Trump, Week 82: Friday, 10 August – Thursday, 16 August 2018 (Days 568-574)

Families Belong Together and Free: rally in Pittsfield, MA, Saturday, 30 June 2018

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


Friday, 10 August 2018, Day 568:


Cables Detail C.I.A. Waterboarding at Secret Prison in Thailand Run by Gina Haspel, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Scott Shane, Friday, 10 August 2018: “In late November 2002, C.I.A. interrogators at a secret prison in Thailand warned a Qaeda suspect that he had to ‘suffer the consequences of his deception.’ As interrogators splashed water on the chest of the man, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, he pleaded that he was trying to recall more information, according to a newly released C.I.A. cable. As he cried, the cable reports, the ‘water treatment was applied.’ The ‘water treatment’ was bureaucratic jargon for waterboarding, and 11 newly released top-secret cables from the time that Gina Haspel, now the C.I.A. director, oversaw the base provide at times graphic detail on the techniques the agency used to brutally interrogate [i.e., torture] Qaeda captives. Agency leaders and officers were racing to uncover what they feared were large-scale plots against the United States in the chaotic months and years after the Sept. 11 attacks. As the chief of the base, Ms. Haspel would have written or authorized the cables, according to Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a research organization at George Washington University. The cables, obtained by the archive in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, were redacted to eliminate the names of interrogators and C.I.A. officers involved. ProPublica previously reported on cables from the Thailand black site, which also offered details of the C.I.A.’s methods. Like those documents, the new cables describe the waterboarding of Mr. Nashiri as well as the use of other torture techniques.” See also, Torture of al-Qaeda suspect described in 2002 cables sent by CIA Director Gina Haspel, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Friday, 10 April 2018: “The torture of a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist, including waterboarding, is described in meticulous detail in newly-declassified cables that CIA Director Gina Haspel sent to agency headquarters in late 2002, when she headed a secret U.S. detention facility in Thailand. The suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was believed to have been involved in planning the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000, and the CIA was convinced that he knew about other attacks being planned. Nashiri’s treatment during interrogation — forced nudity, shackling, being slammed against walls, being confined in a small box and mock executions, as well as waterboarding — has been previously mentioned in broad terms in official reports, hearings, court cases and news reports. But many specifics about what happened to Nashiri during his several-week stay at the Thailand facility, while Haspel was briefly in charge, have not been made public. They are contained in 11 cables obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, a private research institute, which plans to release them early Friday.”

Trump blasts National Football League (NFL) players for kneeling at preseason games, Politico, Stephanie Murray, Friday, 10 August 2018: “President Donald Trump blasted NFL players on Friday morning for protesting during the national anthem at preseason games, accusing them of being ‘unable to define’ what they are protesting and suggesting the athletes should instead ‘be happy’ and ‘be cool.’ ‘The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the national anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love,’ Trump said in a tweet…. Contrary to the president’s claim, the NFL players who kneel for the national anthem have been vocal and specific about their protests, which began two seasons ago in opposition to racial injustice and police brutality. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and some of his teammates wore t-shirts Thursday that said ‘more than 60% of prison populations are people of color’ on the front and ‘nearly 5,000 kids are in adults prisons and jails’ on the back, according to NBC Sports.” See also, Trump Blasts N.F.L. Players as Protests Resume During Anthem, The New York Times, Ken Belson and Benjamin Hoffman, published on Thursday, 9 August 2018: “The morning after a handful of N.F.L. players renewed their protests against social inequality and police brutality by raising fists or kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, President Trump renewed his criticism of their actions.”

Trump’s New War on Immigrants, The New Yorker, Masha Gessen, Friday, 10 August 2018: “The Trump Administration is about to change the rules of naturalization in a way intended to drastically cut the number of immigrants who become U.S. citizens. According to NBC News, the White House’s plan is to make immigrants who have received any public assistance ineligible to become citizens. (The Department of Homeland Security did not deny the plan’s existence to NBC.) It is impossible to predict exactly how many people will be affected, but immigration experts think the impact will be enormous. The new rules appear to use the broadest possible definition of public assistance—one that includes Obamacare and children’s health insurance—meaning that most potential new citizens will be ineligible for naturalization. In 2016, the last year for which statistics are available, more than seven hundred and fifty thousand immigrants became American citizens. In order to apply for naturalization, an immigrant has to have lived in the United States as a legal permanent resident for thirty months out of a consecutive five years, depending on the reason she gained permanent-resident status. Because a green card often takes a number of years to obtain, most new citizens have been living in the United States for well more than five years. During that time, the chances are good that the immigrants have benefited from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (either through the Medicaid expansion or by enrolling in an Obamacare marketplace plan) or used a program such as CHIP, which provides low-cost health insurance for children; in New York State, children in families of four earning up to $97,200 are eligible for CHIP. With an approach this broad, it seems likely that hundreds of thousands of people a year will be affected by the rules change.”

Continue reading Week 82, Friday, 10 August – Thursday, 16 August 2018 (Days 568-574)

Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Urged Ken Starr Not to Indict President Bill Clinton While in Office, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 10 August 2018: “On Christmas Eve 1998, five days after the House impeached President Bill Clinton, Brett Kavanaugh urged his boss — Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel — not to pursue a criminal indictment of Mr. Clinton until after he left office. Judge Kavanaugh, now President Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, delivered the advice in a private memorandum made public on Friday by the National Archives in response to a Freedom of Information Act request….. Judge Kavanaugh’s position is consistent with the doubts about the Starr inquiry that he offered publicly and privately even as he helped investigate Mr. Clinton. Earlier that year, he had told a legal symposium that he did not believe a sitting president could be indicted. That view is likely to be welcomed by Mr. Trump, who could find himself the subject of a similar debate as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is investigating whether Mr. Trump or his associates conspired with Russians to meddle in the 2016 elections or obstructed justice by lying to investigators about the case. But it may also prompt questions from Democratic senators at his confirmation hearing this year. Democrats say they want to quiz Judge Kavanaugh on his views of executive power and whether he can fairly deal with issues involving the Mueller investigation that might come before the Supreme Court.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moves to eliminate Obama-era regulations that were meant to cut off federal funding to low-performing programs at for-profit schools and other career colleges, Politico, Michael Stratford, Friday, 10 August 2018: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved Friday to completely eliminate Obama-era regulations that were meant to cut off federal funding to low-performing programs at for-profit schools and other career colleges. The Education Department unveiled a proposal to rescind the ‘gainful employment’ regulation, which was a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s crackdown on for-profit education companies. The goal of the rule, which took effect in 2015, was to make sure that students who graduate from for-profit schools or other career-oriented programs make enough money to repay their student loans. ” See also, Education Secretary Betsy De Vos Ends Obama-Era Safeguards Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges, The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Friday, 10 August 2018: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally moved Friday to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs, the most drastic in a series of policy shifts that will free the scandal-scarred, for-profit sector from safeguards put in effect during the Obama era. In a written announcement posted on its website, the Education Department laid out its plans to eliminate the so-called gainful employment rule, which sought to hold for-profit and career college programs accountable for graduating students with poor job prospects and overwhelming debt. The Obama-era rule would have revoked federal funding and access to financial aid for poor-performing schools.”

Mick Mulvaney, the Interim Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Looks to Weaken Oversight of Lending to Military Service Members and Their Families, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Friday, 10 August 2018: “The Trump administration is planning to suspend routine examinations of lenders for violations of the Military Lending Act, which was devised to protect military service members and their families from financial fraud, predatory loans and credit card gouging, according to internal agency documents. Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, intends to scrap the use of so-called supervisory examinations of lenders, arguing that such proactive oversight is not explicitly laid out in the legislation, the main consumer measure protecting active-duty service members, according to a two-page draft of the change. The agency’s move comes as a Senate committee prepares to vote on the nomination of Kathleen Kraninger to succeed Mr. Mulvaney as chief of the consumer watchdog, which is responsible for protecting consumers from financial abuse. The proposal surprised advocates for military families, who have urged the government to use its powers to crack down harder on unscrupulous lenders. The consumer bureau conducted dozens of investigations into payday and other lenders during the Obama administration without any significant legal opposition, and no lenders are currently challenging its oversight based on the law, according to administration officials. The bureau will still bring individual cases against lenders who are found to charge in excess of the annual interest rate cap of 36 percent mandated under the law, and continue to supervise lenders under other statutes. But it will scrap supervisory examinations, which are the most powerful tool for proactively uncovering abuses and patterns of illegal practices by companies suspected of wrongdoing, former consumer bureau enforcement officials said.”

Paul Manafort trial Day 9: Manafort got $16 million in loans from bank whose CEO wanted Trump administration post, The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui, and Tom Jackman, Friday, 10 August 2018. See also, Paul Manafort Leaned on Ties to Trump to Win Loans, a Bank Official Testifies, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Emily Baumgaertner, Friday, 10 August 2018: “In late 2016, with mounting debts and his political consulting firm on the financial ropes, Paul Manafort sought millions of dollars of loans from Federal Savings Bank, a small Chicago bank whose chairman had political ambitions. The chairman, Stephen M. Calk, pushed the bank to loan Mr. Manafort $16 million, even though Mr. Calk’s top deputies had qualms about whether Mr. Manafort could pay them back, a former top bank official testified Friday as the prosecution wound up nine days of presenting evidence in Mr. Manafort’s trial on bank and fraud charges. The deputy, Dennis Raico, a former senior vice president at the bank and one of the prosecution’s final witnesses, said Mr. Calk wanted something from Mr. Manafort, too. He was interested in landing a job in the Trump administration, Mr. Raico said.”

Spike Lee says President Donald Trump is a ‘bullhorn’ for racism, CNN, Sofia Barrett and Leinz Vales, Friday, 10 August 2018: “Spike Lee believes racists in America have been given the ‘green light’ from the White House. ‘Since [President Trump] has gotten into the White House, it is not even a dog whistle, it’s a bullhorn,’ Lee said. ‘We’ve seen a rise to the right. It’s not just America, it’s worldwide.’… ‘The President of the United States had a chance to denounce hate,’ the director said. ‘The whole world saw what happened and he didn’t do it.'”


Saturday, 11 August 2018, Day 569:


Omarosa Manigault Newman says Trump is a racist who uses N-word–and claims there is tape to prove it, The Guardian, David Smith, Saturday, 11 August 2018: “Donald Trump is a ‘racist’ who has used the ‘N-word’ repeatedly, Omarosa Manigault Newman, once the most prominent African American in the White House, claims in a searing memoir. The future US president was caught on mic uttering the taboo racial slur ‘multiple times’ during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice and there is a tape to prove it, according to Manigault Newman, citing three unnamed sources.” See also, Trump Used Racial Slur During ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ Former White House Aide Omarosa Manigault Newman SaysThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, published on Friday, 10 August 2018: “President Trump frequently used the word ‘nigger’ while he was the host of the reality television show ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ and there are tapes that can confirm it, according to a new memoir by one of Mr. Trump’s former White House advisers, Omarosa Manigault Newman. The claims, based on hearsay, are among the more explosive and unverified ones that Ms. Manigault Newman makes in the book, ‘Unhinged.’ It was first reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, which had an early copy. Ms. Manigault Newman also claims that Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law tried to buy her silence by offering a $15,000-a-month contract; that the president secreted a tanning bed into the White House residence; that Mr. Trump described his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, as ‘ditsy’; that he once chewed up a piece of paper to avoid having it collected by presidential record-keepers; and that he routinely comments on women’s looks.” See also, The Lesson of Omarosa’s New Trump Book, The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb, Friday, published on 10 August 2018: “A year ago this weekend, the city of Charlottesville became the backdrop to a violent American reckoning. Donald Trump’s declaration that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the conflict marked the first moment in his Presidency in which Republicans were forced to disagree, however tepidly, with him in public. Cued almost perfectly to the anniversary come the first rumblings regarding Omarosa Manigault’s forthcoming memoir and her allegations that Trump is a racist who habitually tosses around anti-black epithets…. Manigault frames her tenure in the White House as a period of gradual awakening to Trump’s bigoted outlook…. Manigault, who was a serial contestant on ‘The Apprentice,’ had known Trump for years before he became President. Her realization about Trump’s outlook appears to have emerged at some point during her book deal. That’s not a gradual awakening, it’s a glacial, self-interested one…. Despite abundant evidence, serial outrages, and Trump’s own words, the news media have tended to frame Trump’s racism as more of a question than a statement—a tendency that survived Charlottesville. There’s potential profit, or at the least publicity, in offering first-person confirmation that Trump is, indeed, what reasonable observers and the half of the American public already consider him to be: a racist…. Trump’s personal history was a bramble of backward racial ideas long before the tiki torches were lit in Charlottesville last summer. His personal history yields an impressive greatest-hits collection that would include him beginning his Presidential campaign by conflating Mexicans with rapists and later stating that Judge Gonzalo Curiel should not preside over the Trump University fraud suit because of his Hispanic heritage. Trump asked a friend of Karen McDougal, the former Playmate with whom Trump had an extramarital affair, if she liked ‘big black dick.’ There is also, of course, the matter of the Justice Department accusing the Trump family firm of discriminating against African-American renters in the seventies (Trump settled the suit without admitting guilt), his racist public assault on the Central Park Five, and his use of birtherism to propel himself into national politics. In a more recent spree, he questioned the intelligence of Representative Maxine Waters, LeBron James, and the CNN host Don Lemon—each of whom is black—and (again) assailed African-American football players.”

Representative Chris Collins (Republican-New York) Suspends Bid for Re-election After Insider Trading Charges, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Saturday, 11 August 2018: “Days after federal prosecutors charged him with insider trading, Representative Chris Collins announced on Saturday that he was abandoning his re-election bid amid worries that his legal troubles could make vulnerable his otherwise solidly Republican district in western New York. How exactly the suspension of Mr. Collins’s campaign would play out was not immediately clear, as the process to get off the ballot can be onerous in New York, and Mr. Collins did not say how he would remove himself. Mr. Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald J. Trump for president in 2016, had initially vowed to stay on the ballot this fall but said on Saturday that he had decided it was ‘in the best interests’ of his district, ‘the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda’ to suspend his bid. Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Collins with using his seat on the board of a small Australia-based drug company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, to tip off his son and others that the company had failed a critical scientific trial before that information was made public.”


Sunday, 12 August 2018, Day 570:


Rally by White Nationalists Was Over Almost Before It Began, The New York Times, Richard Fausset, Sunday, 12 August 2018: “After weeks of hype, white supremacists managed to muster just a couple of dozen supporters on Sunday in the nation’s capital for the first anniversary of their deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., finding themselves greatly outnumbered by counterprotesters, police officers and representatives of the news media. But even with the low turnout, almost no one walked away with the sense that the nation’s divisions were any closer to healing. Indeed, the streets of downtown Washington were charged on Sunday with tension, emotion and noise, particularly in the afternoon, as the right-wing agitator Jason Kessler and perhaps 20 fellow members of the far right — some wearing bright red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats, some draped in American flags — marched under heavy police escort from the Metro station in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood to their barricaded and heavily protected rally area near the White House. They were surrounded by a vast, rolling plume of counterprotesters, who hurled insults, waved middle fingers and chanted ‘Shame!'” See also, White-supremacist rally near White House dwarfed by thousands of anti-hate protesters, The Washington Post, Joe Heim, Peter Hermann, Perry Stein, and Marissa J. Lang, Sunday, 12 August 2018.

Omarosa Manigault Newman Taped Her Firing by John Kelly, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 12 August 2018: “Omarosa Manigault Newman secretly taped John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, as he fired her in December in the Situation Room, a breach of security protocols, but one that revealed him suggesting that she could face damage to her reputation if she did not leave quietly. The recording was played on Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ where Ms. Manigault Newman, a former adviser to President Trump, promoted her new book, ‘Unhinged.’ In the memoir, which focuses on her relationship with Mr. Trump going back to her time on ‘The Apprentice,’ she describes the world around the president as a cult in which he creates his own reality. On the recording, Mr. Kelly says Ms. Manigault Newman could be facing ‘pretty significant legal issues’ over what he alleged was misuse of a government car. She denied misusing it. ‘I’d like to see this be a friendly departure,’ Mr. Kelly says on the tape. ‘There are pretty significant legal issues that we hope don’t develop into something that, that’ll make it ugly for you. But I think it’s important to understand,’ he adds, ‘that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at, look at your time here in, in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation.’ Ms. Manigault Newman explained to Chuck Todd, the host of ‘Meet the Press,’ that she recorded that conversation, as well as others that she has played for reporters and book publishers featuring her conversations with Mr. Trump, because ‘this is a White House where everybody lies.'”


Monday, 13 August 2018, Day 571:


F.B.I. Agent Peter Strzok, Who Criticized Trump in Texts, Is Fired, The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 13 August 2018: “Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. senior counterintelligence agent who disparaged President Trump in inflammatory text messages and helped oversee the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, has been fired for violating bureau policies, Mr. Strzok’s lawyer said Monday. Mr. Trump and his allies seized on the texts — exchanged during the 2016 campaign with a former F.B.I. lawyer, Lisa Page — in assailing the Russia investigation as an illegitimate ‘witch hunt.’ Mr. Strzok, who rose over 20 years at the F.B.I. to become one of its most experienced counterintelligence agents, was a key figure in the early months of the inquiry.” See also, FBI agent Peter Strzok fired over anti-Trump texts, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 13 August 2018. See also, The F.B.I. Needs to Explain Its Reasons for Firing Peter Strzok, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Monday, 13 August 2018: “[The F.B.I.] needs to explain the basis of the decision to dismiss [Peter] Strzok, pointing out which internal rules he violated, and why these violations amounted to a firing offense. As things stand, it looks like the Bureau’s leaders buckled to Trump and his political and media outriders, dispensing with departmental norms and setting a highly disturbing precedent.”

Trump-appointed judge Dabney Friedrich upholds the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Monday, 13 August 2018: “A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump ruled Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is constitutional and legitimate, rejecting an effort by a Russian company — accused of financing a massive political influence operation in the United States — to stamp out the ongoing investigation. Judge Dabney Friedrich, who Trump appointed to the U.S. District Court of Washington D.C. last year, is the fourth judge to quash efforts to upend Mueller’s legitimacy and cancel his investigation.”

New Report Uncovers (Even More) Ethical Issues for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Forbes, Dan Alexander, Monday, 13 August 2018: “On May 18, 2017, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross met with Bill Furman, the CEO of railcar manufacturer Greenbrier Companies, according to Ross’ calendar. At the time, Ross had a financial stake in Greenbrier and, therefore, a potential conflict of interest. When asked about the meeting, a spokesperson for Ross brushed aside any concerns. ‘There was a purely social lunch with Mr. Furman at which Secretary Ross paid the bill,’ he said in a statement to Forbes last month. ‘No items specific to Greenbrier have been before the secretary during his tenure at [the Department of] Commerce.’ When pressed, the spokesman added: ‘Secretary Ross and [his chief of staff] Wendy Teramoto have not taken any action with a direct and predictable effect on their financial holdings.’ But that is not true, according to a 115-page report from the Campaign Legal Center, a government watchdog organization. Instead, the report alleges, Ross took several actions with direct and predictable effects on his holdings, and he may have broken the law by doing so.”

‘Everyone signed one’: Trump is aggressive in his use of nondisclosure agreements, even in government, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Monday, 13 August 2018: “President Trump’s bitter fight with a former top White House aide has highlighted his aggressive and unconventional use of nondisclosure agreements to prevent current and former government employees from revealing secrets or disparaging him or his family. The latest uproar centers on claims in a book by former senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman that the Trump campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month job in exchange for signing a broadly worded NDA that would have barred her from disclosing details of her time at the White House. Trump shot back in a tweet on Monday that ‘Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement’ — the first apparent acknowledgment by Trump that he has used such documents as president.” See also, Trump Appears to Admit White House Aides Signed Nondisclosure Agreements, The New York Times, Maggie  Haberman, Monday, 13 August 2018: “President Trump appeared to acknowledge on Monday something his aides have declined to confirm for months: that his White House had aides sign nondisclosure agreements. The president made the statement in a post on Twitter about Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former contestant on ‘The Apprentice’ who became an assistant to the president, and whose new book makes unflattering claims about Mr. Trump and his family. ‘Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!’ Mr. Trump tweeted, using the type of moniker he often deploys against people who say disparaging things about him. For months, officials in the West Wing have refused to confirm reports by The New York Times and other news outlets that aides were ordered to sign nondisclosure agreements, which legal experts say are essentially unenforceable for government employees. Mr. Trump, who strives for control over his environment, has for decades demanded that people sign such agreements. Former West Wing officials have said that while they were enacted, members of the White House counsel’s office signaled that they could not be enforced, and that they were being executed to reassure Mr. Trump.”

Omarosa Manigault Newman claims ‘false imprisonment’ during her firing and accuses Trump of lyingThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 13 August 2018: “Omarosa Manigault Newman, the once-loyal aide to President Trump who has written a new tell-all book containing explosive allegations about her former boss, said Monday that she believes Trump was lying when he claimed in a phone call in December that he knew nothing about her dismissal by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. In a combative appearance on NBC’s ‘Today’ show, Manigault Newman shared an audio recording of the phone conversation that she says she had with Trump the day after she was fired from his administration. She also denounced the White House’s handling of her firing, claiming that the two-hour Situation Room meeting in which she was let go amounts to ‘false imprisonment.'”

Trump’s remarkable admission on the central qualification for White House staffers, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 13 August 2018: “[Former White House aide] Manigault Newman is on a publicity tour for her new book, a collection of eyebrow-raising and often questionable assertions about her time in the White House. Much of what she claims would probably be dismissed out of hand were it not for her deploying a tactic she may very well have learned from Trump himself: taping conversations in which she participated. On Monday morning, she shared one of those purported recordings with NBC News. In it, Trump expresses regret at her departure from the White House…. Perhaps [it is] not unusual for a boss to feign ignorance of a decision to fire a subordinate. So the admission Trump made on Twitter shortly after NBC’s report, though, is one for the record books. ‘Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems…. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me — until she got fired!’… But she kept her job, even after Kelly complained — Kelly, whose job was to guide Trump’s White House staff. Why? What is the one quality Manigault Newman possessed that was sufficient for Trump to argue she keep her job? She praised Trump.”

The Raging Dumpster Fire of Trump vs. Omarosa, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Monday, 13 August 2018: “We are yet again reminded of how this president has hired people who reflect and reinforce his nastiness, neediness, and narcissism. President Trump’s spat with Omarosa Manigault Newman, the White House adviser who was fired in December for ‘serious integrity issues,’ is another of those particularly Trumpian innovations in public life — the raging dumpster fire that continues to yield new trash. In her juicy new tell-all, aptly titled ‘Unhinged,’ Ms. Manigault Newman paints an unflattering portrait of the president, whom she has known since appearing as a contestant on his reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’ in 2004. She characterizes Mr. Trump as a racist, misogynistic narcissist with poor impulse control, severe attention-deficit issues and signs of creeping mental decline, who ‘loves the hate,’ ‘thrives on criticism and insults’ and ‘delights in chaos and confusion.’ Her anecdotes range from the prosaically awful (she claims he has used the N-word) to the freakish (she says she once walked into the Oval Office and found him eating paper). She says the Trump campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month sinecure to keep quiet about her on-the-job experiences. (A copy of the agreement has become public.) And, oh yes, she has secret audio recordings to corroborate some of her claims, including a recording of her firing by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, in the Situation Room….  On both sides, the spat is vintage Trump: tawdry, cruel, vindictive and highly personal. That said, this is about more than a petty feud with a former aide who famously shares Mr. Trump’s love of chaos, confusion and high drama. It is also a glaring reminder of one of this president’s central failings as a leader: his disastrous judgment when choosing people with whom to surround himself.”

Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle. Politico, David S. Glosser, Monday, 13 August 2018: “If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out…. I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.” See also, Stephen Miller’s uncle exposes an ugly truth about this administrationThe Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Monday, 13 August 2018. See also, Stephen Miller’s Uncle Calls Him a Hypocrite in an Online EssayThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Monday, 13 August 2018: “Stephen Miller, one of the key architects of President Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda, is the descendant of Jewish immigrants who arrived to a welcoming United States at the turn of the 20th century. But in an essay posted online Monday, Dr. David S. Glosser, Mr. Miller’s uncle, argues that the family would have been turned away if the immigration policies currently backed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Miller were in place at the time.”

How Trump’s Plan for Immigrants on Welfare Could Hurt a Million New Yorkers, The New York Times, Liz Robbins, Monday, 13 August 2018: “Buying fresh vegetables for children, heating an apartment, using Medicaid to manage diabetes. Those are all legal means of support provided by the government for low-income residents of the United States. But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards. New York City officials estimated that at least a million people here could be hurt by this plan, warning that the children of immigrants seeking green cards would be most vulnerable. That’s because if applicants use any welfare benefits, even for children who are United States citizens, that could indicate they would be a burden on government resources. ‘What feels deeply concerning,’ said Bitta Mostofi, New York City’s commissioner of immigrant affairs, ‘is the impact on the welfare of children, period.’ Since only leaked drafts of the rule have been available and the final version is still weeks away from being published, the full effects are not calculable.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke blames California’s wildfires on environmentalists and claims, contrary to scientific research, that climate change had ‘nothing to do’ with them, The Guardian, Gabrielle Canon, Monday, 13 August 2018: “The US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has blamed environmentalists for California’s ferocious wildfires and claimed, contrary to scientific research, that climate change had ‘nothing to do’ with them. Instead, he said the fires were worsened because of limits on logging.”

Trump’s Top Lawyer, Don McGahn, Says It’s in the ‘Public Interest’ for White House Staff to Skirt Ethics Rules to Meet With Fox News, The Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay, Monday, 13 August 2018: “It is ‘in the public interest’ for the White House’s top communicator to be excused from federal ethics laws so he can meet with Fox News, according to President Donald Trump’s top lawyer. Bill Shine, Trump’s newly minted communications director, and Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economist, who worked at CNBC before his White House post, have both been excused from provisions of the law, which seeks to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers.”


Tuesday, 14 August 2018, Day 572:


Elizabeth Warren Demands in Letter That U.S. Military Explain Its Role in Yemen Bombings, The Intercept, Alex Emmons, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “In the wake of a U.S.-backed bombing last week that killed dozens of children on a school bus in north Yemen, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is demanding answers about how U.S. military advisers support and oversee the Saudi and UAE bombing campaign in Yemen. Warren sent a letter on Tuesday to Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command and top commander for U.S. forces in the Middle East, requesting that he clarify past congressional testimony about the U.S. role in the Yemen war. Warren’s letter referenced an article by The Intercept about an airstrike in May, based on a U.S. intelligence report that recounts in detail, minute by minute, how the strike unfolded and American munitions were used.”

With little fanfare, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reshape the nation’s circuit courts, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “As the Senate moves toward confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are leading a lower-key yet deeply consequential charge to remake the entire federal judiciary. The Senate will return Wednesday from an abbreviated summer recess to confirm two more federal appeals court judges by the end of the week. That would come on top of a record-breaking string of confirmations: The Senate already has installed 24 appellate judges since Trump was sworn in, the highest number for a president’s first two years in office. While much of the focus has been on Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the Senate’s rapid approval of appellate judges is likely to have its own broad impact on the nation, as the 13 circuit courts will shape decisions on immigration, voting rights, abortion and the environment for generations. For McConnell, this is the culmination of a years-long gambit that started with stymieing President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, most notably Supreme Court choice Merrick Garland, and creating a backlog of vacancies on the nation’s highest courts.”

Newspapers From New York to North Dakota Have Agreed to Publish Editorials on Thursday in Response to Trump’s Anti-Press RhetoricThe New York Times, Jaclyn Peiser, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “The call to arms came in the form of a memo. Marjorie Pritchard, the deputy managing editor of The Boston Globe, reached out to editorial boards at other newspapers last week. ‘We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,’ the memo said. As of Tuesday, more than 200 newspapers, including The New York Times, had signed on. The Globe’s effort to rally editorial writers across the country came in reaction to the president’s stepped-up attacks on the media. At a recent rally in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump pointed to the group of journalists covering the event, saying they ‘only make up stories’ and called them ‘fake, fake disgusting news.’ On Twitter, he has revived an old phrase — ‘the enemy of the people’ — to describe ‘much of the media’ and ‘the Fake News Media.'”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can’t guarantee public won’t hear Trump use n-word on audio recording, and Trump calls Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘that dog,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that she couldn’t guarantee that the American people will never hear President Trump uttering the n-word on an audio recording, as a former senior White House adviser continued a publicity tour to promote her new book depicting the president as a racist. The briefing by Sanders came after Trump referred to the former adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman, as ‘that dog’ in a morning tweet. ‘I can’t guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly,’ Sanders said. ‘I can tell you that I’ve never heard it.’ In his tweet earlier Tuesday, Trump praised his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, for firing Manigault Newman last year. The former reality television star was the highest-ranking black employee in the White House. ‘When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,’ Trump said. ‘Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!'” See also, Trump’s ‘That Dog’ Attack on Omarosa Manigault Newman Is Latest Insult Aimed at a Black PersonThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “President Trump on Tuesday added his former White House aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, to the growing list of African-Americans he has publicly denigrated on Twitter, calling her ‘that dog’ and a ‘crazed, crying lowlife’ in the wake of her allegations against him of mental deterioration and racism. Even for a president who consistently takes to Twitter to assail his adversaries, the morning tweet about Ms. Manigault Newman was a remarkably crude use of the presidential bully pulpit to disparage a minority woman who once served at the highest levels in his White House. In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has called Don Lemon, the black CNN anchor, ‘the dumbest man on television.’ He questioned the intelligence of LeBron James, the star basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. He has repeatedly said Maxine Waters, an African-American member of Congress, has a ‘low I.Q.’ He called LaVar Ball, the African-American father of another famous Lakers player, a ‘poor man’s version of Don King.’ On Tuesday, Mr. Trump made clear that he has no intention of moderating his language when he feels under attack, regardless of the criticism that he gets for breaching the comity that normally accompanies the office of the president.”

Omarosa reveals audio of Trump campaign aides allegedly discussing potential fallout of Trump using the N-word, CBS News, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “President Trump says former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman lied when she called him a racist who has said the N-word on tape. The president tweeted Monday night, ‘I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.’ But a new recording, obtained by CBS News overnight, seems to back up Omarosa’s story that several Trump advisers discussed an alleged tape during the 2016 campaign. Trump campaign advisers denied on Monday that any conversations took place. CBS News has not been able to verify the authenticity of the recording – though it appears to confirm Omarosa’s claims that Trump campaign officials were aware of a tape in which then-candidate Trump uses a racial slur, and they talked about how to handle it. During her whirlwind book tour, former White House aide Omarosa claimed to have heard tape of President Trump using the N-word during his time on ‘The Apprentice.'” See also, The alleged Trump n-word tape is suddenly less hypothetical, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “The allegation that a tape exists of President Trump saying the n-word began as a baseless claim put forward by a former White House aide with credibility problems and a pretty unquenchable taste for notoriety. It’s no longer quite so baseless. A recording released by Omarosa Manigault Newman to CBS News on Tuesday morning purportedly features her and two other black Trump campaign staffers talking about the alleged existence of the tape. At one point, a person she identifies as spokeswoman Katrina Pierson says clearly, ‘He said it. He said it. He’s embarrassed.’ And on top of that, two top White House spokeswomen on Tuesday declined to rule out the tape’s existence, instead saying they hadn’t personally witnessed Trump saying that word and referring to his own denials. The purported recording of Trump aides appears to confirm that they believed the tape might exist and, notably, that his black staffers believed Trump would actually use the word. Although the recording has not been authenticated, the staffers seemed to confirm it with their responses to it Tuesday. And it utterly contradicts the denials they offered in Trump’s defense in recent days.”

Trump Campaign Says It Has Filed Arbitration Case Against Omarosa Manigault Newman, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “President Trump’s campaign said on Tuesday that it had filed an arbitration case against Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former campaign aide and West Wing official whose tell-all book has roiled the White House. A campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the claim was filed in New York City for breach of a confidentiality agreement Ms. Manigault Newman had signed with the Trump campaign in 2016. The official did not immediately respond to questions about which court the claim was filed in. But the filing was a major escalation by Mr. Trump against Ms. Manigault Newman, whose book, ‘Unhinged,’ is the first account by a former White House aide to make embarrassing allegations about the president and his team. Ms. Manigault Newman describes him as a racist and misogynist whose mental health is in decline. She also takes aim at his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was a key intermediary in bringing her into the White House. Legal experts have said the nondisclosure agreements for the campaign and the White House are most likely not legally enforceable. But people close to the president said he hoped to send a warning shot that anyone else who attempts a tell-all could face legal fees, among other headaches.” See also, Trump campaign files arbitration action against Omarosa Manigault Newman, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Tuesday, 14 August 2018.

Manafort Lawyers Rest Without Calling Witnesses in Fraud Trial, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 14 August 2018: “Paul Manafort’s lawyers declined Tuesday to call any witnesses to defend him against charges of bank and tax fraud. Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, also told the judge that he did not want to testify, clearing the way for closing arguments from both sides and the start of jury deliberations on Wednesday. The decision by the defense to rest without presenting its own evidence was not unusual. ‘The defense believes it has made its point through cross-examination,’ said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor and a former federal judge. Mr. Manafort is letting the case go to the jury because he and his lawyers ‘do not believe that the government has met its burden of proof,’ said Kevin Downing, the lead defense lawyer in the case.”


I’ll be posting more stories on Wednesday. 🙂