Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades. The New York Times, 5 October 2017. “An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against [Hollywood producer] Mr. [Harvey] Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company. During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and Ms. O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements. In a statement to The Times on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Weinstein said: ‘I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.’ He added that he was working with therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to ‘deal with this issue head on.’… Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s former and current employees, from assistants to top executives, said they knew of inappropriate conduct while they worked for him. Only a handful said they ever confronted him. Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its ‘business reputation’ or ‘any employee’s personal reputation,’ a recent document shows. And most of the women accepting payouts agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the deals or the events that led to them…. Most women who told The Times that they experienced misconduct by Mr. Weinstein had never met one another. They range in age from early 20s to late 40s and live in different cities. Some said they did not report the behavior because there were no witnesses and they feared retaliation by Mr. Weinstein. Others said they felt embarrassed. But most confided in co-workers.”

Statement from Harvey Weinstein, The New York Times, 5 October 2017. “Harvey Weinstein sent The Times … [a] statement in response to our story about his treatment of women in Hollywood. (Read the original investigation.) In the article’s aftermath, actresses spoke out, politicians distanced themselves and an adviser called his behavior ‘gross.'”

Update: Harvey Weinstein Is Fired After Sexual harassment Reports. Megan Twohey, . The New York Times, 8 October 2017. “The Weinstein Company fired its co-founder Harvey Weinstein on Sunday, after a New York Times investigation uncovered allegations that he had engaged in rampant sexual harassment, dealing a stunning blow to a producer known for shaping American film and championing liberal causes. The statement announcing the firing said the decision had been made ‘in light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days.’ In an interview, Lance Maerov, one of the company’s four board members, said it had been brought to their attention that Mr. Weinstein had violated the company’s code of conduct at some point in the past week, but he would not specify what the violation was. Mr. Maerov said Mr. Weinstein had been notified of his termination by email Sunday evening. The action was taken by Mr. Maerov, Bob Weinstein (Mr. Weinstein’s brother), Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar. A fifth board member, Paul Tudor Jones, resigned on Saturday. The firing was an escalation from Friday, when one-third of the company’s all-male board resigned and four members who remained announced that Mr. Weinstein would take a leave of absence while an outside lawyer investigated the allegations.”

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Trump, Week 37: Friday, 29 September – Thursday, 5 October 2017 (Days 253-259)

 

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, 29 September 2017, Day 253:

 

Trump tweets that ‘big decisions’ are ahead on how much to spend on a ‘destroyed’ Puerto Rico. A Democratic critic immediately accused Trump of applying a different standard to Puerto Rico than he did to Texas and Florida when they were recently struck by hurricanes. The Washington Post, John Wagner, Friday, 29 September 2017: “President Trump on Friday declared that Puerto Rico has been ‘destroyed’ and said ‘big decisions’ lie ahead about how much to spend on rebuilding the U.S. territory. His ominous tweet drew immediate criticism from Democratic politicians who said Trump is applying a different standard to the island than he did to Texas and Florida when they were recently struck by hurricanes. ‘The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes,’ Trump said on Twitter, referring to Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma, which also took a heavy toll on the territory before reaching Florida. ‘Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!’ Appearing on MSNBC shortly afterward, Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito (D), a native of Puerto Rico, said Trump was treating Puerto Ricans as ‘second-class citizens.’ ‘There is a double standard of how Puerto Ricans are being treated,’ she said in response to his tweet, calling the Trump administration’s response to the hurricane ‘deplorable.’ ‘The lack of planning and preparation is literally costing lives,’ said Mark-Viverito, who was born in San Juan.”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Rebukes Trump White House Over Its Hurricane Response: ‘This Is Not a Good News Story,’ The New York Times, Daniel Victor, Friday, 29 September 2017: “A White House official’s praise of the government response to Hurricane Maria drew a sharp rebuke from the mayor of San Juan, as Puerto Ricans grew desperate in the aftermath of the storm, struggling to obtain basic life-sustaining supplies. Elaine Duke, the acting head of Homeland Security, said on Thursday that she was ‘very satisfied’ with the government’s response so far and the progress that has been made. ‘I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane,’ she said. But the idea that there was anything good about the news didn’t sit well with Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan. (Ms. Cruz is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which advocates maintaining the island’s commonwealth status.) After CNN played Ms. Duke’s comments for the mayor, Ms. Cruz called them ‘an irresponsible statement. Well, maybe from where she’s standing it’s a good news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story. When you have to pull people down from their buildings, because — I’m sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me…. This is, dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a “people are dying” story. This is a “life or death” story. This is “there’s a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to people” story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.'”

Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico. As storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages, Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves. The Washington Post, Abby Phillip, Ed O’Keefe, Nick Miroff, and Damian Paletta, Friday, 29 September 2017: “At first, the Trump administration seemed to be doing all the right things to respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico. As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help. But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves. Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally. Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis. Trump did hold a meeting at his golf club that Friday with half a dozen Cabinet officials — including acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke, who oversees disaster response — but the gathering was to discuss his new travel ban, not the hurricane. Duke and Trump spoke briefly about Puerto Rico but did not talk again until Tuesday, an administration official said.”

Continue reading Week 37, Friday, 29 September – Thursday, 5 October 2017:

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Trump, Week 36: Friday, 22 September – Thursday, 28 September 2017 (Days 246-252)

 

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, 22 September 2017, Day 246:

 

Amid new sanctions, Trump calls North Korea’s leader ‘madman’ whose regime will face new tests, The Washington Post, David Nakamura and Anne Gearan, Friday, 22 September 2017: “President Trump lashed back Friday at North Korea’s leader, calling Kim Jong Un a ‘madman’ whose regime will be ‘tested like never before’ amid new U.S.-imposed financial sanctions. The latest economic pressures announced Thursday come as the Trump administration seeks to build international support for more aggressively confronting the rogue nation, whose escalating nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities have reached what U.S. officials consider a crisis point. The new penalties seek to leverage the dominance of the U.S. financial system by forcing nations, foreign companies and individuals to choose whether to do business with the United States or the comparatively tiny economy of North Korea. U.S. officials acknowledged that like other sanctions, these may not deter North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s drive to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon, but are aimed at slowing him down. Kim on Thursday reacted angrily to Trump’s remarks and actions this week, calling the president a ‘mentally deranged U.S. dotard’ and Trump’s earlier speech at the U.N. ‘unprecedented rude nonsense.” Kim said he was now thinking hard about how to respond.”

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt met with many corporate executives. Then he made decisions in their favor. The Washington Post, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 22 September 2017: “Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has met regularly with corporate executives from the automobile, mining and fossil fuel industries — in several instances shortly before making decisions favorable to those interest groups, according to a copy of his schedule obtained by The Washington Post. There were, by comparison, only two environmental groups and one public health group on the schedule, which covers the months of April through early September. It is the broadest public release of Pruitt’s schedule and it adds to understanding about how he makes decisions.”

Department of Homeland Security Tells 21 States That Hackers Targeted Their Voting Systems, The New York Times,  The Associated Press, Friday, 22 September 2017: “The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election. The notification came roughly a year after officials with the United States Department of Homeland Security first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia. The states that told The Associated Press they had been targeted included some key political battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The A.P. contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. The others that confirmed they were targeted were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Being targeted does not mean that sensitive voter data was manipulated or that results were changed. A hacker targeting a system without getting inside is similar to a burglar circling a house, checking for unlocked doors and windows. Even so, the widespread nature of the attempts and the yearlong lag time in notification from the Department of Homeland Security raised concerns among some election officials and lawmakers. For many states, the calls on Friday were the first official confirmation that they were on the list — even though state election officials across the country have been calling for months for the federal government to share information about any hacks, as have members of Congress.”

Continue reading Week 36, Friday, 22 September-Thursday, 28 September 2017:

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Trump, Week 35: Friday, 15 September – Thursday, 21 September 2017 (Days 239-245)

 

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, 15 September 2017, Day 239:

 

Trump’s Tweets About London Bombing Anger British Leaders, The New York Times, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 15 September 2017: “President Trump seized on a terrorist attack in London on Friday to promote his ban on travel to the United States by Muslims and, in the process, ran afoul of Britain by claiming without evidence that the assailants had been ‘in the sights’ of the British police. In a fusillade of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump cited the chaotic scene in a London Underground station as Exhibit A for his hard-line policies. His ban on visitors from predominantly Muslim countries, he wrote, should be ‘far larger, tougher and more specific’ — a statement that seemed calculated to mollify his political base after a week in which Mr. Trump suddenly began playing dealmaker with Democrats on immigration. But Mr. Trump’s assertion that the assailants had been known to Scotland Yard angered Prime Minister Theresa May, who said it was not helpful for anyone to speculate while an investigation was underway. Mr. Trump was later briefed about the attack and called Mrs. May with condolences, according to a senior official, though he did not apologize. It was the latest episode in which Mr. Trump was at odds with Britain over sensitive security issues. In June, he criticized London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, over his response to another terrorist attack, misconstruing Mr. Khan’s words. In March, the White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, repeated allegations that a British intelligence agency had wiretapped Trump Tower, which British authorities dismissed as ‘utterly ridiculous.’ Trump’s assertions were also a sign that for all the talk about a more disciplined White House under the new chief of staff, John F. Kelly — who has urged the president to have tweets vetted by his aides — Mr. Trump was still determined not to censor himself on social media and was fully capable of roiling the diplomatic waters with a single unguarded post.”

Trump Declines to Release List of His Visitors at Mar-a-Lago Despite a Federal Court Order, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Wednesday, 15 September 2017: “The Trump administration on Friday escalated a battle with government ethics groups by declining, even in the face of a federal court order, to release the identities of individuals visiting with President Trump at his family’s Mar-a-Lago resort during the days he has spent at the private club in Palm Beach, Fla., this year. The surprising move by the Department of Justice, which had been ordered in July by a federal court to complete its review of Mar-a-Lago visitor records, came after weeks of promotion by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the liberal nonprofit group known as CREW, that it would soon be getting the Mar-a-Lago visitors logs. Instead, on Friday the Justice Department released a State Department list of just 22 names — all of them members of the delegation of the Japanese prime minister — who visited the club in February for a meeting with President Trump. The dispute centers on what kind of records related to private individuals visiting the president should be open to public inspection. The refusal to disclose the full list of presidential visitors’ names also brings renewed scrutiny to the president’s private business empire and raises questions about why the administration would want to withhold information that could reveal possible conflicts of interest. CREW and its partners in the effort — the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University — sued in April to get access to presidential visitor logs for Mar-a-Lago, the White House and Trump Tower in New York. CREW requested only a list of people explicitly visiting the president, not, for example, all Mar-a-Lago members or other guests who happened to be there on those days.” See also, Watchdog groups sought presidential visitor logs for Mar-a-Lago. They finally got a response–22 names –all from the delegation of Japanese officials and assistants who accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a February trip, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Friday, 15 September 2017.

The Trump administration is working toward renewed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 15 September 2017: “The Trump administration is quietly moving to allow energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in more than 30 years, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, with a draft rule that would lay the groundwork for drilling. Congress has sole authority to determine whether oil and gas drilling can take place within the refuge’s 19.6 million acres. But seismic studies represent a necessary first step, and Interior Department officials are modifying a 1980s regulation to permit them. The effort represents a twist in a political fight that has raged for decades. The remote and vast habitat, which serves as the main calving ground for one of North America’s last large caribou herds and a stop for migrating birds from six continents, has served as a rallying cry for environmentalists and some of Alaska’s native tribes. But state politicians and many Republicans in Washington have pressed to extract the billions of barrels of oil lying beneath the refuge’s coastal plain.” See also, Trump Administration Moves to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling Studies, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, published on Saturday, 16 September 2017: “An internal Interior Department memo has proposed lifting restrictions on exploratory seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a possible first step toward opening the pristine wilderness area to oil and gas drilling. The document proposes ending a restriction that had limited exploratory drilling to the period from Oct. 1, 1984, to May 31, 1986. It also directs the agency to provide an environmental assessment and a proposed rule allowing for new exploration plans. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, was first reported by The Washington Post.”

Continue reading Week 35, Friday, 15 September – Thursday, 21 September 2017:

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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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