Trump, Week 34: Friday, 8 September -Thursday, 14 September 2017, (Days 232-238)

 

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, 8 September 2017, Day 232:

 

House Passes Hurricane Aid and Raises Debt Ceiling, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 8 September 2017: “The Republican-controlled House on Friday gave final approval to President Trump’s fiscal deal with Democrats, leaving conservative lawmakers frustrated and grumbling as Mr. Trump continued to assail his party for failing to advance major legislation. The president signed the measure later Friday. With Hurricane Irma poised to crash into Florida over the weekend, lawmakers approved $15 billion in hurricane relief as part of a short-term measure that increases the nation’s borrowing authority and keeps the government funded until December. But the House passed the measure with the support of Democrats and over the objections of more than a third of the chamber’s Republicans, who were left with few options after a president of their own party chose to side with ‘Chuck and Nancy,’ as Mr. Trump called the Democratic leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California.”

Trump Lashes Out at Congressional Republicans’ ‘Death Wish,’ The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 8 September 2017: “President Trump on Friday rejected Republican complaints about his decision to work with Democrats on fiscal and immigration issues, chiding his own party for failing to advance major legislation and calling on congressional leaders to begin overhauling the tax code immediately. As the rift between the president and Republican lawmakers widened, the president argued that he had no choice but to collaborate with the Democratic minority to get business done, especially because the opposition has the power to block bills in the Senate, where Republicans do not have the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster. ‘Republicans, sorry, but I’ve been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn’t happen!’ he wrote in a series of morning messages on Twitter, referring to the failure of party leaders to pass legislation overturning former President Barack Obama’s health care program. ‘Even worse, the Senate Filibuster Rule will never allow the Republicans to pass even great legislation. 8 Dems control — will rarely get 60 (vs. 51) votes. It is a Repub Death Wish!’ Mr. Trump pressed his party allies to accelerate efforts to revamp the tax code and lower taxes on corporations and workers, perhaps his best chance to pass a major priority item before the end of the year. ‘Republicans must start the Tax Reform/Tax Cut legislation ASAP,’ he wrote. ‘Don’t wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry!'”

Special counsel Robert Mueller gives the White House names of 6 aides he expects to question in Russia probe, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Ashley Parker, Friday, 8 September 2017: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has alerted the White House that his team will probably seek to interview six top current and former advisers to President Trump who were witnesses to several episodes relevant to the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the request. Mueller’s interest in the aides, including trusted adviser Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus, reflects how the probe that has dogged Trump’s presidency is starting to penetrate a closer circle of aides around the president. Each of the six advisers was privy to important internal discussions that have drawn the interest of Mueller’s investigators, according to people familiar with the probe, including his decision in May to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. Also of interest is the White House’s initial inaction after warnings about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s December discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. The advisers are also connected to internal documents that Mueller’s investigators have asked the White House to produce, according to people familiar with the special counsel’s inquiry.”

Continue reading Week 34, Friday, 8 September-Thursday, 14 September 2017:

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Trump, Week 33: Friday, 1 September – Thursday, 7 September 2017 (Days 225-231)

 

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, 1 September 2017, Day 225:

 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has an Early Draft of Trump Letter Giving Reasons for Firing F.B.I. Director James Comey, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 1 September 2017: “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter drafted by President Trump and a top political aide that offered an unvarnished view of Mr. Trump’s thinking in the days before the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey. The circumstances and reasons for the firing are believed to be a significant element of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which includes whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey. The letter, drafted in May, was met with opposition from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who believed that its angry, meandering tone was problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter. Among Mr. McGahn’s concerns were references to private conversations the president had with Mr. Comey, including times when the F.B.I. director told Mr. Trump he was not under investigation in the F.B.I.’s continuing Russia inquiry. Mr. McGahn successfully blocked the president from sending the letter — which Mr. Trump had composed with Stephen Miller, one of the president’s top political advisers — to Mr. Comey. But a copy was given to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who then drafted his own letter. Mr. Rosenstein’s letter was ultimately used as the Trump administration’s public rationale for Mr. Comey’s firing, which was that Mr. Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to disrupt last year’s presidential election, as well as whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice. Mr. McGahn’s concerns about Mr. Trump’s letter show how much he realized that the president’s rationale for firing Mr. Comey might not hold up to scrutiny, and how he and other administration officials sought to build a more defensible public case for his ouster.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is examining Trump’s draft letter firing FBI Director James Comey, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig, and Ashley Parker, Friday, 1 September 2017.

How our understanding of the Russia investigation evolved this week, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 1 September 2017: “While the country rightly focused on the devastation of Hurricane Harvey [this week], a number of new reports emerged centered on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — and any other wrongdoing orbiting nearby. In the interest of making sure readers are up-to-speed on the developments unearthed this week, we’ve compiled them [for this article].”

Exclusive: Special Counsel Robert Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation, Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff, Friday, 31 August 2017: “Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit. This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney. And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public. Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS.”

Continue reading Week 33, Friday, 1 September – Thursday, 7 September 2017:

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Trump, Week 32: Friday, 25 August – Thursday, 31 August 2017 (Days 218-224)

 

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, 25 August 2017, Day 218:

 

Trump Pardons Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who Became the Face of the Crackdown on Illegal Immigration, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 25 August 2017: “President Trump on Friday pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose aggressive efforts to hunt down and detain undocumented immigrants made him a national symbol of the divisive politics of immigration and earned him a criminal contempt conviction. In a two-paragraph statement, the White House said that Mr. Arpaio gave ‘years of admirable service to our nation’ and called him a ‘worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.’… Mr. Arpaio, 85, served for 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County — which includes Phoenix — building a national reputation for harsh conditions in his county jail, and for his campaign against undocumented immigrants. Mr. Arpaio had touted himself as ‘America’s toughest sheriff,’ making inmates wear pink underwear and serving jail food that at least some prisoners called inedible. He was also at the forefront of the so-called birther movement that aimed to investigate President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The criminal conviction grew out of a lawsuit filed a decade ago charging that the sheriff’s office regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping people based on racial profiling, detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally and turning them over to the immigration authorities. A federal district judge hearing the case ordered Mr. Arpaio in 2011 to stop detaining people based solely on suspicion of their immigration status, when there was no evidence that a state law had been broken. But the sheriff insisted that his tactics were legal and that he would continue employing them. He was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court for defying the order, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. The pardon was swiftly condemned on Twitter by Democrats in Congress as ‘outrageous and completely unacceptable’ and a ‘disgrace.’ Its timing also raised eyebrows, coming on the eve of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, barreling down on coastal Texas. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, accused Mr. Trump of ‘using the cover of the storm’ to pardon Mr. Arpaio and to issue a formal ban on transgender people from joining the military. (The ban also gives the secretary of defense wide latitude to decide whether currently serving transgender troops should remain in the military.)” See also, Trump pardons former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Abby Phillip, Friday, 25 August 2017. See also, ACLU Comment on Trump Pardon of  Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ACLU, Friday, 25 August 2017: “President Trump has pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was found guilty of criminal contempt for deliberately violating a federal court order that prohibited illegal detentions based only on suspicions about immigration status. The ruling stems from an initial lawsuit brought by Latino residents of Maricopa who successfully challenged Arpaio’s policies of racial profiling and illegal detentions. The plaintiff class was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and partner organizations. Arpaio repeatedly flouted court orders in that civil rights case, leading to both civil and criminal contempt rulings against him.ACLU Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang said: ‘With his pardon of Arpaio, Trump has chosen lawlessness over justice, division over unity, hurt over healing. Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts. His pardon of Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism.'” See also, The Joe Arpaio I Knew, ProPublica, Ryan Gabrielson, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2017: “Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin were awarded a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for revealing how Arpaio’s ‘focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety.'” See also, Sheriff Joe: Joe Arpaio is tough on prisoners and undocumented immigrants. What about on crime? The New Yorker, William Finnegan, published on 20 July 2009.

Latinos Express Outrage After Trump Pardons Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, The New York Times, Simon Romero, Friday, 25 August 2017: “Few of President Trump’s actions have touched a nerve among Latinos across the political spectrum in the United States quite like his pardon of Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty of criminal contempt after defying a federal judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos based solely on suspicion of their immigration status. And this from a president who has called Mexican immigrants rapists, attacked a judge over his ‘Mexican heritage’ and repeatedly vowed that Mexico, instead of American taxpayers, would pay for a wall on the southern border. Artemio Muniz, the chairman of the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans, said Friday night that he was ‘beyond disgusted’ by the pardon, saying on Twitter that the move essentially placed Mr. Arpaio above the law.”

Sebastian Gorka Is Forced Out as White House Adviser, Officials Say, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Matt Stevens, Friday, 25 August 2017: “Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken adviser to President Trump and lightning rod for controversy, has been forced out of his position at the White House, two administration officials said on Friday. One of the officials said that the president’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, had telegraphed his lack of interest in keeping Mr. Gorka during internal discussions over the last week. Mr. Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president, had been on vacation for at least the last two weeks, that official said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about personnel issues. The Federalist, a conservative website, published portions of what it called a resignation letter written by Mr. Gorka. It quoted him as saying that given which ‘forces’ were on the rise in the White House, the best way for him to support the president was from outside it. The White House, seeking to blunt Mr. Gorka’s claim that he had resigned, put out an unattributed statement saying that he no longer works in the administration, but that he did not resign. His departure is the latest in a string of them since Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general, took over as the White House chief of staff last month. Mr. Gorka criticized Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state, in a public show of disrespect that chafed Mr. Kelly’s sense of order, according to one senior administration official.”

Continue reading Week 32, Friday, 25 August – Thursday, 31 August 2017:

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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.'” See also, Letter from The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Politico, Friday, 18 August 2017.

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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