Trump Administration, Week 159: Friday, 31 January – Thursday, 6 February 2020 (Days 1,107-1,113)

 

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, 31 January 2020, Day 1,107:

 

Republicans Block Impeachment Witnesses, Clearing Path for Trump Acquittal, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 31 January 2020: “The Senate brought President Trump to the brink of acquittal on Friday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress, as Republicans voted to block consideration of new witnesses and documents in his impeachment trial and shut down a final push by Democrats to bolster their case for the president’s removal. In a nearly party-line vote after a bitter debate, Democrats failed to win support from the four Republicans they needed. With Mr. Trump’s acquittal virtually certain, the president’s allies rallied to his defense, though some conceded he was guilty of the central allegations against him. The Democrats’ push for more witnesses and documents failed 49 to 51, with only two Republicans, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, joining Democrats in favor. A vote on the verdict is planned for Wednesday. As they approached the final stage of the third presidential impeachment proceeding in United States history, Democrats condemned the witness vote and said it would render Mr. Trump’s trial illegitimate and his acquittal meaningless. ‘America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, when the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial,’ said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. ‘If the president is acquitted, with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial.'” See also, Day in Impeachment: Senate Votes Against Considering Witnesses, The New York Times, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, 5 Takeaways From the Trump Impeachment Trial on Friday, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, How Democrats and Republicans Voted on Hearing From Witnesses in the Trump Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, Senate set to acquit Trump next week after bid for witnesses in impeachment trial is defeated, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Mike DeBonis, and Seung Min Kim, Friday, 31 January 2020: “The Senate voted to bar new evidence in the impeachment trial Friday, paving the way for President Trump’s acquittal even as several top Republicans acknowledged that his actions toward Ukraine were not appropriate. Eleven days into the trial, the highly anticipated vote, which was decided 51 to 49, revealed the partisan divisions in the chamber over whether to subpoena witnesses and documents, a step Democrats argued was crucial to weighing whether Trump abused his power in pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals. Among Republicans, only Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah) supported the resolution. In declining to add to the case presented by House Democrats, the Senate delivered a victory for the White House that all but guaranteed that Trump will remain in office. With a final vote on the articles of impeachment set for Wednesday at 4 p.m., Democrats argued that Trump’s expected acquittal will be illegitimate, an acknowledgment of their looming defeat. ‘If [a] judge or president believes that it is to his or her advantage that there shall be a trial with no witnesses, they will cite the case of Donald Trump,’ said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the House impeachment managers. ‘They will make the argument that you can adjudicate the guilt or innocence of the party without hearing from a single witness, without reviewing a single document. . . . I would submit that will be a very dangerous and long-lasting precedent that we will all have to live with.'” See also, Senate to vote Wednesday on whether to remove or acquit Trump on impeachment charges, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, Republicans defeat Democratic bids to hear witnesses in Trump impeachment trial, Politico, Kyle Cheney, John Bresnahan, and Andrew Desiderio, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, What we learned at Trump’s trial Friday, Politico, Politico Staff, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, Senate Rejects Witnesses in Trump Impeachment Trial, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Friday, 31 January 2020: “Senate Republicans rejected Democrats’ demands to call new witnesses and documents in President Trump’s impeachment trial, clearing the way for an acquittal on abuse of power and obstruction-of-Congress charges next week. The 51-49 vote late Friday afternoon represented a major victory for Republican leadership, which has sought to complete the trial as quickly as possible and avoid testimony that could be politically damaging. Democrats had spent weeks calling for the Senate to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton and other officials, seeking testimony about Mr. Trump’s efforts to press Ukraine to launch investigations that could benefit him politically.” See also, Impeachment Trial of President Trump, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III, and Mike Hayes, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, Senate impeachment trial: Wednesday acquittal vote scheduled after effort to have witnesses fails, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju, and Lauren Fox, Friday, 31 January 2020. See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Trump can’t be considered acquitted if Senate doesn’t call witnesses in impeachment trial, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Anthony Man, Friday, 31 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that if the Senate votes not to convict President Donald Trump after a trial without witnesses, he can’t really be considered ‘acquitted. I disagree with the idea that he could be acquitted’ if the Senate finishes its proceedings on Friday, Pelosi said in a Deerfield Beach interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. ‘You can’t be acquitted if you don’t have a trial, and you can’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and you don’t have documents.’ Even though he would remain in office ‘he is impeached — forever disgraced.’ Pelosi’s comments came before the Senate was to take up the question of whether to call witnesses.”

Trump Told Bolton in Early May to Help With His Ukraine Pressure Campaign to Extract Damaging Information on Democrats from Ukrainian Officials, Book Says, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 31 January 2020: “More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton. Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense. Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.” See also, A new Bolton revelation ties Trump to Giuliani’s early efforts in Ukraine–and loops in other Trump allies, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 31 January 2020: “New reporting from the New York Times suggests that then-national security adviser John Bolton was asked by President Trump to call Ukraine’s then-president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky to encourage Zelensky to meet with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani. That report, detailed in Bolton’s upcoming book, would be a direct demonstration of Trump leveraging his office to advocate for investigations that would benefit himself personally — as Giuliani himself has indicated. When the New York Times reported last May that Giuliani planned to travel to Ukraine, the president’s lawyer was explicit about what he was seeking. His goal was to encourage Zelensky to investigate alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and allegations centered on former vice president Joe Biden — the two investigations that Trump himself promoted in his call with Zelensky on July 25. Reporting has repeatedly suggested that neither investigation is rooted in demonstrated evidence.”

Trump Administration Adds Six Countries to Travel Ban, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Friday, 31 January 2020: “President Trump on Friday added six countries to his list of nations facing stringent travel restrictions, a move that will virtually block immigration from Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, and from Myanmar, where the Muslim minority is fleeing genocide. Beside Nigeria, three other African countries, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania, will face varying degrees of restrictions, as will one former Soviet state, Kyrgyzstan. Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims could also be caught in the crossfire. All six countries have substantial Muslim populations. The total number of countries now on the restricted travel list stands at 13.” See also, Trump Administration Imposes New Travel Restrictions on Six Countries, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman, Friday, 31 January 2020.

Continue reading Week 159, Friday, 31 January – Thursday, 6 February 2020 (Days 1,107-1,113)

John Kelly says that with no witnesses, the Senate impeachment trial is ‘a job only half done,’ CNN Politics, Kate Sullivan, Friday, 31 January 2020: “Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said Friday if there are no witness testimonies in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump that it is considered ‘a job only half done. If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, “If you don’t respond to 75 percent of the American voters and have witnesses, it’s a job only half done,” Kelly told NJ Advance Media in an interview published Friday. ‘You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities.'” See also, The Senate Can Stop Pretending Now: Lamar Alexander and the end of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, Friday, 31 January 2020: “In the end, it’s no small irony that Trump was saved from embarrassing public testimony against him by one of the last representatives of the Republican establishment that so recently scorned him—and for which the President himself has nothing but scorn. Alexander declined to endorse Trump in 2016, and had previously bucked the President on trade, health care, and his much vaunted border wall. But as Alexander retires, later this year, after decades of service once characterized by bipartisanship, his most decisive final act will have been to do Trump an enormous favor. Alexander’s mentor in politics, Senator Howard Baker, is remembered as the Republican leader who pursued the facts about Richard Nixon during Watergate and demanded answers to the key question of what Nixon knew and when he knew it. Lamar Alexander will not have such an honor. He will go down in history as the Republican senator whose choice at a pivotal moment confirmed the complete and final capitulation of the G.O.P. to the crass New York interloper in the White House.” See also, John Bolton’s Silence: Here’s how he could lawfully break it, Just Security, Jameel Jaffer and Ramya Krishnan, Friday, 31 January 2020: “In the New York Times this morning, we wrote an op-ed that discusses the prepublication review of John Bolton’s memoir and its implications for the ongoing debate about President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold security aid from Ukraine. We argue that the prepublication review system gives the government far too much power to suppress speech that is of value to the public, and that, if the past is any guide, the government is likely to try to exploit this power to delay the publication of Bolton’s book, and to force Bolton to scrub from the book facts that the White House views as inconvenient. The arguments we make about the prepublication review system track the arguments that the Knight Institute and ACLU make in a constitutional challenge pending before a district court in Maryland. As one of us explained on Twitter a few hours ago, however, the fact that Bolton’s book is in the hands of the censors does not mean that Bolton could not share his story with the public now, if he wanted to—or that he could not have shared it last week, when it might have influenced the Senate, or six months ago, when it might have influenced the House.”

When Rudy Giuliani Met With a Top Aide to Ukraine’s President Last Summer, He Discussed the Possibility of a White House Meeting for Ukraine’s President and Also Asked That the Job of the Kyiv Mayor Be Saved. The Kyiv Mayor Is a Longtime Friend and Former Client of Giuliani’s. The New York Times, Ronen Bergman, Anton Troianovski, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Friday, 31 January 2020: “When Rudolph W. Giuliani met with a top aide to Ukraine’s president last summer, he discussed the prospect of a coveted White House meeting for the president while seeking Ukraine’s commitment to certain investigations that could benefit President Trump politically. Mr. Giuliani also threw in a request of his own: help the mayor of Kyiv keep his job. The mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, a professional boxer turned politician and longtime friend and former client of Mr. Giuliani’s, was on the verge of being fired from his duties overseeing Kyiv’s $2 billion budget. Firing Mr. Klitschko would have fit with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s campaign promise to fight Ukraine’s entrenched interests and allowed him to replace a political adversary with a loyalist in one of the country’s most important posts.”

Marie Yovanovitch, the Diplomat at the Center of Trump Impeachment, Retires From State Department, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, Friday, 31 January 2020: “The American ambassador whose abrupt recall from Ukraine helped lead to President Trump’s impeachment has retired from the State Department, a person familiar with her plans confirmed on Friday. Marie L. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat, had been expected to leave the Foreign Service after she was ordered back to Washington from Kyiv, Ukraine, ahead of schedule last spring, accused of being disloyal to Mr. Trump. But documents and testimony later showed that she was the target of a smear campaign for, in part, refusing to grant visas to former Ukrainian officials who were investigating Mr. Trump’s political rivals.” See also, Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Key Figure In Impeachment Trial, Retires, NPR, Vanessa Romo, Friday, 31 January 2020.

New Reports Show That Trump’s Economic Promises Were Empty, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Friday, 31 January 2020: “With the impeachment trial, the coronavirus, and the Iowa caucuses in the news, dry economic statistics aren’t getting much attention right now. But two new reports—the latest gross-domestic-product figures from the Commerce Department and a new set of budget projections from the Congressional Budget Office—shouldn’t be allowed to pass without comment. Indeed, the issues they raise should be central to the 2020 election. The core of Donald Trump’s platform is that his policies have produced what he touts as ‘The Greatest Economy in American History!’ The truth is very different. By enacting a huge tax cut, in late 2017, that was heavily slanted toward corporations and the rich, Trump and the Republicans gave the economy a temporary boost—in 2018, it grew at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent—that has now faded.”

Bernie Sanders’s Surge Owes a Lot to Voters of Color, The New York Times, Giovanni Russonello, Friday, 31 January 2020: “Throughout the 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, one of Senator Bernie Sanders’s greatest weaknesses was his inability to win broad support from voters of color. This year, he has sought to avoid the same outcome, hiring a more diverse staff and seeking to complement his focus on economic inequality with frank conversations about racial justice. And with Mr. Sanders surging days before voting begins with the Iowa caucuses, an intriguing theme has emerged: Much of his momentum, polling shows, owes to the support of nonwhite voters — particularly African-American and Hispanic Democrats.”

Michael Bloomberg Fueled His Campaign With $200 Million From His Fortune, The New York Times, Alexander Burns, Friday, 31 January 2020: “Michael R. Bloomberg put more than $200 million of his personal fortune into his presidential campaign by the end of December, with the overwhelming bulk of that sum going to a mammoth advertising campaign on television and online, according to Mr. Bloomberg’s first campaign finance disclosure with the Federal Election Commission. The filing on Friday is the most detailed description yet of how Mr. Bloomberg has deployed his personal fortune in a quest for the presidency that only started in late November. Since then, Mr. Bloomberg has climbed into the high single digits in national polls, largely on the strength of an onslaught of campaign commercials with no precedent in Democratic politics.”

 

Saturday, 1 February 2020, Day 1,108:

 

Trump administration reveals it’s blocking dozens of emails about Ukraine aid freeze, including Trump’s role, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Saturday, 1 February 2020: “The Department of Justice revealed in a court filing late Friday that it has two dozen emails related to President Donald Trump’s involvement in the withholding of millions in security assistance to Ukraine — a disclosure that came just hours after the Senate voted against subpoenaing additional documents and witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial, paving the way for his acquittal. The filing, released near midnight Friday, marks the first official acknowledgment from the Trump administration that emails about the President’s thinking related to the aid exist, and that he was directly involved in asking about and deciding on the aid as early as June. The administration is still blocking those emails from the public and has successfully kept them from Congress. A lawyer with the Office of Management and Budget wrote to the court that 24 emails between June and September 2019 — including an internal discussion among DOD officials called ‘POTUS follow-up’ on June 24 — should stay confidential because the emails describe ‘communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President’s immediate advisors regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine.'” See also, Justice Department acknowledges 24 emails reveal Trump’s thinking on Ukraine, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Saturday, 1 February 2020: “Hours after the Senate voted against seeking new evidence in the impeachment case against President Trump, the administration acknowledged the existence of two dozen emails that could reveal the president’s thinking about withholding military aid to Ukraine. In a midnight court filing, the Justice Department explained why it shouldn’t have to unredact copies of more than 100 emails written by officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department about the hold on funds to Ukraine. Heather Walsh, an OMB lawyer, wrote that of the 111 redacted emails in the lawsuit, 24 are protected by ‘presidential privilege.'”

Trump’s Inevitable Acquittal and the Threat to U.S. Democracy: In Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans have given him a pass on another wanton abuse of power, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Saturday, 1 February 2020: “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, was as good as his word. ‘I’m not an impartial juror,’ he said in December, weeks before the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump was under way. ‘This is a political process. There’s not anything judicial about it.’ At about the same time, McConnell explained his preparations for the trial to Fox News: ‘Everything I do during this I’m coördinating with the White House counsel,’ he said. ‘There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this, to the extent that we can.’ On Friday evening, after the Senate had ruled out calling witnesses by a vote of 51–49, McConnell could rest assured that the ‘political process’ had played out as he planned. Despite the brouhaha over the Times’s scoop about John Bolton’s new book, only two Republicans—Susan Collins and Mitt Romney—had defected. So McConnell called Trump to finalize his plan for bringing the trial to an end on Wednesday, with a vote on acquittal. ‘They discussed the details and POTUS signed off, per source,’ Phil Mattingly, of CNN, reported. Think about that for a moment. The Republican Party is now so utterly cowed by Trump that it wasn’t enough for its representatives in the Senate—who swore an oath to administer ‘impartial justice’—to overlook the mountain of evidence against the President and to refuse to hear from witnesses who could offer firsthand testimony. The Senate Majority Leader also felt obliged to call the President and seek his approval for extending the trial, the outcome of which is now absolutely certain, for a paltry few days.”

While Stained in History, Trump Will Emerge From Trial Triumphant and Unshackled, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 1 February 2020: “Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at a king,’ Emerson famously said, ‘you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down. With the end of the impeachment trial now in sight and acquittal assured, a triumphant Mr. Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail. The president’s Democratic adversaries rolled out the biggest constitutional weapon they had and failed to defeat him, or even to force a full trial with witnesses testifying to the allegations against him. Now Mr. Trump, who has said that the Constitution ‘allows me to do whatever I want’ and pushed so many boundaries that curtailed past presidents, has little reason to fear the legislative branch nor any inclination to reach out in conciliation….  Impeachment will always be a stain on Mr. Trump’s historical record, a reality that has stung him in private, according to some close to him. But he will be the first president in American history to face voters after an impeachment trial and that will give him the chance to argue for the next nine months that his enemies have spent his entire presidency plotting against him to undo the 2016 election.”

Des Moines Register Poll of Iowa Caucusgoers Is Abruptly Shelved, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Jonathan Martin, and Michael M. Grynbaum, Saturday, 1 February 2020: “A highly anticipated poll of Iowa Democrats, set to be released two days before the presidential caucuses, was shelved on Saturday night because of concerns about irregularities in the methodology. The apparent problem, raised by aides to Pete Buttigieg, prompted CNN to cancel an hourlong special organized to release the results of their survey, conducted with The Des Moines Register. The results were held back after the Buttigieg campaign said that an Iowa supporter received a poll phone call from an operator working for the polling operation, but that the name of the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., was not listed on the menu of options…. The survey, published by The Des Moines Register for 76 years, is considered the gold standard for polling in the notoriously hard-to-predict state and is carefully watched as an early indicator of strength in the caucuses.”

How Will the Winner of the Iowa Caucuses Be Chosen? Here’s What You Should Know. The New York Times, Maggie Astor and Matt Stevens, Saturday, 1 February 2020: “Once upon a time, the winner of the Iowa caucuses was obvious to everyone. For years, after the chaos ended at 1,600 precincts, the Iowa Democratic Party reported one set of results: the number of state delegates each candidate had secured. Whoever had the most was the winner. The same is true this year. But there are new wrinkles that might confuse things a bit on Monday night. Instead of the usual one result, the Democratic Party will report three sets of results: a projection of delegate totals (state delegate equivalents, often called S.D.E.s), the raw vote totals at the beginning of the caucuses (the first alignment), and the final totals after nonviable candidates, or those who did not receive 15 percent support at a precinct, have been eliminated and their supporters have chosen another candidate or decided to sit it out (the final alignment).”

 

Sunday, 2 February 2020, Day 1,109:

 

Republicans’ Emerging Defense: Trump’s Actions Were Bad, but Not Impeachable, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Sunday, 2 February 2020: “Even as they are set to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial this week, Senate Republicans appear to be increasingly breaking with his defense that he did nothing wrong. On Sunday, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who was a key vote against calling witnesses in the Senate trial, expanded upon his criticism that Mr. Trump was ‘crossing the line’ in his pressure campaign against Ukraine. And Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who has remained a reliable defender of the president during his trial, called his actions ‘not what I would have done.’ A day before the first contest of the 2020 election, two days before Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address and three days before his expected acquittal, they and other Republicans appeared to be coalescing around a more nuanced argument: Mr. Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine into investigating a political rival while withholding critical military aid might not have been appropriate. But that did not warrant the president’s removal from office for the first time in American history.” See also, Some Senate Republicans acknowledge that Trump was wrong to pressure Ukraine for his own political benefit, but they defend their decision to bar new evidence as Trump acquittal vote nears, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Rachael Bade, Sunday, 2 February 2020.

Democrats Make Final Appeals in a Cloudy 2020 Iowa Caucus Race, The New York Times, Alexander Burns, Sunday, 2 February 2020: “The Democratic presidential candidates pleaded with voters in Iowa for their last-minute consideration on Sunday, competing with the Super Bowl for caucusgoers’ attention and straining against an atmosphere of unusual uncertainty and indecision among Democrats ahead of the first-in-the-nation nominating contest. The cancellation on Saturday night of a final pre-caucus poll from The Des Moines Register and CNN, because of a survey error, frustrated campaigns that had come to depend on the poll as a reliable omen of caucus results. But strategists for several campaigns said there was a deepening sense that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had an advantage ahead of Monday’s contest.”

A Simple Reason Trump Does What He Does. Because he can. The New York Times, David Leonhardt, Sunday, 2 February 2020: “It wasn’t the most notorious part of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, but it was the most revealing: ‘And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.’ Donald Trump was talking in 2005 to Billy Bush, then a host of the celebrity-news program ‘Access Hollywood.’ It was hardly a private moment. They were wearing microphones and surrounded by a camera crew. Before their interview began, Trump explained how he liked to ‘move’ on women, kissing them without their permission and grabbing their genitalia. In the more than three years since the tape emerged, it’s become clear that the you-can-do-anything line wasn’t only describing Trump’s attitude toward women. It was describing his attitude toward everything: If you’re rich, famous or powerful, you can get away with much more than most people understand. You just do it. You don’t need to worry about ethical niceties or even, sometimes, the law. You use your advantages to bulldoze any obstacles. For anyone trying to make sense of the impeachment trial, this attitude is central. It’s why Trump pressured Ukraine to conduct a smear campaign in the first place: Because he could. And it’s how Trump organized his defense in the Senate. His lawyers offered a brazenly inconsistent series of arguments, from ‘He did nothing wrong’ to ‘There was no quid prod quo’ to ‘There were no witnesses to the quid pro quo’ to, finally, ‘If a president does it, it’s O.K.’ You could almost hear the echo of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape in the Senate last week: When you’re president, you can do anything.”

New U.S. Travel Ban Shuts Door on Africa’s Biggest Economy, Nigeria, The New York Times, Ruth Maclean and Abdi Latif Dahir, Sunday, 2 February 2020: “A year after the Trump administration announced that a major pillar of its new strategy for Africa was to counter the growing influence of China and Russia by expanding economic ties to the continent, it slammed the door shut on Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy. The travel restrictions also apply to three other African countries — Sudan, Tanzania, and Eritrea — as well as to Myanmar, which is accused of genocide against its Muslim population, and Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state. The ban will prevent thousands of people from being able to move to the United States.”

 

Monday, 3 February 2020, Day 1,110:

 

Delays Mar Iowa Caucuses as Democrats Start Nominating Process, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Monday, 3 February 2020: “A night that was supposed to bring clarity to the Democratic presidential contest turned into a long ordeal of confusion and delays on Monday, as the Iowa Democratic Party failed to report results from more than a handful of precincts for hours after the state’s famed caucuses began. Struggling to adopt a new byzantine process of tabulating results, Iowa Democrats offered little explanation for the problem for hours after the caucuses began. Eventually, in a 1 a.m. conference call with reporters, Troy Price, the Iowa Democratic Party chairman, said results would not begin to be released until sometime on Tuesday. He said the problem was a reporting issue and stressed it was not a hack.” See also, Delayed Results Lead to Confusion in Iowa, The New York Times, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, App Used to Tabulate Votes in Iowa Is Said to Have Been Inadequately Tested, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Sheera Frenkel, and Nicole Perlroth, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, Iowa caucuses descend into chaos as delay leaves outcome uncertain, The Washington Post, Matt Viser and Toluse Olorunnipa, published on Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “The long-anticipated Iowa caucuses turned into a debacle Monday night when technical problems delayed the results, prompting presidential candidates to depart before the outcome was clear, spurring one campaign to challenge the integrity of the process and producing a muddled situation instead of what Democratic leaders hoped would be a decisive beginning to their attempt to oust President Trump.” See also, An epic breakdown in Iowa casts a spotlight on the caucus system, The Washington Post, Dan Balz, published on Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, ‘It’s a total meltdown’: Confusion grips Iowa with no official results in sight, Politico, Natasha Korecki, Alex Thompson, and David Siders, Monday, 3 February 2020.

Democrats and White House Rest Cases as Impeachment Sputters Toward a Verdict, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, Monday, 3 February 2020: “In their final appeals in President Trump’s impeachment trial, House Democrats argued on Monday that he had corrupted the presidency and would continue to put American interests at risk if the Senate failed to remove him from office. Mr. Trump’s defenders, denouncing the case against him, said he had done nothing wrong and should be judged by voters…. The Democratic impeachment managers, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, warned that Mr. Trump had tried to rig the 2020 election in his favor — by withholding military aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to investigate his political rivals — and had put a blot on the presidency that would stain those who failed to stand up to him. Calling the president ‘a man without character or ethical compass,’ Mr. Schiff insisted that now was the time for members of his own party to choose between normalizing corruption or removing it. ‘Truth matters to you. Right matters to you,’ Mr. Schiff said, making a case aimed at Republicans. ‘You are decent. He is not who you are.'” See also, 5 Takeaways From Trump’s Impeachment Trial on Monday, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, The Day in Impeachment: Senators Hear Closing Arguments, The New York Times, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, House prosecutors and Trump’s team offer competing arguments to a Senate that has largely decided on the verdict, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Mike DeBonis, and Robert Costa, Monday, 3 February 2020: “Arguments for and against President Trump’s ouster ended Monday in the Senate impeachment trial, with the House managers calling the president a danger to democracy because of his actions toward Ukraine and Trump’s legal team arguing that impeachment, not Trump’s conduct, is the real threat…. House manager Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) argued that senators who believe Trump will change in his approach to the presidency are mistaken. ‘He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less and decency matters not at all,’ Schiff said.” See also, House managers argue that senators have a ‘duty’ to remove Trump from office. Senator Manchin calls for censure. The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Brittany Shammas, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, calls for censuring Trump over pressuring Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival, The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, Democrats and Trump’s Team Make Final Arguments in Impeachment Trial, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, Trump impeachment trial: Democrats warn Trump ‘will do it again’ if he is acquitted, The Guardian, Tom McCarthy, Monday, 3 February 2020: “Warning that ‘history will not be kind to Donald Trump,’ the Democratic representative Adam Schiff mounted an impassioned closing argument in the Senate impeachment trial on Monday, urging the chamber to hold the president to account…. ‘History will not be kind to Donald Trump,’ Schiff said. ‘I think we all know that. And if you find that the House has proved his case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel for all of history.'” See also, Impeachment trial of President Trump, CNN Politics, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, Monday, 3 February 2020. See also, Here’s what we learned at Trump’s trial on Monday, Politico, Monday, 3 February 2020.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Says Democrats Have ‘Pulled Back a Veil’ on Trump’s ‘Unacceptable’ Behavior, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Monday, 3 February 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi always knew impeachment would end this way: with the acquittal of President Trump. Now that it is all but over — and Mr. Trump is about to march onto her home turf, the Capitol, for his inevitable victory lap at his State of the Union address on Tuesday night — Ms. Pelosi must reckon with what she has wrought. Her Republican detractors say she put moderate Democrats in political peril and weakened the House inquiry by failing to wage a prolonged legal fight to obtain critical testimony that the president was blocking. And Republicans gloat that the failed attempt at removing Mr. Trump has only made him more politically powerful, energizing voters to rally behind a president who survived the ultimate effort to take him down. But Democrats argue that Ms. Pelosi won by losing, setting the stage for an election that is not only about the kitchen table issues that carried them to the majority in 2018, but also about exposing the president as unfit for office — and Republicans as complicit in his misbehavior. In an interview Monday, Ms. Pelosi said Democrats had forced Republicans to do what Mr. Trump never has: Admit that he was wrong to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. ‘I think that we have pulled back a veil of behavior totally unacceptable to our founders, and that the public will see this with a clearer eye, an unblurred eye,’ she said, adding: ‘Whatever happens, he has been impeached forever. And now these senators, though they don’t have the courage to assign the appropriate penalty, at least are recognizing that he did something wrong.'”

Justice Department releases more Mueller documents to CNN and BuzzFeed, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen, Sara Murray, Kara Scannell, and Em Steck, Monday, 3 February 2020: “The Justice Department has released another 300 pages of notes from major witness interviews in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The documents, include memos — called 302s by the FBI — from top administration and campaign witnesses Jared KushnerAndrew McCabe, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen and Steve Bannon. This is the fifth time CNN has gotten documents like these from the Justice Department regarding the Mueller investigation, as part of a lawsuit in conjunction with BuzzFeed News. So far, the previous releases have fleshed out details that Mueller summarized in his final report regarding the actions of President Donald Trump and his campaign. The memos have revealed, for instance, how top Trump campaign officials witnessed the President and other Trump campaign officials pushing for the release of stolen Democratic emails and supported a conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the Democrats in 2016. The memos were typed up by agents or prosecutors after they questioned each witness. The Justice Department has kept many of the memos heavily redacted as they continue to release them this year.”

White House excludes CNN from annual pre-SOTU lunch with news anchors, CNN Business, Brian Stelter, Monday, 3 February 2020: “President Donald Trump’s targeting of CNN is moving to yet another arena: The annual presidential lunch with television network anchors. CNN anchors are being excluded from Tuesday’s lunch, three sources said on Monday night. Trump, like presidents before him, typically invites anchors from all the major networks to dine with him at the White House in advance of his State of the Union address. The lunch conversation is considered off the record, but it gives the anchors a sense of the president’s state of mind before they anchor SOTU coverage. ‘Despite Trump’s persistent attacks on the news media, he’s kept up such traditions,’ Politico pointed out last year.”

The Last Time Democracy Almost Died: Learning from the upheaval of the nineteen-thirties, The New Yorker, Jill Lepore, published in the print edition on Monday, 3 February 2020.

 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020, Day 1,111:

 

Iowa Democrats Release Partial Caucus Results, but No Winner Yet, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Shane Goldmacher, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “Democratic officials in Iowa on Tuesday provided a measure of clarity to the muddled outcome of its statewide caucuses, releasing a delayed first wave of partial results that showed Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders with a preliminary lead and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. falling well behind the other top-tier candidates. The release of the partial data, which accounted for 71 percent of caucus precincts, came after a night and day of suspense, confusion and silence from the Iowa Democratic Party after major problems with its new results reporting system. Even as the party began preparing to release the partial results on Tuesday afternoon, it drew sharp criticism from several campaigns that wanted a complete result, either to have a definitive outcome or frame their Iowa performance in the best possible light.” See also, ‘A Systemwide Disaster’: How the Iowa Caucuses Melted Down, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Nick Corasaniti, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, Faulty Iowa App Was Part of Push to Restore Democrats’ Digital Edge, The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg, Nick Corasaniti, Sheera Frenkel, and Nicole Perlroth, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, Here’s a List of Some of the Things That Went Wrong at the Iowa Caucuses, The New York Times, Lauren Leatherby, Lazaro Gamio, and Keith Collins, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, The Only Safe Election Is a Low-Tech Election, The New York Times, Kevin Roose, Tuesday, 4 February 2020.  See also, First set of Iowa Democratic caucus results shows Sanders and Buttigieg leading, The Washington Post, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “In an early Iowa caucus vote count, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a slight popular-vote lead, while former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg led in a measure of state delegates. With 62 percent of precincts counted, Sanders earned 26 percent of the popular vote; Buttigieg hit 25. By both measures, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was in third place with 20 percent of the vote, and former vice president Joe Biden placed fourth at 13 percent. The results were released nearly a day after the caucuses were held, thanks to widespread reporting issues. The Iowa Democratic Party blamed inconsistencies in reporting for the delay.” See also, 6 takeaways from the early Iowa caucus results, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, The 2020 Iowa caucuses, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner, Amanda Wills, Veronica Rocha, and Mike Hayes, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, Buttigieg and Sanders Take Lead as Iowa Results Remain in Flux, The Wall Street Journal, John McCormick, Julie Bykowicz, and Chad Day, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, New Details Show How Deeply Iowa Caucus App Developer Was Embedded in Democratic Establishment, The Intercept, Lee Fang, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “Democratic operative Tara McGowan is denying that her high-profile liberal firm ACRONYM played a role in the Monday evening caucus debacle, claiming that her firm was merely an investor in the company Shadow Inc., which developed the app at the center of the controversy. But internal company documents, a source close to the firms, and public records show a close and intertwined relationship between Acronym and Shadow. In addition, ahead of the caucuses, questions swirled inside Shadow over the company’s ability to deliver a quality product, and there was concern from at least one staff member that senior leaders of Shadow and Acronym — both of which were launched as a new Democratic bulwark against President Donald Trump — have been far from neutral in the Democratic primary.” See also, Chaos in Iowa shines spotlight on a start-up called Shadow, made up of campaign and technology veterans who have worked for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Apple, and Google, Financial Times, Tim Bradshaw and Demetri Sevastopulo, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “The delayed result from the Iowa Democratic caucus in the US has put the spotlight on a start-up called Shadow, which is part of a wider effort by veterans of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign to boost the party’s use of technology. A number of precincts in Iowa had problems reporting their vote count through an app built by Shadow, and a back-up plan to report counts by phone was delayed when call centre lines were inundated.  The Iowa Democratic Party on Tuesday blamed the issue on a ‘coding issue in the reporting system.’ ‘While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data,’ said Troy Prince, the Iowa Democratic Party chair.  But several of the precinct chairs also reported problems with the app’s authentication process, as well as poor mobile-internet coverage and a lack of tech-savvy among some users…. Shadow is closely linked to Acronym, a new non-profit backed by big names from Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Hollywood, which hopes to help the Democrats counter President Donald Trump’s formidable army of online supporters with greater digital marketing savvy.  Acronym was founded in March 2017 by Tara McGowan, a former journalist turned digital marketer in the Democrats’ 2016 presidential campaign….  Acronym’s use of voter data to power sophisticated digital advertising, as well as create Democrat-friendly ‘news’ stories through social media in swing states, has generated both admiration and controversy among US liberals.  According to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign financing, the biggest donors to Acronym’s Super PAC include hedge fund managers Seth Klarman of Baupost Group and Donald Sussman of Paloma Funds; Michael Moritz, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital; and Ken Duda, an executive at Arista Networks, a provider of networking technology. Its supporters in Hollywood include star directors and producers JJ Abrams, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, and actor Kate Capshaw.”

Iowa Might Have Screwed Up the Whole Nomination Process, FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “In trying to build a forecast model of the Democratic primaries, we literally had to think about the entire process from start (Iowa) to finish (the Virgin Islands on June 6). Actually, we had to do more than that. Since the nomination process is sequential — states vote one at a time rather than all at once — we had to determine, empirically, how much the results of one state can affect the rest. The answer in the case of Iowa is that it matters a lot. Despite its demographic non-representativeness, and the quirks of the caucuses process, the amount of media coverage the state gets makes it far more valuable a prize than you’d assume from the fact that it only accounts for 41 of the Democrats’ 3,979 pledged delegates. More specifically, we estimate — based on testing how much the results in various states have historically changed the candidates’ position in national polls — that Iowa was the second most-important date on the calendar this year, trailing only Super Tuesday. It was worth the equivalent of almost 800 delegates, about 20 times its actual number.”

Biden’s poor showing in Iowa shakes establishment support, Associated Press, Bill Barrow and Brian Slodysko, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Joe Biden’s third presidential bid enters a critical stretch after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses sent the former vice president on to New Hampshire with a skittish donor base, low cash reserves and the looming threat of billionaire rival Michael Bloomberg and his unlimited personal wealth. In New Hampshire on Tuesday, Biden insisted he had a ‘good night’ in Iowa even as he trailed the top moderate candidate, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and the leading progressive, Bernie Sanders, according to initial returns from 71% of precincts. Biden was running fourth, close to Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who just days ago polled in single digits. That leaves some establishment Democrats, including some Biden supporters, questioning his contention that he’ll reclaim clear front-runner status in the race against President Donald Trump once the primary fight moves beyond overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire to more racially diverse electorates. And it’s a reminder of how Biden’s previous presidential campaigns never advanced beyond Iowa.”

In His State of the Union Address Trump Claims End of ‘American Decline’ While Avoiding Mention of Impeachment, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “President Trump claimed credit for a “great American comeback” in a speech to Congress on Tuesday night, boasting of a robust economy, contrasting his successes with the records of his predecessors and projecting optimism in the face of a monthslong Democratic effort to force him from office…. On the eve of a Senate vote expected to acquit him, Mr. Trump never mentioned the impeachment inquiry that has threatened his presidency and consumed Washington. But his interactions on Tuesday night with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who started the investigation by Democrats that has forever stained his legacy, underscored the deep bitterness between them. As he arrived at the rostrum, Mr. Trump turned to hand copies of his speech to Ms. Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. But when Ms. Pelosi offered her hand to shake, the president pointedly turned away without taking it.” See also, Six Takeaways From Trump’s State of the Union Address, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Trump and Pelosi Exchange Snubs at the State of the Union Address, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “He declined to shake her outstretched hand. She omitted his ceremonial introduction and ripped up her copy of his speech.” See also, Full Transcript: Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address, The New York Times, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Fact-Checking Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address and the Democratic Response, The New York Times, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, Assured of Acquittal, Trump Makes Case for a Second Term in His State of the Union Address, The New York Times, Peter Baker, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “The defendant finally showed up to have his say. President Trump never uttered the word impeachment, but in a 78-minute speech to the nation that combined a celebration of the American economy, hard-edge policy pronouncements and reality show-style surprises for the audience, he made the case for his presidency as only he could. It was not a case that persuaded Democrats, who remained seated stonily during the applause lines, shaking their heads and rolling their eyes, but it was not meant to. Assured of acquittal in the Senate trial on Wednesday, Mr. Trump moved past preserving his first term and focused on securing a second with an argument aimed at both his political base and dubious suburban voters. It had a surreal quality, a president on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors addressing lawmakers in the same House chamber where he was impeached just seven weeks ago.” See also, State of the Union Updates: Trump Adds Reality Show Flourishes to His Address, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, Trump’s Reality-TV State of the Union Argues for Another Season, The New York Times, James Poniewozik, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “It’s no secret that Donald Trump, just months before he ran for the job of most powerful man in the world, was hosting Season 7 of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’ But not all his TV appearances as president have been as reality-fied as one might have expected, especially his sedatefrom-the-TelePrompTer State of the Union speeches. The TV president made up for that Tuesday night with a dumbfounding, stunt-laden spectacle, less a presidential address than an ‘Apprentice’ finale wrapped in an Oprah episode stuffed inside a viral YouTube video and dropped into the middle of a WrestleMania match.” See also, Democrats Boycott and Walk Out of Trump’s State of the Union Address, Democracy Now!, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Amid the chaos in Iowa and President Trump’s expected acquittal today in his impeachment trial, Trump gave the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night. During his 78-minute speech, Trump made his case for re-election while touting the economy, trying to stoke fear and xenophobia about ‘criminal aliens,’ and calling public schools ‘government’ schools. A number of Democratic lawmakers protested his address. Michigan Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, Ohio Congressmember Tim Ryan, New Jersey Congressmember Bill Pascrell and Massachusetts Congressmember Seth Moulton all walked out of Trump’s speech. Others didn’t attend at all, including New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Congressmember Ayanna Pressley, Texas Congressmember Al Green, Georgia Congressmember Hank Johnson, Tennessee Congressmember Steve Cohen, Oregon Congressmember Earl Blumenauer, Florida Congressmember Frederica Wilson, Mississippi Congressmember Bennie Thompson, Illinois Congressmember Bobby Rush and California Congressmember Maxine Waters. Democratic congressmembers who did attend the speech also broke into chants of ‘H.R. 3’ when Trump spoke about lowering drug prescription prices. H.R. 3 is a House-passed bill that would require Medicare to negotiate for lower prices on insulin and other life-saving medications. Trump refused to shake House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s hand. She later ripped up a copy of his speech after he finished speaking. Speaker Nancy Pelosi: ‘It was a manifesto of mistruths.’ During Trump’s speech, the father of one of the victims of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, was thrown out, after he shouted about his daughter Jaime’s death. Fred Guttenberg was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s guest at the State of the Union. He interrupted Trump’s speech when Trump touted his pro-gun positions. And Melania Trump bestowed the Medal of Freedom on right-wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who has spread racist conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama, among other racist lies.” See also, In His State of the Union Address, Trump Celebrates Hate and Xenophobia While Touting ‘Great American Comeback,’ Democracy Now!, published and broadcast on Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Trump touts economy, immigration policies, and foreign relations in his State of the Union address as the Senate impeachment vote nears, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Mike DeBonis, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “President Trump made a prime-time appeal Tuesday night for the success of his divisive and turbulent stewardship, projecting confidence that a strong economy and a reset of U.S. standing in the world has put the nation on the right path. Trump faced his Democratic adversaries as the Republican-controlled Senate is expected Wednesday to acquit him of House charges that he abused power and sought to obstruct Congress.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls Trump’s State of the Union address a ‘pack of lies’ amid Democratic frustration, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi privately told Democrats on Wednesday that President Trump’s State of the Union address was a ‘pack of lies’ and she felt ‘very liberated’ ripping up the pages of his speech on national television.” See also, Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, annotated,The Washington Post, Amber Phillips and Kristina Orrego, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shreds Trump’s speech, capping a tumultuous year in Washington, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Fact-checking Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Sarah Cahlan, Tuesday, 4 February 2020. See also, Rush Limbaugh awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “Limbaugh has been one of the most divisive figures in broadcasting, accused of racist and sexist remarks. He promoted the debunked birther claim that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States.” See also, Rush Limbaugh now has a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Here are just 20 of the outrageous things he has said. CBS News, Jason Silverstein, published on Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “He’s been called ‘the most dangerous man in America.’ Now he has America’s highest civilian honor. At his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh — with first lady Melania Trump giving Limbaugh the medal right there, on the spot…. Mr. Trump’s decision drew fierce blowback from critics who pointed to Limbaugh’s decades of bigoted rhetoric and spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation on his show…. It’s safe to assume Limbaugh is the only Medal of Freedom recipient who publicly compared black athletes to thugs, mocked a celebrity for having Parkinson’s disease and suggested that smoking and an impending hurricane weren’t really that dangerous. Here is just a sampling of some of Limbaugh’s most controversial comments in a career culminating with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.” See also, In Honoring Rush Limbaugh, Trump Celebrated Racial Division, The New Yorker, David Remnick, published on Thursday, 6 February 2020: “How does a racist run for reëlection? Even more complicated, how does a candidate ‘consolidate the base’ and, at the same time, lure just enough voters of color to make a difference in a close Presidential race?… Limbaugh is sixty-nine and, as he just announced on his daily radio program, has been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. Empathy is due to anyone who is suffering. But not high honors, not a celebration of a life’s work devoted to the mockery and derision of the Other. For the President of the United States to bestow one of the nation’s highest laurels on Limbaugh is a morally corrosive and politically cynical act. It is a kind of assault on the achievements of so many previous award winners, a list that includes Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Václav Havel, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis. It is appalling to see Rush Limbaugh’s name listed alongside theirs.”

Why Democratic Women Wore White at the State of the Union Address, The New York Times, Karen Zraick, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “House Democratic women donned all-white outfits to celebrate the suffragists during the State of the Union address on Tuesday, in a nod to the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which forbade states from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex.”

Maine Senator Susan Collins Announces She Will Vote to Acquit Trump, Calling His Conduct ‘Wrong,’ The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei and Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said on Tuesday that she would vote to acquit President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, calling his conduct ‘wrong’ but saying she could not support removing him from office.” See also, Impeachment trial of President Trump, CNN Politics, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, Tuesday, 4 February 2020.

US adds ‘low yield’ nuclear weapon to its submarine arsenal, Associated Press, Robert Burns, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “The U.S. military has deployed a new addition to its nuclear arsenal — a long-range missile armed with a nuclear warhead of reduced destructive power. The so-called low-yield missile joins other, more powerful weapons aboard stealthy submarines prowling the oceans. The debut deployment aboard long-range submarines, known as boomers, is a landmark in U.S. nuclear weapons policy. It is the first major addition to the strategic nuclear arsenal in recent decades and is a departure from the Obama administration’s policy of lessening dependence on nuclear weapons in pursuit of a nuclear-free world. In confirming the missile deployment to The Associated Press, the Pentagon’s top policy official asserted that the weapon makes Americans safer by making nuclear war less likely. Critics, including some Democrats in Congress, call it a dangerous excess that increases the risk of war.” See also, US military deploys new type of nuclear weapon seen as key to countering Russia, CNN Politics, Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr, and Zachary Cohen, Tuesday, 4 February 2020.

Why You May Never Learn the Truth About Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): The National Archives is letting millions of documents, including many related to immigrants’ rights, be destroyed or deleted, The New York Times, Matthew Connelly, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “Last month the National Archives found itself in the middle of a firestorm after it put a doctored photograph of the Women’s March on Washington on display. Even if the photo was not part of the National Archives’ own collection, the exhibit distorted history, and David S. Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, soon apologized. This was only the latest example — and hardly the most important — of a great and growing threat to our nation’s capacity to protect and learn from history. The press and the public have focused on the immediate, obvious problems, like this president’s exaggerated claims of executive privilege and national security to conceal information. But less appreciated is the fact that vital information is actually being deleted or destroyed, so that no one — neither the press and government watchdogs today, nor historians tomorrow — will have a chance to see it. President Trump has long made it a practice to tear up his papers and throw them away. It is a clear violation of the Presidential Records Act, which is supposed to prevent another Watergate-style cover-up. Workers in the White House records management office who used to tape these records together say they were fired without explanation. In 2017, a normally routine document released by the archives, a records retention schedule, revealed that archivists had agreed that officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could delete or destroy documents detailing the sexual abuse and death of undocumented immigrants. Tens of thousands of people posted critical comments, and dozens of senators and representatives objected. The National Archives made some changes to the plan, but last month it announced that ICE could go ahead and start destroying records from Mr. Trump’s first year, including detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and shoddy medical care. It’s not just ICE. The Department of the Interior and the National Archives have decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections and the safety of drinking water. The department even claimed that papers from a case where it mismanaged Native American land and assets — resulting in a multibillion-dollar legal settlement — would be of no interest to future historians (or anyone else).”

The Money Behind Trump’s Money: The inside story of Trump and Deutsche Bank, his lender of last resort, The New York Times Magazine, David Enrich, Tuesday, 4 February 2020: “Last April, congressional Democrats subpoenaed ­Deutsche Bank for its records on Trump, his family members and his businesses. The Trump family sued to block the bank from complying; after two federal courts ruled against the Trumps, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, with oral arguments expected in the spring. State prosecutors, meanwhile, are investigating the bank’s ties with Trump, too. The F.B.I. has been conducting its own wide-­ranging investigation of ­Deutsche Bank, and people connected to the bank told me they have been interviewed by special agents about aspects of the Trump relationship. If they ever become public, the bank’s Trump records could serve as a Rosetta Stone to decode the president’s finances. Executives told me that the bank has, or at one point had, portions of Trump’s personal federal income tax returns going back to around 2011. (­Deutsche Bank lawyers told a federal court last year that the bank does not have those returns; it is unclear what happened to them. The Trump Organization did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) The bank has documents detailing the finances and operations of his businesses. And it has records about internal deliberations over whether and how to do business with Trump — a paper trail that most likely reflects some bank employees’ concerns about potentially suspicious transactions that they detected in the family’s accounts. One reason all these files could be so illuminating is that the bank’s relationship with Trump extended well beyond making simple loans. ­Deutsche Bank managed tens of millions of dollars of Trump’s personal assets. The bank also furnished him with other services that have not previously been reported: providing sophisticated financial instruments that shielded him from risks and outside scrutiny, and making introductions to wealthy Russians who were interested in investing in Western real estate. If Trump cheated on his taxes, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If his net worth is measured in millions, not billions, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know. If he secretly got money from the Kremlin, ­Deutsche Bank would probably know.”

 

Wednesday, 5 February 2020, Day 1,112:

 

Trump Acquitted of Two Impeachment Charges in Near Party-Line Vote, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “After five months of hearings, investigations and revelations about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, a divided United States Senate acquitted him on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress to aid his own re-election, bringing an acrimonious impeachment trial to its expected end. In a pair of votes whose outcome was never in doubt, the Senate fell well short of the two-thirds margin that would have been needed to remove the 45th president. The verdicts came down — after three weeks of debate — almost entirely along party lines, with every Democrat voting “guilty” on both charges and Republicans uniformly voting “not guilty” on the obstruction of Congress charge. Only one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, broke with his party to judge Mr. Trump guilty of abuse of power.” See also, Senator Mitt Romney, Defying the Party He Once Personified, Votes to Convict Trump, The New York Times, Mark Leibovich, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Senator Mitt Romney of Utah never became president, but he earned a new distinction on Wednesday: He will be remembered as the first senator in American history to vote to remove a president of his own party from office. Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, said he expected swift and extreme recrimination from his party for his solitary act of defiance. He was not incorrect.” See also, Full Transcript: Mitt Romney’s Speech Announcing His Vote to Convict Trump, The New York Times, Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Impeachment Trial Updates: Senate Acquits Trump, Ending Historic Trial, The New York Times, Peter Baker, published on Thursday, 6 February 2020. See also, Trump remains in office after Senate votes to acquit impeached president on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “The Senate voted Wednesday to acquit President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, ending a historic Senate trial that was centered on his conduct toward Ukraine but that did not include live witnesses or new documents. One Republican — Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — crossed party lines to join Democrats in voting to convict Trump on the first charge, abuse of power. Trump stonewalled the House impeachment probe, blocking witnesses and denying documents. He stands as the third president to be impeached.” See also, Senator Mitt Romney votes to convict Trump on charge of abuse of power, becoming the lone Republican to break ranks, The Washington Post, Dan Balz and Robert Costa, Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, How Mitt Romney Decided Trump Is Guilty, The Atlantic, Mckay Coppins, Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Senate Acquits Trump on Both Impeachment Articles, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Natalie Andrews, Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Trump acquitted on impeachment charges, ending gravest threat to his presidency, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Andrew Desiderio, and John Bresnahan, Wednesday, 5 February 2020. See also, Senator Mitt Romney denies Trump unanimous Republican support, Politico, Burgess Everett, Wednesday, 5 February 2020.

Beyond the Partisan Fight, a Wealth of Evidence About Trump and Ukraine: Regardless of the Senate’s verdict, the impeachment inquiry, Trump’s own words, and other revelations yield a narrative establishing his involvement in pressuring a foreign government to take actions aimed at his political opponents, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “When all the partisan posturing, parliamentary wrangling and legalistic arguing are stripped away, the impeachment process that dominated Washington for months produced a set of facts that is largely beyond dispute: The president of the United States pressured a foreign government to take actions aimed at his political opponents. As the Senate moved toward acquitting President Trump on Wednesday, even some Republicans stopped trying to defend his actions or dispute the evidence, focusing instead on the idea that his conduct did not deserve removal from office, especially in an election year. Mr. Trump’s ‘behavior was shameful and wrong,’ and ‘his personal interests do not take precedence over those of this great nation,’ Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said on Monday. She went on to declare that she would nonetheless vote to acquit.” See also, The Vote Is Over. Let the Contest Begin. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “President Trump hailed his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial as vindication, but the struggle now moves back to the House, the campaign trail and, ultimately, the voters.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler Says House Will Likely Subpoena John Bolton, NPR, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., says the House expects to continue its investigations into President Trump’s conduct, even after Wednesday’s expected acquittal of Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Speaking with reporters, Nadler says the House ‘will likely’ subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton. Bolton had said he would comply with a Senate subpoena during the impeachment trial, but the Senate voted against calling witnesses. According to published reports, Bolton, in a book manuscript, describes being told by the president that he was withholding aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainian government began an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.”

New emails show Pentagon officials were stunned by White House decision to block Ukraine aid, CNN Politics, Vivian Salama, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Days before the July 2019 call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, US officials were still working to expedite the delivery of Javelin anti-tank missiles to the country, according to emails and other internal documents reviewed by CNN. The new information underscores how the July 18th decision to hold the military aid stunned officials, who had already assessed Ukraine deserved to receive it and were preparing a Javelin missile order as well. The decision reverberated across the government for weeks. Officials grew so concerned over the deferrals by the Office of Management and Budget that they noted the aid was at ‘serious risk,’ and questioned if the move was illegal.”

Witnesses who put their careers on the line during the impeachment inquiry brace for fallout from the Senate trial, CNN Politics, Kylie Atwood, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Deflated, frustrated, apprehensive — with the acquittal of President Donald Trump imminent, diplomats and officials who provided testimony about the administration’s dealings with Ukraine are bracing for a partisan end to the President’s impeachment trial. Some of them are angry at former administration officials, including John Bolton, who failed to come forward and many are worried about what comes next.”

Iowa Democratic Party Begins Releasing Caucus Results, The New York Times, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “New Iowa caucus results released late Tuesday night showed Pete Buttigieg continuing to lead the Democratic field, just ahead of Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren remained in third place, and Joe Biden was a distant fourth. Seventy-one percent of precincts have now reported results…. No further results are expected overnight. It is not clear when the rest of the caucus results will be released, or if the full results would alter the current standings of the candidates. The 71 percent of precincts counted so far are relatively representative of the state, but the margin between Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders is unusually slim. The Associated Press declared late Tuesday that the race remained too early to call.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells Democrats: Trump ‘shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech’ after State of the Union, CNN Politics, Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb, and Clare Foran, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday morning that she ‘shredded’ the President’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night because Trump ‘shredded the truth’ in his address, according to one person in the room. In a dramatic move captured on camera, Pelosi ripped up her copy of the President’s speech after he concluded the annual address to Congress. Earlier in the night, the President appeared to snub the House Speaker by ignoring her attempt at a handshake…. Pelosi cited Trump’s decision to award the Medal of Freedom to conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh in the middle of the speech as an example of how Trump turned the State of the Union into a reality show and campaign speech.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unloads on Trump in private meeting after State of the Union standoff, Politico, Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris, and John Bresnahan, Wednesday, 5 February 2020.

Human Rights Watch report reveals that Hundreds of Salvadorans deported by the US were killed or abused, The Guardian, Nina Lakhani, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “At least 200 Salvadoran migrants and asylum seekers have been killed, raped or tortured after being deported back to El Salvador by the United States government which is turning a blind eye to widely known dangers, a new investigation reveals. Human Rights Watch has documented 138 deported Salvadorans murdered by gang members, police, soldiers, death squads and ex-partners between 2013 and 2019. The majority were killed within two years of deportation by the same perpetrators they had tried to escape by seeking safety in the US. The report, Deported to Danger: United States deportation policies expose Salvadorans to death and abuse, also identifies more than 70 others who were subjected to beatings, sexual assault and extortion – usually at the hand of gangs – or who went missing after being returned.”

Federal Judge Reverses Convictions of Activists Who Left Water for Migrants, The New York Times, Maria Cramer, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Four women who drove into a forbidding desert and left food and water for migrants crossing illegally into the United States were following their religious beliefs, not violating federal laws, a federal judge has ruled, reversing their criminal convictions. Judge Rosemary Márquez of the United District Court in Arizona decided last week in favor of the women, members of the organization No More Deaths, a faith-based group in Tucson that aims to alleviate suffering at the border. ‘The depth, importance and centrality of these beliefs caused defendants to restructure their lives to engage in this volunteer work,’ Judge Márquez said in a 22-page ruling that was released on Monday. She also appeared to rebuke federal prosecutors for trying to argue that leaving behind food and jugs of water in the desert would have the effect of encouraging more migrants to cross the border.”

Trump threatens to veto Puerto Rico earthquake aid package ahead of House vote, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “The White House issued a veto threat Wednesday over a $4.7 billion emergency aid package intended to help Puerto Rico recover from a series of damaging earthquakes. The statement came ahead of a vote planned for Friday in the Democratic-controlled House to pass the aid package. It’s the latest in a series of confrontations between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats over disaster assistance to Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory is still waiting on billions of dollars approved by Congress for recovery from Hurricane Maria more than two years ago, though the administration recently agreed to release some of the money subject to several conditions.”

Democrats Say Trump Is Withholding $823 Million for Clean Energy, Bloomberg Green, Ari Natter, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “The Trump administration is withholding nearly a billion dollars for a clean energy program it has unsuccessfully tried to cut, congressional Democrats said Wednesday, raising the specter of political interference. The unspent funds now amount to $823 million in the Energy Department’s office that provides grants and other financial assistance for alternative energy, electric vehicles and energy efficiency, according to Democrats on the House Science Committee, which is holding a joint subcommittee hearing on the topic. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which has a $2.85 billion budget, was targeted for 80% cuts in the last White House budget request — only to see Congress increase its funding instead. The office has also recently canceled funding of proposed projects and left scores of staffing positions unfilled, said Illinois Democrat Bill Foster.”

The world’s oceans are speeding up, another mega-scale consequence of climate change, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Three quarters of the world’s ocean waters have sped up their pace in recent decades, scientists reported Wednesday, a massive development that was not expected to occur until climate warming became much more advanced. The change is being driven by faster winds, which are adding more energy to the surface of the ocean. That, in turn, produces faster currents and an acceleration of ocean circulation. It’s the latest dramatic finding about the stark transformation of the global ocean — joining revelations about massive coral dieoffs, upheaval to fisheries, ocean-driven melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, increasingly intense ocean heatwaves, and accelerating sea level rise.”

Draft Executive Order Would Give Trump a New Target: Modern Design, The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Robin Pogrebin, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Should every new government building in the nation’s capital be created in the same style as the White House? A draft of an executive order called ‘Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again’ would establish a classical style, inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, as the default for federal buildings in Washington and many throughout the country, discouraging modern design…. [T]he proposed executive order has already drawn fierce opposition from architects who say it would have a dampening effect on architectural thought and give President Trump broad power to make aesthetic appraisals, something critics say he knows nothing about. ‘At the most fundamental level it’s a complete constraint on freedom of expression,’ said Roger K. Lewis, an architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland who has written extensively about design and planning in Washington. ‘This notion that the White House has expertise or knowledge or understanding of architecture and design sufficient to allow them to mandate that all federal buildings be classically styled is absurd.'”

 

Thursday, 6 February 2020, Day 1,113:

 

Trump Hails Acquittal and Lashes Out at His ‘Evil’ and ‘Corrupt’ Opponents, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “President Trump and his Republican allies focused on exacting payback against his political opponents on Thursday after his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, signaling that the conflict that has consumed Washington for months may only escalate rather than recede. Choosing retaliation over reconciliation, Mr. Trump lashed out at Democrats and the one Republican senator who voted for conviction. He turned a prayer breakfast into a launching pad for political attacks and then staged a long, rambling venting session at the White House where he denounced ‘evil’ and ‘crooked’ lawmakers and the ‘top scum’ at the F.B.I. for trying to take him down. Mr. Trump’s team indicated that his desire to turn the tables on his foes may go beyond just tough language. The White House press secretary declared that Democrats ‘should pay for’ impeaching the president, and the Trump administration worked to facilitate a Senate Republican investigation of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the goal of Mr. Trump that was at the heart of his impeachment.” See also, Trump Lashes Out at Impeachment Foes and Pelosi Hits Back, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “President Trump, a day after being acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial, used a National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday to lash out at his political opponents, accusing them of being ‘very dishonest and corrupt people’ who are trying to destroy him and the country.” See also, Trump lambastes his critics as he moves to target perceived enemies over impeachment, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Robert Costa, and Greg Miller, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “President Trump is preparing to push out a national security official who testified against him during the impeachment inquiry after he expressed deep anger on Thursday over the attempt to remove him from office because of his actions toward Ukraine. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — a National Security Council aide who testified during House Democrats’ impeachment hearings — will be informed in the coming days, likely on Friday, by administration officials that he is being reassigned to a position at the Defense Department, taking a key figure from the investigation out of the White House, according to two people familiar with the move who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss personnel decisions.” See also, Trump lashes out at Democrats in cheering his acquittal as Pelosi declares him ‘impeached forever,’ The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “President Trump set off a new phase of political warfare Thursday, taking to the East Room of the White House to lambaste his opponents and praise his defenders during a bizarre and caustic performance celebrating his Senate acquittal that followed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s declaration that he was ‘impeached forever.’ Veering between vitriolic and triumphant in a meandering speech that stretched past an hour, Trump sounded off against ‘vicious and mean’ Democrats and ‘dirty cops’ at the FBI, and he individually acknowledged Republican lawmakers he described as ‘great warriors’ for his cause.” See also, At National Prayer Breakfast about unity, Trump swipes at Senator Mitt Romney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, The Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “President Trump brought his trademark disruptive approach to the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, telling attendees of a gathering meant to promote reconciliation, unity and prayer that his political opponents are “dishonest and corrupt people” and that God is on the side of his supporters.” See also, Trump celebrates Senate acquittal at the White House, expresses no contrition, and calls Democratic leaders ‘vicious and mean,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “President Trump celebrated his Senate acquittal Thursday at a White House event that stretched more than an hour, expressing no contrition and calling Democratic leaders ‘vicious and mean’ while portraying his impeachment as the continuation of scrutiny he has faced since he announced his run for the presidency in 2015.” See also, Trump celebrates end of impeachment with angry, raw, and vindictive 62-minute White House rant, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “He spoke without a teleprompter. He cursed in the East Room. He called the House speaker a ‘horrible person.’ He lorded his power over a room full of deferential Republicans. He mocked a former GOP presidential nominee and his 2016 Democratic rival. He played the victim again and again.” See also, Liberated Trump lets loose in victory speech after acquittal: ‘It was all bullshit,’ Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “For an hour on Thursday, the newly liberated president let loose from the White House, ditching the teleprompters that would typically supply the script for a nationally televised address and excoriating his “vicious as hell” enemies, one-by-one, after becoming just the third president in American history to survive the dire threat of impeachment. There was no remorse, no regrets.” See also, Trump celebrates acquittal and denounces ‘vicious’ political opponents in post-impeachment insult blitz, NBC News, Shannon Pettypiece and Allan Smith, Thursday, 6 February 2020.

Near Tie Between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in Iowa, The New York Times, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Pete Buttigieg’s slim lead in the Iowa caucus results almost entirely evaporated overnight. The Iowa Democratic Party released another batch of results late Wednesday, and with 97 percent of precincts reported, Mr. Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were in a near tie. The position of the other top contenders — Elizabeth Warren in third and Joseph R. Biden Jr. in fourth — has not changed.” See also, Iowa Caucus Results Riddled With Errors and Inconsistencies, The New York Times, Nate Cohn, Josh Katz, Denise Lu, Charlie Smart, Ben Smithgall, and Andrew Fischer, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Results from the Iowa Democratic caucuses were delayed by ‘quality control checks’ on Monday night. Days later, quality control issues have not been resolved. The results released by the Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday were riddled with inconsistencies and other flaws. According to a New York Times analysis, more than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses. In some cases, vote tallies do not add up. In others, precincts are shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the Iowa Democratic Party’s reported results do not match those reported by the precincts. Some of these inconsistencies may prove to be innocuous, and they do not indicate an intentional effort to compromise or rig the result. There is no apparent bias in favor of the leaders Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders, meaning the overall effect on the winner’s margin may be small. But not all of the errors are minor, and they raise questions about whether the public will ever get a completely precise account of the Iowa results.” See also, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez Now Calls for a ‘Surgical’ Recanvass in Iowa, The New York Times, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Less than one-tenth of a percentage point separates Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in Iowa after the Iowa Democratic Party released more results Thursday night. Data is now in from 99 percent of precincts. The latest results are here. Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, tweeted that ‘enough is enough’ and called for the Iowa Democratic Party to ‘immediately begin a recanvass,’ though he later said he wanted only specific precincts re-examined. Here’s what a recanvass would look like. In spite of the confusion, Mr. Sanders declared victory in Iowa on Thursday, after Mr. Buttigieg had already crowned himself the winner on Monday night.” See also, Final Iowa Democratic caucus results show Buttigieg and Sanders on top, The Washington Post, Amy B. Wang, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Three days after the Iowa caucuses, the state Democratic Party at last released all of the results, showing the tightest of races between Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Buttigieg held a narrow lead of 26.2 percent in state delegate equivalents, the traditional metric by which an Iowa winner has been determined. Sanders had 26.1 percent.” See also, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez calls for recanvass in Iowa as national leaders raise new questions about handling of app, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “A top Democratic official said Thursday he had warned Iowa Democrats last month against using an untested app to transmit returns in the Iowa caucuses, whose results were thrown into further disarray as the party’s national leader called for a recanvass. Jim Roosevelt, co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s powerful Rules and Bylaws Committee, said he and a colleague raised concerns over the phone with Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, and that Price assured them the app had been properly vetted…. Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, signaled he was losing patience with the confusion and the Iowa party’s handling of it. ‘Enough is enough,’ Perez tweeted. ‘In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass.’ The state party gave no indication it planned to honor Perez’s demand, instead issuing a statement noting that it is the campaigns that are entitled to request a recanvass. None has so far made such a request, and Sanders and Buttigieg indicated Thursday they would not.”

Buttigieg Campaign Removes Fundraiser Co-Host Jacob Shapiro Who Is Tied to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Contracts, The Daily Beast, Scott Bixby, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “In the closing days of the Iowa campaign, Pete Buttigieg told crowds of supporters and skeptics at town halls across the state that it was critical to the party’s chances in November that voters nominate someone with experience outside of the Washington bubble. Or, as he told an audience in Indianola, someone who lived ‘within jogging distance of the nearest cornfield.’ But Buttigieg’s apparent history-making victory in the Iowa caucuses was still up in the air on Wednesday when he left the New Hampshire campaign trail for a high-dollar fundraiser in New York City, an event hosted by exactly the kind of Washington old-guard pillars that Buttigieg had criticized. The fundraiser in Washington, billed as a ‘Foreign Policy Conversation in D.C.’ on its invitation, was co-hosted by more than 50 of Buttigieg’s supporters and advisers, and included the current and former heads of lobbying firms, military contractors, and fossil-fuel interests—the same kind of figures whose contributions to the former mayor’s campaign have come under attack by his rivals…. One person announced as a co-host, Jacob Shapiro, is the the former president and chief scientist at data firm Giant Oak, the recipient of nearly $45 million in contracts with ICE over the past six years. Giant Oak, founded by former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief of Staff Gary Shiffman, scrapes data from social-media accounts and online on behalf of clients—including ICE—in order to vet and identify immigrants. Immigrant-rights group Mijente has listed Giant Oak alongside better-known companies like Palantir and Amazon as one of ‘the tech and data companies fueling deportations.'”

Ukraine Says the US. Is Holding Up $30M Worth of Guns and Ammo–And It Wants Its Money Back, BuzzFeed News, Christopher Miller, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “At the heart of the impeachment saga that ended on Wednesday in Donald Trump’s acquittal was $391 million in US military assistance for Ukraine that the president ordered be withheld. But that aid package, which was eventually released last September, wasn’t the only US arms transfer meant for the war-torn country that was held up. Several direct commercial sales of arms and ammunition to Ukraine faced significant delays at the same time — and they remain mysteriously frozen months later, BuzzFeed News has learned. Now, after a lengthy wait and down payments in the tens of millions of dollars for the equipment, Kyiv wants its money back.”

White House Confirms Killing of Qaeda Terrorist Leader Qassim al-Rimi, in Yemen, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The United States killed the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, the White House confirmed on Thursday. The confirmation came about a week after The New York Times first reported that the United States believed it had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the Qaeda leader, in January after months of tracing him.”

Treasury Department sent information on Hunter Biden to expanding Republican Senate inquiry, Yahoo!, Luppe B. Luppen, Thursday, 5 February 2020: “The Treasury Department has complied with Republican senators’ requests for highly sensitive and closely held financial records about Hunter Biden and his associates and has turned over ‘evidence of questionable origin’ to them, according to a leading Democrat on one of the committees conducting the investigation. For months, while the impeachment controversy raged, powerful committee chairmen in the Republican-controlled Senate have been quietly but openly pursuing an inquiry into Hunter Biden’s business affairs and Ukrainian officials’ alleged interventions in the 2016 election, the same matters that President Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani unsuccessfully tried to coerce Ukraine’s government to investigate.” See also, Republicans in Senate Press On With Investigation Into Hunter Biden, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Last year, the top Republicans on two Senate committees — the Finance Committee and Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — requested documents from the Treasury Department related to Hunter Biden’s business relationship with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company, as part of an investigation into whether the Obama administration acted improperly to benefit Burisma. The request sought ‘Suspicious Activity Reports’ and other documents involving Mr. Biden and 10 other individuals and companies. A spokeswoman for Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, said that Treasury has complied with the request after stonewalling many requests for information from Democrats pursuing investigations into the White House. Yahoo News first reported that Treasury complied. ‘Applying a blatant double standard, Trump administration agencies like the Treasury Department are rapidly complying with Senate Republican requests — no subpoenas necessary — and producing “evidence” of questionable origin,’ Ashley Schapitl, the spokeswoman, said in a written statement. ‘The administration told House Democrats to go pound sand when their oversight authority was mandatory while voluntarily cooperating with the Senate Republicans’ sideshow at lightning speed.'”

Attorney General William Barr Says Investigations Into 2020 Candidates Must Be Cleared by Top Justice Department Officials and Have His Written Approval, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Wednesday, 5 February 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr issued new restrictions on Wednesday over the opening of politically sensitive investigations, an effort meant to avoid upending the presidential election as the F.B.I. inadvertently did in 2016 when its campaign inquiries shaped the outcome of the race. The order by Mr. Barr, announced in a memo reviewed by The New York Times, comes after a scathing report by the inspector general that showed how F.B.I. agents did not follow protocols and falsified information in their bid to investigate Carter Page, a former Trump campaign associate…. Past attorneys general have said that the department must take extra care with politically sensitive campaign-related investigations in an election year. But Mr. Barr is the first to require that the F.B.I. consult with the Justice Department before opening politically charged investigations.”

Climate Change: It’s a Buzzkill for Bumblebees, Study Finds, The New York Times, Kendra Pierre-Louis and Nadja Popovich, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Behold the humble bumblebee. Hot temperatures linked to climate change, especially extremes like heat waves, are contributing to the decline of these fuzzy and portly creatures, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. Researchers found that bumblebee populations had recently declined by 46 percent in North America and by 17 percent across Europe when compared to a base period of 1901 to 1974. The biggest declines were in areas where temperatures spiked well beyond the historical range, which raises concerns that climate change could increase the risk of extinction for bees, which are already threatened by pesticide use and habitat loss. ‘The scale of this decline is really worrying,’ said Peter Soroye, a doctoral student in biology at the University of Ottawa and lead author of the study. ‘This group of organisms is such a critical pollinator in wild landscapes and agricultural regions.'” See also, Scientists say bumblebees are dying across North America and Europe as the climate warms, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Bumblebee populations in North America and Europe have plummeted as a result of extreme temperatures, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. The number of areas populated by bumblebees has fallen 46 percent in North America and 17 percent in Europe, and the new research found that regions with sharp bee declines also experienced strong variations in climate — and especially higher temperatures and worse heat waves.”

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, national monuments in southern Utah, were once off-limits to development. Now, Trump will auction the right to drill and graze there. The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan and Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The Interior Department finalized plans Thursday to permit drilling, mining and grazing in areas of southern Utah that had once been protected as two national monuments, sparking an outcry from tribal groups and conservationists. The decision comes more than two years after Trump dramatically cut the size of the monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, and is likely to intensify a legal fight over the contested sites. The expanses of wind-swept badlands, narrow slot canyons and towering rock formations are sacred to several Native American nations and prized by scientists and outdoor enthusiasts. Bears Ears contains tens of thousands of cultural artifacts and rare rock art. In the rock layers of Grand Staircase, researchers have unearthed 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils. But the lands also harbor significant amounts of oil, gas and coal that the administration hopes to develop, as well as grazing land valued by local ranchers. The earliest the government could approve new mining claims and other kinds of development is Oct. 1, because of language Congress adopted in a spending bill.” See also, Trump Opens Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Land to Energy Exploration, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The Trump administration on Thursday finalized plans to allow mining and energy drilling on nearly a million acres of land in southern Utah that had once been protected as part of a major national monument. The Interior Department’s release of a formal land-use blueprint for the approximately 861,974 acres of land will allow oil, gas and coal companies to complete the legal process for leasing mines and wells on land that had once been part of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, established by President Bill Clinton. In December 2017, President Trump cut the monument’s acreage about in half, aiming to open the newly unprotected land for drilling and development. At the same time, he removed about a million acres from another Utah monument, Bears Ears. Together, the moves were the largest rollback of public lands protection in United States history. The land carved from the Bears Ears monument, which was established in 2016 by President Barack Obama, has been open for companies to begin the oil and gas leasing process for some time. Because that land had been protected for less than a year, Interior Department officials said, reversal was quick.”

Trump Is Blowing Up Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona to Make Way for the Border Wall, The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Contractors working for the Trump administration are blowing apart a mountain on protected lands in southern Arizona to make way for the president’s border wall. The blasting is happening on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a tract of Sonoran Desert wilderness long celebrated as one of the nation’s great ecological treasures, that holds profound spiritual significance to multiple Native American groups. In a statement to The Intercept, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the blasting began this week and will continue through the end of the month. ‘The construction contractor has begun controlled blasting, in preparation for new border wall system construction, within the Roosevelt Reservation at Monument Mountain in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector,’ the statement said, referring to an area also known as Monument Hill. ‘The controlled blasting is targeted and will continue intermittently for the rest of the month.’ The agency added that it ‘will continue to have an environmental monitor present during these activities as well as on-going clearing activities.’ Rep. Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, told The Intercept that he has zero faith that the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘environmental monitor will do anything to avoid, mitigate, or even point out some of the sacrilegious things that are occurring and will continue to occur, given the way they’re proceeding.'”

Trump has kept controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos on the market. Now its biggest manufacturer is stopping production. The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The main manufacturer of a pesticide used for decades on a wide array of crops, including strawberries, corn and citrus, said Thursday it will stop making the product, which some scientists have said is linked to neurological problems in children. Corteva Agriscience, the nation’s largest producer of chlorpyrifos, said the decision was driven by financial considerations, not safety concerns. ‘It’s a tough decision for us to make, but we don’t feel like it’s viable going forward,’ Susanne Wasson, Corteva’s president of crop protection, said in an interview. ‘It was a business decision.’ The announcement came the same day that California, a leading agricultural state, made it illegal to sell chlorphyrifos. It is one of a growing number of states that have moved to block the pesticide from the market. Corteva noted that demand for the pesticide, which it has sold for more than a half century, is less than 20 percent of what it was at its peak in the 1990s.”

Freeze on Global Entry Enrollment for New Yorkers: What We Know, The New York Times, Azi Paybarah, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that it would temporarily block New Yorkers from enrolling in the Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, which allow prescreened travelers to bypass lengthy lines at airports and border crossings. The change, which takes immediate effect, was made in response to New York’s so-called Green Light Law, federal officials said. As part of that measure, which allows undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, immigration officials were barred from gaining access to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles databases without a court order. If New York amends the law to grant federal officials access to those records, enrollment would be restored, a Homeland Security official said. That seems unlikely. The law’s State Senate sponsor, Luis Sepúlveda, said he and his Democratic colleagues had no intention of revisiting the law. ‘We can’t allow the president to come in and try to bully us,’ he said.” See also, Trump officials threaten to expand retaliation for ‘sanctuary’ policies to more states as New York residents are kicked out of Global Entry, The Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner and Nick Miroff, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The Trump administration expects to kick ‘roughly 175,000 New Yorkers’ out of Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs by the end of this year, and bar other New Yorkers from joining, in retaliation for a state law that limits immigration agents’ access to the state’s driver’s license data, a senior official said Thursday. The administration also threatened to take action against other states that push to limit immigration agents’ access to state-level data. The New York action appears to be one of the Trump administration’s most significant retaliatory moves against ‘sanctuary’ cities and states that limit local cooperation with immigration enforcement. President Trump this week blasted sanctuary jurisdictions during his State of the Union address and pledged to encourage efforts against such ‘deadly practices,’ which he blamed for the murders of U.S. citizens and others and said allow unauthorized immigrants to avoid deportation.” See also, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bans New Yorkers from Global Entry and other programs over state law allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, CNN Politics, Caroline Kelly, Geneva Sands, and Kristina Sgueglia, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The acting secretary of Homeland Security announced Wednesday that New York state residents can no longer participate in certain Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, due to provisions in the state’s new ‘Green Light Law’ supporting undocumented immigrants. The law, which went into effect in December, allows undocumented immigrants to apply for New York driver’s licenses while protecting applicants’ information from immigration enforcement agencies.”

Erasing History: The National Archives Is Destroying Records About Victims of Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Policies, Democracy Now!, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Last month, the National Archives and Records Administration apologized for doctoring a photo of the 2017 Women’s March to remove criticisms of President Trump. The shocking revelation that the agency had altered the image was first reported in The Washington Post. In an exhibit called ‘Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,’ the National Archives had displayed a large image of the first Women’s March. But signs referencing Trump had been blurred to remove his name — including a poster reading ‘God Hates Trump’ and another reading ‘Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women.’ Other signs in the photo referencing female anatomy were also blurred. The National Archives initially stood by its decision to edit the photo, telling The Washington Post that the changes were made ‘so as not to engage in current political controversy.’ For more, we turn to a historian who says this was only the latest example of ‘a great and growing threat to our nation’s capacity to protect and learn from history.’ The National Archives reportedly is allowing millions of documents, including many related to immigrants’ rights, to be expunged. We speak with Matthew Connelly, professor of history at Columbia University and principal investigator at History Lab. His recent piece for The New York Times is headlined ‘Why You May Never Learn the Truth About ICE.’

Virginia lawmakers pass protections for LGBTQ people, Associated Press, Sarah Rankin, Thursday, 6 February: “Virginia lawmakers passed comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation Thursday that advocates said makes the state the first in the South to enact such protections for LGBTQ people. The measures advanced on bipartisan votes, 59-35 in the House and 30-9 in the Senate as newly empowered Democrats continued to advance bills that Republicans blocked for years. Each chamber still must take up the other’s measure in procedural votes before the legislation can be sent to the governor, who supports it, for final approval.”

The FBI Just Put White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis on the Same Threat Level as ISIS, Vice News, Tess Owen, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “The FBI has elevated racially-motivated violent extremism to a ‘national threat priority,’ in yet another sign that the U.S. government has finally woken up to the threat posed by white nationalists and neo-Nazis at home and abroad. In a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray outlined several concrete steps the agency had taken to combat violent far-right extremists, explaining that the ‘national threat priority designation puts those groups or individuals on the same footing as ISIS’ in terms of the resources the FBI will devote to it. ‘We’re particularly focused on domestic terrorism, especially racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists,’ said Wray. ‘Not only is the terror threat diverse, it’s unrelenting.'”

Senate Intelligence Committee Report Criticizes Response to Russian Meddling and Blames Partisanship, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Thursday, 6 February 2020: “Partisan divisions and Republican congressional leaders’ reluctance to publicly acknowledge Russian election interference in 2016 contributed to a delayed response by the Obama administration in the midst of the presidential campaign, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Thursday. The report painted the Obama administration as moving too slowly and indecisively to address the interference or to counter it, and it cited the ‘heavily politicized environment’ in American politics in 2016 as one factor preventing a more forceful response. Though separate from its central findings, the mention of Republican congressional leaders’ role in forestalling a stronger response was notable for a report from a Republican-led committee.”