Week 31, Friday, 18 August – Thursday, 24 August 2017 (Days 211-217)

 

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, 18 August 2017, Day 211:

 

Stephen Bannon Is Out at the White House After a Turbulent Run, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, and Glenn Thrush, Friday, 18 August 2017: “Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled chief strategist who helped President Trump win the 2016 election by embracing their shared nationalist impulses, departed the White House on Friday after a turbulent tenure shaping the fiery populism of the president’s first seven months in office. Mr. Bannon’s exit, the latest in a string of high-profile West Wing shake-ups, came as Mr. Trump is under fire for saying that ‘both sides’ were to blame for last week’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. Critics accused the president of channeling Mr. Bannon when he equated white supremacists and neo-Nazis with the left-wing protesters who opposed them. ‘White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. ‘We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.’ Mr. Bannon’s outsized influence on the president, captured in a February cover of Time magazine with the headline ‘The Great Manipulator,’ was reflected in the response to his departure. Conservatives groused that they lost a key advocate inside the White House and worried aloud that Mr. Trump would shift left, while cheers erupted on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when headlines about Mr. Bannon’s ouster appeared. Both the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average immediately rose, though they ended the day slightly down. His removal is a victory for Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general whose mission is to impose discipline on White House personnel. A caustic presence in a chaotic West Wing, Mr. Bannon frequently clashed with other aides as they fought over trade, the war in Afghanistan, taxes, immigration and the role of government. In an interview this week with The American Prospect, Mr. Bannon mocked his colleagues, including Gary D. Cohn, one of the president’s chief economic advisers, saying they were ‘wetting themselves’ out of a fear of radically changing trade policy.” See also, Trump gets rid of Stephen Bannon, a top proponent of his nationalist agenda, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, and Damian Paletta, Friday, 18 August 2017: “President Trump on Friday dismissed his embattled chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general-election victory and the champion of his nationalist impulses, in a major White House shake-up that follows a week of racial unrest. With Trump’s presidency floundering and his legislative agenda in shambles, administration officials said his empowered new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, moved to fire Bannon in an effort to tame warring factions and bring stability to a White House at risk of caving under its self-destructive tendencies. A combative populist on trade and immigration, Bannon was arguably Trump’s ideological id on the issues that propelled his candidacy. He served as a key liaison to the president’s conservative base and the custodian of his campaign promises.”

Steve Bannon, Back on the Outside, Prepares His Enemies List, The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters and Michael M. Grynbaum, Friday, 18 August 2017: “Stephen K. Bannon has always been more comfortable when he was trying to tear down institutions — not work inside them. With his return to Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon will be free to lead the kind of ferocious assault on the political establishment that he relishes, even if sometimes that means turning his wrath on the White House itself. Hours after his ouster from the West Wing, he was named to his former position of executive chairman at the hard-charging right-wing website and led its evening editorial meeting. And Mr. Bannon appeared eager to move onto his next fight. ‘In many ways, I think I can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda President Trump ran on,’ he said Friday. ‘And anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with.’ Among those already in Mr. Bannon’s sights: Speaker Paul D. Ryan; Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader; the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Gary D. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who now directs the White House’s National Economic Council. ‘The president was buoyed to election by capturing the hearts and minds of a populist, nationalist movement,’ Alex Marlow, Breitbart’s editor in chief, said Friday evening. ‘A lot of it was anti-Wall Street, anti-corporatist, anti-establishment. And now we’re seeing that a lot of these guys remaining inside the White House are exactly the opposite of what we told you you were going to get.'”

All remaining members of the White House Committee on Arts and the Humanities are resigning to protest Trump’s defense of white nationalists after the violent rally in Charlottesville, The Washington Post, Ed O’Keefe, Friday, 18 August 2017: “The remaining members of a presidential arts and humanities panel resigned on Friday in yet another sign of growing national protest of President Trump’s recent comments on the violence in Charlottesville. Members of the President’s Committee are drawn from Broadway, Hollywood, and the broader arts and entertainment community and said in a letter to Trump that ‘Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed.’ ‘Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville,’ the commissioners wrote in a letter sent to the White House on Friday morning. ‘The false equivalencies you push cannot stand. The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions. Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values,’ they added. ‘Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.'” See also, All 16 Members of White House Arts Committee Resign to Protest Trump, The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin, Friday, 18 August 2017: “All 16 of the prominent artists, authors, performers and architects on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned on Friday, the latest group to protest Donald J. Trump’s defense of white nationalists after the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. In a letter addressed to Mr. Trump, the committee members blasted his ‘hateful rhetoric,’ and they apparently even encoded a message: The first letter of each paragraph and ‘thank you’ spells out ‘resist.'”

Continue reading Week 31, Friday, 18 August – Thursday, 24 August 2017 (Days 211-217)

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Trump, Week 30, Friday, 11 August – Thursday, 17 August 2017 (Days 204-210)

 

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, 11 August 2017, Day 204:

 

Trump Says Military Is ‘Locked and Loaded’ and North Korea Will ‘Regret’ Threats, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 11 August 2017: “President Trump continued to beat war drums on Friday against North Korea and, unexpectedly, said he would consider a military option to deal with an unrelated crisis in Venezuela. But though he declared that the armed forces were ‘locked and loaded,’ there were no indications of imminent action in either part of the world. For all the bellicose language emerging from the president’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the United States military was taking no visible steps to prepare for a strike against North Korea or Venezuela. The Pentagon reported no new ships being sent toward the Korean Peninsula or forces being mobilized, nor were there moves to begin evacuating any of the tens of thousands of Americans living in South Korea.”

Trump won’t ‘rule out a military option’ in Venezuela, The Washington Post, Jenna Johnson and John Wagner, Friday, 11 August 2017: “President Trump said Friday that he is ‘not going to rule out a military option’ to confront the autocratic government of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro and the deepening crisis in the South American country. ‘They have many options for Venezuela — and, by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,’ Trump told reporters at his private golf club in New Jersey on Friday evening. ‘…We’re all over the world, and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering, and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.’ When asked by a reporter whether this military option would be led by the United States, Trump responded: ‘We don’t talk about it, but a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue.'”

Scott Pruitt Is Carrying Out His Agenda of Dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency in Secret, Critics Say, The New York Times, Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton, Friday, 11 August 2017: “When career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are summoned to a meeting with the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, at agency headquarters, they no longer can count on easy access to the floor where his office is, according to interviews with employees of the federal agency. Doors to the floor are now frequently locked, and employees have to have an escort to gain entrance. Some employees say they are also told to leave behind their cellphones when they meet with Mr. Pruitt, and are sometimes told not to take notes. Mr. Pruitt, according to the employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security. A former Oklahoma attorney general who built his career suing the E.P.A., and whose LinkedIn profile still describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,’ Mr. Pruitt has made it clear that he sees his mission to be dismantling the agency’s policies — and even portions of the institution itself. But as he works to roll back regulations, close offices and eliminate staff at the agency charged with protecting the nation’s environment and public health, Mr. Pruitt is taking extraordinary measures to conceal his actions, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former agency employees. Together with a small group of political appointees, many with backgrounds, like his, in Oklahoma politics, and with advice from industry lobbyists, Mr. Pruitt has taken aim at an agency whose policies have been developed and enforced by thousands of the E.P.A.’s career scientists and policy experts, many of whom work in the same building.”

Continue reading Week 30, Friday, 11 August – Thursday, 17 August 2017:

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Trump, Week 29, Friday, 4 August – Thursday, 10 August 2017 (Days 197-203)

 

Photo by Robert Del Tredici

 

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, 4 August 2017, Day 197:

 

Justice Department Leak Investigations Triple Under Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions Says. He Also Says the Justice Department Is Reviewing Rules Governing When Investigators May Issue Subpoenas Related to the News Media and Leak Investigations. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 4 August 2017: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Friday that the Justice Department is pursuing about three times as many leak investigations as were open at the end of the Obama era, a significant devotion of resources to hunt down disclosures that have plagued the Trump administration. Mr. Sessions vowed that the Justice Department would not hesitate to bring criminal charges against people who had leaked classified information. He also announced that the F.B.I. had created a new counterintelligence unit to specialize in such cases. ‘I strongly agree with the president and condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks undermining the ability of our government to protect this country,’ he said. The announcement by Mr. Sessions comes 10 days after President Trump publicly accused his attorney general of being ‘very weak’ on pursuing these investigations. Mr. Sessions also said he had opened a review of Justice Department rules governing when investigators may issue subpoenas related to the news media and leak investigations. ‘We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,’ he said. ‘They cannot place lives at risk with impunity.’… Not all leaks are illegal, and many of the disclosures about palace intrigue at the White House that have irritated Mr. Trump violated no law. However, the Espionage Act and several other federal laws do criminalize unauthorized disclosures about certain national security information, like surveillance secrets….  Several advocacy groups for reporters and First Amendment issues sharply criticized the statements made during the news conference, as did Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post. ‘Sessions talked about putting lives at risk,’ Mr. Baron said. ‘We haven’t done that. What we’ve done is reveal the truth about what administration officials have said and done. In many instances, our factual stories have contradicted false statements they’ve made.’ Matt Purdy, a deputy managing editor of The New York Times, said: ‘There’s a distinction between revelations that make the government uncomfortable and revelations that put lives at risk. We have not published information that endangers lives.'” See also, Attorney general Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department has tripled the number of leak probes compared with the number that were ongoing at the end of the Obama administration, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Friday, 4 August 2017.

The announcement by the Department of Justice on leaks is ‘deeply troubling,’ Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Friday, 4 August 2017: “On Friday, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would increase its pursuit of investigations into unauthorized disclosures. In his statement, he said he would also revisit internal DOJ guidelines that address how and when federal prosecutors can use subpoenas and other tools to obtain the records of journalists as a part of these investigations. The guidelines were previously amended in 2015, when news media organizations led by the Reporters Committee met with then-Attorney General Eric Holder to strengthen protections for reporters in the wake of several leaks cases brought by the Obama Administration. Reporters Committee Chairman David Boardman made the following statement: ‘What the attorney general is suggesting is a dangerous threat to the freedom of the American people to know and understand what their leaders are doing, and why.’ Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown made the following statement: ‘The attorney general’s intent to revisit the guidelines is deeply troubling as is the frame he put around it today – that reporters are putting lives at risk. Journalists and news organizations have a long history of handling this information in a responsible way, working with government officials to evaluate potential harms, and taking steps to mitigate any damage when there is an overwhelming public interest in revealing it. The current guidelines reflect a great deal of good-faith discussion between the news media and a wide range of interests from within the Department of Justice, including career prosecutors and key nonpolitical personnel. They carefully balance the need to enforce the law and protect national security with the value of a free press that can hold the government accountable to the people.” See also, Statement on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ disturbing press conference announcing a crackdown on leaks and on journalism, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Peter Sterne, Friday, 4 August 2017: “At a Friday press conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department will escalate its crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers. He indicated leak investigations have tripled in recent months and will seek to throw sources of journalists in jail. In addition, Sessions’ comments about ‘reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas’ represent a dangerous escalation of the administration’s war against the press. The Department of Justice is explicitly threatening to haul journalists before grand juries and force them to testify about their confidential sources or face jail time. Sessions’ suggestion that journalism is a threat to national security is particularly concerning. Journalists play a crucial role in our democracy, informing the public about the government’s activities. Sessions’ comments seem intended to have a chilling effect on journalism, by making reporters and their sources think twice before publishing information that the government does not like. That will leave all Americans less informed about what the Trump administration is doing behind closed doors.”

Trump Defends Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, His National Security Adviser, Against Calls for His Firing, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 4 August 2017: “President Trump defended Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, his embattled national security adviser, on Friday in the face of a full-bore campaign by the nationalist wing of his political coalition accusing him of undermining the president’s agenda and calling for his dismissal. General McMaster has angered the political right by pushing out several conservatives on the national security staff and cautioning against ripping up the nuclear agreement with Iran negotiated by President Barack Obama without a strategy for what comes next. His future has been in doubt amid speculation that Mr. Trump might send him to Afghanistan. But after two days of unrelenting attacks on General McMaster by conservative activists and news sites, complete with the Twitter hashtag #FireMcMaster, the president weighed in to quash such talk. ‘General McMaster and I are working very well together,’ he said in a statement emailed to The New York Times. ‘He is a good man and very proIsrael. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.'”

Continue reading Week 29, Friday, 4 August – Thursday, 10 August 2017:

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Trump, Week 28, Friday, 28 July – Thursday, 3 August 2017 (Days 190-196)

 

Photo by Robert Del Tredici

 

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 July 2017, Day 190:

 

Senate Rejects Slimmed-Down Obamacare Repeal as Senator John McCain Votes No, The New York Times, Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan, published on Thursday, 27 July 2017: “The Senate in the early hours of Friday morning rejected a new, scaled-down Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, derailing the Republicans’ seven-year campaign to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and dealing a huge political setback to President Trump. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who just this week returned to the Senate after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, cast the decisive vote to defeat the proposal, joining two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, in opposing it. The 49-to-51 vote was also a humiliating setback for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has nurtured his reputation as a master tactician and spent the last three months trying to devise a repeal bill that could win support from members of his caucus. As the clock ticked toward the final vote, which took place around 1:30 a.m., suspense built on the Senate floor. Mr. McCain was engaged in a lengthy, animated conversation with Vice President Mike Pence, who had come to the Capitol prepared to cast the tiebreaking vote for the measure. A few minutes later, when Mr. McCain ambled over to the Democratic side of the chamber, he was embraced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. A little later Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, put her arm around Mr. McCain. The roll had yet to be called, but the body language suggested that the Trump administration had failed in its effort to flip the Arizona senator whom President Trump hailed on Tuesday as an ‘American hero.’ Many senators announced their votes in booming voices. Mr. McCain quietly signaled his vote with a thumbs-down gesture. He later offered an explanation on Twitter: ‘Skinny repeal fell short because it fell short of our promise to repeal & replace Obamacare w/ meaningful reform.’ After the tally was final, Mr. Trump tweeted: ‘3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!'” See also, The Health 202: Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and … John McCain of Arizona sink Obamacare overhaul effort, The Washington Post, Paige Winfield Cunningham, Friday, 28 July 2017. See also, 5 Takeaways From the Failed Senate Effort to Repeal Obamacare, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Friday, 28 July 2017.

Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus  Is Ousted Amid Stormy Days for White House, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 28 July 2017: “Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff who failed to impose order on a chaos-racked West Wing, was pushed out on Friday after a stormy six-month tenure, and President Trump replaced him with John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security and retired four-star Marine general. Mr. Trump announced the change via Twitter while sitting aboard Air Force One on a tarmac outside Washington minutes after returning from Long Island. Mr. Priebus, who had joined the president on the trip and never let on to other passengers what was about to occur, stepped off the plane into a drenching rain, ducked into a car and was driven away without comment. Mr. Trump then emerged under a large umbrella and praised his outgoing and incoming chiefs. ‘Reince is a good man,’ Mr. Trump shouted to nearby reporters. ‘John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody, a great, great, American. But Reince Priebus — a good man.’ Mr. Priebus’s ouster was the latest convulsion in a White House that has been whipsawed by feuds and political setbacks in recent days. The president became convinced that Mr. Priebus was not strong enough to run the White House operation and told him two weeks ago that he wanted to make a change, according to White House officials. Intrigued at the idea of putting a general in charge, Mr. Trump offered the job to Mr. Kelly a few days ago.”

Trump names Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as White House chief of staff, ousting Reince Priebus, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Abby Phillip, Robert Costa, and Ashley Parker, Friday, 28 July 2017: “President Trump ousted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and replaced him with Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly on Friday, a major shake-up designed to bring order and military precision to a West Wing beset for six straight months by chaos, infighting and few tangible accomplishments. With his legislative agenda largely stalled, Trump became convinced that Priebus was a ‘weak’ leader after being lobbied intensely by rival advisers to remove the establishment Republican fixture who has long had friction with some of Trump’s inner-circle loyalists, according to White House officials. Kelly’s hiring is expected to usher in potentially sweeping structural changes to the turbulent operation and perhaps the departures of some remaining Priebus allies. Kelly intends to bring some semblance of traditional discipline to the West Wing, where warring advisers have been able to circumvent the chief of staff and report directly to the president and sidestep the policy process, according to people with knowledge of his plans.”

Continue reading Week 28, Friday, 28 July – Thursday, 3 August 2017:

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Trump, Week 27: Friday, 21 July – Thursday, 27 July 2017 (Days 183-189)

 

Photo by Robert Del Tredici

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 July 2017, Day 183:

 

Jeff Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential race, U.S. intelligence intercepts show, The Washington Post, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, Friday, 21 July 2017: “Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign. One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided ‘misleading’ statements that are ‘contradicted by other evidence.’ A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had ‘substantive’ discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration. Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.” See also, Sometimes it’s ‘normal’ to meet with foreign officials. For Jeff Sessions and the Russian ambassador, it wasn’t. The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Saturday, 22 July 2017.

Special counsel Robert Mueller asks White House staff to preserve all documents relating to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, CNN, Dana Bash, Friday, 21 July 2017: “Special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to preserve all documents relating to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a Russian lawyer and others, according to a source who has seen the letter. Mueller sent a notice, called a document preservation request, asking White House staff to save ‘any subjects discussed in the course of the June 2016 meeting’ and also ‘any decisions made regarding the recent disclosures about the June 2016 meeting,’ according to the source, who read portions of the letter to CNN. The letter from Mueller began: ‘As you are aware the Special Counsel’s office is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump. Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between Donald J Trump Jr and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation.’ The preservation request is broad and includes text messages, emails, notes, voicemails and other communications and documentation regarding the June 2016 meeting and any related communication since then.” See also, Exclusive: Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 represented the FSB, Russia’s top intelligence agency, Reuters, Maria Tsvetkova and Jack Stubbs, Friday, 21 July 2017: “The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. after his father won the Republican nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election counted Russia’s FSB security service among her clients for years, Russian court documents seen by Reuters show. The documents show that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, successfully represented the FSB’s interests in a legal wrangle over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow between 2005 and 2013. The FSB, successor to the Soviet-era KGB service, was headed by Vladimir Putin before he became Russian president. There is no suggestion that Veselnitskaya is an employee of the Russian government or intelligence services, and she has denied having anything to do with the Kremlin. But the fact she represented the FSB in a court case may raise questions among some U.S. politicians.” See also, Russian Lawyer Who Med Donald Trump Jr. Once Represented Russian Spy Agency, The New York Times, Ivan Nechepurenko, Friday, 21 July 2017. And see also, Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. had Russian intelligence connections, The Washington Post, Andrew Roth, Friday, 21 July 2017.

Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting in June 2016 with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya: What we know and when we learned it, Rosalind S. Helderman and Reuben Fischer-Baum, Friday, 21 July 2017: “Shortly after the 2016 election, the Trump campaign insisted none of its officials had interacted with Russians during the campaign. Over time, they have released more and more information about contacts, including a series of misleading statements about a meeting with a Russian lawyer on June 9, 2016.” This article covers how this story developed. See also, Timeline: Donald Trump Jr.’s contradictory statements about the Russia meeting, The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Friday, 21 July 2017: “The president’s son [Donald Trump Jr.], son-in-law [Jared Kushner] and former campaign manager [Paul Manafort] are expected to testify July 26 before the Senate Judiciary Committee about foreign influence on the U.S. election — in particular, about their meeting with a Russian attorney with ties to the Kremlin who they believed would provide dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Although the president now praises his son for being ‘transparent’ about the meeting, Donald Trump Jr.’s statements about the ordeal shifted as more information was reported publicly. And what we know so far contradicts his earlier statements denying setting up a meeting with a Russian national for campaign purposes. (Moreover, the White House and Trump’s team repeatedly denied having contacts with Russian nationals.) [Reporters at The Washington Post have compiled] a timeline of what the public found out when about the meeting, and what Trump Jr. and Trump said about the developments. [They] will update this timeline as necessary.” See also, Here’s what we know so far about Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests, The Washington Post, Bonnie Berkowitz, Denise Lu, and Julie Vitkovskaya, published on 31 March 2017 and updated on Friday, 21 July 2017.

Continue reading Week 27, Friday, 21 July – Thursday, 27 July 2017:

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Trump, Week 26: Friday, 14 July – Thursday, 20 July 2017 (Days 176-182)

 

 

 

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 July 2017, Day 176:

 

Former Soviet Counterintelligence Officer, Rinat Akhmetshin, Was at the Meeting With Donald Trump Jr. and Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, NBC News, Ken Dilanian, Natasha Lebedeva, and Hallie Jackson, Friday, 14 July 2017: “The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned. The lobbyist, first identified by the Associated Press as Rinat Akhmetshin, denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies. He accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign. Born in Russia, Akhmetshin served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship. He did not respond to NBC News requests for comment Friday, but he told the AP the meeting was not substantive. ‘I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest,’ he told the AP. He had been working with Veselnitskaya on a campaign against the Magnitsky Act, a set of sanctions against alleged Russian human rights violators. That issue, which is also related to a ban on American adoptions of Russian children, is what Veselnitskaya told NBC News she discussed with the Trump team.” See also, Russian American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin was present at Trump Jr.’s meeting on 9 June 2016 with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Friday, 14 July 2017: “A Russian American lobbyist and veteran of the Soviet military said Friday that he attended a June 2016 meeting between President Trump’s oldest son and a Kremlin-connected lawyer. The presence of Rinat Akhmetshin adds to the potential seriousness of the Trump Tower gathering that is emerging this week as the clearest evidence so far of interactions between Trump campaign officials and Russian interests. And it underscores how, despite Donald Trump Jr.’s pledge this week to be ‘transparent,’ new details about the encounter continue to become public amid investigations by Congress and a special counsel into alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.”

The Senate Health-Care Bill Would Be a Giant Step Backward, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Friday, 14 July 2017: “The draft of the Senate G.O.P. health-care bill that Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, released on Thursday is, in one way, an improvement on the previous version of the bill. The latest draft dropped a proposal to repeal two tax increases on very high earners, which were part of the Affordable Care Act. The revenue from those tax increases was used to help fund some of the A.C.A.’s most progressive features, including the expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies offered to families of modest means for the purchase of private insurance plans. But the merits of the revised Senate bill stop there. Enacting it into law would be a disaster. The old and the sick would be forced to pay far higher premiums; deductibles would go up for almost everyone in the individual market; and many millions of Americans, many of them poor, would lose their health-care coverage entirely. Before delving into the details, it is worth restating what is at stake here: the principle that society is made up of people with mutual obligations, including the duty to try to protect everyone from what Franklin Roosevelt called the ‘hazards and vicissitudes of life,’ such as old age, unemployment, and sickness.” See also, Governors From Both Parties Denounce Senate Republican Obamacare Repeal Bill, The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Friday, 14 July 2017: “The nation’s governors, gathered here for their annual summer meeting, came out strongly on Friday against the new Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, turning up the pressure on Republican leaders struggling to round up the votes to pass the bill next week. Opposition came not just from Democratic governors but from Republicans who split along familiar lines — conservatives who said the legislation did not go far enough and moderates who said it was far too harsh on their state’s vulnerable residents. Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, who at the moment may be the most pivotal figure in the health care debate, said he had ‘great concerns’ with the legislation, and all but declared that he could not support any bill that would scale back Nevada’s Medicaid program. His decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act had been ‘a winner for the people of our state,’ he said of the government health insurance program for poor and disabled people.”

Continue reading Week 26, Friday, 14 July – Thursday, 20 July 2017:

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Trump, Week 25: Friday, 7 July – Thursday, 13 July 2017 (Days 168-175)

 

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 July 2017, Day 169:

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies election hacking after Trump pressed him, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says, The Washington Post, Damian Paletta, David Filipov, and Abby Phillip, Friday, 7 July 2017: “Eight months after an unprecedented U.S election — one that U.S. intelligence agencies say the Russian government tried to sway — President Trump and President Vladimir Putin sat for their first meeting on Friday, a friendly encounter that ended in confusion over whether Trump accepted assurances that the Kremlin was innocent of any wrongdoing during the campaign. Trump, believed to be the intended beneficiary of the Russian meddling, emerged from the extraordinary meeting — which dragged so long that Trump’s wife tried once to break it up — with a deal including Russia and Jordan on a partial Syrian cease-fire. The agreement would mark the first time Washington and Moscow had operated together in Syria to try to reduce the violence. But there were no grand bargains on U.S. sanctions on Russia, the Ukraine crisis or the other issues that have divided the nations for years. The meeting, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, opened with Trump telling Putin it was an ‘honor to be with you.’ In the closed-door discussion, Trump pressed Putin ‘on more than one occasion’ on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who attended the two-hour-and-16-minute meeting, told reporters.  Tillerson said ‘President Putin denied such involvement’ but agreed to organize talks ‘regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process.’ But Tillerson’s counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said that Trump had heard out Putin’s assurances that Moscow did not run a hacking and disinformation effort, and dismissed the entire investigation into the Russian role. ‘President Trump said that this campaign has taken on a rather strange character, because after many months, whenever these accusations are made, no facts are brought,’ Lavrov told Russian reporters. ‘The U.S. president said that he heard clear statements from President Putin about this being untrue, and that he accepted these statements.'” See also, Russia Disputes U.S. Claim Trump ‘Pressed’ Putin on Hacking of the Presidential Election, The Intercept, Robert Mackey, Friday, 7 July 2017: “According to two widely divergent witness accounts, Donald Trump either ‘pressed’ Vladimir Putin repeatedly on Friday to admit that Russia helped him get elected president of the United States — by stealing and releasing embarrassing emails from Democrats — or told the Russian leader that he accepted his claim that Russia had nothing to do with the hacking and called concern over the issue ‘exaggerated.’ Those two very different accounts of what was said in the meeting between Trump and Putin in Hamburg, Germany, came in dueling press briefings given after it by the only other senior officials in the room when the conversation took place: Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, and Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.”

Trump says Mexico should ‘absolutely’ pay for border wall, Politico, Jake Lahut, Friday, 7 July 2017: “Mexico should ‘absolutely’ pay for the border wall between the United States and its southern neighbor, President Donald Trump said Friday during his meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto. On the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, an Associated Press reporter asked Trump, ‘Do you still want Mexico to pay for the wall?’ The president responded, ‘absolutely,’ according to a pool report. Trump praised Nieto as his ‘friend,’ despite the Mexican president canceling what was supposed to be one of the administration’s first White House guest visits. Nieto has insisted that Mexico will not pay for the border wall, and Trump has floated alternatives, such as paying for the wall with solar panels.”

Hackers Are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, the Homeland Security Department and the F.B.I. say, The New York Times, Nicole Perlroth, Friday, 7 July 2017: “Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries. Among the companies targeted was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., according to security consultants and an urgent joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week. The joint report was obtained by The New York Times and confirmed by security specialists who have been responding to the attacks. It carried an urgent amber warning, the second-highest rating for the sensitivity of the threat. The report did not indicate whether the cyberattacks were an attempt at espionage — such as stealing industrial secrets — or part of a plan to cause destruction. There is no indication that hackers were able to jump from their victims’ computers into the control systems of the facilities, nor is it clear how many facilities were breached.”

Continue reading Week 25, Friday, 7 July – Thursday, 13 July 2017:

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Trump, Week 24, Friday, 30 June – Thursday, 6 July 2017 (Days 162-168)

 

 

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, 30 June 2017, Day 162:

 

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will launch a program to ‘critique’ climate science, E&E News, Emily Holden, Friday, 30 June 2017: “U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is leading a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science using a ‘back-and-forth critique’ by government-recruited experts, according to a senior administration official. The program will use ‘red team, blue team’ exercises to conduct an ‘at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,’ the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations. ‘The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals … provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,’ the source said…. The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review. Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.” See also, Environmental Protection Agency to Give Dissenters a Voice on Climate, No Matter the Consensus, The New York Times, Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport, Friday, 30 June 2017. See also, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is pushing a governmentwide effort to question climate change science, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, published on Saturday, 1 July 2017.

Trump’s voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back. The Washington Post, Mark Berman and David Weigel, Friday, 30 June 2017: “President Trump’s voting commission stumbled into public view this week, issuing a sweeping request for nationwide voter data that drew sharp condemnation from election experts and resistance from more than two dozen states that said they cannot or will not hand over all of the data. The immediate backlash marked the first significant attention to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity since Trump started it last month and followed through on a vow to pursue his own unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud is rampant and cost him the popular vote in the presidential election. The White House has said the commission will embark upon a ‘thorough review of registration and voting issues in federal elections,’ but experts and voting rights advocates have pilloried Trump for his claims of widespread fraud, which studies and state officials alike have not found. They say that they fear the commission will be used to restrict voting. Those worries intensified this week after the commission sent letters to 50 states and the District on Wednesday asking for a trove of information, including names, dates of birth, voting histories and, if possible, party identifications. The letters also asked for evidence of voter fraud, convictions for election-related crimes and recommendations for preventing voter intimidation — all within 16 days. While the Trump administration has said it is just requesting public information, the letters met with swift — and sometimes defiant — rejection. By Friday, 25 states were partially or entirely refusing to provide the requested information; some said state laws prohibit releasing certain details about voters, while others refused to provide any information because of the commission’s makeup and backstory.” See also, Asked for Voters’ Data, States Give Trump Panel a Bipartisan ‘No,’ The New York Times, Michael Wines, Friday, 30 June 2017. See also, How Trump’s nationwide voter data request could lead to voter suppression, The Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham, Friday, 30 June 2017.

Trump Suggests Repealing the Health Care Law Now and Replacing It Later, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear, Friday, 30 June 2017: “With Senate Republicans already bogged down over how to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, President Trump on Friday tossed in a new complication with an old idea: The Senate could repeal the health law now, then replace it later. Mr. Trump gave his blessing in a Twitter post after a Republican dissatisfied with the current repeal bill, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, floated the two-stage approach as a backup plan. Mr. Sasse sent a letter to the president and made a pitch on Fox News on Friday as an agreement on a new version of the Senate’s repeal bill remained elusive. Other conservatives quickly picked up the idea — including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch — presenting a new headache to Senate leaders who are trying to focus their conservative and moderate troops on finding a compromise.”

Continue reading Week 24, Friday, 30 June – Thursday, 6 July 2017:

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Trump, Week 23: Friday, 23 June – Thursday, 29 June 2017 (Days 155-161)

 

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, 23 June 2017, Day 155:

 

Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, Friday, 23 June 2017: “Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried ‘eyes only’ instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race. But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump. At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks. But at the highest levels of government, among those responsible for managing the crisis, the first moment of true foreboding about Russia’s intentions arrived with that CIA intelligence. The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid…. This account of the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s interference is based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue. The White House, the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.”

The emerging timeline of Obama and Russia that is giving Democrats heartburn, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 23 June 2017: “The Washington Post is reporting Friday morning that President Barack Obama knew in August that Russian President Vladimir Putin was waging an extraordinary cyberwar on the U.S. presidential campaign, both to discredit the election and try to help Donald Trump win. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge all of this until after the election, in December. In the last few months of the election campaign, behind the scenes — and sometimes publicly — Democrats  in Congress were extremely critical of the president for not telling the public about what was happening. Top members of the Obama administration have since defended that decision as the best of bad choices. Former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress earlier this week: ‘We were concerned that, by making the statement, we might in and of itself be challenging the integrity of the — of the election process itself.’ So what really happened? [This article presents] a timeline of how the Obama administration responded to the Russian meddling — and how he was criticized for it.”

Planned Parenthood Battle Could Sway Fortunes of Republican Health Bill, The New York Times, Avantika Chilkoti, Friday, 23 June 2017: “As the Senate barrels toward a vote next week to sever all federal support for Planned Parenthood, the 100-year-old organization is mobilizing furiously to bring down the Republicans’ broader legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act before it reaches President Trump’s desk. The fight over one provision — to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for a single year — may be tangential to the wider war over the American health care system. But with the Senate so narrowly divided, Mr. Trump’s vow to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement could rest on the hot-button issue of abortion. Republicans can afford to lose only two votes when the final tally comes as soon as Thursday. Moderate Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have expressed deep misgivings over the Planned Parenthood provision, which would deprive the organization of more than 40 percent of its funding, jeopardizing health care for women in states like theirs. But restoring Medicaid reimbursements to the women’s health organization could cost just as many votes on the right.”

Continue reading Week 23, Friday, 23 June – Thursday, 29 June 2017:

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Trump, Week 22: Friday, 16 June – Thursday, 22 June 2017 (Days 148-154)

 

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, 16 June 2017, Day 148:

 

Trump Acknowledges He Is Under Investigation in Russia Inquiry, and He Attacks Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in His Latest Rebuke of the Justice Department, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 17 June 2017: “President Trump escalated his attacks on his own Justice Department on Friday, using an early-morning Twitter rant to condemn the department’s actions as ‘phony’ and ‘sad!’ and to challenge the integrity of the official overseeing the expanding inquiry into Russian influence of the 2016 election. Acknowledging for the first time publicly that he is under investigation, Mr. Trump appeared to accuse Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, of leading what the president called a ‘witch hunt.’ Mr. Rosenstein appointed a special counsel last month to conduct the investigation after Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. ‘I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!’ Mr. Trump wrote, apparently referring to a memo Mr. Rosenstein wrote in May that was critical of Mr. Comey’s leadership at the F.B.I. ‘Witch hunt,’ Mr. Trump added. The remarkable public rebuke is the latest example of a concerted effort by Mr. Trump, the White House and its allies to undermine officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. even as the Russia investigation proceeds. In the five weeks since Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey, he has let it be known that he has considered firing Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation. His personal lawyer bragged about firing Preet Bharara, the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was let go as part of the mass dismissal of top prosecutors. Newt Gingrich, an ally of the president’s, accused Mr. Mueller of being the tip of the ‘deep-state spear aimed at destroying’ the Trump presidency. Inside the White House, those close to the president say he has continued to fume about the actions of Justice Department officials, his anger focused mostly on Mr. Rosenstein for appointing Mr. Mueller and on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime political ally whose decision to recuse himself from the Russia case in March enraged Mr. Trump. What the president wanted out of the investigation was simple, several people close to him said: a public statement that he was not under a cloud. What he got instead were reports of Mr. Mueller’s intention to investigate him for possible obstruction of justice.”

Trump Transition Team Orders Former Aides to Preserve Russia-Related Materials, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and Matthew Rosenberg, Friday, 16 June 2017: “Members of President Trump’s transition team were ordered on Thursday to preserve documents and other materials related to the investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The memo, from the transition team’s general counsel’s office, is the latest indication that the investigation’s special counsel, the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III, is casting a wide net in his inquiry into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Moscow. The memo says former transition team members ‘have a duty to preserve any physical and electronic records that may be related in any way to the subject matter of the pending investigations.’ The so-called preservation order covers any transition team information involving Russia or Ukraine. It also seeks any background investigation records involving the former manager of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort, and his business partner, Rick Gates; the former foreign policy adviser Carter Page; and the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of a call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. The memorandum also names Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to Mr. Trump. With the order, the transition team lawyers are indicating that they have reason to believe that the five men’s actions are part of investigations by the Justice Department or the House or Senate Intelligence Committees, or will be.” See also, Full text: Trump transition team memo on keeping documents on Russia and the election, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Friday, 16 June 2017.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issues a cryptic warning about the truth of stories ‘attributed to anonymous’ officials, The Washington Post, Fred Barbash, Friday, 16 June 2017: “Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein generated a lot of buzz but little clarity Thursday night with a statement urging Americans to ‘exercise caution’ when evaluating stories attributed to anonymous officials. Why Rosenstein would suddenly make that comment, or any comment, after having made no comment to story after story attributed to anonymous sources, remained a mystery. The full statement read:

Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch of agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself, Rosenstein is the Justice Department official directly responsible for matters relating to the investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election of 2016, including any possible role played by people associated with Donald Trump’s campaign. The statement follows several stories in the past few days in The Washington Post and New York Times quoting unnamed sources on the direction of the probe, now in the hands of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.” See also, Don’t Believe Anonymously Sourced Reports, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Says, The New York Times, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Friday, 16 June 2017.

Continue reading Week 22, Friday, 16 June – Thursday, 22 June 2017:

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