Trump Administration, Week 103: Friday, 4 January – Thursday, 10 January 2019 (Days 715-721)

Cambridge, MA, January 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, 4 January 2019, Day 715:


Trump Raises the Possibility of Declaring a National Emergency at the Border With Mexico to Allow Him to Build a Wall Without Congressional ApprovalThe New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Friday, 4 January 2019: “President Trump raised the possibility on Friday of declaring a national emergency to allow him to build a wall along the southwest border without congressional approval, hours after Department of Homeland Security officials requested additional support to erect temporary barriers between the United States and Mexico. Mr. Trump’s comments followed a contentious meeting with Democratic leaders at the White House. It failed to produce a deal to end the two-week partial shutdown of the federal government, a funding lapse that began with the president’s insistence that Congress allocate $5.6 billion for the wall. ‘We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,’ Mr. Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden when asked about an emergency declaration…. Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, presidents are allowed to take unilateral action in times of crisis, provided they notify Congress, specify the circumstances that necessitated the declaration and document all uses of executive authority that are covered by the emergency.” See also, ‘I can do it if I want’: Trump threatens to invoke emergency powers to build border wall with MexicoThe Washington Post, David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 4 January 2019: “President Trump on Friday offered his most robust public case for the border wall since the partial government shutdown began two weeks ago, expounding for an hour at the White House about the need for a barrier to keep out terrorists and dissuade migrants while asserting he has the legal authority to build it without congressional consent. In a forceful but meandering performance that included numerous false or questionable assertions, Trump announced he was considering declaring a ‘national emergency’ to move forward on construction through executive power; argued his administration would use eminent domain to obtain private land along the U.S.-Mexico border; and suggested a steel wall could provide manufacturing jobs to U.S. companies. Yet legal experts said Trump’s emergency powers under federal law are limited and expressed doubt that such an avenue would solve a mounting political dilemma for a president who, two years into his term, has elevated the fight over the wall into a defining moment for his presidency.”

Trump threatens years-long shutdown for his wall as Republican support begins to fractureThe Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Erica Werner, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 4 January 2019: “President Trump warned Friday that the partial government shutdown could go on for months or even years, delivering no real breakthrough with congressional leaders as his own administration scrambled to shore up support among Republicans for a gambit that has started to fracture.” See also, Trump Suggests Government Shutdown Could Last for ‘Months or Even Years,’ The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael Tackett, Friday, 4 January 2019: “President Trump threatened on Friday to keep the federal government partly closed for ‘months or even years’ if he did not get $5.6 billion for his wall at the southern border, and he warned that he was considering declaring a national emergency to build it without congressional approval. Mr. Trump and Democratic leaders emerged from a two-hour meeting in the White House Situation Room without a deal to reopen government agencies that have already been shuttered for two weeks, and the two sides offered sharply contrasting views of where they stood. By day’s end, the two sides appeared to be still locked in a stalemate.” See also, Millions face delayed tax refunds and cuts to food stamps as the White House scrambles to deal with the consequences of the government shutdownThe Washington Post, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, Friday, 4 January 2019: “Food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans would face severe reductions and more than $140 billion in tax refunds are at risk of being frozen or delayed if the government shutdown stretches into February, widespread disruptions that threaten to hurt the economy. The Trump administration, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact, several senior administration officials said. The officials said they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene. Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, but few intersect with the public as much as the tax system and the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the current version of food stamps. The partial shutdown has cut off new funding to the Treasury Department and the USDA, leaving them largely unstaffed and crippling both departments’ ability to fulfill core functions.” See also, Hundreds of TSA screeners, working without pay, are calling out sick at major airportsCNN, Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, Friday, 4 January 2019: “Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without paychecks through the partial government shutdown, have called out from work this week from at least four major airports, according to two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials. The mass call outs could inevitably mean air travel is less secure, especially as the shutdown enters its [third] week with no clear end to the political stalemate in sight.”

Aiming at Trump, Democrats Lay Out Agenda for a Post-Shutdown CongressThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 4 January 2019: “House Democrats unveiled on Friday the details of ambitious legislation devised to lower barriers to the ballot box, tighten ethics and lobbying restrictions and, in a swipe at President Trump, require presidents and candidates for the nation’s highest offices to release their tax returns. Singling out Mr. Trump and his administration, Democrats said that they were making good on promises to voters across the country who vaulted them into the majority with demands to clean up corruption and influence-peddling in Republican-controlled Washington. ‘Over the last two years, President Trump set the tone from the top of this administration that behaving ethically and complying with the law is optional,’ said Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I have stopped by here to simply say we are better than that.’ Little if any of the bill, named H.R. 1 to underscore its primacy, is likely to become law; in its sprawl and ambition, the measure is less a legislative vehicle than a political platform for the Democrats heading into the 2020 presidential cycle.” See also, House Democrats unveil bill targeting Trump on tax returns and transparencyThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 4 January 2019: “House Democrats are set to pursue legislation that squarely targets President Trump by requiring presidential candidates to disclose 10 years of tax returns, mandating more transparency for presidential inaugural and transition committees and tightening White House ethics standards. Those provisions are only a small part of a broad reform bill — to be titled the ‘For the People Act’ — that encompasses campaign finance, election integrity and security, congressional ethics and more. But they are clear signals that Democrats intend to take an aggressive approach to Trump and his administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats are set to unveil an outline of the legislation Friday in the Capitol. The Washington Post obtained an advance blueprint of the bill, which will move through several House committees over the coming weeks and is tentatively set for floor consideration early this year.”

Continue reading Week 103, Friday, 4 January – Thursday, 10 January 2019 (Days 715-721)

‘We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker’: the Democrats’ new street fightersThe Guardian, Luke O’Neil, Friday, 4 January 2019: ‘The 116th Congress, sworn in on Thursday, made history. It included the first Muslim and Native American women elected to Congress, two of the youngest women, a record number of women overall, and becomes the most racially diverse lawmaking body ever in America. And the incoming class has shown they’re unlike establishment Democrats in recent years in another important way: they’re willing and capable of fighting Trump’s fire with fire. Among them has been the Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who had some strong words for the president. Speaking at an event shortly after being sworn in, Tlaib, the first Palestinian American elected to Congress, recalled a conversation she had after she won. She said: ‘And when your son looks at you and says, “Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win,” and I said, “Baby, they don’t” – because we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.’ Tlaib had been clear about her intentions in impeaching Trump throughout her campaign. She tweeted in March: ‘Why am I running? Because this is about electing the jury to impeach (POTUS) and I will make a heck of juror.'”

Supreme Court Takes Up New Cases on Partisan GerrymanderingThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 4 January 2019: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to take another look at whether the Constitution bars extreme partisan gerrymandering. The move followed two decisions in June in which the justices sidestepped the question in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. Those earlier cases had raised the possibility that the court might decide, for the first time, that some election maps were so warped by politics that they crossed a constitutional line. Challengers had pinned their hopes on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who had expressed ambivalence on the subject, but he and his colleagues appeared unable to identify a workable constitutional test. Justice Kennedy’s replacement by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh makes a ruling limiting partisan gerrymandering less likely, election law experts said.” See also, Supreme Court to hear cases on partisan gerrymanderingThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 4 January 2019: “The Supreme Court once again will take up unresolved constitutional questions about partisan gerrymandering, agreeing Friday to consider rulings from two lower courts that found congressional maps in North Carolina and Maryland so extreme that they violated the rights of voters. The North Carolina map was drawn by Republicans, the Maryland districts by the state’s dominant Democrats. While the Supreme Court regularly scrutinizes electoral districts for racial gerrymandering, the justices have never found a state’s redistricting map so infected with politics that it violates the Constitution. Such a decision would mark a dramatic change for how the nation’s political maps are drawn.”

D.C. federal appeals court rules restriction on transgender troops serving in the military can stand for nowThe Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 4 January 2019: “A federal appeals court in Washington sided with the Trump administration Friday, saying restrictions on transgender men and women serving in the military can stand. The decision lifted an injunction that had barred the government from limiting their service. The unsigned order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has no immediate impact because federal judges in three other cases have temporarily prevented the administration from implementing its policy. Even so, the five-page ruling reversing a lower-court decision was a blow to the civil rights and gay rights organizations challenging the policy nationwide.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s federal grand jury has been extended for up to 6 monthsCNN, Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 4 January 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s federal grand jury has been extended so it may continue to meet and vote on criminal indictments for up to six more months. The grand jury’s initial 18-month term was set to expire over the weekend. The extension is the surest sign yet that the Russia investigation isn’t finished. It means, broadly, that Mueller may continue pursuing alleged criminal activity related to the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and that more indictments may be coming. Mueller is given authority by the Justice Department to prosecute individuals as he sees fit if they fall within his commissioned task — but in practice his team must ask the secret group of up to 23 citizens from DC to approve criminal indictments. This grand jury, based in Washington, DC, and apparently dedicated to Mueller’s probe, began meeting in July 2017.” See also, The term of the federal grand jury working in special counsel Robert Muller’s investigation is extendedThe Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 4 January 2019. See also, Judge Extends Term for Grand Jury Hearing Evidence From Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s InvestigationThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Friday, 4 January 2019.


Saturday, 5 January 2019, Day 716:


The Border Wall: How a Potent Symbol Is Now Boxing Trump InThe New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Peter Baker, Saturday, 5 January 2019: “Before it became the chief sticking point in a government shutdown drama that threatens to consume his presidency at a critical moment, President Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southwestern border was a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate. As Mr. Trump began exploring a presidential run in 2014, his political advisers landed on the idea of a border wall as a mnemonic device of sorts, a way to make sure their candidate — who hated reading from a script but loved boasting about himself and his talents as a builder — would remember to talk about getting tough on immigration, which was to be a signature issue in his nascent campaign. ‘How do we get him to continue to talk about immigration?’ Sam Nunberg, one of Mr. Trump’s early political advisers, recalled telling Roger J. Stone Jr., another adviser. ‘We’re going to get him to talk about he’s going to build a wall.'” See also, The Border Wall: What Has Trump Built So Far? The New York Times, Denise Lu, Saturday, 5 January 2019: “The federal shutdown hinges on whether the United States should fund a large wall on its border with Mexico. While Trump has described the wall’s progress, not a single mile of an extended wall has been built so far.”

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine rescinds invitation to Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin after backlash on Capitol HillThe Washington Post, Christian Davenport, Saturday, 5 January 2019: “Facing mounting criticism from Capitol Hill, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has rescinded an invitation to the controversial head of the Russian space agency to visit the United States. In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, Bridenstine said that the invitation was an attempt to maintain relations with Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. But after the offer was blasted by some key senators, he said he decided to withdraw it…. Rogozin was placed on a sanctions list by the Obama administration in 2014 in response to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine when he was a deputy prime minister. After the sanctions were issued, he said Russia should stop flying NASA’s astronauts to the International Space Station in retaliation. ‘After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest the U.S. delivers its astronauts to the ISS [International Space Station] with a trampoline,’ he wrote on Twitter. Given Rogozin’s history as a bombastic Russian nationalist and his presence on the sanctions list, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and others said Bridenstine should never have invited him.” See also, The White House is letting Russian ultra-nationalist Dmitry Rogozin into the U.S.–despite sanctionsThe Washington Post, Vladimir Kara-Murza, published on Thursday, 8 November 2018.

The People vs. Donald J. Trump: Trump is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for? The New York Times, David Leonhardt, Saturday, 5 January 2019: “The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it. He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves. To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary. The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?”


Sunday, 6 January 2019, Day 717:


National Security Adviser John Bolton Puts Conditions on Syria Withdrawal, Suggesting a Delay of Months or YearsThe New York Times, David E. Sanger, Noah Weiland, and Eric Schmitt, Sunday, 6 January 2019: “President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, rolled back on Sunday Mr. Trump’s decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria, laying out conditions for a pullout that could leave American forces there for months or even years. Mr. Bolton, making a visit to Israel, told reporters that American forces would remain in Syria until the last remnants of the Islamic State were defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the United States. He and other top White House advisers have led a behind-the-scenes effort to slow Mr. Trump’s order and reassure allies, including Israel.” See also, Contradicting Trump, national security adviser John Bolton says no withdrawal from Syria until ISIS is destroyed and the safety of the Kurds is guaranteedThe Washington Post, Karen DeYoung and Karoun Demirjian, Sunday, 6 January 2018: “White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday outlined conditions for a U.S. troop departure from Syria that appeared to contradict President Trump’s insistence less than a month ago that the withdrawal would be immediate and without conditions.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tamps down talk of impeachment of TrumpThe Washington Post, Brian Fung, Sunday, 6 January 2018: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sought to quell a rising furor Sunday over whether Democratic lawmakers will seek to impeach President Trump, saying in an interview on CBS News’s ‘Sunday Morning’ that the public has yet to hear the conclusions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. Democrats are unlikely to pursue a path of impeachment without Republican backing, Pelosi hinted. That could hinge significantly on whether Mueller’s probe uncovers concrete evidence of wrongdoing. ‘If and when the time comes for impeachment,’ she said, ‘it will have to be something that has such a crescendo in a bipartisan way.’ Pelosi’s remarks were echoed Sunday by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who said calls for Trump’s impeachment were a ‘distraction’ from Democrats’ ‘substantive agenda.'”


Monday, 7 January 2019, Day 718:


U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rules that elected officials cannot silence critics on social mediaThe Washington Post, Anne E. Marimow, Monday, 7 January 2019: “An elected official in Virginia violated the First Amendment when she temporarily blocked a constituent on Facebook, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, in a novel case with implications for how government officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media. The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is the first from an appeals court to answer the question of whether free speech protections prevent public officials from barring critics from their social media feeds. The 42-page opinion addresses the Facebook page of Phyllis J. Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, but President Trump is facing a similar lawsuit for silencing critics on his active @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, which has millions of followers.”

Trump Will Take His Case For a Border Wall to the Public in a National AddressThe New York Times, Michael Tackett and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 7 January 2019: “President Trump unleashed an offensive on Monday to persuade Americans that a ‘humanitarian and security crisis’ on the southern border must be addressed before a government shutdown can end, announcing a prime-time address for Tuesday and a trip to the border later in the week. Vice President Mike Pence briefed reporters on the status of negotiations in a hastily arranged session, part of an orchestrated effort to sway balking Democrats who say the government should reopen while they wrangle over Mr. Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to begin his border wall.” See also, Trump to make prime-time address and a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border amid shutdown stalemateThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Paul Farhi, published on Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “President Trump is ramping up his efforts to make a public case for his border wall as the partial government shutdown is now in its third week, planning a prime-time address Tuesday night and a visit to the border Thursday. Trump announced the news of the presidential address in a Monday tweet.” See also, Only six immigrants in terrorism database stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at southern border from October 2017 to March 2018NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Monday, 7 January 2019: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data provided to Congress in May 2018 and obtained by NBC News. The low number contradicts statements by Trump administration officials, including White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said Friday that CBP stopped nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists from crossing the southern border in fiscal year 2018. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters on Monday the exact number, which NBC News is first to report, was classified but that she was working on making it public. The data was the latest set on this topic provided to Congress. It is possible that the data was updated since that time, but not provided to Congress.”

Congressional Democrats turn up the heat on Republicans over government shutdownThe Washington Post, Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim, and Jeff Stein, Monday, 7 January 2019: “Democrats moved on two fronts Monday to goad Republicans into reopening the federal government, lining up House bills to fund shuttered agencies and preparing to block action in the Senate until the shutdown is resolved. The moves amounted to an increasingly calculated and confrontational strategy from congressional Democrats as the shutdown over President Trump’s demand for money for a wall on the Mexican border entered its third week. But Trump showed no sign of relenting, announcing a prime-time address for Tuesday night and making plans to visit the border, as his administration sought to make the case that an immigration crisis is unfolding that must be addressed with a wall. Neither side has shown any inclination to compromise and instead has looked to penalize the other for not caving.”

I.R.S. Will Issue Tax Refunds During Shutdown, Trump Official SaysThe New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Michael Tackett, Monday, 7 January 2019: “The Trump administration will direct the Internal Revenue Service to issue tax refunds during the ongoing federal government shutdown, reversing previous policy, officials said Monday. ‘Tax refunds will go out,’ Russell T. Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters in an afternoon briefing. In a late-afternoon call with the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration will call back a significant number of I.R.S. employees from furlough, in order to issue refunds. Mr. Mnuchin also told Mr. Neal that the I.R.S. would open the tax filing season on time at the end of January, and that enough employees would return to work to allow the I.R.S. to answer 60 to 70 percent of phone calls seeking tax assistance. Those employees will not be paid until the shutdown ends. The move to issue refunds seeks to circumvent a potential political problem for the Trump administration by allowing taxpayers to claim refunds despite the protracted government shutdown, which is already dragging into Day 17.” See also, White House rules the IRS can issue tax refunds during the government shutdown and aims to bring back agency employeesThe Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Jeff Stein, and Juliet Eilperin, Monday, 7 January 2019.

Trump Says His Predecessors Confessed Support for a Border Wall With Mexico. Not True, They Say. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Monday, 7 January 2019: “As he makes his case for building a border wall, President Trump says that his predecessors have secretly confided in him that they should have done it themselves. The only problem: All of the living presidents say that’s not true.” See also, Trump claimed ex-presidents told him they wanted to build a border wall. All four living ex-presidents say it’s not true. The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg and Katie Mettler, published on Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “President Trump made the remark during a lengthy appearance in the White House’s Rose Garden on Friday, in the midst of an extended soliloquy about the border wall that he has yet to find funding or widespread political support for. The government is shut down over the president’s demand that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for the wall. ‘This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me,’ Trump said. ‘And they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it.’ The president has made 7,600 false or misleading statements since he became president, and some have proved more difficult than others to fact-check. This one was not. There are only four living ex-presidents. The Washington Post reached out to them to see whether they ever told Trump that a border wall should have been built before he was in office: All said they hadn’t. A spokesman for former president George H.W. Bush declined to comment, saying it was too soon for Bush, who died in November, to be ‘dragged into such debates.'”

Trump’s National Emergency Powers and Border Wall, ExplainedThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 7 January 2019: “As the budget standoff between President Trump and congressional Democrats grinds into the third week of a partial government shutdown, the White House has floated the idea that Mr. Trump might invoke emergency powers to build his proposed wall on the Mexican border without lawmakers’ approval. That route could resolve the immediate crisis by giving Mr. Trump a face-saving way to sign spending bills that do not include funding for his wall. But it would be an extraordinarily aggressive move — at a minimum, a violation of constitutional norms — that would most likely thrust the wall’s fate into the courts. Here is a primer on whether Mr. Trump can use emergency powers to proceed with the project without explicit congressional permission.”

National Security Adviser John Bolton Walked Back Trump’s Statement About the Imminent Withdrawal of Troops From Syria. Bolton’s Disdain for Debate Helped Produce Trump’s Statement in the First Place. The New York Times, Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, Monday, 7 January 2019: “John R. Bolton found himself last weekend in a familiar but dangerous spot: cleaning up after his boss announced the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria — a decision that rattled allies and threw America’s Middle East policy into turmoil. But Mr. Bolton is at least partly responsible for the conditions that led to President Trump’s sudden move. As the president’s national security adviser, Mr. Bolton has largely eliminated the internal policy debates that could have fleshed out the troop decision with timetables, conditions and a counterterrorism strategy for after the troops leave. Under Mr. Bolton’s management, senior administration officials said, the National Security Council staff had ‘zero’ role in brokering a debate over America’s future in Syria. Mr. Bolton, officials said, was surprised by the timing of Mr. Trump’s announcement, which contradicted his own pledge in September to keep American troops in Syria. Faced with the president’s abrupt declaration, which drew howls of protest from Congress and concerned phone calls from allies like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Bolton felt compelled to talk his boss into slowing down the process, these officials said. Then Mr. Bolton had to cobble together a withdrawal strategy that would normally have taken shape over weeks or months and laid the groundwork for Mr. Trump’s decision — not hastily followed it.”

Leonard Leo, a Top Trump Backer, Financed Supreme Court Confirmation Fights Through Shadowy NetworkDaily Beast, Lachlan Markay, Monday, 7 January 2019: “A top conservative judicial activist used a sprawling web of interconnected groups to not only help fund President Donald Trump’s inauguration but to help pave the way for the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominees. The effort has been a resounding success, but Americans remain largely in the dark about who provided the tens of millions of dollars to bankroll it. Previously unreported documents obtained by The Daily Beast provide the first glimpse into the finances of a key node in that network, traced to Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo, a major player in Washington’s wars over the makeup of the federal judiciary. Those documents, like others revealed over the last few months, provide a deeper glimpse into the expanding role that Leo’s played in advancing the Trump administration’s agenda on legal matters in particular. And they underscore the degree to which anonymous, high-dollar donors have bankrolled the advocacy behind Trump’s highly successful efforts to reshape the federal judiciary.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moves to boost college online learning while reducing regulatory oversightThe Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Monday, 7 January 2019: “The U.S. Education Department issued proposals Monday that could extend federal student aid dollars to a wider variety of higher-education providers, a move that some say could spur innovation and others worry could attract predatory actors. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has bemoaned what counts as a college course worthy of federal loans and grants. She has also challenged the accreditation system that stands between schools and billions of dollars in financial aid, questioning whether the Education Department’s accreditation rules work to the detriment of innovation and students. The proposals would grant accrediting agencies more leeway to approve programs that don’t fit traditional models and loosen standards on instruction and the interaction between students and faculty. In doing so, the Education Department could bolster online and competency-based education, a burgeoning field that lets students learn at their own pace and move along as they master material. The proposals are part of a process in which education stakeholders attempt to reach consensus on regulatory changes. But given the issues up for debate and the ways they could fundamentally change higher education, negotiators may have difficulty agreeing on much.”


Tuesday, 8 January 2019, Day 719:


U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018–and it couldn’t happen at a worse timeThe Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “U.S. carbon dioxide emissions rose an estimated 3.4 percent in 2018, according to new research — a jarring increase that comes as scientists say the world needs to be aggressively cutting its emissions to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change. The findings, published Tuesday by the independent economic research firm Rhodium Group, mean that the United States now has a diminishing chance of meeting its pledge under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to dramatically reduce its emissions by 2025. The findings also underscore how the world’s second-largest emitter, once a global leader in pushing for climate action, has all but abandoned efforts to mitigate the effects of a warming world. President Trump has said he plans to officially withdraw the nation from the Paris climate agreement in 2020 and in the meantime has rolled back Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing the country’s carbon emissions.” See also, U.S. Carbon Emissions Surged in 2018 Even as Coal Plants ClosedThe New York Times, Brad Plumer, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “America’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years, according to a preliminary estimate published Tuesday. Strikingly, the sharp uptick in emissions occurred even as a near-record number of coal plants around the United States retired last year, illustrating how difficult it could be for the country to make further progress on climate change in the years to come, particularly as the Trump administration pushes to roll back federal regulations that limit greenhouse gas emissions. The estimate, by the research firm Rhodium Group, pointed to a stark reversal. Fossil fuel emissions in the United States have fallen significantly since 2005 and declined each of the previous three years, in part because of a boom in cheap natural gas and renewable energy, which have been rapidly displacing dirtier coal-fired power.” See also, U.S. carbon emissions are up 3.4% as the Trump administration rolls back climate change workThe Guardian, Emily Holden, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “A new analysis shows US greenhouse gas levels are increasing as the Trump administration unravels efforts to slow climate change. Carbon emissions rose sharply last year, increasing 3.4%, according to new estimates from the economic firm Rhodium Group. That year’s jump in emissions is the biggest since the bounce back from the recession in 2010. It is the second largest gain in more than two decades. Coal plants are shutting down, but electricity demand is growing. Natural-gas fired power emits about half as much carbon as coal but still contributes to climate change. The fossil fuel is replacing most of the coal plants that are closing and also fed most of the higher demand, increasing power-sector climate pollution. Outside of the power sector, transportation, industry and buildings all increased their emissions as well, according to the estimates.”

Background Check Bill Marks Gun Control as a Priority for House DemocratsThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “Emboldened House Democrats, seeking a politically charged debate on gun control, unveiled legislation on Tuesday to expand background checks to nearly all firearms purchases, a move timed to mark the eighth anniversary of the mass shooting in Arizona that nearly killed former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. By introducing the measure less than one week after taking control of the House, Democrats are signaling that it is a top priority. A vote could come within the first 100 days of the new Congress. The measure, and a companion bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate, also reflects the changing politics around gun laws, an issue many Democrats once shied away from. The bill, which will almost certainly pass the House but will face a steep climb in the Republican-controlled Senate, would require background checks on the purchases of nearly all firearms, including those sold at gun shows and over the internet. There would be limited exceptions, including for law enforcement officers and for guns transferred between close family members. Polls have shown that a vast majority of Americans — by some estimates, 90 percent — support universal background checks for all gun purchases. Many Democrats, including Representative Lucy McBath, a freshman from Georgia whose son was shot and killed at a Florida gas station, were elected last year after promising to address gun safety.”

1.4 Million Floridians Get Their Voting Rights Back Today, Whether Republicans Like It or NotThe Intercept, Alice Speri, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “More than 1 million Florida residents will become eligible to vote on Tuesday as the newly amended state constitution restores voting rights to most of its previously disenfranchised felons. That’s the largest number of people to gain access to the ballot all at once since American women won the right to vote in 1920. Last November, Florida residents voted in favor of an amendment to the state constitution, known as Amendment 4, that restores voting rights to roughly 1.4 million felons in the state who have completed their sentences. (Individuals convicted of murder or sex offenses were excluded from the amendment.) But while the measure was approved by nearly 65 percent of the state’s voters, some Republicans — including Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis — have sought to sow confusion about its immediate validity.”

Bipartisan group of governors calls for an immediate end to the government shutdownThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Lisa Rein, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The bipartisan group that represents the nation’s governors is urging President Trump and congressional leaders to immediately end the partial government shutdown and resolve differences over border security later. A letter from the National Governors Association cited negative effects on federal workers and state economies and decried the use of a government shutdown to gain leverage in unresolved policy disagreements. ‘It is imperative that you reopen the government now and, then, reach across the aisle to find a solution that will end the current impasse,’ said the letter, signed by the National Governors Association chair and vice chair, Govs. Steve Bullock (D-Mont.) and Larry Hogan (R-Md.), on behalf of the group, which represents the 55 governors of U.S. states and territories. ‘Governors stand united in telling the federal government to open the doors of currently shuttered agencies while you find a long-term, bipartisan compromise on the issues that currently divide Washington.'”

See How the Effects of the Government Shutdown Are Piling UpThe New York Times, Denise Lu and Anjali Singhvi, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The shutdown is affecting about 800,000 federal employees and some services for the public. The longer it lasts, more effects are felt. If the shutdown does not end in two days, thousands of federal workers will miss their paychecks.”

Trump administration promises the government shutdown won’t stop food stamp payments in February but says program lacks funds for MarchThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The Trump administration pledged Tuesday that Americans will receive food stamps through February despite the partial government shutdown, but officials could not promise those benefits will continue if the shutdown lasts until March. Congress has only approved funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through January, fueling concern food benefits used by 38 million Americans would expire amid the budget stalemate in Washington…. The move is part of a series of attempts by the Trump administration to limit the pain inflicted by the government shutdown now in its third week, as officials scramble to prevent essential federal services from expiring.”

Key parts of the Trump administration’s border rhetoric are wrong, according to the Trump administration itselfThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “To hear President Trump and his administration tell it, there is an urgent need for a wall on the border with Mexico because [whispers: He promised his base he would build one] of the threat posed by terrorists and drug smugglers, among others. There’s just one problem with that line of argument: Trump’s administration also says that this isn’t really true.” See also, A Border Wall to Stop Terrorists? Experts Say That Doesn’t Make SenseThe New York Times, Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger, and Glenn Thrush, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “President Trump has repeatedly warned that terrorists are pouring into the United States from Mexico, in one of his central justifications for building a border wall. But his own government’s assessments conclude that Mr. Trump has seriously overstated the threat. And counterterrorism officials and experts said there had never been a case of a known terrorist sneaking into the country through open areas of the southwest border. Despite the administration’s focus on security threats at the border, a White House strategy document sent to Congress last month outlining steps needed to monitor and intercept terrorists included no reference to the need for construction of barriers, fences or walls. Separately, an intelligence analysis concluded that cyberattacks are the top threat to the United States — not terrorists at the border. ‘There is no wave of terrorist operatives waiting to cross overland into the United States,’ Nicholas J. Rasmussen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said on Tuesday. ‘It simply isn’t true.'” See also, Trump’s nonsensical claim that Mexico is paying for the border wallThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Tuesday, 8 January 2019.

The U.S. sends thousands of deportees each month to Mexico’s most dangerous border areasThe Washington Post, Kevin Sieff, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The deportees arrive after dark, usually between 100 and 200 of them, deposited by U.S. immigration officials at a bridge that connects the United States to one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Many of the deportees, all Mexican, have been living illegally in the United States for years, and they don’t know Reynosa’s reputation. It is the least secure city in Mexico, according to a government survey. It is in a state, Tamaulipas, that is the only place along Mexico’s northern border to carry the State Department’s most severe travel warning, putting it in the same category as Afghanistan and North Korea. From 2017 to 2018, the number of homicides more than doubled to 225 in the city of 600,000. At least another 2,500 people are missing. Criminal groups enrich themselves through kidnapping and extortion, with migrants among their most common targets.”

U.S. Supreme Court rejects Republican bid to delay redistricting in VirginiaThe Washington Post, Gregory S. Schneider, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to delay the process of drawing new districts for at least 11 Virginia House of Delegates seats, rejecting a request for a stay from state Republicans who are contesting the overall effort. A panel of judges from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled last June that the districts had been racially gerrymandered to concentrate black voters and ordered a new map. Most of the affected districts are in the Hampton Roads and Richmond areas. After the General Assembly failed to agree on a redistricting plan last fall, the judges appointed an outside expert to handle it. California professor Bernard Grofman submitted a 131-page report last month outlining options for new boundaries.”

The Trump administration downgraded the E.U.’s diplomatic status in Washington. That’s going to hurt. The Washington Post, Karen E. Smith, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The German news service Deutsche Welle has revealed that the State Department downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation to the United States at some point in the second half of 2018, without actually informing the European Union. The E.U. delegation in Washington had previously been recognized as the equivalent to a national embassy. The head of the delegation was listed as an ambassador by the Office of the Chief of Protocol. Now, the State Department’s list of the diplomatic order of precedence lists the European Union under ‘heads of delegation,’ along with the head of delegation of the African Union. This isn’t just a minor matter of diplomatic protocol. The Trump administration is using the downgrading to communicate its understanding of the world and of the European Union’s place in it. The Trump administration does not like the European Union. The downgrade and the lack of courtesy shown by not informing the European Union in advance fits well with the Trump administration’s hostility to the E.U. as a multilateral institution. Just last month in Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lambasted the European Union (and other institutions such as the United Nations and the African Union). His speech was tellingly titled ‘Restoring the Role of the Nation-State in the Liberal International Order.'” See also, The Trump Administration Downgraded the E.U.’s Diplomatic Status (but Didn’t Say Anything)The New York Times,  Steven Erlanger, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The Trump administration downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union’s delegation to the United States last year without making a formal announcement or informing the bloc about the change, a European official said on Tuesday. After protest from Brussels and discussion between the European Union and the Trump administration, the reclassification of the delegation and the consequent demotion of the ambassador, David O’Sullivan, is understood to have been reversed, at least temporarily, the official said.”

Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Manager, Is Accused of Sharing Trump Polling Data With Russian Associate Tied to Russian IntelligenceThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “As a top official in President Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing unsealed on Tuesday. The document provided the clearest evidence to date that the Trump campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race. Mr. Manafort’s lawyers made the disclosure by accident, through a formatting error in a document filed to respond to charges that he had lied to prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, after agreeing to cooperate with their investigation into Russian interference in the election. The document also revealed that during the campaign, Mr. Manafort and his Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, discussed a plan for peace in Ukraine. Throughout the campaign and the early days of the Trump administration, Russia and its allies were pushing various plans for Ukraine in the hope of gaining relief from American-led sanctions imposed after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine.” See also, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, shared 2016 polling data with Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik according to a court filingThe Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “Paul Manafort shared 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing. The information is in a filing that appears to inadvertently include details not intended to be made public and indicates a pathway by which the Russians could have had access to Trump campaign data.” See also, A Paul Manafort court filing just accidentally connected some big dots between the Trump presidential campaign and RussiaThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The first news in a while in Robert S. Mueller III’s special counsel probe came by accident Tuesday — and it’s potentially big. Thanks to some shoddy redactions in a court filing by Paul Manafort’s legal team, we learned precisely what Mueller believes Manafort lied about to have his cooperation agreement voided. And two things stand out. The first is that Manafort is believed to have lied about sharing 2016 campaign polling data with a Russian business associate from his days in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik. The second is that he and Kilimnik met in Madrid in early 2017 — a fact he shared only after investigators noted that the two had been in the city on the same day.” See also, Trump says he knew nothing about Paul Manafort sharing polling data with Russian associate Konstantin KilimnikThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Thursday, 10 January 2019.

Supreme Court Stays Out of Secret Case That May Be Part of Mueller ProbeThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to intercede in a mysterious fight over a sealed grand jury subpoena to a foreign corporation issued by a federal prosecutor who may or may not be Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia affair. The court’s action means the corporation, which has not been identified, must provide information to the prosecutor or face financial penalties. The court’s two-sentence order gave no reasons and provided no details. Almost everything about the case has been cloaked in secrecy. But a three-page order issued on Dec. 18 and a more detailed opinion studded with blacked-out passages issued on Tuesday after the Supreme Court acted, both from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, provided a few hints.” See also, Supreme Court turns down mysterious Mueller subpoena fightPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The Supreme Court has declined to intervene in a mysterious subpoena fight that apparently involved an unidentified foreign-government-owned company and special counsel Robert Mueller. Last month, the unknown firm asked the high court to block a federal judge’s contempt order and $50,000-a-day penalty for refusing to comply with the subpoena, arguing that the company is immune from U.S. grand jury subpoenas. The company also insisted that complying with the subpoena would violate the law in the firm’s home country. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court turned down the company’s request to step into the dispute, at least for now. The order in the case came a little more than two weeks after Chief Justice John Roberts put a temporary freeze on the contempt order and the sanctions. The court’s order Tuesday offered no explanation for its decision and no justice publicly signaled any dissent. The high court did indicate that Roberts referred the issue to the full court and that the short-term stay he ordered last month was now dissolved.” See also, Supreme Court rules against mystery corporation from ‘Country A’ fighting subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigationThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Devlin Barrett, and Carol D. Leonnig, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a lower-court order requiring an unnamed foreign-owned corporation to comply with a subpoena said to be part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The court dissolved a temporary stay that had been put in place by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. In a short order, it did not give a reason for the decision or note any dissents.”

Did CIA Director Gina Haspel run a black site at Guantánamo? McClatchy DC Bureau, Carol Rosenberg, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “An attorney for the accused architect of the Sept. 11 attacks told a judge in a secret session last year that CIA Director Gina Haspel ran a secret agency outpost at Guantánamo, an apparent reference to a post-9/11 black site, according to a recently declassified transcript. The claim by Rita Radostitz, a lawyer for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, appears in one paragraph of a partially redacted transcript of a secret hearing held at Guantánamo on Nov. 16. Defense lawyers were arguing, in a motion that ultimately failed, that Haspel’s role at the prison precludes the possibility of a fair trial for the men accused of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks who were also held for years in covert CIA prisons. Neither the public nor the accused was allowed to attend the hearing but, following an intelligence review, the Pentagon released portions of its transcript on a war court website.”

House Democrats demand Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explain rollback of sanctions on businesses linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “The Democratic leaders of seven House panels are demanding Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delay implementing a planned easing of sanctions on businesses tied to a prominent Russian oligarch until the Treasury Department briefs committee members on the matter. The committee chairs told Mnuchin they want the briefing to take place before Friday, as they are working against the clock if they want to stop the administration from acting on its mid-December announcement that it would roll back sanctions.” See also, House Democrats Summon Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Explain Removal of Sanctions on Three Companies Controlled by Russian Billionaire Oleg DeripaskaThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport and Kenneth P. Vogel, published on Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “House Democrats have summoned Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, to Congress on Thursday to deliver a classified briefing about the Trump administration’s plans to end sanctions on companies linked to the billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska. The briefing is an early instance of Democratic lawmakers flexing their new oversight muscles after taking control of the House last week. Such requests from Democrats were generally ignored or rebuffed during President Trump’s first two years in office, but cabinet officials are expected to face intense scrutiny over past decisions. Congress is reviewing the administration’s decision — announced in December by the Treasury Department — to lift sanctions against three companies that Mr. Deripaska controls, EN+, Rusal and JSC EuroSibEnergo. Rusal is the world’s second largest aluminum company and concerns about its fate roiled the industry after the Trump administration announced sanctions last year.”

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian Lawyer Who Met With Trump Campaign Officials in Trump Tower in 2016, Is Charged in Case That Shows Her Ties to the KremlinThe New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who in 2016 met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower, was charged on Tuesday in a separate case that showed her close ties to the Kremlin. Ms. Veselnitskaya, a pivotal figure in the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election, was charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with seeking to thwart an earlier investigation into money laundering that involved an influential Russian businessman and his investment firm.The money-laundering case was not directly related to the Trump Tower meeting. But a federal indictment returned in Manhattan seemed to confirm that Ms. Veselnitskaya had deep ties to senior Russian government officials and rekindled questions about whether the Kremlin tried to use her as an intermediary to Donald J. Trump’s campaign.” See also, Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting in 2016 charged in separate caseThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 8 January 2019.

Trump’s National Address Escalates Border Wall FightThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “President Trump doubled down on one of the biggest gambles of his presidency on Tuesday night with a televised appeal to pressure Congress into paying for his long-promised border wall, even at the cost of leaving the government partly closed until lawmakers give in. Embarking on a strategy that he himself privately disparaged as unlikely to work, Mr. Trump devoted the first prime-time Oval Office address of his presidency to his proposed barrier in hopes of enlisting public support in an ideological and political conflict that has shut the doors of many federal agencies for 18 days. In a nine-minute speech that made no new arguments but included multiple misleading assertions, the president sought to recast the situation at the Mexican border as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and opted against declaring a national emergency to bypass Congress, which he had threatened to do, at least for now. But he excoriated Democrats for blocking the wall, accusing them of hypocrisy and exposing the country to criminal immigrants…. Yet privately, Mr. Trump dismissed his own new strategy as pointless. In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address, he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas, but was talked into it by advisers, according to two people briefed on the discussion who asked not to be identified sharing details. ‘It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,’ Mr. Trump said of the border visit, according to one of the people, who was in the room. The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. ‘But,’ he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, ‘these people behind you say it’s worth it.'” See also, Trump’s Speech to the Nation: Fact Checks and BackgroundThe New York Times, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: This article covers what Trump said and “how it stacks up against the facts.” See also, Full Transcripts: Trump’s Speech on Immigration and the Democratic ResponseThe New York Times, Tuesday, 8 January 2019. See also, Trump calls the wall the only solution to the ‘growing humanitarian crisis’ at the borderThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “President Trump delivered a forceful and fact-challenged televised plea to the nation Tuesday night for his long-promised border wall, declaring ‘a growing humanitarian and security crisis’ at the southern border and blaming congressional Democrats for the partial government shutdown that he helped instigate three weeks ago…. Democratic leaders, who have steadfastly resisted Trump’s demand for wall funding in part because they consider such a barrier to be immoral and unnecessary, accused Trump of fearmongering in his Tuesday night address. They called on him to immediately end the government shutdown, which they said was disrupting the pay of 800,000 federal workers and depriving millions of American citizens of critical services.” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s Oval Office address on immigrationThe Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo, published on Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “The first misleading statement in President Trump’s Oval Office address Tuesday night came in the first sentence. Trump, addressing a national television audience from behind his desk, warned of a ‘security crisis at the southern border’ — even though the number of people caught trying to cross illegally is near 20-year lows. Another false claim came moments later, when Trump said border agents ‘encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country’ every day, though his administration puts the daily average for 2018 in the hundreds. A few sentences later, he said 90 percent of the heroin in the United States comes across the border with Mexico, ignoring the fact that most of the drugs come through legal entry points and wouldn’t be stopped by the border wall that he is demanding as the centerpiece of his showdown with Democrats. Over the course of his nine-minute speech, Trump painted a misleading and bleak picture of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. He pumped up some numbers, exaggerated the public safety risks of immigration and repeated false claims regarding how to fund a border wall. The appearance, coming as a partial federal government shutdown resulting from the wall fight enters its third week, underscored the extent to which Trump has relied on false and misleading claims to justify what has long been his signature political issue.” See also, Live fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s immigration speechThe Washington Post, Tuesday, 8 January 2018. See also, Trump’s prime-time address on the border wall shutdown, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake and Transcript courtesy of Bloomberg Government, Tuesday, 8 January 2019. See also, ‘You want to talk about crises?’: Senator Bernie Sanders responds to Trump’s address on immigrationThe Washington Post, Tuesday, 8 January 2019. See also, Trump’s Speech: How 2020 Democratic Hopefuls RespondedThe New York Times, Maggie Astor, Tuesday, 8 January 2019. See also, T.V. Anchors Scramble to Fact-Check Trump After Prime-Time AddressThe New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Tuesday, 8 January 2019: “Moments after President Trump concluded his Oval Office remarks on border security on Tuesday, the NBC anchor Chuck Todd came on air with a blunt assessment. ‘He made a lot of dubious claims,’ Mr. Todd informed millions of viewers after the network’s scheduled program — a new episode of an Ellen DeGeneres-hosted game show — had been pre-empted for a rare prime-time presidential appearance. Shepard Smith, on the Fox network, told viewers that contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertions, “statistics show there is less violent crime by the undocumented immigrant population than by the general population.”


Wednesday, 9 January 2019, Day 720:


Government Shutdown Curtails Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) Food InspectionsThe New York Times, Sheila Kaplan, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “The Food and Drug Administration has stopped routine food safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and many other foods at high risk of contamination because of the federal government’s shutdown, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the agency’s commissioner, said on Wednesday. F.D.A. inspectors normally examine operations at about 160 domestic manufacturing and food processing plants each week. Nearly one-third of them are considered to be at high risk of causing food-borne illnesses. Food-borne diseases in the United States send about 128,000 people to the hospital each year, and kill 3,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Domestic meat and poultry are still being inspected by staff at the Agriculture Department, but they are going without pay. The F.D.A. oversees about 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, as well as most overseas imports.” See also, Food inspections by the FDA have been sharply reduced, alarming criticsThe Washington Post,  Laurie McGinley and Joel Achenbach, Wednesday, 9 January 2019.

Government Shutdown Means Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) Pollution Inspectors Aren’t on the JobThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “The two-week-old shutdown has halted one of the federal government’s most important public health activities, the inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations. The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed most of its roughly 600 pollution inspectors and other workers who monitor compliance with environmental laws. Those scientists, engineers and analysts are responsible for detecting violations that endanger human health, as they did, for example during an August 2018 airborne inspection that found that oil and gas fields in Karnes County, Tex., were leaking illegal levels of chemicals into the atmosphere, in violation of the Clean Air Act. While the inspection personnel represent a relatively small proportion of the E.P.A.’s total of about 15,000 workers, their absence increases the chances that, either by design or by accident, companies might emit illegal levels of contaminants into the air or water without detection, for weeks on end, according to people familiar with the E.P.A. inspections.”

Trump’s Emergency Powers Threat Could End Shutdown Crisis, but at What Cost? The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “President Trump’s repeated threat to declare a national emergency so he can build his border wall without congressional approval has been denounced by Democrats as extreme and an overreach. But it could be the only politically realistic way out of the shutdown crisis in the nation’s capital…. If the president does invoke emergency powers to circumvent Congress, it would be an extraordinary violation of constitutional norms — and establish a precedent for presidents who fail to win approval for funding a policy goal…. While any such move by Mr. Trump is certain to prompt outrage from his critics and wild approval from his supporters, there is good reason to believe that it is unlikely to result in much immediate change. His push for a wall would be channeled into a lengthy court fight, keeping lawyers far busier than construction workers, at least initially, as his term ticks away.”

Trump walks out of shutdown negotiations after Democrats reject money for a border wall with MexicoThe Washington Post, Erica Werner, Sean Sullivan, Mike DeBonis, and Seung Min Kim, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Talks between President Trump and congressional Democrats aimed at ending the partial government shutdown collapsed in acrimony and disarray Wednesday, with the president walking out of the White House meeting and calling it ‘a total waste of time’ after Democrats rejected his demand for border-wall funding. Furious Democrats accused Trump of slamming his hand on the table before he exited, and they said he ignored their pleas to reopen the federal government as they continue to negotiate over his border wall demands. With the shutdown nearing the three-week mark, some 800,000 workers are about to miss their first paycheck. ‘He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money. But they can’t,’ said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), an implicit dig at Trump’s wealthy upbringing.” See also, Trump Storms Out of White House Meeting With Democrats on Government ShutdownThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Michael Tackett, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “President Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall even if he agreed to reopen the government, escalating a confrontation that has shuttered large portions of the government for 19 days and counting. Stunned Democrats emerged from the meeting in the White House Situation Room declaring that the president had thrown a ‘temper tantrum’ and slammed his hands on the table before leaving with an abrupt ‘bye-bye.’ Republicans disputed the hand slam and blamed Democratic intransigence for prolonging the standoff…. ‘It wasn’t even a high-stakes negotiation; it was a petulant president of the United States,’ Ms. Pelosi said as she returned to the Capitol. ‘A person who would say [he’ll] keep government shut down for weeks, months or years unless [he gets his] way.’”

Donald Trump Jr. Says Border Wall Is Like a Zoo Fence Protecting You From AnimalsHuffPost, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Donald Trump Jr. is getting called out for an Instagram message he posted that compared the proposed border wall to a zoo fence. ‘You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo?’ the son of President Donald Trump wrote in an Instagram story on Tuesday night. ‘Because walls work.’ Trump, who in the past has compared immigrants to a bowl of Skittles in which some of the candies were poisoned, was quickly slammed on social media.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (Democrat–Minnesota) says she was denied a meeting with attorney general nominee William Barr before his confirmation hearing next week because of the government shutdownPolitico, Marianne Levine, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that she was unable to meet with attorney general nominee William Barr before his confirmation hearing next week because of the government shutdown. ‘I tried (as did Blumenthal) to get meeting w/AG nominee Barr and was told he couldn’t meet until AFTER the hearing,’ Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted, referring to Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. ‘The reason given? The shutdown.’ Klobuchar added that the shutdown didn’t prevent Barr from meeting with other senators. Among the senators Barr met with Wednesday were Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.). ‘This is a 1st for me w/ any nominee as a member of judiciary,’ Klobuchar tweeted.” See also, Republican senators promise Attorney General nominee William Barr won’t touch Mueller’s probeThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Seung Min Kim, and Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Top Senate Republicans emerged Wednesday from meetings with attorney general nominee William P. Barr insisting that if confirmed, he would not hinder Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, despite previous statements blasting the probe for looking into whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice. ‘Based on what I heard, he has a high opinion of Mr. Mueller, believes Mr. Mueller is doing a professional job, will do a professional job and be fair to the president and the country as a whole,’ Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters, adding that Barr sees ‘no reason for Mr. Mueller to stop doing his job and is committed to allowing Mr. Mueller to finish.’ Graham is one of four Republican senators with whom Barr met on Wednesday, as he prepares for a two-part confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Trump’s Oval Office address was a pure propaganda opportunity. Networks shouldn’t allow it next time. The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “After Tuesday night’s debacle in the Oval Office, television network executives should be spending the day in their spacious offices practicing a simple word: No. No, Mr. President, you may not break into prime-time programming to fundraise and mislead. They’ll need to practice because you can be sure that the request will come again. And again. Let’s be clear: There was no — zero — news in President Trump’s address to the nation last night…. And all the fact-checking in the world — worthy as it is — can’t make a dent in the spread of misinformation that such an opportunity gives the president. The casual viewer would probably come away from Trump’s speech with the impression that there is a dangerously high crime rate among the immigrant population. Such is the power of repetition…. Fact-checkers and White House correspondents countered — before and after the speech — that none of that is true. But the lies are spread; the damage is done. As the linguist and author George Lakoff puts it, the news media ‘has become complicit with Trump by allowing itself to be used as an amplifier for his falsehoods and frames.'”

Trump threatens to cut California wildfire aid. He may not have the authority to follow through. The Washington Post, Katie Mettler and Amy B. Wang, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “In the midst of a government shutdown, President Trump has threatened to cut off federal emergency aid to California for forest fires. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that ‘billions of dollars’ are sent to California to help with its wildfire recovery efforts and claimed, without evidence, that the state would not need the funds if forests were properly managed. ‘Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,’ Trump stated. ‘It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!’ It is unclear, based on the tweet’s wording, if Trump already directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to withhold funds or if he would be doing so. FEMA representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning. An email sent to them generated this automated reply: ‘Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries.'”

A beefed-up White House legal team prepares aggressive defense of Trump’s executive privilege as investigations loom largeThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “A beefed-up White House legal team is gearing up to prevent President Trump’s confidential discussions with top advisers from being disclosed to House Democratic investigators and revealed in the special counsel’s long-awaited report, setting the stage for a potential clash between the branches of government. The strategy to strongly assert the president’s executive privilege on both fronts is being developed under newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who has hired 17 lawyers in recent weeks to help in the effort. He is coordinating with White House lawyer Emmet Flood, who is leading the response to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on his now-20-month-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Flood is based in White House Counsel’s Office but reports directly to Trump.”

Democrats Start Investigative Gears, but SlowlyThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Democrats, transitioning into the House majority, have quietly sent dozens of letters in recent weeks seeking documents and testimony from President Trump’s businesses, his campaign and his administration, setting the table for investigations that could reach the center of his presidency. Clear targets have emerged in the process, and some others appear to have fallen away, at least for now. Family separation and detention policies at the border have jumped to the forefront. So has the acting attorney general’s oversight of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. But Democrats, after slamming House Republicans for their inadequate inquiry, do not plan to reopen a full-scale Russian interference investigation. They have also chosen to hold off on an immediate request for Mr. Trump’s tax returns.”

House votes to protect health-care law as Democrats put Republicans on recordThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “In the first health-care vote since Democrats seized the House majority, the chamber on Wednesday gave itself the power to intervene legally after a federal judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. Wednesday’s vote was largely symbolic — Democrats voted last week to authorize legal action as part of a broader rules package — but it was the first time that lawmakers were presented with a discrete measure dealing with what was a dominant issue in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. In forcing the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was crucial in ensuring passage of the 2010 law, now has Republicans on record on the lawsuit, and those votes could be used in campaign ads next year. The measure passed 235 to 192, with all Democrats supporting it and all but three Republicans opposing it.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Is Expected to Leave the Justice Department Once a New Attorney General Is ConfirmedThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Katie Benner, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who had been overseeing the Russia investigation, is expected to leave the Justice Department after President Trump’s choice to run the department is confirmed, according to two administration officials. Mr. Rosenstein has been a central figure in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to the Trump campaign — both by appointing a special counsel to take over the inquiry and for becoming a target of the president’s rage. He had always considered the deputy attorney general job as a two-year stint, one administration official said.”

Doug Jones Seeks Inquiry Into Misinformation Efforts in Alabama Senate RaceThe New York Times, Alan Blinder, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “Senator Doug Jones, the Democrat who was an unwitting beneficiary of misinformation tactics during a special election in Alabama in 2017, asked the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday to investigate the episodes. Mr. Jones made his formal request for an inquiry more than three weeks after The New York Times detailed one of the clandestine efforts in which Democrats employed Russian-style digital deception while Alabama was locked in one of its most competitive campaigns in memory. ‘Such deceptive tactics have no place in American politics and must be repudiated by those involved in our political system,’ Mr. Jones wrote in a letter to Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic member of the commission.”

Defense Department Abruptly Stops Releasing Key Details on Strikes in War Against ISISThe Intercept, Trevor Aronson, Wednesday, 9 January 2019: “The Defense Department has quietly halted its practice of issuing detailed ‘strike releases,’ periodic reports that provided information about bombings targeting Islamic State fighters, buildings, and equipment in Iraq and Syria. The change comes as the U.S. military has ramped up its bombing offensive against ISIS in eastern Syria following President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of a troop withdrawal last month. While many of the U.S.-led coalition’s actions against ISIS were shrouded in secrecy, the strike releases, which the military has been issuing since the start of the campaign against ISIS in 2014, were valuable tools for watchdogs that work to corroborate reports of civilian casualties.”


Thursday, 10 January 2019, Day 721:


Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research FindsThe New York Times, Kendra Pierre-Louis, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters. A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.”

Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen is to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform CommitteeThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 10 January 2018: “President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has agreed to testify in a public hearing next month before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, panel Democrats announced Thursday. Cohen agreed to the Feb. 7 appearance voluntarily, committee chairman Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement. ‘I want to make clear that we have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with special counsel Mueller’s office,’ Cummings said, promising that the panel would announce more information about the hearing in the coming weeks.” See also, Michael Cohen, Trump’s Former Lawyer, Agrees to Testify Before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in FebruaryThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer who implicated him in a scheme to pay hush money to two women claiming to have had affairs with him, said on Thursday that he had agreed to testify before a House committee next month and give ‘a full and credible account’ of his work for Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen’s decision to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7 sets the stage for a blockbuster public hearing that threatens to further damage the president’s image and could clarify the depth of his legal woes. Mr. Cohen, a consigliere to Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer and presidential candidate as well as informally when he was president, was privy to the machinations of Mr. Trump’s inner circle and to key moments under scrutiny by both the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and federal prosecutors in New York. He could soon share many of them on national television under oath. But potential constraints emerged almost immediately on Thursday when the committee’s chairman warned that Mr. Cohen most likely would be barred by Mr. Mueller from discussing matters related to Russia.”

Trump administration lays groundwork to declare national emergency to build wallThe Washington Post, Erica Werner, Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis, and Seung Min Kim, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “The White House has begun laying the groundwork for a declaration of national emergency to build President Trump’s border wall, a move certain to set off a firestorm of opposition in Congress and the courts but one that could pave the way for an end to the three-week government shutdown. The administration is eyeing unused money in the Army Corps of Engineers budget, specifically a disaster spending bill passed by Congress last year that includes $13.9 billion allocated but not spent for civil works projects, two people with knowledge of the developments said Thursday. Trump has urged the Army Corps to determine how fast contracts could be signed and whether construction could begin within 45 days, according to one of the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the preparations. The list includes dozens of flood control projects in areas affected by recent natural disasters, including the Texas coastline inundated by Hurricane Harvey and parts of Puerto Rico battered by Hurricane Maria. The military construction budget is also being looked at as a potential source for unspent funds, with billions more potentially available there.” See also, White House Considers Using Storm Aid Funds as a Way to Pay for the Border WallThe New York Times, Michael Tackett and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “President Trump traveled to the border on Thursday to warn of crime and chaos on the frontier, as White House officials considered diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build a border barrier, perhaps under an emergency declaration.” See also, Misinformation by proxy: Trump retweets bad immigration information from an unreliable sourceThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 10 January 2019.

Before Trump, Representative Steve King (Republican-Iowa) Set the Agenda for the Border Wall and Anti-Immigrant PoliticsThe New York Times, Trip Gabriel, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “Years before President Trump forced a government shutdown over a border wall, triggering a momentous test of wills in Washington, Representative Steve King of Iowa took to the House floor to show off a model of a 12-foot border wall he had designed. And long before Mr. Trump demonized immigrants — accusing Mexico of exporting criminals and calling for an end to birthright citizenship — Mr. King turned those views into talking points, with his use of misleading data about victims of undocumented immigrants and demeaning remarks about Latinos. Immigration is Mr. Trump’s go-to issue, his surest connection to his most faithful supporters, and his prime-time address on Tuesday night underscored his willingness to use fear and misleading statements to appeal to voters — just as he did with warnings about a migrant caravan before the midterm elections. The Republican Party hadn’t always intended to go this route: Officials tried for years to come up with broad-based immigration reform that would appeal to growing numbers of Latino voters. But Mr. Trump’s preoccupation with the wall and anti-immigrant politics reflects how he has embraced the once-fringe views of Mr. King, who has used racist language in the past, promotes neo-Nazis on Twitter and was recently denounced by one Republican leader as a white supremacist…. [Steve King said] he supports immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is ‘the culture of America’ based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe. ‘White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?’,,, Mr. King’s influence over national politics derives from his representation of the reddest district in the first presidential nominating state.” See also, Steve King’s Remarks on White Supremacy Draw Widespread Rebukes From His Own PartyThe New York Times, Trip Gabriel, published on Friday, 11 January 2019.

Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) Unions Highlight Potential Risks to Air Safety From Government ShutdownThe New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “The leaders of unions representing air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors warned Thursday that the partial government shutdown was hurting the safety of the nation’s air travel system, another effort by the labor movement to press Washington to put federal employees back to work. ‘Without a fully functioning F.A.A., a layer of safety is missing,’ said Mike Perrone, the national president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, which represents safety inspectors who are furloughed. At a rally outside the Capitol, where a crowd of air traffic controllers and other aviation workers gathered on a blustery afternoon to call for an end to the shutdown, Mr. Perrone warned of the risk of sidelining F.A.A. workers who could be inspecting planes and pilots. There is no clear-cut evidence that air travelers have been put in danger so far because of staffing changes caused by the shutdown. But the union leaders made the issue of safety a central part of their argument that the shutdown needed to end immediately.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Defends Plan to Lift Sanctions on Russian Oligarch’s CompaniesThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “The Trump administration on Thursday defended its decision to lift sanctions on companies linked to the billionaire Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, despite deep concerns from newly empowered House Democrats that the move was an effort by President Trump to help an ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. In a 90-minute classified briefing with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, explained the administration’s decision to lift sanctions on three companies controlled by Mr. Deripaska: EN+, Rusal and JSC EuroSibEnergo. He told lawmakers that the White House played no formal role in the decision and denied that the Treasury Department’s political appointees overruled career officials on the matter, according to lawmakers who attended the briefing. Democrats left the briefing unconvinced and unimpressed, and Mr. Mnuchin told reporters after the meeting that he would consider delaying the lifting of the sanctions so skeptics in Congress could have more time to review the decision. However, he did not indicate that he was rethinking it.” See also, Democratic lawmakers call for delay in easing sanctions on companies owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir PutinThe Washington Post, Jeanne Whalen, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “House Democrats said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to convince them in a closed briefing Thursday that the United States should lift sanctions on a Russian aluminum company controlled by a Vladimir Putin ally, calling for more information and a delay. Treasury notified Congress last month that it planned to lift sanctions on Rusal, an aluminum company controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Treasury said the Russian business leader will remain under personal sanctions but that sanctions on Rusal and two other firms could be lifted because Deripaska had agreed to reduce his ownership in the companies below 50 percent. ‘This, with stiff competition, mind you, was one of the worst classified briefings we’ve received from the Trump administration,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the briefing. ‘The secretary barely testified. He answered some questions, but he didn’t give testimony.'”

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Embrace Autocrats and Disparage Opponents at HomeThe New York Times, Mark Landler, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “President Trump has long claimed that he puts ‘America first’ overseas. But in two remarkable statements on Thursday, Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, explicitly favored foreign autocrats over elected American leaders. Mr. Pompeo chose Cairo, the site of President Barack Obama’s 2009 address to the Islamic world, to deliver a caustic, point-by-point repudiation of Mr. Obama’s message. He paid tribute to Egypt’s repressive president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for his courage in supporting Mr. Trump’s alternative approach. About an hour later, on the South Lawn of the White House, Mr. Trump said that China’s Communist Party bosses negotiated in better faith than the Democratic leaders in Congress, with whom the president is in a bitter standoff over his border wall that has shut down much of the federal government.”

Exclusive: Special counsel Robert Mueller met with Tony Fabrizio, one of Trump’s campaign pollstersCNN, Sara Murray and Katelyn Polantz, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller sought information directly last year from one of Donald Trump’s campaign pollsters who is also a former business associate of Paul Manafort’s. Mueller’s team met with pollster Tony Fabrizio in February 2018, an interview that has not been previously reported and takes on new significance after Manafort’s attorneys revealed Tuesday that Mueller’s team is still interested in how Manafort shared polling data with his Russian intelligence-linked colleague. CNN journalists observed Fabrizio leaving the special counsel’s office on the first of February last year and have since confirmed he was meeting with Mueller’s team. At the time, the special counsel had been digging into Manafort’s finances and political work ahead of his trial. In a filing Tuesday, Manafort’s attorneys tried to redact the fact that prosecutors knew Manafort shared polling data related to the 2016 presidential election with his Russian intelligence-linked associate Konstantin Kilimnik while Manafort was running Trump’s presidential campaign. The information was supposed to remain secret because it’s part of an ongoing investigation, but it was revealed because of a formatting error in the filing.”

Attorney general nominee William Barr meets with Democrats, who are still unconvinced that he will be hands-off about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigationThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 10 January 2019: “Attorney general nominee William P. Barr tried Thursday to assuage Senate Democrats’ concerns he might be too biased to oversee the special counsel’s Russia probe, but lawmakers said they would need to hear his answers under oath before they could consider backing his nomination…. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat,… is one of five Judiciary Committee Democrats who met with Barr on Thursday, after several complained they were being iced out of his schedule and being told it was due to the partial government shutdown. Barr, who served as President George H.W. Bush’s attorney general in the early 1990s, begins his public confirmation hearings before the panel on Tuesday.”