Trump Administration, Week 118: Friday, 19 April – Thursday, 25 April 2019 (Days 820-826)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. 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, 19 April 2019, Day 820:


House Democrats Subpoena the Full Mueller Report and the Underlying EvidenceThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 19 April 2019: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena on Friday demanding that the Justice Department hand over an unredacted version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and the evidence underlying it by May 1, and pledged ‘major hearings’ on its findings. The subpoena, one of the few issued thus far by House Democrats, escalates a fight with Attorney General William P. Barr over what material Congress is entitled to see from the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, asked for all evidence obtained by Mr. Mueller’s investigators, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence — and indicated he intended to air it to the public. ‘Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates,’ Mr. Nadler said in a statement. ‘It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.’ The subpoena was sent as House Democrats, who have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings if they so choose, debate how to proceed with the new evidence handed over Thursday by Mr. Mueller. Democratic-led committees have already initiated their own investigations of Russian election influence, as well as obstruction of justice and abuse of power, which can incorporate the findings in the shorter term. But there were also new calls in the wake of the report from the party’s left flank — including Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat running for president — to go further and open a formal impeachment inquiry.” See also, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler subpoenas the Department of Justice for the full version of the Mueller reportPolitico, Caitlin Oprysko, Kyle Cheney, and Andrew Desideerio, Friday, 19 April 2019: “House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Friday issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to the underlying grand jury evidence and testimony. The subpoena, which demands the material by May 1, escalates the House’s confrontation with Attorney General William Barr, whom Democrats have accused of whitewashing Mueller’s findings and misleading the public about the nature of the special counsel’s conclusions in order to protect President Donald Trump.” See also, House issues subpoena for full unredacted version of the Mueller reportThe Guardian, Lauren Gambino and Jon Swaine, Friday 19 April 2019. See also, Mueller report updates: Trump and his supporters seek to turn a page, as Democrats issue a subpoena for the full special counsel’s report that details what they say is ‘alarming’ behaviorThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 19 April 2019. See also, William Barr Misled Everyone About the Mueller Report. Now Democrats Are Calling for His Resignation. The Intercept, James Risen, Friday, 19 April 2019: “Attorney General William Barr is coming under increasing fire from congressional Democrats for statements he made before the release of the Mueller report. Critics say the remarks purposefully downplayed how damaging special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was for President Donald Trump. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Friday morning that his committee has issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to obtain the full, unredacted report. The subpoena demands that the Justice Department turn over the report by May 1. Nadler also asked Mueller to testify before his committee. ‘It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings,’ Nadler said. Critics said both Barr’s press conference and the four-page letter were part of Barr’s attempt to whitewash the Mueller report’s findings.”

Trump Lashes Out as Mueller Report Reverberates Around WashingtonThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Vivian Salama, and Natalie Andrews, Friday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump declared parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report ‘total bullshit’ Friday as House Democrats demanded an unredacted version of a document whose findings reverberated through the capital. Mr. Trump in recent weeks had hailed the report as having exonerated him, after Attorney General William Barr in a letter to Congress said the special counsel hadn’t established collusion with Russians or decided to charge the president with obstruction of justice. On Friday, Mr. Trump questioned the authenticity of administration aides’ notes that informed their accounts of the president’s efforts to interfere in the investigation, calling parts of the report ‘fabricated & totally untrue.'” See also, Trump uses profanity to complain about the Mueller report, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner, Thursday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump sought Friday to discredit portions of the special counsel’s report in which others described behavior that could be seen as obstruction of justice, calling their assertions ‘total bullshit.’ Less than 24 hours ago, Trump and his allies took a victory lap after the 448-page redacted report was made public, saying that the findings fully exonerate him. But in morning tweets, Trump complained about the report’s finding, arguing that because he chose not to testify during the probe, he never got to tell his side of the story.” See also, Trump blames former White House counsel Donald McGahn after Mueller paints damning portrait with notes from White House aidesThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Robert Costa, Friday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump seethed Friday over the special counsel’s portrayal of his protracted campaign to thwart the Russia investigation and directed much of his ire at former White House counsel Donald McGahn, whose ubiquity in the report’s footnotes laid bare his extensive cooperation in chronicling the president’s actions. Some of the report’s most derogatory scenes were attributed not only to the recollections of McGahn and other witnesses but also to the contemporaneous notes kept by several senior administration officials — the kind of paper trail that Trump has long sought to avoid leaving. Many White House aides use pen and paper both as a defensive mechanism — such as when then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly documented Trump’s move to grant security clearances to his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — and as a means of creating the first draft of a page-turning presidency. But the fact that some of those notes became primary source material for Mueller to paint a vivid portrait of Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation angered the president, who was stewing over the media coverage as he decamped to Florida for the holiday weekend, according to people familiar with his thinking.” See also, A day after celebrating the Mueller report as a vindication, Trump seems to be souring on its conclusionsPolitico, Nancy Cook, Andrew Restuccia, and Caitlin Oprysko, Friday, 19 April 2019.  See also, Reaction to the Mueller Report One Day After Its ReleaseThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Michael Tackett, Friday, 19 April 2019. See also, Trump campaign punishes Don McGahn’s law firmPolitico, Nancy Cook, Friday, 19 April 2019: “The Trump campaign has hired its own in-house attorney for its 2020 reelection bid — shifting future business away from Jones Day, the law firm, that has represented Trump since his first run for president.”

See Which Sections of the Mueller Report Were RedactedThe New York Times, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Derek Watkins, and Karen Yourish, Friday, 19 April 2019: “About 10 percent of the special counsel’s 448-page report is blacked out. A bird’s-eye view of the report reveals the pattern of redactions. More is kept secret in the first volume of the report, which covers Russian interference in the 2016 election, than in the second, which covers possible obstruction of justice…. A majority of the redactions, about 69 percent in total, were made because the material related to ongoing investigations. 18 percent of the redactions were based on legal rules that generally forbid the disclosure of grand jury material. 8 percent of the redactions were related to classified information that intelligence officials feared could compromise sensitive sources and methods. 5 percent of the redactions were made because the material infringed on personal privacy.” See also, Mueller report offers clues to what’s behind the redactionsThe Washington Post, Joe Fox, John Muyskens, and Danielle Rindler, Friday, 19 April 2019: “Of the 448 pages in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, 178 pages — 39 percent — contain a redaction. In many cases, context and other clues offer insight into what might be behind the black boxes. Attorney General William P. Barr’s office grouped redactions into four categories. The vast majority of redactions were material from grand jury proceedings, kept secret by law, or details whose public disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations. To a lesser degree, material was redacted if it could ‘compromise sources and methods’ used in intelligence gathering or would ‘unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.’ The first volume of the report, which deals with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, is the most heavily redacted. It contains almost all of the report’s grand jury redactions. The second volume, which deals with the question of whether President Trump obstructed justice, was most often redacted because of harm to ongoing investigations.”

Continue reading Week 118, Friday, 19 April – Thursday, 25 April 2019 (Days 820-826)

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Trump Administration, Week 117: Friday, 12 April – Thursday, 18 April 2019 ( Days 813-819)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. 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.


Friday, 12 April 2019, Day 813:


Concerns of young protesters about climate change are justifiedScience, Gregor Hagedorn, Peter Kalmus, Michael Mann, Sara Vicca, Joke Van den Berge, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Dominique Bourg, Jan Rotmans, Roope Kaaronen, Stefan Rahmstorf, Helga Kromp-Kolb, Gottfried Kirchengast, Reto Knutti, Sonia I. Seneviratne, Philippe Thalmann, Raven Cretney, Alison Green, Kevin Anderson, Martin Hedberg, Douglas Nilsson, Amita Kuttner, and Katharine Hayhoe, Friday, 12 April 2019: “The world’s youth have begun to persistently demonstrate for the protection of the climate and other foundations of human well-being. As scientists and scholars who have recently initiated similar letters of support in our countries, we call for our colleagues across all disciplines and from the entire world to support these young climate protesters. We declare: Their concerns are justified and supported by the best available science. The current measures for protecting the climate and biosphere are deeply inadequate.”

Trump Says He Is Considering Releasing Migrants in ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ a Day After His Administration Said the Policy Proposal Was Never Seriously ConsideredThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 12 April 2019: “President Trump said on Friday that he was open to releasing migrants detained at the border into mostly Democratic ‘sanctuary cities,’ suggesting that the idea should make liberals ‘very happy’ because of their immigration policies. Mr. Trump’s comments came a day after his administration said the policy proposal was never seriously considered. But after the president’s Twitter posts on Friday, a White House spokesman said Democrats should work with the administration to welcome migrants into their districts…. Democratic lawmakers do not want ‘open borders,’ as the president has suggested. They favor improving border security, but they do not support many of Mr. Trump’s hard-line immigration policy proposals, such as building a wall along the southwestern border…. Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a state with several sanctuary cities, criticized the president’s proposal. ‘Trump’s plan to release migrants into “enemy” cities as if they are some kind of contagion is reprehensible,’ Mr. Markey wrote in a Twitter post. ‘Trump is obsessed with the border and sanctuary cities because he only wins by dividing people.'” See also, Trump says he is giving ‘strong considerations’ to releasing immigrant detainees in ‘sanctuary cities,’ The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey, John Wagner, and Rachael Bade, Friday, 12 April 2019: “President Trump moved aggressively Friday to take ownership of an internal White House plan to release immigrant detainees into ‘sanctuary cities’ that his aides had sought to minimize a day earlier by saying it was shelved months ago after only informal consideration. Directly contradicting his staff, Trump declared in a tweet that he was giving the plan ‘strong considerations,’ and, at an event later in the day, sarcastically challenged Democrats in liberal jurisdictions to accept the immigrants with ‘open arms.’ The president said that if Congress refuses to change immigration laws to allow his administration to more quickly deport a surge of asylum-seeking Central American families, ‘we’ll bring — I call them the “illegals” because they enter the country illegally — to sanctuary cities and areas and let those particular areas take care of it.'” See also, Trump threatens to send undocumented immigrants to sanctuary citiesPolitico, Rebecca Morin, Friday, 12 April 2019. See also, Seattle isn’t afraid of immigrants, Mr. TrumpThe Washington Post, Jenny A. Durkan, Friday, 12 April 2019: Jenny A. Durkan, a Democrat, is mayor of Seattle. “Here’s a message to President Trump: Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees. In fact, we have always welcomed people who have faced tremendous hardships around the world. Immigrants and refugees are part of Seattle’s heritage, and they will continue to make us the city of the future. What does scare us? A president and federal government that would seek to weaponize a law enforcement agency to punish perceived political enemies. A would-be despot who thinks the rule of law does not apply to him.”

Trump Urged Homeland Security Official Kevin McAleenan to Close the Border Despite an Earlier Promise of a DelayThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, and Eric Schmitt, Friday, 12 April 2019: “President Trump last week privately urged Kevin McAleenan, the border enforcement official he was about to name as acting secretary of homeland security, to close the southwestern border to migrants despite having just said publicly that he was delaying a decision on the step for a year, according to three people briefed about the conversation. It was not clear what Mr. Trump meant by his request or his additional comment to Mr. McAleenan that he would pardon him if he encountered any legal problems as a result of taking the action. Federal judges have already blocked the administration’s attempts to limit asylum seekers who illegally enter the country, and it is not likely that Mr. McAleenan would have ended up in jail if he had followed the president’s directive. One of the people briefed on the conversation said it was possible Mr. Trump had intended the comments to Mr. McAleenan as a joke. But the conversation, which took place during the president’s visit to the border town of Calexico, Calif., alarmed officials at the Department of Homeland Security who were told of it, according to the people familiar with the remarks. It was another instance of the president trying to undo a decision and to stretch the boundaries of his power, even when told there were legal issues at stake. The same situation played out on Friday, when Mr. Trump said he was considering releasing asylum seekers into so-called sanctuary cities after administration officials told reporters the proposal was rejected because of legal issues.”

Continue reading Week 117, Friday, 12 April – Thursday, 18 April 2019 (Days 813-819)

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Trump Administration, Week 116: Friday, 5 April – Thursday, 11 April 2019 (Days 806-812)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 5 April 2019, Day 806:


Trump Lawyer Asserts President’s Right to Keep Tax Returns PrivateThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 5 April 2019: “President Trump’s personal lawyer on Friday asserted Mr. Trump’s right as a citizen to keep his tax returns private and told the Treasury Department not to hand the returns over to House Democrats, foreshadowing what has the potential to be a far-reaching legal fight that could reach the Supreme Court. The lawyer, William S. Consovoy, argued that Democrats who have demanded to see Mr. Trump’s tax information had no legitimate legislative reason to request it and that Representative Richard E. Neal’s decision this week to ask for six years of the president’s personal and business returns flouts ‘fundamental constitutional constraints.’… Mr. Consovoy’s views have no direct bearing on the case. The little known tax code provision employed by the Democrats in demanding Mr. Trump’s returns says only that the Internal Revenue Service ‘shall furnish’ the information, giving it and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, little leeway in deciding how to respond…. Mr. Neal made the request through an obscure but frequently used provision of the federal tax code — Section 6103 — that allows Congress’s tax-writing committees to view tax information on any filer.” See also, Trump lawyer calls on the Treasury to reject Democrats’ demand for tax returns until the Justice Department weighs inThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 5 April 2019: “An attorney for President Trump on Friday told the Treasury Department it should not turn over the president’s tax returns until it receives a legal opinion from the Justice Department, calling on Treasury to deny Democrats’ demands for six years of the president’s records…. On Wednesday, Neal formally requested that the Internal Revenue Service, which is part of the Treasury Department, turn over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. A 1924 law cited by Neal states that the treasury secretary ‘shall furnish . . . any return or return information specified’ in a request from the head of the House or Senate tax-writing committees. Trump has for months signaled he would resist attempts to compel him to turn over his taxes.” See also, Trump’s Lawyer Urges the IRS to Reject Democrats’ Demand for Trump’s Tax ReturnsThe Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, Friday, 5 April 2019: “A lawyer for President Trump said that House Democrats’ request for the president’s tax returns flouts constitutional constraints and should be rejected by the Internal Revenue Service…. Mr. Trump broke a four-decade tradition among presidents and major-party candidates in 2016 when he refused to disclose his tax returns. He sometimes has said he would release his returns once audits are complete, and he sometimes has said that no one cares about his taxes.”

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals narrows path for disclosure of grand jury information in Mueller reportPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Friday, 5 April 2019: “A federal appeals court on Friday tossed an obstacle in the way of grand jury information in special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report being released directly to the public, but the decision may not slow disclosure of that material to Congress. The decision from a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals did not directly address Mueller’s report, but involved a grand jury investigation more than six decades ago into the disappearance of a Columbia University professor and political activist, Jesús Galíndez. In the new ruling, the panel majority concluded that federal district court judges lack the authority to order the release of typically secret grand jury material except in situations specially authorized in a federal court rule. While there is no exception that covers cases of intense political or historical interest, courts have repeatedly held that they have “inherent authority” to make such disclosures in unusual cases. However, the D.C. Circuit decision Friday sided with a long-standing Justice Department position that those rulings were mistaken and a formal change to the grand jury secrecy rule would be needed to give judges that power.” See also, Federal Appeals court in D.C. rules judges may not create exceptions to grand-jury secrecy rulesThe Washington Post, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 5 April 2019: “The federal appeals court in Washington on Friday ruled that grand-jury testimony and information may be disclosed only to prosecutors, defendants and other grand juries and that judges may not carve out exceptions to the secrecy already mandated by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The split decision, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, could lead to further confusion over the public release of the report written by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III documenting his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as related investigative materials.”

Trump Administration’s Census Citizenship Question Plans Are Halted by 3rd Federal JudgeNPR, Hansi Lo Wang, Friday, 5 April 2019: “The Trump administration’s plans to add a hotly contested citizenship question to the 2020 census have suffered another major blow in the courts. The question asks, ‘Is this person a citizen of the United States?’ A third federal judge has found the decision to include it on forms for the national head count to be unlawful. ‘The unreasonableness of Defendants’ addition of a citizenship question to the Census is underscored by the lack of any genuine need for the citizenship question, the woefully deficient process that led to it, the mysterious and potentially improper political considerations that motivated the decision and the clear pretext offered to the public,’ wrote U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland in a 119-page opinion released Friday.” See also, Federal judge in Maryland blocks Trump administration’s plan to add citizenship question to 2020 CensusThe Washington Post, Tara Bahrampour, Friday, 5 April 2019: “A federal judge in Maryland ruled Friday against the government’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the third decision against the Trump administration on the issue. Judge George J. Hazel, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt, found that the government violated administrative law when it decided to add the question last year. The ruling, like two earlier ones, is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.”

Continue reading Week 116, Friday, 5 April – Thursday, 11 April 2019 (Days 806-812)

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Trump Administration, Week 115: Friday, 29 March – Thursday, 4 April 2019 (Days 799-805)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 29 March 2019, Day 799:


Attorney General William Barr Says Mueller Report Will Be Redacted and Made Public by Mid-AprilThe New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 29 March 2019: “The special counsel’s report on the investigation into Russia’s election interference will be made public by mid-April, Attorney General William P. Barr told lawmakers on Friday, adding that the White House would not see the document before he sent it to Congress. ‘Everyone will soon be able to read it,’ Mr. Barr wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the congressional judiciary committees. Prosecutors from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and other law enforcement officials are scouring the report for sensitive information to black out before releasing it, including secret grand jury testimony, classified materials and information about other continuing federal investigations, Mr. Barr wrote. He said the report — which covers Moscow’s campaign to sabotage the 2016 presidential race, whether any Trump associates conspired and whether the president obstructed the inquiry — was nearly 400 pages, plus supplements. He said he planned to testify on Capitol Hill in early May, shortly after the report’s release, to discuss it with lawmakers.” See also, Attorney General William Barr tells Congress the Mueller report will be delivered by ‘mid-April, if not sooner,’ The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Friday, 29 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report detailing his investigation of President Trump and Russia’s election interference will be delivered to Congress ‘by mid-April, if not sooner,’ Attorney General William P. Barr said Friday in a letter offering important new details about how the document will be edited before its public release.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress detailing plans to deliver the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Friday, 29 March 2019. See also, 5 takeaways from William Barr’s letter about releasing the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 29 March 2019.  See also, Attorney General William Barr Plans Mid-April Release of Redacted Mueller ReportThe Wall Street Journal, Byron Tau, Friday, 29 March 2019: “The Justice Department expects to release a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference by mid-April, the attorney general told Congress, in the face of continued pressure from Democrats demanding to see the full document.” See also, Democrats stand firm on early April deadline for Mueller reportThe Hill, Friday, 29 March 2019: “House Democrats are standing by their April 2 deadline for the Justice Department to send special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report to Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asserted in a statement Friday that the deadline ‘still stands’ after Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers he expects to have the report ready to send to Congress and release publicly by mid-April, ‘if not sooner.’ Nadler also welcomed Barr’s willingness to testify to Congress on May 2 and said he would take that date under consideration; however, he underscored that House Democrats view it as ‘critical’ that the attorney general appear before the committee ‘immediately’ to explain his four-page letter from Sunday outlining Mueller’s core findings. ‘As I informed the Attorney General earlier this week, Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2,’ Nadler said in a statement Friday afternoon. ‘That deadline still stands.'”

Trump signs permit for construction of controversial Keystone XL pipelineThe Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 29 March 2019: “President Trump signed a new order Friday granting permission for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, marking the White House’s latest effort to jump-start one of the most controversial infrastructure proposals in recent U.S. history. Trump’s presidential permit gives TransCanada, the Calgary-based firm behind the project, permission to ‘construct, connect, operate and maintain’ the pipeline in U.S. territory. The order appears aimed at addressing a ruling from a federal court judge in Montana last fall, who halted the project after finding the Trump administration had inadequately considered the environmental impact of the project before allowing it to move forward. That ruling faulted the State Department for not doing a sufficient review as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. But because that law applies to agency actions, as opposed to those by the White House, the president may be able to sidestep the issue by granting the permit himself rather than delegating the cross-border permit to the secretary of state.”

Trump Directs the State Department to End Aid to 3 Central American CountriesThe New York Times, Katie Rogers, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 29 March 2019: “President Trump said on Friday that there would be a ‘very good likelihood’ that he would seal off the United States border with Mexico next week, even as he moved to punish Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for migrant caravans by cutting off all foreign aid to the countries. The moves escalated a sustained berating of countries he blames for being unable to stop the flow of migrants trying to make their way north.” See also, Trump plans to cut U.S. aid to 3 Central American countries in fight over U.S.-bound migrants, The Washington Post, Mary Beth Sheridan and Kevin Sieff, published on 30 March 2019.

Continue reading Week 115, Friday, 29 March – Thursday, 4 April 2019 (Days 799-805)

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Trump Administration, Week 114: Friday, 22 March – Thursday, 28 March 2019 (Days 792-798)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 22 March 2019, Day 792:


Special Counsel Robert Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General William BarrThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Benner, Friday, 22 March 2019: “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Friday delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years. Mr. Barr told congressional leaders in a letter that he may brief them on the special counsel’s ‘principal conclusions’ as early as this weekend, a surprisingly fast turnaround for a report anticipated for months. The attorney general said he ‘remained committed to as much transparency as possible.’ In an apparent endorsement of an investigation that Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked as a ‘witch hunt,’ Mr. Barr said Justice Department officials never had to intervene to keep Mr. Mueller from taking an inappropriate or unwarranted step. The department’s regulations would have required Mr. Barr to inform the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees about any such interventions in his letter. A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments, a statement aimed at ending speculation that Mr. Trump or other key figures might be charged down the line. With department officials emphasizing that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry was over and his office closing, the question for both Mr. Trump’s critics and defenders was whether the prosecutors condemned the president’s behavior in their report, exonerated him — or neither. The president’s lawyers were already girding for a possible fight over whether they could assert executive privilege to keep parts of the report secret.” See also, Read Attorney General William Barr’s Letter to Congress on the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Mueller report sent to Attorney General William Barr, signaling his Russia investigation has endedThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III submitted a long-awaited report to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday, marking the end of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. The submission of Mueller’s report ends his closely watched inquiry — a case that has engulfed the Trump administration since its inception, leading to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers. A senior Justice Department official said the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments — a revelation that buoyed Trump’s supporters, even as other Trump-related investigations continue in other parts of the Justice Department. It is also unclear whether a Mueller report that does not result in additional charges could still hurt the president politically.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s letter about the Mueller report, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is officially completePolitico, Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Robert Mueller’s Report on Trump-Russia Investigation Is Delivered to Attorney General William BarrThe Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and Byron Tau, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller presented his long-awaited report to the Justice Department on Friday, ending his nearly two-year investigation that has loomed over the Trump presidency and likely setting up a political battle over what he has found. In a letter to the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Attorney General William Barr said Mr. Mueller had concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters, and he said he would be able to alert Congress to Mr. Mueller’s ‘principal conclusions’ as soon as this weekend. Those conclusions are expected to be made public, though it remains unclear whether Mr. Barr will at some point release the full report, which President Trump and lawmakers from both parties have called for. If he doesn’t, he could face a tussle with Congress.” See also, Who Is William Barr: He Will Decide What Happens With Mueller’s ReportThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Demand Full and Immediate Release of the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Richaed Fausset and Maggie Astor, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Democratic presidential candidates wasted no time Friday evening demanding the immediate public release of the long-awaited report from Robert S. Mueller III, with several saying that Americans deserved to know any findings about President Trump, Russia and the 2016 election in order to form judgments about Mr. Trump and the 2020 race.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report. Now Attorney General William Barr must share it with the rest of us. The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Friday, 22 March 2019: “It was the announcement that Washington has awaited for nearly two long, tweet-filled years: Attorney General William P. Barr told Congress on Friday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has completed his report on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. The report is now on Mr. Barr’s desk. The question is how much of it will move from there into the hands of Congress and the public…. As Mr. Barr considers what to release publicly, he must keep in mind that the Mueller inquiry is no ordinary investigation. Typically, the Justice Department is wary of revealing investigative information that did not lead to an indictment. This is the right instinct: It guards against law enforcement dragging people through the mud when prosecutors do not have enough evidence to charge them formally. But an attack on the country’s democracy — and senior officials’ response — is a national concern with unusual importance to the country’s politics and policy. Part of the point is to educate the public and reform the law to better prepare for further foreign intrusions. Mr. Mueller’s conclusions and supporting evidence must be released.” See also, I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can–and should–release the Mueller report. The Washington Post, Neal Kumar Katyal, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Will the Mueller Report Be Made Public? Answers to 6 Key Questions. The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 22 March 2019.

‘If you took it all in in one day, it would kill you’: What Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has already revealedThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 22 March 2019: “He pulled back the curtain on a sophisticated Kremlin hacking operation — identifying by name the 12 Russian military officers who he said sought to sway a U.S. election. He exposed a Russian online influence campaign — bringing criminal charges against the 13 members of a Russian troll farm now accused of trying to manipulate U.S. voters and sow division through fake social media personae. And he revealed how those closest to President Trump defrauded banks, cheated on their taxes and, time and time again, lied to deflect inquiries into their ties with Russia. After 22 months of meticulous investigation, charges against 34 people — including six former Trump aides or confidants — and countless hours of all-consuming news coverage, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Friday submitted the long-anticipated report on his findings to Attorney General William P. Barr.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Team Has Told Its Story of an Aggressive Russian Campaign to Upend the 2016 Presidential Election in a Series of Indictments and Court DocumentsThe Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha and WSJ Graphics, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Even before the release of any final report on his investigation, [court] documents detail allegations of a highly coordinated Russian effort and outline Moscow’s intersection with several figures in then-candidate Donald Trump’s orbit. Moscow denies interference, and Mr. Trump denies any collusion with Russia. Here is a timeline of alleged events, according to documents from the Mueller probe.” See also, Mueller Has Delivered His Report. Here’s What We Already Know. The New York Times, Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish, published on Wednesday, 20 March 2019. See also, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone: The Mueller IndictmentsThe New York Times, Scott Dodd, Friday, 22 March 2019: “The investigation of Robert S. Mueller III, who submitted his report to the Justice Department on Friday, has already revealed a range of events related to Russian interference in the 2016 election and produced a series of high-profile indictments. Six people connected to President Trump have been charged by the special counsel with an array of crimes, including financial fraud and lying to Congress and investigators. Five have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Twenty-eight others, including 26 Russians, also face charges.” See also, For Trump and the System, Mueller’s Report Is a Turning Point and a TestThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 22 March 2019: “[W]hatever the final conclusions, the Mueller investigation has already cast a cloud over Mr. Trump and his presidency. The special counsel has demonstrated that Russia intervened in the 2016 election with the goal of helping Mr. Trump, that the Trump campaign welcomed Russians promising incriminating information on behalf of their government about Hillary Clinton and that his advisers knew about stolen Democratic emails in advance. The investigation has demonstrated as well that Mr. Trump was seeking to do business in Russia even as a presidential candidate longer than he had previously disclosed and that he surrounded himself with crooks and liars in the form of advisers who repeatedly dissembled to investigators. That includes his campaign chairman, who is going to prison for that and a variety of financial crimes.” See also, Russia, Trump, and Mueller: The Major Moments in the CaseThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Scott Shane, Friday, 22 March 2019.

Democrats will direct the FBI and White House counsel to preserve records shared with Special Counsel Robert MuellerThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Rachael Bade, Friday, 22 March 2019: “The Democratic chairs of the six House committees investigating potential abuse of power by President Trump and his campaign’s business and alleged foreign ties will ask several executive branch agencies to preserve information they provided to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to congressional aides familiar with the plan. The six House leaders and their Senate Democratic counterparts have signed a letter that will be sent to the Department of Justice, FBI and White House Counsel’s Office, among other agencies, shortly after Mueller submits his report to Attorney General William P. Barr, signaling the investigation’s conclusion. It is an effort to ensure the agencies retain correspondence, memos, reports and other material should the committees request it, the aides said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss lawmakers’ planning.”

Continue reading Week 114, Friday, 22 March – Thursday, 28 March 2019 (Days 792-798)

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Trump Administration, Week 113: Friday, 15 March – Thursday, 21 March 2019 (Days 785-791)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 15 March 2019, Day 785:


Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque massacre: 49 confirmed dead in shootings; four arrested–three men and one womanNew Zealand Herald, Friday, 15 March 2019: “Forty-nine people have been killed and 48 more hurt after mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques in the worst terror attack on New Zealand soil…. [Prime Minister Jacinda] Ardern said it was an ‘unprecedented’ situation and described it as a terrorist attack. ‘It is clear that this can only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects’ vehicles have been found and they have been disarmed.’ Those in custody had not been on any terrorism watch list: ‘It’s not a matter of someone having slipped under the radar,’ Ardern said.” See also, Boundless racism, zero remorse: A statement of hate and 49 dead in New Zealand mosque massacreThe Washington Post, Marc Fisher and Joel Achenbach, Friday, 15 March 2019: “The alleged shooter in the New Zealand mosque massacre was a globe-trotting young Australian and avowed racist who immersed himself in an Internet subculture of extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, white supremacist ideology. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, was captured and arrested Friday in Christchurch, where he is alleged to have shot and killed 49 people in terrorist attacks on two mosques a few miles apart. He was charged with murder and appeared in court on Saturday. Tarrant had no criminal record and was not previously known to investigators who follow extremist groups. Australia’s prime minister said authorities are investigating a detailed, lurid guide to Tarrant’s plans, ideas and inspirations, a 74-page manifesto that was left behind after the attack and on a Twitter account Tarrant created three days before the shootings. The account had zero followers until after Tarrant’s name circulated after Friday’s assault…. The manifesto indicates that he moved to New Zealand to stage his alleged attack, which he had been planning for two years. His aim, he said, was to defend ‘our lands’ from ‘invaders,’ to ‘reduce immigration rates’ and to deepen division and start a civil war in the United States…. In the manifesto, Tarrant posed a series of questions to himself. ‘Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?’ the author of the manifesto wrote. The reply: ‘As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policymaker and leader? Dear god no.’… ‘Do you feel any remorse for the attack?’ ‘No, I only wish I could have killed more invaders, and more traitors as well.'” See also, Main suspect in terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand that killed 49 appears in courtThe Washington Post, Emanuel Stoakes and Gerry Shih, published on Saturday, 16 March 2019.  See also, The New Zealand mosque shooter, steeped in online culture, knew how to make his massacre go viralThe Washington Post, Abby Ohlheiser, Friday, 15 March 2019. See also, Christchurch Shooting Live Updates: 49 Are Dead After 2 Mosques Are HitThe New York Times, Friday, 15 March 2019: “Forty-nine people were killed in shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, in a terrorist attack that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as ‘an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.’ Officials said that one man in his late 20s had been charged with murder, and that two explosive devices were found attached to a vehicle that they had stopped. A Muslim leader in New Zealand said the attack was especially shocking as it took place around Friday Prayer. The police urged people to stay away from the mosques until further notice. A video and manifesto that appeared to be by a gunman involved in the shooting were posted online on the day of the attack.” See also, New Zealand Massacre Suspect Traveled the World but Lived on the InternetThe New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick, Friday, 15 March 2019: “He announced his mass killing over social media and filmed it live on the internet. He shared a 74-page online manifesto peppered with sarcastic jokes about popular culture, repeating well-known internet memes and striving to mint new ones. He even laid out his explanation in a ‘Q. and A.’ format, as though in an interview, with asides to imagine the reactions.”

Pictures From Youth Climate Strikes Around the WorldThe New York Times, Friday, 15 March 2019: “From Sydney to Seoul, Cape Town to New York, children skipped school en masse Friday to demand action on climate change. It was a stark display of the alarm of a generation. It was also a glimpse of the anger directed at older people who have not, in the protesters’ view, taken global warming seriously enough.” See also, School climate strikes draw thousands to the streets in cities around the globeThe Washington Post, Griff Witte, Sarah Kaplan, and Brady Dennis, Friday, 15 March 2019: “A movement that began with a single teenager [Greta Thunberg] protesting outside the Swedish parliament last summer became a global phenomenon Friday, as hundreds of thousands of students worldwide skipped school and took to the streets to demand urgent action on climate change.

The Trump administration is opening millions of new acres to drilling–and that’s just the startThe Washington Post, Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 15 March 2019: “The Trump administration is aggressively pressing ahead in expanding federal oil and gas industry leases that could lead to more drilling on land and at sea, defying an assessment by government scientists that the production and use of fossil fuels is accelerating climate change. On Friday, the administration announced a final decision to lift protections for a uniquely American bird, called the greater sage grouse, on nearly 9 million acres to provide more leasing opportunities to oil, gas and mining industries. A day earlier, an Interior Department assistant secretary confirmed that he told leaders of the fossil fuel industry last month that the Atlantic coast will almost certainly be included in the administration’s plan to expand federal leasing to nearly the entire outer continental shelf. Offshore leases haven’t been granted in the Atlantic for decades, and drilling hasn’t been allowed for a half-century.” See also, Trump Administration Loosens Sage Grouse Protections, Benefiting Oil CompaniesThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Friday, 15 March 2019: “The Trump administration on Friday finalized its plan to loosen Obama-era protections on the habitat of the sage grouse, an imperiled ground-nesting bird that roams across 10 oil-rich Western states. The plan, which would strip away protections for the bird on nearly nine million acres of land in the West — making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on that land — was first detailed in a draft proposal published in December. The sage grouse plan is the latest step in a series of moves by the Trump administration to promote oil and gas drilling on public land, in support of what President Trump has called a policy of American ‘energy dominance.’ The architect of the plan, David Bernhardt, is a former oil lobbyist who now serves as acting head of the Interior Department. Mr. Trump has nominated Mr. Bernhardt to formally assume the position of interior secretary.”

Continue reading Week 113, Friday, 15 March – Thursday, 21 March 2019 (Days 785-791)

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Trump Administration, Week 112: Friday, 8 March – Thursday, 14 March 2019 (Days 778-785)

Image may contain: 5 people, including Jessica Dils, people smiling, tree, grass, outdoor and nature


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 8 March 2019, Day 778:


House Passes Democrats’ Centerpiece Anti-Corruption and Voting Rights BillThe New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 8 March 2019: “The House passed the Democrats’ showcase anti-corruption and voting rights legislation on Friday, an expansive measure that aims to dismantle barriers to the ballot box, end big money in politics and impose stricter ethics rules on federal officials. The sweeping legislation, passed 234-193, makes good on the campaign pledge to clean up Washington that helped catapult Democrats into the majority. It also serves as a campaign platform for Democrats ahead of 2020. It has virtually no chance of passing the Senate…. The ambitious compendium, at nearly 700 pages, includes proposals designating Election Day as a federal holiday, automatically registering citizens to vote, and restoring voting rights to people who have served felony sentences. It also creates a six-to-one matching system for donations of up to $200 to congressional and presidential candidates who reject high-dollar contributions, funded by an additional fine on corporations found to have broken the law.” See also, House Democrats pass H.R. 1, their answer to draining the swampThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner, Friday, 8 March 2019: “The House approved a far-reaching elections and ethics bill Friday — one that would change the way congressional elections are funded, impose new voter-access mandates on states and, in one of several provisions targeting President Trump, force disclosure of presidential candidates’ tax returns. Democrats dubbed the bill H.R. 1, a designation meant to signal its place as a centerpiece of their congressional agenda. The measure, which has more than 500 pages, contains dozens of provisions favored by liberal advocacy groups, labor unions and other Democratic allies.” See also, House Passes the Most Significant Democracy Reform Bill in a Generation, Mother Jones, Ari Berman, Friday, 8 March 2019: “The House of Representatives on Friday passed the most significant democracy reform bill introduced in Congress since the Watergate era by a vote of 234 to 193. The sweeping bill, known as HR 1: the For the People Act, would massively expand voting rights, crack down on gerrymandering, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and require sitting presidents and presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns.” See also, House passes sweeping election reform billPolitico, Zach Montellaro, Friday, 8 March 2019. See also, House Passes Extensive Election and Campaign Finance Overhaul BillNPR, Miles Parks, Friday, 8 March 2019.

Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon and FacebookThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Friday, 8 March 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is bidding to be the policy pacesetter in the Democratic presidential primary, championed another expansive idea on Friday evening in front of a crowd of thousands in Queens: a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook…. Ms. Warren’s policy announcement sent reverberations from New York to Silicon Valley, as she further cemented herself as one of the Democratic candidates most willing to call for large-scale changes to the country’s structure in the name of equality.” See also, Elizabeth Warren’s new plan: Break up Amazon, Google, and FacebookCNN, MJ Lee, Lydia DePillis, and Gregory Krieg, Friday, 8 March 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren released an aggressive plan on Friday to break up tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook, targeting the power of Silicon Valley with her populist message as sprawling Internet giants face mounting political backlash ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The far-reaching proposal would impose new rules on certain kinds of tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to spin off parts of their companies and relinquish their overwhelming control over online commerce. The plan also aims to unwind some of the highest profile mergers in the industry, like the combinations of Amazon and Whole Foods, and Google and DoubleClick, as well as Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.” See also, Elizabeth Warren Calls for the Breakup of Amazon, Google, and FacebookThe Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall and Jacob Schlesinger, Friday, 8 March 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat running for president, on Friday called for the breakup of Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google,  and Facebook Inc., taking an aggressive populist stance against some of the nation’s most powerful companies. ‘Today’s big tech companies have too much power—too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy,’ Ms. Warren said in an online post. ‘They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation. My administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition—including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google,’ Ms. Warren said.”

Bill Shine Resigns as White House Communications DirectorThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, Friday, 8 March 2019: “Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive who joined the White House staff last summer to manage President Trump’s communications operation, has resigned and will move to the president’s re-election campaign, the White House announced Friday…. Mr. Shine’s presence in the White House was seen as emblematic of how closely Mr. Trump has aligned himself with Fox, a symbiotic relationship that drew a critical appraisal in a much-read New Yorker article published this week. Mr. Trump has given the network about 45 interviews as president, using it to communicate with his most fervent supporters even as he embraces lines of argument that its hosts advance…. Mr. Shine had spent more than a year searching for another job after he was ousted from Fox [in May 2017] amid the scandal surrounding Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and the accusations of sexual harassment that were made against them. Mr. Shine was not himself accused of improper behavior, but was faulted for a culture that sought to cover it up. The White House became his road to redemption.” See also, Bill Shine abruptly resigns as White House communications chiefThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and David Nakamura, Friday, 8 March 2019.

Continue reading Week 112, Friday, 8 March – Thursday, 14 March 2019 (Days 778-784)

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Trump Administration, Week 111: Friday, 1 March – Thursday, 7 March 2019 (Days 771-777)

Image may contain: 2 people, crowd and outdoor

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 1 March 2019, Day 771:


House Democrats Demand Information From the White House About Security ClearancesThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 1 March 2019: “A powerful Democratic House committee chairman investigating possible abuses of the government’s security clearance process stepped up demands on Friday to see key documents and interview potential witnesses from the White House in light of a new report that President Trump personally intervened to grant his son-in-law a top-secret clearance despite legal and national security concerns. The chairman, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who leads the House Oversight and Reform Committee, accused the White House in a new letter of stonewalling his requests for information and implied that if it did not comply voluntarily, he would issue a subpoena to compel its cooperation. He said the report, published by The New York Times, added new concerns that Mr. Trump was lying to the public about his role in the clearance process to existing and broader questions about irregularities surrounding who should have access to sensitive government secrets. ‘If true, these new reports raise grave questions about what derogatory information career officials obtained about Mr. Kushner to recommend denying him access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets,’ Mr. Cummings wrote in a letter to Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. The letter went on to ask about ‘why President Trump concealed his role in overruling that recommendation, why General Kelly and Mr. McGahn both felt compelled to document these actions, and why your office is continuing to withhold key documents and witnesses from this Committee.'” See also, House investigators demand ‘immediate’ compliance from the White House on turning over documents related to security clearance of Jared KushnerThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, John Wagner, and Shane Harris, Friday, 1 March 2019: “House investigators are demanding that the White House turn over documents related to the security clearances of top officials by Monday, an escalation of a fight between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration that could lead to subpoenas in the coming days. The move follows the revelation that President Trump interceded to give his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance despite concerns from intelligence and White House officials about Kushner’s contacts with foreign individuals and his failure to disclose them on his clearance application. Both of those factors ordinarily would all but guarantee that an applicant not be given access to government secrets. Overriding those concerns, the president in May 2018 directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to approve the clearance application. Kelly, who had already stripped Kushner of an interim, temporary clearance, documented the president’s intervention in a memo.”

Jay Inslee, Washington Governor and Environmentalist, Enters the 2020 Democratic RaceThe New York Times, Kirk Johnson, Friday, 1 March 2019: “Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington and former member of Congress who has made climate change and the environment his signature issues, jumped into the crowded field of 2020 Democratic contenders for president on Friday. Mr. Inslee, 68, has led the state during a powerful economic expansion since taking office as governor in 2013, especially in the Seattle area. Amazon and other tech companies have hired tens of thousands of workers, and export-driven manufacturers like Boeing have boomed. But he has had mixed success in getting some of his ideas put into practice, especially those on renewable, low-carbon energy. He failed twice with voters, and once in the Legislature, to enact the nation’s first carbon tax, aimed at reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Many residents, elected officials and business leaders balked, concerned that energy costs would rise.” See also, Jay Inslee on the IssuesThe New York Times, Maggie Astor, Friday, 1 March 2019. See also, Washington Governor Jay Inslee joins the 2020 Democratic presidential fieldThe Washington Post, David Weigel, Chelsea Janes, and John Wagner, Friday, 1 March 2019: “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday became the latest Democrat to launch a 2020 presidential bid, asserting that he is the only candidate who will make combating climate change the nation’s top priority. ‘Whether we shrink to this challenge or rise to it is the vital question of our time,’ Inslee said at an event staged at a solar installation company in Seattle. ‘We have one chance to defeat climate change, and it is right now. It is my belief when you have one chance in life, you take it.'” See also, Washington Governor Jay Inslee launches presidential campaignPolitico, Daniel Strauss, Friday, 1 March 2019: “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday morning that he is running for president, pledging to put the environment at the heart of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. ‘I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number one priority,’ Inslee said in a video launching his campaign.”

U.S. Issues New Penalties Against Venezuelan Officials, Vowing ‘Maduro Must Go,’ The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 1 March 2019: “The Trump administration issued a new round of visa restrictions and economic sanctions on Friday against the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who has given little indication that he will cede control despite a prediction by a top American envoy that his ‘dictatorship’ would come to an end, ‘quickly and peacefully.’ The envoy, Elliott Abrams, also noted the possibility of American military intervention, as requested by Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader. But he described it as a distant line of action behind other moves meant to ratchet up diplomatic and economic pressure against Mr. Maduro.”

Continue reading Week 111, Friday, 1 March – Thursday, 7 March 2019 (Days 771-777)

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Trump Administration, Week 110: Friday, 22 February – Thursday, 28 February 2019 (Days 764-770)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 22 February 2019, Day 764:


Trump Administration Blocks Funds for Planned Parenthood and Others Over Abortion ReferralsThe New York Times, Pam Belluck, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Trump administration announced on Friday that it will bar organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal family planning money, a step that could strip millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and direct it toward religiously-based, anti-abortion groups. The new federal rule is almost certain to be challenged in court. Clinics will be able to talk to patients about abortion, but not where they can get one. And clinics will no longer have to counsel women on all reproductive options, including abortion, a change that will make anti-abortion providers eligible for funding. The rule, which has been expected for months, is the most recent step by the Trump administration to shift the direction of federal health programs in a conservative direction. The administration has expanded the ability of employers to claim religious or moral objections to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that they offer employees insurance coverage for contraception. It has channeled funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and family planning grants into programs that emphasize sexual abstinence over contraception.” See also, Trump administration bars clinics that provide abortions or abortion referrals from federal fundingThe Washington Post, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Trump administration took aim at Planned Parenthood Friday, issuing a rule barring groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program — a move expected to redirect tens of millions of dollars from the women’s health provider to faith-based groups. The change means federally funded family planning clinics can no longer refer a patient for abortion and must maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the government and any organization that provides abortions or abortion referrals. Groups receiving money under the Title X program, which serves an estimated 4 million low-income women, were already prohibited from performing abortions with those funds.” See also, Trump administration issues rule to strip millions from Planned ParenthoodPolitico, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Trump administration issued a final rule on Friday that could effectively cut off tens of millions of federal family planning dollars to Planned Parenthood and steer some of that funding towards anti-abortion, faith-based care providers. While the revamp of the Title X program does not accomplish the full defunding of Planned Parenthood that Republicans have called for, it is a major step in that direction, and marks another major policy win for social conservatives looking to prohibit access to abortion. Under the rule, clinics would still have to provide an array of contraceptive services but could partner or subcontract with groups that stress abstinence only or natural family planning. It would also bar Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that accept the funding from making any abortion referrals or performing abortions — regardless of the funding source — at the same facilities where they provide Title X services like birth control, mammograms and cancer screenings. If not put on hold by a court injunction, the rule will go into effect 60 days after it is published in the federal register in the coming days. Planned Parenthood executives said they will fight in court to block or overturn the rule, and indicated they won’t apply for Title X funding if it does go into effect.”

In a Tense Exchange, Dianne Feinstein Lectures Children Who Want Green New Deal, Portraying It as UntenableThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 22 February 2019: “Senator Dianne Feinstein found herself in a standoff Friday with a group of schoolchildren who confronted her about her refusal to support the Green New Deal. In a video posted by the Sunrise Movement, which encourages young people to combat climate change, an exchange quickly became tense once Ms. Feinstein started to explain her opposition to the Green New Deal, an ambitious Democratic-led proposal that calls for a radical transformation of the United States’ energy sector…. Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, in a statement called Ms. Feinstein ‘out of touch’ and said the interaction shows that the Democratic Party needs ‘fundamental change.'” See also, Video of Dianne Feinstein dismissively rebuffing young climate activists’ calling for Green New DealThe Guardian, published on Saturday, 23 February 2019: “The California senator has been criticised for her response to a group of children and teenagers asking her to support the Green New Deal. Video footage shows Feinstein flatly rejecting the activists’ request, telling them: ‘I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing.'” See also, Video Shows Dianne Feinstein Dismissing a Group of Children Asking About Green New DealHuffPost, Carla Herreria, Friday, 22 February 2019: “A climate advocacy group is calling a foul against Sen. Dianne Feinstein after the California Democrat appeared to lecture and dismiss a group of kids who were urging for her to vote yes on the Green New Deal. Sunrise Movement, a budding environmental organization that urges lawmakers to take action on climate change, tweeted footage of a group of children with some adults at the senator’s office in San Francisco urging her to address the issue. Stephen O’Hanlon, a spokesman for the group, identified the protesters in the video as Sunrise Movement ‘supporters and family members’ in the Bay Area. The children present were between the ages of 7 and 16, according to the organization. In the Twitter video, Feinstein seems to rebuff the kids while boasting about her experience in the Senate. A full version of the encounter was posted to Facebook.” See also, School children debate Dianne Feinstein on ‘Green New Deal.’ Her reply? ‘I know what I’m doing.’ The Washington Post, Michael Brice-Saddler, Saturday, 23 February 2019.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s Former Lawyer and Fixer, Gave Prosecutors New Information on the Trump Family BusinessThe New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 22 February 2019: “Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, met last month with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, offering information about possible irregularities within the president’s family business and about a donor to the inaugural committee, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Cohen, who worked at the Trump Organization for a decade, spoke with the prosecutors about insurance claims the company had filed over the years, said the people, who did not elaborate on the nature of the possible irregularities. While it was not clear whether the prosecutors found Mr. Cohen’s information credible and whether they intended to pursue it, the meeting suggests that they are interested in broader aspects of the Trump Organization, beyond their investigation into the company’s role in the hush money payments made before the 2016 election to women claiming to have had affairs with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last summer to arranging those payments.”

Continue reading Week 110, Friday, 22 February – Thursday, 28 February 2019 (Days 764-770)

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Trump Administration, Week 109: Friday, 15 February – Thursday, 21 February 2019 (Days 757-763)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ 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.


Friday, 15 February 2019, Day 757:


Trump Declares a National Emergency on the Border With Mexico and Provokes a Constitutional ClashThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 15 February 2019: “President Trump declared a national emergency on the border with Mexico on Friday in order to access billions of dollars that Congress refused to give him to build a wall there, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a confrontation over the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution. Trying to regain momentum after losing a grinding two-month battle with lawmakers over funding the wall, Mr. Trump asserted that the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants from Mexico constituted a profound threat to national security that justified unilateral action. ‘We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other,’ he said in a televised statement in the Rose Garden barely 13 hours after Congress passed a spending measure without the money he had sought. ‘It’s an invasion,’ he added. ‘We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.’ But with illegal border crossings already down and critics accusing him of manufacturing a crisis, he may have undercut his own argument that the border situation was so urgent that it required emergency action. ‘I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,’ he said. ‘I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.’ The president’s decision incited instant condemnation from Democrats, who called it an unconstitutional abuse of his authority and vowed to try to overturn it with the support of Republicans who also objected to the move. ‘This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a joint statement.” See also, Trump’s Rationale for a National Emergency Is Based on False or Misleading ClaimsThe New York Times, Linda Qiu, Friday, 15 February 2019: “As President Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to bypass Congress and build his long-promised wall, he again painted a portrait of a lawless, chaotic border and cited arguments about the effectiveness of the kind of barrier he has in mind that were not rooted in facts. Illegal border crossings have been declining for decades. While families are overwhelming an immigration system devised to handle single men, a border wall would not prevent them from seeking asylum, which is legal. Research does not show that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans. And a wall would do little to prevent drugs and human trafficking at the border, as official ports of entry are the main route into the United States for both. Cumulatively, Mr. Trump’s unsupported or misleading statements undercut his rationale for declaring an emergency, a step that is widely viewed as testing both constitutional and political norms and is sure to draw legal challenges.” See also, Presidents Have Declared Dozens of National Emergencies, but None Like Trump’sThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 15 February 2019: “President Trump on Friday pointed to nearly five dozen previous instances in which presidents of both parties have declared emergencies as justification for his invocation of extraordinary powers to build his border wall. But there is no precedent for what he has just done. None of the times emergency powers have been invoked since 1976, the year Congress enacted the National Emergencies Act, involved a president making an end run around lawmakers to spend money on a project they had decided against funding. Mr. Trump, by contrast, is challenging the bedrock principle that the legislative branch controls the government’s purse.” See also, Trump Sings the Praises of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham in a Rose Garden News ConferenceThe New York Times, Edmund Lee, Friday, 15 February 2019: “President Trump reeled off a list of his favorite media personalities on Friday when asked who might have influenced his decision to declare a national emergency after Congress refused to give him money for a border wall. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — a powerful bloc of conservative voices who have railed against any budget compromise on wall funding — all received shout-outs in a Rose Garden news conference.” See also, At a News Conference in the Rose Garden, Trump Follows Familiar Playbook When Confronted by a Loss: Distract and DigressThe New York Times, Annie Karni, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, In a Divided Washington, Congress Averted a Government Shutdown–but at a PriceThe New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, Key Takeaways From Trump’s Decision to Use a National Emergency to Build a Border WallThe New York Times, Michael Tackett, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, Trump declares a national emergency on southern border in bid to build wallThe Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Mike DeBonis, and John Wagner, Friday, 15 February 2019: “President Trump on Friday declared the situation on the southern border of the United States to be a national emergency, catapulting the country into uncertain legal and political battles as he seeks to fulfill a campaign promise that eluded him for two years. He made the designation in an attempt to redirect taxpayer money from other accounts and use it to erect more than 230 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Trump anticipates a flurry of legal challenges that will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court. Democrats are trying to paint the action as evidence of a rogue president who has finally gone too far, and they vowed to stop him.” See also, Trump’s bewildering national emergency press conference, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake and Transcript courtesy of Bloomberg Government, Friday, 15 February 2019: “President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border on Friday — but not without making a scene full of false claims, offbeat comments and tense exchanges.” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s announcement of a national emergencyThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly, Friday, 15 February 2019: “Where to begin with President Trump’s rambling news conference to announce he was invoking a national emergency to build a border wall? It was chock-full of false and misleading claims, many of which we’ve previously highlighted, either in our database of Trump claims or our list of Bottomless Pinocchios. Here’s a summary of 14 of the most noteworthy claims, starting with immigration ones first.” See also, ‘I didn’t need to do this’: Trump just kneecapped his own case for a ‘national emergency,’ The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 15 February 2019: “The idea that the situation at the border is truly a “national emergency” already strained credulity. And at Friday’s news conference, President Trump might have just erased any doubt about his true motivation. In the Rose Garden, Trump issued the national emergency declaration he has been threatening for more than a month. In the process, he basically admitted he doesn’t even really see the situation at the border as an emergency. The key quote came when the Q&A portion started. Trump was challenged by NBC’s Peter Alexander on why he couldn’t bend Congress to his will — as he previously said a president should be able to do — rather than take unilateral action. ‘I didn’t need to do this,’ Trump said. ‘But I’d rather do it much faster.’… If it’s truly an emergency, how can you say you didn’t need to declare an emergency? Trump basically admitted that this was a choice for him — a matter of expediency, quite literally — and not something required by events on the ground.” See also, ‘A tremendous job’: Trump uses national emergency announcement to defend his presidency in a Rose Garden news conferenceThe Washington Post, Jenna Jonson and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, What exactly is a national emergency? Here’s what that means and what happens next. The Washington Post, Deanna Paul and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, Trump declares national emergency to build US-Mexico border wallThe Guardian, David Smith, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, Frustrated Trump lashes out after border wall defeatPolitico, Anita Kumar and Caitlin Oprysko, Friday, 15 February 2019: “President Donald Trump met his day of defeat with a list of grievances. He lashed out at Congress for denying him the money to build a border wall. He called his Democratic rivals liars. He blasted former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan for inaction when the GOP controlled Congress. And, of course, he criticized the media for alleged bias and indifference to a ‘crisis’ on the U.S.-Mexico border. In short, Trump blamed almost everyone but himself as he formally announced he was going around Congress to direct more than $6 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier.” See also, Trump’s Bizarre, Rambling Announcement of a National EmergencyThe Atlantic, David A. Graham, Friday, 15 February 2019: “After failing for two years to persuade Congress to fund a wall on the southern border, President Donald Trump on Friday said he will declare a national emergency and reallocate some $8 billion to build the wall through executive fiat. Trump announced the move in a rambling, free-associative appearance in the White House Rose Garden that was more MAGA rally than presidential announcement. Even by the standards of this president, his remarks were confusing, untruthful, and often off topic, with strange ad-hominem attacks on other politicians and sharp exchanges with reporters. Despite claiming that the nation faces an acute crisis that requires immediate attention, the president meandered through a long preamble about trade deals and North Korea. When he finally got to the point, he struggled to stay focused.” See also, Read Trump’s Speech Declaring a National EmergencyThe Atlantic, Olivia Paschal, Friday, 15 February 2019. See also, National Emergency Powers and Trump’s Border Wall, ExplainedThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, published on Monday, 7 January 2019 and updated on Thursday, 14 February 2019. See also, Trump Declares National Emergency Over Wall, Inviting Likely court FightThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Friday, 15 February 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he would support the declaration, but the move was met with opposition from other lawmakers in both parties, who called it unconstitutional or unnecessary…. Previous presidents have signed dozens of emergency declarations, including those related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and sanctions, but not for initiatives that Congress declined to fund. In early signs of a broad legal fight ahead, California and New York state officials said they were planning legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union and advocacy group Public Citizen also announced that they had filed lawsuits against the emergency declaration.”

Supreme Court takes up the Trump administration’s plan to ask about citizenship in censusThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 15 February 2019: “The Supreme Court added a politically explosive case to its docket Friday, agreeing to decide by the end of June whether the Trump administration can add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form sent to every American household. The census hasn’t asked the question of each household since 1950, and a federal judge last month stopped the Commerce Department from adding it to the upcoming count. He questioned the motives of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and said the secretary broke a ‘veritable smorgasbord’ of federal rules by overriding the advice of career officials. Ross has maintained that the information is important for several reasons, including enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and that he carefully considered the advantages and disadvantages of adding the question before making his decision. Those opposed to the question argue the census response rate will likely fall if households are asked whether undocumented immigrants are present and make less accurate the once-a-decade ‘actual Enumeration’ of the population required by the Constitution. That could mean fewer members of Congress for states with large immigrant populations and less money from federal programs.” See also, Supreme Court to Hear Case on Census Citizenship QuestionThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 15 February 2019: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the Trump administration may add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census questionnaire that will be sent to every household in the nation. The court’s move added a highly charged and consequential blockbuster to what had been a fairly sleepy term. The justices have mostly avoided controversy while they adjusted to the new conservative majority created by the arrival in the fall of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. The federal government has long gathered information about citizenship, but since 1950, it has not included a question on it in the forms sent once a decade to each household. Last month, a federal trial judge blocked the Commerce Department from adding the question, saying that the process that led to the decision was deeply flawed. The Supreme Court stepped in before any appeals court had ruled on the matter, and it put the case on an unusually fast track. The Supreme Court’s speed was almost certainly a result of a looming deadline — the census forms are set to be printed in June.” See also, The Supreme Court Will Decide if Census Citizenship Question Is Legal. Democrats Should Also Work to Block It. The Intercept, Sam Adler-Bell, Friday, 15 February 2019: “In a closed-door meeting Friday morning, the Supreme Court voted to fast-track review a lower court ruling that would have prevented the Trump administration from asking about citizenship on the 2020 census. Arguments in the case, the outcome of which could affect the balance of political and economic power in this country for years to come, are scheduled for the week of April 22. The last time the high court granted such a petition for expedited review, which bypasses the appeals court, was in 2004.”

In the face of climate change, young people across Europe are protesting for their futureThe Washington Post, Luisa Beck, Friday, 15 February 2019: “Tens of thousands of teenagers across Europe skipped school again Friday. They’ve been congregating weekly in streets, plazas and parks, but not for a concert or weekend adventure. They’ve gathered to show the grown-ups that they will no longer play by their rules, and to demand that adults protect their future from climate-change disasters. These teens are part of a movement that has spread across the European Union and is expanding globally.” See also, ‘The beginning of great change’: Greta Thunberg hails school climate strikesThe Guardian, Jonathan Watts, Friday, 15 February 2019: “Greta Thunberg is hopeful the student climate strike on Friday can bring about positive change, as young people in more and more countries join the protest movement she started last summer as a lone campaigner outside the Swedish parliament. The 16-year-old welcomed the huge mobilisation planned in the UK, which follows demonstrations by tens of thousands of school and university students in Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Japan and more than a dozen other countries…. Thunberg has risen rapidly in prominence and influence. In December, she spoke at the United Nations climate conference, berating world leaders for behaving like irresponsible children. Last month, she had similarly harsh words for the global business elite at Davos. She said: ‘Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.’ The movement she started has morphed and grown around the world, and, at times, linked up with older groups, including Extinction Rebellion, and Greenpeace. Next week she will take the train – having decided not to fly due to the high carbon emissions of aviation – to speak at an event alongside Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, in Brussels, and then on to Paris to join the school strikes now expanding in France.”

Continue reading Week 109, Friday, 15 February – Thursday, 21 February 2019 (Days 757-763)

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