Trump, Week 3: Friday, 3 February – Thursday, 9 February 2017 (Days 16 – 21)



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, 3 February 2017, Day 15:


Trump tweeted about Iran at 6:28 am on Friday, 3 February 2017: “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!”

Trump tweeted about protests against him and his administration at 6:48 am on Friday, 3 February 2017:  “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump tweeted about the attack at the Louvre in Paris at 7:51 am on Friday, 3 February 2017: “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.”

Continue reading Week 3, Friday, 3 February – Thursday, 9 February 2017:

598 colleges have ‘concerns’ about Trump’s travel banThe Hill, Mark Hensch, Friday, 3 February 2017: “A coalition of 598 college and university presidents has released a letter voicing ‘concerns’ with President Trump’s temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations. In the letter, sent Friday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly through the American Council on Education (ACE), the presidents say they are concerned about how the order will affect international students, faculty, researchers and staffers. ‘Our nation can only maintain its global scientific and economic leadership position if it encourages those talented people to come here to study and work,’ the letter says. ‘America is the greatest magnet for talented people from around the world and it must remain so.’”

The new underground railroad to CanadaMaclean’s, Jason Markusoff, Photographs by Nick Iwanyshyn, Friday, 3 February 2017: “More and more refugees are making a dangerous trek north to Canada to escape a harsh new U.S. regime–risking life and limb…. The taxi stopped at the side of the I-29 interstate after cruising north for about an hour. Their $400 in the cabbie’s pocket, he dropped off Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal a two-minute drive short of the North Dakota-Manitoba line. The driver pointed the men toward a darkened prairie field and a row of red blinking lights, wind turbines in the distance. Walk toward those lights, and they could grasp freedom…. By the time they wanted to dial 911 for police to retrieve them from the Manitoba roadside, their hands were frozen claws unable to grip a phone. A trucker eventually rescued them, and a month later they were on a new, safer road, toward possible refugee status in Canada. But their frostbitten fingers are gone. Iyal has one thumb and a half-thumb left. Mohammed has nothing. As the 24-year-old former soccer player lies in his Winnipeg hospital bed a week after the amputation, the ends of his bandaged hands are left open to reveal the skin graft stapled over them to cover the wound. After recalling the extreme burning sensation of that night, the fear he might have died, he can’t stop staring at them in disbelief. ‘Look at my hands. Look, look,’ Mohammed says, cheeks dripping with tears he cannot wipe away.

USDA abruptly purges animal welfare information from its websiteThe Washington Post, Karin Brulliard, Friday, 3 February 2017: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities. In a statement, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of a ‘comprehensive review’ that took place over the past year. It said the removed documents, which also included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved.”

Trump signs executive order to review and roll back Obama-Era financial regulationsThe New York Times, Ben Protess and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 3 February 2017: “President Trump on Friday moved to chisel away at the Obama administration’s legacy on financial regulation, announcing steps to revisit the rules enacted after the 2008 financial crisis and to back away from a measure intended to protect consumers from bad investment advice. After a White House meeting with executives from Wall Street, Mr. Trump signed a directive aimed at the Dodd-Frank Act, crafted by the Obama administration and passed by Congress in response to the 2008 meltdown. He also signed a memorandum that paves the way for reversing a policy, known as the fiduciary rule, that requires brokers to act in a client’s best interest, rather than seek the highest profits for themselves, when providing retirement advice. The executive order affecting Dodd-Frank is vague in its wording and expansive in its reach. It never mentions the law by name, instead laying out ‘core principles’ for regulations that include empowering American investors and enhancing the competitiveness of American companies. Even so, it gives the Treasury the authority to restructure major provisions of Dodd-Frank, and it directs the Treasury secretary to make sure existing laws align with administration goals…. Mr. Trump’s action on the fiduciary rule, which Democrats and consumer groups immediately denounced as a gift to Wall Street, could have a more concrete impact. His memorandum directs the Labor Department to review whether the rule may ‘adversely affect’ investors’ ability to access financial advice — and if it does, it authorizes the agency to rescind and revise the rule…. The 2010 act reined in mortgage practices and derivatives trading and curbed the ability of banks to trade with their own money in a measure known as the Volcker Rule. Despite the president’s concerns, banks have increased their consumer lending like credit cards and auto loans, and have generally expanded their lending to businesses…. The meeting underscored the degree to which the architects of Mr. Trump’s economic strategy are now some of the people he denounced in his campaign, which ended with a commercial that described ‘a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations.'”

Trump says his business friends ‘can’t get loans’ because of Dodd-Frank, The Hill, Vicki Needham, Friday, 3 February 2017: “’We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that had nice businesses, they can’t borrow money,’ Mr. Trump said in the State Dining Room during his meeting with business leaders. ‘They just can’t get any money because the banks just won’t let them borrow it because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank.’”

Trump Moves to Roll Back Obama-Era Financial RegulationsThe New York Times, Ben Protess and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 3 February 2017: “The Senate voted 52 to 47 to void the rule, which requires oil companies to publicly disclose payments made to governments when developing resources around the world. The rule, which Dodd-Frank assigned to the S.E.C. to enforce, was tangential to the law’s mission of reforming Wall Street, but lawmakers included it anyway with the hope of exposing bribes and corruption.

The Federal Communications Commission is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poorThe Washington Post, Brian Fung, Friday, 3 February 2017: “Regulators are telling nine companies they won’t be allowed to participate in a federal program meant to help them provide affordable Internet access to low-income consumers — weeks after those companies had been given the green light. The move, announced Friday by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, reverses a decision by his Democratic predecessor, Tom Wheeler, and undercuts the companies’ ability to provide low-cost Internet access to poorer Americans.”

U.S. Treasury Department Announces New Sanctions On IranNPR, Rebecca Hersher, Friday, 3 February 2017: “The U.S. Treasury Department announced additional sanctions on Iran on Friday, less than a week after a ballistic missile test prompted the Trump administration to accuse Iran of violating an international weapons agreement. The newly announced sanctions target people and businesses the U.S. government says support Iran’s ballistic missile program and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, according to a Treasury Department statement. They are in line with previous sanctions, implemented over what then-President Barack Obama called Iran’s ‘violations of human rights, for its support of terrorism and for its ballistic missile program.’”

Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel billsThe Washington Post, Amy Brittain and Drew Harwell, Friday, 3 February 2017. “When the president-elect’s son Eric Trump jetted to Uruguay in early January for a Trump Organization promotional trip, U.S. taxpayers were left footing a bill of nearly $100,000 in hotel rooms for Secret Service and embassy staff.”

Federal judge in Seattle, WA [James L. Robart] temporarily blocks Trump’s travel ban nationwideThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Lori Aratani and Justin Jouvenal, published on Saturday, 4 February 2017: “A federal judge in Washington state on Friday [3 February]  temporarily blocked enforcement of President Trump’s controversial ban on entry to the United States, and airlines planned to begin allowing passengers from banned countries to board, according to a person familiar with the matter. Following the ruling, government authorities immediately began communicating with airlines and taking steps that would allow travel by those previously barred from doing so, according to a U.S. official. At the same time, though, the White House said in a statement that the Justice Department would ‘at the earliest possible time’ file for an emergency stay of the ‘outrageous’ ruling from the judge. Minutes later, it issued a similar statement omitting the word ‘outrageous.’ ‘The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,’ the White House said…. Robart granted a request from lawyers for the state of Washington who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order. Justice and State department officials had revealed earlier Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order. A U.S. official said that because of the court case, officials would examine the revoking of those visas so that people would be allowed to travel. See also, Where Trump’s Travel Ban StandsThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Acting on a request from two states, Washington and Minnesota, Judge Robart temporarily banned the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order: its 90-day suspension of entry into the United States of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and its limits on accepting refugees, including ‘any action that prioritizes the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.’ Judge Robart’s order allowed people from the seven countries who had been authorized to travel, along with vetted refugees from all nations, to enter the country…. The [U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit] declined to issue an immediate administrative stay, but it said it would consider the federal government’s emergency motion for a stay after receiving more briefs. The court set a very fast briefing schedule, asking the states to respond by midnight Sunday Pacific time, with the federal government to file a second brief by 3 p.m. on Monday.” See also, Court Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban, and Airlines are Told to Allow PassengersThe New York Times, Nicholas Kulish, Caitlin Dickerson and Charlie Savage, Friday, 3 February 2017. See also, The President Has Much Power Over Immigration, but How Much? The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “A key part of immigration law does give the president broad power. It says, ‘Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.’ But another part of the law forbids discrimination ‘because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence,’ but only ‘in the issuance of an immigrant visa.’ The Trump administration argues that the power to bar entry, the subject of the first law, is broader than the limits on issuing visas. Lawyers for Washington State have said that the executive order violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against government establishment of religion because its provisions on the refugee program favor minority religions. ‘President Trump and his advisers have made clear that the very purpose of this order is to tilt the scales in favor of Christian refugees at the expense of Muslims,’ they wrote in their brief to Judge Robart. The Trump administration urged the Ninth Circuit to reject arguments based on religious discrimination, even though Mr. Trump has said he meant to favor Christian refugees. Judicial consideration of the president’s motives, the brief said, would violate the separation of powers…. The states challenging the order face the initial hurdle of demonstrating that they have suffered the sort of direct and concrete harm that gives them standing to sue. Judge Robart ruled that they did, relying on a decision from the federal appeals court in New Orleans, which said Texas could sue to challenge President Barack Obama’s plan to defer the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and allow them to work. ‘The executive order adversely affects the states’ residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel,’ Judge Robart wrote. He said the states had been hurt because the order affected their public universities and their tax bases.”

Trump tweeted at 6:08 pm on Friday, 2 February 2017: “We must keep ‘evil’ out of our country!”


Saturday, 4 February, 2017,       Day 16:


Trump tweeted about U.S. District Judge James L. Robart who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking Trump’s travel ban: 8:12 am: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” And earlier at 7:59 am Trump tweeted: “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security – big trouble!” And later at 3:44 pm Trump tweeted: “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” And even later at 4:44 pm Trump tweeted: “Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision.” And still later at 7:48 pm Trump tweeted“The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!”

State Dept. reverses visa revocations, allows barred travelers to enter U.S., The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Matt Zapotosky and Abby Phillip, Saturday, 4 February 2017: “The Department of Homeland Security complied with a judge’s orders Saturday [4 February 2017] and stopped enforcing President Trump’s controversial entry ban, and the fast-moving legal dispute over the president’s powers could land at the nation’s highest court. On Saturday evening, Trump administration lawyers filed a notice to appeal the Seattle federal judge’s decision from Friday night that imposed a temporary, nationwide halt to Trump’s order barring refugees and those from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the country. While his administration followed the orders of U.S. District Judge James L. Robart, the president blasted out his unhappiness with an extraordinarily personal criticism. ‘The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!’ Trump said in a Saturday morning tweet…. Trump exaggerated the impact of Robart’s order, and Democrats charged that the president was trying to intimidate the independent judiciary. ‘The president’s hostility toward the rule of law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous,’ Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. The State Department said that those with valid visas could enter the country. DHS said it would ‘resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure’ that existed before Trump’s more restrictive executive order…. It is somewhat unusual for a district judge to issue an order that affects the entire country, but Robart said it was necessary to follow Congress’s intention that ‘the immigration laws of the United States should be enforced vigorously and uniformly.’ He was quoting from a 2015 appeals court ruling that had blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action that would have made it easier for undocumented immigrants in this country to remain. It was never implemented because of legal challenges…. Robart granted a request from attorneys for the states of Washington and Minnesota who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order. Justice and State department officials had revealed earlier Friday that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order…. Robart’s order also enjoined the government from enforcing a section of the executive order that bars the entry of Syrian refugees.”

The Genius of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert, published on Sunday, 5 February 2017: “It was the kind of moment Saturday Night Live history was made of: an unannounced guest appearance so perfect that it took even the live audience a few moments to register what was actually happening. ‘Next, on C-SPAN, the daily White House press briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer,’ a voiceover announced. Then, a person who looked uncannily like Spicer walked onstage to a makeshift podium, presumably causing many viewers at home to squint and look more closely at their televisions. Is that … ? Could it be … ? It took a few insults delivered in a trademark shriek to hammer home that this really was Melissa McCarthy, in drag, capturing the unquestionable essence of a political figure whose public image so far has largely revolved around belligerence, alternative facts, and cinnamon gum. As soon as the assembled audience figured it out, they began cheering, causing McCarthy’s Spicer to berate them once again. ‘Settle down, SETTLE DOWN!’ she screeched. ‘Before we begin, I know that myself and the press have gotten off to a rocky start. And when I say rocky, I mean Rocky the movie because I came out here to punch you. In the face. And also I don’t talk so good.’”


Sunday, 5 February 2017, Day 17:


9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals lets U.S. District Judge James Robart’s ruling stand pending further proceedings, thus rejecting bid to quickly reinstate travel banLos Angeles Times, Michael A. Memoli, Jaweed Kaleem and Lisa Mascaro, published at 1:30 am on Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Early Sunday, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied a request to immediately reinstate Trump’s travel ban, asking both sides to file arguments by Monday.”

Trump tweeted again about US District Judge James Robart at  3:39 pm on Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” See also, ‘If something happens’: Trump points his finger in case of a terrorist attackThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Monday, 6 February 2017: “President Trump appears to be laying the groundwork to preemptively shift blame for any future terrorist attack on U.S. soil from his administration to the federal judiciary, as well as to the media. In recent tweets, Trump personally attacked James L. Robart, a U.S. district judge in Washington state, for putting “our country in such peril” with his ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of the administration’s ban on all refugees as well as citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. ‘If something happens blame him and the court system. People pouring in. Bad!’ Trump wrote in a tweet Sunday. Then on Monday [6 February 2017], Trump seemed to spread that blame to include news organizations. In a speech to the U.S. Central Command, the president accused the media of failing to report on some terrorist attacks for what he implied were nefarious reasons.”

Kremlin Asks Fox News to Apologize to Putin After O’Reilly Calls Him ‘a Killer,’ and Trump Equates Putin’s Actions With US Actions in an Interview on Sunday, 5 February, With Bill O’Reilly Before the Super Bowl, The New York Times, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Monday, 6 February 2017: “In the interview, which aired on Sunday, Mr. O’Reilly asked Mr. Trump how he felt about the Russian leader. Mr. O’Reilly: ‘Do you respect Putin?’ Mr. Trump: ‘I do respect him.’ Mr. O’Reilly: ‘Do you? Why?’ Mr. Trump: ‘Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with them. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS — which is a major fight — and Islamic terrorism all over the world — major fight — that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It’s very possible that I won’t.’ Mr. O’Reilly: ‘He’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.’ Mr. Trump: ‘There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?’ The president’s response, which appeared to equate Mr. Putin’s actions with those of the United States, drew outrage and dismay on social media. An open admirer of the Russian leader, Mr. Trump has taken a conciliatory approach toward Mr. Putin, whose tenure has been known for human rights abuses, the brutal suppression of political dissent and the unnatural deaths of many political opponents.”

Kremlin Asks for Apology After Bill O’Reilly Calls Putin ‘a Killer,’ and Trump Comments During the Interview With O’Reilly About His Belief That Three Million Illegal Immigrants Voted in the 2016 Presidential Election, The New York Times, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Monday, 6 February 2017. “In another excerpt from the Fox interview, Mr. Trump was asked whether it was irresponsible for him to say that three million illegal immigrants voted in the election while lacking the evidence to support that assertion. ‘When you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they’re on the registration rolls,’ [Trump] started to say before shifting. ‘Look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this — it’s really a bad situation, it’s really bad.'”

German magazine [Der Spiegel] defends cover of Trump beheading Statue of Liberty, Reuters, Sunday, 5 February  2017: “The editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel on Sunday said a front cover illustration of U.S. President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty, which split opinion at home and abroad, was a response by the German magazine to threats against democracy. Published on Saturday, the cover depicts a cartoon figure of Trump with a bloodied knife in one hand and the statue’s head, dripping with blood, in the other. It carries the caption: ‘America First’. It followed a series of attacks on Berlin’s policies by Trump and his aides that have marked a rapid deterioration in German relations with the United States.”

Volunteers Archive Government Data, Worry Trump Administration Could Cut Access, The Wall Street Journal, Daniela Hernandez, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “Academics, librarians and technology professionals are hosting ‘archive-a-thons’ to copy public databases hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other federal agencies, saying they are worried access to the data could be compromised under the Trump administration. The goal is to ensure the climate, environmental and other data remain in the public domain, according to organizers of the events, which are taking place across the U.S. and in Canada.” See also, Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under TrumpThe Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 13 December 2016: “Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference. The efforts include a ‘guerrilla archiving’ event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information. ‘Something that seemed a little paranoid to me before all of a sudden seems potentially realistic, or at least something you’d want to hedge against,’ said Nick Santos, an environmental researcher at the University of California at Davis, who over the weekend began copying government climate data onto a nongovernment server, where it will remain available to the public. ‘Doing this can only be a good thing. Hopefully they leave everything in place. But if not, we’re planning for that.'”

Marine Le Pen Echoes Trump’s Bleak Populism in French Campaign Kickoff, The New York Times, Adam Nossiter, Sunday, 5 February 2017: “The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen delivered a grim populist kickoff to her burgeoning presidential campaign on Sunday, warning thousands of her flag-waving supporters of ‘two totalitarianisms,’ globalization and Islamism, that want to ‘subjugate France.’ Ms. Le Pen’s dark picture of a weakened France troubled by bureaucrats and burqas was a striking echo of themes being sounded across the Atlantic. France, a prosperous country with the world’s sixth-largest economy, was depicted as a besieged wreck. In a packed hall here, she made a point, in an hourlong speech brimming with nationalist fervor, of praising President Trump and the Americans who had elected him, as her supporters shouted forcefully, ‘This is our country!’”


Monday, 6 February 2017,       Day 18:


Trump tweets about negative polls and extreme vetting at 7:01 am on Monday, 6 February 2017: “Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.”

Federal Appeals Court Schedules Hearing on Trump Travel BanThe Washington PostMatt Zapotosky, Monday, 6 February 2017: “A federal appeals court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether to restore President Trump’s controversial immigration order, marking a critical juncture for the president’s directive temporarily barring refugees and those from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The hearing, which will be conducted by telephone, is to review an order by a lower court judge to put Trump’s directive on hold. It was scheduled just as Justice Department lawyers made their final written pitch to immediately restore the president’s order — and as tech companies, law professors and former high-ranking national security officials joined a mushrooming legal campaign to keep the measure suspended…. The future of the temporary ban now lies with three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit: William C. Canby Jr., who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter; Judge Richard Clifton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush; and Judge Michelle Taryn Friedland, who was appointed by President Barack Obama…. The broad legal issue is whether Trump exceeded his authority and violated the First Amendment and federal immigration law, and whether his executive order imposes irreparable harm on those it affects…. On Monday, 10 former high-ranking diplomatic and national security officials; nearly 100 Silicon Valley tech companies; more than 280 law professors; a coalition of 16 state or district attorneys general, including those from D.C., Maryland and Virginia; and a host of civil liberties and other organizations formally lent their support to the legal bid to block Trump’s order…. Former secretaries of state John F. Kerry and Madeleine Albright, along with former CIA director Leon Panetta, former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and other former top national security officials, attached their names to an affidavit declaring there was ‘no national security purpose’ for a complete barring of people from the seven affected countries. ‘Since September 11, 2001, not a single terrorist attack in the United States has been perpetrated by aliens from the countries named in the Order,’ the group declared. ‘Very few attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001 have been traced to foreign nationals at all.’ Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and other companies asserted in a brief that Trump’s order ‘hinders the ability of American companies to attract great talent; increases costs imposed on business; makes it more difficult for American firms to compete in the international marketplace; and gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations — and hire new employees — outside the United States.’ And 16 attorneys general said, while their specific businesses and residents were different, ‘all stand to face the concrete, immediate, and irreparable harms caused by the Executive Order.'”

California joins 15 other states going to court to challenge Trump’s immigration orders, Los Angeles Times, Patrick McGreevy, Monday, 6 February 2017: “California and 15 other states joined the growing legal challenge to President Trump’s immigration orders, filing an amicus brief Monday supporting Washington state’s lawsuit that argues the directives targeting people from Muslim-majority countries are unconstitutional. State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced the friend-of-the-court brief after a federal judge put a nationwide hold on the immigration moratorium and the case was appealed by the Trump administration…. California was joined in filing the brief by Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and the District of Columbia.”

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said he will refuse to invite Trump to speak in UK parliament, The Guardian, Anushka Asthana, Jessica Elgot, Rowena Mason, Monday, 6 February 2017: “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”

Melania Trump lawsuit says she missed out on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to make millionsThe Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Tuesday, 6 February 2017: “A lawyer for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday [6 February 2016] that an article falsely alleging she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish ‘multimillion dollar business relationships’ during the years in which she would be ‘one of the most photographed women in the world.’ The suit, filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against Mail Media, the owner of the Daily Mail, said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose ‘significant value’ as well as ‘major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her.’ The suit noted that the article had damaged Trump’s ‘unique, once in a lifetime opportunity’ to ‘launch a broad-based commercial brand.’”

Trump is now speculating that the media is intentionally covering up terrorist attacks, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 6 February 2017: “Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, President Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks. ‘You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,’ he said to the assembled military leaders. ‘It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.’ The comment immediately harked back to comments from senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC last week. ‘I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,’ she said. ‘Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.’ It was brand-new information to people because there was no ‘Bowling Green massacre.’ Conway had referred to the supposed terrorist attack previously, including in response to a question posed by TMZ. But the two Iraqis arrested in Bowling Green, Ky., in 2011 never committed an attack in the United States. She later admitted that she’d misspoken….  Trump didn’t quite say that the media was siding with the terrorists, just that the media would happily ignore terrorism if it made Trump look bad. Interestingly, Trump himself ignored the mass shooting [by a young white supremacist] that occurred at a mosque in Quebec last week, killing six people. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told the media that the president and the Canadian prime minister had spoken, but Trump himself declined to weigh in. (Spicer cited the attack mostly as somehow validating Trump’s immigration policies.) See also, Democracy Now!Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “[Trump’s] claims [about the media intentionally covering up terrorist attacks] appear to be part of a wider push by the White House to increase fear about potential—and even imaginary—terrorist attacks in order to justify President Trump’s crackdown on immigration, including his Muslim ban. Later on Monday [6 February], after pressure from media outlets, the White House released a list of what it claims are 78 terrorist attacks since 2014 that it says have not received sufficient coverage. Many of the attacks on the list caused no fatalities, and almost all were carried out outside the United States. The list includes attacks that received such an onslaught of media attention, they are still recognized by only one word, such as ‘Nice’ or ‘Orlando.’ The list also included multiple misspellings, including misspelling the name of San Bernardino. In response, California Congressmember Pete Aguilar tweeted, ‘You can’t even spell #SanBernardino but you exploit our community to justify your #muslimban.’” See also, Our Articles on the Attacks Trump Says the Media Didn’t Cover, The New York Times, Max Fisher and Kitty Bennett, published on 7 February 2017. See also, Trump says terror attacks ‘under-reported’: Is that true?,  BBC, “…the White House published a list of attacks ‘executed or inspired’ by IS. Before the list was published, press secretary Sean Spicer said there were ‘several instances’ of attacks that had not gained sufficient media coverage (without specifying which fell into that category). We have reproduced the list below, explaining in each case what happened and whether we reported on it. Just because the BBC covered an attack does not mean that incident was not under-reported, although it is unclear whether Mr Trump was referring to US or global news organisations. Some terrorist incidents do get more coverage than others, a point hotly debated on social media. Most of the atrocities listed by the White House were committed by Islamists, and the killing of nine black worshippers by a self-avowed white supremacist in South Carolina is notably absent.” See also, Is News of Terror Attacks Underplayed? Experts Say No, The New York Times, Scott Shane, published on Tuesday, 7 February 2017.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017,       Day 19:


Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks TieThe New York Times, Emmarie Huetteman and Yamiche Alcindor, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor with almost no experience in public education, was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s education secretary on Tuesday, but only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after weeks of protests and two defections within her own party. The 51-to-50 vote capped an all-night vigil on the Senate floor, where, one by one, Democrats denounced Ms. DeVos to a mostly empty chamber. But they did not get a third Republican defection that would have stopped Ms. DeVos — a billionaire who has devoted much of her life to promoting charter schools and vouchers — from becoming the steward of the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools. It was the first time a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination…. For many educators, Ms. DeVos’s support for charter schools and vouchers — which allow students to use taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private, religious and for-profit schools — reflected a deep disconnect from public schools. Neither Ms. DeVos nor any of her children attended a public school…. Mr. Trump’s choice of Ms. DeVos, known for her big-spending lobbying efforts to expand charter schools in Michigan — an experiment that even charter school supporters now criticize — to lead the Education Department presented senators with a multitude of potential pitfalls. Her background as a prolific fund-raiser who has donated about $200 million over the years to Republican causes and candidates — including some senators, as has been the case for previous presidential nominees — came under scrutiny. Democrats have also expressed concern about her family’s contributions to groups that support so-called conversion therapy for gay people and her past statements that government ‘sucks’ and that public schools are a ‘dead end.’ Opponents have also focused on the poor performance of charter schools in Detroit, which she championed…. In one notable exchange [during her confirmation hearing] that spread across the internet, Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, asked Ms. DeVos whether all schools that receive public money should have to follow the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, the landmark 1975 civil rights legislation. Under that federal law, states and school districts are required to provide special education services to children with disabilities. Ms. DeVos said the issue was ‘best left to the states.’ In a bizarre moment that made her the butt of late-night TV jokes, Ms. DeVos also suggested that states should decide whether to allow guns in schools, citing in part concerns about protection from grizzly bears in Wyoming.

Texas Democrats Angered by Trump’s Remark on Destroying Senator’s CareerThe New York Times, Manny Fernandez and David Montgomerypublished on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Mr. Trump’s remark came during a meeting at the White House [on Tuesday, 7 February 2017] with sheriffs from around the country. At one point, the president asked the sheriffs seated at a table around him if there were any pressing law enforcement issues they wanted to talk about. A Texas sheriff, Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, spoke up. ‘Mr. President, on asset forfeiture,’ Sheriff Eavenson said, in an exchange that was observed by reporters and filmed‘we’ve got a state senator in Texas that was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture money, and I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.’ ‘Can you believe that?’ Mr. Trump responded, then added, ‘Who’s the state senator?’ Sheriff Eavenson did not reply. ‘Do you want to give his name?’ Mr. Trump said. ‘We’ll destroy his career.’ [Obsequious] Laughter then broke out.” See also, Taken: The Rise of Civil ForfeitureThe New Yorker, Sarah Stillman, Monday, 12 & 19 August 2013: “Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes.” See alsoCan the President ‘Destroy’ Criminal-Justice Reformers? The New YorkerSarah StillmanSaturday11 February 2017: “Civil forfeiture—the practice of authorities seizing goods they believe are the fruits of crime—is far less frequently used against bona-fide cartel kingpins than it is against individuals who’ve not been proved guilty of crimes. Often, it’s used against people who haven’t even been accused of any wrongdoing.”

Trump makes false statement about U.S. murder rate to sheriffs’ groupThe Washington Post, Tom Jackman, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “President Trump met Tuesday morning with a group of sheriffs from the National Sheriffs Association, a group that consists of more than 3,000 sheriffs from around the country. And to this sworn group of  law enforcement veterans, with reporters taking notes, he again repeated a falsehood about the murder rate in America. Trump told the sheriffs, ‘the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.’ He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, ‘But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.’ The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country.” See also, In Meeting With Sheriffs, Trump Repeats False Murder Rate StatisticNPRCamila Domonoske, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “On multiple occasions Trump has suggested the murder rate is at a historic high, a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. In fact, the murder rate is currently at less than half its peak.

Army Corps of Engineers Grants Easement for Dakota Access Pipeline, NPRAmy Sisk, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “The federal government made a big step toward completing a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will grant the final easement needed to finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The move comes after President Trump signed an executive action directing the Corps to push ahead with the project.” Statement by Andrew Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists: Hasty Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Disrespects Community Needs, Scientific ProcessUnion of Concerned Scientists, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “The president has pushed through the Dakota Access Pipeline approval without any real analysis of impacts and alternatives. That’s shameful. This decision puts corporate interests ahead of the rights of sovereign tribes and the safety of their land and water. It denies the Standing Rock community any opportunity to look for options that might address their concerns. This president has shown real disrespect to tribal communities, thousands of concerned citizens across the country and the scientific process that should be used to make decisions that affect people’s lives.” See also, Dakota Access pipeline work restarts amid tribe’s legal challenge: ‘It’s not over,’ The Guardian, Sam Levin, published on Thursday, 9 February 2017: “Dakota Access pipeline workers have begun the final phase of drilling across the Missouri river despite massive international protests and a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The restarting of the drilling operation, which a pipeline spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday morning, began soon after the US government gave the oil corporation the green light to proceed on Wednesday. The controversial pipeline could be transporting crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois within three months.”

Republican Senators Vote to Formally Silence Elizabeth Warren for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King from 1986 to the Judiciary Committee, The New York Times, Matt Flegenheimer, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “Republican senators voted on Tuesday to formally silence a Democratic colleague for impugning a peer, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, by condemning his nomination for attorney general while reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, had been holding forth on the Senate floor on the eve of Mr. Sessions’s expected confirmation vote, reciting a 1986 letter from Mrs. King that criticized Mr. Sessions’s record on civil rights.… ‘The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair,’ Mr. McConnell began, alluding to Mrs. King’s letter, which accused Mr. Sessions of using ‘the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.’… When Mr. McConnell concluded, Ms. Warren said she was ‘surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.’ She asked to continue her remarks. Mr. McConnell objected.” Read the letter Coretta Scott King wrote opposing Sessions’s 1986 nomination to be a federal judge, The Washington Post, Wesley Lowery, Tuesday, 10 January 2017: “Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions for federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would ‘irreparably damage the work of my husband.’ The letter, previously unavailable publicly, was obtained on Tuesday [10 January 2017] by The Washington Post.”

‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ becomes new battle cry after McConnell silences Elizabeth WarrenThe Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Thursday, 8 February 2017: “When Senate Republicans invoked a little-known rule Tuesday night to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the middle of a speech criticizing attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Democrats were stunned. But it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s defense of the rare move later that launched a thousand tweets. ‘Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,’ he said. ‘She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.'”

Live Analysis: Oral Arguments on Trump’s Immigration OrderThe New York Times, Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

The Ninth Circuit and President Trump’s LiesThe New Yorker, Amy Davidson, published on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “If there was a single question at the center of Tuesday afternoon’s hearings on President Trump’s executive order keeping people from seven Muslim-majority nations and all refugees out of the country, it was this: Do the courts, or the American people, have any recourse when the President lies? Judge James Robart, of the U.S. District Court, in Seattle, had granted the states of Washington and Minnesota a temporary restraining order that put a hold on Trump’s ban, pending further hearings in the next two weeks. The Justice Department had gone to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to ask for an emergency stay of that order, meaning that it could continue to keep people out and revoke tens of thousands of visas before any court had a say—and even then, the Trump Administration argued, the courts were not allowed to say much. The three judges on the appeals court—Michelle Friedland, Richard Clifton, and William Canby—wanted to know what, exactly, the emergency was. August Flentje, a special counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, who was arguing the case for the Trump Administration, said, in effect, that the emergency was that the restraining order got in the way of the President’s power to say that there was an emergency—to announce that the country was in danger. Putting a hold on the ban ‘overrides the President’s national-security judgment about the level of risk,’ he said. It was the President’s job to make that determination, not any court’s. And the court also needed to put aside any talk about this being a Muslim ban, because that was not, technically, what the language of the order said. The judges had to believe the President when he said it was all a matter of the country being in immediate peril, and not about his views of any religion or about the demographic future of America. And they certainly shouldn’t pay attention to any reports that the President had, indeed, cited those very reasons for instituting a ban—Flentje dismissed those as ‘some newspaper articles.’ The judges should just look at the language of the order and believe…. Immigration law does give latitude to the President when the country is in danger. But what happens when you have a President who the courts, and any objective person, know tells lies? How should the assertions of danger then be regarded in light of other laws saying, for example, that religion should not be a reason for excluding people? For that matter, how should they be regarded in light of not only the Constitution’s establishment clause, which precludes religious tests, but any number of other passages in that document? As it happens, this question has come up before in our jurisprudence, because Donald Trump is not the first politician to lie. Our courts have dealt with the prospect of dissembling and misstated motives, particularly in the area of racial discrimination. (A recent book by David Rudenstine looks at some of this history.) Judges seem to believe that Presidents will lie about many things, but that they might have some shame when it comes to the nation’s safety, particularly as they have access to classified information that the public does not. Friedland reminded Flentje of the court’s role. ‘Haven’t there been allegations here of bad faith?’ she asked Flentje. ‘And doesn’t Mandel and Din, the concurrence in Din, envision that that is something that we would need to look at?’ She was referring to two immigration cases that were heard by the Supreme Court, in 1972 and 2015, respectively. The government had seized on the cases’ affirmation that the courts ought to take its decisions on visa denials at face value. But, as Washington and Minnesota had noted in their filings, ‘Justice Kennedy’s controlling opinion in Din held that courts should look behind the stated motives for exclusion even as to a nonresident alien if the plaintiff ‘plausibly alleged with sufficient particularity’ ‘an affirmative showing of bad faith.’”

House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be HackedThe Nation, Ari Berman, Tuesday, 7 February 2017: “In a little-noticed 6-3 vote today, the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked. The EAC was created after the disastrous 2000 election in Florida as part of the Help America Vote Act to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads. (Republicans have tried to kill the agency for years.) The Committee also voted to eliminate the public-financing system for presidential elections dating back to the 1970s…. Thirty-eight pro-democracy groups, including the NAACP and Common Cause, denounced the vote. ‘The EAC is the only federal agency which has as its central mission the improvement of election administration, and it undertakes essential activities that no other institution is equipped to address,’ says the Brennan Center for Justice.”


Wednesday, 8 February 2017, Day 20:


Trump’s tweet about the upcoming decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on his travel ban at  7:03 am on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “If the U.S. does not win this case as it so obviously should, we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled. Politics!”

Trump offers his own oral argument defending travel banPoliticoLouis Nelson, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Unable to personally defend his controversial executive order on immigration in court, President Donald Trump offered his own oral argument in its defense on Wednesday, telling an audience that the law backing his order ‘couldn’t have been written any more precisely.’ Addressing a law enforcement conference in Washington, Trump kicked off his remarks by reading out loud the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law that gives the president authority to stop the flow of classes of aliens entering the U.S. The Trump administration has used that law as its legal standing for a controversial order temporarily banning all immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, a policy that created mass chaos at America’s airports and drew criticism even from some Republicans. ‘It’s sad, I think it’s a sad day. I think our security is at risk today. And it will be at risk until such time as we are entitled and get what we are entitled to as citizens of this country,’ Trump said. ‘It was done for the security of our nation. The security of our citizens. So that people come in who aren’t going to do us harm. And that’s why it was done.’… ‘You could be a lawyer, or you don’t have to be a lawyer. If you were a good student in high school or a bad student in high school, you can understand this, and it’s really incredible to me that we have a court case that’s going on so long,’ Trump told his audience. ‘I was a good student. I understand things. I comprehend very well, OK? Better than, I think, almost anybody. And I want to tell you, I listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful. It was disgraceful because what I just read to you is what we have. And it just can’t be written any plainer or better and for us to be going through this.’… ‘I watched last night in amazement. And I heard things that I couldn’t believe,’ Trump said of the hearing, which took place in San Francisco and began at 6 p.m. on the East Coast. ‘I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased, and we haven’t had a decision yet. But courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right.'”

Supreme Court Nominee Neil M. Gorsuch Calls Trump’s Attacks on Judiciary ‘Demoralizing,’ The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at federal judges considering a challenge to his executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, as his Supreme Court nominee called Mr. Trump’s attacks on the independent judiciary ‘demoralizing’ and ‘disheartening.’ Judge Gorsuch told Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, that he objected to Mr. Trump’s harsh criticism of the courts, including his attack over the weekend on a Seattle district court judge who temporarily blocked his immigration order. In a Twitter posting on Saturday, the president called Judge James L. Robart, a so-called judge whose ruling was ‘ridiculous’ and would be overturned. Mr. Trump’s invective toward judges is a jarring break from a tradition observed by presidents of both parties. Presidents have usually tried to refrain from even appearing to intervene in court cases that concern them or their policies, or from impugning the jurists charged with deciding them, according to judges and legal experts from across the political spectrum.”

Jeff Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General, Capping Bitter BattleThe New York Times, Eric Lichtblau and Matt Flegenheimer, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed on Wednesday as President Trump’s attorney general, capping a bitter and racially charged nomination battle that crested with the procedural silencing of a leading Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Mr. Sessions, an Alabama Republican, survived a near-party-line vote, 52 to 47, in the latest sign of the extreme partisanship at play as Mr. Trump strains to install his cabinet. No Republicans broke ranks in their support of a colleague who will become the nation’s top law enforcement official after two decades in the Senate. But the confirmation process — ferocious even by the standards of moldering decorum that have defined the body’s recent years — laid bare the Senate’s deep divisions at the outset of the Trump presidency. At the same time, the treatment of Ms. Warren, who was forced to stop speaking late Tuesday after criticizing Mr. Sessions from the Senate floor, rekindled the gender-infused politics that animated the presidential election and the women’s march protesting Mr. Trump the day after his inauguration last month…. Democrats spent the hours before the vote on Wednesday seething over the rebuke of Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, who had been barred from speaking on the floor the previous night. Late Tuesday [7 February] , Republicans voted to formally silence Ms. Warren after she read from a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King that criticized Mr. Sessions for using ‘the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens’ while serving as a United States attorney in Alabama. Since Mr. Trump announced his choice for attorney general, Mr. Sessions’s history with issues of race had assumed center stage. A committee hearing on his nomination included searing indictments from black Democratic lawmakers like Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who broke with Senate tradition to testify against a peer.”

Environmental Protection Agency Nominee Scott Pruitt Sued by Watchdog Group for Emails With Fossil Fuel BackersInsideClimate News, Zahra Hirji, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “The Center for Media and Democracy, after waiting up to two years for access to Pruitt’s communications as Oklahoma A[ttorney] G[eneral], sues as his confirmation as EPA chief looms.”

Trump Signs Executive Orders to Combat Crime, With Little New in Them, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, published on Thursday, 9 February 2017: “At an Oval Office ceremony for the swearing in of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, President Trump announced that he was also going to sign three executive orders ‘designed to restore safety in America,’ to ‘break the back’ of cartels and ‘stop as of today’ violence against the police…. …[A]bout 45 minutes later, when the White House released the actual text of the three orders, they turned out to contain few specific policy steps. For example, the first, on combating international criminal cartels, largely consisted of stating opposition to such groups, and directed the government’s Threat Mitigation Working Group — which already existed because President Barack Obama established it back in 2011 — to review various efforts to battle them and ‘work to improve’ those efforts. And the other two, on reducing crime and preventing violence against law enforcement officials, directed Mr. Sessions to develop a strategy to achieve those goals by coordinating with other agencies, including at the state and local levels. The new attorney general is also to review existing laws and law enforcement grants and recommend changes if necessary.”

Trump’s tweet blasting Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka’s clothing line, 10:51 am on Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” David Grann’s tweet at 12:15 pm“The President of the United States is now using his power to trash companies that don’t sell his family’s products.” See also, The Lesson of Nordstrom: Do Business With the Trumps or ElseThe New York Times, Richard W. Painter, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “It is a clear violation of federal ethics rules for White House staff members, or any other federal employees, to use their official positions for private gain. But what President Trump did on Wednesday in his Twitter attack on the Nordstrom department store chain, castigating it for dropping Ms. Trump’s line, was far worse. In sum, Nordstrom made a business decision not to do business with the president’s daughter because her clothing line was not selling well, and the president used his official position to attack the company for this decision…. Most important, regardless of whether…retaliation actually happens, Nordstrom and the handful of other companies that announced they, too, would drop the line have to live in fear of it for the rest of the Trump administration. And now every other department store knows that it had better not make a similar ‘business decision’ that displeases the president. In other words, do business with the Trump family and help the Trump family promote its products, or else.”

Senators move to limit Trump on Russia sanctionsThe HillJordain Carney, Wednesday, 8 February 2017: “A bipartisan group of senators is moving to check President Trump on Russia by bolstering congressional oversight before he can lift sanctions. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced legislation Wednesday setting up a period of congressional oversight before Trump could roll back financial penalties. The legislation, known as the Russia Sanctions Review Act, would require Trump to notify Congress before he lifts sanctions tied to the invasion of Ukraine or Russia’s meddling in the White House race.”


Thursday, 9 February 2017,       Day 21


Trump attacks McCain for questioning success of deadly Yemen raid, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “President Trump lashed out at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday, saying that the senator’s negative assessment of a deadly raid in Yemen last month ’emboldens the enemy!’ McCain initially referred to the raid as ‘a failure’ but later dialed back his criticism, saying in a statement Tuesday that some objectives were fulfilled in the mission but that he would ‘not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.’… ‘Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media,’ Trump said in a series of tweets Thursday morning. ‘Only emboldens the enemy! He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.’ ‘Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission … not a ‘failure,’  Trump tweeted.”

Kellyanne Conway Promotes Ivanka Trump Brand, Raising Ethics ConcernsThe New York Times, Richard Pérez-Peña and Rachel Abrams, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “The White House on Thursday ‘counseled’ Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump’s top advisers, in an unusual show of displeasure after she urged consumers to buy fashion products marketed by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. Legal experts said Ms. Conway might have violated a federal ethics rule against endorsing products or promoting an associate’s financial interests. ‘Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,’ Ms. Conway said in a Thursday morning interview with Fox News, speaking from the White House briefing room. ‘I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.’… Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Ms. Conway’s comments were ‘wrong, wrong, wrong, and there’s no excuse for it.’ Mr. Chaffetz — who so far had not acted on calls since Election Day to investigate ethics issues related to Mr. Trump — and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, formally asked the Office of Government Ethics for an inquiry…. Federal ethics rules state that an employee of the government’s executive branch cannot use public office for personal gain or to endorse products or services on behalf of friends or relatives. Legal experts said Ms. Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, appeared to have violated that and possibly other conflict-of-interest rules, which do not apply to the president and vice president, but do apply to their staffs.”

Trump brings up vote fraud again, this time in meeting with senatorsPolitico, Eli Stokols, published on Friday, 10 February 2017: “President Donald Trump can’t stop — won’t stop — talking about the election. On Thursday, during a meeting with 10 senators that was billed as a listening session about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the president went off on a familiar tangent, suggesting again that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that he won the presidential election. As soon as the door closed and the reporters allowed to observe for a few minutes had been ushered out, Trump began to talk about the election, participants said, triggered by the presence of former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her reelection bid in November and is now working for Trump as a Capitol Hill liaison, or ‘sherpa,’ on the nomination of Judge Gorsuch. The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” of people who were ‘brought in on buses’ from neighboring Massachusetts to ‘illegally’ vote in New Hampshire. According to one participant who described the meeting, ‘an uncomfortable silence’ momentarily overtook the room.”

Trump border ‘wall’ to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal reportReuters, Julia Edwards Ainsley, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “President Donald Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct, based on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report seen by Reuters on Thursday. The report’s estimated price-tag is much higher than a $12-billion figure cited by Trump in his campaign and estimates as high as $15 billion from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The report is expected to be presented to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly in coming days, although the administration will not necessarily take actions it recommends.

Court Refuses to Reinstate Travel Ban, Dealing Trump Another Legal Loss, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “A federal appeals panel on Thursday unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations, a sweeping rebuke of the administration’s claim that the courts have no role as a check on the president. The three-judge panel, suggesting that the ban did not advance national security, said the administration had shown ‘no evidence’ that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States. The ruling also rejected Mr. Trump’s claim that courts are powerless to review a president’s national security assessments. Judges have a crucial role to play in a constitutional democracy, the court said. ‘It is beyond question,’ the decision said, ‘that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.’ The decision was handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. It upheld a ruling last Friday by a federal district judge, James L. Robart, who blocked key parts of the travel ban, allowing thousands of foreigners to enter the country. The appeals court acknowledged that Mr. Trump was owed deference on his immigration and national security policies. But it said he was claiming something more — that ‘national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.’ Within minutes of the ruling, Mr. Trump angrily vowed to fight it, presumably in an appeal to the Supreme Court. ‘SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. At the White House, the president told reporters that the ruling was ‘a political decision’ and predicted that his administration would win an appeal ‘in my opinion, very easily.’ He said he had not yet conferred with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on the matter.”

6 Highlights From the Ruling on Trump’s Immigration OrderThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “The states… [have standing to] sue: ‘We therefore conclude that the states have alleged harms to their proprietary interests traceable to the executive order. The necessary connection can be drawn in at most two logical steps: (1) the executive order prevents nationals of seven countries from entering Washington and Minnesota; (2) as a result, some of these people will not enter state universities, some will not join those universities as faculty, some will be prevented from performing research, and some will not be permitted to return if they leave.’ [Page 12] No unfettered power [for the president]: ‘[T]he government has taken the position that the president’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. … There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.’ [Pages 13-14] Skepticism of the administration: ‘At this point, however, we cannot rely upon the government’s contention that the executive order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents…. Moreover, in light of the government’s shifting interpretations of the executive order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.’ [Pages 13-14] Several days after Mr. Trump issued his executive order, the administration partially pulled back with a directive from his White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, saying it would not apply to green card holders. The judges are dubious about the credibility of what the executive branch says is happening. Questions of due process: ‘The government has not shown that the executive order provides what due process requires, such as notice and a hearing prior to restricting an individual’s ability to travel. … The procedural protections provided by the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause are not limited to citizens. Rather, they “appl[y] to all ‘persons’ within the United States, including aliens,” regardless of “whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent.” … These rights also apply to certain aliens attempting to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad.’ No immediate need:…. In deciding whether to let the executive order be enforced while the arguments are more fully litigated, the courts have to weigh the potential injury to the people who would be affected by the travel ban against the potential injury to society of blocking the order in the interim. Because the Trump administration offered no evidence suggesting that the prior system was inadequate for screening visitors from the seven countries, the court ruled against the government.” See also, The Ninth Circuit Rejects TrumpismThe New Yorker, Amy Davidson, published on Friday, 10 February 2017.

National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials sayThe Washington Post, Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said. Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. Flynn on Wednesday [8 February] denied that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Asked in an interview whether he had ever done so, he twice said, ‘No.’ On Thursday, Flynn, through his spokesman, backed away from the denial. The spokesman said Flynn ‘indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.’… The emerging details contradict public statements by incoming senior administration officials including Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect. They acknowledged only a handful of text messages and calls exchanged between Flynn and Kislyak late last year and denied that either ever raised the subject of sanctions. ‘They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,’ Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, ‘is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.’ Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.” See also, Flynn Is Said to Have Talked to Russians About Sanctions Before Trump Took OfficeThe New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo, Thursday, 9 February 2017.

Trump Tells Xi Jinping U.S. Will Honor ‘One China’ PolicyThe New York Times, Mark Landler and Michael Forsythe, Thursday, 9 February 2017: “President Trump told President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday evening that the United States would honor the “One China” policy, reversing his earlier expressions of doubt about the longtime diplomatic understanding and removing a major source of tension between the United States and China since shortly after he was elected. In a statement, the White House said Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi ‘discussed numerous topics, and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our One China policy.’ It described the call as ‘extremely cordial’ and said the leaders had invited each other to visit. The concession was clearly designed to put an end to an extended chill in the relationship between China and the United States. Mr. Xi, stung by Mr. Trump’s unorthodox telephone call with the president of Taiwan in December and his subsequent assertion that the United States might no longer abide by the One China policy, had not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov. 14, the week after he was elected. Administration officials concluded that Mr. Xi would take a call only if Mr. Trump publicly committed to upholding the 44-year-old policy, under which the United States recognized a single Chinese government in Beijing and severed its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Report: Trump taunts Dems for letting ‘Pocahontas’ Warren become ‘face of your party,’ The Hill, Brooke Seipel, published on Friday, 10 February 2017: “President Trump reportedly mocked Democrats in a meeting with senators this week for allowing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to become the face of their party. ‘Pocahontas is now the face of your party,’ Trump said in the meeting, sources told CNN. Trump frequently called Warren ‘Pocahontas’ as an insult on the campaign trail, mocking her for previously talking about having a distant Native American ancestry.”