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


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


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


Friday, 29 September 2017, Day 253:


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

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

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

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

Republican Tax Cut Would Benefit the Wealthy and Corporations Most, According to an Analysis Released by the Nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Friday, 29 September 2017: “The Republican tax plan promoted by President Trump this week as a middle-class tax cut would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans and businesses, according to an analysis released on Friday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The report, which is the first detailed assessment of the plan’s financial impact, found that the average tax bill for all income groups would decline by $1,600, or 2.1 percent, in 2018. The biggest decrease would go to those with incomes above $730,000, who would see their after-tax incomes rise by an average of 8.5 percent, or about $129,000. Those in the middle quintile — with incomes averaging $66,960 — would see their after-tax income rise by 1.2 percent or about $660. The breakdown is based on the framework released by the ‘Big Six’ group of Republican lawmakers and administration officials this week, which did not include many details that could change the distributional impact. For instance, the plan called for an increase in the child tax credit but did not specify how much it would rise and whether it would be across income groups. The plan also opened the door for adding a fourth, higher tax bracket for the richest Americans, which would also change the distributional impact if enacted.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price Resigns After Drawing Ire for Taking Chartered Flights at Taxpayer Expense Rather Than Taking Commercial Flights, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Glenn Thrush, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 29 September 2017: “Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, resigned under pressure on Friday after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights and undermining President Trump’s promise to drain the swamp of a corrupt and entitled capital. Already in trouble with Mr. Trump for months of unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program, Mr. Price failed to defuse the president’s anger by offering regret and a partial reimbursement. His departure was the latest from an administration buffeted by turbulence at the top, and capped a week of setbacks for the president. ‘I’m not happy, O.K.?’ Mr. Trump told reporters who asked about Mr. Price as the president prepared to leave for his New Jersey golf club for the weekend, barely an hour before the resignation was announced. ‘I can tell you, I’m not happy.’ He called Mr. Price ‘a very good man’ but added that the secretary’s offer to pay back the government for just part of the cost of the private flights ‘would be unacceptable.'” See also, Tom Price Resigns: A Private-Plane Flight Into Trump Oblivion, The New Yorker, Amy Davidson Sorkin, Friday, 29 September 2017.

Senate Republicans unveil their budget blueprint to tee up tax reform. The 89-page plan sets up the special power of budget reconciliation Republican leaders can use to advance tax reform with just a 50-vote threshold in the Senate. Politico, Sarah Ferris, Friday, 29 September 2017: “Senate Republicans released their long-awaited budget blueprint Friday for the upcoming fiscal year, paving the way for a tax overhaul without the need for Democratic buy-in. The 89-page plan, which the Senate Budget Committee spent months drafting, sets up the special power of budget reconciliation GOP leaders can use to advance tax reform with just a 50-vote threshold in the Senate. Nov. 13 is the tentative deadline for tax writers to submit their plans for an overhaul to the budget panel. Under the budget proposal, Republican tax writers can add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, giving lawmakers more flexibility as they attempt a once-in-a-generation revamp of the U.S. tax code. With more wiggle room to slash revenue, GOP legislators hope they will be able to go even lower on tax rates for individuals and corporations.”

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other advocacy groups to challenge the latest Trump travel ban in court, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 29 September 2017: “The ACLU and other advocacy groups announced Friday that they are planning to challenge the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban in front of the same federal judge who blocked a previous version of the measure. The organizations on Friday sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang, asserting that Trump’s latest ban, like the old ones, violates federal law. They asked Chuang, a federal judge in Maryland, to schedule a conference so they can discuss filing an amended complaint as well as a bid to stop implementation of the directive. ‘President Trump’s newest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core, and it certainly engages in discrimination based on national origin, which is unlawful,’ American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement, adding that the organization would ‘see President Trump in court — again.'”

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fights federal warrants seeking political communications of Facebook users, The Washington Post, Anne E. Marimow, Friday, 29 September 2017: “Civil liberties lawyers are trying to block federal investigators from searching the Facebook accounts of local activists connected to protests of President Trump’s inauguration and for information the attorneys say would reveal the names of thousands of people who ‘liked’ a political organizing page. The search warrants, requested by prosecutors in Washington, are part of the government’s investigation into demonstrations on Jan. 20 that injured police and damaged property in an area of downtown Washington. In a court filing this week on behalf of three Facebook users, the American Civil Liberties Union said the warrants are too broad and would reveal private information about individuals unrelated to the investigation, in addition to the names of Facebook users who ‘liked’ the public page of a group that helped plan the protests. ‘We are deeply concerned about the government engaging in a fishing expedition,’ said Scott Michelman, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of the District of Columbia.” See also, Department of Justice demands Facebook information from ‘anti-administration activists,’ CNN, Jessica Schneider, published on Saturday, 30 September 2017.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry just proposed sweeping new steps to help struggling coal and nuclear plants, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson, Friday, 29 September 2017: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry took sweeping steps on Friday to buttress a pair of financially-strapped nuclear plants under construction and redefine how coal and nuclear plants are compensated for the electricity they provide — a move that, if agreed to by independent federal energy regulators, could tilt some of the nation’s complex power markets away from renewables and natural gas. Perry announced the Energy Department would provide $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to three Georgia utilities struggling to complete a pair of nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating plant. These loan guarantees come on top of $8.3 billion in loans the department has already given to the project, but they still might fall short of what will be required to complete the costly reactors. The nuclear project has been running far over-budget and behind schedule, and the utilities have been scrambling to come up with financing after the main engineering company, Westinghouse, declared bankruptcy earlier this year.”

Meet Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the Air Force general who delivered a powerful speech against racism, The Washington Post, Herman Wong and Rachel Chason, Friday, 29 September 2017: “Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria had an important message for U.S. Air Force Academy cadets at a moment of crisis. Five black cadet candidates at the academy’s preparatory school in Colorado Springs had found racial slurs written on the message boards on their doors. Silveria, who took over as the school’s superintendent in August, urged cadets to reach for their phones. ‘I want you to videotape this so you have it, so you can use it — so that we all have the moral courage together,’ he said, surrounded by 1,500 of the academy’s faculty, administrators and athletic coaches. ‘If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, get out.’… A video of the speech on the Air Force Academy’s Facebook page has been viewed more than 1.7 million times, and a tweet of the same has been shared more than 22,000 times. Commenters praised the general for his leadership and unequivocal response: ‘This is how you respond to racism in America.'”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Subpoenas an Associate of the Man Who Hired Michael Flynn as a Lobbyist, ProPublica, Isaac Arnsdorf, Friday, 29 September 2017: “The special prosecutor investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has subpoenaed an associate of Gen. Michael Flynn’s Turkish lobbying client. The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by ProPublica, ordered Sezgin Baran Korkmaz to testify before a grand jury in Washington on Sept. 22. ‘The grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act, among other offenses,’ a letter accompanying the subpoena stated. The letter is signed by Robert Mueller and Zainab Ahmad, a senior assistant special counsel who specializes in prosecuting terrorism. Korkmaz did not respond to requests for comment.”

Google Prepares to Brief Congress on Its Role in the 2016 Presidential Election, The New York Times, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Friday, 29 September 2017: “Google has become the latest Silicon Valley giant to become entangled in a widening investigation into how online social networks and technology products may have played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. On Friday evening, Google said it would cooperate with congressional inquiries into the election, days after Facebook and Twitter provided evidence to investigators of accounts on their networks that were linked to Russian groups. Google was called to testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Nov. 1. Google has also begun an internal investigation into whether its advertising products and services were used as part of a Russia-linked influence campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the issue. Exactly when the inquiry began is not known, but it has been discussed inside Google over recent weeks, the person said. The Wall Street Journal reported the internal investigation earlier.”

Illnesses at U.S. Embassy in Havana Prompt Evacuation of More Diplomats, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris and Adam Goldman, Friday, 29 September 2017: “It started as a medical mystery. It then was determined to have been the result of a mysterious attack. And on Friday, the illness that has affected 21 diplomats at the American Embassy in Havana, with symptoms including hearing loss and cognitive difficulties, threatened the future of Cuban-American relations. With no guarantee that the Cuban government could protect American diplomats, the State Department announced that it was withdrawing all nonessential personnel from the embassy. In a statement, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson repeated the American assertion that the embassy personnel were deliberately targeted. But he did not blame Cuba, and officials held out the possibility that a third party might have been responsible. ‘Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks, and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort,’ Mr. Tillerson said.”


Saturday, 30 September 2017, Day 254:


Trump Lashes Out at Carmen Yulín Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan Who Criticized the Trump Administration on Friday for its Rosy Comments on the State of Hurricane Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “President Trump lashed out at the mayor of San Juan on Saturday for criticizing his administration’s efforts to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, accusing her of ‘poor leadership’ and implying that the people of the devastated island were not doing enough to help themselves. As emergency workers and troops struggled to restore basic services in a commonwealth with no electricity and limited fuel and water, Mr. Trump spent the day at his New Jersey golf club, blasting out Twitter messages defending his response to the storm and repeatedly assailing the capital’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and the news media. ‘The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,’ the president wrote on Twitter. ‘Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.’ Mr. Trump said the people of Puerto Rico should not depend entirely on the federal government. ‘They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,’ he wrote. ‘10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job. The military and first responders, despite no electric, roads, phones etc., have done an amazing job. Puerto Rico was totally destroyed.’ The president’s stream of Twitter bolts appeared repeatedly over the course of 12 hours and touched off a furious day of recriminations that fueled questions about his leadership during the crisis. Although Mr. Trump earned generally high marks for his handling of hurricanes that struck Texas and Florida recently, he has been sharply criticized for being slow to sense the magnitude of the damage in Puerto Rico, an American territory, and project urgency about helping.” See also, Trump called San Juan’s mayor Carmen Yulíl Cruz a weak leader. Here’s what her leadership looks like. The Washington Post, Arelis R. Hernández, Samantha Schmidt, Avi Selk, and William Wan, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “When Hurricane Maria destroyed the infrastructure of Puerto Rico, it turned the mayor of its capital city into a spokeswoman for a stranded people. Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto told the world of the ‘horror’ she was seeing as she waded through San Juan’s flooded streets. And the desperation on the island, parts of which may remain without power for months. Until then, Cruz had not been a well-known politician outside the island. But after she criticized Washington’s response to the hurricane this week — ‘save us from dying,’ she pleaded on cable network — President Trump took direct aim at her on Twitter. ‘Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan,’ he wrote Saturday. Democrats must have told her to say nasty things about him, he claimed. Since the president brought it up, we present [in this article] the historical record of the leadership of Cruz, before and after the storm.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Creator of ‘Hamilton,’ Denounced Trump for His Remarks About the Mayor of San Juan and Says Trump Is ‘Going Straight to Hell,’ The New York Times, Johanna Barr, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “President Trump’s criticism of the mayor of San Juan, P.R., drew sharp rebukes across social media on Saturday, including from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and original star of ‘Hamilton.’ Mr. Miranda, who has family in Puerto Rico and is raising money for Hurricane Maria relief efforts, said the president was ‘going straight to hell.’ [At 8:21 am Mr. Miranda tweeted:] ‘You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you. Someone will say, ‘Right this way, sir.’ They’ll clear a path.’ [At 8:24 he tweeted:] ‘She has been working 24/7. You have been GOLFING. You’re going straight to hell. Fastest golf cart you ever took.’ [And at 8:27 he tweeted:] ‘Did you tweet this one from the first hole 18th hole, or the club? Anyway, it’s a lie. You’re a congenital liar.'”

Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a son of Puerto Rican migrants, slams Trump over his hurricane response and says the Trump administration has done a ‘disgraceful job,’ The Washington Post, Kristine Phillips, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a son of Puerto Rican migrants, said the Trump administration has done a ‘disgraceful job’ of helping the 3.4 million Americans on the island devastated by Hurricane Maria. ‘I think it isn’t a good job; it’s a disgraceful job. The United States of America is the most powerful, wealthiest country in the world, and this is not a response that’s demonstrative of our power and our wealth,’ Gutiérrez said, his voice breaking during an interview Friday night with CNN’s Jim Scuitto.”

Trump doesn’t get it on Puerto Rico. He just proved it by lashing out at Carmen Yulíl Cruz, San Juan’s mayor, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “President Trump is facing growing — but still measured — criticism of the federal response to the devastation in Puerto Rico. So what does he do? Lash out at the mayor of a hurricane-ravaged city, naturally. Trump responded Saturday morning to harsh critiques from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz by targeting her personally. The president accused the mayor of playing politics and succumbing to pressure from fellow Democrats to attack his administration. He also, remarkably, directly attacked her and other Puerto Rican officials’ leadership…. Anybody who is surprised at this from a president who attacked a former prisoner of war for being a prisoner of war, criticized a Gold Star family and made fun of a reporter’s physical disability has a short memory. This is who Trump is. He doesn’t accept criticism and move on; he brings a bazooka to a knife fight — even when those wielding the knife are trying to save lives.”

U.S. Is in Direct Communication With North Korea, Says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “The Trump administration acknowledged on Saturday for the first time that it was in direct communication with the government of North Korea over its missile and nuclear tests, seeking a possible way forward beyond the escalating threats of a military confrontation from both sides. ‘We are probing, so stay tuned,’ Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said, when pressed about how he might begin a conversation with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that could avert what many government officials fear is a significant chance of open conflict between the two countries. ‘We ask, “Would you like to talk?” We have lines of communications to Pyongyang — we’re not in a dark situation, a blackout,’ he added. ‘We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang,’ a reference to North Korea’s capital.”

National Basketball Association (NBA) memo from Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum reinforces rule that players and coaches must stand for the national anthem and encourages community engagement, The Washington Post, Tim Bontemps, Saturday, 30 September 2017: “The NBA sent a memo out to all 30 teams Friday that both offered several ways that teams can continue to create dialogue with their players and the community about the protest movement that has spread across the sports world, and reinforced the rule that players and coaches must stand for the national anthem. The memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, was sent by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum to the league’s owners, team presidents and general managers, and comes on the heels of the league’s Board of Governors meetings this week. During the meetings, sources said there were lengthy discussions about the current climate in sports in the wake of President Donald Trump’s remarks that NFL players who protest during the national anthem are sons of bitches who should be ‘fired’, as well as his tweet that disinvited Stephen Curry – and, by extension, the Golden State Warriors – from the White House. It was sent to try to give teams a blueprint for how to approach the issue, stressing that team owners and executives meet with their players to get a clear understanding of their players’ perspectives on the matter. There also were several proposals for initiatives teams could create between now and the start of the season, as well as things teams could do before or during their opening home game of the season.”


Sunday, 1 October 2017, Day 255:


Trump Says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Is ‘Wasting His Time’ Opening Lines of Communication With North Korea, The New York Times, Peter Baker and David E. Sanger, Sunday, 1 October 2017: “President Trump undercut his own secretary of state on Sunday, calling his effort to open lines of communication with North Korea a waste of time, and seeming to rule out a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear-edged confrontation with Pyongyang. A day after Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said he was reaching out to Pyongyang in hopes of starting a new dialogue, Mr. Trump belittled the idea and left the impression that he was focused mainly on military options. Mr. Trump was privately described by advisers as furious at Mr. Tillerson for contradicting the president’s public position that now is not the time for talks. ‘I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, using the derogatory nickname he has assigned to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. ‘Save your energy Rex,’ he added, ‘we’ll do what has to be done!’ While some analysts wondered if the president was intentionally playing bad cop to the secretary’s good cop, veteran diplomats said they could not remember a time when a president undermined his secretary of state so brazenly in the midst of a tense situation, and the episode raised fresh questions about how long Mr. Tillerson would remain in his job.”

 No Laughing Matter: Why Trump’s Words on North Korea Matter, The New Yorker, Evan Osnos, Sunday, 1 October 2017: “When I visited North Korea in late August, I left with a sense that, for all the hostility, the confrontation with the United States would lead to talks, not violence. I’m less hopeful of that now, because of President Trump’s seemingly irresistible urge to mock and threaten North Korea’s leader, against the advice of his national-security aides. For months, aides who briefed the President on the conflict had advised him not to personalize the dispute. Unlike in the American arenas where Trump had honed his faith in his instincts—reality television, business deals, political primaries—in North Korea a nickname would not be received as merely a playground jab. At first, Trump complied; in May, he even complimented Kim, calling him a “smart cookie,” and expressed a willingness to meet with him….. Then, in mid-September, Trump jumped the guardrails erected by his advisers. He started to mock Kim, calling him Rocket Man, even during a formal address at the United Nations, in front of scores of heads of state—an especially humiliating setting for Kim. In a line that was reportedly added after national-security officials had read the draft, Trump said, ‘Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.’ Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if the United States or its allies were attacked, and in a tweet, a few days later, Trump said North Korea’s leadership may not ‘be around much longer’ if it continues its threats…. Trump‘s personalization of the conflict has introduced a new playbook that seems almost perfectly engineered to trigger Kim’s paranoia and animosity.”

Ahead of Sunday’s NFL games, Trump renews his call for players to stand during the national anthem, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Sunday, 1 October 2017: “On the eve of another Sunday of professional football, President Trump once again stoked the controversy over players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial inequality, proclaiming on Twitter that he wants them to stand. ‘Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem,’ the president said Saturday night. ‘Respect our Flag and our Country!’ With the tweet, Trump raised the issue for a second straight weekend. Last Sunday, hundreds of players locked arms, some taking a knee, while some teams stayed in the locker room, all in response to Trump’s posture on the issue.”

N.F.L. National Anthem Protests: Players Kneel, Stand, and Hear Boos, The New York Times, Benjamin Hoffman and Ken Belson, Sunday, 1 October 2017: “A week after leaguewide demonstrations during the national anthem, most teams scaled back on Sunday. [This article provides] a quick look at what each team did in N.F.L. Week 4.”

9 million kids get health insurance under CHIP. Congress just let it expire. The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, Sunday, 1 October 2017: “Congress just allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, to expire. If action is not taken soon to restore the funding, the effects will become obvious in schools across the country, with many of the children in the program unable to see a doctor for routine checkups, immunizations, visits when sick and other services. The program, created under a 1997 law passed with bipartisan support during the administration of President Bill Clinton, provided coverage for children in families with low and moderate incomes as well as to pregnant women. It was instrumental in lowering the percentage of children who were uninsured from nearly 14 percent when it started to 4.5 percent in 2015. It was last reauthorized in 2015 and was due to be renewed by Sept. 30, 2017.”

Facebook to Deliver 3,000 Russia-Linked Ads to Congress on Monday, The New York Times, Mike Isaac and Scott Shane, Sunday, 1 October 2017: “Under intensifying scrutiny from federal investigators and the public, Facebook said on Sunday that it planned to turn over more than 3,000 Russian-linked advertisements to congressional investigators on Monday.  The decision, which comes after a week of scathing calls from Congress for details about Facebook’s advertising system, is the latest attempt by a major technology company to disclose the scope of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, vowed to work with investigators and other technology companies in an attempt to snuff out the spread of false news stories and bogus accounts across their sites. It is a growing threat that Facebook and similar companies have begun to come to terms with only in recent months…. Facebook has yet to disclose the types of advertisements and content the company will hand over. But news reports have linked the posts to issues such as religion, race, gun ownership and other politically charged topics. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a fierce critic of Facebook and other companies for not disclosing the extent to which foreign agents had a hand in shaping the outcome of the 2016 election.”


Monday, 2 October 2017, Day 256:


Trump Urges Unity, but Puerto Rico and Las Vegas Visits Could Test His Words, The New York Times, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 2 October 2017: “President Trump called on the nation to seek ‘unity and peace’ on Monday, in the aftermath of one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Less than two hours later, he offered conciliatory words to the people of Puerto Rico, promising to visit the hurricane-ravaged island on Tuesday, the day before he travels to Las Vegas. The week will pose the greatest test yet of whether a president who plays to America’s divisions can also appeal to its sense of national unity, whether it is binding the wounds left by a rampaging gunman or the wreckage left by a deadly hurricane. Whether Mr. Trump can sustain his empathetic tone over what promise to be two emotional, exhausting days also is an open question — particularly as critics attack his position on gun laws, or if he faces further criticism from local officials in Puerto Rico over the slow-to-start relief effort there. On Monday afternoon, some of the president’s aides were urging him to put off the trip to Puerto Rico because they worried that he could be set off by protests.” See also, Another Worst Mass Shooting in the United States, The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb, Monday, 2 October 2017: “One measure of the development of a civil society is the obstacles that we place in the path of those who would commit acts of great harm to innocents. By Monday afternoon, it was reported that gun- and ammunition-manufacturers’ stocks were rising. We have done the opposite in the five years since the Newtown shooting ignited a renewed interest in gun reform. The attack in Las Vegas is the worst mass shooting right now, not because of the number of the dead but because it reveals, yet again, that our steadfast refusal to do anything different is enabling those who wish to give us more of the same.” See also, After Las Vegas, Democrats are jumping straight into the gun-control debate, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Monday, 2 October 2012: “The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history happened just a few hours ago, and Democratic members of Congress have already drawn their political battle lines. Some notable Democrats in Congress are going so far as to blame their colleagues’ inaction for the shooting, accusing the gun rights lobby of making money off this, as well as demanding changes to gun laws — changes they almost certainly won’t get as long as Republicans control Congress…. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has become one of Congress’s loudest advocates for gun control since Newtown, accused Congress of sitting ‘on its ass.’ ‘It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference,’ he said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was just as aggressive: ‘I’m heartsick for people in Nevada & across the country who woke up to this news & are worried that their family & friends are ok. Thoughts & prayers are NOT enough. Not when more moms & dads will bury kids this week, & more sons & daughters will grow up without parents.'” See also, Read Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional, scathing monologue about gun control after the Vegas massacre, The Washington Post, Emily Yahr, Monday, 2 October 2017: “Jimmy Kimmel was in tears at the start of his monologue Monday night as he addressed the ‘terrible, inexplicable, shocking and painful tragedy’ in Las Vegas, also his hometown. The ABC late-night host was still trying to process the events of Sunday night, when a gunman killed 59 people and injured more than 500, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Kimmel regained his composure, but got choked up repeatedly for the next 10 minutes as he talked about the victims. He also had some scathing words about gun control for government officials, including President Trump, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. He noted that they and other lawmakers ‘also sent their thoughts and their prayers today, which is good. They should be praying. They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country, because it’s so crazy.'” See also, The worst kind of US exceptionalism: It’s time to end US exceptionalism on guns. Mass shootings get deadlier and deadlier, and politicians pretend nothing can be done. The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Monday, 2 October 2017: “ADDRESSING THE nation after Sunday’s horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, President Trump spoke of a country joined together in ‘sadness, shock and grief.’ He called the massacre ‘an act of pure evil’ and offered prayers and condolences for lives lost and hurt. He made no mention of gun control, but in thanking police and other first responders, he implicitly underscored why this country desperately needs to take steps to stop the toll of unleashed guns on America. ‘The speed with which they acted is miraculous. . . . To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful,’ Mr. Trump said Monday. That at least 59 people — 59! — were killed in a terrifyingly short span of time by a single man holed up in a hotel room a quarter of a mile away speaks to the irrationality of gun laws that allow weapons designed for war and mass casualty to be commodities for everyday purchase.” See also, 477 Days Since Orlando. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress. Since the Orlando mass shooting on 12 June 2016, at least 585 people have been killed and 2,156 have been injured in mass shootings. The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Monday, 2 October 2017.  See also, The White Privilege of the ‘Lone Wolf’ Shooter, The Intercept, Shaun King, Monday, 2 October 2017: “United States experienced the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. At least 58 people are dead and over 500 more wounded. No, that’s not a typo: More than 500 people were injured in one single incident. As tens of thousands enjoyed a music festival on the streets of Las Vegas, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, was perched 32 floors above them in his Mandalay Bay hotel room. Paddock had 19 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammo — supplies that are plentiful in a nation that has more guns than people. A few minutes after 10 p.m., Paddock opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd. They were sitting ducks. No expensive wall along the Mexican border would’ve prevented this. No Muslim ban stopping immigrants and refugees from a few randomly selected countries from reaching our shores would’ve slowed this down. Paddock, like the majority of mass shooters in this country, was a white American. And that simple fact changes absolutely everything about the way this horrible moment gets discussed in the media and the national discourse: Whiteness, somehow, protects men from being labeled terrorists.” See also, Washington’s Ritualized Response to Mass Shootings, The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza, Monday, 2 October 2017: “Stephen Craig Paddock’s murder of more than fifty people in Las Vegas is, according to one measure, the three hundred and thirty-eighth mass shooting. This year. Mass shootings are so frequent in America that the political responses to them have become ritualized to the point of parody. The social-media accounts of the N.R.A.—which kicked off last weekend by retweeting a picture of a machine gun, to celebrate #FullAutoFriday—go dark. The politicians funded by the N.R.A.—mostly Republicans—tweet ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the victims. The House Speaker, Paul Ryan, said, ‘The whole country stands united in our shock, in our condolences, and in our prayers.’ He ordered flags at the Capitol to be lowered. ‘Keeping #LasVegas in our thoughts this morning after the horrific news,’ the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, tweeted. A tweet from President Trump was a model of the form: ‘My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!’ The politicians, mostly Democrats, who think that an epidemic of mass shootings requires government action issue angry pleas for action. ‘This must stop,’ the Connecticut senator Chris Murphy in a statement said. ‘It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.'” See also, Las Vegas, Gun Violence, and the Failing American State, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Monday, 2 October 2017: “Writing on Twitter on Monday, Matt Bevin, the Republican Governor of Kentucky, said, ‘To all those political opportunists who are seizing on the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for more gun regs . . . You can’t regulate evil . . .’ Perhaps not. But, as countries such as Australia, Britain, and Canada have demonstrated, you can certainly regulate the sale of guns, especially weapons of war, to good effect. Between 1979 and 1996, Australia had thirteen fatal mass shootings. Since 1996, when the country introduced a law that banned the sale of semiautomatic weapons and launched a buyback program for weapons that had already been sold, there have been no mass shootings. None.”

Here Are Some of the Hoaxes Being Spread About the Las Vegas Shooting, BuzzFeed News, Ryan Broderick, Monday, 2 October 2017: “At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday night. Police have confirmed that “one suspect is down” and they do not believe there are any more shooters. Authorities are looking to talk to a “female companion” as a possible person of interest. Within minutes of reports of the shooting hitting Twitter, trolls started flooding social media with fake information.”  See also, After Las Vegas Shooting Fake News Regains Its Megaphone, The New York Times, Kevin Roose, Monday, 2 October 2017: “When they woke up and glanced at their phones on Monday morning, Americans may have been shocked to learn that the man behind the mass shooting in Las Vegas late on Sunday was an anti-Trump liberal who liked Rachel Maddow and, that the F.B.I. had already linked him to the Islamic State, and that mainstream news organizations were suppressing that he had recently converted to Islam. They were shocking, gruesome revelations. They were also entirely false — and widely spread by Google and Facebook. In Google’s case, trolls from 4Chan, a notoriously toxic online message board with a vocal far-right contingent, had spent the night scheming about how to pin the shooting on liberals. One of their discussion threads, in which they wrongly identified the gunman, was picked up by Google’s ‘top stories’ module, and spent hours at the top of the site’s search results for that man’s name…. [T]his was no one-off incident. Over the past few years, extremists, conspiracy theorists and government-backed propagandists have made a habit of swarming major news events, using search-optimized ‘keyword bombs’ and algorithm-friendly headlines. These organizations are skilled at reverse-engineering the ways that tech platforms parse information, and they benefit from a vast real-time amplification network that includes 4Chan and Reddit as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google. Even when these campaigns are thwarted, they often last hours or days — long enough to spread misleading information to millions of people.”

Russians took a page from corporate America by using Facebook tool to ID and influence voters, The Washington Post, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg, and Adam Entous, Monday, 2 October 2017: “Russian operatives set up an array of misleading Web sites and social media pages to identify American voters susceptible to propaganda, then used a powerful Facebook tool to repeatedly send them messages designed to influence their political behavior, say people familiar with the investigation into foreign meddling in the U.S. election. The tactic resembles what American businesses and political campaigns have been doing in recent years to deliver messages to potentially interested people online. The Russians exploited this system by creating English-language sites and Facebook pages that closely mimicked those created by U.S. political activists. The Web sites and Facebook pages displayed ads or other messages focused on such hot-button issues as illegal immigration, African American political activism and the rising prominence of Muslims in the United States. The Russian operatives then used a Facebook ‘retargeting’ tool, called Custom Audiences, to send specific ads and messages to voters who had visited those sites, say people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details from an ongoing investigation. People caught up in this web of tracking and disinformation would have had no indication that they had been singled out or that the ads came from Russians. One such ad featured photographs of an armed black woman ‘dry firing’ a rifle — pulling the trigger of the weapon without a bullet in the chamber — the people familiar with the investigation said. Investigators believe the advertisement may have been designed to encourage African American militancy and, at the same time, to stoke fears within white communities, the people said. But the precise purpose of the ad remains unclear to investigators, the people said.”

Trump’s company had two more previously unreported contacts with Russia during the presidential campaign, according to documents turned over to investigators, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Adam Entous, Monday, 2 October 2017: “Associates of President Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter. In one case, Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including President Vladi­mir Putin, according to people familiar with the correspondence. In the other case, the same Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a billionaire who once served in the upper house of the Russian parliament, these people said. The previously unreported inquiry marks the second proposal for a Trump-branded Moscow project that was delivered to the company during the presidential campaign and has since come to light.”

Senate Judiciary Committee leaders are denied access to CIA material on Russian meddling that the Senate Intelligence Committee has already seen, Politico, Elana Schor, Monday, 2 October 2017: “The CIA has denied a request by the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee to let them view some of the same information about Russian meddling that the intelligence committee has already seen, according to the panel’s top Democrat. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week for access to certain unspecified material related to their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — information that the Senate Intelligence Committee has already received, a sign that turf battles between the two panels may be heating up. Feinstein told reporters Monday evening, however, that she and Grassley were unsuccessful. ‘We were turned down,’ she said, adding that the CIA’s decision was a disappointment. But Feinstein, who has described the material at issue as pertaining to obstruction-of-justice matters that lie in the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction, declined to comment further about longer-term access. ‘The issue isn’t finished,’ she said.”

Paul Manafort Attempted to Leverage His Leadership Role in the Trump Campaign to Curry Favor With Russian Oligarch Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska Who Is Close to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe and Franklin Foer, Monday, 2 October 2017: “On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant  Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. ‘I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?’ Manafort wrote. ‘Absolutely,’ Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev. ‘Every article.’ ‘How do we use to get whole,’ Manafort asks. ‘Has OVD operation seen?’ According to a source close to Manafort, the initials ‘OVD’ refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and one of Russia’s richest men. The source also confirmed that one of the individuals repeatedly mentioned in the email exchange as an intermediary to Deripaska is an aide to the oligarch. The emails were provided to The Atlantic on condition of anonymity. They are part of a trove of documents turned over by lawyers for Trump’s presidential campaign to investigators looking into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. A source close to Manafort confirmed their authenticity. Excerpts from these emails were first reported by The Washington Post, but the full text of these exchanges, provided to The Atlantic, shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign.”

Hundreds of White House emails sent to third Kushner family account, Politico, Josh Dawsey and Andrea Peterson, Monday, 2 October 2017: “White House officials have begun examining emails associated with a third and previously unreported email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s private domain, according to three people familiar with the matter. Hundreds of emails have been sent since January from White House addresses to accounts on the Kushner family domain, these people said. Many of those emails went not to Kushner’s or Ivanka Trump’s personal addresses but to an account they both had access to and shared with their personal household staff for family scheduling. The emails — which include nonpublic travel documents, internal schedules and some official White House materials —were in many cases sent from Ivanka Trump, her assistant Bridges Lamar and others who work with the couple in the White House. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts, one of these people said. The existence of additional accounts on the family domain beyond the two personal accounts used by Kushner and Ivanka Trump and reported earlier raises new questions about the extent of personal email use by the couple during their time as White House aides. Their use of private email accounts for White House business also raises concerns about the security of potentially sensitive government documents, which have been forwarded to private accounts.”

‘Dreamers’ Rush to Renew Their Protections One Last Time, The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Monday, 2 October 2017: “Brian Solis was the first to arrive, at 3 a.m. He unfolded his beach chair and tried to get some sleep, slumping over a backpack laden with school books and immigration paperwork. By dawn, dozens of others, many wearing hoodies and wrapped in blankets, had joined him on the sidewalk. Around the country, thousands of young undocumented immigrants like them have been lining up at legal clinics and scrambling to finish paperwork before the clock runs out on their chance to live and work legally in the United States. Like Mr. Solis, who came to the United States from El Salvador when he was 7, they are hoping to renew their participation in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which since 2012 has allowed them to obtain work permits and reprieves from deportation, renewable every two years. But on Sept. 5, the Trump administration announced that it was winding down the program, and that it would accept no more renewal applications after Thursday. Since the announcement, nonprofits and advocacy groups have rushed to offer free legal advice, help filling out applications and, in some cases, assistance covering the $495 renewal fee.”

The Interior Department’s inspector general’s office has opened an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of taxpayer-funded charter planes, Politico, Ben Lefebvre, Monday, 2 October 2017: “The Interior Department’s inspector general’s office has opened an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of taxpayer-funded charter planes, a spokeswoman said Monday. The watchdog has ‘received numerous complaints’ and launched its investigation late last week, said Nancy K. DiPaolo, spokeswoman for Interior’s Office of the Inspector General. Zinke is one of several members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to face questions over his expensive travel, along with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and former HHS Secretary Tom Price, who resigned Friday.”

Trump’s Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn Says It’s Fine for Corporations to Use Tax Breaks to Enrich Executives, The Intercept, Zaid Jilani, Monday, 2 October 2017: “One part of the White House’s proposed tax reform framework would involve a ‘tax repatriation’ holiday for U.S. corporations that are storing profits overseas. The logic is that offering a lower tax rate to corporations would entice them to bring money onshore that would then lead to the hiring of American workers. The proposal re-ups a Bush-era policy that failed to boost job growth; the top 15 companies that took advantage of the repatriation holiday actually reduced their total employment of U.S. workers over the period of the policy. Many of the corporations that took part in the tax holiday instead spent the money on stock buybacks, a way to enrich insiders and executives; among the top 15 beneficiaries, stock buybacks jumped 16 percent from 2004 to 2005 and 38 percent from 2005 to 2006. On Thursday, White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn told CNBC’s Eamon Javers that it’s ‘fine’ if corporations do the same thing after this tax holiday.”

U.S. opposes UN resolution against death penalty for same-sex relations, Los Angeles Blade, Michael K. Lavers, Monday, 2 October 2017: “The U.S. on Sept. 29 voted against a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that condemns the death penalty for those found guilty of committing consensual same-sex sexual acts. The resolution — which Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland introduced — passed by a 27-13 vote margin. Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Togo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the U.K. supported the resolution. Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined the U.S. in opposing it. Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Cuba abstained. The resolution specifically condemns ‘the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations’ and expresses ‘serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women.’ It also notes ‘poor and economically vulnerable persons and foreign nationals are disproportionately subjected to the death penalty, that laws carrying the death penalty are used against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association, and that persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among those sentenced to the death penalty.'”

Trump’s White House froze an equal-pay rule. Women are fighting to save it. The Washington Post, Danielle Paquette, Monday, 2 October 2017: “A coalition of more than 90 civil rights groups is preparing to challenge the Trump administration’s decision to halt an Obama-era initiative aimed at fighting employer discrimination against women and minorities. Emily Martin, general counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, said she and attorneys at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have requested copies of emails, voice mails and other communications among the federal officials who opted in August to freeze a rule that would have required companies to file data broken down by race, ethnicity and gender on what they pay workers.  The rule compelling companies to submit additional information about employees and wages to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was finalized in September 2016 and would have taken effect next year.”

Trump’s First Travel Ban Order Issued on 27 January 2017 Left Officials Confused, Documents Show, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Monday, 2 October 2017: “It took nearly two hours from when President Trump signed his first attempt at a travel ban for the head of United States Customs and Border Protection to get an official version of the president’s executive order. In the hours that followed, officials scrambled to figure out how to enforce the order and — as protesters, lawyers and politicians swarmed airports — they monitored the demonstrations with detailed granularity, setting up a ‘Crisis Action Team’ to coordinate their response. As officials begin to roll out President Trump’s latest attempt to severely restrict visitors from certain countries, internal documents provided to The New York Times offer a look at how the government tried to carry out his initial attempt at a travel ban. The documents, which are dated from Jan. 27 (the day the first executive order was signed) to Feb. 4 (the day after a federal judge temporarily blocked the order from being enforced nationwide), depict an all-night sprint to implement the rules on the fly — a process filled with stops and starts, confusion and lots of conference calls. Vera Eidelman, a fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the heavily redacted documents through public records requests, said in an email the group believes that the internal emails, memorandums and spreadsheets ‘are just the tip of the document iceberg, and do not reveal the full story.'”


Tuesday, 3 October 2017, Day 257:


In San Juan, Trump Tells Puerto Ricans That They Have Been Lucky, The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “…Donald Trump flew south to spend a few hours in Puerto Rico nearly two weeks after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria: two weeks during which it became clear that the Administration had done practically nothing to prepare the island for the alarmingly forecast storm; two weeks in which the federal response to the storm’s ravages has only gradually approached something like a mobilization that would have been appropriate on Day One for a much lesser calamity; two weeks in which nearly all of Puerto Rico has been without electricity, and more than half the population has been without access to potable water; two weeks in which Puerto Rico’s frail grew frailer, its sick grew sicker, its sense of abandonment grew more desperate; two weeks in which the President focussed on talking about what a great job he and his team were doing (“A-plus”), tweeting contempt at Puerto Ricans, collectively, and at the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, specifically; two weeks in which the relative effectiveness and success of the federal government’s preparation for and response to Hurricane Harvey’s assault on Texas and Irma’s rampage in Florida threw the dereliction of duty in Puerto Rico into ever starker relief; two weeks in which we were reminded that whenever we speak of a humanitarian crisis we are really speaking of a political crisis. All of which raises the question: If Puerto Ricans could vote, would they be so grossly ill served?” See also, Trump hails ‘incredible’ response in ‘lovely’ trip to storm-torn Puerto Rico, The Washington Post, Jenna Johnson and Ashley Parker, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “President Trump arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday as the territory struggled to recover from Hurricane Maria, which has left nearly all the island without power and most residents without ­water nearly two weeks later. But Trump’s focus was on the ‘unbelievable’ and ‘incredible’ job that his administration has done so far. He repeatedly played down the destruction to the island, telling local officials they should feel ‘very proud’ they ­haven’t lost hundreds of lives like in ‘a real catastrophe’ like Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005. But he also complained that the small territory’s disaster threw the nation’s budget ‘a little out of whack.’ At one brief stop at a church, Trump told the gathering that they no longer needed flashlights, and he tossed rolls of paper towels into the crowd as if they were basketballs. He took a helicopter tour, visited a ship, posed for selfies — and then left an hour earlier than scheduled…. Although the administration took a flurry of actions after Maria first hit Sept. 20, the president and his top aides then effectively went dark for four days as he decamped for a long weekend at his private club in Bedminster, N.J. After San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz pleaded last week for the federal government to ‘save us from dying,’ Trump accused her on Twitter of having ‘poor leadership ability.’ In another tweet, he said the island’s residents ‘want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.'” See also, Oxfam slams the Trump administration for its ‘slow and inadequate’ response in Puerto Rico, The Washington Post, Mary Hui, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “Oxfam America took the unusual step Tuesday of criticizing the U.S. government for its ‘slow and inadequate’ response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying that the Trump administration’s faltering relief efforts has forced it to intervene. The announcement by the U.S. branch of the global anti-poverty nonprofit organization comes as President Trump visited the U.S. territory for the first time since Hurricane Maria slammed into the island of 3.4 million people almost two weeks ago, setting off a humanitarian crisis. ‘Oxfam has monitored the response in Puerto Rico closely, and we are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted in Puerto Rico,’ Abby Maxman, president of Oxfam America, said in a statement. ‘We’re hearing excuses and criticism from the administration instead of a cohesive and compassionate response,’ she added. Oxfam America said it will pursue its own two-pronged approach in the post-hurricane response: pushing for an improved response to the crisis, and supporting local partners that are providing relief on the ground.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) said Tuesday he has halted plans, at least temporarily, to advance a bill that would make it easier for Americans to buy gun silencers, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “Republicans said Tuesday they had halted plans, at least temporarily, to advance a bill that would make it easier for Americans to buy gun silencers. The shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night that left at least 58 dead and hundreds injured magnified the focus on the legislation, which passed a House committee last month. ‘That bill is not scheduled now; I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled,’ House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters. ‘Right now we’re focused on passing our budget.'”

How cartoons are arguing for gun control after the Las Vegas massacre, The Washington Post, Michael Cavna, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “With each modern American massacre, from schools to theaters to music venues to places of worship, one way to grieve and unite is through art. Creatively, cartoonists are often the first responders. In the immediate wake of Sunday night’s shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and hundreds injured, there has been a torrent of politically laced words — often the usual volleys about the NRA and the Second Amendment and automatic weapons. Cutting through the fog, [this article covers how a few] editorial pictures have offered commentary.”

After the Las Vegas Shooting, Jimmy Kimmel Names Names, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “What does it say about the state of America when the most powerful response to another awful gun massacre comes not from a politician or a public commentator but a late-night comic? On a dismal Monday, during which the N.R.A. captives who are running the country had nothing more to offer than bromides and prayers, it was left to Jimmy Kimmel, at a television recording studio on Hollywood Boulevard, to register a cry for humanity, and a protest at the failing U.S. political system. ‘Well, hello, everyone, in the aftermath of another terrible and inexplicable, shocking and painful tragedy, this time in Las Vegas, which happens to be my home town,’ Kimmel said in a shaky voice at the start of his opening monologue. After citing the number of dead and injured, he went on: ‘We wonder why, although there’s probably no way to ever know why a human being would ever do something like this to other human beings who are at a concert having fun, listening to music . . . It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up, or give up. It’s too much to even process.’ Kimmel is paid handsomely to send people to bed with smiles on their faces. On Monday, many of his viewers were probably tuning in to escape the round-the-clock news coverage of the Las Vegas shooting. But, rather than looking for laughs, Kimmel chose to state some harsh truths and name names. ‘I’ve been reading comments from people saying this is terrible, but there is nothing we can do about it,’ he said. ‘But I disagree with that intensely, because of course there’s something we can do about it. There are a lot of things we can do about it. But we don’t. Which is interesting, because when someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls—we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, then there’s nothing we can do about that. Second Amendment, I guess. Our forefathers wanted us to have AK-47s is the argument, I assume.'”

Late-night hosts get serious and plead for Congress to address gun control after Las Vegas massacre, The Washington Post, Emily Yahr, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “All the late-night TV shows started out on a serious note Monday, as the hosts addressed the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Trevor Noah and James Corden were in disbelief over American gun culture. Conan O’Brien was devastated to realize how many times he’s had to talk about mass shootings. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers urged Congress to take action on gun control…. [This article has] some excerpts from each host’s take.”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Contradicts Trump on Iran Deal Ahead of Crucial Deadline, The New York Times, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and David E. Sanger, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “Days before President Trump has to make a critical decision on whether to hold up the Iran nuclear deal, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis openly split with him on abandoning the agreement, the second senior member of the president’s national security team to recently contradict him. Mr. Mattis told senators on Tuesday that it was in America’s interest to stick with the deal, which Mr. Trump has often dismissed as a ‘disaster.’ ‘Absent indications to the contrary, it is something that the president should consider staying with,’ Mr. Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee after being repeatedly pressed on the issue. The comments were the latest example of how Mr. Trump’s instincts on national security — to threaten North Korea with destruction and tear up an Iran accord that most experts and allies say is working — are running headlong into opposition from his own National Security Council. But rather than keep those arguments inside the White House Situation Room, where similar battles have played out over many presidencies, Mr. Trump’s key advisers are making no secret of their disagreements with their boss.”

Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, floats ‘purge’ of anti-Trump Republicans to wealthy donors, Politico, Andrew Restuccia and Matthew Nussbaum, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff railed against congressional leaders in closed-door remarks to wealthy donors and called for a ‘purge’ if GOP lawmakers don’t quickly rally behind President Donald Trump’s agenda. In remarks at a Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Tuesday morning, Nick Ayers also warned that Republicans are ‘on track to get shellacked’ in next year’s midterm elections if GOP lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities. But Ayers reserved his harshest criticism for congressional leaders and members who have not offered full-throated support for the president. ‘Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,’ Ayers said, according to an audio recording of the remarks obtained by POLITICO.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Tasks His Top Legal Counsel, Michael Dreeben, With Getting Ahead of Possible Pre-Emptive Pardons by TrumpBloomberg Politics, Greg Farrell, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a distinctly modern problem. The president, judging by his tweets, could try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime. Mueller’s all-star team of prosecutors, with expertise in money laundering and foreign bribery, has an answer to that. He’s Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt. Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight. That could include anything from strategizing on novel interpretations of criminal law to making sure the recent search warrant on ex-campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s home would stand up to an appeal.”

Exclusive: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump re-routed their personal email accounts to computers run by the Trump Organization as public scrutiny intensified over their use of private emails to conduct White House business, USA Today, Brad Heath, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump re-routed their personal email accounts to computers run by the Trump Organization as public scrutiny intensified over their use of private emails to conduct White House business, internet registration records show. The move, made just days after Kushner’s use of a personal email account first became public, came shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller asked the White House to turn over records related to his investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates. It also more closely intertwines President Trump’s administration with his constellation of private businesses. Kushner, who is a senior adviser to the president, first faced scrutiny for his private email use on Sept. 24, when his lawyer confirmed that he had occasionally used a personal email account to communicate with other White House officials. Kushner’s contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign have drawn the attention of federal investigators. According to internet registration records reviewed by USA TODAY and cybersecurity researchers, Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump, who is also a senior adviser, re-routed their email accounts to a server operated by the Trump Organization on either Sept. 26 or 27, as attention from the media and lawmakers intensified.”

U.S. Expels 15 Cuban Diplomats in Latest Sign Détente May Be Ending, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and Ernesto Londoño, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “President Trump on Tuesday expelled 15 Cuban diplomats, escalating his response to a mysterious affliction that has stricken American Embassy personnel in Havana in a move that cast a Cold War chill over relations between the two countries. The order to the diplomats to leave the United States constituted the latest in a series of actions by Mr. Trump to unwind the détente between the United States and Cuba undertaken by his predecessor, President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama sought to end the hostility and mistrust that had characterized the relationship between the two countries for more than a half-century, and regarded the resumption in relations as one of his foreign policy legacies. The Cuban government condemned what it called a ‘hasty, inappropriate and unthinking’ decision motivated by politics, and warned that the diplomatic dispute would sour relations already imperiled by Mr. Trump’s move to crack down on travel and commerce with the island nation. The State Department said the expulsion of the diplomats was intended to force Cuba to place its embassy in Washington, where the diplomats were stationed, on the same emergency status that the United States is now operating under in Havana after it decided last week to pare its staff there down to a skeletal group of just 27 people. Still, taken together with a policy directive that Mr. Trump issued in June and a State Department warning last week admonishing Americans not to travel to the island nation, the embassy drawdowns have the potential to freeze the normalization process in its tracks.”

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Calendar: Fine Dining With Industries He Regulates, But Few Meetings With Environmental Groups or Consumer or Public Health Advocates, The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “For lunch on April 26, Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined with top executives from Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities, at Equinox, a white-tablecloth favorite of Washington power brokers. That evening, it was on to BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, for a meal with the board of directors of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal-mining giant whose chief executive donated nearly $2 million to help elect President Trump. Before those two agenda items, Mr. Pruitt met privately with top executives and lobbyists from General Motors to talk about their request to block an Obama administration move to curb emissions that contribute to climate change. It was just a typical day for Mr. Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general. Since taking office in February, Mr. Trump’s E.P.A. chief has held back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates, according to a 320-page accounting of his daily schedule from February through May, the most detailed look yet at what Mr. Pruitt has been up to since he took over the agency.”

Michael Dourson, Trump’s Pick for Environmental Protection Agency Safety Chief, Argued That Children Are Less Sensitive to Toxins Than Adults, The Intercept, Sharon Lerner, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “Michael Dourson, the toxicologist who will be the subject of a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for what many consider the second most powerful post at the Environmental Protection Agency, has been hired by industry to consult on at least 30 of the chemicals he may be responsible for reviewing if he assumes office. Dourson’s consulting company, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment, or TERA, was paid by Dow Chemical, CropLife America, the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, and other companies and industry groups to study dozens of chemicals. The evaluations TERA produced consistently failed to recognize threats that were clear to scientists and regulators not on the companies’ payrolls. If confirmed as director of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Dourson will be in a position to set safety levels for many of the same chemicals his company was paid to defend, including nine pesticides scheduled for scrutiny and 20 industrial compounds that may be evaluated under the recently updated chemical safety law.” See also, Senate to weigh key Environmental Protection Agency nominees with close ties to chemical and fossil fuel industries, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, published on Wednesday, 4 October 2017.

Republican House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, The Hill, Jessie Hellmann, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “The House passed a bill Tuesday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), would make it a crime to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with the possibility of a fine, up to five years in prison or both. The measure passed heavily along party lines, 237-189. The bill allows exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman and wouldn’t penalize women for seeking to get abortions after 20 weeks. The legislation is likely to face a tough sell in the Senate. A similar bill passed the House in 2015 but was blocked by Senate Democrats. With only a 52-seat majority it would be unlikely Senate Republicans could gather the 60 votes needed to move the legislation to President Trump’s desk.”

Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Met in Moscow With Kremlin-Linked Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya Who Is at the Center of the Russia Investigation, Foreign Policy, Elias Groll, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher [R-Calif] met with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya during a 2016 trip to Moscow, a previously undisclosed tête-à-tête that sheds additional light on the extent to which Moscow-based political operatives sought to influence American officials in the run-up to last year’s presidential election. In an interview with a pro-Russian Crimean news service, Veselnitskaya said she met with Rohrabacher — a California Republican and arguably the most prominent advocate in Congress for closer relations between Washington and Moscow — in April 2016 to discuss issues surrounding the Magnitsky Act, the punitive American sanctions measure responding to Russian human rights abuses that she has lobbied against.”

Exclusive: Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, CNN, Manu Raju, Bylan Byers, and Dana Bash, Tuesday, 3 October 2017: “A number of Russian-linked Facebook ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states crucial to Donald Trump’s victory last November, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the situation. Some of the Russian ads appeared highly sophisticated in their targeting of key demographic groups in areas of the states that turned out to be pivotal, two of the sources said. The ads employed a series of divisive messages aimed at breaking through the clutter of campaign ads online, including promoting anti-Muslim messages, sources said. It has been unclear until now exactly which regions of the country were targeted by the ads. And while one source said that a large number of ads appeared in areas of the country that were not heavily contested in the elections, some clearly were geared at swaying public opinion in the most heavily contested battlegrounds.”


Wednesday, 4 October 2017, Day 258:


How Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. Avoided a Criminal Indictment. New York prosecutors were preparing a case; then Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. overruled his staff after a visit from a top donor, Trump attorney Mark Kasowitz. ProPublica, The New Yorker, and WNYC, Jesse Eisinger & Justin Elliott (ProPublica) and Andrea Bernstein & Ilya Marritz (WNYC), Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers. In one email, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the emails, they worried that a reporter might be onto them. In yet another, Donald Jr. spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the email. There was ‘no doubt’ that the Trump children ‘approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,’ one person who saw the emails told us. ‘They knew it was wrong.’ In 2010, when the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the D.A.’s office opened an investigation of the siblings, the Trump Organization had hired several top New York criminal defense lawyers to represent Donald Jr. and Ivanka. These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn’t amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz entered the case.”

The Trump Administration Plans to Repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s Effort to Fight Climate Change, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “The Trump administration will repeal the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s effort to fight climate change, and will ask the public to recommend ways it could be replaced, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency document. The draft proposal represents the administration’s first substantive step toward rolling back the plan, which was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, after months of presidential tweets and condemnations of Mr. Obama’s efforts to reduce climate-warming pollution. But it also lays the groundwork for new, presumably weaker, regulations by asking for the public and industry to offer ideas for a replacement.” See also, Trump to Argue Obama’s Clean Power Plan Violates U.S. Law, Bloomberg Politics, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, published on Thursday, 5 October 2017: “The Trump administration will formally propose repealing former President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by arguing it went beyond the bounds of federal law, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News. The Environmental Protection Agency won’t prescribe an immediate replacement to the plan, and instead will soon ask the public to comment on whether — and how — to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from coal and natural gas power plants, according to a draft of the proposed rule and other government documents.”

Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee largely endorsed the findings of the intelligence community that Russia sought to sway the 2016 U.S. elections through a hacking and influence campaign, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday largely endorsed the findings of the intelligence community that Russia sought to sway the 2016 U.S. elections through a hacking and influence campaign, and they called for a ‘more aggressive, whole-of-government approach’ to ensure future elections are not similarly compromised. ‘There is consensus among members and staff that we trust the conclusions of the ICA,’ Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee’s chairman, said at Wednesday news conference, referring to the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was behind hackings of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign director John Podesta’s email account and had attempted to exploit public opinion by sowing false information, much of it through fake social media accounts. ‘But we don’t close our consideration of it,’ he added. Burr also said that ‘the issue of collusion is still open’ and would not be resolved until the committee’s work was done. He said that a deadline for the committee was the looming start of the 2018 primary season.” See also, Senate Intelligence Heads Warn That Russian Election Meddling Continues, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered a stark warning on Wednesday to political candidates: Expect Russian operatives to remain active and determined to again try to sow chaos in elections next month and next year. At a rare news conference, Senators Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the committee’s chairman, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and its vice chairman, broadly endorsed the conclusions of American spy agencies that said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.”

Facebook and Twitter will testify at an upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election, The Hill, Ali Breland, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Facebook and Twitter have agreed to testify at an upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference during the 2016 elections, the companies confirmed Wednesday. Both companies have already briefed House and Senate Intelligence Committees on their findings regarding Russian actors using their platforms to influence the presidential election. Google was also invited to testify but has not confirmed whether it will send a representative to the hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 1.” See also, When Facebook and Google are ‘weaponized,’ the victim is reality, The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Well-intentioned warnings to journalists were circulating early this week as the news of the Las Vegas massacre broke. The Society of Professional Journalists urged accuracy, fairness and respect. Poynter Institute cautioned reporters to avoid speculating on mental illness and told editors not to use images that glorify the shooter. But the purveyors of viral lies weren’t listening to this good advice, and never will. Facebook and Google served up disinformation on their all-powerful platforms. They promoted rumors that not only named the wrong gunman but blamed his supposedly liberal politics. ‘Social media has become totally weaponized,’ Kara Swisher, co-founder of the technology news site Recode, said at a conference Tuesday. The former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter couldn’t be more right. And the managing editor of the fact-checking website warned that ‘it’s getting more polarized.'”

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney quickly dismisses Trump’s vow to wipe out Puerto Rico debt, The Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “President Trump’s vow Tuesday to wipe out Puerto Rico’s massive debt issues was quickly dismissed by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, revealing how senior administration officials continue to struggle for ways to respond to the U.S. territory’s financial problems. Puerto Rico has more than $70 billion in debt, and it recently filed for bankruptcy protection. The island was hit by a giant hurricane on Sept. 20 that destroyed much of its infrastructure, and Trump visited the territory on Tuesday. During that visit, Trump remarked on the island’s debt problems and said in an interview with Fox News that ‘They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that.’ Those comments would have sweeping implications, as it could wipe out the holdings of numerous investors who hold Puerto Rican debt. Bloomberg reported that Trump’s comments sent the value of Puerto Rico debt plunging, with a key general obligation bond due in 2035 falling to a record low of 32 cents on the dollar, a roughly 25 percent drop in one day. On Wednesday morning, Mulvaney said he had discussed the issue with Trump on the flight back to Washington late Tuesday and that the debt would not be wiped out after all. ‘I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,’ Mulvaney said on CNN. Congress last year passed a law called the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, known as PROMESA, which was meant to help Puerto Rico restructure its debt. Mulvaney said that process would continue, and that the Trump administration was focused on helping the island recover from the hurricane in the near term.” See also, Puerto Rico Bonds Slide as Trump Says ‘Goodbye’ to Territory’s Debt, The Wall Street Journal, Heather Gillers, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Over the past few weeks, prices on Puerto Rico’s bonds have drifted downward as investors grappled with the effects of a devastating hurricane. That slow drift turned into a nose-dive Wednesday in the first trading session after President Donald Trump called into question whether investors would be paid their money back at all. Puerto Rico’s benchmark general obligation bonds maturing in 2035 traded at record lows of 30 cents on the dollar Wednesday, down from roughly 44 cents late Tuesday and 56 cents the day before Hurricane Maria hit. Holders of the bonds, which include mutual funds, hedge funds and direct investors, sold in heavy volume. Already battling Puerto Rico in bankruptcy proceedings, investors in these bonds have been struggling to extract their money from the hard-hit and cash-strapped island. Even after a March decision by a federal oversight board to reduce the amount paid to bondholders over the next 10 years by 75%, bond prices didn’t drop precipitously as investors held out hope for better terms. All that changed Tuesday evening as Mr. Trump set off a broad sale in the bonds when he said the U.S. territory’s $73 billion debt load may get wiped out to help the island recover from Maria.”

A tale of two Puerto Ricos: What Trump saw–and what he didn’t, The Washington Post, Arelis R. Hernández and Jenna Johnson, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “The Puerto Rico that President Trump saw during his four-hour visit on Tuesday afternoon was that of Angel Pérez Otero, the mayor of Guaynabo, a wealthy San Juan suburb known for its amenity-driven gated communities that was largely spared when Hurricane Maria hit two weeks ago. Pérez Otero led Trump and his entourage on a walking tour of a neighborhood where high-speed winds had blown out some ­second-story windows and knocked over a few trees — but where life seemed to be returning to normal, thanks to assistance from the government. Neighbors stood outside their homes ready to warmly greet the president, their phones powered up and ready to snap photos…. If the president had traveled a little deeper into the island, to the communities that sustained some of the heaviest damage, he would have witnessed a very different Puerto Rico. Ten miles southeast of Guaynabo is the city of Caguas, nestled in a valley ringed by steep sierras and narrow mountain passes, with homes built densely on the edges of gravity-defying slopes. These hills were stripped naked by Maria’s malicious winds, leaving the trees without leaves and fruit, their bare branches contorted in painful postures. Houses that withstood tropical rain and wind for decades were blown off their foundations and destroyed by toppled vegetation. Twisted metal roofs landed in creeks all over the once-lush region.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Vice President Mike Pence This Past Summer, NBC News, Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle, and Dafna Linzer, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time. The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said. Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a ‘moron,’ after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident. In an unscheduled statement to reporters Wednesday morning, Tillerson directly addressed that version of events, saying, ‘I have never considered leaving this post.’ He praised Trump’s foreign policy agenda, saying he was part of a team to ‘make America great again.’ But he did not deny calling the president a ‘moron,’ declining to address that remark directly and saying, ‘I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.'” See also, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s News Conference Only Highlights Strains With Trump, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Long-simmering tension within President Trump’s national security team spilled into public view on Wednesday as Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson took the extraordinary step of calling a news conference to affirm his support for Mr. Trump, despite what associates describe as his deep frustration with the president and talk of resignation. Mr. Tillerson praised Mr. Trump but did not deny a report that he once referred to the president as a ‘moron.’ Mr. Trump welcomed Mr. Tillerson’s statement of support and declared ‘total confidence’ in his secretary of state. If Mr. Tillerson had hoped to douse questions about how long he would stay, he instead further fueled a debate about his future. Although he insisted he had never considered resigning, several people close to Mr. Tillerson said he has had to be talked out of drafting a letter of resignation on more than one occasion by his closest allies, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff. And they said he has regularly expressed astonishment at how little Mr. Trump understands the basics of foreign policy.” See also, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sure made it sound like he called Trump a ‘moron,’ The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Wednesday afternoon offered the denial that Tillerson wouldn’t. ‘The secretary does not use that type of language,’ she said. ‘The secretary did not use that type of language to speak about the president of the United States.’ Asked whether she was saying Tillerson never called Trump a ‘moron,’ Nauert said, ‘He did not say that, yeah.’ NBC is not backing off its report, and CNN has now also confirmed Tillerson called Trump a ‘moron.'” See also, What Was Behind Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Pro-Trump News Conference? The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Early Wednesday morning, NBC News was up with a big story: the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, came close to resigning this summer, it said, and he had to be talked out of it by Vice-President Mike Pence. Citing three unnamed sources, the report also said that, on July 20th, after a meeting at the Pentagon in which Donald Trump and his advisers discussed military options in Afghanistan, Tillerson referred to the President as a ‘moron.’ Within hours, Tillerson was standing at a lectern, addressing reporters. This in itself was unusual. In keeping with his status as the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, a hidebound business empire that traces its roots to John D. Rockefeller, Tillerson has generally adopted a dismissive attitude toward reporters. Usually, he barely tells them where in the world he is going…. Tillerson didn’t explicitly refer to the NBC News report [about referring to Trump as a ‘moron’], however, so after he had finished reading his statement, a reporter asked him to do so. ‘I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,’ Tillerson replied…. Parts of the media quickly leapt on that response as a non-denial. Within minutes, the Daily Beast was running the headline ‘Rex Tillerson Will Neither Quit Nor Deny He Called Trump A Moron.’ Another headline, at the Washington Post’s Fix column, said, ‘Rex Tillerson might as well have just admitted he called Trump a “moron.”‘ On MSNBC, meanwhile, Stephanie Ruhle, one of the NBC News reporters responsible for the scoop, informed viewers, ‘My source didn’t just say that he called him a moron. He said an “effing moron.”‘… Since taking office, he has spent far too much time on his personal crusade to downsize the State Department, and too little time surrounding himself with experienced diplomats and foreign-policy specialists…. [Senator] Bob Corker [R-Tenn], the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke for many people in Washington on Wednesday when he said, ‘I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people who help separate our country from chaos . . . . I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.'”

The Trump administration has already been rolling back gun regulations, The Washington Post, Beth Reinhard and Sari Horwitz, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “Donald Trump campaigned as a fierce defender of the Second Amendment and the favored candidate of the National Rifle Association, vowing to undo any actions by President Barack Obama on gun control. But when Trump nixed one of Obama’s most significant efforts to expand background checks on prospective gun buyers, he did so without fanfare. The Feb. 28 bill signing, which blocked the Social Security Administration from reporting mentally impaired recipients to a national background-check database, earned just a brief mention at the end of a White House advisory that contained no reference to firearms. Reporters ushered into the Oval Office that day heard Trump extol two other bills encouraging women to pursue careers in science. Before Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, activists on both sides of the gun debate were focused on high-stakes legislation that would make it easier to buy gun silencers and to carry concealed weapons across state lines. That legislation has now stalled. But, with less public attention, the Trump administration has eased some gun regulations in recent months. Among them: The Army Corps of Engineers has filed notice in a court case that it is reconsidering a ban on carrying firearms on its land; the Justice Department narrowed its definition of fugitives barred from purchasing weapons; and the Interior Department lifted a federal ban on hunting with lead ammunition in national parks.” See also, Mass shootings: How U.S. gun culture compares with the rest of the world, The Washington Post, Darla Cameron and Samuel Granados, Wednesday, 4 October 2017.

In 1898, White Supremacists Killed 60+ African Americans in One of the Deadliest Mass Shootings in the U.S., Democracy Now! Amy Goodman, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “The Las Vegas attack on Sunday has been called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Bishop William Barber joins us in studio for an extended interview to discuss another, less known mass attack: the infamous Wilmington massacre of 1898, when white supremacists seized armed control of the North Carolina town and killed at least 60 African-American residents, drove hundreds more out of town, burned down the local African-American newspaper and installed a former Confederate officer as the new mayor. Barber also discusses gun violence and violent policies in the aftermath of the Las Vegas attack.”

Fox News’s clueless coverage of the Las Vegas shooting was perfect fodder for Trevor Noah, The Washington Post, Erik Wemple, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “A comic seeking good material to pan Fox News coverage need look no further than its monumentally dumb morning program, ‘Fox & Friends.’ So it’s no wonder that Trevor Noah of ‘The Daily Show’ ran a clip of Brian Kilmeade, one of the ‘Fox & Friends’ co-hosts, saying the following about Las Vegas massacre propagator Stephen Paddock: ‘Bin Laden — we knew who to hate. You saw Sandy Hook? We knew that mutant living in his basement. We don’t even know enough about him to hate him yet,’ said Kilmeade. With the softball launched right at him, Noah swung for the fences: ‘That is so true. How do you hate someone who’s killed 59 people? Because he’s not Muslim. He wasn’t known to be mentally ill, he doesn’t kneel for the anthem, he’s just a rich white guy who shot people at a country music concert. How do you hate him? There’s nothing to hate.'”

Interior Department whistleblower Joel Clement resigns, calling Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s leadership a failure, The Washington Post, Darryl Fears, Wednesday, 4 October 2017: “An Interior Department executive turned whistleblower who claimed the Trump administration retaliated against him for publicly disclosing how climate change affects Alaska Native communities resigned Wednesday. Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert, was removed from his job by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shortly after the disclosure and reassigned to an accounting position for which he has no experience. Clement was among dozens of senior executive service personnel who were quickly, and perhaps unlawfully, reassigned in June, but he was the only person who spoke out. Interior’s inspector general is probing the reassignments to determine whether the process was legal. By law, executives are to be given ample notice of a job switch. Many of those reassigned say they were given no notice, according to attorneys who are representing some of the employees. The inspector general said Clement is on the list of employees being contacted, though Clement and his lawyer say that hasn’t happened in the more than two months since the evaluation launched…. Keeping a job supervising accountants when they were far more experienced was ‘cheating the taxpayers,’ Clement said. He was sent to training clinics and was treated well by his new colleagues, but, ‘I would feel just guilty stringing them along . . . as they tried to turn me into an audit specialist.’ Rather than accept a job and be ‘tucked in a corner,’ Clement vowed to work instead toward Zinke’s ouster. ‘Keeping my voice is more important than keeping my job,’ he said. ‘I have not found another job yet. I have vast contacts inside the agency and outside. I do believe I can be a strong voice to resisting what the Zinke team is doing.'”


Thursday, 5 October 2017, Day 259:


Trump is expected to announce next week that he will ‘decertify’ the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will ‘decertify’ the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on the White House strategy said Thursday. The move would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran, potentially derailing a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities reached in 2015 with the United States and five other nations. But Trump would hold off on recommending that Congress reimpose sanctions, which would constitute a clearer break from the pact, according to four people familiar with aspects of the president’s thinking. The decision would amount to a middle ground of sorts between Trump, who has long wanted to withdraw from the agreement completely, and many congressional leaders and senior diplomatic, military and national security advisers, who say the deal is worth preserving with changes if possible. This week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed qualified support for the deal during congressional testimony. And Mattis suggested he did not believe taking the step to decertify would scuttle the agreement.” See also, Trump Is Expected to Overrule His Top National Security Advisers and Decline to Certify the Iran Nuclear Agreement, The New York Times, Mark Landler and David E. Sanger, Thursday, 5 October 2017.

At a gathering of military leaders, Trump says ‘Maybe this is the calm before the storm,’ The Hill, Brandon Carter, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “At an event with military leaders at the White House Thursday, President Trump cryptically told reporters that the gathering was ‘the calm before the storm.’ As Trump and first lady Melania Trump gathered for a photo with the military leaders and their spouses, Trump pointed around the room and asked the assembled reporters, ‘You guys know what this represents?’ ‘Tell us,’ one reporter said. ‘Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,’ Trump replied, according to pool reports. Another reporter asked Trump if the ‘storm’ was Iran or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ‘We have the world’s greatest military people,’ Trump said. A third reporter again asked Trump what the ‘storm’ was, to which Trump replied, ‘You’ll find out.'” See also, Trump Calls Meeting With Military Leaders ‘the Calm Before the Storm,’ The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Mark Landler, published on Friday, 6 October 2017.

In Shift, Attorney General Jeff Sessions Ordered the Justice Department to Take the Position in Court Cases That Transgender People Are Not Protected by a Civil Rights Law That Bans Workplace Discrimination Based on Sex, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to take the position in court cases that transgender people are not protected by a civil rights law that bans workplace discrimination based on sex. The move was the Trump administration’s latest contraction of the Obama-era approach to civil rights enforcement. The dispute centers on how to interpret employment protections based on ‘sex’ in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In December 2014, the attorney general at the time, Eric H. Holder Jr., ordered the Justice Department to view ‘sex’ as encompassing gender identity, extending protections to transgender people. But in a two-page memo to all United States attorneys and other top officials, Mr. Sessions revoked Mr. Holder’s directive. The word ‘sex’ in the statute, Mr. Sessions said, means only ‘biologically male or female,’ so the Civil Rights Act does not ban ‘discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.’ He added that the department ‘will take that position in all pending and future matters,’ except in cases in which a controlling lower-court precedent dictated otherwise, in which case it would reserve the option to revisit the issue on appeal.”

House Republicans pass 2018 budget, taking a crucial step toward an ambitious tax-overhaul bill they are planning to pass without Democratic help, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “House Republicans passed crucial budget legislation Thursday, setting aside months of intraparty squabbles to set the stage for an ambitious tax-overhaul bill they are planning to pass without Democratic help. The House budget resolution includes major spending cuts demanded by the party’s conservative wing, but the party’s focus is now on passing a tax bill that could add as much as $1.5 trillion to the budget deficit. Special procedures set out in the legislation would ultimately allow Republicans to pass the bill over a potential Democratic filibuster in the Senate.” See also, House Republicans Pass Budget Blueprint, Taking Step Toward Overhaul of the Tax Code. The Blueprint Would Allow a future Tax Bill to Pass Congress Without any Democratic Votes. The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Thursday, 5 October 2017.

Here’s How Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into the Mainstream, BuzzFeed News, Joseph Bernstein, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that ‘there’s no room in American society’ for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK. But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website. During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right [white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK]— the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be ‘the platform for the alt-right.’… These new emails and documents … clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream.”

The National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) Supports New Rules on ‘Bump Stock’ Devices, The New York Times, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “The National Rifle Association on Thursday endorsed tighter restrictions on devices that allow a rifle to fire bullets as fast as a machine gun — a rare, if small, step for a group that for years has vehemently opposed any new gun controls. Twelve of the rifles the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, had in a high-rise hotel suite when he opened fire on a crowd on Sunday were outfitted with ‘bump stocks,’ devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which may explain how he was able to shoot so quickly, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has ruled that bump stocks do not violate laws that tightly limit ownership of machine guns, and some lawmakers have called for them to be banned. The bureau should revisit the issue and ‘immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law,’ the N.R.A. said in a statement released Thursday. ‘The N.R.A. believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.'”

How to Reduce Mass Shooting Deaths? Experts Say These Gun Laws Could Help, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz and Quoctrung Bui, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “Whenever a mass shooting shocks America, people ask if tighter gun-control measures could have prevented the slaughter. Gun violence researchers say that no law can eliminate the risk of mass shootings, which are unpredictable and represent a small minority of gun homicides over all. But there are a handful of policies that could reduce the likelihood of such events, or reduce the number of people killed when such shootings do occur. And several of them have strong public support. These are findings from surveys we conducted a year ago about the recurring problem of gun violence in the United States. We asked dozens of researchers in criminology, law and public health to assess a range of policies often proposed to prevent gun deaths. We also conducted a national poll to measure public support for the same set of measures.”

As the Affordable Care Act enrollment period nears, the Trump administration keeps cutting federal support for the law, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application. Trump’s message in late August was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to changes sought by conservative states as part of a broader campaign by his administration to undermine the 2010 health-care law. In addition to trying to cut funding for the ACA, the Trump administration also is hampering state efforts to control premiums. In the case of Iowa, that involved a highly unusual intervention by the president himself. And with the fifth enrollment season set to begin Nov. 1, advocates say the Health and Human Services Department has done more to suppress the number of people signing up than to boost it. HHS has slashed grants to groups that help consumers get insurance coverage, for example. It also has cut the enrollment period in half, reduced the advertising budget by 90 percent and announced an outage schedule that would make the website less available than last year. The White House also has yet to commit to funding the cost-sharing reductions that help about 7 million lower-income Americans afford out-of-pocket expenses on their ACA health plans. Trump has regularly threatened to block them and, according to an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly, officials are considering action to end the payments in November. The uncertainty has driven premium prices much higher for 2018.”

Trump Nominates Andrew R. Wheeler, a Coal Lobbyist, to Be No. 2 at the Environmental Protection Agency, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “President Trump on Thursday nominated Andrew R. Wheeler, a coal lobbyist with links to outspoken deniers of established science on climate change, to help lead the Environmental Protection Agency. In announcing Mr. Wheeler, a former aide to Senator James M. Inhofe, to be deputy administrator of the agency, the White House tapped an experienced legislative hand reviled by environmental activists but hailed by industry as having the know-how to dismantle Obama-era fossil fuel regulations. The nomination comes at a critical moment for the E.P.A. as the agency prepares to repeal a sweeping climate change regulation known as the Clean Power Plan. It would also fill a key high-level position at the agency, where many top offices remain vacant. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Wheeler would become the most powerful person at the agency behind its administrator, Scott Pruitt.”

Notes from a closed meeting show how the Interior Department aims to weaken environmental laws, The Washington Post, Darryl Fears, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “Near the end of September, officials at the Interior Department bureau that oversees hundreds of millions of acres of public land hosted a conference with state, county and local government representatives to discuss ways to loosen environmental rules. Bureau of Land Management hosts told attendees and those joining the invitation-only meeting remotely that they wanted to streamline a powerful law that protects wildlife and public land, the National Environmental Policy Act. They asked how its rules could be smoothed out to limit delays that slow public and corporate development so that the federal government, as President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have said, can be a better partner rather than a hindrance. The meeting covered ways to fulfill the president’s executive order to remove impediments to new infrastructure, mining and other development on federal land. At least two groups not on the invitation list obtained the call-in information for the meeting and secretly sat in and took notes, which one group provided to The Washington Post. During the Sept. 21 webinar, the BLM and its guests discussed ways to water down NEPA and more. They talked about working around environmental analyses that determine whether infrastructure projects harm ecosystems, about stripping conservation groups of the power to sue the BLM if it wrongly approves a project and about limiting the number of federal Freedom of Information Act requests that allow the public to scrutinize how decisions were made.”

Interior Department rejects 25 endangered species petitions, including several linked to climate change, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “The federal Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday declined 25 separate petitions to list a variety of species as endangered or threatened, including the high-profile Pacific walrus, which is contending with sharp climate change trends in the Arctic where it spends much of its life atop floes of floating sea ice.”

Trump suggests Senate Intelligence Committee investigate media, The Washington Post, Jenna Johnson, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “President Trump suggested Thursday that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate media companies that he believes are reporting information that is ‘just made up.’ ‘Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!’ the president tweeted from his personal account early Thursday. The president’s tweet comes one day after leaders of the committee announced that their findings confirm the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. They also warned that Russian operatives may try to continue to interfere in future elections, including the midterms next year and the 2020 presidential election.”

Trump Asks the Supreme Court to Dismiss Travel Ban Cases, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “The Trump administration urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to dismiss two cases challenging its revised travel ban, issued in March, saying they are moot in light of recent developments. But the plaintiffs urged the justices to decide the cases notwithstanding recent changes in the scope and duration of the travel restrictions. The court had been set to hear arguments in the case on Oct. 10. But the justices removed the case from the argument calendar last month after the administration announced in a presidential proclamation that it would replace temporary travel restrictions issued in March that had limited travel from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. The new restrictions, which are set to take effect on Oct. 18, apply in various ways to nine countries. Most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the United States, while citizens of Iraq and some groups of people in Venezuela will face restrictions or heightened scrutiny.”

Exclusive: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team met with Russia dossier author Christopher SteeleCNN, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupec, and Paela Brown, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter. Information from Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, could help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws. CNN has learned that the FBI and the US intelligence community last year took the Steele dossier more seriously than the agencies have publicly acknowledged. James Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, said in a January 2017 statement that the intelligence community had ‘not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.’ The intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, and the FBI took Steele’s research seriously enough that they kept it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in the election in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated and how.”

The NFL and the First Amendment: A Guide to the Debate, The Washington Post, Nicole Lewis, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “President Trump’s remarks on NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem stoked a debate over football player’s right to protest during a game. Many Republican lawmakers have responded to Trump’s comments, framing the issue as a matter of free speech and respect of military veterans. On Sept. 23, Trump doubled down on his initial comments in a series of tweets, reiterating his initial assertion that players who protest during the national anthem should be fired. The ensuing controversy, including remarks by Republican leaders, has raised questions about the player’s right to protest under the First Amendment. [This article] is a guide to understanding where the First Amendment applies.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Has Flown on Military Aircraft Seven Times Since March at a Cost of more Than $800,000 to U.S. Taxpayers, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times since March at a cost of more than $800,000, including a $15,000 round-trip flight to New York to meet with President Trump at Trump Tower, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General. The inquiry into Mr. Mnuchin’s air travel, prompted by an Instagram posting by his wife, found he broke no laws in his use of military aircraft but lamented the loose justification provided for such costly flights. ‘What is of concern is a disconnect between the standard of proof called for”’by the Office of Management and Budget ‘and the actual amount of proof provided by Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests,’ the inspector general wrote.”

Randal Quarles, a Proponent of Less Regulation, Is Confirmed by the Senate as Federal Reserve Governor, The New York Times, Binyamin Appelbaum, Thursday, 5 October 2017: “The Senate on Thursday confirmed Randal K. Quarles as the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman for supervision, an important victory for the Trump administration in its campaign to ease some financial regulations imposed after the 2008 financial crisis.”