Trump Administration, Week 116: Friday, 5 April – Thursday, 11 April 2019 (Days 806-812)


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, 5 April 2019, Day 806:


Trump Lawyer Asserts President’s Right to Keep Tax Returns PrivateThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 5 April 2019: “President Trump’s personal lawyer on Friday asserted Mr. Trump’s right as a citizen to keep his tax returns private and told the Treasury Department not to hand the returns over to House Democrats, foreshadowing what has the potential to be a far-reaching legal fight that could reach the Supreme Court. The lawyer, William S. Consovoy, argued that Democrats who have demanded to see Mr. Trump’s tax information had no legitimate legislative reason to request it and that Representative Richard E. Neal’s decision this week to ask for six years of the president’s personal and business returns flouts ‘fundamental constitutional constraints.’… Mr. Consovoy’s views have no direct bearing on the case. The little known tax code provision employed by the Democrats in demanding Mr. Trump’s returns says only that the Internal Revenue Service ‘shall furnish’ the information, giving it and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, little leeway in deciding how to respond…. Mr. Neal made the request through an obscure but frequently used provision of the federal tax code — Section 6103 — that allows Congress’s tax-writing committees to view tax information on any filer.” See also, Trump lawyer calls on the Treasury to reject Democrats’ demand for tax returns until the Justice Department weighs inThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 5 April 2019: “An attorney for President Trump on Friday told the Treasury Department it should not turn over the president’s tax returns until it receives a legal opinion from the Justice Department, calling on Treasury to deny Democrats’ demands for six years of the president’s records…. On Wednesday, Neal formally requested that the Internal Revenue Service, which is part of the Treasury Department, turn over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. A 1924 law cited by Neal states that the treasury secretary ‘shall furnish . . . any return or return information specified’ in a request from the head of the House or Senate tax-writing committees. Trump has for months signaled he would resist attempts to compel him to turn over his taxes.” See also, Trump’s Lawyer Urges the IRS to Reject Democrats’ Demand for Trump’s Tax ReturnsThe Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, Friday, 5 April 2019: “A lawyer for President Trump said that House Democrats’ request for the president’s tax returns flouts constitutional constraints and should be rejected by the Internal Revenue Service…. Mr. Trump broke a four-decade tradition among presidents and major-party candidates in 2016 when he refused to disclose his tax returns. He sometimes has said he would release his returns once audits are complete, and he sometimes has said that no one cares about his taxes.”

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals narrows path for disclosure of grand jury information in Mueller reportPolitico, Josh Gerstein, Friday, 5 April 2019: “A federal appeals court on Friday tossed an obstacle in the way of grand jury information in special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report being released directly to the public, but the decision may not slow disclosure of that material to Congress. The decision from a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals did not directly address Mueller’s report, but involved a grand jury investigation more than six decades ago into the disappearance of a Columbia University professor and political activist, Jesús Galíndez. In the new ruling, the panel majority concluded that federal district court judges lack the authority to order the release of typically secret grand jury material except in situations specially authorized in a federal court rule. While there is no exception that covers cases of intense political or historical interest, courts have repeatedly held that they have “inherent authority” to make such disclosures in unusual cases. However, the D.C. Circuit decision Friday sided with a long-standing Justice Department position that those rulings were mistaken and a formal change to the grand jury secrecy rule would be needed to give judges that power.” See also, Federal Appeals court in D.C. rules judges may not create exceptions to grand-jury secrecy rulesThe Washington Post, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 5 April 2019: “The federal appeals court in Washington on Friday ruled that grand-jury testimony and information may be disclosed only to prosecutors, defendants and other grand juries and that judges may not carve out exceptions to the secrecy already mandated by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The split decision, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, could lead to further confusion over the public release of the report written by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III documenting his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as related investigative materials.”

Trump Administration’s Census Citizenship Question Plans Are Halted by 3rd Federal JudgeNPR, Hansi Lo Wang, Friday, 5 April 2019: “The Trump administration’s plans to add a hotly contested citizenship question to the 2020 census have suffered another major blow in the courts. The question asks, ‘Is this person a citizen of the United States?’ A third federal judge has found the decision to include it on forms for the national head count to be unlawful. ‘The unreasonableness of Defendants’ addition of a citizenship question to the Census is underscored by the lack of any genuine need for the citizenship question, the woefully deficient process that led to it, the mysterious and potentially improper political considerations that motivated the decision and the clear pretext offered to the public,’ wrote U.S. District Judge George Hazel of Maryland in a 119-page opinion released Friday.” See also, Federal judge in Maryland blocks Trump administration’s plan to add citizenship question to 2020 CensusThe Washington Post, Tara Bahrampour, Friday, 5 April 2019: “A federal judge in Maryland ruled Friday against the government’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the third decision against the Trump administration on the issue. Judge George J. Hazel, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt, found that the government violated administrative law when it decided to add the question last year. The ruling, like two earlier ones, is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.”

Continue reading Week 116, Friday, 5 April – Thursday, 11 April 2019 (Days 806-812)

Trump’s Rhetoric Echoes Nazi Germany, Beto O’Rourke Says, AccuratelyThe Intercept, Robert Mackey, Friday, 5 April 2019: “President Donald Trump’s defenders professed outrage on Friday at comments from Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate, who accurately observed that the president’s rhetoric on immigrants would not have been out of place in Nazi Germany. Speaking at two campaign events in Iowa, O’Rourke said that Trump’s policy of separating the children of asylum-seekers from their parents as they cross the border, ‘follows the rhetoric of a president who not only describes immigrants as rapists and criminals, but as animals and an infestation. Now, I might expect someone to describe another human being as an infestation in the Third Reich,’ O’Rourke told students at Morningside College in Sioux City. ‘I would not expect it in the United States of America.’ Last year, Trump told reporters that the deportation of undocumented immigrants was necessary because ‘you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are — these aren’t people, these are animals.’ A month later, the president tweeted that Democrats ‘want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.’ Last week, Trump mocked the claims of asylum-seekers who claimed their lives were at risk as ‘a big, fat con job.’… ‘Calling human beings an infestation is something that we might’ve expected to hear in Nazi Germany,’ he continued. ‘Describing immigrants — who have a track record of committing violent crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans — as rapists and criminals. Seeking to ban all Muslims — all people of one religion — what other country on the face of the planet does that kind of thing? Or in our human history or in the history of the Western world? ‘Putting kids in cages?’ O’Rourke added. ‘Saying that neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists are very fine people? You draw your own conclusions, but this is not something that I expected to hear a president of the United States of America ever say.'” See also, Beto O’Rourke compares Trump’s rhetoric on immigration to that of Nazi GermanyThe Washington Post, Holly Bailey and John Wagner, Friday, 5 April 2019: “‘If we don’t call out racism, certainly at the highest levels of power, in this position of trust that the president enjoys, then we are going to continue to get its consequences,’ O’Rourke said. ‘Silence is complicity in what this administration is doing, so let’s call it out. Let’s also define a better future for this country, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do in this campaign.'” See also, Beto O’Rourke: Trump’s rhetoric ‘is something that we might have expected to hear in Nazi Germany,’ CNN, Donald Judd, Friday, 5 April 2019.

Migrants Live in Fear in Mexico While Waiting for Asylum in the United StatesThe New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Maya Averbuch, Friday, 5 April 2019: “Hundreds of asylum seekers are expected to be blocked from waiting in the United States each day under the so-called Remain in Mexico policy, which American officials describe as a deterrent to illegal immigration…. On Thursday, an official from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said it was unclear how many asylum seekers might be turned away from the United States under the policy, which he said the Trump administration had expanded without its consultation. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a delicate diplomatic issue. About 633 Central American asylum seekers have been turned away since January, unable to prove sufficient fear of being tortured and persecuted in Mexico. It is a shift from earlier guidelines, which allowed migrants who convinced the authorities that they had a credible fear of returning to their home nations to remain in the United States while their asylum cases were being considered. Stories of fleeing violence, extortion and corruption in their home countries do not meet the new standard for entry. Many migrants are also unable to obtain lawyers to represent them in court without first meeting them in the United States.”

Attorney General William Barr Orders Investigations of Discrimination at F.B.I. and Bureau of PrisonsThe New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 5 April 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr has directed parts of the Justice Department to investigate accusations of discrimination, including claims that the F.B.I. academy weeded out potential agents for not being ‘masculine enough’ and that it has become harder for transgender people to work at the Bureau of Prisons. Mr. Barr’s request came in response to a letter that he received last week from DOJ Pride, a Justice Department group founded in 1994 to advocate the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Fewer than half of the group’s members said they believed that the Justice Department does not discriminate against them, the letter said, adding that the finding and others from a survey undertaken in October show that members have become more alienated from the department under the Trump administration.” See also, Attorney General William Barr Orders LGBT Bias Probe Within the Justice DepartmentThe Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Friday, 5 April 2019: “Attorney General William Barr has asked the federal Bureau of Prisons and the FBI to investigate allegations of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Justice Department employees in their ranks. Mr. Barr said Friday he was troubled by the concerns expressed by the organization DOJ Pride, whose thousands of members wrote to him last week and described declining morale and an unwelcoming work environment under the Trump administration. The letter also urged him to look into the discrimination complaints.”

Twenty-one state attorneys general say the Trump administration is withholding critical student loan informationThe Washington Post, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Friday, 5 April 2019: “Twenty-one state attorneys general are asking Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to end a recent decision to withhold student loan information from their offices and other law enforcement agencies. ‘Student loan information is vital to our efforts to protect consumers from illegal, unfair, abusive or deceptive practices by actors in the higher education industry,’ the attorneys wrote in a letter to DeVos dated April 4. ‘The Department’s abandonment of its policy of disclosing records … represents a significant step away from the interests of consumers and toward the interests of corporate actors.'”

Senator Elizabeth Warren Supports Eliminating the FilibusterBoston Globe, Liz Goodwin, Friday, 5 April 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren lobbed another policy grenade into the Democratic primary Friday, announcing she supports drastically changing the Senate by eliminating its legendary filibuster to give her party a better chance of implementing its ambitious agenda. The move puts her campaign rivals on the spot to explain how they would pass their own ambitious legislative priorities if the Senate keeps its rule in place requiring a 60-vote supermajority to advance most bills. Warren’s announcement allows her to swerve to the left of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a meaningful way at a time when she’s straggling far behind him in early polls and grass-roots fund-raising.” See also, Senator Elizabeth Warren Calls for Ending Senate Filibuster RuleThe Wall Street Journal, Joshua Jamerson, Friday, 5 April 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday said she supported ending the filibuster in the U.S. Senate should Democrats win back the White House, arguing that Republicans have reaped the most benefit from both parties’ efforts in recent years to change the chamber’s procedural rules. The filibuster is the primary instrument by which the minority party in the Senate wields power. Most bills need 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans currently hold 53 of the chamber’s 100 seats. Unlike the House, where bills can pass with just a simple majority, Senate rules have traditionally required bipartisan cooperation to pass legislation. Ms. Warren, speaking Friday morning at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York City, is the first among top-tier presidential candidates to back an idea favored by progressive activists, and even President Trump, but scorned by congressional leaders of both parties. Some candidates, including Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have said they are open to it. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, another Democrat running for president, said last month he would support abolishing the procedure.”


Saturday, 6 April 2019, Day 807:


U.S. Says It Could Take 2 Years to Identify Up to Thousands of Separated Immigrant FamiliesThe New York Times, Julia Jacobs, Saturday, 6 April 2019: “It may take federal officials two years to identify what could be thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their families at the southern United States border, the government said in court documents filed on Friday. A federal judge had asked for a plan to identify these children and their families after a report from government inspectors in January revealed that the Trump administration most likely separated thousands more children from their parents than was previously believed. These families were separated before the administration unveiled its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy in the spring of 2018, when nearly all adults entering the country illegally were prosecuted and any children accompanying them were put into shelters or foster care. To identify these families, the government said it would apply a statistical analysis to about 47,000 children who were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and subsequently discharged, according to the court filing. From there, the government said it would manually review the case records of the children who appeared to have the highest probability of being part of the separated families. Officials estimated that the process would take at least one year and potentially two. In explaining the reason for such an arduous process, the government said United States Customs and Border Protection did not collect specific data on migrant family separations before April 2018.”

Pushing for Tighter Borders, Trump Asks Jews for SupportThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Saturday, 6 April 2019: “President Trump on Saturday again declared that the United States was ‘full’ and called its asylum system ‘a scam,’ tying his push to close the country’s borders to undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers to an entreaty for Jewish voters to support his re-election campaign. ‘Our system’s full; our country’s full,’ Mr. Trump said, speaking to an audience that included descendants of Holocaust survivors, Jews in red skullcaps emblazoned with ‘Trump’ in white thread and people carrying Israeli flags. ‘You can’t come in. Our country is full. What can we do? We can’t handle any more. Our country’s full. You can’t come in, I’m sorry.’ He was met with raucous applause and cheers at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas, underscoring how many conservative Jewish voters, alarmed by rising threats of anti-Semitism and energized by his pro-Israel policies, have embraced a president with a history of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes — including remarks that he has made before the coalition…. ‘Special thanks to Representative Omar of Minnesota,’ Mr. Trump said, expressing gratitude to other attendees, including Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and prominent Republican donor, and his wife, Miriam. ‘Oh, I forgot, she doesn’t like Israel. I’m so sorry.’ (Ms. Omar herself was recently the target of death threats. This week, federal agents arrested a New York resident, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., after he reportedly called her office, described her as ‘a terrorist’ and promised, in an expletive-laden threat, to ‘put a bullet in her skull.’)”

New York man charged with threatening to kill Representative Ilhan OmarThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Saturday, 6 April 2019: “A man in New York has been arrested and charged with threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The man, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr. of Addison, N.Y., made the threat in a phone call to Omar’s Washington office on March 21, according to a statement Friday by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of New York. ‘Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood?’ Carlineo, 55, asked a staff member who answered the phone, according to the statement. ‘Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her [expletive] skull.’ The threat was referred to U.S. Capitol Police, who conducted an investigation with the FBI. Carlineo was arrested on Friday; a hearing has been scheduled for April 10.” See also, Trump attacks Representative Ilhan Omar hours after one of his supporters was charged with threatening to kill herVox, Amanda Sakuma, published on Sunday, 7 April 2019: “President Donald Trump sought to drive a wedge between Jewish voters and the Democratic Party on Saturday by reigniting allegations of anti-Semitism against Rep. Ilhan Omar — just hours after one of his supporters was charged for threatening to kill her.”


Sunday, 7 April 2019, Day 808:


Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is leaving the Trump administration amid surge of migrantsThe Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim, and Maria Sacchetti, Sunday, 7 April 2019: President Trump announced Sunday that Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned as secretary of homeland security, marking the exit of a second top immigration official in a matter of days as the White House continues to grapple with an influx of migrants on the southern border. Replacing her on an acting basis will be Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Trump said Sunday. The announcement on Twitter came shortly after Trump and Nielsen met at the White House, according to two senior administration officials.” See also, Kirstjen Nielsen Resigns as Trump’s Homeland Security SecretaryThe New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, and Eric Schmitt, Sunday, 7 April 2019: “Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, resigned on Sunday after meeting with President Trump, ending a tumultuous tenure in charge of the border security agency that had made her the target of the president’s criticism.” See also, Kevin McAleenan, Top U.S. Border Enforcement Officer, Is Named Acting Head of Homeland SecurityThe New York Times, Jacey Fortin, Sunday, 7 April 2019: “Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection, will become the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, President Trump said in a tweet on Sunday. The announcement came shortly after Mr. Trump said Kirstjen Nielsen was leaving the position, ending a tumultuous tenure in charge of the agency, which oversees border security, among other duties. She had taken the job in late 2017…. As the nation’s top border enforcement officer, Mr. McAleenan … helped carry out the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy to prosecute parents caught crossing the border illegally, which led to family separations. That policy was reversed, but the effects remain. In court documents filed on Friday, the government said it might take federal officials two years to identify what could be thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their families at the border.”

Congress Waits as Attorney General William Barr Blacks Out Parts of Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Sunday, 7 April 2019: “Investigators for the special counsel spent months trying to get answers from President Trump: what he knew about a meeting between senior campaign aides and Russians; about changes to the Republican Party platform making it more Russia-friendly; about his associates’ outreach to WikiLeaks as it prepared to publish Democratic emails stolen by Russian hackers. After months of resistance, his lawyers finally turned over written answers in November to those questions and others. But the public has not seen them. Now, the question of whether they become part of the available history of Russia’s 2016 election interference and its aftermath — along with whatever else the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, may have gathered — turns on Attorney General William P. Barr. Since Mr. Mueller submitted a nearly 400-page report on his investigation two weeks ago, Mr. Barr, his aides and other law enforcement officials have been reviewing it to determine which portions to provide to lawmakers and the public — and what to black out.” See also, Scrutiny and suspicion as Mueller report undergoes redactionThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Sunday, 7 April 2019: “The escalating political battle over special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report centers on redactions — a lawyerly editing process that has angered distrustful Democrats eager to see all the evidence and conclusions from his 22-month investigation of President Trump’s conduct and Russia’s elaborate interference operation during the 2016 election. Attorney General William P. Barr is redacting at least four categories of information from the report, which spans nearly 400 pages, before issuing it to Congress and the public. Legal experts say he has wide discretion to determine what should not be revealed, meaning the fight over blacked-out boxes is likely to spawn months of fights between Congress and the Justice Department, and it may end up in the courts.”

House Democratic Campaign Arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Nears Open War With Liberals Over Primary ChallengesThe New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Sunday, 7 April 2019: “The House Democratic campaign arm is on the verge of open warfare with the party’s rising liberal wing as political operatives close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to shut down primary challenges before what is likely to be a hard-fought campaign next year to preserve the party’s shaky majority. Progressive Democrats were infuriated last month when Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the chairwoman of the campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, moved to protect centrist incumbents by formally breaking committee business ties with political consultants and pollsters who go to work for primary challengers. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, who owes her seat to a successful primary challenge, went so far as to encourage her 3.8 million Twitter followers to ‘pause’ their donations to the campaign committee in protest.”


Monday, 8 April 2019, Day 809:


Trump Signals Even Fiercer Immigration Agenda, With a Possible Return of Family SeparationsThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 8 April 2019: “President Trump’s purge of the nation’s top homeland security officials is a sign that he is preparing to unleash an even fiercer assault on immigration, including a possible return of his controversial decision last summer to separate migrant children from their parents, current and former administration officials said Monday. Mr. Trump shook up the ranks of his top immigration officials after spending months demanding that they take tougher action to stop the surge in migrant families at the border and seething about what he considers their overly legalistic refusals to do what he has said was necessary. That anger was underscored on Monday when a judge blocked Mr. Trump’s efforts to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed — a practice that immigration advocates called inhumane and illegal. Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that existing law did not give Mr. Trump the power to enforce the policy, known as ‘migrant protection protocols.’ The immediate targets of the president’s growing fury about the situation at the border were the officials who he saw as insufficiently steely minded: Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned Sunday as the secretary of homeland security, and Ron Vitiello, whose nomination to permanently lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement was pulled after Mr. Trump remarked that ‘we want to go in a tougher direction.’ But the longer term effect of the eruption of Oval Office frustration is likely to be a burst of hard-line policies that stand out even in an administration that has pursued an unprecedented series of executive actions and rules changes aimed at reducing legal and illegal immigration into the United States.” See also, Trump Purge Set to Force Out More Top Homeland Security OfficialsThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Monday, 8 April 2019: “President Trump moved to clear out the senior ranks of the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, a day after forcing the resignation of its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, as he accelerated a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership. The White House announced the departure of Randolph D. Alles, the director of the Secret Service, who had fallen out of favor with the president even before a security breach at his Mar-a-Lago club that the agency effectively blamed on Mr. Trump’s employees. Government officials, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel changes before they were announced, said at least two to four more high-ranking figures affiliated with Ms. Nielsen were expected to leave soon, too, hollowing out the top echelon of the department managing border security, presidential safety, counterterrorism, natural disasters, customs and other matters.” See also, Trump removes Secret Service director as purge of the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) widensThe Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey, and Carol D. Leonnig, Monday, 8 April 2019: “President Trump continued to dismantle the leadership of the nation’s top domestic security agency Monday, as the White House announced the imminent removal of U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph D. ‘Tex’ Alles, the latest in a series of head-spinning departures from the Department of Homeland Security. A day after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to step aside following a White House meeting with Trump, senior DHS officials remained in a fog about the fate of their agency’s leaders, expecting more firings as part of a widening purge. ‘They are decapitating the entire department,’ said one DHS official, noting that the White House had given no cause for Alles’s removal.” See also, White House Seeks Tighter Grip on Immigration PolicyThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Vivian Salama, Monday, 8 April 2019: “President Trump is shaking up the top ranks of the Department of Homeland Security and has instructed White House advisers to take a more direct role implementing immigration policy in an effort to slow the rise in families illegally crossing the southern border. Those efforts accelerated Sunday with the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of the sprawling agency that oversees the U.S.’s immigration and national-security apparatus…. Mr. Trump has also told aides he wants to reinstate his family-separation policy, which provoked a political outcry when it was implemented last spring, in order to deter would-be migrants. An administration official said Mr. Trump recently told Stephen Miller, one of his most hard-line advisers: ‘You’re in charge’ of the administration’s immigration policy…. Mr. Miller, the White House adviser, is also pushing to reinstate the policy, according to people familiar with the discussions. In recent weeks, he has pushed officials at the Homeland Security and Justice departments to ‘get in line’ with a more aggressive approach to immigration, one of the people said. Mr. Miller has long made a habit of calling agency officials about immigration policy, the administration official said, but described the adviser as newly empowered by the president in recent weeks.”

Federal judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco blocks the Trump administration program that forces asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting court hearingsThe Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Monday, 8 April 2019: “A federal judge on Monday blocked an experimental Trump administration policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases make their way through the U.S. immigration court system, a major blow to President Trump’s efforts to stem the surge of crossings at the southern border. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco enjoined the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy days after outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pledged to expand the program. The policy began in January at the San Ysidro port of entry in California but has been extended to the Calexico entry and to the entry in El Paso, and Seeborg wrote that the approach would have been further extended if the court were not to step in. Several hundred migrants have been returned to Mexico under the program after seeking asylum at the border. The ruling — a preliminary injunction at least temporarily stopping the program — paralyzes one of the Trump administration’s last remaining tools to stem the flow of Central American families attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, an influx that has hit decade-long highs and has infuriated the president.” See also, Judge blocks policy forcing some asylum seekers to remain in MexicoCNN, Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands, Monday, 8 April 2019: “A federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration’s policy of returning some asylum seekers to Mexico to await their immigration court hearing, delivering a major blow to the administration just a day after the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign.”

Trump Designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a Powerful Arm of the Iranian Military, a Foreign Terrorist GroupThe New York Times, Edward Wong and Eric Schmitt, Monday, 8 April 2019: “President Trump said on Monday that he was designating a powerful arm of the Iranian military as a foreign terrorist organization, the first time that the United States has named part of another nation’s government as that type of official threat. The designation imposes wide-ranging economic and travel sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as well as organizations, companies and individuals with ties to it. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards carry out operations across the Middle East, train Arab Shiite militias and oversee businesses in Iran…. The timing of Mr. Trump’s announcement appeared aimed at giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel a final boost in a tight re-election campaign before a vote on Tuesday. Mr. Netanyahu and Trump administration officials have said Iran is the greatest threat to Israel, and Mr. Netanyahu immediately thanked Mr. Trump in a Twitter post.” See also, Trump to designate Iran’s elite military Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organizationThe Washington Post, Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, Monday, 8 April 2019: “The United States moved Monday to list Iran’s elite military ­Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization as the Trump administration looks for new ways to increase economic and political pressure on the regime in Tehran. The designation marks the first time Washington has branded a foreign government entity a terrorist group and came despite warnings from U.S. military and intelligence officials that other nations could use the designation as a precedent against U.S. action abroad.” See also, On the Eve of Israel’s Election, Netanyahu Thanks Trump for Sanctioning Iran at His RequestThe Intercept, Robert Mackey, Monday, 8 April 2019: “On the eve of Israel’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took credit for President Donald Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by designating it a foreign terrorist organization. ‘Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump,’ Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew, ‘for answering another one of my important requests.’ As the Telegraph correspondent Raf Sanchez noted, Netanyahu’s choice of words seemed to imply that Trump’s earlier decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Syrian territory Israel seized by force in 1967, was also a gift given at the request of the embattled Israeli prime minister.” See also, U.S. Designates Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Terrorist OrganizationThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Jessica Donati, Monday, 8 April 2019: “The Trump administration escalated a pressure campaign against Iran on Monday by designating the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, the first time an element of a foreign state has been officially named a terrorist entity.”

To Get Trump’s Tax Returns, New York State Democrats Try a New StrategyThe New York Times, Jesse McKinley, Monday, 8 April 2019: “In an attempt to work around the White House, Democratic lawmakers in Albany are trying to do what their federal counterparts have so far failed to accomplish: to obtain President Trump’s tax returns. Albany lawmakers are seeking state tax returns, not the federal ones at the heart of the current standoff in Washington. But a tax return from New York — the president’s home state, and the headquarters of his business empire — could likely contain much of the same financial information as a federal return.”

Senator Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa) warns the Trump administration not to oust any more top immigration officialsThe Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Monday, 8 April 2019: “The most senior Senate Republican is warning the White House not to oust another top immigration official, making appeals to the administration against dismissing Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, amid a purge of Homeland Security leaders. In an interview with The Washington Post, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he was ‘very, very concerned’ regarding reports that Cissna could be next in a series of rapid-fire DHS dismissals that began late last week when the White House suddenly pulled the nomination of Ronald Vitiello, who had been tapped as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ‘One, those are good public servants,’ Grassley said Monday evening, after rumors of Cissna’s potential exit percolated all day. ‘Secondly, besides the personal connection I have with them and the qualifications they have, they are the intellectual basis for what the president wants to accomplish in immigration.'”

Another Day, Another ‘Acting’ Cabinet Secretary as Trump Skirts Senate ConfirmationsThe New York Times, Michael Tackett, Monday, 8 April 2019: “Temporary status is a seemingly permanent condition of the Trump administration. The resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary on Sunday means that another cabinet officer who reports directly to President Trump will have the word ‘acting’ next to the official title at a major department of government. Interim secretaries are also in place at the Departments of Defense and of the Interior, and at the Office of Management and Budget, the Small Business Administration and ambassador’s office at the United Nations. Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, is also serving in an acting capacity. ‘I like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that?’ Mr. Trump told reporters in January before departing to Camp David. ‘I like acting. So we have a few that are acting. We have a great, great cabinet.’ But there are concerns about having men and women in such high-level jobs without having been subjected to Senate confirmation for those posts. Leaving cabinet secretaries unconfirmed in their roles could give the president even more leverage over them, or could leave them without full authority in the job.”


Tuesday, 9 April 2019, Day 810:


Attorney General William Barr Says He’ll Release the Mueller Report ‘Within a Week’ as He Defends His Handling of It, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr vowed on Tuesday to release a redacted version of the Mueller report ‘within a week,’ defending his handling of the special counsel investigation’s findings as a bid for transparency as Democrats accused him of politically motivated behavior. Mr. Barr said he would explain his redactions and was open to negotiating with lawmakers about revealing some of the delicate information that he and law enforcement officials are blacking out from the highly anticipated report before he sends it to Congress and the public…. But he was less forthcoming about aspects of his review, declining to say whether President Trump had been briefed on the report after Justice Department and White House officials had said for weeks that the president has not been updated on its contents. And he did not explain why he cleared Mr. Trump of committing an obstruction-of-justice offense when Mr. Mueller’s team declined to make a decision.” See also, Attorney General William Barr says Mueller report’s release is likely ‘within a week,’ The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr testified Tuesday that he thinks he will be able to release special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report ‘within a week’ and that he will color-code redacted information so the public will know why various material is being veiled. The assertion came during an appearance before members of the House Appropriations Committee, where questions about Barr’s handling of the report on whether Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia dominated what otherwise would have been a routine budget hearing. Over 2½ hours, Barr addressed a range of Democrats’ concerns about Mueller’s report, offering new details on how and why he quickly distilled and released its principal conclusions, and what he plans to do next. Barr notably said that Mueller declined an opportunity to review the four-page letter he sent to Congress revealing the investigation’s ‘bottom line’ conclusions, although he conceded that Mueller’s team might have preferred for the attorney general to have released more information initially. He said he did not intend to ask a judge to allow him to release grand-jury material that Mueller generated, although he also said he did not anticipate shielding any elements because of executive privilege.”

Attorney General William Barr Says the Justice Department Inspector General’s Review of the Russia Inquiry Is Nearly DoneThe New York Times, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “The Justice Department’s internal watchdog intends to complete by May or June his investigation into aspects of the Russia inquiry, including whether law enforcement officials abused their powers in surveilling a former Trump campaign aide, Attorney General William P. Barr told lawmakers on Tuesday. The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, has been examining how law enforcement officials obtained a warrant in October 2016 to wiretap Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign with links to Russia. Mr. Horowitz’s investigators have also asked witnesses about informants that the F.B.I. turned to in the early stages of the investigation, according to people familiar with his inquiry.”

The Trump Administration to Aggressively Push for Tougher Screening of Asylum Seekers That Will Make It Vastly More Difficult for Migrants Fleeing Persecution in Their Home Countries to Win Protection in the United StatesThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “The Trump administration plans to aggressively push for tougher screening of asylum seekers that will make it vastly more difficult for migrants fleeing persecution in their home countries to win protection in the United States, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday. The official said that President Trump ordered a shake-up of his top immigration officials in recent days because they were moving too slowly, or even actively obstructing, the president’s desire to confront the surge of migrants at the southwestern border. The asylum changes are among many policies the president wants to put into effect with a new team in place, the official said. Mr. Trump denied on Tuesday that one of those changes would be to restart his policy of separating migrant families at the border, though he said that the act of taking children from their parents — which drew global condemnation before he abandoned it last summer — was effective. ‘Now I’ll tell you something, once you don’t have it, that’s why you see many more people coming,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘They are coming like it’s a picnic, because, Let’s go to Disneyland.’” See also, Trump administration considers revised version of family separation tacticThe Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey, and Rachael Bade, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “The Trump administration is considering a revised version of its family separation tactic to cope with an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border that would force parents to choose whether to remain detained as a family or agree to a separation to keep their children out of custody, according to administration officials. The administration weighed the new policy as President Trump insisted that he has no plans to separate families, falsely claimed that President Barack Obama carried out the same plan and maintained that his decision to halt the practice last year was the reason so many Central Americans have been coming to the United States.” See also, Twelve days of chaos: Inside the Trump White House’s growing panic to contain the border crisisThe Washington Post, David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey, and Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 9 April 2019. See also, Fact-Checking Trump’s Family Separation Claim About Obama’s PolicyThe New York Times, Linda Qiu, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Mr. Trump has escalated a misleading defense of his administration’s practice of breaking up families to outright revisionist history. There is no law that mandates family separation, let alone a law enacted under Mr. Obama. The practice is the result of a policy enacted by the Trump administration, and ended by Mr. Trump last June.” See also, Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policyThe Washington Post, Salvador Rizzo, published on Wednesday, 10 April 2019. See also, Trump lies yet again about Obama and separating families at the borderLos Angeles Times, Scott Martelle, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “President Trump repeated a short time ago a falsehood he’s pushed several times before, that President Obama had a policy of separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border and that Trump had ended the practice. To put it into fast-food context, that’s a quadruple whopper, with extra cheese. During the Obama administration, family separations were rare and predicated upon two conditions: whether border officials felt the parents or guardians posed a threat to the children, or whether the adults, under U.S. immigration law, had to be detained based on prior criminal convictions. Standard procedure, both in the civil immigration context and in the domestic criminal justice context, is to not incarcerate children with adults (yes, there are exceptions). So when the Obama administration jailed an adult migrant, the minor was separated not as a part of a separations policy but as part of a policy to not jail children with adults. And to avoid just such separations, the adult detentions were rare. ‘Obama generally refrained from prosecution in cases involving adults who crossed the border with their kids,’ Peter Margulies, an immigration law expert at Roger Williams University School of Law, told Politifact last year.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Says White House and Treasury Department Discussed Trump Tax Return RequestThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on Tuesday that White House lawyers had been in touch with his department about a congressional request for President Trump’s tax returns but said he had not personally spoken to Mr. Trump or those lawyers about how the matter was being handled. Mr. Mnuchin’s disclosure is the first public acknowledgment of communication between the White House and the Treasury Department related to Mr. Trump’s tax returns. It comes as the president has made clear he has no intention of handing over his personal financial records without a fight…. A decision on whether to hand over the financial records is expected to fall to the Internal Revenue Service and Mr. Mnuchin, whose Treasury Department oversees the tax collection agency. While Mr. Mnuchin has been fairly cautious in discussing the request, Mr. Trump and his top advisers have made it increasingly clear that they will not allow the president’s tax returns to be released without a fight.” See also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reveals White House lawyers consulted the Treasury Department on Trump tax returns, despite law meant to limit political involvementThe Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Treasury Department lawyers consulted with the White House general counsel’s office about the potential release of President Trump’s tax returns before House Democrats formally requested the records, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday. Mnuchin had not previously revealed that the White House was playing any official role in the Treasury Department’s decision on releasing Trump’s tax returns. Democrats are asking for six years of Trump’s returns, using a federal law that says the treasury secretary ‘shall furnish’ the records upon the request of House or Senate chairmen. The process is designed to be walled off from White House interference, in part because of corruption that took place during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s.”

Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. ProPublica, Justin Elliott, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Just in time for Tax Day, the for-profit tax preparation industry is about to realize one of its long-sought goals. Congressional Democrats and Republicans are moving to permanently bar the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system. Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.passed the Taxpayer First Act, a wide-ranging bill making several administrative changes to the IRS that is sponsored by Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Mike Kelly, R-Pa. In one of its provisions, the bill makes it illegal for the IRS to create its own online system of tax filing. Companies like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block have lobbied for years to block the IRS from creating such a system. If the tax agency created its own program, which would be similar to programs other developed countries have, it would threaten the industry’s profits.” See also, House backs bill barring the IRS from offering free tax filing servicesThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Liberals abandoned a last-minute rebellion Tuesday over a bill to change the Internal Revenue Service, with Democratic leaders easily pushing legislation through the House that would bar the IRS from creating free tax preparation software. The House approved the bipartisan legislation on a voice vote as liberals, who feared the measure would enrich private tax preparers at the expense of millions of taxpayers, gave up their fight, in part because of the value of other elements of the legislation. The bill includes other changes to the nation’s tax collection agency, such as protections from private debt collectors and millions of dollars in program assistance for low-income taxpayers.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Refuses to Say What the U.S. Will Do if Israel Annexes the West BankThe New York Times, Edward Wong and Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 9 April 2019: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to tell Congress on Tuesday what the United States would do if the Israeli government tried to annex the West Bank, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently promised to do if re-elected. Mr. Pompeo’s silence on the issue is a break from the actions of previous administrations. Senior American officials have long and explicitly discouraged any formal attempt by Israel to extend sovereignty over some or all of the disputed territory of the West Bank and its population of 2.6 million Palestinians.”


Wednesday, 10 April 2019, Day 811:


Attorney General William Barr Asserts Intelligence Agencies Spied on the Trump CampaignThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr said on Wednesday that he would scrutinize the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, including whether ‘spying’ conducted by American intelligence agencies on the campaign’s associates had been properly carried out. ‘I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,’ Mr. Barr said during testimony before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, adding that he wanted to look into both ‘the genesis and the conduct’ of the F.B.I. inquiry. He cast his interest as a matter of protecting civil liberties from potential abuse by the government. ‘I think spying did occur,’ Mr. Barr said. ‘The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.’ The remarks by the new attorney general — particularly his embrace of the term spying, which is frequently invoked by critics of the Russia investigation — are certain to please President Trump and his allies, who have accused American law enforcement officials of targeting his campaign out of political malice.” See also, Attorney general William Barr says he believes ‘spying did occur’ in probe of Trump campaign associatesThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr said Wednesday he thinks intelligence agents conducted ‘spying’ on the Trump campaign in 2016 — a startling assertion by the nation’s top law enforcement official as he prepares to release a comprehensive report detailing the special counsel investigation of Russia’s election interference. Barr’s surprising comments echo unsubstantiated claims President Trump has made about the FBI, and though the attorney general later clarified that he was concerned about the legal basis for surveilling political figures, his words provided fresh ammunition to those who have branded the Russia investigation an illegitimate attempt to derail Trump’s presidency.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s FBI ‘spying’ claim amps up fight over Mueller probePolitico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 10 April 2019. See also, Justice Department to Examine the Origins of the Probe Into the Trump Campaign’s Possible Ties to RussiaThe Wall Street Journal, Byron Tau, Sadie Gurman, and Aruna Viswanatha, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Attorney General William Barr said he would form a team to examine the origins of a 2016 counterintelligence investigation that conducted what he termed as “spying” on people affiliated with the Trump campaign, a characterization Democrats said was politically motivated and echoed the president’s longstanding criticism of the Justice Department’s Russia probe.”

Attorney General William Barr Says Congress May Get to See Some Redacted Parts of the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr said on Wednesday that even after he released a partly blacked-out copy of the Mueller report, most likely next week, he would work to share with Congress some of the more sensitive information that he redacted. Mr. Barr also told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that while he intends to black out derogatory information about ‘peripheral third parties,’ he would not take out criticisms of public office holders, including President Trump…. Lawmakers have demanded to see the unredacted report, a request Mr. Barr tried to address on Wednesday. ‘I intend to take up with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the chairmen and ranking members of each, what other areas they feel they have a need to have access to the information and see if I can work to accommodate that,’ Mr. Barr told the senators. His assurance did not mollify them. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, told him that any attempt to hide pieces of the report would ‘only fuel suspicions that the Justice Department, which represents the United States, is playing the role of President Trump’s defense team.'” See also, Trump says he was the target of ‘an attempted coup’ with Mueller investigationThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “President Trump claimed Wednesday that he had survived ‘an attempted coup’ and said he no longer cares about the forthcoming release of a report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III because, in his view, he has been exonerated. Trump made his remarks to reporters a day after Attorney General William P. Barr told a House panel that he would release a redacted version of Mueller’s report ‘within a week’ and that he has started to review the origins of the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign illegally coordinated with Russia during the 2016 elections. Trump said he is hopeful that Barr would reveal ‘where exactly this all started.'”

Senator Bernie Sanders unveils new Medicare-for-all legislation, a key component of his 2020 presidential bidThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Sean Sullivan, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a new version of his Medicare-for-all plan on Wednesday, putting a spotlight on the debate among 2020 Democratic presidential contenders over the future of America’s health-care system. At an event on Capitol Hill, Sanders unveiled his latest version of a single-payer plan, which would replace the patchwork of public and private insurers with a government-run system that Sanders argues would ultimately save consumers money. Sanders said he is seeking to replace a ‘dysfunctional’ system based on ‘greed and profiteering’ by health insurance companies. ‘Together we are going to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America, our great country, being the only major nation on earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right,’ Sanders said. ‘This is a struggle for the heart and soul of who we are as American people.'”

Democrats file legislation, the No Ban Act, to overturn Trump’s travel ban and to prevent family separationThe Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Democratic lawmakers filed legislation Wednesday to end President Trump’s travel ban, asylum ban and ‘extreme vetting’ of refugees, a measure that is unlikely to pass the Senate or gain White House approval but attempts to prevent family separations and rally support for immigration leading up to the 2020 elections. Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) announced the bill with support from freshman lawmakers Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and others. Supporters also include Khizr Khan, the ‘Gold Star’ father of Humayun Khan, a U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004; leaders of Muslim and Jewish organizations; and the head of an Iranian group whose family has been affected by the ban. Khan criticized then-candidate Trump at the 2016 Democratic convention. Coons said in an interview that every Democratic senator running for president in 2020 has endorsed the legislation. He said thousands of U.S. citizens have been ‘forced to live apart’ from relatives, missing weddings, funerals or the births of grandchildren because of policies that he said do not enhance national security. ‘The fact that we still have this so-called Muslim travel ban on the books and being enforced is a stain on our reputation around the world,’ he said. ‘And it’s hurting real people.’ Though the bill’s chances of passing the GOP-controlled Senate are slim, the measure offers Democrats another route into the national conversation on immigration.” See also, American Civil Liberties Union Endorsement of the No Ban ActACLU, published on Monday, 25 March 2019. See also, Congressional Action to End the Travel Bans–Now and Into the FutureManar Waheed, ACLU, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “For the first time since President Trump issued his Muslim ban, Congress proposed a legislative solution today to protect immigrant communities from discriminatory bans, immediately and permanently. The long-awaited NO Ban Act, introduced by Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Representative Judy Chu (D-Calif.), would immediately rescind the Muslim ban as well as President Trump’s asylum ban and refugee ban, definitively ending these discriminatory abuses of authority by the Trump administration.  It would also change the standard by which presidents can invoke ban authority in the future.”

New York Judges and Lawyers Want Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials Out of CourtsThe Wall Street Journal, Kate King, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Judges, prosecutors and public defenders are pushing for tighter restrictions on federal immigration officers inside New York courthouses, saying fear of deportation is making immigrants less willing to report crimes and assist with prosecutions. The increased presence of ICE officials in courthouses throughout the state is hampering law enforcement’s ability to provide services to crime victims, according to a report set to be released Wednesday by the ICE Out of Courts Coalition, which includes more than 100 public defenders, community groups and legal-aid and civil-rights organizations. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said the presence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials dissuades defendants, victims and witnesses from participating in the criminal-justice system.”

Treasury Department Declines to Immediately Comply With House Request for Trump’s Tax ReturnsThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “The Treasury Department said on Wednesday evening that it would not immediately comply with a congressional request to hand over President Trump’s tax returns, setting up a protracted legal battle between two branches of government. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that the Treasury Department’s lawyers needed more time to assess the lawfulness of the request and expressed concern that it would be a violation of taxpayer privacy…. Mr. Neal responded to Mr. Mnuchin’s decision with a terse statement that indicated he believed the request was a matter for the Internal Revenue Service, not the Treasury secretary: ‘I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response to the commissioner in the coming days.’ Mr. Neal is expected to send a follow-up letter demanding the tax returns and outlining potential next steps, which could include a subpoena or a lawsuit. The issue could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.” See also, Treasury Department says it will miss House Democrats’ deadline for turning over Trump’s tax returns and casts skepticism over requestThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Damian Paletta, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department would not meet the Wednesday deadline set by congressional Democrats to turn over copies of President Trump’s tax returns, escalating a clash between the White House and Congress. Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department as to the constitutional questions raised by the Democrats’ request and appeared deeply skeptical of the lawmakers’ intentions. He did not flatly reject the notion that he might ultimately comply, but his letter to the House Ways and Means Committee suggested that Mnuchin would not hold himself to any timeline.” See also, Steven Mnuchin Says the Treasury Department Won’t Meet the Wednesday Deadline for Trump’s Tax ReturnsThe Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, Wednesday, 10 April 2019.

New Zealand passes law banning most semiautomatic weapons less than a month after mosque massacresThe Washington Post, Shibani Mahtani, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “New Zealand’s Parliament voted almost unanimously Wednesday for a law that bans most semiautomatic weapons, less than a month after 50 people were killed by a white nationalist-inspired gunman who opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch. All of Parliament’s 120 lawmakers except one voted in favor of the gun reforms, which make permanent the temporary restrictions imposed last month on military-style semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and accompanying parts such as magazines and ammunition for these weapons. Gun owners will have until the end of September to hand them in through a buyback program, after which point amnesty will end. The swift action — first taken just days after the worst attacks in New Zealand’s modern history and enacted into law weeks later — now makes the United States even more of an outlier with regard to large-capacity semiautomatic weapons. The United States has not taken such action, even in the wake of deadly attacks by gunmen using such weapons, including in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, Las Vegas in 2017 and Parkland, Fla., last year.”

Net neutrality bill sails through the House but faces an uncertain political futureThe Washington Post, Tony Romm and Brian Fung, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “House lawmakers on Wednesday approved a Democrat-backed bill that would restore rules requiring AT&T, Verizon and other Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally, marking an early step toward reversing one of the most significant deregulatory moves of the Trump era. But the net neutrality measure is likely to stall from here, given strong Republican opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate and the White House, where aides to President Trump this week recommended that he veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk. The House’s proposal, which passed by a vote of 232-190, would reinstate federal regulations that had banned AT&T, Verizon and other broadband providers from blocking or slowing down customers’ access to websites. Adopted in 2015 during the Obama administration, these net neutrality protections had the backing of tech giants and startups as well as consumer advocacy groups, which together argued that strong federal open Internet protections were necessary to preserve competition and allow consumers unfettered access to movies, music and other content of their choice.” See also, House Democrats’ net neutrality legislation is likely DOA in the Senate, but it is poised to become an issue in 2020Politico, John Hendel, Wednesday, 10 April 2019.

White House is eyeing Julie Kirchner, former head of anti-immigration group, to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ServicesPolitico, Ted Hesson, Anita Kumar, and Andrew Restuccia, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “The White House is considering nominating the former head of an anti-immigration group to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to a White House official and three people briefed on the deliberations, the latest development in a series of staffing shakeups that have alarmed some Republican senators. Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which pushes for lower levels of immigration, is being considered as an option to lead the agency, the sources said. She had also been considered for the deputy director role in recent weeks. If selected and confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Francis Cissna, who is expected to be ousted by the end of this week, according to three sources familiar with the matter, as President Donald Trump and aide Stephen Miller continue their purge of top Homeland Security officials.”

Federal Investigators, Looking Into Hush-Money Payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Questioned Longtime Aides of Trump and Amassed More Evidence Than Previously KnownThe Wall Street Journal, Nicole Hong, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office has gathered more evidence than previously known in its criminal investigation of hush payments to two women who alleged affairs with Donald Trump, including from members of the president’s inner circle…. The prosecutors’ campaign-finance investigation is based on the theory that the secret payments to keep women quiet were illegal contributions, because they were intended to influence the election. New details of the investigation—gleaned from interviews with 20 people familiar with the probe and from nearly 1,000 pages of court documents—show prosecutors had gathered information about Mr. Trump’s alleged involvement in the payments weeks before Mr. Cohen asserted it in open court.”

At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, an expert said the FBI should focus on the rise of white nationalism, not ‘black identity extremists,’ The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “This week, the House Judiciary Committee grilled big-tech executives and activists about the rise of white nationalism on social media. There is a growing concern that Facebook, Google and other technology companies are acting as digital incubators for racially motivated hate crimes across the world, including a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017, the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year and the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. The panel’s experts agreed more needs to be done to address this issue. But one person also drew attention to an area law enforcement could be paying too much attention to: ‘black identity extremists.’ ‘We’re deeply concerned about the FBI’s ‘black identity extremist’ designation,’ Kristen Clarke, president and chief executive of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the panel. ‘This is mere distraction from the very real threat of white supremacy that we face today. It is not a real threat,’ she added. ‘It harks back to the dark days of our federal government abusing its power to go after civil rights activists during the heyday of the civil rights movement. There is no such thing as black identity extremism.’”

Trump administration appeals rulings that blocked Medicaid work requirementsThe Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “The Trump administration appealed court rulings Wednesday by a federal judge that blocked federally approved programs in two states to compel some able-bodied people to work to qualify for Medicaid. The appeals, in cases challenging Kentucky and Arkansas’s Medicaid work requirements, come two weeks after a federal judge in Washington issued opinions that President Trump’s top health aides had been “arbitrary and capricious” in allowing the new rules and failed to consider their effect on vulnerable residents’ access to health insurance.”

Trump Signs Executive Orders to Speed Up Oil and Gas Pipeline ConstructionThe New York Times, Clifford Krauss, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “President Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday that he says will speed up construction of pipelines and other projects to enhance the production and transport of oil and natural gas between states and across international borders. The actions are unlikely to have much of an immediate impact, and they will probably attract legal challenges by state governments seeking to preserve control over such projects. But the orders are symbolically important for a president who likes to take credit for a boom in energy production and exports. And he delivered the message in Texas, an oil-rich Republican state where Democrats recently made electoral gains.”

Internal memo contradicts Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on using federal money to buy guns for teachersThe Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say yes — or no — when asked last year whether schools could use federal money to buy guns for teachers. She said the law was vague and she couldn’t take a side. The result was de facto permission for states to go ahead. On Wednesday, House Democrats released an internal Education Department memo that showed the matter was viewed differently inside the agency. The memo advised that the agency’s general counsel believed DeVos did have the power to make a call about the funding and laid out arguments that could be made on both sides.”

Maryanne Trump Barry, Trump’s Older Sister, Has Retired as a Federal Appellate Judge, Ending Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax DodgesThe New York Times, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig, Wednesday, 10 April 2019: “President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings. The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.”


Thursday, 11 April 2019, Day 812:


Julian Assange Arrested in London as U.S. Unseals Hacking Conspiracy IndictmentThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday in London to face a charge in the United States of conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network in 2010, bringing to an abrupt end a seven-year saga in which he had holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in Britain to avoid capture. The Ecuadorean government suspended the citizenship it had granted Mr. Assange and evicted him on Thursday, clearing the way for his arrest. His hosts had displayed growing impatience, listing grievances including recent WikiLeaks releases they said interfered with other states’ internal affairs and personal discourtesies, like the failure of Mr. Assange to clean the bathroom and look after his cat. A bedraggled and shackled Mr. Assange, 47, was dragged out of the embassy. At a court hearing, a judge swiftly found him guilty of jumping bail, and he was detained partly in connection with an American extradition warrant. Mr. Assange indicated that he would fight extradition, and legal experts said that process could take years. He is likely to argue that the case is politically motivated rather than driven by legitimate legal concerns. Mr. Assange’s arrest brought to a head long-simmering tensions that have raised profound First Amendment press freedom issues. Since Mr. Assange began publishing archives of secret American military and diplomatic documents in 2010 — provided by the former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning — senior officials in two administrations had weighed whether to try to put him out of business by charging him with a crime. Ms. Manning was convicted at a court-martial trial in 2013 of leaking the documents. The Obama administration had explored whether to bring charges against Mr. Assange but decided not to, in part because of fears of creating a precedent that could chill traditional journalism. But in November, an accidental court filing appeared to disclose that the Trump administration had secretly charged him with some unspecified offense. The indictment unsealed Thursday, however, revealed that prosecutors in Northern Virginia had not charged Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing government secrets. Instead, they charged him with conspiring to commit unlawful computer intrusion based on his alleged agreement to try to help Ms. Manning break an encoded portion of passcode that would have permitted her to log on to a classified military network under another user’s identity. Because traditional journalistic activity does not extend to helping a source break a code to gain illicit access to a classified network, the charge appeared to be an attempt by prosecutors to sidestep the potential First Amendment minefield of treating the act of publishing information as a crime. Nevertheless, journalists should still be worried, said Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Mr. Assange. ‘While the indictment against Julian Assange disclosed today charges a conspiracy to commit computer crimes, the factual allegations against Mr. Assange boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source,’ Mr. Pollack said. ‘Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.'” See also, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is arrested in London and accused by the U.S. of trying in 2010 to crack a passwordThe Washington Post, William Booth, Ellen Nakashima, James McAuley, and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was expelled from the Ecuadoran Embassy here Thursday and arrested on a U.S. hacking charge — maneuvers that initiated a potentially years-long legal battle over his extradition and reignited debates about press freedom…. Analysts say Assange’s extradition could take years, and only after he is in the United States can he begin what is expected to be a vigorous defense, arguing that he is like any newspaper publisher and that the charge against him is unjust…. Outside of court in London, Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange’s attorneys, said Assange will fight extradition to the United States. She called the action against him ‘a dangerous precedent for all news media.’… Trump — who declared, ‘WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks!’ at an October 2016 rally in Pennsylvania — sought to dissociate himself with the group on Thursday. ‘I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing. And I know there was something having to do with Julian Assange,’ he said. Attorney General William P. Barr will handle the matter, Trump said, adding: ‘I know nothing really about it. It’s not my deal in life.’… The U.S. indictment, filed in federal court in March 2018 and unsealed Thursday, accuses Assange of agreeing to help Manning break a password to the Defense Department’s computer network in 2010…. Some federal prosecutors say a case can be made that WikiLeaks is not a journalistic organization. As if to lay the groundwork for such an argument, in April 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state, characterized WikiLeaks as a ‘nonstate hostile intelligence service’ and a threat to U.S. national security.” See also, The U.S. Government’s Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats To Press FreedomsThe Intercept, Glenn Greenwald and Micah Lee, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The indictment of Julian Assange unsealed today by the Trump Justice Department poses grave threats to press freedoms, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The charging document and accompanying extradition request from the U.S. Government, used by the U.K. police to arrest Assange once Ecuador officially withdrew its asylum protection, seeks to criminalize numerous activities at the core of investigative journalism. So much of what has been reported today about this indictment has been false. Two facts in particular have been utterly distorted by the DOJ and then misreported by numerous media organizations. The first crucial fact about the indictment is that its key allegation – that Assange did not merely receive classified documents from Chelsea Manning but tried to help her crack a password in order to cover her tracks – is not new. It was long known by the Obama DOJ and was explicitly part of Manning’s trial, yet the Obama DOJ – not exactly renowned for being stalwart guardians of press freedoms – concluded it could not and should not prosecute Assange because indicting him would pose serious threats to press freedom. In sum, today’s indictment contains no new evidence or facts about Assange’s actions; all of it has been known for years. The other key fact being widely misreported is that the indictment accuses Assange of trying to help Manning obtain access to document databases to which she had no valid access: i.e., hacking rather than journalism. But the indictment alleges no such thing. Rather, it simply accuses Assange of trying to help Manning log into the Defense Department’s computers using a different user name so that she could maintain her anonymity while downloading documents in the public interest and then furnish them to WikiLeaks to publish. In other words, the indictment seeks to criminalize what journalists are not only permitted but ethically required to do: take steps to help their sources maintain their anonymity. As long-time Assange lawyer Barry Pollack put it: ‘the factual allegations…boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identify of that source. Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.’ That’s why the indictment poses such a grave threat to press freedom. It characterizes as a felony many actions that journalists are not just permitted but required to take in order to conduct sensitive reporting in the digital age.” See also, Assange Indictment Is a Shot Across the Bow of Press FreedomJust Security, Jameel Jaffer and Ben Wizner, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “Though Assange allegedly agreed to help Manning crack a password, cracking that password apparently wouldn’t have allowed Manning to access more files than she could already access—only to access the same set of files under a different username.  A few years ago, the Obama administration considered filing charges against Assange but ultimately decided not to. From this indictment, we can guess at some of the difficulties that might have led it to abandon the effort…. [T]he indictment seems to have been drafted not just to justify the prosecution of Assange but to tar legitimate journalistic activities by association with Assange’s alleged crime. The indictment characterizes everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy.  Cultivating a source, protecting a source’s identity, communicating with a source securely—the indictment describes all of these activities as the ‘manners and means’ of the conspiracy.  The Justice Department says that Assange and Manning communicated using an encrypted chat service, but most national-security journalists communicate with sources using encrypted channels.  It says that Assange and Manning ‘took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure,’ but taking measures to protect their sources’ identities is something that national-security journalists do all the time, for good reason.  It says that Assange created ‘a special folder on a cloud drop box of Wikileaks’ to allow Manning to share files with him, but many major news organizations use SecureDrop and other similar software to allow sources to share files with them securely. This is to say that much of what the Justice Department characterizes as the ‘manners and means’ of criminal conspiracy is just ordinary, everyday, and constitutionally protected journalism.” See also, ACLU Comment on Julian AssangeACLU, Ben Wizner, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “London authorities today arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in relation to an extradition warrant on behalf of U.S. authorities. Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, issued the following comment in response: ‘Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.'”  See also, Civil liberties groups condemn the Trump administration’s indictment of Julian AssangeFreedom of the Press Foundation, Camille Fassett, Thursday, 11 April 2019. See also, Press Freedoms and the Case Against Julian Assange, ExplainedThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 11 April 2019. See also, Julian Assange faces US extradition after arrest at Ecuadorian embassy in LondonThe Guardian, Caroline Davies, Simon Murphy, and Damien Gayle, Thursday, 11 April 2019. See also, After Arrest of Julian Assange, the Russian Mysteries RemainThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes, Thursday, 11 April 2019. See also, Trump in 2016: ‘I love WikiLeaks.’ Trump now: ‘I know nothing about WikiLeaks.’ Allie Malloy, CNN, published on Friday, 12 April 2019: “President Donald Trump, when asked if he still ‘loves’ WikiLeaks as he said in 2016, told reporters in the Oval Office that he knows ‘nothing about WikiLeaks.'”

White House proposed releasing immigrant detainees in sanctuary cities to retaliate against Trump’s political adversariesThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Nick Miroff, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of ‘sanctuary cities’ to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post. Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target, according to DHS officials. The administration also considered releasing detainees in other Democratic strongholds…. The attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE, with a top official responding that it was rife with budgetary and liability concerns, and noting that ‘there are PR risks as well.’… Pelosi’s office blasted the plan. ‘The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,’ said Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne. ‘Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.'” See also, White House Considered Releasing Migrants in ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Thursday, 11 April 2019.

Senate confirms former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt as interior secretaryThe Washington Post, Darryl Fears, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “Former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to lead the Interior Department, an agency that controls nearly half a billion acres of public land and the vast amount of oil and gas mineral resources resting beneath it…. [H]is work as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry in the West, as well as large water utilities, led to concerns about conflicts of interest. The Interior Department oversees 700 million acres of minerals and other resources underground and 1.7 billion acres offshore. The department works closely with some of Bernhardt’s former clients.” See also, Senate Confirms David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary Amid Calls for Investigations Into His ConductThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the oil and agribusiness industries, as secretary of the interior. The confirmation of Mr. Bernhardt to his new post coincided with calls from more than a dozen Democrats and government watchdogs for formal investigations into his past conduct.” See also, Senate confirms David Bernhardt to head the Interior Department, Anthony Adragna, Politico, Thursday, 11 April 2019.

Disaster Relief Usually Sails Through Congress. The Sticking Point Now; Puerto Rico. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Glenn Thrush, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “Congress left town for a two-week spring recess without fulfilling the most pressing item on its agenda, aid to victims of floods, fires and hurricanes, with Senate Republicans unwilling to call President Trump on his threat to kill any bill that includes substantial new assistance to Puerto Rico that Democrats are demanding. It is a classic Trump-era Washington gridlock, with profound implications for millions of Americans whose lives have been upended by natural disaster. House Democrats, backed by their Senate counterparts, are determined to secure more resources for citizens they believe have been unfairly maligned by Mr. Trump: A $17.2 billion package introduced this week in the lower chamber would offer new funds for flood recovery in the Midwest and other disasters that have occurred since their first package passed in January, as part of an effort to reopen the government.”

A ‘pure racist act’: N.Y. Post slammed for using 9/11 to attack Representative Omar over speech on IslamophobiaThe Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The cover of the New York Post on Thursday showed an image of the World Trade Center exploding into flames on Sept. 11, more than 17 years ago. The target of the tabloid’s ire? Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, who has become a frequent target of criticism, harassment and outright Islamophobia from the right wing since her election in November. Omar (D-Minn.) had made brief remarks about Islamophobia at an event in March that came in the aftermath of the white-supremacist shooting that left 50 Muslim worshipers dead in New Zealand. But after video of the event was published this week, conservative figureheads fixated on the way she had phrased a reference to 9/11, as ‘some people did something.’ The New York Post took the controversy, which had percolated for days in conservative circles, and amplified it by splashing it across its cover Thursday with a photo of the twin towers. The decision touched off a storm of indignation and anger among liberal commentators online. Many felt the newspaper, which has a history of incendiary front pages, had overstepped the bounds of acceptability. Others said they thought that the cover amounted to incitement of violence against Omar, who has faced a growing number of threats.” See also, The New York Post’s Craven Ilhan Omar Cover Was an Insult to All New YorkersGQ, Elizabeth Spiers, published on 12 April 2019.

Elizabeth Warren Has a Novel Idea: Tax Corporations on the Profits They Claim PubliclyThe Intercept, Aida Chávez, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren is unveiling a new way to tax corporations: Take them at their word. Due to the vagaries of American corporate accounting, companies routinely tell investors on conference calls that they made billions in profit over the previous quarter, then turn around and tell the IRS that, actually, they made no money at all, so they don’t owe any taxes. Warren’s plan would tax those companies on the profits they claim publicly. The proposal, called the ‘Real Corporate Profits Tax,’ would only apply to companies that report more than $100 million in worldwide profits, and every dollar above $100 million would be taxed at 7 percent.”

Corporate Tax Avoidance Remains Rampant Under New Tax LawInstitute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Matthew Gardner, Steve Wamhoff, Mary Martellotta, and Lorena Roque, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “For decades, profitable Fortune 500 companies have manipulated the tax system to avoid paying even a dime in tax on billions of dollars in U.S. profits. This ITEP report provides the first comprehensive look at how corporate tax changes under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affect the scale of corporate tax avoidance. The report finds that in 2018, 60 of America’s biggest corporations zeroed out their federal income taxes on $79 billion in U.S. pretax income. Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes at the 21 percent statutory corporate tax rate, these companies enjoyed a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion.”

A New Road Map for Progressive DemocratsThe New Yorker, John Cassidy, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “Wednesday was an interesting day in progressive politics. At a press briefing on Capitol Hill, Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, launched the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which calls for a nationwide single-payer health-care system. After pointing out that the United States spends more than twice as much per capita on health care as other countries, with unimpressive results, Sanders declared, ‘The current debate about Medicare for All really has nothing to do with health care. It has everything to do with greed and profiteering. It is about whether we continue a dysfunctional system which allowed the top five health-insurance companies to make over twenty billion dollars in profits last year, and the top sixty-five C.E.O.s in the industry to make $1.7 billion in compensation.’ Across town, the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank, unveiled a new report that calls for a broad rebalancing of power away from big corporations—such as health-insurance companies—Wall Street, and other politically connected groups. Stacey Abrams, the Georgia politician who is still deciding whether to enter the 2020 Presidential race, spoke at the event and endorsed the report, which is called ‘New Rules for the 21st Century: Corporate Power, Public Power, and the Future of the American Economy.'”

A Bill Banning Most Abortions Becomes Law in OhioNPR,  Gabe Rosenberg, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The six-week abortion ban known as the “heartbeat bill” is now law in Ohio. That makes Ohio the sixth state in the nation to attempt to outlaw abortions at the point a fetal heartbeat can be detected…. Now known as the ‘Human Rights Protection Act,’ SB 23 outlaws abortions as early as five or six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant. It is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The bill does include an exception to save the life of the woman, but no exceptions for cases of rape or incest…. Anti-abortion groups such as Ohio Right To Life say they intend the heartbeat bill to trigger a U.S. Supreme Court case striking down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. That case legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22-24 weeks.”

Former F.B.I. Director James Comey Defends Surveillance of the Trump Campaign: ‘I Have Never Thought of That as Spying,’ The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The former F.B.I. director James B. Comey said on Thursday that he knew of no electronic surveillance aimed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, defending the bureau after Attorney General William P. Barr asserted a day earlier that the bureau spied on the campaign as part of the Russia investigation. ‘When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning because the F.B.I., the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance,’ said Mr. Comey, who oversaw the inquiry until President Trump abruptly fired him in May 2017. ‘I have never thought of that as spying.’ Mr. Barr said in congressional testimony on Wednesday that the bureau might have taken improper measures while investigating links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia, describing the F.B.I.’s conduct as ‘spying,’ a term typically associated with unlawful surveillance.” See also, James Comey says he’s more worried about Trump than about Russian disinformation campaignsThe Washington Post, James Hohmann, published on 12 April 2019.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee launches an investigation of Bill Wehrum, the Environmental Protection Agency’s top air policy officialThe Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, 11 April 2019: “The House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation Thursday into whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s air policy chief and his deputy have improperly aided their former industry clients since joining the administration.”