Trump Administration, Week 121: Friday, 10 May – Thursday, 16 May 2019 (Days 841-847)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

For “a weekly newsletter celebrating people-powered wins against the Trump administration’s agenda,” visit Small Victories. 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 10 May 2019, Day 841:

 

Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subpoenas Trump Tax ReturnsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 10 May 2019: “The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service on Friday, disregarding the Treasury secretary’s refusal this week to hand over six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns and demanding access. The subpoenas from Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, amounted to an unexpected shift in tactics in the yearslong Democratic effort to secure tax returns that Mr. Trump has refused to release. Mr. Mnuchin had rejected a request for the returns made under a little-known provision of the federal tax code that dates back to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration nearly a century ago. So Mr. Neal is turning to a more conventional avenue: the subpoena.” See also, House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal subpoenas Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig over Trump tax returnsThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Friday, 10 May 2019. See also, Democrats subpoena Trump’s tax returns in escalating fight with White HousePolitico, Brian Faler and Aaron Lorenzo, Friday, 10 May 2019.

Former White House counsel Donald McGahn refused request by White House to say Trump did not obstruct justice after the release of the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 10 May 2019: “President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Donald McGahn issue a public statement last month that he did not believe the president had engaged in criminal conduct when he sought to exert control over the Russia investigation — a request McGahn declined, according to people familiar with the episode.”  See also, White House Asked Former Counsel Donald McGahn to Declare Publicly That Trump Never Obstructed JusticeThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 10 May 2019: “White House officials asked at least twice in the past month for the key witness against President Trump in the Mueller report, Donald F. McGahn II, to say publicly that he never believed the president obstructed justice, according to two people briefed on the requests. Mr. Trump asked White House officials to make the request to Mr. McGahn, who was the president’s first White House counsel, one of the people said. Mr. McGahn declined. His reluctance angered the president, who believed that Mr. McGahn showed disloyalty by telling investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about Mr. Trump’s attempts to maintain control over the Russia investigation.” See also, Former White House Counsel Don McGahn Rebuffed Trump’s Request to Say He Didn’t Obstruct JusticeThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Friday, 10 May 2019: “Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter.”

House Approves Disaster Relief and Puerto Rico Aid Over Trump’s OppositionThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Friday, 10 May 2019: “The House on Friday again approved a huge emergency relief bill for farmers and communities hit by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, escalating a standoff with President Trump, who has resisted more aid to Puerto Rico and demanded additional money for immigration enforcement. Thirty-four House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in approving the emergency package, which passed 257 to 150 and would send $19.1 billion in relief and recovery assistance across the country and give a quick cash infusion to farmers swamped by floods and caught in the president’s trade war. The package builds on a measure that was initially passed in January, in the midst of a government shutdown, and rejected by the Senate for not accommodating the floods that recently devastated the Midwest. That flood relief was included in the package passed on Friday, which should intensify pressure on the Senate to reach an agreement with or without the president.” See also, House passes Trump-opposed disaster-relief bill with more funding for Puerto RicoThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 10 May 2019.

Continue reading Week 121, Friday, 10 May – Thursday, 16 May 2019 (Days 841-847)

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Trump Administration, Week 120: Friday, 3 May – Thursday, 9 May 2019 (Days 834-840)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

For “a weekly newsletter celebrating people-powered wins against the Trump administration’s agenda,” visit Small Victories. 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 3 May 2019, Day 834:

 

Ohio Congressional Map Is Illegal Gerrymander, Federal Court RulesThe New York Times, Trip Gabriel and Michael Wines, Friday, 3 May 2019: “A federal court on Friday tossed out Ohio’s congressional map, ruling that Republican state lawmakers had carved up the state to give themselves an illegal partisan advantage and to dilute Democrats’ votes in a way that predetermined the outcome of elections. The ruling, by a three-judge panel from the Federal District Court in Cincinnati, ordered new maps to be drawn by June 14 to be used for the 2020 election, when Democrats will fight to preserve their House majority. The ruling will go directly to the United States Supreme Court for review. The ruling follows decisions by four other federal courts striking down partisan gerrymanders in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Maryland and, last week, in Michigan. All but Maryland were gerrymandered by Republicans. The Supreme Court, which last year sidestepped the issue of whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution, is expected to rule this spring in appeals from Maryland and North Carolina. The rulings in those cases could determine whether the Supreme Court upholds this decision, alters it or nullifies it entirely.” See also, Federal judges declare Ohio congressional map unconstitutionalThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 3 May 2019: “A unanimous panel of federal judges on Friday declared Ohio’s Republican-drawn congression­al map unconstitutional, adding to a growing number of states where partisan gerrymandering has been outlawed. That decision and a similar one last month in Michigan could be seen as signals from the lower courts to their superiors. The Supreme Court is deciding whether judges even have a role in such disputes. While the high court regularly polices redistricting plans for racial gerrymandering, it has never found lawmakers’ partisan efforts to preserve power so extreme that their actions violate the constitutional rights of voters. The justices’ decision is expected by the term’s end in June.” See also, A federal appeals court just dealt a blow to gerrymandering. It probably won’t last. The Washington Post, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, Friday, 3 May 2019.

House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler gives Attorney General William Barr deadline for access to the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Friday, 3 May 2019: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has given Attorney General William P. Barr one last shot to accommodate lawmakers seeking access to a more complete version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report before beginning contempt proceedings. In a letter Friday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gave Barr until Monday to respond to his request that the Justice Department allow more lawmakers the chance to read the fuller report as well as turn over investigative material underlying the report. Barr had released a redacted version of the report on April 18. Earlier this week, citing a ‘compelling need to protect the autonomy and effectiveness of its investigations,’ the department said it was ‘unable to provide’ Mueller’s investigative files in response to a committee subpoena. ‘The committee is prepared to make every realistic effort to reach an accommodation with the department,’ Nadler wrote. ‘But if the department persists in its baseless refusal to comply with a validly issued subpoena, the committee will move to contempt proceedings and seek further legal recourse.'” See also, Democrats Try to Revive Talks Over Full Mueller Report as Contempt of Congress Vote LoomsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, Friday, 3 May 2019: “House Democrats, threatening to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress, tried on Friday to revive negotiations with the Justice Department over a subpoena for Robert S. Mueller III’s full report and its underlying evidence. They offered to prioritize some material under subpoena over others and raised the possibility of limiting their request for the underlying evidence. At the same time, they asked the Justice Department to reconsider allowing all members of Congress to view a less-redacted version of his report.” See also, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler delivers ultimatum to Attorney General William Barr before holding him in contempt of CongressPolitico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Friday, 3 May 2019: “House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is making what he calls a final ‘counter offer’ to Attorney General William Barr’s refusal to grant immediate access to the underlying evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. In a new letter to Barr on Friday, Nadler (D-N.Y.) gave the Justice Department until 9 a.m. Monday to comply with his adjusted request before moving forward with an effort to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a committee subpoena demanding Mueller’s full unredacted report and underlying documents by May 1.”

Jay Inslee, Running as a Climate Candidate, Wants Coal Gone in 10 YearsThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Matt Stevens, Friday, 3 May 2019: “Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington has centered his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on a single issue, climate change. On Friday, he unveiled his first major climate policy proposal, calling for all coal-fired power plants to be closed in a decade.”

Continue reading Week 120, Friday, 3 May – Thursday, 9 May 2019 (Days 834-840)

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Trump Administration, Week 119: Friday, 26 April – Thursday, 2 May 2019: (Days 827-833)

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

For “a weekly newsletter celebrating people-powered wins against the Trump administration’s agenda,” visit Small Victories. 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 26 April 2019, Day 827:

 

Kansas Supreme Court rules state constitution protects abortion rights, a decision that could lead to challenges in other states, The Washington Post, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Annie Gowen, Friday, 26 April 2019: “The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s constitution fundamentally protects abortion rights, blocking a state law that aimed to restrict a common procedure and declaring that Kansans have broad rights to control what happens to their own bodies regardless of federal court decisions. Judges ruled 6 to 1 on Friday that the Kansas constitution protects the ‘right of personal autonomy,’ meaning state law cannot abridge the right ‘to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.’ Abortion rights advocates immediately seized on the ruling as a landmark decision that could have widespread implications, providing a pathway to override restrictive state laws elsewhere. They also believe it could help battle potential federal court efforts to limit abortion rights protected by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Those who oppose abortion said the ruling was extreme, and Kansas groups vowed to seek an amendment to the state constitution — as other states have — to curtail certain abortion rights.” See also, Once a center of antiabortion extremism, Kansas’s protections are now stronger than ever, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, published on Saturday, 27 April 2018.

Trump defends Charlottesville comments by praising a Confederate general, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 26 April 2019: “President Trump on Friday defended his comments after the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ protests in which an avowed neo-Nazi killed a woman and injured dozens of others in Charlottesville, arguing that his focus was on the protesters defending the monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Trump, pressed on whether he stood by his comments that there were ‘very fine people on both sides,’ told reporters, ‘If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.’ Former vice president Joe Biden resurrected Trump’s response to the deadly rally by self-professed white supremacists in a video to launch his presidential campaign on Thursday. In it, Biden said Trump’s remarks ‘shocked the conscience of this nation.'” See also, Trump says he answered Charlottesville questions ‘perfectly,’ Politico, Katie Galioto, Friday, 26 April 2019: “President Donald Trump on Friday defended his 2017 statement that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va., comments that recently came under fire again after former Vice President Joe Biden attacked Trump for them. When asked for clarification on his remark about the racially charged clash that left one person dead, Trump stood by his claim made more than 1½ years prior.”

Trump Pulls Out of Arms Treaty During Speech at N.R.A. Convention, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 26 April 2019: “In a speech to National Rifle Association members on Friday that was part political rally and part pep talk, President Trump called himself a champion of gun rights. Then he proved it, whipping out a pen onstage to sign a letter that would effectively cease America’s involvement in an arms treaty designed to regulate the international sale of conventional weapons. Mr. Trump said that his administration ‘will never’ ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to discourage the sale of conventional weapons to countries that do not protect human rights. Although the accord was brokered by the United Nations and signed by President Barack Obama, it has never been ratified by the Senate. Experts in arms control note that the accord, even if ratified by the Senate, would not require the United States to alter any existing domestic laws or procedures governing how it sells conventional weapons overseas.” See also, Fact-Checking Trump’s Speech to the N.R.A., The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Friday, 26 April 2019: “In a speech to the National Rifle Association on Friday, President Trump made misleading statements on drug prices, his border wall, MS-13 and an international arms treaty.”

Continue reading Week 119, Friday, 26 April – Thursday, 2 May 2019 (Days 827-833)

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

For “a weekly newsletter celebrating people-powered wins against the Trump administration’s agenda,” visit Small Victories. 

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

 

Friday, 19 April 2019, Day 820:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 12 April 2019, Day 813:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 5 April 2019, Day 806:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 29 March 2019, Day 799:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 22 March 2019, Day 792:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 15 March 2019, Day 785:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.

 

Friday, 8 March 2019, Day 778:

 

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

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

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

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

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