Trump Administration, Week 96: Friday, 16 November – Thursday, 22 November 2018 (Days 666-672)

‘Nobody Is Above the Law-Protect Mueller’ demonstration in Pittsfield, MA, Thursday, 8 November 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, 16 November 2018, Day 666:


U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly rules in favor of CNN in its bid to restore Jim Acosta’s White House press passThe Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Friday, 16 November 2018: “A federal judge on Friday ruled in favor of CNN and reporter Jim Acosta in a dispute with President Trump, ordering the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials that the administration had taken away from Acosta last week. In a victory for the cable network and for press access generally, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly granted CNN’s motion for a temporary restraining order that will prevent the administration from keeping Acosta off the White House grounds…. In explaining his decision, Kelly said he agreed with the government’s argument that there was no First Amendment right to come onto the White House grounds. But, he said, once the White House opened up the grounds to reporters, the First Amendment applied. Kelly’s ruling, however, primarily emphasized evidence indicating that the White House’s decision to boot Acosta had violated the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process in government actions…. ‘We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days,’ CNN said in a statement. ‘Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press.'” See also, CNN’s Jim Acosta Returns to the White House After Judge’s RulingThe New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum and Emily Baumgaertner, Friday, 16 November 2018: “A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to restore the press credentials of Jim Acosta of CNN, handing the cable network an early win in its lawsuit against the president and members of his administration. Presiding over one of the first major tests of press rights under President Trump, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of United States District Court in Washington ruled that the White House had behaved inappropriately in stripping Mr. Acosta of his press badge shortly after a testy exchange at a news conference last week…. Soon after the ruling, Mr. Trump said the White House would tighten its rules for how journalists must comport themselves at the White House. ‘People have to behave,’ the president said in the Oval Office. ‘If they don’t listen to the rules and regulations, we’ll end up back in court, and we will win.’ The ruling was a significant victory for CNN and Mr. Acosta, but Judge Kelly declined to say whether the denial of the White House press pass had amounted to a First Amendment issue. ‘I want to emphasize the very limited nature of this ruling,’ he said, saying that it was not meant to enshrine journalists’ right to access. ‘I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here.’ The legal battle is expected to continue: Judge Kelly ruled only on the network’s emergency request for a temporary restoration of Mr. Acosta’s credentials. Hearings on other issues in the case are expected to resume next week. Some lawyers said that, CNN’s initial victory aside, journalists who cover the president had to remain vigilant. The case underscored that the entree granted to the White House press corps, which has worked out of the West Wing for decades, relies on custom rather than any legal framework.” See also, Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta’s press passCNN, Brian Stelter, Marshall Cohen, David Shortell, and Jessica Schneider, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Friday’s ruling by federal judge Timothy J. Kelly was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against Trump and several top aides. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by last week’s suspension of his press pass. Kelly did not rule on the underlying case on Friday. But he granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order on Fifth Amendment grounds. And he said he believes that CNN and Acosta are likely to prevail in the case overall.”

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal KhashoggiThe Washington Post, Shane Harris, Greg Miller, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 16 November 2018: “The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter. The CIA’s assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally. A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate, where he had come to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman. In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so. It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.” See also, C.I.A. Concludes That Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Ordered the Assassination of Saudi Journalist Jamal KhashoggiThe New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Friday, 16 November 2018. See also, CIA Concludes Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Was Killed on the Orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanThe Wall Street Journal, Warren P. Strobel, updated on Saturday, 17 November 2018: “The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was carried out under the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close ally of President Trump, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said. The determination by the top U.S. spy agency could endanger President Trump’s efforts to protect relations with the crown prince and Saudi Arabia more generally. Mr. Trump said Saturday he expected to receive a briefing from the CIA later in the day.”

Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning Census citizenship questionThe Washington Post, Deanna Paul and Robert Barnes, Friday, 16 November 2018: “The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear arguments over whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others can be compelled to explain their actions in a case challenging the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census. The addition of the question, which opponents say is a political move that will make the census less accurate and more costly, has been targeted in six lawsuits around the country. The legal issue the Supreme Court is asked to decide is whether the challengers must rely on the administrative record regarding the department’s decision, or whether the motivations of the officials should also be considered. The court’s timing is curious, because one trial, in New York, already is underway.”

Continue reading Week 96, Friday, 16 November – Thursday, 22 November 2018 (Days 666-672)

Supreme Court Asked to Rule on the Legality of the Appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew WhitakerThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 16 November 2018: “The Supreme Court was asked on Friday to decide whether President Trump acted lawfully in appointing Matthew G. Whitaker to be acting attorney general. The court also agreed to decide what evidence may be used in a challenge to the addition of a question concerning citizenship to the 2020 census. The request for a ruling on Mr. Whitaker’s appointment came in the unusual context of a pending Second Amendment challenge to a federal law banning gun ownership by people convicted of felonies. Lawyers for Barry Michaels, who was convicted of securities fraud in 1998 and wants to buy a gun, filed a motion asking the justices to rename his case. It had earlier been called Michaels v. Sessions, and it was renamed Michaels v. Whitaker after Mr. Whitaker was appointed to succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure on Nov. 7. Such substitutions of government officials sued in their official capacities in court cases are ordinarily automatic. It would be unusual for the Supreme Court to rule on a substantial constitutional and statutory question in such a context. Mr. Michaels asked the Supreme Court to call the case Michaels v. Rosenstein, arguing that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein is the rightful acting attorney general because Mr. Whitaker’s appointment violated federal statutes and the Constitution. Legal scholars are divided on whether Mr. Whitaker’s appointment was lawful. On Wednesday, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said it was. The answer to the question, whether resolved in Mr. Michaels’s case or in another setting, may be important to the fate of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which had been supervised by Mr. Rosenstein and has passed to Mr. Whitaker, who has been critical of it. Mr. Michaels’s lawyers include Thomas C. Goldstein, a prominent Supreme Court litigator. He wrote that prompt action by the court was warranted.” See also, Opponents of acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker take legal challenge to the Supreme CourtThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Lawyers challenging the appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general asked the Supreme Court on Friday to step in and declare that someone else should serve in the role. The filing by lawyer Thomas C. Goldstein, who earlier this week filed a motion in federal court on behalf of Maryland’s attorney general challenging Whitaker’s appointment, is a novel attempt to undo President Trump’s choice to lead the Justice Department after Jeff Sessions was forced out as attorney general on Nov. 7. Whitaker was serving as Sessions’s chief of staff, and Goldstein and other critics argue it is illegal for a government official to run the agency — even temporarily — if he is not Senate-confirmed. It is unclear when the Supreme Court could consider Goldstein’s motion.”

Stacey Abrams Ends Fight for Georgia Governor With Harsh Words for Her Republican Rival, Brian KempThe New York Times, Alan Blinder and Richard Fausset, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Stacey Abrams ended her Democratic bid to become governor of Georgia on Friday, acknowledging that she did not have the votes to beat her Republican rival, Brian Kemp, but sounding a defiant note by declaring that an ‘erosion of our democracy’ had kept many of her backers from the polls. The narrow defeat of Ms. Abrams, who would have become the first black woman to be elected governor anywhere in the United States, as well as the apparent loss of Andrew Gillum, who sought to become Florida’s first black governor, at once illuminated the vestiges of Southern history and demonstrated how demographic changes have taken hold across the region and begun to reshape its politics…. Ms. Abrams ran a type of campaign that modern Georgia had never seen before, relying on turnout among minority and low-frequency voters and championing an unflinchingly progressive message. In turn, she won in Democratic strongholds like Atlanta and Savannah, but also in the vote-rich Atlanta suburbs that were not long ago centers of Republican influence…. Ms. Abrams, while acknowledging Friday that she could not win, did not concede either. ‘More than 200 years into Georgia’s democratic experiment, the state failed its voters,’ Ms. Abrams said, her voice alternating among anguish, contempt, frustration and outrage as she argued that ‘eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired effect on the electoral process in Georgia.’… As Ms. Abrams ended her campaign, she returned to a theme that had surfaced throughout: that Mr. Kemp, who was the Georgia secretary of state until the Thursday after the election, had used his position to suppress voting and ease his path into the governor’s mansion.” See also, Democrat Stacey Abrams ends her campaign for governor of GeorgiaThe Washington Post, Vanessa Williams and Felicia Sonmez, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her campaign for governor of Georgia on Friday, lamenting voting irregularities that she said tainted the election but acknowledging that former Georgia secretary of state Brian Kemp would be declared the winner. Abrams, who had hoped to become the nation’s first elected female African American governor, had worked to force a runoff with Kemp, who as of late Thursday led by 54,801 votes out of 3.9 million cast. Kemp’s 50.22 percent of the tally put the Republican just above the 50 percent-plus-one-vote threshold required to avoid a runoff election in December. Abrams said that she planned to start an organization to fight for more equitable voting laws and would soon bring ‘a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for gross mismanagement of this election.'” See also, Stacey Abrams Ends Her Race for Governor of Georgia, but She Doesn’t Quite ConcedeThe New Yorker, Charles Bethea, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Shortly after five o’clock on Friday afternoon, Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, strode to a lectern at her offices in a leafy, middle-class downtown Atlanta neighborhood called Kirkwood…. [O]n Friday Abrams ended her campaign, the closest gubernatorial contest in the state in more than fifty years…. Abrams’s unapologetic—and strikingly unconceding—concession speech, which lasted a little more than ten minutes, was pointed in its criticism of Kemp. ‘We all understand challenges and complications,’ Abrams said, of the election, which saw historically long lines and insufficient, reportedly malfunctioning voting machines. ‘However, this year, more than two hundred years into Georgia’s democratic experiment, the state failed its voters. You see, despite a record-high population in Georgia, more than a million citizens found their names stripped from the rolls by the secretary of state, including a ninety-two-year-old civil-rights activist who had cast her ballot in the same neighborhood since 1968.’ Abrams continued, ‘Tens of thousands hung in limbo, rejected due to human error and a system of suppression that had already proven its bias. The remedy, they were told, was simply to show up—only they, like thousands of others, found polling places shut down, understaffed, ill-equipped, or simply unable to serve its basic function for lack of a power cord.'”

Trump Says He’ll Nominate Andrew Wheeler to Head the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.)The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 16 November 2018: “President Trump on Friday said he intends to nominate Andrew R. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, to be the permanent administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The E.P.A. has been at the center of the Trump administration’s agenda to reduce the regulations on industry, and Mr. Wheeler has been instrumental in seeing through rollbacks of major environmental policies. The changes include proposals to weaken the Obama administration’s signature policies to combat climate change, including a sweeping regulation on emissions from coal-fired power plants and a rule reining in pollution from vehicle tailpipes.” See also, Trump plans to nominate Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist, as head of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA)The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Friday, 16 November 2018: “President Trump said Friday that he intends to nominate former industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as the Environmental Protection Agency’s next administrator, a move that would ensure a continued deregulatory push at the agency.”

Fact-checking Trump’s wild Daily Caller interviewThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Friday, 16 November 2018: “President Trump’s Nov. 14 interview with the Daily Caller had prompted much head-scratching with his comment that an ID — he said ‘voter ID’ — is needed to buy cereal. But there were many other dubious statements in his lengthy interview, some of which we have fact-checked as part of our database on Trump’s false and misleading claims. Here’s a quick roundup of the president’s most notable errors of fact, in the order in which he made them.”

Sex Assault Rules Under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Bolster Defendants’ Rights and Ease College LiabilityThe New York Times, Erica L. Green, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled a highly anticipated overhaul on Friday of the rules governing campus sexual assault, reducing the liability of colleges and universities for investigating sexual misconduct claims and bolstering the due process rights of defendants, including the right to cross-examine their accusers. The rules would be the first regulations to govern how schools should meet their legal obligations under Title IX, the 1972 law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. The regulations will now face a 60-day public comment period before they are final.” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos releases sexual assault rules that give the accused more rightsThe Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Friday, 16 November 2018. See also, In an unusual arrangement, the U.S. Marshals Service is spending millions on the security of Education Secretary Betsy DeVosNBC News, Heidi Przybyla, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member, that could cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News.”

How the Trump Administration Stepped Up Pursuit of WikiLeaks’s Julian AssangeThe New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman, and Charlie Savage, Friday, 16 November 2018: “Soon after he took over as C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo privately told lawmakers about a new target for American spies: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Intent on finding out more about Mr. Assange’s dealings with Russian intelligence, the C.I.A. began last year to conduct traditional espionage against the organization, according to American officials. At the same time, federal law enforcement officials were reconsidering Mr. Assange’s designation as a journalist and debating whether to charge him with a crime. Mr. Pompeo and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed an aggressive campaign against Mr. Assange, reversing an Obama-era view of WikiLeaks as a journalistic entity. For more than a year, the nation’s spies and investigators sought to learn about Mr. Assange and his ties to Russia as senior administration officials came to believe he was in league with Moscow.” See also, Julian Assange Charge Raises Fears About Press FreedomThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 16 November 2018.

Is Mike Pence Loyal? Trump Is Asking, Despite His Recent Endorsement. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers, Friday, 16 November 2018: “In recent weeks, with his electoral prospects two years from now much on his mind, Mr. Trump has focused on the person who has most publicly tethered his fortunes to him. In one conversation after another he has asked aides and advisers a pointed question: Is Mike Pence loyal? Mr. Trump has repeated the question so many times that he has alarmed some of his advisers. The president has not openly suggested dropping Mr. Pence from the ticket and picking another running mate, but the advisers say those kinds of questions usually indicate that he has grown irritated with someone.”


Saturday, 17 November 2018, Day 667:


Kirsten Fontenrose, Top White House Official Involved in Saudi Sanctions, ResignsThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “A top White House official responsible for American policy toward Saudi Arabia resigned on Friday evening, a move that may suggest fractures inside the Trump administration over the response to the brutal killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi. The official, Kirsten Fontenrose, had pushed for tough measures against the Saudi government, and had been in Riyadh to discuss a raft of sanctions that the American government imposed in recent days against those identified as responsible for the killing, according to two people familiar with the conversations. Specifically, she advocated that Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, be added to the list, and he ultimately was. The exact circumstances of her departure are murky, and it is unclear whether her advocacy for a hawkish response to the killing angered some in the White House. When she returned to Washington, according to the two people, she had a dispute with her bosses at the National Security Council, where she had served as the director for the Persian Gulf region.”

Trump speaks with CIA director Gina Haspel about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and says there will be a report by TuesdayThe Washington Post, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “President Trump on Saturday said he had spoken with CIA Director Gina Haspel on the agency’s finding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that there will be a ‘very full report’ on the matter by Tuesday. The Washington Post first reported Friday that the CIA had assessed with high confidence the Saudi leader’s role, based on multiple sources of intelligence. But the president had already been shown evidence of the prince’s alleged involvement in the killing, and privately he remains skeptical, Trump aides said. He has also looked for ways to avoid pinning the blame on Mohammed, the aides said.”

Trump pledges federal help for burned out Californians but again blames poor forest management for the firesThe Washington Post, Jenna Portnoy and Anne Gearan, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “President Trump toured a scene of surreal devastation on Saturday, picking his way around burned trees and the hulking skeletons of automobiles as he pledged federal resources to help Californians recover from the most deadly and destructive wildfire in state history…. The president also criticized forest-management decisions that he suggested are at least partly to blame for the disaster, even though the fires are considered to be more related to a record drought, high winds and a changing climate. But unlike earlier comments in which he threatened to withhold federal funding if changes weren’t made, Trump provided a reassuring note. ‘You’ve got the federal government’ at the ready, he promised.”

Andrew Gillum Concedes to Ron DeSantis in Florida Governor’s RaceThe New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Liam Stack, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee and mayor of Tallahassee, conceded the Florida governor’s race on Saturday to Ron DeSantis, a former Republican congressman closely allied to President Trump, saying he was satisfied with a recount that had him trailing by about 34,000 votes. Mr. DeSantis declared victory on election night this month, and Mr. Gillum, 39, announced he was conceding the race at the time. But he re-entered the race a week ago, under pressure from staff members and allies in organized labor, after the Florida secretary of state’s office declared an automatic recount.”

California Democrats Completed Their Sweep of the Congressional Delegation in Orange County as Gil Cisneros Defeated Republican Young KimThe New York Times, Adam Nagourney, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “California Democrats completed their sweep of the congressional delegation in Orange County on Saturday as Gil Cisneros defeated Young Kim, a Republican, to capture a seat in what had once been one of the most conservative Republican bastions in the nation. The victory by Mr. Cisneros, a philanthropist, was declared by The Associated Press. It completes what has amounted to a Democratic rout in California this year. Democrats set out to capture seven Republican-held seats where Hillary Clinton defeated President Trump in 2016, including four in Orange County. They won six of them.”

New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in BrexitThe New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “For two years, observers have speculated that the June, 2016, Brexit campaign in the U.K. served as a petri dish for Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign in the United States. Now there is new evidence that it did. Newly surfaced e-mails show that the former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and Cambridge Analytica, the Big Data company that he worked for at the time, were simultaneously incubating both nationalist political movements in 2015. Emma Briant, an academic expert on disinformation at George Washington University, has unearthed new e-mails that appear to reveal the earliest documented role played by Bannon in Brexit. The e-mails, which date back to October of 2015, show that Bannon, who was then the vice-president of Cambridge Analytica, an American firm largely owned by the U.S. hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was in the loop on discussions taking place at the time between his company and the leaders of Leave.EU, a far-right nationalist organization. The following month, Leave.EU publicly launched a campaign aimed at convincing British voters to support a referendum in favor of exiting the European Union. The U.K. narrowly voted for the so-called Brexit in June, 2016. The tumultuous fallout has roiled the U.K. ever since, threatening the government of the Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May.”

Trump Proposes a New Way Around Birth Control Mandate: Religious Exemptions and Title XThe New York Times, Robert Pear, Saturday, 17 November 2018: “The Trump administration is making it easier for employers to exclude birth control from health insurance benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act, and it has come up with a new justification, saying that female employees can obtain contraceptives at family planning clinics for low-income people. That, in turn, could increase demand for clinic services, which are already squeezed. The plan is one of several recent proposals that could affect access to birth control, such as requiring the physical separation of services at clinics and strict new rules about insurance payments.”


Sunday, 18 November 2018, Day 668:


Trump says he wouldn’t stop acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker from curtailing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigationThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “President Trump said he would not overrule his acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, if he decides to curtail the special counsel probe being led by Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign. ‘Look, it’s going to be up to him . . . I would not get involved,’ Trump said in an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ In the weeks since Trump forced Jeff Sessions to resign as attorney general and chose Whitaker to serve as his interim replacement, Whitaker has faced calls from Democrats to recuse himself from oversight of the probe given his previous criticism of the investigation. Trump said in Sunday’s interview that he ‘did not know [Whitaker] took views on the Mueller investigation as such’ before he appointed him to his position. Trump also essentially shut the door to sitting down with Mueller, telling host Chris Wallace that his written answers mean ‘probably this is the end’ of his involvement in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.” See also, Trump Says He’s Unlikely to Sit for Interview in Russia InvestigationThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “President Trump said in an interview aired Sunday that he most likely would not sit for an interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, asserting that ‘we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is, probably, we’re finished.’  The president also claimed that he had no idea that his acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, viewed the Mueller investigation skeptically, despite reports that the two had multiple conversations about the inquiry over the past year…. His comments on the Mueller investigation marked an apparent reversal from a year of claiming that he was willing and eager to be interviewed by the special counsel, who is investigating possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election. Mr. Trump’s legal team has blanched at the idea, fearing that the president might lie under oath, and has steadily narrowed the path for such an interview.”

Trump says he won’t listen to Khashoggi ‘suffering tape,’ The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Karen DeYoung, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “President Trump acknowledged the existence of an audio recording of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul but said he has not listened to what he called the ‘suffering tape’ and dismissed a growing clamor among lawmakers for Saudi Arabia to face more serious consequences for the killing. Based in part on the tape and other intercepted communications, the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered last month’s killing of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi leaders and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post. But Trump maintained in an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that the crown prince had told him ‘maybe five different times’ and ‘as recently as a few days ago’ that he had nothing to do with the killing. Aides have said Trump has been looking for ways to avoid pinning the blame on Mohammed, a close ally who plays a central role in Trump’s Middle East policy. That goal has been complicated by shifting, contradictory stories from Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and the emergence of evidence pointing to Mohammed, including the recording, which was provided by Turkey and captures Khashoggi being killed by a Saudi hit team moments after entering the consulate on Oct. 2.” Despite Evidence on the Brutal Killing of the Dissident Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump Sticks With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Why? The New York Times, Mark Landler, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “As evidence piles up pointing to the Saudi crown prince’s responsibility in the brutal killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump has only hardened his refusal to concede any possibility that the prince had a hand in the crime. Mr. Trump, who had once condemned the Saudi leaders for perpetrating ‘the worst cover-up in history,’ praised Saudi Arabia this weekend as a ‘truly spectacular ally,’ even after the C.I.A. concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, ordered the murder…. The president’s remarks were a vivid illustration of how deeply Mr. Trump has invested in the 33-year-old heir, who has become the fulcrum of the administration’s strategy in the Middle East — from Iran to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — as well as a prolific shopper for American military weapons, even if most of those contracts have not paid off yet.”

Trump’s attacks on retired Admiral William H. McRaven who led the bin Laden raid escalates a war of wordsThe Washington Post, Paul Sonne and Philip Rucker, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “President Trump has long put the American military at the center of his presidential brand, tapping retired officers to serve as advisers, touting increases in defense spending, and citing support from troops and veterans as a sign of his success. [Trump] has risked alienating parts of the military community by escalating a fight with one of its most revered members, retired Adm. William H. McRaven, amid other recent remarks and decisions that have fanned controversy in the ranks and among some who served. In an interview with Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Trump went after McRaven, the retired Navy SEAL and Special Operations commander who oversaw the killing of Osama bin Laden and the capture of Saddam Hussein during his 37 years in the U.S. military. Trump derided McRaven as a ‘Hillary Clinton fan’ and an ‘Obama backer’ before suggesting that the four-star admiral, who recently left his post as chancellor of the University of Texas amid a battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, should have caught bin Laden faster.” See also, Trump’s Criticism of Retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, the Architect of Bin Laden Raid, Draws FireThe New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Monday, 19 November 2018.

Trump blasts ‘little Adam Schitt’ on TwitterPolitico, Quint Forgey, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “Rep. Adam Schiff — along with ‘Crooked Hillary Clinton,’ ‘Cryin’ Chuck Schumer’ and ‘Crazy Maxine Waters’ — has long been a target of mockery on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. But in a post Sunday, the president may have coined his crudest nickname yet for a political rival. ‘So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate,’ the president wrote online, ‘but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!’ Schiff fired back 35 minutes later, quoting the president’s post and writing on Twitter: ‘Wow, Mr. President, that’s a good one. Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions, or did you write this one yourself?’  The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the president’s misspelling of Schiff’s name was intentional. The office of first lady Melania Trump, who has championed anti-cyberbullying efforts through her ‘Be Best’ initiative, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Matthew and Sarah Elliott: How a United Kingdom Power Couple Links US Libertarians and Fossil Fuel Lobbyists (the Koch Brothers and Robert Mercer) to BrexitDesmog UK, Chloe Farand and Mat Hope, Sunday, 18 November 2018: “If you have detected a distinctly American flavour to the rampant lobbying in Westminster corridors over a Brexit deal, there is a good reason why. A close look at the transatlantic connections of the London-based groups pushing for the most deregulated form of Brexit reveals strong ties to major US libertarian influencers. These include fossil fuel magnates the Koch brothers — known for funding climate science denial around the world — and the man who bankrolled Donald Trump’s campaign, Robert Mercer. At the heart of this network lies a little-known power couple, Matthew and Sarah Elliott. Together, the husband and wife team connect senior members of the Leave campaign and groups pushing a libertarian free-market ideology from offices in Westminster’s Tufton Street to major US libertarian lobbyists and funders. Collectively, the network aims to use Brexit as an opportunity to slash regulations in the UK, paving the way for a wide-ranging USUK free-trade deal that could have disastrous consequences for the environment.”


Monday, 19 November 2018, Day 669:


White House backs down from legal fight and restores CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press passCNN, Brian Stelter and David Shortell, Monday, 19 November 2018:  “The White House on Monday said that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass has been ‘restored,’ bowing to days of pressure and a federal lawsuit against the administration. In response, CNN said in a court filing that it has dropped the ongoing litigation over Acosta’s access to the White House. ‘Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta’s press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary,’ the network said in a statement. ‘We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.’ Monday afternoon’s announcement, what the White House called a ‘final determination,’ was an abrupt shift from the administration’s earlier positions.” See also, CNN drops suit against White House after Acosta’s press pass is fully restoredThe Washington Post, Paul Farhi and Meagan Flynn, Monday, 19 November 2018. See also, CNN’s Jim Acosta Has Press Pass Restored by White HouseThe New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Monday, 19 November 2018: “Jim Acosta has his press pass back…. But while [the White House] yielded to Mr. Acosta — whose testy questions had touched off Mr. Trump’s ire — the administration used the occasion to lay down a set of formal rules governing reporters’ behavior at future White House news conferences, a highly unusual step. Among the guidelines was a restriction of one question per reporter, with follow-ups allowed at the discretion of the president or the White House official at the lectern. ‘Failure to abide,’ the administration warned, ‘may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.’ The White House sought to blame Mr. Acosta for behaving disrespectfully, although Mr. Trump often lobs insults at journalists and encourages a free-for-all format when taking questions from reporters. Codifying the behavior of journalists struck some as an ominous encroachment into freedom of the press, and the White House Correspondents’ Association said on Monday that it had not been consulted about the new guidelines. The American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement, said: ‘These rules give the White House far too much discretion to avoid real scrutiny. The White House belongs to the public, not the president, and the job of the press is to ask hard questions, not to be polite company.'”

‘Message of Change’: 16 Rebel Democrats Vow to Oppose PelosiThe New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Monday, 19 November 2018: “A rebellious group of 16 Democrats went public on Monday with their opposition to electing Representative Nancy Pelosi speaker when the new Congress convenes in January, taking the first formal step in a bid to force a leadership shake-up that could change the face of their party. It is also exposing significant divisions just as Democrats take the majority. In a letter to Democratic colleagues, 11 lawmakers and four newly elected members of the House declared that ‘the time has come for new leadership,’ and said they would vote accordingly both when their party meets next week for an internal round of secret balloting to choose leaders and in a floor vote in January. (Another signatory, Ben McAdams of Utah, is behind in his race against Representative Mia Love.) The letter made official what had until Monday been little more than a Democratic whisper campaign aimed at demonstrating that Ms. Pelosi, 78, would not have the votes to become speaker. Its organizers have hoped that threat would compel her to step aside or broker a compromise aimed at bringing fresher faces to the helm of their newly ascendant party…. [T]he signers said Democrats had won this month’s midterm elections on a ‘message of change.’ ‘Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington,’ the letter said. ‘We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise.'” See also, Sixteen dissident Democrats vow to oppose Nancy Pelosi as the next speaker of the House of RepresentativesThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa.

Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business last yearThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 19 November 2018: “Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence. White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner. The discovery alarmed some advisers to President Trump, who feared that his daughter’s practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton, an issue he made a focus of his 2016 campaign. Trump attacked his Democratic challenger as untrustworthy and dubbed her ‘Crooked Hillary’ for using a personal email account as secretary of state. Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump’s personal emails — and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction.” See also, Ivanka Trump’s Emails Could Provide New Democratic House With FodderThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Monday, 19 November 2018.

Democratic Senators Challenge in Court the Appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney GeneralThe New York Times, Charlie Savage and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 19 November 2018: “Three Democratic senators asked a Federal District Court judge on Monday to issue an injunction barring Matthew G. Whitaker from exercising the powers of head of the Justice Department, arguing that President Trump’s installation of Mr. Whitaker as acting attorney general violated the Constitution. The senators — Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — sit on the Judiciary Committee, which conducts confirmation hearings for attorney general nominees. They argued that an official who had not been Senate-confirmed could not run the Justice Department, even temporarily. ‘Because the Senate has not consented to Mr. Whitaker serving as an officer of the United States, his designation by the president to perform the functions and duties of the attorney general violates the Appointments Clause’ of the Constitution, the complaint said. ‘If allowed to stand, Mr. Whitaker’s appointment would create a road map for the evasion of the constitutionally prescribed Senate advice-and-consent role.'” See also, Senate Democrats sue to block Trump’s acting attorney general, Matthew WhitakerThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 19 November 2018.

Trump administration officials suggested sharing census responses with law enforcement, court documents showThe Washington Post, Tara Bahrampour, Monday, 19 November 2018: “Trump administration officials have discussed ways to circumvent the confidentiality of census responses, according to documents filed Friday in a California legal challenge to adding a citizenship question to the decennial survey. The subject came up after a Democratic lawmaker asked whether responses to the survey could ever be shared with law enforcement agencies, something that has been strictly illegal according to federal law governing the census.”

In Mississippi, Issues of Race Complicate a Senate ElectionThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon and Alexander Burns, Monday, 19 November 2018: “A special election for the Senate in Mississippi has become a test of racial and partisan politics in the Deep South, as a Republican woman, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and an African-American Democrat, Mike Espy, compete for the last Senate seat still up for grabs in the 2018 midterm campaign. Ms. Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to a seat in the Senate earlier this year, seemed until recently to be on a glide path toward winning the election in her own right. Mr. Espy, a former cabinet secretary under President Bill Clinton, was running a strong underdog campaign but appeared highly unlikely to overcome Mississippi’s strongly conservative inclination. Yet the trajectory of the election was thrown into doubt last week when a video was circulated showing Ms. Hyde-Smith, 59, praising a supporter by telling him that if he invited her ‘to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.’ Facing an uproar in a state divided by race and deeply scarred by a history of lynchings carried out against African-Americans, Ms. Hyde-Smith has since retreated from the campaign trail, ducking reporters’ questions and declining to apologize. A former state agriculture commissioner, Ms. Hyde-Smith has instead pursued a strategy aimed at shoring up her support with conservative whites, and she enlisted President Trump to campaign for her on the eve of a Nov. 27 runoff vote.”

FBI considers Proud Boys extremists with white-nationalist ties, law enforcement officials sayThe Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Monday, 19 November 2018: “The male-chauvinist group Proud Boys has been described by federal authorities as an ‘extremist group with ties to white nationalism’ — and has been the subject of warnings to local police agencies by the FBI, according to a report issued by a Washington state sheriff’s office…. ‘The FBI categorizes the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to White Nationalism,’ noted the report, which was acquired and published by Property of the People, a nonprofit focused on government transparency. ‘The FBI has warned local law enforcement that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest and that some in the group have contributed to the escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses.’ The Proud Boys are one of many predominantly male, right-wing groups to come to the fore since President Trump’s election. They describe themselves as a ‘Western chauvinist’ fraternal group that believes in ending welfare, closing the borders and adhering to traditional gender roles. But critics point to other statements and behavior to argue that these aims are a subterfuge for racist and hateful beliefs. ‘Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists,’ the Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers the Proud Boys a hate group, wrote in a report. ‘They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.'”


Tuesday, 20 November 2018, Day 670:


In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite the Killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal KhashoggiThe New York Times, Mark Landler, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump defied the nation’s intelligence agencies and a growing body of evidence on Tuesday to declare his unswerving loyalty to Saudi Arabia, asserting that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s culpability for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi might never be known. In a remarkable statement that appeared calculated to end the debate over the American response to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, the president said, ‘It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!’  ‘We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,’ Mr. Trump added. ‘In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’ His statement, which aides said Mr. Trump dictated himself and reflected his deeply held views, came only days after the C.I.A. concluded that the crown prince, a close ally of the White House, had authorized the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post. In 633 words, punctuated by eight exclamation points and written in an impolitic style that sounded like Mr. Trump’s off-the-cuff observations, the statement was a stark distillation of the Trump worldview: remorselessly transactional, heedless of the facts, determined to put America’s interests first, and founded on a theory of moral equivalence.” See also, Trump’s Statement on Saudi Arabia, Explained! The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Tuesday, 20 November 2018. See also, Trump calls Saudi Arabia a ‘great ally’ and discounts crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s responsibility for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal KhashoggiThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris, and Karen DeYoung, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump declared his strong support for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, effectively ignoring the CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and asserting that it should not derail relations with a critical ally.” See also, Trump’s statement smearing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and giving Saudi Arabia a pass, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 20 November 2018. See also, In Pardoning Saudi Arabia, Trump Gives Guidance to AutocratsThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Ben Hubbard, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump has long viewed foreign policy as a series of business deals, stripped of values and idealism. But his 633-word statement on Tuesday about the brutal killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi showed the extent to which he believes that raw, mercantilist calculations should guide the United States’ decisions about the Middle East and the wider world. Mr. Trump made clear that he sees alliances as transactional, based on which foreign partners buy the most weapons. American jobs outweigh American values. And all countries act abhorrently, so an American president should never hold friends to different standards than enemies. Tuesday’s message could become something of a blueprint for foreign leaders — a guide to how they might increase their standing in the eyes of the American president as well as how far they can go in crushing domestic critics without raising American ire. It was also a revealing meditation on the role that Mr. Trump believes facts should play in political decision-making. The C.I.A. concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia had ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, American officials said last week. But on Tuesday, the president dismissed not only that assessment but also the very process of seeking the truth, implying that it did not really matter anyway.” See also, Trump slanders Khashoggi and betrays American valuesThe Washington Post, Editorial Board, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump on Tuesday confirmed what his administration has been signaling all along: It will stand behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even if he ordered the brutal murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In a crude statement punctuated with exclamation points, Mr. Trump sidestepped a CIA finding that the crown prince was behind the killing; casually slandered Mr. Khashoggi, who was one of the Arab world’s most distinguished journalists; and repeated gross falsehoods and exaggerations about the benefits of the U.S. alliance with the kingdom. Mr. Trump has betrayed American values in service to what already was a bad bet on the 33-year-old prince.” See also, On Tuesday, the Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University sued U.S. spy agencies for records on whether they warned Jamal Khashoggi of impending threat of harmThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “The Knight First Amendment Institute on Tuesday sued the U.S. government to learn whether agencies complied with what the institute asserted was a duty to warn journalist Jamal Khashoggi that he faced a threat of harm. Khashoggi, who lived in Northern Virginia, was killed Oct. 2 by a team of Saudi operatives soon after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his impending marriage. The Columbia University institute is seeking records that relate to any actions taken to warn Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, under what is known as Directive 191, a government policy that requires agencies to warn individuals of ‘impending threats of intentional killing, serious bodily injury or kidnapping.’ The lawsuit states that before Khashoggi’s killing, ‘U.S. intelligence agencies apparently intercepted communications in which Saudi officials discussed a plan to capture Khashoggi.'”  See also, Americans Have a Right to Know if the US Failed to Warn Khashoggi. A New Lawsuit May Get Answers. Just Security, Ryan Goldman, published on Wednesday, 21 November 2018. See also, Trump has vastly inflated the value of the U.S.-Saudi economic allianceThe Washington Post, Tory Newmyer, published on Wednesday, 21 November 2018.

Senators demand Trump make a determination about whether Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal KhashoggiPolitico, Burgess Everett, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is demanding a definitive determination from President Donald Trump about whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In a letter to Trump, the panel’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and ranking member, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), specifically asked on Tuesday whether the administration believed that bin Salman was involved in the murder of Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post and was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last month. Trump gave no ruling on bin Salman’s involvement in a statement earlier Tuesday that largely sided with Saudi Arabia, declaring that ‘maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!’ But under the Magnitsky Act, Trump can be required to make a determination about human rights violations by global leaders. The law requires the president to do so within 120 days of the committee’s request, as well as apply any sanctions. Corker and Menendez made their first request on Oct. 10, without specifically asking about bin Salman.”

Federal Judge Jon S. Tigar Blocks Trump’s Proclamation Targeting Some Asylum SeekersThe New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “A federal judge on Monday ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States, dealing at least a temporary setback to the president’s attempt to clamp down on a huge wave of Central Americans crossing the border. Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the government from carrying out a new rule that denies protections to people who enter the country illegally. The order, which suspends the rule until the case is decided by the court, applies nationally. ‘Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,’ Mr. Tigar wrote in his order.” See also, In blow to Trump’s immigration agenda, federal judge Jon S. Tigar blocks asylum ban for migrants who enter illegally from MexicoThe Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Maria Sacchetti, Tuesday, 20 November 2018. See also, Trump Takes Aim at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Calling It a ‘Disgrace,’ The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump lashed out on Tuesday against the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, calling it a lawless disgrace and threatening unspecified retaliation. ‘That’s not law,’ he said of the court’s rulings. ‘Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit we get beaten. It’s a disgrace,’ Mr. Trump said. Mr. Trump’s remarks came after a federal trial judge ordered the administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States.”

In the Spring of 2018 Trump Wanted to Order the Justice Department to Prosecute Hillary Clinton and Former F.B.I. Director James ComeyThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump told the White House counsel in the spring that he wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his political adversaries: his 2016 challenger, Hillary Clinton, and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with the conversation. The lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, rebuffed the president, saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment. The encounter was one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr. Trump views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. It took on additional significance in recent weeks when Mr. McGahn left the White House and Mr. Trump appointed a relatively inexperienced political loyalist, Matthew G. Whitaker, as the acting attorney general. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump read Mr. McGahn’s memo or whether he pursued the prosecutions further. But the president has continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey, according to two people who have spoken to Mr. Trump about the issue. He has also repeatedly expressed disappointment in the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, for failing to more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton, calling him weak, one of the people said.”

Matthew Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General, Earned $1.2 Million in the Past Few Years From Group Backed by Undisclosed Conservative DonorsThe New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “Matthew G. Whitaker, the acting attorney general, was paid more than $1.2 million in the past few years by a group active in conservative politics that does not reveal its donors, according to financial disclosure statements released Tuesday and other documents. The disclosure raised questions about who Mr. Whitaker’s financial patrons had been before he joined the Justice Department last year and whether he might have any undisclosed conflicts of interest. And it highlighted the prominence of so-called dark money groups that pursue political agendas and employ members of both parties without being required to make public the source of their funding.” See also, Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million in the past few yearsThe Washington Post, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg, and Aaron C. Davis, Tuesday, 20 November 2018.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer seeks an investigation by inspector general Michael Horowitz of Matthew Whitaker’s contact with the White House during Whitaker’s service as chief of staff to former attorney general Jeff SessionsThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “The Senate’s top Democrat has asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker’s communications with the White House, citing concerns that Whitaker might have shared with President Trump confidential information emerging from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether anyone in Trump’s campaign conspired with those efforts. In a letter to inspector general Michael E. Horowitz, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday requested a formal probe into whether there were any ‘unlawful or improper communications’ between Whitaker and the White House during Whitaker’s service as chief of staff to Trump’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions. In that role, Whitaker was in touch regularly with Trump and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly…. Schumer said he was concerned that as acting attorney general, Whitaker could improperly disclose ‘confidential grand jury or investigative information from the Special Counsel investigation or any criminal investigation.’ His letter notes that doing so could amount to ‘criminal contempt of court, obstruction of justice’ — or violate long-standing policy about maintaining a firewall between the Justice Department and White House concerning information in criminal probes. Schumer also wants Horowitz to investigate whether Whitaker ‘provided any assurance to the President, White House officials, or others regarding steps he or others may take with regard to the Special Counsel investigation, including any intention to interfere, obstruct, or refuse authorization of subpoenas or other investigative steps.'”

Homeland Security Department Finds ‘Minimal’ Risk to Border Guards, Undercutting Trump Plan to Protect Border Guards From Migrant Attacks by Pairing Them With Military TroopsThe New York Times, Ron Nixon, Helene Cooper, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “The probability that American border guards will face violence at the southwestern border is ‘minimal,’ an internal Homeland Security Department document has concluded, undercutting a Trump administration proposal to protect the security officials from migrant attacks by pairing them with military troops. The border intelligence analysis contrasts with statements by the department and the White House citing concerns about migrants overrunning official ports of entry and attacking border guards to enter the United States. Dated Nov. 17, it was obtained by The New York Times as the Trump administration is considering teaming up military troops with customs officials and Border Patrol agents as they confront migrants.”

Trump Answers Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Questions on Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential ElectionThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump laid out for the special counsel his defense in the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, the president’s lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday. The details of Mr. Trump’s responses were not immediately clear, but his lawyers said that now that he had handed over answers to questions from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, the time had come to end the investigation…. After months of negotiations about a possible presidential interview, Mr. Mueller allowed Mr. Trump to respond in writing to questions about whether any of his associates conspired with Moscow’s campaign of disruption. Mr. Mueller has declined to rule out trying to compel Mr. Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing his written answers.” See also, Trump submits answers to special counsel Robert Mueller’s questions about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential electionThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Robert Costa, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump’s attorneys on Tuesday submitted his written answers to a series of questions from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about Trump’s knowledge of the Russian government’s efforts to assist his 2016 White House bid. The inquiries include only a portion of the questions that Mueller has sought to pose to Trump for nearly a year, when he first requested an interview with the president. The topics cover activities during the campaign and do not delve into questions about whether Trump has sought to obstruct the probe into Russian interference…. The answers represent the first time Trump has given his own version of events to the special counsel in the 11 months since Mueller first asked for a sit-down interview with the president. Mueller now must decide whether to continue to press for an in-person sit-down with Trump about his actions as president — a move his legal team continues to resist.”

Democrats Plan to Investigate Ivanka Trump’s Use of Private Email AccountThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump, who campaigned in 2016 by aggressively criticizing Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, dismissed as ‘fake news’ on Tuesday questions about a similar practice by his daughter Ivanka Trump during her early days working in the White House. A White House review showed that Ms. Trump sent dozens of government-related emails to and from a private account, and hundreds related to her West Wing schedule, in the first half of 2017. The review promptly caught the attention of House lawmakers. Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, who is expected to lead the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform next year, said on Tuesday he planned to investigate the matter, and the outgoing chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, asked for details about the review’s findings.” See also, Ivanka Trump’s use of a personal email account for government business spurs bipartisan calls for an investigationThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) announced their intention to investigate [Ivanka Trump’s use of a personal email account for government business] in letters to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and acting White House counsel Emmet Flood. They demanded a full account of exactly how many emails Trump sent and received, on what subjects, and whether she had preserved them in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. They also asked whether Trump had received training related to the use of private emails — a sign that GOP leaders do not accept her explanation that she was unfamiliar with the rules prohibiting the use of a personal account.” See also, Watchdog group American Oversight asks Congress to investigate Ivanka Trump’s use of a personal email account for government businessThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “The liberal watchdog group whose record requests led to the discovery that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account for government business is sending letters to key congressional committees asking for an investigation. The group, American Oversight, wrote to the top members of the House Oversight Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that ‘it is incumbent on Congress to investigate this matter immediately,’ drawing a comparison between the use of personal email accounts by President Trump’s daughter and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Ivanka Trump is a White House senior adviser. ‘The parallels between Ms. Trump’s conduct and that of Secretary Clinton are inescapable,’ Austin R. Evers, group’s executive director, said in the letter. ‘In both her use of personal email and post-discovery preservation efforts, Ms. Trump appears to have done exactly what Secretary Clinton did—conduct over which President Trump and many members of Congress regularly lambasted Secretary Clinton and which, they asserted, demonstrated her unfitness for office.’ Evers added that ‘while much of the rhetoric surrounding Secretary Clinton’s use of personal email was hyperbolic and untethered to the law or facts, the extensive use of personal email by a senior public official raises important questions that merit investigation.'”

Lobbyist Documents Reveal Health Care Industry’s Battle Plan Against ‘Medicare for All,’ The Intercept, Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “Now that the midterms are finally over, the battle against ‘Medicare for All’ that has been quietly waged throughout the year is poised to take center stage. Internal strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and Documented reveal the strategy that private health care interests plan to use to influence Democratic Party messaging and stymie the momentum toward achieving universal health care coverage. At least 48 incoming freshman lawmakers campaigned on enacting ‘Medicare for All’ or similar efforts to expand access to Medicare. And over the last year, 123 incumbent House Democrats co-sponsored ‘Medicare for All’ legislation — double the number who supported the same bill during the previous legislative session. The growing popularity of ‘Medicare for All’ in the House has made progressives optimistic that the Democratic Party will embrace ideas to expand government coverage options with minimal out-of-pocket costs for patients going into the 2020 election. But industry groups have watched the development with growing concern.”

A Senate candidate photographed in Confederate garb could be a scandal. Will it be in Mississippi for Republican Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith? The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R-Miss.) bid to permanently replace retired senator Thad Cochran depends on winning a runoff contest against Democrat Mike Espy in a week’s time. What would seem to be a layup for the Republican Party — a Republican running in a special election in a deep-red state — has become complicated by a series of controversies into which Hyde-Smith has stumbled. First, she was recorded making a joke about being willing to be in the front row at a public hanging, a comment that is particularly ill-advised given Mississippi’s history with lynching and that Hyde-Smith is running against a black man. Then she was recorded suggesting that it was a ‘great idea’ to make it harder for liberals to vote, again stumbling over a fraught subject, given concerns about the suppression of votes in Georgia and Florida, particularly black voters. On Monday, a Twitter user posted an image of a 2014 Facebook post showing Hyde-Smith wearing a hat typical of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Her visit to the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library in Biloxi, she wrote, was ‘Mississippi history at its best!'” See also, Walmart, Boston Scientific, and Union Pacific want their campaign donations back from Senator Hyde-Smith after her support of public hangingsThe Washington Post, Rachel Siegel, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “A politician said she would stand in the front row of a public hanging. And that was enough for companies to back away. Walmart on Tuesday joined Boston Scientific, the medical devices manufacturer, and the railroad franchise Union Pacific in asking for the return of campaign donations they made to Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. In recent days it has come to light that on a Nov. 2 campaign stop in Tupelo, Miss., Hyde-Smith said that if a local rancher standing next to her ‘invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.'”

Democrat Ben McAdams edges out Republican Representative Mia Love in UtahThe Washington Post, Elise Viebeck and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “A two-term Republican congresswoman lost her seat in suburban Salt Lake City on Tuesday, the Associated Press projected…. President Trump publicly mocked her as a loser. Rep. Mia Love (Utah) was defeated by Democrat Ben McAdams by 694 votes in the toss-up race. McAdams currently serves as the mayor of Salt Lake County and was previously a member of the Utah Senate. McAdams’s win adds to Democrats’ new majority in the House…. Trump had called out Love by name at a combative White House news conference the day after Election Day, criticizing her and other defeated Republicans and suggesting they lost because they did not sufficiently ’embrace’ him.” See also, Representative Mia Love, Once a Republican Star, Loses Re-election in UtahThe New York Times, Liam Stack, Tuesday, 20 November 2018.

Trump says he can’t imagine anyone but himself as Time Person of the YearThe Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Tuesday, 20 November 2018: “President Trump was asked by a reporter Tuesday about Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue, which comes out every December. And he had one answer for who should be Person of the Year: ‘Trump.’ ‘I don’t know, that is up to Time magazine,’ he said, noting that he had been given the distinction in 2016. ‘I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump, can you imagine anybody else other than Trump?'”


Wednesday, 21 November 2018, Day 671:


Rebuking Trump’s criticism of ‘Obama judge,’ Chief Justice Roberts defends judiciary as ‘independent,’ The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “The chief justice of the United States and the president of the United States engaged in an extraordinary war of words Wednesday over the independence of the federal judiciary, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issuing a rare rebuke of President Trump’s criticism of an ‘Obama judge’ who ruled against the administration. ‘We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,’ Roberts said in a statement released by the court’s public information office. ‘What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.’ Roberts’s Thanksgiving eve statement ended: ‘That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.’ The president responded quickly from his vacation home in Florida, via Twitter: ‘Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have “Obama judges,” and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an independent judiciary’ . . .” See also, Chief Justice John Roberts Defends Judicial Independence After Trump Attacks ‘Obama Judge,’ The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 21 November 2018.

85,000 Children in Yemen May Have Died of Starvation. The aid organization Save the Children said the number was a conservative estimate of those under age 5 who may have died. The New York Times, Palko Karasz, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “The United States announced on Wednesday that peace talks to end the war in Yemen would begin next month in Sweden. The announcement came amid growing global pressure to stop the bombing campaigns by a Saudi-led coalition that have unleashed conditions amounting to possible war crimes, according to a United Nations report in August. The announcement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis at the Pentagon came on the heels of a statement by the aid agency Save the Children on Wednesday that underscored the harrowing nature of the conflict: An estimated 85,000 children might have died of hunger since the bombings began in 2015. Experts say Yemen has become the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, and 14 million people could soon be on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations. ‘For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death — and it’s entirely preventable,’ Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen, said in the statement. ‘Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop.'” See also, 85,000 children have starved to death during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, says new report by Save the Children, a British charityThe Washington Post, Rick Noack, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “One day after President Trump backed the Saudi crown prince over accusations that he may have ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a leading charity has issued a blistering report that poses more uncomfortable questions over Saudi practices. More than 85,000 children may have died of hunger since Saudi Arabia intervened in the war in Yemen three years ago, according to Save the Children, a British charity.

U.S. Troops at the Mexican Border Won’t Have Guns, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis SaysThe New York Times, Helene Cooper, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that American troops stationed at the southwest border would not be armed with guns to confront incoming migrants, despite a White House directive that aims to protect border security officials by pairing them with military forces. The White House memo seeks to expand the mission of the troops at the border to also include duties such as crowd control and temporary detention. But Mr. Mattis said it left the final decision on what American soldiers and Marines could do — and could not — to the defense secretary. Mr. Mattis mentioned one possible instance in which troops might act: defending a border agent who was hit by a rock, and detaining the migrant who threw it. But asked whether such a situation might call for the American soldier to be armed, the defense secretary unequivocally said it would not. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Not with a firearm.’ Sent to the Pentagon on Tuesday night, the memo was signed by John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, not President Trump. It is the latest in a series of White House directives to prod active-duty troops toward a more aggressive role at the border against an approaching caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America. The Pentagon has resisted some of those efforts by raising the specter of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law that dates back to the Reconstruction era, which bars American forces from engaging in law enforcement activities within the borders of the United States.”

‘Pure gaslighting’: U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves strikes down Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeksThe Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “A federal judge struck down a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, ruling Tuesday that the ban ‘unequivocally’ infringes on the due-process rights of women. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, in Jackson, wrote a sharply worded rebuke of the law, calling it a deliberate attempt by the state to ask the newly conservative-majority Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a woman’s legal right to abortion.” See also, Judge notes ‘sad irony’ of men deciding abortion rights as he blocks Mississippi’s abortion lawCNN, Emanuella Grinberg, Wednesday, 21 November 2018.

In 2016 and 2017, Matthew Whitaker (now acting attorney general) floated the possibility of Trump reopening the Clinton email investigationThe Washington Post, JM Rieger, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker repeatedly called for a special counsel to investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the State Department, according to more than two hours of media appearances reviewed by The Fix, highlights of which you can watch in the video above. Throughout 2016 and 2017, Whitaker appeared on conservative-leaning radio programs and television shows to make the case against Clinton while undermining the case against President Trump.”

The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Press FreedomThe Nation, Bruce Shapiro, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “If the First Amendment means anything, it it the right to obtain public-interest information from impure, indeed hopelessly tainted, sources.” See also, Former New York Times Chief Lawyer James Goodale: Support Julian Assange, Even if You Hate HimMedium, Trevor Timm, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “It’s not a stretch to say that few people are disliked more within media circles than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Yet with the news that Trump’s Justice Department has filed secret charges against him, the rights of many journalists who despise Assange may also hang in the balance. It’s still unclear what charges the Justice Department is bringing against Assange, who has lived under diplomatic protection in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years. But if the secret charges implicate any of WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, it could ironically be just the precedent the Trump administration needs to directly go after journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post. With that in mind, I recently spoke to James Goodale — the famed First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel the New York Times, who led the paper’s legal team in the famed Pentagon Papers case — about the dire impact the Justice Department’s move may have on press freedom, regardless of whether people consider Assange himself a journalist.”

Why Big Law Is Taking on Trump Over ImmigrationThe New York Times, Annie Correal, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “Big Law — a nexus of power where partners are often plucked for top government posts — has emerged as a fierce, and perhaps unexpected, antagonist to President Trump’s immigration agenda. While pro bono work is nothing new, over the past two years, major law firms have become more vocal and visible in pushing back against the administration’s policies. Top firms have a well-earned reputation as cautious defenders of the establishment, and immigration is generally considered a safe area for pro bono work because it rarely conflicts with corporate clients. Still, both supporters and critics of the president’s agenda have noticed that large firms have been behind several of the biggest court battles.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reinstates the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), controversial gatekeeper of for-profit collegesThe Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Wednesday, 21 November 2018: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday restored federal recognition to a controversial agency that accredits for-profit colleges and that the Obama administration tried to shut down, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post. The move is one in a series of steps DeVos has taken to undo an Obama-era crackdown that she argues unfairly singled out for-profit schools for scrutiny not applied to other colleges. But critics say she is propping up an industry with a track record of misleading students and poor educational outcomes.”


Thursday, 22 November 2018, Day 672:


Trump politicizes Thanksgiving call with troops to attack migrants and judgesCNN, Jeremy Diamond and Kate Sullivan, Thursday, 22 November 2018: “President Donald Trump struck a nakedly political tone during a Thanksgiving call with US service members stationed around the world as he steered the conversation toward controversial political topics. Speaking with a US general in Afghanistan, Trump likened the fight against terrorists to his efforts to prevent a group of migrants from illegally entering the United States, and he assailed federal judges who have ruled against his administration. The President also pressed the commanding officer of a Coast Guard ship in Bahrain on trade before touting his trade policies and arguing that ‘every nation in the world is taking advantage of us.’ US Presidents have traditionally called troops stationed abroad during the holidays to boost morale and remind the country of their service, making Trump’s rhetoric yet another striking break from the norms of presidential behavior. After the call wrapped, Trump entertained more than two dozen questions from reporters and once again discredited a CIA assessment about the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” See also, ‘HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!’: Rhetorical bedlam erupts as Trump speaks to the world from Mar-a-LagoThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 22 November 2018: “President Trump’s Thanksgiving began, as his days often do, with an all-caps tweet: ‘HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!’ Minutes later, he tweeted of potential ‘bedlam, chaos, injury and death,’ a harbinger of what would be a frenetic Thanksgiving morning. Over the span of a few hours, the president would mix the traditional pablum of Thanksgiving tidings with renouncing the findings of his Central Intelligence Agency, threatening Mexico, criticizing court decisions, attacking Hillary Clinton over her emails, misstating facts about the economy, floating a shutdown of the government — and per usual, jousting with the news media. Asked what he was most thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day — a question that for commanders in chief usually prompts praise of service members in harm’s way — Trump delivered a singularly Trumpian answer. ‘I made a tremendous difference in our country,’ he said, citing himself.” See also, Trump Resumes Spat With Chief Justice John Roberts and Calls the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ‘A Complete & Total Disaster,’ NPR, Vanessa Romo, Thursday, 22 November 2018: ”

Trump brushes aside CIA assertion that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and defends the crown prince and Saudi ArabiaThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 22 November 2018: “President Trump on Thursday contradicted the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, insisting that the agency had ‘feelings’ but did not firmly place blame for the death. Trump, in defiant remarks to reporters from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, defended his continued support for Mohammed in the face of a CIA assessment that the crown prince had ordered the killing. ‘He denies it vehemently,’ Trump said of the crown prince. He reiterated that his own conclusion was that ‘maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.’… Asked who should be held accountable for the death of Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, Trump again refused to place blame — instead espousing a grim view of the world that he often shares with advisers. ‘Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a very, very vicious place,’ the president said.” See also, Rebuffing the C.I.A., Trump Says It Only Has ‘Feelings’ About the Killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal KhashoggiThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 22 November 2018.

Saudis Want a U.S. Nuclear Deal. Can They Be Trusted Not to Build a Bomb? The New York Times, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Thursday, 22 November 2018: “Before Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was implicated by the C.I.A. in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, American intelligence agencies were trying to solve a separate mystery: Was the prince laying the groundwork for building an atomic bomb? The 33-year-old heir to the Saudi throne had been overseeing a negotiation with the Energy Department and the State Department to get the United States to sell designs for nuclear power plants to the kingdom. The deal was worth upward of $80 billion, depending on how many plants Saudi Arabia decided to build. But there is a hitch: Saudi Arabia insists on producing its own nuclear fuel, even though it could buy it more cheaply abroad, according to American and Saudi officials familiar with the negotiations. That raised concerns in Washington that the Saudis could divert their fuel into a covert weapons project — exactly what the United States and its allies feared Iran was doing before it reached the 2015 nuclear accord, which President Trump has since abandoned.”

House Judiciary Committee Issues Subpoenas for James Comey and Loretta Lynch Over Clinton Email CaseThe New York Times,  Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 22 November 2018: “The House Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas for James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and Loretta E. Lynch, the former attorney general, as part of an investigation into their handling of inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s email server and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The subpoenas, issued on Wednesday by Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, the committee’s chairman and a Republican, require Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch to appear in closed-door sessions with members of Mr. Goodlatte’s committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Mr. Comey has been called to appear on Dec. 3, and Ms. Lynch a day later. On Twitter, Mr. Comey objected to the format that Republicans are demanding for the interview. ‘I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions,’ he said. ‘But I will resist a “closed door” thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion. Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see.'” See also, House Judiciary Committee subpoenas James Comey and Loretta LynchThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 22 November 2018.

Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has embraced Confederate history more than once in her political careerThe Washington Post, Matt Viser, Thursday, 22 November 2018: “Starting her second year as a Mississippi state senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith arrived at the State Capitol in Jackson in 2001 to file one of her earliest pieces of legislation. Senate Bill 2604, as she proposed it, would have renamed a stretch of highway to the title it had in the 1930s: Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway. While the president of the Confederacy did have ties to the state — representing it in the Senate before resigning when Mississippi left the Union — he had no known ties to her district. The bill died in committee. It is one of several instances in which the now-U.S. senator would embrace a pride in the Confederacy and its aftermath that is coming under new scrutiny in the wake of her comments that she would sit with a supporter in the front row of a ‘public hanging’ — remarks that she defended as an exaggerated gesture of friendship and that others said alluded to lynching. In 2014, she donned a Confederate hat and posed with a rifle, writing on her Facebook page that the Jefferson Davis homestead in Biloxi is a ‘must see.’ ‘Mississippi history at its best!’ she wrote.”