Trump Administration, Week 107: Friday, 1 February – Thursday, 7 February 2019 (Days 743-749)

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, 1 February 2019, Day 743:


U.S. Suspends Nuclear Arms Control Treaty With RussiaThe New York Times, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Friday, 1 February 2019: “The Trump administration said on Friday that it was suspending one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia, following five years of heated conversations over accusations by the United States that Moscow is violating the Reagan-era agreement. The decision has the potential to incite a new arms race — not only with Russia, but also with China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, widely known as the I.N.F. It also comes as the United States has begun building its first long-range nuclear weapons since 1991, a move that other nations are citing to justify their own nuclear modernization efforts. Taken together, the two moves appear to signal the end of more than a half-century of traditional nuclear arms control, in which the key agreements were negotiated in Washington and Moscow.” See also, U.S. to withdraw from nuclear arms control treaty with RussiaThe Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Carol Morello, and Paul Sonne, Friday, 1 February 2019: “The United States will pull out of a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, the Trump administration announced Friday, ending a cornerstone Cold War agreement on grounds that Russian violations render it moot. The demise of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty raises fears of a new nuclear arms race, although U.S. officials discount the risk. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is suspending participation in the agreement, starting a six-month countdown to a final U.S. withdrawal. That leaves a slim chance that Russia could end missile programs widely seen as a violation, salvaging the treaty. The United States accuses Moscow of violating the agreement since 2014.” See also, U.S. to Suspend Obligations Under 1987 Nuclear Treaty With RussiaThe Wall Street Journal, Michael R. Gordon and Courtney McBride, Friday, 1 February 2019: “The U.S. said it plans to withdraw from a 1987 nuclear treaty with Russia, setting up potential development of new missiles to counter China, current and former American officials said, and a fresh debate about Washington’s military posture in the Pacific. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday the U.S. would notify Russia on Saturday of its withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in six months if Moscow doesn’t destroy the 9M729 missiles, weapons that Washington asserts violate the Cold War-era accord. Most arms-control experts see almost no chance of Moscow’s eliminating the nearly 100 9M729 missiles it has produced, along with their launchers, meaning the Cold War-era pact would end later this year. But while arms-control proponents are lamenting the treaty’s potential collapse, some military experts say it would enable the U.S. to field new, conventionally armed missiles to counter China’s expanding military.”

Cory Booker Announces Presidential Bid, Joining Most Diverse Field EverThe New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Shane Goldmacher, Friday, 1 February 2019: “Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, the former mayor of Newark who has projected an upbeat political presence at a deeply polarized time, entered the 2020 race for president on Friday, embarking on a campaign to become the nation’s second black president in a Democratic primary field that is the most diverse in American history. Mr. Booker announced his candidacy on the first day of Black History Month to the sound of snare drums and with a clarion call for unity. In an email to supporters, he drew on the spirit of the civil rights movement as he laid out his vision for a country that will ‘channel our common pain back into our common purpose.’ ‘The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,’ Mr. Booker said in an accompanying video.” See also, Where Cory Booker Stands on Some of the IssuesThe New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Friday, 1 February 2019: “In his six years in the Senate, Cory Booker has progressed from a moderate who defended private equity to a leading progressive voice on issues like criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization. As he transitions to a national presidential campaign, which he announced Friday, the candidate has been focusing on some key issues that animate the left wing of the Democratic Party.” See also, Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey joins the 2020 presidential raceThe Washington Post, Chelsea Janes and David Weigel, Friday, 1 February 2019: “Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said Friday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president, adding his name to a growing and increasingly diversified field of 2020 candidates intent on taking on President Trump…. Booker joined a field that already included three other senators — Kamala D. Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — as well as several other candidates…. Like many of his fellow Democratic candidates, Booker — who has received corporate PAC money in the past and criticism from those on the left and right for his close ties to Wall Street and Silicon Valley donors — declared he will not accept corporate PAC money for his campaign.” See also, Cory Booker’s 2020 policy agenda: ‘Baby bonds,’ criminal justice reform, and action on climate changeThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Friday, 1 February 2019.

Ralph Northam, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Admits He Was in Racist Yearbook PhotoThe New York Times, Alan Blinder and Jonathan Martin, Friday, 1 February 2019: “Virginia’s governor acknowledged on Friday that he was photographed more than 30 years ago in a costume that was ‘clearly racist and offensive’ — admitting that he had dressed either as a member of the Ku Klux Klan or in blackface — but resisted a flood of calls for his resignation from national and state Democrats. ‘I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,’ Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor, said in a statement on Friday evening. In a subsequent video, Mr. Northam said he was ‘ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust’ and was committed to staying in office ‘through the remainder of my term.’ Mr. Northam issued his statement hours after the photograph — which was included on his 1984 yearbook page from Eastern Virginia Medical School and appeared alongside other pictures of himself — became public. Neither person in the black-and-white photograph was identified, and Mr. Northam, a pediatric neurologist, did not confirm which costume he had worn. He faced intense pressure on Friday night to step down, as Democrats moved swiftly to send a zero-tolerance message to a governor whose 2017 election marked the party’s most significant victory since losing the White House.” See also, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia admits he was in 1984 yearbook photo showing figures in blackface and KKK hoodThe Washington Post, Laura Vozzella, Jim Morrison, and Gregory S. Schneider, Friday, 1 February 2019: “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday acknowledged appearing in a ‘clearly racist and offensive’ photograph in his 1984 medical school yearbook that shows a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe…. Calls for his resignation, which began as a trickle, turned into a torrent as the night progressed. Late Friday, even his most trusted allies called for him to step down, including his onetime partner, former governor Terry McAuliffe (D), state Senate and House Democrats, Virginia’s legislative Black Caucus and Planned Parenthood. Pressure built, too, from national Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio. ‘Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay,’ tweeted Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP. ‘No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham.'”

Continue reading Week 107, Friday, 1 February – Thursday, 7 February 2019 (Days 743-749)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adds researcher who calls climate science ‘murky’ to Agency’s Science Advisory BoardThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Friday, 1 February 2019: “The Trump administration continued its reshaping of how science is evaluated at the Environmental Protection Agency with the appointment Thursday of a slew of new members to a key advisory panel. Among the eight additions to the agency’s Science Advisory Board are a number of members whose ideas run against mainstream scientific thinking on issues that include the health effects of radiation and the modeling of Earth’s climate.”

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Temporarily Blocks a Louisiana Abortion LawThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 1 February 2019: “Saying the Supreme Court needs more time to consider the matter, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. issued an order on Friday blocking a Louisiana abortion law from taking effect until Thursday. The law, which had been set to go into effect on Monday, could severely limit the number of doctors authorized to perform abortions in the state. The law, enacted in 2014, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Supreme Court struck down an essentially identical Texas law in 2016, saying it imposed an undue burden on the right to abortion. The vote in 2016 was 5 to 3, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in the majority. Abortion rights advocates fear that the replacement of Justice Kennedy by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh may change the court’s approach to cases concerning abortion.”

Homeland Security Inspector General questions Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s oversight of detention facilitiesThe Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 1 February 2019: “Public and private contractors running immigration jails violated federal detention standards thousands of times in recent years — including failing to report allegations of sexual assaults and staff misconduct to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — but were fined only twice, according to a report issued Friday. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general called on ICE to improve oversight of facilities that detain roughly half the 45,000 immigrant detainees held every day across the United States, and to do a better job holding federal contractors accountable for their health and safety.”


Saturday, 2 February 2019, Day 744:


Democratic Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, Defies Calls to Resign Over Racist PhotoThe New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Trip Gabriel, and Alan Blinder, Saturday, 2 February 2019: “Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, defying pleas from his own party to resign, said on Saturday that he would remain in office, and flatly denied that he had worn Ku Klux Klan robes or appeared in blackface in an image from his medical school yearbook that has upended his governorship and embarrassed his fellow Democrats. ‘It was definitely not me,’ Mr. Northam said at an afternoon news conference. ‘I can tell by looking at it.’ But within hours, three of the state’s most senior Democrats said they had called Mr. Northam to tell him to step down, depriving the governor of his last remaining support and intensifying the pressure on him. ‘We no longer believe he can effectively serve as the governor of Virginia and that he must resign,’ Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and Representative Robert C. Scott said in a statement. Addressing reporters in the governor’s mansion, Mr. Northam said he had initially acknowledged that it was him in the photograph when it first surfaced on Friday because he wanted to ‘take credit for recognizing that this was a horrific photo that was on my page with my name on it.’ He said that after talking on the phone with friends and family in an effort to jog their memories about the photograph, he decided to reverse course, because he concluded that it was not him in the racist attire. However, he may have made his effort to remain in office more difficult by revealing that on another occasion, he had darkened his face with shoe polish for a Michael Jackson costume in a dance contest in Texas in 1984, when he was a young Army officer.” See also, Governor Northam refuses to step down, despite flood of calls for his resignation over racist photoThe Washington Post, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, Saturday, 2 February 2019.

Trump Sought a Loan During the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Deutsche Bank Said No. The New York Times, David Enrich, Jesse Drucker and Ben Protess, Saturday, 2 February 2019: “Donald J. Trump was burning through cash. It was early 2016, and he was lending tens of millions of dollars to his presidential campaign and had been spending large sums to expand the Trump Organization’s roster of high-end properties. To finance his business’s growth, Mr. Trump turned to a longtime ally, Deutsche Bank, one of the few banks still willing to lend money to the man who has called himself ‘The King of Debt.’ Mr. Trump’s loan request, which has not been previously reported, set off a fight that reached the top of the German bank, according to three people familiar with the request. In the end, Deutsche Bank did something unexpected. It said no. Senior officials at the bank, including its future chief executive, believed that Mr. Trump’s divisive candidacy made such a loan too risky, the people said. Among their concerns was that if Mr. Trump won the election and then defaulted, Deutsche Bank would have to choose between not collecting on the debt or seizing the assets of the president of the United States.”

Russia Pulls Out of I.N.F. Treaty in ‘Symmetrical’ Response to U.S. MoveThe New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer, Saturday, 2 February 2019: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in a decision that was widely expected, suspended his country’s observance of a key nuclear arms control pact on Saturday in response to a similar move by the United States a day before. But adding to a sense that the broader architecture of nuclear disarmament has started to unravel, Mr. Putin also said that Russia would build weapons previously banned under the treaty and would no longer initiate talks with the United States on any matters related to nuclear arms control. The Trump administration withdrew from the treaty, a keystone of the late Cold War disarmament pacts known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, saying that Russia had been violating it for years. The decision holds the potential to initiate a new arms race, not only with Russia, but also China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 treaty.”


Sunday, 3 February 2019, Day 745:


Trump Won’t Commit to Making Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Report PublicThe New York Times, Katie Rogers, Sunday, 3 February 2019: “President Trump would not commit in an interview aired Sunday to making public the results of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s ties to his campaign, adding that it was time to ‘get rid’ of the inquiry. In the interview on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ Mr. Trump reiterated his belief that the attorney general would determine whether the public would see the results of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. But he would not say whether he would be comfortable with the results being made public. ‘I don’t know,’ the president said. ‘It depends. I have no idea what it’s going to say.’ The law does not require the Justice Department to release a report, and Mr. Mueller has been silent on the issue. Last month, Trump advisers were pleased that William P. Barr, Mr. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, opened the door to the possibility that the special counsel’s report could be shielded from the public during a Senate confirmation hearing.” See also, Transcript: Trump on ‘Face the Nation,’ February 3, 2019CBS News, Sunday, 3 February 2019. See also, Trump refuses to comment on whether Mueller report should be made publicThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 3 February 2019.

Democrats Push Plan to Increase Social Security Benefits and SolvencyThe New York Times, Robert Pear, Sunday, 3 February 2019: “After years of Republican-led debate over how to pare back Social Security’s rising costs, Democrats are flipping the script with an ambitious plan to expand the New Deal-era social insurance program while making gradual changes to keep it solvent for the rest of the century. The Social Security 2100 Act, which was introduced this past week in the House and the Senate, represents a sea change after decades dominated by concern that aging baby boomers would bankrupt the government as they begin drawing benefits from Social Security and other entitlement programs. It would be the first major expansion of Social Security since 1972 and the most significant change in the program since 1983, when Congress stepped in to avert a financial crisis by raising taxes and the eligibility age for Social Security.”

Trump Calls for Keeping Troops in Iraq to Watch Iran, Possibly Upending ISIS FightThe New York Times, Eric Schmitt and Alissa J. Rubin, Sunday, 3 February 2019: “President Trump plans to keep United States troops in Iraq to monitor and maintain pressure on neighboring Iran, committing to an American military presence in the region’s war zones even as he moves to withdraw forces from Syria and Afghanistan. ‘I want to be able to watch Iran,’ Mr. Trump said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.’ Mr. Trump’s comments come as the United States has quietly been negotiating with Iraq for weeks to allow perhaps hundreds of American commandos and support troops now operating in Syria to shift to bases in Iraq and strike the Islamic State from there. Military leaders are seeking to maintain pressure on the militant group as the president fundamentally reorders policy toward Syria and toward Afghanistan, where peace talks with the Taliban are underway. But senior American officers and diplomats said Mr. Trump’s comments could undercut the delicate negotiations in Iraq by inflaming fears among the Iraqis that the moves would be a guise to check Iran, potentially straining ties with Baghdad and weakening the ability of the United States to respond to Islamic State remnants in Syria.”

Scoop: A White House source has leaked nearly every day of Trump’s ‘Executive Time’ private schedule for the past three monthsAxios, Alexi McCammond and Jonathan Swan, Sunday, 3 February 2019: “A White House source has leaked nearly every day of President Trump’s private schedule for the past three months…. This unusually voluminous leak gives us unprecedented visibility into how this president spends his days. The schedules, which cover nearly every working day since the midterms, show that Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured ‘Executive Time.’ We’ve published every page of the leaked schedules in a piece that accompanies this item. To protect our source, we retyped the schedules in the same format that West Wing staff receives them. What the schedules show: Trump, an early riser, usually spends the first 5 hours of the day in Executive Time. Each day’s schedule places Trump in ‘Location: Oval Office’ from 8 to 11 a.m. But Trump, who often wakes before 6 a.m., is never in the Oval during those hours, according to six sources with direct knowledge. Instead, he spends his mornings in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.” See also, Trump has enjoyed 300 hours of ‘executive time’ since midtermsThe Guardian, Edward Helmore, Sunday, 3 February 2019: “What does Donald Trump do with his time? The mystery was at least partially solved on Sunday, with an extensive leak of his private schedule. According to the website Axios, since 7 November, the day after the midterm elections, the president has spent almost 300 hours in relatively unstructured ‘executive time’ and only 77 hours in scheduled meetings covering policy planning, legislative strategy and video recordings. According to Axios, the ‘unusually voluminous leak’ from an unnamed White House source gives unprecedented visibility into how Trump spends his days. The schedules show Trump spends around 60% of each day in ‘executive time,’ a concept introduced by his former chief of staff John Kelly because the president detests being locked into a regular schedule.”


Monday, 4 February 2019, Day 746:


Federal prosecutors issue sweeping subpoena for documents from Trump inaugural committee, a sign of a deepening criminal probeThe Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Michael Kranish, Monday, 4 February 2019: “Federal prosecutors in New York on Monday delivered a sweeping request for documents related to donations and spending by President Trump’s inaugural committee, a sign of a deepening criminal investigation into activities related to the nonprofit organization. A wide-ranging subpoena served on the inaugural committee Monday seeks an array of documents, including all information related to inaugural donors, vendors, contractors, bank accounts of the inaugural committee and any information related to foreign contributors to the committee, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post. Only U.S. citizens and legal residents can legally donate to a committee established to finance presidential inaugural festivities…. The subpoena — issued by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York — indicates that prosecutors are investigating crimes related to conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail fraud, false statements, wire fraud and money laundering. The subpoena also specifically seeks all communications with one donor, Los Angeles venture capitalist Imaad Zuberi, as well as the firm with which he is affiliated, Avenue Ventures. The company donated $900,000 to the inaugural committee, records show.” See also, Trump Inaugural Committee Is Ordered to Hand Over Documents to Federal InvestigatorsThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess, Monday, 4 February 2019: “Escalating one of the investigations into President Trump’s inaugural committee, federal prosecutors ordered on Monday that its officials turn over documents about donors, finances and activities, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. The subpoena seeks documents related to all of the committee’s donors and guests; any benefits handed out, including tickets and photo opportunities with the president; federal disclosure filings; vendors; contracts; and more, one of the people said.” See also, Trump Inaugural Committee Is Subpoenaed for DocumentsThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Monday, 4 February 2019: “President Trump’s inaugural committee on Monday received a subpoena for documents from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which last year opened a criminal investigation into how the fund raised and spent more than $100 million on 2017 inauguration festivities, according to people familiar with the matter. The subpoena requests documents related to the committee’s donors and spending, according to a copy viewed by The Wall Street Journal, including communications about payments made directly by donors to vendors—which would flout disclosure rules. Federal prosecutors are also seeking documents related to a Los Angeles financier who gave $900,000 to the committee through his private-equity firm and once registered as a foreign agent working on behalf of the Sri Lankan government.”

Trump Chooses David Bernhardt, a Former Oil Lobbyist, to Head the Interior DepartmentThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 4 February 2019: “President Trump on Monday announced he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist and current deputy chief of the Interior Department, to succeed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned amid allegations of ethical missteps…. While Mr. Zinke had been the public face of some of the largest rollbacks of public-land protections in the nation’s history, Mr. Bernhardt was the one quietly pulling the levers to carry them out, opening millions of acres of land and water to oil, gas and coal companies. He is described by allies and opponents alike as having played a crucial role in advancing what Mr. Trump has described as an ‘energy dominance’ agenda for the country.” See also, Trump to nominate David Bernhardt, a veteran lobbyist who has helped orchestrate the push to expand oil and gas drilling at the Interior Department, as the next Interior secretaryThe Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, and Darryl Fears, Monday, 4 February 2019: “President Trump tweeted Monday that he will nominate David Bernhardt, a veteran lobbyist who has helped orchestrate the push to expand oil and gas drilling at the Interior Department, to serve as its next secretary. If confirmed, Bernhardt, a 49-year-old Colorado native known for his unrelenting work habits, would be well positioned to roll back even more of the Obama-era conservation policies he has worked to unravel since rejoining Interior a year and a half ago. He has helmed the department as acting secretary since Jan. 2, when Ryan Zinke resigned amid multiple ethics probes.”

A hole opens up under Antarctic glacier–big enough to fit two-thirds of ManhattanNBC News, Denise Chow, Monday, 4 February 2019: “Scientists have discovered an enormous void under an Antarctic glacier, sparking concern that the ice sheet is melting faster than anyone had realized — and spotlighting the dire threat posed by rising seas to coastal cities around the world, including New York City and Miami. The cavity under Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is about six miles long and 1,000 feet deep — representing the loss of 14 billion tons of ice. It was discovered after an analysis of data collected by Italian and German satellites, as well as NASA’s Operation IceBridge, a program in which aircraft equipped with ice-penetrating radar fly over polar regions to study the terrain.”

Senators from both parties press the Environmental Protection Agency to limit two toxic chemicalsThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Monday, 4 February 2019: “One-fifth of the Senate is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to do more to prevent two toxic chemicals from getting into Americans’ drinking water — after a report last week indicating the agency is not going to restrict them under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In a letter led by Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), 20 senators from both sides of the aisle urged the agency to develop standards for a pair of chemicals — perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, more commonly known as PFOA and PFOS — found in millions of Americans’ drinking water. They are demanding the federal government remove these toxic chemicals from drinking water and regularly test for them.” See also, David Dunlap, former Koch official, runs chemical research at the Environmental Protection AgencyPolitico, Annie Snider, Monday, 4 February 2019: “The Trump administration has placed a former Koch Industries official in charge of research that will shape how the government regulates a class of toxic chemicals contaminating millions of Americans’ drinking water — an issue that could have major financial repercussions for his former employer. David Dunlap, a deputy in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, is playing a key role as the agency decides how to protect people from the pollution left behind at hundreds of military bases and factories across the country. President Donald Trump has not nominated anyone to run the office. That effectively allows Dunlap to avoid the Senate confirmation process while overseeing a central part of EPA’s work that could impose cleanup costs on companies that have used the chemicals, including major Koch subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. The paper and pulp conglomerate is already facing at least one class-action lawsuit related to the chemicals. Previously undisclosed documents obtained by POLITICO show Dunlap began working on the issue almost immediately upon arriving at EPA in October. He had spent the previous eight years as Koch Industries’ lead expert on water and chemical regulations, a position that typically includes helping companies to limit regulatory restrictions and liability for cleanups.”

Trump claims a wall is needed to stop human trafficking. Data don’t support his claimThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 4 February 2019: “In his interview with CBS News that aired Sunday, President Trump reiterated one of his frequent arguments for building a wall on the border with Mexico. ‘This really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers. These are people that are horrible people bringing in women mostly, but bringing in women and children into our country. Human trafficking,’ Trump said. ‘And we’re going to have a strong border. And the only way you have a strong border is you need a physical barrier. You need a wall.’ He’s made similar claims in the past, often telling evocative tales of vans sneaking across the border, their cargo areas filled with women bound and gagged with electrical tape. The tape is blue, he has added at times, a bit of detail seemingly meant to make the anecdote more believable. It isn’t. The Washington Post looked into Trump’s tales, trying to find evidence that such incidents occurred at all, much less with regularity. We came up empty. Not only did we come up empty on that hunt, but also Vox later reported that the Border Patrol scrambled to find such stories after our story was released. So far, none has been presented. Customs and Border Protection will frequently issue news releases documenting the capture of people being smuggled into the country illegally, but those are incidents of attempts to illegally migrate, not of people being carried across the border for sex trafficking.”

Pentagon Deploying 3,700 Additional Troops to the Border with MexicoNPR, Matthew S. Schwartz, Monday, 4 February 2019: “An additional 3,750 troops will be sent to the Southern border to help install wire barriers and monitor crossings, officials said. The new deployment will bring the number of active-duty troops there to around 6,000. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Thursday that the troops would be deployed to the border over the next month, NPR’s Tom Bowman reported. They’ll join the 2,300 active-duty troops already there, bringing the total to about the same number as were deployed last fall. An additional 2,100 National Guard troops are also stationed there.”

In Utah and Idaho, Republicans Look to Curb Medicaid Expansions That Voters ApprovedThe New York Times, Robert Pear, Monday, 4 February 2019: “The voters of Utah and Idaho, two deeply Republican states, defied the will of their political leaders in November and voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Now those leaders are striking back, moving to roll back the expansions — with encouragement, they say, from the Trump administration. Utah’s ballot measure, approved with support from 53 percent of voters, would expand Medicaid to cover people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level — up to about $16,750 a year for an individual — and pay the state’s share with a small increase of the sales tax. Under the ballot initiative, 150,000 people are expected to gain coverage, starting April 1. In Idaho, more than 60 percent of voters supported a ballot measure to expand Medicaid. But in both states, the Republican Legislatures are looking for ways to roll back those votes.”

Major European nations back Juan Guaido, Nicolás Maduro’s rival, as Venezuelan leaderThe Washington Post, James McAuley, Rachelle Krygier, and Anthony Faiola, Monday, 4 February 2019: “Key European leaders have overwhelmingly backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president after President Nicolás Maduro ignored a demand by seven European Union states that he call snap elections by Sunday in a move to resolve the country’s political and economic crisis. Spain, France, Britain and Germany followed through on their promise, and by noon Monday, 13 European nations had joined in solidarity with Guaidó, recognizing him as president. The 28-member E.U. overall, however, was unable to agree on a unified position due in part to Italy’s opposition, according to a French diplomat, who spokeon the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

Venezuela Struggles to Pump and Ship Oil After U.S. SanctionsThe Wall Street Journal, Kejal Vyas and Bradley Olson, Monday, 4 February 2019: “Venezuelan crude exports are declining sharply as new U.S. sanctions push the country’s oil industry closer to collapse, threatening a bigger impact on global markets than many experts anticipated, people familiar with the matter say. Oil storage is filling up in the country as President Nicolás Maduro’s regime struggles to line up buyers for the crude shipments that make up his government’s only real source of income. The U.S. restrictions, aimed at redirecting crude revenue to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, are making it difficult for the Maduro regime to secure payment for the oil. Production is also dropping due to labor problems, including mass defections of workers struggling to survive hyperinflation and delayed payments, as well as shortages of the imported oil byproducts Venezuela needs to dilute its tar-like heavy crude to push it through pipes to export terminals, the people say.”

Iraqi president rejects Trump’s plan to ‘watch Iran’ from military bases in IraqThe Washington Post, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim, Monday, 4 February 2019: “Iraqi President Barham Salih on Monday rejected a plan floated by President Trump that calls for keeping U.S. forces in Iraq to ‘watch’ neighboring Iran, saying the United States should not burden Iraq with its own ‘policy priorities.’ Trump’s comments on Sunday added to mounting concerns among both opponents and supporters of an American troop presence in Iraq. Their fear is that the White House sees the country as a launch point to enforce Washington’s political goals in the region, rather than as a place to help Baghdad fight a persistent threat from the Islamic State.”

Trump Will Nominate David Malpass, a Sharp Critic of the World Bank, to Be the Next Leader of the BankThe Wall Street Journal, Josh Zumbrun, Monday, 4 February 2019: “President Trump will nominate David Malpass, one of the World Bank’s sharpest critics within his administration, to be the next leader of the bank. The president will formally announce Mr. Malpass as the American nominee to lead the world’s largest development bank on Wednesday, according to administration officials. As the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs, Mr. Malpass has attracted attention for his criticism of the World Bank, especially over its lending to China. He has argued the country has become wealthy enough that it no longer needs to borrow from the World Bank. Mr. Malpass has also been part of the U.S. team negotiating trade with China.”


Tuesday, 5 February 2019, Day 747:


Trump Asks for Unity, but He Presses Hard Line on Immigration in the State of the Union AddressThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “President Trump delivered a message of bipartisan unity on Tuesday night in his first address to Congress in the new era of divided government, but signaled that he would continue to wage war for the hard-line immigration policies that have polarized the capital and the nation. In a nationally televised speech that toggled between conciliation and confrontation, Mr. Trump presented himself as a leader who could work across party lines even as he pressed lawmakers to build a wall along the nation’s southwestern border that leaders of the newly empowered congressional Democrats have adamantly rejected…. Any hopes for a newfound spirit of cooperation, however, seemed elusive as the president and Democrats spent the hours before, during and after the address exchanging partisan political fire, making clear that ritualistic calls for across-the-aisle collaboration were unlikely to transform an environment that has turned increasingly toxic.” See also, State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and WrongThe New York Times, Tuesday, 5 February 2019. See also, Transcript: Trump’s State of the Union, Annotated, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Jon Huang, Thomas Kaplan, and Katie Rogers, Tuesday, 5 February 2019. See also, As Pelosi Applauds Trump, the Internet Sees a ClapbackThe New York Times, Yonette Joseph, published on Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, stands behind President Trump at his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, she a vision in suffragist white, head tilted just so, lips pursed in a smirk and arms outreached. Her hands come together in what one Twitter user called a ‘walrus clap,’ but it resonated around the world. In the image, captured by Doug Mills of The New York Times, and in other pool video footage, the internet saw acres of shade dispensed by a skilled politician firmly in control, and social media users immediately turned Ms. Pelosi’s wordless gesture into a viral meme.” See also, Takeaways From Trump’s 2019 State of the Union AddressThe New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Tuesday, 5 February 2019. See also, In dissonant State of the Union speech, Trump seeks unity while depicting ruinThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Toluse Olorunnipa, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “President Trump confronted a split Congress for the first time Tuesday night by delivering a dissonant State of the Union address, interspersing uplifting paeans to bipartisan compromise with chilling depictions of murder and ruin…. As he delivered his speech from the rostrum of the House chamber, with a stone-faced Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) observing over his left shoulder, Trump stared into a sea of Democratic women wearing bright white in tribute to suffragists who secured women’s right to vote. Together, they formed a vivid illustration of this year’s power shift and the potential political peril for Trump’s presidency.” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s 2019 State of the Union addressThe Washington Post, Glenn Dessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, published on Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “President Trump’s State of the Union speech once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures. Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them. Here, in the order in which he made them, are nearly 30 statements by the president.” See also, Trump’s State of the Union transcript, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 5 February 2019. See also, ‘Queen of Condescending Applause’: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clapped at Trump, and the Internet lost itThe Washington Post, Allyson Chiu, published on Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “On Tuesday night, for 1 hour 22 minutes, President Trump was supposed to be the center of attention. Delivering what would become the third-longest State of the Union address in modern history, Trump took his place at the front of the House chamber, flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Pence…. In a single fleeting moment, shown for only seconds on live broadcasts but immortalized in photos and GIFs, Pelosi became the Internet’s newest obsession — for clapping. Despite being engaged in a tense standoff with Trump over funding for his border wall, for most of the evening, Pelosi managed to limit her reactions to subtle head-shaking, pursed lips and eye rolls. But when Trump, who has been accused of exacerbating deep divisions, declared, ‘We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,’ she appeared to be unable to hold back. Rising from her seat along with others in attendance, Pelosi began applauding with her arms oddly extended out toward the president. When Trump turned toward her and the pair locked eyes, Pelosi, still clapping, appeared to smirk. Social media users proceeded to lose their collective minds. As many put it, Pelosi had just effectively issued a ‘literal clap back’ to the president on national television and in front of a room full of the country’s most powerful people. By early Wednesday morning, Pelosi’s clap was a trending moment on Twitter, and she had been mentioned in more than 222,000 tweets.” See also, The glaring hole in Trump’s State of the Union address: Climate changeThe Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor, Wednesday, 6 February 2019.

In Democratic response, Stacey Abrams rebukes Trump and highlights the contrasts between the Democratic and Republican partiesThe Washington Post, Vanessa Williams and Sean Sullivan, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “Stacey Abrams delivered a sharp rebuke of President Trump in the official Democratic response to the State of the Union address Tuesday night, castigating Trump and the GOP over immigration, voting rights, health care and the economy, in a preview of the battle lines that could shape the 2020 election. Abrams, the first African American woman to give the official rebuttal, cast the recent government shutdown as a ‘stunt’ by Trump. She dismissed the critique by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of a proposed voting overhaul from Democrats. And she accused the GOP of disregarding or failing to understand average Americans. ‘America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls,’ Abrams said, referring to Trump’s determination to build a wall on the border with Mexico. During a roughly 11-minute speech, Abrams sought to sharpen the distinctions Democrats are seeking to draw with Trump and the GOP ahead of the next election, as well as introduce herself to a broad audience ahead of a possible Senate run here in Georgia, a potential 2020 battleground.” See also, Stacey Abrams, in Democrats’ Response, Calls for Ballot FairnessThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her race in November to be Georgia’s governor, delivered the Democrats’ official response to President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night by outlining the party’s vision for lower health care costs and a more inclusive immigration policy, and pressing her case that access to the voting booth should be easier, not harder. ‘Let’s be clear: Voter suppression is real,’ Ms. Abrams said, speaking from Atlanta and surrounded by supporters. ‘From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.'” See also, Full Transcript: Democratic Rebuttal by Stacey AbramsThe New York Times, Tuesday, 5 February 2019.

Before His State of the Union Address, Trump Laced Into Democrats at Lunch for TV AnchorsThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael M. Grynbaum, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “For public consumption, President Trump planned to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to appeal for bipartisan unity. But at a private lunch for television anchors earlier in the day, he offered searing assessments of a host of Democrats. Mr. Trump dismissed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as ‘dumb,’ called Senator Chuck Schumer of New York a ‘nasty son of a bitch’ and mocked Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, who he said ‘choked like a dog’ at a news conference where he tried to explain a racist yearbook photo, according to multiple people in the room…. Energized and blunt, Mr. Trump held little back during the lunch at the White House to preview the State of the Union address. As he has in past years, he offered an unvarnished, unscripted view of the political world that went well beyond the heavily vetted speech he delivered to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience.”

Democrats spotlight climate change with their State of the Union GuestsThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “The State of the Union is President Trump’s opportunity to set the agenda in Washington as best he can for the next year. But a handful of congressional Democrats are seeking to highlight an issue he will almost surely fail to mention: climate change. They will do so by bringing academics and activists who focus on climate change to be their guests for the State of the Union speech Tuesday night. The climate-themed invitees run the gamut, from longtime climate activist Bill McKibben, who was invited by Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), to relative newcomers such as Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, who got a seat from Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.). Prakash’s group got Washington talking about a ‘Green New Deal’ proposal to address greenhouse gas emissions by protesting late last year in then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (Calif.) office.”

The plan to keep Trump’s taxes hiddenPolitico, Nancy Cook, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “The new House Democratic majority is widely expected to test one of Donald Trump’s ultimate red lines by demanding the president’s personal tax returns — and the Trump administration has been gearing up for months to fight back hard. Trump’s Treasury Department is readying plans to drag the expected Democratic request for Trump’s past tax filings, which he has closely guarded, into a quagmire of arcane legal arguments. At the same time, officials intend to publicly cast the request as a nakedly partisan exercise. The two-pronged scheme was developed by a handful of top political appointees and lawyers inside the department — with the ultimate goal of keeping the president’s past returns private, according to four people familiar with the administration’s approach. The strategy will hinge on an argument that politically motivated Democrats will inevitably leak Trump’s tax information — a felony in and of itself — if the IRS hands over the documents. So because Democrats can’t be trusted to keep the documents private, they shouldn’t get them in the first place, officials will insist. Treasury officials have been waiting since early January for a top Democrat to make the request.”

Trump used to brag about forcing women to take tests for HIV. Now he wants to eliminate its spread. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “In 1997, the same year that President Bill Clinton challenged the nation to develop a vaccine for HIV within a decade, Donald Trump, the real estate developer and fixture of New York’s tabloids, joked about a deterrent of his own. Endorsing radio personality Howard Stern’s assessment that he could have ‘nailed’ Diana, Princess of Wales, Trump bragged that he first would have been able to subject the British royal, who had died several months earlier in a car crash, to a test for sexually transmitted diseases. The two men were discussing the potential pitfalls of free love during the AIDS epidemic, and how lucky the businessman had been to elude infection. Trump compared ‘that whole world’ of casual sex to the Vietnam War, which he avoided by obtaining a medical deferment for bone spurs in his feet. ‘It is my personal Vietnam,’ Trump said. ‘I feel like a great and very brave soldier.’ ‘Hey, Lady Di, would you go to the doctor?’ Stern joked, prompting Trump’s pretend directive. ‘Go back over to my Lexus, because I have a new doctor,’ Trump said, acting out a dialogue with the recently deceased princess. ‘We wanna give you a little checkup.'”

Republican Leadership Instructs Lawmakers to Play up Gruesome Murders and Rapes by ImmigrantsThe Intercept, Lee Fang, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “House Republican lawmakers are being encouraged by their party’s leadership to play up gruesome murders, rapes, and other crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in the United States. In a newsletter sent on Friday, House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., provided the caucus and staff with a messaging update that compiled immigrant crimes by date and congressional district. The newsletter is used by the GOP caucus to provide talking points and messaging guidance. The edition of the newsletter dealing with immigrant crimes, which was obtained by The Intercept, offered a messaging opportunity to leverage the government shutdown against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.”

Senate Passes Bill That Rebukes Trump Over His Withdrawal of Troops From Syria and Afghanistan and Opposes Israel BoycottThe New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “The Senate overwhelmingly approved a Middle East policy bill on Tuesday that included both a rebuke to President Trump over his withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan and a contested measure to allow state and municipal governments to punish companies that boycott, divest from or place sanctions on Israel. The measure, which passed 77 to 23, started as the kind of routine policy bill that passes the Senate with little to no opposition. It reauthorizes at least $3.3 billion in military financing to Israel and extends security aid to Jordan, imposes new sanctions on individuals who provide support to the Syrian government and directs the Treasury Department to determine whether the Central Bank of Syria is engaged in money laundering…. But the late inclusions of the anti-boycott, divest and sanction — or anti-B.D.S. — provision and an amendment by Mr. McConnell reproaching the president for a ‘precipitous withdrawal’ of troops from Syria and Afghanistan raised some concerns in both parties. The measure opposing the Israel boycott, drafted by Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, appeared to be calculated, in part, to drive a wedge between Israel supporters in the upper echelons of the Democratic Party and a younger, activist wing more willing to challenge unconditional American support of the Jewish state.”

Top Aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Privately Tells Insurance Executives Not to Worry About Democrats Pushing ‘Medicare for All,’ The Intercept, Ryan Grim, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “Less than a month after Democrats — many of them running on ‘Medicare for All’ — won back control of the House of Representatives in November, the top health policy aide to then-prospective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and assured them that party leadership had strong reservations about single-payer health care and was more focused on lowering drug prices, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Pelosi adviser Wendell Primus detailed five objections to Medicare for All and said that Democrats would be allies to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care. Primus pitched the insurers on supporting Democrats on efforts to shrink drug prices, specifically by backing a number of measures that the pharmaceutical lobby is opposing. Primus, in a slide presentation obtained by The Intercept, criticized single payer on the basis of cost (‘Monies are needed for other priorities’), opposition (‘Stakeholders are against; Creates winners and losers’), and ‘implementation challenges.'”

New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham withdraws most National Guard troops from the southern borderThe Washington Post, Robert Moore, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday night ordered the state’s National Guard to withdraw most of its troops assigned to the southern border, rejecting the contention that ‘an overwhelming national security crisis’ exists. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who took office last month after serving six years in the U.S. House, made the announcement shortly before President Trump’s State of the Union address, in which he spoke of a ‘tremendous onslaught’ at the southern border. Lujan Grisham said she would keep some New Mexico Guardsmen in the southwest corner of the state, which has seen a huge influx of Central American families in recent months. But she said she rejected ‘the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country.’ ‘New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fearmongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,’ she added. In addition to pulling her state’s National Guard forces back from the border, Lujan Grisham also asked that Guard troops assigned to New Mexico from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin leave immediately. A statement said 118 total National Guard troops are deployed in New Mexico as part of a border mission ordered last April by Trump.”

Firms Recruited by Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman, Are Investigated Over Foreign PaymentsThe New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “Federal prosecutors in recent weeks have been interviewing witnesses about the flow of foreign money to three powerful law and lobbying firms that Paul Manafort recruited seven years ago to help improve the image of the Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, people familiar with the questioning said. The previously unreported interviews about the flow of the money are among the latest developments in the investigation of key figures who worked at the three firms — Mercury Public Affairs, the Podesta Group and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Prosecutors have focused on the role of Skadden Arps’s lead partner on the account, the former Obama White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, in arranging financing and media coverage for his firms’ work, the people familiar with the questioning said. And the prosecutors, they said, have also been asking about the extent to which the lead partners on the accounts for Mercury and Podesta — Vin Weber, a former Republican member of Congress, and the Democratic fund-raiser Tony Podesta — were involved in orchestrating their firms’ day-to-day lobbying and public relations on the account. The case has drawn intense interest in Washington in part because of the prominence of the three main figures, each of whom has played high-profile roles in politics and lobbying. But it has also sent shock waves through the influence industry by underscoring a newly aggressive legal crackdown on lobbyists and lawyers who do lucrative work representing foreign governments without registering as foreign agents.”

Elizabeth Warren apologizes for calling herself Native AmericanThe Washington Post, Annie Linskey and Amy Gardner, Tuesday, 5 February 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday that she was sorry that she identified herself as a Native American for almost two decades, reflecting her ongoing struggle to quiet a controversy that continues to haunt her as she prepares to formally announce a presidential bid. Her comments more fully explain the regret she expressed last week to the chief of the Cherokee Nation, the first time she’s said she was sorry for claiming American Indian heritage. The private apology was earlier reported as focusing more narrowly on a DNA test she took to demonstrate her purported heritage, a move that prompted a ferocious backlash even from many allies. Warren will be vying to lead a party that has become far more mindful of nonwhite voters and their objections to misuse of their culture. ‘I can’t go back,’ Warren said in an interview with The Washington Post. ‘But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.'”


Wednesday, 6 February 2019, Day 748:


Second Virginia Democrat, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, Says He Wore Blackface, Throwing the Party Into TurmoilThe New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Alan Blinder, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The third-ranking elected official in Virginia, Attorney General Mark R. Herring, acknowledged Wednesday that he had worn blackface at a party as an undergraduate student, deepening a crisis that has engulfed the state’s Democratic leadership. Then, just two hours later, a woman came forward to describe in detail her accusation that Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax had sexually assaulted her in 2004, an accusation he denies. The back-to-back revelations threw the Capitol into a state of uncertainty about who would lead Virginia, coming less than one week after the disclosure of a racist photograph on the yearbook page of Gov. Ralph Northam led to demands for his resignation. Grim-faced legislators rushed through the hallways, shaken by a series of allegations and confessions that threatened to cripple the Virginia government’s three leading officials.” See also, Vanessa Tyson, Accuser of Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, Describes AssaultThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The woman who has accused Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax of Virginia of sexual assault came forward on Wednesday, issuing a statement through a law firm that described a 2004 encounter at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that, she said, began with kissing but quickly turned into an episode of forced oral sex. Mr. Fairfax, who has retained lawyers to assist him, has emphatically denied the allegation and argued that there is no corroborating evidence to support it.” See also, Vanessa Tyson’s Full Statement on Justin FairfaxThe New York Times, Wednesday, 6 February 2019. See also, Vanessa Tyson, professor who accused Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax of 2004 sexual assault, issues statement detailing alleged incidentThe Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Fenit Nirappil, and Laura Vozzella, Wednesday, 6 February 2019. See also, The three top Democrats in Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark R. Herring,  all face wrenching questions about their past behaviorThe Washington Post, Gregory S. Schneider and Laura Vozzella, Wednesday, 6 February 2019.

Undeniable warming: Earth’s five warmest years, including 2018, have been the past five yearsThe Washington Post, Jason Samenow, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “Five different organizations that track temperatures have all come to this conclusion: 2018 ranked among the five warmest years on record, landing in fourth place. All of them — NOAA, NASA, Berkeley Earth, the United Kingdom’s Hadley Centre and the Japan Meteorological Agency — crunched the numbers using different methods, but they each arrived at the same answer. Confidence in this ranking is, thus, very high. The past five years have each now ranked among the five warmest on record. According to NASA, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2000. The warming of the planet is unambiguous and irrefutable.” See also, It’s Official: 2018 Was the Fourth-Warmest Year on RecordThe New York Times, John Schwartz and Nadja Popovich, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “NASA scientists announced Wednesday that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend. The data means that the five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five, and that 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001. The quickly rising temperatures over the past two decades cap a much longer warming trend documented by researchers and correspond with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. ‘We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future,’ said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the NASA group that conducted the analysis. ‘It’s here. It’s now.'” See also, Earth marks fourth hottest year on record as Congress opens climate hearingsPolitico, Anthony Adragna, Kelsey Tamborrino, Zack Colman, and Eric Wolff, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The Earth posted the fourth hottest year on record in 2018, according to data released by federal scientists on Wednesday, as Democrats in the House convened to take their first, tentative steps toward addressing climate change since they took control of the chamber last month.”

Wildfires, hurricanes, and other extreme weather cost the nation 247 lives and nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States has more than doubled in recent years, as devastating hurricanes and ferocious wildfires that experts suspect are fueled in part by climate change have ravaged swaths of the country, according to data released by the federal government Wednesday. Since 1980, the United States has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Between 1980 and 2013, according to NOAA, the nation averaged roughly half a dozen such disasters a year. Over the most recent five years, that number has jumped to more than 12…. NOAA said 14 separate weather and climate disasters, costing at least $1 billion each, hit the United States during 2018. The disasters killed at least 247 people and cost the nation an estimated $91 billion. The bulk of that damage, about $73 billion, was attributable to three events: Hurricanes Michael and Florence and the collection of wildfires that raged across the West. Yet 2018 did not set the record for the most expensive year for such disasters. That distinction belongs to 2017, when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with devastating Western wildfires and other natural catastrophes caused $306 billion in total damage. They were part of a historic year that saw 16 separate events that cost more than $1 billion each.”

Representative Matt Gaetz (Republican-Florida) calls for Parkland fathers to be removed from a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violenceThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “A congressional hearing on gun violence erupted into recriminations on Wednesday after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) argued for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and called for the removal of two fathers whose children were killed in last year’s mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. Gaetz, one of President Trump’s most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill, prompted an outcry from the Parkland fathers when he argued at a House Judiciary Committee hearing that illegal immigration is a greater threat to public safety than gun violence. “The panel was discussing H.R. 8, a bipartisan measure introduced in the House last month that would require background checks for all gun sales and most gun transfers.” See also, Longtime Trump Ally Representative Matt Gaetz (Republican-Florida) Tries to Have Parkland Fathers Removed from Gun Violence HearingNPR, Tim Mak and Jessica Yarmosky, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “A longtime Trump ally pushed to have two fathers of Parkland victims tossed out of a congressional hearing on gun violence — a reflection of the vociferous nature of the debate Democrats have made a priority in the new Congress. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., sparked commotion in the hearing when he listed circumstances in which violence was committed by undocumented immigrants, and said the solution would be to build the Trump-backed wall along the Southwest border. ‘I hope we do not forget the pain, and anguish, and sense of loss felt by those all over the country who have been the victims of violence at the hands of illegal aliens,’ Gaetz said. ‘[Firearms background check legislation] would not have stopped many of the circumstances I raised, but a wall, a barrier on the Southern border may have, and that’s what we’re fighting for.’ This led to protests in the hearing room by the fathers of two Parkland shooting victims, Manuel Oliver and Fred Guttenberg. Gaetz responded by asking for their removal. The public is not allowed to comment during congressional hearings, and the two were given a warning.”

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee defy Trump on Yemen and Saudi ArabiaPolitico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “Congress inched closer to a major foreign-policy rebuke of President Donald Trump on Wednesday when the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a bill to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s bloody civil war. In a party-line vote, the panel’s Democrats sent a War Powers resolution to the House floor, where it is likely to pass overwhelmingly in the coming days. A companion effort in the Senate will follow, but its prospects are less certain as Trump administration officials are ramping up efforts to discourage Republican defections. ‘More than 14 million Yemenis — half the country — are on the brink of famine, and at least 85,000 children have already died from hunger and disease as a result of the war,’ said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the House bill, after the vote. ‘Let’s end American complicity in the atrocities in Yemen.’ The backdrop of the highly anticipated vote remains the Trump administration’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia — in particular, bipartisan frustration with its continued backing of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war, which is fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in what has devolved into a humanitarian crisis.”

Democrats Unite to Begin Push to Protect Pre-Existing Condition CoverageThe New York Times, Robert Pear, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “Democrats, claiming a mandate from voters, opened a legislative campaign on Wednesday to secure protections under the Affordable Care Act for people with pre-existing medical conditions, putting aside divisions over a more ambitious push for ‘Medicare for all’ in favor of shoring up existing law. ‘Health care was the single most important issue to voters in the 2018 election,’ said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California, as she convened a hearing on a decision by a federal district judge in Texas that would invalidate the entire law. In the court case, filed by Texas and 19 other states, the Trump administration has refused to defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

Hours After Trump Used His State of the Union Address to Warn That ‘Ridiculous Partisan Investigations’ Threatened the Nation’s Economic Health, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Declared the House Will Not Be Cowed by Trump’s ‘All-Out Threat’ to Drop Its InvestigationsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday began a broad inquiry into whether Russia and other foreign powers may be exercising influence over President Trump, acting only hours after a defiant Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the House would not be cowed by the president’s ‘all-out threat’ to drop its investigations of his administration. Other committees were zeroing in on similarly sensitive oversight targets. On Thursday, Democrats will begin their quest to secure the president’s long-suppressed tax returns. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee readied a subpoena for the acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, in case he tried to avoid Democratic questioning. And a House Appropriations subcommittee chairwoman began an inquiry into administration rule-bending during the 35-day partial government shutdown. ‘It’s our congressional responsibility, and if we didn’t do it, we would be delinquent in that,’ Ms. Pelosi said of the House’s oversight role, hours after Mr. Trump used his State of the Union address to warn that ‘ridiculous partisan investigations’ threatened the nation’s economic health and the prospects of bipartisan legislating.” See also, Trump lashes out as Democrats step up inquiries of president and his administrationThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “President Trump called Democratic investigations into his administration and business ‘ridiculous’ and ‘presidential harassment.’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in turn accused the president of delivering an ‘all-out threat’ to lawmakers sworn to provide a check and balance on his power. The oversight wars officially kicked into high gear this week as House Democrats began investigating the Trump administration in earnest. With Thursday hearings scheduled on presidential tax returns and family separations at the Mexican border, and a Friday session to question acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, the lights are about to shine brightly on a president who had faced little examination from a Republican Congress. But Democrats are moving carefully after spending weeks forming their committees, hiring staff and laying the groundwork for coming probes — mindful that Trump is eager to turn their investigations into a political boomerang as his critics demand swift action to uncover various alleged misdeeds.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Democrat-California) says new Trump-Russia investigation will focus on reports of money laundering and ‘financial compromise,’ The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The House Intelligence Committee’s new Democratic leadership will scrutinize ‘credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise’ involving the businesses of President Trump and those closest to him, the panel’s chairman said Wednesday, in what will be one of several priorities as lawmakers open a fresh investigation into the president’s alleged Russia ties. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) outlined a five-point plan for the committee’s investigation, encompassing Russia’s election interference and the question of whether foreign governments have leverage over Trump, his relatives or associates. Schiff indicated the panel uncovered evidence of such vulnerabilities while under Republican leadership but neglected to pursue it. ‘For the last two years, the Republican majority has essentially been missing in action when it comes to being a coequal branch of government,’ Schiff said Wednesday, promising that Democrats are ‘not going to be intimidated or threatened’ by Trump’s warnings against the Democratic-led investigations. ‘That ended with the midterms. We’re going to do our jobs.'” See also, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announces sweeping investigation into Trump’s finances and RussiaCNN, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday a broad investigation his committee would undertake ‘beyond Russia’ into whether President Donald Trump’s financial interests are driving his actions. Schiff said the investigation would ‘allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration. That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else,’ Schiff told reporters after the House Intelligence Committee’s first meeting in the new Congress. In a statement, Schiff said the investigation would include a continued probe into Russia’s actions during the 2016 election and contacts between Russia and Trump’s team, as well as an examination of ‘whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.'”

House Intelligence Committee votes to send witness transcripts to Special Counsel Robert Mueller for possible perjury chargesPolitico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The House Intelligence Committee voted on Wednesday to send dozens of witness interview transcripts from its Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller, who could use them to prosecute potential instances of perjury. It’s the first act of the intelligence panel under the leadership of Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who has vowed to revive the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller has already prosecuted some Trump associates for lying to Congress. ‘The special counsel’s office, the Justice Department and its elements will now have access to those transcripts for any purpose which will facilitate justice,’ Schiff told reporters after the committee’s vote, adding that the transcripts will be sent to Mueller’s investigators immediately. The panel’s Democrats have long suggested that Donald Trump Jr. and other witnesses might have lied to the committee during its investigation and they’ve encouraged Mueller to examine whether perjury or obstruction of justice charges are warranted against them. Federal investigators have already used some of the committee’s transcripts to prosecute at least two longtime Trump associates for perjury.”

First on CNN: New York Federal prosecutors seek interviews with Trump Organization executivesCNN, Erica Orden and Cristina Alesci, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “Federal prosecutors in New York have requested interviews in recent weeks with executives at the Trump Organization, according to people familiar with the matter, signaling a growing potential threat to President Donald Trump and those in his orbit from criminal investigations by the Manhattan US Attorney’s office. Trump and his legal team have long harbored concerns that investigations by New York federal prosecutors — which could last throughout his presidency — may ultimately pose more danger to him, his family and his allies than the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to people close to Trump. Prosecutors’ recent interest in executives at Trump’s family company may intensify those fears. The specific inquiry or topics of interest by prosecutors in any interviews with Trump Organization executives wasn’t immediately clear. The sources were not authorized to speak on the record. A spokesperson for the company didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

The Justice Department Opens Inquiry Into Handling of Jeffrey Epstein’s Sex Abuse CaseThe New York Times, Liam Stack, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The Justice Department said Wednesday that it had opened an investigation into a 2007 plea deal negotiated by a prosecutor who is now a member of President Trump’s cabinet that kept the financier Jeffrey E. Epstein from facing federal charges related to accusations that he molested dozens of underage girls. The inquiry came in response to requests from Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who on Wednesday posted a letter on his website from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd informing him of the investigation. The plea deal, which was negotiated by the labor secretary, R. Alexander Acosta, when he was the top federal prosecutor in Miami, was the subject of a Miami Herald investigation that was cited by both Mr. Sasse and Mr. Boyd. The letter does not mention Mr. Acosta by name. In the letter, Mr. Boyd said the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibilities would look ‘into allegations that Department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct in the manner in which the Epstein criminal matter was resolved.'”

Trump administration hands payday lenders a major victoryThe Washington Post, Renae Merle, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday proposed significantly weakening Obama-era rules governing payday lenders, boosting the fortunes of an industry accused of keeping low-income borrowers trapped in a cycle of debt. Under the existing rule, set to take effect in August, payday lenders would be required to take several steps to ensure borrowers can afford the loans they are being offered. The latest proposals would rescind that requirement and delay the rule’s implementation until 2020. The move is a big win for payday lenders. The industry feared the new regulations would force many of them to close their doors. Payday lenders aggressively lobbied lawmakers to block the rule last year and when that failed turned their attention to convincing the CFPB, now under the leadership of a Trump appointee, to change course.” See also, Representative Maxine Waters (Democrat-California) calls on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to rescind new payday proposalPolitico, Katy O’Donnell, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger to rescind a new proposal easing restrictions on payday lenders, in a sharp rebuke to the new CFPB chief on her first major initiative. Waters, the chairwoman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, said she is ‘deeply troubled’ by the proposed revision, which would scrap a key underwriting requirement of the consumer bureau’s contentious rule reining in the lenders, who she said often charge interest rates of ‘300 percent or more.’ ‘This proposal essentially sends a message to predatory payday lenders that they may continue to harm vulnerable communities without penalty,’ Waters said in an e-mailed statement. ‘I urge Director Kraninger to rescind this proposal and work on implementing a comprehensive federal framework — including strong consumer safeguards, supervision, and robust enforcement — to protect consumers from the cycle of debt.'”

Russia Says It Will Build New Missile Systems Within 2 YearsNPR, Matthew S. Schwartz, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “Russia’s defense minister on Tuesday ordered work to begin on new land-based intermediate range missiles, to be ready within two years. The move comes in response to the U.S. decision to pull out of a key nuclear arms treaty that symbolized the end of the Cold War. The U.S. said last week that because of Russian violations, it would no longer abide by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which required the destruction of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (310-3,410 miles). Putin responded by suspending Russia’s observation of the treaty, claiming the U.S. had violated the agreement long ago. ‘Our response will be symmetrical,’ Putin said, as reported by NPR’s Moscow Correspondent Lucian Kim. ‘If our American partners suspend their participation in the INF treaty, so will we. And if they start working on new weapons, so will we.'”

Inaccurate claims of noncitizen voting in Texas reflect a growing trend in Republican statesThe Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “When Texas officials announced in late January that as many as 58,000 noncitizens may have voted illegally in state elections over nearly two decades, top Republicans — including President Trump — quickly warned about the prevalence of voter fraud and the need to crack down on it. But just as quickly, the numbers stopped adding up. First, on Jan. 25, the secretary of state instructed counties to give voters 30 days to prove their citizenship before canceling their registration. Then, four days later, the office began calling local election officials to say that thousands of people on the list were in fact U.S. citizens, eligible to vote. The episode is the latest in bungled attempts by states to show that huge numbers of noncitizens are registered to vote and have cast ballots in U.S. elections.”

Trump Nominates David Malpass to Head World BankThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport and Binyamin Appelbaum, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “President Trump on Wednesday nominated David Malpass, a top Treasury official and Wall Street veteran, to be the next president of the World Bank. Mr. Malpass, currently the under secretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, has been a point person in the Trump administration’s trade negotiations with China and has overseen the government’s relationship with the World Bank. He is also a longtime critic of the World Bank’s lending practices and its business model and has expressed concern about the power that multilateral institutions exert. His appointment, which must be approved by the World Bank’s board, could prove controversial given Mr. Malpass’s skepticism of the bank and concerns that the Trump administration could politicize the role and use it to curb China’s growing global influence around the world.” See also, Trump nominates Wall Street veteran David Malpass to head World BankThe Washington Post, Jeanne Whalen and David J. Lynch, Wednesday, 6 February 2019: “President Trump announced Wednesday he is nominating David Malpass, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs, to be the next World Bank president. By tradition, the U.S. has long chosen the bank’s leaders, though other countries may also nominate candidates, and some expect the competition to be sharper this time. Malpass is a former Wall Street economist who has spoken critically of the World Bank in the past, saying in 2017 that there is ‘a lot of room for improvement’ in the bank’s lending program.”


Thursday, 7 February 2019, Day 749:


Liberal Democrats Formally Call for a ‘Green New Deal,’ Giving Substance to a Rallying CryThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Glenn Thrush, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Liberal Democrats put flesh on their ‘Green New Deal’ slogan on Thursday with a sweeping resolution intended to redefine the national debate on climate change by calling for the United States to eliminate additional emissions of carbon by 2030. The measure, drafted by freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, is intended to answer the demand, by the party’s restive base, for a grand strategy that combats climate change, creates jobs and offers an affirmative response to the challenge to core party values posed by President Trump. The resolution has more breadth than detail and is so ambitious that Republicans greeted it with derision. Its legislative prospects are bleak in the foreseeable future; Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has no plan to bring the resolution in its current form to the floor for a vote, according to a Democratic leadership aide with direct knowledge of her plans. But as a blueprint for liberal ambition, it was breathtaking. It includes a 10-year commitment to convert ‘100 percent of the power demand in the United States’ to ‘clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,’ to upgrade ‘all existing buildings’ to meet energy efficiency requirements, and to expand high-speed rail so broadly that most air travel would be rendered obsolete. The initiative, introduced as nonbinding resolutions in the House and Senate, is tethered to an infrastructure program that its authors say could create millions of new ‘green jobs,’ while guaranteeing health care, ‘a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security’ to every American.” See also, Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (Democrat-New York) and Senator Edward J. Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) unveil Green New Deal With backing of four presidential candidatesThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “For months, the term Green New Deal has been bandied about by Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail for president as their catchall phrase for a sweeping effort to halt runaway climate change. On Thursday, the slogan got some meat on its bones as Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) prepared to introduce a framework outlining the goals of a sweeping climate pact going forward — and stop other Democrats from defining the Green New Deal however they wanted. Their measure already has the backing of four Democratic senators who have launched bids for the 2020 presidential nomination. But it is already being lampooned by Republicans — though embraced by progressives — for its broad aims on things unrelated to climate, including increased access to housing, health care and education for lower-income communities. ‘This is really about providing justice for communities and just transitions for communities,’ Ocasio-Cortez told NPR in an interview Thursday morning. ‘So really the heart of the Green New Deal is about social justice.’… The proposal is a nonbinding resolution, but its aims are ambitious. The Democratic resolution calls for the United States to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within ten years by ‘dramatically expanding and upgrading renewable power sources.’ It stands as a stark counterpoint to the Trump administration’s downplaying of the scientific consensus behind climate change, as it has rolled back rules designed to contain global warming and withdrawn from the Paris climate accord aimed at reducing global pollution.” See also, A ‘Green New Deal’ Is Far From Reality, but Climate Action Is Picking Up in the StatesThe New York Times, Brad Plumer, published on Friday, 8 February 2019: “Even though talk of a ‘Green New Deal’ is getting louder in Congress, the odds of major federal climate legislation passing in the next two years remain extremely low. It’s a different story at the state level, however: The midterm elections in the fall brought in a new wave of governors who are now setting climate goals for their states and laying out more ambitious plans to cut emissions and expand low-carbon energy. In the past month, newly elected Democratic governors in Michigan, Illinois and New Mexico have joined the United States Climate Alliance, a group of 19 states and Puerto Rico that has vowed to uphold the Paris climate agreement despite President Trump’s disavowal of the accord. With the new additions, the alliance now covers one-third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions and nearly half its population.” See also, ‘Green New Deal’ lands in the CapitolPolitico, Zack Colman and Anthony Adragna, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a blueprint for a Green New Deal on Thursday, urging a ’10-year national mobilization’ for a speedy shift away from fossil fuels and calling for national health care coverage and job guarantees in a sweeping bid to remake the U.S. economy. The burgeoning left-wing faction within the Democratic Party quickly persuaded several 2020 White House contenders to sign onto the Green New Deal’s tenets in a bid to push climate change and the broad economic platform up the ladder of party priorities. Declared candidates Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are all co-sponsoring the resolution, as are likely contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), according to their offices. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is also on board, saying in a tweet that she is ‘proud to join’ the ‘fight for our planet and our kids’ futures.’… House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed the resolution’s introduction Thursday, a day after she told POLITICO it would be one of multiple ideas Democrats consider. ‘It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,’ Pelosi said in the interview. ‘The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?'” See also, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal OutlineNPR, Danielle Kurtzleben, Thursday, 7 February 2019. See also, The Green New Deal Takes Its First Congressional Baby Step, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Mocks ‘Green Dream or Whatever,’ The Intercept, Kate Aronoff, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The first hand of the Green New Deal has been dealt. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., on Thursday unveiled a five-page, nonbinding resolution that frames a 10-year ‘national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization’ to confront the climate crisis. The plan envisions the creation of millions of ‘good, high-wage jobs’ and will serve to ‘counteract systemic injustices.’ The resolution sets a framework for legislation to be hashed out over the next two years, and gives Ocasio-Cortez, Markey, and climate groups something to organize around. Their goal is to meet 100 percent of the demand for power in the U.S. with ‘clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,’ in line with the scientific consensus on climate change, as well as to provide ‘all people of the United States’ with clean air and water, ‘healthy and affordable food,’ high-quality health care, ‘affordable, safe, and adequate housing,’ and economic security.”

Hurricanes are strengthening faster in the Atlantic, and climate change is a big reason why, scientists sayThe Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “A group of top hurricane experts, including several federal researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published striking new research Thursday suggesting that hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean have grown considerably worse, and climate change is part of the reason why. The study focused on rapid intensification, in which hurricanes may grow from a weak tropical storm or Category 1 status to Category 4 or 5 in a brief period. They found that the trend has been seen repeatedly in the Atlantic in recent years. It happened before Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and before Hurricane Michael pummeled the Gulf Coast with little warning last fall. Hurricane Michael, for example, transformed from a Category 1 into a raging Category 4 in the span of 24 hours. The study, published in Nature Communications, describes its conclusion in blunt language, finding that the Atlantic already has seen ‘highly unusual’ changes in rapid hurricane intensification, compared to what models would predict from natural swings in the climate. That led researchers to conclude that climate change played a significant role.”

Tests for Oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska Won’t Happen This Winter, Interior Department Officials SayThe New York Times, Henry Fountain, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “A plan to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas exploration across a large swath of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska has been shelved for this winter, Interior Department officials have said. The announcement signals at least a temporary victory for environmental groups and scientists who oppose the project, in which large trucks and other heavy equipment would crisscross the refuge’s coastal plain along the Arctic Ocean, using acoustic signals to map underground rock formations that may hold oil and gas reserves…. Faith Vander Voort, a department spokeswoman, said the seismic proposal was still pending, and that the company behind it, SAExploration, had asked that the start date be moved to next December. The postponement will have no direct impact on the Interior Department’s plan to open the coastal plain, 1.5 million acres known as the 1002 Area, to oil and gas development. The department, through the Bureau of Land Management, has said it wants to offer leases for sale this year. The coastal plain is thought to overlie formations containing billions of barrels of oil, and the Trump administration has been eager to allow development, part of its push for more commercial activities on federal lands. But the decision means that oil companies that bid on the leases will have to do so without the benefit of new data on potential reserves. The only seismic studies in the refuge were done three decades ago, using less-effective technology. An exploratory well, the only one in the refuge, was drilled around the same time, and its results have remained secret.”

A Year Before the Killing of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Told an Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on KhashoggiThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia told a top aide in a conversation in 2017 that he would use ‘a bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed in October, if Mr. Khashoggi did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government, according to current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of intelligence reports. The conversation, intercepted by American intelligence agencies, is the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing Mr. Khashoggi long before a team of Saudi operatives strangled him inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered his body using a bone saw. Mr. Khashoggi’s murder prompted weeks of outrage around the world and among both parties in Washington, where senior lawmakers called for an investigation into who was responsible.” See also, Saudi Arabia ‘curtailed and undermined’ Turkey’s investigation into Khashoggi’s killing, U.N. human rights expert Agnes Callamard saysThe Washington Post, Kareem Fahim, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The U.N. human rights expert leading an independent inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi said Thursday that Saudi Arabia had ‘seriously curtailed and undermined’ Turkey’s attempts to investigate Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi Consulate in October. The expert, Agnes Callamard, released preliminary findings of her team’s inquiry Thursday after a week-long fact-finding mission to Turkey that ended Sunday. ‘Evidence collected during my mission to Turkey shows prima facie case that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia,’ she said in a statement. The comments by Callamard, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, added weight to Turkey’s repeated assertions that Saudi Arabia had thwarted the work of Turkish investigators by limiting their access to Saudi diplomatic facilities and refusing to reveal the location of Khashoggi’s remains.”

Supreme Court Issues a Temporary Stay on Restrictive Louisiana Abortion LawThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that its opponents say could have left the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. That coalition underscored the pivotal position the chief justice has assumed after the departure last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who used to hold the crucial vote in many closely divided cases, including ones concerning abortion. The court’s brief order gave no reasons, and its action — a temporary stay — did not end the case. The court is likely to hear a challenge to the law on the merits in its next term, which starts in October.” See also, Supreme Court on 5-to-4 vote blocks restrictive Louisiana abortion lawThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined with the Supreme Court’s liberals Thursday night to block a Louisiana law that opponents say would close most of the state’s abortion clinics and leave it with only one doctor eligible to perform the procedure. The justices may yet consider whether the 2014 law — requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — unduly burdens women’s access to abortion. The Louisiana law has never been enforced, and the Supreme Court in 2016 found a nearly identical Texas law to be unconstitutional. ‘The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women,’ said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the law’s challengers. ‘The three clinics left in Louisiana can stay open while we ask the Supreme Court to hear our case. This should be an easy case — all that’s needed is a straightforward application of the court’s own precedent.'”

Thomas K. Norment Jr., the Powerful Republican Majority Leader in the Virginia Senate, Was the Top Editor of Yearbook That Included Blackface Photos and Racist SlursThe New York Times, Trip Gabriel, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Thomas K. Norment Jr., the powerful Republican majority leader in the Virginia Senate, was a top editor of a 1968 college yearbook that included several photographs of students in blackface as well as racist slurs. Mr. Norment, 72, a longtime fixture and political broker in the State Legislature, is the first Republican to be swept up in Virginia’s ongoing political crisis over racist behavior in the past. The Virginian-Pilot newspaper first reported on the photos and material on Thursday. As a senior at Virginia Military Institute, then an all-male college that was sometimes called ‘the West Point of the South,’’ Mr. Norment was managing editor of the 1968 edition of the Bomb yearbook. That edition included students in blackface and slurs aimed at African-Americans, Asians and Jews, according to a copy viewed by The New York Times.”

Justice Department decision to issue legal opinion long sought by casino magnate and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson draws criticismThe Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The Justice Department’s decision last month to release a legal opinion that could further restrict Internet gambling is drawing fire from state attorneys general and former department officials amid questions about casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s long-standing push for the move. The legal opinion, which was posted online during the partial government shutdown, reversed a 2011 Justice Department interpretation of the Wire Act that effectively gave the states a green light to authorize lotteries and other forms of online gambling. The change was long sought by Adelson, a major Republican donor who spent more than $20 million to back Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.”

After Heated Exchange, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Says He Will Testify Friday Before the House Judiciary CommitteeThe New York Times, Katie Benner and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “After a heated back-and-forth, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, bowed to the wishes of the acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, that he not issue a subpoena while Mr. Whitaker testifies before the committee as scheduled on Friday. Earlier in the day, the Justice Department sent the committee a letter demanding a commitment in writing that any subpoena not be used during the hearing, a promise that Mr. Nadler, Democrat of New York, initially would not give. But after negotiations that began early in the evening, the committee agreed verbally and in writing not to issue a subpoena on or before Feb. 8, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec. ‘In light of that commitment, Acting Attorney General Whitaker looks forward to voluntarily appearing at tomorrow’s hearing and discussing the great work of the Department of Justice,’ Ms. Kupec said. Mr. Nadler originally told Mr. Whitaker that there would be ‘no need’ for the subpoena if he came prepared to answer questions, and that the committee was willing to work with him on a case-by-case basis on any question he felt he could not answer. He then said on Twitter that Mr. Whitaker would be joining the committee.” See also, Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker agrees to testify before Congress after saying he wouldn’t if under subpoena threatThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee chairman said late Thursday that a standoff with the acting attorney general had ended in an agreement for Matthew G. Whitaker to testify publicly Friday, setting up a potentially dramatic confrontation over President Trump and the special counsel investigation into the 2016 campaign. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) tweeted that Whitaker ‘will appear tomorrow morning at 9:30 am,’ capping a dramatic day-long standoff over whether Whitaker would scrap his appearance entirely over the Democrats’ threat to subpoena him. Whitaker had said Thursday that he would not appear before the committee as scheduled unless committee Democrats gave him assurances he wouldn’t be subpoenaed. Earlier Thursday evening, Nadler sent a letter to Whitaker that provided no such promise, saying only that ‘there will be no need for a subpoena’ if Whitaker answers lawmakers’ questions. ‘To the extent that you believe you are unable to fully respond to any specific question, we are prepared to handle your concerns on a case-by-case basis, both during and after tomorrow’s hearing,’ Nadler wrote.”

A Divided Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Nomination of William Barr to Be Attorney GeneralThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “A polarized Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of William P. Barr to be President Trump’s second confirmed attorney general on Thursday, as Republicans and Democrats split over his views on executive authority and the special counsel’s ongoing Russia investigation. Mr. Barr will now go before the full Republican-controlled Senate, where he is expected to be confirmed and sworn into office as soon as next week. If confirmed, he would promptly assume responsibility for the special counsel investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into possible ties between Mr. Trump, his associates and Russia, and whether the president obstructed justice…. Democrats, at least those on the committee, remain deeply mistrustful that Mr. Barr’s public statements left him a dangerous amount of discretion to curtail the investigation or suppress its findings if so ordered. They did not question his qualifications. ‘This is not the time to install an attorney general who has repeatedly espoused a view of unfettered executive power,’ said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, summarizing the heart of her party’s objections.”

No thank you, Mr. PeckerMedium, Jeff Bezos, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.” See also, Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of ‘Extortion and Blackmail,’ The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg and Karen Weise, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The richest man on earth accused the nation’s leading supermarket tabloid publisher of ‘extortion and blackmail’ on Thursday, laying out a theory that brought together international intrigue, White House politics, nude photos and amorous text messages. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, made his accusations against American Media Inc., the company behind The National Enquirer, in a lengthy post on the online platform Medium. Last month, The Enquirer published an exposé of Mr. Bezos’ extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former host of the Fox show ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ The headline of Mr. Bezos’ post — ‘No thank you, Mr. Pecker’ — targeted David J. Pecker, the head of the tabloid company. In the sometimes digressive text that followed, he accused American Media of threatening to publish graphic photographs of Mr. Bezos, including a ‘below-the-belt selfie,’ if he did not publicly affirm that The Enquirer’s reporting on his affair was not motivated by political concerns.” See also, National Enquirer’s parent says it will ‘thoroughly investigate’ extortion allegations made by Jeff BezosThe Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Paul Farhi, Sarah Ellison, and Devlin Barrett, published on Friday, 8 February 2019: “The National Enquirer’s parent company insisted that it had “acted lawfully” but pledged to thoroughly investigate extortion claims by chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos. Bezos said Thursday that the Enquirer threatened to publish intimate pictures of him unless he backed off an investigation of the tabloid. In an extraordinary post to the online publishing platform Medium, Bezos said the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., made the threat after he began investigating how the tabloid obtained text messages that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, wrote that the Enquirer wanted him to make a false public statement that he and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’ Bezos declined to do so. Instead, he published what he said were emails from Enquirer executives to a lawyer representing de Becker. In one, top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard appears to suggest that the tabloid would publish a series of photos of Bezos and of Sanchez, some of them salacious, if AMI’s terms weren’t met.” See also, Ronan Farrow says he also faced ‘blackmail efforts from AMI’ for reporting on the National Enquirer and on TrumpThe Washington Post, Allyson Chiu and Kayla Epstein, published on Friday, 8 February 2019: “Ronan Farrow said Thursday that he and “at least one other prominent journalist” who had reported on the National Enquirer and President Trump received blackmail threats from the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., over their work. Farrow’s allegation came just hours after Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos published a remarkable public post on Medium accusing the National Enquirer of attempting to extort and blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate photos unless he stopped investigating the publication. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Last April, Farrow published an article in the New Yorker about the Enquirer’s ‘catch and kill’ practice — in which stories are buried by paying off sources — that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.” See also, In a stunning blog post, Jeff Bezos rolls over a log. And the National Enquirer’s sleaze crawls out. The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, published on Friday, 8 February 2019.

Venezuela says plane from Miami delivered weapons for use by enemies of the government of Nicolás MaduroMcClatchy DC Bureau, Tim Johnson, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Venezuelan authorities say a U.S.-owned air freight company delivered a crate of assault weapons earlier this week to the international airport in Valencia to be used in ‘terrorist actions’ against the embattled government of Nicolás Maduro. An air freight company, 21 Air LLC, based in Greensboro, N.C., operates the Boeing 767 aircraft that the Venezuelans allege was used in the arms transfer. The flight originated in Miami on Feb 3. The Boeing 767 has made dozens of flights between Miami International Airport and destinations in Colombia and Venezuela since Jan. 11, a flight tracking service shows, often returning to Miami for only a few hours before flying again to South America.”

U.S. Military Sets April Target Date for Leaving SyriaThe Wall Street Journal, Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy A. Youssef, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “The Pentagon is preparing to pull all American forces out of Syria by the end of April, even though the Trump administration has yet to come up with a plan to protect its Kurdish partners from attack when they leave, current and former U.S. officials said. With U.S.-backed fighters poised to seize the final Syrian sanctuaries held by Islamic State in the coming days, the U.S. military is turning its attention toward a withdrawal of American forces in the coming weeks, these officials said on Thursday. Unless the Trump administration alters course, the military plans to pull a significant portion of its forces out by mid-March, with a full withdrawal coming by the end of April, they said.”

House Democrats Begin Push to Secure Trump’s Tax ReturnsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Democrats took the first cautious steps on Thursday in their quest to obtain President Trump’s long-hidden tax returns, further inflaming the contentious relationship between the president and the newly empowered House. A fractious afternoon hearing of a Ways and Means oversight subcommittee was intended to begin building a case that Mr. Trump’s withholding of his returns was not only flouting modern political norms but also potentially hiding violations of federal tax laws and compromising the interests of the United States. Democrats argued that they had the legal authority and good cause to invoke an obscure provision in the federal code that gives the committee’s chairman access to private tax information to find the answers and potentially inform other related inquiries into Mr. Trump’s financial positions.” See also, House Democrats begin hearings on obtaining Trump’s tax returnsThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “House Democrats began hearings on Thursday about a plan that would force President Trump to release his tax returns, as the party faces pressure from liberal lawmakers and activist groups to obtain the returns and investigate the president’s business empire. A House Ways and Means Committee panel brought in several experts in tax law to discuss the impact of a provision in Democrats’ anti-corruption bill that would compel presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns within 30 days of receiving their party’s nomination. The provision would apply to Trump, but Republicans oppose the measure and are expected to have the votes to block it in the Senate.”

Democrats Aim to Limit Corporate Windfall From Trump Tax CutThe New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Top Democrats, eager to reverse a corporate windfall created by President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, are galvanizing around economic policies aimed at limiting the ability of companies to enrich shareholders. The efforts, led by a group of populist presidential candidates and a Senate leader who was long a darling of Wall Street, are part of a growing push to stoke Main Street anger toward Wall Street ahead of the 2020 presidential election. This week, Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who has long allied with the financial firms that drive much of Manhattan’s economy, proposed limiting the ability of corporations to buy back shares of their stock and suggested possible changes in the tax treatment of investments. ‘It’s a signal to corporate America that we have to go back to the old ways,’ Mr. Schumer, the Senate’s minority leader, said in an interview. He added that the measures would join other proposals meant to force companies to return to an era when businesses did more to help their workers and their communities…. The more aggressive efforts to regulate corporate behavior are among many leftward moves for Democrats on economic issues. They include an embrace of new taxes on the wealthy and a growing consensus that all Americans should at least have the option — if not be forced — to obtain affordable government-run health insurance.”

‘Unlimited Presidential Harassment’: Trump lashes out again at Democrats for stepped-up oversightThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “President Trump took fresh aim Thursday at House Democrats, claiming they are going ‘nuts’ with unprecedented investigations into his administration and businesses that are starting to unfold on Capitol Hill. Trump’s assessment — in morning tweets — drew a sharp rebuke from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who accused Trump of ‘projecting his own unruliness’ and vowed that Democrats would ‘not surrender our constitutional responsibility for oversight.'” See also, Trump Accuses Democrats of ‘Harassment’ Over Congressional InquiriesThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “President Trump accused Democrats on Thursday morning of ‘presidential harassment’ over congressional investigations into his finances, and he mocked Virginia politicians whose jobs are in peril after revelations they appeared in blackface. Then, the president went to the annual National Prayer Breakfast, where he implored attendees to open up to faith in order to ‘fill our hearts with love.’ Mr. Trump described America as ‘a nation that believes in redemption.’ The split-screen version of Mr. Trump has become a familiar formula, after two years of slash-and-burn tweets in the morning — and sometimes throughout the day — followed by presidential events meant to convey a somber tone. Thursday offered an unusually stark comparison between Mr. Trump’s unvarnished thoughts and his formal schedule, as he seeks to revive his connection to evangelical and conservative voters whose support was crucial to his victory in 2016.” See also, Trump lashes out at incoming investigations by the House of RepresentativesPolitico, Caitlin Oprysko, Thursday, 7 February 2019.

Trump Fears House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff Is Recruiting White House Employees for His Investigation of Foreign Attempts to Influence the PresidentBloomberg, Billy House, Margaret Talev, and Jennifer Jacobs, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Donald Trump believes House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff is trying to hire White House employees to gain an edge in his investigation of foreign attempts to influence the president, people familiar with the matter said. Schiff has hired one former career official at the National Security Council, Abigail Grace, who left the White House last year, the people said. She has a congressional email address and is listed in a directory as working for the Intelligence Committee’s Democratic majority. A second career employee detailed to the Trump White House is also considering joining Schiff’s staff, according to people familiar with the matter. They didn’t identify the person.” See also, Trump furious after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff hires former NSC (National Security Council) aides to help oversee his investigationCNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Manu Raju, and Kevin Liptak, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has hired officials with experience at the National Security Council to help with his panel’s oversight of President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a committee aide. The aide declined to say how recently the newly hired officials worked at the council, whether they served under Trump or to identify the individuals. But the move appears to have enraged the President and some members of his senior staff, who view the move as an intrusion. It comes as Democrats prepare to wield new investigative power after winning a House majority in 2018.”

Prosecutors Told Judge That Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman, Might Have Lied to Them in Hopes of a PardonThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Thursday, 7 February 2019: “Federal prosecutors told a judge this week that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, might have lied to them about ‘an extremely sensitive issue’ in hopes of increasing the chances that he would be pardoned for his crimes, according to a transcript of the hearing unsealed Thursday. The heavily redacted document leaves unclear what issue Mr. Manafort was being questioned about. Prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are accusing Mr. Manafort of lying to them repeatedly last year after he agreed to cooperate with their investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and the Trump campaign in exchange for a possibly lighter sentence. The discussion of whether Mr. Manafort could have been angling for a presidential pardon came during a closed session Monday in Federal District Court in Washington before Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Judge Jackson is exploring the prosecution’s claims that Mr. Manafort lied before she sentences Mr. Manafort for two felonies to which he pleaded guilty in her court.” See also, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, continued Ukraine work in 2018, prosecutors sayThe Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 7 February 2019. See also, Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team says Paul Manafort downplayed the conduct of one of his Russian associates even after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutorsPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Thursday, 7 February 2019.