Trump Administration, Week 133: Friday, 2 August – Thursday, 8 August 2019 (Days 925-931)

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for 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.

 

For “a weekly newsletter celebrating people-powered wins against the Trump administration’s agenda,” visit Small Victories. 

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Friday, 2 August 2019, Day 925:

 

Trump Drops Plans to Nominate John Ratcliffe as Director of National Intelligence, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Julian E. Barnes, and Annie Karni, Friday, 2 August 2019: “President Trump on Friday abruptly dropped his plan to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, as the nation’s top intelligence official after questions by Republicans and Democrats about his qualifications and concern over whether he had exaggerated his résumé. Mr. Ratcliffe, a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump, had come under intense scrutiny since the president declared on Sunday on Twitter that the lawmaker was his pick to succeed Dan Coats, who is stepping down as director of national intelligence on Aug. 15. The selection generated scant enthusiasm among senators of both parties, who would have decided whether to confirm him. Mr. Trump, in his post announcing that Mr. Ratcliffe would not be his nominee after all, spoke bitterly of the attention that Mr. Ratcliffe’s overstated claims about his experience as a federal prosecutor quickly received from the news media.” See also, John Ratcliffe withdraws from consideration for intelligence chief less than a week after Trump picked him, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, and John Wagner, Friday, 2 August 2019: “President Trump announced Friday that Rep. John Ratcliffe, his embattled pick to lead the nation’s intelligence community, was withdrawing from consideration and will remain in Congress after lawmakers raised questions about his qualifications and whether he had padded his résumé.”

Detailed Maps of the Donors Powering the 2020 Democratic Campaigns, The New York Times, Josh Katz, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Rachel Shorey, and Thomas Kaplan, Friday, 2 August 2019: “Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a huge lead over other Democratic presidential candidates in the number of individual donors they have each accumulated so far. This is the first time since the primary race began in earnest that we can estimate how many individual donors each candidate has attracted — a key indicator of how much they are catching on with voters. Mr. Sanders is relying heavily on small donors to power his campaign, and he entered the 2020 race with a huge network of online donors who supported his 2016 presidential bid. The map above shows the breadth of Mr. Sanders’s roster of donors across the United States. A map that includes the rest of the Democratic field without Mr. Sanders offers a picture of where the other major candidates are picking up donors. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the other leading progressive in the race, is outpacing the rest of the field across much of the country — a sign that her strategy of relying on grass-roots donors, and refraining from holding high-dollar fund-raisers, is working.” See also, 6 Things We Learned About the 2020 Race From Our Fund-Raising Maps, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan and Rachel Shorey, published on Saturday, 3 August 2019.

Trump signs 2-year budget deal, despite conservative complaints of runaway debt, The Washington Post, Erica Werner and John Wagner, Friday, 2 August 2019: “Despite conservative complaints that it will fuel the nation’s runaway debt, President Trump on Friday signed a broad, two-year budget deal that boosts spending and eliminates the threat of a debt default until after the 2020 election. The White House announced without fanfare that Trump had signed the legislation, which reduces the chances for another government shutdown during the remainder of his term.”

Continue reading Week 133, Friday, 2 August – Thursday, 8 August 2019 (Days 925-931)

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper bans use of state and federal funds for conversion therapy for minors, The Hill, Rachel Frazin, Friday, 2 August 2019: “North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) signed an executive order Friday banning the use of state and federal funds for LGBTQ conversion therapy for minors. The order directed the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to ‘take steps to expressly disallow payment of DHHS allocated state and federal funds for conversion therapy for individual patients’ who are under 18. The order’s purpose was to ‘promote and implement actions that protect the wellbeing of all North Carolina residents regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression’ and make sure funds ‘are used only for effective and therapeutic services that are supported by credible evidence and medical experts.’ Cooper tweeted that the measure will help to protect children.”

Young Climate Activists Push Democrats to the Left, The New York Times, Samantha Stark, Producer/Director, Friday, 2 August 2019: “Many Democrats want their 2020 presidential nominee to do two things above all: Defeat Donald Trump and protect the planet from imminent environmental disaster. But liberal activists, party officials and even some of the candidates themselves disagree on how far left the party should go to successfully accomplish both tasks. How they settle their differences over proposals like the Green New Deal, a groundbreaking climate-change plan, will likely influence the party’s — and the country’s — future. ‘The Weekly’ embeds with the young, liberal activists of the Sunrise Movement for three months as they aggressively press their case for revolutionary measures alongside Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development Delays Disaster Preparation Money for Puerto Rico, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Friday, 2 August 2019: “The Trump administration said on Friday that it would delay about $9 billion in disaster prevention funds to Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, distributing the money separately from funds for nine states, citing concerns over corruption and fiscal management. The funds are part of $16 billion that the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded in 2018 to help states and territories prepare for future disasters. It was the first time that it had issued funds specifically for mitigation efforts, which it described as ‘actions taken to protect communities from the predictable damage from future events.’ Puerto Rico was awarded $8.3 billion, and the Virgin Islands $770 million. The rest went to the nine states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, California, Missouri and Georgia.”

A New York Police Department disciplinary judge recommends firing officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner case, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Friday, 2 August 2019: “A New York Police Department disciplinary judge has recommended the firing of the officer videotaped with his arm around the neck of 43-year-old Eric Garner just before he died in 2014, officials said Friday. The recommendation to fire Daniel Pantaleo, whose actions sparked protests, a federal investigation and ongoing political debate over police conduct toward minorities, comes a month after Justice Department officials announced the officer would not face criminal charges. After receiving the recommendation to fire Pantaleo, NYPD officials suspended him Friday, as their in-house disciplinary process is likely to take several weeks.”

In Pentagon Contract Fight, Amazon Has Foes in High Places, The New York Times, Scott Shane, Kate Conger, and Karen Weise, Friday, 2 August 2019: “It sounded like the dullest of developments: the award of a big Pentagon I.T. contract was postponed so the new defense secretary could review it. But the competition over the $10 billion, 10-year contract to transform the military’s computing systems has been fierce, and the highly unusual, last-minute intervention by President Trump this week was another example of his willingness to shatter Washington conventions and test its ethical standards. Experts thought the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, known by the cinematic acronym JEDI, would go to Amazon Web Services, the dominant player in the field of cloud computing. They did not count on two developments: an extraordinarily aggressive public relations and lobbying campaign by Oracle, one of Amazon’s competitors, and the hostility of Mr. Trump to Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos.”

 

Saturday, 3 August 2019, Day 926:

 

Massacre at a Crowded Walmart in Texas Leaves 20 Dead, The New York Times, Simon Romero, Manny Fernandez, and Mariel Padilla, Saturday, 3 August 2019: “A 21-year-old gunman armed with a powerful rifle turned a crowded Walmart store in this majority-Hispanic border city into a scene of chaos and bloodshed on Saturday, stalking shoppers in the aisles in an attack that left at least 20 people dead and 26 others wounded, the authorities said. For several minutes late on Saturday morning, the packed Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall on the city’s East Side filled with gun smoke and the echo of gunfire. Workers and customers, some bloodied, fled out the doors. Others huddled in the aisles or on the ground…. The authorities identified the gunman as Patrick Crusius, from a Dallas suburb. He was taken into custody after he surrendered to the police outside the Walmart. The authorities said they were investigating a manifesto Mr. Crusius, who is white, may have posted before the shooting, which described an attack in response to ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas.'” See also, Minutes Before El Paso Killing, Hate-Filled Manifesto Appears Online, The New York Times, Tim Arango, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and Katie Benner, Saturday, 3 August 2019: “Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online. It spoke of a ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas.’ It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners. The authorities were scrutinizing the 2,300-word screed on Saturday and attempting to determine whether it was written by the same man who killed 20 people and injured more than two dozen others near the Mexican border.” See also, Officials call El Paso shooting a domestic terrorism case and weigh hate crime charges, The Washington Post, Robert Moore and Mark Berman, published on Sunday, 4 August 2019: “The attack on a Walmart and shopping center [in El Paso, Texas], during which a gunman killed 20 people and wounded dozens, is being viewed as a domestic terrorist attack, authorities said Sunday. Federal authorities are ‘seriously considering’ bringing hate crime charges in the case, John F. Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said Sunday. Those charges could carry the death penalty. Local prosecutors also say they plan to seek a death sentence in the case.”

 

Sunday, 4 August 2019, Day 927:

 

El Paso Shooting: Massacre That Killed 20 Is Being Investigated as Domestic Terrorism, The New York Times, Simon Romero and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “Federal investigators in El Paso said they were treating the massacre at a Walmart that killed 20 and wounded another 27 on Saturday morning as an act of domestic terrorism, and prosecutors said they were considering federal hate crime charges. They were also considering federal gun charges that would carry the death penalty.” See also, Gunman Kills 9 in Dayton Entertainment District, The New York Times, Timothy Williams and Farah Stockman, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “The gunman who killed nine people, including his sister, early Sunday morning in Dayton, Ohio, wore a mask, body armor and hearing protection, and he possessed a high-capacity magazine capable of holding 100 rounds, the police said. The gunman, identified as Connor Betts, 24, used what the police described as an ‘assault-style rifle’ when he opened fire in a busy entertainment district in Dayton. A shotgun was also found in Mr. Betts’s car. Both guns were purchased legally, the police said. The authorities said they still had not established a motive for the shooting. They said Mr. Betts arrived in the entertainment district Saturday evening with his sister, Megan K. Betts, 22, and another ‘companion.’ Mr. Betts then split from the rest of the group for a period of time before opening fire, the authorities said. Ms. Betts was not the first person killed in the assault, and it remained unclear whether Mr. Betts had sought to kill her, the police said. The companion was one of 27 people wounded in the attack, and the police said they had spoken to him.” See also, Back-to-Back Outbreaks of Gun Violence in El Paso and Dayton Stun Country, The New York Times, Campbell Robertson, Julie Bosman, and Mitch Smith, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “On Sunday, Americans woke up to news of a shooting rampage in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, where a man wearing body armor shot and killed nine people, including his own sister. Hours earlier, a 21-year-old with a rifle entered a Walmart in El Paso and killed 20 people. In a country that has become nearly numb to men with guns opening fire in schools, at concerts and in churches, the back-to-back bursts of gun violence in less than 24 hours were enough to leave the public stunned and shaken. The shootings ground the 2020 presidential campaign to a halt, reignited a debate on gun control and called into question the increasingly angry words directed at immigrants on the southern border in recent weeks by right-wing pundits and President Trump.” See also, El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “At campaign rallies before last year’s midterm elections, President Trump repeatedly warned that America was under attack by immigrants heading for the border. ‘You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!’ he declared at one rally. ‘That is an invasion!’ Nine months later, a 21-year-old white man is accused of opening fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring dozens more after writing a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that ‘this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.'” See also, Officials call El Paso shooting a domestic terrorism case and weigh hate crime charges, The Washington Post, Robert Moore and Mark Berman, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “The attack on a Walmart and shopping center here, during which a gunman killed 20 people and wounded dozens, is being viewed as a domestic terrorist attack, authorities said Sunday.” See also, El Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges, The Washington Post, Annie Gowen, Mark Berman, Tim Craig, and Hannah Natanson, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “The 21-year-old man accused of slaying 20 people in an El Paso shopping center will be treated as a domestic terrorist, authorities said Sunday, adding that they are seriously considering charging him with federal hate crimes. The suspect, Patrick Crusius, from suburban Dallas, is probably the author of a rambling, hate-filled manifesto posted on the 8chan website shortly before Saturday morning’s shooting, authorities believe, but they are still investigating. The manifesto appeared to be written as a ‘response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas’ with denunciations of ‘race mixers’ and ‘haters of our collective values.'” See also, Gunman killed sister and eight others in second deadly U.S. mass shooting in 24 hours, The Washington Post, Kevin Williams, Hannah Knowles, Hannah Natanson, and Peter Whoriskey, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “In the hours before the mass shooting, siblings Connor and Megan Betts drove the family’s 2007 Corolla to visit this city’s historic Oregon District, an area alive on a summer night with restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then, police said, they separated. It is not clear what Megan, 22, did at this point. But Connor, 24, donned a mask, body armor and ear protection. Wielding an AR-15-like assault weapon with magazines containing 100 rounds, he set out on a street rampage that, although it lasted only about 30 seconds, killed nine people and injured 27 others, police said. Among the first to die was Megan Betts. Her male companion was injured, but survived. Many more might have been shot, officials said, but less than a minute into the barrage, police patrolling the area saw people fleeing and neutralized Connor Betts — he was shot to death — as he was about to enter a bar where dozens of people had run in to hide. A bouncer was injured by shrapnel. At least six police officers fired rounds at the gunman.”See also, How do you stop these people?’: Trump’s anti- immigrant rhetoric looms over El Paso massacre, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as ‘an invasion of our country.’ He has demonized undocumented immigrants as ‘thugs’ and ‘animals.’ He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America. ‘How do you stop these people? You can’t,’ Trump lamented at a May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd yelled back one idea: ‘Shoot them.’ The audience of thousands cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he quipped, ‘Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.’ On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man entered a shopping center in El Paso, according to police, and allegedly decided to ‘shoot them.’ Inside a crowded Walmart in a vibrant border city visited daily by thousands of Mexicans, a late-morning back-to-school shopping scene turned into a pool of blood. Twenty people died, and dozens were wounded.” See also, Trump’s rhetoric is freshly condemned after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Sunday, 4 August 2019.

Some Democratic Candidates Seek to Link Shootings to Trump, The New York Times, Jennifer Medina and Matt Stevens, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “Democratic candidates for president on Sunday reacted strongly to two mass shootings that killed at least 29 people, calling on Congress to act decisively on gun control while denouncing a culture of hatred and white nationalism that some said emanated from the Trump White House. Speaking to CBS News early Sunday, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas said President Trump had ‘a lot to do with what happened in El Paso yesterday,’ arguing that Mr. Trump’s remarks about immigrants and asylum seekers was responsible for having sown ‘the kind of fear, the kind of reaction that we saw in El Paso yesterday.'” See also, Beto O’Rourke on Trump and El Paso: ‘He is an open, avowed racist,’ The Guardian, Sunday, 4 August 2019.

How Gun Control Groups Are Catching Up to the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.), The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Maggie Astor, and Danny Hakim, Sunday, 4 August 2019: “The political momentum in the gun control debate has shifted in the year leading up to this weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, with gun control advocates taking a more empowered stance and the National Rifle Association consumed by internal power struggles. The major gun control organizations, propelled by funding from supporters like Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, and grass-roots networks across the country, have helped enact new laws — mostly in Democratic-controlled states — and, for the first time in 25 years, passed a significant gun control bill in the House. But the gun lobby’s structural advantages, built over decades and defended by President Trump and congressional Republicans, remain in place: an N.R.A. budget that dwarfs what even Mr. Bloomberg has spent, a Republican Senate majority disinclined to consider gun-control legislation, and a base of primary voters for whom the N.R.A.’s endorsement is a critical seal of approval.”

 

Monday, 5 August 2019, Day 928:

 

Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Stops Short of Major Gun Controls, The New York Times, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 5 August 2019: “President Trump on Monday denounced white supremacy in the wake of twin mass shootings over the weekend, and citing the threat of ‘racist hate,’ he summoned the nation to address what he called a link between the recent carnage and violent video games, mental illness and internet bigotry. But he stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists, Democrats and some Republicans have sought for years, such as tougher background checks for gun buyers and the banning of some weapons and accessories such as high-capacity magazines. And while he warned of ‘the perils of the internet and social media,’ he offered no recognition of his own use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics. Instead, he focused on a rising intolerance that he has been slow to condemn in the past.” See also, Shootings Spur Debate on Extremism and Guns, With Trump on Defense, The New York Times, Alexander Burns, Monday, 5 August 2019: “The politics of American gun violence follow a predictable pattern in most cases: outraged calls for action from the left, somber gestures of sympathy from the right, a subdued presidential statement delivered from a prepared text — and then, in a matter of days or even hours, a national turning of the page to other matters. But after a white supremacist gunman massacred 22 people in El Paso, the political world hurtled on Monday toward a more expansive, and potentially more turbulent, confrontation over racist extremism. Though the gun lobby was again on the defensive, it was not alone; so were social media companies and websites like 8chan that have become hives for toxic fantasies and violent ideas that have increasingly leaked into real life, with fatal consequences. Perhaps most of all, President Trump faced intense new criticism and scrutiny for the plain echoes of his own rhetoric in the El Paso gunman’s anti-immigrant manifesto. Mr. Trump’s usual methods of deflection sputtered on Monday: His early-morning tweets attacking the news media and calling vaguely for new background checks on gun purchasers did little to ease the political pressure. A midmorning statement he recited from the White House — condemning ‘white supremacy’ and warning of internet-fueled extremism, but declining to address his own past language or call for stern new gun regulations — did nothing to quiet the chorus of censure from Mr. Trump’s political opponents and critics, who are demanding presidential accountability. No moment better captured how the gun violence debate was giving way to a reckoning on extremism than a statement on Monday afternoon from former President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama, who has weighed in sparingly on public events since leaving office, called both for gun control and for an emphatic national rejection of racism and the people who stoke it. ‘We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments,’ Mr. Obama wrote, ‘leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as subhuman, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.'” See also, ‘The headline was bad’: New York Times amends front page on Trump’s response to mass shootings after backlash, The Washington Post, Allyson Chiu, published on Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “The New York Times weathered intense backlash Monday night for its front-page headline about President Trump’s response to the pair of mass shootings that read: ‘TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM.’ A preview of Tuesday’s front page shared to social media sparked instant criticism from members of the public, journalists and politicians, including several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, many of whom took issue with how the publication framed Trump’s comments on the weekend attacks in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left at least 31 people dead and dozens injured. In the aftermath of the tragedies, major media outlets have faced scrutiny from all sides over how they confront Trump and his often inflammatory rhetoric.” See also, Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton Renew Debate Over How to Combat Domestic Terrorism, The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise, Katie Benner, Matt Apuzzo, and Nicole Perlroth, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Law enforcement officials have sounded the alarm for months: Homegrown terrorism, including by white supremacists, is now as big a threat as terrorism from abroad. But the mass shooting in El Paso last weekend, the largest domestic terrorist attack against Hispanics in modern history, has made it glaringly clear how poorly prepared the country is to fight it.” See also, Trump Echoes ‘Fox & Friends’ on Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton. The New York Post Dissents. The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Marc Tracy, and Tiffany Hsu, Monday, 5 August 2019. See also, Teleprompter Trump meets Twitter Trump as the president responds to mass slayings in El Paso and DaytonThe Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Teleprompter Trump repudiated Twitter Trump in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Monday. Speaking in the wake of two mass shootings in less than 24 hours that left at least 31 dead over the weekend, President Trump spoke of ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every human life’ and the scourge of ‘destructive partisanship.’… That unifying message stood in stark contrast to more than 2½ years of name-calling, demonizing minorities and inflaming racial animus, much of it carried out on Twitter. Just two hours before his White House speech, Trump tweeted an attack on the ‘Fake News’ media for contributing to a culture of ‘anger and rage.’ And in another set of tweets, the president suggested pairing ‘strong background checks’ with ‘desperately needed immigration reform’ — then dropped the matter entirely during his speech.” See also, Trump condemns white supremacy and focuses on combating mental illness over new gun-control measures, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 5 August 2019: “President Trump urged the nation Monday to condemn bigotry and white supremacy after a pair of mass shootings and focused on combating mental illness over new gun-control measures in remarks delivered from the White House.” See also, Eight reasons to be skeptical that Trump is serious about his new call for ‘strong background checks,’ The Washington Post, James Hohmann, Monday, 5 August 2019. See also, Trump responds to El Paso and Dayton mass shootings with the National Rifle Association’s favorite talking point, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 5 August 2019. See also, Trump often blames mass shootings on mental health. When the perpetrator is Muslim, he blames Islam. The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 5 August 2019. See also, Thirty dead in 13 hours; US reckons with back-to-back mass shootings, The Guardian, Sam Levin, Oliver Laughland, and Joanna Walters, Monday, 5 August 2019: “A shattering weekend in which two mass shootings left at least 30 people dead and injured dozens put Donald Trump at the center of a storm of outrage over racism and the failure on gun control in America. Even as the president said ‘hate has no place in our country’ and blamed the shootings on mental illness, investigators in El Paso confirmed that a massacre at a Walmart superstore on Saturday that left at least 21 people dead in the Texas border city had been preceded by the suspected gunman publishing an anti-immigration screed via the darker recesses of the internet.”

In wake of El Paso shooting, Obama calls on country to reject words ‘of any of our leaders’ that feed fear and hatred, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Former president Barack Obama called on the country Monday to reject words ‘coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders’ that feed fear and hatred and normalize racist sentiments, a tacit rebuke of President Trump in the wake of the Texas and Ohio shootings. In a statement posted to his Twitter and Facebook accounts, Obama said such language has been at the root of most human tragedy, from slavery to the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide. ‘It has no place in our politics and our public life,’ he said. ‘And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.'”

How the Trump Campaign Used Facebook Ads to Amplify His ‘Invasion’ Claim, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Monday, 5 August 2019: “President Trump’s re-election campaign has harnessed Facebook advertising to push the idea of an ‘invasion’ at the southern border, amplifying the fear-inducing language about immigrants that he has also voiced at campaign rallies and on Twitter. Since January, Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign has posted more than 2,000 ads on Facebook that include the word ‘invasion’ — part of a barrage of advertising focused on immigration, a dominant theme of his re-election messaging. A review of Mr. Trump’s tweets also found repeated references to an ‘invasion,’ while his 2016 campaign advertising heavily featured dark warnings about immigrants breaching America’s borders. Mr. Trump’s language on immigration — particularly his use of the word ‘invasion’ — is under scrutiny after the mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday. The suspect in that shooting, which left 22 people dead, appeared to be the author of a manifesto declaring that ‘this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.'”

‘I just don’t have words’: Beto O’Rourke shows raw anger as his hometown mourns, The Washington Post, Jenna Johnson, Monday, 5 August 2019: “A day and a half after a gunman opened fire in his hometown and killed 22 people, Beto O’Rourke was preparing to leave a vigil when he was stopped by yet another reporter asking yet another question about President Trump — this time wanting to know what Trump could ‘do now to make this any better.’ ‘What do you think?’ the Democratic presidential candidate replied, shaking his head in exhausted exasperation. ‘You know the s— that he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press: What the f—?’ O’Rourke threw his hands up: ‘It’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism; he’s promoting racism.’ This is Beto O’Rourke since the shooting: raw, emotional, mirroring the pain and frustration of those around him.” See also, ‘Of Course He’s Racist’: 2020 Democrats Criticize Trump After Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton, The New York Times, Katie Glueck and Matt Stevens, Monday, 5 August 2019: “From cable news interviews early Monday morning to speeches before a Latino civil rights group later in the day, Democratic candidates for president mounted one of their most brutal offensives of the 2020 campaign against President Trump, excoriating him over rampant gun violence in America and a racist and divisive culture they accuse him of fostering.” See also, Joe Biden pushes for federal gun buyback program and assault weapons ban in wake of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Monday, 5 August 2019.

For Latinos, El Paso is a devastating new low in a Trump era, Los Angeles Times, Paloma Esquivel, Esmeralda Bermudez, Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio, Louis Sahagun, and Cindy Carcamo, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Working with immigrants for 30 years, Pablo Alvarado has lived through decades of antagonism toward Latinos. It came in political waves that washed over California, Arizona and other states. There was Proposition 187 in the 1990s, the Minuteman protests, ‘America’s toughest sheriff’ Joe Arpaio and his hard-line policing tactics. Nothing compares to the reality Latinos are facing today, Alvarado said. ‘It’s a destructive moment for this country,’ said the executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network. ‘This is the first time when I feel as if our adversaries have declared war against our immigrant community.'”

In May, when a Trump supporter at one of Trump’s rallies suggested shooting immigrants, Trump smirked and made a joke, The Washington Post, JM Rieger, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Three months before one of the deadliest public mass shootings in U.S. history, allegedly driven in part by white nationalism, President Trump asked a Florida audience how to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. ‘How do you stop these people? You can’t, there’s —’ Trump said, cutting himself off as a rally attendee yelled back, ‘Shoot them.’ Trump paused and smirked, before responding, ‘That’s only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.’ The crowd cheered for nearly 10 seconds before Trump continued.”

Politicians Again Blame Video Games for Shootings, Despite Evidence, The New York Times, Kevin Draper, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Researchers have extensively studied whether there is a causal link between video games and violent behavior, and while there isn’t quite a consensus, there is broad agreement that no such link exists. According to a policy statement from the media psychology division of the American Psychological Association, ‘Scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.'”

Cloudflare severs ties with 8chan in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton: the site has become ‘a cesspool of hate,’ Vox, Aja Romano, Monday, 5 August 2019: “In the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the first weekend of August, internet domain masking service Cloudflare cut ties with the anonymous web forum 8chan, citing its role in radicalizing white supremacist extremists.”

Mitch McConnell Campaign Tweets Photo of His Opponent’s Name on Tombstone, HuffPost, David Moye, Monday, 5 August 2019:  “Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign on Saturday tweeted out a photo showing mock tombstones with the names of former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, socialism and the senator’s Democratic opponent. His opponent in the 2020 Senate race, Amy McGrath, wasn’t exactly pleased, and she noted that the tweet was posted shortly after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.” See also, Mitch McConnell campaign tweets image of tombstone with his opponent’s name on it, Politico, Matthew Choi, Monday, 5 August 2019.

Ohio State Representative Candice Keller’s Comments on Mass Shootings Prompt Call for Her Resignation From the Chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, The New York Times, Mariel Padilla, Monday, 5 August 2019: “The chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party called on Monday for the resignation of State Representative Candice Keller, a fellow Republican who one day earlier said mass shootings were the result of such factors as ‘homosexual marriage,’ ‘drag queen advocates’ and ‘recreational marijuana.'”

White Terrorism Shows ‘Stunning’ Parallels to Islamic State’s Rise, The New York Times, Max Fisher, Monday, 5 August 2019: “Many scholars of terrorism see worrying similarities between the rise of the Islamic State and that of white nationalist terrorism, seen most recently in the carnage in El Paso, Tex. ‘The parallels are stunning,’ said Will McCants, a prominent expert in the field. And they are growing more notable with each new attack. Experts say that the similarities are far from a coincidence. White nationalist terrorism is following a progression eerily similar to that of jihadism under the leadership of the Islamic State, in ways that do much to explain why the attacks have suddenly grown so frequent and deadly.”

House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler says impeachment hearings could start in late fall, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Monday, 5 August 2019: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Monday that the House could launch impeachment proceedings in the late fall — but warned that it would depend on public support.” See also, House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler says his committee could recommend articles of impeachment by late fall, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Monday, 5 August 2019.

Trump signs executive order freezing Venezuelan assets, ramping up pressure on Maduro, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Karen De Young, and Anthony Faiola, Monday, 5 August 2019: “President Trump issued an executive order late Monday placing a full economic embargo on the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro, and his administration warned Russia and China that if they continue to support him, they may never get back their billions of dollars in loans and investments in Venezuela. The embargo, which follows months of escalating sanctions on government individuals and entities, blocks all property and assets of the government and its officials, and prohibits any transactions with them, including the Venezuelan Central Bank and the state oil company. The action puts Venezuela on par with Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria, the only other countries under a similar full embargo.” See also, Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Venezuela, The New York Times, Michael Crowley and Anatoly Kurmanaev, published on Tuesday, 6 August 2019.

GateHouse Media Parent to Buy Gannett for $1.4 Billion, The Wall Street Journal, Cara Lombardo and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Monday, 5 August 2019: “The country’s two largest newspaper chains agreed to combine their businesses in a roughly $1.4 billion deal, further consolidating an industry reeling from strong economic headwinds…. The deal combines the largest owner of U.S. newspapers by titles—GateHouse, with 400 papers and a total circulation of 4.29 million—and the largest newspaper group by circulation—Gannett, with a circulation of 4.32 million and 215 titles including USA Today, according to a University of North Carolina study.” See also, America’s two largest newspaper chains are joining forces. Will it save either? The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell and Rachel Siegel, Monday, 5 August 2019.

 

Tuesday, 6 August 2019, Day 929:

 

World Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It, The New York Times, Richard Pérez-Peña and Megan Specia, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “‘White nationalist terrorism.’ ‘America’s new civil war.’  ‘Domestic terrorists devastate the U.S.’ After two mass shootings rocked the United States last weekend, headlines from Sydney to Paris depicted the bloodshed as America battling itself. International reactions to previous mass shootings focused on the ubiquity of guns in the United States — a culture that many people around the globe see as alien — and their role in making it the world’s most violent highly developed country. But in the days since a gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart store in El Paso, Tex., attention has shifted to the toxic mixture of racism, nationalism and terrorism — along with the easy availability of firearms — and to President Trump’s role in inflaming ethnic divisions. The horror was only compounded by a shooting hours later in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead.” See also, ‘It Feels Like Being Hunted’: Latinos Across U.S. in Fear After El Paso Massacre, The New York Times, Simon Romero, Caitlin Dickerson, Miriam Jordan, and Patricia Mazzei, Tuesday, 6 August 2019.

Letting Trump off the hook, Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “Yesterday, Donald Trump–flanked, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, by Vice President Mike Pence and a portrait of George Washington—addressed the nation about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The setting was capital-P Presidential, but the speech was ludicrous. Trump invoked ‘unity, devotion, and love,’ concepts about which he demonstrates no knowledge. He failed to address the El Paso shooter’s online screed, which contained clear echoes of Trump’s racist rhetoric. By mistake, he placed the Dayton shooting in Toledo. Trump’s words were clearly lacking, but some members of the press gave him the benefit of the doubt. Today’s lead headline in the first edition of The New York Times—’Trump urges unity vs. racism’—was particularly egregious, and quickly attracted fierce backlash online. (The Times changed the headline for its second edition, but ‘Assailing hate but not guns’ isn’t much of an improvement.) Early this morning, the top headline at the Times online was still crediting Trump with ‘condemning bigotry’; the subhead parroted Trump’s argument that ‘video games and mental health’ are to blame for shootings, without pointing out that that isn’t true. ‘I have never received more texts from furious NYT reporters/writers than I have tonight,’ Yashar Ali, a freelance journalist, tweeted. ‘They feel like their hard work is being sullied by a horrible headline. And they’re all blaming Dean Baquet,’ the paper’s executive editor. The Times wasn’t the only offender: numerous headlines and storyopeners quoted Trump’s words without any effort at context. A prominent Washington Post headline asked, ‘Trump says white supremacy and sinister ideologies “must be defeated.” Will he lead the way?’ The poor choices of words bring to mind Beto O’Rourke’s admonishment of the media over the weekend: ‘Members of the press, what the fuck?! It’s these questions that you know the answers to.’ At least for the Times and the Post, the bad headlines topped thoughtful analyses that examine the role Trump has played in stoking hate. That wasn’t true everywhere, though.” See also, Columbia Journalism Review’s Public Editor for the New York Times: The readers versus the masthead, Columbia Journalism Review, Gabriel Snyder, Tuesday, 6 August 2019.

‘Red Flag’ Gun Control Bills Pick Up Momentum With Republicans in Congress, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “Congressional Republicans, under intense pressure to respond to this weekend’s massacres, are coalescing around legislation to help law enforcement take guns from those who pose an imminent danger — a measure that, if signed into law, would be the most significant gun control legislation enacted in 20 years. Such ‘red flag’ laws might not be as momentous — or controversial — as the now-expired assault weapons ban or the instant background check system, both of which were enacted in 1994 as part of President Bill Clinton’s sprawling crime bill. The House, under Democratic control, passed far more ambitious bills in February that would require background checks for all gun purchasers, including those on the internet or at gun shows, and extend waiting limits for would-be gun buyers flagged by the instant check system. But those bills have run into a blockade that Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has erected for House bills he opposes.” See also, What Are ‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws, and How Do They Work? The New York Times, Timothy Williams, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “With one mass shooting after another in recent years, political leaders have debated how to take preventive action without trampling on constitutional rights. Some states have tried, and more have debated, enacting measures called red flag laws, which are intended to restrict potentially dangerous people rather than dangerous weapons. That approach is seen as more likely to attract bipartisan support than many other gun control proposals.” See also, Where the 2020 Democrats Stand on Gun Control, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Tuesday, 6 August 2019.

Federal authorities launch a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Los Angeles Times, Hannah Fry and Richard Winton, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “Federal authorities on Tuesday said they had launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival after officials discovered the gunman had a list of other potential targets. Among the targets were religious organizations, courthouses, federal buildings and political institutions involving both the Republican and Democratic parties…. Santino William Legan, 19, opened fire at the popular food festival on the evening of July 28, killing three people and wounding 13. Legan wore a bulletproof vest as he carried out the attack, firing 39 rounds as attendees fled from the park where the annual festival was being held, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said.” See also, F.B.I. Opens Domestic Terrorism Investigation Into Gilroy Shooting, The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “The F.B.I. has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy, Calif., shooting after discovering that the gunman who killed three people and injured 13 had a ‘target list’ of religious institutions, federal buildings and Democratic and Republican political organizations.”

Photo of Mounted Police in Galveston, Texas, Leading Black Man by a Rope Prompts Outrage, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “The police chief of Galveston, Tex., apologized on Monday night after a photo emerged of two white officers on horseback leading a black suspect in handcuffs down the street with a rope tied to him. The image was taken by an onlooker on Saturday and was shared on social media, where it has gone viral and sparked outrage toward the Galveston Police Department, especially among African-American people. Many pointed to the photo’s symbolism, saying it harked back to slavery and the long history of racism and violence by whites against black people in the United States.” See also, Police officers on horseback in Galveston, Texas, led a black suspect through the streets by rope. The chief apologized. The Washington Post, Alex Horton, published on Wednesday, 7 August 2019.

House Democrats request records from Kavanaugh’s service in Bush White House, NBC News, Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday requested that the National Archives and Records Administration turn over a trove of documents related to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s service in President George W. Bush’s White House. In the letter to National Archivist David Ferriero, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, requested records from 2001 to 2006, when Kavanaugh served in the White House counsel’s office and then as staff secretary.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confronts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over photo of men in ‘Team Mitch’ shirts ‘groping & choking’ her cutout, The Washington Post, Tim Elfrink, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “The young men wear matching shirts from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)’s campaign, and cluster around a cardboard cutout of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Several of them hold their thumbs down. One grasps the life-size poster by the waist and pretends to kiss the congresswoman. Another appears to mime his hand around her neck. To Ocasio-Cortez, the photo — originally posted to Instagram and then made viral on Twitter on Monday — suggested an endorsement of violent misogyny. ‘Are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?’ Ocasio-Cortez asked on Twitter on Monday night.”

A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises, The New York Times, Somini Sengupta and Weiyi Cai, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water. From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday…. In those countries are several big, thirsty cities that have faced acute shortages recently, including São Paulo, Brazil; Chennai, India; and Cape Town, which in 2018 narrowly beat what it called Day Zero — the day when all its dams would be dry.”

Trump Campaign Sues Over California’s Requirement for Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns to Be Placed on the State Primary Ballot in 2020, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Tuesday, 6 August 2019: “President Trump and the Republican National Committee filed a pair of lawsuits on Tuesday against officials in California challenging a new law requiring presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns in order to be placed on the state primary ballot in 2020. The R.N.C. suit, which was filed in the Eastern District of California and included the California Republican Party and several California Republican voters as plaintiffs, called the law a ‘naked political attack against the sitting president of the United States.’ It was filed against Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California secretary of state. Mr. Trump and his campaign filed a second suit challenging the constitutionality of the new law, and it named the California secretary of state and the state attorney general. In that suit, they argue that states do not have the power to ‘supplement’ the qualifications for the president, set forth by the Constitution.”

 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019, Day 930:

 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raid Mississippi work sites and arrest 680 people in the largest single-state immigration enforcement action in U.S. history, The Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swept through seven work sites in six cities across Mississippi on Wednesday, arresting approximately 680 people the agency said were undocumented immigrants in what officials said is the largest single-state workplace enforcement action in U.S. history. The raids targeted agricultural processing plants, part of a year-long investigation into illegal employment of immigrants in the state, officials said. They did not say how many individuals they were targeting in the operations, nor what proportion of those taken into custody were what ICE calls ‘collateral’ arrests — those who were swept up along with those ICE was seeking.” See also, ICE arrested hundreds of people in raids. Now ‘devastated’ children are without their parents. The Washington Post, Angela Fritz and Luis Velarde, published on Thursday, 8 August 2019. See also, The ICE raids in Mississippi may indefinitely separate some children from their parents, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Thursday, 8 August 2019. See also, ICE Arrests Hundreds in Mississippi Raids Targeting Immigrant Workers, The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Wednesday, 7 August 2019. See also, ICE Raids in Mississippi Leave Fear and Uncertainty in Their Wake, The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Adeel Hassan, published on Thursday, 8 August 2019: “In tearful videos and images that ricocheted across social media, children whose migrant parents were rounded up by federal authorities in Mississippi pleaded with the United States government to release their mothers and fathers. ‘Government, please show some heart,’ begged an 11-year-old girl whose father was apprehended on Wednesday. Dozens of children, some as young as toddlers, were bewildered when they were picked up from school and taken to makeshift shelters, including the gym in Forest, where the owner fed them dinner with food donated by residents. Videos showed children crying in corners or in the arms of friends, neighbors and strangers. On Thursday afternoon, state officials, immigration advocates, and lawyers still did not have a clear picture of what had happened to those children, or who had taken custody of them.”

Pondering Impeachment, House Sues Don McGahn, Ex-White House Counsel, for Testimony, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee sued on Wednesday to force the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to testify before Congress, asking a federal judge to strike down the Trump administration’s claim that top presidential aides are ‘absolutely immune’ from its subpoenas. In a filing in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the Judiciary Committee identified Mr. McGahn as ‘the most important witness, other than the president, to the key events’ at the center of its investigation into possible obstruction of justice by President Trump — behavior detailed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that the committee said could warrant impeachment.” See also, Democrats ask federal judge to force testimony from ex-White House counsel Donald McGahn, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee asked a federal judge on Wednesday to compel testimony from former White House counsel Donald McGahn, whom lawmakers consider their ‘most important’ witness in any potential impeachment proceeding against President Trump. McGahn figured prominently in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of whether Trump obstructed justice during the Justice Department’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The committee subpoenaed him in April, but the White House blocked his testimony, claiming McGahn, who left the administration in October, had ‘absolute’ immunity. Lawyers for the committee’s Democrats call the claim ‘spurious’ and say it has no grounding in case law.”

Trump Uses a Day of Healing to Deepen the Nation’s Divisions, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Maggie Haberman, Mitch Smith, and Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “President Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso on Wednesday on a day intended as a show of compassion to cities scarred by a weekend of violence, but which quickly devolved into an occasion for anger-fueled broadsides against Democrats and the news media. Mr. Trump’s schedule was meant to follow the traditional model of apolitical presidential visits with victims, law enforcement officials and hospital workers after calamities like the mass shootings that resulted in 31 deaths in Dayton and El Paso and that created a new sense of national crisis over assault weapons and the rise of white supremacist ideology. That plan went awry even before Mr. Trump, who has acknowledged his discomfort with showing empathy in public, departed Washington. On Tuesday night, he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman from El Paso, should ‘be quiet.’ As he prepared to leave the White House on Wednesday morning, he went after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said in a speech that day that Mr. Trump had ‘fanned the flames of white supremacy.’… Even as the president denied that he had ‘fanned the flames of white supremacy,’ as Mr. Biden had asserted, Mr. Trump repeated his past claim of equivalence between extremists on the left and right. ‘I am concerned about the rise of any group of hate,’ the president told reporters before leaving the White House. ‘Any group of hate, I am — whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy, whether it’s antifa, whether it’s any group of hate, I am very concerned about it.'” See also, Trump attacks local leaders as he visits Dayton and El Paso, two cities grieving from mass shootings, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Jenna Johnson, and Felicia Sonmez, published on Thursday, 8 August 2019: “On a day when President Trump vowed to tone down his rhetoric and help the country heal following two mass slayings, he did the opposite — lacing his visits Wednesday to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, with a flurry of attacks on local leaders and memorializing his trips with grinning thumbs-up photos. A traditional role for presidents has been to offer comfort and solace to all Americans at times of national tragedy, but the day provided a fresh testament to Trump’s limitations in striking notes of unity and empathy. When Trump swooped into the grieving border city of El Paso to offer condolences following the massacre of Latinos allegedly by a white supremacist, some of the city’s elected leaders and thousands of its citizens declared the president unwelcome.” See also, Trump Comes to Console. El Paso Says No Thanks. The New York Times, Simon Romero and Rick Rojas, Wednesday, 7 August 2019.

Democrats Warn That a Federal ‘Red Flag’ Law Would Not Be Enough, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, put the brakes on Republicans’ quick embrace of ‘red flag’ laws as a response to last weekend’s gun violence, saying on Wednesday that any gun-related legislation moving through the Senate must be accompanied by a House bill requiring background checks on all gun purchasers. Red flag laws allow the authorities to obtain a special type of protective order — known as an extreme risk protection order, or E.R.P.O. — to remove guns from people deemed dangerous. Republicans, including President Trump, are coalescing around the concept, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is drafting a bill to develop a federal grant program to help states pass and carry out such laws.” See also, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer warns Republicans against settling for ‘tepid’ red flag laws, Politico, Marianne Levine, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday warned Republicans against trying to pass modest legislation promoting ‘red flag’ laws as their sole response to the latest wave of mass shootings. Schumer said Democrats would try to require any red flag measure that comes to the Senate floor be paired with a vote on legislation establishing universal background checks, which the Democratic House passed earlier this year.”

Trump quietly used regulations to expand gun access, Politico, Anita Kumar, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “President Donald Trump this week said his administration has done ‘much more than most’ to curb mass shootings in the United States. While Trump boasts of action on firearms, his administration has eased gun restrictions over the past 2½ years. Federal agencies have implemented more than half a dozen policy changes — primarily through little-noticed regulatory moves — that expand access to guns by lifting firearms bans in certain locations and limiting the names in the national database designed to keep firearms away from dangerous people. The administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn New York City restrictions on transporting handguns outside homes. And it pushed to allow U.S. gunmakers to more easily sell firearms overseas, including the types used in mass shootings.”

Texas to loosen firearm laws, allowing guns in churches and on school grounds, CNN, Allen Kim and Faith Karimi, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “A series of new firearm laws will go into effect in Texas next month — further loosening gun restrictions in a state that’s had four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history. The laws — passed before a gunman massacred 22 people and injured dozens in El Paso last weekend — will make it easier to have guns in a state with some of the most lax weapons restrictions in the nation.”

White House rebuffed attempts by the Department of Homeland Security to make combating domestic terrorism a higher priority, CNN, Jake Tapper, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “White House officials rebuffed efforts by their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year to make combating domestic terror threats, such as those from white supremacists, a greater priority as specifically spelled out in the National Counterterrorism Strategy, current and former senior administration officials as well as other sources close to the Trump administration tell CNN. ‘Homeland Security officials battled the White House for more than a year to get them to focus more on domestic terrorism,’ one senior source close to the Trump administration tells CNN. ‘The White House wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat which, while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on.'”

Representative Elijah Cummings calls for end to ‘hateful rhetoric’ that inspires mass shooters, The Washington Post, Jenna Portnoy, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “Rep. Elijah E. Cummings did not directly address the president’s Twitter tirade against the Democrat’s home city of Baltimore during the half-hour talk he gave Wednesday at the National Press Club. He didn’t have to. In his first major speech in the nearly two weeks since President Trump called Cummings’s district a ‘rat and rodent infested mess’ where ‘no human being would want to live,’ the congressman called for an end to ‘hateful rhetoric’ that inspires mass shooters like the man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso. ‘Those at the highest levels of government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,’ he said. ‘As a country, we finally must say that enough is enough. That we are done with the hateful rhetoric. That we are done with the mass shootings. That we are done with the white supremacists, domestic terrorists who are terrorizing our country and fighting against everything America stands for.’ When Democrats took control of the House this year, Cummings rose to the chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and became a chief antagonist to the president, wielding his power to subpoena Trump administration officials and documents.”

Joe Biden and Cory Booker Say Trump Is Fostering Hatred, Not Fighting It, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “Democratic presidential candidates lashed President Trump on Wednesday with their sternest denunciations yet of his exploitation of racism for political purposes and resistance to gun control, in a day of biting criticism that also highlighted differences between Democrats over how best to understand the recent rise of hate crimes in America. More than ever, it was clear that last weekend’s massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, had put Mr. Trump on the defensive and added fierce new urgency to Democratic efforts to engineer his ouster. Mr. Trump has not accounted for the echoes of his own rhetoric about immigrants and minorities in the manifesto composed by the anti-immigrant gunman in Texas, and he has appeared far more focused on feuding with his critics than on striking a tone of healing.”

Katie Hopkins, a Far-Right British Commentator, Once Again Has Trump’s Ear, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “As President Trump doubles down on a re-election approach of stoking fear of immigrants, he is once again elevating a voice of validation — and many say racism — that he discovered during his last presidential campaign. That voice is Katie Hopkins, a far-right British commentator who has made denunciations of migrants and Muslims — and defenses of Mr. Trump — a staple of her public discourse. British headlines have routinely labeled Ms. Hopkins a ‘racist’ and a ‘bigot’ for her views about immigrants.”

An Iraqi man, Jimmy Aldaoud, dies after the Trump administration deports him, Politico, Ted Hesson and Hahal Toosi, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “A 41-year-old Detroit man deported to Iraq in June died Tuesday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and two people close to the man’s family. The man, Jimmy Aldaoud, spent most of his life in the U.S., but was swept up in President Donald Trump’s intensified immigration enforcement efforts. Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney who described himself as close to Aldaoud’s family, wrote on Facebook that the death appeared to be linked to the man’s inability to obtain insulin in Baghdad to treat his diabetes. Aldaoud was an Iraqi national, but he was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a young child, his family friend said. He had never lived in Iraq and did not speak Arabic, according to Bajoka.”

Tucker Carlson calls white supremacy a ‘hoax’: Carlson said ‘It’s not actually a real problem in America,’ The Washington Post, Tim Elfrink, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “On Monday, President Trump condemned white supremacy after a gunman allegedly motivated by anti-immigrant hatred killed 22 and wounded dozens more in El Paso. Trump’s statements came after many Democrats and some Republicans repudiated him for his own language against lawmakers and immigrants. But to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Trump’s sentiment was wholly unnecessary. On Tuesday night, Carlson argued that white supremacy is a fake crisis cooked up by Democrats as a campaign ploy. ‘It’s actually not a real problem in America,’ Carlson said. He then added: ‘This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power.'” See also, Tucker Carlson’s claim that white supremacy is a hoax is easy to prove wrong. Just watch his show. The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Wednesday, 7 August 2019. See also, Tucker Carlson of Fox News Channel Falsely Calls White Supremacy a ‘Hoax,’ The New York Times, Emily S. Rueb and Derrick Bryson Taylor, Thursday, 8 August 2019.

U.S. State Department Official Matthew Gebert Involved in White Nationalist Movement, Southern Poverty Law Center, Michael Edison Hayden, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “A U.S. State Department official oversaw the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online, Hatewatch has determined. The official, Matthew Q. Gebert, works as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources, a State Department spokesperson told Hatewatch. Online, and in private correspondences with other white nationalists, Gebert uses ‘Coach Finstock’ as a pseudonym. Through that alias, he expressed a desire to build a country for whites only.” See also, State Department suspends Matthew Gebert, employee with white nationalist links, Reuters, Lesley Wroughton, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “The U.S. State Department has suspended a foreign affairs official assigned to its energy bureau, a department source said on Thursday, a day after his links to a white nationalist group were revealed. The State Department declined to name the official. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization best known for tracking U.S. hate groups, identified him as Matthew Gebert.”

Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, sought purchase of $6 million mansion in the wake of the Parkland shooting in February 2018, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Beth Reinhard, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “The chief executive of the National Rifle Association sought to have the nonprofit organization buy him a luxury mansion last year after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, selecting a French country-style estate in a gated Dallas-area golf club, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions. Wayne LaPierre, the longtime head of the NRA, told associates he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the people said.”

A Federal District Court in New York Issues First Decision Against U.S. Government in Jemal Khashoggi Records Case, Open Society Justice Initiative, Jonathan Birchall, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “A federal district court in New York issued its first judgement on Open Society Justice Initiative’s lawsuit seeking the immediate release of government records related to Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The court rejected the government’s attempt to slow down the disclosure of such records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The new ruling underscores the need for accountability in Khashoggi’s killing, coming just a week after the Senate failed to override Trump’s vetoes on resolutions to block Saudi arms deals. A June 2019 U.N. report found ‘credible evidence’ warranting further investigation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud and other senior officials’ liability for Khashoggi’s killing.”

Elizabeth Warren Proposes a Public Option for the Internet, HuffPost, Daniel Marans, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced a plan Wednesday to create a public option for the internet, aiming to ensure universal broadband access. Warren, who’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, unveiled the policy at the start of a four-day tour across Iowa as part of a broader package of reforms she calls her ‘plan to invest in rural America.'”

Trump Administration Orders Freeze of Foreign Aid, Bypassing Congress, The New York Times, Edward Wong, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “The Trump administration has ordered the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to freeze much of the remaining money for foreign aid this year, in a move that suggests the funding could be cut altogether. The decision, issued in a letter by the Office of Management and Budget, covers a broad range of foreign aid that Congress had already approved. It halted, as of Saturday, the agencies’ ability to distribute what the decision’s critics estimated to be $2 billion to $4 billion of funding…. ‘This administration’s contempt for Congress is astounding,’ Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday. ‘When Congress decides how much we spend on foreign assistance, it isn’t a suggestion. It’s the law, backed up by the Constitution.’ Critics of the order noted that the funding was less than one-tenth of one percent of the federal budget.”

White House is drafting executive order to tackle Silicon Valley’s alleged anti-conservative bias, Politico, Margaret Harding McGill and Daniel Lippman, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “The White House is circulating drafts of a proposed executive order that would address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies, according to a White House official and two other people familiar with the matter — a month after President Donald Trump pledged to explore ‘all regulatory and legislative solutions’ on the issue. None of the three would describe the contents of the order, which one person cautioned has already taken many different forms and remains in flux. But its existence, and the deliberations surrounding it, are evidence that the administration is taking a serious look at wielding the federal government’s power against Silicon Valley.”

Don’t Assume Trump’s Approval Rating Can’t Climb Higher. It Already Has. The New York Times, Nate Cohn, Wednesday, 7 August 2019: “Donald J. Trump doesn’t always seem like a candidate focused on expanding his base of support. He may have done so anyway. The share of Americans who say they have a favorable view of him has increased significantly since the 2016 election…. Millions of Americans who did not like the president in 2016 now say they do. Over all, his personal favorability rating has increased by about 10 percentage points among registered voters since Election Day 2016, to 44 percent from 34 percent, according to Upshot estimates.”

 

Thursday, 8 August 2019, Day 931:

 

A New United Nations Report Warns That Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, The New York Times, Christopher Flavelle, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at ‘unprecedented rates,’ a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.” See also, A new U.N. study finds that changing climate imperils global food and water supplies, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “The world cannot avoid the worst impacts of climate change without making serious changes to the ways humans grow food, raise livestock and manage forests, according to a landmark study Thursday from an international group of scientists. The sprawling report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) examines how land use around the world contributes to the warming of Earth’s atmosphere. But the report also details how climate change is already threatening food and water supplies for humans: turning arable land to desert; degrading soil; and increasing the threat of droughts, floods and other extreme weather that can wreak havoc on crops. It makes clear that although fossil fuel-burning power plants and automobile tailpipes are the largest drivers of climate change, activities such as agriculture and forestry account for an estimated 23 percent of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.”

A report issued by the Food Security Information Network reinforces the short-sightedness of Trump’s inaction on climate change, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “More than 113 million people around the world suffered from acute hunger last year, according to a report issued this year by the Food Security Information Network. Spread across 53 countries, these people were so stressed by lack of food security that they required urgent assistance on one of the most fundamental needs human beings have.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said publicly for the first time on Thursday that his panel is conducting ‘formal impeachment proceedings,’ Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said publicly for the first time on Thursday that his panel is conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, adding that the committee will decide by the end of the year whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor. The committee has said as much in recent court filings as it seeks former special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury materials and testimony from his investigation’s star witnesses. But it was a rare rhetorical escalation from the New York Democrat, who has privately pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support a formal inquiry of whether to remove the president from office.” See also, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler presses ahead with impeachment inquiry as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi keeps the door open, CNN, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, published on Friday, 9 August 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee is now engaged in a full-blown investigation and legal fight with the goal of deciding whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump by the end of the year, according to Democratic officials involved in the effort. Recent court filings and public statements by top Democrats point to a dramatic escalation after lawmakers debated internally for months over mounting an impeachment inquiry into the President. As additional House Democrats continue to call for the House Judiciary Committee to launch an impeachment inquiry — which more than half the caucus now supports — Democratic sources say the issue is essentially moot since what the panel is doing is basically that: investigating whether Trump should be impeached.” See also, The impeachment inquiry Trump feared is already here, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Friday, 9 August 2019: “House Democrats have begun impeachment proceedings against President Trump. A key Democrat admitted as much Thursday. ‘This is formal impeachment proceedings,’ the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), told CNN on Thursday, after weeks of dancing around whether his committee would formally consider impeaching Trump. ‘We are investigating all the evidence, gathering the evidence,’ Nadler added. ‘And we will [at the] conclusion of this — hopefully by the end of the year — vote to vote articles of impeachment to the House floor. Or we won’t. That’s a decision that we’ll have to make. But that’s exactly the process we’re in right now.’ His statement makes clear what a lawsuit filed Wednesday by his committee states: that the ‘Judiciary Committee is now determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President based on the obstructive conduct described by the Special Counsel.'”

Banks Hand Over Documents on Russians Possibly Linked to Trump, The Wall Street Journal, Jean Eaglesham, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Siobhan Hughes, and David Benoit, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “Major Wall Street banks have given congressional committees investigating President Trump thousands of pages of documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump, his family or his business, people familiar with the congressional probes said. Some banks are also giving documents related to Mr. Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, to New York state investigators, people familiar with the New York investigation said.”

Video shows that during El Paso hospital visit Trump compared his and Beto O’Rourke’s crowd sizes at political rallies, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and John Wagner, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “President Trump grew angry with aides on Air Force One on Wednesday for failing to allow cameras to record his visits to hospitals treating the victims from two mass shootings, complaining that he was not receiving credit for the trips and his foes were dominating television news. But a video that surfaced Thursday of Trump’s visit to an El Paso hospital shows him talking to medical staff about the crowd sizes that he and former congressman Beto O’Rourke drew at political rallies earlier in the year. As Trump exchanges pleasantries with doctors and others at the University Medical Center of El Paso, the video shows him pausing to reminisce about dueling rallies that he and the Texas Democrat staged in El Paso in February focused on immigration and border security. ‘That was some crowd,’ Trump says of his event. ‘We had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot, and they said his crowd was wonderful.'” See also, Medical center spokesman says some El Paso shooting victims wouldn’t meet Trump, The Washington Post, Robert Moore, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “None of the eight victims of the El Paso mass shooting still being treated at University Medical Center agreed to meet with President Trump when he visited on Wednesday, the hospital’s spokesman said.”

Trump Weighs New Stance on Guns as Pressure Mounts After Shootings, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “In the wake of two mass shootings, the divisive politics of gun control appeared to be in flux on Thursday as President Trump explored whether to back expanded background checks on gun purchasers and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, signaled that he would at least be open to considering the idea. It is not clear that either the president or Mr. McConnell will embrace such legislation, which both of them have opposed in the past and which would have to overcome opposition from the National Rifle Association and other powerful conservative constituencies.” See also, Trump’s openness to extensive background checks for gun buys draws warning from the National Rifle Association, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “President Trump has repeatedly told lawmakers and aides in private conversations that he is open to endorsing extensive background checks in the wake of two mass shootings, prompting a warning from the National Rifle Association and concerns among White House aides, according to lawmakers and administration officials. Trump, speaking to reporters Wednesday before visiting Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, where weekend shootings left 31 dead, said there ‘was great appetite for background checks’ amid an outcry over government inaction in the face of repeated mass shootings.” See also, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said background checks and red flag laws will be ‘front and center,’ Politico, Marianne Levine, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that strengthening background checks and red flag laws will ‘lead the discussion’ on addressing gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings that left at least 31 people dead. McConnell’s remarks on a Kentucky news radio show follow a conversation he had Thursday morning with President Donald Trump, who has called for revisiting stricter background checks for gun buyers as well as red flag laws, which allows authorities to limit a person’s access to guns if they pose an imminent threat to others.”

Elizabeth Warren Calls Trump a White Supremacist, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said on Wednesday night that she believed President Trump was a white supremacist, broadly accusing him of dividing Americans along racial lines and providing direct and tacit support to those who believe white people are superior to other races. Asked in a brief interview with The New York Times if she thought Mr. Trump was a white supremacist, Ms. Warren responded without hesitation: ‘Yes. He has given aid and comfort to white supremacists,’ Ms. Warren said during a campaign swing in western Iowa. ‘He’s done the wink and a nod. He has talked about white supremacists as fine people. He’s done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country.'”

Trump Names Joseph Maguire as the Acting Director of National Intelligence as Sue Gordon, the No. 2 Intelligence Official, Steps Down, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “President Trump on Thursday abruptly decided to install Joseph Maguire, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the acting director of national intelligence after Dan Coats steps down from the post next week. Mr. Trump announced his decision to elevate Mr. Maguire, a retired vice admiral who once led the Navy’s Special Warfare Command, on Twitter shortly after confirming that Sue Gordon, the nation’s No. 2 intelligence official — who by law had been in line to temporarily take over as director — would instead depart with Mr. Coats on Aug. 15. Ms. Gordon, who served more than 30 years in intelligence posts at the C.I.A. and other agencies, informed Mr. Trump of her decision to retire in a letter on Thursday after it became clear that he would not permit her to rise to the position of acting director.” See also, Trump announces shakeup at the top of U.S. intelligence, The Washington Post, Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “President Trump said in a tweet Thursday that he will name Joseph Maguire, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the acting director of national intelligence, following his aborted effort to install a political loyalist.”

Andrew McCabe, Former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Sues Over His Dismissal, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director who was fired for statements he made about communications between the bureau and the press, sued the F.B.I. and the Justice Department on Thursday, alleging that the dismissal was retaliatory and politically motivated.” See also, Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe sues the Department of Justice and claims his firing was ‘retaliation’ directed by Trump, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 8 August 2019: “Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe filed suit Thursday against the FBI and Justice Department, claiming that his March 2018 ouster — on the day he planned to retire after a 21-year career — was politically motivated retaliation driven by President Donald Trump, who was angry at McCabe’s role in the investigation of his campaign’s links to Russia.” See also, Andrew McCabe sues FBI over his firing and alleges plot by Trump to oust those disloyal to the president, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 8 August 2019.

 

 

 

During the day on Saturday, I’ll post stories that were published on Friday. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened rather than on speculation and prognostication, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I do include opinion pieces when I think they are appropriate.