriving at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., Mr. Trump took to Twitter to write:

Photo

The message was swiftly deleted, but 16 minutes later Mr. Trump posted a revised version. Restricted to 140 characters, he removed the word “sick,” and added two other television networks — ABC and CBS — to his list of offending organizations. [At 4:48 pm Trump tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing , , , , ) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”] The president has referred to the media as the ‘opposition party’ to his administration, and he has blamed news organizations for stymieing his agenda. But the language that Mr. Trump deployed on Friday is more typically used by leaders to refer to hostile foreign governments or subversive organizations. It also echoed the language of autocrats who seek to minimize dissent.”

FBI Director James Comey met with lawmakers from the Senate Intelligence Committee amid uproar over Trump-Russia ties, The Hill, Katie Bo Williams, Friday, 17 February 2017: “FBI Director James B. Comey met with lawmakers from the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Friday, amid an uproar over alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. Committee members and Comey spent nearly three hours Friday afternoon in a secure room in the Senate basement used for classified briefings, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Lawmakers tersely refused to comment upon exiting the meeting, declining even to confirm that Comey met with them.”

Senate Intelligence Committee members want Russia-related materials preserved, CNN, Eric Bradner and Manu Raju, published on Monday, 20 February 2017: “The Senate Intelligence Committee is asking more than a dozen agencies, organizations and individuals to preserve communications related to the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The panel, led by chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, sent letters asking for those materials to be kept, a Senate aide said Sunday. The letters were sent Friday, the same day committee members discussed Russia in a private meeting with FBI Director James Comey. The move comes amid inquiries into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign officials were in contact with Russian officials and other Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 race. High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials have told CNN.”

White House confirms a senior National Security Council adviser was reassigned after disagreeing with Trump, CNN, Dan Merica, published on Monday, 20 February 2017: “A senior National Security Council adviser was reassigned to his old job at the National Defense University, a White House spokeswoman confirmed Sunday, after he criticized the Trump administration’s Latin American policies. Craig Deare was removed from his role as a senior adviser at the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere division Friday and ‘sent back to his original position,’ said Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman. Deare had been assigned to the NSC by the Trump administration.”

Migrants Choose Arrest in Canada Over Staying in the U.S., NPR, Kathleen Masterson, Friday, 17 February 2017: “Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reporting a flurry of illegal crossings into Canada in recent months. Officials say Quebec province has seen the highest influx of people seeking asylum, with many crossing in snowy, remote areas in northern New York. One illegal crossing area that has become particularly popular among immigrants is in Champlain, N.Y., in the northeast corner of the state.”

 

Saturday, 18 February 2017, Day 30:

 

U.S. inquiries into Russian election hacking include three FBI probes, Reuters, Joseph Menn, Saturday, 18 February 2017: “The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is pursuing at least three separate probes relating to alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential elections, according to five current and former government officials with direct knowledge of the situation. While the fact that the FBI is investigating had been reported previously by the New York Times and other media, these officials shed new light on both the precise number of inquires and their focus.”

Trump Returns to Campaign Trail After a Month in Office, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 18 February 2017: “With just 1,354 days until the next presidential election, Mr. Trump kicked off his re-election campaign here on Saturday with a boisterous, sign-waving, slogan-chanting, patriotic-song-singing rally that lacked only an opponent for him to run against…. Asked by reporters on Air Force One as he flew here whether it was a little early to get back into campaign mode, he said: ‘Life is a campaign. Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, it’s a campaign; to make America great again is absolutely a campaign.'”

Fact-checking President Trump’s rally in Florida, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, published on Sunday, 19 February 2017. This article examines some of the dubious claims Trump made at his campaign-style rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday night [18 February].

‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation, The New York Times, Sewell Chan, published on Sunday, 19 February 2017: “During a campaign-style rally on Saturday in Florida, Mr. Trump issued a sharp if discursive attack on refugee policies in Europe, ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists. ‘You look at what’s happening,’ he told his supporters. ‘We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?’  Not the Swedes. Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled…. On Sunday, Mr. Trump offered his own clarification, writing on Twitter, ‘My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.'”

Sunday, 19 February 2017, Day 31:

 

A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates, The New York Times, Megan Twohey and Scott Shane, Sunday, 19 February 2017: “A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia. Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort…. [T]he proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin…. While it is unclear if the White House will take the proposal seriously, the diplomatic freelancing has infuriated Ukrainian officials. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, said Mr. Artemenko ‘is not entitled to present any alternative peace plans on behalf of Ukraine to any foreign government, including the U.S. administration.'”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says Trump should be denied a state visit to Britain, PBS/Associated Press, Sunday, 19 February 2017: “London’s mayor says that President Donald Trump shouldn’t receive a state visit in Britain because of his ‘cruel’ policies on immigration. Sadiq Khan said Sunday the U.S. president should not get VIP treatment when he comes to Britain later this year because of his ‘ban on people from seven Muslim-majorities countries’ and his decision to block refugees from entering the United States.”

Defense Secretary Mattis disagrees with Trump, says he does not see media as the enemy, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Sunday, 19 February 2017: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday that he does not see the media as the enemy of the American people, disagreeing with a claim made Friday by President Trump about numerous outlets. Mattis, asked directly about Trump’s criticism of the media, said he has had ‘some rather contentious times with the press’ but considers the institution ‘a constituency that we deal with.’ The defense secretary added: ‘I don’t have any issues with the press myself.'”

Could reporters be hunted down if Trump goes after leakers?, The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Sunday, 19 February 2017: “For those who care about press rights in America, President Trump’s words last week were stunning and disturbing. The news media is not merely ‘scum,’ as he has said many times before, but now ‘the enemy of the American People.’ This tweeted pronouncement, with its authoritarian echoes, came soon after Trump’s vow to stamp out the unauthorized flow of intelligence-community information to journalists. ‘I’ve actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks,’ he said. ‘Those are criminal leaks.’ Add up these two elements and you get a troubling question: Will the Trump administration’s crackdown on leaks include journalists as well as their sources? Why should journalists be treated any differently than any other citizens? Why shouldn’t they testify about their sources or even be prosecuted themselves when information obtained illegally is published? Well, because democracy is built on their ability to serve as a check on government power. They need to be able to do their watchdog job unfettered, and to tell citizens at least some of what their government is doing in secret. A crucial part of that is the ability to promise confidentiality to sources.”

 

Monday, 20 February 2017, Day 32:

 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to Baghdad: ‘We’re Not in Iraq to Seize Anybody’s Oil’, The New York Times, Helene Cooper, Monday, 20 February 2017: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, on the first visit by a senior Trump administration official to Iraq, worked on Monday to repair breaches of trust with Iraq’s leaders caused by his boss just as the two sides began a major offensive to oust the Islamic State from its last stronghold in the country. Mr. Mattis found himself in nearly the same position he was in during his just-finished trip to Europe, where much of his time was spent reassuring wary allies that the United States was still committed to NATO after statements and actions by President Trump seemed to call old alliances into question. Before arriving in Baghdad, Mr. Mattis was asked by reporters about Mr. Trump’s remarks during a visit to C.I.A. headquarters last month that the United States should have ‘kept’ Iraq’s oil after the American-led invasion, and might still have a chance to do so. ‘We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,’ Mr. Mattis said during a stop in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Mattis also found himself allaying concerns that the administration would exclude from the United States Iraqis who have worked and fought side by side with American troops.… Mr. Mattis said on Sunday that he had not seen the new executive order. ‘But right now,’ he said, ‘I’m assured that we will take steps to allow those who have fought alongside us to be allowed into the United States.'”

Trump Chooses Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael R. Gordon, Monday, 20 February 2017: “President Trump appointed Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new national security adviser on Monday, picking a widely respected military strategist known for challenging conventional thinking and helping to turn around the Iraq war in its darkest days…. Unlike Mr. Flynn, who served as a campaign adviser last year, General McMaster has no links to Mr. Trump and is not thought of as being as ideological as the man he will replace. A battle-tested veteran of both the Persian Gulf war and the second Iraq war, General McMaster is considered one of the military’s most independent-minded officers, sometimes at a cost to his own career…. The choice continued Mr. Trump’s reliance on high-ranking military officers to advise him on national security. Mr. Flynn is a retired three-star general and Mr. Mattis a retired four-star general. John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, is a retired Marine general. Mr. Trump’s first choice to replace Mr. Flynn, Robert S. Harward, who turned down the job, and two other finalists were current or former senior officers as well. General McMaster will remain on active duty.” See also, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster Isn’t a Bigot, Making Him an Outlier on Trump’s National Security Team, The Intercept, Zaid Jilani and Murtaza Hussain, published on Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “Unlike his short-lived predecessor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has no history of openly associating with bigotry. In fact, McMaster has throughout his career emphasized the need to work constructively with foreign Muslim populations. But his presence only calls more attention to the dramatic divide among Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. On one side are career military personnel who understand that antagonizing Muslims is both offensive to American values and damaging to the country’s security. On the other side are inexperienced, radical ethno-nationalists who shrug off international norms and believe that peaceful coexistence with the world’s Muslims is unlikely and undesirable. The two views appear incompatible. But which group will emerge victorious is not at all clear. In fact, which group speaks for Trump at any given moment is not entirely clear either.” The article goes on to describe the top players.

Milo Yiannopoulos loses his book deal with Simon & Schuster amid growing outcryThe Washington Post, Elahe Izadi, Monday, 20 February 2017: “Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Monday it cancelled Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s book deal, the latest development in the growing backlash over resurfaced videos of the far-right provocateur criticizing age-of-consent laws…. Hours earlier, organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded their invitation for Yiannopoulos to participate in this week’s conference. ‘Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,’ ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said in a statement. The videos have been available for years, but resurfaced on social media over the weekend. In them, Yiannopoulos jokes about a teenage sexual encounter with a Catholic priest and argues about age-of-consent laws.”

 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017, Day 33:

 

New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively, unleashing the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes. Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations. The new enforcement policies put into practice language that Mr. Trump used on the campaign trail, vastly expanding the definition of “criminal aliens” and warning that such unauthorized immigrants “routinely victimize Americans,” disregard the “rule of law and pose a threat” to people in communities across the United States. Despite those assertions in the new documents, research shows lower levels of crime among immigrants than among native-born Americans.… [T]aken together, the new policies are a rejection of the sometimes more restrained efforts by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and their predecessors, who sought to balance protecting the nation’s borders with fiscal, logistical and humanitarian limits on the exercise of laws passed by Congress…. The immediate impact of that shift is not yet fully known. Advocates for immigrants warned on Tuesday that the new border control and enforcement directives would create an atmosphere of fear that was likely to drive those in the country illegally deeper into the shadows. Administration officials said some of the new policies — like one seeking to send unauthorized border crossers from Central America to Mexico while they await deportation hearings — could take months to put in effect and might be limited in scope. For now, so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, will not be targeted unless they commit crimes, officials said on Tuesday…. [P]olitically, Mr. Kelly’s actions on Tuesday serve to reinforce the president’s standing among a core constituency — those who blame unauthorized immigrants for taking jobs away from citizens, committing heinous crimes and being a financial burden on federal, state and local governments.”

Trump’s Immigration Policies Explained, The New York Times, Nicholas Kulish, Vivian Yee, Caitlin Dickerson, Liz Robbins, Fernanda Santos and Jennifer Medina, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “With an executive order last month and a pair of Department of Homeland Security memos on Tuesday, the Trump administration has significantly hardened the country’s policies regarding illegal immigration.” This article describes some of the most significant elements of Trump’s new immigration policies. See also, What’s New in Those DHS Memos on Immigration Enforcement?, NPR, Camila Domonoske and Joel Rose, published on Wednesday, 22 February 2017.

In Open Letter, 65 Writers and Artists Urge Trump to Reconsider Visa Ban, The New York Times, Rachel Donadio, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “Sixty-five writers and artists have joined with the advocacy organization PEN America to send an open letter to President Trump, criticizing his executive order banning citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States and urging against further measures that would impair ‘freedom of movement and the global exchange of arts and ideas.’ ‘Vibrant, open intercultural dialogue is indispensable in the fight against terror and oppression,’ the letter reads. ‘Its restriction is inconsistent with the values of the United States and the freedoms for which it stands. Preventing international artists from contributing to American cultural life will not make America safer, and will damage its international prestige and influence,’ it adds.”

Trump decries anti-Semitic acts as ‘horrible’ amid calls for stronger White House denunciations, The Washington Post, Fred Barbash, Ben Guarino and Brian Murphy, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “President Trump called anti-Semitic violence “horrible” and vowed Tuesday to take steps to counter extremism in comments that followed criticism that the White House had not clearly denounced vandalism and threats targeting Jewish institutions…. ‘The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,’ Trump said…. Earlier, he told NBC News that ‘anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop.’ The remarks by Trump also appear aimed at easing pressure on his administration, which faces claims from opponents that it has failed to distance itself from extremist ideology and has emboldened right-wing groups through its populist, America-first themes.”

Anne Frank Center slams Trump: ‘Do not make us Jews settle for crumbs of condescension’, The Washington Post, Sarah Larimer, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “President Trump spoke out Tuesday against anti-Semitic threats, but his words were not enough for the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, whose executive director called the president’s acknowledgment of anti-Semitism a ‘Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration.’ ‘The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community at community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,’ Trump said after a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture…. On Tuesday morning, Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, blasted Trump in a Facebook post. ‘His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record,’ Goldstein said in the statement. ‘Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.’ The statement continued:

The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, Presidents’ Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.

Chuck Schumer: Jeff Sessions must recuse himself from the Michael Flynn investigation, The Washington Post, Chuck Schumer, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “The gravity of the issues raised by the events that led to national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation cannot be overstated or ignored. Revelations about Flynn’s contact with the Russians and reports indicating that he may have lied to the FBI about that contact may be only the tip of the iceberg. There’s an overwhelming view in our intelligence community that Russia tried to influence our election. The American people, and indeed American democracy, require a thorough and independent investigation into what transpired and whether any criminal laws or constitutional precepts were violated. Such an investigation and any resulting prosecution would normally be carried out under the purview of the attorney general, as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer with oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But in this case, given his deep and long-standing ties to President Trump and many of Trump’s top advisers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot lead such an investigation.”

A brief history of Donald Trump addressing questions about racism and anti-Semitism, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 21 February 2017. This article catalogues each time from the beginning of his campaign that “Trump was asked to weigh in on a question of racial or religious sensitivity and his response.”

Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos resigns following outrage over his past comments about pedophilia, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “Milo Yiannopoulos, the incendiary writer who helped make Breitbart News a leading organ of the alt-right [a.k.a. white nationalists/supremacists], resigned from the news organization Tuesday after a video of him endorsing pedophilia resurfaced online over the weekend. Yiannopoulos has been a flame-throwing provocateur whose writing has offended women, Muslims, blacks and gay people ever since former Breitbart executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon hired him as a senior editor in 2014. Bannon, now President Trump’s senior adviser, championed the British-born Yiannopoulos’s inflammatory commentary and promoted him as a conservative truth-teller and champion of free speech. In turn, his popularity helped raise Breitbart’s profile among Trump’s supporters and the alt-right, a vaguely defined collection of nationalists, anti-immigration proponents and anti-establishment conservatives. Adherents of the alt-right [white nationalists/white supremacists] are known for espousing racist, anti-Semitic and sexist points of view. ‘Breitbart News has stood by me when others caved,’ Yiannopoulos said in a statement announcing his resignation. ‘They have been a significant factor in my success.'” See also, The 96 hours that brought down Milo Yiannopoulos, The Washington Post, Abby Ohlheiser, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “Before Milo Yiannopoulos gained (and lost) a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) invitation, a book deal and a job, the now-former Breitbart News writer had already said and written many offensive things. That’s his appeal to the people who admire and elevate him: ‘Milo,’ the personality, is built on the idea of triggering liberals. His Breitbart archives contain a regular stream of articles arguing all sorts of things designed to demean and offend: that feminism makes women ugly, that he would prefer it if teenagers self-harmed rather than discuss trans issues on Tumblr, and that women will be happy only if we “un-invent” the birth control pill and the washing machine. None of these things, including the fact that the writer had already been banned from Twitter for, the platform said, inciting harassment against actress Leslie Jones, stopped Yiannopoulos from becoming a voice that CPAC felt was of value to their movement on free-speech grounds.”

At Jewish Cemetery Chesed Shel Emeth in University City, MO [suburb of St Louis], Seeking Answers Amid Heartbreak, The New York Times, Monica Davey and Alan Blinder, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “Cemetery officials said they were overrun with calls, emails and visits on Tuesday from distressed families. But callers also asked whether the vandalism at this 124-year-old cemetery might be another in a rash of anti-Semitic episodes occurring in recent weeks. On Tuesday, President Trump condemned the episodes, which some critics argued were an outgrowth of the vitriol of last year’s presidential campaign and Mr. Trump’s tone during it. Since the start of the year, at least 53 Jewish community centers around the country have received bomb threats, according to the J.C.C. Association of North America. More than a dozen of the facilities, including centers in Albuquerque; Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Milwaukee; and Wilmington, Del., have reported repeated threats. In addition, jarring graffiti of swastikas have been reported on some college campuses as well as the New York City subway….[S]ynagogues, not community centers and cemeteries, have historically been seen as the most threatened. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which also tracks anti-Semitic activity, said that he thought that the recent harassment of community centers was driven by the perception that they were so-called soft targets, especially in comparison to houses of worship. ‘The kind of thing like the bomb threats strikes me as being trolling on steroids,’ Mr. Potok said. ‘It’s not actually blowing up anything, but it’s causing an incredible amount of havoc, and it’s possible to do anonymously.'”

‘Every person deserves to rest in peace’: American Muslims raising money to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery in suburb of St Louis, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “After the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis over the long holiday weekend, an incident in which more than 150 headstones were toppled or damaged, two American Muslim activists started a fundraiser to help pay for needed repairs. ‘Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,’ the fundraising page on the site LaunchingGood reads…. Within a few hours of going up Tuesday afternoon, the page had exceeded its goal of raising $20,000.”

The disturbing history of vandalizing Jewish cemeteries, The Washington Post, Kayla Epstein, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “The vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri has caused an uproar after more than 170 headstones were toppled at the historical burial site. There had been several waves of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in recent weeks, but the recent acts against the cemetery have raised serious alarm and garnered the most prominent media attention yet…. Cemetery vandalism is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to Jewish burial sites. … [F]or Jews, the act of desecrating cemeteries recalls a dark history of prejudice and intimidation against Jewish communities…. Viewing the incident in St. Louis in the context of bomb threats made to Jewish community centers across the country, some members of the American Jewish community have begun to worry if anti-Semitism is rearing its head in the country more prominently.”

Here Are the Republicans Who Faced ‘So-Called Angry Crowds’ at Tuesday’s Town Halls, New York Magazine: Daily Intelligencer, Margaret Hartmann, published on Wednesday, 22 February 2017: “As Republican lawmakers headed home for their first recess of the year, they faced a difficult choice: hide from their constituents or risk being called out by a little girl and having the video go viral? Scores of Republicans across the country have chosen the former option, holding telephone forums or simply canceling events to avoid meeting face-to-face with angry constituents. With new grassroots groups like Indivisible urging those who oppose President Trump to adopt the tactics of the tea party, events that were once sparsely attended have drawn standing-room-only crowds. People have even taken to holding “empty chair” town halls in districts where they can’t get a meeting with their representative. On Tuesday, President Trump offered some encouragement to Republicans in Congress, suggesting angry crowds are only legitimate if they’re disorganized: [At 6:23 pm Trump tweeted: ‘The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!'”] The rest of the article catalogues “all the Republican members of Congress who chose to forge ahead with their public appearances on Tuesday, rather than avoiding or denigrating their newly energized constituents.”

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Medicaid Cuts to Planned Parenthood in Texas, The New York Times, Christopher Mele, Tuesday, 21 February 2017: “A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, ruling the state had presented no credible evidence to support claims the organization violated medical or ethical standards related to abortion procedures. The ruling, a preliminary injunction issued by Sam Sparks, a United States District Court judge in the Western District of Texas, means that, for now, 30 health centers that serve about 12,500 Medicaid patients can continue to receive funding from the medical program that serves the poor. The case is set to go to trial, where the judge can rule on its merits…. Texas became at least the sixth state where federal courts have kept Planned Parenthood eligible for Medicaid reimbursements for nonabortion services; similar efforts have been blocked in Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, The Associated Press reported. The decision in Texas preserves what Planned Parenthood said are services that include screening and treatment for breast and cervical cancers, counseling in contraception, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and primary health care services.”

Wednesday, 22 February 2017, Day 34:

 

The Scott Pruitt Emails: Environmental Protection Agency Chief Was Arm in Arm With Oil and Gas Industry, The New York Times, Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton, Wednesday, 22 February 2017: “As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations, according to over 6,000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday. The publication of the correspondence comes just days after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in to run the E.P.A., which is charged with reining in pollution and regulating public health. Senate Democrats tried last week to postpone a final vote until the emails could be made public, but Republicans beat back the delay and approved his confirmation on Friday largely along party lines. The impolitic tone of many of the emails cast light on why Republicans were so eager to beat the release. And although the contents of the emails were broadly revealed in The New York Times in 2014, the totality of the correspondences captures just how much at war Mr. Pruitt was with the E.P.A. and how cozy he was with the industries that he is now charged with policing.… Mr. Pruitt has been among the most contentious of President Trump’s cabinet nominees. Environmental groups, Democrats in Congress and even current E.P.A. employees have protested his ties to energy companies, his efforts to block and weaken major environmental rules, and his skepticism of the central mission of the agency he now leads.”

Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students That Allowed Them to Use the Bathroom That Corresponded to Their Gender Identity, The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters, Jo Becker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Wednesday, 22 February 2017: “President Trump on Wednesday rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars… In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice…. The question of how to address the ‘bathroom debate,’ as it has become known, opened a rift inside the Trump administration, pitting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Sessions, who had been expected to move quickly to roll back the civil rights expansions put in place under his Democratic predecessors, wanted to act decisively because of two pending court cases that could have upheld the protections and pushed the government into further litigation. But Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.… Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent. After getting nowhere, he took his objections to the White House because he could not go forward without her consent. Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, the Republicans said, and told Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her opposition. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.”

Mexico bristles at ‘hostile’ Trump deportation rules before U.S. talks, Reuters, Alexandra Alper and Anahi Rama, published on Thursday, 23 February 2017: “Mexico reacted with anger on Wednesday to what one official called “hostile” new U.S. immigration guidelines hours before senior Trump administration envoys began arriving in Mexico City for talks on the volatile issue. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security unveiled plans on Tuesday to consider almost all illegal immigrants subject to deportation, and will seek to send many of them to Mexico if they entered the United States from there, regardless of nationality…. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson landed in Mexico City on Wednesday afternoon. He was joined by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly later for talks the White House said would ‘walk through’ the implementation of Trump’s immigration orders…. Mexico’s lead negotiator with the Trump administration, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, said there was no way Mexico would accept the new rules, which among other things seek to deport non-Mexicans to Mexico. ‘I want to say clearly and emphatically that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept provisions that one government unilaterally wants to impose on the other,’ Videgaray told reporters at the Foreign Ministry…. ‘We also have control of our borders and we will exercise it fully,’ he said, adding that Mexico was prepared to go the United Nations to defend the freedoms and rights of Mexicans under international law.”

Lincoln Center Turns Away Woman Wearing Anti-Trump Sign, The New York Times, Colin Moynihan, Wednesday, 22 February 2017: “Jenny Heinz, a longtime Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic subscriber, calculates that over the past 60 years, she has been to hundreds of performances at Lincoln Center. But when she showed up this month at David Geffen Hall to see the Budapest Festival Orchestra, she was barred from attending when she refused to remove an 8-by-11-inch sign affixed to the back of her jacket. It read: ‘NO! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America.’ Ms. Heinz, 72, said she had been wearing the sign since she attended a protest outside Trump Tower in November. Though she had been looking forward to seeing the orchestra, partly because one of its cellists was almost stopped from entering the United States by President Trump’s travel ban, she said that, given a choice between the performance and the sign, she chose the sign. At what point does one draw the line?’ she said recently by phone. ‘We’re talking about freedom of expression.’ Officials at Lincoln Center refunded Ms. Heinz’s ticket, but this week they declined to discuss why she had been blocked from the performance. Ms. Heinz, though, said in an interview that during a later meeting she had with center officials — arranged by the civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel — the institution’s vice president for concert halls and operations, Peter Flamm, told her that signs were not allowed inside the performance halls or on the plaza outside. The dispute seems to illustrate the conflict between those who view cultural institutions as bastions of free thought that should embrace activism and those who think that, to protect the primacy of the performance, political statements should be limited to those made by the artists and the art.”

Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent, Arizona Capitol Times, Howard Fischer, Wednesday, 22 February 2017: “Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened. SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others. But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side…. The 17-13 party-line vote sends the bill to the House.”

Thursday, 23 February 2017, Day 35:

 

Video: A Closing Prayer For Standing Rock’s Oceti Sakowin, The Intercept, Jihan Hafiz, published on Saturday, 25 February. “It was an emotional closing prayer in front of the sacred fire at Oceti Sakowin camp, near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, ground zero of the movement to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. For hundreds of people who lived here, Oceti Sakowin had become home. Equipped with medical facilities, kitchens, security posts, prayer lodges, a building supply depot, a school, and a town hall, Oceti was a Native-led community built by the NoDAPL movement. On Wednesday [22 February], as many walked out of Oceti for the last time, smoke filled the air. Spiritual leaders chose to burn Native religious structures instead of allowing the police to bulldoze them.”

Justice Department will again use private prisons, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 23 February 2017: “The Justice Department will once again use private prisons to house federal inmates, reversing an Obama-era directive to stop using the facilities, which officials had then deemed less safe and less effective than those run by the government….. The directive marks a significant policy shift from the previous administration, although the practical impact might be somewhat muted. Most inmates are housed in state prisons, rather than federal ones. Even when the Justice Department announced it would no longer use private facilities, the action only affected 13 prisons, housing a little more than 22,000 inmates. The original directive also did not apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service detainees, who are technically in the federal system but not under the purview of the federal Bureau of Prisons…. As of Thursday afternoon, the Bureau of Prisons had 12 privately run facilities, holding 21,366 inmates. They are run by three private-prison operators: Management and Training Corporation, the GEO Group and CoreCivic, which used to be known as Corrections Corporation of America. Private prisons have faced significant criticism in recent years from civil liberties advocates and others. Sally Yates, who served as deputy attorney general in the Obama administration, did not mince words in August when she ordered the Department of Justice — of which the Bureau of Prisons is a part — to end the use of private prisons entirely by phasing them out over time. ‘They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,’ Yates wrote.”

FBI refused White House request to knock down recent Trump-Russia stories, CNN, Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, Manu Raju and Pamela Brown, published on Friday, 24 February 2017: “The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate. White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14. The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.… Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, according to sources, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation.”

Stephen K. Bannon’s CPAC Comments, Annotated and Explained, The New York Times, Max Fisher, published on Friday, 24 February 2017: “In just a few comments during a question-and-answer session this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Stephen K. Bannon named many of the concepts that, though unfamiliar to many Americans, have animated his tenure as the president’s chief strategist. Ideas like “economic nationalism” and “corporatist media” have become central to the ideology that Mr. Bannon has carried to the White House from his time running Breitbart News…. Here are a few of Mr. Bannon’s phrases from his comments and what they convey.

Bannon: If you look at the lines of work, I would break it up into three verticals or three buckets. The first is kind of national security and sovereignty. … The second line of work is what I refer to as economic nationalism.

Economic nationalism is formally defined as encompassing domestic control of the economy, protectionist policies such as tariffs and opposition to trade and immigration. But Mr. Kreiss [a University of North Carolina professor who studies political language] said that, after months of studying Breitbart, he concluded that it was seen ‘less as a proscribed set of policies’ than as a way to declare opposition to the long-held bipartisan consensus that favors trade and immigration. The Breitbart site often describes an all-encompassing clash between ‘nationalists’ and ‘globalists.’

Bannon: The third, broadly, line of work is deconstruction of the administrative state. … If you look at these cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction. The way the progressive left runs, is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just going to put in some sort of regulation in an agency. That’s all going to be deconstructed and I think that that’s why this regulatory thing is so important.

Republicans have long warned against overregulation. Mr. Bannon portrays the problem as flowing from something deeper: a shadowy ‘administrative state’ engineered by the left to advance its agenda…. This is a core argument of populist leaders, who typically rise by promising to oppose institutions, which are blamed for society’s problems. But in practice, they often consolidate power away from those institutions for themselves.

Trump wants to make sure U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the ‘top of the pack’, Reuters, Steve Holland, published on Friday, 24 February 2017: “President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the ‘top of the pack,’ saying the United States has fallen behind in its weapons capacity…. In his first comments about the U.S. nuclear arsenal since taking office on Jan. 20, Trump was asked about a December [2016]tweet in which he said the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity ‘until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.’ Trump said in the interview he would like to see a world with no nuclear weapons but expressed concern that the United States has ‘fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity…. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,’ Trump said.

 

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)-Weeks 1-3: Friday, 20 January–Thursday, 9 February 2017

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is a work in progress, and I will be adding material frequently.

 

For up-to-date- information about Donald Trump’s nominations for cabinet positions, cabinet-rank positions, and other top positions please see Who Trump is Putting in Power, ProPublica, by Jessica Huseman and Rob Weychert.

 

Friday, 20 January 2017, Day 1:

 

Donald Trump Is Sworn In as President, Capping His Swift Ascent, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 20 January 2017: “Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, ushering in a new era that he vowed would shatter the established order and reverse a national decline that he called ‘this American carnage.’ ‘From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.’”

With Trump in Charge, Climate Change References purged From Website, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Friday, 20 January 2017: “Within moments of the inauguration of President Trump, the official White House website on Friday deleted nearly all mentions of climate change. The one exception: Mr. Trump’s vow to eliminate the Obama administration’s climate change policies, which previously had a prominent and detailed web page on whitehouse.gov. The purge was not unexpected. It came as part of the full digital turnover of whitehouse.gov, including taking down and archiving all the Obama administration’s personal and policy pages. That also included a page devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. Since Mr. Trump’s election, about 50 scientists at universities around the country have volunteered their time — and computer servers — to save and store government data stored on the websites of the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, NOAA, and the United States Geological Survey. Those websites keep records of key climate data such as atmospheric temperature trends, greenhouse gas emissions levels, and sea level rise. The scientist gatherings have been organized by 314 Action — a nonprofit group named for the first three numbers of the mathematical concept Pi — which aims to make science more accessible to the public.”

Senate Confirms James Mattis at Defense and John Kelly for Homeland Security, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan and Jennifer Steinhauer, Friday, 20 January 2017: “Just hours after President Trump was sworn into office, the Senate on Friday confirmed two nominees for critical national security positions, approving James N. Mattis as defense secretary and John F. Kelly as homeland security secretary. Republicans had hoped to approve far more than two nominees on Mr. Trump’s first day in office, but that process has been delayed in part because several of the nominees have been slow in filing ethics disclosures, prompting protests by Senate Democrats…. Both Mr. Mattis and Mr. Kelly are retired Marine Corps generals. Federal law requires a seven-year waiting period between active duty and serving as the secretary of defense; Congress passed legislation last week granting a waiver to Mr. Mattis, and Mr. Trump signed it on Friday. The Senate voted 98 to 1 to confirm Mr. Mattis. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, voted no ‘because she believes civilian control of the military is fundamental,’ said a spokesman for the senator, Marc Brumer.”

Executive Order Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal, whitehouse.gov, Friday, 20 January 2017: “Section 1.  It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), as amended (the ‘Act’).  In the meantime, pending such repeal, it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.” In effect, this executive order begins the dismantlement of the Affordable Care Act.

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies from Reince Priebus, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, whitehouse.gov, Friday, 20 January 2017. In effect, this memorandum freezes all pending federal regulations.

 

Saturday, 21 January 2017,       Day 2:

 

Millions of people around the world join Women’s marches to protest and to resist Trump’s policies.

 

Women’s March Highlights as Huge Crowds Protest Trump: ‘We’re Not Going Away,’ The New York Times, Anemona Hartocollis and Yamiche Alcindor, Saturday, 21 January 2017: “Hundreds of thousands of women gathered in Washington on Saturday in a kind of counterinauguration after President Trump took office on Friday. A range of speakers and performers cutting across generational lines rallied near the Capitol before marchers made their way toward the White House. They were joined by crowds in cities across the country: In Chicago, the size of a rally so quickly outgrew early estimates that the march that was to follow was canceled for safety. In Manhattan, Fifth Avenue became a river of pink hats, while in downtown Los Angeles, even before the gathering crowd stretched itself out to march, it was more than a quarter mile deep on several streets.” See also, Pictures From Women’s Marches on Every Continent, The New York Times, Saturday, 21 January 2017.  See also, Crowd Scientists Say Women’s March in Washington Had 3 Times as Many People as Trump’s Inauguration, The New York Times, Tim Wallace and Alicia Parlapiano, Sunday, 22 January 2017. See also, The Women’s Marches may have been the largest demonstration in US history, Vox, Sarah Frostenson, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “Crowd estimates from Women’s Marches on Saturday now tally over 4 million and political scientists think we may have just witnessed the largest day of demonstrations in American history. According to data collected by Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut, marches held in more than 600 US cities were attended by at least 4.2 million people.”

Trump wages war against the media as demonstrators protest his presidency, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, John Wagner and Greg Miller, Saturday, 21 January 2017: “President Trump used his first full day in office to wage war on the media, accusing news organizations of lying about the size of his inauguration crowd as Saturday’s huge protests served notice that a vocal and resolute opposition would be a hallmark of his presidency. With Americans taking to the streets in red and blue states alike to emphatically decry a president they consider reprehensible and, even, illegitimate, Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency for a stream-of-consciousness airing of grievances — including against journalists, whom he called ‘the most dishonest human beings on Earth.’ Shortly thereafter, press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the media for the first time from the White House, where he yelled at the assembled press corps and charged it with ‘sowing division’ with ‘deliberately false reporting’ of Trump’s inauguration crowd. Trump claimed that the crowd for his swearing-in stretched down the Mall to the Washington Monument. It did not. Trump accused television networks of showing ‘an empty field’ and reporting that he drew just 250,000 people to witness Friday’s ceremony. ‘It looked like a million, a million and a half people,’ Trump said. ‘It’s a lie. We caught [the media]. We caught them in a beauty.’ ‘This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe,’ Spicer said, less than a minute after declaring that ‘no one had numbers’ because the National Park Service, which controls the Mall, does not release crowd estimates…. In a highly unusual move, Spicer left the briefing room without answering questions from reporters, including one shouted at him about Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.”

At C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, VA Trump also made remarks about Iraq oil and about his relationship with the intelligence community: Trump, in CIA visit, attacks media for coverage of his inaugural crowds, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, John Wagner and Greg Miller, Saturday, 21 January 2017: “Trump also delved into the Iraq War, repeating his oft-stated belief that the United States bungled its exit from the country by not taking Iraq’s oil, which he said was how the Islamic State made its money. ‘The old expression, to the victor belong the spoils,’ he said, adding: ‘We should’ve kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance.’Trump visited the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va., to express his gratitude for the intelligence community, which he had repeatedly railed against during the transition period and recently likened to Nazis…. In his visit… Trump tried to express solidarity with the CIA and blamed the media for creating distrust. ‘They sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community,’ he said. ‘I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number one stop is it is exactly the opposite.’ In fact, Trump repeatedly vilified the intelligence community throughout much of his transition in an attempt to push back against what he saw as politically charged conclusions by the CIA and other agencies about Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party emails to interfere with the 2016 election. At a Jan. 11 news conference, Trump accused U.S. intelligence officials of being behind a Nazi-like smear campaign against him. [Trump tweeted on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 at 7:48 am: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”] He has put quotation marks around the word ‘intelligence’ in referring to such officials.”

Trump on knowing a lot about West Point and on being a smart person: The New Yorker, Trump’s Tough-Guy Talk on Torture Risks Real Lives, Jane Mayer, 25 January 2017: “Last Saturday [21 January 2017], President Trump trumpeted his military expertise during a visit to the C.I.A.’s headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, where he praised his nominee to direct the C.I.A., Michael Pompeo, for being first in his class at West Point. Then he digressed, noting, ‘I know a lot about West Point. . . . Trust me, I’m, like, a smart person.’ One difference between serving in the military and being a pretend soldier at the New York Military Academy, where Trump proudly led mock drills in snappy faux military uniforms, is that, in the real thing, officers are drilled not just in marching formations but also in the laws of war. These include the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, which impose absolute, unconditional bans on torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment of enemy combatants, categorizing such conduct, under any and all circumstances, as a war crime.”

 

Sunday, 22 January 2017, Day 3:

 

How Kellyanne Conway ushered in the era of ‘alternative facts’ when pressed by Chuck Todd about Sean Spicer’s false claims about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, The Washington Post, Rebecca Sinderbrand, 22 January 2017: “For Donald Trump, size matters — most recently, when it comes to discussion of his inaugural crowds. But not when it comes to feuds: the president and top aides demonstrated again this weekend that no fight is too small, no spat too insignificant; they spent the first full day of his term focused publicly not on policy pushes, but on re-litigating the number of people who’d come in person to watch him take the oath of office — and using it as one of several avenues of attack on the press….

Chuck Todd: Let me begin with this question, the presidency is about choices. So I’m curious why President Trump chose yesterday to send out his press secretary to essentially litigate a provable falsehood when it comes to a small and petty thing like inaugural crowd size. I guess my question to you is, why do that?

Kellyanne Conway: [Talks, but doesn’t answer Chuck Todd’s question.]

Chuck Todd: You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood? Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one….

Kellyanne Conway: Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains-

Chuck Todd: Wait a minute– Alternative facts?… Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”

 

Monday, 23 January 2017, Day 4:

 

Trump signs executive order to abandon the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement: President Trump signs order to withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership, The Washington Post,  Yian Q. Mui, Monday, 23 January 2017: “Trump signed the executive order formally ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Oval Office after discussing American manufacturing with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room. The order was largely symbolic — the deal was already essentially dead in Congress — but served to signal that Trump’s tough talk on trade during the campaign will carry over to his new administration…. The TPP was one of former president Barack Obama’s signature efforts, part of a broader strategy to increase American clout in Asia and provide a check on China’s economic and military ambitions.”

Trump’s Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze, whitehouse.gov, Monday, 23 Jan 2017: “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order a freeze on the hiring of Federal civilian employees to be applied across the board in the executive branch. As part of this freeze, no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances. This order does not include or apply to military personnel. The head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities. In addition, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may grant exemptions from this freeze where those exemptions are otherwise necessary.” See also, Trump freezes hiring of many federal workers, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Monday, 23 Januaary 2017: “Veterans — who make up 31 percent of the federal workforce — could also be disproportionately affected by the move because they receive a hiring preference when it comes to federal jobs.” See also, The Trump administration just told a whopper about the size of the federal workforce, The Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham, Monday, 23 January 2017: “President Trump signed an executive order instituting a hiring freeze on all nonmilitary federal employees. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during a press briefing that the move ‘counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.’… In both raw-number and percentage terms, this is an inaccurate statement. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million employees on the federal payroll as of December. The number has risen slightly since May 2014, when there were roughly 2.7 million federal employees (part of the reason may be an accelerated pace of hiring in anticipation of a new presidential administration). That represents an increase of about 3 percent. By contrast, the total civilian workforce, excluding federal employees, grew by about 4.9 percent over the same period. In raw-number terms, the number of federal employees is nearly the same today (2.8 million) as it was when Barack Obama took office (2.79 million). It is also similar to the number of federal employees at the end of the Clinton administration (2.75 million) and lower than at any time during the Reagan administration (when it peaked at 3.15 million).”

Trump once again asserts that between 3 and 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election that caused Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote: Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Emmarie Huetteman, Monday, 23 January 2017:  “Speaking to lawmakers, President Trump again falsely claimed that illegal immigrants had cost him the election. In his first official meeting with [both Republican and Democratic] congressional leaders, the president griped about how illegal immigrants cost him the popular vote, a claim judged to be untrue by fact-checkers.” See also, Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote, The Washington Post, Abby Phillip and Mike DeBonis, Monday, 23 January 2017: “Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory…. The claim is not supported by any verifiable facts, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions. Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. Trump won 304 electoral college votes to Clinton’s 227.”

Trump signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy, a global gag rule that prohibits international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) from receiving any funding from the US government if they provide or even discuss abortion services: Trump Revives Ban on Foreign Aid for Abortion Counselling, The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, Monday, 23 January 2017: “The move to revive the Reagan-era policy will please the anti-abortion lobby. Critics say the order hinders the ability of women in poor countries to access reproductive health services.” See also, Trump Bans U.S. Funding For Groups That ‘Promote’ Abortion Overseas, NPR, Nurith Aizenman, Monday, 23 January 2017: “It’s President Donald Trump’s first official act on the abortion issue. On Monday, the new president signed a presidential memorandum reinstating the ‘Mexico City’ policy — barring U.S. aid from any group that provides or ‘promotes’ abortion overseas. The policy dates to 1984, when Ronald Reagan unveiled it at a United Nations Conference in Mexico City. The Trump version is even broader than the incarnations that previous Republican presidents have adopted.” See also, Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policywhitehouse.gov, Monday, 23 January 2017.

Ethics Experts File Lawsuit Saying Trump’s Overseas Interests Violate the U.S. Constitution, NPR, Jim Zarroli, Monday, 23 January 2017: “A team of ethics experts and legal scholars filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday morning that says President Trump’s overseas businesses violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which bars presidents from taking money from foreign governments.”

 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017, Day 5:

 

Trump Gives Green Light To Keystone, Dakota Access Pipelines, NPR, Brian Naylor, Tuesday, 24 January 2017: “President Trump on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for construction of two controversial oil pipelines, the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access, a White House official tells NPR’s Tamara Keith. The pipelines had been stopped during the Obama administration. The State Department rejected a permit for the Keystone pipeline from Canada, and President Obama ordered work halted on the Dakota pipeline after Native American groups and other activists protested its route near culturally sensitive sites in North Dakota.” See also, Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, whitehouse.gov, Tuesday, 24 January, 2017. And Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, whitehouse.gov, Tuesday, 24 January 2017.

Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing, whitehouse.gov, Tuesday, 24 January 2017. See All of Trump’s executive actions so far, Politico: The Agenda, Aidan Quigley, begun on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 and updated from time to time: “Trump issued an action that instructs the Secretary of Commerce to contact stakeholders to review the impact of Federal regulations on domestic manufacturing. After the review, the Secretary of Commerce is instructed to create a streamlined Federal permitting process for domestic manufacturers.”

Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects, whitehouse.gov, Tuesday, 24 January 2017. See All of Trump’s executive actions so far, Politico: The Agenda, Aidan Quigley, begun on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 and updated from time to time: “Trump issued an executive order to streamline environmental reviews of high-priority infrastructure projects. The action states that infrastructure projects in the U.S. ‘have been routinely and excessively delayed by agency processes and procedures.’ The action instructs the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to create expedited procedures and deadlines for environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects.”

Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines, whitehouse.gov, Tuesday, 24 January 2017. See All of Trump’s executive actions so far, Politico: The Agenda, Aidan Quigley, begun on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 and updated from time to time: “This memorandum instructs the Secretary of Commerce to create a plan for pipelines created, repaired or expanded in the United States to use materials and equipment produced in the country ‘to the maximum extent possible.’ It establishes that all steel and metal used in such pipelines be completely produced in the United States, from the initial melting stage to the application of coatings.”

In a fiery speech, California Gov. Jerry Brown defends climate action and attacks ‘alternative facts’, The Washington Post, Chelsea Harvey, Tuesday, 24 January 2017: “In his State of the State address Tuesday morning, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) delivered an impassioned defense of climate action while decrying what he described as the Trump administration’s attacks on science and basic facts. While Brown has previously made waves with comments about his state’s commitment to the issue of climate change, Tuesday’s speech may be among his most defiant yet. ‘The recent election and inauguration of a new president has shown deep divisions across America,’ Brown said in his speech. ‘While no one knows what the new leaders will actually do, there are signs that are disturbing. We’ve seen the bold assertion of ‘alternative facts,’ whatever those are. We’ve heard the blatant attacks on science.’… Brown’s speech Tuesday [24 January] reflected the state’s continued commitment to climate action and expressed renewed defiance toward those who would argue against the accepted science.

Trump Threatens Federal Intervention in Chicago, Citing ‘Carnage,’ The New York Times, Monica Davey and Niraj Chokshi, published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017: “President Trump threatened federal intervention in Chicago on Tuesday night if the city does not do more to address violent crime, resurfacing a criticism he made during the presidential campaign. Trump tweeted at 9:25 pm on Tuesday, 24 January 2017 about ‘carnage’ in Chicago: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” See also, Trump falsely claimed two were fatally shot in Chicago during Obama’s speech on Tuesday, 10 January, The Hill, Paulina Firoze, published on Friday, 27 January 2017: “President Trump claimed in his interview with ABC News this week that two people were shot and killed in Chicago during former President Obama’s farewell speech in the city [on Tuesday, 10 January 2017], but police records show no such shooting occurred. The exchange between Trump and ABC’s David Muir is shown in a transcript ABC put on its website, though it was not part of the aired portion of Wednesday night’s [25 January 2017] interview. But according to the Chicago Tribune, no homicides occurred in Chicago during the hour of Obama’s speech on Jan. 10, citing police department records. The Tribune noted that its own crime database showed no shootings at all took place during Obama’s address. In the ABC interview with David Muir, Trump said: ‘So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that…. They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech. What — what’s going on? So, all I’m saying is to the mayor who came up to my office recently — I say, ‘You have to smarten up and you have to toughen up because you can’t let that happen. That’s a war zone.'”

Trump Won’t Back Down From His Voting Fraud Lie. Here Are the Facts, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 24 January 2017: “During a private meeting with congressional leaders on Monday, President Trump asserted that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants had voted for his Democratic opponent and robbed him of a victory in the national popular vote. There is no evidence to support the claim, which has been discredited repeatedly by numerous fact-checkers. That did not stop Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, from standing by the president’s words on Tuesday during a briefing with reporters at the White House. ‘As I said, I think the president has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has,’ Mr. Spicer said.”

Federal agencies ordered to restrict their communications, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 24 January 2017: “Trump administration officials instructed employees at multiple agencies in recent days to cease communicating with the public through news releases, official social media accounts and correspondence, raising concerns that federal employees will be able to convey only information that supports the new president’s agenda. The new limits on public communications appear to be targeting agencies that are charged with overseeing environmental and scientific policy, prompting criticism from officials within the agencies and from outside groups focused on climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Agriculture and Interior departments now have formal policies restricting what they should convey to the public about their work…. Many new administrations — including former president Barack Obama’s — have moved quickly to take control of the U.S. government’s public relations machinery and centralize decision-making upon taking office. But the sweeping nature of some of the new controls is unusual, and the fact that they come as departments have been communicating through an array of digital platforms has made the changes particularly visible.”

For a few hours, Badlands National Park was bad to the bone in defiance of Trump, The Washington Post, Darryl Fears, Tuesday, 24 January 2017: “With the Trump administration placing a gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, shutting down its Twitter feed, forcing employees off their individual accounts and dismantling Web pages with climate-change information, Badlands went rogue. ‘Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years,’ it declared in one of at least four tweets. Admirers went nuts. They created a hashtag, #Badasslands, in an ode to the defiance and dubbed the park Breaking Badlands after the TV show ‘Breaking Bad.’ Within hours, the park gained a huge audience. But in late afternoon, the tweets suddenly vanished. NPR reporter Nathan Rott was one of dozens of followers who captured four tweets in a screenshot and posted a picture…. According to a National Park Service official, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, the tweets are believed to have been posted by a former employee at the park in Interior, S.D., who still had access to the account.”

Senator Markey and Rep. Lieu Introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, markey.senate.gov, Tuesday, 24 January 2017: “Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Ted W. Lieu (CA-33) introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. The crucial issue of nuclear “first use” is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment’s notice.” See also, The Finger on the Nuclear Button, The New York Times, Editorial Board,  Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Scientists who study the risk of nuclear war recently moved the hands of the symbolic Doomsday Clock to 2½ minutes before midnight — meaning they believe that the world is closer to nuclear catastrophe than it has been since 1953 after the United States and Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which created the clock in 1947, says that President Trump is the main reason for this worrisome development…. Mr. Trump…has spoken, alarmingly, about deploying this weaponry against terrorists and about expanding America’s nuclear capabilities. He has said he values unpredictability, meaning presumably that he wants to keep other nations on edge about whether he will use nuclear weapons. ‘Let it be an arms race,’ he told a television interviewer in December. During a debate three months earlier he contradicted himself, saying that ‘I would certainly not do first strike,’ then adding, ‘I can’t take anything off the table.’ What’s worrisome about all this is that it is the opposite of what Republican and Democratic presidents have long sought, which is to ensure that these weapons are not used precipitously if at all…. It is the fear of such precipitous action that has led Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Representative Ted Lieu of California, both Democrats, to propose legislation to prohibit any president from launching a first-strike nuclear weapon without a declaration of war from Congress.”

Wednesday, 25 January 2017,   Day 6:

 

Trump tweeted about launching a major investigation into voter fraud at 7:10 am and 7:13 am: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and…even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” See Trump’s Voter Fraud Example? A Troubled Tale With Bernhard Langer, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 25 January 2017: “On Monday, President Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception, served them tiny meatballs and pigs-in-a-blanket, and quickly launched into a story meant to illustrate what he believes to be rampant, unchecked voter fraud. Mr. Trump kicked off the meeting, participants said, by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the three million to five million ballots cast by ‘illegals.’ He followed it up with a Twitter post early Wednesday calling for a major investigation into voter fraud. When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by ‘the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,’ whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting. In the emerging Trump era, the story was a memorable example, for the legislators and the country, of how an off-the-cuff yarn — unverifiable and of confusing origin — became a prime policy mover for a president whose fact-gathering owes more to the oral tradition than the written word. The three witnesses recalled Mr. Langer being the protagonist of the story, although a White House official claimed the president had been telling a story relayed to the golfer by one of Mr. Langer’s friends. The witnesses described the story this way: Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany — a winner of the Masters twice and of more than 100 events on major professional golf tours around the world — was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote. Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.”  See also, Yes, All This Happened. Trump’s First 2 Weeks As President, NPR, Jessica Taylor, Saturday, 4 February 2017: “Studies Trump cited offer no proof of such voter fraud. And he also incorrectly claimed it was illegal to be registered in two states; it’s not illegal unless someone votes in two states, because often voter rolls are not quickly updated. In fact, it turned out some Trump aides and family members were registered in multiple states.”

Chris Murphy (Senator-D-CT) tweeted at 11:25 am Wednesday, 25 January 2017, after a draft text of Trump’s executive order banning citizens and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries was leaked to the Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Times: “We bomb your country, creating a humanitarian nightmare, then lock you inside. That’s a horror movie, not a foreign policy.”

Trump issued an executive order to build a wall on the border with Mexico: Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, whitehouse.gov,  Wednesday, 25 January 2017. See Trump signs order to begin Mexico border wall in immigration crackdown, The Guardian, David Smith, Wednesday, 25 January 2017: “‘The secretary of homeland security, working with myself and my staff, will begin immediate construction of a border wall,’ the US president said to applause at the Department of Homeland Security. ‘So badly needed. You folks know how badly needed it is as a help.… A nation without borders is not a nation,’ the president said. ‘Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders. I just signed two executive orders that will save thousands of lives, millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars.’ Trump claimed that ‘we’re in the middle of a crisis on our southern border’, citing an ‘unprecedented surge’ of undocumented immigrants from Central America that was harming both the US and Mexico. But the likely effectiveness of the planned wall is fiercely disputed. More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the US than have migrated to the US since the end of the 2007-08 financial crisis, according to the Pew Research Center. Research also shows that immigrants are more law-abiding than non-immigrants…. Trump also signed an executive order that could slash [federal] funding for so-called ‘sanctuary cities’, and reinstated the ‘secure communities’ program, which encourages broader cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies.”

Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, whitehouse.gov, Wednesday, 25 January 2017. See All of Trump’s executive actions so far, Politico: The Agenda, Aidan Quigley, begun on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 and updated from time to time: “Trump signed an executive order that directed the secretary of homeland security to:

  • Prioritize certain undocumented immigrants for removal, including those with criminal convictions and those who have only been charged with a crime
  • Hire 10,000 additional immigration officers at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, subject to the availability of existing funding,
  • Prohibit federal funding, with the help of the attorney general, to ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions, where local officials have declined to help enforce federal immigration laws
  • Reinstate the Secure Communities program, which was terminated in 2014 and enables state and local law enforcement to effectively act as immigration agents
  • Sanction countries, with the help of the secretary of state, that refuse to accept the return of undocumented immigrants deported from the U.S.
  • Create a list, updated weekly, of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary jurisdictions
  • Create an ‘Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens’ to ‘provide proactive, timely, adequate and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens and family members of such victims.’”

Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, whitehouse.gov, Wednesday, 25 January 2017. See Trump order calls for weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented workers, The Hill, Mallory Shelbourne, Wednesday, 25 January 2017: “President Trump in the executive orders he signed [on Wednesday] called on the Department of Homeland Security to publish a list each week of the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. The order says the Homeland Security Secretary ‘shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.'”

Trump’s remarks on waterboarding/torture in his interview with ABC’s David Muir, released on Wednesday, 25 January 2017: Pentagon: Mattis still opposes torture despite Trump comment [in interview with ABC’s David Muir on Wednesday, 25 January 2017], The Hill, Kristina Wong, Thursday, 26 Jan 2017: “Defense Secretary James Mattis is not wavering on his opposition to torture, the Pentagon said Thursday, despite President Trump endorsing its usage the day before. ‘Secretary Mattis said in his confirmation process that he will abide by and is committed to upholding international law, the Law of Armed Conflict, Geneva Conventions and U.S. law, and that has not changed,’ Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Thursday. President Trump in an interview Wednesday evening on ABC News seemed to give conflicting statements on whether he would bring back the use of torture.  He said he believes it works but that he would listen to Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo — who also opposes torture. ‘As far as I’m concerned, we have to fight fire with fire. Now, with that being said I’m going with General Mattis. I’m going with my secretary because I think Pompeo’s gonna be phenomenal. I’m gonna go with what they say,’ Trump said. ‘But I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question, ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes, absolutely,’ he added. ‘I will rely on General Mattis. And I’m gonna rely on those two people and others. And if they don’t wanna do it, it’s 100 percent okay with me. Do I think it works? Absolutely.’ John McCain tweeted at 9:40 am on Wednesday, 25 Jan 2017: “@potus can sign whatever executive orders he likes, but the law is the law—we’re not bringing back torture.” See also, Trump’s Press Conference with British Prime Minister [Theresa May], Annotated, NPR, Friday, 27 January 2017: “We have a great general who has just been appointed secretary of defense, General James Mattis. And he has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding or however you want to define it — enhanced interrogation I guess would be a word that a lot of — words that a lot of people would like to use. I don’t necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he will override because I’m giving him that power. He’s an expert. He’s highly respected. He’s the general’s general. Got through the Senate very, very quickly, which in this country is not easy, I will tell you. And so I’m going to rely on him. I happen to feel that it does work. I’ve been open about that for a long period of time. But I am going with our leaders. And we’re going to — we’re going to win with or without, but I do disagree.”

Rogue Twitter accounts spring up to fight Donald Trump on climate, The Washington Post, Darryl Fears and Kayla Epstein, Wednesday, 25 January 2017: “What started as a gritty protest by a former Badlands National Park Service employee who wanted to give President Trump a piece of his mind snowballed overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday into a Twitter movement in support of climate change science. An anonymous group of people who claim to be National Park Service employees created an account using the agency’s official arrowhead logo as an avatar and unleashed on the Trump administration for muzzling federal workers, particularly those at the Environmental Protection Agency who have been barred from speaking to the press and public through social media. The Washington Post reached out to the group via Twitter, without much success. ‘We will not be identifying ourselves due to the anger and threats coming from President Trump’s loyalists,’ came an anonymous reply. ‘We are just here to push the science that is being dismantled by the current administration.’ Update: A day after this story published, anonymous individuals claiming to be government employees said they were handing over the AltUSNatParkService Twitter account to activists outside the federal government, according to the digital media company, Mashable. The name was then changed to Not Alt World. It’s now billed as ‘the resistance,’ and claims that it’s comprised of non-government activists worldwide. None of the claims could be verified.”

Trump administration backs off plan to scrub climate pages from EPA website, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Wednesday, 25 January 2015: “The Trump administration on Wednesday backed away from plans to take down some climate-change information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, which employees said had been planned for this week. But political appointees are exerting more oversight over the agency’s scientific communications. Doug Ericksen, spokesman for the Trump team in charge at the agency, told The Hill in an interview Wednesday that officials are reviewing all ‘editorial’ parts of the EPA’s website and discussing possible changes, not necessarily looking to take down all climate data…. Ericksen, who could not be reached by The Washington Post for comment Wednesday, also told NPR that scientists at EPA who want to publish or present their scientific findings will need to have their work reviewed on a ‘case by case basis’ before it can be disseminated to the public — at least temporarily. ‘We’ll take a look at what’s happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration,’ he said. Such statements have raised questions about whether the incoming administration risks violating EPA’s scientific integrity policy, which encourages scientists to conduct their research ‘accurately, honestly, objectively, thoroughly, without political or other interference.’ It also states that the EPA’s scientists can ‘freely exercise their right to express their personal views,’ provided they make clear they aren’t speaking on behalf of the agency.”

House Science Committee chairman [Representative Lamar Smith, Republican-Texas]: Americans should get news from Trump, not media, The Washington Post, Dave Weigel, Wednesday, 25 January 2017: “In a remarkable Tuesday night floor speech, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, praised the physical and mental powers of President Trump and encouraged people to get ‘unvarnished’ news directly from the president, not from the news media…. The rest of Smith’s speech included praise for how Trump involved his children in decisions — a subject of some controversy among progressive legal groups — and a laundry list of accomplishments he credited to the president, including a spike in the consumer confidence index. ‘The national liberal media won’t print that, or air it, or post it,’ Smith said. ‘Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.’

 

 

Thursday, 26 January 2017,     Day 7:

 

Trump tweeted about Mexico at 8:51 am and at 8:55 am: “The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers… of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” Hours later, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled his trip after Trump’s continued assertion that Mexico would repay the U.S. for the border wall. See Mexico’s President Cancels Meeting With Trump Over Wall, The New York Times, Azam Ahmed, Thursday, 26 January 2017: “President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico said in a national address that the country would not pay for a border wall. He announced he would cancel his meeting with President Trump.” For some historical context see also, Mexico president: ‘Of course’ Mexico won’t pay for wall, Politico, Cristiano Lima, Wednesday, 11 January 2017: “Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto reiterated Wednesday [11 January 2017] that Mexico would not pay for a border wall between it and the U.S., despite President-elect Donald Trump’s claims to the contrary earlier in the day. ‘It is evident that we have some differences with the new government of the United States, like the topic of the wall, that Mexico of course will not pay,’ Nieto said during a speech in front of foreign diplomats at the National Palace on Wednesday, according to reports. Peña Nieto had similarly refuted the notion following a September [2016] meeting with then-candidate Trump in Mexico. ‘At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,’ Peña Nieto tweeted after the two politicians met. The Mexican president’s latest comments once again stood in direct contrast to those of Trump, who Wednesday [11 January 2017] continued to insist that his campaign pledge to make our neighboring nation pay for a border would come to fruition. ‘In order to get the wall started, Mexico will pay for the wall. But it will be reimbursed. OK?’ Trump told reporters Wednesday during his first press conference in over five months. ‘It will happen. Remember this, OK?’”

Trump’s comments on torture during interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Thursday, 26 January 2017: Trump: Waterboarding isn’t torture, The Hill, Max Greenwood, Thursday, 26 January 2017: “Waterboarding doesn’t constitute torture, President Trump said Thursday, reiterating his past argument that it is an effective way to gather intelligence. ‘I mean, torture is real torture, OK? Waterboarding is — I’m sure it’s not pleasant, but waterboarding was just short of torture,’ he said in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity. ‘When — you know, all of a sudden, they made it torture. I spoke with people the other day who are in this world that were talking about it. Absolutely, it works. Absolutely,’ he said.”

Trump pressured Park Service to find proof for his claims about inauguration crowd, The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty and Juliet Eilperin, published on 26 January 2017: “On the morning after Donald Trump’s inauguration [Saturday, 21 January 2017], acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him. In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average. Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the agency’s account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.” See also, Trump Ordered Park Service to Find Photos Showing Big Inauguration Turnout, Democracy Now!, Friday, 27 January 2017: “The Washington Post reports Trump personally pressured the head of the National Park Service to find and provide photographs of the Inauguration Day crowds on the National Mall, in efforts to counter news reports about the inauguration’s low turnout. Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have repeatedly lied about the crowd size, saying more people showed up to Trump’s inauguration than any other in U.S. history. In fact, 180 thousand people showed up to Trump’s inauguration, compared to 1.8 million who attended Obama’s inauguration in 2009.”

Trump Strategist Steve Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Thursday, 26 January 2017: “’The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,’ Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call. ‘The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong,’ Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it ‘a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there.’… ‘That’s why you have no power,’ Mr. Bannon added. ‘You were humiliated.’… The conversation was initiated by Mr. Bannon to offer praise for Mr. Spicer, who has been criticized this week for making false claims at the White House podium about the attendance of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd, for calling reporters dishonest and lecturing them about what stories to write and for failing to disavow Mr. Trump’s lie about widespread voter fraud in the election. Asked if he was concerned that Mr. Spicer had lost credibility with the news media, Mr. Bannon chortled. ‘Are you kidding me?’ he said. ‘We think that’s a badge of honor. ‘Questioning his integrity’ — are you kidding me? The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.’ ‘You’re the opposition party,’ Mr. Bannon said. ‘Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.’”

 

Friday, 27 January 2017, Day 8

 

Statement by the President on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, whitehouse.gov, Friday, 27 January 2017: “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror. Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent. In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.” See Trump’s statement marking Holocaust remembrance leaves out mention of Jews, The Washington Post, Abby Phillip, Friday, 27 January 2017: “A statement from President Trump marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day omitted any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism, a departure from recent bipartisan precedent set by previous presidents. The statement calls for remembrance of ‘victims, survivors, heroes,’ but nowhere does it ­mention the millions of Jewish people killed during the ­Holocaust, nor does it mention the ideology of anti-Semitism that led to the killings.” See also, Reince Priebus Defends Holocaust Statement that Failed to Mention Jews, The New York Times, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, defended the language in a Sunday interview on NBC’s Meet the Press,’ telling the host, Chuck Todd, ‘I don’t regret the words.’ Mr. Priebus continued, ‘I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust including obviously, all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred — it’s something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad.’ He added: ‘If we could wipe it off of the history books, we would. But we can’t.’… The White House statement…drew strong criticism from Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Hillary Clinton’s running mate. ‘This is what Holocaust denial is,’ Mr. Kaine said on ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘Many Holocaust deniers acknowledge: ‘Oh yeah, people were killed, but it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren’t targets.’” See also, Spicer: Trump ‘went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust,’ The Hill, Rebecca Savransky, Monday, 30 January 2017: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday defended President Trump amid backlash over a statement the White House released on Holocaust Remembrance Day that didn’t reference Jews or anti-Semitism. ‘The president went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust and the suffering that went through it and the people that were affected by it and the loss of life, Spicer told reporters Monday [30 January 2017]. ‘And to make sure that America never forgets what so many people went through, whether they were Jews or gypsies, gays, disability.'” See also, White House nixed Holocaust statement naming Jews, Politico, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, Nahal Toosi and Michael Crowley, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “The State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but President Donald Trump’s White House blocked its release.”

Trump’s executive order banning refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries was announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Executive Order Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, whitehouse.gov, 4:42 pm, Friday, 27 January 2017.  See Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper, Friday, 27 January 2017: “President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries. In an executive order that he said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out ‘radical Islamic terrorists,’ Mr. Trump also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims…. Earlier in the day [Friday, 27 January 2017], Mr. Trump explained to an interviewer for the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christians in Syria were ‘horribly treated’ and alleged that under previous administrations, ‘if you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them,’ the president said. In fact, the United States accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees. According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees (38,901) in the 2016 fiscal year. The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ‘to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.’ The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen…. Announcing his ‘extreme vetting’ plan, the president invoked the specter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., were from Saudi Arabia. The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries are on Mr. Trump’s visa ban list…. See also, President Trump’s Immigration Order, Annotated, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Saturday, 28 January 2017: “The order prioritizes Christian refugees:

Upon the resumption of USRAP [U.S. Refugee Admissions Program] admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.

As a general matter, this will give priority to Christian refugees over Muslim ones. Though framed in a neutral way, this part of the order may raise questions of religion-based discrimination. Mr. Trump has said that he means to favor Christian refugees. That violates the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion, according to David Cole, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘One of the critical questions with respect to the validity of executive action challenged under the Establishment Clause is its intent and effect,’ he wrote in a blog post. ‘If intended to disfavor a particular religion, it violates the Establishment Clause.'”

Brody File Exclusive: President Trump Says Persecuted Christians Will Be Given Priority As Refugees, Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody, Friday, 27 January 2017:

BRODY: Persecuted Christians, we’ve talked about this, the refugees overseas. The refugee program, or the refugee changes you’re looking to make. As it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?

TRUMP: Yes.

BRODY: You do?

TRUMP: They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.

See also, FACT CHECK: Trump’s Tweets On Christians, ISIS And Vetting Miss The Bigger Picture, NPR, Domenico Montanaro, Larry Kaplow, Michele Kelemen, and Alice Fordham, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “It’s true that 99 percent of the 12,587 refugees from Syria admitted in 2016 to the U.S. were Muslim and less than 1 percent were Christian. That would outpace Muslims’ population in Syria, which is 93 percent. But that’s based on 2010 numbers. With the civil war going on and the millions who have been displaced, it’s nearly impossible to tell exactly what the most current percentages are…. What’s more, if the implication is that the U.S. is not admitting Christian refugees or that the U.S. is making it difficult, that’s not true at all. In fact, the number of Christian refugees to the U.S. in 2016 was almost equal to that of Muslim refugees — 37,521 to 38,901, according to the Pew Research Center, which is basing its numbers on figures from the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services.”

 

Saturday, 28 January 2017,        Day 9:

 

Travelers stranded and protests swell over Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Protest Grows ‘Out of Nowhere’ at Kennedy Airport After Iraqis Are Detained, The New York Times, Eli Rosenberg, Saturday, 28 January 2017: “It began in the morning, with a small crowd chanting and holding cardboard signs outside Kennedy International Airport, upset by the news that two Iraqi refugees had been detained inside because of President Trump’s executive order. By the end of the day, the scattershot group had swelled to an enormous crowd. They filled the sidewalks outside the terminal and packed three stories of a parking garage across the street….”

Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide, The New York Times, Micahel D. Shear, Nicholas Kulish and Alan Feuer, Saturday, 28 January 2017: “A federal judge in Brooklyn [Ann Donnelly] came to the aid of scores of refugees and others who were trapped at airports across the United States on Saturday after an executive order signed by President Trump, which sought to keep many foreigners from entering the country, led to chaotic scenes across the globe. The judge’s ruling [just before 9:00 pm] blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions…. The Department of Homeland Security said that the order also barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States. In a briefing for reporters, White House officials said that green card holders from the seven affected countries who are outside the United States would need a case-by-case waiver to return…. In a statement released early Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security said it would continue to enforce all of the president’s executive orders, even while complying with judicial decisions. ‘Prohibited travel will remain prohibited,’ the department said in a statement, adding that the directive was ‘a first step towards re-establishing control over America’s borders and national security.’… Earlier in the day, at the White House, Mr. Trump shrugged off the sense of anxiety and disarray, suggesting that there had been an orderly rollout. ‘It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared,’ he said. ‘It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over.’… The A.C.L.U.’s legal case began with two Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, the named plaintiffs in the case. One was en route to reunite with his wife and son in Texas. The other had served alongside Americans in Iraq for a decade…. Shortly after noon on Saturday, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an interpreter who worked for more than a decade on behalf of the United States government in Iraq, was released. After nearly 19 hours of detention, Mr. Darweesh began to cry as he spoke to reporters, putting his hands behind his back and miming handcuffs…. Before the two men were released, one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, asked an official, ‘Who is the person we need to talk to?’ ‘Call Mr. Trump,’ said the official, who declined to identify himself.”

Ruling of Judge Ann M. Donnelly of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, Darweesh v Trump Order, The New York Times, Saturday, 28 January 2017: “1. The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and others similarly situated violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution; 2. There is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 Executive order.”

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to Trump, tweeted at 10:03 am on Saturday, 28 January 2017: “Get used to it. @POTUS is a man of action and impact. Promises made, promises kept. Shock to the system. And he’s just getting started.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, tweeted at 3:20 pm, Saturday, 28 January 2017: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

Governor Mike Pence (Republican, Indiana) tweeted at 10:30 am on 8 December 2015: “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” Be sure to note the date of Pence’s tweet is December 2015.

Presidential Memorandum [on] Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council, whitehouse.gov, Saturday, 28 January 2017.  Bannon Is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “The whirlwind first week of Donald J. Trump’s presidency had all the bravura hallmarks of a Stephen K. Bannon production. It started with the doom-hued inauguration homily to “American carnage” in United States cities co-written by Mr. Bannon, followed a few days later by his ‘shut up’ message to the news media. The week culminated with a blizzard of executive orders, mostly hatched by Mr. Bannon’s team and the White House policy adviser, Stephen Miller, aimed at disorienting the ‘enemy,’ fulfilling campaign promises and distracting attention from Mr. Trump’s less than flawless debut. But the defining moment for Mr. Bannon came Saturday night in the form of an executive order giving the rumpled right-wing agitator a full seat on the ‘principals committee’ of the National Security Council — while downgrading the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, who will now attend only when the council is considering issues in their direct areas of responsibilities. It is a startling elevation of a political adviser, to a status alongside the secretaries of state and defense, and over the president’s top military and intelligence advisers.” See also, What Trump’s Changes Mean for the National Security Council, The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Mark Landler, Monday, 30 January 2017: “President Trump announced on Monday that he would add the director of the Central Intelligence Agency to the National Security Council after critics questioned a memorandum released last weekend that also gave a seat to his chief political strategist…. [The Presidential Memorandum has] raised concerns about the influence Mr. Bannon would exert over national security…. The council is no place for political creatures, many have argued. It is the place where the nation’s deepest intelligence secrets, its fluctuating hierarchy of national interests and its jockeying-for-power cabinet members combine as policy differences are hashed out. It is the forum where decisions about war, from Vietnam to Iraq; drone strikes in Pakistan; and conflicts in cyberspace have unfolded over endless hours of meetings. Of course, with stakes that large, it has always been about politics — from grand strategy to petty scorekeeping.”

Trump’s tweets attacking The New York Times and The Washington Post: 8:04 am on Saturday, 28 January 2017: “The failing @nytimes has been wrong about me from the very beginning. Said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. FAKE NEWS!” And at 8:08 am: “Thr [sic] coverage about me in the and the gas [sic] been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its…. And at 8:16 am: …dwindling subscribers and readers.They got me wrong right from the beginning and still have not changed course, and never will. DISHONEST” New York Times tweeted at 8:57 am, Saturday, 28 January 2017: “.@realDonaldTrump Fact check: @nytimes subscribers & audience at all-time highs. Supporting independent journalism matters.” See also, Trump: New York Times is ‘fake news’, Politico, Rebecca Morin, 28 January 2017: “Despite Trump’s statements that the Times apologized about their coverage, the organization has not. In November, a letter was sent out to subscribers thanking them for their loyalty and promising continued strong coverage of Trump. The letter, however, also stated they underestimated Trump during the election.”

Taxi strike against Muslim ban and #Delete Uber protest: Uber triggers protest for collecting fares during taxi strike against refugee ban, The Washington Post, Faiz Siddiqui, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “Uber became the center of a political battleground Saturday after hundreds of Twitter users rallied behind the #DeleteUber hashtag to protest the company’s decision to continue operating while taxis decided to strike — refusing to pick up passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in opposition to President Trump’s refugee ban. By Sunday morning, rival Lyft had quickly seized on the issue, pledging to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully fought for a stay of the ban and secured the release of refugees who had been stranded in transit. Lyft drivers also gave rides during the strike, but #DeleteUber began trending after Uber tweeted it was lifting surge pricing at JFK International Airport, where thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the ban…. Customers took it as evidence the company was trying to profit off of striking workers…. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is a member of President Trump’s economic advisory group and has repeatedly pledged to work with the president to solve issues related to urban mobility, drawing the ire of activists who say such attitudes enable Trump’s actions…. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents more than 19,000 workers, held the strike in solidarity with the demonstrations, citing its ‘largely Muslim’ membership. The strike was planned to last from 6 to 7 p.m.; Uber’s tweet went out about 30 minutes later. ‘Today, drivers are joining the protest at JFK Airport in support of all those who are currently being detained at the airport because of Trump’s unconstitutional executive order,’ read a statement from the union. ‘We stand in solidarity with all of our peace-loving neighbors against this inhumane, cruel, and unconstitutional pure act of bigotry.’… Following Lyft’s announcement of a contribution to the ACLU, Uber said Sunday it would establish a $3 million fund to assist drivers affected by the refugee ban. Kalanick announced the fund in a Facebook post, where he decried what he called Trump’s ‘wrong and unjust immigration ban,’ a day after customers began fleeing with the hashtag #DeleteUber.” See also, Uber C.E.O. to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism, The New York Times, Mike Isaac, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “Uber was under attack — unfairly, many staff members believed — after people accused the company of seeking to profit from giving rides to airport customers in New York during weekend protests against President Trump’s immigration order. But there was another matter disturbing the employees [at a meeting on Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017]: Mr. Kalanick [Uber C.E.O.] himself. He had joined Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council in December. After the immigration order against refugees and seven Muslim-majority countries, many staff members wondered why Mr. Kalanick was still willing to advise the president. ‘What would it take for you to quit the economic council?’ at least two employees asked at the Tuesday meeting. On Thursday, Mr. Kalanick gave his answer, stepping down from Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council. ‘There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration, but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that,’ Mr. Kalanick wrote in an email to employees obtained by The New York Times…. Outside of the internal pressure, Uber faced other fallout from Mr. Kalanick’s stance. More than 200,000 customers had deleted their accounts.”

Trump asked for a ‘Muslim ban,’ Giuliani says–and ordered a commission to do it ‘legally’, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “Former New York mayor Rudy W. Giuliani said President Trump wanted a ‘Muslim ban’ and requested he assemble a commission to show him ‘the right way to do it legally.’ Giuliani, an early Trump supporter who once had been rumored for a Cabinet position in the new administration, appeared on Fox News late Saturday night [28 January 2017] to describe how Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees came together…. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked Giuliani whether the ban had anything to do with religion. ‘How did the president decide the seven countries?’ she asked. ‘Okay, talk to me.’ ‘I’ll tell you the whole history of it,’ Giuliani responded eagerly. ‘So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’ Giuliani said he assembled a ‘whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,’ including former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.). ‘And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,’ Giuliani told Pirro. ‘Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on.'”

 

Sunday, 29 January 2017, Day 10:

 

Protests continue over Trump’s Muslim Ban: Travelers Stranded and Protests Swell Over Trump Order, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “Dozens of protests were held across the country Sunday as Americans denounced President Trump’s immigration executive order. From New York to Phoenix, tens of thousands of people voiced their solidarity with refugees and Muslims. Travelers were stranded around the world, protests escalated in the United States and anxiety rose within President Trump’s party on Sunday as his order closing the nation to refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries provoked a crisis just days into his administration. The White House pulled back on part of Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from seven countries by saying that it would not apply to those with green cards granting them permanent residence in the United States. By the end of the day, the Department of Homeland Security formally issued an order declaring such legal residents exempt from the order. But the recalibration did little to reassure critics at home or abroad who saw the president’s order as a retreat from traditional American values. European leaders denounced the order, and some Republican lawmakers called on Mr. Trump to back down.” See also, Highlights: Reaction to Trump’s Travel Ban, The New York Times, Andy Newman, Sunday 29 January 2017: “At airports and town squares, in the shadow of the White House and on the lawns of state capitals, tens of thousands of Americans chanted and shouted their opposition to the Trump administration’s travel ban — and their solidarity with refugees and Muslims — at more than 40 protests across the country. New York Times correspondents sent dispatches from many of them.”

How Trump’s Rush to Enact an Immigration Ban Unleashed Global Chaos, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “As President Trump signed a sweeping executive order on Friday, shutting the borders to refugees and others from seven largely Muslim countries, the secretary of homeland security was on a White House conference call getting his first full briefing on the global shift in policy. Gen. John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, had dialed in from a Coast Guard plane as he headed back to Washington from Miami. Along with other top officials, he needed guidance from the White House, which had not asked his department for a legal review of the order. Halfway into the briefing, someone on the call looked up at a television in his office. ‘The president is signing the executive order that we’re discussing,’ the official said, stunned. The global confusion that has since erupted is the story of a White House that rushed to enact, with little regard for basic governing, a core campaign promise that Mr. Trump made to his most fervent supporters. In his first week in office, Mr. Trump signed other executive actions with little or no legal review, but his order barring refugees has had the most explosive implications…. Stephen K. Bannon, the chief White House strategist, oversaw the writing of the order, which was done by a small White House team, including Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s policy chief. But it was first imagined more than a year ago, when Mr. Trump, then a candidate for the Republican nomination, reacted to terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., by calling for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’ In the months that followed, Mr. Trump’s campaign tried to back away from the proposal… But Mr. Bannon, who believes in highly restrictive immigration policies and saw barring refugees as vital to shoring up Mr. Trump’s political base, was determined to make it happen…. Jim Mattis, the new secretary of defense, did not see a final version of the order until Friday morning, only hours before Mr. Trump arrived to sign it at the Pentagon. Mr. Mattis, according to administration officials familiar with the deliberations, was not consulted by the White House during the preparation of the order and was not given an opportunity to provide input while the order was being drafted. Last summer, Mr. Mattis sharply criticized Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration as a move that was ‘causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through the international system.’ Customs and Border Protection officers were also caught unaware…. It was not until 3 a.m. on Saturday that customs and border officials received limited written instructions about what to do at airports and border crossings. They also struggled with how to exercise the waiver authority that was included in the executive order, which allowed the homeland security secretary to let some individuals under the ban enter the country case by case.”

Jihadist groups hail Trump’s travel ban as a victory, The Washington Post, Joby Warrick, Sunday, 29 January 2017: “Jihadist groups on Sunday celebrated the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying the new policy validates their claim that the United States is at war with Islam.”

Shooter Behind Quebec City Mosque Attack is Radical White Nationalist, Democracy Now!, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “In Canada, more news is emerging on the massacre at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City during evening prayers on Sunday [29 January 2017], which killed six worshipers and wounded eight others. Multiple media outlets originally reported that multiple gunmen were behind the attack. In fact, there was only one gunman behind the attack: white nationalist Alexandre Bissonnette. He is well known online as a supporter of Donald Trump and far-right wing French politician Marine Le Pen, whose visit to Quebec City last year appears to have inspired him to begin voicing extremist anti-refugee, anti-immigrant and anti-woman views. He was charged Monday with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. The information about Bissonnette comes after multiple news outlets falsely reported the attack was inspired not by white nationalism but by Muslim extremism, claiming falsely one of the shooters was a Muslim Moroccan man. In fact, this man was not a shooter but was one of the worshipers at the center who called 911 during the attack. On Monday night, mourners had a vigil outside the Islamic Cultural Centre.” See also, Donald Trump fails to mention white man who killed six Muslims in Quebec, The Independent, Rachael Revesz, Saturday, 4 February 2017: “Donald Trump has failed to give a [public] statement in one week about the white man who burst into a mosque in Quebec and shot dead six Muslims.”

Raid in Yemen: Risky From the Start and Costly in the End, The New York Times, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, published on Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Just five days after taking office, over dinner with his newly installed secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Trump was presented with the first of what will be many life-or-death decisions: whether to approve a commando raid that risked the lives of American Special Operations forces and foreign civilians alike. President Barack Obama’s national security aides had reviewed the plans for a risky attack on a small, heavily guarded brick home of a senior Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in a remote part of central Yemen. But Mr. Obama did not act because the Pentagon wanted to launch the attack on a moonless night and the next one would come after his term had ended. With two of his closest advisers, Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, joining the dinner at the White House along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Mr. Trump approved sending in the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, hoping the raid early last Sunday would scoop up cellphones and laptop computers that could yield valuable clues about one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups. Vice President Mike Pence and Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, also attended the dinner. As it turned out, almost everything that could go wrong did. And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be present as the body of the American commando [Chief Petty Officer William Owens] killed in the raid was returned home, the first military death on the new commander in chief’s watch.” See also, Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister, The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald,  published on Monday, 30 January 2017: “In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike. While that assassination created widespread debate — the once-again-beloved ACLU sued Obama to restrain him from the assassination on the ground of due process and then, when that suit was dismissed, sued Obama again after the killing was carried out — another drone killing carried out shortly thereafter was perhaps even more significant yet generated relatively little attention. Two weeks after the killing of Awlaki, a separate CIA drone strike in Yemen killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis. The U.S. eventually claimed that the boy was not their target but merely ‘collateral damage.’ Abdulrahman’s grief-stricken grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, urged the Washington Post ‘to visit a Facebook memorial page for Abdulrahman,’ which explained: ‘Look at his pictures, his friends, and his hobbies. His Facebook page shows a typical kid.’… The U.S. assault on Yemeni civilians not only continued but radically escalated over the next five years through the end of the Obama presidency, as the U.S. and the U.K. armed, supported, and provide crucial assistance to their close ally Saudi Arabia as it devastated Yemen through a criminally reckless bombing campaign. Yemen now faces mass starvationseemingly exacerbated, deliberately, by the U.S.-U.K.-supported air attacks. Because of the West’s direct responsibility for these atrocities, they have received vanishingly little attention in the responsible countries. In a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism, Nasser al-Awlaki just lost another one of his young grandchildren to U.S. violence. On Sunday, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, using armed Reaper drones for cover, carried out a commando raid on what it said was a compound harboring officials of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A statement issued by President Trump lamented the death of an American service member and several others who were wounded, but made no mention of any civilian deaths. U.S. military officials initially denied any civilian deaths, and (therefore) the CNN report on the raid said nothing about any civilians being killed. But reports from Yemen quickly surfaced that 30 people were killed, including 10 women and children. Among the dead: the 8-year-old granddaughter of Nasser al-Awlaki, Nawar, who was also the daughter of Anwar Awlaki. As noted by my colleague Jeremy Scahill — who extensively interviewed the grandparents in Yemen for his book and film on Obama’s ‘Dirty Wars’ —  the girl ‘was shot in the neck and killed,’ bleeding to death over the course of two hours. ‘Why kill children?’ the grandfather asked.”

 

Monday, 30 January 2017,        Day 11:

 

Trump’s tweet about his banning citizens and refugees of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, 8:31 am, Monday, 30 January 2017:  “If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!”

Where people who attack the US actually come from, The Atlantic, Uri Friedman, Monday, 30 January 2017: “Nationals of the seven Muslim countries singled out by Donald Trump have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. Zero Americans have been killed by Syrian refugees in a terrorist attack in the United States. Every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident. Like his border wall, which will be erected to stop a mass Mexican migration that no longer exists, Trump’s immigration ban is a solution that misdiagnoses the actual problem….”

Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, whitehouse.gov, Monday, 30 January 2017. For “every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination….”

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates directs top lawyers at the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s travel ban, The New York Times, “Letter From Sally Yates,” Monday, 30 January 2017: “Sally Yates, the acting attorney general and a holdover from the Obama administration, sent [a] letter on Monday to top lawyers at the Justice Department, directing them not to defend the White House’s executive order on immigration during her remaining time at the department.” From the letter: “My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”

Trump fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Who Defied Him, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Mark Landler, Matt Apuzzo and Eric Lichtblau, Monday, 30 January 2017: “President Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday night, removing her as the nation’s top law enforcement officer after she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from [seven] predominantly Muslim countries [Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen]. In an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, the president declared in a statement that Sally Q. Yates, who had served as deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, had betrayed the administration by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend Mr. Trump’s order against legal challenges. The president replaced Ms. Yates with Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, saying that he would serve as attorney general until Congress acts to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. In his first act in his new role, Mr. Boente announced that he was rescinding Ms. Yates’s order.”

From the White House: Statement on the Appointment of Dana Boente as Acting Attorney Generalwhitehouse.gov, Monday, 30 January 2017: “The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration. It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.”

Official: Trump, Giuliani TV interviews influenced Yates’s decision to defy president, The Washington Post, Sari Horwitz, 31 January 2017: “As acting attorney general Sally Yates struggled to figure out how or whether to defend President Trump’s immigration order last weekend — while protests erupted at airports nationwide, immigrants were denied entry to the United States and civil rights lawyers rushed to court — two events helped crystallize her decision. The first was a television appearance by Trump on the Christian Broadcasting Network. In an interview, he said that Christians in the Middle East who were persecuted should be given priority to move to the United States because they had been ‘horribly treated.’ The second was late Saturday night when former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani appeared on Fox News. Giuliani said Trump wanted a ‘Muslim ban’ and asked him to pull together a commission to show him ‘the right way to do it legally.’ ‘Those two things put the order in a very different light,’ said a senior Justice Department official familiar with her decision. ‘Trump’s executive order appeared to be designed to make distinctions among different classes of people based on their religion.’… A one-sentence letter on White House stationery was delivered to her Justice Department office at 9.15 p.m. Monday with a curt message: You’re fired. Fifteen minutes earlier, the Trump administration had sworn in Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia…. ‘She could have resigned,’ said Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who was solicitor general under Obama. ‘But my sense is that Sally thought there was something more at stake than just her own integrity. It was the integrity of the Department of Justice. We probably would have been a lot better off as a country if the attorney general in the 1940s had said, ‘I’m not going to allow the department to defend the internment of the Japanese.’ I think Sally thought this was a comparable situation. And I think she was right to think that.'”

Trump appoints new Immigration and Customs Enforcement director [Thomas D. Homan] noted for his work deporting illegal immigrants, The Washington Post, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 30 January 2017: “A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said that Daniel H. Ragsdale, the acting director, will continue to serve as the deputy director of ICE.”

Obama, Out of Office 10 Days, Speaks Out Against Immigration Ban, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Monday, 30 January 2017: “Former President Barack Obama spoke out on Monday against President Trump’s efforts to seal the United States borders against people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, siding with protesters around the country outraged at Mr. Trump’s crackdown on immigration. ‘President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country,’ said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president, in a statement issued after a weekend of protests against Mr. Trump’s executive order. ‘Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.’ Mr. Obama, the statement added, ‘fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.'”

Tuesday, 31 January 2017,        Day 12:

 

State Department Dissent Cable on Trump’s Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures, The New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “It started out in Washington. Then it went to Jakarta. Then across Africa. One version even showed up on Facebook. Within hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter — or a viral video…. By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it. The State Department has 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants. The letter had been evolving since this weekend, when the first draft emerged. It was edited as it moved along, with some diplomats adding words and others striking out passages.” See also, State Dept. Officials Should Quit if They Disagree With Trump, White House [press secretary Sean Spicer] Warns, The New York Times, Mark Landler, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “The White House on Monday warned State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with President Trump’s agenda, an extraordinary effort to stamp out a wave of internal dissent against Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries…. ‘These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?’ Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters. ‘They should either get with the program or they can go.'” See also, At State Department, ‘Dissent Channel’ In High Gear With Refugee Ban Protests, NPR, Michele Kelemen, Monday, 30 January 2017: “The Dissent Channel was set up during the Vietnam War era as a way for foreign service officers and civil servants to raise concerns with upper management about the direction of U.S. foreign policy, without fear of retribution.”

Petition opposing an official state visit by Trump to the UK signed by 1.6 million people: Parliament to debate Trump state visit after 1.6m sign petition, The Guardian, Rowena Mason, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: The petition reads: “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US government, but he should not be invited to make an official state visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen. ‘Donald Trump’s well-documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official state visit.'”

Trump transportation secretary pick Elaine Chao confirmed in Senate, with some top Democrats balking, The Washington Post, Michael Laris, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “On Tuesday, Chao was confirmed as transportation secretary, bringing extensive government experience to a Trump administration seeking to spur a major infrastructure effort and shake up Washington’s ways. It was a big step for a familiar Washington figure with friends on both sides of the aisle. But unanimity was not to be. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) voted no, as did his fellow Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). President Trump’s executive order to temporarily block people from seven majority-Muslim countries and refugees from entering the United States undercut the chummy atmosphere that prevailed during Chao’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which voted unanimously last week in support of her nomination. On Monday, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a letter asking Chao if she agreed with the order, whether her advice had been sought on it, and how she, as secretary, would approach ‘any further travel restrictions’ and the resulting disruptions, among other questions. Nelson said Tuesday that he waited all day Monday for an answer but did not receive one. So he called her and ‘lo and behold, the transition team for the secretary of transportation had not even given her the questions,’ he said…. ‘What I found out in the conversation was the nominee to be secretary of transportation had not been consulted by the White House, not in advance, not during, not after the implementation’ of Trump’s order, Nelson said.”

White House ices out CNN, Politico, Hadas Gold, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “Trump administration refuses to put officials on air on the network [CNN] the president called ‘fake news.’”

Trump administration [Department of Homeland Security] says 872 refugees will be allowed in the U.S. this week, The Washington Post, Mark Berman, Tuesday, 31 January 2017. “The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it would allow more than 800 refugees to enter the United States this week, an announcement that comes amid widespread anger and confusion following President Trump’s sweeping immigration order. Trump’s order temporarily bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and halts refugee resettlement for a 120-day period. However, officials said at a briefing Tuesday afternoon that they would allow 872 refugees into the country. These refugees were ready to travel and would face ‘undue hardship’ if not able to do so, Kevin K. McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said at a briefing Tuesday afternoon. ‘They will be processed with waivers through the end of the week,’ he said.”

Trump Cancels Trip to Milwaukee Amid Massive Planned Protests, Democracy Now!, reported on Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Donald Trump has canceled his planned trip to Milwaukee amid mass planned protests. The White House announced Tuesday [31 January 2017] Trump will not tour a Harley-Davidson factory on Thursday [2 February 2017] as scheduled. In response, the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump said, ‘Trump’s unpopular policies have ignited an unprecedented resistance movement that will block his every move. We hope our success in Milwaukee sets the tone for the rest of Trump’s Presidency, wherever he goes, there will be resistance!'”

Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Mark Landler, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “President Trump on Tuesday nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, elevating a conservative in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia to succeed the late jurist and touching off a brutal, partisan showdown at the start of his presidency over the ideological bent of the nation’s highest court.” See also, Neil Gorsuch, the Nominee for a Stolen Seat, The New York Times, Editorial, Tuesday, 31 January 2017: “It’s been almost a year since Senate Republicans took an empty Supreme Court seat hostage, discarding a constitutional duty that both parties have honored throughout American history and hobbling an entire branch of government for partisan gain. President Trump had a great opportunity to repair some of that damage by nominating a moderate candidate for the vacancy, which was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Instead, he chose Neil Gorsuch, a very conservative judge from the federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit whose jurisprudence and writing style are often compared to those of Justice Scalia. If Judge Gorsuch is confirmed, the court will once again have a majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents, as it has for nearly half a century. For starters, that spells big trouble for public-sector labor unions, environmental regulations and women’s access to contraception. If Trump gets the chance to name another justice, the consequences could be much more dire.” See also, Neil Gorsuch could be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court, The Washington Post, Ryan Black and Ryan Owens, Wednesday, 15 February 2017: “Last week, President Trump pleased conservatives when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.  He looks to have made good on his promise to appoint a conservative justice to the Court. Court watchers are now left to wonder: how conservative will Gorsuch be? Our analysis suggests that if confirmed, Gorsuch might be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court.”

 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017, Day 13:

 

Rex Tillerson Is Confirmed as Secretary of State Amid Record Opposition, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Rex W. Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 56-to-43 vote to become the nation’s 69th secretary of state just as serious strains have emerged with important international allies. The votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation were the most in Senate history for a secretary of state, a reflection of Democratic unease with President Trump’s early foreign policy pronouncements that threaten to upend a multilateral approach that has guided United States presidents since World War II…. Mr. Tillerson, 64, a Texan, earned an engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin, got a job at Exxon in 1975 and climbed his way to the top, leaving only last year. Neither a diplomat, soldier nor politician, he is an unconventional choice for the job, but has vast international experience. With operations on six continents, Exxon Mobil is in some ways a state within a state. As its chief executive, Mr. Tillerson struck deals with repressive governments — in at least one case, against the advice of the State Department. Environmentalists largely opposed his nomination. But his views on international affairs are in many ways more conventional than those of Mr. Trump, which is why even Democratic-leaning foreign affairs experts said they welcomed his selection in hopes he would bring ballast to a turbulent administration.” See also, Rex Tillerson’s Record on Climate Change: Rhetoric vs. Reality, InsideClimate News, Neela Banerjee, Thursday, 22 December 2017: “As Exxon’s chief executive, Rex Tillerson has acknowledged the reality of climate change, but he has opposed climate action.” See also, Rex Tillerson, From A Corporate Oil Sovereign To The State Department, The New Yorker, Steve Coll, Sunday, 11 December 2016: “The news that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State is astonishing on many levels. As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources. Tillerson figures prominently in “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” a book I wrote about the corporation that came out in 2012.… Tillerson’s life has been shaped to a profound extent by two institutions: ExxonMobil and the Boy Scouts of America…. In public appearances, he comes across as sophisticated, yet his life is rooted in environments that are fundamentally nostalgic for imagined midcentury virtues and for the days when burning fossil fuels did not threaten to trigger catastrophic climate change. Tillerson once listed his favorite book as “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel that has become a touchstone for libertarians and promoters of unbridled capitalism…. Tillerson’s success within Exxon was attributable in part to the work he has done in Russia. He has forged close relations with both President Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin, the close Putin ally who runs Rosneft, one of Russia’s oil-and-gas giants…. If Tillerson is confirmed, he would be in a position to benefit the corporation where he spent his career, by, for example, advocating for the easing of Russian sanctions. In general, Tillerson and ExxonMobil have argued against economic sanctions as an instrument of American foreign policy…. The main themes of “Private Empire” involved the ways that ExxonMobil saw itself as an independent, transnational corporate sovereign in the world, a power independent of the American government, one devoted firmly to shareholder interests and possessed of its own foreign policy.… The goal of ExxonMobil’s independent foreign policy has been to promote a world that is good for oil and gas production.

Trump’s comment on the Senate using the nuclear option to confirm Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court: Trump Says ‘Go Nuclear’ as Democrats Gird for Gorsuch Fight, The New York Times, Matt Flegenheimer, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “President Trump, seeming to relish a fight with Democrats over his nominee [Judge Neil M. Gorsuch] to the Supreme Court, encouraged the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on Wednesday to invoke the so-called nuclear option and abandon the 60-vote threshold for confirmation. ‘If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, “If you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” the president said.”

Statement by the National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, on officially putting Iran on notice, whitehouse.gov, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: During a surprise visit to the daily press briefing, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that the Trump administration is putting Iran ‘on notice’ after Iran conducted a ballistic missile test. “Recent Iranian actions, including a provocative ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel conducted by Iran-supported Houthi militants, underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East. The recent ballistic missile launch is also in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran ‘not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.’…  President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama Administration, as well as the United Nations – as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened.  As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” See White House puts Iran ‘on notice,’ won’t rule out military force, Politico, Louis Nelson and Matthew Nussbaum, Wednesday, 1 February 2017.

United Nations Secretary-General António Gutteres Rebukes Trump Over Travel Ban, Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying it is more likely to endanger Americans than shield them from future terrorist attacks. ‘This is not the way to best protect the United States or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about the possibility of terrorist infiltration,’ he told reporters Wednesday at U.N. headquarters. ‘I think these measures should be removed sooner rather than later.'”

House Democrat Stephanie Murphy (Florida) introduced a bill to remove Steve Bannon from National Security Council: Dem offers bill to remove Bannon from National Security Council, The Hill, Cristina Marcos, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s (D-Fla.) bill would ensure that no person whose ‘primary or predominant responsibility is political in nature’ could be designated as a member of the Security Council or be allowed to regularly attend its meetings. It would also express a sense of Congress that the Director of National Intelligence and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shouldn’t be limited from attending Security Council meetings.”

Republican-led FCC drops court defense of inmate calling rate cap, Ars Technica, Jon Brodkin, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “FCC lawyers [are] no longer authorized to defend intrastate calling caps. The Federal Communications Commission’s new Republican leadership has decided not to defend FCC inmate calling rules that place a cap on intrastate calling rates. Chairman Ajit Pai and fellow Republican Michael O’Rielly repeatedly opposed attempts to cap the phone rates charged to prisoners while Democrats held the FCC’s majority. Republicans argued that the FCC exceeded its authority, and commission attempts to enforce rate caps have been stymied by a series of court decisions.”

Trump says Frederick Douglass ‘is being recognized more and more,’ as if he were still alive: Trump’s Black History Talk: From Douglass to Media Bias and Crime, The New York Times, Jacey Fortin, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Mr. Trump…made a special mention of Frederick Douglass, which caused critics to conclude that he believed the iconic abolitionist, writer and speaker was still alive. Douglass died in 1895. Mr. Trump spoke of him in the present tense: ‘I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Rev. King, so many other things. Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice — Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.'”

Trump’s tweet about the US taking in “illegal immigrants” from Australia: Tweeted at 10:55 pm, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” See Trump’s Harsh Talk With Malcolm Turnbull of Australia Strains Another Alliance, The New York Times, Jane Perlez, published on Thursday, 2 February 2017: “President Trump’s combative phone call with Australia’s prime minister over a refugee agreement has set off a political storm in that country, one that threatens to weaken support for a seven-decade alliance with the United States just as many Australians say they want closer ties with China. Enthusiasm for the alliance in Australia, one of America’s closest partners, which hosts American spy facilities and rotations of American Marines, had already been under pressure from China, with which Australia conducts the most trade. Reports that Mr. Trump had scolded Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday, before abruptly ending the call, are likely to further undermine confidence in the United States, Australian analysts said…. The phone call on Saturday became contentious after Mr. Turnbull pressed Mr. Trump to honor a deal in which the United States had agreed to take in up to 1,250 refugees being held by Australia at offshore detention centers. Under the terms of the deal, hurriedly worked out by Mr. Turnbull and former President Barack Obama in New York last year, Australia would also accept Central American refugees staying in a Costa Rican detention facility.” See also, ‘This was the worst call by far’: Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull [on Saturday, 28 January 2017], The Washington Post, Greg Miller and Phillip Rucker, published on Thursday, 2 February 2017: “Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it. At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.” See also, McCain calls Australian ambassador to express support after Trump exchange, The Hill, Jordain Carney, published on Thursday, 2 February 2017: “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that he spoke to the Australian ambassador to express support for the nations’ relationship after a heated call from President Trump. ‘I called Australia’s Ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance,’ McCain, who’s frequently criticized Trump, said in a statement.”

Homeland Security Inspector General Opens Investigation of Muslim Ban, Orders Document Preservation, The Intercept, Ryan Devereauz, Murtaza Hussain, Alice Speri, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Following a request from Congress [from Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin], the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has directed personnel to preserve all documents related to the implementation of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries last weekend as part of an internal investigation into the order’s chaotic rollout, according to an internal document obtained by The Intercept. In an agency-wide directive sent to DHS staff early Wednesday afternoon, the IG’s office wrote, ‘All agency personnel must preserve any document that contains information that is potentially relevant to OIG’s investigation, or that might reasonably lead to the discovery of relevant information relating to the implementation of this Executive Order. For the duration of this hold, any relevant information that is within your possession or control must be preserved in the exact form as it currently exists.’ The department’s IG office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the investigation.”

Mike Pence Recognized Black History Month By Honoring A White Man, The Huffington Post, Lilly Workneh, published on Thursday, 2 February 2017: “Vice-President Mike Pence posted a tweet on Wednesday in which he recognized the beginning of Black History Month by honoring a white man. The tweet acknowledged President Abraham Lincoln and his work around the [abolition] of slavery, but fails to mention the contributions of any black trailblazer. Mike Pence tweeted about Black History Month at 9:00 pm on Wednesday, 1 February: As #BlackHistoryMonth begins, we remember when Pres. Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states #NationalFreedomDay.”

Trump tweeted about Iran at 10:06 pm, Wednesday, 1 February 2017: “Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!”

 

Thursday, 2 February 2017,           Day 14:

 

Trump tweeted about Iran being formally PUT ON NOTICE at 6:34 am: “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” And at 6:39 am: “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion.”

Trump to Mexico: Take care of ‘bad hombres’ or US might, Associated Press, Vivian Salama, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “President Donald Trump warned in a phone call [on Friday, 27 January 2017] with his Mexican counterpart that he was ready to send U.S. troops to stop ‘bad hombres down there’ unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press. The excerpt of the call did not detail who exactly Trump considered ‘bad hombres,’ nor did it make clear the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s response. Mexico denies that Trump’s remarks were threatening. Still, the excerpt offers a rare and striking look at how the new president is conducting diplomacy behind closed doors. Trump’s remarks suggest he is using the same tough and blunt talk with world leaders that he used to rally crowds on the campaign trail.” [Mexico denies these remarks were made.]

New C.I.A. Deputy Director, Gina Haspel, Had Leading Role in Torture, The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “As a clandestine officer at the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002, Gina Haspel oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and later took part in an order to destroy videotapes documenting their brutal interrogations at a secret prison in Thailand…. Over the past eight years, C.I.A. leaders defended dozens of agency personnel who had taken part in the now-banned torture program, even as they vowed never to resume the same harsh interrogation methods. But President Trump has said repeatedly that he thinks torture works. And the new C.I.A. chief, Mike Pompeo, has said that waterboarding and other techniques do not even constitute torture, and praised as patriots’ those who used such methods in the early days of the fight against Al Qaeda. Ms. Haspel, who has spent most of her career undercover, would certainly fall within Mr. Pompeo’s description. She played a direct role in the C.I.A.’s ‘extraordinary rendition program,’ under which captured militants were handed to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were tortured by agency personnel. The C.I.A.’s first overseas detention site was in Thailand. It was run by Ms. Haspel, who oversaw the brutal interrogations of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.”

Republicans in House and Senate vote to ease restrictions on coal mining near streams: Republicans Move to Block Rule on Coal Mining Near Streams, The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “Republicans on Thursday took one of their first steps to officially dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations by easing restrictions on coal mining, bolstering an industry that President Trump has made a symbol of America’s neglected heartland. Using an obscure law that allows Congress to review regulations before they take effect, the Senate voted to reverse the Stream Protection Rule, which seeks to protect the nation’s waterways from debris generated by a practice called surface mining. The Interior Department had said the rule would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests by keeping coal mining debris away from nearby waters. The Senate vote was 54 to 45, following a House vote for repeal on Wednesday [228-194].”

House Votes To Overturn Obama Rule Restricting Gun Sales To the Severely Mentally Ill, NPR, Jessica Taylor, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “On Thursday the GOP-controlled House voted to overturn an Obama administration rule designed to keep firearms out of the hands of some people deemed mentally ill. The action was the latest move by congressional Republicans to undo several of President Obama’s regulations on issues such as gun control and the environment through an arcane law called the Congressional Review Act. According to NPR’s Susan Davis, the measure being blocked from implementation would have required the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries with severe mental disabilities to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. About 75,000 people found mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs would have been affected.”

U.S. military probing more possible civilian deaths in Yemen raid that took place on Sunday, 29 January 2017, Reuters, Ayesha Rascoe, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “The U.S. military said on Wednesday [1 February 2017] it was looking into whether more civilians were killed in a raid on al Qaeda in Yemen on the weekend, in the first operation authorized by President Donald Trump as commander in chief. U.S. Navy SEAL William ‘Ryan’ Owens was killed in the raid on a branch of al Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al Bayda province, which the Pentagon said also killed 14 militants. However, medics at the scene said about 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed. U.S. Central Command said in a statement that an investigating team had ‘concluded regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed’ during Sunday’s raid. It said children may have been among the casualties. U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations. As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.”

Yemenis Close Bodegas and Rally to Protest Trump’s BanThe New York Times, Liam Stack, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “Thousands of Yemeni-Americans and their supporters rallied in Brooklyn on Thursday to denounce President Trump’s executive order on immigration, hours after hundreds of Yemeni-owned bodegas and grocery stores around New York closed to protest the order…. Yemeni-owned bodegas are institutions in many New York neighborhoods, selling coffee and bagels, groceries, umbrellas and many other items. Organizers said several hundred had closed from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday in protest, which Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, told the crowd, sent ‘a loud and clear message to America.’… Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed support for the protesters on Twitter. ‘New York City’s bodega owners are bravely shutting their doors to oppose the president’s shameful executive order,’ Mr. de Blasio wrote. ‘I stand with them.’”

Kellyanne Conway’s remarks about the ‘Bowling Green Massacre’: Kellyanne Conway Admits ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ Error, The New York Times, Joe Coscarelli, published on Friday, 3 February 2017: Kellyanne Conway, the adviser to President Trump who coined the phrase “alternative facts,” is facing another round of criticism and fact-checking after she falsely spoke of a “Bowling Green massacre” by Iraqi refugees. She acknowledged and corrected her statement Friday morning on Twitter. Ms. Conway made the comment during an appearance on MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ on Thursday night [2 February] as she discussed with the host, Chris Matthews, the executive order by Mr. Trump that suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. ‘I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,’ she said. ‘Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.’ In fact, no ‘Bowling Green massacre’ ever happened.” See also, Kellyanne Conway’s ‘Bowling Green massacre’ wasn’t a slip of the tongue. She has said it before, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Monday, 6 February 2017. See also, When the [US] Government Really Did Fear a Bowling Green Massacre—From a White Supremacist,” ProPublica (co-published with The New York Times), A.C. Thompson, published Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Assault rifles, body armor, a possible kill list, but not much attention when feds arrested a white man they said was bent on ‘race war.’ The year was 2012. The place was Bowling Green, Ohio. A federal raid had uncovered what the authorities feared were the makings of a massacre. There were 18 firearms, among them two AR–15 assault rifles, an AR–10 assault rifle and a Remington Model 700 sniper rifle. There was body armor, too, and the authorities counted some 40,000 rounds of ammunition. An extremist had been arrested, and prosecutors suspected that he had been aiming to carry out a wide assortment of killings. ‘This defendant, quite simply, was a well-funded, well-armed and focused one-man army of racial and religious hate,’ prosecutors said in a court filing. The man arrested and charged was Richard Schmidt, a middle-aged owner of a sports-memorabilia business at a mall in town. Prosecutors would later call him a white supremacist. His planned targets, federal authorities said, had been African-Americans and Jews. They’d found a list with the names and addresses of those to be assassinated, including the leaders of NAACP chapters in Michigan and Ohio.”

Trump Vows to ‘Destroy’ Law Banning Political Endorsements by Churches, The New York Times, Mark Landler and Laurie Goodstein, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “President Trump vowed on Thursday to overturn a law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to evangelicals, a voting bloc he attracted to his campaign by promising to free up their pulpits. Mr. Trump said his administration would ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. ‘Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us,’ Mr. Trump told religious leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast. ‘That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.’ Repealing the law would require approval by Congress [it is part of the tax code], which could prove challenging given that Democrats, and even some Republicans, would resist what many view as an erosion of the separation between church and state.” See also, Trump vows to ‘totally destroy’ restrictions on churches’ support of candidates, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Julie Zauzmer, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “… several experts said Thursday that the effect of a repeal could be far broader, allowing churches of any political leaning to pour their financial resources into campaigns of like-minded candidates. ‘It’s less about a minister speaking out from the pulpit, and more about deep church coffers,’ said Beth Gazley, a professor of public affairs at Indiana University.”

Trump’s remarks about Arnold Schwarzenegger at the National Prayer Breakfast: Schwarzenegger to Trump: ‘Why Don’t We Switch Jobs? The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Thursday, 2 February  2017: “President Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger were embroiled in a long-distance feud on Thursday after the president used a prayer breakfast speech to taunt the action star about his reality show ratings, and Mr. Schwarzenegger fired back in a video posted on Twitter. To be clear, this is actually happening. The fireworks began on Thursday morning, when Mr. Trump used the typically solemn occasion of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington to needle Mr. Schwarzenegger as ‘a total disaster’ on ‘The New Celebrity Apprentice,’ the latest incarnation of the NBC reality franchise that catapulted Mr. Trump to national stardom. ‘They hired a big, big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to take my place, and we know how that turned out,’ Mr. Trump said, as Mark Burnett, the ‘Apprentice’ creator who has become an active champion of Christian causes, listened a few feet away. ‘The ratings went right down the tubes,’ Mr. Trump continued. ‘Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.’ Minutes later, Mr. Schwarzenegger responded in a 15-second video posted to his Twitter account. ‘Hey Donald, I have a great idea — why don’t we switch jobs?’ said Mr. Schwarzenegger, his face filling the screen. ‘You take over TV, because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job. And then people can finally sleep comfortably again,’ Mr. Schwarzenegger added, with an impish grin.”

Trump’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast about US being taken advantage of by every nation in the world: Donald Trump gave a doozy of a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza, Thursday, 2 February 2017: “The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out. OK? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out. Believe me. When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. They’re tough. We have to be tough It’s time we’re going to be a little tough folks. We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

 

Friday, 3 February 2017, Day 15:

 

Trump tweeted about Iran at 6:28 am on Friday, 3 February 2017: “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!”

Trump tweeted about protests against him and his administration at 6:48 am on Friday, 3 February 2017:  “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump tweeted about the attack at the Louvre in Paris at 7:51 am on Friday, 3 February 2017: “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.”

598 colleges have ‘concerns’ on Trump travel ban, The Hill, Mark Hensch, Friday, 3 February 2017: “A coalition of 598 college and university presidents has released a letter voicing ‘concerns’ with President Trump’s temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. In the letter, sent Friday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly through the American Council on Education (ACE), the presidents say they are concerned about how the order will affect international students, faculty, researchers and staffers. ‘Our nation can only maintain its global scientific and economic leadership position if it encourages those talented people to come here to study and work,’ the letter says. ‘America is the greatest magnet for talented people from around the world and it must remain so.’”

The new underground railroad to Canada, Maclean’s, Jason Markusoff, Photographs by Nick Iwanyshyn, Friday, 3 February 2017: “More and more refugees are making a dangerous trek north to Canada to escape a harsh new U.S. regime–risking life and limb…. The taxi stopped at the side of the I-29 interstate after cruising north for about an hour. Their $400 in the cabbie’s pocket, he dropped off Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal a two-minute drive short of the North Dakota-Manitoba line. The driver pointed the men toward a darkened prairie field and a row of red blinking lights, wind turbines in the distance. Walk toward those lights, and they could grasp freedom…. By the time they wanted to dial 911 for police to retrieve them from the Manitoba roadside, their hands were frozen claws unable to grip a phone. A trucker eventually rescued them, and a month later they were on a new, safer road, toward possible refugee status in Canada. But their frostbitten fingers are gone. Iyal has one thumb and a half-thumb left. Mohammed has nothing. As the 24-year-old former soccer player lies in his Winnipeg hospital bed a week after the amputation, the ends of his bandaged hands are left open to reveal the skin graft stapled over them to cover the wound. After recalling the extreme burning sensation of that night, the fear he might have died, he can’t stop staring at them in disbelief. ‘Look at my hands. Look, look,’ Mohammed says, cheeks dripping with tears he cannot wipe away.

Animal welfare: USDA abruptly purges animal welfare information from its website, The Washington Post, Karin Brulliard, Friday, 3 February 2017: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities. In a statement, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of a ‘comprehensive review’ that took place over the past year. It said the removed documents, which also included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved.”

Trump signs executive order to review and roll back Obama-Era financial regulations, The New York Times, Ben Protess and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 3 February 2017: “President Trump on Friday moved to chisel away at the Obama administration’s legacy on financial regulation, announcing steps to revisit the rules enacted after the 2008 financial crisis and to back away from a measure intended to protect consumers from bad investment advice. After a White House meeting with executives from Wall Street, Mr. Trump signed a directive aimed at the Dodd-Frank Act, crafted by the Obama administration and passed by Congress in response to the 2008 meltdown. He also signed a memorandum that paves the way for reversing a policy, known as the fiduciary rule, that requires brokers to act in a client’s best interest, rather than seek the highest profits for themselves, when providing retirement advice. The executive order affecting Dodd-Frank is vague in its wording and expansive in its reach. It never mentions the law by name, instead laying out ‘core principles’ for regulations that include empowering American investors and enhancing the competitiveness of American companies. Even so, it gives the Treasury the authority to restructure major provisions of Dodd-Frank, and it directs the Treasury secretary to make sure existing laws align with administration goals…. Mr. Trump’s action on the fiduciary rule, which Democrats and consumer groups immediately denounced as a gift to Wall Street, could have a more concrete impact. His memorandum directs the Labor Department to review whether the rule may ‘adversely affect’ investors’ ability to access financial advice — and if it does, it authorizes the agency to rescind and revise the rule…. The 2010 act reined in mortgage practices and derivatives trading and curbed the ability of banks to trade with their own money in a measure known as the Volcker Rule. Despite the president’s concerns, banks have increased their consumer lending like credit cards and auto loans, and have generally expanded their lending to businesses…. The meeting underscored the degree to which the architects of Mr. Trump’s economic strategy are now some of the people he denounced in his campaign, which ended with a commercial that described ‘a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations.'”

Trump’s remarks in meeting with his Economic Advisory Group about making sweeping changes to the Dodd-Frank financial law because his friends are having a hard time getting loans from banks: Trump says business friends ‘can’t get loans’ because of Dodd-Frank, The Hill, Vicki Needham, Friday, 3 February 2017: “’We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that had nice businesses, they can’t borrow money,’ Mr. Trump said in the State Dining Room during his meeting with business leaders. ‘They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow it because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank.’”

Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama-Era Financial Regulations, The New York Times, Ben Protess and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 3 February 2017: “The Senate voted 52 to 47 to void the rule, which requires oil companies to publicly disclose payments made to governments when developing resources around the world. The rule, which Dodd-Frank assigned to the S.E.C. to enforce, was tangential to the law’s mission of reforming Wall Street, but lawmakers included it anyway with the hope of exposing bribes and corruption.

The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor, The Washington Post, Brian Fung, Friday, 3 February 2017: “Regulators are telling nine companies they won’t be allowed to participate in a federal program meant to help them provide affordable Internet access to low-income consumers — weeks after those companies had been given the green light. The move, announced Friday by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, reverses a decision by his Democratic predecessor, Tom Wheeler, and undercuts the companies’ ability to provide low-cost Internet access to poorer Americans.”

U.S. Treasury Department Announces New Sanctions On Iran, NPR, Rebecca Hersher, Friday, 3 February 2017: “The U.S. Treasury Department announced additional sanctions on Iran on Friday, less than a week after a ballistic missile test prompted the Trump administration to accuse Iran of violating an international weapons agreement. The newly announced sanctions target people and businesses the U.S. government says support Iran’s ballistic missile program and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, according to a Treasury Department statement. They are in line with previous sanctions, implemented over what then-President Barack Obama called Iran’s ‘violations of human rights, for its support of terrorism and for its ballistic missile program.’”

Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills, The Washington Post, Amy Brittain and Drew Harwell, Friday, 3 February 2017. “When the president-elect’s son Eric Trump jetted to Uruguay in early January for a Trump Organization promotional trip, U.S. taxpayers were left footing a bill of nearly $100,000 in hotel rooms for Secret Service and embassy staff.”

Federal judge in Seattle, WA [James L. Robart] temporarily blocks Trump’s travel ban nationwide, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Lori Aratani and Justin Jouvenal, published on Saturday, 4 February 2017: “A federal judge in Washington state on Friday [3 February]  temporarily blocked enforcement of President Trump’s controversial ban on entry to the United States, and airlines planned to begin allowing passengers from banned countries to board, according to a person familiar with the matter. Following the ruling, government authorities immediately began communicating with airlines and taking steps that would allow travel by those previously barred from doing so, according to a U.S. official. At the same time, though, the White House said in a statement that the Justice Department would ‘at the earliest possible time’ file for an emergency stay of the ‘outrageous’ ruling from the judge. Minutes later, it issued a similar statement omitting the word ‘outrageous.’ ‘The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,’ the White House said…. Robart granted a request from lawyers for the state of Washington who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order. Justice and State department officials had revealed earlier Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order. A U.S. official said that because of the court case, officials would examine the revoking of those visas so that people would be allowed to travel. See also, Where Trump’s Travel Ban Stands, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Acting on a request from two states, Washington and Minnesota, Judge Robart temporarily banned the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order: its 90-day suspension of entry into the United States of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and its limits on accepting refugees, including ‘any action that prioritizes the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.’ Judge Robart’s order allowed people from the seven countries who had been authorized to travel, along with vetted refugees from all nations, to enter the country…. The [U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit] declined to issue an immediate administrative stay, but it said it would consider the federal government’s emergency motion for a stay after receiving more briefs. The court set a very fast briefing schedule, asking the states to respond by midnight Sunday Pacific time, with the federal government to file a second brief by 3 p.m. on Monday.” See also, Court Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban, and Airlines are Told to Allow Passengers, The New York Times, Nicholas Kulish, Caitlin Dickerson and Charlie Savage, Friday, 3 February 2017. See also, The President Has Much Power Over Immigration, but How Much? The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “A key part of immigration law does give the president broad power. It says, ‘Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.’ But another part of the law forbids discrimination ‘because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence,’ but only ‘in the issuance of an immigrant visa.’ The Trump administration argues that the power to bar entry, the subject of the first law, is broader than the limits on issuing visas. Lawyers for Washington State have said that the executive order violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishment of religion because its provisions on the refugee program favor minority religions. ‘President Trump and his advisers have made clear that the very purpose of this order is to tilt the scales in favor of Christian refugees at the expense of Muslims,’ they wrote in their brief to Judge Robart. The Trump administration urged the Ninth Circuit to reject arguments based on religious discrimination, even though Mr. Trump has said he meant to favor Christian refugees. Judicial consideration of the president’s motives, the brief said, would violate the separation of powers…. The states challenging the order face the initial hurdle of demonstrating that they have suffered the sort of direct and concrete harm that gives them standing to sue. Judge Robart ruled that they did, relying on a decision from the federal appeals court in New Orleans, which said Texas could sue to challenge President Barack Obama’s plan to defer the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and allow them to work. ‘The executive order adversely affects the states’ residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel,’ Judge Robart wrote. He said the states had been hurt because the order affected their public universities and their tax bases.”

Trump tweeted at 6:08 pm on Friday, 2 February 2017: “We must keep ‘evil’ out of our country!”

 

Saturday, 4 February, 2017,       Day 16:

 

Trump tweeted about U.S. District Judge James L. Robart who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking Trump’s travel ban: 8:12 am: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” And earlier at 7:59 am Trump tweeted: “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security – big trouble!” And later at 3:44 pm Trump tweeted: “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” And even later at 4:44 pm Trump tweeted: “Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision.” And still later at 7:48 pm Trump tweeted: “The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!”

State Dept. reverses visa revocations, allows barred travelers to enter U.S., The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Matt Zapotosky and Abby Phillip, Saturday, 4 February 2017: “The Department of Homeland Security complied with a judge’s orders Saturday [4 February 2017] and stopped enforcing President Trump’s controversial entry ban, and the fast-moving legal dispute over the president’s powers could land at the nation’s highest court. On Saturday evening, Trump administration lawyers filed a notice to appeal the Seattle federal judge’s decision from Friday night that imposed a temporary, nationwide halt to Trump’s order barring refugees and those from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the country. While his administration followed the orders of U.S. District Judge James L. Robart, the president blasted out his unhappiness with an extraordinarily personal criticism. ‘The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!’ Trump said in a Saturday morning tweet…. Trump exaggerated the impact of Robart’s order, and Democrats charged that the president was trying to intimidate the independent judiciary. ‘The president’s hostility toward the rule of law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous,’ Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. The State Department said that those with valid visas could enter the country. DHS said it would ‘resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure’ that existed before Trump’s more restrictive executive order…. It is somewhat unusual for a district judge to issue an order that affects the entire country, but Robart said it was necessary to follow Congress’s intention that ‘the immigration laws of the United States should be enforced vigorously and uniformly.’ He was quoting from a 2015 appeals court ruling that had blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action that would have made it easier for undocumented immigrants in this country to remain. It was never implemented because of legal challenges…. Robart granted a request from attorneys for the states of Washington and Minnesota who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order. Justice and State department officials had revealed earlier Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order…. Robart’s order also enjoined the government from enforcing a section of the executive order that bars the entry of Syrian refugees.”

The Genius of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on ‘Saturday Night Live’, The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert, published on Sunday, 5 February 2017: “It was the kind of moment Saturday Night Live history was made of: an unannounced guest appearance so perfect that it took even the live audience a few moments to register what was actually happening. ‘Next, on C-SPAN, the daily White House press briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer,’ a voiceover announced. Then, a person who looked uncannily like Spicer walked onstage to a makeshift podium, presumably causing many viewers at home to squint and look more closely at their televisions. Is that … ? Could it be … ? It took a few insults delivered in a trademark shriek to hammer home that this really was Melissa McCarthy, in drag, capturing the unquestionable essence of a political figure whose public image so far has largely revolved around belligerence, alternative facts, and cinnamon gum. As soon as the assembled audience figured it out, they began cheering, causing McCarthy’s Spicer to berate them once again. ‘Settle down, SETTLE DOWN!’ she screeched. ‘Before we begin, I know that myself and the press have gotten off to a rocky start. And when I say rocky, I mean Rocky the movie because I came out here to punch you. In the face. And also I don’t talk so good.’”

 

Sunday, 5 February 2017, Day 17:

 

9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals lets U.S. District Judge James Robart’s ruling stand pending further proceedings, thus rejecting bid to quickly reinstate travel ban, Los Angeles Times, Michael A. Memoli, Jaweed Kaleem and Lisa Mascaro,  published at 1:30 am on Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Early Sunday, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied a request to immediately reinstate Trump’s travel ban, asking both sides to file arguments by Monday.”

Trump tweeted again about US District Judge James Robart at  3:39 pm on Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” See ‘If something happens’: Trump points his finger in case of a terrorist attack, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Monday, 6 February 2017: “President Trump appears to be laying the groundwork to preemptively shift blame for any future terrorist attack on U.S. soil from his administration to the federal judiciary, as well as to the media. In recent tweets, Trump personally attacked James L. Robart, a U.S. district judge in Washington state, for putting “our country in such peril” with his ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of the administration’s ban on all refugees as well as citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. ‘If something happens blame him and the court system. People pouring in. Bad!’ Trump wrote in a tweet Sunday. Then on Monday [6 February 2017], Trump seemed to spread that blame to include news organizations. In a speech to the U.S. Central Command, the president accused the media of failing to report on some terrorist attacks for what he implied were nefarious reasons.”

Trump’s comments equating Putin’s actions with US actions in an interview on Sunday, 5 February, with Bill O’Reilly before the Super Bowl: Kremlin Asks for Apology After Bill O’Reilly Calls Putin ‘a Killer’, The New York Times, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Monday, 6 February 2017: “In the interview, which aired on Sunday, Mr. O’Reilly asked Mr. Trump how he felt about the Russian leader. Mr. O’Reilly: ‘Do you respect Putin?’ Mr. Trump: ‘I do respect him.’ Mr. O’Reilly: ‘Do you? Why?’ Mr. Trump: ‘Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with them. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS — which is a major fight — and Islamic terrorism all over the world — major fight — that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It’s very possible that I won’t.’ Mr. O’Reilly: ‘He’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.’ Mr. Trump: ‘There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?’ The president’s response, which appeared to equate Mr. Putin’s actions with those of the United States, drew outrage and dismay on social media. An open admirer of the Russian leader, Mr. Trump has taken a conciliatory approach toward Mr. Putin, whose tenure has been known for human rights abuses, the brutal suppression of political dissent and the unnatural deaths of many political opponents.”

Trump’s comments during his interview on Sunday, 5 February, with Bill O’Reilly before the Super Bowl about three million illegal immigrants voting in the 2016 election: Kremlin Asks for Apology After Bill O’Reilly Calls Putin ‘a Killer’, The New York Times, Monday, 6 February 2017. “In another excerpt from the Fox interview, Mr. Trump was asked whether it was irresponsible for him to say that three million illegal immigrants voted in the election while lacking the evidence to support that assertion. ‘When you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they’re on the registration rolls,’ [Trump] started to say before shifting. ‘Look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this — it’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad.'”

German magazine [Der Spiegel] defends cover of Trump beheading Statue of Liberty, Reuters, Sunday, 5 February  2017: “The editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel on Sunday said a front cover illustration of U.S. President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty, which split opinion at home and abroad, was a response by the German magazine to threats against democracy. Published on Saturday, the cover depicts a cartoon figure of Trump with a bloodied knife in one hand and the statue’s head, dripping with blood, in the other. It carries the caption: ‘America First’. It followed a series of attacks on Berlin’s policies by Trump and his aides that have marked a rapid deterioration in German relations with the United States.”

Volunteers Archive Government Data, Worry Trump Administration Could Cut Access, The Wall Street Journal, Daniela Hernandez, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Academics, librarians and technology professionals are hosting ‘archive-a-thons’ to copy public databases hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other federal agencies, saying they are worried access to the data could be compromised under the Trump administration. The goal is to ensure the climate, environmental and other data remain in the public domain, according to organizers of the events, which are taking place across the U.S. and in Canada.” See also, Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 13 December 2016: “Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference. The efforts include a ‘guerrilla archiving’ event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information. ‘Something that seemed a little paranoid to me before all of a sudden seems potentially realistic, or at least something you’d want to hedge against,’ said Nick Santos, an environmental researcher at the University of California at Davis, who over the weekend began copying government climate data onto a nongovernment server, where it will remain available to the public. ‘Doing this can only be a good thing. Hopefully they leave everything in place. But if not, we’re planning for that.'”

Marine Le Pen Echoes Trump’s Bleak Populism in French Campaign Kickoff, The New York Times, Adam Nossiter, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen delivered a grim populist kickoff to her burgeoning presidential campaign on Sunday, warning thousands of her flag-waving supporters of ‘two totalitarianisms,’ globalization and Islamism, that want to ‘subjugate France.’ Ms. Le Pen’s dark picture of a weakened France troubled by bureaucrats and burqas was a striking echo of themes being sounded across the Atlantic. France, a prosperous country with the world’s sixth-largest economy, was depicted as a besieged wreck. In a packed hall here, she made a point, in an hourlong speech brimming with nationalist fervor, of praising President Trump and the Americans who had elected him, as her supporters shouted forcefully, ‘This is our country!’”

 

Monday, 6 February 2017,       Day 18:

 

Trump tweet on negative polls and extreme vetting at 7:01 am on Monday, 6 February 2017: “Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.”

Federal Appeals Court Schedules Hearing on Trump Travel Ban, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 6 February 2017: “A federal appeals court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether to restore President Trump’s controversial immigration order, marking a critical juncture for the president’s directive temporarily barring refugees and those from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The hearing, which will be conducted by telephone, is to review an order by a lower court judge to put Trump’s directive on hold. It was scheduled just as Justice Department lawyers made their final written pitch to immediately restore the president’s order — and as tech companies, law professors and former high-ranking national security officials joined a mushrooming legal campaign to keep the measure suspended…. The future of the temporary ban now lies with three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit: William C. Canby Jr., who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter; Judge Richard Clifton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush; and Judge Michelle Taryn Friedland, who was appointed by President Barack Obama…. The broad legal issue is whether Trump exceeded his authority and violated the First Amendment and federal immigration law, and whether his executive order imposes irreparable harm on those it affects…. On Monday, 10 former high-ranking diplomatic and national security officials; nearly 100 Silicon Valley tech companies; more than 280 law professors; a coalition of 16 state or district attorneys general, including those from D.C., Maryland and Virginia; and a host of civil liberties and other organizations formally lent their support to the legal bid to block Trump’s order…. Former secretaries of state John F. Kerry and Madeleine Albright, along with former CIA director Leon Panetta, former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and other former top national security officials, attached their names to an affidavit declaring there was ‘no national security purpose’ for a complete barring of people from the seven affected countries. ‘Since September 11, 2001, not a single terrorist attack in the United States has been perpetrated by aliens from the countries named in the Order,’ the group declared. ‘Very few attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001 have been traced to foreign nationals at all.’ Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and other companies asserted in a brief that Trump’s order ‘hinders the ability of American companies to attract great talent; increases costs imposed on business; makes it more difficult for American firms to compete in the international marketplace; and gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations — and hire new employees — outside the United States.’ And 16 attorneys general said, while their specific businesses and residents were different, ‘all stand to face the concrete, immediate, and irreparable harms caused by the Executive Order.'”

California joins 15 other states going to court to challenge Trump’s immigration orders, Los Angeles Times, Patrick McGreevy, Monday, 6 February 2017: “California and 15 other states joined the growing legal challenge to President Trump’s immigration orders, filing an amicus brief Monday supporting Washington state’s lawsuit that argues the directives targeting people from Muslim-majority countries are unconstitutional. State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced the friend-of-the-court brief after a federal judge put a nationwide hold on the immigration moratorium and the case was appealed by the Trump administration…. California was joined in filing the brief by Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia.”

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said he will refuse to invite Trump to speak in UK parliament, The Guardian, Anushka Asthana, Jessica Elgot, Rowena Mason, Monday, 6 February 2017: “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”

Melania Trump lawsuit says she missed out on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to make millions, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Tuesday, 6 February 2017: “A lawyer for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday [6 February 2016] that an article falsely alleging she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish ‘multimillion dollar business relationships’ during the years in which she would be ‘one of the most photographed women in the world.’ The suit, filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Mail Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose ‘significant value’ as well as ‘major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.’ The suit noted that the article had damaged Trump’s ‘unique, once in a lifetime opportunity’ to ‘launch a broad-based commercial brand.’”

Trump is now speculating that the media is intentionally covering up terrorist attacks, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 6 February 2017: “Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, President Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks. ‘You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,’ he said to the assembled military leaders. ‘It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.’ The comment immediately harked back to comments from senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC last week. ‘I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,’ she said. ‘Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.’ It was brand-new information to people because there was no ‘Bowling Green massacre.’ Conway had referred to the supposed terrorist attack previously, including in response to a question posed by TMZ. But the two Iraqis arrested in Bowling Green, Ky., in 2011 never committed an attack in the United States. She later admitted that she’d misspoken….  Trump didn’t quite say that the media was siding with the terrorists, just that the media would happily ignore terrorism if it made Trump look bad. Interestingly, Trump himself ignored the mass shooting [by a young white supremacist] that occurred at a mosque in Quebec last week, killing six people. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told the media that the president and the Canadian prime minister had spoken, but Trump himself declined to weigh in. (Spicer cited the attack mostly as somehow validating Trump’s immigration policies.) See also, Democracy Now!, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “[Trump’s] claims [about the media intentionally covering up terrorist attacks] appear to be part of a wider push by the White House to increase fear about potential—and even imaginary—terrorist attacks in order to justify President Trump’s crackdown on immigration, including his Muslim ban. Later on Monday [6 February], after pressure from media outlets, the White House released a list of what it claims are 78 terrorist attacks since 2014 that it says have not received sufficient coverage. Many of the attacks on the list caused no fatalities, and almost all were carried out outside the United States. The list includes attacks that received such an onslaught of media attention, they are still recognized by only one word, such as ‘Nice’ or ‘Orlando.’ The list also included multiple misspellings, including misspelling the name of San Bernardino. In response, California Congressmember Pete Aguilar tweeted, ‘You can’t even spell #SanBernardino but you exploit our community to justify your #muslimban.’” See also, Our Articles on the Attacks Trump Says the Media Didn’t Cover, The New York Times, Max Fisher and Kitty Bennett, published on 7 February 2017. See also, Trump says terror attacks ‘under-reported’: Is that true?,  BBC, “…the White House published a list of attacks ‘executed or inspired’ by IS. Before the list was published, press secretary Sean Spicer said there were ‘several instances’ of attacks that had not gained sufficient media coverage (without specifying which fell into that category). We have reproduced the list below, explaining in each case what happened and whether we reported on it. Just because the BBC covered an attack does not mean that incident was not under-reported, although it is unclear whether Mr Trump was referring to US or global news organisations. Some terrorist incidents do get more coverage than others, a point hotly debated on social media. Most of the atrocities listed by the White House were committed by Islamists, and the killing of nine black worshippers by a self-avowed white supremacist in South Carolina is notably absent.” See also, Is News of Terror Attacks Underplayed? Experts Say No, The New York Times, Scott Shane, published on Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017,       Day 19:

 

Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tie, The New York Times, Emmarie Huetteman and Yamiche Alcindor, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor with almost no experience in public education, was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s education secretary on Tuesday, but only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after weeks of protests and two defections within her own party. The 51-to-50 vote capped an all-night vigil on the Senate floor, where, one by one, Democrats denounced Ms. DeVos to a mostly empty chamber. But they did not get a third Republican defection that would have stopped Ms. DeVos — a billionaire who has devoted much of her life to promoting charter schools and vouchers — from becoming the steward of the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools. It was the first time a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination…. For many educators, Ms. DeVos’s support for charter schools and vouchers — which allow students to use taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private, religious and for-profit schools — reflected a deep disconnect from public schools. Neither Ms. DeVos nor any of her children attended a public school…. Mr. Trump’s choice of Ms. DeVos, known for her big-spending lobbying efforts to expand charter schools in Michigan — an experiment that even charter school supporters now criticize — to lead the Education Department presented senators with a multitude of potential pitfalls. Her background as a prolific fund-raiser who has donated about $200 million over the years to Republican causes and candidates — including some senators, as has been the case for previous presidential nominees — came under scrutiny. Democrats have also expressed concern about her family’s contributions to groups that support so-called conversion therapy for gay people and her past statements that government ‘sucks’ and that public schools are a ‘dead end.’ Opponents have also focused on the poor performance of charter schools in Detroit, which she championed…. In one notable exchange [during her confirmation hearing] that spread across the internet, Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, asked Ms. DeVos whether all schools that receive public money should have to follow the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, the landmark 1975 civil rights legislation. Under that federal law, states and school districts are required to provide special education services to children with disabilities. Ms. DeVos said the issue was ‘best left to the states.’ In a bizarre moment that made her the butt of late-night TV jokes, Ms. DeVos also suggested that states should decide whether to allow guns in schools, citing in part concerns about protection from grizzly bears in Wyoming.

Trump’s remark about destroying the career of a Texas state senator: Texas Democrats Angered by Trump’s Remark on Destroying Senator’s Career, The New York Times, Manny Fernandez and David Montgomery, published on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Mr. Trump’s remark came during a meeting at the White House [on Tuesday, 7 February 2017] with sheriffs from around the country. At one point, the president asked the sheriffs seated at a table around him if there were any pressing law enforcement issues they wanted to talk about. A Texas sheriff, Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, spoke up. ‘Mr. President, on asset forfeiture,’ Sheriff Eavenson said, in an exchange that was observed by reporters and filmed, ‘we’ve got a state senator in Texas that was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture money, and I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.’ ‘Can you believe that?’ Mr. Trump responded, then added, ‘Who’s the state senator?’ Sheriff Eavenson did not reply. ‘Do you want to give his name?’ Mr. Trump said. ‘We’ll destroy his career.’ [Obsequious] Laughter then broke out.” See Taken: The Rise of Civil Forfeiture, The New Yorker, Sarah Stillman, Monday, 12 & 19 August 2013: “Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes.” See also, Can the President ‘Destroy’ Criminal-Justice Reformers? The New Yorker, Sarah Stillman, Saturday, 11 February 2017: “Civil forfeiture—the practice of authorities seizing goods they believe are the fruits of crime—is far less frequently used against bona-fide cartel kingpins than it is against individuals who’ve not been proved guilty of crimes. Often, it’s used against people who haven’t even been accused of any wrongdoing.”

Trump makes false statement about U.S. murder rate to sheriffs’ group, The Washington Post, Tom Jackman, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “President Trump met Tuesday morning with a group of sheriffs from the National Sheriffs Association, a group that consists of more than 3,000 sheriffs from around the country. And to this sworn group of  law enforcement veterans, with reporters taking notes, he again repeated a falsehood about the murder rate in America. Trump told the sheriffs, ‘the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.’ He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, ‘But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.’ The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country.” See also, In Meeting With Sheriffs, Trump Repeats False Murder Rate Statistic, NPR, Camila Domonoske, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “On multiple occasions Trump has suggested the murder rate is at a historic high, a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. In fact, the murder rate is currently at less than half its peak.

Army Corps of Engineers Grants Easement for Dakota Access Pipeline, NPR, Amy Sisk, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “The federal government made a big step toward completing a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will grant the final easement needed to finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The move comes after President Trump signed an executive action directing the Corps to push ahead with the project.” Statement by Andrew Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists: Hasty Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Disrespects Community Needs, Scientific Process, Union of Concerned Scientists, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “The president has pushed through the Dakota Access Pipeline approval without any real analysis of impacts and alternatives. That’s shameful. This decision puts corporate interests ahead of the rights of sovereign tribes and the safety of their land and water. It denies the Standing Rock community any opportunity to look for options that might address their concerns. This president has shown real disrespect to tribal communities, thousands of concerned citizens across the country and the scientific process that should be used to make decisions that affect people’s lives.” See also, Dakota Access pipeline work restarts amid tribe’s legal challenge: ‘It’s not over’, The Guardian, Sam Levin, published on Thursday, 9 February 2017: “Dakota Access pipeline workers have begun the final phase of drilling across the Missouri river despite massive international protests and a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The restarting of the drilling operation, which a pipeline spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday morning, began soon after the US government gave the oil corporation the green light to proceed on Wednesday. The controversial pipeline could be transporting crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois within three months.”

Republican Senators Vote to Formally Silence Elizabeth Warren for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King from 1986 to the Judiciary Committee, The New York Times, Matt Flegenheimer, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “Republican senators voted on Tuesday to formally silence a Democratic colleague for impugning a peer, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, by condemning his nomination for attorney general while reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, had been holding forth on the Senate floor on the eve of Mr. Sessions’s expected confirmation vote, reciting a 1986 letter from Mrs. King that criticized Mr. Sessions’s record on civil rights.… ‘The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair,’ Mr. McConnell began, alluding to Mrs. King’s letter, which accused Mr. Sessions of using ‘the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.’… When Mr. McConnell concluded, Ms. Warren said she was ‘surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.’ She asked to continue her remarks. Mr. McConnell objected.” Read the letter Coretta Scott King wrote opposing Sessions’s 1986 nomination to be a federal judge, The Washington Post, Wesley Lowery, Tuesday, 10 January 2017: “Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would ‘irreparably damage the work of my husband.’ The letter, previously unavailable publicly, was obtained on Tuesday [10 January 2017] by The Washington Post.”

‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ becomes new battle cry after McConnell silences Elizabeth Warren, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Thursday, 8 February 2017: “When Senate Republicans invoked a little-known rule Tuesday night to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the middle of a speech criticizing attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Democrats were stunned. But it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s defense of the rare move later that launched a thousand tweets. ‘Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,’ he said. ‘She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.'”

Live Analysis: Oral Arguments on Trump’s Immigration Order, The New York Times, Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

The Ninth Circuit and President Trump’s Lies, The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, published on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “If there was a single question at the center of Tuesday afternoon’s hearings on President Trump’s executive order keeping people from seven Muslim-majority nations and all refugees out of the country, it was this: Do the courts, or the American people, have any recourse when the President lies? Judge James Robart, of the U.S. District Court, in Seattle, had granted the states of Washington and Minnesota a temporary restraining order that put a hold on Trump’s ban, pending further hearings in the next two weeks. The Justice Department had gone to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to ask for an emergency stay of that order, meaning that it could continue to keep people out and revoke tens of thousands of visas before any court had a say—and even then, the Trump Administration argued, the courts were not allowed to say much. The three judges on the appeals court—Michelle Friedland, Richard Clifton, and William Canby—wanted to know what, exactly, the emergency was. August Flentje, a special counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, who was arguing the case for the Trump Administration, said, in effect, that the emergency was that the restraining order got in the way of the President’s power to say that there was an emergency—to announce that the country was in danger. Putting a hold on the ban ‘overrides the President’s national-security judgment about the level of risk,’ he said. It was the President’s job to make that determination, not any court’s. And the court also needed to put aside any talk about this being a Muslim ban, because that was not, technically, what the language of the order said. The judges had to believe the President when he said it was all a matter of the country being in immediate peril, and not about his views of any religion or about the demographic future of America. And they certainly shouldn’t pay attention to any reports that the President had, indeed, cited those very reasons for instituting a ban—Flentje dismissed those as ‘some newspaper articles.’ The judges should just look at the language of the order and believe…. Immigration law does give latitude to the President when the country is in danger. But what happens when you have a President who the courts, and any objective person, know tells lies? How should the assertions of danger then be regarded in light of other laws saying, for example, that religion should not be a reason for excluding people? For that matter, how should they be regarded in light of not only the Constitution’s establishment clause, which precludes religious tests, but any number of other passages in that document? As it happens, this question has come up before in our jurisprudence, because Donald Trump is not the first politician to lie. Our courts have dealt with the prospect of dissembling and misstated motives, particularly in the area of racial discrimination. (A recent book by David Rudenstine looks at some of this history.) Judges seem to believe that Presidents will lie about many things, but that they might have some shame when it comes to the nation’s safety, particularly as they have access to classified information that the public does not. Friedland reminded Flentje of the court’s role. ‘Haven’t there been allegations here of bad faith?’ she asked Flentje. ‘And doesn’t Mandel and Din, the concurrence in Din, envision that that is something that we would need to look at?’ She was referring to two immigration cases that were heard by the Supreme Court, in 1972 and 2015, respectively. The government had seized on the cases’ affirmation that the courts ought to take its decisions on visa denials at face value. But, as Washington and Minnesota had noted in their filings, ‘Justice Kennedy’s controlling opinion in Din held that courts should look behind the stated motives for exclusion even as to a nonresident alien if the plaintiff ‘plausibly alleged with sufficient particularity’ ‘an affirmative showing of bad faith.’”

 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017, Day 20:

 

Trump’s tweet about the upcoming decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on his travel ban at  7:03 am on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “If the U.S. does not win this case as it so obviously should, we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled. Politics!”

Trump offers his own oral argument defending travel ban, Politico, Louis Nelson, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Unable to personally defend his controversial executive order on immigration in court, President Donald Trump offered his own oral argument in its defense on Wednesday, telling an audience that the law backing his order ‘couldn’t have been written any more precisely.’ Addressing a law enforcement conference in Washington, Trump kicked off his remarks by reading out loud the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law that gives the president authority to stop the flow of classes of aliens entering the U.S. The Trump administration has used that law as its legal standing for a controversial order temporarily banning all immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, a policy that created mass chaos at America’s airports and drew criticism even from some Republicans. ‘It’s sad, I think it’s a sad day. I think our security is at risk today. And it will be at risk until such time as we are entitled and get what we are entitled to as citizens of this country,’ Trump said. ‘It was done for the security of our nation. The security of our citizens. So that people come in who aren’t going to do us harm. And that’s why it was done.’… ‘You could be a lawyer, or you don’t have to be a lawyer. If you were a good student in high school or a bad student in high school, you can understand this, and it’s really incredible to me that we have a court case that’s going on so long,’ Trump told his audience. ‘I was a good student. I understand things. I comprehend very well, OK? Better than, I think, almost anybody. And I want to tell you, I listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful. It was disgraceful because what I just read to you is what we have. And it just can’t be written any plainer or better and for us to be going through this.’… ‘I watched last night in amazement. And I heard things that I couldn’t believe,’ Trump said of the hearing, which took place in San Francisco and began at 6 p.m. on the East Coast. ‘I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased, and we haven’t had a decision yet. But courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right.'”

Supreme Court Nominee Neil M. Gorsuch Calls Trump’s Attacks on Judiciary ‘Demoralizing’, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at federal judges considering a challenge to his executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, as his Supreme Court nominee called Mr. Trump’s attacks on the independent judiciary ‘demoralizing’ and ‘disheartening.’ Judge Gorsuch told Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, that he objected to Mr. Trump’s harsh criticism of the courts, including his attack over the weekend on a Seattle district court judge who temporarily blocked his immigration order. In a Twitter posting on Saturday, the president called Judge James L. Robart, a so-called judge whose ruling was ‘ridiculous’ and would be overturned. Mr. Trump’s invective toward judges is a jarring break from a tradition observed by presidents of both parties. Presidents have usually tried to refrain from even appearing to intervene in court cases that concern them or their policies, or from impugning the jurists charged with deciding them, according to judges and legal experts from across the political spectrum.”

Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General, Capping Bitter Battle, The New York Times, Eric Lichtblau and Matt Flegenheimer, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed on Wednesday as President Trump’s attorney general, capping a bitter and racially charged nomination battle that crested with the procedural silencing of a leading Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Mr. Sessions, an Alabama Republican, survived a near-party-line vote, 52 to 47, in the latest sign of the extreme partisanship at play as Mr. Trump strains to install his cabinet. No Republicans broke ranks in their support of a colleague who will become the nation’s top law enforcement official after two decades in the Senate. But the confirmation process — ferocious even by the standards of moldering decorum that have defined the body’s recent years — laid bare the Senate’s deep divisions at the outset of the Trump presidency. At the same time, the treatment of Ms. Warren, who was forced to stop speaking late Tuesday after criticizing Mr. Sessions from the Senate floor, rekindled the gender-infused politics that animated the presidential election and the women’s march protesting Mr. Trump the day after his inauguration last month…. Democrats spent the hours before the vote on Wednesday seething over the rebuke of Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, who had been barred from speaking on the floor the previous night. Late Tuesday [7 February] , Republicans voted to formally silence Ms. Warren after she read from a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King that criticized Mr. Sessions for using ‘the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens’ while serving as a United States attorney in Alabama. Since Mr. Trump announced his choice for attorney general, Mr. Sessions’s history with issues of race had assumed center stage. A committee hearing on his nomination included searing indictments from black Democratic lawmakers like Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who broke with Senate tradition to testify against a peer.”

Environmental Protection Agency Nominee Scott Pruitt Sued by Watchdog Group for Emails With Fossil Fuel Backers, InsideClimate News, Zahra Hirji, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “The Center for Media and Democracy, after waiting up to two years for access to Pruitt’s communications as Oklahoma A[ttorney] G[eneral], sues as his confirmation as EPA chief looms.”

Trump Signs Executive Orders to Combat Crime, With Little New in Them, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, published on Thursday, 9 February 2017: “At an Oval Office ceremony for the swearing in of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, President Trump announced that he was also going to sign three executive orders ‘designed to restore safety in America,’ to ‘break the back’ of cartels and ‘stop as of today’ violence against the police…. …[A]bout 45 minutes later, when the White House released the actual text of the three orders, they turned out to contain few specific policy steps. For example, the first, on combating international criminal cartels, largely consisted of stating opposition to such groups, and directed the government’s Threat Mitigation Working Group — which already existed because President Barack Obama established it back in 2011 — to review various efforts to battle them and ‘work to improve’ those efforts. And the other two, on reducing crime and preventing violence against law enforcement officials, directed Mr. Sessions to develop a strategy to achieve those goals by coordinating with other agencies, including at the state and local levels. The new attorney general is also to review existing laws and law enforcement grants and recommend changes if necessary.”

Trump’s tweet blasting Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka’s clothing line, 10:51 am on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” David Grann’s tweet at 12:15 pm: “The President of the United States is now using his power to trash companies that don’t sell his family’s products.” See also, The Lesson of Nordstrom: Do Business With the Trumps or Else, The New York Times, Richard W. Painter, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “It is a clear violation of federal ethics rules for White House staff members, or any other federal employees, to use their official positions for private gain. But what President Trump did on Wednesday in his Twitter attack on the Nordstrom department store chain, castigating it for dropping Ms. Trump’s line, was far worse. In sum, Nordstrom made a business decision not to do business with the president’s daughter because her clothing line was not selling well, and the president used his official position to attack the company for this decision…. Most important, regardless of whether…retaliation actually happens, Nordstrom and the handful of other companies that announced they, too, would drop the line have to live in fear of it for the rest of the Trump administration. And now every other department store knows that it had better not make a similar ‘business decision’ that displeases the president. In other words, do business with the Trump family and help the Trump family promote its products, or else.”

Senators move to limit Trump on Russia sanctions, The Hill, Jordain Carney, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “A bipartisan group of senators is moving to check President Trump on Russia by bolstering congressional oversight before he can lift sanctions. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced legislation Wednesday setting up a period of congressional oversight before Trump could roll back financial penalties. The legislation, known as the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would require Trump to notify Congress before he lifts sanctions tied to the invasion of Ukraine or Russia’s meddling in the White House race.”

 

Thursday, 9 February 2017,       Day 21

 

Trump attacks McCain for questioning success of deadly Yemen raid, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “President Trump lashed out at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday, saying that the senator’s negative assessment of a deadly raid in Yemen last month ’emboldens the enemy!’ McCain initially referred to the raid as ‘a failure’ but later dialed back his criticism, saying in a statement Tuesday that some objectives were fulfilled in the mission but that he would ‘not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.’… ‘Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media,’ Trump said in a series of tweets Thursday morning. ‘Only emboldens the enemy! He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.’ ‘Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission … not a ‘failure,’  Trump tweeted.”

Kellyanne Conway Promotes Ivanka Trump Brand, Raising Ethics Concerns, The New York Times, Richard Pérez-Peña and Rachel Abrams, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “The White House on Thursday ‘counseled’ Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump’s top advisers, in an unusual show of displeasure after she urged consumers to buy fashion products marketed by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. Legal experts said Ms. Conway might have violated a federal ethics rule against endorsing products or promoting an associate’s financial interests. ‘Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,’ Ms. Conway said in a Thursday morning interview with Fox News, speaking from the White House briefing room. ‘I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.’… Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Ms. Conway’s comments were ‘wrong, wrong, wrong, and there’s no excuse for it.’ Mr. Chaffetz — who so far had not acted on calls since Election Day to investigate ethics issues related to Mr. Trump — and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, formally asked the Office of Government Ethics for an inquiry…. Federal ethics rules state that an employee of the government’s executive branch cannot use public office for personal gain or to endorse products or services on behalf of friends or relatives. Legal experts said Ms. Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, appeared to have violated that and possibly other conflict-of-interest rules, which do not apply to the president and vice president, but do apply to their staffs.”

Trump brings up vote fraud again, this time in meeting with senators, Politico, Eli Stokols, published on Friday, 10 February 2017: “President Donald Trump can’t stop — won’t stop — talking about the election. On Thursday, during a meeting with 10 senators that was billed as a listening session about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the president went off on a familiar tangent, suggesting again that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that he won the presidential election. As soon as the door closed and the reporters allowed to observe for a few minutes had been ushered out, Trump began to talk about the election, participants said, triggered by the presence of former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her reelection bid in November and is now working for Trump as a Capitol Hill liaison, or ‘sherpa,’ on the nomination of Judge Gorsuch. The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” of people who were ‘brought in on buses’ from neighboring Massachusetts to ‘illegally’ vote in New Hampshire. According to one participant who described the meeting, ‘an uncomfortable silence’ momentarily overtook the room.”

Trump border ‘wall’ to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report, Reuters, Julia Edwards Ainsley, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “President Donald Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct, based on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report seen by Reuters on Thursday. The report’s estimated price-tag is much higher than a $12-billion figure cited by Trump in his campaign and estimates as high as $15 billion from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The report is expected to be presented to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly in coming days, although the administration will not necessarily take actions it recommends.

Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “A federal appeals panel on Thursday unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations, a sweeping rebuke of the administration’s claim that the courts have no role as a check on the president. The three-judge panel, suggesting that the ban did not advance national security, said the administration had shown ‘no evidence’ that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States. The ruling also rejected Mr. Trump’s claim that courts are powerless to review a president’s national security assessments. Judges have a crucial role to play in a constitutional democracy, the court said. ‘It is beyond question,’ the decision said, ‘that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.’ The decision was handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. It upheld a ruling last Friday by a federal district judge, James L. Robart, who blocked key parts of the travel ban, allowing thousands of foreigners to enter the country. The appeals court acknowledged that Mr. Trump was owed deference on his immigration and national security policies. But it said he was claiming something more — that ‘national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.’ Within minutes of the ruling, Mr. Trump angrily vowed to fight it, presumably in an appeal to the Supreme Court. ‘SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. At the White House, the president told reporters that the ruling was ‘a political decision’ and predicted that his administration would win an appeal ‘in my opinion, very easily.’ He said he had not yet conferred with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on the matter.”

6 Highlights From the Ruling on Trump’s Immigration Order, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “The states… [have standing to] sue: ‘We therefore conclude that the states have alleged harms to their proprietary interests traceable to the executive order. The necessary connection can be drawn in at most two logical steps: (1) the executive order prevents nationals of seven countries from entering Washington and Minnesota; (2) as a result, some of these people will not enter state universities, some will not join those universities as faculty, some will be prevented from performing research, and some will not be permitted to return if they leave.’ [Page 12] No unfettered power [for the president]: ‘[T]he government has taken the position that the president’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. … There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.’ [Pages 13-14] Skepticism of the administration: ‘At this point, however, we cannot rely upon the government’s contention that the executive order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents…. Moreover, in light of the government’s shifting interpretations of the executive order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.’ [Pages 13-14] Several days after Mr. Trump issued his executive order, the administration partially pulled back with a directive from his White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, saying it would not apply to green card holders. The judges are dubious about the credibility of what the executive branch says is happening. Questions of due process: ‘The government has not shown that the executive order provides what due process requires, such as notice and a hearing prior to restricting an individual’s ability to travel. … The procedural protections provided by the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause are not limited to citizens. Rather, they “appl[y] to all ‘persons’ within the United States, including aliens,” regardless of “whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent.” … These rights also apply to certain aliens attempting to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad.’ No immediate need:…. In deciding whether to let the executive order be enforced while the arguments are more fully litigated, the courts have to weigh the potential injury to the people who would be affected by the travel ban against the potential injury to society of blocking the order in the interim. Because the Trump administration offered no evidence suggesting that the prior system was inadequate for screening visitors from the seven countries, the court ruled against the government.” See also, The Ninth Circuit Rejects Trumpism, The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, published on Friday, 10 February 2017.

National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said. Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. Flynn on Wednesday [8 February] denied that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Asked in an interview whether he had ever done so, he twice said, ‘No.’ On Thursday, Flynn, through his spokesman, backed away from the denial. The spokesman said Flynn ‘indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.’… The emerging details contradict public statements by incoming senior administration officials including Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect. They acknowledged only a handful of text messages and calls exchanged between Flynn and Kislyak late last year and denied that either ever raised the subject of sanctions. ‘They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,’ Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, ‘is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.’ Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.” See also, Flynn Is Said to Have Talked to Russians About Sanctions Before Trump Took Office, The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo, Thursday, 9 February 2017.

Trump Tells Xi Jinping U.S. Will Honor ‘One China’ Policy, The New York Times, Mark Landler and Michael Forsythe, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “President Trump told President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday evening that the United States would honor the “One China” policy, reversing his earlier expressions of doubt about the longtime diplomatic understanding and removing a major source of tension between the United States and China since shortly after he was elected. In a statement, the White House said Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi ‘discussed numerous topics, and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our One China policy.’ It described the call as ‘extremely cordial’ and said the leaders had invited each other to visit. The concession was clearly designed to put an end to an extended chill in the relationship between China and the United States. Mr. Xi, stung by Mr. Trump’s unorthodox telephone call with the president of Taiwan in December and his subsequent assertion that the United States might no longer abide by the One China policy, had not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov. 14, the week after he was elected. Administration officials concluded that Mr. Xi would take a call only if Mr. Trump publicly committed to upholding the 44-year-old policy, under which the United States recognized a single Chinese government in Beijing and severed its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Report: Trump taunts Dems for letting ‘Pocahontas’ Warren become ‘face of your party’, The Hill, Brooke Seipel, published on Friday, 10 February 2017: “President Trump reportedly mocked Democrats in a meeting with senators this week for allowing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to become the face of their party. ‘Pocahontas is now the face of your party,’ Trump said in the meeting, sources told CNN. Trump frequently called Warren ‘Pocahontas’ as an insult on the campaign trail, mocking her for previously talking about having a distant Native American ancestry.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Crimes of SEAL Team 6

Matthew Cole, The Crimes of SEAL Team 6 . The Intercept, 10 January 2017. “Officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, SEAL Team 6 is today the most celebrated of the U.S. military’s special mission units. But hidden behind the heroic narratives is a darker, more troubling story of “revenge ops,” unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities — a pattern of […]

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Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations

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The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

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Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste

Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste . The Washington Post, 5 December 2016. “The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. […]

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For Blacks Facing Parole in New York State, Signs of a Broken System

Michael Winerip, Michael Schwirtz and Robert Gebeloff, For Blacks Facing Parole in New York State, Signs of a Broken System . Part 2. The New York Times, 4 December 2016. “An analysis by The New York Times of thousands of parole decisions from the past several years found that fewer than one in six black or Hispanic men was released at his first hearing, […]

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The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York State’s Prisons

Michael Schwirtz, Michael Winerip and Robert Gebeloff, The Scourge of Racial Bias in New York State’s Prisons . Part 1. The New York Times, 3 December 2016. “The racism can be felt from the moment black inmates enter New York’s upstate prisons. They describe being called porch monkeys, spear chuckers and worse. There are cases of guards ripping out dreadlocks. One […]

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A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change

Erica Goode, A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change . The New York Times, 29 November 2016. Part 6 of an 8-part series on Carbon’s Casualties. “Articles in this series explore how climate change is displacing people around the world…. Laid out on a narrow spit of sand between the Tagoomenik River and the Bering Sea, the village of 250 […]

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Resettling China’s ‘Ecological Migrants’

Edward Wong, Resettling China’s ‘Ecological Migrants.The New York Times, 25 October 2016. Part 5 of an 8-part series on Carbon’s Casualties. “Articles in this series explore how climate change is displacing people around the world…. China calls them ‘ecological migrants’: 329,000 people whom the government had relocated from lands distressed by climate change , industrialization, poor policies and human activity […]

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