Trump, Week 41: Friday, 27 October – Thursday, 2 November 2017 (Days 281-287)


Photo by Robert Del Tredici


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


Friday, 27 October 2017, Day 201:


Trump says sexual harassment claims against him are ‘fake news,’ but there are corroborators, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Friday, 27 October 2017: “16 women have accused Trump of sexually harassing them. While the president dismisses this as ‘fake news,’ the problem for the White House is that some of these women have produced witnesses who say they heard about the incident at the time — long before Trump made his political aspirations known. Such contemporaneous accounts are essential to establishing the credibility of the allegation because they reduce the chances that a person is making up a story for political purposes. In the case of sexual allegations, such accounts can help bolster the credibility of the ‘she said’ side of the equation. Often, a sexual assault will happen behind closed doors. The contemporary corroborators can explain what they heard at the time and whether the story being told now is consistent with how the story was told years earlier. This does not necessarily mean the allegation is true, but it does give journalistic organizations more confidence to report on the allegation.” See also, Why Harvey Weinstein is disgraced but Donald Trump is president, Vox, Anna North and Ezra Klein, published (and included in this daily chronicle) on Thursday, 26 October 2017.

The first charges are filed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, CNN, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, and Shimon Prokupecz, Friday, 27 October 2017: “A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter. The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are…. Mueller was appointed in May to lead the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Under the regulations governing special counsel investigations, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has oversight over the Russia investigation, would have been made aware of any charges before they were taken before the grand jury for approval, according to people familiar with the matter.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Sends a Message: He’s Deadly Serious, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, published on Saturday, 28 October 2017: “On Friday night, CNN reported that a grand jury in Washington, D.C., has approved the first charges arising from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign and the Russian government. Citing ‘sources briefed on the matter,’ the network said that a judge had ordered the charges kept under seal, but that at least one arrest could take place as early as Monday. Details were scant. The CNN report didn’t specify what the charges were or whom they had been brought against. But the news created an immediate furor, as other news organizations sought to follow up the story, and people on television and social media began speculating about the nature of the charges. Shortly before midnight, the Wall Street Journal confirmed CNN’s scoop, without providing any additional details.” See also, CNN broke news in the Russia probe. Roger Stone, one of Trump’s former campaign advisers and a longtime Republican operative, was suspended from Twitter after tweeting insults and attacks against CNN anchor Don Lemon and New York Times columnist Charles Blow on 27 October, Avi Selk, published on Sunday, 29 October 2017.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s Schedule Shows Focus on Religious and Nontraditional Charter Schools at the Expense of Public Schools, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Friday, 27 October 2017: “For years, Betsy DeVos traveled the country — and opened her checkbook — as she worked as a conservative advocate to promote the expansion of voucher programs that allow parents to use taxpayer funds to send their children to private and religious schools. A detailed look at the first six months of Ms. DeVos’s tenure as the secretary of education — based on a 326-page calendar tracking her daily meetings — demonstrates that she continues to focus on those programs as well as on charter schools. Her calendar is sprinkled with meetings with religious leaders, leading national advocates of vouchers and charter schools, and players involved in challenging state laws that limit the distribution of government funds to support religious or alternative schools…. [T]he emphasis, a review of the calendar shows, is on the same kinds of alternatives that Ms. DeVos promoted when she was a conservative philanthropist donating money to groups like Alliance for School Choice and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which advocate school choice.” See also, A quarter of the schools Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has visited are private, even though such schools educate just one-tenth of the nation’s schoolchildren, The Washington Post, Moriah Balingit, Friday, 27 October 2017. See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos offers buyouts to shrink Education Department workforce, The Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Friday, 27 October 2017: “The U.S. Department of Education on Friday informed staff in the Office of Federal Student Aid, the arm of the agency that handles grants and loans to college students, that buyouts are being offered to shrink the division. In a memo obtained by The Washington Post, the department said it received approval from the Office of Personnel Management to offer early retirement and voluntary separation incentive payments. The offer, according to the memo, does not extend to all positions. Eligible employees will receive an email from human resources by Wednesday.”

Continue reading Week 41, Friday, 27 October-Thursday, 2 November 2017:

Trump’s Declaration of a Public Health Emergency on Thursday Unlocks Roughly Two Cents for Each Opioid Addict, The Intercept, David Dayen, Friday, 27 October 2017: “With nearly 2.6 million Americans addicted to prescription opioid painkillers or heroin, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency on Thursday, unlocking roughly two cents per person in new funding for the effort. Trump’s official declaration, initially promised on August 10, allows the executive branch to dip into the Public Health Emergency Fund. This fund holds only $57,000, as The Intercept reported in August. No other funding was immediately made available by the declaration. Other methods of declaring an emergency could have opened up significantly more funding. A national emergency similar to what gets declared during a natural disaster would have uncorked funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, though that request would have had to compete with money for relief in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. And a public health emergency under the Stafford Act would also unlock the Disaster Relief Fund. But Trump’s order only encompasses the Public Health Services Act, and its $57,000 of available emergency cash. That will get you about 12 doses of the auto-injector Evzio, which delivers the overdose-reversing drug naloxone for around $4,500 per pop…. In his speech, Trump did announce one costly initiative alongside the declaration – an ad campaign, similar to Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ public service announcements in the 1980s. Those did introduce America to how a brain on drugs is similar to a fried egg, but did next to nothing to combat drug use.”

Is this who we are? Immigration officials outdid themselves this week when they took into custody a 10-year -old girl with cerebral palsy who had just undergone emergency surgery, The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Friday, 27 October 2017: “Immigration officials outdid themselves this week when they took into custody a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who had just undergone emergency surgery. Is this what President Trump had in mind when he promised that federal enforcement resources would be focused on the ‘bad hombres’? Rosa Maria Hernandez, whose developmental delays put her on a mental par with a 4- or 5-year-old, faces deportation in a case that calls into question the judgment — not to mention humanity — of federal agents. It also should prompt reassessment of the change in policy from that of the Obama administration, which focused enforcement on recent arrivals and those with serious criminal records, to one in which anyone — anywhere — apparently is fair game.”

Talking Points Taken to Trump Tower Meeting With Top Trump Campaign Officials by Natalia V. Veselnitskaya Were Shared With Kremlin, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew E. Kramer, Friday, 27 October 2017: “Natalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia ‘hysteria.’ But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she [took] with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim. The coordination between the Trump Tower visitor and the Russian prosecutor general undercuts Ms. Veselnitskaya’s account that she was a purely independent actor when she sat down with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, then the Trump campaign chairman. It also suggests that emails from an intermediary to the younger Mr. Trump promising that Ms. Veselnitskaya would arrive with information from Russian prosecutors were rooted at least partly in fact — not mere ‘puffery,’ as the president’s son later said. In the past week, Ms. Veselnitskaya’s allegations — that major Democratic donors were guilty of financial fraud and tax evasion — have been embraced at the highest levels of the Russian government. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia repeated her charges at length last week at an annual conference of Western academics. A state-run television network recently made them the subject of two special reports, featuring interviews with Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Chaika.”

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) cites ‘significant concerns’ over Whitefish Energy deal in Puerto Rico, The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Friday, 27 October 2017: “The federal emergency agency raised more questions Friday over a $300 million contract given to a small Montana energy firm to help repair Puerto Rico’s hurricane-battered electrical grid, noting ‘significant concerns’ on how the deal was awarded. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a statement that it is looking into whether the contract between Whitefish Energy and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, ‘followed applicable regulations to ensure that federal money is properly spent.’ After an initial review, FEMA ‘has significant concerns over how PREPA procured this contract and has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable,’ according to the statement. FEMA also noted it did not give any preliminary approval for the deal, which was reached without competitive bidding. The White House, meanwhile, sought to distance itself from the issue. White House spokesman Raj Shah said the deal with Whitefish was ‘made exclusively’ by PREPA.”

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Are Working on a ‘Comprehensive Plan’ for Puerto Rico, The Intercept, Aida Chávez, Friday, 27 October 2017: “Sanders is working on a ‘comprehensive plan that includes debt forgiveness’ for Puerto Rico, an effort that will be informed by his trip to the island on Friday, Sanders told The Intercept. Sanders’s plan is being developed in conjunction with other members of the progressive flank of the Senate Democratic caucus. The plan is still in its early stages, but Democratic aides said that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is one of the lawmakers involved in the informal talks with Sanders, hoping to lay down a marker as to where the party should be on the issue of aid, debt relief, and governance on the island. Sanders and Warren opposed the 2016 debt deal Congress reached on Puerto Rico, which installed an oversight board and stripped the island of power over its budget. But it also created a legal bankruptcy structure that has been far less favorable to hedge funds than investors had hoped, giving leaders on the island hope that a major debt write-down could be in the offing. The devastation from Hurricane Maria only strengthens the case for relief, giving Sanders a new opening to push the case.”

U.S. Department of Treasury Issued an 18-Page Report on Monday Citing Koch-Funded Research Critiquing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Proposed Arbitration Rule, International Business Times, Alex Kotch, Friday, 27 October 2017: “In a rare instance of one federal agency publicly attacking another, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued an 18-page report Monday excoriating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed arbitration rule, which would prevent financial institutions from preventing class action lawsuits from customers via consumer contracts. In doing so, the department cited a paper co-authored by a George Mason University law professor who works for several campus centers heavily funded by the billionaire industrialist, free-market evangelist and far-right political donor Charles Koch. At the root of the social change strategy of Koch and his younger brother David, who run a massive, private energy and materials conglomerate, is generously funding professors and programs that align with their libertarian beliefs and their business interests. Koch family foundations, primarily the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), have donated over $200 million to hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities over the last several decades, usually targeted at free-market centers and programs. Since the 1970s, the Kochs’ have used academia to shape young minds and put out scholarly works backing their beliefs; funded think tanks to repackage this work into easily digestible policy proposals; and financed advocacy groups to popularize the proposals and pressure lawmakers to adopt them. In many ways, the Koch strategy has been successful. More and more often, research from these Koch-backed programs makes its way into federal policymaking. Just one day after Treasury’s report was released, the Senate narrowly voted to strike down the rule, which took five years to create and would have gone into effect in 2018. Vice President Mike Pence, a close Koch ally, cast the deciding vote to break a Senate deadlock.”

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, first paid Fusion GPS for research on Trump, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz, and Adam Entous, Friday, 27 October 2017: “A conservative publication said Friday it paid a Washington research firm to start probing Donald Trump’s background — a move that set in motion a chain of events leading to the explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump associates and Russia. In a statement, the Washington Free Beacon said it retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Two people familiar with billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer said he provides financial support to the publication. A spokesman for Singer’s firm, Elliott Management, did not respond to requests seeking comment.”

Trump Pushed for a Gag Order to Be Lifted on a Federal Informant in an Investigation Into Russia’s Attempts to Gain a Foothold in the United States’ Uranium Industry During the Obama Administration, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 27 October 2017: “The White House acknowledged Friday that President Trump pushed for a gag order on an informant to be lifted in a federal investigation into Russia’s attempts to gain a foothold in the United States’ uranium industry during the Obama administration. The admission raised questions about whether Mr. Trump, eager to turn the tables on multiple investigations into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election, violated an unwritten Justice Department rule against White House involvement in criminal investigations. It came three days after House Republicans said they were opening an inquiry into the Obama administration’s approval of a 2010 agreement that allowed Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy agency, to acquire Uranium One, which owned access to much of the uranium in the United States. The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it would allow the informant to speak to Congress, responding to a request from Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee…. The move prompted criticism from congressional Democrats, including Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, who said Mr. Trump’s push to release the informant from the confidentiality agreement should be a ‘key part’ of the new investigation. It also drew fire from some legal experts who said that it broke with longstanding norms meant to insulate the Justice Department from presidential interference in criminal matters, particularly those with a political dimension.” See also, Unpacking Uranium One: Hype and Law, Lawfare, Paul Rosenzweig, Friday, 27 October 2017: “The latest instance of ‘what-aboutism’ is the House Republican decision to open an investigation of the Uranium One transaction—the allegation that Hillary Clinton transferred control of 20% of America’s uranium mining output to a Russian company, in exchange for substantial contributions to the Clinton Foundation from the executives of that same Russian company. Perhaps fearing future revelations of Trump’s closeness to Russia, the evident purpose of the investigation is to establish a ‘Hillary too’ counterpoint. Based on what is currently in the public record, little, if anything about the allegation is plausible. In this post, I want to summarize the legal context and known facts regarding the transfer and put the allegations of impropriety in context. (I focus exclusively on the transfer and the U.S. government’s approval of it. I am not, in this post, considering the evidence—such as it is—of donations to the Clinton Foundation. My reasoning is simple: if there is no ‘quo’ to be given, the question of a ‘quid’ is moot.)”


Saturday, 28 October 2017, Day 282:


As Special Counsel Robert Mueller Pushes Ahead, Trump Distracts and Once Again Spreads Lies to Confuse the Public About Russian Interference in the 2016 Election and About Potential Collusion Between His Campaign and Russian Actors, The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza, Saturday 28 October 2017: “On Friday, while prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, obtained their first grand-jury indictments in their investigation of potential collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia, the President of the United States was busy gaslighting. Trump tweeted, of course, that ‘It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!’ The President was referring to an episode that took place in 2010 whereby the Obama Administration gave a Russian firm permission to buy a Canadian company that had the rights to mine a great deal of uranium in the U.S. The allegation is that, because Bill Clinton took some money from Russian interests, Hillary Clinton, in exchange, approved the uranium deal. Assume for a moment that Russian influence did affect the Obama Administration’s decision. This is not out of the realm of possibility, and the Obama Justice Department was reportedly looking into Russian influence in the uranium markets. But the vast majority of examinations by journalists of the uranium deal have found no sign of wrongdoing. I won’t rehash all the details of the bureaucratic process that led to the deal being approved, but it required the support of multiple government agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a body not controlled by Hillary Clinton. If you want the full explanation for why this allegation is false, I highly recommend this detailed account from, which concludes, ‘Donald Trump falsely accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of giving away U.S. uranium rights to the Russians and claimed—without evidence—that it was done in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation.’ What’s more important is that Trump is once again spreading lies to confuse the public about the Russian attack on American democracy last year. There are some obvious reasons why Trump would make this untruthful claim. The first is political. Trump’s typical response to any allegation of wrongdoing is to accuse his accuser of the same crime. Perhaps the most famous moment of the Presidential debates last year was Trump’s response when Hillary Clinton accused him of being Vladimir Putin’s puppet. ‘No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet,’ he muttered into his microphone. He has been trying to make that case ever since…. There is no ambiguity about Russia’s preference in the election, and the only reason it needs to be reiterated is that Trump regularly lies about this basic fact…. The second, related, reason for Trump to make this false allegation is that he needs some Democratic ‘scandal’ for his supporters on the Hill and in the media to feast on as the details of the Mueller probe become more problematic for his Administration. And what is more alarming than Trump’s lies about this issue is his ability to get top Republicans and influential conservative media institutions to rally around the idea that the Clinton uranium deal is the real collusion story Americans should care about. Congressional Republicans have announced hearings on the matter and Fox News is devoting a large quantity of its coverage to the issue. The frightening aspect of this is that Trump is able to confuse enough supporters into seeing the uranium episode as more important than the documented history of a massive Russian interference campaign in the election and the still unanswered questions about potential collusion between his campaign and Russian actors.”

Bernie Sanders, in Puerto Rico, Calls for Nullification of the Whitefish Contract, The Intercept, Aida Chávez, Saturday, 28 October 2017: “Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Friday demanded Congress do everything in its power to nullify a $300 million rebuilding contract between Puerto Rico and Whitefish Energy Holdings, a two-person Montana energy company with little experience in large-scale grid repair. ‘From everything that I have seen, I think it’s an outrage,’ Sanders said after a press conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. ‘…[T]he idea that the government or the appropriate authority did not look for mutual aid and call up utility companies in the United States, which is what is normally done, surprises me.’ Sanders, who’s a member of both the Senate Energy and Environment and Public Works Committees, said that Congress ‘sure can hold hearings and we sure can do everything that we can’ to push to nullify the contract.”

North Korea Rouses Neighbors in South Korea and Japan to Reconsider Nuclear Weapons, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Choe Sang-Hun, and Motoko Rich, Saturday, 28 October 2017: “As North Korea races to build a weapon that for the first time could threaten American cities, its neighbors are debating whether they need their own nuclear arsenals. The North’s rapidly advancing capabilities have scrambled military calculations across the region, and doubts are growing the United States will be able to keep the atomic genie in the bottle. For the first time in recent memory, there is a daily argument raging in both South Korea and Japan — sometimes in public, more often in private — about the nuclear option, driven by worry that the United States might hesitate to defend the countries if doing so might provoke a missile launched from the North at Los Angeles or Washington. In South Korea, polls show 60 percent of the population favors building nuclear weapons. And nearly 70 percent want the United States to reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use, which were withdrawn a quarter-century ago. There is very little public support for nuclear arms in Japan, the only nation ever to suffer a nuclear attack, but many experts believe that could reverse quickly if North and South Korea both had arsenals.”


Sunday, 29 October 2017, Day 284:


Frustrated with the Russia investigation, Trump demands Democrats and Hillary Clinton face more scrutiny, The Washington Post, Jenna Johnson, Sunday, 29 October 2017: “On Sunday morning, President Trump expressed frustration that his campaign is under investigation over possible ties to Russia’s plot to influence the 2016 election but that his former opponent Hillary Clinton is not facing the same level of scrutiny. In four tweets sent over 24 minutes, Trump wrote: ‘Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!’ The tweets came as CNN has continued to report that on Friday a federal grand jury in Washington approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, citing ‘sources briefed on the matter.’ The charges are sealed, and it’s unclear who could be charged and for what.” See also, Trump Tries to Shift Focus as First Charges Reportedly Loom in Russia Case, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sunday, 29 October 2017.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has called for the immediate cancellation of a $300 million contract with Montana-based Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny company based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, Arelis R. Hernández, and Aaron C. Davis, Sunday, 29 October 2017: “Puerto Rico’s electric company moved Sunday to cancel a $300 million contract with a small Montana firm for repairs to the territory’s hurricane-ravaged electrical grid, saying controversy surrounding the agreement was distracting from the effort to restore power. The contract with Whitefish Energy — a firm that had just two employees the day the storm hit — had drawn blistering criticism from members of Congress for days. And on Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has a large role in determining government reimbursements, said it had ‘significant concerns’ about how the contract was secured.”


Monday, 30 October 2017, Day 284:


Former Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Adviser, Rick Gates, and Former Trump Foreign Policy Adviser, George Papadopoulos Charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as Prosecutors Reveal New Campaign Ties With Russia, The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt, and Matthew Rosenberg, Monday, 30 October 2017: “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, announced charges on Monday against three advisers to President Trump’s campaign and laid out the most explicit evidence to date that his campaign was eager to coordinate with the Russian government to damage his rival, Hillary Clinton. The former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, surrendered to the F.B.I. and pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered millions of dollars through overseas shell companies — using the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antique rugs and expensive clothes. Rick Gates, Mr. Manafort’s longtime associate as well as a campaign adviser, was also charged and turned himself in. But information that could prove most politically damaging to Mr. Trump came an hour later, when Mr. Mueller announced that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, had pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and was cooperating with investigators. In court documents released on Monday, federal investigators said they suspected that Russian intelligence services had used intermediaries to contact Mr. Papadopoulos to gain influence with the campaign, offering ‘dirt’ on Mrs. Clinton in April 2016 in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’ Mr. Papadopoulos secretly pleaded guilty weeks ago to lying to the F.B.I. about those contacts and has been cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors for months.” See also, Read the Charges Against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, The New York Times, Monday, 30 October 2017. See also, Five Key Points From the Indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick GatesThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Monday, 30 October 2017. See also, Three former Trump campaign officials (Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos) charged by special counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig, and Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 30 October 2017. See also, The 12-count Manafort and Gates indictment, annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 30 October 2017. See also, Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in Russia Probe, The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber, Monday, 30 October 2017.

What It Means: The Indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 30 October 2017: “In the first charges brought by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, in his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul J. Manafort Jr. and his business partner, Rick Gates, have been indicted. Separately, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about meetings in March and April 2016 with a Russian agent who promised ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. The charges against Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates center on a series of criminal allegations related to their lobbying for a pro-Russia government of Ukraine, not to Mr. Trump or the campaign. It is widely believed that Mr. Mueller is hoping to pressure Mr. Manafort into providing information about the central subject of his investigation. [In this article] are excerpts from the indictment followed by analysis by New York Times reporters. [The article will be updated as the team] goes through the legal documents.”

Foreign Policy Adviser to the Trump Campaign, George Papadopoulos, Was Told by a Professor With Close Ties to the Russian Government That Moscow Had ‘Dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the Form of ‘Thousands of Emails,’ The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 30 October 2017: “A professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’ according to court documents unsealed Monday. The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation. The plea represents the most explicit evidence that the Trump campaign was aware that the Russian government was trying to help Mr. Trump and that the campaign was eager to accept that help. As part of that effort, the Russian government hacked Democratic accounts and released a trove of embarrassing emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. The Trump campaign has repeatedly denied any inside knowledge about that…. Mr. Papadopoulos was quietly arrested at Washington Dulles Airport on July 27 and has since been cooperating with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, records show. Mr. Papadopoulos’s conversation in April raises more questions about a subsequent meeting in June at Trump Tower, where Mr. Trump’s eldest son and senior advisers met with Russians who were similarly promising damaging information on Mrs. Clinton. The documents released on Monday said that several senior campaign officials knew about some of Mr. Papadopoulos’s interactions with the Russians. The documents do not say whether he mentioned the Clinton emails to anyone.” See also, Top Trump campaign officials knew of George Papadopoulos’s outreach to Russia, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Monday, 30 October 2017: “Several weeks after Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, his national campaign co-chairman urged a foreign policy adviser to meet with Russian officials to foster ties with that country’s government. ‘Make the trip, if it is feasible,’ Sam Clovis wrote in an August email to George Papadopoulos. The email, included in court papers unsealed Monday, shows how an otherwise low-profile adviser has become a focus of the federal probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Papadopoulos was in contact with several senior Trump campaign aides about his efforts to broker a relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the court papers show. In addition to Clovis, who now serves as senior White House adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Papadopoulos wrote to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the newly released documents show. The campaign officials are not identified in court documents, but some of the emails cited by federal prosecutors match messages described in August to The Washington Post by people familiar with their contents.” See also, Highlights of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Case Against George Papadopoulos, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 30 October 2017. See also, Read the Statement of Offense Against George Papadopoulos, The New York Times, Monday, 30 October 2017. See also, Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Monday, 30 October 2017.

How We Got Here: A Timeline of Events Leading Up to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Charges Against Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos, The New York Times, Mikayla Bouchard and Emily Cochrane, Monday, 30 October 2017.

Trump says the Paul Manafort charges occurred ‘years’ before the presidential campaign, but they include 2016 and 2017, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Monday, 30 October 2017: “President Trump responded to news of his campaign chairman’s indictment on Monday with misleading and obfuscating claims. In early morning posts on Twitter, Mr. Trump claimed there was ‘NO COLLUSION’ between his 2016 campaign and Russia and dismissed as unrelated the charges against Paul J. Manafort. Instead, he and the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sought to divert attention to former President Barack Obama and the 2016 Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Seeking to distance himself from the indictment, Mr. Trump claimed that the tax schemes and money laundering that Mr. Manafort is now accused of long predated his involvement with the Trump campaign. While the charges do not mention the 2016 election, some of the alleged actions that spurred them do cover the time during which Mr. Manafort served as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman.”

Which Reactions to the Manafort Indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller Matter Most, FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon Jr., Monday, 30 October 2017: “With special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to charge President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Rick Gates, who worked with Manafort, we have entered a new phase of the controversy over whether Trump or members of his 2016 campaign team improperly colluded with Russian officials. Trump associates now understand that they could face criminal charges. And the president and his White House advisers must contend with two indictments, including one of Trump’s one-time campaign chairman, and the potential for further charges to be brought against people they are close to. Also, there is no indication that Mueller has cleared the president himself of involvement in the possible collusion — or obstruction of justice to cover up any collusion — so Trump remains to some extent under investigation. So the Mueller probe is even more serious — both as a political story and a legal one — than it was a day ago. Obviously, the most important figures in this drama are Mueller and the president, who in theory could force the dismissal of the special counsel or pardon everyone suspected of illegal activity. But aside from those two, [this article covers] some key players, legal and political, whose reactions to the indictments you should watch closely. [They are] organized … starting with the most important.”

A Lot Happened in the Russia Investigation on Monday. Here’s a Wrap-Up. The New York Times, Compiled by Hamilton Boardman, Monday, 30 October 2017.

Russian Influence on the 2016 Presidential Election Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone, The New York Times, Mike Isaac and Daisuke Wakabayashi, Monday, 30 October 2017: “Russian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times. The detailed disclosures, sent to Congress on Monday by companies whose products are among the most widely used on the internet, came before a series of congressional hearings this week into how third parties used social networks and online services to influence millions of Americans before the 2016 presidential election. The new information goes far beyond what the companies have revealed in the past and underlines the breadth of the Kremlin’s efforts to lever open divisions in the United States using American technology platforms, especially Facebook. Multiple investigations of Russian meddling have loomed over the first 10 months of the Trump presidency, with one leading to the indictments of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief, and others on Monday.” See also, Facebook, Google, and Twitter reached far more users than companies first disclosed, congressional testimony says, The Washington Post, Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Monday, 30 October 2017.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia Temporarily Blocked Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops in the Military, The New York Times, Dave Philipps, Monday, 30 October 2017: “A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a White House policy barring military service by transgender troops, ruling that it was based on ‘disapproval of transgender people generally.’ Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia found the administration’s justification for the ban, which was set to take effect in March 2018, to be suspect and likely unconstitutional. She ruled that the military’s current policy should remain in place.’There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all,’ the judge wrote in a strongly worded, 76-page ruling. ‘In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.’ Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted that the White House’s proposed policies likely violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, writing that ‘a number of factors — including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious.’ Monday’s ruling was seen as an encouraging step for supporters. It stops a plan to discharge all transgender troops, allows current transgender troops to re-enlist and permits transgender recruits to join the military starting in January.” See also, Federal judge in D.C. blocks part of Trump’s transgender military ban, The Washington Post, Justin Jouvenal, Monday, 30 October 2017.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly refuses to apologize for false attacks on Florida congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Monday, 30 October 2017: “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly said Monday he would not apologize for the false attacks he leveled against Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) this month when he sought to defend President Trump for his handling of a condolence call to the widow of a fallen soldier. On Oct. 19, in a rare appearance at the White House media briefing, Kelly attacked Wilson as an ’empty barrel’ and accused her of grandstanding at a public event two years ago in Florida by taking credit for securing federal funding for a new building. Video of the event soon released by the Florida Sun Sentinel showed Wilson did no such thing. Rather, she used her speech to praise the two slain FBI agents in whose memory the building was named. Wilson accused Kelly of ‘character assassination,’ and members of the Congressional Black Caucus demanded that Kelly apologize. In an interview to be broadcast Monday night, Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham asked Kelly whether he had something to apologize for. ‘Oh, no,’ Kelly replied. ‘No. Never. Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.'”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Tell Congress They Oppose Rewriting the 16-Year-Old Law Known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (A.U.M.F) That Was Passed in 2001, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 30 August 2017: “Two top Trump administration officials told Congress on Monday that they opposed rewriting a 16-year-old law that the government has cited to justify military operations against Islamist militants, including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, saying the existing statute was sufficient. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson also warned that if lawmakers did replace the law, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or A.U.M.F., they should not impose any time or geographic constraints on the government’s war powers. But the ranking Democrat on the panel, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, said the 9/11 war authorization law — along with another military force authorization that Congress enacted in 2002 to pave the way for the Iraq war — ‘have now become mere authorities of convenience for presidents to conduct military activities anywhere in the world.'”

The Office of the Maryland Attorney General Is Investigating Kushner Real Estate Management Practices, ProPublica, Alec MacGillis, Monday, 30 October 2017: “The office of the Maryland attorney general is investigating the management practices at the many large apartment complexes in the state that are owned and overseen by Kushner Companies, the family company of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner. A spokesman for Kushner Companies confirmed that the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat elected in 2014, has been in contact with the New York-based company…. The suit follows a May 23 article jointly published by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine that detailed the Kushner Companies’ highly litigious dealings with the people who rent apartments in the 15 complexes it owns in the Baltimore area. The company, which shares ownership in some of the complexes with other partners but runs them all through its Westminster Management subsidiary, has brought hundreds of cases against current and former tenants in local courts.”

FBI Is Probing Puerto Rico Power Contract With Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC, a Tiny Montana Energy Firm, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Scurria, Monday, 30 October 2017: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a decision by Puerto Rico’s power authority to award a $300 million contract to a tiny Montana energy firm to rebuild electrical infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Maria, according to people familiar with the matter. Agents from the FBI’s San Juan field office are looking into circumstances surrounding the deal that the public power monopoly known as Prepa signed with Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC, according to the people familiar with the matter.”

Under the Scrutiny of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Democratic Donor Tony Podesta Resigns From the Podesta Group, a Lobbying Firm He Co-founded, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Monday, 30 October 2017: “Tony Podesta, a prominent lobbyist and Democratic donor who has come under scrutiny from the escalating special counsel investigation, stepped down on Monday from the firm he co-founded, according to people familiar with the firm. The firm, the Podesta Group, has lost clients as it has been increasingly drawn into the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. On Monday, the Podesta Group and another company with which it had worked, Mercury Public Affairs, were referenced — though not by name — in an indictment of two former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. No charges have been brought against Mr. Podesta or officials from the Podesta Group or Mercury. But both firms have been subpoenaed for records and testimony about their work on behalf of a client referred to them in 2012 by Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, a nonprofit group based in Brussels. The work for the European Center, which ended in 2014, was cited in the indictment on Monday as part of a ‘scheme’ by Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates to gain support in Washington for their longtime client, the pro-Russian leader Viktor F. Yanukovych, a former president of Ukraine, while evading disclosure requirements for foreign lobbying.”

Tuesday, 31 October 2017, Day 285:


White House Chief of Staff John Kelly calls Robert E. Lee an ‘honorable man’ and says ‘lack of compromise’ caused the Civil War, The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Monday called Robert E. Lee ‘an honorable man’ and said that ‘the lack of an ability to compromise’ led to the Civil War, once again thrusting himself into the public spotlight on an emotionally charged issue. The comments, made on the debut night of conservative media host Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News, came after Kelly was asked about the recent decision by a Virginia church to remove plaques that honored the Confederate general and George Washington. ‘I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,’ Kelly told Ingraham. ‘He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.'” See also, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Says ‘The Lack of an Ability to Compromise Led to the Civil War. Civil War Historians Beg to Differ. The New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “Two months after President Trump stirred fierce debate with a defense of Confederate monuments, his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, has waded back into the fray of Civil War history. Asked by the Fox News television host Laura Ingraham about a Virginia church that had recently removed a memorial to Robert E. Lee, Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, on Monday praised Lee as ‘an honorable man who gave up his country to fight for his state.’ It was ‘the lack of an ability to compromise,’ he said, ‘that led to the Civil War.’ The comments drew an instant failing grade from many historians, who have spent decades documenting the central role of slavery in causing the conflict. Many took to Twitter to point out that the Civil War was, in fact, preceded by decades of compromises over the freedom of African-Americans. ‘Most any measure of compromise had been tried, and had been worn out,’ said David Blight, a historian at Yale University, where he has organized a conference this weekend exploring the parallels between the disunion that preceded the Civil War and our politics today. ‘The real story, the great tragedy of the coming of the Civil War, was that there was no middle left anymore in American politics.'” See also, Regarding John Kelly’s creationist theorizing on Lee and the Civil War, it’s worth pointing out a few things, Twitter thread, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tuesday, 31 October 2017. See also, Ta-Nehisi Coates Schools John Kelly on the History of the Civil War and ‘Compromise,’ Talking Points Memo, Caitlin MacNeal, Tuesday, 31 October 2017. See also, Historians respond to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s Civil War remarks: ‘Strange,’ ‘sad,’ ‘wrong,’ The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “Kelly was asked about the decision of a church in Alexandria, Va., to remove plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee. ‘I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,’ Kelly said. ‘He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.’ ‘That statement could have been given by [former Confederate general] Jubal Early in 1880,’ said Stephanie McCurry, a history professor at Columbia University and author of ‘Confederate Reckoning: Politics and Power in the Civil War South.’ What’s so strange about this statement is how closely it tracks or resembles the view of the Civil War that the South had finally got the nation to embrace by the early 20th century,’ she said. ‘It’s the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War. I mean, it tracks all of the major talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.'” See also, John Kelly’s Bizarre Mythology of the Civil War, The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb, published on Wednesday, 1 November 2017.

Trump Belittles George Papadopoulos as ‘Low Level’ Adviser, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “President Trump on Tuesday tried to diminish the significance of a former foreign policy adviser who admitted to lying to the F.B.I. about how, during last year’s presidential campaign, he sought to meet with Russians offering ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton based on purloined emails. In his first comment on this aspect of the case being developed by the special counsel investigation, Mr. Trump did not deny that the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, worked to collaborate with Russia. He simply brushed off his significance and focused on the fact that Mr. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. to cover up the contacts with Russia. ‘Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. As for the indictment of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the president repeated that the crimes alleged took place outside the context of the election contest. As he has repeatedly in recent days, Mr. Trump sought to turn attention to Democrats, pointing to the resignation of Tony Podesta, the powerhouse Democratic lobbyist who also faces scrutiny by Mr. Mueller and whose brother, John D. Podesta, was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.” See also, Trump diminishes Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser, as a ‘young, low level volunteer,’ The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Tuesday, 31 October 2017.

What it really means to say the Trump campaign ‘colluded’ with Russia, The Washington Post, Paul Waldman, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: ” ‘Collusion’ is the word of the day. ‘There is NO COLLUSION,’ tweets the president. ‘It sure looks like there was collusion between the Trump operation and Russia,’ says Vox. ‘Still no evidence of Trump-Russia “collusion” — but Hillary is a different matter,’ says Fox. Since we’re arguing about whether particular actions by the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself constituted collusion with the Russian government, it would help if we clarified what exactly we’re talking about. There seems to be a good deal of misconception about this, as everyone is trying to sort out exactly what Trump and his people did or didn’t do. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that collusion is not itself a crime. Many people hear ‘collusion’ and think about something akin to the legal concept of ‘conspiracy,’ which is when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act. But there can be collusion that doesn’t involve law-breaking. Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating crimes, and while we hope at the end of his investigation he’ll be able to provide a full picture of what kind of collusion there actually was, most of what we’ll be hearing from him — like the two indictments and one plea bargain deal that were made public yesterday — will be about crimes that were committed. He may not, at least in so many words, give us a final ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether there was collusion. Even if we find out that Donald Trump had daily phone calls with Vladimir Putin to chortle together about Hillary Clinton’s impending demise, it wouldn’t necessarily be a violation of any criminal code. It might be, but it wouldn’t always be. As Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes point out, ‘There are plenty of activities that might be highly inappropriate and politically consequential but do not violate any criminal law.’ It all depends on exactly what they’re colluding to do. If the Trump campaign was planning with them to commit illegal acts — like hacking into Democratic email accounts — then it would be a crime. As Bob Bauer notes, campaign finance law forbids foreign nationals from providing ‘anything of value’ to a campaign, which could give prosecutors wide latitude to pursue a criminal case in connection with collusion. But the point is that while you could have collusion that is criminal, you could also have collusion that didn’t violate the law, but would still be a grave political violation, one we’d demand to be addressed but that wouldn’t necessarily land anyone in jail.” See also, What the evidence shows about potential Trump-Russia collusion, Vox, Andrew Prokop, Tuesday, 31 October 2017. See also, Collusion is not a crime by itself. Here are the charges Mueller could be exploring. The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 31 October 2017. See also, The Russia Scandal: Your Guide, The New York Times, David Leonhardt, Tuesday, 31 October 2017.

The Best Reporting on Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and, of Course, George Papadopoulos, ProPublica, Sameera Khan, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “Manafort’s dodgy deals, Gates’ work, and Papadopoulos’ emailing with Russian officials–reporters have dug into it all.”

Trump’s Plans for Nuclear Arsenal Require $1.2 Trillion, According to the Congressional Budget Office Report, The New York Times, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “The price tag of President Trump’s vision of remaking the American nuclear arsenal soared on Tuesday as a new government estimate put the cost of a 30-year makeover at $1.2 trillion, more than 20 percent higher than earlier figures. The rebuilding proposal includes the nation’s nuclear weapons, bombers, missiles and submarines. The report from the Congressional Budget Office was the most authoritative accounting yet of the full cost of rebuilding an aging, potentially vulnerable nuclear arsenal that often relies on Cold War-era technology. It was published just weeks before the Pentagon is supposed to issue its first broad nuclear strategy of the Trump administration, an assessment called the Nuclear Posture Review.”

Leonard Steven Grasz, Trump’s choice to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, is declared ‘not qualified’ by the American Bar Association committee, The Washington Post, Kyle Swenson, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “For the second time this year, the American Bar Association (ABA) committee that vets federal judicial nominees has come out publicly against a Trump administration choice for a judgeship, declaring Leonard Steven Grasz ‘not qualified’ to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. The ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said it had serious questions about Grasz’s temperament and about his ability to ‘to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge.'”

Scott Pruitt, Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Bars Some Scientists From Advising the E.P.A., The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, stripped a half-dozen scientists and academics of advisory positions Tuesday and issued new rules barring anyone who receives E.P.A. grant money from serving on panels that counsel the agency on scientific decisions. The move will effectively bar a large number of academic researchers, many of them experts in fields ranging from toxicology to epidemiology, from advising the E.P.A. on scientific matters, since the agency is one of the largest funders of environmental research. Mr. Pruitt was expected to appoint several industry representatives to the panels. He did not impose any new restrictions to prevent them from offering advice on environmental regulations that may affect their businesses.” See also, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, blocks scientists with EPA funding from serving as agency advisers, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Tuesday, 31 October 2017.

A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is being held in immigration detention. The ACLU just sued for her release. The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “Lawyers for an undocumented 10-year-old girl who was detained in Texas after undergoing surgery demanded her immediate release on Tuesday in a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration in federal court. Rosa Maria Hernandez, who has cerebral palsy, has been held at a federally funded shelter in San Antonio since leaving a Corpus Christi hospital last week after gallbladder surgery. She had planned to return to her parents and siblings in the U.S. border city of Laredo, 150 miles away.”

Michael Honeycutt, Texas Toxicologist Who Rejects Basic Science, Is Appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency Science Board, Texas Observer, Naveena Sadasivam, Tuesday, 31 October 2017: “For years Texas’ chief toxicologist, Michael Honeycutt, has accused the EPA of scaring the public about the health risks of toxic chemicals. The EPA, he has said, ‘ignores good science which demonstrates that a chemical is not as toxic as they think it is, uses “chicken little” toxicity values’ and doesn’t ‘do common-sense groundtruthing.’ Honeycutt has repeatedly put himself outside the scientific mainstream by arguing that pollutants are not nearly as harmful as the evidence suggests…. Now, the Trump administration is tapping Honeycutt to lead EPA’s Science Advisory Board, a body of experts that provides objective scientific advice to the agency. The board was created in 1978 by Congress and charged with the mission of providing impartial science free of political interference. His appointment — like that of Rick Perry, Susan Combs and Kathleen Hartnett White — continues the trend of the Trump administration headhunting Texas officials who’ve repeatedly attacked the very policies that they’re now charged with implementing.”


Wednesday, 1 November 2017, Day 286:


Trump Suggests Guantánamo Prison for Truck Attack Suspect, an Unprecedented Step, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “President Trump said on Wednesday that he was considering sending the terrorism suspect in the truck attack in New York to the wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an unprecedented step that would raise novel legal questions and likely set off a protest by veteran national security law enforcement officials. Mr. Trump made his comments at the start of a cabinet meeting a day after an immigrant from Uzbekistan, Sayfullo Saipov, plowed a pickup truck along a crowded Manhattan bicycle path, prosecutors say, killing eight people. Mr. Saipov had expressed support for the Islamic State, the authorities said. Asked by reporters whether he would send the suspect to Guantánamo, Mr. Trump said, ‘I would certainly consider that.’ He added: ‘Send him to Gitmo — I would certainly consider that, yes.’ The government last sent a detainee to Guantánamo in 2008, and it has never transferred someone arrested on American soil there. During the Bush administration, two terrorism suspects who were arrested inside the United States and initially charged in civilian court were transferred to military custody, but the Supreme Court has never resolved whether that was lawful. President Barack Obama refused to use the military to handle terrorism suspects who were arrested on domestic soil. But during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump said he would be ‘fine’ with sending Americans to Guantánamo for military prosecution. The case of Mr. Saipov, a lawful permanent resident, presents a test of how Mr. Trump will handle such a situation now that he has the power and responsibility of governing. Doing so would infuriate career national security professionals and disrupt a carefully-honed approach to handling terrorism suspects, said Joshua A. Geltzer, a former Justice Department attorney. That includes the F.B.I.’s policy of delaying terror suspects’ Miranda warning rights to remain silent and have a defense lawyer during initial interrogations, he said.”

Trump Declares Suspect in the New York Attack ‘Should Get Death Penalty,’ The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “President Trump touched off a sharply partisan debate over some of the most divisive issues in American life on Wednesday as he cited this week’s terrorist attack in New York to advance his agenda on immigration and national security while assailing Democrats for endangering the country. A day after an immigrant from Uzbekistan was arrested on suspicion of plowing a pickup truck along a crowded bicycle path in Manhattan, killing eight people, Mr. Trump denounced the American criminal justice system as ‘a joke’ and ‘a laughingstock,‘ adding that he was open to sending ‘this animal’ instead to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Shortly before midnight, the president took it a step further, posting a message on Twitter declaring that the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, should be executed. ‘NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room,’ he wrote, referring to the driver’s reported interest in the Islamic State extremist group. ‘He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!’ Presidents are typically advised never to weigh in on pending criminal cases because such comments can be used by defense lawyers to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial — especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute the charges advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial. But Mr. Trump has disregarded such advice in other instances, as well. The president’s vocal response to the attack framed the emerging politics of the case. While the White House deemed it unseemly to have a policy debate on gun control immediately after the massacre in Las Vegas last month, Mr. Trump was eager on Wednesday to have a policy debate on immigration. He pressed Congress to cancel a visa lottery program that allowed the driver into the country, attributing it to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and called Democrats ‘obstructionists’ who ‘don’t want to do what’s right for our country.'”

For Trump, New York’s tragedy means a new attack on immigration, The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “President Trump, ever prone to seek out scapegoats, fastened on a new target in the wake of the terrorist attack in New York: the state’s senior Democratic senator, along with a 27-year-old visa program that offers applicants from dozens of countries a shot at immigrating to the United States. Mr. Trump singled out Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who, in 1990, sponsored the diversity visa program, through which the alleged attacker in New York, Sayfullo Saipov, is reported to have immigrated to the United States from his native Uzbekistan. In a tweet, the president derided the program as ‘a Chuck Schumer beauty.’ Never mind that Mr. Schumer’s legislation establishing the program attracted bipartisan support; or that it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican; or even that Mr. Schumer himself unsuccessfully bargained to end the program, in 2013, in return for a bill granting legal residence to millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Neither the facts nor the normal political imperative to avoid partisanship in the wake of a terrorist attack appeared to move Mr. Trump.”

Trump’s New York attack response fits his pattern after a crisis: Cast blame and get political, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “In the wake of a deadly attack in New York City, President Trump is pointing the finger, playing fast and loose with the facts, repeating theories from right-wing media and saying things that gin up his base. And he’s doing it all on Twitter. In tweets Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Trump confirmed a pattern about how he handles moments of crisis: Find the angle that fits his political narratives. [This article breaks] down how he did that with this particular attack.”

Fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scold Facebook, Google, and Twitter, The Washington Post, Craig Timberg, Hamza Shaban, and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the second of three Capitol Hill hearings this week on Russian’s online information operation, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could rein in the nation’s wildly profitable technology industry.” See also, Russia-Financed Ad Linked Clinton and Satan, The New York Times, Cecilia Kang, Nicholas Fandos, and Mike Isaac, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “Lawmakers released scores of political ads on Wednesday purchased by Russian agents on Facebook and Twitter that showed the extent of the Kremlin’s attempts to polarize the American voting public on issues like race, police abuse and religion. Russia-linked actors created accounts with names like Blacktivists and Back the Badge aimed at voters concerned about police relations with their communities, and other accounts that called for secure borders that were aimed at immigration hard-liners. One account, Army of Jesus, published an illustration of an arm-wrestling match between Christ and the devil. ‘Satan: If I win, Clinton wins!’ the headline read.”

House Intelligence Committee Releases Incendiary Russian Social Media Ads: The Highlights, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Cecilia Kang, and Mike Isaac, Wednesday, 1 November 2017.

These Are the Ads Russia Bought on Facebook in 2016, The New York Times, Scott Shane, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “They made for a wildly varied slide show, designed by Russia to exploit divisions in American society and to tip the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald J. Trump and against Hillary Clinton. The House Intelligence Committee provided on Wednesday the biggest public platform to date for a sample of the Facebook ads and pages that were linked by a trail of ruble payments to a Russian company with Kremlin ties. ‘America, we have a problem,’ said Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who sits on the House committee. ‘We basically have the brightest minds of our tech community here and Russia was able to weaponize your platforms to divide us, to dupe us and to discredit democracy.'”

Even Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency says Obama’s Clean Power Climate Plan would save thousands of lives each year, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “A sweeping Obama-era climate rule could prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths per year by 2030, the Trump administration has found in its analysis of the plan, projecting that the plan could save more lives than the Obama administration said it would. The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is moving to repeal the plan. The rule in question is the Clean Power Plan, which consists of regulations on U.S. power plants aimed at decreasing the country’s contribution to global climate change by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. In practice, the rule is projected to move the energy sector away from coal-fired power plants and toward more natural gas-fired power plants, as well as wind and solar power sources. Such power sources have lower emissions of greenhouse gases, but they also produce lower quantities of other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide. Such pollutants can cause respiratory problems, heart disease and lung cancer, conditions that would therefore be made less prevalent by the climate regulations.”

Guantánamo judge Vance Spath sends Marine general John Baker to 21 days confinement for disobeying orders, Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “The USS Cole case judge Wednesday found the Marine general in charge of war court defense teams guilty of contempt for refusing to follow the judge’s orders and sentenced him to 21 days confinement and to pay a $1,000 fine. Air Force Col. Vance Spath also declared ‘null and void’ a decision by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, 50, to release three civilian defense attorneys from the capital terror case. The lawyers resigned last month over a covert breach of attorney-client privilege involving something so secretive at the terror prison that the public cannot know. Wednesday evening, with Baker confined to his quarters in a trailer park behind the courthouse, Judge Spath issued another order: Directing the three lawyers — Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears — to litigate Friday in the death-penalty case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri remotely from the Washington D.C., area by video feed to Guantánamo. Baker is the chief defense counsel for military commissions, and the second highest-ranking lawyer in the Marine Corps. He had excused Kammen, Eliades and Spears from the case on ethical grounds, and refused to rescind the order —prompting the judge to find him in contempt of court. Baker also invoked a privilege stemming from his oversight role and refused Spath’s order to swear an oath and testify in his court.” See also, In a highly unusual move, an American general (John Baker) is sentenced to confinement at Guantanamo Bay by judge Vance Spath, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, published on Thursday, 2 November 2017.

Anita Hill on Weinstein, Trump, and a Watershed Moment for Sexual-Harassment Accusations, The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “During the 2016 Presidential campaign, eleven women accused Donald Trump of making unwanted sexual advances toward them. Following a well-worn playbook used by other previous accused sexual harassers, Trump dismissed the women as ‘horrible, horrible liars’ and their allegations as ‘pure fiction.’ The women’s voices swayed very few voters, it would seem. Even after the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape surfaced, allowing voters to hear Trump boasting about ‘grabbing’ women ‘by the pussy,’ he was elected President. Among those who put his candidacy over the top (at least in the Electoral College) were fifty-three per cent of white female voters. So why have Harvey Weinstein’s alleged transgressions been taken so much more seriously? One answer, it seems, has less to do with the accused than with the accuser. Weinstein’s sexual-harassment scandal is unlike almost every other in recent memory because many of his accusers are celebrities, with status, fame, and success commensurate to his own. Sexual harassment is about power, not sex, and it has taken women of extraordinary power to overcome the disadvantage that most accusers face. As Susan Faludi, the author of ‘Backlash: the Undeclared War Against Women,’ put it in an e-mail to me, ‘Power belongs only to the celebrities these days. If only Trump had harassed Angelina Jolie. . . .’ Anita Hill, a woman with unusual insight into this topic, agrees that the nature of Weinstein’s accusers is the reason that his exposure has proved to be a watershed moment. In a phone interview, Hill emphasized that sexual-harassment cases live and die on the basis of ‘believability,’ and that, in order for the accusers to prevail, ‘they have to fit a narrative’ that the public will buy. At least until now, very few women have had that standing.”

Trump’s Female Accusers Feel Forgotten. A Lawsuit May Change That. The New York Times, Megan Twohey, Wednesday, 1 November 2017: “While allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in recent weeks have drawn wide public support and prompted quick response, women who came forward during the presidential race with accusations against Donald J. Trump said they spent the past year feeling dismissed and forgotten. ‘With Trump, it was all brushed under the rug,’ said Temple Taggart, who claimed Mr. Trump kissed her on the mouth when she was competing in his Miss USA pageant in 1997. But that could change if a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Mr. Trump of unwanted sexual advances is allowed to proceed in New York State Supreme Court, a legal ruling that could come before the end of the year. Lawyers in the suit sought a subpoena seeking all Trump campaign records related to his female accusers. If the case advances, the accusers could be deposed, going up against Mr. Trump yet again. The plaintiff in the lawsuit — Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Mr. Trump’s show ‘The Apprentice’— is represented by the law firm of Gloria Allred, who has helped bring cases against Bill Cosby and other high-profile defendants. They claimed that Mr. Trump defamed Ms. Zervos during the campaign when he repeatedly described her and other accusers’ accounts as ‘lies’ and ‘nonsense’ and said the women either were being put forward by his opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign or were motivated to come forward by getting ’10 minutes of fame,’ according to the complaint. Mr. Trump has sought to dismiss or stay the case, claiming that a sitting president cannot be sued in state court and that his comments amount to political speech, arguments that were reaffirmed by his legal team in a brief filed on Tuesday. But lawyers for Ms. Zervos point to the United States Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton while he was in office, and several law professors have filed briefs supporting the legal grounds for such a suit.”



Thursday, 2 November 2017, Day 287:


Republican Plan Delivers Permanent Corporate Tax Cut, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Thomas Kaplan, and Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Republican lawmakers unveiled a sweeping rewrite of the tax code on Thursday, outlining a $1.5 trillion plan that will deliver a significant tax cut for corporations and more modest savings for middle-class families while tilting the United States closer, but not entirely, toward the kind of tax system long championed by businesses. The House plan, released after weeks of internal debate, conflict and delay, immediately ignited a legislative and lobbying fight as business groups, special interests and Democrats began tearing into the text ahead of a Republican sprint to get the legislation passed and to President Trump’s desk by Christmas. Lawmakers appeared unfazed by the blowback and scheduled the first official ‘markup”’of the bill for Monday…. The bill is heavily weighted toward business, which would receive about $1 trillion in net cuts, or two-thirds of the total, according to calculations by the Joint Committee on Taxation. At its center is a proposal to permanently cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent — a change that is estimated to reduce federal revenues by $1.5 trillion over the next decade alone. For individuals, the plan establishes three tax brackets — 12, 25 and 35 percent — instead of the seven that exist now and maintains a top rate of 39.6 percent for millionaires. The bill would also eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which is expected to hit 4.5 million families in 2017, and would roughly double the standard deduction for middle-class families. It would not, as many had feared, make any changes to the pretax treatment of 401(k) plans…. But the legislation includes several land mines that could complicate its passage, including limits on the popular mortgage interest deduction and caps on the state and local tax deduction, as well as its overall cost. Several Republicans from the high-tax states of New York and New Jersey said the bill would need to change to gain their support, while powerful trade groups representing the real estate industry and small businesses blasted the bill as ineffective and harmful to Americans.” See also, House Republicans unveil tax plan to benefit corporations and the wealthy, The Guardian, Ben Jacobs and Lauren Gambino, Thursday, 3 November 2017: “Donald Trump’s push for deep tax cuts reached a milestone on Thursday as his fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled a long-awaited plan which would benefit corporations and the wealthy but is less generous to the middle class. The legislation would permanently lower the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35% and repeals the inheritance tax on multimillion-dollar estates in what would be the most sweeping change to the United States tax code in three decades.” See also, Donald Trump Stands to Gain Millions From the Republican Tax Bill, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “The treatment of state and local taxes, and the new limits the bill would place on mortgage-interest deductions, appear to be targeted at households in blue states, such as New York and California, which have high taxes and expensive real estate. No surprise there: it’s partisan politics. Other aspects of the bill would affect households everywhere. Unlike the tax cuts for corporations and other businesses, the tax cuts for families are temporary: after five years, they expire…. Despite the fact that the bill keeps the top rate of income tax at 39.6 per cent, it represents a big giveaway to the rich, particularly the very rich. How so? The measure shifts the burden of taxation in the U.S. from corporations, which are largely run and owned by rich people, to households.” See also, Six Charts That Help Explain the Republican Tax Plan, The New York Times, Alicia Parlapiano, Thursday, 2 November 2017. See also, Winners and losers in the Republican tax plan, The Washington Post, Heather Long, Thursday, 2 November 2017.

Trump and Sessions Denied Knowing About Russian Contacts. Records Suggest Otherwise. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Matt Apuzzo, and Scott Shane, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Standing before reporters in February, President Trump said unequivocally that he knew of nobody from his campaign who was in contact with Russians during the election. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told the Senate the same thing.Court documents unsealed this week cast doubt on both statements and raised the possibility that Mr. Sessions could be called back to Congress for further questioning. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, unsealed his first charges Monday in a wide-ranging investigation into Russian attempts to disrupt the presidential election and whether anyone close to Mr. Trump was involved. Records in that case show that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, had frequent discussions with Russians in 2016 and trumpeted his connections in front of Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions. For months, journalists have revealed evidence that associates of Mr. Trump met with Russians during the campaign and the presidential transition. But the court documents represent the first concrete evidence that Mr. Trump was personally told about ties between a campaign adviser and Russian officials. At a March 31, 2016, meeting between Mr. Trump and his foreign policy team, Mr. Papadopoulos introduced himself and said ‘that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin,”’according to court records ‘He went into the pitch right away,’ said J. D. Gordon, a campaign adviser who attended the meeting. ‘He said he had a friend in London, the Russian ambassador, who could help set up a meeting with Putin.’ Mr. Trump listened with interest. Mr. Sessions vehemently opposed the idea, Mr. Gordon recalled. ‘And he said that no one should talk about it,’ because Mr. Sessions thought it was a bad idea that he did not want associated with the campaign, he said.”

Trump’s ‘alarming’ death penalty call threatens suspect’s chance of fair trial, experts warn, The Guardian, Joanna Walters, Jessica Clenza and agencies, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Donald Trump’s decision to call for the death penalty for the suspect in this week’s terrorist attack in New York could threaten his chance of a fair trial, legal experts have warned.The president first called for the execution of Sayfullo Saipov on Wednesday and renewed his call on Thursday morning. ‘NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!’ Trump tweeted on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning he followed up by appearing to rule out sending Saipov to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, something he had mooted on Wednesday. ‘Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,’ the president tweeted. ‘There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!'”

Democrats express outrage over allegations by Donna Brazile that an agreement with the Democratic National Committee gave the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton control over the party early in the 2016 campaign, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer, David Weigel, and Karen Tumulty, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Many Democrats expressed outrage Thursday at allegations from a former party chairwoman that an agreement with the Democratic National Committee gave the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton some day-to-day control over the party early in the 2016 campaign. Donna Brazile, a former interim chairwoman of the party, says in a forthcoming book that an August 2015 agreement gave the Clinton campaign a measure of direct influence over the party’s finances and strategy, along with a say over staff decisions and consultation rights over issues like mailings, budgets and analytics. The control was given in exchange for a joint fundraising pledge by the Clinton campaign that helped fund the DNC through the election year, Brazile says…. Throughout the campaign, the DNC and its then-chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, fiercely denied any suggestion that the party was helping Clinton over other candidates. The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had criticized Wasserman Schultz for limiting the early primary debate schedule, allowing party money to be used for Clinton fundraising, and briefly cutting off Sanders’s access to the party voter file shortly before the New Hampshire primary after a Sanders staffer inappropriately accessed information. Some Democrats now say the arrangement is evidence that the concerns were valid.” See also, Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC, Politico, Donna Brazile, Thursday, 2 November 2017. See also, Elizabeth Warren and Donna Brazile both now agree the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Update: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who comes from the Sanders wing of the party, just told CNN in response to Brazile’s op-ed that the she believes the 2016 Democratic primary was ‘rigged.’ The elevation of this issue by Warren, a possible 2020 contender, will certainly turn heads The former interim head of the Democratic Party just accused Hillary Clinton’s campaign of ‘unethical’ conduct that ‘compromised the party’s integrity.’ The Clinton campaign’s alleged sin: A hostile takeover of the Democratic National Committee before her primary with Sen. Bernie Sanders had concluded. Donna Brazile’s op-ed in Politico is the equivalent of taking the smoldering embers of the 2016 primary and throwing some gasoline on them. Just about everything she says in the piece will inflame Sanders’s passionate supporters who were already suspicious of the Democratic establishment and already had reason to believe — based on leaked DNC emails — that the committee wasn’t as neutral in the primary as it was supposed to be. But the op-ed doesn’t break too much new provable, factual ground, relying more upon Brazile’s own perception of the situation and hearsay.”

Trump Nominee Sam Clovis Withdraws From Consideration For Agriculture Department Post, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia. The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said. The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,’ Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. Mr. Clovis’s qualifications to be the chief scientist at the department have been questioned, as he is not a scientist himself. ‘The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.’ Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.” See also, White House was unaware top adviser Sam Clovis testified before grand jury, ABC News, John Santucci and James Meek, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “The White House first learned one of its senior staffers met with the grand jury hearing the case presented by the special counsel into alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 election not from the staffer but from media reports, sources with knowledge of the investigation tell ABC News. Former Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis recently testified before that grand jury into his role on President Donald Trump’s campaign. Clovis currently serves as the senior White House adviser to the Department of Agriculture. Clovis’ testimony comes on the heels of another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleading guilty to lying to federal authorities. As part of Papadopoulos’ admission of guilt, details of emails were disclosed that showed him describing to top Trump campaign officials communications he had with contacts in Russia. The correspondence between Papadopoulos and a group of foreign nationals detail that within weeks of being described by Trump as an important part of his national security team, Papadopoulos was in London meeting with people who said they could deliver ‘dirt’ on rival candidate Hillary Clinton, including ‘thousands of emails.'”

After first saying ‘send him to Gitmo,’ Trump changes his mind about N.Y. terrorism suspect, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “President Trump on Thursday appeared to rule out sending the New York terrorism suspect to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after threatening a day earlier to send the alleged attacker to the detention center. Backing off his initial statement that he was considering detaining the suspect at America’s most notorious prison, Trump said Thursday that Sayfullo Saipov instead should be executed through the civilian justice system, which historically has been delivered faster convictions than the military tribunal system. Trump tweeted, ‘Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system . . . There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!'”

Trump Announces Jerome Powell as New Chairman of the Federal Reserve, The New York Times, Ana Swanson and Binyamin Apelbaum, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “President Trump nominated Jerome H. Powell to chair the Federal Reserve on Thursday, bypassing Janet L. Yellen for a second term but turning to a replacement who is expected to stay the course on monetary policy if the economy continues its steady growth. ‘He’s strong, he’s committed, he’s smart,’ Mr. Trump said in the White House Rose Garden, where he introduced Mr. Powell as his choice. Using Mr. Powell’s nickname, the president said, ‘I am confident that with Jay as a wise steward of the Federal Reserve, it will have the leadership it needs in the years to come.’ Less certain is where Mr. Powell would lead the Fed if the economy falters. Mr. Powell, a member of the Fed’s board of governors since 2012, has consistently voted with Ms. Yellen to slowly raise interest rates and sell off assets that the Fed bought up in the wake of the severe recession of 2008 and 2009. Colleagues consider him a centrist and pragmatist. But he lacks the deep background in economics of some of his predecessors, and he has expressed skepticism in the past about the unconventional measures that the Fed took after the recession.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under renewed scrutiny on Capitol Hill, CNN, Manu Raju, Evan Perez, and Marshall Cohen, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year. According to court filings unsealed this week, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested at a March 2016 meeting that he could use his connections to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump with the then-GOP candidate’s national security team. An Instagram picture on Trump’s account shows Sessions attended the meeting at which Papadopoulos made the suggestion. After Trump declined to rule out the idea, Sessions weighed in and rejected he proposed meeting, according to a person who attended. But Sessions, who was a top surrogate for Trump during the campaign, did not disclose these discussions despite a persistent set of questions from Democrats and some Republicans about Russia during multiple hearings on Capitol Hill. The new information is renewing attention to how forthcoming Sessions has been with Congress.” See also, Democrats demand that Sessions explain his meeting with Papadopoulos, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Sari Horwitz, and Adam Entous, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Senate Democrats have demanded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions explain why he did not disclose a March 2016 gathering with then-candidate Donald Trump and members of his campaign team at which an adviser offered to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. Sessions’s participation in the gathering was detailed in court documents released Monday by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. The adviser who offered to set up the meeting was George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, according to the documents. Sessions had not previously disclosed the meeting, despite being asked over multiple appearances on Capitol Hill whether he or anyone on the campaign ever discussed meeting with Russians. This is another example in an alarming pattern in which you, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth, under oath, about the Trump team’s contacts with agents of Russia,’ Senate Judiciary Committee member Al Franken (D-Minn.) wrote Thursday in a letter to Sessions.”

U.S. Prosecutors Consider Charging Russian Officials in DNC Hacking Case, The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russia officials and could bring a case next year these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said.”

House Democrats Take Demands for Trump Hotel Records to Court, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Democrats from the House Oversight Committee, stonewalled by the Trump administration and fuming at their Republican colleagues, sued the General Services Administration on Thursday to try to force the release of documents relating to its lease with the Trump International Hotel here. The suit, which has little legal precedent, is likely to be a key test of Democrats’ ability to force oversight of the Trump administration without control of committees or subpoena power in either chamber of Congress. They have accused Republicans who control both of neglecting their responsibility to hold the administration to account. A victory in court would grant the lawmakers immediate access to government documents related to the hotel’s operations and lease that they say would shed light on its finances, possible foreign payments to the hotel and the G.S.A.’s ruling that the hotel did not violate the terms of its lease when President Trump took office. A favorable ruling would also open a fruitful avenue for Oversight Committee Democrats to use on other issues. ‘The lawsuit is not just about a hotel in Washington, D.C.,’ Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said at a news conference on Thursday. ‘This is about the president defying a federal statute and denying our ability as members of Congress to fulfill our constitutional duty to serve as a check on the executive branch.’ Mr. Cummings was joined in the suit, filed in United States District Court here, by 16 other Democrats on the committee.”

Senators call for crackdown on pharmaceutical industry ‘revolving door,’ The Washington Post, Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Seven Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday introduced legislation designed to slow the ‘revolving door’ between federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the pharmaceutical companies they regulate. ‘The pharmaceutical industry has a deep-rooted and strong influence in Washington, and a revolving door between drug companies and government cannot undermine the safety of our communities,’ said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who sponsored the bill. The legislation would impose a two-year ‘cooling off’ period on former officials from the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration, barring them from assisting  pharmaceutical companies with lobbying efforts. The bill also expands the definition of ‘lobbying contact’ to include taking part in activities such as strategy sessions. And it limits the issues pharmaceutical industry officials can handle if they join the federal government. It is not unusual for corporations to hire federal employees directly from the government, nor for industry officials to join the government in high-ranking positions. Industry representatives say the pharmaceutical industry is highly specialized, and they rely upon the expertise of former government officials to help them comply with complex drug laws.There are regulations designed to prevent potential conflicts of interest. The current restrictions include a lifetime ban on participating ‘personally and substantially’ on a ‘particular matter’ that the official had handled while working for the federal government. Government ethics experts say some of those laws are easily skirted.”

Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer is stepping down as co-chief-executive of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies and is selling his stake in the conservative website Breitbart News to his daughters, The Washington Post, Renae Merle, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Robert Mercer, a hedge fund executive and GOP mega-donor, is stepping down as co-chief-executive of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies and selling his stake in the conservative website Breitbart News to his daughters, he announced Thursday. In a letter to investors reviewed by The Washington Post, Mercer noted he has come under intense scrutiny for his financing of Breitbart, his relationship with former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon and his backing of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. ‘Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group,’ Mercer wrote. ‘Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, or anything of that sort is abhorrent to me. But more than that, it is ignorant.’ Mercer and his middle daughter, Rebekah Mercer, have been two of the most influential donors in President Trump’s orbit. During the 2016 presidential campaign, they financed and ran a super PAC supporting Trump. A data science firm that Mercer invested in, Cambridge Analytica, worked for Trump’s campaign.”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry links fossil fuel development to preventing sexual assault, The Hill, Avery Anapol, Thursday, 2 November 2017: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested Thursday that expanding the use of fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assault. Speaking during an energy policy discussion about energy policy with ‘Meet the Press’ host Chuck Todd and Axios CEO and founder Jim VandeHei, Perry discussed his recent trip to Africa. He said a young girl told him that energy is important to her because she often reads by the light of a fire with toxic fumes. ‘But also from the standpoint of sexual assault,’ Perry said. ‘When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts.'” See also,  Rick Perry said fossil fuels could help stop sexual assault. Oops. The Washington Post, Molly Roberts, Thursday, 2 November 2017.