Trump Administration, Week 168: Friday, 3 April – Thursday, 9 April 2020 (Days 1,169-1,175)

 

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 independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 3 April 2020, Day 1,169:

 

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 3 April 2020: Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) Recommends Wearing Masks in Public; Trump Says, ‘I’m Choosing Not to Do It.’ Alabama became the 41st state to issue a stay-at-home order, and the attorney general expanded the pool of prisoners eligible for early release from federal prisons. The New York Times, Friday, 3 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 3 April 2020: New York Virus Deaths Double in Three Days to Almost 3,000. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday that there had been 562 deaths due to the virus over the previous 24 hours, a higher toll than the state saw in the first 27 days of March. The New York Times, Friday, 3 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 3 April 2020: Wall Street Caps a Turbulent Week With a Decline. A $349 billion program to throw a financial lifeline to small businesses gets off to a rocky start. The New York Times, Friday, 3 April 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 3 April 2020: People should wear cloth face coverings in public, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) recommends, to reduce the spread of coronavirus, The Washington Post, Adam Taylor, Teo Armus, Jennifer Hassan, Rick Noack, John Wagner, Katie Mettler, Brittany Shammas, Alex Horton, Siobhán O’Grady, Eva Dou, Michael Brice-Saddler, and Steven Goff, Friday, 3 April 2020: “President Trump on Friday announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wear a simple, cloth face covering while out in public. The debate about whether the public should wear masks came after increasing evidence that infected people without symptoms can spread the coronavirus. Medical masks should still be reserved for health-care workers. While making the announcement, Trump said it was ‘voluntary’ and that that he is choosing not to do it, though ‘it may be good.’ Here are some significant developments:

  • The United States reported more than 32,000 confirmed cases Friday, bringing its total to more than 273,000. The U.S. death toll is over 7,000. More than 1 million confirmed cases have been reported around the world.
  • Washington Post investigation uncovered alarm and dismay among scientists at health labs about the Trump administration’s reliance on a flawed coronavirus test developed by the CDC, which was used for weeks as the virus began to spread across the United States.
  • Trump intends to nominate White House lawyer Brian D. Miller to serve as the inspector general overseeing the Treasury Department’s implementation of the newly enacted $2 trillion coronavirus law, the White House said Friday night.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to press the case for another federal stimulus bill. It would include more direct payments to individuals, additional small business loan funding and the extension of enhanced unemployment benefits.
  • Data suggests 75 percent of patients in China originally listed as asymptomatic go on to develop symptoms, a World Health Organization epidemiologist said. The Communist Party chief of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, said that the risk of a resurgence there remains high.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called for a national enlistment of health-care workers organized by the U.S. military, as statewide cases grew to more than 102,000 on Friday, with nearly 3,000 deaths.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Inside the coronavirus testing failure: Alarm and dismay among the scientists who sought to help, The Washington Post, Shawn Boburg, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Neena Satija, and Amy Goldstein, Friday, 3 March 2020: “On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing ‘unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,’ according to an email summarizing the call. ‘We’re in good hands,’ a public health official who participated in the call wrote in the email to colleagues. Three weeks later, early on Feb. 8, one of the first CDC test kits arrived in a Federal Express package at a public health laboratory on the east side of Manhattan. By then, the virus had reached the United States, and the kits represented the government’s best hope for containing it while that was still possible. For hours, lab technicians struggled to verify that the test worked. Each time, it fell short, producing untrustworthy results. That night, they called their lab director, Jennifer Rakeman, an assistant commissioner in the New York City health department, to tell her it had failed. ‘Oh, s—,’ she replied. ‘What are we going to do now?’ In the 21 days that followed, as Trump administration officials continued to rely on the flawed CDC test, many lab scientists eager to aid the faltering effort grew increasingly alarmed and exasperated by the federal government’s actions, according to previously unreported email messages and other documents reviewed by The Washington Post, as well as exclusive interviews with scientists and officials involved. In their private communications, scientists at academic, hospital and public health labs — one layer removed from federal agency operations — expressed dismay at the failure to move more quickly and frustration at bureaucratic demands that delayed their attempts to develop alternatives to the CDC test…. ‘We have the skills and resources as a community but we are collectively paralyzed by a bloated bureaucratic/administrative process,’ Marc Couturier, medical director at academic laboratory ARUP in Utah, wrote to other microbiologists on Feb. 27 after weeks of mounting frustration. The administration embraced a new approach behind closed doors that very day, concluding that ‘a much broader’ effort to testing was needed, according to an internal government memo spelling out the plan. Two days later, the administration announced a relaxation of the regulations that scientists said had hindered private laboratories from deploying their own tests. By then, the virus had spread across the country. In less than a month, it would upend daily life, shuttering the world’s largest economy and killing thousands of Americans.”

Continue reading Week 168, Friday, 3 April – Thursday, 9 April 2020 (Days 1,169-1,175)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 167: Friday, 27 March – Thursday, 2 April 2020 (Days 1,162-1,168)

 

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 independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 27 March 2020, Day 1,162:

 

Trump Signs $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday 27 March 2020: “President Trump on Friday signed a sweeping $2 trillion measure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but not before a late objection from a lone rank-and-file Republican forced hundreds of lawmakers to rush back to the capital even as the virus continued to spread through their ranks. The move by Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, accomplished an extraordinary feat, uniting President Trump and John Kerry, the former Democratic secretary of state and presidential candidate, in a bipartisan moment of outrage against a lawmaker who wanted to force the whole House to take a formal roll-call vote. House Democrats and Republicans teamed up to bring just enough lawmakers back to the Capitol to thwart Mr. Massie’s tactic, and the measure passed on a voice vote. It was a resounding show of support for a bill that lawmakers in both parties said was imperfect, but essential to address a national public health and economic crisis…. While the legislation was the product of a compromise among Republicans, Democrats and the administration, Mr. Trump did not invite any Democrats to the White House to celebrate its enactment, as is typical…. In weeks, it will send direct payments of $1,200 to individuals earning up to $75,000, with smaller payments to those with incomes of up to $99,000 and an additional $500 per child. It will substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits — including an extra $600 per week — and extend it to freelancers and gig workers. The package also suspends all federal student loan payments for six months through September, and the loans will not accrue interest during that period…. The law creates disclosure requirements, an inspector general and a congressionally mandated board to monitor a $425 billion bailout fund to be administered by the Federal Reserve. It also bars companies that receive government infusions from doing stock buybacks for as long as they are benefiting from federal aid, in addition to a year afterward. Companies owned by Mr. Trump and members of his family are barred from receiving any of the bailout money, although the president’s real estate company could potentially benefit from other aspects of the stimulus law…. About two hours after Mr. Trump signed the legislation, however, the White House issued a signing statement undermining a crucial safeguard Democrats had demanded as a condition of agreeing to the corporate bailout fund. The law empowers the inspector general to request information from executive branch agencies and requires the official to report any unreasonable refusal to Congress ‘without delay.’ But Mr. Trump suggested his constitutional powers permit him to decide what information to share with lawmakers.” See also, Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus bill into law as companies and households brace for more economic pain, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Paul Kane, and Mike DeBonis, Friday, 27 March 2020: “President Trump on Friday signed a massive $2 trillion emergency spending bill into law, promising to deliver a tidal wave of cash to individual Americans, businesses and health care facilities all reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. His signature came just hours after the House of Representatives passed the massive package by an overwhelming voice vote, and less than 48 hours after it received unanimous approval from the Senate…. But tensions between the White House and Congress over how the law will be implemented became immediately apparent. In a signing statement, Trump wrote that he would not permit a new inspector general to issue certain reports to Congress ‘without presidential supervision.’ Democrats insisted on the creation of the new inspector general in order to make sure the White House didn’t improperly disburse taxpayer money.” See also, Trump Suggests He Can Gag the Inspector General for Stimulus Bailout Program, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 27 March 2020: “When President Trump signed the $2 trillion economic stabilization package on Friday to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, he undercut a crucial safeguard that Democrats insisted upon as a condition of agreeing to include a $500 billion corporate bailout fund. In a signing statement released hours after Mr. Trump signed the bill in a televised ceremony in the Oval Office, the president suggested he had the power to decide what information a newly created inspector general intended to monitor the fund could share with Congress. Under the law, the inspector general, when auditing loans and investments made through the fund, has the power to demand information from the Treasury Department and other executive branch agencies. The law requires reporting to Congress ‘without delay’ if any agency balks and its refusal is unreasonable ‘in the judgment of the special inspector general.’ Democrats blocked a final agreement on the package this week as they insisted on stronger oversight provisions to ensure that the president and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could not abuse the bailout fund. They feared that Mr. Trump, who has previously stonewalled congressional oversight, would do the same when it came to the corporate aid program. But in his statement, which the White House made public about two hours after the president signed the bill, Mr. Trump suggested that under his own understanding of his constitutional powers as president, he can gag the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., and keep information from Congress.” See also, John Kerry says Republican Representative Thomas Massie ‘tested positive for being an asshole,’ New York Daily News, Brian Niemietz, Friday, 27 March 2020: “Former Secretary of State John Kerry and President Trump finally agree on something —Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie has to go. The Republican representative was the sole vote against a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would help people in need during a deadly and rapidly spreading pandemic. Many of Massie’s fellow congressmen and women were forced to return to Washington, D.C., for a vote, despite travel and congregating in groups being very dangerous right now. ‘Breaking news: Congressman Masse has tested positive for for being an asshole,’ Kerry tweeted. ‘He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.'” See also, House passes $2 trillion coronavirus package, but not without last-minute drama, Politico, Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris, Friday, 27 March 2020. See also, Trump signs historic $2 trillion stimulus after Congress passes it Friday, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Manu Raju, Haley Byrd, and Ted Barrett, Friday, 27 March 2020. See also, Trump signs $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package into law, The Guardian, Lauren Gambino, Friday, 27 March 2020. See also, Inside the talks on the largest U.S. bailout: frantic negotiations, partisan tensions and a Trump tweet, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Mike DeBonis, Erica Werner, and Paul Kane, Friday, 27 March 2020. See also, The Mega-Bailout Leaves 4 Mega-Questions. Democrats decided to play ball to get what they wanted on policy. But how are all those ideas going to work? Politico, Michael Grunwald, published on Saturday, 28 March 2020.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 27 March 2020: U.S. becomes first country to report 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases; Trump invokes Defense Production Act, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Katie Mettler, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Knowles, Samantha Pell, Meryl Kornfield, and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 27 March 2020: “The United States, which recorded its first confirmed case two months ago, now has more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, as reported by states’ health departments. The nation passed 10,000 cases on March 19 and on Thursday became the country with the most confirmed cases. Shortly after signing a sweeping $2 trillion coronavirus spending package into law, President Trump moved to curb oversight provisions in the legislation and assert presidential authority over a new inspector general’s office created to monitor the disbursement of loans. The decision could set up a momentous battle between the White House and Congress as the administration implements the new law.”

Here are some significant developments:

  • President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on Friday to force General Motors to manufacture ventilators. U.S. cities have reported acute shortages of masks, test kits and ventilators.
  • Trump also signed the $2 trillion emergency spending bill, which the House passed on Friday, to combat the economic effects of the pandemic.
  • Italy reported 919 coronavirus deaths in one day — the largest single-day toll reported by any country. The known death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 25,000 globally.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the virus and is self-isolating but will continue to be active in governing.
  • The New York City area is the current U.S. epicenter, but the number of confirmed cases is beginning to surge elsewhere. “We also see hot spots like Detroit, like Chicago, like New Orleans, will have a worse week next week,” the surgeon general said Friday.
  • A Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that 9 in 10 Americans are staying home “as much as possible” and practicing social distancing to lessen the risk of becoming infected.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Coronavirus Updates: Trump Signs #2 Trillion Bill as U.S. Virus Cases Pass 100,000, The New York Times, Friday, 27 March 2020: “President Trump, who had questioned the need for additional ventilators, pushed industry to make more. A new survey of mayors found dire shortages of urgently needed supplies.

Many other significant developments are covered in this article.

Continue reading Week 167, Friday, 27 March – Thursday, 2 April 2020 (Days 1,162-1,168) [Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 166: Friday, 20 March – Thursday, 26 March 2020 (Days 1,155-1,161)

 

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 independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 20 March 2020, Day 1,155:

 

U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey, and Ellen Nakashima, Friday, 20 March 2020: “U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting. The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak. Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.” See also, Simulations before coronavirus outbreak foreshadowed infighting between agencies in pandemic response, The Washington Post, James Hohmann with Mariana Alfaro, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Experts have not just warned for years about the inevitability of an outbreak like the novel coronavirus on American soil. They have also sounded the alarm about the risk of the kind of poor coordination between federal and local agencies that has characterized the initial U.S. response to covid-19.”

Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today, The New York Times, Lara Takenaga, Jonathan Wolfe, and Tom Wright-Piersanti, Friday, 20 March 2020: “New York will essentially be on lockdown this weekend, after its caseload soared to nearly 8,000. Residents of California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut — 1 in 5 Americans — will be under orders to stay home by this weekend. The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico will be closed as of midnight Saturday…. New York is the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak…. Hospitals prepare to ration care….” See also, Latest Updates on Coronavirus Pandemic: Senate Debates $1 Trillion Rescue Plan, and States Tell People to Stay Indoors, The New York Times, Friday, 20 March 2020: “New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois were preparing to issue restrictions like California and New York, and the U.S. was set to close its borders with Mexico and Canada. Included in this daily update: Soon more than 1 in 5 Americans will be under orders to stay mostly indoors; Senators came close to reaching a deal on a $1 trillion rescue plan; One of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff members has tested positive for coronavirus; Businesses and investors struggled with another day of market turmoil; The White House announces border closures and warns against immigration; American passengers from cruise near France describe chaotic evacuation; and Haiti announces a state of emergency after confirmed cases.”

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 20 March 2020: Air Force evacuates 89 Americans from Honduras after coronavirus travel advisory; states increase restrictions, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Rick Noack, Marisa Iati, Alex Horton, Miriam Berger, Katie Mettler, Michael Brice-Saddler, and Hannah Knowles, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Restrictions are dramatically ramping up amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, with Illinois and its 13 million residents — 10 million in the Chicago area — the latest to join California by moving closer to an effective lockdown. Meanwhile, New York told nonessential workers to stay home, Florida closed restaurants, bars and gyms amid spring-break revelry, and the U.S.-Mexico border is closing to nonessential travel.” Other significant developments are also covered in this article. See also, U.S. and Mexico Have Agreed to Temporarily close U.S.-Mexico border, Politico, Sabrina Rodriguez, Friday, 20 March 2020: “President Donald Trump announced Friday that the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to temporarily close the border to nonessential travel to curb the spread of the coronavirus. U.S. and Mexican officials have been in talks this week over how to work together in responding to the global pandemic while ensuring that bilateral trade and essential travel are not disrupted at the border. It’s a similar move to the U.S. and Canada’s decision on Wednesday to impose travel restrictions at the northern U.S. border.” See also, Trump administration limits nonessential travel between US and Mexico, CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez, Geneva Sands, Betsy Klein, and Jennifer Hansler, Friday, 20 March 2020: “The Trump administration is limiting nonessential travel on the US-Mexico border and barring migrants illegally crossing the border from entering the US. Citing the ‘unscreened’ and ‘unvetted’ people who come into the US from the southern border, President Donald Trump said the border would be sealed off ‘mostly, and even beyond, but mostly during this global pandemic.’ While similar actions are being taken at the US border with Canada, the latest move also seems designed to curb migration to the United States, a pillar of Trump’s immigration agenda.” See also, Trump Cites Coronavirus as He Announces Border Crackdown with Mexico, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Kirk Semple, Friday, 20 March 2020: “The Trump administration says it will no longer detain most undocumented immigrants at the border, citing the coronavirus as a threat to detention facilities and personnel.” See also, Trump allows borrowers to suspend student loan payments for two months, CNN Politics, Katie Lobosco, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Student loan borrowers will be able to suspend their federal student loan payments without penalty and without accruing interest for at least 60 days, the Department of Education said Friday. President Donald Trump announced a week ago that he would waive student loan interest amid the coronavirus crisis — but borrowers were awaiting details on how it would work and how long it would last. The Department of Education’s announcement Friday clarifies the policy change.” See also, Education Department Makes Changes to Standardized Tests and Student Loans Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, NPR, Elissa Nadworny, Friday, 20 March 2020: “On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced new K-12 and higher education policies in response to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. In K-12, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the department will waive standardized test requirements for states affected by the virus. States must apply for the exemption, and many have already begun to do so.” See also, Relief Offered From Standardized Testing and Student Loans as Virus Roils Education, The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Elementary and secondary schools will not be required to do standardized testing, and student borrowers with federal loans can request a reprieve from loan payments while the nation confronts the spreading coronavirus, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on Friday.” See also, White House Enlists Military to Import Swabs for Coronavirus Tests, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Faced with steep shortages of medical supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the White House is scrambling to coordinate with the private sector to import and manufacture testing swabs, face masks and hand sanitizer. A lack of nasal swabs has been a pressing obstacle as the United States tries to accelerate testing for the coronavirus and gain a clearer view about the extent of the spread of the virus. Supply chains fractured by travel restrictions have hampered efforts to get crucial supplies, creating the need for the military to intervene even before President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, which gives the federal government the power to force companies to make products for national security reasons.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Orders New Coronavirus Restrictions, The New York Times, Kwame Opam, Friday, 20 March 2020: “In a wide-ranging executive order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told New Yorkers on Friday to stay home as much as possible and he enacted strict new rules for businesses, gatherings and people over 70 and those with underlying illnesses. ‘These provisions will be enforced,’ the governor said at a briefing in Albany. ‘These are not helpful hints.’ Other governors soon followed suit: Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois issued similar orders and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said he would do the same on Saturday. The restrictions come a day after Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced a sweeping stay-at-home order for the entire state, where a similar order was issued for several Bay Area counties earlier in the week.” See also, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Orders All Nonessential Businesses in State to Close and Says Residents Should Stay at Home, Adding ‘This Is the Most Drastic Action We Can Take,’ The Wall Street Journal, Joseph De Avila, Friday, 20 March 2020: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to close and said residents should stay home as the state further clamps down on human activity to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. The new restrictions go into effect on Sunday evening, Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference Friday. ‘This is the most drastic action we can take,’ Mr. Cuomo said. ‘This is not life as usual. Accept it, realize it and deal with it.'” See also, New York Is the Epicenter of the U.S. Outbreak, The New York Times, Lara Takenaga, Jonathan Wolfe, and Tom Wright-Piersanti, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has issued a sweeping executive order that will essentially put the state on lockdown, after its caseload soared to nearly 8,000, from fewer than 700 at the beginning of the week. New York is now the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with nearly half of the country’s confirmed infections — and only six percent of its population. The startling uptick is partly the result of ramped-up testing efforts. New York performed some 10,000 tests Thursday night alone, bringing its total to more than 32,000 and, Mr. Cuomo said, putting its per capita rate ahead of those of China and South Korea.” See also, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo orders all nonessential New York workers to stay home, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Friday, 20 March 2020: “All workers in nonessential businesses across New York state are required to stay home in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a press conference Friday morning. The executive order takes effect Sunday evening, Cuomo said, and comes a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s nearly 40 million residents to stay home. The two states have a combined population of nearly 59 million people, meaning the two orders affect nearly 1 in 5 Americans.” See also, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issues order requiring residents to ‘stay at home’ starting Saturday, Chicago Tribune, Dan Petrella, Stacy St. Clair, Steve Johnson, and Gregory Pratt, Friday, 20 March 2020: “Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued a ‘stay-at-home’ order for the entire state starting at 5 p.m. Saturday through at least April 7, marking Illinois’ most aggressive step yet to try to slow the coronavirus’s spread. A dramatic-sounding move, to be sure, but one that largely codifies the previous recommendations and rules issued by state officials. Pritzker said his latest decision was based on conversations with ‘some of the best medical experts, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers.'”

Continue reading Week 166, Friday, 20 March – Thursday, 26 March 2020 (Days 1,155-1,161)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 165: Friday, 13 March – Thursday, 19 March 2020 (Days 1,148-1,154)

 

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 independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 13 March 2020, Day 1,148:

 

Donald Trump’s appalling, blame-shifting Rose Garden news conference, CNN Politics, Chris Cilizza, Friday, 13 March 2020: “A pandemic is sweeping the globe. Schools are closing. Major sports leagues are suspended. The stock market has plunged into bear territory. And, Donald Trump? ‘No, I don’t take responsibility at all,’ Trump responded when asked if he took responsibility for the lag in necessary coronavirus testing while speaking to reporters gathered in the Rose Garden to hear his declaration of a national emergency to combat the virus. Which sums up his response to this crisis well. And, in fact, is actually a pretty nice summation of his approach to the presidency.” See also, Trump Declares a National Emergency Over the Coronavirus Pandemic. Here’s What It Can Do. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 13 March 2020: “President Trump on Friday signed an emergency declaration over the coronavirus pandemic, unlocking certain government powers to deal with the public health challenge. Here’s a breakdown of what that means on a legal and practical level.” See also, Transcript: Trump’s Coronavirus News Conference, The New York Times, Friday, 13 March 2020.

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 13 March 2020: Trump declares coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Miriam Berger, Marisa Iati, Meryl Kornfield, and Brittany Shammas, Friday, 13 March 2020: “Acting Brazilian ambassador Nestor Forster, who sat at President Trump’s table Saturday night during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the embassy said late Friday. Forster is the third person who visited the president’s South Florida resort last weekend to test positive for the novel virus. Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic Friday as public life in America continued to grind to a halt. Trump’s announcement sent the Dow soaring nearly 2,000 points. Concerns about the coronavirus rippled across the globe, as schools closed to millions of students; more events were canceled, more landmarks shuttered; and the Group of Seven leaders planned a virtual crisis conference.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today. See also, Trump declares national emergency over coronavirus, but questions raised about what’s next, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 13 March 2020: “President Trump declared a national emergency to confront the spread of the coronavirus Friday as his administration reached an agreement with House Democrats on a bipartisan economic relief package for Americans affected by the global pandemic. Trump made the emergency announcement during a news conference in the Rose Garden in which he repeatedly praised his handling of the crisis, denied responsibility for his administration’s missteps and said for the first time that he would likely undergo testing for the coronavirus after coming into contact with an infected man…. Trump [refused] to take ownership of the problems that have led to a lack of available tests and confusion about who is eligible to use the limited supply at hand. ‘I don’t take responsibility at all,’ Trump said, blaming his predecessors and saying he knew nothing about his administration’s 2018 decision to disband a team of experts who had focused on preparing for global pandemics…. Declaring a national emergency can be helpful for marshaling resources, and some experts and groups, including the American Hospital Association, called for it to be done earlier. It’s important to stress that these declarations are administrative and provide flexibility in accessing resources and spending money, experts said. They are not done to signify that the country is in imminent danger.” See also, Trump declares national emergency in latest bid to combat coronavirus, Politico, Anita Kumar, Friday, 13 March 2020: “President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to offset lagging coronavirus testing and unlock billions of dollars — accelerating a response plan that has faced weeks of criticism. Trump touted partnerships with private companies that he claimed would allow patients to learn if they need to be tested and locate a testing site, some of which will be drive-thru facilities at big box retailers across the country. ‘To unleash the full power of the federal government under this effort today, I’m officially declaring a national emergency,’ he said at an announcement in the Rose Garden. ‘Two very big words.'” See also, ‘I don’t take responsibility at all’: Trump deflects blame for coronavirus testing debacle, Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Friday, 13 March 2020. See also, Trump says he takes ‘no responsibility’ for coronavirus failures as he declares national emergency, The Guardian, Mario Koran, Daniel Strauss, Lauren Aratani, and Martin Belam, Friday, 13 March 2020. See also, Trump Declares National Emergency to Confront Coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia, Jennifer Calfas, Alejandro Lazo, and Sam Schechner, Friday, 13 March 2020. See also, Trump shook hands, patted backs, and touched the microphone 31 times while declaring the coronavirus national emergency, The Washington Post, JM Rieger, Friday, 13 March 2020: “President Trump on Friday touted the work of his administration’s health experts on the novel coronavirus even as he ignored their public health advice. Trump shook hands, patted backs and touched the microphone at the White House lectern at least 31 times Friday, the sort of behaviors health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised against to prevent the spread of the virus.” See also, Trump defiant on testing and handshakes even as third Mar-a-Lago case emerges, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Anne Gearan, and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Friday, 13 March 2020: “President Trump said Friday that he has not yet been tested for the novel coronavirus, even as three people who were with him at the Mar-a-Lago Club last weekend have now tested positive. Trump said he would be tested ‘fairly soon. We’re working on that. We’re working out a schedule.’ In one televised event, Trump seemed to defy two basic practices that the rest of his government has been urging Americans to follow to prevent the spread of the virus. People who were exposed to an infected person are urged to quarantine themselves and seek testing. And everyone — exposed or not — should stop shaking hands. But at a Friday news conference on efforts to combat the coronavirus, Trump continued to shake hands with other speakers, many of whom are members of the White House Task Force charged with trying to stem the disease. Trump and many of the speakers took part in backslapping and adjusting the shared microphone. Trump also said he will not self-quarantine, as members of Congress and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have chosen to do after known exposures.” See also, Trump’s False Claims About His Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Friday, 13 March 2020: “Trump inaccurately described travel restrictions he had announced, falsely blamed his predecessor for testing shortages and misstated the role Google was playing in mitigating the outbreak.” See also, Trump Oversold a Google Site to Fight Coronavirus, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear ad Daisuke Wakabayashi, published on Saturday, 14 March 2020: “After Jared Kushner liked the idea, President Trump inflated the concept. The disconnect is the latest example of the president exaggerating or making wholly inaccurate statements about his administration’s response.” See also, Contrary to Trump’s claim, Google is not building a nationwide coronavirus screening website, The Verge, Dieter Bohn, Friday, 13 March 2020: “Google is not working with the US government in building a nationwide website to help people determine whether and how to get a novel coronavirus test, despite what President Donald Trump said in the course of issuing an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, a much smaller trial website made by another division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is going up. It will only be able to direct people to testing facilities in the Bay Area.” See also, Contrary to claims made by Trump during a Friday news conference, Google says it is not publishing a national-scale coronavirus site anytime soon, CNN Politics, Brian Fung, Friday, 13 March 2020: “Google will not be publishing a national-scale website for coronavirus testing anytime soon, contrary to claims made by President Donald Trump during a Friday news conference. Instead, a health-focused subsidiary owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, intends to launch a small-scale website next week to begin to triage California-based patients. The website will aim to serve a broader population only ‘over time’ — not ‘very quickly,’ as Trump said.”

House Passes Coronavirus Relief After Democrats Strike Deal With White House, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane, Friday, 13 March 2020: “President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday over the coronavirus pandemic and announced steps he said would speed the availability of testing, and early Saturday, the House passed a bill reflecting a deal with his administration to provide billions of dollars to help sick workers and to prop up a slumping economy. Markets rallied on Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration, which he said would free up $50 billion for states and localities to cope with the outbreak — separate from the congressional relief measure — and which would allow the Treasury Department to delay tax filing deadlines for some individuals and businesses. During a news conference in the Rose Garden, the president also said he would indefinitely suspend interest collections on federal student loans, although no bills would go down. And he instructed the Energy Department to buy enough oil to fill the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve ‘to the top.’ The S&P 500 soared during the remarks and closed the day up by more than 9 percent. At the news conference, Mr. Trump followed none of the safety protocols recommended to combat the spread of the virus, shaking hands with multiple administration officials and chief executives and sharing a microphone with them.” See also, House passes coronavirus economic relief package with Trump’s support, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane, and Jeff Stein, published on Saturday, 14 March 2020: “The House overwhelmingly passed an economic relief bill early Saturday for the coronavirus, dedicating tens of billions of dollars for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, free testing and other measures to help Americans impacted by the crisis. The 363-40 vote — gaveled down just before 1 a.m. — capped two days of volatile negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that threatened to fall apart entirely for hours Friday amid GOP misgivings. But even after President Trump criticized House Democrats at an afternoon news conference Pelosi and Mnuchin kept at it, speaking by phone 13 times in the course of the day Friday and finally clinching a deal. Not long thereafter Trump endorsed the legislation over Twitter, ensuring widespread GOP support.” See also, There’s a Giant Hole in Nancy Pelosi’s Coronavirus Bill, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, published on Saturday, 14 March 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi early Saturday celebrated passage of legislation she described as providing paid sick leave to American workers affected by the coronavirus. She neglected to mention the fine print. In fact, the bill guarantees sick leave only to about 20 percent of workers. Big employers like McDonald’s and Amazon are not required to provide any paid sick leave, while companies with fewer than 50 employees can seek hardship exemptions from the Trump administration…. The White House and congressional Republicans, who insisted on the exemptions as the price of bipartisan support for the legislation, bear the primary responsibility for the indefensible decision to prioritize corporate profits in the midst of a public health emergency…. But House Democrats also failed to act in the public interest. Paying sick workers to stay at home is both good policy and good politics. Why not pass a bill that required all employers to provide paid sick leave and then force Republicans to explain their objections to the public?”

In May 2018 the Trump Administration Dismissed the Top ‘Global Health Security’ Specialist on the National Security Council and Disbanded the Pandemic-Preparedness Team He Had Led. In News Conference on Friday, Trump Says He Doesn’t Know Anything About the White House’s Elimination of the Pandemic Response Team.  Slate, Ben Mathis-Lilley, Friday, 13 March 2020: “The responsibility for monitoring infectious disease threats was technically given to another group within the NSC, but even at the time, the Washington Post wrote that the reorganization was seen by experts in the field as ‘a downgrading of global health security.’ This decision has been subject to some scrutiny during the last month of disaster un-preparedness and global health insecurity. On Friday PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump about the subject during a White House press conference, and his response was, simply put, bad. Here’s the transcript (‘Tony’ is Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who, to be clear, has nothing to do with the National Security Council): ALCINDOR: You did disband the White House pandemic office, and the officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly. So what responsibility do you take to that, and—the officials that worked in that office said the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that? TRUMP: Well, I just think it’s a nasty question, because what we’ve done, and Tony had said numerous times that we saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing. [Ed.: The closing of borders to some travelers.] And when you say me, I didn’t do it. We have a group of people, I could ask perhaps, in my administration, but I could perhaps ask Tony about that, because I don’t know anything about it. I mean, you say we did that, I don’t know anything about it. Disbanding, no, I don’t know anything about it … ALCINDOR: You don’t know about the reorganization that happened at the National Security Council. TRUMP: … It’s the administration, perhaps they do that, let people go, you used to be with a different newspaper than you are now, you know, things like that happen.” See also, Video: Trump asked about disbanding pandemic office by Yamiche Alcindor, CNN Politics, Friday, 13 March 2020: “Reporter Yamiche Alcindor presses President Trump about disbanding the pandemic response team on the National Security Council in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the US.” See also, Trump Slams ‘Nasty’ Question as PBS Reporter Yamiche Alcindor Challenges Him on Shutdown of Pandemic Unit, Huff Post, Mary Papenfuss, Friday, 13 March 2020. See also, I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it. The Washington Post, Beth Cameron, Friday, 13 March 2020: “When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact. Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: to do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic. One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like covid-19. The U.S. government’s slow and inadequate response to the new coronavirus underscores the need for organized, accountable leadership to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats.”

Continue reading Week 165, Friday, 13 March – Thursday, 19 March 2020 (Days 1,148-1,154)

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Trump Administration, Week 164: Friday, 6 March – Thursday, 12 March 2020 (Days 1,141-1,147)

 

One chart explains why slowing the spread of the infection is nearly as important as stopping it.

 

 

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 independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 6 March 2020, Day 1,141:

 

Exclusive: The Strongest Evidence Yet That the U.S. Is Botching Coronavirus Testing, The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal, Friday, 6 March 2020: “It’s one of the most urgent questions in the United States right now: How many people have actually been tested for the coronavirus? This number would give a sense of how widespread the disease is, and how forceful a response to it the United States is mustering. But for days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refused to publish such a count, despite public anxiety and criticism from Congress. On Monday, Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, estimated that ‘by the end of this week, close to a million tests will be able to be performed’ in the United States. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence promised that ‘roughly 1.5 million tests’ would be available this week. But the number of tests performed across the country has fallen far short of those projections, despite extraordinarily high demand, The Atlantic has found. ‘The CDC got this right with H1N1 and Zika, and produced huge quantities of test kits that went around the country,’ Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017, told us. ‘I don’t know what went wrong this time.’ Through interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, The Atlantic could only verify that 1,895 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the United States, about 10 percent of whom have tested positive. And while the American capacity to test for the coronavirus has ramped up significantly over the past few days, local officials can still test only several thousand people a day, not the tens or hundreds of thousands indicated by the White House’s promises.” See also, Chaos at hospitals due to shortage of coronavirus testing, Los Angeles Times, Emily Baumgaertner and Soumya Karlamangla, Friday, 6 March 2020: “As COVID-19 cases spike, the testing needed to help stem the spread of the disease remains below what is needed to address the growing crisis, with healthcare workers across the state reporting widespread failings in the response by local and federal government officials. Federal officials said nearly 1 million tests were expected to be available by the end of this week. But in California, one of the country’s hardest-hit regions with 60 cases, the total testing capacity is limited to only 7,400 through the weekend, according to the California Department of Public Health. The inability to test widely and swiftly for the novel coronavirus has impeded the country’s ability to beat back the spread of the virus, experts say. Without testing, public health officials don’t know where the virus is spreading and where to target efforts to contain it. Twelve Americans have been killed so far by the disease. The shortage of test kits as well as lab staffing to screen for the virus are creating chaos for doctors and nurses as their triage efforts are complicated by testing restrictions and shortfalls.” See also, How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the United States, Politico, Joanne Kenen, Friday, 6 March 2020: “On Saturday Jan. 11 — a month and a half before the first Covid-19 case not linked to travel was diagnosed in the United States — Chinese scientists posted the genome of the mysterious new virus, and within a week virologists in Berlin had produced the first diagnostic test for the disease. Soon after, researchers in other nations rolled out their own tests, too, sometimes with different genetic targets. By the end of February, the World Health Organization had shipped tests to nearly 60 countries. The United States was not among them. Why the United States declined to use the WHO test, even temporarily as a bridge until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could produce its own test, remains a perplexing question and the key to the Trump administration’s failure to provide enough tests to identify the coronavirus infections before they could be passed on, according to POLITICO interviews with dozens of viral-disease experts, former officials and some officials within the administration’s health agencies.” See also, In the U.S., More Than 300 Coronavirus Cases Are Confirmed, The New York Times, published on Saturday, 7 March 2020. See also, 21 people test positive for coronavirus on California cruise ship, out of 46 tested so far, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Mark Berman, and Hannah Sampson, published on Saturday, 7 March 2020: “Nearly half of the people initially tested aboard a cruise ship being held in waters off San Francisco have been infected with coronavirus, Vice President Pence said Friday. Results for 21 of the 46 people officials tested Thursday came back positive, raising fears that the virus could be spreading widely among the more than 3,500 people aboard the Grand Princess. Pence said those infected include 19 crew members and two passengers. The vice president said authorities plan to bring the cruise ship to a ‘non-commercial port’ over the weekend, where all passengers and crew will be tested for the disease and quarantined as necessary.” See also, During a Visit to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Trump Sought to Play Down the Risk From the Coronavirus, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 6 March 2020. See also, Trump signs $8.3B emergency coronavirus package, Politico, Caitlin Emma, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Donald Trump today signed the $8.3 billion emergency funding package Congress swiftly cleared, triggering the flow of cash to federal agencies and states working to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The bill provides a total of $7.7 billion in new discretionary spending and authorizes an additional $490 million in mandatory spending through a Medicare change.” See also, Trump calls Washington Governor Jay Inslee ‘a snake’ for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, Politico, Matthew Choi, Friday, 6 March 2020: “President Donald Trump on Friday called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ‘a snake’ for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Speaking in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the outbreak. Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay the gravity of the outbreak and floated his own hunches on matters of science.”

Live updates on some significant developments in the coronavirus outbreak: U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 17; at least half of U.S. states confirm cases, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Hannah Knowles, Michael Brice-Saddler, Siobhán O’Grady, Alex Horton, and Reis Thebault, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The coronavirus death toll in the United States reached 17 late Friday when Florida health officials reported two fatalities, the first in the state. Earlier in the day, the Seattle-area hospital caring for most of the coronavirus patients who have died in the United States reported three more deaths. Several states reported their first cases, and 21 people on a cruise ship off the coast of California have tested positive for the virus. As more cases were identified, concerns also rose about who else could have been inadvertently exposed to the respiratory virus. In Maryland, health officials launched a search for other potentially infected people after three Montgomery County residents who had traveled overseas were found to have the virus. Worldwide, the number of cases has surpassed 100,000. In the United States, there are more than 300, and at least half of all U.S. states have confirmed cases. President Trump signed legislation Friday that provides $8.3 billion of emergency funding to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, enacting into law a measure passed swiftly and with broad bipartisan support.” This article covers many more significant developments that happened today.

First U.S. Colleges Close Classrooms as Virus Spreads. More Could Follow. The New York Times, Mike Baker, Anemona Hartocollis, and Karen Weise, Friday, 6 March 2020: “The University of Washington said on Friday that it would cancel in-person classes and have students take courses and finals remotely while the Seattle area grapples with a growing coronavirus outbreak, in a move that other colleges around the country are preparing to follow if the virus becomes more widespread. Over the last few days, a growing number of universities have mobilized emergency planning teams to envision what a shutdown would look like, especially if students bring the virus back with them from spring break, which starts Friday on many campuses. Already, some students have been warned that they should be prepared to learn online, as many students studying abroad in Europe and Asia have been forced to do. At Stanford University, officials announced late Friday that classes would not meet in person as of Monday, and that any looming exams would be changed to a take-home format. The level of concern rose on Thursday with the announcement that a junior at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee who had been studying in Italy had tested positive for the virus after his study abroad program was canceled and he returned to his hometown, Chicago. The University of California, Los Angeles, also said three of its students were being tested and self-isolating off campus.” See also, Democrats introduce bill to guarantee paid sick leave in response to coronavirus, The Hill, Cristina Marcos, Friday, 6 March 2020: “Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation Friday that would require all employers to grant workers paid sick days in light of the global coronavirus spread. The bill unveiled by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would mandate all employers to let workers accrue seven days of paid sick leave and immediately provide 14 additional days when there is a public health emergency. Health authorities have been encouraging Americans to stay home if they feel sick to help prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, but the lack of a federal guarantee for paid leave has raised concerns that some workers — especially in the service and restaurant industries — might not be able to follow those guidelines.”

House Democrats request appeal asking court to enforce subpoena for former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 6 March 2020: “House Democrats asked a federal appeals court in Washington on Friday to reconsider enforcing a congressional subpoena for President Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn. The request comes after a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the courts have no authority to resolve the separation-of-powers dispute between the White House and Democrats in Congress. Lawyers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want a full complement of judges on the appeals court to overturn the ruling from a three-judge panel of the same court. If last week’s ruling stands, it means McGahn can defy the subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee. Even if the full D.C. Circuit agrees to take a second look, the case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.” See also, Lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee say the federal appeals court ruling on former White House Counsel Don McGahn leaves only extreme options, such as arrests, to get information from the White House, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 6 March 2020: “House lawyers argued Friday that an appeals court ruling blocking lawmakers from suing to obtain information from the executive branch would leave Congress with little choice but to exercise extreme options — such as arresting ‘current and former high-level’ officials to get answers to its subpoenas. ‘The House could direct its sergeant at arms to arrest current and former high-level executive branch officials for failing to respond to subpoenas, after which the legal issues dividing the branches would then be litigated through habeas actions,’ House lawyers wrote in a filing seeking a rehearing of the matter by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. ‘But arrest and detention should not be a prerequisite to obtaining judicial resolution of the enforceability of a congressional subpoena.'”

Continue reading Week 164, Friday, 6 March – Thursday, 12 March 2020 (Days 1,141-1,147)

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Trump Administration, Week 163: Friday, 28 February – Thursday, 5 March 2020 (Days 1,134-1,140)

 

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 independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 28 February 2020, Day 1,134:

 

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy, The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson, Friday, 28 February 2020: “A federal court on Friday upended a central pillar of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, ruling that asylum seekers must be allowed into the United States while their cases weave through American immigration courts. A three-judge panel in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco blocked a policy that has required people applying for asylum at the border to wait in Mexico while their claims for protection are reviewed, a process that often takes months or years. Since the new restrictions were rolled out early in 2019, more than 59,000 asylum seekers have been turned back by American authorities into Mexican border cities, where kidnappings and violence have surged. Because shelters in Mexico are scant and overrun, many of the migrants are living in vast tent encampments exposed to the elements. Powerful Mexican drug cartels have moved in to exploit them.” See also, Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy blocked in federal court, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, Friday, 28 February 2020: “A federal appeals court in California halted the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy on Friday, a blow to the president’s restrictive immigration agenda that cripples one of the government’s approaches to curbing migration across the U.S. southern border.” See also, Federal appeals court issues major blow to the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez, Friday, 28 February 2020. Update: Confusion on the Border as Appeals Court Rules Against Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy and Then Stays Its Decision in Order to Allow the Government Time to Appeal the Ruling, The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson, Friday, 28 February 2020: “A federal appeals court found a central pillar of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda legally invalid on Friday, ruling that asylum seekers must be allowed into the United States while their cases weave through American immigration courts. The court stayed its decision, however, in order to allow the government time to appeal the ruling.” See also, Court halts Trump asylum policy and then suspends its own order, Associated Press, Elliot Spagat, Saturday, 29 February 2020: “A Trump administration immigration policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts was blocked and then reinstated by a court in the matter of hours, creating chaos at border crossings, courtrooms and legal offices. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the policy on hold midday Friday, delivering a setback to a policy that has become one of President Donald Trump’s signature efforts to restrict immigration. But by the end of the day, the court allowed the program to go back into effect after the Justice Department argued that its suspension will prompt migrants to overrun the border and endanger national security. The White House argued that the suspension of the policy would overwhelm the nation’s immigration system, damage relations with the government of Mexico and increase the risk of outbreak from the new coronavirus.” See also, For Migrants at the Border, a Day of Hopes Uplifted and Dashed, The New York Times, Manny Fernandez, published on Saturday, 29 February 2020.

House Democrats Inquire About Political Interference at the Justice Department, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 28 February 2020: “House Democrats are scrutinizing whether President Trump or his appointees have interfered at the Justice Department for political reasons, a committee chairman said Friday, requesting documents and interviews with 15 U.S. attorneys related to the cases of three Trump associates and a review of the F.B.I.’s Russia inquiry. Among those singled out for interviews in a letter from Democrats to Attorney General William P. Barr were four career prosecutors who quit in protest after senior officials intervened to reverse their recommendation and suggest a shorter sentence for Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime Trump confidant, in line with what the president had publicly demanded. The episode ignited long-smoldering fears that Mr. Trump’s personal and political interests were tilting the scales of justice. ‘These circumstances are deeply troubling,’ Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote in the letter to Mr. Barr. ‘Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws. In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility.'” See also, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler seeks interviews with prosecutors who quit the Roger Stone case, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 28 February 2020: “House Democrats are seeking interviews with the four career prosecutors who quit the case of Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, after Trump and Justice Department leaders intervened to demand a lighter jail sentence. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) requested the interviews in a Friday letter to Attorney General William Barr that also included broader demands for documents and testimony about allegations of political interference by Trump in the work of the Justice Department.”

Court Rules Congress Cannot Sue to Force Executive Branch Officials to Testify, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 28 February 2020: “A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that Congress could not sue to enforce its subpoenas of executive branch officials, handing a major victory to President Trump and dealing a severe blow to the power of Congress to conduct oversight. In a ruling that could have far-reaching consequences for executive branch secrecy powers long after Mr. Trump leaves office, a divided three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee against Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II.” See also, Trump wins appeal to block the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn, a key witness in the Russia investigation, Politico, Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 28 February 2020: “President Donald Trump scored a major legal victory on Friday when a federal appeals court panel ruled former White House counsel Don McGahn can defy a congressional subpoena for his testimony.” See also, Appeals court finds former White House counsel Don McGahn does not have to testify to House, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 28 February 2020: “Former White House counsel Donald McGahn may defy a congressional subpoena, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Friday in a decision siding with President Trump, who had blocked top advisers from testifying as part of the impeachment proceedings. The 2-to-1 ruling, which can be appealed, deals a sweeping blow to Congress’s investigative powers. The decision means Trump’s former lawyer cannot be compelled to appear on Capitol Hill, and it comes after Democrats lost their bid to call additional witnesses during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.”

Continue reading Week 163, Friday, 28 February – Thursday, 5 March 2020 (Days 1,134-1,140)

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Trump Administration, Week 162: Friday, 21 February – Thursday, 27 February 2020 (Days 1,127-1,133)

 

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.

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 21 February, Day 1,127:

 

Trump Dismisses as a Democratic ‘Hoax’ the Warning by U.S. Intelligence Officials That Russia Is Meddling in the 2020 U.S. Election, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 21 February 2020: “President Trump said Friday that the disclosure by American intelligence officials that Russia was again meddling in a presidential election in his favor was merely another partisan attack against him, continuing a pattern in which he has sought to dismiss warnings of foreign interference in American elections. ‘Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘Hoax number 7!’ He was responding to reports of a classified briefing in which intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee that Russia was interfering in the 2020 presidential campaign to aid his re-election. Republicans on the committee challenged the conclusions and Mr. Trump berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing the briefing to happen. Intelligence officials have also concluded that the Russians are seeking to help Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic presidential primaries.”

Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Michael Scherer, and Sean Sullivan, Friday, 21 February 2020: “U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter. President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill also have been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken. U.S. prosecutors found a Russian effort in 2016 to use social media to boost Sanders’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, part of a broader effort to hurt Clinton, sow dissension in the American electorate and ultimately help elect Donald Trump. ‘I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president,’ Sanders said in a statement. ‘My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.'” See also, Bernie Sanders Says Intelligence Officials Recently Told Him That Russia Has Been Trying to Intervene in the Democratic Primaries to Aid Him. Sanders Denounced Russia’s Efforts to Attack American Democracy. The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Sydney Ember, Friday, 21 February 2020: “Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and Mr. Sanders said on Friday that intelligence officials recently briefed him. The disclosure came a day before the Nevada caucuses, where Mr. Sanders is a favorite, and followed revelations a day earlier that Moscow was interfering on President Trump’s behalf this year, as it did in 2016. Mr. Sanders denounced Russia in a statement, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an ‘autocratic thug’ and warning Moscow to stay out of the election. Drawing a contrast with Mr. Trump, he said he would stand against any efforts by Russia or another foreign power to interfere in the vote. ‘The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,’ Mr. Sanders separately told reporters in Bakersfield, Calif., where he held a rally on Friday. ‘And what I say to Mr. Putin: If elected president, trust me, you are not going to be interfering in American elections.’” See also, Bernie Sanders condemns Russian interference in 2020 U.S. elections. ‘Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend,’ Sanders said in a statement. Politico, Myah Ward, Friday, 21 February 2020: “Bernie Sanders on Friday condemned Russian interference in the 2020 election, telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that ‘if elected president, trust me, you are not going to be interfering in American elections.’ Sanders issued a statement in response to The Washington Post’s report that the Vermont senator was briefed by U.S. officials on Russia’s attempt to help his campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic [primary] elections. And in a later gaggle with reporters Friday afternoon, Sanders confirmed that the briefing happened ‘about a month ago.’ ‘Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend,’ the statement said. ‘He is an autocratic thug who is attempting to destroy democracy and crush dissent in Russia. Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election.'”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Builds Progressive Campaign Arm to Challenge Democrats, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 21 February 2020: “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday endorsed an all-female slate of progressive candidates through her new political action committee, using her clout in the insurgent left and the considerable campaign funds she has drawn to counter the Democratic establishment in key races around the country. The endorsements of the congressional candidates — including one who is challenging Senate Democrats’ preferred candidate in Texas — amount to a powerful stamp of approval for a diverse group of newcomers. They also are a clear sign that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a celebrity of the liberal left, intends to leverage her influence among activists to try to reshape the Democratic Party. The move also underlines the struggle among Democrats that is defining the race for the presidency, which is pitting Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, against more moderate candidates who are presenting themselves as better able to appeal to a broad section of voters in taking on President Trump. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has traversed the country to campaign for Mr. Sanders, and her efforts to pull Congress to the left parallel his bid to deploy his progressive message to emerge as the Democratic nominee, an effort that has instilled fear in many centrist lawmakers who believe it could cost them their seats.” See also, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee endorses 7 progressive women candidates, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Gregory Krieg, Friday, 21 February 2020: “Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York announced on Friday that her political action committee will endorse a series of progressive women congressional candidates, including challengers to incumbent Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that the group, Courage to Change, is endorsing seven women candidates. Six of them are running for House seats and one is running for a Senate seat.” See also, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorses 7 female progressive candidates to challenge establishment Democrats, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 21 February 2020: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will use her considerable star power to help other progressive women achieve what she did two years ago — take on the Democratic Party establishment. The freshman congresswoman, whose insurgent campaign’s success against a high-ranking member of the Democratic leadership rattled the party in 2018, endorsed seven new female candidates on Friday who are running against party-preferred candidates and two sitting Democratic congressmen.”

Continue reading Week 162, Friday, 21 February – Thursday, 27 February 2020 (Days 1,127-1,133)

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Trump Administration, Week 161: Friday, 14 February – Thursday, 20 February 2020 (Days 1,121-1,127)

 

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.

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 14 February 2020, Day 1,121:

 

Trump Claims He Has the ‘Legal Right’ to Interfere in Justice Department Cases, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 14 February 2020: “President Trump asserted Friday that he had the legal right to intervene in federal criminal cases, a day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly rebuked him for attacks on Justice Department prosecutors and others involved in the case of Roger J. Stone Jr., the president’s longtime friend. In a morning tweet, Mr. Trump quoted Mr. Barr saying that the president ‘has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.’ The president said he had ‘so far chosen’ not to interfere in a criminal case even though he insisted that he was not legally bound to do so. ‘This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!’ he said. Though he and Mr. Barr both said the president had not directly asked for any specific inquiries, Mr. Trump has long pressured law enforcement officials both publicly and privately to open investigations into political rivals and to drop inquiries. Mr. Trump also pressed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to retake control of the Russia investigation after he recused himself. The assertion by the president, which implicitly rejected a request by Mr. Barr to stop tweeting about the department’s cases, adds to the mounting controversy over the decision by senior Justice Department officials to overrule prosecutors who had recommended a seven- to nine-year sentence for Mr. Stone, who was convicted of seven felonies in a bid to obstruct a congressional investigation that threatened the president…. Past presidents in both parties have respected long standing traditions that are aimed at preventing political influence from the White House on Justice Department investigations, especially criminal inquiries that involved administration officials or friends of the president. The rules have been in place since the Watergate investigation, in which President Richard M. Nixon sought to pressure the F.B.I.” See also, Trump bucks Attorney General William Barr’s request to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, declaring he has a ‘legal right’ to seek intervention in criminal cases, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, John Wagner, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 14 February 2020: “President Trump on Friday bucked his attorney general’s public request to stop tweeting about criminal cases just as the department prepared to reveal it would not charge a former FBI official Trump considers a political foe — significantly escalating the tension between the commander in chief and his top law enforcement officer. A day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly warned Trump not to tweet about the Justice Department, Trump did just that, declaring that he has the ‘legal right’ to ask his top law enforcement official to get involved in a criminal case. Just hours later, the department made a move that might be seen as exerting its independence, revealing that it would not charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe with lying to investigators about a media disclosure. McCabe had authorized the bureau to investigate Trump in 2017 and has been a persistent target of presidential attacks.” See also, Trump-Barr divide worsens as Trump bucks a request to stop tweeting, and the Justice Department declines to charge ex-FBI official Andrew McCabe, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 14 February 2020. See also, Trump claims he has the ‘legal right’ to intervene in criminal cases, The Guardian, Edward Helmore, Friday, 14 February 2020.

Attorney General William Barr Installs Outside Prosecutor to Review Case Against Michael Flynn, Ex-Trump Adviser, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo, Friday, 14 February 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter. The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors. Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.” See also, US officials say Attorney General William Barr privately ordered re-examination of Michael Flynn’s case, CNN Politics, Evan Perez, David Shortell, and Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 14 February 2020: “Attorney General William Barr is ordering a re-examination of several high-profile cases, including that of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, US officials briefed on the matter say, in a move that could bring fresh scrutiny of the political motives behind actions at the Justice Department.” See also, Justice Department opens inquiry into FBI interview at heart of Flynn’s guilty plea, NBC News, Carol E. Lee, Friday, 14 February 2020: “The Department of Justice recently opened an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s interview of Michael Flynn while he was serving as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. Flynn pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI during that interview, but recently asked to withdraw that plea, further delaying his sentencing.” See also, 9 Democratic senators, including Warren and Sanders, formally call for Attorney General William Barr’s resignation, The Week, Friday, 14 February 2020: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has formalized her call for the resignation of Attorney General William Barr. Following up on her Wednesday insistence that Barr resign over his apparent interference in the criminal case against Roger Stone, Warren led eight other Democratic senators in a formal letter calling for Barr’s departure on Friday. ‘We are writing to express our alarm about and opposition to the unethical political intervention’ by Barr and the Justice Department in the case of President Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, the senators, including fellow 2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claim in their letter to Barr. ‘The interference … is a clear violation of your duty to defend fair, impartial, and equal justice for all Americans,’ and ‘we call on you to resign immediately,’ the senators wrote to Barr.” See also, Attorney General William Barr Moves to Take the Reins of Politically Charged Cases, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Friday, 14 February 2020: “While Attorney General William P. Barr asserted his independence from the White House this week, he has also been quietly intervening in a series of politically charged cases, including against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. Mr. Barr installed a phalanx of outside lawyers to re-examine national security cases with the possibility of overruling career prosecutors, a highly unusual move that could prompt more accusations of Justice Department politicization. The case against Mr. Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. in the Russia investigation, is a cause célèbre for Mr. Trump and his supporters, who say the retired general was ensnared in a ‘deep state’  plot against the president. The disclosures came as Mr. Trump made clear on Friday that he believes he has free rein over the Justice Department and its cases, rejecting Mr. Barr’s public demand of a day earlier that the president stop commenting on such cases.” See also, How Trump’s Relationship With Attorney General William Barr Got So Complicated, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Kichael D. Shear, Friday, 14 February 2020: “Since taking office, Mr. Trump has searched for an attorney general who would function much as Roy Cohn did for him as his personal lawyer and fixer in the 1970s — a warrior committed to protecting him and going after his foes. The president thought he had found that person in William P. Barr. But now, people close to Mr. Trump say, he is not so sure. The president was cheered this week when Mr. Barr moved to reduce the sentence of a convicted presidential friend, only to be shocked when the attorney general publicly called on Mr. Trump to stop tweeting about it. And after his livid reaction to the Justice Department’s decision to drop a separate case, which he heard about without any advance notice, he learned that Mr. Barr was intervening more favorably on behalf of another presidential ally. The whipsaw events of recent days have bewildered much of Washington, including some of the people around the president and his attorney general…. Critics assume it is all a Kabuki dance, cynical theater meant to preserve Mr. Barr’s credibility as he executes Mr. Trump’s personal political agenda while pretending to look independent. And it is certainly true that, even now, Mr. Barr continues to demonstrate a willingness to personally take charge of cases with Mr. Trump’s interests at stake. But insiders insist the tension is real, with potentially profound consequences for an administration that has redrawn the lines at the intersection of politics and law enforcement. Barely a week after being acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial, Mr. Trump is demanding that some of the people whose actions he believes led to his troubles be charged, convicted and sent to prison, and it is not clear that even Mr. Barr is willing or able to go as far as the president wants.”

Andrew McCabe, Ex-F.B.I. Official, Will Not Be Charged in Lying Case, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Friday, 14 February 2020: “Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director and a frequent target of President Trump’s, will not face charges in an investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a media leak, his defense team said on Friday. The decision by prosecutors in Washington ends a case that had left Mr. McCabe in legal limbo for nearly two years. It also appears to be a sign that Attorney General William P. Barr wants to show that the Justice Department is independent from the president: The notification came a day after Mr. Barr publicly challenged Mr. Trump to stop attacking law enforcement officials on Twitter and said the criticisms were making his job more difficult.” See also, The Justice Department won’t charge Andrew McCabe, the former FBI official who authorized the investigation of President Trump, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Karoun Demirjian, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 14 February 2020: “The Justice Department will not charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe with lying to investigators about a media disclosure, according to people familiar with the matter and McCabe’s legal team, ending a long-running inquiry into a top law enforcement official who authorized the bureau to investigate President Trump and soon became [Trump’s] political punching bag.” See also, Department of Justice drops probe into former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Friday, 14 February 2020: “The Justice Department has decided to abandon its efforts to seek criminal charges against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to a letter sent to his attorneys. McCabe’s lawyers were told last September that he should expect to be indicted on charges stemming from inaccurate statements he made to FBI investigators about his actions around the time of the 2016 election. However, no indictment was ever returned, leading to speculation that the Washington-based grand jury probing the matter took the rare step of rejecting charges. Prosecutors had been cagey since that time about the status of the investigation into McCabe, who has been a frequent subject of public attacks from President Donald Trump. In theory, they could have presented the case to another grand jury, but on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington informed McCabe’s attorneys that it was giving up its quest to charge the FBI veteran.” See also, Justice Department Closes Investigation Into Ex-FBI No. 2 Andrew McCabe, The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha, Friday, 14 February 2020: “The Justice Department has closed its investigation into former No. 2 FBI official Andrew McCabe without bringing charges, lawyers for Mr. McCabe said Friday, bringing to an end a controversial investigation into someone President Trump has repeatedly criticized…. The office had been examining whether Mr. McCabe, the former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, misled investigators about his role in providing information related to an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in October 2016 to a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Mr. McCabe has long disputed the allegations.”

Continue reading Week 161, Friday, 14 February – Thursday, 20 February 2020 (Days 1,120-1,126)

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Trump Administration, Week 160: Friday, 7 February – Thursday, 13 February 2020 (Days 1,114-1,120)

 

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.

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 7 February 2020, Day 1,114:

 

Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haverman, Danny Hakim, and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 7 February 2020: “President Trump wasted little time on Friday opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing two of the most prominent witnesses in the House inquiry against him barely 48 hours after being acquitted by the Senate. Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump ordered Gordon D. Sondland, the founder of a hotel chain who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, recalled from his post as the ambassador to the European Union on the same day that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, was marched out of the White House by security guards. The ousters of Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman — along with Mr. Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff — may only presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies. In the two days since his acquittal in the Senate, Mr. Trump has railed about those who stood against him, calling them ‘evil,’ ‘corrupt’ and ‘crooked,’ while his press secretary declared that those who hurt the president ‘should pay for’ it.” See also, Trump ousts Vindman and Sondland, punishing key impeachment witnesses in post-acquittal campaign of retribution, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, and Greg Miller, Friday, 7 February 2020: “President Trump on Friday punished two witnesses who testified in the investigation that led to his impeachment, removing them from their posts in an apparent campaign to exact retribution on his perceived enemies in the wake of his acquittal in the Senate this week. The White House ousted Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his post on the National Security Council and recalled U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, moves that were quickly condemned as vindictive and an attempt to intimidate government officials who speak out against Trump.” See also, Impeachment witnesses ousted amid fears of Trump revenge campaign, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Natasha Bertrand, and Meredith McGraw, Friday, 7 February 2020. See also, Trump fires two major impeachment figures–Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Kristen Holmes, Katelyn Polantz, Gloria Borger, Kevin Liptak, Jim Acosta, and Devan Cole, Friday, 7 February 2020.

Secret Service has paid rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at Trump’s properties, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Carol D. Leonnig, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 7 February 2020: “President Trump’s company charges the Secret Service for the rooms agents use while protecting him at his luxury properties — billing U.S. taxpayers at rates as high as $650 per night, according to federal records and people who have seen receipts. Those charges, compiled here for the first time, show that Trump has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government. When Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., the service needs space to post guards and store equipment. Trump’s company says it charges only minimal fees. But Secret Service records do not show that.”

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules Democrats lack legal standing to sue Trump over alleged emoluments violations, NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Friday, 7 February 2020: “A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed Democratic lawmakers’ lawsuit against President Donald Trump alleging he has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution on technical grounds. In the ruling, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the members of Congress did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit against the president for violating the clause, which bars federal officials from collecting payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress. In their unsigned ruling, the judges cited Supreme Court precedent, noting the 215 lawmakers filing the lawsuit are not the majority of Congress, and that they might have had standing if they had done so as a majority. ‘[O]nly an institution can assert an institutional injury,’ the ruling says. ‘Here, regardless of rigor, our conclusion is straightforward because the members — 29 senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives — do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the president’s acceptance of foreign emoluments,’ the decision says.” See also, Appeals court tosses Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit against Trump, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 7 February 2020. See also, Individual members of Congress barred from suing Trump over business dealings, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O’Connell, Friday, 7 February 2020.

Continue reading Week 160, Friday, 7 February – Thursday, 13 February 2020 (Days 1,114-1,120)

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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.

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

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)

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