Week 84: Friday, 24 August – Thursday, 30 August 2018 (Days 582-588)

Families Belong Together and Free: rally in Pittsfield, MA, Saturday, 30 June 2018

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, 24 August 2018, Day 582:


Allen Weisselberg, Top Trump Organization Official, Was Granted Immunity for Testimony by Federal Prosecutors in Manhattan for His Grand Jury Testimony about Michael Cohen, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Steve Eder, Friday, 24 August 2018: “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan struck a deal earlier this summer with Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, granting him immunity for his grand jury testimony about Michael D. Cohen, a person briefed on the arrangement said Friday. News of Mr. Weisselberg’s testimony came days after Mr. Cohen said Mr. Trump had directed him to commit campaign finance crimes and one day after another Trump loyalist, the tabloid executive David Pecker, was revealed to have agreed to help prosecutors in their case. The person briefed on the deal said that it was narrow in scope, protecting Mr. Weisselberg from self-incrimination in sharing information with prosecutors about Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to tax and campaign finance charges. The latter charges stemmed from payments during the campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. It was not, the person said, a blanket immunity extending beyond the information he shared, and Mr. Weisselberg remains in his job at the Trump Organization.” See also, Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg, who allegedly helped arrange hush-money reimbursement to Cohen, received immunity from federal prosecutors in New York, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 24 August 2018: “A federal investigation that led President Trump’s longtime lawyer to implicate Trump in two campaign finance crimes this week also secured the cooperation of one of the top-ranking executives at Trump’s private company. Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in New York who were investigating Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, according to people familiar with the probe…. The decision to grant Weisselberg immunity gave prosecutors access to one of the highest-ranking figures inside the president’s private company, an executive who is considered practically part of Trump’s family…. The Wall Street Journal first reported Weisselberg’s immunity deal.” See also, Allen Weisselberg, Longtime Trump Organization CFO, Testified and Was Granted Immunity in the Michael Cohen Probe, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Nicole Hong, Friday, 24 August 2018: “President Trump’s financial gatekeeper was granted immunity by federal authorities in New York and testified before a grand jury, the third longtime confidant of Mr. Trump known to have provided information in an illegal hush-money investigation that has implicated the president. Allen Weisselberg, who has served for decades as chief financial officer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, testified several weeks ago in the criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan into Michael Cohen….” See also, Allen Weisselberg, the Man Who Knows Donald Trump’s Financial Secrets, Has Agreed to Become a Coöperating Witness, The New Yorker, Adam Davidson, Friday, 24 August 2018.

Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterm Elections in the U.S., The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg, Friday, 24 August 2018: “In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details. But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence. The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground amid more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent.”

No One Is Safer. No One Is Served. An immigrant family hides from Donald Trump in a Connecticut church. The New Yorker, Dave Eggers, Friday, 24 August 2018: “The legendary Chicago oral historian and moral force Studs Terkel once said, ‘There is a decency in the American people and a native intelligence—providing they have the facts, providing they have the information.’ During a lifetime of listening to Americans, Terkel came to believe that, when Americans have the information, they do the right thing. So here is the information: For a hundred and fifty-eight days, Malik Naveed bin Rehman, Zahida Altaf, and their five-year-old daughter, Roniya, have been living in the basement of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, Connecticut…. Malik and Zahida are a middle-aged couple, originally from Pakistan, who have been in the United States for almost twenty years…. In 2014, Malik and Zahida gained protection under an executive action concerning enforcement priorities signed by President Obama. Immigrants who had committed no crimes and who had played by the rules—working and paying taxes, for example—were not prioritized for deportation. Then, in 2017, the Trump Administration reversed the executive action, and deportation proceedings were started against Malik and Zahida…. There are at least forty-two families or individuals facing deportation who are now living in churches across the United States. It is only a form of courtesy that prevents ICE from entering sensitive areas such as schools and places of worship; if they choose to, they can go anywhere they please. The forty-two cases are those that have been publicized in some way, but because more than a thousand churches have signed on to participate in the sanctuary movement, and because many more churches are providing sanctuary in secret, the total number of humans hiding in American houses of faith is not known…. [H]ow is the United States made better or more secure by throwing away this family’s eighteen years of law-abiding life in Connecticut? The answer is that we will be no better and no more secure. We will only be more callous, less compassionate, less fair, and we will continue to spin so far from the moral center that we may never find our way back.”

Continue reading Week 84, Friday, 24 August – Thursday, 30 August 2018 (Days 582-588)

Trump Administration Cuts More Than $200 Million in Aid for Palestinians, The New York Times, Gardiner Harris, Friday, 24 August 2018: “The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would not spend more than $200 million set aside for Palestinian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, the latest in a series of measures that have infuriated the Palestinians. The cancellation follows a similar decision last week against spending $230 million reserved by Congress to help stabilize areas in Syria devastated by the country’s seven-year war. And it comes as the administration considers canceling nearly $3 billion in foreign aid projects around the world. As with the money for Syria, the administration intends to redirect the funds intended for Palestinians to higher-priority projects elsewhere, according to a senior State Department official. The administration has yet to identify what those projects are.”

A Yearslong Study, Funded in Part by the Environmental Protection Agency, Has Linked Pesticides to Ailments in Children of Farm Workers, The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Eric Lipton, Friday, 24 August 2018: “[A research] project, run by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, [was begun in 2000]. Known as Chamacos, Spanish for ‘children,’ it has linked pesticides sprayed on fruit and vegetable crops with respiratory complications, developmental disorders and lower I.Q.s among children of farm workers. State and federal regulators have cited its findings to help justify proposed restrictions on everything from insecticides to flame-retardant chemicals. But the Trump administration wants to restrict how human studies like Chamacos are used in rule-making. A government proposal this year, called Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, could stop them from being used to justify regulating pesticides, lead and pollutants like soot, and undermine foundational research behind national air-quality rules. The E.P.A., which has funded these kinds of studies, is now labeling many of them ‘secret science.'”

How a Trump tariff is strangling newspapers in the US, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Friday, 24 August 2018: “Print isn’t dead. But the soaring cost of newsprint is contributing to the slow death of America’s newspapers. A months-long spike in the price of paper, driven by federal tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Canadian suppliers, is slamming newspapers at a time when the news about the news industry wasn’t very good to begin with. Newspapers, magazines and print advertisers have seen the cost of their most basic commodity rise at double-digit rates since the Commerce Department began imposing the tariffs in March on Canadian imports, by far the publishing industry’s dominant paper source. The result has been a kind of slow-motion breakdown for newspapers, long beset by declining ad revenue and disappearing readers. Even in an increasingly digital world, old-fashioned ink-on-paper remains the lifeblood of most newspapers. Print ads and subscriptions account for 75 percent or more of the revenue of an average daily newspaper. Newsprint is typically a publication’s second-biggest operating expense after labor.”

An Environmental Protection Agency Rule Change Could Let the Dirtiest Coal Plants Keep Running (and Stay Dirty), The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Friday, 24 August 2018: “One of the main advancements of the past half-century at coal-burning power plants has been the ‘scrubber,’ a clean-air device that played a major role in ending the acid-rain crisis of the 1970s and that removes millions of tons a year of a pollutant blamed for respiratory disease. However, the Trump administration’s proposed rewrite of climate-change regulations could enable some of America’s dirtiest remaining coal plants to be refurbished and keep running for years without adding scrubbers or other modern pollution controls. Industry lawyers and former federal officials say the policy shift is one of the most consequential pieces of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal, made public this week, to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was designed to slow the pace of climate change in part by encouraging the retirement of older coal plants and a shift toward greener energy sources. ‘This is a power plant life-extension rule masquerading as a climate rule,’ said Kate Konschnik, a Bush-era Department of Justice lawyer who handled lawsuits against coal-burning power plants, which she said would now become much harder to file.”


Saturday, 25 August 2018, Day 583:


Trump’s Power to Fire Federal Workers Is Curtailed by Judge, The New York Times, Noam Scheiber, Saturday, 25 August 2018: “A federal district judge in Washington struck down most of the key provisions of three executive orders that President Trump signed in late May that would have made it easier to fire federal employees.The ruling, issued early Saturday, is a blow to Republican efforts to rein in public-sector labor unions, which states like Wisconsin have aggressively curtailed in recent years. In June, the Supreme Court dealt public-sector unions a major blow by ending mandatory union fees for government workers nationwide. (Federal workers were already exempt from paying such fees.)” See also, In victory for unions, judge overturns key parts of Trump executive orders, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Saturday, 25 August 2018: “Unions representing federal workers on Saturday declared victory [when] a federal judge struck down key provisions of a set of executive orders aimed at making it easier to fire employees and weaken their representation. The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington, was a setback to the White House’s efforts to rein in federal unions, which have retained significant power over working conditions even as private-sector unions are in decline.”

Democrats Overhaul Controversial Superdelegate System, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Saturday, 25 August 2018: “Democratic Party officials, after a yearslong battle between warring ideological wings, have agreed to sharply reduce the influence of the top political insiders known as superdelegates in the presidential nomination process. Under the new plan, which was agreed to on Saturday afternoon in Chicago at the Democratic National Committee’s annual summer meetings, superdelegates retain their power to back any candidate regardless of how the public votes. They will now be largely barred, however, from participating in the first ballot of the presidential nominating process at the party’s convention — drastically diluting their power. Superdelegates will be able to cast substantive votes only in extraordinary cases like contested conventions, in which the nomination process is extended through multiple ballots until one candidate prevails.”


Sunday, 26 August 2018, Day 584:


Trump rejected plans for a White House statement praising John McCain, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 26 August 2018: “President Trump nixed issuing a statement that praised the heroism and life of Sen. John McCain, telling senior aides he preferred to issue a tweet before posting one Saturday night that did not include any kind words for the late Arizona Republican. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and other White House aides advocated for an official statement that gave the decorated Vietnam War POW plaudits for his military and Senate service and called him a ‘hero,’ according to current and former White House aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. The original statement was drafted before McCain died Saturday, and Sanders and others edited a final version this weekend that was ready for the president, the aides said. But Trump told aides he wanted to post a brief tweet instead, and the statement praising McCain’s life was not released. ‘My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!’ Trump posted Saturday evening shortly after McCain’s death was announced.”

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Michael Cohen, backs away from confidence that Cohen has information about Trump’s knowledge on Russian efforts to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sunday, 26 August 2018: “An attorney for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, is backing away from confident assertions he made that Cohen has information to share with investigators that shows Trump knew in 2016 of Russian efforts to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Lanny Davis, a spokesman and attorney for Cohen, said in an interview this weekend that he is no longer certain about claims he made to reporters on background and on the record in recent weeks about what Cohen knows about Trump’s awareness of the Russian efforts. Davis did not rule out that his claims were correct but expressed regret that he did not explain that he could not independently corroborate them, saying that he now believes he ‘should have been more clear.'”

What Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea Doesn’t Tell Us About Trump, The New Yorker, Jeannie Suk Gersen, Sunday, 26 August 2018: “Last Tuesday, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, pleaded guilty to breaking campaign-finance laws by helping to pay two women, in the fall of 2016, not to disclose affairs that they’d had with President Trump. He claimed that he had made these payments at Trump’s behest, and that he had done so primarily to influence the Presidential election, which made his violation a criminal offense. Cohen’s plea has been hailed as the strongest reason yet to remove Trump from office, mostly because, unlike the other crimes of which several people in Trump’s circle have been convicted or accused, these particular acts were done in concert with the President. But the truth is that Cohen’s confession of a criminal motive does not necessarily establish Trump’s. In fact, a lifetime habit of behaving sleazily may very well help the President. Cohen’s in-court statement made clear that, at Trump’s direction, he paid Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film actress whose screen name is Stormy Daniels, a hundred and thirty thousand dollars for her silence, far in excess of the twenty-seven-hundred-dollar limit that an individual may spend on a Presidential campaign, and that he helped get the National Inquirer to pay Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who also had an affair with Trump, a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to buy and suppress her story, in violation of the ban on corporate campaign spending. He also made clear that he engaged in this conduct in order to influence the Presidential election. Had he done it to protect Trump’s family or business, the same payments wouldn’t have been criminal—and, if he had gone to trial, it may have been difficult for prosecutors to convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the election-related motive was the primary one. Proving that Trump shared that motive will be a key factor in determining both the President’s legal jeopardy and the viability of impeachment proceedings. ”

Measuring Presidents’ Misdeeds. During Watergate, historians helped catalogue accusations made against past Presidents; their findings may be useful again. The New Yorker, Jill Lepore, published online on Sunday, 26 August 2018 (published in the print edition on Monday, 3 September 2018): “In May, 1974, John Doar, the special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, called the Yale historian C. Vann Woodward into his office and asked him to figure out just how badly Presidents had behaved in the past, and how they had answered accusations against them. A sense of scale seemed needed, a sense of magnitude. Doar gave Woodward until July to pull together a report, a catalogue of every charge of Presidential misconduct from 1789 to 1969. Was Richard Nixon worse than the worst? Or maybe not that bad? Historically speaking, what is ‘politics as usual,’ anyway? It would be good to know the answers, with regard to the current occupant of the White House. The conviction of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, tars him, and the guilty plea of Michael Cohen, his former attorney, implicates him. Cohen has pleaded guilty to violating federal law at Trump’s direction, making the President an unindicted co-conspirator. If Trump were not President, he would very likely be charged with a crime. What else he has done, and what can be proved, and what Republicans are willing to do about it remain to be seen; meanwhile, Trump’s entire Presidency, from his Cabinet appointments to his foreign policy, lies in a muddle of money-grubbing, kowtowing, and influence-peddling. Is Trump more of a crook than Nixon was? That’s not the right question, but it’s the inevitable one…. Woodward, reviewing the 1974 findings, made a list of never-befores: ‘Heretofore, no president has been proved to be the chief coordinator of the crime and misdemeanor charged against his own administration as a deliberate course of conduct or plan. Heretofore, no president has been held to be the chief personal beneficiary of misconduct in his administration or of measures taken to destroy or cover up evidence of it. Heretofore, the malfeasance and misdemeanor have had no confessed ideological purposes, no constitutionally subversive ends. Heretofore, no president has been accused of extensively subverting and secretly using established government agencies to defame or discredit political opponents and critics, to obstruct justice, to conceal misconduct and protect criminals, or to deprive citizens of their rights and liberties.’ Those never-befores ought to have become never-agains. But they haven’t. Trump has already done some of them—not secretly but publicly, gleefully, and without consequence—and is under investigation for more.”


Monday, 27 August 2018, Day 585:


Student Loan Watchdog Seth Frotman Quits, Says Trump Administration ‘Turned Its Back’ on Borrowers, NPR, Cory Turner, Monday, 27 August 2018: “The federal official in charge of protecting student borrowers from predatory lending practices has stepped down. In a scathing resignation letter, Seth Frotman, who until now was the student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says current leadership ‘has turned its back on young people and their financial futures.’ The letter was addressed to Mick Mulvaney, the bureau’s acting director. In the letter, obtained by NPR, Frotman accuses Mulvaney and the Trump administration of undermining the CFPB and its ability to protect student borrowers. ‘Unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting,’ it read. ‘Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.’ The letter raises serious questions about the federal government’s willingness to oversee the $1.5 trillion student loan industry and to protect student borrowers.” See also, Seth Frotman, the top student loan watchdog, resigns over Trump administration policies, The Washington Post, Laura Meckler and Jeff Stein, Monday, 27 August 2018: “The consumer protection official charged with safeguarding student borrowers is resigning in protest of the Trump administration, claiming it is siding with predatory lenders over consumers and enacting policies that will lead to ‘far-reaching harm.’ Seth Frotman wrote in a scathing letter that he would leave his position as student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the end of the week.”

Federal Court Throws Out North Carolina’s Congressional Districts, Again, The New York Times, Michael Wines and Richard Fausset, Monday, 27 August 2018: “A panel of three federal judges again declared North Carolina’s congressional district map to be unconstitutional, ruling on Monday that it was gerrymandered to unfairly favor Republican candidates. The decision, which may have significant implications for control of Congress after the midterm elections, is likely to be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which for the moment is evenly split on ideological lines without a ninth justice to tip the balance. Though North Carolina’s voters tend to divide about evenly between the two parties, Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 House seats. A redrawn district map may put more of the seats within Democrats’ reach.” See also, North Carolina’s gerrymandered map is unconstitutional, judges rule, and may have to be redrawn before midterm elections, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 27 August 2018.

Trump Reaches Revised Trade Accord With Mexico, Threatening to Leave Out Canada, The New York Times, Ana Swanson, Katie Rogers, and Alan Rappeport, Monday, 27 August 2018: “President Trump said on Monday that the United States and Mexico had reached an accord to revise key portions of the North American Free Trade Agreement and would finalize it within days, suggesting he was ready to jettison Canada from the trilateral trade pact if the country did not get on board quickly. Speaking from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump promoted the preliminary agreement with Mexico as a deal that could replace Nafta and threatened to hit Canada with auto tariffs if it did not ‘negotiate fairly.’ ‘They used to call it Nafta,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement,’ adding that the term Nafta — which he has called the ‘worst’ trade deal in history — had ‘a bad connotation’ for the United States. Yet while Mr. Trump may try to change the name, the agreement reached with Mexico is simply a revised Nafta, with updates to provisions surrounding the digital economy, automobiles, agriculture and labor unions. The core of the trade pact — which allows American companies to operate in Mexico and Canada without tariffs — remains intact. Now, the question becomes whether a trilateral pact becomes a bilateral deal — or Mr. Trump’s threats pressure Canada to return to the negotiating table and accede to many of the United States’ demands.” See also, Trump announces separate U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, says Canada may join later, The Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Erica Werner, and David J. Lynch, Friday, 27 August 2018.

Kushner Companies and Michael Cohen Are Accused of Falsifying Building Permits to Push Out Tenants, The New York Times, Charles V. Bagli, Monday, 27 August 2018: “Charles Kushner, the developer whose son Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to President Trump, and Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, face scrutiny in New York for claims that they falsified construction permits in an attempt to remove rent-regulated tenants from buildings scattered across the city.”

Donald Trump’s Response to John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty He IsThe New Yorker, John Cassidy, Monday, 27 August 2018: “Donald Trump is a small, petty man. He is a liar and a crook. And his legal problems are mounting. Each one of these statements has been true since January 20, 2017, when Trump became the President of the United States. But the remarkable events of the past week have highlighted and confirmed the essence of this President, and the terms on which he continues to hold office. On Monday morning, someone in the White House ordered that the U.S. flag atop the building—which had been flying at half-staff to honor the memory of Senator John McCain, who died on Saturday—be raised to its normal position. Who was responsible for this action? President Trump, of course. Over the weekend, Trump declined to issue a personal statement praising McCain, instead confining himself to a tweet in which he offered condolences to McCain’s family. You might argue that, in doing so, the President was avoiding hypocrisy—the enmity between the two men was long-standing and bitter…. But messing with the flag that flies above the White House was different. The flag represents the United States and the office of the Presidency, not Trump personally. After the death of a prominent U.S. politician, such as a former President or prominent senator, it is standard practice for the sitting President to issue a proclamation ordering the flag to be lowered to half-staff until the burial, which, in this case, will be next Sunday.”


Tuesday, 28 August 2018, Day 586:


Andrew Gillum Brings It Home: Progressive Insurgent Seizes the Democratic Nomination for Florida Governor, The Intercept, Maryam Saleh, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pulled off a shocking upset in Florida’s Democratic primary for governor Tuesday night, defeating the establishment favorite, Gwen Graham, by a narrow margin of about 40,000 votes. With nearly all ballots counted, Gillum held a 2.8 percentage point lead over Graham, with 507,000 votes to her 466,000. Throughout the campaign season, Gillum trailed in the polls behind Graham, a former congressional representative, and Philip Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach. The Tallahassee mayor saw a surge after a late-stage endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who traveled to Florida to stump for Gillum earlier this month. As of Monday, Gillum was polling in the No. 2 spot. His platform includes support for ‘Medicare for All’ and criminal justice reform proposals like the legalization of marijuana; bail reform; and a repeal of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which gained national infamy after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. He’s also called for injecting $1 billion into public education and hiking the corporate tax rate. Gillum frequently reminded voters that he was the only non-millionaire running for governor. He was successful in part because of the financial backing of liberal billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer, who poured more than $1 million into the race through their organizations, the Open Society Foundation and NextGen America, respectively. Despite that largesse, he was thoroughly outspent in what was an incredibly expensive election. He closed out the campaign with a $4.1 million war chest, compared to Graham’s $7.8 million and Levine’s $31.7 million, according to campaign finance reports…. ‘Andrew was the underdog from the start, but he inspired voters with a bold platform of raising wages, making health care a basic right, legalizing marijuana and fighting climate change,’ said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, which backed Gillum.” See also, Andrew Gillum, a Black Progressive, and Ron DeSantis, a Trump Acolyte, Win Florida Governor Primaries, The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei and Jonathan Martin, Tuesday, 28 August 2018.

Puerto Rico Changed the Official Hurricane Maria Death Toll From 64 to Nearly 3,000 People, BuzzFeed News, Nidhi Prakash, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “Puerto Rico raised the official death toll for Hurricane Maria from 64 to nearly 3,000 people after months of denying there was an issue with the count. The revision came after an independent study — commissioned by Puerto Rican authorities in January after months of media reports calling their figures into question — was published, pegging the estimated death toll at 2,975 people. By comparison, the death toll for Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, was 1,833. The report published Tuesday by researchers with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University also found that Puerto Rico did not adequately prepare residents for Maria, which obliterated the island in September 2017, and that doctors were confused about how to classify the dead.” See also, Nearly a Year After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Revises Official Death Toll From 64 to 2,975, The New York Times, Sheri Fink, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “A long-awaited analysis of Hurricane Maria’s deadly sweep through Puerto Rico prompted the government on Tuesday to sharply increase the official death toll. The government now estimates that 2,975 people died as a result of the disaster and its effects, which unfolded over months. The new assessment is many times greater than the previous official tally of 64, which was not revised for nearly a year despite convincing evidence that the official death certificates failed to take full account of the fatal and often long-range impacts from the storm across the island.”

U.S. to End All Funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the U.N. Agency That Aids Palestinian Refugees, Foreign Policy, Colum Lynch, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “Months after scaling back financial support for the United Nations agency that provides humanitarian aid to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, the Trump administration has decided to end funding altogether, several sources told Foreign Policy, in a decision that analysts said would cause more hardship and possibly unrest in Gaza, the West Bank, and other parts of the Middle East. The decision was made at a meeting earlier this month between President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to the sources. The administration has informed key regional governments in recent weeks of its plan. The United States had been providing the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, some $350 million a year—more than any other country. The sum amounted to more than a quarter of the agency’s $1.2 billion annual budget. Dave Harden, a former U.S. Agency for International Development official briefed on the meeting between Kushner and Pompeo, said the decision would potentially benefit hard-liners in the region, including the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas. ‘An immediate and capricious cut off of UNRWA funding … risks collapsing the Palestinian Authority, empowering Hamas, and shifting the responsibility of health, education, and ultimately security services to the Israelis,’ Harden told FP. ‘The decision is dangerous, with unpredictable consequences.'”

Trump Accuses Google of Burying Conservative News in Search Results, The New York Times, Adam Satariano, Daisuke Wakabayashi, and Cecilia Kang, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “President Trump, in a series of early morning Twitter posts on Tuesday, attacked Google for what he claimed was an effort to intentionally suppress conservative news outlets supportive of his administration. Mr. Trump’s remarks — and an additional warning later in the day that Google, Facebook and Twitter ‘have to be careful’ — escalated a conservative campaign against the internet industry that has become more pointed since Apple, Google and Facebook removed content from Alex Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who runs the site InfoWars and has been a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump. ‘Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media,’ Mr. Trump said on Twitter at 5:24 a.m. ‘In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent.’ Mr. Trump added that ‘they are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!’ Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council and a longtime advocate of deregulation, appeared to back Mr. Trump when asked by reporters later on Tuesday whether the administration would be pursuing more regulation of Google. ‘We’ll let you know,’ Mr. Kudlow said. ‘We’re taking a look at it.’ In a statement, Google said that its search service was ‘not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.'” See also, Google responds to Trump, saying there is no political motive in its search results, Reuters, Tuesday, 28 August 2018.

If Republicans Lose Their Hold on Congress, Trump Warns, Democrats Will Enact Change ‘Quickly and Violently,’ The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “President Trump warned evangelical leaders Monday night that Democrats ‘will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently’ if Republicans lose control of Congress in the midterm elections. Speaking to the group in the State Dining Room of the White House, Mr. Trump painted a stark picture of what losing the majority would mean for the administration’s conservative agenda, according to an audiotape of his remarks provided to The New York Times by someone who attended the event. ‘They will end everything immediately,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘When you look at antifa,’ he added, a term that describes militant leftist groups, ‘and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people.’… The blunt warning — delivered to about 100 of the president’s most ardent supporters in the evangelical community — was the latest example of Mr. Trump’s attempts to use the specter of violence at the hands of his political opponents and to fan the flames of cultural divisions in the country.”

Trump privately revived the idea of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions this month, according to people familiar with the discussions, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, and Gabriel Pogrund, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “President Trump, who levied extraordinary public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent weeks, has privately revived the idea of firing him in conversations with his aides and personal lawyers this month, according to three people familiar with the discussions. His attorneys concluded that they have persuaded him — for now — not to make such a move while the special-counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign is ongoing, the people said. But there is growing evidence that Senate Republicans, who have long cautioned Trump against firing Sessions, are now resigned to the prospect that he may do so after the November midterm elections — a sign that one of the last remaining walls of opposition to such a move is crumbling.”

Emails Link Former Homeland Security Official Ian M. Smith to White Nationalists, The Atlantic, Rosie Gray, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “In the past two years, leaders of an emboldened white nationalism have burst into the forefront of national politics and coalesced around a so-called alt-right subculture as they have endeavored to make their ideology part of the mainstream. Recent developments have shed light on previously unknown connections between white-nationalist activists and the Trump administration. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has denounced ‘all forms of violent extremism’ following the resignation of a policy analyst who had connections with white nationalists, according to leaked emails obtained by The Atlantic. The emails show that the official, Ian M. Smith, had in the past been in contact with a group that included known white nationalists as they planned various events. On one of the email threads, the address of the alt-right white nationalist leader Richard Spencer is included, as well as Smith’s. Another group of recipients includes Smith as well as Jared Taylor, the founder of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, who calls himself a ‘white advocate.'” See also, Ian M. Smith, Homeland Security staffer with white nationalist ties, attended White House policy meetings, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, published on Thursday, 30 August 2018: “Ian M. Smith, a Department of Homeland Security analyst who resigned this week after he was confronted about his ties to white nationalist groups, attended multiple immigration policy meetings at the White House, according to government officials familiar with his work. Smith quit his job Tuesday after being questioned about personal emails he sent and received between 2014 and 2016, before he joined the Trump administration. The messages, obtained by the Atlantic and detailed in a report published Tuesday, depict Smith engaging in friendly, casual conversations with prominent white supremacists and racists.”

House Democrats push Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reject funding for guns in schools, The Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “House Democrats are urging Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make clear that a federal grant program cannot be used to buy firearms for schools. In a letter being sent to DeVos on Tuesday, 173 out of 193 Democrats in the House argue that DeVos has the authority to say no to such spending and that close examination of the law that governs the grants suggests she should. ‘Arming teachers would not only jeopardize student and staff health and safety, but also run counter to Congressional intent, precedent, and common sense,’ Democrats said in the letter, which was organized by Rep. Robert C. ‘Bobby’ Scott (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the House Education Committee. At issue is whether states can use Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, available for a wide range of school expenses, to buy guns intended to bolster school safety. Officials said last week that the department had received inquiries from Texas and Oklahoma and that DeVos is considering the idea…. Tuesday’s letter asks DeVos to clarify by the week’s end that she will not allow the spending.”

Agriculture Department Will Pay $4.7 Billion to Farmers Hit in Trade War, NPR, Bill Chappell, Tuesday, 28 August 2018: “The Department of Agriculture will pay $4.7 billion to farmers growing soybeans, cotton and other products hit by tariffs in the Trump administration’s hard-line trade war with China, announcing the first batch of payments from a $12 billion government aid package. Starting next Tuesday, the agency will take applications from farmers who produce corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, sorghum, soybeans and wheat — products that were targeted in China’s retaliatory tariffs, after the U.S. imposed a 25 percent levy on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports…. The government payout was sharply criticized when it was announced last month, with farmers and Trump’s fellow Republicans saying that the administration was paying billions in response to a problem it created. As NPR’s Brian Naylor reported in July, lawmakers in Congress were not required to vote on the billion-dollar farm relief package — a vote that could have had sharp negative fallout with midterm elections looming in November.”


Wednesday, 29 August 2018, Day 587:


Trump administration is denying passports to U.S. citizens along the Mexican border, throwing their citizenship into question, The Washington Post, Kevin Sieff, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen. His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard. But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was a [U.S.] citizen. As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown…. [C]ases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.” See also, Democratic lawmakers call for hearings into denial of passports to U.S. citizens, The Washington Post, Kevin Sieff and Gabriel Pogrund, published on Thursday, 30 August 2018: “Congressional Democrats on Thursday called for hearings into the government’s policy of denying U.S. passports to ­Hispanic Americans along the U.S.-Mexico border and questioning the citizenship of hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Americans. Texas congressmen said the government’s policy, reported by The Washington Post on Wednesday, is part of a systemic anti-Hispanic bias that has guided the administration’s immigration policy, and suggested they would propose legislation to address the policy. ‘This represents an unacceptable targeting of people based on their ethnic heritage. It violates the Constitution. It should be investigated by Congress in both chambers, and we should take action to stop it as soon as possible through legislation if necessary,’ said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.).”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Is Preparing New U.S. Sexual Misconduct Rules That Bolster Rights of the Accused and Protect Colleges, The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing new policies on campus sexual misconduct that would bolster the rights of students accused of assault, harassment or rape, reduce liability for institutions of higher education and encourage schools to provide more support for victims. The proposed rules, obtained by The New York Times, narrow the definition of sexual harassment, holding schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses. They would also establish a higher legal standard to determine whether schools improperly addressed complaints.”

Don McGahn to Leave White House Counsel Job This Fall, Trump Says, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Michael S. Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “President Trump surprised Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, on Wednesday by abruptly announcing that Mr. McGahn will be leaving his job this fall, effectively forcing the long-anticipated exit of a top adviser who has cooperated extensively in the investigation into Russian election interference. The president made the declaration on Twitter without first informing Mr. McGahn, according to people close to both men. It came 11 days after The New York Times reported the degree to which Mr. McGahn — who was by Mr. Trump’s side at major moments as the president sought to keep control of the Russia inquiry — has emerged as a key witness in the investigation. Over the past nine months Mr. McGahn has given 30 hours of testimony in at least three voluntary interviews. Mr. McGahn’s departure leaves the White House without one of the few senior advisers who have been willing to push back against Mr. Trump. It also raised the prospect of further West Wing exits, particularly in the White House Counsel’s Office, where Mr. McGahn has had a loyal staff, with several people staying in their jobs out of devotion to him.” See also, Trump says White House counsel Donald McGahn will leave his job in the fall, The Washington Post, Robert Costa, Robert Barnes, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 29 August 2018.

The Flynn Tapes: A New Tell. Did Trump know that Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI–and that the FBI had tapes–when he pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down a federal criminal investigation into whether Flynn had lied to the FBI? Incontrovertibly. The New York Review of Books, Murray Waas, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “In early February 2017, a senior White House attorney, John Eisenberg, reviewed highly classified intelligence intercepts of telephone conversations between then-National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, which incontrovertibly demonstrated that Flynn had misled the FBI about those conversations, according to government records and two people with first-hand knowledge of the matter. It was after this information was relayed to President Trump that the president fired Flynn, and the following day allegedly pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down a federal criminal investigation into whether Flynn had lied to the FBI.”

Trump touts the ‘fantastic job’ his administration did in Puerto Rico even though the Hurricane Maria death toll increased from 64 to 2,975, New York Daily News, Chris Sommerfeldt, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “President Trump on Wednesday claimed his administration did a ‘fantastic job’ in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — even though the island’s governor had hours earlier announced nearly 3,000 people died in the devastating storm. ‘I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,’ Trump told reporters at the White House. ‘We have put billions and billions of dollars into Puerto Rico. It was a very tough one.’ The President added, ‘I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done.’  Trump also falsely claimed it was far harder to restore power to Puerto Rico after Maria because the island’s Electric Power Authority was ‘shut’ before the hurricane hit…. Despite Trump’s assertion, the electric plant was fully functional ahead of the hurricane, although it is still more than $9 billion in debt. Trump’s comments came a day after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said his administration was updating Hurricane Maria’s official death toll from 64 to 2,975 following the release of an independent study conducted by George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health.”

Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint Are Overturned by the United States International Trade Commission, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Alan Rappeport, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “The United States International Trade Commission on Wednesday overturned a Trump administration decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint, saying that American paper producers are not harmed by newsprint imports. The unanimous decision by the five-member body eliminates tariffs that have been in effect since January, handing a win to small and medium-size newspapers, which have struggled to absorb the cost of higher newsprint and have made cuts, including layoffs, as a result…. Andrew Johnson, the president of the National Newspaper Association, a group of about 2,300 community newspapers, cheered the decision and said he was thankful that ‘the commissioners did the right thing. This is a great day for newspapers,’ Mr. Johnson said. ‘It sends a loud message.’ But ‘there is a lot of damage that has been done,’ added Mr. Johnson, who is also the owner and publisher of three weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.” See also, Newspapers get a reprieve as the U.S. International Trade Commission nullifies Trump’s tariffs on Canadian newsprint, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Wednesday, 29 August 2018.

FBI pushes back on unfounded Trump claim that China hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “The FBI on Wednesday pushed back on an unfounded claim by President Trump that Hillary Clinton’s emails were hacked by China, saying it had found no evidence that the private servers she used while secretary of state had been compromised. Trump asserted early Wednesday, without citing evidence, that China had hacked Clinton’s emails, and he said the Justice Department and the FBI risked losing their credibility if they did not look into the matter further.”

Ron DeSantis, the Republican Nominee for Governor in Florida, Warns Florida Not to ‘Monkey This Up,’ and Many Hear a Racist Dog Whistle, The New York Times, Julia Jacobs, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “Representative Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor in Florida, drew accusations of using a racist dog whistle on Wednesday after saying in a television interview that voters should not ‘monkey this up’ by electing his opponent, Andrew Gillum, who would be the state’s first black governor. Mr. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, won the primary election in an upset on Tuesday night, handing a major victory to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party…. In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday after the controversy over the remarks took off, Mr. Gillum said Mr. DeSantis was taking a page ‘directly from the campaign manual’ of Mr. Trump. ‘In the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls,’ Mr. Gillum said. ‘They’re now using full bull horns.’… Monkeys have long been used in racist insults against black people, and many took note of that history. Sharon Austin, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, said she saw Mr. DeSantis’s language as a not-so-subtle racist dog whistle, similar to what many black politicians — including former President Barack Obama — have faced during their campaigns. ‘Why, of all words, would you use the term monkey?’ she said of the remark. ‘If you don’t know about the history of racist language, racist imagery about animals and apes and black men — that’s ignorance.'”

Federal Nuclear Safety Board Slams Energy Department Plan to Weaken Oversight, ProPublica and The Santa Fe New Mexican, Rebecca Moss, Wednesday, 29 August 2018: “A new Department of Energy order that could be used to withhold information from a federal nuclear safety board and prevent the board from overseeing worker safety at nuclear facilities appears to violate longstanding provisions in the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, the board’s members said Tuesday. Members of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, both Democrats and Republicans, were united in their criticism of the Energy Department’s order, published in mid-May. It prevents the board from accessing sensitive information, imposes additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandates that Energy Department officials speak ‘with one voice’ when communicating with the board…. The five-member board, which currently has one vacancy, was formed in 1988 near the close of the Cold War, as the public and Congress began to question the lack of accountability at the Department of Energy and its predecessor agencies…. Negligent safety practices contributed to cancer and other illnesses in nuclear workers exposed to radiation and toxic chemicals without proper protections, studies have shown.”


Thursday, 30 August 2018, Day 588:


Local efforts won’t be enough to undo Trump’s inaction on climate change, Yale researchers say, The Guardian, Oliver Milman, Thursday, 30 August 2018: “Individual cities, regions and businesses across the globe are banding together determinedly to confront climate change – but their emissions reductions are relatively small and don’t fully compensate for a recalcitrant US under the Trump administration, a new study has found. A cavalcade of city mayors, regional government representatives and business executives from around the world will convene in San Francisco next month for a major summit touting the role of action beyond national governments to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. But the greenhouse gas cuts offered up by these entities are relatively modest, according to new research, placing the onus on nations to raise their ambitions even as the US, the world’s second largest emitter, looks to exit the landmark Paris climate agreement.”

Climate change could render many of Earth’s ecosystems unrecognizable, The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan, Friday, 30 August 2018: “After the end of the last ice age — as sea levels rose, glaciers receded and global average temperatures soared as much as seven degrees Celsius — the Earth’s ecosystems were utterly transformed. Forests grew up out of what was once barren, ice-covered ground. Dark, cool stands of pine were replaced by thickets of hickory and oak. Woodlands gave way to scrub, and savanna turned to desert. The more temperatures increased in a particular landscape, the more dramatic the ecological shifts. It’s about to happen again, researchers are reporting Thursday in the journal Science. A sweeping survey of global fossil and temperature records from the past 20,000 years suggests that Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems are at risk of another, even faster transformation unless aggressive action is taken against climate change.”

National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy It All. The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Habeman, Thursday, 30 August 2018: “Federal investigators have provided ample evidence that President Trump was involved in deals to pay two women to keep them from speaking publicly before the 2016 election about affairs that they said they had with him. But it turns out that Mr. Trump wanted to go even further. He and his lawyer at the time, Michael D. Cohen, devised a plan to buy up all the dirt on Mr. Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on him, dating back to the 1980s, according to several of Mr. Trump’s associates. The existence of the plan, which was never finalized, has not been reported before. But it was strongly hinted at in a recording that Mr. Cohen’s lawyer released last month of a conversation about payoffs that Mr. Cohen had with Mr. Trump. ‘It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know,’ Mr. Cohen said on the recording. The move by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen indicated just how concerned they were about all the information amassed by the company, American Media, and its chairman, David Pecker, a loyal Trump ally of two decades who has cooperated with investigators. It is not clear yet whether the proposed plan to purchase all the information from American Media has attracted the interest of federal prosecutors in New York, who last week obtained a guilty plea from Mr. Cohen over a $130,000 payment to the adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, and a $150,000 payment to a Playboy model, Karen McDougal.”

FBI says Robert D. Chain threatened to shoot Boston Globe staff, calling them the ‘enemy of the people,’ echoing the phrase Trump uses for the news media, The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Thursday, 30 August 2018: “Federal law enforcement officers arrested a man in California on Thursday after he made repeated threats of violence against the Boston Globe newspaper this month, which included echoing the catchphrase popularized by President Trump that the news media are ‘the enemy of the people,’ officials said. Robert D. Chain, 68, of Encino, a neighborhood in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, was charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce, which comes with a potential penalty of as many as five years in prison. Chain made at least 14 threatening phone calls to the Globe beginning Aug. 10, the FBI said in a statement, after the Globe announced that it was organizing a campaign for newspapers to respond collectively to Trump’s repeated attempts to demonize the media…. Harold H. Shaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said that ‘making threats is not a prank, it’s a federal crime.'”

Trump administration to end U.S. funding to U.N. program for Palestinian refugees, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung and Ruth Eglash, Thursday, 30 August 2018: “The Trump administration has decided to cancel all U.S. funding of the United Nations aid program for Palestinian refugees, part of its determination to put its money where its policy is as it seeks a recalculation of U.S. foreign aid spending and prepares its own Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. In an announcement to be made within the next several weeks, the administration plans to voice its disapproval of the way the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, spends the funds and to call for a sharp reduction in the number of Palestinians recognized as refugees, dropping it from more than 5 million, including descendants, to fewer than a tenth of that number, or those still alive from when the agency was created seven decades ago, according to officials familiar with the decision. Any such reduction would effectively eliminate, for most Palestinians, the ‘right of return’ to land contested with Israel. More immediately, many regional foreign policy and security experts, including in Israel, say that slashing UNRWA’s budget, amid a call to ‘de-register’ refu­gees, would worsen an already disastrous humanitarian situation, especially in Gaza, and sharply increase the level of violence. In addition to contributions to UNRWA, the United States has provided direct, bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. Last week, the State Department announced that more than $200 million in already appropriated aid for this year would be ‘redirected’ elsewhere.”

Trump claims, without evidence, that NBC was ‘caught fudging’ TV interview with him in May 2017, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Thursday, 30 August 2018: “President Trump accused NBC News and its top anchor, Lester Holt, of ‘fudging’ elements of their interview last year in which Trump said he fired James B. Comey over his performance as FBI director, including his handling of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump, who made the allegation on Twitter, didn’t specify what he believed was improperly altered in NBC’s broadcast of the interview. He also provided no evidence for his claim.”