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 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.”

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 1,121-1,127)

[Read more…]

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)

[Read more…]

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)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 158: Friday, 24 January – Thursday, 30 January 2020 (Days 1,100-1,106)

 

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, 24 January 2020, Day 1,100:

 

Branding Trump a Danger, Democrats Cap the Case for His Removal, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 24 January 2020: “House Democrats concluded their arguments against President Trump on Friday by portraying his pressure campaign on Ukraine as part of a dangerous pattern of Russian appeasement that demanded his removal from office. Ending their three-day presentation in the Senate, the impeachment managers summoned the ghosts of the Cold War and the realities of geopolitical tensions with Russia to argue that Mr. Trump’s abuse of power had slowly shredded delicate foreign alliances to suit his own interests. ‘This is Trump first, not America first, not American ideals first,’ said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House manager. ‘And the result has been, and will continue to be, grave harm to our nation if this chamber does not stand up and say this is wrong.’… Mr. Schiff’s fiery final oration appeared to alienate the very Republicans he was trying to win over. When he referred to an anonymously sourced news report that Republican senators had been warned that their heads would be ‘on a pike’ if they voted against Mr. Trump, several of them vigorously shook their heads and broke their sworn silence: ‘not true.'” See also, Trump Impeachment: Highlights of Friday’s Trial, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, Day in Impeachment: Democrats Outline Trump’s Efforts to Cover Up Conduct, The New York Times, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, Emotional Speech by Adam Schiff Goes Viral, Delighting the Left and Enraging the Right, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, House impeachment managers declare ‘facts have been proved’ as they wrap up their opening arguments against Trump, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Michael Brice-Saddler, Friday, 24 January 2020: “House managers completed their opening arguments late Friday in the historic impeachment trial focused on President Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine, declaring ‘acts have been proved.’ Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House manager, summed up his team’s arguments, pleading for a fair trial while telling senators ‘Donald J. Trump has abused the power of the presidency.’ Over the course of three days, managers presented arguments for a total of 21 hours and 18 minutes — falling short of the 24 hours they were allotted. The crux of their case is the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, while his father was vice president.” See also, In first day of defense, Trump’s team argues that he did nothing wrong, and that Democrats presented selective case, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Saturday, 25 January 2020. See also, Adam Schiff delivered a detailed, hour-long summary of the Democrats’ impeachment case. Some Republicans dismissed it because of one line. The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 24 January 2020: “Rep. Adam B. Schiff spoke for nearly an hour closing the House’s case for the removal of President Trump, advancing and rebutting scores of arguments, but many Republican senators left the chamber talking about only one line: His reference to a news report that GOP senators were warned that if they vote against the president, their “head will be on a pike.” See also, Friday’s Senate impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, Democrats focus on Trump’s character as they argue for removing him from office in impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Karoun Demirjian, and Mike DeBonis, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, Democrats say impeachment case ‘has been proved’ as they make final pitch, The Guardian, Vivain Ho and Joan E. Greve, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, Trump’s Impeachment Trial–Live Analysis, The Wall Street Journal, Friday, 24 January 2020. See also, Impeachment Trial of President Trump, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, and Mike Hayes, Saturday, 25 January 2020. See also, House impeachment managers wrap up their case with Trump’s obstruction of Congress, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, published on Saturday 25 January 2020. See also, Democrats warn at impeachment trial that Trump will abuse his office again if not removed, Reuters, Susan Cornwell and David Morgan, Friday, 24 January 2020: “Democratic lawmakers concluded their opening arguments in Republican President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate on Friday with a warning that he was a threat to democracy and would abuse his power again if he is not removed from office.” See also, ‘Imminent threat’: Democrats make final case to remove Trump, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 24 January 2020: “President Donald Trump remains an ‘imminent threat to the integrity of our democracy,’ the House’s top impeachment manager Adam Schiff argued Friday in an extraordinary Senate-floor appeal in which he accused Trump of embracing Russian propaganda at the expense of U.S. national security. ‘The threat that he will continue to abuse his power and cause grave harm to the nation over the course of the next year … is not hypothetical,’ Schiff argued. ‘Merely exposing the president’s scheme has not stopped him from continuing this destructive pattern of behavior that has brought us to this somber moment. He is who he is.'”

Trump complains about his defense team’s ‘Death Valley’ impeachment time slot, Politico, Quint Forgey, Friday, 24 January 2020: “President Donald Trump, flashing the fixation of a former reality television showman, lamented on Friday that his impeachment defense team was being made to present its case this weekend during the “Death Valley” of broadcast time slots.”

‘Take her out’: Recording appears to capture Trump at private dinner saying he wants Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch fired, ABC News, Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Allison Pecorin, and Olivia Rubin, Friday, 24 January 2020: “A recording obtained by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired while speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two former business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who have since been indicted in New York. The recording appears to contradict statements by Trump and support the narrative that has been offered by Parnas during broadcast interviews in recent days. Sources familiar with the recording said the recording was made during an intimate April 30, 2018, dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.” See also, Lev Parnas Says He Has Recording of Trump Calling for Ambassador’s Firing, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben Protess, Friday, 24 January 2020: “A former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, said on Friday that he had turned over to congressional Democrats a recording from 2018 of the president ordering the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as the United States ambassador to Ukraine. The associate, Lev Parnas, who worked with Mr. Giuliani to oust the ambassador and to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations to help Mr. Trump, located the recording on Friday after its existence was first reported by ABC News, said Joseph A. Bondy, Mr. Parnas’s lawyer. Mr. Bondy said the recording was “of high materiality to the impeachment inquiry” of Mr. Trump and that he had provided it to the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, is leading the impeachment managers in their presentation of the case.”

Continue reading Week 158, Friday, 24 January – Thursday, 30 January 2020 (Days 1,100-1,106)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 157: Friday, 17 January – Thursday, 23 January 2020 (Days 1,093-1,099)

 

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, 17 January 2020, Day 1,093:

 

Trump Legal Team Adds Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz for Senate Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Trump enlisted the former independent counsel Ken Starr and the celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz to join his defense team on Friday, turning to two veterans of politically charged legal cases to secure his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial that gets underway in earnest next week. Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998, will be joined by Robert W. Ray, his successor as independent counsel, who negotiated a settlement with Mr. Clinton as he left the White House that included a fine and the suspension of his law license. Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bülow and Mike Tyson, will have a more limited role, presenting oral arguments at the Senate trial “to address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal,” the legal team said in a statement. In choosing the three prominent lawyers, the president assembled what he regards as an all-star television legal team, enlisting some of his favorite defenders from Fox News. But each of them brings his own baggage. Mr. Dershowitz represented Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender. Mr. Starr was pushed out as a university president because of his handling of sexual misconduct by the football team. And Mr. Ray was once charged with stalking a former girlfriend.” See also, Trump expands legal team to include Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz for his impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Josh Dawsey, and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The team of lawyers expected to guide President Trump toward an election-year acquittal in the Senate expanded suddenly Friday to include Kenneth W. Starr and Alan Dershowitz, two of the biggest legal celebrities of the 1990s, who have drawn attention with their television appearances and involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s defense against charges of child prostitution in the mid-2000s. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and Dershowitz, the Harvard Law emeritus professor who advised the defense team in football star O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, were announced as the newest members of Trump’s defense. The group will also include former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and former independent counsel Robert Ray, according to Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, who will lead the defense with the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. The four new lawyers were selected personally by Trump for their political-legal celebrity and vocal defenses of the president in the media — and despite the significant professional baggage that several of them bring to the impeachment saga.” See also, For impeachment defense team, Trump recruits from Fox News, The Washington Post, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Trump adds Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz to impeachment defense team, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Pamela Brown, and Kevin Liptak, Friday, 17 January 2020: “A spokesman for Trump’s legal team said Dershowitz will present oral arguments at the Senate trial. ‘He is participating in this impeachment trial to defend the integrity of the Constitution and to prevent the creation of a dangerous constitutional precedent,’ said the legal team, which noted Dershowitz opposed Clinton’s impeachment and voted for his wife, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election. Later Friday, Dershowitz told the website Mediaite it was an exaggeration to say he was joining the team per se. Instead, he described his role as more confined. ‘I think it overstates it to say I’m a member of the Trump team. I was asked to present the constitutional argument that I would have presented had Hillary Clinton been elected and had she been impeached,’ Dershowitz told the website. ‘I was asked to present my constitutional argument against impeachment. I will be there for one hour, basically, presenting my argument.'” See also, Trump Legal Team for Impeachment Trial to Include Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, The Wall Street Journal, Michael Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Trump finalized his legal team for the Senate impeachment trial, choosing a group of attorneys with the household name recognition and TV experience he values, while overlooking their links to past and continuing controversies, a tradeoff that Mr. Trump has often made. Mr. Trump filled out his team on Friday by increasing the total number of attorneys to ten from four who will defend him against two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The most controversial selections were constitutional-law professor Alan Dershowitz and former Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.” See also, Trump finally gets his TV-ready lawyers, thanks to impeachment, Politico, Darren Samuelsohn, Anita Kumar, and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, In Jay Sekulow, Trump Taps Longtime Loyalist for Impeachment Defense, The New York Times, Elizabeth Williamson, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Jay Sekulow, who will lead President Trump’s impeachment defense team with Pat A. Cipollone, is one of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving personal lawyers, an achievement in itself as the legal team’s revolving door spins wildly. Mr. Sekulow, 63, coordinates the work of eight lawyers from a cooperative working space a few blocks from the White House, under the name Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group. He is a conservative media personality with deep ties to the evangelical community, a critical part of Mr. Trump’s base. But Mr. Sekulow does not possess extensive experience in the proceedings that Mr. Trump will face in the Senate.” See also, Pat Cipollone: White House Counsel Who Will Help Lead Trump Legal Team, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Ken Starr Returns to the Impeachment Fray, This Time for the Defense, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Robert Ray Wanted to Indict Clinton. He Thinks Trump Will Be Vindicated. The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Alan Dershowitz Adds Trump to the List of His High-Profile Clients, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Jane Raskin, Who Helped Trump in Mueller Inquiry, Joins President’s Defense Team, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, What Is the Impeachment Process? A Step-by-Step Guide. The New York Times, Weiyi Cai, updated on Friday, 17 January 2020.

Federal appeals court tosses landmark youth climate lawsuit against the U.S. government to force an end to fossil fuel-friendly U.S. policies, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Friday, 17 January 2020: “A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a 2015 lawsuit by nearly two dozen young people to force the U.S. government to take more aggressive action on climate change, saying that the children did not have legal standing to bring the landmark case. Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote that the plaintiffs had ‘made a compelling case that action is needed’ to slash the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. But the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that the courts were not the place to compel such action. ‘We reluctantly conclude, however, that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large, the latter of which can change the composition of the political branches through the ballot box,’ Hurwitz wrote. In a blistering dissent, U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton, who served on the panel, criticized the notion that the courts have no role to play, saying the government itself has acknowledged ‘that the United States has reached a tipping point crying out for a concerted response — yet presses ahead toward calamity. It is as if an asteroid were barreling toward Earth and the government decided to shut down our only defenses. Seeking to quash this suit, the government bluntly insists that it has the absolute and unreviewable power to destroy the Nation,’ Staton wrote. ‘My colleagues throw up their hands, concluding that this case presents nothing fit for the Judiciary.'” See also, Federal Appeals Court Quashes Landmark Youth Climate Change Lawsuit Against the U.S. Government, The New York Times, John Schwartz, Friday, 17 January 2020: “A federal appeals court has thrown out the landmark climate change lawsuit brought on behalf of young people against the federal government…. The appeals court decision reverses an earlier ruling by a district court judge, Ann Aiken, that would have let the case go forward. Instead, the appeals court gave instructions to the lower court to dismiss the case.” See also, Youth activists lose appeal in landmark lawsuit against the US government over climate crisis, The Guardian, Lee Van der Voo, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The ninth circuit court of appeals ordered dismissal of a lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs against the federal government over climate crisis, citing concerns about separation of powers. The case was brought against the government in 2015, charging that it sanctioned, permitted and authorized a fossil fuel system that compromised the youth plaintiffs’ civil right to property. It implied a constitutional right to a stable climate, and alleged that the government violated the public trust by failing to protect assets held in trust, notably the atmosphere. The plaintiffs, now all between the ages of 12 and 23, also asked the US district court of Oregon to order the government to craft a climate remediation plan, one targeting scientifically acceptable standards to stabilize the climate. On Friday, the ninth circuit court found, however, that the court lacked the power to enforce such a plan or climate policy decisions by the government and Congress, concluding ‘in the end, any plan is only as good as the court’s power to enforce it.’ Nevertheless, the court found that the record ‘conclusively establishes that the federal government has long understood the risks of fossil fuel use and increasing carbon dioxide emissions’ and ‘that the government’s contribution to climate change is not simply a result of inaction.’ The court also found that the youth met the requirements for standing in the case and that some of the plaintiffs met the requirements for actual injury.”

Messages show that Derek Harvey, an aide to Representative Devin Nunes (the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee), communicated with Lev Parnas about Ukraine campaign to obtain material that would be damaging to Joe Biden, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Greg Miller, Friday, 17 January 2020: “House Democrats released new documents Friday evening showing extensive contact between an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney and an aide to the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee regarding the effort to obtain material from Ukrainian prosecutors that would be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden. The text messages between Lev Parnas, who functioned as Rudolph W. Giuliani’s emissary to Ukrainian officials, and Derek Harvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, indicate Nunes’s office was aware of the operation at the heart of impeachment proceedings against the president — and sought to use the information Parnas was gathering. The newly released texts show that Parnas was working last spring to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were feeding Giuliani information about Biden.” See also, New text messages put Republican Representative Devin Nunes on the hot seat, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020. See also, The Devin Nunes-Ukraine allegations, explained, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020. See also, New impeachment documents show more texts about possible surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Janu Raju, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020: “House Democrats on Friday released new documents from indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas ahead of the Senate trial that includes new information about the apparent surveillance of former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and additional contacts between Parnas and an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes of California. The new documents add to the growing trove of allegations and evidence that have come from Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas this week. Democrats have released three sets of Parnas documents this week after his attorney provided materials to the committee last weekend, and Parnas did television interviews with CNN and MSNBC in which he implicated Trump and said the efforts were ‘all about 2020.'” See also, House releases new impeachment evidence linking Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, to Lev Parnas, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Friday, 17 January 2020: “House impeachment investigators sought Friday to pull Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, deeper into the Ukraine scandal at the center of President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial. A set of text messages released Friday evening by the Intelligence Committee show a top Nunes aide, Derek Harvey, in frequent contact with Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who has become a key figure in the Ukraine controversy that resulted in Trump’s impeachment last month. In one exchange, Harvey appears to pass along Nunes’ contact information two days before the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report indicated that a phone connected to Nunes made contact with a phone connected to Parnas.” See also, Democrats Release More Material From Lev Parnas on Ukraine Campaign, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Friday, 17 January 2020: “House Democrats released another round of information on Friday that raised questions about elements of the impeachment inquiry, including allegations about the surveillance of the United States ambassador in Ukraine and efforts by an aide to a top congressional Republican to pursue investigations sought by President Trump. The information came from the electronic devices of Lev Parnas, the businessman who worked with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to pursue the pressure campaign on Ukraine at the center of the impeachment trial. Mr. Parnas, who is facing federal campaign finance charges in Manhattan, has publicly turned on Mr. Trump and his allies. He petitioned the court to allow him to release the information to Congress, and has offered to testify in the impeachment trial and to cooperate with prosecutors in New York investigating Mr. Giuliani. And he undertook a media tour of sorts this week in which he claimed that the president ‘knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.’… The documents released by House Democrats included WhatsApp messages between Mr. Parnas and Derek Harvey, an aide to Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a leading defender of Mr. Trump. Mr. Nunes has suggested that Mr. Trump and his allies were justified in pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his family and Ukrainians who released information about Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.”

Continue reading Week 157, Friday, 17 January – Thursday, 23 January 2020 (Days 1,093-1,099)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 156: Friday, 10 January – Thursday, 16 January 2020 (Days 1,086-1,092)

 

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, 10 January 2020, Day 1,086:

 

Pelosi Alerts House to Be Ready to Send Impeachment Articles Next Week, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi alerted lawmakers on Friday that she would move next week to send to the Senate articles of impeachment against President Trump, making a long-awaited announcement that paved the way for the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. The speaker’s statement effectively ended an impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s Senate trial in limbo for weeks. She did not announce which Democrats would manage the case, but said the House should be ready to appoint them next week and to formally deliver the Senate charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress…. Throughout the delay, the speaker had insisted that she was merely pushing for a fairer Senate proceeding after Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, promised publicly to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s legal team to secure a quick acquittal. Democrats claimed the maneuver successfully spotlighted the need for the Senate to hear from witnesses and see documents that Mr. Trump barred from the House impeachment inquiry. She ultimately failed to win any concessions from Republicans on the terms of the trial….” See also, Pelosi moves to end Trump impeachment standoff and signals she will send articles to Senate, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, Friday, 10 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved Friday to end a three-week standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signaling that she will send articles of impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate next week, paving the way for a likely acquittal of President Trump. Pelosi (D-Calif.), who made the announcement in a letter to colleagues sent moments after lawmakers left Washington for the week, relented without securing the concessions she sought from McConnell (R-Ky.) — in particular, a detailed blueprint for how the coming Senate trial will proceed.” See also, Pelosi ends standoff with Senate Republicans over impeachment articles, Politico, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Pelosi prepares to send articles of impeachment to the Senate, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Haley Byrd, and Manu Raju, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Read Pelosi’s letter saying she is preparing for a vote next week to send articles of impeachment to the Senate, CNN Politics, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, House to Send Articles of Impeachment to Senate Next Week, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine is working with a ‘small group’ of Republican senators to allow impeachment witnesses, Bangor Daily News, Michael Shepherd, Friday, 10 January 2020: “U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told reporters on Friday she is working with a “fairly small group” of fellow Republican senators toward a goal of ensuring witnesses can be called in the chamber’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The president is nearly a sure bet to be acquitted in the Republican-led Senate and the trial could start as early as next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, indicated on Friday that she will send the House’s two impeachment articles to the upper chamber.”

U.S. Unsuccessfully Tried Killing a Second Iranian Military Official, The New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Edward Wong, and Julian E. Barnes, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The American military unsuccessfully tried to kill a senior Iranian military official in Yemen on the same day a drone strike killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, according to American officials. The disclosure of a second mission indicated that the Trump administration had plans for a broader campaign than was previously known [and] intended to cripple Iran’s ability to carry out proxy wars in other countries. After Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes on Iraqi bases that host American troops, both Washington and Tehran appear to have stepped back from escalating the conflict further, at least for now. The unsuccessful airstrike in Yemen was aimed at Abdul Reza Shahlai, an official with Iran’s Quds Force, a potent military organization that General Suleimani had led. Mr. Shahlai was known as a main organizer of financing for Shiite militias in the region.” See also, On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they targeted a senior Iranian official in Yemen, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Missy Ryan, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 10 January 2020: “On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top-secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander in Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The unsuccessful operation may indicate that the Trump administration’s killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week was part of a broader operation than previously explained, raising questions about whether the mission was designed to cripple the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or solely to prevent an imminent attack on Americans as originally stated. U.S. military operations in Yemen, where a civil war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, are shrouded in secrecy. U.S. officials said the operation against Shahlai remains highly classified, and many declined to offer details other than to say it failed.” See also, US unsuccessfully targeted another Iranian military official on the same day as Soleimani, CNN Politics, Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, and Ryan Browne, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Officials Say U.S. Targeted but Missed Senior Iranian Commander in Yemen, The Wall Street Journal, Michael R. Gordon and Warren P. Strobel, Friday, 20 January 2020. See also, Trump administration’s shifting stories fuel doubts over justification for Soleimani strike, CNN Politics, Nicole Gaouette, Jennifer Hansler, and Jamie Crawford, Friday, 10 January 2020: “A week after the US killed Iran’s second most powerful official, spiking tensions in the region and triggering fears of war, the Trump administration continues to present conflicting justifications for the deadly Reaper drone strike and clashing narratives about what has followed. Again and again, President Donald Trump’s national security officials have contradicted each other about how imminent a threat Qasem Soleimani posed, whether they had specific intelligence on the threat and even what that threat was, with Trump saying one thing then another, while officials offered varying explanations.” See also, The Real Backstory of Why Trump Ordered the Killing of Suleimani Is Becoming More Clear, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Friday, 10 January 2020.

Iran Says It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian Airliner, The New York Times, Farnaz Fassihi, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Iran’s military announced early Saturday that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error because of what it called the plane’s sharp, unexpected turn toward a sensitive military base. After days of tension since the jet crashed near Tehran on Wednesday, the same day that Iranian missiles struck American bases in Iraq, the admission was a stunning reversal. Iran initially maintained that mechanical issues had brought the Boeing airliner down, killing all 176 people aboard.” See also, Furor in Iran and Abroad After Tehran Admits Downing Ukrainian Jetliner, The New York Times, Anton Troianovski, Andrew E. Kramer, and Farnaz Fassihi, published on Saturday, 11 January 2020: “Iran’s stunning admission that its forces errantly downed a Ukrainian jetliner — reversing three days of denial — did little to quell growing fury inside the country and beyond on Saturday as the deadly tragedy turned into a volatile political crisis for Tehran’s leaders and overshadowed their struggle with the United States.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Imposes Additional Sanctions on Iran, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The Trump administration slapped another round of sanctions on Iran on Friday and, brushing aside demands from Democrats for evidence, elaborated on its assertions that the decision to kill a top Iranian commander was justified by an imminent threat to United States embassies and other American interests.” See also, Trump administration hits Iran with fresh sanctions after attack on U.S. forces, The Washington Post, Carol Morello, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The Trump administration hit Iran with more sanctions Friday in the first concrete response to the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq this week, which were in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed the most powerful Iranian military commander. The sanctions target Iran’s metal industries, and eight senior military and national security officials who U.S. officials said were involved in the ballistic missile attacks on two bases in Iraq that house U.S. military personnel.” See also, US imposes new sanctions on Iran, CNN Politics, Donna Borak, Betsy Klein, and Jennifer Hansler, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Trump now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, and Seung Min Kim, Friday, 10 January 2020: “President Trump said on Friday that a senior Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, a claim made to justify the decision but that was at odds with intelligence assessments from senior officials in Trump’s administration.” Trump Says 4 Embassies Had Been Targeted by Iranians. He also asserted that he did not believe American citizens had a right to more details on the intelligence that prompted the killing of Iranian general Qassim Suleimani. The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 10 January 2020.

Continue reading Week 156, Friday, 10 January – Thursday, 16 January 2020 (Days 1,086-1,092)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 155: Friday, 3 January – Thursday, 9 January 2020 (Days 1,079-1,085)

 

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, 3 January 2020, Day 1,079:

 

U.S. and Iran Exchange More Threats as Democrats Question Timing of The Killing of Major General Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Peter Baker, Edward Wong, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The United States and Iran exchanged escalating military threats on Friday as President Trump warned that he was ‘prepared to take whatever action is necessary’ if Iran threatened Americans and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed to exact vengeance for the killing on Mr. Trump’s order of Iran’s most valued general. Although the president insisted that he took the action to avoid a war with Iran, the continuing threats further rattled foreign capitals, global markets and Capitol Hill, where Democrats demanded more information about the strike and Mr. Trump’s grounds for taking such a provocative move without consulting Congress. Democrats also pressed questions about the attack’s timing and whether it was meant to deflect attention from the president’s expected impeachment trial this month in the Senate. They said he risked suspicion that he was taking action overseas to distract from his political troubles at home, as in the political movie ‘Wag the Dog.'” See also, Congressional Leaders Call for Details After U.S. Airstrike on Suleimani, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The top Senate Republican said on Friday that the administration would brief all senators next week on the United States drone strike ordered by President Trump that killed Iran’s top security commander. The morning after the strike on the powerful commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, lawmakers divided sharply along party lines over a move that could escalate United States tensions with Iran, which Mr. Trump undertook without authorization from Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, lauded the strike as long-overdue justice…. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called on the administration to ‘immediately’ provide answers to lawmakers, chiding Mr. Trump for failing to consult with congressional leaders on its rationale, strategy and plans for the aftermath before launching the strike.” See also, The Killing of General Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike, The New York Times, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Qassim Suleimani, Master of Iran’s Intrigue, Built a Shiite Axis of Power in the Mideast, The New York Times, Tim Arango, Ronen Bergman, and Ben Hubbard, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Maps: How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated, The New York Times, Sarah Almukhtar, Falih Hassan, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Lauren Leatherby, Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi, and Jin Wu, Friday, 3 December 2020. See also, Iranian General Suleimani Traveled With Impunity, Until U.S. Drones Found Him. Trump’s decision to kill General Suleimani was one that his predecessors, Bush and Obama, had rejected, fearing it would lead to war. The New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Friday, 3 January 2020: “[E]arly Friday, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone … — operating under President Trump’s orders — fired missiles into a convoy carrying General Suleimani as it was leaving Baghdad’s international airport. What remained unclear is why Mr. Trump chose this moment to strike the top military leader of Iran, after two presidents before him opted not to do so, out of concern that killing the general could incite a wider war with Iran. National security experts and even officials at the Pentagon said there was nothing new about Iranian behavior in recent months or even weeks; General Suleimani has been accused of prodding Shiite militias into attacking Americans for more than a decade. American officials have also blamed him, for more than a decade, of working with organizations in other countries, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel as well as the Houthis in Yemen, to attack American allies and interests. Senior Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, repeatedly said on Friday that new attacks under General Suleimani’s leadership were imminent. But one Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, said that there was nothing new in the threat presented by the Iranian general. And critics of the strike questioned whether its timing was meant to influence public opinion as Mr. Trump faces impeachment.” See also, What to Know About the Death of Iranian General Suleimani, The New York Times, Karen Zraick, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, With Suleiman Assassination, Trump Is Doing the Bidding of Washington’s Most Vile Cabal, The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill, Friday, 3 January 2020: “There’s no justification for assassinating foreign officials, including Suleimani. This is an aggressive act of war, an offensive act committed by the U.S. on the sovereign territory of a third country, Iraq…. Trump campaigned on belligerence toward Iran and trashing the Obama-led Iran nuclear deal, and he has followed through on those threats, filling his administration with the most vile, hawkish figures in the U.S. national security establishment. After appointing notorious warmonger John Bolton as national security adviser, Trump fired him last September. But despite reports that Trump had soured on Bolton because of his interventionist posture toward Iran, Bolton’s firing merely opened the door for the equally belligerent Mike Pompeo to take over the administration’s Iran policy at the State Department.” See also, Targeted Killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani Puts U.S. at Crossroads in Middle East, The Wall Street Journal, Michael R. Gordon, Nancy A. Youssef, and Vivian Salama, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Trump’s plans to reduce military footprint in the region are now at risk after the airstrike that killed Soleimani…. Last month, the Pentagon began considering whether to send yet more forces—potentially as many as 14,000 additional troops, which could include sailors aboard ships. The promise of additional forces doesn’t guarantee that Iran won’t retaliate, Pentagon officials conceded. ‘They are going to respond. They have to,’ said a defense official.” See also, The Dangers Posed by the Killing of Qassem Suleimani, The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The killing of Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian commander targeted by an American strike Thursday night, is the most consequential act taken against the regime in Tehran in thirty years—even if we don’t know what those consequences will be. One thing is clear: we’re entering a dangerous period, in which the conflict between the two countries could easily spin out of control.” See also, The Killing of Qassem Suleimani Is Tantamount to an Act of War, The New Yorker, Robin Wright, Friday, 3 January 2020: “On orders from President Trump, the United States killed Major General Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s élite Quds Force and the mastermind of its military operations across the Middle East, in an overnight air strike at Baghdad’s International Airport. The assassination was the boldest U.S. act in confronting Iran since the 1979 revolution, tantamount to an act of war. A brief statement from the Pentagon described it as a ‘decisive defensive action’ designed to protect U.S. personnel abroad. But the strike represented a stunning escalation between Washington and Tehran, and it may well have the reverse effect. Iran almost certainly will want to respond in some lethal form, whether directly or through its powerful network of proxies in the region. U.S. embassies and military bases—and thousands of American personnel across the Middle East and South Asia, and potentially beyond—were instantly vulnerable. On Friday, the State Department ordered all Americans to leave Iraq.” See also, Iran vows revenge for U.S. killing of top commander as Trump sends more troops to the region, The Washington Post, Louisa Loveluck, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Iran vowed revenge on Friday in response to a U.S. airstrike that killed Tehran’s most powerful military commander, sharpening tensions across the Middle East as the Trump administration said it was sending thousands of troops to bolster security in the region.” See also, U.S. strike on top Iranian commander sharply divides Congress, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Hannah Knowles, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Hours after ordering a lethal airstrike against an Iranian leader, President Trump endorsed a tweet comparing the top Senate Democrat to longtime adversary Iran, suggesting that neither could be trusted, as Democratic leaders criticized the White House for acting without congressional input. Amid a flurry of reactions from U.S. lawmakers on Friday, Trump retweeted conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who in response to a headline about Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) not receiving advance notice wrote: ‘Neither were the Iranians, and for pretty much the same reason.'” See also, How Trump decided to kill a top Iranian general, The Washington Post, Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey, Dan Lamothe, and John Hudson, Friday, 3 January 2020.  See also, Qasem Soleimani: Who was Iran’s powerful military leader? The Washington Post, Adam Taylor, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Trump plunges toward the kind of Middle Eastern conflict he pledged to avoid, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Robert Costa, and Anne Gearan, published on Saturday, 4 January 2020: “With a single momentous decision to authorize a drone strike killing a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, President Trump immediately thrust himself into the center of a volatile and unpredictable region — taking his presidency into just the kind of foreign entanglement he pledged to avoid. Trump followed early Friday’s targeted strike on Qasem Soleimani — the leader of Iran’s special operations forces abroad — with a decision to send an additional 3,500 soldiers to the Middle East to respond to the heightened tensions.” See also, The killing of Qassem Suleimani and the road to war with Iran, Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Presidents Obama and Bush never took shots to kill Suleimani, fearing war with Iran. Trump went ahead and did it. Does that mean we’re now at war with Iran? Experts’ initial reactions, it seems, have fallen on a spectrum—from let’s keep things in perspective to war is now inevitable to we’re already there. (In The Atlantic, Andrew Exum, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy under Obama, wrote that the killing of Suleimani ‘doesn’t mean war, it will not lead to war, and it doesn’t risk war. None of that. It is war.’)… Last night, as reporters scrambled to fill in the details of Suleimani’s killing, news outlets turned repeatedly to press releases, including the Pentagon’s assurance that the strike on Suleimani ‘was aimed at deterring future attack plans.’ As the Post’s Josh Rogin tweeted, ‘By the Pentagon’s own logic, if Iran retaliates, the strike mission failed its key goal. Remember that.’ That’s sound advice. Already, Iran is promising ‘harsh retaliation.’See also, Trump said in 2011 that Obama would start a war with Iran to get re-elected: ‘He has no ability to negotiate,’ Independent, Kate Ng, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Vice President Mike Pence Links Suleimani to 9/11. The Public Record Doesn’t Back Him. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Trump Told Mar-a-Lago Pals to Expect ‘Big’ Iran Action ‘Soon,’ Daily Beast, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng, Erin Banco, and Betsy Swan, Friday, 3 January 2020: “In the five days prior to launching a strike that killed Iran’s most important military leader, Donald Trump roamed the halls of Mar-a-Lago, his private resort in Florida, and started dropping hints to close associates and club-goers that something huge was coming. According to three people who’ve been at the president’s Palm Beach club over the past several days, Trump began telling friends and allies hanging at his perennial vacation getaway that he was working on a ‘big’ response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very ‘soon.'”

Trump Rule Would Mean Federal Agencies Would No Longer Have to Take Climate Change Into Account When They Assess the Environmental Impacts of Highways, Pipelines, and Other Major Infrastructure Projects, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 3 January 2020: “Federal agencies would no longer have to take climate change into account when they assess the environmental impacts of highways, pipelines and other major infrastructure projects, according to a Trump administration plan that would weaken the nation’s benchmark environmental law. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act could sharply reduce obstacles to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other fossil fuel projects that have been stymied when courts ruled that the Trump administration did not properly consider climate change when analyzing the environmental effects of the projects. According to one government official who has seen the proposed regulation but was not authorized to speak about it publicly, the administration will also narrow the range of projects that require environmental review. That could make it likely that more projects will sail through the approval process without having to disclose plans to do things like discharge waste, cut trees or increase air pollution.” See also, Trump Administration update of key environmental law would exclude climate change, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, and Brady Dennis, Friday, 3 January 2020: “The Trump administration will instruct federal agencies to no longer take climate change into account when measuring the impact of major infrastructure projects, according to two senior administration officials — a sweeping overhaul of one of the nation’s most consequential environmental laws. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act are aimed at speeding approvals for pipelines, oil and gas leases, highway construction and other kinds of development. The law, which was last updated in 1978, has proved one of the most potent stumbling blocks to President Trump’s push to accelerate oil, gas and coal extraction across the country.”

The Australia Wildfires in Pictures: Images of destruction, escape, and the struggle to contain dozens of blazes as the country faces one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history, The New York Times, Friday, 3 January 2020: “One of the worst wildfire seasons in Australian history has killed at least 18 people, destroyed more than 1,000 homes and left firefighters struggling to contain more than 100 blazes. Conditions are likely to grow worse, with high temperatures and strong winds expected to fan conflagrations across Australia’s southeast this weekend.” See also, Bracing for an Even Worse Weekend of Australia Fires, The New York Times, Isabella Kwai, Daniel Victor, and Jamie Tarabay, Friday, 3 January 2020. See also, Millions of Australians Are Choking on Smoke From Wildfires, The New York Times, Nadja Popovich, Friday, 3 January 2020.

Continue reading Week 155, Friday, 3 January – Thursday, 9 January 2020 (Days 1,079-1,085)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 154, Friday, 27 December 2019 – Thursday, 2 January 2020 (Days 1,072- 1,078)

 

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, 27 December 2019, Day 1,072:

 

Anguish and Anger From the Navy SEALs Who Turned In Edward Gallagher. Video interviews and group texts obtained by The Times show men describing their platoon leader in grim terms. The New York Times, Dave Philipps, Friday, 27 December 2019: “Video recordings of the interviews obtained by The New York Times, which have not been shown publicly before, were part of a trove of Navy investigative materials about the prosecution of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher on war crimes charges including murder. They offer the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect Chief Gallagher from the punishment. ‘The guy is freaking evil,’ Special Operator Miller told investigators. ‘The guy was toxic,’ Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. ‘You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving,’ Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators. Such dire descriptions of Chief Gallagher, who had eight combat deployments and sometimes went by the nickname Blade, are in marked contrast to Mr. Trump’s portrayal of him at a recent political rally in Florida as one of ‘our great fighters.’… Platoon members said they saw Chief Gallagher shoot civilians and fatally stab a wounded captive with a hunting knife. Chief Gallagher was acquitted by a military jury in July of all but a single relatively minor charge, and was cleared of all punishment in November by Mr. Trump.” See also, Four-Star Retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey Slams Trump’s Behavior in Navy Seal Controversy: If He Were a General, ‘We’d Fire Him,’ Newsweek, Jennifer Doherty, published on Saturday, 28 December 2019.

Federal judge to halt latest North Carolina voter ID law, CBS News, Associated Press, Friday, 27 December 2019: “Republican attempts to require photo identification to vote in North Carolina are being thwarted again by judges hearing arguments that the mandate is tainted by bias that would deter black and Latino residents. A federal court announced that next week U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs will formally block a photo ID requirement scheduled to begin in 2020. Unless the upcoming preliminary injunction is successfully appealed, the requirement will be halted until a lawsuit filed by the state NAACP and others is resolved. Thursday’s short written notice from the federal court in Winston-Salem previewed Biggs’ order because state election officials were planning to expand efforts to educate voters about the ID law within days. Although the mandate would be carried out beginning with the March 3 primary, the requirement would actually start in just a few weeks with mail-in absentee ballot filers, who also would have to provide an ID copy.” See also, Federal Judge Backs Georgia’s Purge of Nearly 100,000 Voters, The New York Times, Elisha Brown, Wednesday, 27 December 2019: “A federal judge on Friday backed Georgia’s removal of nearly 100,000 names from the state’s voter rolls. The decision comes as state officials face accusations of voter suppression, particularly against black and low-income voters. Scrutiny of voting rights in Georgia has been heightened since the governor’s race in 2018 brought long lines at polling sites and criticism of outdated voting machines. In the ruling, the judge, Steve C. Jones, said the lead plaintiff, Fair Fight Action, a voting rights advocacy organization, did not prove that the Georgia secretary of state’s decision to cancel the voter registration status of inactive voters violated the United States Constitution.” See also, Federal judge will not reverse Georgia’s decision to purge 100,000 voters, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Saturday, 28 December 2019: “Georgia does not have to reinstate almost 100,000 voters removed from its rolls this month, a federal judge ruled Friday, backing the state over activists who said the purge violates people’s rights. The decision is a victory for officials who called the removals routine and a blow to voting rights advocates who worry that such purges will disenfranchise Democratic-leaning low-income voters, young people and people of color. Georgia’s recent removal of more than 300,000 voters has launched a fight over registrations in a state where last year’s tight race for governor led to allegations of voter suppression and an investigation in Congress. A group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost the gubernatorial race, has sought to undo much of the latest purge, which came days after a judge backed cutting as many as 234,000 voters in Wisconsin, another state that will be closely watched in 2020. Abrams’s group, Fair Fight Action, argues that 98,000 voters who were cut should have stayed on the rolls for longer under a change this year to state law that extends the process leading up to a voter’s removal. It also contends that Georgia has violated the Constitution by removing voters over-zealously for inactivity, echoing others around the country concerned by ‘use it or lose it’ policies.”

Congress Wants to Force Trump’s Hand on Human Rights in China and Beyond, The New York Times, Edward Wong and Catie Edmondson, Friday, 27 December 2019: “In a rare show of bipartisan unity, Republicans and Democrats are planning to try to force President Trump to take a more active stand on human rights in China, preparing veto-proof legislation that would punish top Chinese officials for detaining more than one million Muslims in internment camps. The effort comes amid growing congressional frustration with Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to challenge China over human rights abuses, despite vivid news reports this year outlining atrocities, or to confront such issues globally.”

Continue reading Week 154, Friday, 27 December – Thursday, 2 January 2020 (Days 1,072-1,078)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 153, Friday, 20 December – Thursday, 26 December 2019 (Days 1,065-1,071)

 

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, 20 December 2019, Day 1,056:

 

Evangelical Leaders Close Ranks With Trump After Scathing Editorial in Christianity Today, The New York Times, Elizabeth Dias and Jeremy W. Peters, Friday, 20 December 2019: “The publication is small, reaching just a fraction of the evangelical movement. But when Christianity Today called for President Trump’s removal in a blistering editorial on Thursday, it met the full force and fury of the president and his most prominent allies in the Christian conservative world. If the response seemed disproportionate, it vividly reflected the fact that white evangelicals are the cornerstone of Mr. Trump’s political base and their leaders are among his most visible and influential supporters…. Mr. Trump, after being impeached this week, is extremely sensitive to any signs of a fracture in his political coalition and has repeatedly insisted that the Republican Party and its voters are unanimously behind him. And on Friday he lashed out on two separate occasions at Christianity Today, seeking to brand it as a ‘far left magazine’ that was doing the Democratic Party’s bidding.” See also, Trump rages at Christian magazine that called him ‘grossly immoral,’ but he still finds evangelical support, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Friday, 20 December 2019: “President Trump, whose reelection campaign is counting on unstinting support from white evangelicals, mounted a fierce attack Friday against a prominent Christian magazine that harshly criticized his behavior, repudiated his actions toward Ukraine and said he should be removed from office. Trump’s evangelical supporters rushed to defend him, attempting to portray Christianity Today, which was founded by late famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, as an outlier and not representative of the voters that comprise their movement. But the magazine’s unsparing Thursday editorial, which said Trump has a ‘grossly immoral character’ and should be removed out of ‘loyalty to the creator of the Ten Commandments,’ clearly rattled the White House and the evangelical leaders who have tied themselves closely to the president…. Beneath the president’s angry outbursts lies a fear that, ahead of the 2020 election, Trump could lose some evangelical supporters, who as a group have remained durably bonded to him despite his payments to an adult-film star after allegations of an affair; attacks on war heroes, congressional widows and a teenage climate activist; boasts of sexual assault caught on tape; and the regular use of profanity at rallies from behind the presidential lectern.”

Trump administration demanded Democrats strip Ukraine aid language from spending package, The Washington Post, Erica Werneer, Friday, 20 December 2019: “Senior Trump administration officials in recent days threatened a presidential veto that could have led to a government shutdown if House Democrats refused to drop language requiring prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine, according to five administration and congressional officials. The language was ultimately left out of mammoth year-end spending legislation that passed the House and Senate this week ahead of a Saturday shutdown deadline. The White House said President Trump signed the $1.4 trillion package Friday night. The Ukraine provision was one of several items the White House drew a hard line on during negotiations to finalize the spending legislation, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the developments. It would have required the White House to swiftly release $250 million in defense money for Ukraine that was part of the spending package.” See also, Administration Threatened Veto Over Ukraine Aid in Spending Package, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Annie Karni, Friday, 20 December 2019.

Top scientists warn of an Amazon ‘tipping point,’ The Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, Friday, 20 December 2019: “Deforestation and other fast-moving changes in the Amazon threaten to turn parts of the rainforest into savanna, devastate wildlife and release billions of tons carbon into the atmosphere, two renowned experts warned Friday. ‘The precious Amazon is teetering on the edge of functional destruction and, with it, so are we,’ Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University and Carlos Nobre of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, both of whom have studied the world’s largest rainforest for decades, wrote in an editorial in the journal Science Advances. ‘Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.’ Combined with recent news that the thawing Arctic permafrost may be beginning to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an accelerating pace, it’s the latest hint that important parts of the climate system may be moving toward irreversible changes at a pace that defies earlier predictions.”

Continue reading Week 153, Friday, 20 December – Thursday, 26 December 2019 (Days 1,065-1,071)

[Read more…]

Trump Administration, Week 152, Friday, 13 December – Thursday, 19 December 2019 (Days 1,058-1,064)

 

 

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, 13 December 2019, Day 1,058:

 

House Judiciary Committee Approves Impeachment Articles and Sends Charges for a House Vote, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 13 December 2019: “A fiercely divided House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Friday, setting up a historic vote as early as next week before the full House that would make him only the third president to be impeached. The impeachment articles, passed over fierce Republican protests, accused the president of abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress. The votes and a fractious two-day debate preceding them reflected the realities of the hyperpartisan divisions in American politics that have grown wider during Mr. Trump’s three years in office.” See also, House set for historic floor vote next week after the House Judiciary Committee approves two articles of impeachment against Trump, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, John Wagner, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 13 December 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Friday, officially laying out charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a historic step toward removing him from office. With the party-line 23-to-17 vote, Trump became only the fourth president in U.S. history to face impeachment for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ The committee took just 10 minutes to approve both articles, following a 14-hour session Thursday, teeing up a history-making floor vote next week and a Senate trial in January to determine Trump’s fate.” See also, House Judiciary Committee sends articles of impeachment to the floor for vote next week, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee approves articles of impeachment, paving way for floor vote, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee Approves Trump Impeachment Articles, Setting Up a Full House Vote Next Week, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes and Natalie Andrews, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, House Judiciary Committee votes to advance articles of impeachment against Trump, The Guardian, Tom McCarthy, Friday, 13 December 2019. See also, The House Judiciary Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment, The Nation, John Nichols, Friday, 13 December 2019: “‘Abuse of presidential power and obstruction of Congress are the highest of constitutional crimes and the gravest of betrayals,’” Pramila Jayapal said during Friday’s vote.” See also, Fact-based impeachment can’t penetrate the pro-Trump Web, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Friday, 13 December 2019: “As the House Judiciary Committee convened Friday to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump, a watch party got underway in a private Facebook group that rallies its more than 75,000 members around the banner, ‘THE TRUMP DEPLORABLES.’ The comments that streamed forth in the group illustrate how Trump’s most ardent supporters have fashioned alternative realities for themselves — as well as for Republican lawmakers aiming to turn the charge of corruption back on those investigating the president. The feed — from Fox News, a major source of news for the president’s supporters — showed the same scene available to viewers tuning in on various networks all over the country. But in the online enclave where the self-described ‘deplorables’ had gathered to watch the committee vote, Democrats are the lawbreakers who ‘should be impeached,’ as one viewer wrote. Trump’s word is truth. And the federal employees who question his version of events are not just mistaken, they are ‘scum,’ as Trump labeled members of the intelligence community at a rally this week in Hershey, Pa. The decision by the committee’s Republicans to close ranks around the president, as Democrats in a party-line vote approved two articles of impeachment, may have prompted head-scratching among Americans who learned on the nightly news or read on mainstream websites or in the morning paper how Trump had turned American policy in Ukraine toward his own ends. But the defense mounted by Trump’s allies made perfect sense to those following live on social media, in groups sealed off from general scrutiny, where facts are established by volume, and confirmation comes from likes.”

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Trump Can Block the Release of His Financial Records, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 13 December 2019: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether President Trump can block the release of his financial records, setting the stage for a blockbuster ruling on the power of presidents to resist demands for information from prosecutors and Congress. The court’s ruling, expected by June, could require disclosure of information the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect. Or the justices could rule that Mr. Trump’s financial affairs are not legitimate subjects of inquiry so long as he remains in office. Either way, the court is now poised to produce a once-in-a-generation statement on presidential accountability. The case will test the independence of the court, which is dominated by Republican appointees, including two named by Mr. Trump. In earlier Supreme Court cases in which presidents sought to avoid providing evidence, the rulings did not break along partisan lines.” See also, Supreme Court will take up Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 13 December 2019: “The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether President Trump may shield disclosure of his financial information from congressional committees and a New York prosecutor, raising the prospect of a landmark election-year ruling on a president’s immunity from investigation while he is in office. Trump asked the court to accept the cases, and they will be heard in March, with a ruling before the court’s session ends in late June. It means that whatever the outcome of Trump’s separate impeachment proceedings, the controversies over investigations into Trump’s conduct will continue into the heart of the presidential election campaign.” See also, Supreme Court to hear Trump pleas to block subpoenas for financial records, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Friday, 13 December 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Coordinating With the White House, Lays Plans for Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 13 December 2019: “With the House headed to a vote to impeach President Trump next week, Senator Mitch McConnell was working hand in hand with the White House to make plans for a Senate trial, a proceeding steeped in tradition and rules but one fraught with political peril for vulnerable Republicans. Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had no preference for how the trial — expected to begin in early January — unfolds, but he has privately pushed for a prolonged process that would allow him to mount a theatrical defense. Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has resisted that idea in favor of a shorter, more dignified event. Outraged Democrats, meanwhile, accused Mr. McConnell on Friday of abandoning his duty to render ‘impartial justice’ in an impeachment trial — a response to a television interview in which Mr. McConnell dismissed House Democrats’ articles of impeachment as ‘so darn weak.’ He added that he was ‘taking my cues’ from the White House in shaping the trial…. Representative Val B. Demings, Democrat of Florida and a member of the House Judiciary Committee who is being mentioned as a possible House manager during the impeachment trial, … called Friday for Mr. McConnell to recuse himself from the proceedings. ‘No court in the country would allow a member of the jury to also serve as the accused’s defense attorney,’ Ms. Demings said in a statement. ‘The moment Senator McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation of that oath.'” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vow of ‘total coordination’ with the White House on Senate impeachment trial angers Democrats, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 13 December 2019: “In a late Thursday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, McConnell (R-Ky.) all but guaranteed a Trump acquittal, saying there was ‘zero chance’ the president would be removed from office, and promised ‘total coordination’ with the White House and Trump’s defense team. ‘The case is so darn weak coming over from the House,’ he said. ‘We all know how it’s going to end.’ Those remarks infuriated House Democrats as they voted to advance the fourth-ever set of presidential impeachment articles toward a Senate trial where, they said, the fix appeared to be in…. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) [called] on McConnell to recuse himself from the Senate proceedings based on his Fox News remarks. ‘He’s working hand in hand with the White House, the president’s attorney, and yet we are supposed to expect him to manage a fair and impartial impeachment inquiry?’ she said.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will work in ‘total coordination’ with the White House on impeachment trial. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reminds senators they will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice.’ ABC News, Mariam Khan and Libby Cathey, Friday, 13 December 2019: “[Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer released a statement Friday on the heels of McConnell’s comments, reminding his colleagues about the oath they must take before the trial to ‘render impartial justice. If articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate, every single senator will take an oath to render “impartial justice.” Making sure the Senate conducts a fair and honest trial that allows all the facts to come out is paramount,’ Schumer said, citing the Senate rules for impeachment trials.”

Continue reading Week 152, Friday, 13 December – Thursday, 19 December 2019 (Days 1,058-1,064)

[Read more…]