Trump, Week 19: Friday, 26 May – Thursday, 1 June 2017 (Days 127-133)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 26 May 2017, Day 127:

 

Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow that Jared Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller, Friday, 26 May 2017: “Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications. The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest. Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.”

World Leaders Increase Pressure on Trump to Stay in the Paris Accord, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Coral Davenport, Friday, 26 May 2017: “World leaders on Friday intensified their pressure on President Trump to keep the United States in the Paris climate agreement, as negotiators for seven Western powers labored to bridge differences between Mr. Trump and his counterparts before they depart on Saturday. Faced with repeated pleas by allies during private meetings at this two-day summit meeting of the Group of 7 countries, Mr. Trump remained unyielding in his assertion that the United States would do whatever is best for the United States — including the possibility of withdrawing from the 2015 pact signed with 195 nations, aides said. Mr. Trump’s message on the environment to the leaders on Friday made clear which option would win if the United States must choose between its economic well-being or staying in the Paris climate agreement. ‘If those things collide, growing our economy is going to win,’ said Gary D. Cohn, the president’s economics adviser, who was at the Italy summit meeting.”

U.S. Quietly Lifts Limit on Number of Refugees Allowed In, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Friday, 26 May 2017: “Despite repeated efforts by President Trump to curtail refugee resettlements, the State Department this week quietly lifted the department’s restriction on the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States. The result could be a near doubling of refugees entering the country, from about 830 people a week in the first three weeks of this month to well over 1,500 people per week by next month, according to refugee advocates. Tens of thousands of refugees are waiting to come to the United States. The State Department’s decision was conveyed in an email on Thursday to the private agencies in countries around the world that help refugees manage the nearly two-year application process needed to enter the United States. In her email, Jennifer L. Smith, a department official, wrote that the refugee groups could begin bringing people to the United States ‘unconstrained by the weekly quotas that were in place.'”

Continue reading Week 19, Friday, 26 May-Thursday, 1 June 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 18: Friday, 19 May – Thursday, 25 May 2017 (Days 120-126)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 19 May 2017, Day 120:

 

Russia probe reaches current Trump White House official, people familiar with the case say, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 19 May 2017: “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official. The revelation comes as the investigation appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said. The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”

Trump Told Russian Officials in the Oval Office on 10 May That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From the Russian Investigation, The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg, Friday, 19 May 2017: “President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. ‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,’ Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. ‘I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.’ Mr. Trump added, ‘I’m not under investigation.’  The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that the president dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing. The comments represented an extraordinary moment in the investigation, which centers in part on the administration’s contacts with Russian officials: A day after firing the man leading that inquiry, Mr. Trump disparaged him — to Russian officials. The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now authorized to investigate whether Trump White House officials have engaged in a cover-up of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, McClatchy DC Bureau, Matthew Schofield and Lesley Clark, Friday, 19 May 2017: “Investigators into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections are now authorized to probe whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up, according to members of Congress who were briefed Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. A Justice Department official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic, confirmed that Rosenstein told members of the House of Representatives that the special counsel in charge of the probe, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, ‘has been given the authority to investigate the possibility of a cover-up.’ But he denied that Rosenstein had told Congress such a probe was underway, noting that Rosenstein had declined to provide details of what is being explored. Where the investigation goes would be up to Mueller, the Justice Department official said.”

 

Continue reading Week 18, Friday, 19 May – Thursday, 25 May 2017, Days 120-126:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 17: Friday, 12 May – Thursday, 18 May 2017 (Days 113-119)

 

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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 May 2017, Day 113:

 

Trump Warning to Comey Prompts Questions on Secret ‘Tapes,’ The New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 12 May 2017: “President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director whom he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about him, saying that Mr. Comey ‘better hope’ that there are no secret tapes of their conversations that the president could use in retaliation. The suggestion that the president may be surreptitiously recording his meetings or telephone calls added a twist at the end of a week that roiled Washington. The president and his spokesman later refused to say whether he tapes his visitors, something Mr. Trump was suspected of doing when he was in business in New York. ‘James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to an article in The New York Times that said he had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty during a dinner at the White House shortly after the inauguration, only to be rebuffed by the F.B.I. director, who considered it inappropriate. Mr. Trump denied the account, but it was not clear whether he was genuinely revealing the existence of clandestine recordings or simply making a rhetorical point that Mr. Comey’s version of events was false.”

Trump threatens to cancel White House briefings because it is ‘not possible’ for his staff to speak with ‘perfect accuracy,’ The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Friday, 12 May 2017: “President Trump threatened Friday morning to end White House press briefings, arguing that ‘it is not possible’ for his staff to speak with ‘perfect accuracy’ to the American public. Trump’s comments come after his description of his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey in an NBC News interview Thursday flatly contradicted the accounts provided earlier by White House officials, including Vice President Pence, exposing their explanations as misleading and in some cases false. In a pair of tweets sent Friday, Trump suggested he might do away with the daily press briefings at the White House and instead have his spokesmen communicate to the public only via ‘written responses.'”

Trump reportedly wanted a loyalty pledge from Comey. The FBI says that ‘leads to tyranny.’ The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 12 May 2017: “There are now multiple reports that President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey in part because Comey didn’t provide him assurances of loyalty. The Washington Post has reported Trump ‘had long questioned Comey’s loyalty and judgment.’ CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that a source close to Comey told him Comey’s lack of “any assurance of personal loyalty” was one of two main reasons Comey was fired. And now the New York Times is reporting that Trump asked for a loyalty pledge during a dinner about a week after Trump was inaugurated:

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not ‘reliable’ in the conventional political sense.

Trump would have known what Comey’s answer would be if he had taken the time to understand the oath taken by FBI officers — and members of the military for that matter. Those oaths are taken to the Constitution and not the president for a very specific reason. Right there on its website, the FBI says the bureau and its officials must only swear an oath to the Constitution — not even a president. The reason? Because the latter ‘too easily leads to tyranny’.”…

Continue reading Week 17, Friday, 12 May – Thursday, 18 May 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 16: Friday, 5 May – Thursday, 11 May 2017 (Days 106-112)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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 May 2017, Day 106:

 

Measure on Pre-existing Conditions Energizes Opposition to the Republican Health Bill, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Abby Goodnough, Friday, 5 May 2017: “From the moment the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a plan to overhaul the health care system, an onslaught of opposition to the bill has been focused on a single, compact term: pre-existing conditions. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began running digital ads warning that the legislation would leave ‘no more protections’ for people with a history of illness or injury. Pointing to the power that states could have to set the terms for insurers under the G.O.P. bill, Democratic leaders announced they would make pre-existing conditions an issue in every gubernatorial and state legislative race in the country.” See also, Late-night hosts blast Republican health-care bill: ‘Those ramifications are disastrous,’ The Washington Post, Emily Yahr, Friday, 5 May 2017.

Senate Intelligence Committee Asks Trump Associates for Records of Communication With Russians, The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 5 May 2017:”The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked a number of high-profile Trump campaign associates to hand over emails and other records of dealings with Russians as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and is prepared to subpoena those who refuse to cooperate, officials said. The requests for the materials were made in letters sent by the committee in the past 10 days, said two officials with knowledge of the contents of the letters. The move is designed to accelerate the committee’s investigation, and represents a new bipartisan challenge to the Trump administration, which has sought to use Republican allies in Congress to blunt the inquiries. Among those who said they had received the requests were Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to President Trump, and Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, and Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, were also sent letters, the officials with knowledge of the investigation said. Representatives for those two men declined to comment. Any decision to issue subpoenas would require a majority vote by members of the intelligence committee.”

After promising to cooperate, ex-Trump adviser Carter Page turns the inquiry back on the Senate Intelligence Committee panel, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 5 May 2017: “Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser whose interactions with Russia are under FBI investigation, has repeatedly said he wants to cooperate with Congress’s Russia probes to clear his name. But in a letter this week to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Page appeared to initially duck specific questions regarding his interactions with Russian officials, suggesting that the panel seek that information from inside the U.S. government instead. In an email to The Post, Page characterized the letter as a ‘preliminary response’ to a Senate request that he begin providing detailed information no later than May 9, leaving open the possibility he will release more information to the committee in coming days. But he titled the letter a response to  ‘request for even more irrelevant data’ and asked that the committee first release to him information the government has collected through surveillance ‘as a starting point.’ The FBI last summer obtained a secret court order to monitor Page’s communications after convincing a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe the energy consultant was acting as an agent of the Russian government. Page has angrily denied that allegation in a series of media interviews and public statements, insisting he is the victim of a smear campaign by Democrats.”

 

Continue reading Week 16, Friday, 5 May – Thursday, 11 May 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 15: Friday, 28 April – Thursday, 4 May 2017 (Days 99-105)

 

There is no Planet B

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 28 April 2017, Day 99:

 

Trump signs executive order to expand oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts: ‘We’re opening it up.’ The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 28 April 2017: “President Trump signed an executive order Friday that aims to expand offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, as well as assess whether energy exploration can take place in marine sanctuaries in the Pacific and Atlantic. The ‘America-First Offshore Energy Strategy’ will make millions of acres of federal waters eligible for oil and gas leasing, just four months after President Barack Obama withdrew these areas from possible development. In late December, Obama used a little-known provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to bar energy exploration in large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia.” See also, Trump to Expand Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and to Reconsider Rules Designed to Prevent a Repeat of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, Bloomberg Politics, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Friday, 28 April 2017: “The executive order…instructs Zinke to review a raft of protections governing offshore drilling, including a measure designed to address shortcomings revealed by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, triggered when a BP Plc well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting explosion killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of crude.”

Trump Targets Undocumented Families, Not Felons, in First 100 Days, The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Friday, 28 April 2017: “In 2014, after years of bitter fighting in Washington over comprehensive immigration reform, Barack Obama announced that his administration would provide protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants living in the country, shifting its enforcement focus to ‘felons, not families.’ The White House, by that time, had overseen the deportation of nearly 2 million people — according to an analysis by the New York Times, two-thirds of those cases involved individuals ‘who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.’ Obama’s DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, operationalized the policy shift in a memo calling on his personnel to exercise prosecutorial discretion in order to prioritize enforcement of immigration laws against individuals who posed a threat to national security, border security, or public safety. The memo did not stop the Obama administration from deporting people who lacked criminal records or whose only offense was an immigration violation — a December 2016 analysis by the Marshal Project found roughly 60 percent of the 300,000 people deported after the president’s speech fit that description — and advocates would often argue that splitting the immigrant population into two groups created its own set of problems. Still, defenders of the administration’s efforts say, it was something. At the very least, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was supposed to be targeting its efforts with an eye toward more dangerous individuals, even if the reality on the ground was much different…. This month [April 2017], the Washington Post reported that arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled under the Trump administration. The paper described the push as ‘the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.’… [T]he ‘noncriminal’ ICE arrests seen during the first three months of the Trump administration are more than double those reported over the same period in 2016 — in fact, the numbers from this year are more than those from 2016 and 2015 combined. However, the number of noncriminal arrests over the first three months of 2017 is lower than the number of noncriminal arrests during the same period in 2014. During that three-month period, which was before the Obama-era prioritization memo was issued, ICE arrested 7,483 noncriminals and 21,745 criminals, compared to 5,441 noncriminals and 15,921 criminals under Trump. In other words, the Trump administration appears to be moving enforcement back to a pre-2014 prioritization memo framework, in which immigrants with clean criminal records are fair game for enforcement.”

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, Responds to Trump’s N.R.A. Speech With Photos of Shooting Victims, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Friday, 28 April 2017: “As President Trump took the stage to champion the Second Amendment at a National Rifle Association convention on Friday, a United States senator sought to counter his message by unleashing a Twitter storm using the names, ages and pictures of gun violence victims. Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who has fought for increased gun control since the 2012 school massacre in his home state, posted on Twitter on Friday morning to urge his followers not to watch Mr. Trump’s speech and instead, ‘think about who we are fighting for.'”

Continue reading Week 15, Friday, 28 April – Thursday, 4 May 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 14: Friday, 21 April – Thursday, 27 April 2017 (Days 92-98)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently.

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, 21 April 2017, Day 93:

 

Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US presidential election, Reuters, Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott, Friday, 21 April 2017: “A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters. They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election. The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office. The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals. It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said. A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said. The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes step toward enforcing threat to strip funding from ‘sanctuary cities,’ The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 21 April 2017: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday demanded that nine jurisdictions produce proof that they are communicating with federal authorities about undocumented immigrants or risk losing grant funding. Sessions sent letters to the nine jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, in the latest sign that the Trump administration intends to punish what are sometimes called sanctuary cities that do not cooperate in its promised crackdown on illegal immigration. President Trump signed an executive order in January declaring that sanctuary jurisdictions would not be eligible to receive federal grants, and Sessions vowed last month during a White House news conference to take Justice Department money from such places. How far Trump can go, though, and what jurisdictions can do to avoid his ire, remains unclear…. The letters were addressed to officials in New Orleans; Philadelphia; Chicago; New York City; Clark County, Nev.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Milwaukee County, Wis.; Cook County, Ill.; and the state of California…. The release said New York, for example, “continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.” New York, in fact, has seen significant recent reductions in crime.… The grants at stake provide federal funding for a host of functions in the criminal-justice system — including policing, victim-and-witness initiatives, crime prevention, drug-treatment programs and technology improvements…. When someone is arrested on a local crime, their fingerprints are run through the FBI database, and — whether local authorities like it or not — ICE can tell if they are in the country illegally. It then often will send a request to local authorities to detain such people. Refusing to honor such a request would not necessarily violate federal law. But telling local police officers, for example, that they could not give information to their ICE counterparts might.”

U.S. Rejects Exxon Mobil Bid for Waiver on Russia Sanctions, The New York Times, Clifford Krauss, Friday, 21 April 2017: “The Trump administration delivered a setback to Exxon Mobil on Friday, announcing that it would not grant the oil giant a waiver from sanctions against Russia that would allow drilling in the Black Sea. The decision, reinforcing barriers erected by the United States over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, was another sign that President Trump has been unwilling or unable to improve relations with the Kremlin early in his term, after pledging as a candidate that he would seek a thaw. ‘In consultation with President Donald J. Trump,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a terse, prepared statement, ‘the Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions.’ The prospect of a waiver had drawn denunciations from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers…. The matter was complicated by the continuing congressional scrutiny of reports of Russian intervention in support of Mr. Trump in last year’s election, and by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s role as Exxon Mobil’s chief executive until the president nominated him for his current position.”

Continue reading Week 14, Friday, 21 April – Thursday, 27 April 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 13: Friday, 14 April – Thursday, 20 April 2017 (Days 85-91)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 14 April 2017, Day 85:

 

White House to Keep Its Visitor Logs Secret, Breaking With Obama Policy of Releasing White House Visitor Logs, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 14 April 2017: “The White House announced Friday that it would cut off public access to visitor logs revealing who is entering the White House complex and which officials they are meeting, breaking with the Obama administration’s practice and returning a cloak of secrecy over the basic day-to-day workings of the government. The decision — which White House officials said was necessary for reasons of national security — was the latest attempt by President Trump, who has promised to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington, to shield his activities from scrutiny. It effectively bars the public from knowing which activists, lobbyists, political donors and others are gaining access to the president and his aides on a daily basis. It also is a stark reversal from the policy adopted by President Barack Obama, who voluntarily released more than six million White House visitor records, even as his administration fought successfully in federal court for the right to keep some of the information secret. The announcement was another turnabout for Mr. Trump after a week of changing course on an array of domestic and foreign policy matters. In a 2012 posting on Twitter, he chided Mr. Obama for failing to release certain records, including college transcripts, as President George W. Bush had. ‘Hiding something?’ Mr. Trump wrote then…. The new policy, reported by Time magazine, drew scathing criticism from government watchdog groups, some of which filed suit against the Trump administration this week to obtain the records. Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, said the national security argument was ‘a falsehood’ because the Obama-era policy already made such exceptions. His organization is among three that sued the government this week for visitor logs from the White House; the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.; and Trump Tower.”

China Warns of ‘Storm Clouds Gathering’ in U.S.-North Korea Standoff, The New York Times, Gerry Mullany, Chris Buckley and David E. Sanger, Friday, 14 April 2017: “China warned on Friday that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could spin out of control, as North Korea said it could test a nuclear weapon at any time and a United States naval group neared the peninsula — an American effort to sow doubt in Pyongyang over how President Trump might respond. ‘The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering,’ China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said in Beijing, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. ‘If they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this,’ Mr. Wang said. The comments were unusually blunt from China, which has been trying to steer between the Trump administration’s demands for it to do more to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and its longstanding reluctance to risk a rupture with the North. The remarks also reflected, American experts said, an effort by the Chinese to throw responsibility for what happens back on Washington, after Mr. Trump declared, in several Twitter messages, that it was up to the Chinese to contain their neighbor and sometime partner.”

Censorship at the Border Threatens Free Speech Everywhere, Just Security, Jameel Jaffer, Friday, 14 April 2017: “Defending one’s political and religious beliefs to government officials is an obligation we associate with life in authoritarian regimes, not open societies. It’s becoming common, though, for foreign citizens who visit the United States—and even for Americans returning home after travel abroad—to be interrogated about their beliefs by customs and border personnel. These days, those seeking admission to the United States may also be required to surrender their cellphones and laptops, which can supply border agents with a wealth of information about travelers’ associations, communications, and activities online. Border agents use that information to draw conclusions, sound or not, about travelers’ ideological commitments. Now the Trump administration, under the rubric of ‘extreme vetting,’ is considering taking a further step by mandating that non-citizens disclose their social media handles and passwords and answer questions about ideology as a condition of admission to the country. The aim is to empower consular and border officials to ensure that would-be visitors to the United States embrace American values, a concept that the Trump administration has not defined. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly defended the idea in congressional testimony last week.  ‘If they don’t cooperate,” he said of aspiring visitors, ‘they can go back.'”

 

Continue reading Week 13, Friday, 14 April – Thursday, 20 April 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 12: Friday, 7 April – Thursday, 13 April 2017 (Days 78-84)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 7 April 2017, Day 78:

 

Timeline of 63 Hours: From Chemical Attack to Trump’s Strike in Syria, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Michael R. Gordon, Friday, 7 April 2017: “The decision came Thursday afternoon on Air Force One on the way to Florida. President Trump assembled his National Security Council on his plane, some by secure video link, as the generals made the case that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria had to learn there was a price to pay.”… Two hours later at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., Mr. Trump gave the order to unleash 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Al Shayrat airfield in western Syria, where the chemical weapons attack originated. His generals had given him the option of delaying a day, but Mr. Trump chose not to wait. It had been only 63 hours from the chemical attack to the American strike.” See also, Who Was in the Room? these Advisers Joined Trump for the Syria Strike, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Friday, 7 April 2017.

The media loved Trump’s show of military might in Syria. Are we really doing this again? The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, published on Saturday, 8 April 2017: “The cruise missiles struck, and many in the mainstream media fawned. ‘I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night,’ declared Fareed Zakaria on CNN, after the firing of 59 missiles at a Syrian military airfield late Thursday night. (His words sounded familiar, since CNN’s Van Jones made a nearly identical pronouncement after Trump’s first address to Congress.) ‘On Syria attack, Trump’s heart came first,’ read a New York Times headline. ‘President Trump has done the right thing and I salute him for it,’ wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens — a frequent Trump critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist. He added: ‘Now destroy the Assad regime for good.’ Brian Williams, on MSNBC, seemed mesmerized by the images of the strikes provided by the Pentagon. He used the word ‘beautiful’ three times and alluded to a Leonard Cohen lyric — ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons’ — without apparent irony…. Why do so many in the news media love a show of force? ‘There is no faster way to bring public support than to pursue military action,’ said Ken Paulson, head of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center…. Clara Jeffery, editor in chief of Mother Jones, offered a simple explanation: ‘It’s dramatic. It’s good for TV, reporters get caught up in the moment, or, worse, jingoism.’… [E]mpathy as the president’s clear motivation is accepted, she said — ‘with no mention of the refugee ban keeping those kids out, no mention of Islamophobia that has informed his campaign and administration. How can you write about motive and not explore that hypocrisy?’… Groupthink, and a lack of proper skepticism, is something that we’ve seen many times before as the American news media watches an administration step to the brink of war.” See also, The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria, The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, Friday, 7 April 2017: “In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.”

Russia Suspends Cooperation With U.S. in Syria After U.S. Missile Strikes, The New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar, Friday, 7 April 2017: “Russia on Friday froze a critical agreement on military cooperation with the United States in Syria after an American military strike, warning that the operation would further corrode already dismal relations between Moscow and Washington. Syria, Russia’s ally, condemned the American strikes as ‘a disgraceful act.’ In addition to suspending the pact to coordinate air operations over Syria, an accord that was meant to prevent accidental encounters between the two militaries, Russia also said it would bolster Syria’s air defense systems, and was reported to be planning to send a frigate into the Mediterranean Sea to visit the logistics base at the Syrian port of Tartus…. A statement from the office of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said the American missile strikes, which President Trump said were a response to a chemical weapons attack in Idlib Province on Tuesday that left more than 80 people dead, was the result of ‘a false propaganda campaign.’ Syria has denied that it possesses chemical weapons, and Russia held to its view that Mr. Assad had not bombed his own people. The American attack left six people dead, according to the Syrian Army, and a military spokesman described the missile strikes as an act of ‘flagrant aggression.'”

Continue reading Week 12, Friday, 7 April – Thursday, 13 April 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 11: Friday, 31 March – Thursday, 6 April 2017 (Days 71-77)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 31 March 2017, Day 71:

 

Trump Calls the Congressional Investigations Into His Presidential Campaign’s Ties to Russia a ‘Witch Hunt,’ The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 31 March 2017: “President Trump said on Friday [31 March] that Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser who resigned last month over his contacts with Russian officials, should ask for immunity from prosecution in the congressional investigation into the presidential campaign’s ties to Moscow. Mr. Trump called the inquiry a ‘witch hunt’ by the news media and Democrats. The president made the remark on Twitter the morning after it was revealed that Mr. Flynn was seeking an immunity deal as part of an offer to testify in the investigations by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russian meddling. Those inquiries are looking into the presidential election and potential collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign staff members and the Russians. ‘Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!’ Mr. Trump wrote. The president has been eager to dismiss as ‘fake news’ all allegations that members of his campaign colluded with the Russians, and the post appeared to be an effort to discredit the congressional inquiries that are examining those claims. It also appeared to be aimed at defusing any speculation that Mr. Flynn might be seeking immunity because he has incriminating information to share about Mr. Trump or his associates…. [Mr. Trump] has said previously that seeking protection from prosecution is a telltale sign of wrongdoing. ‘If you’re not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right?’ he said at a campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., in September. Mr. Trump was referring to Hillary Clinton aides who received immunity during an F.B.I. inquiry into her private email server.”

Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Medicare to Everybody–Exactly What Its Architects Wanted, The Intercept, Zaid Jilani, Friday, 31 March 2017: “Bernie Sanders doesn’t just want to play defense on health care — he’s introducing a bill that would expand the Medicare program to everybody in America, creating a single-payer health care system. Such a system would wipe out inefficiencies in our current, private insurance-run system, and polls very well — yet it is opposed by the health care industry and the Democratic and Republican establishments that relies on them for campaign cash. But creating a ‘Medicare-for-all,’ single-payer health insurance system for all Americans would be fulfilling the dream of those who created the Medicare system in the first place in 1965. Medicare’s architects ended up compromising with Congress and establishing a system that offered public-run health insurance just for the elderly, but they never intended for only retirees to benefit from the program.”

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel approves $25 million settlement in Trump University cases, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 31 March 2017: “A federal judge has given final approval to a $25 million settlement to litigation against Trump University, a now-defunct real estate seminar program once owned by President Trump. Trump had agreed not long after his election to settle two class-action suits filed by former customers of the program in California, as well as a New York state lawsuit. The suits argued that Trump University defrauded customers, some of whom paid more than $30,000 to participate in the seminars, with false advertisements promising that they would learn Trump’s personal real estate tricks and that Trump had hand-picked seminar leaders. In depositions, Trump acknowledged he did not choose instructors. The case had been used against Trump during the presidential campaign, with Democrats contending that Trump University was part of a pattern of deceptive Trump business endeavors. It also sparked one of the campaign’s most controversial moments for Trump, when he argued that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was overseeing the matter, was biased because of his Mexican heritage…. Curiel ruled Friday that the settlement was ‘fair’ and ‘adequate.’ In a written opinion, Curiel said that many former customers are likely to recover 80 or 90 percent of the amount they had paid for the program, a recovery rate he termed ‘extraordinary.’ The settlement will be available to more than 5,000 former customers of the program, which was held in hotel ballrooms around the country.”

Continue reading Week 11, Friday, 31 March – Thursday, 6 April 2017:

[Read more…]

Trump, Week 10: Friday, 24 March – Thursday, 30 March 2017 (Days 64-70)

 

 

Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 24 March 2017, Day 64:

 

In Major Defeat for Trump, Push to Repeal Health Care Law Fails, The New York Times, Robert Pear, Glenn Thrush and Thomas Kaplan, Friday, 24 March 2017: “House Republican leaders, facing a revolt among conservatives and moderates in their ranks, pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act from consideration on the House floor Friday afternoon in a significant defeat for President Trump on the first legislative showdown of his presidency. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan conceded, ‘We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.’ The defeat of the Republicans’ three-month blitz to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement exposed deep divisions in the Republican Party that the election of a Republican president could not mask. It also cast a shadow over the ambitious agenda that Mr. Trump and Republican leaders had promised to enact once their party assumed power on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The drama of the day underscored the futility of the leaders’ efforts. Mr. Ryan rushed to the White House shortly after noon to tell Mr. Trump he did not have the votes for a repeal bill that had been promised for seven years — since the day Mr. Obama signed his landmark health care act into law. Mr. Trump, in a telephone interview moments after the bill was pulled, blamed Democrats and predicted that they would seek a deal within a year, he asserted, after ‘Obamacare explodes’ because of high premiums. He also expressed weariness with the fight, which was a fraction of the length of time that Democrats devoted to enacting the Affordable Care Act. ‘The best thing that could happen is exactly what happened — watch,’ he said. ‘It’s enough already.’ But the effort to win passage had been relentless — and hardly hidden. Vice President Mike Pence and Tom Price, the health secretary, rushed to Capitol Hill for a late appeal to House conservatives, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. And in private, Mr. Trump took a much harder line. The president was furious that members of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus had opposed the legislation. He demanded for much of Thursday that Mr. Ryan push a vote to publicly expose the members who were opposing the administration. Mr. Trump and his top strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, wanted to see a confidential list to exact revenge on the bill’s Republican opponents, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation…. In the end, Republican leaders doomed the bill by agreeing to eliminate federal standards for the minimum benefits that must be provided by certain health insurance policies. ‘This provision is so cartoonishly malicious that I can picture someone twirling their mustache as they drafted it in their secret capitol lair last night,’ said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts. ‘This back-room deal will kill the requirement for insurance companies to offer essential health benefits such as emergency services, maternity care, mental health care, substance addiction treatment, pediatric services, prescription drugs and many other basic essential services.’ Defeat of the bill could be a catalyst if it forces Republicans and Democrats to work together to improve the Affordable Care Act, which virtually every member of Congress believes needs repair. Democrats have been saying for weeks that they want to work with Republicans on such changes, but first, they said, Republicans had to abandon their drive to repeal the law.”

In a Call to The Times, Trump Blames Democrats for the Failure of the Health Bill, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 24 March 2017: “Just moments after the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was declared dead, President Trump sought to paint the defeat of his first legislative effort as an early-term blip. The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, was preparing to tell the public that the health care bill was being withdrawn — a byproduct, Mr. Trump said, of Democratic partisanship. The president predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year. ‘Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,’ Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times. ‘The good news is they now own health care. They now own Obamacare.’ Mr. Trump insisted that the Affordable Care Act would collapse in the next year, which would then force Democrats to come to the bargaining table for a new bill…. In a later phone interview with The Times, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, ridiculed Mr. Trump’s remarks about Democrats being at fault. ‘Whenever the president gets in trouble, he points fingers of blame,’ Mr. Schumer said. ‘It’s about time he stopped doing that and started to lead. The Republicans were totally committed to repeal from the get-go, never talked to us once. But now that they realize that repeal can’t work, if they back off repeal, of course we’ll work with them to make it even better.’ Mr. Trump said that “when they come to make a deal,” he would be open and receptive. He singled out the Tuesday Group moderates for praise, calling them ‘terrific,’ an implicit jab at the House Freedom Caucus, which his aides had expressed frustration with during negotiations.”

The U.S. State Department, in Reversal, Issues Permit for Keystone XL Oil Pipeline, Clifford Krauss, Friday, 24 March 2017: “During his presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump repeatedly hailed the Keystone XL pipeline as a vital jobs program and one that sharply contrasted his vision for the economy with that of Hillary Clinton. ‘Today we begin to make things right,’ President Trump said Friday morning shortly after the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction, a reversal of Obama administration policy. The pipeline would link oil producers in Canada and North Dakota with refiners and export terminals on the Gulf Coast. It has long been an object of contention, with environmentalists saying it would contribute to climate change and the project’s proponents — Republicans, some labor unions and the oil industry — contending that it would help guarantee national energy security for decades to come. When President Barack Obama rejected the project in late 2015, he said it would undermine American leadership in curbing reliance on carbon fuels. The pipeline still faces hurdles before it can be built. It needs the approval of the Nebraska Public Service Commission and local landowners who are concerned about their water and land rights. Protests are likely since the project has become an important symbol for the environmental movement, with the Canadian oil sands among the most carbon-intensive oil supplies. Mining the oil sands requires vast amounts of energy for extraction and processing. In addition, interest among many oil companies in the oil sands is waning amid sluggish oil prices. Extraction from the oil sands, situated in the sub-Arctic boreal forest, is expensive. Statoil and Total, two European energy giants, have abandoned their production projects. In recent weeks, Royal Dutch Shell agreed to sell most of its oil sands assets for $8.5 billion. And Exxon Mobil wrote down 3.5 billion barrels of reserves, conceding the oil sands were not economically attractive enough to develop for the next few years at least. Nevertheless, Canadian production continues to grow as projects that were conceived when prices were higher begin to operate. And the Keystone effort is central to the future of TransCanada, a major force in the Canadian oil patch.” See also, Keystone XL pipeline Opponents Renew Fight Against Pipeline After Trump Approves It, Inside Climate News, Marianne Lavelle, Friday, 24 March 2017.

To continue reading Week 10:

[Read more…]