Trump Administration, Week 114: Friday, 22 March – Thursday, 28 March 2019 (Days 792-798)


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 March 2019, Day 792:


Special Counsel Robert Mueller Delivers Report on Trump-Russia Investigation to Attorney General William BarrThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Benner, Friday, 22 March 2019: “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on Friday delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years. Mr. Barr told congressional leaders in a letter that he may brief them on the special counsel’s ‘principal conclusions’ as early as this weekend, a surprisingly fast turnaround for a report anticipated for months. The attorney general said he ‘remained committed to as much transparency as possible.’ In an apparent endorsement of an investigation that Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked as a ‘witch hunt,’ Mr. Barr said Justice Department officials never had to intervene to keep Mr. Mueller from taking an inappropriate or unwarranted step. The department’s regulations would have required Mr. Barr to inform the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees about any such interventions in his letter. A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments, a statement aimed at ending speculation that Mr. Trump or other key figures might be charged down the line. With department officials emphasizing that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry was over and his office closing, the question for both Mr. Trump’s critics and defenders was whether the prosecutors condemned the president’s behavior in their report, exonerated him — or neither. The president’s lawyers were already girding for a possible fight over whether they could assert executive privilege to keep parts of the report secret.” See also, Read Attorney General William Barr’s Letter to Congress on the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Mueller report sent to Attorney General William Barr, signaling his Russia investigation has endedThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III submitted a long-awaited report to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday, marking the end of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. The submission of Mueller’s report ends his closely watched inquiry — a case that has engulfed the Trump administration since its inception, leading to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers. A senior Justice Department official said the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments — a revelation that buoyed Trump’s supporters, even as other Trump-related investigations continue in other parts of the Justice Department. It is also unclear whether a Mueller report that does not result in additional charges could still hurt the president politically.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s letter about the Mueller report, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is officially completePolitico, Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Robert Mueller’s Report on Trump-Russia Investigation Is Delivered to Attorney General William BarrThe Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman, and Byron Tau, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller presented his long-awaited report to the Justice Department on Friday, ending his nearly two-year investigation that has loomed over the Trump presidency and likely setting up a political battle over what he has found. In a letter to the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Attorney General William Barr said Mr. Mueller had concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters, and he said he would be able to alert Congress to Mr. Mueller’s ‘principal conclusions’ as soon as this weekend. Those conclusions are expected to be made public, though it remains unclear whether Mr. Barr will at some point release the full report, which President Trump and lawmakers from both parties have called for. If he doesn’t, he could face a tussle with Congress.” See also, Who Is William Barr: He Will Decide What Happens With Mueller’s ReportThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Demand Full and Immediate Release of the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Richaed Fausset and Maggie Astor, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Democratic presidential candidates wasted no time Friday evening demanding the immediate public release of the long-awaited report from Robert S. Mueller III, with several saying that Americans deserved to know any findings about President Trump, Russia and the 2016 election in order to form judgments about Mr. Trump and the 2020 race.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report. Now Attorney General William Barr must share it with the rest of us. The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Friday, 22 March 2019: “It was the announcement that Washington has awaited for nearly two long, tweet-filled years: Attorney General William P. Barr told Congress on Friday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has completed his report on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. The report is now on Mr. Barr’s desk. The question is how much of it will move from there into the hands of Congress and the public…. As Mr. Barr considers what to release publicly, he must keep in mind that the Mueller inquiry is no ordinary investigation. Typically, the Justice Department is wary of revealing investigative information that did not lead to an indictment. This is the right instinct: It guards against law enforcement dragging people through the mud when prosecutors do not have enough evidence to charge them formally. But an attack on the country’s democracy — and senior officials’ response — is a national concern with unusual importance to the country’s politics and policy. Part of the point is to educate the public and reform the law to better prepare for further foreign intrusions. Mr. Mueller’s conclusions and supporting evidence must be released.” See also, I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can–and should–release the Mueller report. The Washington Post, Neal Kumar Katyal, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Will the Mueller Report Be Made Public? Answers to 6 Key Questions. The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 22 March 2019.

‘If you took it all in in one day, it would kill you’: What Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has already revealedThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Rosalind S. Helderman, Friday, 22 March 2019: “He pulled back the curtain on a sophisticated Kremlin hacking operation — identifying by name the 12 Russian military officers who he said sought to sway a U.S. election. He exposed a Russian online influence campaign — bringing criminal charges against the 13 members of a Russian troll farm now accused of trying to manipulate U.S. voters and sow division through fake social media personae. And he revealed how those closest to President Trump defrauded banks, cheated on their taxes and, time and time again, lied to deflect inquiries into their ties with Russia. After 22 months of meticulous investigation, charges against 34 people — including six former Trump aides or confidants — and countless hours of all-consuming news coverage, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Friday submitted the long-anticipated report on his findings to Attorney General William P. Barr.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Team Has Told Its Story of an Aggressive Russian Campaign to Upend the 2016 Presidential Election in a Series of Indictments and Court DocumentsThe Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha and WSJ Graphics, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Even before the release of any final report on his investigation, [court] documents detail allegations of a highly coordinated Russian effort and outline Moscow’s intersection with several figures in then-candidate Donald Trump’s orbit. Moscow denies interference, and Mr. Trump denies any collusion with Russia. Here is a timeline of alleged events, according to documents from the Mueller probe.” See also, Mueller Has Delivered His Report. Here’s What We Already Know. The New York Times, Larry Buchanan and Karen Yourish, published on Wednesday, 20 March 2019. See also, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone: The Mueller IndictmentsThe New York Times, Scott Dodd, Friday, 22 March 2019: “The investigation of Robert S. Mueller III, who submitted his report to the Justice Department on Friday, has already revealed a range of events related to Russian interference in the 2016 election and produced a series of high-profile indictments. Six people connected to President Trump have been charged by the special counsel with an array of crimes, including financial fraud and lying to Congress and investigators. Five have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Twenty-eight others, including 26 Russians, also face charges.” See also, For Trump and the System, Mueller’s Report Is a Turning Point and a TestThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 22 March 2019: “[W]hatever the final conclusions, the Mueller investigation has already cast a cloud over Mr. Trump and his presidency. The special counsel has demonstrated that Russia intervened in the 2016 election with the goal of helping Mr. Trump, that the Trump campaign welcomed Russians promising incriminating information on behalf of their government about Hillary Clinton and that his advisers knew about stolen Democratic emails in advance. The investigation has demonstrated as well that Mr. Trump was seeking to do business in Russia even as a presidential candidate longer than he had previously disclosed and that he surrounded himself with crooks and liars in the form of advisers who repeatedly dissembled to investigators. That includes his campaign chairman, who is going to prison for that and a variety of financial crimes.” See also, Russia, Trump, and Mueller: The Major Moments in the CaseThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Scott Shane, Friday, 22 March 2019.

Democrats will direct the FBI and White House counsel to preserve records shared with Special Counsel Robert MuellerThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Rachael Bade, Friday, 22 March 2019: “The Democratic chairs of the six House committees investigating potential abuse of power by President Trump and his campaign’s business and alleged foreign ties will ask several executive branch agencies to preserve information they provided to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as he investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to congressional aides familiar with the plan. The six House leaders and their Senate Democratic counterparts have signed a letter that will be sent to the Department of Justice, FBI and White House Counsel’s Office, among other agencies, shortly after Mueller submits his report to Attorney General William P. Barr, signaling the investigation’s conclusion. It is an effort to ensure the agencies retain correspondence, memos, reports and other material should the committees request it, the aides said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss lawmakers’ planning.”

Continue reading Week 114, Friday, 22 March – Thursday, 28 March 2019 (Days 792-798)

Trump Overrules His Own Experts on Sanctions, in Favor to North KoreaThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Friday, 22 March 2019: “President Trump undercut his own Treasury Department on Friday with a sudden announcement that he had rolled back newly imposed North Korea sanctions, appearing to overrule national security experts as a favor to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. The move, announced on Twitter, was a remarkable display of dissension within the Trump administration. It created confusion at the highest levels of the federal government, just as the president’s aides were seeking to pressure North Korea into returning to negotiations over dismantling its nuclear weapons program. ‘It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,’ Mr. Trump tweeted. ‘I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!’ The Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Friday against Iran and Venezuela, but not North Korea.” See also, Trump botches North Korea sanctions announcement, sparking widespread confusionThe Washington Post, John Hudson and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 22 March 2019. See also, Trump surprises his won aides by reversing North Korea sanctionsPolitico, Andrew Restuccia and Caitlin Oprysko, Friday, 22 March 2019.

Trump Plans to Nominate Stephen Moore, a Former Campaign Adviser and Conservative Economist, to the Federal Reserve BoardThe New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Friday, 22 March 2019: “President Trump said on Friday that he had offered a position on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors to Stephen Moore, a conservative economic adviser who has become an outspoken critic of the Fed’s interest rate policy. Mr. Moore has blamed the Fed’s rate increases over the past year for slowing economic growth and recently began calling on the central bank to begin cutting rates. An economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Mr. Moore helped draft Mr. Trump’s tax proposals in the 2016 campaign and has served as an informal adviser ever since. As a nominee, Mr. Moore, 59, would face intense criticism in the Senate from Democrats, with whom he has clashed on several economic issues in his career as a commentator and policy advocate.” See also, As the economy shows signs of weakness, Trump picks his close ally Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve BoardThe Washington Post, Heather Long, Friday, 22 March 2019: “President Trump said Friday that he is picking his close ally Stephen Moore to fill an open seat on the Federal Reserve Board. Trump has repeatedly blamed the Fed for hurting the economy. Moore was an adviser to Trump’s campaign and published a book ‘Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy,’ heralding the president’s tax cuts and deregulation push. Trump and Moore have discussed the Fed in recent weeks, with Moore telling the president that his other Fed nominees were too ‘conventional’ and didn’t understand the president’s economic vision. Moore publicly urged Trump to fire Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell in December, which most experts think isn’t legally possible.” See also, Trump to nominate Stephen Moore, his TV-friendly ally, for a seat on the Federal Reserve boardPolitico, Victoria Guida and Ben White, Friday, 22 March 2019.

State-Funded Adoption Agencies in Michigan Are Barred From Turning Away Same-Sex Couples or LGBTQ Individuals Based on Religious Objection,  NPR, Vanessa Romo, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan that benefit from taxpayer funding will no longer be allowed to legally turn away same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals based on religious objection, under the terms of a settlement in a lawsuit alleging the practice constituted discrimination. Attorney General Dana Nessel reached the settlement with the ACLU on Friday, recognizing that a 2015 law that permitted state-contracted child welfare agencies to refuse to provide foster care or adoption services that conflicted with their religious beliefs violates federal anti-discrimination laws. ‘Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale,’ Nessel said in a statement. ‘Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child placing agency enters into with the state.'” See also, Michigan will no longer fund adoption agencies that turn away parents who are LGBT because of religious objectionsThe Washington Post, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Friday, 22 March 2019.

The Use of Private Email and Chats, This Time by Trump’s Family, comes Under FireThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Friday, 22 March 2019: “In the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump turned his focus to the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, suggesting it was ‘bigger than Watergate.’ ‘Her criminal action was willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful,’ he said at a rally in Phoenix. ‘Hillary set up an illegal server for the obvious purpose of shielding her criminal conduct from public disclosure and exposure, knowing full well that her actions put our national security at risk.’ Democrats now charge that Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter and her husband, who both serve as aides to the president, did the same things he pilloried Mrs. Clinton for doing. The basis for their accusations was the letter Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, sent on Thursday to Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, saying that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has used WhatsApp, an unofficial encrypted messaging service, to communicate with foreign contacts about official White House business. Mr. Cummings also said that Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, did not preserve some emails that were sent to her private account, as she claimed in the past, contradicting her own previous claims and possibly violating federal records laws.”

Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimesThe Washington Post, Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers, Friday, 22 March 2019: “Does Trump’s political rhetoric have a measurable link to reported hate crime and extremist activity? We examined this question, given that so many politicians and pundits accuse Trump of emboldening white nationalists. White nationalist leaders seem to agree, as leaders including Richard Spencer and David Duke have publicly supported Trump’s candidacy and presidency, even if they still criticize him for not going far enough. The New Zealand shooter even referred to Trump as a ‘renewed symbol of white identity.’ So, do attitudes like these have real world consequences? Recent research on far-right groups suggests that they do, especially when these attitudes are embraced and encourage by peers. Specifically, the quantity of neo-Nazi and racist skinhead groups active in a state leads to increased reports of hate crimes within that state.”


Saturday, 23 March 2019, Day 793:


As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New YorkThe New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Benjamin Weiser, and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 23 March 2019: “Even as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, submitted his confidential report to the Justice Department on Friday, federal and state prosecutors are pursuing about a dozen other investigations that largely grew out of his work, all but ensuring that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency. Most of the investigations focus on President Trump or his family business or a cadre of his advisers and associates, according to court records and interviews with people briefed on the investigations. They are being conducted by officials from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, with about half of them being run by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan. Unlike Mr. Mueller, whose mandate was largely focused on any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the federal prosecutors in Manhattan take an expansive view of their jurisdiction. That authority has enabled them, along with F.B.I. agents, to scrutinize a broader orbit around the president, including his family business. Mr. Trump told The New York Times in 2017 that any examination of his family’s finances, beyond any relationship to Russia, would cross a red line, and last year he privately asked the former acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker, if someone he viewed as loyal could be put in charge of the investigations at the Manhattan office, The Times reported last month.”

At the center of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry, a presidential campaign that appeared to welcome Russia’s helpThe Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger, Saturday, 23 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation without charging any Americans with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 campaign and help elect Donald Trump. But hundreds of pages of legal filings and independent reporting since Mueller was appointed nearly two years ago have painted a striking portrayal of a presidential campaign that appeared untroubled by a foreign adversary’s attack on the U.S. political system — and eager to accept the help. When Trump’s eldest son was offered dirt about Hillary Clinton that he was told was part of a Russian government effort to help his father, he responded, ‘I love it.’ When longtime Trump friend Roger Stone was told a Russian national wanted to sell damaging information about Clinton, he took the meeting. When the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks published documents that the Democratic National Committee said had been stolen by Russian operatives, Trump’s campaign quickly used the information to its advantage. Rather than condemn the Kremlin, Trump famously asked Russia to steal more. Even after taking office, Trump has been hesitant to condemn Russia’s actions, instead calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and denouncing the work of federal investigators seeking to understand a Russian attack on the country he leads.” See also, Trump’s legal troubles are far from over even as the Mueller investigation endsThe Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and David A. Fahrenthold, Saturday, 23 March 2019.

Attorney General William Barr Prepares to Brief Lawmakers and Trump on Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Katie Benner, Maggie Haberman, and Annie Karni, Saturday, 23 March 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr and his team on Saturday pored over the highly anticipated report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, a senior Justice Department official said, preparing to deliver the investigation’s ‘principal conclusions’ to jittery lawmakers and President Trump as soon as Sunday. Mr. Barr and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Mr. Mueller and oversaw much of his work, were cloistered inside the Justice Department debating how to present the findings. Mr. Mueller was not participating in the process, the official said.” See also, Attorney general William Barr is preparing conclusions from the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Rachael Bade, and Robert Costa, Saturday, 23 March 2019.

Democrats to pursue Trump investigations no matter what Mueller concludesThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, and Paul Kane, Saturday, 23 March 2019: “Democrats have yet to see details of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on President Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election but are insisting they will press ahead with their investigations no matter what the conclusions. In a rare Saturday conference call for House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisted on full disclosure of Mueller’s report, telling her colleagues that she would reject any classified briefing on the report from the 22-month investigation for just a select group of lawmakers. Separately, six committee chairs said they would proceed with inquiries into whether Trump obstructed justice or abused the powers of his office. ‘Congress requires the full report and the underlying documents so that the committees can proceed with their independent work, including oversight and legislating to address any issues the Mueller report may raise,’ Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues shortly before the call. Americans, she told Democrats on the call, ‘deserve the truth, to know the truth. Transparency is the order of the day.'”

Inland Checkpoints of the Border Patrol Are Shut Down so Agents Can Help Process Asylum SeekersTexas Monthly, Robert Moore, Saturday, 23 March 2018: “The El Paso Border Patrol sector has temporarily closed its system of highway checkpoints as it struggles to cope with a record influx of families crossing the border and requesting asylum. The agents who usually staff the checkpoints will be redeployed to process and transport the asylum seekers, according to multiple sources who spoke to Texas Monthly on the condition they not be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the change.” See also, Border Patrol Takes a Rare Step in Shutting Down Inland CheckpointsThe New York Times, Simon Romero, published on Monday, 25 March 2019.


Sunday, 24 March 2019, Day 794:


According to Attorney General William Barr, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, but He Stops Short of Exonerating Trump on Obstruction of JusticeThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “The investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found no evidence that President Trump or any of his aides coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s key findings made public on Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr. Mr. Mueller, who spent nearly two years investigating Moscow’s determined effort to sabotage the last presidential election, found no conspiracy ‘despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,’ Mr. Barr wrote in a letter to lawmakers. Mr. Mueller’s team drew no conclusions about whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed justice, Mr. Barr said, so he made his own decision. The attorney general and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, determined that the special counsel’s investigators had insufficient evidence to establish that the president committed that offense. He cautioned, however, that Mr. Mueller’s report states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him’ on the obstruction of justice issue. Still, the release of the findings was a significant political victory for Mr. Trump and lifted a cloud that has hung over his presidency since before he took the oath of office. It is also likely to alter discussion in Congress about the fate of the Trump presidency; some Democrats had pledged to wait until the special counsel finished his work before deciding whether to initiate impeachment proceedings…. Mr. Barr’s letter said that the special counsel’s office employed 19 lawyers and was assisted by about 40 F.B.I. agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and other staff. About 500 witnesses were interviewed, and 13 foreign governments were asked to turn over evidence. Over all, the special counsel’s office issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants and obtained more than 230 orders for communications records.” See also, Read Attorney General William Barr’s Summary of the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr Goes Beyond Special Counsel Robert Mueller in Clearing Trump on Obstruction of Justice, Drawing ScrutinyThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “Over the 22 months of their inquiry, Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators examined countless documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses, including some of the highest-ranking lawyers and aides in the White House, to determine whether President Trump obstructed justice. But in the end, the special counsel reached no conclusion — instead producing a report that merely marshaled evidence on both sides. Then, Attorney General William P. Barr, a political appointee whom Mr. Trump installed less than a month ago and who began reading Mr. Mueller’s report on Friday, stepped in. With the concurrence of his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, Mr. Barr seized the opportunity to render a judgment — pronouncing Mr. Trump clear of committing any criminal offense. The propriety of that move by Mr. Barr — who had written an unsolicited memo last year arguing that Mr. Mueller ought not be permitted to investigate Mr. Trump for obstruction of justice — is certain to be a focus of political contention as Congress grapples with what it now knows about the still-secret Mueller report.” See also, No Collusion, No ‘Exoneration’: A Trump-friendly attorney general’s letter doesn’t do justice to the special counsel’s investigation. Release his whole report. The New York Times, Editorial Board, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, The Many Problems With Attorney General William Barr’s LetterThe New York Times, Neal Katyal, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “On Sunday afternoon, soon after Attorney General Bill Barr released a letter outlining the Mueller investigation report, President Trump tweeted ‘Total EXONERATION!’ But there are any number of reasons the president should not be taking a victory lap. First, obviously, he still faces the New York investigations into campaign finance violations by the Trump team and the various investigations into the Trump organization. And Mr. Barr, in his letter, acknowledges that the Mueller report ‘does not exonerate’ Mr. Trump on the issue of obstruction, even if it does not recommend an indictment. But the critical part of the letter is that it now creates a whole new mess. After laying out the scope of the investigation and noting that Mr. Mueller’s report does not offer any legal recommendations, Mr. Barr declares that it therefore ‘leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.’ He then concludes the president did not obstruct justice when he fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey. Such a conclusion would be momentous in any event. But to do so within 48 hours of receiving the report (which pointedly did not reach that conclusion) should be deeply concerning to every American. The special counsel regulations were written to provide the public with confidence that justice was done. It is impossible for the public to reach that determination without knowing two things. First, what did the Mueller report conclude, and what was the evidence on obstruction of justice? And second, how could Mr. Barr have reached his conclusion so quickly?” See also, Trump Declares Exoneration, and a War on His EnemiesThe New York Times, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, No Impeachment in View, but Democrats Push On With Investigations of TrumpThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, Democratic Presidential Candidates Call for Release of Special Counsel ReportThe New York Times, Sandra E. Garcia, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency Is LiftedThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, It’s Bigger Than Mueller and TrumpThe New York Times, Charles Blow, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him. As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020.”

Attorney General William Barr says Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find the Trump campaign conspired with RussiaThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not find that Donald Trump or his campaign schemed with Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, according to a summary released Sunday that the president immediately embraced as a ‘total exoneration’ even though Mueller reached no conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice. After a nearly two-year investigation, Mueller’s findings seemed to dispel the cloud of conspiracy that has hung over the administration since its inception. But by delivering caveats alongside conclusions, the closing of the Mueller investigation opens the door to fiercer political fights over the president’s judgment and power.” See also, Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report puts matters in Congress’s courtThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, and Paul Kane, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “Undeterred by President Trump’s claim of ‘complete and total exoneration’ from a summary of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference, Democrats on Sunday vowed to press ahead with their multiple investigations into the president and whether he obstructed justice.  Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose [House Judiciary] panel has jurisdiction over impeachment, pledged to pick up where investigators left off and, if necessary, subpoena Attorney General William P. Barr to testify. In an impromptu news conference in New York City, he seized on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s refusal to exonerate Trump on the question of obstruction of justice, suggesting that Barr’s summary was ‘a hasty, partisan interpretation of the facts. President Trump is wrong. This report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration,’ Nadler said. ‘It is unconscionable that President Trump would try to spin the special counsel’s findings as if his conduct was remotely acceptable.’… In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Barr’s letter ‘raises as many questions as it answers. The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay,’ they said. ‘Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.’… In a joint statement Sunday night, Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) called for Barr to appear before the Judiciary panel ‘without delay’ and for the Justice Department to release the full Mueller report and all of the underlying documents. ‘The Special Counsel’s Report should be allowed to speak for itself, and Congress must have the opportunity to evaluate the underlying evidence,’ the chairmen said in their statement. ‘These shortcomings in today’s letter are the very reason our nation has a system of separation of powers.'” See also, Mueller’s punt on the obstruction of justice question throws the issue into the political arenaThe Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “In his still-confidential report, Mueller stopped short of drawing a conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice, writing that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,’ according to a summary by Attorney General William P. Barr released Sunday. Barr went further, saying that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein concluded the evidence gathered by the special counsel ‘is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.’ That has left the question of Trump’s actions — which included the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, the public attacks on his attorney general Jeff Sessions, the regular cries of ‘witch hunt’ and the taunting of witnesses — as one that will now be wrestled with in the political arena.” See also, Trump Did not collude with Russia. But he’s wrong to say Mueller exonerated him. The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, 4 key takeaways from the Mueller report summary by Attorney General William BarrThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Sunday, 24 March 2019.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Doesn’t Find Trump Campaign Conspired With Russia, but He Doesn’t Draw a Conclusion About Whether Trump Obstructed JusticeThe Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Aruna Viswanatha, and Byron Tau, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that President Trump and his campaign didn’t conspire or coordinate with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a letter Attorney General William Barr sent to Congress on Sunday that summarized the final report on Mr. Mueller’s investigation. But Mr. Mueller didn’t draw a conclusion on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, according to Mr. Barr’s letter, noting the report neither finds that the president committed a crime nor exonerated him. In the absence of a determination from Mr. Mueller, Mr. Barr wrote, he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Mr. Trump’s actions didn’t reach the bar of a crime. The announcement brings to an end an investigation that has roiled the administration since 2017 when Mr. Trump fired James Comey, his Federal Bureau of Investigation director. But a new political drama over the report was set to begin, with congressional Democrats promising to investigate the report’s conclusions and seek access to the full document.” See also, Attorney General William Barr says Mueller report did not find Trump campaign conspired with RussiaThe Guardian, Oliver Laughland, Jon Swaine, and David Smith, published on Monday, 25 March 2019. See also, According to a Summary of Findings Submitted to Congress by Attorney General William Barr, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Didn’t Find Trump or His Campaign Conspired With Russia to Influence the 2016 Election, But Mueller Did Not Take a Position on Whether Trump Obstructed Justice by Trying to Frustrate the Ongoing InvestigationNPR, Carrie Johnson, Philip Ewing, and Jessica Taylor, Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr says Mueller finds no Trump-Russia conspiracy, but he doesn’t take a clear position on whether Trump obstructed justicePolitico, Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein, Sunday, 24 March 2019.

What to Make of Bill Barr’s LetterLawfare, Mikhaila Fogel, Quinta Jurecic, Susan Hennessey, Matthew Kahn, and Benjamin Wittes, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “Leave it to President Trump to describe as ‘Total EXONERATION’ a document that specifically quotes Special Counsel Robert Mueller as saying that one of his principal findings ‘does not exonerate’ the president. The brief letter sent by Attorney General William Barr to congressional leaders on Sunday afternoon summarizing Mueller’s findings is a complicated document. In key respects, it contains very good news for President Trump about a scandal that has dogged his presidency since before he even took office. The determination of just how good the news is—whether it amounts to the exoneration Trump claims on these points or whether we’re dealing with conduct just shy of prosecutable—will have to await the text of Mueller’s report itself. But for those who quite reasonably demanded a serious investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and of cooperation and coordination with it on the part of the Trump campaign, it has to be significant that Mueller, after the better part of two years of investigating, has not found that anyone associated with the Trump campaign knowingly conspired with Russia’s efforts. In other respects, however, Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report is ominous for the president. While Mueller did not find that Trump obstructed his investigation, he also made a point of not reaching the opposite conclusion: that Trump didn’t obstruct the investigation. Indeed, he appears to have created a substantial record of the president’s troubling interactions with law enforcement for adjudication in noncriminal proceedings—which is to say in congressional hearings that are surely the next step. What makes the document more complicated still is the fact that it offers only a skeletal description of Mueller’s report. It only purports to convey Mueller’s top-line findings and does not include any of the evidence or legal analysis that underlies those findings. It doesn’t tell any of the stories that the Mueller report will tell. It only distills and announces two high-altitude legal conclusions from those stories. Assuming that Barr is characterizing Mueller’s findings reasonably, that leaves a whole raft of questions unanswered about what those stories will be—and what their impact will be.”

Yes, Trump Obstructed Justice. And Attorney General William Barr Is Helping Him Cover It Up. The New Republic, Marcy Wheeler, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “It is widely believed that Barr had already categorically ruled out charging a president with obstruction. In a June 2018 memo, shared with Trump’s lawyer before his nomination, Barr argued that the theory of obstruction he believed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be adopting would not be proper. But in that very same memo—on the very first page!—Barr conceded, ‘Obviously, the President … can commit obstruction in [a] classic sense of sabotaging a proceeding’s truth-finding function.’ Barr envisioned that if a president ‘suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony … then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.’ That’s important, because we know that Trump has been involved in getting his aides to lie. His own lawyer, Jay Sekulow, reportedly edited the prepared statement Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen gave to Congress about an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen goes to prison in May, in part, for telling lies that Sekulow reviewed.”

It’s Bigger Than Mueller and TrumpThe New York Times, Charles M. Blow, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “[W]hile Trump waged a two-year battle of slander and misinformation to defame the Mueller investigation, the majority of Democratic leadership did nothing to make the case that he had already reached the threshold of accountability, even without the report. Instead, they put too many eggs in the Mueller basket, and allowed Trump to move the goal posts. Indeed, now the goal posts are permanently affixed to skates. The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him. As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020. The Mueller report is a cautionary tale. There are no magic bullets, no devastating facts, no pivotal events that can undo what Trump has wrought. Trumpism is bigger than Trump. It is a rebranding of a consistent and increasingly resurgent strand of white American anxiety about primacy, privilege and displacement. The very symbols of Trumpism — the MAGA hats, the wall, etc. — are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.”

It’s Mueller TimeThe New Yorker, David Remnick, published online on Sunday, 24 March 2019: “The Trump Presidency has, from the first, represented a threat to truth, liberal democracy, and the rule of law. Donald Trump’s contempt for basic norms of governance is accompanied by a lack of decency, empathy, and psychological stability. This was never more evident than this week, when Trump, seemingly rattled by the imminence of the Mueller report, set off a fusillade of unhinged tweets, called the spouse of one of his senior advisers a ‘whack job,’ raged about the late Senator John McCain in front of a military audience at a tank plant in Lima, Ohio, and pronounced the Democratic Party ‘anti-Jewish,’ deepening, at every turn, the impression that he is unfit for government work. The perils of such instability are incalculable…. Trump has the psyche of an emotionally damaged toddler. You hear this not only from his ideological opponents but from countless departing confidants, lawyers, and advisers. He is devoted not to public service but to feeding the demands of his ego and his appetites. The pressures on Trump will inevitably increase now that the Mueller report has been delivered to the Attorney General. Meanwhile, a raft of investigators on various congressional committees and in outposts of the Justice Department are accelerating their searches into matters including hush-money payments, money laundering, irregular security clearances, foreign interference in the 2016 election, illegal use of inaugural funds, and improper use of foundation money. And yet it is impossible to imagine Trump changing his behavior. He retains the support of the Republican leadership; the odds of his completing his term are considerable. Trump’s affinity for the autocratic likes of Rodrigo Duterte, Mohammed bin Salman, Jair Bolsonaro, and Vladimir Putin suggests that he might refuse—as his former satrap and attorney Michael Cohen warned he would—to give up power without trying to undermine the legitimacy of the American political system. What’s more, given Trump’s skills in the dark arts of campaigning and the general public satisfaction with the economy, no matter its inequities or vulnerabilities, it would be foolhardy to discount his chance of winning reëlection.”

A timeline of what we’ve learned so far about Russia and the Trump campaignThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “Over the course of the past two years, The Washington Post has compiled timelines documenting what is known about various aspects of the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, interactions between President Trump’s campaign and Russian individuals, and ancillary activity that resulted in criminal charges obtained by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. As we’ve learned more, those timelines have grown and become more detailed. The sheer complexity of the intertwining stories, though, means that moments of overlap can be missed. So, with the final report from Mueller’s team still behind closed doors, we’ve gathered elements from all of our timelines into one grand timeline, providing a broader sense of what we’ve learned. This is necessarily complicated and necessarily excludes details. We hope, though, that it serves as a useful guide to whatever more is learned — and shows how complicated the questions at the heart of the Mueller probe actually were.”

Prosecutors are no longer pursuing 188 inauguration protest casesThe Washington Post, Keith L. Alexander, Sunday, 24 March 2019: “More than two years after the mass arrest of protesters at President Trump’s inauguration, two federal prosecutors walked into a D.C. courtroom earlier this month in a little-noticed hearing and told a judge that their investigation had ended and they would no longer pursue any of the cases. The cases began with one of the most sweeping arrest actions ever in the nation’s capital. Authorities said rioters caused about $100,000 in property damage across 16 blocks downtown. The government said the group used ‘black bloc’ tactics, dressing in dark colors and wearing masks, scarves or goggles to blend in with similarly dressed demonstrators who used rocks and crowbars to shatter windows of businesses and vehicles. In all, 234 people were arrested and charged in the Inauguration Day rioting. Of them, 21 defendants pleaded guilty before trial — the only convictions arising from the arrests. A handful of defendants went to trial, which resulted in acquittals or hung juries. Other cases were dropped gradually.”


Monday, 25 March 2019, Day 795:


The Trump Administration Broadens Its Attack on the Affordable Care Act, Arguing Courts Should Reject All of ItThe New York Times, Robert Pear, Monday, 25 March 2019: “The Trump administration broadened its attack on the Affordable Care Act on Monday, telling a federal appeals court that it now believed the entire law should be invalidated. The administration had previously said that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down, but that the rest of the law, including the expansion of Medicaid, should survive. If the appeals court accepts the Trump administration’s new arguments, millions of people could lose health insurance, including those who gained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid and those who have private coverage subsidized by the federal government.” See also, The Trump administration asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans to completely invalidate Obama’s Affordable Care ActThe Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, published on Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “In a significant shift, the Justice Department now says that it backs a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act, the signature Obama-era health law. It presented its position in a legal filing Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge in Texas ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate ‘can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power’ and further found that the remaining portions of the law are void. He based his judgment on changes to the nation’s tax laws made by congressional Republicans in 2017. At first, the Trump administration had not gone as far, arguing in a brief last June that the penalty for not buying insurance was legally distinct from other provisions of the law, which could still stand. Justice Department officials said there were grounds only to strike down the law’s consumer protections, including those for people with preexisting health conditions. But in the new filing, signed by three Justice Department attorneys, the administration said that the decision of U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor should be affirmed and the entirety of the ACA should be invalidated.” See also, In shift, Trump administration backs judge’s ruling that would kill Obamacare, Politico, Dan Diamond, Monday, 25 March 2019. See also, What Happens if Obamacare Is Struck Down? The New York Times, Reed Abelson, Abby Goodnough, and Robert Pear, published on Tuesday, 26 March 2019.

Planet-warming carbon-dioxide emissions are still increasing and coal plants emitted more than ever in 2018The Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, Monday, 25 March 2019: “Global energy experts released grim findings Monday, saying that not only are planet-warming carbon-dioxide emissions still increasing, but the world’s growing thirst for energy has led to higher emissions from coal-fired power plants than ever before. Energy demand around the world grew by 2.3 percent over the past year, marking the most rapid increase in a decade, according to the report from the International Energy Agency. To meet that demand, largely fueled by a booming economy, countries turned to an array of sources, including renewables. But nothing filled the void quite like fossil fuels, which satisfied nearly 70 percent of the skyrocketing electricity demand, according to the agency, which analyzes energy trends on behalf of 30 member countries, including the United States.” See also, Global energy demand rose by 2.3% in 2018, its fastest pace in the last decadeInternational Energy Agency, published on Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Energy demand worldwide grew by 2.3% last year, its fastest pace this decade, an exceptional performance driven by a robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in some regions. Natural gas emerged as the fuel of choice, posting the biggest gains and accounting for 45% of the rise in energy consumption. Gas demand growth was especially strong in the United States and China. Demand for all fuels increased, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70% of the growth for the second year running. Solar and wind generation grew at double-digit pace, with solar alone increasing by 31%. Still, that was not fast enough to meet higher electricity demand around the world that also drove up coal use. As a result, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2018. Coal use in power generation alone surpassed 10 Gt, accounting for a third of the total increase. Most of that came from a young fleet of coal power plants in developing Asia. The majority of coal-fired generation capacity today is found in Asia, with 12-year-old plants on average, decades short of average lifetimes of around 50 years.”

Trump, With Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Formally Recognizes Israel’s Authority Over Golan HeightsThe New York Times, Mark Landler and David M. Halbfinger, Monday, 25 March 2019: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared President Trump to Cyrus the Great, Lord Balfour and Harry S. Truman — historic giants who helped secure the future of the Israeli people. Mr. Trump called Mr. Netanyahu a ‘very special man.’ If the expressions of praise seemed unequal, they accurately conveyed the political dynamic between Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu during the Israeli leader’s visit to the White House on Monday. Mr. Netanyahu was thanking Mr. Trump for signing a proclamation recognizing Israel’s authority over the long-disputed Golan Heights — a valuable political gift to the prime minister two weeks before he faces voters in a hard-fought election back home.”

Puerto Rico faces food-stamp crisis as Trump privately vents about federal aid to Hurricane Maria-Battered islandThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 25 March 2019: “The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after [hurricane Maria], but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March as it focused on other issues before leaving for a week-long recess. Federal lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has derided the extra aid as unnecessary. Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials. And while Congress may address this issue soon, the lapse underscores the broader vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as key parts of its safety net, to the whims of an increasingly hostile federal government with which it has feuded over key priorities.” See also, The Trump administration has turned bigotry into policy in Puerto RicoThe Washington Post, Editorial Board, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Eighteen months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the federal government continues in its failure to adequately take care of the island’s needs. The latest indignity to residents who have yet to fully recover from damage caused by the hurricane and the government’s pathetic response is a sudden cut to food-stamp benefits. Congressional neglect and animus from the administration are responsible for hardships that would never be tolerated if the American citizens being harmed lived on the mainland and not in a U.S. territory that lacks voting representation in Washington.” See also, The inspector general’s office of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) says it will look into whether the White House interfered with Puerto Rico disaster aidThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Tracy Jan, and Josh Dawsey, published on Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development will review whether the White House has interfered with hurricane relief funding approved for Puerto Rico, an island still trying to recover from the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017, as part of a broader examination of the agency’s administration of disaster grants, a HUD inspector general attorney said Tuesday. Jeremy Kirkland, counsel to the HUD inspector general’s office, told a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee that the inspector general is meeting congressional lawmakers’ request to investigate whether the Trump administration has slowed the flow of aid to the island.” See also, Trump complains to senators that Puerto Rico is getting too much hurricane relief fundingThe Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Paul Kane, published on Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “President Trump complained in a private lunch Tuesday with Senate Republicans about the amount of disaster aid designated for Puerto Rico, as lawmakers prepare for a standoff over funds for the island that is still struggling to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to officials familiar with the meeting. Trump’s remarks came during an hour-long, freewheeling soliloquy at the Capitol with Senate Republicans where he boasted about the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, encouraged Republicans to take up another legislative effort on health care and mocked Democrats over the Green New Deal. Trump’s decision to use the occasion to send a message about funding for Puerto Rico underscores his continuing push to limit aid to the island.”

House committee chairs demand full Mueller report by April 2 deadlineNBC News, Alex Moe and Rebecca Shabad, Monday, 25 March 2019: “Six Democratic committee chairs in the House sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Monday requesting that he submit the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to Congress by April 2. In a three-page letter to Barr, the lawmakers wrote that his summary of the Mueller report ‘is not sufficient for Congress.’ ‘We look forward to receiving the report in full no later than April 2, and to begin receiving the underlying evidence and documents that same day,’ the letter said. The top House Democrats argued that providing the report ‘in complete and unredacted form,’ along with the underlying evidence and materials, would be fully consistent with the Department of Justice’s practice and precedent with Congress. ‘To the extent that you believe applicable law limits your ability to comply, we urge you to begin the process of consultation with us immediately in order to establish shared parameters for resolving those issues without delay,’ they wrote. The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.”

Trump Blames ‘Treasonous’ Critics for the Russia InquiryThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Monday, 25 March 2019: “President Trump went on the offensive on Monday a day after the special counsel investigation reported no conspiracy with Russia, suggesting that critics who pursued such suspicions were ‘treasonous,’ guilty of ‘evil things’ and should be investigated themselves. Grim faced and simmering with anger, Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that a collection of partisan foes had effectively conspired to try to disrupt or even end his presidency with false allegations about his campaign’s ties with Moscow in 2016. ‘There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, some bad things, I would say some treasonous things against our country,’ he told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. ‘And hopefully people that have done such harm to our country — we’ve gone through a period of really bad things happening — those people will certainly be looked at. I’ve been looking at them for a long time,’ he added, ‘and I’m saying why haven’t they been looked at? They lied to Congress, many of them, you know who they are. They’ve done so many evil things.'” See also, Trump and Republicans Seek to Turn the Tables in Post-Mueller WashingtonThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 25 March 2019: “President Trump and his Republican allies went on the offensive on Monday, vowing to pursue and even punish those responsible for the Russia investigation now that the special counsel has wrapped up without implicating him or his campaign in a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 election. Mr. Trump, grim faced and simmering with anger, denounced adversaries who have pounded him for two years over Russian election interference, calling them ‘treasonous’ people who are guilty of ‘evil’ deeds and should be investigated themselves. ‘Those people will certainly be looked at,’ he said. On Capitol Hill, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [Lindsey Graham] announced he would do just that while also calling for a new special counsel to look at the origins of the last one. White House officials and Republican lawmakers demanded the resignation of a Democratic committee chairman investigating the Russia matter, and Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign lobbied television networks to blackball Democrats who advanced the collusion theory.” Trump aides are relieved and elated–and out for paybackPolitico, Gabby Orr, Daniel Lippman, and Caitlin Oprysko, Monday, 25 March 2019.

Attorney General William Barr’s Declaration That Investigators Lacked Evidence to Prove That Trump Illegally Obstructed Justice Puts the Justice Department Back in the Political CrucibleThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Mark Mazzetti, and Katie Benner, Monday, 25 March 2019: “William P. Barr was a lawyer in private practice in June when he wrote an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department that was sharply skeptical of the special counsel’s inquiry into whether President Trump illegally obstructed justice. Nine months later, Mr. Trump is cleared of that offense, and he has Mr. Barr, his new attorney general, to thank. Mr. Barr’s decision to declare that evidence fell short of proving Mr. Trump illegally obstructed the Russia inquiry was an extraordinary outcome to a narrative that has unspooled over nearly two years. Robert S. Mueller III was appointed as special counsel to remove the threat of political interference from an investigation involving the president, but he reached no conclusion on the key question of whether Mr. Trump committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Mr. Barr stepped in to make the determination, bringing the specter of politics back into the case.”

Dispute erupts over Mueller’s findings on Trump, Russia, and obstruction of justiceThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Carol D Leonnig, and John Wagner, Monday, 25 March 2019: “During a briefing at the Justice Department about three weeks ago, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III made a revelation that those supervising his work were not expecting, a person familiar with the matter said: He would not offer a conclusion on whether he believed President Trump sought to obstruct justice. The decision — which a Justice Department official on Monday said the special counsel’s office came to “entirely” on its own — left a gap ripe for political exploitation. After accepting Mueller’s report, Attorney General William P. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who were among those briefed March 5, made the call Mueller would not, determining that the evidence was insufficient to allege that Trump had obstructed justice. The decisive maneuver, outlined in a letter Barr sent to lawmakers this week, sparked allegations that the two Trump appointees had rushed to a judgment no one asked them to make, and it is likely to be a key battleground in the intensifying political fight over the conclusion of Mueller’s work. A day after Barr revealed Mueller’s principal conclusions — namely, that the special counsel did not establish any coordination between Trump and Russia on election interference, and found a mixed bag on the question of obstruction — Democrats attacked the attorney general and issued an April 2 deadline for him to turn over a copy of the report, while Republicans said Trump should be given an apology. Some current and former law enforcement officials, meanwhile, said privately they were puzzled as to why Mueller ended his work without a firm recommendation on obstruction. Trump, who had repeatedly derided the investigation as a ‘witch hunt,’ said Monday, when asked if Mueller had acted honorably: ‘Yes, he did.'”

Reaction to Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report by Trump, Russia, and othersThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 25 March 2019: “President Trump went on Twitter and spoke to reporters Monday as his surrogates fanned out on television a day after a summary of a report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III cleared Trump of coordinating with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Although Trump and his allies said he had been exonerated by the two-year investigation, Democrats pushed for full disclosure of the report and what led to conclusions in the four-page summary Attorney General William P. Barr released Sunday. The summary said Mueller had reached no definitive conclusion on whether the president had tried to obstruct justice. Russian officials, meanwhile, continued to insist that their country had not interfered in the campaign, despite findings by Mueller to the contrary.” See also, Legal experts question Attorney General William Barr’s rationale for exonerating Trump of obstruction of justiceThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 25 March 2019. See also, This is not ‘complete and total exoneration.’ 10 takeaways from Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report. The Washington Post, James Hohmann, Monday, 25 March 2019. See also, Democrats call for full Mueller report release in the name of election securityThe Washington Post, Joseph Marks, Monday, 25 March 2019. 

After Mueller Report, News Media Leaders Defend Their WorkThe New York Times, Amy Chozick, Monday, 25 March 2019: “Mr. Mueller’s complete report hasn’t yet been released, but on Sunday, Attorney General William P. Barr made public a four-page letter to Congress reporting that the 22-month inquiry did not have sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Trump and his associates “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” ahead of the 2016 election. The news blindsided many liberals — particularly those with an ambient knowledge of Rachel Maddow’s nightly monologues on MSNBC.Who could blame them? The news media’s coverage of the investigation, particularly on cable TV, caused millions of Americans who disapprove of Mr. Trump to put their faith in Mr. Mueller…. Matt Taibbi, a Rolling Stone writer whose book on the 2016 election is titled ‘Insane Clown President,’ is not exactly a fan of Mr. Trump. And yet he called the apparent lack of new charges resulting from the special counsel’s investigation ‘a death blow for the reputation of the American news media.’ He compared it to the erroneous reporting on weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war…. Bill Grueskin, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, said there seemed to be some confusion about the role of journalists. ‘Mueller and Barr need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt — do we file charges or don’t we?’ he said. ‘Journalists don’t have that standard.’ In other words, Pulitzer Prize-winning reports of alleged wrongdoing do not need to provide evidence of criminality in order to be factual, newsworthy and relevant to readers. ‘The special counsel investigation documented, as we reported, extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and widespread deceit on the part of certain advisers to the president about Russian contacts and other matters,’ said Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post. ‘Our job is to bring facts to light. Others make determinations about prosecutable criminal offenses.’ Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, echoed that sentiment. ‘We wrote a lot about Russia, and I have no regrets,’ he said. ‘It’s not our job to determine whether or not there was illegality.'” See also, Conclusion of Mueller investigation raises anew criticisms of media coverageThe Washington Post, Paul Farhi, published on Sunday, 24 March 2019. See also, It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)Substack, Matt Taibbi, published on Saturday, 23 March 2019. See also, Serious journalists should be proud of–not bullied over–their Russia reportingThe Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Monday, 25 March 2019: “There are calls for a ‘reckoning’ on news coverage. All right, then. Here goes. I reckon that American citizens would have been far worse off if skilled reporters hadn’t dug into the connections between Trump’s associates — up to and including his son Don Jr. — and Russians. That reporting has not been invalidated. I reckon that the felonious lying to the public about a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow remains a scandal — and that we know about this in large part because journalists were doing their jobs aggressively. I reckon that the hard-nosed reporting about former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn — roundly denied, you might recall, before it was proved — was an early sign of the venality that was to follow. I reckon that reporting by The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, CNN, Bloomberg News, the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, ProPublica and others drove forward a national conversation that needed to happen. As Americans saw with their own eyes Trump’s bizarre efforts to ingratiate himself with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, that reporting mattered and provided context. And that shouldn’t be forgotten or swept aside now. And yes, I reckon that endless speculative threads and the explosions of tiny cannons on Twitter were ridiculous and over the top — and that the cable pundits who made a living off such speculation aren’t really journalists anyway.”

Senator Lindsey Graham says he told John McCain to give the Trump-Russia dossier to the FBIThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 25 March 2019: “Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday he had told Sen. John McCain to give the FBI the dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, a revelation that comes after Trump repeatedly assailed the late Arizona Republican over the issue. Last week, Trump accused McCain of handing over the document ‘for very evil purposes.’ McCain died of brain cancer in August. Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Monday McCain showed him the dossier when he received it in late 2016. ‘And I told him the only thing I knew to do with it, it could be a bunch of garbage, it could be true, who knows? Turn it over to somebody whose job it is to find these things out, and John McCain acted appropriately,’ Graham said, according to CNN.”


Tuesday, 26 March 2019, Day 796:


House Fails to Override Trump’s Veto, Preserving His Declaration of a National Emergency at the Southwestern Border, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The House on Tuesday failed to overturn President Trump’s first veto, leaving the declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border intact despite the bipartisan passage of a resolution attempting to nullify the president’s circumvention of Congress to fund his border wall. Despite concerns about the constitutional separation of powers and the effect of Mr. Trump’s move on local military projects, the 248-to-181 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to kill the national emergency declaration. Republicans in both chambers had joined Democrats in passing the resolution disapproving his national emergency just weeks ago, voicing discomfort over the president’s intent to divert funding to the construction of a border wall without congressional approval.” See also, House fails to override Trump veto on southern border emergencyThe Washington Post, Erica Werner, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border survived a critical vote in the House on Tuesday, as Democrats failed to override his veto, shifting the focus of the fight over money for the wall to the courts. The vote was 248 to 181, well short of the 288 that would have been required. The vote effectively ends — for now — legislative attempts to strike down Trump’s national emergency declaration.”

Pentagon Takes $1 Billion From Military Personnel Account to Build Border FenceNPR, Bill Chappell, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The Department of Defense is shifting $1 billion from a military personnel account to build a 57-mile fence at the southern U.S. border, saying the funds were freed up after some service branches fell short of their recruiting goals. The Pentagon won’t allow its plan to interfere with military readiness, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan told members of Congress on Tuesday, seeking to ease concerns about the controversial shift of appropriated funding made possible by President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency…. But in response, Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said the move would likely compel Congress to strip the Pentagon of the authority to ‘reprogram’ funds that have been appropriated for specific purposes and programs. That authority is currently provided only in cases where the Pentagon consults with Congress before acting. But in this case, Smith noted, the Defense Department did not ask permission.” See also, Military Projects Are at Risk in Search for Border Wall FundingThe Wall Street Journal, Anthony DeBarros and Maureen Linke, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “President Trump’s emergency declaration seeks to divert $3.6 billion from military construction to fund a border wall. Last week, the Pentagon sent Congress a list of projects for which lawmakers have approved funding of $12.9 billion. But only $4.4 billion of projects fit the Defense Department’s guidelines for potentially having their funds tapped to build the wall. The Pentagon said it wouldn’t take money from military housing, barracks or dormitories, or from projects for which it expected to award contracts by Sept. 30, 2019. The Defense Department hasn’t specified which of the $4.4 billion in projects will be tapped. It has also said it will ask Congress to allocate new funds in future years for any projects that are affected.” See also, Pentagon announces $1 billion transfer for border barriers, angering DemocratsThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Paul Sonne, and Dan Lamothe, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The Pentagon announced Monday night that it has authorized the transfer of up to $1 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers to build additional barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that drew sharp objections from Democratic lawmakers. The shift in funds, which the Pentagon justified under President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, will facilitate the construction of 57 miles of ‘pedestrian fencing,’ road construction and lighting along stretches of the border in Arizona and Texas…. Ten senators, including Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, objected to the move, saying in a letter that the Pentagon had not sought approval of congressional defense committees.”

David Bernhardt, Trump’s Nominee to Lead the Interior Department, Intervened to Block a Fish and Wildlife Service Report on the Effect of Pesticides on Endangered SpeciesThe New York Times, Eric Lipton, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “After years of effort, scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service had a moment of celebration as they wrapped up a comprehensive analysis of the threat that three widely used pesticides present to hundreds of endangered species, like the kit fox and the seaside sparrow…. Their analysis found that two of the pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, were so toxic that they ‘jeopardize the continued existence’ of more than 1,200 endangered birds, fish and other animals and plants, a conclusion that could lead to tighter restrictions on use of the chemicals. But just before the team planned to make its findings public in November 2017, something unexpected happened: Top political appointees of the Interior Department, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, blocked the release and set in motion a new process intended to apply a much narrower standard to determine the risks from the pesticides. Leading that intervention was David Bernhardt, then the deputy secretary of the interior and a former lobbyist and oil-industry lawyer. In October 2017, he abruptly summoned staff members to the first of a rapid series of meetings in which the Fish and Wildlife Service was directed to take the new approach, one that pesticide makers and users had lobbied intensively to promote.”

Green New Deal: Senate defeats proposal as Democrats unite in protest, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sharply criticizes the suggestion that concerns about the environment are ‘elitist,’ The Guardian, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The US Senate defeated a motion to take up the Green New Deal, the non-binding proposal spearheaded by progressive Democratic lawmakers to radically reduce greenhouse gases and try to lessen social inequity. Republican leaders in the Senate had scheduled Tuesday’s vote in an effort to turn the proposal into a wedge issue in the 2020 elections, hoping to force Democrats on the record about their support – or opposition – for a proposal that is popular among the Democratic base but has been criticized by many conservatives. Democrats called the efforts by the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell a ‘sham,’ and 43 of them voted ‘present’ rather than casting an up-or-down vote.”… [S]peaking at a hearing of the House financial services committee on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez sharply criticized the suggestion that concerns about the environment were ‘elitist’ and condemned past inaction.” See also, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Torches the Republican Talking Point That Caring About Climate Change Is ElitistThe Nation, Mark Hertsgaard, published on Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demonstrated again yesterday that she is the best political communicator in the United States when she torched congressional Republicans for climate denialism and inaction as ‘vast swaths of the Midwest are drowning’ and children in Flint, Michigan, are suffering lifelong brain damage from polluted water…. Ocasio-Cortez … created a viral moment that registered some 3 million views by early Wednesday morning, The Guardian reported. Ocasio-Cortez blasted the notion that caring about the environment is elitist. ‘Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, who have the highest asthma rates in the country,’ she said.

Democrats Pivot Hard to Health Care After Trump Moves to Strike Down the Affordable Care ActThe New York Times, Robert Pear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “A new fight over the future of the Affordable Care Act burst onto the Capitol Hill agenda on Tuesday morning, as Democrats tried to move past the Mueller report and pounce on the Trump administration’s legal motion to have President Barack Obama’s signature health care law invalidated by the federal courts. ‘The Republicans did say during the campaign that they weren’t there to undermine the pre-existing condition benefit, and here they are, right now, saying they’re going to strip the whole Affordable Care Act as the law of the land,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters, just hours before Democrats were to unveil their own plan to lower costs and protect people with pre-existing conditions. ‘This is actually an opportunity for us to speak to the American people with clarity,’ Ms. Pelosi went on. ‘They say one thing and they do another. They say they’re going to protect pre-existing conditions as a benefit, and then they go to court to strip it and strip the whole bill.'”

Florida agreed to let felons vote. Now Republicans are trying to limit who is eligibleThe Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “When an overwhelming majority of Floridians voted in November to restore voting rights for as many as 1.4 million felons, liberals and conservatives alike celebrated the largest expansion of voting eligibility in the country since the elimination of poll taxes and literacy tests in the 1960s. The bipartisan cheering waned this month when Republican state lawmakers proposed limiting the scope of what is known in Florida as Amendment 4 — and Democrats lashed out with accusations of voter suppression.”

Obama and Pelosi stress pragmatism as Democrats seek to move past the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The first word of caution came Monday night from the man who once led the Democratic Party, as former president Barack Obama gently warned freshman Democrats to think carefully about the costs of their bold liberal proposals. The next day, the current leader of the party, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), told her caucus in a closed-door meeting to refocus attention on ideas that won Democrats the majority in 2018, particularly ensuring health care for millions of Americans. Taken together, the Democratic leaders past and present delivered a message of pragmatism as they sought to unify their party ahead of 2020 elections, focus on their legislative agenda and move past impeachment talk after a special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy involving President Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 campaign.”

Mueller’s Investigation Erases a Line Drawn After WatergateThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “After Watergate, it was unthinkable that a president would fire an F.B.I. director who was investigating him or his associates. Or force out an attorney general for failing to protect him from an investigation. Or dangle pardons before potential witnesses against him. But the end of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, made clear that President Trump had successfully thrown out the unwritten rules that had bound other chief executives in the 45 years since President Richard M. Nixon resigned under fire, effectively expanding presidential power in a dramatic way. Mr. Mueller’s decision to not take a position on whether Mr. Trump’s many norm-shattering interventions in the law enforcement system constituted obstruction of justice means that future occupants of the White House will feel entitled to take similar actions.”

Justice Department official says details of the Mueller report will be issued in ‘weeks, not months,’ Reuters, Sarah N. Lynch, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “U.S. Attorney General William Barr plans to issue a public version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election within ‘weeks, not months,’ a Justice Department official said on Tuesday. Barr released his own summary of the report’s central findings on Sunday, but said he needed more time to review the report to determine how much of it could be made public. He relayed his plans to release a public version of the report in the coming weeks to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham during a phone call this week, the official said. The official said there is no plan to share an advanced copy of the report with the White House.”

Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, says ‘Undoubtedly there is collusion,’ The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “President Trump, emboldened by the special counsel’s determination he was not part of a criminal conspiracy to sway the 2016 election, has an early target as he seeks recompense from his critics: Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who maintains he’s seen evidence Trump colluded with Russia. Over the past two years, Schiff, who now chairs the House Intelligence Committee, has emerged as a public foil to Trump and his supporters. He has delivered scathing takedowns of Trump for calling Robert S. Mueller III’s probe a ‘witch hunt,’ and he offered similar criticism of Trump’s congressional allies now leading a charge to depose Schiff as chairman on the grounds that his bias against the president makes him unfit to lead. Yet even as House Democrats make a clear pivot away from the collusion question, they continue to rally around Schiff — who refuses to let the matter go until lawmakers can assess the investigative materials that informed Mueller’s findings.”

U.S. Expands Anti-Abortion Policies With New Overseas Funding RulesThe New York Times, Edward Wong, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “The Trump administration will withhold funding from foreign nongovernmental organizations that give money to foreign groups that perform abortions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday. In an expansion of the administration’s anti-abortion policies, Mr. Pompeo also said the government was ‘fully enforcing’ a law that prohibits groups from using United States aid to lobby on abortion issues…. The move builds on a 2017 announcement by the Trump administration that it was reinstating and expanding the so-called Mexico City policy. The executive action dating to 1984 — and described by critics as the ‘global gag rule’ — requires foreign nongovernmental organizations to refuse to perform abortions in exchange for receiving American funding. Democratic presidents, including Barack Obama, have issued memorandums through the years rescinding the rule, while Republican presidents have reinstated it; it has been in effect 19 of the last 34 years.”

Federal judge rules North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban is unconstitutionalThe Washington Post, Reis Thebault and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “A decades-old North Carolina law that banned women from having abortions after their 20th week of pregnancy is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Monday. The 1973 law made some allowances for medical concerns, but a 2015 amendment that narrowed those exemptions prompted abortion rights groups to file a lawsuit in 2016. U.S. District Judge William Osteen sided with the advocacy groups this week, writing that courts across the country have struck down “week- or event-specific abortion bans” and North Carolina’s is no different. Under the ruling — which will take effect in 60 days, pending an appeal from the state or revised legislation — women will be able to seek abortions at any point before a doctor determines the fetus is ‘viable’ and could be able to survive outside the womb.”

Kamala Harris’s First Campaign Policy: A Raise for TeachersThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Senator Kamala Harris of California announced a plan Tuesday to heavily invest federal money into teacher pay, the first policy rollout of her campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Ms. Harris’s proposal, which was billed as the ‘largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history,’ marks the next step for a campaign that began in February before a crowd of 20,000 supporters.”

Joe Biden Says He Regrets Role in Anita Hill HearingThe New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday acknowledged his role in the Anita Hill hearing, publicly reckoning with a moment from his past that has drawn criticism as he considers a third presidential campaign. In an emotional speech, Mr. Biden said he recognized the part he played in the aggressive questioning that Ms. Hill faced during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Justice Clarence Thomas, when she testified that Justice Thomas had sexually harassed her. ‘She faced a committee that didn’t fully understand what the hell this was all about. To this day, I regret I couldn’t give her the kind of hearing she deserved,’ he said, at an event in New York City honoring students who helped fight sexual violence on college campuses. ‘I wish I could have done something.’ His lament rang hollow to some on social media Tuesday night, who noted that Mr. Biden, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had considerable influence over how the hearing was conducted.” See also, Joe Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill poses new problems as he ponders a presidential campaign, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, published on Thursday, 28 March 2019: “Former vice president Joe Biden is under increasing pressure from women’s rights groups, prominent African American leaders and other supporters of Anita Hill to acknowledge his personal responsibility for his handling of the 1991 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As Biden inches toward a 2020 presidential run in which female and black voters will play an outsize role, some are urging him to extend a personal apology to Hill, something he is not believed to have done in the nearly 30 years since the hearing took place. Others are calling for him to publicly demonstrate that he understands he made mistakes at the time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But few are satisfied with his remarks about Hill at an event in New York on Tuesday night, at which he said he still regretted he ‘couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved.’ ‘He hasn’t accepted the ownership of the fact that he was the most powerful person in the role and in the room at that time,’ said Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women. ‘I think that he has a hard time because he doesn’t really completely understand yet. He is still protecting his gender.’… Hill, who is black, faced accusatory and deeply skeptical questioning from the all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee when she testified that Thomas had repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances toward her as her supervisor at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas denied the allegations. Beyond the questioning, critics of Biden have cited his refusal as chairman to allow testimony from sexual harassment experts and additional witnesses who could have supported Hill’s account.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, testifying before Congress, refuses to say whether schools should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identityThe Washington Post, Valerie Strauss, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was asked repeatedly Tuesday by a member of Congress whether she believes schools should be allowed to discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. She did not directly answer.” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defends billions in education-spending cuts to skeptical House DemocratsThe Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday defended her request to cut billions of dollars from the agency’s budget, as Democrats attacked her plan as outrageous and damaging to students who need the most help. Democrats were also cold to DeVos’s plan to use the federal tax code to support private school scholarships, suggesting that the secretary’s priorities will face another tough year in Congress.” See also, Five Trump trips to Mar-a-Lago would cover Betsy DeVos’s proposed cuts to the Special OlympicsThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Wednesday, 27 March 2019.

Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat-Illinois) and Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) reintroduce bill to protect ‘dreamers,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 26 March 2019: “Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced long-stalled legislation Tuesday to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The legal status of ‘dreamers,’ as those immigrants are commonly known, has been a major flash point in the immigration policy debate since President Trump rolled back an Obama-era order protecting them from deportation. He was later blocked by a federal appeals court, but dreamers still live with uncertainty. Bipartisan support for dreamers extends to 2001, and versions of the Dream Act have been introduced in subsequent years but never passed. Despite its widespread popularity, it has gotten tied up in the broader immigration debate.”


Wednesday, 27 March 2019, Day 797:


Federal judge blocks Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and ArkansasThe Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “A federal judge in Washington threw a significant roadblock into the Trump administration’s efforts to compel poor people on Medicaid to work in exchange for health benefits, rejecting a Kentucky program for a second time while saying that rules in effect in Arkansas ‘cannot stand.’ The twinned opinions Wednesday afternoon, in a pair of states that have been national leaders in the move toward Medicaid work requirements, cast doubt on the Trump administration’s approvals of efforts to re-envision the public insurance program. The opinions undo the permissions that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department gave those two states, telling the agency it must reconsider the applications with an eye on the effect on poor people who depend on the coverage.” See also, Judge Blocks Medicaid Work Requirements in Arkansas and KentuckyThe New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “A federal judge on Wednesday threw out Medicaid work requirements in two states, a blow to Republican efforts to profoundly reshape a program that has provided free health insurance to the poorest Americans for more than 50 years. In twin rulings, Judge James E. Boasberg of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia rejected for a second time Kentucky’s attempt to require recipients to work or volunteer as a condition of coverage and blocked a similar rule in Arkansas, which has resulted in more than 18,000 people there losing coverage since last summer. So far, the Trump administration has allowed eight states to begin requiring many of their Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or train for a job to be eligible for benefits. Seven other states are seeking permission from the Department of Health and Human Services to impose similar rules.” See also, Judge strikes down Medicaid work rules in Arkansas and KentuckyPolitico, Rachana Pradhan, Wednesday, 27 March 2019.

Trump Sided With Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in Push to Nullify Health LawThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Robert Pear, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “The Trump administration’s surprise decision to press for a court-ordered demolition of the Affordable Care Act came after a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Monday, where the president’s acting chief of staff and others convinced him that he could do through the courts what he could not do through Congress: repeal his predecessor’s signature achievement. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff and former South Carolina congressman, had spent years in the House saying that the health law should be repealed, and his handpicked head of the Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, supported the idea of joining a Republican attorneys general lawsuit to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act. That suit, and the Justice Department, initially pressed to nullify only the part of the law that forces insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions as well as a suite of health benefits deemed ‘essential,‘ such as pregnancy and maternal health, mental health and prescription drugs. But a district judge in Texas ruled that the entire law was rendered unconstitutional when President Trump’s tax law brought the tax penalty for not having health insurance to zero, and the administration faced a choice: stick with its more limited intervention or back the judge’s decision. Mr. Trump has declared that he has kept his promises, Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Grogan argued, and as a candidate he campaigned on repealing the health law. His base of voters would love it. Besides, they argued, Democrats have been campaigning successfully on health care, and Republicans should try to claim the issue for themselves. This could force the matter.” See also, Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pushes the health-care fight Trump wants despite misgivings of RepublicansThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, and Damian Paletta, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “Mick Mulvaney is trying to achieve as acting White House chief of staff what he never could as a conservative firebrand in Congress. Mulvaney this week helped persuade President Trump to get behind a legal effort aimed at striking down the Affordable Care Act over the objections of some in the administration and Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.”

‘Enough with the insults’: Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló says Trump won’t meet about Hurricane Maria recoveryThe Washington Post, Tim Elfrink, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “In the brutal months after Hurricane Maria, which killed an estimated 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, the island’s Democratic governor abstained from joining the local chorus lashing President Trump over what they see as a botched federal response. But that fragile alliance has disintegrated, as Trump increasingly insists that aid to the island be cut off, a demand he reiterated to Senate Republicans on Tuesday. In his strongest rebuke yet of the president, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló late on Tuesday called Trump’s comments ‘below the dignity of a sitting President’ and ‘irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified,’ while suggesting Trump has dodged meeting him. ‘I invite the President to stop listening to ignorant and completely wrong advice,’ Rosselló said in a statement. ‘Instead he should come to Puerto Rico to hear firsthand from the people on the ground. I invite him to put all of the resources at his disposal to help Americans in Puerto Rico, like he did for Texas and Alabama. No more, no less.'”

House Oversight and Reform Committee is seeking 10 years of Trump’s financial records from an accounting firmPolitico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “The House Oversight and Reform Committee is seeking 10 years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from an accounting firm, according to a letter 0btained by POLITICO. The Democrat-led committee asked Mazars USA, a tax and accounting firm, for documents this month related to Trump’s personal finances, with a particular focus on his failed bid to purchase the Buffalo Bills before he became president. It reflects an effort by the committee, under Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), to corroborate aspects of former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony before the panel last month. Cohen told lawmakers that Trump inflated his personal net worth as he sought to buy the NFL team. He also claimed that Trump sought to reduce his tax burden by deflating the value of certain assets.” See also, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (Democrat-Maryland) requested 10 years of Trump financial recordsThe Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “House Democrats are pressing ahead with a request for 10 years of President Trump’s financial records from his New York-based accountant, following accusations from Trump’s former lawyer that Trump had inflated his worth to mislead his lenders and insurers. Last week, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to Victor Wahba, the chairman and chief executive of the audit firm Mazars USA, asking for copies of ‘statements of financial condition’ and audits prepared for Trump and several of his companies, including the company that owns the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. The committee also asked Mazars for supporting documents used to produce those reports, as well as communications between the firm and Trump himself. The news, first reported by Politico, leaked after top Republicans on the panel sent a letter to Wahba Wednesday expressing their displeasure over Cummings’s request and his lack of consultation with them before making it.” See also, Elijah Cummings Seeks 10 Years of Trump’s Financial RecordsThe Daily Beast, Sam Stein, Wednesday, 27 March 2019.

Trump administration scrambles to defend budget cut for Special OlympicsThe Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “The Trump administration faced withering attacks and bipartisan pushback as it scrambled Wednesday to defend its proposal to kill federal funding for Special Olympics. President Trump’s budget plan slashes programs of all stripes, but the idea of cutting federal support for a beloved organization generated outrage far and wide. The issue came up at a House hearing on Tuesday and by Wednesday afternoon, prominent GOP lawmakers were vowing to protect the $17.6 million for Special Olympics, which gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete in a range of athletic contests. Trump’s proposed 2020 budget marked the third year that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed the cut. But as word spread following Tuesday’s hearing, attacks poured in from Capitol Hill, the presidential campaign trail and Twitter. DeVos defended the proposal, saying Special Olympics benefits from private philanthropic support.” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Wants to Cut Special Olympics Funding. Here’s Why It Probably Won’t Happen. The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced scathing criticism this week over a budget proposal that calls for eliminating funding for the Special Olympics, as members of Congress voiced opposition at a hearing that drew widespread attention and stoked a strong defense of the organization across the internet. ‘I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget,’ Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, told Ms. DeVos during the hearing on Tuesday, held by a House subcommittee. ‘You zero that out. It’s appalling.'” See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defends proposed Special Olympics cut amid outcryPolitico, Nicole Gaudiano, Wednesday, 27 March 2019. See also, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Defends Proposal to End Special Olympics FundingThe Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman, Wednesday, 27 March 2019.

Mueller grand jury ‘continuing robustly,’ prosecutor says, Politico, Darren Samuelsohn, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “The special counsel grand jury that investigated Russian collusion into the 2016 presidential election is ‘continuing robustly’ despite the end of Robert Mueller’s probe, a federal prosecutor said in court Wednesday. The revelation — while laced with uncertainty — indicates that the ongoing cases Mueller handed off after concluding his probe could still feature significant developments, legal experts said.”

Mark Richardson, an Official With the National Rifle Association (NRA) Corresponded With a Prominent Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theorist to Call Into Question the School Shooting in Parkland, FloridaHuffPost, Sebastian Murdock, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “An official with the National Rifle Association corresponded with a prominent Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist to call into question the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, emails obtained by HuffPost show. NRA officer Mark Richardson emailed Wolfgang Halbig, a noted harasser of parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, to float a conspiracy theory about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed last year. ‘Just like [Sandy Hook], there is so much more to this story,’ Richardson said in an email dated Feb. 15, 2018 ― just one day after the Florida shooting. Twenty children and six adults were killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. ‘[The Parkland shooter] was not alone.’ The email was sent from his official NRA email address. Richardson is a training instructor and program coordinator with the NRA. He has worked there since 2006, according to a social media post. In an emailed statement to HuffPost, he confirmed he had been in contact with Halbig and said he was asking a ‘legitimate question.'” See also, NRA safety officer enlisted a Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist to sow doubt about Parkland shooting, emails showThe Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Thursday, 28 March 2019.

Lawmakers rough Up Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Over Proposed State Department CutsThe New York Times, Edward Wong and Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 27 March 2019: “Lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday denounced the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the budgets of the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development by more than 23 percent, telling the secretary of state that the drastic drop would threaten national security and that it showed ‘contempt for diplomacy.’ Appearing before two House committees, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to justify the administration’s smaller budget request and foreign policy strategy on a range of global issues, including North Korea, Russia and Venezuela. It was Mr. Pompeo’s first testimony in his current job in front of Democrat-controlled committees, and neither party was particularly receptive.”


Thursday, 28 March 2019, Day 798:


Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Report Exceeds 300 Pages, Raising Questions About Attorney General William Barr’s Four-Page SummaryThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “The still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted last week by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was more than 300 pages long, the Justice Department acknowledged on Thursday. Mr. Barr wrote to Congress on Sunday offering what he called the ‘principal conclusions’ of the report — including that Mr. Mueller had not found that the Trump campaign had taken part in a conspiracy to undermine the election. But he had notably declined to publicly disclose its length. The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mr. Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent to Congress.” See also, Why Did Mueller Bypass a Call on Obstruction of Justice? What We Know and Don’t Know. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, published on Wednesday, 27 March 2019. See also, Democrats Push for Fast Release of Mueller ReportThe Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Warren P. Strobel, and Byron Tau, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Attorney General William Barr on Thursday over his handling of the special counsel’s report, pressing the case for the full release of the document as President Trump and Republicans continued to claim vindication in the Russia probe. Mrs. Pelosi said that the summary Mr. Barr provided to lawmakers last weekend was well short of what Congress required. ‘Show us the report and we can draw our own conclusions,’ Mrs. Pelosi (D., Calif.) said. Referring to Mr. Barr’s document, she added: ‘We don’t need you interpreting for us. It was condescending, it was arrogant, and it wasn’t the right thing to do.’ The comments were fueled by growing concerns among Democrats about how many details will be released quickly, ahead of a deadline they set for Tuesday for release of the report.” See also, Mueller report longer than 300 pagesPolitico, Rebecca Morin, Thursday, 28 March 2019. See also, Democrats say they will accuse Attorney General William Barr of a ‘coverup’ if he delivers an incomplete Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “House Democrats are ready to accuse Attorney General William P. Barr of a ‘coverup’ to protect President Trump if he refuses to detail for Congress the information special counsel Robert S. Mueller III provided the grand jury during his investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The pointed warning, delivered by senior Democratic aides during a media briefing Thursday, marked the latest sign of a potential legal standoff between lawmakers and the Justice Department over access to Mueller’s complete findings. Barr has pledged to redact grand jury information from Mueller’s report, which spans more than 300 pages, according to people familiar with the document, and that process is expected to take weeks. That is far longer than Democrats say they are prepared to wait, and they have begun to express suspicion that the attorney general intends to prevent the public disclosure of information within Mueller’s findings that may be unflattering or otherwise problematic for the president. It remains unclear what precisely Barr plans to deliver to Congress.”

A Mueller mystery: How Trump dodged a special counsel interview–and a subpoena fightThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “It was March 2018, nearly 10 months into his Russia investigation, when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a man of few words, raised the stakes dramatically in a meeting with President Trump’s lawyers: If the president did not sit down voluntarily for an interview, he could face a subpoena. In the months that followed, Mueller never explicitly threatened to issue a subpoena as his office pursued a presidential interview, a sit-down for which the special counsel was pushing as late as December. But with that prospect hanging over them, Trump’s legal advisers conducted a quiet, multipronged pressure campaign to avert such an action and keep the president from coming face-to-face with federal investigators — fearful he would perjure himself.”

State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts, World Meteorological Organization, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018, its 25th anniversary edition, highlights record sea level rise, as well as exceptionally high land and ocean temperatures over the past four years. This warming trend has lasted since the start of this century and is expected to continue. ‘Since the Statement was first published, climate science has achieved an unprecedented degree of robustness, providing authoritative evidence of global temperature increase and associated features such as accelerating sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, glacier retreat and extreme events such as heat waves,’ said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.”

How Donald Trump inflated his net worth to lenders and investorsThe Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “When Donald Trump wanted to make a good impression — on a lender, a business partner, or a journalist — he sometimes sent them official-looking documents called ‘Statements of Financial Condition.’ These documents sometimes ran up to 20 pages. They were full of numbers, laying out Trump’s properties, debts and multibillion-dollar net worth. But, for someone trying to get a true picture of Trump’s net worth, the documents were deeply flawed. Some simply omitted properties that carried big debts. Some assets were overvalued. And some key numbers were wrong.” See also, What Trump’s blatant wealth inflation portendsThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell are out with a must-read story on the unorthodox financial statements Trump has provided lenders and business partners in recent years. We already knew that these ‘Statements of Financial Condition’ appeared to contain the kind of Trumpian wealth-inflation we’ve come to expect. But the big takeaway here is that some of the claims are flat-out wrong or leave out key information. And perhaps not coincidentally, they appear to err in one direction: toward Trump being wealthier and more financially stable than he actually was.”

In Blow to Trump, Judge Blocks Health Care Law ‘End Run,’ The New York Times, Robert Pear, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Trump administration rule that allows small businesses to band together and set up health insurance plans that skirt requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The rule is ‘clearly an end-run around the A.C.A.,’ said the judge, John D. Bates, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. The ruling was the second big defeat this week for President Trump on a top-priority item on his health care agenda as he has sought to use the courts to obliterate his predecessor’s signature achievement. Another judge on Wednesday blocked Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky.” See also, ‘Clearly an end-run’: Federal judge rejects Trump’s health care plan to go around ObamacareThe Washington Post, Timothy Bella, published on Friday, 29 March 2019. See also, Trump administration suffers another Obamacare blow in courtPolitico, Paul Demko, Thursday, 28 March 2019.

Supreme Court Refuses to Block Ban on Bump StocksThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block a Trump administration initiative banning bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained, rapid bursts. The court’s action, in a one-sentence order, means that the regulation will remain in force while challenges to it move forward in the courts. There were no noted dissents. The case concerns executive power, not the Second Amendment. The lead plaintiff, Gun Owners of America, which describes itself as ‘the “no compromise” gun lobby,’ argued that the administration had exceeded its authority by banning bump stocks under federal laws that largely ban machine guns. (The National Rifle Association was not a party to the suit.)” See also, Supreme Court declines to stop Trump administration’s ban on bump stocksThe Washington Post, Mark Berman, Thursday, 28 March 2019.

Trump Extends Temporary Protection for Liberians in the U.S.The Wall Street Journal, Louise Radnofsky, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “President Trump is reversing course on the fate of thousands of Liberians in the U.S., days before a program shielding them from deportation was set to expire. The Trump administration had planned to cancel on March 31 the Deferred Enforced Departure program, which had given a legal status to around 4,000 Liberians in the U.S. since 1991.”

House votes to condemn Trump ban on transgender military serviceThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “The House voted Thursday to strongly oppose President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, a symbolic rebuke led by Democrats angry at Trump’s reversal of a policy established under President Barack Obama. The resolution condemns the ban as discriminatory and rejects ‘the flawed scientific and medical claims upon which it is based,’ but it does not move to actually change the policy. It instead ‘strongly urges’ the Defense Department to not implement the ban and to ‘maintain an inclusive policy’ on allowing qualified transgender people to serve in the military. The resolution passed 238 to 185, with five Republicans joining Democrats in backing the measure.”

Maryland adopts $15 minimum wage by 2025 as lawmakers reject Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s vetoThe Washington Post, Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “Maryland on Thursday became the sixth state — and the first below the Mason-Dixon Line — to adopt a $15 minimum wage, with both chambers of the Democratic-majority legislature rejecting Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill he said would cause job losses and hurt small businesses…. Under the bill, companies with 15 or more employees must pay workers at least $15 an hour by 2025. The legislature agreed to give smaller companies, with fewer than 15 employees, until July 2026 to comply with the law…. Leo Gertner, a staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, said the passage of the wage law means that nearly a quarter of Americans now live in a state where the hourly minimum wage will be $15 by 2025. California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois all have passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, along with local jurisdictions including Washington and Montgomery County, Md.”

Senior Democrat Ron Wyden Assails David Bernhardt’s Ethics at Senate Hearing on His Interior Secretary NominationThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “President Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who has been accused of conflicts of interest, faced questioning Thursday from senators who must decide whether he is the right person to oversee some 500 million acres of public land and vast coastal waters…. [S]enior Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, unleashed a scathing rebuke, telling Mr. Bernhardt, ‘You’re just another corrupt official.’ Seated behind him in the hearing room was a protester costumed as a green swamp creature, an apparent reference to Mr. Trump’s pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ of lobbyist influence in Washington policy circles…. Senator Wyden … cited documents revealed in a New York Times investigation published this week showing that Mr. Bernhardt had intervened to block the release of a scientific report revealing the threat presented by three widely used pesticides to hundreds of endangered species, including the kit fox and the seaside sparrow.” See also, David Bernhardt’s past lobbying casts a shadow at his interior secretary confirmation hearingThe Washington Post, Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “Acting Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist who was nominated by President Trump for a permanent appointment, faced pointed questions at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday about his ability to avoid conflicts of interest while leading an agency that regulates the oil and gas interests he once represented. Under his leadership with former secretary Ryan Zinke, Interior dramatically weakened enforcement of the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, allowing individuals and companies to kill scores of protected birds so long as investigators determine it was not intentional. The pair also oversaw a rollback of National Park Service rules on federal land in Alaska that will allow hunters to kill mother bears and their cubs sleeping in dens as well as shooting animals from boats as they swim between shores. More recently, Bernhardt presided over a rule change that opened millions of acres of protected sage grouse habitat in the West to oil and gas interests. As secretary, Bernhardt promised to pursue a pro-energy agenda.”

The House Oversight Committee is expanding its investigation into allegations of voter suppression efforts in Kansas and Texas during the midterm electionsThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “The committee, led by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), already launched an investigation earlier this month into such allegations in Georgia where Democrats allege GOP officials enacted policies that disproportionately suppressed voting among people of color. House Democrats, including Cummings, have made voters’ rights a key priority this Congress. While those investigations have not received as much public attention on Capitol Hill compared to investigations of President Trump, Democrats have vowed to highlight local disputes they say smack of attempts to decrease Democratic voter turnout or representation.”

Trump, in Abrupt Pivot, Says Funding for Special Olympics Will ContinueThe New York Times, Michael Tackett, Thursday, 28 March 2019: “President Trump said on Thursday that the federal government would continue to fund the Special Olympics, reversing his administration’s decision to cut the allocated money, which his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, had been defending on Capitol Hill only hours earlier. ‘The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people,’ Mr. Trump said to reporters before leaving for a campaign-style rally in Michigan. The president said he had long supported the organization. His statement was an abrupt pivot from the stance offered by others in his administration. Ms. DeVos defended the trims in a Senate budget hearing not long before the president undercut her position.”