Trump Administration, Week 110: Friday, 22 February – Thursday, 28 February 2019 (Days 764-770)


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’ for 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, 22 February 2019, Day 764:


Trump Administration Blocks Funds for Planned Parenthood and Others Over Abortion ReferralsThe New York Times, Pam Belluck, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Trump administration announced on Friday that it will bar organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal family planning money, a step that could strip millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and direct it toward religiously-based, anti-abortion groups. The new federal rule is almost certain to be challenged in court. Clinics will be able to talk to patients about abortion, but not where they can get one. And clinics will no longer have to counsel women on all reproductive options, including abortion, a change that will make anti-abortion providers eligible for funding. The rule, which has been expected for months, is the most recent step by the Trump administration to shift the direction of federal health programs in a conservative direction. The administration has expanded the ability of employers to claim religious or moral objections to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that they offer employees insurance coverage for contraception. It has channeled funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and family planning grants into programs that emphasize sexual abstinence over contraception.” See also, Trump administration bars clinics that provide abortions or abortion referrals from federal fundingThe Washington Post, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Trump administration took aim at Planned Parenthood Friday, issuing a rule barring groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program — a move expected to redirect tens of millions of dollars from the women’s health provider to faith-based groups. The change means federally funded family planning clinics can no longer refer a patient for abortion and must maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the government and any organization that provides abortions or abortion referrals. Groups receiving money under the Title X program, which serves an estimated 4 million low-income women, were already prohibited from performing abortions with those funds.” See also, Trump administration issues rule to strip millions from Planned ParenthoodPolitico, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Trump administration issued a final rule on Friday that could effectively cut off tens of millions of federal family planning dollars to Planned Parenthood and steer some of that funding towards anti-abortion, faith-based care providers. While the revamp of the Title X program does not accomplish the full defunding of Planned Parenthood that Republicans have called for, it is a major step in that direction, and marks another major policy win for social conservatives looking to prohibit access to abortion. Under the rule, clinics would still have to provide an array of contraceptive services but could partner or subcontract with groups that stress abstinence only or natural family planning. It would also bar Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that accept the funding from making any abortion referrals or performing abortions — regardless of the funding source — at the same facilities where they provide Title X services like birth control, mammograms and cancer screenings. If not put on hold by a court injunction, the rule will go into effect 60 days after it is published in the federal register in the coming days. Planned Parenthood executives said they will fight in court to block or overturn the rule, and indicated they won’t apply for Title X funding if it does go into effect.”

In a Tense Exchange, Dianne Feinstein Lectures Children Who Want Green New Deal, Portraying It as UntenableThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 22 February 2019: “Senator Dianne Feinstein found herself in a standoff Friday with a group of schoolchildren who confronted her about her refusal to support the Green New Deal. In a video posted by the Sunrise Movement, which encourages young people to combat climate change, an exchange quickly became tense once Ms. Feinstein started to explain her opposition to the Green New Deal, an ambitious Democratic-led proposal that calls for a radical transformation of the United States’ energy sector…. Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, in a statement called Ms. Feinstein ‘out of touch’ and said the interaction shows that the Democratic Party needs ‘fundamental change.'” See also, Video of Dianne Feinstein dismissively rebuffing young climate activists’ calling for Green New DealThe Guardian, published on Saturday, 23 February 2019: “The California senator has been criticised for her response to a group of children and teenagers asking her to support the Green New Deal. Video footage shows Feinstein flatly rejecting the activists’ request, telling them: ‘I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing.'” See also, Video Shows Dianne Feinstein Dismissing a Group of Children Asking About Green New DealHuffPost, Carla Herreria, Friday, 22 February 2019: “A climate advocacy group is calling a foul against Sen. Dianne Feinstein after the California Democrat appeared to lecture and dismiss a group of kids who were urging for her to vote yes on the Green New Deal. Sunrise Movement, a budding environmental organization that urges lawmakers to take action on climate change, tweeted footage of a group of children with some adults at the senator’s office in San Francisco urging her to address the issue. Stephen O’Hanlon, a spokesman for the group, identified the protesters in the video as Sunrise Movement ‘supporters and family members’ in the Bay Area. The children present were between the ages of 7 and 16, according to the organization. In the Twitter video, Feinstein seems to rebuff the kids while boasting about her experience in the Senate. A full version of the encounter was posted to Facebook.” See also, School children debate Dianne Feinstein on ‘Green New Deal.’ Her reply? ‘I know what I’m doing.’ The Washington Post, Michael Brice-Saddler, Saturday, 23 February 2019.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s Former Lawyer and Fixer, Gave Prosecutors New Information on the Trump Family BusinessThe New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 22 February 2019: “Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, met last month with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, offering information about possible irregularities within the president’s family business and about a donor to the inaugural committee, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Cohen, who worked at the Trump Organization for a decade, spoke with the prosecutors about insurance claims the company had filed over the years, said the people, who did not elaborate on the nature of the possible irregularities. While it was not clear whether the prosecutors found Mr. Cohen’s information credible and whether they intended to pursue it, the meeting suggests that they are interested in broader aspects of the Trump Organization, beyond their investigation into the company’s role in the hush money payments made before the 2016 election to women claiming to have had affairs with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last summer to arranging those payments.”

Continue reading Week 110, Friday, 22 February – Thursday, 28 February 2019 (Days 764-770)

Elizabeth Warren opens the door to reparations for Native AmericansThe Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Friday, 22 February 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Friday evening that Native Americans should be ‘part of the conversation’ on reparations, showing a willingness to expand the debate over whether minority groups that have faced discrimination should be financially compensated by the federal government. Warren is one of four Democratic presidential hopefuls who have said in recent days that they’re open to providing some type of reparations to African Americans who are descendants of people who were enslaved in the United States, although they’ve offered varying levels of details about how the goal would be achieved. So far, Warren is the only one to entertain the notion of including Native Americans. ‘I think it’s a part of the conversation,’ she said when asked whether the group should also receive some kind of relief. ‘I think it’s an important part of the conversation.’ In a statement released Saturday, Warren offered more context. ‘I fully support the federal government doing far more to live up to its existing trust and treaty responsibilities and that includes a robust discussion about historical injustices against Native people,’ she said, adding that tribal nations ‘deserve a seat at the table in all decisions that will affect the well-being of their people and their communities.'”

Trump to Nominate Kelly Knight Craft as U.N. AmbassadorThe New York Times, Annie Karni and Dan Bilefsky, Friday, 22 February 2019: “President Trump said on Friday that he was nominating Kelly Knight Craft, the United States ambassador to Canada, to succeed Nikki R. Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, days after his first choice for the position withdrew from consideration…. Ms. Craft and her husband, Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire Kentucky coal magnate, were major contributors to Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and donated to his inaugural committee. In total, the couple donated more than $2 million to Mr. Trump’s candidacy and inauguration. Ms. Craft, who turns 57 on Sunday, made her name in Kentucky politics as a fund-raiser for Republican candidates and officeholders. She and Mr. Craft are close to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who is the de facto head of the state party in his home state of Kentucky.” See also, Trump announces nomination of Kelly Knight Craft to be ambassador to the United NationsThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan, Friday, 22 February 2019.

Manhattan Prosecutors Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman Paul ManafortThe Wall Street Journal, Corinne Ramey and Aruna Viswanatha, Friday, 22 February 2019: “Prosecutors in New York are pursuing criminal charges against Paul Manafort, according to people familiar with the matter, raising the possibility that the former Trump campaign chairman could face legal liability even if the president pardons him of multiple federal crimes. Witnesses have been called before a state grand jury in Manhattan related to bank-fraud allegations against Mr. Manafort, the people said.  The investigation is being conducted by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., according to the people.” See also, Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman, Is Expected to Face Charges in New York, Even if Trump Pardons HimThe New York Times, William K. Rashbaum, Friday, 22 February 2019: “The Manhattan district attorney’s office is preparing state criminal charges against Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, in an effort to ensure he will still face prison time even if the president pardons him for his federal crimes, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced next month for convictions in two federal cases brought by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. He faces up to 25 years in prison for tax and bank fraud and additional time for conspiracy counts in a related case. It could effectively be a life sentence for Mr. Manafort, who turns 70 in April. The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but no such authority in state cases. And while there has been no clear indication that Mr. Trump intends to pardon Mr. Manafort, the president has spoken repeatedly of his pardon power and defended his former campaign chairman on a number of occasions, calling him a ‘brave man.'”

‘I think it’s a shame’: Trump comments on Christopher Hasson, the Coast Guard officer accused of plotting an attack against Democratic politicians and journalistsThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Friday, 22 February 2019: “President Trump commented for the first time Friday about the U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist who was arrested on suspicions of plotting an attack against Democratic politicians and journalists, calling the episode ‘a shame.’ ‘I think it’s a shame,’ Trump told reporters during an afternoon appearance in the Oval Office. ‘I think it’s a very sad thing when a thing like that happens. I’ve expressed that.’ This was Trump’s first public comment about the Coast Guard official, Christopher P. Hasson, who was arrested last Friday in charges first revealed Wednesday in federal court filings…. Asked by a reporter Friday whether he bears any personal responsibility from his own rhetoric, Trump said he did not. ‘I think my language is very nice,’ the president replied.”

In Latest Shift, Trump Agrees to Leave 400 Troops in SyriaThe New York Times, Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, Friday, 22 February 2019: “First, President Trump was going to pull all 2,000 American troops out of Syria immediately. Then he was going to slow down the withdrawal. Then he was going to leave troops in neighboring Iraq. Now, in the latest about-face, Mr. Trump has agreed to leave about 400 troops in Syria — 200 in a multinational force in the northeastern part of the country and another 200 at a small outpost in the southeast, where they will seek to counter Iran’s influence throughout the country. His decision to commit what one senior administration official described on Friday as a ‘couple hundred troops’ to the multinational force, operating south of the Turkish border, came after European allies refused to send troops if the United States would not.”


Saturday, 23 February 2019, Day 765:


Sentencing Memo Paints Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort as Someone Who ‘Repeatedly and Brazenly’ Broke a Host of LawsThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Saturday, 23 February 2019: “Federal prosecutors on Saturday portrayed Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, as a hardened, remorseless criminal who ‘repeatedly and brazenly’ violated a host of laws over more than a decade and did not deserve any breaks when he is sentenced in coming weeks. The prosecutors’ sentencing memo, filed in one of the most high-profile cases mounted by the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and unsealed on Saturday, painted a damning portrait of Mr. Manafort, 69, a political consultant who led Mr. Trump’s campaign during a critical five-month period in 2016. The memo involved one of two federal cases against Mr. Manafort. Prosecutors did not recommend a sentence, instead citing sentencing guidelines of up to 22 years for a wide-ranging conspiracy involving obstruction of justice, money laundering, hidden overseas bank accounts and false statements to the Justice Department. But the two charges Mr. Manafort pleaded guilty to in the case carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Team Says Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman, Committed ‘Bold’ CrimesThe Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha, Saturday, 23 February 2019: “Paul Manafort committed ‘bold’ crimes that go ‘to the heart of the criminal justice system,’ special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors wrote in a memo unsealed Saturday in which they endorsed a stiff punishment for the former Trump campaign chairman. ‘His deceit…extended to tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice National Security Division, the FBI, the Special Counsel’s Office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, Members of Congress, and members of the executive branch of the United States government,’ Mr. Mueller’s office wrote, detailing the crimes Mr. Manafort was convicted of and admitted to last year. The sentencing memo was filed in connection with two counts of conspiracy Mr. Manafort pleaded guilty to last year in Washington, after he was convicted of tax and bank fraud in a separate case in Virginia.” See also, Mueller prosecutors tell judge that Paul Manafort is a ‘hardened’ and ‘bold’ criminalThe Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Saturday, 23 February 2019.

Health Care and Insurance Industries Mobilize to Kill ‘Medicare for All,’ The New York Times, Robert Pear, Saturday, 23 February 2019: “Even before Democrats finish drafting bills to create a single-payer health care system, the health care and insurance industries have assembled a small army of lobbyists to kill ‘Medicare for all,’ an idea that is mocked publicly but is being greeted privately with increasing seriousness. Doctors, hospitals, drug companies and insurers are intent on strangling Medicare for all before it advances from an aspirational slogan to a legislative agenda item. They have hired a top lieutenant in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to spearhead the effort. And their tactics will show Democrats what they are up against as the party drifts to the left on health care. They also demonstrate how entrenched the Democrats’ last big health care victory, the Affordable Care Act, has become in the nation’s health care system. The lobbyists’ message is simple: The Affordable Care Act is working reasonably well and should be improved, not repealed by Republicans or replaced by Democrats with a big new public program. More than 155 million Americans have employer-sponsored health coverage. They like it, by and large, and should be allowed to keep it.”



Sunday, 24 February 2019, Day 766:


Representative Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Vowed to Wage a Legal Battle if the Justice Department Does Not Release Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ReportThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Sunday, 24 February 2019: “Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that House Democrats were prepared to go to court to force the release of the final report from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and subpoena Mr. Mueller to testify if it was not made public. Mr. Mueller, who has spent nearly two years investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether President Trump tried to obstruct justice, is expected to submit his report to the Justice Department in the coming weeks, but the department is not required to release it.” See also, Representative Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, says Democrats will subpoena Robert Mueller if his report is not made publicThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Sunday, 24 February 2019.

National Rifle Association Magazine (N.R.A.) Draws Criticism for ‘Target Practice’ Headline With Photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Former Representative Gabrielle GiffordsThe New York Times, Emily S. Rueb, Sunday, 24 February 2019: “The March issue of the National Rifle Association’s monthly publication, The American Rifleman, features a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in the head during a constituent meeting in 2011. The photo, taken last month at an announcement about proposed legislation to expand background checks for firearms purchases, carried the headline in large letters: ‘Target Practice.’ The article, written by Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the N.R.A.’s lobbying arm, described Ms. Pelosi as an ‘arch anti-gunner,’ and said the proposal was being ‘deceptively marketed to the public’ and was ‘a broadside against gun ownership in America.'”


Monday, 25 February 2019, Day 767:


Elizabeth Warren to Forgo Receptions and Fund-Raisers With Big DonorsThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Monday, 25 February 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday escalated her presidential campaign’s battle against big money in politics, announcing that her bid for the Democratic nomination will forgo traditional fund-raising methods meant to cultivate a candidate’s relationships with the wealthy. The Massachusetts senator said she would no longer hold the private fund-raisers and one-on-one meetings with big donors that have become typical for Democrats and Republicans. ‘That means no fancy receptions or big money fund-raisers only with people who can write the big checks,’ Ms. Warren said in a morning email to supporters. ‘It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events. And it means I won’t be doing “call time,” which is when candidates take hours to call wealthy donors to ask for their support.'”

Bernie Sanders Raises $10 Million in Less Than a WeekThe New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Monday, 25 February 2019: “A clutch of advisers to Senator Bernie Sanders began arriving at the Capitol Hill townhouse that served as his makeshift headquarters before dawn last Tuesday, where they readied themselves to track, among other things, the deluge of donations that would land after Mr. Sanders made his presidential campaign official. As the team snacked on doughnuts that Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign manager, had brought for launch day, one laptop screen showed a map of the United States. It would light up with an orange dot every time someone gave with the location of each donation. Within minutes of the 7 a.m. announcement, the whole screen was glowing orange, according to people in the room. By Monday, after less than a week as a presidential candidate, Mr. Sanders has collected $10 million from 359,914 donors, campaign officials said. But perhaps just as daunting a figure for his rivals is this: Nearly 39 percent of those donors used an email address that had never before been used to give to Mr. Sanders.”

A bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials issues a declaration on national emergency, saying that ‘there is no factual basis’ for Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico borderThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Monday, 25 February 2019: “The joint statement, whose signatories include former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former defense secretary Chuck Hagel, comes a day before the House is expected to vote on a resolution to block Trump’s Feb. 15 declaration. The former officials’ statement, which will be entered into the Congressional Record, is intended to support lawsuits and other actions challenging the national emergency proclamation and to force the administration to set forth the legal and factual basis for it. ‘Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,’ the group said.”

Activists with the Sunrise Movement protest at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in support of Green New DealCNN, Caroline Kelly and Lauren Fox, Monday, 25 February 2019: “More than 40 young people were arrested Monday on Capitol Hill as more than 100 protested in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Capitol Hill office to demand that he and other senators support the Green New Deal. The demonstration, organized by the youth environmental activist group Sunrise Movement, comes following an altercation between other young protesters and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday over her lack of support for the Green New Deal. The comprehensive 10-year climate change initiative, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, has forced more moderate Democrats to reckon with progressive pressure from within the party — though McConnell, who leads the Senate, is a Kentucky Republican.”

Vice President Mike Pence Announced Sanctions on Additional Venezuelan Officials During a Trip to Bogotá, Colombia, to Meet With Juan Guaidó, the Opposition Leader Who Declared Himself Venezuela’s Interim President Last MonthThe New York Times, Katie Rogers, Monday, 25 February 2019: “Vice President Mike Pence announced additional sanctions on Venezuelan officials Monday, urged Latin American neighbors to freeze assets of the state oil company and held his first face-to-face meeting with Venezuela’s opposition leader. Visiting Colombia, Mr. Pence also warned some countries in the region that have conspicuously sought to remain neutral in the crisis convulsing Venezuela that they cannot remain so, singling out Mexico and Uruguay…. Mr. Pence flew to Colombia two days after an American-backed effort to send convoys of humanitarian aid into Venezuela and persuade its soldiers to defect degenerated into clashes and mayhem between anti-Maduro protesters and Venezuelan security forces along the borders with Colombia and Brazil…. Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democratic of Connecticut, accused the administration of using the delivery of humanitarian aid as a tool to bring about ‘regime change.’ ‘Venezuela didn’t just lurch into humanitarian crisis,’ Mr. Murphy wrote on Twitter. ‘The aid is being sent there now as part of a regime change strategy. Many are hoping that it will be the match that lights a civil war against Maduro.'”

House Democrats target Trump’s personal financesPolitico, Zachary Warmbrodt, Monday, 25 February 2019: “House Democrats are planning to cross one of President Donald Trump’s red lines: investigating his personal finances. With special counsel Robert Mueller expected to wind up his probe soon, Democrats are launching an investigation to discover why Deutsche Bank was willing to lend The Trump Organization money when other banks weren’t’t and whether Russia was involved. The German bank, which has been under scrutiny for its role in Russian money laundering, lent Trump hundreds of millions of dollars over the years for his property development ventures. The House Financial Services and Intelligence committees have been staffing up for their probes into the bank and Trump’s alleged Russia ties. Democrats on the panels have said they are willing to pursue a key area with Deutsche Bank that Mueller might have avoided — by crossing what Trump sees as a red line into his personal finances.”

House Investigators Probe Trump Contact With Matthew WhitakerThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Dustin Volz, Monday, 25 February 2019: “The House Judiciary Committee believes it has evidence that President Trump asked Matthew Whitaker, at the time the acting attorney general, whether Manhattan U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman could regain control of his office’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and his real-estate business, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Berman, a former law partner of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani who in 2016 donated to the Trump campaign and whom the president personally interviewed for the U.S. attorney job, last year had recused himself from involvement in the matter. He didn’t give a reason, but legal experts said his interim status at the time the probe began would have made his involvement appear improper. The investigation began as a probe of the business dealings of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, and has broadened to examine the Trump Organization.”

A Lawsuit by a Campaign Worker Is the Latest Challenge to Trump’s Nondisclosure AgreementsThe New Yorker, Ronan Farrow, Monday, 25 February 2019: “A staff member of Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida on Monday, alleging that she experienced ‘racial and gender discrimination’ while working for the campaign, that she was paid less than male and white colleagues, and that Trump once kissed her partially on the mouth, without her consent. The claim related to the kiss may prove difficult to verify. Four people said that the campaign worker, Alva Johnson, told them about the incident afterward, but two other people, who Johnson said were present at the time of the kiss, told me that they did not see it. In a statement, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied that it had taken place. The most legally significant aspect of Johnson’s suit may ultimately be something the complaint does not explicitly address: the pervasive use of nondisclosure agreements by Trump during his campaign and in his Administration. Johnson’s suit is at least the sixth legal case in which Trump campaign or Administration employees have defied their nondisclosure agreements.” See also, A former Trump campaign worker alleges in lawsuit that Trump kissed her without her consent. The White House denies the charge. The Washington Post, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, Monday, 25 February 2019: “A staffer on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign says he kissed her without her consent at a small gathering of supporters before a Florida rally, an interaction that she alleges in a new lawsuit still causes her anguish. In interviews and in the lawsuit, Alva Johnson said Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips as he exited an RV outside the rally in Tampa on Aug. 24, 2016. Johnson said she turned her head and the unwanted kiss landed on the side of her mouth.” See also, Former Trump Campaign Worker Alleges He Forcibly Kissed HerThe New York Times, Niraj Chokshi, Monday, 25 February 2019. See also, Former Trump campaign worker accuses Trump of forcibly kissing herPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Monday, 25 February 2019.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Faces Calls to Publicly Answer Questions About a 2006 Plea Agreement With Jeffrey Epstein, a Wealthy Investor and Trump Acquaintance Who Was Accused of Sex Offenses Involving Girls as Young as 14The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Monday, 25 February 2019: “Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta is facing rising pressure — and a possible summons to testify before Congress — over the lenient plea bargain that he helped negotiate as Miami’s top federal prosecutor with a wealthy acquaintance of President Trump’s accused of trafficking children for sex. Members of Florida’s House delegation have been in talks with the chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees about calling Mr. Acosta to publicly answer questions about a 2006 plea agreement with the investor and Trump acquaintance Jeffrey E. Epstein, who was accused of sex offenses involving girls as young as 14. He pleaded guilty to more minor prostitution charges. House leaders are likely to approve some kind of a hearing, although it is unclear when, according to three lawmakers involved in the discussions. Some of the young women said to have been exploited by Mr. Epstein have also expressed through their attorneys a willingness to publicly testify about the deal.”


Tuesday, 26 February 2019, Day 768:


House Votes to Block Trump’s National Emergency Declaration About the BorderThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “The House voted on Tuesday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with just 13 Republicans joining Democrats to try to block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval. House Republican leaders kept defections low after feverishly working to assuage concerns among rank-and-file members about protecting congressional powers and about the precedent that Mr. Trump could be setting for Democratic presidents to use for their own purposes. ‘Is your oath of office to Donald Trump or is it to the Constitution of the United States?’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her Republican colleagues in a speech on the floor ahead of the vote. ‘You cannot let him undermine your pledge to the Constitution.’ The resolution of disapproval, which passed 245 to 182, must now be taken up by the Senate, where three Republicans have already declared their support, only one short of the number needed for Congress to ratify a stinging rebuke of Mr. Trump’s efforts. It remains highly unlikely that opponents will muster the votes to overturn a promised veto of the resolution. But final passage of a measure to assert Congress’s constitutional authority over spending is sure to bolster numerous lawsuits that maintain that Mr. Trump’s declaration is an unconstitutional end run around Congress’s lawful power of the purse.” See also, House passes resolution to nullify Trump’s national emergency declarationThe Washington Post, Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim, Paul Kane, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “The House on Tuesday passed a resolution to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, as majority Democrats painted an apocalyptic portrait of a lawless chief executive out to gut the Constitution.” See also, House votes to block Trump’s national emergency declarationPolitico, Sarah Ferris, Tuesday, 26 February 2019.

Democrats grill Trump officials over family separations and threaten wider legal probeThe Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Maria Sacchetti, and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “At separate hearings on Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers hammered the Trump administration Tuesday over the “zero tolerance” prosecution policy that split thousands of migrant children from their parents last year and devolved into a political fiasco for the White House. Several Trump officials acknowledged to the House Judiciary Committee that they did not speak up to supervisors or attempt to stop the implementation of the family separations at the border, despite warnings it probably would traumatize children. Facing aggressive and sometimes angry questions from Democrats, the officials who formulated and carried out the separation system recognized communication failures among their agencies, but defended their actions as an attempt to uphold immigration laws. At another hearing on ‘zero tolerance’ Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena records from the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services for documents related to the policy.” See also, Democrats Issue Subpoenas on Trump’s Migrant Family SeparationsThe New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “House Democrats issued subpoenas late Tuesday to three cabinet officials, in a sharp escalation of their battle over the administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the southern border. Administration officials did not immediately say if the cabinet officials — the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen; the attorney general, William P. Barr; and the health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II — would comply. But Ms. Nielsen has previously refused to appear before the House Homeland Security committee to answer similar inquiries, and the Justice Department suggested Mr. Barr would not turn over documents requested by the committee. Earlier in the day, the House Oversight and Reform Committee easily passed a measure authorizing the subpoenas that called for the officials to turn over documents pertaining to the detention policies, as two Republicans — Representative Justin Amash of Michigan and Representative Chip Roy of Texas — voted with Democrats to authorize the subpoenas. Moments later, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on a child separation policy that the panel’s Democratic chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, described as ‘indefensible,’ ‘inhumane’ and ‘immoral’ in his opening statement.” See also, Democrats move to issue subpoenas related to child separation policyPolitico, Ted Hesson, Tuesday, 26 February 2019.

Trump’s Former Lawyer, Michael Cohen, Plans to Call Trump a ‘Con Man’ and a ‘Cheat’ in Congressional TestimonyThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “Michael D. Cohen plans to tell Congress on Wednesday that President Trump is a ‘con man’ and a ‘cheat’ who knew a longtime adviser was communicating with WikiLeaks — and who implicitly instructed Mr. Cohen to lie about a Trump Tower project in Moscow that was underway during the 2016 presidential campaign. The extraordinary testimony will take place when Mr. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, publicly appears before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. An advance copy of Mr. Cohen’s testimony was obtained Tuesday night by reporters at multiple news organizations, including The New York Times, just as Mr. Trump began meetings in Vietnam before convening with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.” See also, Michael Cohen, Trump’s Former Lawyer, to Testify That Trump Engaged in Criminal Conduct While in OfficeThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Warren P. Strobel, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, plans on Wednesday for the first time to publicly accuse the president of engaging—while in office—in criminal conduct related to a hush-money payment to a porn star, a person familiar with his expected testimony before Congress said. Appearing before the House Oversight Committee, Mr. Cohen also plans to make public some of Mr. Trump’s private financial statements and allege that Mr. Trump at times inflated or deflated his net worth for business and personal purposes, including avoiding paying property taxes, the person said. The financial statements were developed by Mr. Trump’s accountant, the person said. The Wall Street Journal hasn’t seen those statements. On Tuesday morning, Mr. Cohen met behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Upon leaving the hearing after nearly nine hours, he said he appreciated the opportunity to ‘clear the record and to tell the truth,’ adding he looked forward to telling his story ‘in my voice’ on Wednesday.” See also, 20 questions that Michael Cohen could answer for lawmakers when he testifies on Capitol Hill this weekThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman, Tuesday, 26 February 2019.

On Eve of Michael Cohen’s Testimony, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz Threatens to Reveal Compromising InformationThe New York Times, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “In an atmosphere of high drama and low tactics, Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, prepared for his explosive public testimony about the president on Wednesday even as a Republican member of Congress threatened to reveal what he said were Mr. Cohen’s extramarital affairs. Mr. Cohen’s long-awaited appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, coming after he spent Tuesday behind closed doors answering questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee, is likely to be among the more revealing and polarizing moments of Mr. Trump’s presidency. With the partisan stakes so high, Representative Matt Gaetz, a firebrand Republican from Florida, went after Mr. Cohen pre-emptively with a personal attack that some Democrats said amounted to witness intimidation. ‘Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot,’ Mr. Gaetz said on Twitter…. Late [Tuesday] night, Mr. Gaetz walked back his remarks after Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a warning, saying that such comments could affect the committee’s ability to ‘obtain the truthful and complete information necessary.’ ‘While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did,’ Mr. Gaetz tweeted. ‘I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.'” See also, Florida Bar Will Investigate Matt Gaetz’s Threat Against Michael CohenThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, published on Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The Florida Bar said on Wednesday that it had opened an investigation to determine whether Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican from the state, violated its conduct rules when he threatened to reveal what he said were extramarital affairs by a pending congressional witness, Michael D. Cohen. Mr. Gaetz’s threat came on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, as Mr. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and longtime fixer, was preparing for explosive public remarks before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in which he ultimately implicated his former boss in federal crimes and other unsavory acts. Mr. Gaetz, 36, is one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken allies on Capitol Hill, and his public statements have frequently solicited criticism from Democrats.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller scores a big win as court rejects challenge to his appointmentPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller scored one of the biggest legal wins of his tenure on Tuesday, as a federal appeals court rejected claims that his appointment was unconstitutional. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals turned aside arguments that Mueller wields so much power as a special prosecutor that he should have been nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The appeals court judges also found no flaw in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller in the wake of the recusal of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The court said that because the attorney general can repeal the regulations used to appoint Mueller at any time, he remains under the control of a Cabinet official. ‘Special Counsel Mueller effectively serves at the pleasure of an Executive Branch officer who was appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate,’ Judge Judith Rogers wrote, joined by Judges Sri Srinivasan and Karen Henderson.” See also, Appeals Court Rules That Aide to Roger Stone Must Testify in Russia CaseThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, and ruled that a former aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., the longtime Trump adviser who was indicted last month, must testify before a grand jury. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a challenge to Mr. Mueller’s authority brought by Mr. Stone’s aide, Andrew Miller, who has been resisting a subpoena since last summer. After a Federal District Court judge held him in contempt of court, he appealed. But in a 16-page opinion, Judge Judith W. Rogers upheld Mr. Mueller’s authority, holding that ‘Miller’s challenge to the appointment of the Special Counsel fails. Accordingly, we affirm the order finding Miller in civil contempt.'” See also, Special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment is valid, federal appeals court rulesThe Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Tuesday, 26 February 2019.

In Show of Bipartisanship, the House Approves a Sweeping Land Conservation BillThe New York Times, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed its first significant public lands conservation bill in years, designating more than one million acres of wilderness for environmental protection and permanently reauthorizing a federal program to pay for conservation measures. The House passage of the bill, on a vote of 363-62, sends the measure, which was passed by the Senate this month, to the desk of President Trump. The vote Tuesday offered a rare moment of bipartisanship in a divided chamber and a rare victory for environmentalists at a time when the Trump administration is working aggressively to strip away protections on public lands and open them to mining and drilling. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was expected to sign the bill into law. But the one million acres of wilderness that would be protected by the bill stand in contrast to the administration’s plans to open up for drilling nine million acres of protected habitat for the sage grouse, two million acres of protected land in Utah, parts of the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and most United States coastal waters.”

United States Cyber Command Operation Took Down a Russian Troll Farm for Midterm ElectionsThe New York Times, Tuesday, 26 February 2019: “The American military took down a Russian troll farm last Election Day in a cyberattack that continued for several days after the vote, part of what United States officials have said is a persistent campaign to block and deter interference in American democracy. The operation was intended to prevent the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, from spreading propaganda or disinformation aimed at undermining confidence in the midterm vote or the results of the election, American officials said. The operation was aimed at taking the Internet Research Agency off line for several days, from Election Day until the results were certified by local officials. The Internet Research Agency, the best known of the Russian troll farms that create large amounts of propaganda, has been accused by the United States government of meddling in the 2016 elections. It is not part of the Russian government, but is controlled by oligarchs loyal to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.” See also, U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midtermsThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, published on Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the Kremlin’s operations against the United States are not cost-free. The strike on the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President Vladi­mir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber-campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election, the officials said.”


Wednesday, 27 February 2019, Day 769:


Michael Cohen Accuses Trump of Expansive Pattern of Lies and CriminalityThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “President Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer accused him on Wednesday of an expansive pattern of lies and criminality, offering a damning portrayal of life inside the president’s orbit where he said advisers sacrificed integrity for proximity to power. Michael D. Cohen, who represented Mr. Trump for a decade, laid out for Congress for the first time a series of deceptions by the president. He charged that Mr. Trump lied to the public about business interests in Russia, lied to reporters about stolen Democratic emails and told Mr. Cohen to lie about hush payments to cover up sexual misconduct. The accusations, aired at a daylong hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, exposed a dark underside of Mr. Trump’s business and political worlds in the voice of one of the ultimate insiders. Perhaps no close associate has turned on a president in front of Congress in such dramatic fashion and with such high stakes since John Dean testified against President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal. ‘He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat,’ Mr. Cohen said of the president. Mr. Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to lying under oath to Congress, among other crimes, said he did so to protect Mr. Trump. ‘I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore,’ he said.” See also, Full Video of Michael D. Cohen’s Congressional TestimonyThe New York Times, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Full Transcript: Michael Cohen’s Opening Statement to CongressThe New York Times, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, See Trump’s Checks to Michael Cohen and Other DocumentsThe New York Times, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Video Highlights of Michael Cohen’s Testimony Before CongressThe New York Times, Sarah Stein Kerr and Ainara Tiefenthäler, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Five Takeaways From Michael Cohen’s Testimony to CongressThe New York Times, Michael Tackett, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Testimony From Michael Cohen Could Compound Legal Issues for TrumpThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 27 February 2019.  See also, Michael Cohen Says Trump Told Him to Threaten Schools Not to Release His Grades or SAT ScoresThe New York Times, Grace Ashford, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, The Testimony of Michael Cohen Raises Questions About Whether Trump Broke the Law by Failing to Disclose That He Footed the Bill for a Hush Payment to a Pornographic Film ActressThe New York Times, Kennety P. Vogel, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “Michael D. Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday revived questions about whether President Trump broke the law by failing to disclose that he footed the bill for a hush payment to a pornographic film actress. Members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee grilled Mr. Cohen, who served for a decade as the president’s so-called fixer, about a $130,000 payment he made just before the 2016 presidential election to the actress to keep her quiet about her claim that she had an affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen testified that he was reimbursed in installments by Mr. Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, starting in early 2017 for the payment to the actress, Stormy Daniels. But Mr. Trump failed to list the arrangement or the outstanding debt owed to Mr. Cohen on a financial disclosure statement submitted in June 2017 under government ethics laws requiring top federal officials to divulge detailed information about their finances.” See also, Michael Cohen Tells Congress Trump knew about WikiLeaks’ plans to release emails damaging to Hillary Clinton and directed hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy DanielsThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Karoun Demirjian, and Rachael Bade, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The man who once derived his identity from making President Trump’s problems go away turned on his former boss in stunning fashion Wednesday, alleging to Congress that Trump manipulated financial records, paid to cover up extramarital affairs and reacted with glee upon learning the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy organization would release emails damaging to his political opponent. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and personal lawyer, cast the president as a mendacious and petty racist who enlisted those around him to propagate a culture of deceit, in business, during his campaign and after winning the White House. In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Cohen revealed how, in his view, Trump broke the law even as president, and he suggested ominously that federal prosecutors remain interested in a case involving the president.” See also, Michael Cohen’s explosive opening statement about Trump, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 27 February 2019.  See also, Here are the documents Michael Cohen presented to CongressThe Washington Post, Katie Mettler, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Fact-checking the Michael Cohen hearingThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo, published on Thursday, 28 February 2019.  See also, 5 key takeaways from the Michael Cohen hearingThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 27 February 2019.  See also, Michael Cohen alleges in his testimony that Trump ‘inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,’ The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Michael Cohen’s testimony includes three remarkable allegations against TrumpThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Michael Cohen Details Allegations of Trump’s Role in Hush-Money SchemeThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Joe Palazzolo, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “In a remarkable 5½-hour spectacle, Mr. Cohen offered fresh allegations under oath on issues that have dominated the political, legal and media worlds. He said Mr. Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks was going to dump Democratic National Committee emails damaging to his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, and that Mr. Trump continued to discuss a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into 2016, contradicting Mr. Cohen’s own testimony before Congress in 2017. He also alleged that Mr. Trump frequently misrepresented his wealth to banks, insurance companies and tax authorities to his own advantage.” See also, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, accuses Trump of involvement in criminal conductPolitico, Andrew Desiderio and Darren Samuelsohn, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer on Wednesday laid out a series of damning accusations against the president, presenting evidence of alleged lies and criminal conduct and expressing remorse over his decade of service to a man he described as unstable and racist. Michael Cohen testified to the House Oversight Committee that Trump directed him to lie about the president’s knowledge of hush-money payments, that Trump was informed about plans to dump Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign and was kept in the loop about a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.” See also, Michael Cohen’s Damning Portrayal of Trump as a Lying, Racist CrookThe New Yorker, John Cassidy, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Quinta Jurecic, Legal Editor of Lawfare, on What We Learned From Michael Cohen’s Congressional TestimonyThe New Yorker, Isaac Chotiner, Wednesday, 27 February 2019.

Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican, Introduced Lynne Patton, a HUD Appointee Who Is African-American, to Make the Case Donald Trump Isn’t Racist. Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, Took Issue With the Tactic. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “As a political appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Lynne Patton has become one of the most prominent African-American officials in the Trump administration, and it was the color of her skin and her relationship with President Trump that led to her appearance during Michael D. Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday. Before getting her job at HUD, Ms. Patton was an event planner in New York, and worked for the Trump Organization and for the Eric Trump Foundation. Anticipating Mr. Cohen’s accusation that President Trump was a racist, Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, invited Ms. Patton to appear as a rebuttal to the charge. ‘You made some very demeaning comments about the president that Ms. Patton doesn’t agree with,’ Mr. Meadows said, after Mr. Cohen called his former boss a racist and noted that, among other comments, ‘he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.’ As Ms. Patton, 46, stood silently behind him, Mr. Meadows argued that Ms. Patton’s loyalty to Mr. Trump proved that could not be true…. Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, called it ‘insensitive’ and possibly racist ‘to use a black woman as a prop.’ ‘As a person of color in this committee, that is how I felt at that moment and I wanted to express that,’ she said in the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s afternoon session with Mr. Cohen. ‘I’m saying that in itself it is a racist act.'” See also, Videos of Mark Meadows saying ‘send Obama home to Kenya’ resurface hours after he is accused of racist stuntThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, published on Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The most emotionally fraught moment during the Michael Cohen hearing had nothing directly to do with President Trump’s former lawyer but was a tense exchange after one lawmaker accused another of engaging in a racist act by bringing a black woman to the hearing ‘as a prop.’ Though the issue was mostly resolved during the hearing, the aftershocks of it continued Thursday with the resurfacing of three videos from 2012 of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) making birther comments about President Barack Obama and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) going on CNN to reiterate her belief that Meadows’s actions were insensitive to people of color. Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, was the last to speak at the end of the marathon Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday. She used her time to criticize Meadows — not by name — for bringing Lynne Patton, a black woman who has worked for the Trump family and now for the White House, to vouch for Trump not being racist. ‘And it is insensitive … the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself,’ Tlaib said. Meadows exploded, appearing almost near tears, as he spoke of his having a niece and nephew of color and his close friendship with Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) as evidence that he’s not racist. Tlaib then clarified her remarks, saying that she wasn’t calling him racist, just his action.”

House of Representatives passes the most sweeping gun control legislation in decadesPolitico, John Bresnahan, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “In one of their biggest moments since winning the majority in November, House Democrats pushed through legislation on Wednesday mandating federal criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions. For Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, it represents a signature moment as they try to fulfill their campaign pledge to take action on gun violence.” See also, House Passes First Major Gun Control Law in Decades, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The House voted on Wednesday to require background checks for all gun purchasers, including those at gun shows and on the internet — the first significant gun control bill to clear the chamber in a quarter of a century. The 240-to-190 vote is the first of two gun control measures expected to be put to House lawmakers this week, a turning point in gun legislation after 25 years when the National Rifle Association dominated the chamber. Last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., prompted a wave of student-led activism that pressed Democrats to unite around gun control, and the activists cheered when the measure cleared the 218-vote threshold for passage. The Democratic victory was tempered, however, after Republicans prevailed in adding a provision that would require the F.B.I. to alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an undocumented immigrant tried to obtain a firearm. Twenty-six Democrats, primarily from moderate or Republican-leaning districts, broke party lines to support the measure.” See also, House pushes ahead on gun control, backs expansion of background checksThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The House on Wednesday passed a bill expanding federal background checks for gun purchases and transfers, the first major new firearm restrictions to advance in a generation. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which passed 240 to 190 with mostly Democratic votes, is unlikely to be considered in the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority with 53 seats. President Trump issued a veto threat Tuesday for the expanded background checks bill. But amid loud applause in the House, Democrats and gun-control advocates celebrated Wednesday’s vote as the first significant congressional movement on tightening access to firearms since the 1990s. The outline of the bill approved by the House was first sketched in the days after the 2012 killing of elementary school students and staff members in Newtown, Conn., only to fail a key Senate test vote months later.”

‘The Time for Medicare for All Has Come’: Representative Pramila Jayapal (Democrat-Washington) Unveils Visionary Bill to Remake the US Healthcare SystemCommon Dreams, Jake Johnson and Joh Queally, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “In a historic step toward replacing America’s uniquely expensive and deadly for-profit healthcare system with a humane program that would leave no one behind, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Wednesday will officially introduce Medicare for All legislation that policy experts and advocates have praised as comprehensive, strong, and ‘battle-ready.’ ‘The state of our healthcare system is absolutely atrocious,’ Jayapal told reporters on the eve of the bill’s release. ‘How is it possible that the United States, the richest country in the world, is the only major country that does not guarantee healthcare to our residents?’… What’s needed, she said, is a ‘complete transformation of our health care system and we mean a system where there are no private insurance companies’ providing essential healthcare services that would be guaranteed to all under her proposal. And what universal care means, she explained, was simple: ‘Everybody in, nobody out.’ Under Jayapal’s plan, the U.S. would transition to Medicare for All over a two-year period and every American would receive comprehensive coverage, including dental, vision, reproductive health services, mental health, long-term care, and more—all of which would be free at the point of use. According to the congresswoman’s office, ‘The Medicare for All Act of 2019 improves and expands the overwhelmingly successful and popular Medicare program, so that every person living in the United States has guaranteed access to healthcare with comprehensive benefits.'” See also, Medicare-for-all: Representative Pramila Jayapal’s new bill, explainedVox, Sarah Kliff, published on Tuesday, 26 February 2019. See also, As Over 100 House Democrats Embrace ‘Medicare for All,’ a Party Division AppearsThe New York Times, Robert Pear, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, The Special Interests Behind Representative Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare for All Bill Are Not the Usual Suspects. They include nurses, doctors, disability rights activists, advocates for the elderly, and public interest organizations such as Public Citizen and the Center for Popular Democracy. The Intercept. Ryan Grim, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The Medicare for All legislation unveiled Wednesday by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, was written with the help of a broad swath of lobbyists and special interest groups, if perhaps not the kind associated with typical health policy legislation on Capitol Hill. The key outside groups involved in the drafting included nurses, doctors, disability rights activists, and advocates for the elderly, as well as public interest organizations such as Public Citizen and the Center for Popular Democracy. The result is legislation that, within one year of its passage, would provide improved Medicare coverage for everyone 19 and under, as well as everyone 55 and over. Within two years, it would cover everyone between the ages of 19 and 55, as well. The legislation, which is being introduced with more than 100 co-sponsors, is the most far-reaching since a Senate version sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and includes benefits that are more generous. It also moves to full implementation in two years — as compared to four years under Sanders’s plan — a recognition by Democrats that the opposition party will push to repeal it if they come into power, but doing so will be more difficult once the benefits have gone into effect.”

Trump and Kim downplay expectations as key summit talks beginThe Washington Post, David Nakamura and Simon Denyer, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un downplayed expectations of a deal to dismantle that country’s nuclear weapons Thursday, as they kicked off the second day of a two-day summit here. Kim, however, said he was ready to denuclearize. ‘If I’m not willing to do that, I wouldn’t be here right now,’ he said through an interpreter. Sitting beside Kim on Thursday morning, Trump said the pair had enjoyed very good discussions over dinner the night before, with ‘a lot of great ideas being thrown about,’ adding that ‘importantly, I think the relationship is, you know, just very strong. And when you have a good relationship, a lot of good things happen. So, I can’t speak necessarily for today, but I can say this that, a little bit longer-term, and over a period of time, I know we’re going to have a fantastic success with respect to Chairman Kim and North Korea.’”

White House boots media after Trump is faced with a question about Michael Cohen in front of North Korean leader Kim Jong UnPolitico, Andrew Restuccia and Katie Galioto, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “President Donald Trump was hit with a spray of shouted questions on Wednesday evening in Vietnam, including one about his former fixer Michael Cohen’s salacious testimony, as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sat alongside him, chuckling and looking bemused at the media outburst. Minutes later, the White House barred four American journalists from covering their next event. The decision to clamp down on media coverage of the historic summit sparked outrage among the White House press corps and prompted immediate accusations that the White House was punishing journalists for asking the president uncomfortable questions. ‘This summit provides an opportunity for the American presidency to display its strength by facing vigorous questioning from a free and independent news media, not telegraph weakness by retreating behind arbitrary last-minute restrictions on coverage,’ White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox said in a statement, adding that the group ‘strenuously objects to the capricious decision.’ Ultimately, just one print reporter from the pool of 13 journalists that shadow the president on foreign trips was allowed into the subsequent dinner meeting between Trump and Kim. Reporters from all three wire services — the Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg — as well as a fourth reporter from the Los Angeles Times were blocked from the meeting.”

The Justice Department Says Thousands of Immigrant Children Say They Were Sexually Abused in U.S. Detention CentersThe New York Times, Matthew Haag, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The federal government received more than 4,500 complaints in four years about the sexual abuse of immigrant children who were being held at government-funded detention facilities, including an increase in complaints while the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border was in place, the Justice Department revealed this week. The records, which involve children who had entered the country alone or had been separated from their parents, detailed allegations that adult staff members had harassed and assaulted children, including fondling and kissing minors, watching them as they showered, and raping them. They also included cases of suspected abuse of children by other minors. From October 2014 to July 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a part of the Health and Human Services Department that cares for so-called unaccompanied minors, received a total of 4,556 allegations of sexual abuse or sexual harassment, 1,303 of which were referred to the Justice Department. Of those 1,303 cases deemed the most serious, 178 were accusations that adult staff members had sexually assaulted immigrant children, while the rest were allegations of minors assaulting other minors, the report said.”

Judge blocks Republican effort to purge voting rolls in Texas, saying it is ‘ham-handed’ and ‘threatening,’ The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “A federal judge has ordered Texas election officials to halt a planned purge of electoral rolls, calling their effort ‘ham-handed’ and ‘threatening’ and saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state. The Wednesday ruling, a relief for voting rights activists, puts a temporary stop to the secretary of state’s search for noncitizens who may have voted illegally — a probe that proved deeply flawed just days after it began.”

Pentagon says it will delay, but not cancel, other projects to fund Trump’s wallThe Washington Post, Erica Werner and Paul Sonne, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “A senior defense official told lawmakers Wednesday that the Pentagon will not cancel any approved military construction projects to get money for President Trump’s border wall. The Pentagon may delay some projects, but will seek new money for them in the president’s upcoming budget request, said Robert McMahon, assistant secretary of defense for sustainment.”

Washington Official Subpoenas Trump Inaugural CommitteeThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 27 February 2019: “The attorney general for the District of Columbia has subpoenaed documents from President Trump’s inaugural committee, the third governmental body to delve into how the fund raised $107 million and spent it to celebrate Mr. Trump’s swearing-in. The latest subpoena follows similar demands for documents by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and by New Jersey’s attorney general. It cites a civil statute that governs the operation of nonprofit organizations like the inaugural committee. No other recent inaugural committee has generated such intense scrutiny of its finances. Typically short lived, the committees are charged with staging balls, concerts and black-tie dinners in the nation’s capital during inauguration week. Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee raised and spent at least twice as much as its predecessors, but it ended in acrimony amid allegations of misspent funds. Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally contributed to events using Americans as straw donors, a possible violation of criminal law. New Jersey authorities appear to be examining whether the committee obeyed civil statutes governing how nonprofit organizations raise funds, among other matters.” See also, Trump inaugural committee hit with subpoena from D.C. attorney generalThe Washington Post, Peter Jamison, Wednesday, 27 February 2019. See also, Trump Inaugural Committee Receives Subpoena From D.C. Attorney GeneralThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Wednesday, 27 February 2019.


Thursday, 28 February 2019, Day 770:


Trump’s Talks With Kim Jong-un Collapse, and Both the U.S. and North Korea Point FingersThe New York Times, Edward Wong, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The United States and North Korea offered conflicting accounts and traded blame on Thursday after a second summit meeting between President Trump and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, ended abruptly without any agreement on nuclear disarmament or easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. ‘Sometimes you have to walk,’ Mr. Trump said at an afternoon news conference in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. He said Mr. Kim had offered to dismantle the North’s most important nuclear facility if the United States lifted the harsh sanctions imposed on his nation — but would not commit to do the same for other elements of its weapons program. That, Mr. Trump said, was a dealbreaker. ‘It was about the sanctions,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that.’ But in a late-night news conference, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, contradicted Mr. Trump, saying the North had asked only for some sanctions to be lifted in exchange for ‘permanently and completely’ dismantling the main facility in the presence of American experts.” See also, ‘Sometimes you have to walk’: Trump leaves summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un empty-handed, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “President Trump flew for 20 hours to this bustling Vietnamese capital determined to earn a place in history as the American statesman whose personal charm overcame decades of intransigence and erased the North Korean nuclear threat. But the self-proclaimed master dealmaker left Hanoi on Thursday empty-handed and humbled by his inability to coax an erratic and reclusive dictator into giving up his arsenal. Trump was so certain that he could broker an accord with Kim Jong Un, even if an incremental one, that the White House announced that it had scheduled a joint signing ceremony at which the two leaders would triumphantly conclude their two-day summit.” See also, North Korea’s foreign minister says his country seeks only partial sanctions reliefThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Simon Denyer, and David Nakamura, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their two-day summit Thursday, with talks collapsing amid slightly differing accounts of why both leaders walked away without an agreement or a clear plan on how to keep the dialogue alive. The fundamental disagreements rested on the trade-offs between the United States providing relief from sanctions and North Korea’s steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The two leaders and their delegations departed the meeting site in Vietnam’s capital without sitting for a planned lunch or participating in a scheduled signing ceremony. The breakdown raised serious doubts about whether the two sides can keep the diplomatic outreach moving forward. A possible U.S.-North Korea chill could also have wider spillover into the groundbreaking exchanges between the North and U.S. ally South Korea.” See also, The U.S. and North Korea Trade Blame for Failed SummitThe Wall Street Journal, Michael R. Gordon, Jonathan Cheng, and Vivian Salama, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “A summit that might have led to North Korea’s first tangible disarmament steps faltered because Pyongyang wouldn’t freeze all of its weapons programs and sought billions of dollars in sanctions relief, a senior State Department official said Friday, as the two sides blamed each other for their failure to reach an agreement. The collapse of the talks in Hanoi leaves an uncertain path for one of President Trump’s signature foreign-policy issues, though both Washington and Pyongyang indicated they weren’t shutting the door to dialogue. After the summit’s abrupt end on Thursday—an elaborately laid hotel lunch table was left untouched—Mr. Trump said North Korea sought total sanctions relief without offering enough in return. He was contradicted hours later by North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who said in a midnight press conference that Pyongyang had made reasonable proposals for partial sanctions relief that the U.S. rejected.” See also, ‘He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word’: Trump defends Kim Jong Un over death of Otto WarmbierThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “President Trump on Thursday defended North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, whose family says he was ‘brutally tortured’ while imprisoned in North Korea and died in 2017 after being flown back to United States in a coma. The president condemned the ‘brutality of the North Korean regime’ following Warmbier’s death at 22, but he took a softer stance toward Kim at the conclusion of their second summit. ‘I don’t believe he would have allowed that to happen,’ Trump said. ‘It just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen.’ Trump said that he spoke to Kim about the death of Warmbier — whose family has called it a murder — and that Kim ‘feels badly about it.’ He said the North Korea leader, who rules the country with an iron grip, knew about the case but learned about it only after the fact because, Trump suggested, ‘top leadership’ might not have been involved. ‘He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I take him at his word,’ Trump said.” See also, Otto Warmbier’s family responds to Trump’s defense of Kim Jong Un, saying Kim’s ‘evil regine’ is responsible for their son’s deathThe Washington Post, David Nakamura and Susan Svrluga, published on Friday, 1 March 2019: “The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being detained for 17 months in North Korea, on Friday directly blamed leader Kim Jong Un for their son’s death a day after President Trump said he believed Kim’s account that he was not responsible. ‘We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out,’ Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement. ‘Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuse or lavish praise can change that.'”

Trump Ordered Officials to Give Jared Kushner a Security ClearanceThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman, and Annie Karni, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “President Trump ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer, four people briefed on the matter said. Mr. Trump’s decision in May so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been ‘ordered’ to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance. The White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn II, also wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Mr. Kushner — including by the C.I.A. — and how Mr. McGahn had recommended that he not be given a top-secret clearance. The disclosure of the memos contradicts statements made by the president, who told The New York Times in January in an Oval Office interview that he had no role in his son-in-law receiving his clearance.” See also, Trump demanded top-secret security clearance for Jared Kushner last year despite concerns of John Kelly and intelligence officialsThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim, and Shane Harris, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “President Trump early last year directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance — a move that made Kelly so uncomfortable that he documented the request in writing, according to current and former administration officials. After Kushner, a senior White House adviser, and his wife, Ivanka Trump, pressured the president to grant Kushner the long-delayed clearance, Trump instructed Kelly to fix the problem, according to a person familiar with Kelly’s account, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. Kelly told colleagues that the decision to give Kushner top-secret clearance was not supported by career intelligence officials, and he memorialized Trump’s request in an internal memo, according to two people familiar with the memo and the then-chief of staff’s concerns.”

The House of Representatives Passes a Second Gun Control Bill, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Puts Down Small Rebellion Among Freshman Democrats From Republican-Leaning DistrictsThe New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The House voted Thursday to extend the time allotted for the F.B.I. to conduct background checks for gun purchasers flagged by the national instant check system, the second major gun control bill to clear the chamber this week after two decades of inaction. Democratic leaders also succeeded in quelling a small rebellion among freshman Democrats from Republican-leaning districts, persuading them to oppose a politically freighted Republican procedural motion after they backed a similar motion on Wednesday. The 228-to-198 vote aims to extend the background check review period for gun purchasers to 10 days. Currently, the F.B.I. must perform its review and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to deny a purchase in three business days. If it cannot complete the review within that time, a buyer may return to the dealer on the fourth day to purchase a firearm. That provision in current law allowed Dylann S. Roof to purchase a handgun and kill nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, even though he should have been denied his firearm.” See also, House votes to lengthen background check window for gun transfers, as lawmakers speak about their experiences with domestic abuseThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The House on Thursday passed legislation that would extend the window for completing a background check for gun purchases and transfers to at least 10 business days, after a heated floor debate in which two lawmakers spoke passionately about their personal experiences with domestic violence. The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 passed on a vote of 228 to 198. Three Republicans crossed party lines to back the legislation, while seven Democrats voted against it. The bill aims to close the ‘Charleston loophole,’ a reference to the 2015 killings of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church. The gunman was able to purchase the weapons after a three-day federal background check failed to turn up a prior conviction.”

Andrew Wheeler, Who Continued Environmental Rollbacks, Is Confirmed to Lead the Environmental Protection AgencyThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The Senate on Thursday confirmed Andrew R. Wheeler to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, giving oversight of the nation’s air and water to a former coal lobbyist and seasoned Washington insider. The confirmation formalized a role Mr. Wheeler has held in an acting capacity since the summer when President Trump’s first administrator, Scott Pruitt, resigned amid multiple ethics inquiries. The vote, 52-47, went mostly along party lines and underscored partisan divisions over the Trump administration’s continued commitment to repealing environmental regulations under Mr. Wheeler. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote against Mr. Wheeler.” See also, Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist, is confirmed as the nation’s top environmental officialThe Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The Senate on Thursday approved former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to head the Environmental Protection Agency by a vote of 52 to 47, elevating a veteran of Washington political and industry circles who has advanced President Trump’s push to rollback Obama-era environmental regulations.”

Federal appeals court rejects state secrets claim in FBI mosque surveillance suitPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “A federal appeals court has ruled that a judge was too deferential to the U.S. government’s national security claims when he dramatically scaled back a lawsuit charging the FBI with conducting illegal and unconstitutional surveillance at Southern California mosques. The long-awaited decision from a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel is a blow to the government’s use of the so-called state secrets privilege to combat lawsuits alleging illegal electronic snooping. The three appeals court judges unanimously held that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed four decades ago limits the executive branch’s authority to shut down litigation that has the potential to expose sensitive national security information.”

House Committees Plan to Interview Trump Organization CFO and OthersThe Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren and Rebecca Ballhaus, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “House Democrats said they would seek testimony from the chief financial officer and other employees of the Trump Organization, potentially including members of President Trump’s family, to follow up on accusations of wrongdoing Michael Cohen made under oath before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday. ‘If there were names that were mentioned or records that were mentioned during the hearing, we’re going to take a look at all of that,’ Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), the chairman of the oversight panel, said on Thursday, adding he intended to carefully study the hearing transcripts this weekend. ‘We have now got a number of avenues we’ll be going down.'” See also, The House Oversight Committee seeks interviews with Ivanka Trump and Don Jr.Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “The House Oversight Committee will pursue interviews with some of President Donald Trump’s children and closest allies who were implicated in Michael Cohen’s bombshell testimony before the panel, Chairman Elijah Cummings said Thursday. ‘All you have to do is follow the transcript. If there are names that were mentioned or records that were mentioned during the hearing, we want to take a look at all of that,’ Cummings told reporters.” See also, House Democrats plan to use the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen as a roadmap to call new witnessesThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade and David A. Fahrenthold, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “House Democrats on Thursday made plans to dig deeper into President Trump’s business and charity, using testimony from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen as a road map to call new witnesses and seek new internal documents. The House Intelligence Committee said it anticipates bringing in for questioning the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. It also plans to interview Felix Sater, a former Trump business associate who helped Trump develop a hotel in Manhattan. The House Financial Services Committee said it would look into the Donald J. Trump Foundation, Trump’s charity. The Intelligence Committee expressed interest in Cohen’s comments on Russia. And Ways and Means Committee members again discussed the best way to obtain Trump’s tax returns.”

Even After Michael Cohen’s Testimony, Top Democrats Shy From ImpeachmentThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Carl Hulse, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “Michael D. Cohen’s explosive testimony this week about President Trump’s potentially felonious conduct has not moved House Democratic leaders closer to initiating impeachment proceedings against the president, with top lawmakers preferring to pursue multiple intertwined inquiries as they await the results of the special counsel’s investigation. Democrats on Thursday emphasized their intent to explore and broadcast Mr. Trump’s actions through existing investigations, believing that, lacking startling new evidence, a drawn-out gantlet of inquiries will do more damage to a president seeking re-election than a partisan impeachment that could only roil the country and energize Republicans — a thousand cuts over a swing of the ax.”

‘Damaging precedent’: Conservative federal judge Eric Miller is installed without the consent of home-state senatorsThe Washington Post, Deanna Paul, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “Seattle attorney Eric Miller was confirmed as a judge on the country’s most liberal appeals court this week without the consent of either home-state senator, a break from tradition that Democrats say Republicans will come to regret. Historically, senators from the state where a federal judiciary nominee lives may submit opinions, known as ‘blue slips,’ or choose not to return them. Before this week, a nominee had never been confirmed without the support of at least one home-state senator, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), the ranking Democrat on the judiciary committee, said in a statement on Wednesday. But neither Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) nor Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) returned blue slips on Miller’s nomination to serve on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Backs $5 Billion in Tax Credits That Would Fund Scholarships to Private Schools and Other Educational ProgramsThe New York Times, Erica L. Green, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday pitched a $5 billion federal tax credit that would fund scholarships to private schools and other educational programs, throwing her weight behind what will be a difficult legislative undertaking to fund the Trump administration’s signature education initiative. Ms. DeVos will join Republican lawmakers in championing legislation that would allow states to opt into a program that provides individual and corporate donors dollar-for-dollar tax credits for contributing to scholarship programs that help families pay private-school tuition and other educational expenses. The federal program mirrors those already operating in more than a dozen states, like Arizona and Florida, where money flows to nonprofit organizations that fund private-school vouchers for low-income students. But the program would also allow states the flexibility to fund other programs, like apprenticeship, dual enrollment, after-school and remedial programs.” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her allies are trying to redefine ‘public education.’ Critics call it ‘absurd.’ The Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, Thursday, 28 February 2019.

Democratic senators and the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), an ethics watchdog, call for investigation of Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s work on water policyThe Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 28 February 2019: “An ethics watchdog group filed a complaint Thursday with the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General, alleging that Acting Secretary David Bernhardt violated federal ethics rules by working to weaken protections for imperiled fish species and to expand California farmers’ access to water, even though he once lobbied on behalf of a massive agricultural water district that stood to benefit from the changes. The request came on the same day that two Democratic senators, Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), asked Interior’s inspector general and designated ethics official to look into the matter. The calls for an independent probe, based in part on stories published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets, centers on Bernhardt’s role in Interior’s push to conduct an environmental analysis of proposed changes to federal and state water projects in California, a move that could free up more water for his former client, Westlands Water District. Bernhardt, whom President Trump has tapped to serve as his next Interior secretary, represented the water district at the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck before joining the administration a year and-a-half ago.”