Trump, Week 67: Friday, 27 April – Thursday, 3 May 2018 (Days 463-469)

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, 27 April 2018, Day 463:


North and South Korea Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear ArmsThe New York Times, Choe Sang-Hun, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on Friday to work to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and, within the year, pursue talks with the United States to declare an official end to the Korean War, which ravaged the peninsula from 1950 to 1953. At a historic summit meeting, the first time a North Korean leader had ever set foot in the South, the leaders vowed to negotiate a treaty to replace a truce that has kept an uneasy peace on the divided Korean Peninsula for more than six decades. A peace treaty has been one of the incentives North Korea has demanded in return for dismantling its nuclear program.” See also, Trump Renews Attacks on James Comey Before Turning to Praise of Korean TalksThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 27 April 2018: “President Trump on Friday renewed his attacks on the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, kicking off a morning Twitter barrage by once again accusing Mr. Comey of leaking classified information and lying to cover it up, even as the leaders of North and South Korea held a historic meeting hours earlier. In a tweet, Mr. Trump called Mr. Comey ‘either very sick or very dumb,’ saying his fired F.B.I. chief did not understand the severity of his actions in having details about his interactions with the president provided to a reporter.” See also, The historic Kim-Moon meeting as it unfoldedThe Washington Post, Rick Noack and Joyce Lee, Friday, 27 April 2018: “In 2016, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to strike the residence of South Korea’s president with missiles, foreshadowing mounting tensions that have kept the world on alert ever since. So, when Kim stretched out his hand and smiled at South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, the scene could hardly have been more surreal. The historic moment was the result of months of negotiations and pressure by both China and the United States, even though it remains unclear how far North Korea is willing to give in. North Korea is also still responsible for horrifying crimes against its own population, including labor camps and torture — something that wasn’t addressed in a statement the two leaders released Friday. In their release, Kim and Moon announced their ‘common goal’ of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, which was the clearest such commitment ever agreed to by the two nations. Curiously, North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize comes after a year in which Kim made major advances in developing and testing nuclear weapons.”

Environmental Protection Agency Readies Plan to Weaken Rules That Require Cars to Be CleanerThe New York Times, Niroko Tabuchi, Brad Plumer, and Coral Davenport, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The Trump administration has drafted a new set of regulations on planet-warming emissions from cars and light trucks that would dramatically weaken Obama-era standards. The proposal, if implemented, would also set up a legal clash between the federal government and California by challenging the state’s authority to set its own, stricter, air pollution rules. Details of the proposal, which is being jointly drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department and is expected to be sent to the White House for approval in coming days, were described to The New York Times by a federal official who had seen them but was not authorized to discuss the matter. The proposal follows an announcement this month by the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, that the Trump administration intended to weaken the stringent vehicle fuel economy standards set by the Obama administration that aimed to roughly double the average fuel economy of new cars, S.U.V.s and light trucks by 2025.” See also, Trump administration drafts plan to unravel Obama-era fuel-efficiency rules and to challenge California’s ability to set its own fuel-efficiency rulesThe Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Dino Grandoni, and Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The Trump administration has drafted a proposal that would freeze fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles starting in 2021 and challenge California’s ability to set its own fuel-efficiency rules, changes that would hobble one of the Obama administration’s most significant initiatives to curb climate change. The draft document, while not final, suggests the Trump administration is poised to make significant changes to planned auto standards over the next decade. A federal official who has reviewed the document described it in detail to The Washington Post.”

House Intelligence Committee Republicans release final Russia reportThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian, and Greg Miller, Friday, 27 April 2018: “House Intelligence Committee Republicans on Friday released a redacted version of their final report from a year-long probe of Russia’s ‘multifaceted’ influence operation, generally clearing President Trump and his associates of wrongdoing while accusing the intelligence community and the FBI of failures in how they assessed and responded to the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. The report charges the intelligence community with ‘significant intelligence tradecraft failings,’ suggesting, without saying explicitly, that Russia’s main goal was to sow discord in the United States and not to help Trump win the election. It says investigators found ‘no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government,’ even as it details contacts between campaign officials and Russians or Russian intermediaries. Though the report — and a rebuttal from Democrats — offers little in the way of new information, the dueling documents give each side of the aisle ammunition to support its long-held arguments about how and why Russia interfered in the 2016 election. They come at a moment when the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who has already secured guilty pleas from a number of Trump associates, has largely overtaken the probes in Congress. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also pursuing its own investigation.” See also, Republicans on House Intelligence Committee Absolve Trump Campaign in Russian Meddling, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Sharon LaFraniere, Friday, 27 April 2018: “In a nearly 100-page dissenting document, Democrats on the Intelligence Committee described the Republicans’ report as little more than a whitewash. The eagerness of Trump campaign aides to accept offers of Russian assistance, they said, suggests ‘a consciousness of wrongfulness, if not illegality.’ The Democrats complained that the committee failed to pursue obvious leads, interview important witnesses or investigate crucial lines of inquiry.” See also, The House Intelligence Committee report released by the Republican majority on the committee is full of bizarre redactions, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 27 April 2018. See also, 5 Takeaways From the House Intelligence Committee Report on Russian Election Meddling, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Matthew Rosenberg, Friday, 27 April 2018.

Continue reading Week 67, Friday, 27 April – Thursday, 3 May 2018 (Days 463-469)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s proposal to triple rents for poorest households would hurt single mothers the mostThe Washington Post, Tracy Jan, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The proposal by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to at least triple the minimum rent that the poorest Americans pay for federally subsidized housing would put nearly 1 million children at risk of homelessness, according to an analysis of HUD data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Under current rules, families that receive housing subsidies typically pay 30 percent of their income for rent. Public housing agencies can instead charge a minimum rent of up to $50 a month. Carson’s proposal, if approved by Congress, would raise that monthly minimum rent to $150.”

The CIA Gives a Highly Sanitized View of Gina Haspel While Keeping Her Torture Record Secret, ACLU, Brian Tashman, Friday, 27 April 2018: “While the CIA has been trying to salvage Gina Haspel’s rocky nomination to lead the agency with a series of gushing tweets and by making public only flattering bits of her record, the American people have to reckon with a nominee whose role in torture and the destruction of torture evidence is still shrouded in secrecy.”

Trump threatens to punish countries that don’t support North American World Cup bid, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The president’s tweet began with a rare call for Pan-American unity and ended with an international threat. President Trump on Thursday night threw his support behind a joint North American campaign to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, tweeting that the United States ‘has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico’ to host the international soccer tournament in all three countries. But then Trump appeared to threaten nations that decline to back the North American bid. ‘It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid,’ Trump wrote in the tweet. ‘Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?'” See also, Breaking down Trump’s tweet about 2026 World Cup bid, The Washington Post, Steven Goff, Sunday, 29 April 2018.

Speaker Paul Ryan’s Firing of House Chaplain Patrick Conroy Creates an Uproar on Capitol Hill, The New York Times, Elizabeth Dias and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 27 April 2018: “Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s abrupt decision to dismiss the House chaplain triggered an uproar on Friday over religion, pitting Republican against Republican and offering Democrats a political opportunity in a year already moving their way. Mr. Ryan moved quietly two weeks ago to remove the chaplain, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy — so quietly that some lawmakers assumed the Catholic priest was retiring. But in an interview on Thursday with The New York Times, Father Conroy said he was blindsided when Mr. Ryan asked him to resign, and suggested politics — specifically a prayer he gave in November when Congress was debating a tax overhaul — may have been a factor in the speaker’s decision. Father Conroy prayed then for lawmakers to ‘guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.’ Shortly after, he said, he was admonished by Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, who is also a Roman Catholic…. As reports of the dismissal circulated in the Capitol, some Republicans, in a closed-door meeting on Friday morning, demanded an explanation from Mr. Ryan, while Democrats commandeered the House floor in a boisterous, if unsuccessful, attempt to force the House to investigate Mr. Ryan’s decision.”

Natalia Veselnitskaya, Lawyer Who Was Said to Have Dirt on Clinton, Had Closer Ties to the Kremlin Than She Let On, The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer and Sharon La Franiere, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election. But newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm. Ms. Veselnitskaya also appears to have recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties. During an interview to be broadcast Friday by NBC News, she acknowledged that she was not merely a private lawyer but a source of information for a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general. ‘I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,’ she said. ‘Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.’ The previously undisclosed details about Ms. Veselnitskaya rekindle questions about who she was representing when she met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and others at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the campaign. The meeting, one focus of the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference, was organized after an intermediary promised that Ms. Veselnitskaya would deliver documents that would incriminate Mrs. Clinton.”

U.S. judge dismisses Paul Manafort suit seeking to bar special counsel Robert Mueller from bringing future charges, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 27 April 2018: “A federal judge Friday dismissed a challenge brought by Paul Manafort to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s criminal probe of Russian interference in 2016 U.S. elections, ruling that Manafort may not use a lawsuit to thwart his prosecution. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson tossed out the attempt by Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, to bar the special counsel from bringing future charges against him. The judge cited the ‘sound and well-established principle’ that potential defendants cannot ‘circumvent federal criminal procedure’ that already permits individuals to challenge charges within criminal proceedings.” See also, Paul Manafort’s Lawsuit Taking Aim at Special Counsel Robert Mueller Is Tossed Out of Court, The New York Times, Friday, 27 April 2018.

L.A. judge delays Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit and suggests Michael Cohen is likely to be indicted, Los Angeles Times, Rong-Gong Lin II, Friday, 27 April 2018: “A federal judge in Los Angeles has delayed a lawsuit filed by porn star Stormy Daniels against President Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, saying that a recent FBI raid targeting Cohen is significant and suggests a criminal indictment is forthcoming. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero ruled that proceedings in Daniels’ civil suit be pushed back until at least July 27, saying the postponement is justified until the court is able to determine ‘the scope and context of the FBI investigation and potential criminal proceedings.’…. A lawyer for Daniels, Michael Avenatti, said on Twitter he would probably appeal the ruling. ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,’ he wrote.” See also, Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Is Delayed as Judge Cites ‘Likely’ Indictment of Michael Cohen, The New York Times, Louis Lucero II, Friday, 27 April 2018.

Confederate monuments are going down. Lynching memorials are going up. Southern Poverty Law Center, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The markers are about the size of a man. The color of bricks made from Alabama’s red clay, they hang from the roof, one for every county in America where a person was lynched. Appearing first at eye level, the markers read like headstones. But as the floor descends, they hang ever more ominously overhead, until visitors are forced to crane their necks — like the spectators who once gawked at the mutilated bodies of the black men and women who had been hung. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the nation’s first major memorial to the victims of lynching during the era of Jim Crow, opened this week in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s intended to help our country confront the racial atrocities of the past so that we can begin the path toward reconciliation. The memorial is the culmination of years of research by our friends at the Equal Justice Initiative, (EJI) a legal aid organization that fights for racial justice. Its researchers pored through countless archives to document the extent of a racist terror campaign that lasted for some 70 years and, for a period of three decades, averaged two or three lynchings a week. EJI founder Bryan Stevenson and his staff identified 4,400 victims of lynching, and paid tribute in the memorial to the thousands more whose names will never be known.”

European Union agrees to total ban on bee-harming pesticides, The Guardian, Damian Carrington, Friday, 27 April 2018: “The European Union will ban the world’s most widely used insecticides from all fields due to the serious danger they pose to bees. The ban on neonicotinoids, approved by member nations on Friday, is expected to come into force by the end of 2018 and will mean they can only be used in closed greenhouses. Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed, in part, on the widespread use of pesticides. The EU banned the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops that attract bees, such as oil seed rape, in 2013. But in February, a major report from the European Union’s scientific risk assessors (Efsa) concluded that the high risk to both honeybees and wild bees resulted from any outdoor use, because the pesticides contaminate soil and water. This leads to the pesticides appearing in wildflowers or succeeding crops. A recent study of honey samples revealed global contamination by neonicotinoids.”

Hiroshima, Kyoto, and the Bombs of Climate Change, The New Yorker, Bill McKibben, Friday, 27 April 2018: “Scientists estimate that, each day, our added emissions trap the heat equivalent of four hundred thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs, which is why the Arctic has half as much ice as it did in the nineteen-eighties, why the great ocean currents have begun to slow, why we see floods and storms and fires in such sad proportion. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only atomic bombs we ever dropped; climate bombs rain down daily, and the death toll mounts unstoppably.”


Saturday, 28 April 2018, Day 464:


Donald Trump calls on Montana Senator Jon Tester to Resign in Fight Over Failed Nomination of Ronny Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 28 April 2018: “President Trump called on Saturday for the resignation of Senator Jon Tester and threatened to spread allegations about the Democratic lawmaker in retaliation for helping to thwart his effort to install the White House physician in the cabinet. Two days after the doctor, Ronny L. Jackson, withdrew from consideration for secretary of veterans affairs amid a flurry of reports about his conduct on the job, Mr. Trump made clear he did not intend to let the matter go. In a series of messages on Twitter, the president said the accusations raised by Mr. Tester against Dr. Jackson were fabricated.” See also, In a Speech in Washington Township, Michigan, Trump Unloaded on a Litany of Adversaries, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Saturday, 28 April 2018. See also, Trump Asked If There Were Hispanics in the Room Before Demanding His Wall, HuffPost, Sebastian Murdock, Saturday, 28 April 2018.


Sunday, 29 April 2018, Day 465:


Kim Jong-un, the Leader of North Korea, Says He Will End North Korea Nuclear Pursuit for U.S. TruceThe New York Times,  Choe Sang-Hun, Sunday, 29 April 2018: “Keeping diplomatic developments coming at a head-snapping pace, the South Korean government said on Sunday that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had told President Moon Jae-in that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country. In a confidence-building gesture ahead of a proposed summit meeting with President Trump, a suddenly loquacious and conciliatory Mr. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country’s only known underground nuclear test site.”

Central American Migrants Arrive at the U.S. Border and an Uncertain Future, NPR, Alexis Diao and Wynne Davis, Sunday, 29 April 2018: “A group of roughly 200 people traveling from Central America, arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday seeking political asylum and were greeted by supporters across a border fence in the U.S. holding welcome signs. But upon the group’s arrival, U.S. immigration officials announced that the port of entry in San Diego County had reached capacity.” See also, Migrant Caravan of Asylum Seekers Reaches U.S. Border, The New York Times, Kirk Semple and Miriam Jordan, Sunday, 29 April 2018.

The Justice Department Deleted Language About Press Freedom and Racial Gerrymandering From Its Internal Manual, BuzzFeed News, Zoe Tillman, Sunday, 29 April 2018: “Since the fall, the US Department of Justice has been overhauling its manual for federal prosecutors. In: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough-on-crime policies. Out: A section titled ‘Need for Free Press and Public Trial.’ References to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering are gone. Language about limits on prosecutorial power has been edited down. The changes include new sections that underscore Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on government leaks — there is new language admonishing prosecutors not to share classified information and directing them to report contacts with the media.”

Michelle Wolf Sets Off a Furor at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Sunday, 29 April 2018: “The panna cotta had been served and the First Amendment duly celebrated by the time the comedian Michelle Wolf took the stage on Saturday at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. What followed was a roast that took unflinching aim at some of the notables in the room — and quickly opened a divide, largely but not entirely along partisan lines, over the limits of comedy and comity under a president who rarely hesitates to attack the press.” See also, The harshest jokes from Michelle Wolf’s White House correspondents’ dinner speechThe Washington Post, Abby Ohlheiser and Emily Yahr, Sunday, 29 April 2018. See also, For the sake of Journalism, stop the White House correspondents’ dinner, The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Sunday, 29 April 2018.


Monday, 30 April 2018, Day 466:


Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction of Justice, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 30 April 2018: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump to learn more about his ties to Russia and determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself, according to a list of the questions obtained by The New York Times. [Read the questions here.] The open-ended queries appear to be an attempt to penetrate the president’s thinking, to get at the motivation behind some of his most combative Twitter posts and to examine his relationships with his family and his closest advisers. They deal chiefly with the president’s high-profile firings of the F.B.I. director and his first national security adviser, his treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. But they also touch on the president’s businesses; any discussions with his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, about a Moscow real estate deal; whether the president knew of any attempt by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel to Russia during the transition; any contacts he had with Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser who claimed to have inside information about Democratic email hackings; and what happened during Mr. Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.” See also, The Questions Special Counsel Robert Mueller Wants to Ask Trump About Obstruction, and What They Mean, The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 30 April 2018.

‘There’s No Reason to Apologize’ for Muslim Ban Remarks, Trump Says, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 30 April 2018: “President Trump said on Monday that he would not apologize for campaign statements calling for a ‘Muslim ban,’ appearing to undercut an assertion at a Supreme Court argument last week from Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco. In defending Mr. Trump’s efforts to restrict travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, Mr. Francisco said that the president had already disavowed the statements. Mr. Francisco’s own assertion contained a mistake, a Justice Department spokeswoman said on Monday. ‘The president has made crystal clear on Sept. 25 that he had no intention of imposing the Muslim ban,’ Mr. Francisco said during the argument. But he got the date wrong by eight months, and critics said the statement he referred to was less than crystal clear…. Told by a reporter [on Monday] that ‘the lawyers for the opponents said that if you would simply apologize for some of your rhetoric during the campaign, the whole case would go away,’ Mr. Trump was skeptical and unrepentant. ‘I don’t think it would, No. 1,’ he said. ‘And there’s no reason to apologize. Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster. They’re laughed at all over the world — they’re laughed at for their stupidity, and we have to have strong immigration laws. So I think if I apologize, it wouldn’t make 10 cents’ worth of difference to them. There’s nothing to apologize for.'”

After a day at the border, the first eight members of migrant caravan are taken into U.S. custody to begin processing asylum claims, The Washington Post, Maya Aveerbuch and Joshua Partlow, Monday, 30 April 2018: “The first eight members of a Central American migrant caravan crossed into U.S. territory on Monday evening after waiting a day at the border, and authorities began a process to determine whether they will be granted asylum in the United States. Even as the first of a group of 150 asylum seekers trickled into the port of entry at the San Ysidro crossing into California, the Trump administration showed that it will seek to punish some of the migrants, who have attracted the ire of President Trump and other senior members of his administration.” See also, U.S. Lets a Few Members of a Migrant Caravan Apply for Asylum, The New York Times, Kirk Semple, Monday, 30 April 2018.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) said guns will be banned during a speech by Vice President Mike Pence. Parkland students see hypocrisy. The Washington Post, Alex Horton, Monday, 30 April 2018: “The National Rifle Association has championed the idea of ‘a good guy with a gun,’ but no firearms will be allowed when Vice President Pence speaks at its annual meeting — sparking criticism from Parkland, Fla., students, who say schools should be afforded the same protection. And in a rare occurrence, even some NRA supporters have voiced opposition to the prohibition.”

Trump-allied House conservatives draft articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, The Washington Post, Robert Costa, Sari Horwitz, and Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 30 April 2018: “Conservative House allies of President Trump have drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the ongoing special counsel probe, setting up a possible GOP showdown over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, underscores the growing chasm between congressional Republican leaders, who have maintained for months that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should be allowed to proceed, and rank-and-file GOP lawmakers who have repeatedly battled the Justice Department during the past year.”

Documents show ties between George Mason University (Virginia) and the conservative Charles Koch Foundation, Associated Press, Matthew Barakat, Monday, 20 April 2018: “Virginia’s largest public university granted the conservative Charles Koch Foundation a say in the hiring and firing of professors in exchange for millions of dollars in donations, according to newly released documents. The release of donor agreements between George Mason University and the foundation follows years of denials by university administrators that Koch foundation donations inhibit academic freedom. University President Angel Cabrera wrote a note to faculty Friday night saying the agreements ‘fall short of the standards of academic independence I expect any gift to meet.’ The admission came three days after a judge scrutinized the university’s earlier refusal to release any documents.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants a financial hardship waiver to billionaire Carl Icahn’s oil refinery, Reuters, Jarrett Renshaw and Chris Prentice, Monday, 30 April 2018: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted a financial hardship waiver to an oil refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, exempting the Oklahoma facility from requirements under a federal biofuels law, according to two industry sources briefed on the matter. The waiver enables Icahn’s CVR Energy Inc (CVI.N) to avoid tens of millions of dollars in costs related to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. The regulation is meant to cut air pollution, reduce petroleum imports and support corn farmers by requiring refiners to mix billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel each year.”

White House chief of staff John Kelly thinks he’s saving the U.S. from disaster and calls Trump an ‘idiot,’ say White House Staffers, NBC News, Carol E. Lee, Courtney Kube, Kristen Walker, and Stephanie Ruhle, Monday, 30 April 2018: “White House chief of staff John Kelly has eroded morale in the West Wing in recent months with comments to aides that include insulting the president’s intelligence and casting himself as the savior of the country, according to eight current and former White House officials. The officials said Kelly portrays himself to Trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government. He has referred to Trump as ‘an idiot’ multiple times to underscore his point, according to four officials who say they’ve witnessed the comments. Kelly called the allegations ‘total BS.'”

Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), plans to step down, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Monday, 30 April 2018: “Thomas Homan, the Trump administration’s top immigration enforcement official, announced Monday that he plans to step down from his job, less than six months after Trump nominated him to be director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Homan was named ICE’s acting director soon after Trump took office in 2017, and the tough-talking, barrel-chested former Border Patrol agent quickly became an unapologetic enthusiast for the administration’s more aggressive enforcement approach. Under Homan, immigration arrests surged 40 percent after agents scrapped an Obama administration policy of targeting serious or violent criminal offenders in favor of casting a wider net. Homan said those living illegally in the United States ‘should be afraid’ that his agents could be coming for them.”

Stormy Daniels Files a Defamation Lawsuit Against Donald Trump, The New York Times, Daniel Victor, Monday, 30 April 2018: “Lawyers for the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford filed a defamation lawsuit against President Trump on Monday, based on statements he made on Twitter two weeks ago that questioned her credibility. Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, released a sketch on April 17 of a man she said had threatened her in 2011. She said the man had approached her in Las Vegas, telling her to ‘leave Trump alone.’ Mr. Trump’s advisers had encouraged him to stay silent about Ms. Clifford, who has said she had an affair with the future president in 2006. For many months, he heeded the advice. But he finally spoke up after the sketch was released, tweeting that it was ‘a total con job.'”


Tuesday, 1 May 2018, Day 467:


Special Counsel Robert Mueller raised the possibility of subpoenaing Trump in a March meeting with Trump’s legal team, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Robert Costa, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “In a tense meeting in early March with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But Mueller responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter.” See also, Why Answering Mueller’s Questions Could Be a Minefield for Trump, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “President Trump has insisted he is eager to make the case to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that he has done nothing wrong. But the questions that Mr. Mueller wants to ask show why the president’s lawyers have countered that an interview would be a minefield for Mr. Trump. It is not just that the president has a history of telling demonstrable falsehoods, while the special counsel has already won four guilty pleas for the crime of lying to investigators. The questions would pose additional challenges for Mr. Trump, legal experts said. Many of Mr. Mueller’s questions, obtained and published by The New York Times, are so broad that Mr. Trump would need a detailed command of a range of issues. And, complicating efforts to try to adequately prepare him for such an encounter, the president’s lawyers do not know everything that the special counsel has learned.”

The Justice Department Won’t Be Extorted, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Warns Republicans, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “After months of conceding to demands from a small group of House Republicans for more visibility into continuing investigations, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, pushed back on Tuesday, declaring that the Justice Department ‘is not going to be extorted.’ His comment came the day after revelations that several of those Republicans, led by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina and other loyalists of President Trump, had drafted articles of impeachment to use against Mr. Rosenstein in case the long-simmering dispute with the deputy attorney general boiled over. Though their conflict is ostensibly over the Justice Department’s production of sensitive documents to Congress, Democrats believe that the bureaucratic disagreement belies a more fundamental concern for the lawmakers: protecting Mr. Trump from the special counsel investigation, which Mr. Rosenstein oversees. Mr. Rosenstein said he had been threatened, though he did not name the Republicans. ‘There have been people who have been making threats, privately and publicly, against me for quite some time,’ he said. ‘And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.'”

17 States and the District of Columbia Sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Over Rollback of Auto Emissions Standards, InsideClimate News, Nicholas Kusnetz, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, asking a federal court to block a Trump administration attempt to weaken automobile emissions standards. The states, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, argue that a recent EPA decision to revise the Obama-era emissions rules was made without clear reasoning or evidence to support it and should be struck down. ‘The evidence is irrefutable: today’s clean car standards are achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families,’ Becerra said in a statement. ‘But the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt refuse to do their job and enforce these standards.’… The states represent 44 percent of the U.S. population, from Maine to Iowa to California.” See also, California and 17 other states sue the Trump administration to defend Obama-era climate rules for vehicles, The Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Tuesday, 1 May 2018. See also, A Coalition of 17 States and the District of Columbia Sues the Trump Administration Over Effort to Weaken Auto Emissions Rules, The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi and Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 1 May 2018.

Two Top Aides to Scott Pruitt Quit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Unexpectedly, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “Two top aides to Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency chief who is facing an array of investigations related to his spending and management practices, have resigned amid widening scrutiny of their roles at the agency. The departures include Pasquale Perrotta, who served as Mr. Pruitt’s chief of security and helped facilitate the costly and unusual team of bodyguards and other protective measures provided to Mr. Pruitt — measures that critics have called unnecessary. Also departing was Albert Kelly, a longtime friend of Mr. Pruitt’s and a former banker who received a lifetime ban from the finance industry last year following a banking violation. Mr. Kelly ran the agency’s Superfund program, which oversees the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. The resignations of Mr. Kelly and Mr. Perrotta follow a string of reports of Mr. Pruitt’s lavish spending and alleged conflicts of interest, including his office’s illegal purchase of a secure telephone booth, his condominium-rental agreement with the wife of an energy lobbyist, and accusations that he demoted or sidelined E.P.A. employees who questioned his actions…. Also on Tuesday, new details emerged about the lobbying of the E.P.A. by J. Steven Hart, the lobbyist whose wife had last year rented a $50-a-night condo to Mr. Pruitt. Congressional investigators on Tuesday provided The New York Times with an email in which Mr. Hart asked Mr. Pruitt for help in getting three people appointed to the E.P.A.’s prestigious Science Advisory Board. They had been recommended by Smithfield Foods, a company that was a client of Mr. Hart’s lobbying firm​, and its Smithfield Foundation, a charitable subsidiary. The email was sent in August 2017, a few weeks after Mr. Pruitt had moved out of the apartment, but at a time when he still owed money to Mr. Hart’s wife.” See also, Two officials close to EPA chief Scott Pruitt resign amid scrutiny, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis, and Emma Brown, Tuesday, 1 May 2018.

Lobbyist Richard Smotkin helped arrange Scott Pruitt’s $100,000 trip to Morocco, The Washington Post, Kevin Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin, and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “A controversial trip to Morocco by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt last December was partly arranged by a longtime friend and lobbyist, who accompanied Pruitt and his entourage at multiple stops and served as an informal liaison at both official and social events during the visit. Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist who has known the EPA administrator for years, worked for months with Pruitt’s aides to hammer out logistics, according to four individuals familiar with those preparations. In April, Smotkin won a $40,000-a-month contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, with the Moroccan government to promote the kingdom’s cultural and economic interests. He recently registered as a foreign agent representing that government. The four-day journey has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and the EPA’s inspector general, who is investigating its high costs and whether it adhered to the agency’s mission to ‘protect human health and the environment.'” See also, Lobbyist Richard Smotkin Helped Scott Pruitt Plan a Morocco Trip. Then Morocco Hired the Lobbyist. The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Lisa Friedman, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, allowed a lobbyist friend to play an unusually influential role in setting his agenda during a visit in December to Morocco, according to internal communications related to the scheduling of meetings reviewed by The New York Times. Just months after helping to organize the trip, the lobbyist, Richard Smotkin, was hired by the government of Morocco as a $40,000-a-month foreign agent, according to filings with the Department of Justice. Mr. Smotkin participated in several meetings with Mr. Pruitt in Morocco, including with representatives from some industries, according to participants on the trip.”

Texas and six other states sue the Trump administration to force an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “Texas and six other states are suing the Trump administration over its failure to terminate an Obama-era program that provides work permits to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The lawsuit signals growing GOP frustration with President Trump’s struggles to advance his immigration policies and could lead to conflicting federal court decisions that would put the fates of 690,000 immigrants known as ‘dreamers’ in the hands of a deeply divided Supreme Court.”

U.S. Breaks With Europe Over Israel’s Claims on Iran, The New York Times, Mark Landler, David M. Halbfinger, and David E. Sanger, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “The Trump administration on Tuesday embraced Israel’s claims that Iran entered a nuclear deal with the world’s major powers under false pretenses, a stark divergence from its European allies, who said the disclosures broke little new ground and reinforced, rather than weakened, the case for the 2015 deal. The administration echoed the claims made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in a dramatic PowerPoint presentation, suggesting he had coordinated it with the White House to set the stage for President Trump’s decision about whether to rip up the agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.”

The Trump Administration’s Hard Line on Refugees Comes Under Fire, The New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “Since Trump took office, the number of Muslim refugees who have been admitted to the United States has fallen by ninety-one per cent. Visas issued to immigrants from majority-Muslim countries have declined by twenty-six per cent, with temporary visas falling by about a third. (The number of Christian refugees has fallen by sixty-three per cent in the past two years.) Last fall, the Administration slashed the refugee cap to its lowest level in more than three decades—forty-five thousand. At the current pace, the government is expected to resettle fewer than half that number. Between October, 2017, and late January, 2018, only thirty-four Syrian refugees and eighty-one Iraqis were granted entry to the U.S. (During an equivalent period the previous year, those numbers were each about four thousand seven hundred.)”

Harold Bornstein, Trump’s longtime doctor, says Trump’s bodyguard and lawyer ‘raided’ his office and took Trump’s medical files in February 2017, NBC News, Anna R. Schecter, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “In February 2017, a top White House aide who was Trump’s longtime personal bodyguard, along with the top lawyer at the Trump Organization and a third man, showed up at the office of Trump’s New York doctor without notice and took all the president’s medical records. The incident, which Dr. Harold Bornstein described as a ‘raid,’ took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper that he had prescribed a hair growth medicine for the president for years. In an exclusive interview in his Park Avenue office, Bornstein told NBC News that he felt ‘raped, frightened and sad’ when Keith Schiller and another ‘large man’ came to his office to collect the president’s records on the morning of Feb. 3, 2017. At the time, Schiller, who had long worked as Trump’s bodyguard, was serving as director of Oval Office operations at the White House.” See also, Harold Bornstein, Trump’s Personal Doctor for 36 Years, Says His Office Was Raided and Trump’s Medical Files Were Seized in February 2017, The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., Tuesday, 1 May 2018.

Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims since he became President 466 days ago, The Washington Post, Glenn Kesslar, Salvador Risso, and Meg Kelly, Tuesday, 1 May 2018: “In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That’s an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day. When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. Slowly, the average number of claims has been creeping up. Indeed, since we last updated this tally two months ago, the president has averaged about 9 claims a day.”


Wednesday, 2 May 2018, Day 468:


Trump Adds Clinton Impeachment Lawyer Emmet Flood, Bracing for a Fight on Multiple Fronts, The New York Times, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “President Trump hired on Wednesday a Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, a sign that the White House sees no immediate end to its legal problems and is girding for a combative relationship with a new Congress after the midterm elections. The new lawyer, Emmet T. Flood, will replace Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who persuaded Mr. Trump to cooperate with the special counsel for the first year of its investigation. Mr. Cobb assured the president that doing so would bring the investigation to a swift end…. Mr. Flood is expected to take a more adversarial approach than Mr. Cobb, who voluntarily turned over White House documents to Mr. Mueller. He has credited that cooperation with preventing a protracted — and losing — subpoena fight that would have hobbled the administration. But the strategy frustrated the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and some in the West Wing who said Mr. Cobb was too willing to accede to Mr. Mueller’s requests.” See also, ‘The gloves may be coming off’: Shake-up of Trump legal team signals combative posture toward special counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post, Robert Costa, Carol D. Leonnig, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “President Trump’s growing desire for his lawyers to more forcefully counter the ongoing special counsel investigation drove yet another shake-up of his legal team on Wednesday, putting the White House on war footing with federal prosecutors examining Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.”

Trump Assails the Justice Department, Siding with House Conservatives in Dispute Over Access to Documents Related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “President Trump plunged into an angry dispute on Wednesday between conservative House Republicans and the deputy attorney general, siding with hard-line lawmakers over his own Justice Department as they pressed for access to sensitive documents related to the special counsel’s investigation and other politically charged cases. In a Twitter post, Mr. Trump called the legal system ‘rigged’ and amplified the lawmakers’ complaints that the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, was not moving fast enough to turn over the documents they want. The president stepped in just as Mr. Rosenstein appeared to mollify three key committee chairmen who were also demanding internal documents. ‘They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal justice?’ Mr. Trump wrote. ‘At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!’ Which presidential powers Mr. Trump was referring to was not immediately clear. Distrust between Mr. Rosenstein and Congress has been building over months. In recent weeks, he has made significant gestures to release documents demanded by prominent congressmen, only to be threatened with impeachment by lawmakers from the far right.” See also, The Justice Department is heading for a clash with Trump and conservative lawmakers over special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe memo, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “A standoff between Justice Department officials and GOP lawmakers escalated Wednesday as President Trump waded into a controversy over demands to release a highly sensitive document outlining who and what is being investigated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. The Justice Department has refused to turn over the document, known as a ‘scope memo,’ citing its own independence and longtime precedent that it doesn’t disclose the details of ongoing investigations.” See also, What is Trump threatening to do to the Justice Department, exactly? The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 2 May 2018.

Rudy Giuliani, Now a Member of Trump’s Legal Team, Says Trump Repaid Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels Payment, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Michael Rothfeld, and Joe Palazzolo, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president had repaid his longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment Mr. Cohen made to a former adult film star in October 2016 in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter. Mr. Giuliani, who joined the legal team representing President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation last month, told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday evening that the president had repaid Mr. Cohen, but he suggested that Mr. Cohen made the payment without Mr. Trump’s knowledge at the time. Mr. Giuliani first disclosed the repayment on Fox News in an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday, saying the president ‘didn’t know about the specifics of [the payment] as far as I know.’ ‘But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this,’ Mr. Giuliani added. Mr. Giuliani’s remarks reversed what appeared to be a long-running effort by Mr. Cohen and the White House to distance Mr. Trump from the payment to Stephanie Clifford, who is known professionally as Stormy Daniels. Mr. Cohen made the payment days before the 2016 presidential election, and Ms. Clifford in exchange signed a nondisclosure agreement. Mr. Trump last month denied knowing about the $130,000 payment and said he didn’t know where the money for the payment had come from. He has denied through representatives of having a sexual encounter with Ms. Clifford. Mr. Giuliani said in a phone interview Wednesday that Mr. Trump authorized him to announce the reimbursement after the two discussed the matter last week.” See also, Rudy Giuliani, Now on Trump’s Legal Team, Says Trump Repaid Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels Hush Money, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 2 May 2018. See also, Giuliani said Trump repaid attorney Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels settlement, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Robert Costa, and Josh Dawsey, published on Thursday, 3 May 2018.

Vice President Mike Pence called former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio a champion of ‘the rule of law.’ Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court last year. The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “Vice President Pence called former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court last year, a champion of ‘the rule of law’ and said he was honored by his attendance at an event with him Tuesday in Arizona. President Trump pardoned Arpaio last year after his conviction on a misdemeanor contempt of court charge for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. Arpaio is now a primary candidate for the Republican nomination to succeed the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).”

The New ICE Age: Immigration and Customs Enforcement Is Unleashed by the Trump Administration, The New York Review of Books, Tina Vasquez, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “As the American Immigration Council explains, ‘the enforcement of US immigration laws has historically been guided by policies that emphasize prioritization’: an undocumented immigrant who committed a violent crime or an immigrant believed to be a threat to national security was prioritized for enforcement and, eventually, deportation. Trump’s executive orders—starting on the fifth day of his presidency with 13767, which called for the construction of a wall on the Mexican border and the swift repatriation of those living in the US without authorization—have done away with this system, making enforcement priorities a thing of the past. Now every undocumented immigrant is deportable.”

Planned Parenthood, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union Sue to Block the Trump Administration’s ‘Radical Shift’ in Family Planning Programs, NPR, Sarah McCammon, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “Three national reproductive rights groups are suing the Trump administration, arguing that changes to the federal Title X program will put the health of millions of low-income patients at risk by prioritizing practices such as the rhythm method over comprehensive sexual health services. The two lawsuits filed Wednesday — one by Planned Parenthood and another by the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association and American Civil Liberties Union — focus on guidance issued in February by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs. The document, known as a Federal Opportunity Announcement, calls for a broad range of family planning services and makes multiple mentions of ‘fertility awareness’ — also known as the rhythm method or natural family planning — but does not specifically mention contraception.” See also, Trump Has an Abstinence-Only Vision for Federally Funded Family Planning Programs, American Civil Liberties Union, Clare Coleman, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “For nearly 50 years, the nation’s family planning program has provided high-quality contraceptive care to millions of women and men. The program, known as Title X, is the only federal program in the United States dedicated solely to affordable family planning and sexual care. Its core premise for existing — making birth control accessible to all who want it — has been heralded as among the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century. Since its inception in 1970, Title X providers have led the effort to carry out Congress’ vision for a national program created to address President Nixon’s assertion that ‘no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.’ As a result, millions of poor, low-income, uninsured, or vulnerable individuals across the country have access to high-quality, affordable family planning and sexual health care, including modern methods of birth control. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is intent on putting ideology before public health — attempting to undercut the family planning program that provides vital services, like breast and cervical cancer detection, sexually transmitted disease services, and HIV testing. Instead, the administration is favoring participation in Title X by entities that would emphasize its ideologically driven priorities, including promoting abstaining from sex before marriage for all people, regardless of age or the needs and desires of the patient.”

Kenyan Clinic Rejects Trump Abortion Policy and Loses $2 Million in U.S. Aid, NPR, Sasha Ingber, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “On Jan. 23, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that bans U.S. aid to any health organization in another country that provides, advocates or makes referrals for abortions. The full impact of the order won’t be felt until September. That’s when the U.S. government fiscal year comes to an end. At that point, every international organization that does not comply with the order will be excluded from U.S. funding, says Marjorie Newman-Williams, president of Marie Stopes International, an organization that provides contraception and safe abortion in dozens of countries. But health groups that aren’t complying with the policy are already feeling the effects. The U.S. has pulled the plug on funds that had been previously allocated but not yet spent prior to the Trump order. ‘Marie Stopes can talk about its own sad stories of programs that have had to close,’ says Newman-Williams. Its outreach services, which were funded by USAID in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Madagascar, Pakistan and Myanmar, have already stopped, she says.”

White supremacist Jacob Scott Goodwin is guilty in Charlottesville parking garage beating of black man, The Washington Post, Ian Shapira, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “One of the white supremacists who viciously beat a black man inside a parking garage during last year’s ‘Unite the Right’ rally here was found guilty Tuesday night of malicious wounding. Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23, who wore a military tactical helmet and brandished a large shield during the Aug. 12 attack against DeAndre Harris, was convicted by a jury of nine women and three men. The jury recommended a sentence of 10 years, with the option of suspending some of the time, and a $20,000 fine. The presiding judge, Richard E. Moore, will set the sentence on Aug. 23.”

Matthew Freedman, Ex-Lobbyist for Foreign Governments, Helped Plan Scott Pruitt Trip to Australia and Then Tried to Disguise His Role, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Eric Lipton, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “A Washington consultant who was removed from President Trump’s transition team for using his business email address for government work played a central role last year in planning a trip to Australia for Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and then took steps to disguise his role, new documents show. The consultant, Matthew C. Freedman, who is also a former lobbyist for foreign governments, runs his own corporate advisory firm and is treasurer of the American Australian Council, a group that helps promote business for American-based companies in Australia. Two prominent members include Chevron and ConocoPhillips. Though the Australia trip never happened — it was canceled after Hurricane Harvey devastated much of the Texas Gulf Coast — it shows a pattern in which Mr. Pruitt has repeatedly relied on people with clear business interests to shape the agenda of his foreign travel. Separately last year, a trip to Morocco was organized by a lobbyist who later was hired by Morocco as a $40,000-a-month foreign agent to represent its interests abroad.”

Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles and Wary of Offending Trump, Halted Cooperation With Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation, The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “In the United States, Paul J. Manafort is facing prosecution on charges of money laundering and financial fraud stemming from his decade of work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. But in Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.”

Summer Zervos, a Former Contestant on ‘The Apprentice,’ Is Suing Trump for Defamation After He Called Her a Liar for Accusing Him of Sexual Assault, The New York Times, Niraj Chokshi, Wednesday, 2 May 2018: “Summer Zervos, a former contestant on ‘The Apprentice’ who accused President Trump of sexual assault, is seeking records to prove that he defamed her by calling her a liar. A lawyer for Ms. Zervos, who is suing Mr. Trump for defamation in New York, said on Wednesday that subpoenas had been issued both to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of the reality show, and to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Ms. Zervos says he groped her in 2007.”


Thursday, 3 May 2018, Day 469:


Trump acknowledges his lawyer Michael Cohen was reimbursed after hush payment to Stormy Daniels, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “President Trump said Thursday that his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was reimbursed through a monthly retainer for a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to stop what Trump called ‘false and extortionist accusations’ about a decade-old affair. In morning tweets, the president confirmed that Cohen entered into a nondisclosure agreement with Daniels, something Trump called ‘very common among celebrities and people of wealth.’ Trump stressed that no campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen, calling it a ‘private agreement.’ ‘Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll [sic] in this transaction,’ he wrote.” See also, Trump Says Payment to Stormy Daniels Did Not Violate Campaign Finance Laws, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Matt Apuzzo, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 3 May 2018.

Rudy Giuliani, a Lawyer on Trump’s Legal Team, May Have Exposed Trump to New Legal and Political Perils, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Matt Apuzzo, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “President Trump’s new legal team made a chaotic debut as Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was tapped recently to be one of the president’s lawyers, potentially exposed his client to legal and political danger by publicly revealing the existence of secret payments to Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer. After he moved into the White House, the president began paying Mr. Cohen $35,000 a month, Mr. Giuliani said, in part as reimbursement for a $130,000 payment that Mr. Cohen made to a pornographic film actress to keep her from going public about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump. The president confirmed he made payments to Mr. Cohen in a series of Twitter posts on Thursday morning. The explosive revelation, which Mr. Giuliani said was intended to prove that Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen violated no campaign finance laws, prompted frustration and disbelief among the president’s other legal and political advisers, some of whom said they feared the gambit could backfire. Legally, the failure to disclose the payments could be a violation of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires that federal officials, including Mr. Trump, report any liabilities of more than $10,000 during the preceding year. Mr. Trump’s last disclosure report, which he signed and filed in June, mentions no debt to Mr. Cohen. Politically, Mr. Giuliani’s remarks — made in television appearances and interviews — raised questions about the president’s truthfulness and created a firestorm at the White House, where aides were caught off guard and furiously sought to deflect questions they could not answer. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said she had been unaware of the payments before the interviews.” See also, Legal analysts say Giuliani’s media blitz gives investigators new leads to explore and new evidence of potential crimes, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Thursday, 3 May 2018.

The Legal Issues Raised by the Stormy Daniels Payment, Explained, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Kenneth P. Vogel, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “The disclosure by Rudolph W. Giuliani that President Trump repaid his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, for the $130,000 hush-money payment made to a pornographic actress shortly before the 2016 election has put new scrutiny on the legal issues raised by the unusual transaction. Mr. Trump has never reported this expenditure, loan or repayment — either in campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission or on his financial disclosure form with the government ethics office. But it remains murky what exactly Mr. Trump knew, and when he learned it…. One question surrounding Michael D. Cohen’s payment to a porn actress is whether it was intended to influence the election by suppressing a claim that could have hurt Donald J. Trump’s chances.” See also, Giuliani says the Stormy Daniels payment was legal. Campaign finance experts say it may not be. The Washington Post,  Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “In interviews Wednesday and Thursday, President Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani repeatedly asserted that a $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the presidential campaign was legal…. But under federal campaign finance rules, a contribution is ‘anything of value given, loaned or advanced to influence a federal election.’ A ‘knowing and willful’ violation of those rules can lead to criminal charges. Campaign finance experts said that the then-secret payment to Daniels — which was already the subject of complaints to the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department — could be problematic, particularly after Giuliani’s extensive public comments.”

The Trump Team’s Conflicting Statements About the Payment to Stormy Daniels, The New York Times, Karen Yourish, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “President Trump, his lawyers, and his press secretary, while maintaining that there was no affair, have made contradictory statements about a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford, a pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels.”

The question underlying Giuliani’s very unusual outline of how Trump repaid Michael Cohen, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “We will stipulate at the outset that former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presentation of how President Trump reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen for money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels is a bit convoluted. Despite two interviews on Fox News Channel, one with The Washington Post and one with the New York Times, Giuliani’s assertions can, at best, be described as an outline, not an explanation. That outline looks like this: Trump paid Cohen a retainer of $35,000 a month (Post interview) despite Cohen’s ‘doing no work for the president’ (‘Hannity’ on Wednesday night). In total, Cohen was paid at least $460,000 from Trump’s ‘personal family account’ (Times). Although Giuliani told the Times that the payments began after the 2016 election, he  told The Post’s Robert Costa that Cohen possibly used some of Trump’s money beforehand, as well. This is not how retainers typically work.”

The Path of the $130,000 Payment to Stormy Daniels to Keep Her Quiet, The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Jaclyn Peiser, Thursday, 3 May 2018: This article covers “what we know about what happened, how the explanations have evolved, and why it all matters.”

The Loyalists and Washington Insiders Fighting Trump’s Legal Battles, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Larry Buchanan, and Alicia Parlapiano, Thursday, 3 May 2018.

Rudy Giuliani, a Lawyer on Trump’s Legal Team, Contradicts Trump on Firing of James Comey, Saying Russia Inquiry Was a Factor, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani has contradicted Mr. Trump’s rationale for firing James B. Comey as the F.B.I. director, saying he was dismissed because he would not say publicly what he had told the president privately: that Mr. Trump was not under scrutiny in the Russia investigation at the time. ‘He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn’t a target of the investigation,’ Mr. Giuliani said in an interview late Wednesday with Sean Hannity of Fox News. ‘He’s entitled to that.’ Mr. Giuliani’s assertion contradicted the myriad explanations that the president and his aides have given for the firing, and was the first public acknowledgment by a Trump adviser for what Mr. Comey has maintained: that he was fired for his handling of the Russia investigation.” See also, Trump denies Russia investigation was behind his firing of James Comey, though in a May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump said ‘Russia thing’ was part of his reason for firing Comey, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Devlin Barrett, published on Wednesday, 18 April 2018: “President Trump on Wednesday took to Twitter to deny that he fired James B. Comey as FBI director because of the bureau’s ‘phony’ investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, including possible interaction with the Trump campaign…. [In] a May [2017] interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, [Trump] suggested that [his] rationale for firing Comey included the FBI’s Russia investigation. ‘When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.'” See also, Trump says he considered ‘this Russia thing’ before firing FBI Director James ComeyCNN Politics, James Griffiths, published on Friday, 12 May 2017.

Freezing Out Justice: How immigration arrests at court houses are undermining the justice system, American Civil Liberties Union, Sarah Mehta, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “Since President Trump took office last year, immigration enforcement officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have dramatically expanded their presence at criminal and civil courts, including in family, landlord-tenant, and traffic courts across the United States. The presence of these officers and increased immigration arrests have created deep insecurity and fear among immigrant communities, stopping many from coming to court or even calling police in the first place. The impact of immigration enforcement at courthouses greatly undermines the security of vulnerable communities and the fundamental right to equal protection under the law, shared by noncitizens and citizens. A new and extensive survey conducted jointly by the ACLU and the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP) shows that the fear of deportation — magnified by immigration arrests in courthouses since President Trump took office — is stopping immigrants from reporting crimes and participating in court proceedings. This survey is based on responses from 232 law enforcement officers in 24 states; 103 judges, three court staff and two court administrators in 25 states; 50 prosecutors in 19 states; and 389 survivor advocates and legal service providers spread across 50 states. What is clear from the results is that when immigration officers conduct arrests in courthouses, there can be significant damage to the ability of the police, prosecutors, defenders, and judges to deliver justice.”

Speaker Paul Ryan Reinstates House Chaplain Patrick Conroy After Conroy Decided to Fight His Dismissal, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Elizabeth Dias, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “Speaker Paul D. Ryan reinstated the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy as the chaplain of the House of Representatives on Thursday, after the chaplain sent him a letter rescinding his forced resignation and daring the speaker to fire him. ‘I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as chaplain of the House,’ Mr. Ryan said in a statement. He added, ‘It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post.’ Father Conroy, a Catholic priest who has been the chaplain since 2011, intimated in a letter to Mr. Ryan on Thursday that the speaker did not have the authority to fire him, noting that the chaplain, who is selected by the speaker, is elected by the members of the House. He suggested his Catholic faith had contributed to his dismissal.”

The Bureau of Land Management, an agency in the Interior Department, blocked a group of archaeologists from attending a scientific conference, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “The Bureau of Land Management blocked at least 14 of its staff archaeologists and other specialists from attending a major scientific conference this year, at a time when archeological sites have become a flashpoint in the debate over public lands protection. The archeologists and other BLM employees, many working and living in Western states, were originally scheduled to attend the annual meeting in Washington of the Society for American Archaeology, the largest organization of professional archaeologists in the Western Hemisphere…. Now some archaeological and environmental groups point to the decision as another example of the Trump Interior Department’s effort to restrict researchers’ communications with the public and fellow scientists. (BLM is part of Interior.)”

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Coziness With Lobbyists Includes Secretly Buying a House With One, The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi and Steve Eder, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “Since moving to Washington, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has attracted the attention of federal investigators because of his unusual association with lobbyists, including his rental of a condominium last year owned by the wife of a lobbyist with business before the E.P.A. As a state senator in Oklahoma 15 years ago, Mr. Pruitt went even further: He bought a home in the state capital with a registered lobbyist who was pushing for changes to the state’s workers’ compensation rules — changes that Mr. Pruitt championed in the legislature. And as with the condominium rental in Washington, Mr. Pruitt never publicly disclosed his financial relationship with the lobbyist, who, like Mr. Pruitt, lived in the home when in Oklahoma City on business.”

Separating parents from their children at the border contradicts everything we know about children’s welfare, Los Angeles Times, Colleen Kraft, Thursday, 3 May 2018: “Since October [2017], the federal government has separated more than 700 children from their parents as they entered the United States, according to Office of Refugee Resettlement data reviewed by the New York Times. Most of these families have requested asylum. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security claim they act solely ‘to protect the best interests of minor children.’ But the White House has vocally supported the idea of family separation as a deterrent to keep migrant families from the U.S. border…. Studies overwhelmingly demonstrate the irreparable harm caused by breaking up families. Prolonged exposure to highly stressful situations — known as toxic stress — can disrupt a child’s brain architecture and affect his or her short- and long-term health. A parent or a known caregiver’s role is to mitigate these dangers. When robbed of that buffer, children are susceptible to learning deficits and chronic conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and even heart disease. The government’s practice of separating children from their parents at the border counteracts every science-based recommendation I have ever made to families who seek to build, and not harm, their children’s intellectual and emotional development.”