Trump, Week 74: Friday, 15 June – Thursday, 21 June 2018 (Days 512-518)

Greylock Together Rally to End Family Separation, Field Park, Williamstown, MA, Thursday, 31 May 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, 15 June 2018, Day 512:


The Trump Administration Separated 1,995 Children From Their Parents at the Border in the Six Weeks Between April 19th and May 31st, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Friday, 15 June 2018: “The Trump administration said on Friday that it had separated 1,995 children from parents facing criminal prosecution for unlawfully crossing the border over a six-week period that ended last month, as President Trump sought to shift blame for the widely criticized practice that has become the signature policy of his aggressive immigration agenda. From April 19 to May 31, the children were separated from 1,940 adults, according to a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke during a conference call with reporters that had been described as an effort to correct the record about immigrant families being split up at the border. Administration officials insisted on anonymity to explain the president’s policy and deny many of the damaging stories that have appeared about it in recent days…. ‘I hate the children being taken away,’ Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday morning in front of the White House. ‘The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law.’… But Mr. Trump was misrepresenting his own policy. There is no law that says children must be taken from their parents if they cross the border unlawfully, and previous administrations have made exceptions for those traveling with minor children when prosecuting immigrants for illegal entry. A ‘zero tolerance’ policy created by the president in April and put into effect last month by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, allows no such exceptions, Mr. Trump’s advisers say.” See also, Trump cites his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents as a negotiating tool to give him leverage in immigration talks with Congress, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 15 June 2018: “President Trump has calculated that he will gain political leverage in congressional negotiations by continuing to enforce a policy he claims to hate — separating immigrant parents from their young children at the southern border, according to White House officials. On Friday, Trump suggested he would not change the policy unless Democrats agreed to his other immigration demands, which include funding a border wall, tightening the rules for border enforcement and curbing legal entry. He also is intent on pushing members of his party to vote for a compromise measure that would achieve those long-standing priorities. Trump’s public acknowledgment that he was willing to let the policy continue as he pursued his political goals came as the president once again blamed Democrats for a policy enacted and touted by his own administration…. The attempt to gain advantage from a practice the American Academy of Pediatrics describes as causing children ‘irreparable harm’ sets up a high-stakes gambit for Trump, whose political career has long benefited from harsh rhetoric on immigration.” See also, Why the Trump administration bears the blame for separating children from their families at the border, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 15 June 2018: “President Trump seems to recognize that news reports about children being separated from their parents at the border don’t reflect well on his administration. He has called the separations ‘horrible’ on Twitter and, as recently as Friday morning during an interview with ‘Fox and Friends,’ blamed the political opposition…. This has been debunked repeatedly, including by The Washington Post. There is no ‘Democrats’ law’ that necessitates separating children from their parents. As people familiar with the rules regarding the handling of young people at the border made clear in interviews on Friday, the separation policy is a function of decisions made by Trump and his team. What’s more, the administration specifically implemented the policy to serve as a deterrent for those thinking about seeking entry to the United States.” See also, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Use of Bible Passage to Defend Immigration Policy Draws Fire. The Passage Has Been Commonly Used to Defend Slavery and to Oppose the American Revolution. The New York Times, Julia Jacobs, Friday, 15 June 2018: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions turned to the Bible this week to defend the Trump administration’s immigration policy. His use of religious text to justify a federal policy drew some fire; the text itself drew more. Many were concerned that Mr. Sessions’s chosen chapter, Romans 13, had been commonly used to defend slavery and oppose the American Revolution. Speaking to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind., Mr. Sessions used a passage on Thursday to defend the right of the federal government to enforce a directive to prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally. The directive has led to the fracturing of hundreds of migrant families, funneling children into shelters and foster homes.”

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court for the District of Columbia Orders Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Jailed Before Trial, Citing New Obstruction of Justice Charges, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Friday, 15 June 2018: “A federal judge revoked Paul Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail on Friday to await trial, citing new charges that Mr. Manafort had tried to influence the testimony of two government witnesses after he had been granted a temporary release. Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, had posted a $10 million bond and was under house arrest while awaiting his September trial on a host of charges, including money laundering and making false statements. But Mr. Manafort cannot remain free, even under stricter conditions, in the face of new felony charges that he had engaged in witness tampering while out on bail, said Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court for the District of Columbia. ‘This is not middle school,’ she said during a 90-minute court hearing. ‘I can’t take away his cellphone.’ The judge’s order was the latest in eight months of legal setbacks for Mr. Manafort, as prosecutors have steadily added new charges since he was first indicted in October. Mr. Trump and members of his team lashed out against the judge’s move, an attack that renewed talk about whether the president might issue pardons to curb a prosecutorial process in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry that he describes as stacked against him.” See also, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, Friday, 15 June 2018: “A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to jail Friday over charges he tampered with witnesses while out on bail — a major blow for President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he awaits trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges next month. ‘You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,’ U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort. ‘The government motion will be granted, and the defendant will be detained.'”

Rudy Giuliani says special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe ‘might get cleaned up’ with ‘presidential pardons’ in light of Paul Manafort going to jail, New York Daily News, Chris Sommerfeldt, Friday, 15 June 2018: “Rudy Giuliani wants to mop the floor with Robert Mueller. In one of his most forceful attacks on the special counsel yet, Giuliani on Friday said the Russia investigation could get ‘cleaned up’ with pardons from President Trump in light of Paul Manafort being sent to jail. ‘When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,’ the former New York mayor told the Daily News. Giuliani’s stunning remark came hours after a Washington, D.C., judge revoked Manafort’s bail and ordered him to remain behind bars while awaiting his September trial on charges relating to his shady pro-Russian business dealings in Ukraine. The ruling came after Mueller’s investigators alleged the ex-Trump campaign chairman had attempted to secure false testimony from potential witnesses in the Russia probe.” See also, Giuliani’s Call for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to Be Suspended Is a Moment of Truth for the Republican Party, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Friday, 15 June 2018: “During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Thursday night, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s legal adviser and cable-news frontman, called on the Justice Department to suspend the special counsel, Robert Mueller, as early as Friday. Giuliani didn’t say whether he had cleared this demand with Trump, but it seems unlikely that he would say such a thing without getting at least some direction, or encouragement, from the President. In any case, Giuliani’s statement indicates that a moment of crisis may be at hand. For months now, Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill and in the news media have been preparing to use a report by Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, about the F.B.I.’s handling of the 2016 Hillary Clinton e-mail inquiry, as a pretext to go after, and, if possible, derail the Mueller investigation. Just hours after the report was released, Giuliani went on the attack. ‘I believe Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein have a chance to redeem themselves, and that chance comes about tomorrow,’ he told Hannity. ‘Tomorrow, Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people, to investigate these people like Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.'”

Continue reading Week 74, Friday, 15 June – Thursday, 21 June 2018 (Days 512-518)

For Scott Pruitt’s Taxpayer-Funded Staff, Pruitt’s Personal Life Was Part of the Job, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Steve Eder, Lisa Friedman, and Hiroko Tabuchi, Friday, 15 June 2018: “Senior staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency frequently felt pressured by Scott Pruitt, the administrator, to help in personal matters and obtain special favors for his family, according to interviews with four current and former E.P.A. officials who served as top political aides to Mr. Pruitt. The officials said that Mr. Pruitt, who ‘had a clear sense of entitlement,’ in the words of one of them, indicated that he expected staff members’ assistance with matters outside the purview of government, including calling on an executive with connections in the energy industry to help secure tickets to a sold-out football game in January at the Rose Bowl. The aides said the administrator — who is the subject of multiple investigations over ethics and other issues, but has been defended by President Trump as a champion of environmental deregulation — had also made it clear that he had no hesitation in leveraging his stature as a cabinet member to solicit favors himself. As an example, Mr. Pruitt, shortly after taking the E.P.A. job, reached out to the former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates seeking help for his daughter, McKenna, in securing admission to the University of Virginia School of Law. William Howell, the former speaker, appears on Mr. Pruitt’s official E.P.A. calendar, and he confirmed in an interview that he was approached by Mr. Pruitt and subsequently wrote a letter to the school’s dean on the daughter’s behalf.”

With tariffs, Trump starts unraveling a quarter-century of U.S.-China economic ties, The Washington Post, David J. Lynch and Emily Rauhala, Friday, 15 June 2018: “President Trump imposed tariffs Friday on $50 billion in ­Chinese products, signaling his willingness to unwind nearly a ­quarter-century of growing commercial links between the world’s two largest economies unless Beijing agrees to transform the way it conducts business. The decision marked the president’s boldest step so far to implement his ‘America First’ strategy, which he promises will shrink the $811 billion merchandise trade deficit and return lost manufacturing jobs to the United States. But Trump’s aggressive approach is rattling American corporate leaders and his Republican allies in Congress, as Chinese officials show no sign of capitulating.”

Trump praises Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian rule in North Korea and says ‘I want my people to do the same,’ The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Friday, 15 June 2018: “President Trump on Friday complimented Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian rule in North Korea, observing with apparent envy that when the 35-year-old dictator speaks, ‘his people sit up at attention. He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head,’ Trump told Fox News Channel. ‘Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.'” See also, Key Moments in Trump’s Interview on ‘Fox and Friends,’ With Fact Checks, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Friday, 15 June 2018. See also, Trump, Riding a North Korea High, Unloads on the F.B.I., Comey, and Obama, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 15 June 2018. See also, The most provocative quotations from Trump’s impromptu White House interviews on Friday morning, Politico, Stephanie Murray, Friday, 15 June 2018.

The Inflammatory Behavior of Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, Is Met With Silence From RepublicansThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 15 June 2018: “When Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier, ran as a Republican in an Illinois congressional primary, the state Republican Party denounced him as a Nazi. When he won, party leaders quickly vowed to back an independent candidate. When Paul Nehlen, a white supremacist and anti-Semite, decided to seek the House seat that is being vacated by Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Republican leaders there said he had ‘no place in the Republican Party.’ But when Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, retweeted a Nazi sympathizer this week, the House Republican leadership and his fellow Iowa Republicans on Capitol Hill were silent. Fringe candidates have always run in both parties. Marginalized or ignored, they almost always fade from view. But in the era of President Trump, at a time when white supremacists feel emboldened and an anti-immigrant fervor has gripped the Republican Party, Republican leaders are increasingly forced to make choices about how to react to hateful remarks. In Mr. King’s case, his eight-term incumbency and his own history of racist comments — he once compared immigrants to dogs, not to mention the time he said they had ‘calves the size of cantaloupes’ from hauling marijuana ‘across the desert’ — seem to protect him. People are so used to him being offensive that they just shrug their shoulders and move on.”

Mike Pence turns the Vice President’s office into a gateway for lobbyists to influence the Trump administration, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, and Anu Narayanswamy, Friday, 15 June 2018: “Vice President Pence has transformed his office into a new entry point for lobbyists seeking to influence the Trump administration across federal agencies, according to federal records and interviews. About twice as many companies and other interests hired lobbyists to contact the vice president’s office in Pence’s first year than in any single year during the tenures of Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Richard B. Cheney, filings show. Among those lobbying Pence and his staff were representatives of major drug companies and energy firms, as well as businesses seeking favorable tax treatment. Many others have contacted his office on more obscure regulatory matters such as a Medicare billing dispute, technology regulations at the Education Department and regulations at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the records show. The approach has allowed Pence, a former congressman and Indiana governor, to emerge as a key ally for corporations inside the Trump White House even as the president vows to ‘drain the swamp.'”

North Carolina Republicans Are Back With a New Plan for Strict Voter Laws, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Friday, 15 June 2018: “The last time Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature enacted a law making it harder for some of the state’s residents to vote, a federal court said the statute targeted African-American voters ‘with almost surgical precision,’ and threw it out. That was last year. Now the legislators are back with a new set of election proposals, and an unconventional plan to make them stick. Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, Republican senators unveiled legislation that would eliminate the final Saturday of early voting in state elections, a day that typically draws a large share of black voters to the polls. That followed a Republican proposal last week to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would require all voters to display a photo ID before casting votes. In addition, party leaders say they are preparing a constitutional amendment that would curb the power of the Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, over the state board that controls election procedures.”


Saturday, 16 June 2018, Day 513:


‘The U.S. Is better than this’: What Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, saw in a Texas shelter for migrant children, The Washington Post, Kristine Phillips, Saturday, 16 June 2018: “The small shelter along the Texas border to Mexico held 60 beds and a little playground for children. Rooms were equipped with toys, books and crayons. To Colleen Kraft, this shelter looked, in many ways, like a friendly environment for children, a place where they could be happy. But the first child who caught the prominent pediatrician’s attention during a recent visit was anything but happy. Inside a room dedicated to toddlers was a little girl no older than 2, screaming and pounding her fists on a mat. One woman tried to give her toys and books to calm her down, but even that shelter worker seemed frustrated, Kraft told The Washington Post, because as much as she wanted to console the little girl, she couldn’t touch, hold or pick her up to let her know everything would be all right. That was the rule, Kraft said she was told: They’re not allowed to touch the children…. The girl had been taken from her mother the night before and brought to this shelter that had been redecorated for children under age 12, Kraft said staffers told her…. The little girl is among the multitude of immigrant children who have been separated from their family as part of the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, meaning any adult who crosses the border illegally will face criminal prosecution. That also means parents were taken to federal jails while their children were sent to shelters…. Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said colleagues who were alarmed by what was going on at the border invited her to see for herself, so she visited a shelter run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement…. ‘The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met. That contradicts everything we know that the kids need to build their health,’ Kraft said. Such a situation could have long-term, devastating effects on young children, who are likely to develop what is called toxic stress in their brain once separated from caregivers or parents they trusted. It disrupts a child’s brain development and increases the levels of fight-or-flight hormones in their bodies, Kraft said. This kind of emotional trauma could eventually lead to health problems, such as heart disease and substance abuse disorders…. Nearly 4,600 mental-health professionals and 90 organizations have joined a petition urging Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and several elected officials to stop the policy of separating children from their parents.” See also, How Trump Came to Enforce a Practice of Separating Migrant Families, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear, Saturday, 16 June 2018: “Almost immediately after President Trump took office, his administration began weighing what for years had been regarded as the nuclear option in the effort to discourage immigrants from unlawfully entering the United States. Children would be separated from their parents if the families had been apprehended entering the country illegally, John F. Kelly, then the homeland security secretary, said in March 2017, ‘in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network.’… [F]or George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the idea of crying children torn from their parents’ arms was simply too inhumane — and too politically perilous — to embrace as policy, and Mr. Trump, though he had made an immigration crackdown one of the central issues of his campaign, succumbed to the same reality, publicly dropping the idea after Mr. Kelly’s comments touched off a swift backlash. But advocates inside the administration, most prominently Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior policy adviser, never gave up on the idea. Last month, facing a sharp uptick in illegal border crossings, Mr. Trump ordered a new effort to criminally prosecute anyone who crossed the border unlawfully — with few exceptions for parents traveling with their minor children. And now Mr. Trump faces the consequences. With thousands of children detained in makeshift shelters, his spokesmen this past week had to deny accusations that the administration was acting like Nazis. Even evangelical supporters like Franklin Graham said its policy was ‘disgraceful.'” See also, Trump Again Falsely Blames Democrats for His Tactic of Separating Children From Their Parents at the Border, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Saturday, 16 June 2018: “President Trump on Saturday repeated his false assertion that Democrats were responsible for his administration’s policy of separating migrant families apprehended at the border, sticking to a weekslong refusal to publicly accept responsibility for a widely condemned practice that has become a symbol of his crackdown on illegal immigration.”

Desperate Asylum Seekers Are Being Turned Away by U.S. Border Agents Claiming There’s ‘No Room,’ The Intercept, Debbie Nathan, Saturday, 16 June 2018: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are systematically violating U.S. and international law by blocking immigrants at international ports of entry on the southern border from entering the country so they can claim asylum. Immigration civil rights advocates have been documenting this illegal behavior since late 2016, from Texas to California. It was sporadic then, and appears to have been based at least in part on CBP’s difficulties with handling large numbers of people. Even so, the practice of turning immigrants away has suddenly become routine, creating chilling scenes of immigrants and children camped out near the bridges, exposed to sun, wind, and rain, amid make-do bedding, scattered clothing, and trash. A few times a day, the immigrants walk to the middle of the bridges and ask to be admitted to the port of entry building on the U.S. side so that they can request asylum. They are almost always turned back…. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, immigrants within the U.S. who tell immigration officials they’re afraid to return to their countries have the right to request asylum and to be immediately processed. They are not supposed to be turned back at bridges. They are not supposed to be banished to life on Mexican sidewalks, by public toilets, begging passersby for tacos to feed their children. Yet this has been happening, not just at El Paso but also at ports of entry all along the southern border.”

The U.S. Is Exacerbating the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis by Outsourcing Its Yemen Policy to Allies Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), The Intercept, Alex Emmons, Saturday, 16 June 2018: “Three years of civil war in Yemen have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations estimating that 22 million people — three-quarters of the country’s population — urgently need humanitarian aid. But aid groups have seen their worst fears realized this week, as U.S.-backed forces organized by the United Arab Emirates launched an assault on the rebel-held port of Hodeidah — the entry point for 70 to 80 percent of the food, medicine, and aid supplies entering Yemen…. The Intercept interviewed more than a dozen former White House and State Department officials, humanitarian leaders, and Yemen experts, many of whom characterized the offensive as a major failure by the U.S. to restrain its coalition partners, who are largely dependent on American weapons, intelligence, and logistical support. Those sources said the attack was a sign that the U.S. is allowing allies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to drive American policy decisions in Yemen.”

White House Confirms That Kathy Kraninger, Mick Mulvaney’s Deputy, Has Been Picked by Mulvaney to Lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Saturday, 16 June 2018: “Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has picked a deputy at the budget office, Kathy Kraninger, to succeed him at the consumer watchdog agency, a White House spokeswoman confirmed on Saturday. The choice of Ms. Kraninger, who oversees the preparation of the budgets for cabinet departments, generated immediate opposition, with critics pointing to her inexperience in consumer and financial services issues and her association with Mr. Mulvaney. She was selected over the objection of some White House officials, who argued that her nomination could founder.”


Sunday, 17 June 2018, Day 514:


‘I Can’t Go Without My Son,’ a Mother Pleaded as She Was Deported to Guatemala: As a growing number of families are separated as part of the Trump administration’s attempt to control illegal immigration, some parents are being deported before recovering their children, The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Sunday, 17 June 2018: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the ‘zero tolerance’ policy officially in early May to stanch the flow of migrants, mainly from Central American countries like Guatemala. It calls for prosecuting nearly all of those who are found to have entered the United States illegally. Previously, most border-crossers who were caught would have faced deportation but not criminal charges, and would not have been separated from their children. Children whose parents have been arrested are transferred to the custody of the Health and Human Services Department, whose staff screens them, finds housing and remains responsible for them. From that point, migrant parents and children become separate legal cases in the maze of government bureaucracy, and keeping them linked has proved challenging. Different legal protections are afforded to juveniles and adults in the immigration system, and as a result, reuniting families can take months or longer, several legal experts said. In federal court, parents typically plead guilty to the misdemeanor offense of illegal entry. Many are then likely to accept ‘expedited removal’ from the country, in the hope of being reunited quickly with their children. But children cannot be subject to expedited removal; they are automatically entitled to a full hearing before an immigration judge, and their cases take longer to resolve. ‘Once the parent and child are apart, they are on separate legal tracks,’ said John Sandweg, who was acting director of ICE during the Obama administration. Reunification becomes particularly difficult when a parent is deported without the child and is no longer on American soil, Mr. Sandweg said; in those cases, ‘there is a very high risk that parents and children will be permanently separated.'” See also, ‘Zero-tolerance policy means zero humanity:’ Democrats decry Trump immigration policy after tour of detention center in McAllen, Texas, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Sunday, 17 June 2018: “They divided the young children who had been separated from their parents, placing 20 or more in a concrete-floor cage and providing foil blankets, thin mattress pads, bottled water and food. The migrant children, some confused or expressionless, watched as uniformed officials led reporters on a brief tour Sunday of a processing center and temporary detention facility [in McAllen, Texas]. Some 1,100 undocumented individuals were being held, including nearly 200 unaccompanied minors, according to estimates. Several Democratic lawmakers also got a firsthand look at the impact of President Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy of separately detaining children and parents trying to cross the border, which has led to about 2,000 children being separated from their parents in the past 45 days. The lawmakers chose Father’s Day for a trip to the southern Texas border to draw attention to the plight of divided families and demand that Trump end the policy. One lawmaker estimated that there were 100 children under the age of 6 at the facility. ‘The zero-tolerance policy means zero humanity and makes zero sense,’ Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said at a news conference following the lawmakers’ tour.” See also, Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart,’ The Washington Post, Laura Bush, Sunday, 17 June 2018: “On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents. In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. More than 100 of these children are younger than 4 years old. The reason for these separations is a zero-tolerance policy for their parents, who are accused of illegally crossing our borders. I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; interned Japanese have been two times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned.”

Students begin tour to address gun violence, uniting suburban and urban survivors in Chicago, The Washington Post, Mark Guarino, Sunday, 17 July 2018: “The nation’s contentious debate about guns came [to Chicago] this weekend, to a small, nondescript South Side park in a city where violence is rampant and the homicide count is escalating. Survivors of a suburban school mass shooting in Florida joined with survivors of an ongoing urban shooting epidemic in an effort to unite the nation’s youth ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. But instead of the walkouts and political speeches and boisterous rallies like one Friday night at a nearby church — which included music stars such as Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson — on Saturday the students got down to work. In an understated effort in the struggling Auburn Gresham neighborhood, about 20 teenagers with the March for Our Lives movement began a 20-state summer bus tour with a drive to register young voters and encourage them to go to the polls. The students and recent graduates of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a mass shooting in February that left 17 people dead and created a renewed effort to battle gun violence, said they don’t want a repeal of the Second Amendment or to banish guns. Instead, they want to galvanize the youth vote to make their peers understand how they can play an important role in getting more sensible gun reform laws on the books. ‘The only horse we have in this race is living until tomorrow,’ said Cameron Kasky, 17.”

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggests Trump may pardon Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has been completed, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Sunday, 17 June 2018: “President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani suggested Sunday that Trump might pardon his former campaign manager Paul Manafort if he is convicted — but only after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has completed his investigation. ‘When it’s over, hey, he’s the president of the United States, he retains his pardon power, nobody’s taking that away from him,’ Giuliani said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ when asked whether Trump would pardon Manafort should he be convicted. ‘I couldn’t, and I don’t want to take any prerogatives away from him.’ But Giuliani stressed that Trump has not issued, would not issue and should not issue any pardons related to the Mueller probe while it is ongoing, so as not to give the appearance that he has anything to hide.”

Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sunday, 17 June 2018: “One day in late May 2016, Roger Stone — the political dark sorcerer and longtime confidant of Donald Trump — slipped into his Jaguar and headed out to meet a man with a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and a viscous Russian accent. The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone, who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said. ‘You don’t understand Donald Trump,’ Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. ‘He doesn’t pay for anything.'”

In the Summer of 2017, U.S. Financier Gabriel Schulze Approached the Trump Administration, Saying the North Korean Government Wanted to Speak With Jared KushnerThe New York Times,  Mark Mazzetti and Mark Landler, Sunday, 17 June 2018: “An American financier approached the Trump administration last summer with an unusual proposition: The North Korean government wanted to talk to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. The financier, Gabriel Schulze, explained that a top North Korean official was seeking a back channel to explore a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, who for months had traded threats of military confrontation. Mr. Schulze, who lives in Singapore, had built a network of contacts in North Korea on trips he had taken to develop business opportunities in the isolated state. For some in North Korea, which has been ruled since its founding by a family dynasty, Mr. Kushner appeared to be a promising contact. As a member of the president’s family, officials in Pyongyang judged, Mr. Kushner would have the ear of his father-in-law and be immune from the personnel changes that had convulsed the early months of the administration. Mr. Schulze’s quiet outreach was but one step in a circuitous path that led to last week’s handshake between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim at a colonial-style island hotel in Singapore — a path that involved secret meetings among spies, discussions between profit-minded entrepreneurs, and a previously unreported role for Mr. Kushner, according to interviews with current and former American officials and others familiar with the negotiations.”


Monday, 18 June 2018, Day 515:


Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border, ProPublica, Ginger Thompson, Monday, 18 June 2018: “ProPublica has obtained audio from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, in which children can be heard wailing…. The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream ‘Mami’ and ‘Papá’ over and over again, as if those are the only words they know. The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. ‘Well, we have an orchestra here,’ he jokes. ‘What’s missing is a conductor.’… An audio recording obtained by ProPublica adds real-life sounds of suffering to a contentious policy debate that has so far been short on input from those with the most at stake: immigrant children. More than 2,300 of them have been separated from their parents since April, when the Trump administration launched its ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, which calls for prosecuting all people who attempt to illegally enter the country and taking away the children they brought with them. More than 100 of those children are under the age of 4. The children are initially held in warehouses, tents or big box stores that have been converted into Border Patrol detention facilities.” Trump is defiant as crisis grows over his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Seung Min Kim, Monday, 18 June 2018: “The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant families at the border and detain children apart from their parents spiraled into a humanitarian and political crisis Monday as the White House struggled to contain the growing public outcry. The situation has become a moral test for President Trump and his administration. The president on Monday voiced defiance and continued to falsely blame congressional Democrats for what he decried as a ‘horrible and tough’ situation. But Trump is empowered to immediately order border agents to stop separating families as a result of his ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement policy. The president asserted that the parents illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with their children ‘could be murderers and thieves and so much else,’ echoing his incendiary remarks about immigrants at his campaign launch in 2015. And in a series of dark tweets, he warned that undocumented immigrants could increase gang crime and usher in cultural changes. ‘The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility,’ Trump said in a midday speech. ‘You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places. We can’t allow that to happen to the United States. Not on my watch.’ More than 2,300 children were taken from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9, according to statistics released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security, with the pace of family separations growing over that period to nearly 70 a day.” See also, Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the Trump administration’s policy and practice of separating children from their families at the border is ‘child abuse,’ CNN Politics, Monday, 18 June 2018: “Dr. Colleen Kraft, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said removing children from the care of their parents at the border amounts to a form of child abuse. Kraft, who heads the professional association of pediatricians, visited a facility where children who had been separated from their parents were being held. She found toddlers — who you’d expect to be rambunctious — staying unusually silent, she said. One young girl sat wailing. ‘This is not normal activity or brain development with these children. The takeaway is that these children need their parents,’ she said. ‘This does amount to child abuse.'” See also, What separation from parents does to children: ‘The effect is catastrophic,’ The Washington Post, William Wan, Monday, 18 June 2018: “This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents. Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites — the little branches in brain cells that transmit mes­sages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and — especially in young children — wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain. ‘The effect is catastrophic,’ said Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School. ‘There’s so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this.’ That research on child-parent separation is driving pediatricians, psychologists and other health experts to vehemently oppose the Trump administration’s new border crossing policy, which has separated more than 2,000 immigrant children from their parents in recent weeks.” See also, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tells the U.S. to Stop Taking Migrant Children From Their Parents, The New York Times, Nick Cumming-Bruce, Monday, 18 June 2018: “The United Nations’ top human rights official on Monday entered the mounting furor over the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents, calling for an immediate halt to a practice he condemned as abuse. United States immigration authorities have detained almost 2,000 children in the past six weeks, which may cause them irreparable harm with lifelong consequences, said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. He cited an observation by the president of the American Association of Pediatrics that locking the children up separately from their parents constituted ‘government-sanctioned child abuse.’ ‘The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,’ Mr. al-Hussein said.” See also, Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s mighty struggle to explain separating families at the border, annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 18 June 2018. See also, How to mislead with statistics, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen edition, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 18 June 2018. See also, Here’s a list of organizations that are mobilizing to help immigrant children separated from their families, The Texas Tribune, Alex Samuels, Monday, 18 June 2018.

The U.S. Government Has No Plan for Reuniting the Immigrant Families It Is Tearing Apart, The New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, Monday, 18 June 2018: “In the past two months, the government has taken some two thousand immigrant children away from their parents. Under the zero-tolerance policy, border crossers are arrested and charged with a crime before being placed in immigration detention. If they came with their children, the children are turned over to O.R.R. [Office of Refugee Resettlement] and treated as though they travelled to the U.S. alone. No protocols have been put in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. Immigration lawyers, public defenders, and advocates along the border have been trying to fill the void…. Although the zero-tolerance policy was officially announced last month, it has been in effect, in more limited form, since at least last summer. Several months ago, as cases of family separation started surfacing across the country, immigrant-rights groups began calling for the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.), which is in charge of immigration enforcement and border security, to create procedures for tracking families after they are split up. At the time, D.H.S. said that it would address the problem, but there is no evidence that it actually did so…. The federal departments involved in dealing with separated families have institutional agendas that diverge. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—the agency at the D.H.S. that handles immigrant parents—is designed to deport people as rapidly as it can, while O.R.R.—the office within the Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) that assumes custody of the kids—is designed to release children to sponsor or foster families in the U.S. Lately, O.R.R. has been moving more slowly than usual, which has resulted in parents getting deported before their children’s cases are resolved. There’s next to no coördination between D.H.S. and H.H.S.”

Trump Lies About Germany, Again, to Cast Immigrants as an Existential Threat, The Intercept, Robert Mackey, Monday, 18 June 2018: “The president of the United States told a blatant lie about Germany on Monday, claiming that the nation’s crime rate — which is at its lowest level in 25 years — has gone ‘way up’ since Europe granted asylum to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq. The lie, posted on Twitter by Donald Trump, was an attempt to justify the exceedingly cruel measures he ordered to deter unauthorized immigration, including the arrest of asylum-seekers at the southern border and the removal of their children for detention in cages.” See also, Fact Check: Trump’s False and Misleading Claims About Germany’s Crime and Immigration, The New York Times, Christopher F. Schuetze, and Michael Wolgelenter, Monday, 18 June 2018.

Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller, Two Immigration Hard-Liners Who Went From Being on the Fringe to Being the Driving Force Behind the Trump Administration Policy of Separating Immigrant Children From Their Parents, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Katie Benner, Monday, 18 June 2018: “Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller spent years on the political fringe in the nation’s capital as high-decibel immigration hard-liners, always warning about the dangers of open borders but rarely in a position to affect law or policy. Now, Mr. Sessions, the attorney general and former senator from Alabama, and Mr. Miller, the president’s top policy adviser and former Senate aide to Mr. Sessions, have moved from the edges of the immigration debate to its red-hot center. Powerful like never before, the two are the driving force behind President Trump’s policy that has led thousands of children to be separated from their parents at the nation’s southern border.”

Supreme Court Avoids an Answer on Partisan Gerrymandering, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 18 June 2018: “The Supreme Court declined on Monday to address the central questions in two closely watched challenges to partisan gerrymandering, putting off for another time a ruling on the constitutionality of voting districts designed by legislatures to amplify one party’s political power. In a challenge to a redistricting plan devised by the Republican Legislature in Wisconsin, the court unanimously said that the plaintiffs had not proved that they had suffered the sort of direct injury that would give them standing to sue. The justices sent the case back to a trial court to allow the plaintiffs to try again to prove that their voting power had been directly affected by the way state lawmakers drew voting districts for the State Assembly. In the second case, the court unanimously ruled against the Republican challengers to a Democratic plan to redraw a Maryland congressional district. In a brief unsigned opinion, the court said the challengers had waited too long to seek an injunction blocking the district, which was drawn in 2011. Both cases had the potential to deliver a reckoning on a practice that dates to the early days of the Republic and got its name from one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Elbridge Gerry. The court instead kicked the can down the road, leaving the door open to further challenges. But the decisions were a setback for critics of gerrymandering, who had hoped that the Supreme Court would transform American democracy by subjecting to close judicial scrutiny the way districts have been redrawn to accommodate the preferences of the party in power. When the dust settled Monday, the status quo remained in place.” See also, Efforts to limit partisan gerrymandering falter at the Supreme Court, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 18 June 2018.

A federal judge strikes down Kansas voter law and orders Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to take more classes in continuing legal education, The Wichita Eagle, Jonathan Shorman and Hunter Woodall, Monday, 18 June 2018: “A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach. Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it ‘disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.'” See also, How the Case for Voter Fraud Was Tested–and Utterly Failed, ProPublica, Jessica Huseman, published on Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “From a new Supreme Court ruling to a census question about citizenship, the campaign against illegal registration is thriving. But when the top proponent [Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach] was challenged in a Kansas courtroom to prove that such fraud is rampant, the claims went up in smoke.”

Trump Orders Establishment of Space Force as Sixth Military Branch, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Monday, 18 June 2018: “President Trump said on Monday that he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the armed forces dedicated to protecting American interests in outer space, an idea that has troubled lawmakers and even some members of his administration, who have cautioned that the action could create unnecessary bureaucratic responsibilities for a military already burdened by conflicts.”

Lies, China, and Putin: Solving the Mystery of Wilbur Ross’ Missing Fortune, Forbes, Dan Alexander, Monday, 18 June 2018: “After weeks of investigation, Forbes found [that for] most of last year, Wilbur Ross served as secretary of commerce while maintaining stakes in companies co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, a Cypriot bank reportedly caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation and a huge player in an industry Ross is now investigating. It’s hard to imagine a more radioactive portfolio for a cabinet member. To this day, Ross’ family apparently continues to have an interest in these toxic holdings. Rather than dump them all, the commerce secretary sold some of his interests to Goldman Sachs—and, according to Ross himself, put others in a trust for his family members. He continued to deal with China, Russia and others while evidently knowing that his family’s interests were tied to those countries. In addition, five days before reports surfaced last fall that Ross was connected to cronies of Vladimir Putin through a shipping firm called Navigator Holdings, the secretary of commerce, who likely knew about the reporting, shorted stock in the Kremlin-linked company, positioning himself to make money on the investment when share prices dropped. Absurdly, maintaining all those conflicts of interest appears to be entirely legal—a reflection of ethics laws woefully unprepared for governing tycoons like Donald Trump and Wilbur Ross. Ross appears to have broken one law, however: submitting a sworn statement to federal officials in November saying he divested of everything he had promised he would—even though he still held more than $10 million worth of stock in financial firm Invesco, his former employer. He also continued to hold a short position in a bank called Sun Bancorp, a company he had promised to divest. The next month, Ross got rid of interests in both.”

Pentagon suspends ‘war games’ with South Korea after Trump’s meting with Kim Jong Un, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Monday, 18 June 2018: “The Pentagon announced Monday that it will suspend all planning of a forthcoming military exercise with South Korea, following a pledge from President Trump last week after his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. A Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana White, said the decision is ‘consistent with President Trump’s commitment’ to the North Koreans and made ‘in concert’ with the South Korean government. It applies solely to the August exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, in which about 17,500 U.S. troops gathered with South Korean counterparts last year in an exercise that focused heavily on computer-simulations to defend against a North Korean attack.”

At least six people close to Trump almost certainly knew about offers from Russians of dirt on Clinton, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 18 June 2018: “On Sunday, The Washington Post reported on a previously unknown point of contact between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and a Russian offering negative information about Hillary Clinton. That new report, involving a Trump campaign staff member and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, means that at least six members of Trump’s broader team knew about offers of dirt from Russians during that campaign — and, depending on how that information was shared, as many as 10 may have, including Trump. In March, we looked at the various ways in which members of Trump’s extended teams had been approached by agents of the Russian government during the campaign. It was a complicated web at that point — a web that has since grown only more intricate.”


Tuesday, 19 June 2018, Day 516:


Trump’s Cruelty and the Crying Children at the Border, The New Yorker, David Remnick, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “On the Texas side of the Mexican border today, thousands of children, by order of the Trump Administration, are learning what it is to be objects of deliberate state-sponsored cruelty. In a heartless act designed to arouse the furies of his electoral base, the President has ordered children to be separated from their parents and stowed in tent cities and cages and a hollowed-out former Walmart. The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, justifies this act of ‘zero tolerance’ by quoting from Scripture: ‘I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.’ This is the political leadership of the United States—at once cruel and sanctimonious. And it is on this platform of division, fear, and cruelty that the President has chosen to lead his party into the 2018 midterm elections.… What is happening now is purely gratuitous, a deliberate act of cruelty intended as leverage to build a ‘beautiful wall.’ And it is a wall intended not only to block Mexicans and Central Americans from making their way into the United States but to divide the United States itself, in order to retain power.” See also, A 10-year-old with Down syndrome was taken from her immigrant mom under Trump policy, Mexico says. International outrage grows over separating migrant children from their parents. The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “In one case, a 10-year-old Mexican girl with Down syndrome was taken from her mother after an illegal border crossing and sent to a Texas shelter, Mexican officials say — even though her father, a legal U.S. resident, lived an hour down the highway. In another, a handful of Mexican children were shipped to holding facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania while their mothers, who had entered the United States with them illegally, were moved to detention facilities near Seattle, officials said…. In Mexico’s first public response to the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray called the family separations ‘cruel and inhumane.’ He said Mexico has lodged complaints at the highest levels of the Trump administration, including with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, as well as with the United Nations. ‘The government of Mexico cannot remain indifferent to a situation of this nature,’ Videgaray said.” See also, The facts about Trump’s policy of separating families at the border, The Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo, Tuesday, 19 June 2018. See also, The U.S. Has Taken More Than 3,700 Children From Their Parents–and Has No Plan for Returning Them, The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Tuesday, 19 June 2018. See also, Here are the administration officials who have said that separation of children from their parents at the border is meant as a deterrent, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 19 June 2018. See also, What Is Really Behind Trump’s Controversial Immigration Policies? FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon Jr.,Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “I don’t think it’s a secret that immigration policy is an issue that hits on identity, or that Team Trump is not wild about immigrants. But understanding Trump’s immigration policies as a full-scale revolt against rising numbers of foreign-born Americans helps explain what is happening: Controversial immigration policies that would limit both legal and illegal immigration, often combined with rhetoric designed to cast immigrants, usually falsely, as a criminal or national security threat.” See also, APNewsBreak: Youngest migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters, Associated Press, Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned. Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.” See also, In ICE Detention, A Honduran Woman Fears Deportation Without Her Five-Year-Old Son, The New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, Tuesday, 19 June 2018.

Fact-Checking the Separation of Children From Their Parents at the Border, ACLU, Amrit Cheng, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “With nearly 2,000 immigrant children separated from their parents in just six weeks alone, there is an unprecedented human rights disaster unfolding at our border. As public outrage mounts, members of Congress demand access to government-run facilities, and the United Nations condemns us, the Trump administration is attempting to shift the blame — fast. In the past week, the administration has made several misleading statements, trying to justify the systematic separation of children from their parents…. The level of cruelty is difficult to comprehend, and that’s how the administration wants it.” See also, Fact-Checking the Trump Administration’s Case for Separating Children From Their Parents at the Border, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Tuesday, 19 June 2018. See also, 7 questions about the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, answered, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 19 June 2018.

Governors From at Least Eight States Refuse to Send National Guard to the Border, Citing Child Separation Practice, The New York Times, Matthew Haag and Jess Bidgood, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “Governors from at least eight states have announced that they would withhold or recall National Guard troops from efforts to secure the United States’ border with Mexico, as the debate over the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their parents at the southern border seeped into state political battles in an election year. Many of the governors opposed to sending troops were Democrats, from states including New York, North Carolina and Virginia. But two Republican governors who face re-elections this fall in Maryland and Massachusetts also reversed their plans.”

Trump ramps up rhetoric and says Democrats want ‘illegal immigrants’ to ‘infest our country,’ CNN Politics, Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “President Donald Trump amplified his heated immigration rhetoric on Tuesday, accusing Democrats of wanting migrants to “infest our country” and turning a speech on the economy into an angry tirade defending his harsh stance. It was a reflection of Trump’s growing frustration that the family separation crisis roiling his administration has led to accusations of child abuse and heartlessness. Privately, Trump has insisted he is right to push forward with a practice that has drawn outcry from across the political spectrum. In a morning tweet, Trump used language evoking images of pests, not human beings, when describing migrants approaching the US border. ‘Democrats are the problem,’ he wrote. ‘They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!’ he wrote.”

The Democratic Senate bill that would stop the separation of immigrant children from their parents, explained, Vox, Ella Nilsen, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “There is currently just one bill in the US Senate that would stop the Trump administration policy of family separation. The Keep Families Together Act now has the support of every single Senate Democrat, but no Republicans have yet signed on. The bill was introduced a couple weeks ago by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein’s bill would outlaw family separations except in very specific cases — when there’s reason to believe a child is being trafficked or abused by his or her parents. ‘Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated,’ Feinstein said in a statement. ‘To traumatize them further is unconscionable, and I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to put an end to this immoral policy.’ There is unanimous agreement among the Senate Democratic caucus to support the bill. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia became the last Democrat to sign on to the bill on Monday, saying that while he supports increased security and even a wall on the southern border, ‘no law requires pulling children from the arms of their parents.'”

Trump urges House Republicans to fix the immigration system, but he expresses no strong preference on rival bills amid uproar over family separations, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Philip Rucker, Seung Min Kim, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “President Trump implored anxious House Republicans to fix the nation’s immigration system but did not offer a clear path forward amid the growing uproar over his administration’s decision to separate migrant families at the border. Huddling with the GOP at the Capitol on Tuesday evening, Trump stopped short of giving a full-throated endorsement to immigration legislation meant to unite the moderate and conservative wings of the House Republican conference…. Trump has repeatedly defended his immigration crackdown, including forcibly separating migrant children from their parents as they arrive at the border. But images of young children housed in metal cages have set off a nationwide outcry that has reached the White House.”

Angered by family separations at the border, advocacy groups plan White House protest on 30 June, The Washington Post, Marissa J. Lang, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “Protests are planned in 132 cities across the country June 30 to demonstrate outrage at the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant families at the border and detaining children apart from their parents. Activists will descend on city centers, state capitols and, in Washington, at Lafayette Square across from the White House.”

New Trump Rule Rolls Back Consumer Protections of the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times, Robert Pear, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “A sweeping new rule issued Tuesday by the Trump administration will make it easier for small businesses to join forces and set up health insurance plans that circumvent many requirements of the Affordable Care Act, cutting costs but also reducing benefits…. The new health plans would be exempt from many consumer-protection mandates in the Affordable Care Act. They may not have to provide certain ‘essential health benefits’ like mental health care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, and prescription drugs…. [C]onsumer groups and many state officials opposed the push for association health plans. They said such plans would draw healthy people out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace, driving up costs for those who need comprehensive insurance. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said Tuesday that the new rule would open the door to ‘junk health insurance.’ It is, he said, ‘the latest act of sabotage of our health care system by the Trump administration.'” See also, Trump administration expands the use of health insurance plans that skirt the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “The Trump administration issued new rules on Tuesday that will help small businesses and self-employed people get health insurance that costs less because it includes fewer benefits and consumer protections, bypassing significant requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The rules, throwing the doors wide open to a type of insurance known as association health plans, accomplish through executive power what congressional Republicans have tried and failed to write into law over the past two decades.”

Trump’s new oceans policy washes away Obama’s emphasis on conservation and climate, Science Magazine, David Malakoff, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “Marine conservation and addressing climate change are out. Jobs and national security are in. That’s just one message sent by a new executive order detailing a revised U.S. oceans policy released today by President Donald Trump. The order formally revokes the 2010 oceans policy issued by then-President Barack Obama, and replaces it with a markedly different template for what the government should focus on in managing the nation’s oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes. Some changes in emphasis are sweeping. The Trump order deletes a preamble to the Obama policy that emphasized ‘how vulnerable our marine environments are,’ called for improving the nation’s ‘capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification,’ and stressed the need for ‘a national policy to ensure the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.’ It also drops the Obama order’s references to ‘social justice,’ ‘biological diversity,’ and ‘conservation.'”

Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. From the U.N. Human Rights Council, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “The United States withdrew on Tuesday from the world’s most important human rights body in protest of its frequent criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It was the latest effort by the Trump administration to pull away from international organizations and agreements that it finds objectionable. It was the first time a member has voluntarily left the United Nations Human Rights Council. The United States now joins Iran, North Korea and Eritrea as the only countries that refuse to participate in the council’s meetings and deliberations…. The withdrawal comes as the Trump administration faces condemnation by rights groups and governments worldwide for its decision to separate children from their families at the border. On Monday, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, called for an immediate end to the practice, describing such a tactic as inflicting ‘abuse on children’ and ‘unconscionable.’ Mr. Trump has turned decades of American foreign policy on its head by attacking or undermining much of the rules-based order that the United States established after World War II. Previous administrations viewed the interlocking network of alliances, trade rules and international organizations as beneficial to the United States. But Mr. Trump has ripped up the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal — both of which were negotiated under the strong influence of world powers. He has also imposed tariffs on the United States’ closest allies and left the Group of 7 summit meeting this month in chaos and recriminations after he denounced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada as ‘very dishonest & weak.'”

How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country, The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “A team of political activists huddled at a Hardee’s one rainy Saturday, wolfing down a breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Then they descended on Antioch, a quiet Nashville suburb, armed with iPads full of voter data and a fiery script. The group, the local chapter for Americans for Prosperity, which is financed by the oil billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch to advance conservative causes, fanned out and began strategically knocking on doors. Their targets: voters most likely to oppose a local plan to build light-rail trains, a traffic-easing tunnel and new bus routes. ‘Do you agree that raising the sales tax to the highest rate in the nation must be stopped?’ Samuel Nienow, one of the organizers, asked a startled man who answered the door at his ranch-style home in March. ‘Can we count on you to vote “no” on the transit plan?’  In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is linked to real estate deal with Halliburton chairman David Lesar in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, Politico, Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “A foundation established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and headed by his wife is playing a key role in a real-estate deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, the oil-services giant that stands to benefit from any of the Interior Department’s decisions to open public lands for oil exploration or change standards for drilling. A group funded by David Lesar, the Halliburton chairman, is planning a large commercial development on a former industrial site near the center of the Zinkes’ hometown of Whitefish, a resort area that has grown increasingly popular with wealthy tourists. The development would include a hotel and retail shops. There also would be a microbrewery — a business first proposed in 2012 by Ryan Zinke and for which he lobbied town officials for half a decade.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s Longtime Personal Fixer, Is Said to Hire Former Prosecutor Guy Petrillo as His New Lawyer, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 19 June 2018: “Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal fixer, has lined up a new lawyer, according to people familiar with the matter. The lawyer, Guy Petrillo, once held a senior role in the same federal prosecutors’ office that has been investigating Mr. Cohen for months. Mr. Cohen’s decision to hire Mr. Petrillo, who ran the criminal division of the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, comes as that office’s inquiry into Mr. Cohen is nearing a critical phase. For nearly two months, lawyers for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump have been working with a court-appointed special master in reviewing a vast trove of documents and data files seized from Mr. Cohen in April in a series of raids on his office, apartment and hotel room. The review is scheduled to end next week, which would move prosecutors closer to deciding whether to file criminal charges. It is a common practice for people facing scrutiny by prosecutors to hire lawyers who once worked in the offices investigating them. By bringing on Mr. Petrillo, Mr. Cohen will now have an advocate who is well positioned to help him navigate any negotiations with the prosecutors who have spent the past several months looking into his business dealings, including hush-money payments that he made to women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump. Those negotiations may eventually include the question of whether Mr. Cohen strikes a deal to cooperate with the government in a separate inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into ties between Mr. Trump, his associates and Russia.”


Wednesday, 20 June 2018, Day 517:


Trump Retreats on Separating Families at the Border, but Thousands May Remain Apart, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Abby Goodnough, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order meant to end the separation of families at the border by detaining parents and children together for an indefinite period…. But ending the practice of separating families still faces legal and practical obstacles. A federal judge could refuse to give the Trump administration the authority it wants to hold families in custody for more than 20 days, which is the current limit because of a 1997 court order. And the president’s order does nothing to address the plight of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy…. The president signed the executive order days after he said that the only way to end the division of families was through congressional action because ‘you can’t do it through an executive order.’ But he changed his mind after a barrage of criticism from Democrats, activists, members of his own party and even his wife and eldest daughter, who privately told him the policy was wrong.” See also, Trump reverses course and signs an executive order ending his policy of separating children from their parents at the border. He will instead detain them together. The Washington Post, John Wagner, Nick Miroff, and Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “President Trump abruptly reversed course Wednesday, signing an executive order ending family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border after a public uproar over the impact of his administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy. The plan would keep families together in federal custody while awaiting prosecution for illegal border crossings, potentially violating a 1997 court settlement limiting the duration of child detentions…. Trump had repeatedly defended his immigration crackdown, including forcibly separating migrant children from their parents after they crossed the border. But images of young children in tears, held in chain-link pens, set off an international outcry. For days, Trump and his top administration officials were unwilling to unilaterally reverse the separation policy, insisting that congressional action was required.” See also, Explaining Trump’s Executive Order on Separating Children From Their Parents at the Border, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 20 June 2018. See also, Trump’s move on family separations won’t address the core policy change he approved, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “It all begins with President Trump’s assessment of the nature of immigrants crossing the border illegally from Mexico. To Trump, those immigrants by default constitute an ‘infestation’ (as he put it on Twitter this week), the criminals and rapists he excoriated at the launch of his presidential campaign with a sprinkling, he assumes, of good people. Even though his administration’s data shows that more than 99 percent of families detained at the border are parents and children — who, experts tell us, are often fleeing violence in their home countries — Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have focused on the other 0.6 percent who might be smugglers or criminals. We’ve all mostly internalized this, but it bears repeating: Trump sees immigrants as a threat by default.” See also, Read the Executive Order Trump Signed on Family Separation, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 June 2018. See also, The Trump administration changed its story on family separation no fewer than 14 times before ending the policy, The Washington Post, JM Rieger, Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

Members of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s own denomination, the United Methodist Church, accuse him of immorality, discrimination, and ‘child abuse,’ The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have pointed to the Bible to defend the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, but now more than 600 members of his own denomination, the United Methodist Church, have slapped him with a formal complaint because of it. In a letter dated June 18, hundreds of Methodists all over the United States accused Sessions of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and ‘dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church.’ The charges each relate to Sessions’s ‘zero-tolerance’ border crackdown that has evoked bipartisan outrage, while the last is specifically linked to his use of the Bible to defend the policy. Sessions’s support and advocacy for ‘holding thousands of young children in mass incarceration facilities with little to no structured educational or socio-emotional support’ and for ‘directing employees and staff members to kidnap children from their parents’ falls in violation of the Methodists’ Book of Discipline, the Methodists contend in the letter.” See also, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen Is Confronted by Protesters at Mexican Restaurant: ‘Shame!’ The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, got an earful while she was eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington on Tuesday night. With tensions continuing to escalate over the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy that separates children from their families after illegal crossings at the border, a group of protesters confronted her. ‘If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace,’ the protesters shouted, according to video footage of the encounter that they posted on social media. The group also led chants of ‘shame!'” See also, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is heckled by protesters at a Mexican restaurant. Other diners applauded them. The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Wednesday, 20 June 2018. See also, Bruce Springsteen Speaks Out About the ‘Disgracefully Inhumane and Un-American’ Scenes at the Border, The New Yorker, David Remnick, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Springsteen has done his Broadway show, a tightly scripted narrative in words and song, a hundred and forty-six times, but, on Tuesday night, shaken by the scenes and sounds and images coming from the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, he briefly abandoned his script. He spoke in the voice of an American outraged, disgusted, bewildered by what is happening in his own country.” See also, Several airlines ask the federal government to stop using their flights to transport migrant children separated from their parentsThe Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Several U.S.-based airlines asked the federal government Wednesday to refrain from using their planes to transport migrant children separated from their families, saying the controversial Trump administration practice does not align with their values. The announcements by American, United and Frontier airlines came amid reports that the president would sign an executive order ending family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, with more airlines later following suit.” See also, CEOs are calling the separation of children and families at the border ‘inhumane’ and ‘tragic,’ The Washington Post, Jena McGregor, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Democratic and Republican lawmakers have spoken out about the Trump administration’s hard-line ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy, which has resulted in a sharp rise in the number of children separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border. The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics has said it ‘amounts to child abuse.’ Church leaders have called it ‘immoral,’ with one reportedly suggesting ‘canonical penalties’ for those involved. Former first ladies from both parties have called for it to end. And now, corporate America’s leaders are adding their voices to the growing chorus of critics denouncing the policy or calling for Congress to act. Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday morning, Apple chief executive Tim Cook told the Irish Times that ‘it’s heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids. Kids are the most vulnerable people in any society. I think that what’s happening is inhumane, it needs to stop,’ he said. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg encouraged donations to the Texas Civil Rights Project, saying, ‘We need to stop this policy right now,’ and made a donation to another fundraiser.”

‘We Are at Capacity’: An Asylum Standoff on the Bridge Between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, The New Yorker, Eric Lach, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “As part of the Trump Administration’s new zero-tolerance policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that asylum seekers must cross at legal points of entry, such as the Paso del Norte [bridge], in order to avoid criminal prosecution. But, in the weeks since Sessions announced the new policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been stationing agents in the middle of Paso del Norte and other legal border crossings, where they turn away many asylum seekers, preventing them from even stepping onto the U.S. side.” See also, Border Crossings Have Been Declining for Years, Despite Claims of a ‘Crisis of Illegal Immigration,’ The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

Trump administration’s ‘tent cities’ cost more than keeping migrant children with their parents, NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created ‘tent cities’ is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings. The reason for the high cost, the official and several former officials told NBC News, is that the sudden urgency to bring in security, air conditioning, medical workers and other government contractors far surpasses the cost for structures that are routinely staffed. It costs $256 per person per night to hold children in permanent HHS facilities like Casa Padre in Brownsville, Texas. And keeping children with their parents in detention centers like the one run by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement in Dilley, Texas cost $298 per resident per night, according to an agency estimate when it awarded the contract for the facility in 2014. At those prices, the additional cost to operate a 400-bed temporary structure for one month at capacity would be more than $5 million.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests nearly 150 meat plant workers in latest immigration raid in Ohio, The Washington Post, Kristine Phillips, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Immigration officials lined up dozens of workers, many dressed in white helmets and smocks, outside a meat-processing plant in rural Ohio on Tuesday afternoon in one of the largest recent workplace raids carried out by the Trump administration. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 146 workers were arrested as part of a year-long investigation into Fresh Mark, a northern Ohio meat supplier once touted by the government as a partner in preventing hiring undocumented workers. ICE said the company may have knowingly hired undocumented workers, and many are using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens. ICE officials raided the company’s plant in Salem, Ohio, about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Search warrants also were served at three other locations in the state…. Immigrant advocates condemned the arrests, saying the raids have put a strain on resources of groups that help the Hispanic community in Ohio. ‘There is a lot of fear, an absolute fear, gripping the community. . . . This is not about enforcing the law. This is about decimating the Latino community,’ said Veronica Dahlberg, executive director of Hola, an Ohio grass-roots organization.”

Listening to James Hansen on Climate Change, Thirty Years Ago and Now, The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Thirty years ago, James Hansen, a scientist at NASA, issued a warning about the dangers of climate change. The predictions he and other scientists made at the time have proved spectacularly accurate. On June 23, 1988—a blisteringly hot day in Washington, D.C.—James Hansen told a Senate committee that ‘the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.’ At the time, Hansen was the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and though his testimony was certainly not the first official warning about the ‘greenhouse effect’—a report to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, predicted ‘measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate’ in the decades to follow—it was the first to receive national news coverage. The Times ran the story at the top of the front page, with a graph showing a long-term rise in average global temperatures. This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of Hansen’s testimony, and it would be hard to think of a more lugubrious milestone. In the intervening three decades, nearly half of the Arctic ice cap has melted away, the oceans have acidified, much of the American West has burned, lower Manhattan, South Florida, Houston, and New Orleans have flooded, and average temperatures have continued to climb. Just last week, a team of scientists reported in Nature that the rate of melt off Antarctica has tripled in the past decade; as the Washington Post put it, ‘If that continues, we are in serious trouble.’ (Were the Antarctic ice to melt away entirely, global sea levels would rise by two hundred feet; if just the more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea levels would rise by about ten feet.)… Yet Washington continues to ignore the problem, or, worse still, to actively impede efforts to address it.”

Study Suppressed by the Trump Administration: the Environmental Protection Agency Underestimated the Dangers of a Family of Chemicals Known as Perfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, ProPublica, Abrahm Lustgarten, Lisa Song, and Talia Buford, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by the Trump administration because of the ‘public relations nightmare’ it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has been quietly released online. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the controversial 852-page review of health dangers from a family of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — manmade chemicals used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams — on its website this morning, and will publish a notice in the Federal Register tomorrow. The study upends federally accepted notions for how much of these chemicals are safe for people — recommending an exposure limit for one of the compounds that is 10 times lower than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has maintained is the safe threshold, and seven times lower for another compound. The stricter exposure thresholds are similar to those established by state health agencies in New Jersey and Michigan. All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought. PFAS compounds are proving to be pervasive in public water systems and around military bases across the country.” See also, The Department of Health and Human Services finally issues report that shows toxic nonstick chemicals have leaked into communities’ drinking water supplies. These chemicals endanger human health at levels the EPA had previously deemed safe. Politico, Annie Snider, Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

Scott Pruitt Has Spent a Total of $4.6 Million on Security, New Disclosures Show–Including $1,500 on ‘Tactical Pants,’ The Intercept, Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has now spent more than $4.6 million from public coffers on security, according to documents obtained by The Intercept and Documented under the Freedom of Information Act. The amount represents a $1.1 million increase from Pruitt’s total security costs as released in another disclosure just a month ago. Pruitt’s high spending on security has become the subject of mounting criticism and a host of official investigations: Several EPA inspector general investigations have been opened, as well as an ongoing investigation by the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee. Records released under the Freedom of Information Act list expenditures totaling $288,610 on a range of security-related items. The EPA, according to three expense line items for April, spent a total of $2,749.62 on ‘tactical pants’ and ‘tactical polos.'”

Michael Bloomberg Will Spend $80 Million on the Midterms. His Goal: Flip the House for the Democrats. The New York Times, Alexander Burns, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has decided to throw his political clout and personal fortune behind the Democratic campaign to take control of the House of Representatives this year, directing aides to spend tens of millions of dollars in an effort to expel Republicans from power. Mr. Bloomberg — a political independent who has championed left-of-center policies on gun control, immigration and the environment — has approved a plan to pour at least $80 million into the 2018 election, with the bulk of that money going to support Democratic congressional candidates, advisers to Mr. Bloomberg said. By siding so emphatically with one party, Mr. Bloomberg has the potential to upend the financial dynamics of the midterm campaign, which have appeared to favor Republicans up to this point. Facing intense opposition to President Trump and conservative policies, Republicans have been counting on a strong economy and heavily funded outside groups to give them a political advantage in key races, especially in affluent suburbs where it is expensive to run television ads. Mr. Bloomberg’s intervention is likely to undermine that financial advantage by bankrolling advertising on television, online and in the mail for Democratic candidates in a dozen or more congressional districts, chiefly in moderate suburban areas where Mr. Trump is unpopular. Democrats need to gain 23 congressional seats to win a majority.”

How One Conservative Think Tank Is Stocking Trump’s Government, The New York Times, Jonathan Mahler, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “The job of staffing the government is the first, and in many ways defining, challenge faced by every president. As the size of the government has grown to accommodate the nation’s economy, frequent military interventions and increasingly complex geopolitical obligations, so have the scale and gravity of the task. In 1933, there were just over 200 presidential appointees in the executive and legislative branches. At the end of the Barack Obama’s second term, there were 4,100…. The Trump team may not have been prepared to staff the government, but the Heritage Foundation was. In the summer of 2014, a year before Trump even declared his candidacy, the right-wing think tank had started assembling a 3,000-name searchable database of trusted movement conservatives from around the country who were eager to serve in a post-Obama government. The initiative was called the Project to Restore America, a dog-whistle appeal to the so-called silent majority that foreshadowed Trump’s own campaign slogan. Today it is clear that for all the chaos and churn of the current administration, Heritage has achieved a huge strategic victory. Those who worked on the project estimate that hundreds of the people the think tank put forward landed jobs, in just about every government agency. Heritage’s recommendations included some of the most prominent members of Trump’s cabinet: Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos (whose in-laws endowed Heritage’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society), Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, Jeff Sessions and many more. Dozens of Heritage employees and alumni also joined the Trump administration — at last count 66 of them, according to Heritage, with two more still awaiting Senate confirmation. It is a kind of critical mass that Heritage had been working toward for nearly a half-century.”

‘We’re Sending Them the Hell Back,’ Trump Says of Securing the Country’s Borders, The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Jonathan Martin, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Shortly after caving to political pressure and signing an executive order that ends the separation of families by detaining parents and children together at the border, President Trump vowed at a rally [in Duluth, Minnesota] on Wednesday that his administration would be ‘just as tough’ on immigration as before…. He said of other countries: ‘They’re not sending their finest. We’re sending them the hell back. That’s what we’re doing.'” See also, Trump airs his grievances at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota. He demands more credit–for just about everything. The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson, Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

Giuliani says Trump’s decision on whether to grant special counsel Robert Mueller an interview could be delayed until July, The Washington Post, Robert Costa and John Wagner, Wednesday, 20 June 2018: “Giuliani said last week that he expected Trump and his attorneys to decide about a face-to-face interview by the end of this month. But in an interview Wednesday, Giuliani said the inspector-general report about the FBI’s conduct during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation has upended that plan as the president and his team discuss the fallout. ‘I’m advising him to stay put, to hold our horses a little,’ Giuliani told The Washington Post, about an hour after Giuliani said he spoke with Trump. ‘I doubt August, and I doubt too far into July. But I do think things have changed.’… Giuliani on Tuesday night referred to the Mueller probe as a ‘kangaroo court’ and suggested it would be malpractice for him to allow Trump to agree to an interview. During an appearance on Fox News, Giuliani was asked by host Sean Hannity if he could ‘foresee any circumstances’ under which he would allow Trump to appear before Mueller, who is investigating potential coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign in 2016. ‘Do I look crazy?’ Giuliani responded. ‘So far, you know, I still have all my senses, and I’m a heck of a lawyer. And I’d get drummed out of the profession if I did. I mean, the reality is, you don’t put your client in a kangaroo court.'”


Thursday, 21 June 2018, Day 518:


Trump’s Executive Order Creates a New Border Crisis, The New Yorker, Sarah Stillman, 21 June 2018: “On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump traded one border crisis for another: instead of separating immigrant children from their parents, it appears that the U.S. government will now detain moms and dads indefinitely alongside their sons and daughters. New questions will now be asked. Can Trump really get the courts to dismantle the Flores agreement, a legal settlement from 1997 which enshrined protections for kids held in the government’s care? (Flores requires, for starters, that kids be held in the “least-restrictive setting” possible, and currently limits their detention to twenty days.) How will the Administration insure that kids who have been separated get swiftly reunited with their parents? And what legal fate will meet those kids whose mothers and fathers cannot be located, long after the news crews pack up their bags?… Not all family separations can be undone, even if the President agrees to try; the haste and carelessness with which the children were taken away will make the process all the more daunting.” See also, Reversal on migrant families deepens confusion over Trump’s immigration orderThe Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Dan Lamothe, and Seung Min Kim, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “President Trump’s executive order to halt family separations unleashed confusion in Washington and at the Mexico border Thursday, as U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it would stop referring such cases for prosecution and migrant parents arrived at courthouses in Texas and Arizona wearing handcuffs only to be led away without facing charges. After a senior Customs and Border Protection official told The Washington Post that the agency would freeze criminal referrals for migrant parents who cross illegally with children, Justice Department officials insisted that their ‘zero tolerance’ policy remained in force and that U.S. attorneys would continue to prosecute those entering the United States unlawfully.” See also, The chaotic effort to reunite immigrant parents and children who were separated at the border, The Washington Post, Kevin Sieff, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “Even though the Trump administration has halted its policy of separating illegal border crossers from their children, many of the over 2,300 youths removed from migrant parents since May 5 remain in shelters and foster homes across the country. The U.S. government has done little to help with the reunifications, attorneys say, prompting them to launch a frantic, improvised effort to find the children — some of them toddlers. One legal aid organization, the Texas Civil Rights Project, is representing more than 300 parents and has been able to track down only two children.” See also, First Step to Helping Children Separated From Their Parents and Sent to New York: Find Them, The New York Times, Annie Correal and Liz Robbins, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “As reports came in of hundreds of children sent quietly to New York after being separated from their families at the southern border, consular officials from Central American countries scrambled to help. Overnight, their jobs had changed from processing passports and visas from their offices in Midtown Manhattan and on Park Avenue to providing emergency humanitarian aid to children taken from their parents under a Trump Administration policy. But the first step was finding them. That process was thrown into more disarray on Wednesday when President Trump signed an executive order ending the policy that separated children from their parents. It appeared that children were continuing to arrive in New York as late as Wednesday night…. The federal agency that cares for unaccompanied minors — the Office of Refugee Resettlement — had not informed consular officials in New York of any shift in policy before news broke on Wednesday that more than 300 children had been sent to New York…. The resettlement agency also could not provide the number of children separated from their parents who have been sent to New York…. By Thursday, consular officials and others were shifting into crisis mode, beginning to search for children as young as 9 months old who did not appear to have been carefully tracked by the federal authorities.” See also, Who Is Dolly Gee? A Look at the Judge Deciding the Fate of Trump’s Executive Order. The New York Times, Tim Arango, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “Judge Dolly M. Gee has called the treatment of immigrant children in detention ‘deplorable’ in a legal opinion. She has castigated the federal government for ‘fear mongering’ when it argued that the detention of migrant families at the border was a necessary deterrent. And that was during the Obama administration. Soon, the national crisis over immigration, which has moved from searing scenes at the border of children being separated from their families, to the halls of power in Washington, will shift to a judge’s chambers in Los Angeles. That’s where Judge Gee is expected to consider President Trump’s executive order that ended the separation of migrant families but now seeks to hold them together for an indefinite period…. The Trump administration, in issuing the executive order, is expected to ask the federal courts to alter a 1997 consent decree known as the Flores settlement that limits the detention of migrant families to no more than 20 days. ‘Right now we have the lawful authority to detain a family unit together for up to 20 days,’ Gene Hamilton, an adviser to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday. ‘What we are seeking with Judge Gee is a modification of that so we can detain beyond 20 days the entire family unit together.'” See also, The Billion-Dollar Business of Operating Shelters for Migrant Children, The New York Times, Manny Fernandez and Katie Benner, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is not a multimillion-dollar business. It’s a billion-dollar one. The nonprofit Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody. Its shelter for migrant boys at a former Walmart Supercenter in South Texas has been the focus of nationwide scrutiny, but Southwest Key is but one player in the lucrative, secretive world of the migrant-shelter business. About a dozen contractors operate more than 30 facilities in Texas alone, with numerous others contracted for about 100 shelters in 16 other states.” See also, Where are the migrant child facilities? Scattered across the United States. The Washington Post, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “President Trump has signed an executive order to halt the family separation process he created, but at least 2,500 children have already been taken from their parents and sent to shelters in at least 15 states. Some are as young as a few months old. Hundreds have been apart from distraught parents for several weeks. The system for reuniting these children with parents arrested for crossing the border illegally is chaotic, so the humanitarian crisis could persist for months.” See also, Where Migrant Children Are Being Held Across the U.S., The New York Times, Sarah Almukhtar, Jugal K. Patel, Derek Watkins, and Karen Yourish, Thursday, 21 June 2018. See also, Melania Trump, Agent of Coat Chaos, The New York Times, Vanessa Friedman, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ When the first lady, Melania Trump, on an unannounced humanitarian visit to a children’s shelter in Texas, strode onto her airplane in an olive green Zara army jacket with those words scrawled in faux white graffiti on the back, it sent the watching world into what might be called, with some understatement, a meltdown. ‘Insensitive,’ ‘heartless’ and ‘unthinking’ were some of the words hurled through the digisphere about the choice. ‘It’s a jacket,’ her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to reporters. ‘There was no hidden message.’ She’s right, of course. It wasn’t hidden. It was literally written on the first lady’s back. The question is: Who was the intended audience?”

Fact-checking claims about Trump’s plan to stop separating children from their parents at the border, The Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “A new executive order signed by President Trump lays out steps to end the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. We see this as a tacit admission by the Trump administration that many of its previous claims about family separations were bunk. Until Trump signed the order on Wednesday, the administration was insisting that it didn’t have a policy of separating families (false), that several laws and court rulings were forcing these separations (false), that Democrats were to blame (false), that only Congress could stop family separations (false) and that an executive order wouldn’t get the job done. ‘You can’t do it through an executive order,’ Trump said last Friday. ‘Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it,’ Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday. The day before, she tweeted: ‘We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.’ Well, apparently there was a policy, and Trump can apply a fix without Congress. In any case, Trump’s executive order includes important caveats that may blunt its intended effect. The administration’s proposal is basically to keep children in immigration detention for longer than is currently allowed.”

Mothers in a New Mexico Prison Do Not Know How to Find Their Children, The New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “A Honduran woman named Esmeralda Pérez and her nine-year-old son, Jefferson, had just crossed the U.S. border when they were arrested, outside El Paso, on May 26th…. Pérez showed the agents her I.D. and her son’s birth certificate, and said that they were fleeing persecution. They were taken to a Border Patrol station, where they spent the night. The next day, around noon, an agent walked into their cell. ‘Come with me and bring me your kid,’ he told Pérez. ‘The agent said he was going to take my son because I needed to pay a penalty and go to jail,’ Pérez said. ‘But he didn’t tell me where they were taking him.’ She hasn’t seen or spoken to her son since. In the past month and a half, the Trump Administration has separated at least twenty-five hundred children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, under a new zero-tolerance policy—without instituting a plan or protocol for how to reunite them. On Wednesday, the President signed an executive order that he claimed would halt the separations, but it made no mention of the families who had already been split up. They have been left in limbo. Some parents have already been deported, while their children remain in the U.S. Others are stuck in immigration detention, and, although they know where their children are, they cannot reach them. Pérez is in a third category. She’s still in criminal custody—she hasn’t had a chance to make her full asylum claim—and she’s not even sure where her son is.” See also, A Physician in South Texas on an Unnerving Encounter With an Eight-Year-Old Boy in Immigration Detention, The New Yorker, Amanda Schaffer, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “This [eight-year-old] boy seemed devastated—quiet and withdrawn. He barely spoke. I asked if he needed a hug. I kneeled down in front of the recliner, and this kid just threw himself into my arms and didn’t let go. He cried and I cried. And to think he’s been in a facility for a month without a hug, away from his parents, and scared, and not knowing when he’ll see them again or if he’ll see them again. While I held him, I heard the men standing behind me muttering that I was “rewarding his bad behavior.” Thankfully, it was in English, so I don’t think the boy understood what they were saying, but it just revealed their attitudes toward these kids.”

Charlotte and Dave Willner hoped to raise $1,500 for migrant families separated at the border by the Trump administration. Pledges now total $15 million. The Washington Post, Darlena Cunha and Avi Selk, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “The money has come from Americans disaffected with their government, immigrants who remember their own journeys, and sympathizers from Canada to Switzerland and beyond. ‘That clear moral commonality is what will sustain us,’ Charlotte Willner wrote on Facebook on the first night of the campaign. ‘It transcends almost everything. It is an enduring sense of what America ought to be about.’… In more ways than one, the surge has overwhelmed the Texas nonprofit that will receive the money, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). With donations pouring in at $4,000 a minute at one point, the nonprofit has already taken in twice as much cash as it raised in all of 2016, according to its public financial records. It plans to use the money not only to bond parents out of immigration jails but also to provide lawyers to the parents and children as they fight in court to stay together and stay in the United States. ‘We’ve been occasionally crying around the office all day when we check the fundraising totals,’ RAICES wrote on Facebook. ‘This is such a profound rejection of the cruel policies of this administration. Take heart.'”

Pentagon will make room for up to 20,000 migrant children on military bases, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Seung Min Kim, and Nick Miroff, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “The Defense Department will house up to 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on military bases in coming months, a Pentagon official said Thursday, the latest twist in the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement effort. The agreement comes after the Department of Health and Human Services made the request. Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a military spokesman, said Thursday that the Pentagon will support it. In a notification to lawmakers, the Pentagon said Wednesday night that officials at HHS asked whether beds could be provided for children at military installations ‘for occupancy as early as July through December 31, 2018.’ The plan seemingly will have similarities to 2014, when the Obama administration housed about 7,000 unaccompanied children on three military bases. As required under the Economy Act, the memo said, the Defense Department would be reimbursed for all costs incurred. The sites will be run by HHS employees or contractors working with them, the memo said. They will provide care to the children, ‘including supervision, meals, clothing, medical services, transportation or other daily needs,’ and HHS representatives will be at each location.”

House Republican leaders delay vote on immigration bill until next week in the face of opposition, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Sean Sullivan, and John Wagner, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “House leaders abruptly postponed a vote Thursday on a broad immigration bill intended to unite GOP moderates and conservatives, acknowledging they lack the votes to pass the measure despite a growing uproar over separating migrant families at the border. A fractious GOP conference and President Trump’s equivocations hamstrung leadership as they tried to rally support for their Republicans-only bills. The vote was delayed until next week on the bill that would provide $25 billion for Trump’s long-sought border wall, offer a pathway to citizenship to young undocumented immigrants and keep migrant families together in detention centers. Earlier in the day, the House rejected a hard-line measure, 231 to 193, that would have significantly limited legal immigration and given dreamers only an uncertain reprieve.”

Behind Trump’s Plan to Overhaul the Government: Scaling Back the Safety Net, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Erica L. Green, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “President Trump, spurred on by conservatives who want him to slash safety net programs, unveiled on Thursday a plan to overhaul the federal government that could have a profound effect on millions of poor and working-class Americans. Produced over the last year by Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, it would reshuffle social welfare programs in a way that would make them easier to cut, scale back or restructure, according to several administration officials involved in the planning. Among the most consequential ideas is a proposal to shift the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a subsistence benefit that provides aid to 42 million poor and working Americans, from the Agriculture Department to a new mega-agency that would have ‘welfare’ in its title — a term Mr. Trump uses as a pejorative catchall for most government benefit programs. That proposal, which includes an equally ambitious plan to merge the Education and Labor Departments to consolidate work force programs, is not likely to gain the congressional approval needed to make the changes, Mr. Mulvaney’s aides conceded in a phone call with reporters on Thursday. But the rollout has a bigger long-term purpose, said Margaret Weichert, one of Mr. Mulvaney’s deputies who drafted the proposal. She cast the proposal as a rallying cry for ‘small government’ and said the audacity of the plan proved ‘why many Americans voted for this president.'” See also, Trump administration’s plan to reorganize the government embraces the conservative goal of cutting the safety net, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein and Caitlin Dewey, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “The White House’s goal of consolidating federal safety-net programs in a revamped and renamed health department would fulfill a long-held conservative goal that has the potential to reduce federal help for the neediest Americans. The Trump administration’s plan to reorganize the federal government also has an explicit aim of building standardized requirements that people must work or prepare for jobs to qualify for government help. The blueprint does not itself contain funding cuts for food stamps, cash assistance, Medicaid or other longtime pillars of the government’s safety net. But it runs alongside President Trump’s efforts in his budgets to slash funding for such programs. And it would buttress a case for reductions by pulling together programs in ways that make clearer how much the government is spending. The plan’s very lexicon embraces conservative branding of federal assistance for the poor. It proposes to change the Department of Health and Human Services, as it has been called since 1980, to the Department of Health and Public Welfare, reviving a term that has acquired negative connotations on the right. Whether these changes are a good idea lies at the core of a deep philosophical divide about the proper size of government and its role for people who live in poverty or close to it.”

Stephen Miller: a driving force behind the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and the policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, Southern Poverty Law Center, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “Stephen Miller, the senior adviser for policy to Trump and a prominent anti-immigrant voice in the administration, has been honing his views on issues of race and identity for years. On the road to his current position, Miller has crossed paths with hate groups that have influenced him, including the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies and the anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center. Miller is now injecting the anti-immigrant ideology he developed while associating with these groups into U.S. policy. The New York Times reported last week, Miller was one of the strongest advocates for the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy of prosecuting every person who crosses the U.S. border without documentation which Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this year.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Has Scuttled More Than 1,200 Civil Rights Probes Inherited From Obama, ProPublica, Annie Waldman, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “Our data analysis shows that the Trump administration is less likely than the Obama administration to find wrongdoing by school districts on issues ranging from racial and sexual harassment to meeting educational needs of disabled students.”

Trump administration tightens rules for federal scientists talking to reporters, Los Angeles Times, Rong-Gong Lin II, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “A new directive from the Trump administration instructs federal scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey to get approval from its parent agency before agreeing to most interview requests from reporters, according to employees and emails from officials with the Department of the Interior and USGS. USGS employees who spoke with The Times on condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to do so say the new protocol represents a dramatic change in decades of past media practices at the scientific agency and will interfere with scientists’ ability to quickly respond to reporters’ questions. They expected that taxpayers would see less of the USGS’ scientific expertise as reporters seek scientific comment elsewhere. The new protocol also permits the Department of the Interior’s communications office to reject interview requests on scientific matters.”

National Enquirer sent stories about Trump to his attorney Michael Cohen before publication, people familiar with the practice say, The Washington Post, Sarah Ellison, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “During the presidential campaign, National Enquirer executives sent digital copies of the tabloid’s articles and cover images related to Donald Trump and his political opponents to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen in advance of publication, according to three people with knowledge of the matter — an unusual practice that speaks to the close relationship between Trump and David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company. Although the company strongly denies ever sharing such material before publication, these three individuals say the sharing of material continued after Trump took office.”

What does the minimum wage ‘grand bargain’ in Massachusetts actually do? Mass Live, Shira Schoenberg, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “The Massachusetts Legislature, in a single day on Wednesday, released and passed a policy that will be felt throughout Massachusetts’ workplaces — if Gov. Charlie Baker signs it into law. The so-called ‘grand bargain’ was meant to eliminate the need for ballot questions that would have raised the minimum wage, established paid family leave and lowered the state sales tax. The bargain raises the minimum wage to $15 over five years, establishes a statewide paid leave program and creates an annual sales tax holiday.”

Democrats plan fierce opposition to Kathy Kraninger, Trump’s nominee to lead the Consumer Protection Bureau, The Washington Post, Renae Merle, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “President Trump’s pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau faces a fierce confirmation struggle in the Senate, where liberal Democrats are preparing a campaign to block a nominee with decades of experience in homeland security but with little known record on financial regulation. Democrats fear Kathy Kraninger, 43, is being brought in to oversee a pull back of the CFPB, continuing a path laid out by interim director Mick Mulvaney. As they fight her nomination, they have pounced on her lack of experience in financial regulation.”

Democrats Plan New Effort to Target Minority Voters, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Thursday, 21 June 2018: “The Democratic National Committee is undertaking an expansive, multimillion dollar strategic plan to motivate voters who typically sit out midterm elections, with a particular focus on engaging nonwhite communities through new investments in local organizing and a six-figure advertising campaign. The plan, which is set to be announced on Thursday, is likely the largest and most comprehensive effort ever by the Democratic Party to motivate minority voters in a midterm election year, according to aides and party insiders briefed on the new efforts. It includes $1.2 million split across 16 state parties to hire community organizers targeting groups who have been historically unlikely to vote — including black, Latino, Asian, millennial and rural voters. The plan also introduces a new database that seeks to identify 25 million likely Democratic voters who are currently unregistered and seemingly removed from the political process.”