Trump, Week 64: Friday, 6 April – Thursday, 12 April 2018 (Days 442-448)


March For Our Lives, Pittsfield, MA, Saturday, 24 March 2018

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


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. 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, 6 April 2018, Day 443:


U.S. District Judge William Young upholds Massachusetts assault weapons ban, The Boston Globe, Maria Cramer, Friday, 6 April 2018: “A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Massachusetts’ 20-year ban on assault weapons, delivering a significant victory to gun-control advocates and to Attorney General Maura Healey, who had warned sellers of ‘copycat’ firearms that they risked prosecution. In his ruling, US District Judge William Young of Massachusetts wrote that the state’s ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines does not violate the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. ‘The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to bear Arms,’  Young wrote in a 47-page ruling. ‘In the absence of federal legislation, Massachusetts is free to ban these weapons and large-capacity magazines. Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens. These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment.’ Young cited a landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision that found that ‘weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like’ are not protected under the Second Amendment and ‘may be banned.'”

Trump Administration Imposes New Sanctions on Putin Cronies, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Friday, 6 April 2018: “The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on seven of Russia’s richest men and 17 top government officials on Friday in the latest effort to punish President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle for interference in the 2016 election and other Russian aggressions. The sanctions are designed to penalize some of Russia’s richest industrialists, who are seen in the West as enriching themselves from Mr. Putin’s increasingly authoritarian administration. Effectively, the action prevents the oligarchs from traveling to the United States or doing business or even opening a bank account with any major company or bank in the West. It also restricts foreign individuals from facilitating transactions on their behalf.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee; 97 immigrants arrested, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 6 April 2018: “Federal officials arrested 97 immigrants at a meat-processing plant in rural Tennessee on Thursday in what civil rights organizations said was the largest single workplace raid in a decade and a sign that the Trump administration is carrying out its plan to aggressively ramp up enforcement this year…. The raid on Southeastern Provision in Bean Station, Tenn., follows arrests at 7-Eleven stores and other workplaces nationwide. Last year, the nation’s top immigration official said he had ordered agents to increase the number of work-site inspections and operations by ‘four or five times’ this year, to turn off the job ‘magnets’ that attract immigrants who are in the country illegally and punish employers who hire them. The National Immigration Law Center and other immigrant advocates said the Tennessee raid was the largest since the George W. Bush administration and deployed many of the tactics of that era, with a surprise blitz of the factory and streets blocked by state and local authorities. ICE officials would not say where the raid ranked in terms of size.”

Continue reading Week 64, Friday, 6 April – Thursday, 12 April 2018 (Days 442-448)

The Nomination of Mike Pompeo to Replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and the Appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser Raise Alarm Over Their Ties to Anti-Islam Groups, The New York Times, Laurie Goodstein, Friday, 6 April 2018: “Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo both have ties to individuals and groups promoting a worldview that regards Islam not so much as a religion, but as a political ideology that is infiltrating the United States and other Western countries with the goal of imposing Shariah law, the Muslim legal code. These groups believe that the vehicle for this takeover is the Muslim Brotherhood, and they allege that American mosques, civic organizations and leaders and even government officials who are Muslims are suspected of being Muslim Brotherhood operatives.”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Advised a Resistant Trump to Fire Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Lisa Friedman, Friday, 6 April 2018: “John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told President Trump last week that Scott Pruitt, the embattled administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, needed to go following damaging allegations about ethical infractions and spending irregularities, according to two officials briefed about the conversation. But Mr. Trump, who is personally fond of Mr. Pruitt and sees him as a crucial ally in his effort to roll back environmental rules, has resisted firing him, disregarding warnings that the drumbeat of negative headlines about the administrator has grown unsustainable and that more embarrassing revelations could surface.” See also, Embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s calendar shows industry representatives, not environmental advocates, have his ear, Reuters, Timothy Gardner and Richard Valdmanis, Friday, 6 April 2018: “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt held 25-times more meetings with industry representatives than environmental advocates during his first seven months in office, according to a Reuters analysis of his schedule, reflecting the agency’s pro-business approach under his tenure. The newly released record of Pruitt’s schedule, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Environmental Integrity Project watchdog group, comes as the White House probes allegations against Pruitt. These include his rental of a room in a Washington, D.C. condo owned by the wife of an energy industry lobbyist. The pressure mounted late on Friday as 64 Democratic members of the 435-member House of Representatives called for President Donald Trump to immediately dismiss him over a host of ethics issues and for acting to counter the mission of his agency.”

‘Concerned’ Evangelicals Plan to Meet With Trump in June as Sex Scandals Swirl, NPR, Sarah McCammon, Friday, 6 April 2018: “As allegations continue to swirl about the president and a payout to a porn star to cover up a sexual encounter, evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with President Trump in June, four sources with knowledge of the planned meeting tell NPR. ‘We’re very concerned’ about the allegations, said a leader of a faith-based ministry. The leader is involved in hosting the gathering, which organizers are aiming to take place June 19 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The source said the combination of the Stormy Daniels sex-scandal allegations and Trump’s continued reputation for divisive rhetoric could suppress evangelical turnout in the November midterm elections. ‘It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear,’ like preserving religious liberty and restricting abortion rights, the source noted. The source, like the others with knowledge of the event, spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity so as to not jeopardize the meeting.”


Saturday, 7 April 2018, Day 443:


Security for Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt comes at a steep cost to taxpayers, Associated Press, Michael Biesecker, Saturday, 7 April 2018: “Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes. Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent…. New details in Pruitt’s expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job…. [An] EPA official said total security costs approached $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses.” See also, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s round-the-clock security has cost taxpayers nearly $3 millionThe Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Saturday, 7 April 2018.


Sunday, 8 April 2018, Day 444:


Trump Vows ‘Big Price’ for Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria, Raising the Prospect of Missile Strike, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sunday, 8 April 2018: “President Trump on Sunday promised a ‘big price’ to be paid for what he said was a chemical weapons attack that choked dozens of Syrians to death the day before, and a top White House official said the administration would not rule out a missile strike to retaliate against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. In a tweet, Mr. Trump laid the blame for the attack partly on President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the first time since his election that he has criticized the Russian leader by name on Twitter. Mr. Putin’s forces have been fighting for years to keep the Assad government in power amid Syria’s brutal civil war. Mr. Trump also left no doubt that he believed the assessment of aid groups that Mr. Assad’s military had used chemical weapons to inflict the carnage on Saturday in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. The attack left at least 42 people dead in their homes from apparent suffocation and sent many others to clinics with burning eyes and breathing problems. ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,’ Mr. Trump wrote. ‘President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.’ ‘Big price to pay,’ Mr. Trump continued in a second tweet. ‘Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!'”

North Korea Said to Offer Direct Assurance It Will Discuss Denuclearization, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sunday, 8 April 2018: “North Korea has told the United States that its leader, Kim Jong-un, is willing to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, administration officials said on Sunday, the first direct confirmation that he intends to participate in an extraordinary meeting with President Trump about his nuclear program. The North delivered its message in secret talks between its representatives and American officials as they prepare for the summit meeting, which is expected to take place next month.”

Trump bragged that his tower in New York City withstood a fire, but he has been silent about the man who died in it, The Washington Post, Amy B. Wang, Sunday, 8 April 2018: “Though Trump thanked the ‘firemen (and women)’ who responded to the blaze, his tweet made no mention of those who had suffered injuries. At the time, the resident who had been pulled from his burning Trump Tower apartment was listed in critical condition, and officials initially said four firefighters suffered minor injuries. Officials later announced that the Trump Tower resident had died at Mount Sinai Hospital and identified him as 67-year-old Todd Brassner, who lived in unit 50C. They also revised the count of injured firefighters from four to six. Nevertheless, Trump’s Saturday evening tweet has remained the only comment he has made regarding the fire in his building, where he keeps an office and a residence.”


Monday, 9 April 2018, Day 445:


F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful.’ The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo, Monday, 9 April 2018: “The F.B.I. raided the Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Monday morning, seizing business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including a payment to a pornographic film actress. Mr. Trump, in an extraordinarily angry response, lashed out hours later at what a person briefed on the matter said was an investigation into possible bank fraud by Mr. Cohen. Mr. Trump accused his own Justice Department of perpetrating a ‘witch hunt’ and asserted that the F.B.I. ‘broke in to’ Mr. Cohen’s office. The president, who spoke at the White House before meeting with senior military commanders about a potential missile strike on Syria, called the F.B.I. raid a ‘disgraceful situation’ and an ‘attack on our country in a true sense.’… The searches open a new front for the Justice Department in its scrutiny of Mr. Trump and his associates: His longtime lawyer is being investigated in Manhattan; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is facing scrutiny by prosecutors in Brooklyn; his former campaign chairman is under indictment; his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying; and a pair of former campaign aides are cooperating with Mr. Mueller. Mr. Mueller, meanwhile, wants to interview Mr. Trump about possible obstruction of justice.” See also, Trump attorney Michael Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger, and Devlin Barrett, Monday, 9 April 2018. See also, Trump Reacts to Michael Cohen Raid, Syria, and More: An Annotated Transcript, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Monday, 9 April 2018. See also, Trump’s tirade after the Michael Cohen raid, annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 9 April 2018. See also, Trump’s Wild Response to the F.B.I. Raid on Michael Cohen’s Office, The New Yorker, Amy Davidson Sorkin, Monday, 9 April 2018: “The most striking parts of Trump’s remarks … concerned what he might do about Mueller’s investigation. ‘I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down,’ he said, without quite explaining how you keep a man like Mueller ‘down.’ Will the President fire him, and, perhaps, add to whatever obstruction-of-justice case Mueller is already building?” See also, ‘A bomb on Trump’s front porch’: FBI’s raids on Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room hit home for the president, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Robert Costa, Monday, 9 April 2018: “Asked why he had not fired Mueller, Trump left the door open. ‘We’ll see what happens.  Many people have said [I] should fire him.'”

Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian Steel Magnate, Donated $150,000 to the Trump Foundation in 2015 in Exchange for a Video Appearance by Mr. Trump at a Conference in Ukraine. Special Counsel Robert Mueller Is Investigating This Payment. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 9 April 2018: “The special counsel is investigating a payment made to President Trump’s foundation by a Ukrainian steel magnate for a talk during the campaign, according to three people briefed on the matter, as part of a broader examination of streams of foreign money to Mr. Trump and his associates in the years leading up to the election. Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for an array of records about business with foreign nationals. In response, the company handed over documents about a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance by Mr. Trump that month through a video link to a conference in Kiev. Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer whose office and hotel room were raided on Monday in an apparently unrelated case, solicited the donation. The contribution from Mr. Pinchuk, who has sought closer ties for Ukraine to the West, was the largest the foundation received in 2015 from anyone besides Mr. Trump himself.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Endures Repeated Attacks by Bending to the President’s Whims, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 9 April 2018: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become famous for his ability to weather blistering critiques from the White House like the one President Trump delivered Monday when he told reporters he wished he had ‘a different attorney general.’ In response to repeated attacks from the president over his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Sessions has fallen into an uneasy pattern, enduring the humiliations with Job-like patience while responding with policies and pronouncements that seem meant to please his toughest critic. In the past month, Mr. Trump has publicly suggested putting drug dealers to death, said the government would ban so-called bump stocks and pushed for strict immigration controls. In response, Mr. Sessions issued a memo recommending use of the death penalty in drug cases whenever possible, reversed the department’s past decision on banning bump stocks and issued a memo outlining a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on illegal immigration.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Appointed a United States Attorney to Handle Document Production for an Inquiry Into the FBI’s Handling of the Hillary Clinton Email Case, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 9 April 2018: “The Justice Department, accused by President Trump of ‘slow walking’ its response to a congressional inquiry into the F.B.I.’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email case, said on Sunday that it was appointing a United States attorney to speed the production of documents. The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee is examining actions by the bureau leading up to a decision in late 2016 by its director at the time, James B. Comey, to close an investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information on her private email server. Mr. Trump has maintained that Mr. Comey, whom he fired last year, had acted inappropriately in closing the case, and that Mrs. Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential race, should have been charged with a crime.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Asked Convicted Republican Fundraiser Elliott Broidy to Recommend Nominees for U.S. Attorneys, ProPublica, Robert Faturechi, Monday, 9 April 2018: “Preparing to restock the Department of Justice at the start of the Trump administration, Jeff Sessions sought out Elliott Broidy for recommendations. The Republican donor’s conviction in a political corruption case years earlier didn’t seem to be a problem.”

Top government ethics official demands that the Environmental Protection Agency probe Scott Pruitt’s ethics controversies, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Monday, 9 April 2018: “A top government ethics official wants the Environmental Protection Agency to address any violations linked to Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending habits, his condo lease from a lobbyist and his personnel decisions. In a letter dated Friday and released Monday, David J. Apol, the acting director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, took the atypical step of telling EPA officials that several recent ethics questions deserve further scrutiny. ‘Public trust demands that all employees act in the public interest, and free from any actual or perceived conflicts,’ he wrote to Kevin Minoli, the EPA’s principal deputy general counsel and the agency’s top ethics official.”

An Internal Email Contradicts Scott Pruitt’s Account of Controversial Raises, The Atlantic, Elaina Plott, Monday, 9 April 2018: “EPA administrator [Scott Pruitt] has said he ‘didn’t know’ about unusual salary bumps given to a pair of trusted aides, but a message from one of those staffers claims otherwise.”

Trump ‘did not want sprinkler protections’ in his Fifth Avenue high-rise, former safety official says, The Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Kyle Swenson, Monday, 9 April 2018: “Donald Trump in the late 1990s helped lobby New York City officials to drop a proposal to require expensive fire sprinklers in older apartment buildings, including his Fifth Avenue condominiums at Trump Tower, according to a safety expert involved in the debate.”

Trump’s company asked Panama president to help in hotel spat, Associated Press, Juan Zamorano and Stephen Braun, Monday, 9 April 2018: “U.S. President Donald Trump’s company appealed directly to Panama’s president to intervene in its fight over control of a luxury hotel, even invoking a treaty between the two countries, in what ethics experts say was a blatant mingling of Trump’s business and government interests. That appeal in a letter last month from lawyers for the Trump Organization to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela was apparently unsuccessful — an emergency arbitrator days later declined to reinstate the Trump management team to the waterfront hotel in Panama City. But it provides hard proof of exactly the kind of conflict experts feared when Trump refused to divest from a sprawling empire that includes hotels, golf courses, licensing deals and other interests in more than 20 countries.” See also, Trump’s family business issued a not-so-veiled political threat to the president of Panama, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 9 April 2018: “If there is one paragraph to take away from the Associated Press’s report about the Trump Organization asking Panama’s president to intervene in its business dispute over an eviction, it’s this one: ‘The letter goes on to say that the eviction violates the Bilateral Investment Treaty. “We appreciate your influence in order to avoid that these damages are attributed not to the other party, but to the Panamanian government,” the letter said, suggesting that the government, not the new management team, could be blamed for wrongdoing.’ That is a threat. And it is not even that veiled.”

Some Lessons From California for Donald Trump, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Monday, 9 April 2018: “If you’re looking to get away from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and spend a few days thinking about the direction of this country, you might consider a trip to Southern California, which I visited last week with my family. In many ways, the Golden State represents the American future that Trump—with his white nativism and economic protectionism—is trying to turn back, Canute style. Once a bastion of Nixon-Reagan Republicanism, California is now among the most diverse states in the country, with Hispanics and Asians making up a majority of the population. The state—the world’s sixth-largest economy—is also increasingly integrated into the Pacific Rim.”


Tuesday, 10 April 2018, Day 446:


Raids on Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen Sought Records of Payments to Women, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Matt Apuzzo, and Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “The F.B.I. agents who raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump as well as information related to the role of the publisher of The National Enquirer in silencing one of the women, according to several people briefed on the investigation. The search warrant carried out by the public corruption unit of the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan sought information about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claims she carried on a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump shortly after the birth of his youngest son in 2006. Ms. McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc., The Enquirer’s parent company, whose chief executive is a friend of Mr. Trump’s. Agents were also searching the office and hotel room of the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, for information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, who also said she had sex with Mr. Trump while he was married. Mr. Cohen has acknowledged that he paid Ms. Clifford $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement to secure her silence days before the 2016 presidential election.” See also, Warrants and Privilege: Legal Questions About the Raids on Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: ” See also, Michael Cohen, ‘Ultimate Trump Loyalist,’ Is Now in the Sights of the F.B.I., The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Jim Rutenberg, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 10 April 2018. See also, Trump says attorney-client privilege is ‘dead’ in wake of FBI raid targeting his attorney, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 10 April 2018.  The Crime-Fraud Exception in the Michael Cohen Case, American Civil Liberties Union, David Cole, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “The attorney-client privilege has always included a ‘crime-fraud exception,’ which provides that if you are using the attorney-client relationship to perpetrate a crime, there is no privilege. You have a right to talk in confidence with your attorney about criminal activity, but you can’t use your attorney to accomplish a crime.” See also, Donald Trump Has Good Reason to Be Rattled About the Michael Cohen Raid, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Tuesday, 10 April 2018. See also, A Brief History of Michael Cohen’s Criminal TiesRolling Stone, Seth Hettena, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “From the Russian mob to money launderers, Trump’s personal attorney has long been a subject of interest to federal investigators.”

The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “Why don’t we take a step back and contemplate what Americans, and the world, are witnessing? Early Monday morning, F.B.I. agents raided the New York office, home and hotel room of the personal lawyer for the president of the United States. They seized evidence of possible federal crimes — including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations related to payoffs made to women, including a porn actress, who say they had affairs with the president before he took office and were paid off and intimidated into silence. That evening the president surrounded himself with the top American military officials and launched unbidden into a tirade against the top American law enforcement officials — officials of his own government — accusing them of ‘an attack on our country.’ Meanwhile, the president’s former campaign chairman is under indictment, and his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. His son-in-law and other associates are also under investigation. This is your president, ladies and gentlemen. This is how Donald Trump does business, and these are the kinds of people he surrounds himself with. Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office…. A raid on a lawyer’s office doesn’t happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they’d find evidence of a crime there and that they didn’t trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence…. [T]he raids on the premises used by Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, were conducted by the public corruption unit of the federal attorney’s office in Manhattan, and at the request not of the special counsel’s team, but under a search warrant that investigators in New York obtained following a referral by Mr. Mueller, who first consulted with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. To sum up, a Republican-appointed former F.B.I. director consulted with a Republican-appointed deputy attorney general, who then authorized a referral to an F.B.I. field office not known for its anti-Trump bias.

With Scant Precedent, the White House Insists Trump Could Fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller Himself, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “As President Trump continued to fume on Tuesday about the Justice Department’s raids on the office and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, made a provocative claim: The president, she said, believes he has the legal authority to fire Robert S. Mueller, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation. The assertion by Ms. Sanders was surprising because the general understanding has been that Mr. Trump himself cannot directly fire Mr. Mueller, and that he would instead have to order the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purpose of the Russia inquiry, to do so. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any involvement in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein has repeatedly said that he will refuse any order to fire Mr. Mueller unless he decides the special counsel committed misconduct. If the general understanding is correct, then, Mr. Trump would probably have to fire Mr. Rosenstein and hunt for a successor willing to carry out the order — echoing the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ during the Watergate scandal.” See also, The White House just edged closer to firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 10 April 2018. See also, Senate Republican leaders warn Trump but reject calls to pass legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim, and Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 10 April 2018.

Trump Sought to Fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in December 2017, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “In early December, President Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down. The president’s anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank, according to interviews with eight White House officials, people close to the president and others familiar with the episode. To Mr. Trump, the subpoenas suggested that Mr. Mueller had expanded the investigation in a way that crossed the ‘red line’ he had set last year in an interview with The New York Times. In the hours that followed Mr. Trump’s initial anger over the Deutsche Bank reports, his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas, and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller’s office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down. Mr. Trump’s quick conclusion that the erroneous news reports warranted firing Mr. Mueller is also an insight into Mr. Trump’s state of mind about the special counsel. Despite assurances from leading Republicans like Speaker Paul D. Ryan that the president has not thought about firing Mr. Mueller, the December episode was the second time Mr. Trump is now known to have considered taking that step. The other instance was in June, when the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, threatened to quit unless Mr. Trump stopped trying to get him to fire Mr. Mueller.”

An international team of chemical weapons inspectors head to Syria as White House mulls response to a suspected attackThe Washington Post, Carol Morello, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “An international team of chemical weapons investigators prepared to deploy to Syria on Tuesday as the White House weighed a possible U.S. military response to a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of people outside of Damascus. President Trump canceled a trip to Latin America so he could oversee the U.S. response to Saturday’s incident in the town of Douma, and he conferred on Syria in phone calls with the leaders of France and Britain. Trump said Monday that he would decide within 48 hours how best to respond, but the impending visit of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons may push the timetable further out. As pressure and threats mounted, the United States and Russia used their vetoes at the United Nations Security Council to cancel out each other’s proposals for investigations into the attack and who was responsible.”

Bank of America Will Stop Lending to Makers of Assault-Style GunsBloomberg Markets, Laura Keller and Polly Mosendz, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “Bank of America Corp. plans to stop lending to companies that make assault-style guns used for non-military purposes. ‘It’s our intention not to finance these military-style firearms for civilian use,’ Anne Finucane, a vice chairman at Bank of America, said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview. The firm has had ‘intense conversations over the last few months’ with those kinds of gun manufacturers to tell them it won’t finance their operations in the future, she said.”

Environmental Protection Agency Files Undercut Pruitt’s Need for Millions of Dollars to Be Spent on Security Expenditures and First-Class TravelThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “An internal assessment of threats aimed at Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, undercuts claims made by Mr. Pruitt’s security team to justify millions of dollars in security expenditures, according to an internal document obtained by a Senate Democrat. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island wrote in a letter on Tuesday to John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, that the E.P.A.’s Homeland Security Intelligence Team reviewed an earlier memo in February and found no specific credible threats to the administrator.” See also, E.P.A. Has Been Examining Posts on Twitter About Scott Pruitt to Justify His Extraordinary and Costly Security Measures, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Lisa Friedman, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Tuesday, 10 April 2018. See also, EPA removes Mario Caraballo, a career staffer who approved an internal report that undermined Scott Pruitt’s claims that he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection, Politico, Emily Holden, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “Mario Caraballo was the deputy associate administrator of EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, which in February concluded that an earlier assessment failed to identify credible direct threats against the administrator that would justify his heavy security spending.”

The Arizona Supreme Court rules that ‘Dreamers’ in Arizona are no longer eligible for in-state tuition, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Tuesday, 10 April 2018: “The Arizona Supreme Court on Monday ruled that young immigrants protected from deportation under an Obama-era program will no longer be eligible for in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges. The court unanimously agreed with the Arizona Court of Appeals, which ruled that federal and state laws do not allow Maricopa Community Colleges to grant in-state tuition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, also known as ‘dreamers.’… The decision means Arizona college tuition costs could double or even triple for DACA recipients. In-state tuition for the next school year at Arizona State University, for example, is $9,834, while nonresident tuition is $27,618, according to the Arizona Republic. Arizona residents pay $86 per credit hour at the Maricopa Community Colleges, while nonresidents pay $241. The ruling could affect upward of 2,000 DACA recipients who attend community colleges or state universities in Arizona and pay in-state rates, the Republic reported. Immigrant advocacy groups say the higher tuition rates could prove crippling for DACA students, leading fewer to enroll in college.”


Wednesday, 11 April 2018, Day 447:


Trump Promises Strike on Syria and Warns Russia Against Backing Syrian President Assad, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “President Trump put Syria and Russia on notice Wednesday morning in a Twitter post, promising that missiles fired at Syria ‘will be coming, nice and new and smart!’ and telling the Kremlin that it should not partner with a ‘Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!’ After the threat, the president said in a separate tweet that relations between the United States and Russia are worse than ever…. Mr. Trump’s early morning comments were remarkable in that he is, in a way, telegraphing the United States’ response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is something he had previously criticized other leaders for doing. Mr. Trump has said publicly that sharing military plans could give enemies information they could use to their advantage.”

F.B.I. Raid on Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen Sought Records on ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Matt Apuzzo, and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “The F.B.I. agents who raided the office and hotel of President Trump’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, were seeking details on his relationship with the Trump campaign and his efforts to suppress negative information about Mr. Trump, according to three people briefed on the matter. Prosecutors are interested in whether Mr. Cohen, who had no official role in the 2016 campaign, coordinated with it to quash the release of anything detrimental to it and whether that violated campaign finance laws — a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen. The warrant executed Monday by the agents was striking in its breadth, according to those people. It demanded documents related to the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape in which Mr. Trump was heard making vulgar comments about women, and to other materials related to secret agreements Mr. Cohen made with women in exchange for them not speaking publicly about sexual encounters with Mr. Trump. The warrant also covered emails and other documents that could reveal Mr. Cohen’s private communications with Mr. Trump during a tense period in the presidential campaign when Mr. Trump confronted the possibility of embarrassing details of his extramarital affairs. And it delved deeply into Mr. Cohen’s past, including documents about Mr. Cohen’s personal and business finances, including his work as a New York taxi fleet manager. The additional details the agents were seeking came a day after it was revealed that the authorities sought documents from Mr. Cohen related to payments made to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star known as Stormy Daniels, as well as information on the role of the publisher of The National Enquirer in silencing the women.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan will not seek reelection in November, The Washington Post, Paul Kane, John Wagner, and Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of his term, a historically unusual move that jolted Washington and further complicated embattled Republicans’ hopes of holding the House.” 

Bipartisan Senate bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller is set to advance in the Judiciary Committee, Politico, Elana Schor and Burgess Everett, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “A bipartisan Senate bill designed to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job is on track for a vote in the Judiciary Committee, according to a source briefed on the committee’s plans. It’s a significant step forward as lawmakers warn President Donald Trump not to fire the man investigating him. The combined version of two Mueller protection measures, released Wednesday, would give any special counsel 10 days after a termination to challenge the move in court. The new bill is the product of months-long talks among Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has yet to lend his full support, but that’s not stopping him from setting up the legislation to advance.”

  The combined version of two Mueller protection measures, released Wednesday, would give any special counsel 10 days after a termination to challenge the move in court.

Republican oversight chairman Trey Gowdy demands more records on Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s travel and housing, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “The Republican head of a congressional oversight committee Wednesday asked for more answers from the Environmental Protection Agency about Administrator Scott Pruitt’s first-class travels and said the committee also plans to evaluate the $50-a-night rental Pruitt had with a lobbyist. In a letter to Pruitt, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said that the EPA ‘has failed to produce all the documents’ he requested in February related to Pruitt’s frequent first- and business-class flights, which The Washington Post had reported about in detail days earlier.”

A group spearheaded by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder is suing the Trump administration over census citizenship question, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “A group spearheaded by former U.S. attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. is suing the Trump administration in an attempt to block its plans to add a last-minute citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The federal lawsuit, to be filed Wednesday on behalf of seven residents of Maryland and Arizona, contends that the question is at odds with the constitutional requirement that the census count every person residing in the United States, including noncitizens.”

Broward County–the site of the Parkland school shooting–votes to refuse state money to arm school personnel, The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “The school board in Florida’s Broward County — where 17 people died when a gunman opened fire Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — voted unanimously against accepting state money so that school personnel can be trained to carry guns on campus.”

Nationwide protests planned if Trump fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Reuters, Andrew Hay, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “U.S. progressive groups are gearing up for nationwide protests if President Donald Trump fires the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, or replaces the Justice Department official overseeing the probe.”

Republicans Couldn’t Knock Down Obamacare. So They’re Finding Ways Around It. The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “Obamacare’s many rules about insurance — meant to make coverage accessible to Americans regardless of their health status, and comprehensive enough to cover their needs — still exist. Obamacare plans will still have to cover a basic set of health benefits and accept customers who have a history of illness. But, through a series of regulatory maneuvers, the Trump administration is making the insurance market governed by those rules increasingly optional. Alongside the Obamacare market it couldn’t destroy, it is helping to build a second market, free of many rules, and more like the market that Obamacare replaced.”

The Interior Department’s poor record-keeping makes it impossible to tell whether mass employee transfer was legal, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “The Department of the Interior’s internal watchdog office has concluded that it cannot determine whether an unusual and controversial reassignment of dozens of senior employees ran afoul of federal law — because top Interior officials failed to document how they made their decisions. The report from Interior’s inspector general’s office highlights the latest example of department leaders keeping scant records of their personnel and spending decisions — a practice that has drawn scrutiny from congressional overseers and environmental groups. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the report from two separate sources before investigators published it later on Wednesday. The investigation began after Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s move to reassign 27 members — about 12 percent — of his department’s workers in the Senior Executive Service between June and October.”

The Justice Department gives House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes access to document on Russia probe’s origins, cooling his threat to impeach its leaders, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “The Justice Department on Wednesday gave House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes access to a redacted document detailing the origin of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election — a day after Nunes suggested publicly he might impeach top FBI or Justice Department officials over their failure to produce what he wanted…. The document is said to detail how the Russia investigation started, at least in part because a young Trump foreign policy adviser boasted to an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. That was months before hacked Democratic Party emails began appearing online. The Justice Department’s providing Nunes access to it seemed to placate him at least for the moment, as he issued a statement afterward thanking Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein for his cooperation.”

When testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump judicial nominee Wendy Vitter wouldn’t say if Supreme Court was right to outlaw segregated schools in Brown v. the Board of Education, NOLA | The Times-Picayune, Drew Broach, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “From the get-go, Wendy Vitter’s nomination to be a federal judge in New Orleans has been a lightning rod. Political conservatives and lawyers who worked with her praise her abilities, while left-wing interests decry her opposition to abortion and her failure on her Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire to disclose some of her public statements on the issue. Now critics have found new ammunition: She won’t say whether the Supreme Court was right in 1954 to outlaw racially segregated public schools. She dodged the question when Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked during her Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday (April 11) whether she thinks Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., was correctly decided.”

What Trump’s Fight With Amazon Signals for American Business, The New Yorker, Adam Davidson, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “Trump’s attack on Amazon shows that he’s willing to experiment with the tools at his disposal to reshape the economy around his preferences and resentments.”

Trump’s Company Is Suing Towns Across the Country to Get Breaks on Taxes, ProPublica, Katherine Sullivan, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “President Donald Trump is famous for bragging about his net worth. Publicly, he claims he’s worth more than $10 billion. He even sued an author over the issue and lobbied the editors of Forbes about his ranking on their billionaires list. Yet quietly in another setting, the Trump Organization says the president’s holdings are worth far less than he has proclaimed. Across the country, the Trump Organization is suing local governments, claiming it owes much less in property taxes than government assessors say because its properties are worth much less than they’ve been valued at. In just one example, the company has asserted that its gleaming waterfront skyscraper in Chicago is worth less than its assessed value, in part because its retail space is failing and worth less than nothing.”

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon says the White House should stop cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller and assert executive privilege, The Washington Post, Robert Costa, Wednesday, 11 April 2018: “Stephen K. Bannon, who was ousted as White House chief strategist last summer but has remained in touch with some members of President Trump’s circle, is pitching a plan to West Wing aides and congressional allies to cripple the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to four people familiar with the discussions. The first step, these people say, would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and in recent days signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen. Bannon is also recommending the White House cease its cooperation with Mueller, reversing the policy of Trump’s legal team to provide information to the special counsel’s team and to allow staff members to sit for interviews. And he is telling associates inside and outside the administration that the president should create a new legal battleground to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.”


Thursday, 12 April 2018, Day 448:


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Tries to Put Brakes on Possible Syria Strike, to ‘Keep This From Escalating,’ The New York Times, Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, and Peter Baker, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought on Thursday to slow down an imminent strike on Syria, reflecting mounting concerns at the Pentagon that a concerted bombing campaign could escalate into a wider conflict between Russia, Iran and the West. During a closed-door White House meeting, officials said, Mr. Mattis pushed for more evidence of President Bashar al-Assad’s role in a suspected chemical attack last weekend that would assure the world that military action was necessary. Despite the caution, two Defense Department officials predicted it would be difficult to pull back from punishing airstrikes, given President Trump’s threat on Twitter a day earlier of American missiles that ‘will be coming, nice and new and smart.’…  Before the White House meeting, Mr. Trump told reporters he would make a decision ‘fairly soon’ about a strike. Earlier, in a tweet, he insisted that he had never telegraphed the timing of an attack on Syria, which ‘could be very soon or not so soon at all!'”

The National Enquirer, A Trump Rumor, and Another Secret Payment to Buy Silence: How American Media, Inc.  protected Presidential candidate Donald Trump early in his campaign, The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Late in 2015, a former Trump Tower doorman named Dino Sajudin met with a reporter from American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, at a McDonald’s in Pennsylvania. A few weeks earlier, Sajudin had signed a contract with A.M.I., agreeing to become a source and to accept thirty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to information he had been told: that Donald Trump, who had launched his Presidential campaign five months earlier, may have fathered a child with a former employee in the late nineteen-eighties. Sajudin declined to comment for this story. However, six current and former A.M.I. employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared legal retaliation by the company, said that Sajudin had told A.M.I. the names of the alleged mistress and child. Reporters at A.M.I. had spent weeks investigating the allegations, and Sajudin had passed a lie-detector test, during which he testified that high-level Trump employees, including Trump’s head of security, Matthew Calamari, had told him the story…. Shortly after the company paid Sajudin, the chairman and C.E.O. of A.M.I., David Pecker, who has spoken publicly about his friendship with Trump, ordered the A.M.I. reporters to stop investigating, the sources told me. One of the employees involved said, ‘There’s no question it was done as a favor to continue to protect Trump from these potential secrets. That’s black-and-white.’ A.M.I.’s thirty-thousand-dollar payment to Sajudin appears to be the third instance of Trump associates paying to suppress embarrassing stories about the candidate during the 2016 Presidential race…. A.M.I. later attempted to prevent other outlets from reporting on the story or the company’s payout.” See also, National Enquirer paid second source with embarrassing Trump rumor, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Thursday, 12 April 2018. Investigators Focus on another Trump Ally: The National Enquirer, The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg, Emily Steel, and Mike McIntire, published on Wednesday, 11 April 2018.

Trump weighs rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership amid trade dispute with China, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Damian Paletta, and Seung Min Kim, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “President Trump ordered top administration officials Thursday to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the sprawling trade pact he rejected three days after taking office. The move would mark a stunning reversal for Trump, who sharply criticized the pact as a ‘disaster’ and made opposition to global trade deals a centerpiece of his economic agenda as a candidate. The Obama administration had signed the trade agreement, known as TPP, with 11 other countries, including Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia, to lower tariffs and counter China’s influence in the Pacific. An embrace of the TPP would give Trump more leverage in his escalating trade feud with Beijing. It also would give U.S. farms, retailers and other businesses better access to foreign markets if China makes good on its recent threats of new tariffs on U.S. goods.” See also, Trump Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership, The New York Times, Ana Swanson, Thursday, 12 April 2018.

Letter Signed by Two Senators and Three House Lawmakers Claims Further Spending Abuses by Scott Pruitt, the Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, insisted on staying in luxury hotels that were costlier than allowed by government standards, while also pushing to fly on an airline not on the government’s approved list so he could accrue more frequent flier miles, one of his top former deputies at agency has told congressional investigators. The new allegations are detailed in a scathing six-page letter signed by two senators and three House lawmakers — all Democrats — whose staff members met this week with Kevin Chmielewski, who served as the E.P.A.’s deputy chief of staff until he was removed from his post after raising objections to this and other spending. In a separate letter on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers also demanded information about two previously unknown E.P.A. email addresses that have been used by Mr. Pruitt, asking if they were a tool for withholding public information from records requests…. According to Thursday’s six-page letter from lawmakers, Mr. Chmielewski told congressional staff members during a meeting this week that Mr. Pruitt would often seek to schedule trips back to Oklahoma, where he still owns a home, so he could stay there for weekends. ‘Find me something to do,’ were the instructions Mr. Pruitt gave his staff, after telling them he wanted to travel to particular destinations, the letter says, quoting Mr. Chmielewski, who was expected to sign off on the trips.” See also, Scott Pruitt has four different EPA email addresses. Lawmakers want to know why. The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Thursday, 12 April 2018. See also, Kevin Chmielewski, former aide to Scott Pruitt, alleges wasteful spending and extravagant travel by the EPA chief, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 12 April 2018.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, Pasquale Perrotta, Scott Pruitt’s ‘Sheriff,’ Clashed with Critics of Pruitt’s Spending, The New York Times, Kenneth P Vogel, Eric Lipton, and Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “A former Secret Service agent, with a background investigating the Gambino crime family, is serving as the chief of security for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and has helped build an unusual and costly protective apparatus around him. The agent, Pasquale Perrotta, has clashed — at least once physically — with top E.P.A. officials who challenged Mr. Pruitt’s spending, and has steered at least one E.P.A. security contract to a business associate, according to interviews with current and former senior agency officials. Officially, Mr. Perrotta leads Mr. Pruitt’s protective detail, but he plays a far larger role at the E.P.A., offering security justifications for management, personnel and spending decisions, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and feared retribution. Mr. Perrotta’s outsize influence has placed him at the center of inquiries by the E.P.A. inspector general’s office into excessive spending and possible violations of contracting rules by Mr. Pruitt’s administration, according to the senior officials.”

In Pennsylvania, It’s Open Season on Undocumented Immigrants, ProPublica, Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Since Trump took office, deportation officers have been unshackled, as the White House describes it, from an Obama-era mandate to focus limited enforcement resources on deporting immigrants with serious criminal convictions. Across the country, they have been rounding up people … who have sunk roots in this country, living for years, if not decades, with little fear of apprehension. Nowhere, however, have federal agents more aggressively embraced their newfound freedom than in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware, an investigation by ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer found.” See also, For Police Who Want to Help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Crack Down on Illegal Immigration, Pennsylvania Is a Free-for-All, ProPublica, Dale Russakoff and Deborah Sontag, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Last year, five states — New York, California, Illinois, Oregon and Washington — limited how police can question immigrants about their legal status or hold them for ICE without a warrant. Separately, more than 400 counties restricted their engagement with ICE enforcement, according to a national survey. On the other hand, 59 local agencies in 17 states have partnerships with ICE to train and deputize their officers to enforce immigration laws. Pennsylvania is in neither group, with no ICE partnership and no state-imposed restriction. The result is heightened uncertainty for immigrants about encounters with local and state authorities who might take it upon themselves to act unofficially as surrogates for the federal immigration agency. This is especially true in the center of the state, where anti-immigrant feelings run high. ‘The whole central Pennsylvania area is like the opposite of a sanctuary city,’ said Anser Ahmad, an immigration lawyer. ‘Cops are out there looking for people.'”

A Federal Judge in Los Angeles Ruled That the Justice Department Cannot Require That Local Police Departments Help Immigration Agents in Order to Receive Federal Funding, The New York Times, Jennifer Medina, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “The Justice Department cannot require that local police departments help immigration agents in order to receive federal funding, a federal judge has ruled. The ruling is a significant victory for local governments that have opposed the Trump administration’s stance on immigration and vowed to stay out of enforcement efforts. United States District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles issued a permanent, national injunction against the federal funding rules, giving the city an important win in a long-running legal battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House. The ruling is ‘a complete victory,’ Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney, said Thursday. ‘This is yet another dagger in the heart of the administration’s efforts to use federal funds as a weapon to make local jurisdictions complicit in its civil immigration enforcement policies.’ A Justice Department spokesman, Devin M. O’Malley, suggested an appeal was likely.”

FBI raid sought Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s communications with bank that loaned him money against his taxi business, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, and Carol D. Leonnig, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “A federal investigation into what role President Trump’s personal attorney played in facilitating payments to two women who alleged affairs with Trump is also examining the lawyer’s interactions with a bank that gave him loans against his taxi business. When they raided the office of Trump lawyer Michael D. Cohen on Monday, FBI agents sought his communications with New York-based Sterling National Bank about taxi medallions owned by Cohen, according to a person familiar with the search warrant. The request indicates that prosecutors may have an interest in specific financial transactions that Cohen undertook while using his taxi business as collateral.”

James Comey’s Memoir Offers Visceral Details on a President ‘Untethered to Truth,’ The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Donald J. Trump asked Director James B. Comey of the F.B.I. to investigate and knock down a lurid but unverified report that placed Mr. Trump years earlier in a Moscow hotel suite with prostitutes, explaining to Mr. Comey that the fantastic story was untrue and was painful and distressing to his wife, Melania Trump…. The 304-page memoir by Mr. Comey is the only firsthand, insider account to emerge so far by a former Trump official describing what it was like to work in the chaotic early days of the administration. In it, Mr. Comey, a veteran law enforcement agent, writes unsparingly about Mr. Trump, calling him a tempestuous president whose connection to honesty was tenuous at best. ‘This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,’ Mr. Comey writes in the book, saying his service to Mr. Trump recalled for him the days when he investigated the mob in New York. ‘The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.'” See also, James Comey’s memoir: Trump fixates on proving lewd dossier allegations falseThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Thursday, 12 April 2018. See also, James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive. The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani, Thursday, 12 April 2018.

What Could Happen if Trump Fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “As President Trump continued to seethe over F.B.I. raids this week on the office and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, a chorus of his supporters have been publicly urging him to fire Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who signed off on the move. The clear idea behind the suggestion — which Mr. Trump is also said to be weighing — is that ousting Mr. Rosenstein would enable the White House to put the criminal investigations encircling the president’s associates on a tighter leash, or even to shut them down. [In this article, Charlie Savage looks] at some of the issues at stake.”

Joseph Mifsud, the Absent Professor: A Key Trump-Russia Intermediary Has Been Missing for Months, as the Case for Collusion Grows Stronger, The Intercept, James Risen, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “When I began this series of columns about Trump and Russia for The Intercept, I believed that evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow was thin. Collusion, I thought, was the weak link in the middle of the larger Trump-Russia narrative. At that time, I believed there was much stronger evidence that the Russians had intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win through a cyberoffensive targeting the American political system. I also thought there was powerful evidence that Trump and his aides had engaged in efforts to obstruct justice and impede Mueller’s investigation. Further, I suspected that congressional Republicans were engaged in a similar conspiracy to obstruct justice in Mueller’s inquiry. I was much less convinced that there was compelling evidence to show that Trump or those around him had actually conspired with the Russians to win the presidency. Like many others, I was willing to believe that Trump and his aides were too haplessly disorganized and incompetent to have coordinated with the Russians. But as I’ve dug deeper into the evidence made public so far, I have become convinced that the case for collusion is much stronger than I thought. There are still plenty of unanswered questions, but that case is getting more persuasive as new facts come to light…. A handful of communications might be easily explained away. The problem for Trump is that evidence of suspicious contacts with the Russians or possible intermediaries keeps mounting, and the details of those contacts make it increasingly difficult to dismiss them all as merely coincidental.”

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai rejects senators’ request to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group, The Hill, Brett Samuels, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday rejected a request from a dozen senators to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group for ‘distorting news’ coverage. The senators — 11 Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) — asked the FCC to review Sinclair’s broadcast license and pause its proposed merger after the company had anchors across the country read scripted promos warning of ‘fake news’ and media bias.”

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Questions Dual Roles of Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the White House Budget Office, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “The White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, privately fumed on Thursday that his own staff had been leaking confidential information ‘to make me look bad,’ hours after a federal appeals court questioned whether he could legally run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while simultaneously heading the budget office. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expressed support for the president’s legal right to appoint an interim director of the consumer agency. But two of the three jurists — Patricia A. Millett and Judith W. Rogers, both Democratic appointees — raised doubts about Mr. Mulvaney’s dual roles, citing the legal provision that created the bureau. The legal question surrounding Mr. Mulvaney’s appointment stems from a case brought by Leandra English, a former top consumer bureau official who was installed late last year as acting director by the agency’s departing director, Richard Cordray. President Trump bypassed Ms. English and instead installed Mr. Mulvaney, the Office of Management and Budget director, to run both agencies. Ms. English sued, claiming she was legally entitled to the title of interim director.”

Senate Confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a Former Coal Lobbyist, as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Second-in-Command, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 12 April 2018: “The Senate on Thursday confirmed the Environmental Protection Agency’s second-in-command, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who not only shares the deregulatory zeal of Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. chief, but also his doubtful view of climate science. More notable, however, are the differences between the two men. Unlike Mr. Pruitt, a Washington outsider caught in a swirl of controversy over his costly first-class travel and security spending, Mr. Wheeler is viewed as a low-key insider with years of Washington experience in the art of pursuing policy change while avoiding public distraction. Deregulation is among President Trump’s central campaign promises, and Mr. Pruitt has proposed ambitious rollbacks of rules governing clean air and water and fighting against climate change. But many of his initiatives have stumbled because of haste or imprecision, and at least six have been struck down by the courts. That makes the arrival of Mr. Wheeler’s expertise particularly consequential.” See also, Senate confirms Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, as Scott Pruitt’s second-in-command at the EPA, The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, Brady Dennis, and Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 12 April 2018.