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


Keeping Track (of some things), Staying Outraged (it is possible), and Resisting (it’s essential)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


Friday, 7 July 2017, Day 169:


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

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

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

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

U.S., Russia, and Jordan Reach Deal for Cease-Fire in Part of Syria, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Friday, 7 July 2017: “The United States, Russia and Jordan have agreed to foster a cease-fire in a limited area of southwestern Syria that will begin at noon on Sunday, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Friday after the first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The agreement came after months of negotiations among the three countries. A senior State Department official who was involved in the talks said important pieces of the deal remained to be hammered out in the coming days, including who would monitor and enforce the pause in violence…. The agreement hinges on a boundary line — as set by the United States, Russia and Jordan — between areas of control for the warring forces and state proxies, the State Department official said. But outlawed factions — including Al Qaeda — could refuse to abide by the agreement and even actively work to undermine it, the official said. Moscow has assured the United States that the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will abide by the agreement, the official said. The assent of the government in Damascus came even though the United States continues to insist that neither Mr. Assad, nor any member of his family, can have a long-term role in the country’s leadership. News of the agreement was first reported by The Associated Press.”

ICE Officers Are Told to Take Action Against All Undocumented Immigrants Encountered While on Duty, ProPublica, Marcelo Rochabrun, Fricay, 7 July 2017: “The head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit in charge of deportations has directed his officers to take action against all undocumented immigrants they may cross paths with, regardless of criminal histories. The guidance appears to go beyond the Trump administration’s publicly stated aims, and some advocates say may explain a marked increase in immigration arrests. In a February memo, Matthew Albence, a career official who heads the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of ICE, informed his 5,700 deportation officers that, ‘effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.’ The Trump administration, including Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, has been clear in promising to ramp up immigration enforcement, but has so far emphasized that its priority was deporting immigrants who posed a public safety threat. Indeed, Kelly, to whom Albence ultimately reports, had seemed to suggest a degree of discretion when he told the agencies under his command earlier this year that immigration officers ‘may’ initiate enforcement actions against any undocumented person they encountered. That guidance was issued just a day before Albence sent the memo to his staff.”

Grandparents and other extended relatives are still barred under travel ban after Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declines to weigh in, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 7 July 2017: “A federal appeals court panel late Friday declined to involve itself in the latest dispute over President Trump’s travel ban, meaning, at least for now, grandparents and other extended relatives of people in the United States cannot be exempted from the president’s executive order. The ruling from a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is another blow to those who have challenged enforcement of the ban in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that lifted earlier freezes of it. The appeals court judges, however, did not address the merits of the challengers’ claims, but rather said they did not have jurisdiction to weigh in on the matter. The judges — Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez, all Clinton appointees — were the same ones that had earlier ruled against Trump and upheld a freeze on his ban. Trump has been critical of their ruling. It is unclear what might happen next. The judges seemed to suggest that while they could not get involved, the state of Hawaii, which is challenging the ban, could go back to a lower court judge. That judge, Derrick K. Watson, had on Thursday rebuffed a similar request, saying the matter should be taken up with the Supreme Court. In a statement, Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin said the ruling ‘makes clear that Judge Watson does possess the ability to interpret and enforce the Supreme Court’s order, as well as the authority to enjoin against a party’s violation of the Supreme Court’s order placing effective limitations on the scope of the district court’s preliminary injunction.'”

The Hidden Subsidy That Helps Pay for Health Insurance, The New York Times, Kate Zernike, Friday, 7 July 2017: “As Republican senators work to fix their troubled health care bill, there is one giant health insurance subsidy no one is talking about. It is bigger than any offered under the Affordable Care Act — subsidies some Republicans loathe as handouts — and costs the federal government $250 billion in lost tax revenue every year. The beneficiaries: everyone who gets health insurance through a job, including members of Congress. Much of the bitter debate over how to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare has focused on cutting Medicaid and subsidies that help low-income people buy insurance. But economists on the left and the right argue that to really rein in health costs, Congress should scale back or eliminate the tax exclusion on what employers pay toward employees’ health insurance premiums. Under current law, those premiums are not subject to the payroll or income taxes that are taken out of employees’ wages, an arrangement that vastly benefits middle- and upper-income people. That one policy tweak could reduce health care spending, stabilize the health insurance market and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, shrink the federal budget deficit by between $174 billion and $429 billion over a six-year period. Lawmakers briefly pondered the idea this year but quickly abandoned it, recognizing how politically explosive it would be. Still, as Congress seeks to push ahead with major changes to the health system and the tax code, there has been a growing awareness of how long-established tax subsidies — like the mortgage deduction for homeowners — have contributed to economic inequality in the United States.”

Even Some Republicans Balk at Trump’s Voter Data Request. Why the Uproar? The New York Times, Michael Wines and Rachel Shorey, Friday, 7 July 2017: “The political uproar over a White House commission’s request to state election officials for a trove of personal data on the nation’s voters continued as secretaries of state gathered for their annual meeting on Friday in Indianapolis. The panel was set up to investigate claims of voter fraud, which experts generally agree is rare, after President Trump claimed illegal voting had cost him the popular vote in November’s election, and it has come under attack by election officials from both parties. As of Thursday evening, 20 states and the District of Columbia had outright rejected the request by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which works to promote expanded access to the ballot. Most of the remaining states either said they were studying the request or agreed to provide only public information like lists of voters who are registered. Some of the reaction was blistering, even from Republican state officials. Mississippi’s Republican secretary of state said last week those behind the request could ‘go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.’ (The news organization Mississippi Today reported on Thursday that Mississippi has been providing this data to Interstate Crosscheck, a Kansas initiative with similar goals that Mr. Kobach runs.) The commission fired back on Wednesday, issuing a statement that called the dust-up ‘fake news’ arising from ‘obstruction by a handful of state politicians.’ Some election scholars say, however, that there are real questions about the panel’s intent. [This article covers] what to know about the panel and access to voter data.”

‘Get a Grip, Man’: Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta Tweets to Trump at the G-20 Summit in Germany, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 7 July 2017: “International trade, missiles and geopolitics were on the agenda at the Group of 20 economic summit on Friday. But to President Trump, the real chatter was about the 2016 presidential election in the United States — or, specifically, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. In the middle of one of the most important annual summits for world leaders — and his first — Mr. Trump made time to tweet that Mr. Podesta didn’t hand over a computer server to the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. as part of the federal investigation into the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails. [Trump tweeted: ‘Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!’] The server was never in Mr. Podesta’s possession, and at first, it appeared that perhaps only Mr. Trump was publicly talking about it. That is, until Mr. Podesta chimed in. In a series of pit stops during a cross-country road trip with his wife, Mr. Podesta tweeted back to call Mr. Trump a ‘whack job’ and to tell him to ‘get a grip’ and ‘get your head in the game.’ Mr. Podesta reminded Mr. Trump that he was representing the United States at the forum in Hamburg, Germany, for the leaders of the world’s largest economies.”

Saturday, 8 July 2017, Day 170:


Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign, The New York Times, Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times. The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them. While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting. Representatives of Donald Trump Jr. and Mr. Kushner confirmed the meeting after The Times approached them with information about it. In a statement, Donald Jr. described the meeting as primarily about an adoption program. The statement did not address whether the presidential campaign was discussed.” See also, Donald Trump Jr. says he, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with lawyer tied to the Kremlin in June 2016, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Satruday, 8 July 2017: “The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., acknowledged attending a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer tied to the Kremlin, one of the first confirmed encounters between President Trump’s inner circle and a Russian national during the presidential campaign. In a statement distributed Saturday evening, Trump Jr. confirmed he had participated in a ‘short introductory meeting,’ which, per his request, was also attended by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and the chair of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort. ‘We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up,’ Trump Jr. said in the statement. ‘I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.’ The meeting was reported Saturday by the New York Times.”

U.S. officials say Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies in what appears to be an effort to assess their networks, according to U.S. government officials. The U.S. officials said there is no evidence the hackers breached or disrupted the core systems controlling operations at the plants, so the public was not at risk. Rather, they said, the hackers broke into systems dealing with business and administrative tasks, such as personnel. At the end of June, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a joint alert to the energy sector stating that ‘advanced, persistent threat actors’ — a euphemism for sophisticated foreign hackers — were stealing network log-in and password information to gain a foothold in company networks. The agencies did not name Russia. The campaign marks the first time Russian government hackers are known to have wormed their way into the networks of American nuclear power companies, several U.S. and industry officials said. And the penetration could be a sign that Russia is seeking to lay the groundwork for more damaging hacks.”

World Leaders Move Forward on Climate Change, Without U.S., The New York Times, Steven Erlanger, Alison Smale, Lisa Friedman, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “World leaders struck a compromise on Saturday to move forward collectively on climate change without the United States, declaring the Paris accord ‘irreversible’ while acknowledging President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. In a final communiqué at the conclusion of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, the nations took ‘note’ of Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the pact and ‘immediately cease’ efforts to enact former President Barack Obama’s pledge of curbing greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. But the other 19 members of the group broke explicitly with Mr. Trump in their embrace of the international deal, signing off on a detailed policy blueprint outlining how their countries could meet their goals in the pact. The statement and the adoption of the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth ended three days of intense negotiations over how to characterize the world’s response to Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, and it came as this year’s meeting of major world economies here laid bare the stark divide between the United States and the rest.”

Arkansas shares voter data as federal judge mulls privacy issues in Trump panel, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “A federal judge in Washington heard arguments Friday on whether to block President Trump’s voting commission from collecting voter data from 50 states and the District, as government lawyers announced that Arkansas is the only state so far to turn over requested data. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District said she would rule as quickly as possible on the request for a temporary restraining order to halt the data collection sought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in its lawsuit against the commission. EPIC, a watchdog group, late Friday formally added the Department of Defense — which operates a website to which the commission asks states to send their information — as a defendant to its lawsuit that already challenged the commission over what the group argues is an ‘unprecedented’ White House invasion of Americans’ privacy. In its complaint, EPIC asked the court to bar the creation of ‘a secret database stored in the White House’ of national voter registration information, saying the move posed ‘staggering’ privacy implications. The organization contends the electronic data collection lacked legal authorization and is the type of government system that should be subject upfront to a full privacy impact review.”

Trump’s New Head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald, Championed Partnership With Coca-Cola to Solve Childhood Obesity, The Intercept, Lee Fang, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “The new chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which monitors significant public health concerns, including the impact of sugary beverages on obesity and heart disease, will be led by Brenda Fitzgerald, a Georgia physician whose signature childhood obesity project was underwritten by Coca-Cola. The announcement to appoint Fitzgerald as the CDC director was made on Friday by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Fitzgerald, a former Republican candidate for Congress and adviser to Newt Gingrich, most recently served as the Georgia Public Health Commissioner. Price and Gingrich both previously represented the 6th Congressional District in Georgia, now held by Republican Karen Handel.”

Ivanka Trump takes her father’s seat at G-20 leaders’ table in break from diplomatic protocol, The Washington Post, Abby Phillip, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “Ivanka Trump was deputized to fill in for her father at a table of world leaders at the Group of 20 summit on Saturday, reigniting questions about the un­or­tho­dox mixing of family and government in President Trump’s White House. The moment, captured in a pixelated photo by a member of Russia’s delegation, seemed to perfectly capture the scope of the first daughter’s expansive influence in Trump’s administration. But it drew sharp criticism by some who say that the move demonstrates Trump’s flouting of democratic norms against such familial arrangements as well-established diplomatic protocols. Former NATO ambassador Nicholas Burns, who served as a diplomat under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said the incident was a breach of protocols for such summits. Those traditions are intended to send a clear message to world leaders about who has power in the government. Burns said in his experience at summits, the secretary of state would take the president’s place at the table.” See also, Ivanka Trump Briefly Takes Her Father’s Seat During a Session at the Group of 20 Summit in Germany and Outrage Followed, The New York Times, Jacey Fortin, Saturday, 8 July 2017: “Ivanka Trump briefly sat in for her father, President Trump, during a session on Saturday at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, prompting an outcry on social media and a swift defense from her brother Donald Trump Jr. Ms. Trump, who had been sitting in the back of the room during a discussion of topics that were relevant to her, joined the main table when Mr. Trump had to step out, a White House official said. When other leaders left the table, their seats were also filled by others in their delegations, the official added. But Ms. Trump’s appearance riled the president’s critics, who have questioned the role that Mr. Trump’s family members play in the administration. Ms. Trump serves as a senior adviser to the president. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is also a senior adviser and the head of the new Office of American Innovation.”

Ku Klux Klan rally draws loud counterprotest in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Washington Post, Joe Heim, published on Sunday, 9 July 2017: “A rally here by the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters to protest the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee encountered a loud and angry counterprotest Saturday afternoon. Members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is based in Pelham, N.C., near the Virginia border, gathered at Justice Park, situated in a quiet, leafy residential neighborhood in downtown Charlottesville. They shouted ‘white power,’ and some wore white robes. About 30 Klansmen were escorted to and from the rally by police in riot gear who were out on a hot day to separate the rallygoers and approximately 1,000 counterprotesters who greeted them with jeers. Attempts by Klan leaders to address the crowd were repeatedly drowned out by boos and chants. Some of the Klan members arrived armed, carrying handguns in holsters at their belts.”


Sunday, 9 July 2017, Day 171:


Trump’s Son Donald Trump Jr. Met With Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on 9 June 2016 After Being Promised Damaging Information on Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman, Sunday, 9 July 2017: “President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner only recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times. The Times reported the existence of the meeting on Saturday. But in subsequent interviews, the advisers and others revealed the motivation behind it. The meeting — at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican nomination — points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help. And while President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and the Russians, the episode at Trump Tower is the first such confirmed private meeting involving members of his inner circle during the campaign — as well as the first one known to have included his eldest son. It came at an inflection point in the campaign, when Donald Trump Jr., who served as an adviser and a surrogate, was ascendant and Mr. Manafort was consolidating power. It is unclear whether the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, actually produced the promised compromising information about Mrs. Clinton. But the people interviewed by The Times about the meeting said the expectation was that she would do so. In a statement on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance. ‘After pleasantries were exchanged,’ he said, ‘the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.’ He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.” See also, Be Careful How You Define Collusion: On the Veselnitskaya Bombshell and the Steele Dossier, emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler, Monday, published on 10 July 2017. See also, Donald Trump Jr. just contradicted a whole bunch of White House denials of Russian contacts, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Monday, 10 July 2017.

Trump minimizes allegations that Russia hacked the US presidential election in 2016 and seeks to ‘move forward’ with Russia, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Sunday, 9 July 2017: “President Trump on Sunday sought to move past allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, effectively dismissing the importance of the intelligence community’s definitive conclusion about a foreign adversary in pursuit of a collaborative partnership with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. Issuing his first public comments since sitting down with Putin in Germany, Trump vowed to ‘move forward in working constructively with Russia,’ and said the two leaders were forming a cybersecurity unit to protect against the kinds of illegal intrusions that U.S. intelligence agencies say Putin ordered in the United States. After Putin denied any such election interference in his meeting with Trump, the U.S. president tried to turn the page altogether on the issue of Russian hacking. As Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigates Russian interference and possible collusion with Trump campaign officials, Trump has repeatedly labeled the issue a ‘hoax’ and has portrayed it as a dark cloud unfairly hanging over his first six months as president.” See also, ‘Time to Move Forward’ on Russia, Trump Says, as Criticism Intensifies, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sunday, 9 July 2017.

Trump suggested a cybersecurity pact with Russia. Lawmakers say they were ‘dumbfounded.’ The Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Sunday, 9 July 2017: “On Sunday morning, President Trump spoke of his new alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin to erect an ‘impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.’ This, the president tweeted at 7:31 a.m., came after Putin ‘vehemently denied’ interfering with the 2016 U.S. election. The tweet’s timing could not have been more perfect — for congressional critics of Trump’s new plan. It gave them just enough of a head start to workshop one-liners and practice their comedic timing before the Sunday morning political talk shows. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) quipped on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that Trump’s plan was ‘not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close.’ Graham called Trump ‘literally the only person I know of who doesn’t believe Russia attacked our election in 2016’ and said he was ‘dumbfounded.’ Graham said Trump is ‘hurting his presidency by not embracing the fact that Putin is the bad guy.'”

At Private Dinners, Vice President Mike Pence Quietly Courts Big Donors and Corporate Executives, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Sunday, 9 July 2017: “Vice President Mike Pence has been courting scores of the country’s most influential donors, corporate executives and conservative political leaders over the past several months in a series of private gatherings and one-on-one conversations. The centerpiece of the effort is a string of dinners held every few weeks at the vice president’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington. Mr. Pence and his wife, Karen, have presided over at least four such soirées, and more are in the works. Each has drawn roughly 30 to 40 guests, including a mix of wealthy donors such as the Chicago hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin and the brokerage firm founder Charles Schwab, as well as Republican fund-raisers and executives from companies like Dow Chemical and the military contractor United Technologies. The guests and their families collectively donated or helped raise millions of dollars to support the Trump-Pence ticket in 2016, and some are viewed in Republican finance circles as likely supporters for two new groups created to advocate for Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence, their legislative agenda and congressional allies. The dinner guest lists were curated in part by two of Mr. Pence’s closest advisers, who have also played important roles in starting the new political groups, America First Policies and America First Action. Mr. Pence has appeared at recent events outside his official residence with prospective donors to the groups.”

Neomi Rao, the Scholar Who Will Help Lead Trump’s Regulatory Overhaul, The New York Times, Steve Eder, Sunday, 9 July 2017: “When George Mason University changed the name of its law school last year to honor Antonin Scalia, the late conservative Supreme Court justice, the tribute rankled many liberal faculty members and students. That the naming was tied to a multimillion-dollar donation from the conservative Charles Koch Foundation only heightened concerns. One outspoken advocate for the name change was Neomi Rao, an associate law professor who had come to know Mr. Scalia while serving as a clerk for Clarence Thomas, another conservative member of the court. Ms. Rao, a Republican, publicly celebrated the legacy of Mr. Scalia and praised the Koch donation as ‘game changing’ for the law school. But quietly, Ms. Rao also worked to win over liberal critics. In a public relations coup, she helped secure an endorsement for the name change from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices and a longtime friend of Mr. Scalia. Justice Ginsburg described the school’s renaming as ‘altogether fitting.’ Ms. Rao’s ability to work both sides of the ideological divide, emblematic of her career in academia and government, is about to be tested anew. On Monday, the Senate is expected to approve Ms. Rao’s nomination to lead an obscure but powerful White House agency called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs — placing her at the heart of President Trump’s politically contentious agenda to overhaul government rules and regulations.”

Monday, 10 July 2017, Day 172:


Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Government Effort to Aid Presidential Campaign of His Father, The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 10 July 2017: “Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email. The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy. Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign. There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers. But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump. The Times first reported on the existence of the meeting on Saturday, and a fuller picture has emerged in subsequent days.”

Meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was requested by Russian pop star Emin Agalarov whose family is close to Putin, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Monday, 10 July 2017: “A meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer was set up at the request of Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose Kremlin-connected family has done business with President Trump in the past, according to the person who arranged the meeting. Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who represents Agalarov, confirmed on Monday that he requested the Trump Tower meeting at Agalarov’s request. Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras Agalarov, a wealthy Moscow real estate developer, helped sponsor the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Russia in 2013. After the pageant, the Agalarovs signed a preliminary deal with Trump to build a tower bearing his name in Moscow, though the deal has been on hold since Trump began running for president. Goldstone had previously told The Washington Post that he set up and attended the meeting for the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, so that she could discuss the adoption of Russian children by Americans.” See also, How the Miss Universe Pageant Led to Trump Team’s Meeting With Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, The New York Times, Steve Eder and Megan Twohey, Monday, 10 July 2017.

When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions,’ The New York Times, Amanda Taub, Monday, 10 July 2017: “President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. initially defended his meeting with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign by saying that it was primarily about adoption — a seemingly innocent humanitarian issue. Reinstating American adoptions of Russian orphans certainly seems like a far less serious matter than a meeting about, say, the removal of United States sanctions on certain Russian officials. But from the Russian perspective, whether the younger Mr. Trump and his associates knew it at the time or not, the issues of adoptions and sanctions are so inextricably linked as to be practically synonymous. (Mr. Trump said in a later statement that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had also promised to give him compromising information about Hillary Clinton.) Understanding the connections between adoptions and sanctions offers a lens into the worldview and foreign policy goals of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and into how even a meeting that really did focus primarily on adoption would also have been about much more.”

Fox News Is Planting Thoughts in Donald Trump’s Head, The Intercept, Robert Mackey, Monday, 10 July 2017: “It has been evident for some time now that the President of the United States is, like many older white American men, addicted to Fox News. Like a bird trapped in a behavioral psychology experiment, unable to stop responding to the stimuli of flashing lights and noises that promise food, Donald Trump appears at times to be almost a victim of the conservative channel’s capacity to induce rage in its most loyal viewers. A series of updates to the president’s personal Twitter feed on Monday illustrated just how severe the problem has become, with Trump now relying so heavily on the network’s morning program, ‘Fox and Friends,’ for political arguments, that he appears almost unable to think for himself. The cycle began at 6:12 a.m. when Fox News gave an inaccurate account of a new report from The Hill, asserting falsely that it contained evidence that ‘material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information.’ Trump quickly shared that incorrect claim with his millions of Twitter followers, and then echoed it, almost verbatim, in his own voice. In fact, what The Hill reported was that there was classified information in some of the memos prepared by James Comey, the former FBI Director fired by Trump, to document conversations with the president he found alarming. The publication did not assert that there was anything secret in the memo Comey admitted providing to a friend so that he could describe its contents to the media.”

Comey’s friend Daniel Richman said that no memos given to him by Former FBI Director James Comey were marked classified, CNN, Jake Tapper, Monday, 10 July 2017: “The Columbia University Law School professor and confidant of former FBI Director James Comey refuted a charge by President Donald Trump and his advocates in the media Monday: that Comey shared classified information with journalists. Daniel Richman, with whom Comey shared at least one memo — the contents of which Richman shared with New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt — said President Trump was simply wrong. ‘No memo was given to me that was marked “classified,”‘ Daniel Richman told CNN. ‘No memo was passed on to the Times.’ During Senate testimony in June, in which he said he gave memos to someone he described as a Columbia University professor, Comey said he specifically wrote the memos to avoid including classified information.”

Two Congressional Democrats, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Question Trump’s Stake in Subsidized Housing Complex, The New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor, Monday, 10 July 2017: “Two congressional Democrats are demanding more information about President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest stemming from his part ownership of the nation’s largest federally subsidized housing complex, which they say could benefit financially from decisions made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Trump stands to make millions from his 4 percent stake in Starrett City, a sprawling affordable housing complex in Brooklyn, according to a 10-page letter written by Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, whose district includes the complex. The lawmakers sent the letter on Friday to the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Allen H. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, who oversees a trust that holds the president’s business assets. The letter was also sent to Ben Carson, the secretary of the housing department, and Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the oversight committee.”

3 Lawsuits Filed Against White House Panel on Voter Fraud, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Monday, 10 July 2017: “Still smarting from a backlash by state election officials, the White House panel investigating claims of voter fraud and other irregularities was hit with a salvo of lawsuits on Monday that accused it of violating federal privacy laws and illegally operating in secret. Three lawsuits, filed separately by civil rights groups, underscored the depth of opposition by the Trump administration’s critics to the panel, the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, even before it formally meets. The commission’s official mandate is to look at flaws in federal voting systems and practices that could encourage fraud and undermine public confidence in elections. But advocacy groups and many Democratic leaders have called it a Potemkin exercise intended to validate President Trump’s groundless claim that millions of illegal ballots cost him a popular-vote victory in November. The true goal, they say, is to lay the groundwork for Congress to place strict qualifications on registering and voting that would primarily suppress opposition to Republican candidates for office.”

U.S. Agency Moves to Allow Class-Action Lawsuits Against Financial Firms, The New York Times, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery, Monday, 10 July 2017: “The nation’s consumer watchdog is adopting a rule on Monday that would pry open the courtroom doors for millions of Americans, restoring their right to bring class-action lawsuits against financial firms. Under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule, banks and credit card companies could no longer force customers into arbitration and block them from banding together to file a class-action suit. The change would deal a serious blow to Wall Street and could wind up costing financial firms billions of dollars. More immediately, its adoption is almost certain to set off a political firestorm in Washington, where both the Trump administration and House Republicans have pushed to rein in the consumer finance agency as part of a broader effort to lighten regulation on the financial industry.”

In Blow to Tech Industry, Trump Shelves a Federal Rule that Would Have Let Foreign Entrepreneurs Come to the U.S. to Start Companies, The New York Times, Nick Wingfield, Monday, 10 July 2017: “The Trump administration said it would delay, and probably eliminate down the line, a federal rule that would have let foreign entrepreneurs come to the United States to start companies. The decision, announced by the federal government on Monday ahead of its official publication on Tuesday, was quickly slammed by business leaders and organizations, especially from the technology sector, which has benefited heavily from start-ups founded by immigrants. ‘Today’s announcement is extremely disappointing and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play in growing the next generation of American companies,’ Bobby Franklin, the president and chief executive of the National Venture Capital Association, a trade association for start-up investors, said in a statement. He added that even as other countries are going all out to attract entrepreneurs, ‘the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite.’ The policy being delayed by the Department of Homeland Security, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, was to go into effect next week, after being approved by President Obama in January during his final days in office.”

Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn, The Guardian, Damian Carrington,Monday, 10 July 2017: “A ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research. Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, with just a short window of time in which to act. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eschews the normally sober tone of scientific papers and calls the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” that represents a ‘frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation.'”


Tuesday, 11 July 2017, Day 173:


Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said, The New York Times, Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton. The documents ‘would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,’ read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, ‘This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’ If the future president’s eldest son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of a continuing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication. He replied within minutes: ‘If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.’ Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a ‘Russian government attorney.’ Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would most likely bring along ‘Paul Manafort (campaign boss)’ and ‘my brother-in-law,’ Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers. On June 9, the Russian lawyer was sitting in the younger Mr. Trump’s office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower, just one level below the office of the future president. Over the past several days, The New York Times has disclosed the existence of the meeting, whom it involved and what it was about. The story has unfolded as The Times has been able to confirm details of the meetings. But the email exchanges, which were reviewed by The Times, offer a detailed unspooling of how the meeting with the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, came about — and just how eager Donald Trump Jr. was to accept what he was explicitly told was the Russian government’s help.” See also, Read the Emails on Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia Meeting, The New York Times, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “On Tuesday morning, after being told that The Times was about to publish the content of emails setting up a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, Donald J. Trump Jr. posted the email chain on Twitter, along with a comment. The emails, from June 2016, are between Donald Trump Jr. and Rob Goldstone, a British-born former tabloid reporter and entertainment publicist. Mr. Goldstone told Donald J. Trump Jr. that he was writing on behalf of a mutual friend, one of Russia’s biggest pop music stars, Emin Agalarov. The emails were posted as images and were not in the order that they were written. The text of the emails is presented [in this article], in chronological order.” See also, Donald Trump Jr.’s full emails about meeting a ‘Russian government attorney,’ annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 11 July 2017. See also, Who’s who in the stunning Russia-conspiracy emails released by Donald Trump Jr., The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 11 July 2017. See also, Donald Trump Jr. and Russia: What the Law Says, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: [This article covers] “questions and answers about legal issues raised by this disclosure amid the criminal investigation by a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into the Trump-Russia affair.” See also, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr., has a long history of fighting sanctions, The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger, David Filipov, and Rosalind S. Helderman.

How Key Trump Associates Have Been Linked to Russia, The New York Times, Jasmine C. Lee and Alicia Parlapiano, updated on Tuesday, 11 July 2017. See also, Here’s what we know so far about Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests, The Washington Post, Bonnie Berkowitz, Denise Lu, and Julie Vitkovskaya, published on Friday, 31 March 2017 and updated on Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

The Russia meddling story is no longer just smoke. It’s fire. The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “There can now be no doubt: The Russia meddling story is not just smoke but fire. Donald Trump Jr.’s interactions with Russians during last year’s presidential campaign were abnormal and alarming. An incriminating email chain has made it impossible for the administration to deploy its always flimsy argument of last resort — that the whole story is just ‘fake news.’ Not only Mr. Trump but also presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort are involved. Following a string of misleading and false statements, Americans must also wonder: Were other Trump associates involved? Did other meetings take place? Was President Trump aware of them? What more did the Trump camp know about Kremlin support for the Trump campaign? And then there is this recurring question: How long can the rest of the Republican Party prioritize partisanship and agenda over decency and patriotism?”

Trump Has Secretive Teams to Roll Back Regulations, Led by Hires With Deep Industry Ties, ProPublica, Robert Faturechi and Danielle Ivory of The New York Times, Tuesday 11 July 2017. This story was co-published with The New York Times. “President Trump entered office pledging to cut red tape, and within weeks, he ordered his administration to assemble teams to aggressively scale back government regulations. But the effort — a signature theme in Trump’s populist campaign for the White House — is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts. Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams. But ProPublica and The New York Times identified 71 appointees, including 28 with potential conflicts, through interviews, public records and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Some appointees are reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or kill, and at least two may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone. The appointees include lawyers who have represented businesses in cases against government regulators, staff members of political dark money groups, employees of industry-funded organizations opposed to environmental rules and at least three people who were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for.”

Twitter Users Blocked by Trump File Lawsuit, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “A group of Twitter users blocked by President Trump sued him and two top White House aides on Tuesday, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he, as a government official, cannot bar people from. The blocked Twitter users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, raised cutting-edge issues about how the Constitution applies to the social media era. They say Mr. Trump cannot bar people from engaging with his account because they expressed opinions he did not like, such as mocking or criticizing him. ‘The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another,’ the lawsuit said. By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Mr. Trump is violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the lawsuit argued. It offered several theories to back that notion. They included arguments that Mr. Trump was imposing an unconstitutional restriction on the plaintiffs’ ability to participate in a designated public forum, get access to statements the government had otherwise made available to the public and petition the government for ‘redress of grievances.'”

U.S. Cities, States, and Businesses Pledge to Measure Emissions, The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi and Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “A coalition of American states, cities and businesses that have pledged to stick with the Paris climate pact will team up with experts to quantify their climate commitments and share their plans with the United Nations, vowing to act in spite of the Trump administration’s exit from the accord. President Trump said last month that the United States would withdraw from the Paris deal, isolating the United States on the world stage. At a Group of 20 summit meeting last week, world leaders agreed to move forward collectively on climate change without the United States, declaring the landmark 2015 pact ‘irreversible.’ But the coalition, called America’s Pledge — which now includes 227 cities and counties, nine states and about 1,650 businesses and investors — is moving to uphold the United States’ commitments under the Paris deal. The country had committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. The group, led by Gov. Jerry Brown of California and Michael R. Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, plans to work with outside experts to measure the effects of their pledges, and to announce an early tally at a United Nations climate conference this year. The coalition is set to outline the new steps on Wednesday.”

Susan Combs, Fierce Critic of Endangered Species Act, Tapped for Agency in Charge of its Implementation, Texas Observer, Naveena Sadasivam, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “In May, we published a deep-dive into the Texas comptroller’s office and its funding of endangered species research. We found that the comptroller’s office, in 2011, wrested away control of the endangered species program from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and since then has been dogged by a series of controversial decisions that appear to favor special interests over rare Texas species. Then-comptroller Susan Combs was the chief architect of the program in 2011. She’s now being tapped by the Trump administration as the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget in the Department of Interior. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is an agency within the Department of Interior that makes decisions about which species need additional protection and whether they should be classified as threatened or endangered. As we pointed out in ‘Endangered Science,’ Combs has been an outspoken critic of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Endangered Species Act. She publicly vowed to protect Texas business interests from what she saw as federal overreach.”

Trump’s Russia Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Isn’t Seeking Security Clearance And May Have Trouble Getting One, ProPublica, Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger, Tuesday, 11 July 2017: “The ongoing investigations into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia involve reams of classified material. Yet Marc Kasowitz, the New York lawyer whom President Donald Trump has hired to defend him in these inquiries, told ProPublica through a spokesman that he does not have a security clearance — the prerequisite for access to government secrets. Nor does he expect to seek one. Several lawyers who have represented presidents and senior government officials said they could not imagine handling a case so suffused with sensitive material without a clearance…. One possible explanation for Kasowitz’s decision not to pursue a clearance: He might have trouble getting one. In recent weeks, ProPublica spoke with more than two dozen current and former employees of Kasowitz’s firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, as well as his friends and acquaintances. Past and present employees of the firm said in interviews that Kasowitz has struggled intermittently with alcohol abuse, leading to a stint in rehab in the winter of 2014-15…. Experts on federal security reviews told ProPublica that recent episodes of alcohol abuse are a major barrier to receiving clearance, a process that involves government agents poring over a person’s past and interviewing family, friends and colleagues. Investigators typically raise flags about behaviors that might make someone vulnerable to blackmail or suggest poor judgment…. Before representing Trump in the Russia inquiry, Kasowitz was informally advising the president. He has told friends he recommended firing Preet Bharara because the crusading prosecutor posed a danger to the administration. He has told people Trump wanted him to be attorney general…. Former employees pointed to reckless behavior by Kasowitz while drinking. ProPublica spoke with 10 people who attended the firm’s holiday party on Dec. 10, 2013, at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. Spouses and significant others were not invited. Kasowitz, according to an attendee, was visibly inebriated, appearing to have a hard time standing on his feet without support. During the festivities, Kasowitz and a much younger woman not employed by the firm hit the dance floor. According to multiple eyewitnesses, they danced intimately in a way many employees felt was inappropriate for a work event. One person described it as ‘dirty dancing.’ Some employees had seen Kasowitz’s dancing partner before: the then-25-year-old woman had been a hostess at the Palm. ‘It made women feel uncomfortable,’ said one former female attorney who attended the party.”


Wednesday, 12 July 2017, Day 173:


Trump says Donald Trump Jr. is ‘open, transparent, and innocent,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “President Trump on Wednesday stepped up his defense of his eldest son days after revelations surfaced regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s arrangement of a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer said to have damaging information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.  Taking to Twitter early in the morning, the president praised Trump Jr.’s performance Tuesday night during a Fox News interview in which he sought to play down the significance of an email exchange before the meeting in which he welcomed the assistance of a ‘Russian government attorney.’ ‘My son Donald did a good job last night,’ the president wrote of his son’s appearance with Fox News host Sean Hannity. ‘He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!'”

Trump says he does not fault his son Donald Jr. for meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Reuters, Steve Holland, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he did not fault his son Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential election campaign and that he was unaware of the meeting until a few days ago. Asked if he knew that his son was meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June last year, the president told Reuters in a White House interview: ‘No, that I didn’t know until a couple of days ago when I heard about this.'” See also, 8 over-the-top claims in President Trump’s Reuters interview, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Thursday, 13 July 2017.

With Glare on Trump Children, Political Gets Personal for Trump, The New York Times, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “In private, President Trump sometimes addresses his adult children as “baby,” a term of endearment tinged with a New Yorker’s wisecracking edge. And now that Mr. Trump’s babies have been swept into the vortex of his storm-tossed presidency, he is taking it personally. The fierce criticism of a meeting between Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016 has left the president by turns angry, defensive and protective but ultimately relieved that for now, the worst appears to be over, people who spoke to him said Wednesday. For Mr. Trump, who has faced a barrage of questions about his own dealings with Russia, watching his closest family members come under harsh scrutiny for things they are accused of doing to help his presidential campaign has marked an uncomfortable turn in the foreign entanglement that has shadowed him since he took office in January.”

Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation, McClatchy DC Bureau, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016. Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries. Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told McClatchy he wants to know whether Russia’s ‘fake or damaging news stories’ were ‘coordinated in any way in terms of targeting or in terms of timing or in terms of any other measure … with the (Trump) campaign.'” See also, The investigation goes digital: Did someone point Russia to specific online targets? The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 12 July 2017.

Trump Campaign Is Sued Over Leaked Democratic National Committee Emails Linked to Russians, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “Two Democratic Party donors and a former party staff member have filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against President Trump’s campaign and a longtime informal adviser, Roger J. Stone Jr., accusing them of conspiring in the release of hacked Democratic emails and files that exposed their personal information to the public. The case was organized by Protect Democracy, a government watchdog group run by former Obama administration lawyers. It filed the claim just short of a deadline under a one-year statute of limitations for privacy invasion lawsuits: WikiLeaks published the first archives of stolen Democratic National Committee emails, which intelligence agencies say Russia hacked to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and help Mr. Trump, last July 22. Mr. Trump and his political advisers, including Mr. Stone, have repeatedly denied colluding with Russia, and the 44-page complaint, filed on Wednesday in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, does not contain any hard evidence that his campaign did. But it is seeking to depose witnesses and obtain campaign emails and other documents during the discovery process that is a standard part of lawsuits. If a judge permits the case to reach that stage, the lawsuit would become a new and independent fact-finding investigation into the Trump-Russia issue — one that is overseen by a judge rather than by congressional Republicans, like the oversight inquiries conducted by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, or by the Trump administration, like the criminal inquiry led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.”

Christopher Wray, Trump’s Nominee to Lead the F.B.I., Pledges to Resist White House Pressure, The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “Christopher A. Wray, President Trump’s nominee to be F.B.I. director, sought at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday to show lawmakers that he could protect the bureau’s independence and resist pressure from the White House. On a day when Mr. Trump again called the Russia investigation ‘a witch hunt,’ Mr. Wray said he disagreed, told senators that no one at the White House had asked him to pledge loyalty to the president and vowed to resign should the president ask him to do anything illegal. Mr. Wray’s expected confirmation is seen by many F.B.I. agents as a chance to stabilize an institution shaken by the events of the past year, including Mr. Trump’s dismissal of its previous director, James B. Comey, and subsequent revelations about the president’s attempts to influence Mr. Comey. Mr. Wray, dressed in a pinstripe suit and purple tie, calmly reassured senators that he could rebuff any overtures from Mr. Trump. ‘I will never allow the F.B.I.’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period,’ Mr. Wray told senators.”

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly Says that Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program shielding 800,000 undocumented immigrants may be in jeopardy, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a closed-door meeting Wednesday that an initiative that grants work permits to more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants may not survive a looming legal challenge. Kelly declined to take questions after the meeting, but his spokesman said the secretary told the members that the Obama-era program, which shields immigrants brought to the United States as children, is at risk. ‘This is what he’s being told by different attorneys, that if it goes to court it might not survive,’ DHS spokesman David Lapan said. If Congress does not pass a bill to protect the program, he added, ‘they’re leaving it in the hands of the courts to make a decision.’ Kelly’s meeting with the caucus came nearly two weeks after officials from Texas and 10 other states warned Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they would sue the federal government if it does not rescind Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by Sept. 5. The officials also want Homeland Security to gradually ‘phase out”’the program by refusing to renew the two-year permits or issue new ones.  Members of the Hispanic caucus said they urged Kelly to support bipartisan legislation known as the Bridge Act that would effectively preserve the DACA program. But they expressed skepticism that the Republican-controlled Congress would pass any law to spare undocumented immigrants from deportation — or that the Trump administration would defend DACA in court.” See also, Republican States Want the Trump White House to Stop Protecting Dreamers, The New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, published on Saturday, 15 July 2017.

U.S. Border Patrol Says It’s Barred From Searching Cloud Data on Phones, NBC News, E.D. Cauchi, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “U.S. border officers aren’t allowed to look at any data stored only in the ‘cloud’ — including social media data — when they search U.S. travelers’ phones, Customs and Border Protection acknowledged in a letter obtained Wednesday by NBC News. The letter (PDF), sent in response to inquiries by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and verified by Wyden’s office, not only states that CBP doesn’t search data stored only with remote cloud services, but also — apparently for the first time — declares that it doesn’t have that authority in the first place. In April, Wyden and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced legislation to make it illegal for border officers to search or seize cellphones without probable cause. Privacy advocates and former Homeland Security lawyers have said they are alarmed by how many phones are being searched. The CBP letter, which is attributed to Kevin McAleenan, the agency’s acting commissioner, is dated June 20, four months after Wyden asked the Department of Homeland Security (PDF), CBP’s parent agency, to clarify what he called the ‘deeply troubling’ practice of border agents’ pressuring Americans into providing passwords and access to their social media accounts. McAleenan’s letter cites several laws that he contends allow officers to search any traveler’s phone without probable cause when the traveler enters or leaves the United States. The agency says the practice protects against child pornography, drug trafficking, terrorism and other threats. But the question of whether that broad authority extends to data linked to on remote servers but not physically stored on a phone had remained unclear, according to privacy advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. McAleenan’s letter says officers can search a phone without consent and, except in very limited cases, without a warrant or even suspicion — but only for content that is saved directly to the device, like call histories, text messages, contacts, photos and videos.”

From hospitals, doctors, and patients, a last gasp of opposition to the Senate health-care bill, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Paige Winfield Cunningham, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “Just four days after Senate GOP leaders revealed their health-care bill this summer, Tucson Medical Center hosted a town hall thousands of miles away drawing roughly 700 people in person and 1,900 online. In its aftermath, hospital employees, doctors and members of the public sent nearly 2,900 emails to the state’s two senators, Republicans John ­McCain and Jeff Flake, urging them to reject any legislation that would jeopardize patient health care. The move was like nothing the hospital had done before, said Julia Strange, the center’s vice president for community benefit. While they had sponsored educational sessions on issues such as cardiac arrest and opioid abuse, ‘this was clearly different,’ she said — and when triple the number of expected attendees showed up, ‘We had to order extra cookies.’ Most corners of the U.S. health-care industry have stood steadfastly opposed for months to Republican efforts to revise the Affordable Care Act. Patient advocate groups and Democratic organizers have crowded town halls since February to grill lawmakers. But in recent weeks, a last gasp of advocacy has come from an even wider range of groups and individuals trying to block the Senate health-care bill. Community hospitals have held information sessions. Pediatricians have starred in videos. Patient associations have flown in hundreds of Americans with chronic illnesses to meet with lawmakers and their aides.”

Campus Rape Policies Get a New Look as the Accused Get DeVos’s Ear, The New York Times, Erica L. Green and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Wednesday, 12 July 2017: “In recent years, on campus after campus, from the University of Virginia to Columbia University, from Duke to Stanford, higher education has been roiled by high-profile cases of sexual assault accusations. Now Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is stepping into that maelstrom. On Thursday, she will meet in private with women who say they were assaulted, accused students and their families, advocates for both sides and higher education officials, the first step in a contentious effort to re-examine policies of President Barack Obama, who made expansive use of his powers to investigate the way universities and colleges handle sexual violence. How university and college administrations have dealt with campus sexual misconduct charges has become one of the most volatile issues in higher education, with many women saying higher education leaders have not taken their trauma seriously. But the Obama administration’s response sparked a backlash, not just from the accused and their families but from well-regarded law school professors who say new rules went too far.”

Thursday, 13 July 2017, Day 175:


Republicans Made 4 Key Changes to Their Health Care Bill. Here’s Who They Were Trying to Win Over, The New York Times, Haeyoun Park, Alicia Parlapiano, and Margot Sanger-Katz, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Republican senators have added a set of changes to their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. These changes are efforts to appease different groups of senators and move the bill closer to a vote. At least 50 of the 52 Republican senators must support the bill for it to pass. 1. Allows insurers to sell plans that do not comply with some current insurance regulations, as long as they also sell ones that do. Who wanted this: Several of the most conservative senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah…. 2. Provides $45 billion for opioid addiction treatment. Who wanted this: Mostly senators from the states that expanded medicaid and that have been hard hit by the opioid epidemic… 3. Restores two taxes on high-income earners. Who wanted this: Senate leadership and less conservative holdouts…. 4. Lets people use money from health savings accounts to pay premiums. Who wanted this: Two of the most conservative senators, though most Republicans like the idea of making premiums tax deductible.”

How Senate Republicans Plan to Dismantle Obamacare, The New York Times, Haeyoun Park and Margot Santer-Katz, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a new version of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which makes several key changes to their original plan. The new bill has some significant differences from the one passed by the House in May, including deeper cuts to Medicaid, a program that insures one in five Americans. [This article covers] how the Senate bill alters major parts of Obamacare.”

Excerpts From Trump’s Conversation With Journalists on Air Force One as They Flew to Paris on Wednesday Night, The New York Times, published on Thursday, 13 July 2017: This article contains “excerpts, as prepared and released on Thursday by the White House, from a conversation aboard Air Force One between President Trump and members of the press corps as they flew to Paris on Wednesday night. The conversation was initially thought by the journalists to be off the record. However, the White House changed the terms of the exchange after Mr. Trump asked the pool reporter, who works for The New York Times, why it was not covered and she informed him that the journalists believed they were not allowed to use the material.”

‘You’re in such good shape’: Trump criticised for ‘creepy’ comment to Brigitte Macron, The Guardian, Jon Henley, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Donald Trump has been heavily criticised after passing comment on the physical appearance of France’s first lady during his first state visit to the country. Standing in the marbled hall of the the Hôtel national des Invalides in Paris on Thursday, Trump was filmed looking Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president, admiringly up and down. ‘You’re in such good shape,’ the US president told her. He then turned to her husband, newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron, who was standing beside him, and repeated: ‘She’s in such good physical shape.’ Looking back to the first lady of France, Trump nodded approvingly once more and added: ‘Beautiful.’ Her response was unclear, but she appeared to take Trump’s wife, Melania, by the arm and step slightly backwards.”

Trump basically says it’s Obama’s fault that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya took advantage of his son, ‘young man’ Donald Trump Jr., The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “President Trump offered a novel defense of his embattled son Donald Trump Jr. in Paris on Thursday. It basically boiled down to this: Trump Jr. is a ‘young man’ who was taken advantage of by a Russian lawyer who wouldn’t even have been in this country if it weren’t for the Obama administration. That’s an oversimplification of what Trump said, yes, but it’s certainly what he was getting at.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thanks Anti-LGBT Group for Its ‘Important Work,’ Mother Jones, Samantha Michaels, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under fire for giving a closed-door speech at a summit organized by a religious freedom group known for advocating anti-LGBT policies. The group, Alliance Defending Freedom, has a legal case in front of the Supreme Court right now—it’s representing a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. It has also worked to bar transgender people from bathrooms of their choice, and it has promoted anti-sodomy laws in the United States and abroad. The event was not open to the press, and the Justice Department later declined to release a transcript of Sessions’ remarks. But on Thursday, the Federalist, a conservative media outlet, published the full speech, in which the attorney general pledged to defend religious freedom. ‘In all of this litigation and debate, this Department of Justice will never allow this secular government of ours to demand that sincere religious beliefs be abandoned,’ he said.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Says She Will Revisit Obama-Era Sexual Assault Policies, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos signaled on Thursday that she intends to take a hard look at whether the Obama administration’s campus rape policies deprived accused students of their rights, saying that ‘a system without due process ultimately serves no one in the end.’ The comments, Ms. DeVos’s first on the issue of how the Education Department will handle sexual assault on college and university campuses, came at a news conference after what she called a ‘really emotionally draining day’ of meeting with victims, students who had been accused and higher education officials. ‘It was clear that their stories have not often been told, and that there are lives that have been ruined and lives that are lost in the process,”’Ms. DeVos said, referring to accused students. But she was careful to say that she intends to protect victims’ rights as well. ‘We can’t go back to the days when allegations were swept under the rug,’ Ms. DeVos said, ‘and I acknowledge there was a time when women were essentially dismissed. That is not acceptable.’ How to enforce Title IX, the 1972 law requiring schools to protect students from rape and sexual assault, is one of Ms. DeVos’s most difficult policy tasks, and her department has been under fire for comments made this week by Candice Jackson, who leads its Office for Civil Rights. In an interview with The New York Times, Ms. Jackson said that 90 percent of sexual assault accusations on campus fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’ Ms. Jackson later apologized, called her remarks ‘flippant’ and said they were based on feedback from accused students. That did not mollify victims of sexual assault and their supporters, who staged a protest outside the Education Department headquarters Thursday morning. ‘Unfortunately those remarks are now out there, and at the highest levels they need to undo that damage by countering those myths about rape,’ said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, which helped organize the demonstration. Referring to Ms. DeVos, she said: ‘She has to reject the idea that rape is just regretted sex. She has to reject the idea that most women lie, and she has to say it and say it and say it again.'” See also, Trump official Candice Jackson apologizes for saying most campus sexual assault accusations come after drunken sex and breakups, The Washington Post, Katie Mettler, Thursday, 13 July 2017. See also, The Trump Administration’s Fraught Attempt to Address Campus Sexual Assault, The New Yorker, Jeannie Suk Gersen, published on Saturday, 15 July 2017.

Job One at Homeland Security Under Trump: Immigration, The New York Times, Ron Nixon, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “When President Trump addressed employees of the Department of Homeland Security, just five days after being sworn in, he essentially had one issue on his mind: cracking down on illegal immigration. Absent from the speech was any mention of the department’s other responsibilities, like protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure, including computer systems, ensuring airline passenger safety or even protecting the president himself. The address in January, critics said, reflected the president’s nearly single-minded priority for the Department of Homeland Security, which employs nearly 250,000 people in seven agencies. ‘It’s all immigration, it’s the wall and it’s enforcement,’ said Juliette Kayyem, a Homeland Security official in the Obama administration. ‘Nothing about FEMA or cyber or counterintelligence,’ she added, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. ‘Just immigration all the time.’ Homeland Security officials reject the idea that the agency is too focused on immigration. Officials noted that Mr. Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity and has proposed adding money and staff to the agency’s cybersecurity efforts…. But so far the Trump administration has focused on illegal immigration: building a wall along the border with Mexico, hiring thousands of new Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and deporting tens of thousands of people in the country illegally.”

Afghan girls team can travel to U.S. for robotics contest after being denied visas twice, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “A group of Afghan teenage girls will be allowed to travel to the United States to partake in an international robotics competition after their visa applications were denied twice, U.S. officials said Wednesday. A Homeland Security Department spokesman said in an email that the agency had approved a request from the State Department for the six girls on the robotics team and their chaperon to enter the country and attend the competition, which is set to bring teams from more than 160 countries to Washington next week. The decision resolves a dispute that drew backlash from human rights activists and raised questions about whether U.S. agencies were retreating from previous efforts to advocate for young women in Afghanistan, where they are often denied educational opportunities.”

The rare Trump appointment that is actually making scientists very happy, The Washington Post, David Shiffman, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Thus far, the Trump administration has pursued an agenda that has alarmed scientists and environmentalists, including the recent decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. The administration has also been slow to appoint scientific leadership, both in the White House and across federal agencies. But the appointment of fisheries biologist Chris Oliver to lead NOAA Fisheries — the agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that is charged with sustainable management of commercial fisheries worth more than $140 billion — represents a striking departure from the Trump administration’s scientific and environmental personnel and policy choices. Oliver has worked as the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council since 1990. He has won the praise of both conservation groups and industry. The position he will assume is one of the most important science, environment and natural resource management positions in the federal government. Its responsibilities include not only fisheries management but also conservation of marine species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries operates offices and research stations in 15 states and territories and employs more than 3,000 people. Although NOAA Fisheries may not have as high a national profile as the Environmental Protection Agency, it plays a critical role in managing some of the most important natural resources in the United States.”

Trump administration plans to certify Iranian compliance with nuclear agreement, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “The Trump administration, delaying an anticipated confrontation with Iran until the completion of a long-awaited policy review, plans to recertify Tehran’s compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal, according to U.S. and foreign officials. The recertification, due Monday to Congress, follows a heated internal debate between those who want to crack down on Iran now — including some White House officials and lawmakers — and Cabinet officials who are ‘managing other constituencies’ such as European allies, and Russia and China, which signed and support the agreement, one senior U.S. official said. As a candidate and president, Trump has said he would reexamine and possibly kill what he called the ‘disastrous’ nuclear deal that was negotiated under President Barack Obama and went into effect in January last year. The historic agreement shut down most of Iran’s nuclear program, in some cases for decades, in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. Under an arrangement Obama worked out with Congress, the administration must certify Iranian compliance with the terms of the accord every 90 days. If the administration denies certification, it can then decide to reinstitute sanctions that were suspended under the deal.”

Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Threatens a Stranger in Emails: ‘Watch Your Back, Bitch,’ ProPublica, Justin Elliott, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia case, threatened a stranger in a string of profanity-laden emails Wednesday night. The man, a retired public relations professional in the western United States who asked not to be identified, read ProPublica’s story this week on Kasowitz and sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: ‘Resign Now.’ Kasowitz replied with series of angry messages sent between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time. One read: ‘I’m on you now.  You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch.’ In another email, Kasowitz wrote: ‘Call me.  Don’t be afraid, you piece of shit.  Stand up.  If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.’ And later: ‘I already know where you live, I’m on you.  You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise.  Bro.’… ProPublica confirmed the man’s phone number matched his stated identity. Technical details in the emails, such as IP addresses and names of intermediate mail servers, also show the emails came from Kasowitz’s firm. In one email, Kasowitz gave the man a cell phone number that is not widely available. We confirmed Kasowitz uses that number…. Update, July 13, 2017: A spokesman for Marc Kasowitz sent ProPublica this statement: “Mr. Kasowitz, who is tied up with client matters, said he intends to apologize to the writer of the email referenced in today’s ProPublica story. While no excuse, the email came at the end of a very long day that at 10 p.m. was not yet over.  ‘The person sending that email is entitled to his opinion and I should not have responded in that inappropriate manner,’ Mr. Kasowitz said.  ‘I intend to send him an email stating just that.  This is one of those times where one wishes he could reverse the clock, but of course I can’t.'”

Trump’s Russian Laundromat: How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House. New Republic, Craig Unger, Thursday, 13 July 2017: “Since Trump’s election as president, his ties to Russia have become the focus of intense scrutiny, most of which has centered on whether his inner circle colluded with Russia to subvert the U.S. election. A growing chorus in Congress is also asking pointed questions about how the president built his business empire. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for a deeper inquiry into ‘Russian investment in Trump’s businesses and properties.’ The very nature of Trump’s businesses—all of which are privately held, with few reporting requirements—makes it difficult to root out the truth about his financial deals. And the world of Russian oligarchs and organized crime, by design, is shadowy and labyrinthine. For the past three decades, state and federal investigators, as well as some of America’s best investigative journalists, have sifted through mountains of real estate records, tax filings, civil lawsuits, criminal cases, and FBI and Interpol reports, unearthing ties between Trump and Russian mobsters like [Semion] Mogilevich. To date, no one has documented that Trump was even aware of any suspicious entanglements in his far-flung businesses, let alone that he was directly compromised by the Russian mafia or the corrupt oligarchs who are closely allied with the Kremlin. So far, when it comes to Trump’s ties to Russia, there is no smoking gun. But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. ‘They saved his bacon,’ says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s. It’s entirely possible that Trump was never more than a convenient patsy for Russian oligarchs and mobsters, with his casinos and condos providing easy pass-throughs for their illicit riches. At the very least, with his constant need for new infusions of cash and his well-documented troubles with creditors, Trump made an easy ‘mark’ for anyone looking to launder money. But whatever his knowledge about the source of his wealth, the public record makes clear that Trump built his business empire in no small part with a lot of dirty money from a lot of dirty Russians—including the dirtiest and most feared of them all.”