Trump Administration, Week 118: Friday, 19 April – Thursday, 25 April 2019 (Days 820-826)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. 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.


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Friday, 19 April 2019, Day 820:


House Democrats Subpoena the Full Mueller Report and the Underlying EvidenceThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 19 April 2019: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena on Friday demanding that the Justice Department hand over an unredacted version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and the evidence underlying it by May 1, and pledged ‘major hearings’ on its findings. The subpoena, one of the few issued thus far by House Democrats, escalates a fight with Attorney General William P. Barr over what material Congress is entitled to see from the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, asked for all evidence obtained by Mr. Mueller’s investigators, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence — and indicated he intended to air it to the public. ‘Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates,’ Mr. Nadler said in a statement. ‘It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.’ The subpoena was sent as House Democrats, who have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings if they so choose, debate how to proceed with the new evidence handed over Thursday by Mr. Mueller. Democratic-led committees have already initiated their own investigations of Russian election influence, as well as obstruction of justice and abuse of power, which can incorporate the findings in the shorter term. But there were also new calls in the wake of the report from the party’s left flank — including Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat running for president — to go further and open a formal impeachment inquiry.” See also, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler subpoenas the Department of Justice for the full version of the Mueller reportPolitico, Caitlin Oprysko, Kyle Cheney, and Andrew Desideerio, Friday, 19 April 2019: “House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Friday issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to the underlying grand jury evidence and testimony. The subpoena, which demands the material by May 1, escalates the House’s confrontation with Attorney General William Barr, whom Democrats have accused of whitewashing Mueller’s findings and misleading the public about the nature of the special counsel’s conclusions in order to protect President Donald Trump.” See also, House issues subpoena for full unredacted version of the Mueller reportThe Guardian, Lauren Gambino and Jon Swaine, Friday 19 April 2019. See also, Mueller report updates: Trump and his supporters seek to turn a page, as Democrats issue a subpoena for the full special counsel’s report that details what they say is ‘alarming’ behaviorThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 19 April 2019. See also, William Barr Misled Everyone About the Mueller Report. Now Democrats Are Calling for His Resignation. The Intercept, James Risen, Friday, 19 April 2019: “Attorney General William Barr is coming under increasing fire from congressional Democrats for statements he made before the release of the Mueller report. Critics say the remarks purposefully downplayed how damaging special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was for President Donald Trump. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Friday morning that his committee has issued a subpoena to the Justice Department to obtain the full, unredacted report. The subpoena demands that the Justice Department turn over the report by May 1. Nadler also asked Mueller to testify before his committee. ‘It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings,’ Nadler said. Critics said both Barr’s press conference and the four-page letter were part of Barr’s attempt to whitewash the Mueller report’s findings.”

Trump Lashes Out as Mueller Report Reverberates Around WashingtonThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Vivian Salama, and Natalie Andrews, Friday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump declared parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report ‘total bullshit’ Friday as House Democrats demanded an unredacted version of a document whose findings reverberated through the capital. Mr. Trump in recent weeks had hailed the report as having exonerated him, after Attorney General William Barr in a letter to Congress said the special counsel hadn’t established collusion with Russians or decided to charge the president with obstruction of justice. On Friday, Mr. Trump questioned the authenticity of administration aides’ notes that informed their accounts of the president’s efforts to interfere in the investigation, calling parts of the report ‘fabricated & totally untrue.'” See also, Trump uses profanity to complain about the Mueller report, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner, Thursday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump sought Friday to discredit portions of the special counsel’s report in which others described behavior that could be seen as obstruction of justice, calling their assertions ‘total bullshit.’ Less than 24 hours ago, Trump and his allies took a victory lap after the 448-page redacted report was made public, saying that the findings fully exonerate him. But in morning tweets, Trump complained about the report’s finding, arguing that because he chose not to testify during the probe, he never got to tell his side of the story.” See also, Trump blames former White House counsel Donald McGahn after Mueller paints damning portrait with notes from White House aidesThe Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Robert Costa, Friday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump seethed Friday over the special counsel’s portrayal of his protracted campaign to thwart the Russia investigation and directed much of his ire at former White House counsel Donald McGahn, whose ubiquity in the report’s footnotes laid bare his extensive cooperation in chronicling the president’s actions. Some of the report’s most derogatory scenes were attributed not only to the recollections of McGahn and other witnesses but also to the contemporaneous notes kept by several senior administration officials — the kind of paper trail that Trump has long sought to avoid leaving. Many White House aides use pen and paper both as a defensive mechanism — such as when then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly documented Trump’s move to grant security clearances to his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — and as a means of creating the first draft of a page-turning presidency. But the fact that some of those notes became primary source material for Mueller to paint a vivid portrait of Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation angered the president, who was stewing over the media coverage as he decamped to Florida for the holiday weekend, according to people familiar with his thinking.” See also, A day after celebrating the Mueller report as a vindication, Trump seems to be souring on its conclusionsPolitico, Nancy Cook, Andrew Restuccia, and Caitlin Oprysko, Friday, 19 April 2019.  See also, Reaction to the Mueller Report One Day After Its ReleaseThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Michael Tackett, Friday, 19 April 2019. See also, Trump campaign punishes Don McGahn’s law firmPolitico, Nancy Cook, Friday, 19 April 2019: “The Trump campaign has hired its own in-house attorney for its 2020 reelection bid — shifting future business away from Jones Day, the law firm, that has represented Trump since his first run for president.”

See Which Sections of the Mueller Report Were RedactedThe New York Times, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Derek Watkins, and Karen Yourish, Friday, 19 April 2019: “About 10 percent of the special counsel’s 448-page report is blacked out. A bird’s-eye view of the report reveals the pattern of redactions. More is kept secret in the first volume of the report, which covers Russian interference in the 2016 election, than in the second, which covers possible obstruction of justice…. A majority of the redactions, about 69 percent in total, were made because the material related to ongoing investigations. 18 percent of the redactions were based on legal rules that generally forbid the disclosure of grand jury material. 8 percent of the redactions were related to classified information that intelligence officials feared could compromise sensitive sources and methods. 5 percent of the redactions were made because the material infringed on personal privacy.” See also, Mueller report offers clues to what’s behind the redactionsThe Washington Post, Joe Fox, John Muyskens, and Danielle Rindler, Friday, 19 April 2019: “Of the 448 pages in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, 178 pages — 39 percent — contain a redaction. In many cases, context and other clues offer insight into what might be behind the black boxes. Attorney General William P. Barr’s office grouped redactions into four categories. The vast majority of redactions were material from grand jury proceedings, kept secret by law, or details whose public disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations. To a lesser degree, material was redacted if it could ‘compromise sources and methods’ used in intelligence gathering or would ‘unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.’ The first volume of the report, which deals with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, is the most heavily redacted. It contains almost all of the report’s grand jury redactions. The second volume, which deals with the question of whether President Trump obstructed justice, was most often redacted because of harm to ongoing investigations.”

Continue reading Week 118, Friday, 19 April – Thursday, 25 April 2019 (Days 820-826)

After Mueller report, Democrats are divided over the end game–investigate Trump or impeachThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade, Friday, 19 April 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report gave House Democrats a road map for investigating President Trump and the cue they were waiting for — but the party was divided Friday over what, ultimately, should be their end game. In one camp, a faction of Democrats determined to pursue impeachment of Trump was emboldened by the report, seizing on Mueller’s detailed findings about 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice to revive calls for delivering the ultimate congressional censure. Ramping up the pressure for impeachment Friday were two presidential hopefuls — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration. ‘The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty,’ Warren said. ‘That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.’ But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team have tamped down talk of impeachment, with a sense among top Democrats that the Mueller report — which many Democrats see as incriminating in its details of a president trying to undermine the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — has changed nothing when it comes to the impeachment question. Democratic leaders appear to be coalescing around a strategy of continuing their investigations of Trump, while arguing that their constitutional mandate doesn’t necessitate that they impeach the president — even if they agree he broke the law. Rather, they argue that Congress can unearth corrupt information about him — then take it to voters in the 2020 election.” See also, Democratic equivocation over impeachment is a moral and political disasterThe Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Friday, 19 April 2019: “As the political world digests the shocking scale of corruption, misconduct and skirting of criminality detailed in the Mueller report, Democrats have been pushing back on the idea that it’s time to initiate an inquiry into the impeachment of President Trump. But there’s a key tell lurking in all this pushback: Democrats are not seriously arguing that all the misconduct that has now come to light does not merit an impeachment inquiry. This is creating a situation that’s shaping up as a moral and political disaster. Yet there’s no indication that Democrats are reckoning with the problems this poses. This, even though the basic dynamics of the situation strongly suggest that initiating an inquiry will grow harder to resist over time, not easier. By my count, Democrats are offering at least four different rationales for refraining from launching such an inquiry.”

Elizabeth Warren Calls for Impeachment Process Against TrumpThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Friday, 19 April 2019:”Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday called for the Democratic-led House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, making her the most prominent Democrat to move toward ousting the president over evidence from the special counsel’s investigation that Mr. Trump attempted to undermine that inquiry. Ms. Warren, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination to face Mr. Trump in 2020, laid out her arguments in a multi-tweet thread, saying the report documented efforts by Russia to elect Mr. Trump and ‘Donald Trump welcomed the help.’ Ms. Warren said ‘once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack. To ignore a president’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways,’ Ms. Warren wrote on Twitter. Democratic leaders are sharply divided on whether to pursue an impeachment effort against Mr. Trump, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several presidential candidates uneasy about a Democratic-led impeachment attempt and preferring to let voters judge Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.” See also, Elizabeth Warren urges the House to impeach Trump in view of Mueller’s findings, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 19 April 2019. See also, The Mueller Report Is an Impeachment ReferralThe Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum, published on Thursday, 18 April 2019: “The redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report released on Thursday runs 448 pages. But its most important implication can be summarized in a single sentence: There is sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump obstructed justice to merit impeachment hearings. A basic principle lies at the heart of the American criminal-justice system: The accused is entitled to a fair defense and a chance to clear his name. Every American is entitled to this protection, from the humblest citizen all the way up to the chief executive. And that, Mueller explained in his report, is why criminal allegations against a sitting president should be considered by Congress and not the Justice Department. The Mueller report, in short, is an impeachment referral.”

The Mueller Report’s ‘Smoking Gun’ on Obstruction of JusticeNew York Review of Books, Murray Waas, Friday, 19 April 2019: “It is only two sentences in a report of some 448 pages. As yet unnoticed, these lines provide the strongest new evidence uncovered by Robert Mueller’s investigators that President Donald Trump may have indeed obstructed justice. Two people directly involved in the case told me that several of the special counsel’s prosecutors privately considered this information to be a ‘smoking gun’ suggesting that the president acted criminally. That section of the Mueller report—which also refers to former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, then White House Counsel Don McGahn II, and the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak—reads as follows: ‘By the time the President spoke to Comey about Flynn, DOJ officials had informed McGahn, who informed the President, that Flynn’s statements to senior White House officials about his contacts with Kislyak were not true and that Flynn had told the same version of events to the FBI. McGahn also informed the President that Flynn’s conduct could violate 18 USC §1001. [US Code Title 18 § 1001 is the federal statute that makes it a felony to lie to the FBI or other federal investigators, a crime that Flynn did indeed later plead guilty to.]'”

A Darker Portrait Emerges of Trump’s Attacks on the Justice DepartmentThe New York Times, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Friday, 19 April 2019: “The long-awaited report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, released on Thursday painted a portrait of law enforcement leaders more fiercely under siege than previously known. They struggled to navigate Mr. Trump’s apparent disregard for their mission through a mix of threats to resign, quiet defiance and capitulation to some presidential demands. While their willingness to stay quiet might have protected their institutions, it also helped empower Mr. Trump to continue his attacks.”

The Mueller report showcases eight Trump loyalists who resisted the president to protect themselvesThe Washington Post, James Hohmann, Friday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump repeatedly made his own top aides, appointees and advisers uncomfortable by making requests that they found unethical, legally questionable or otherwise inappropriate as he sought to gain some control over the federal investigation into himself and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. While neither accusing him of a crime nor exonerating him, the second volume of special counsel Bob Mueller’s 448-page report details 10 episodes in which there is at least some evidence that Trump sought to obstruct justice. In most of them, at least one person from the president’s inner circle resisted entreaties to do something they felt was wrong.”

Trump’s Lawyer Rudy Giuliani Attacks Donald McGahn’s Account to MuellerThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, attacked the credibility of a former White House counsel on Friday, saying his account of how Mr. Trump told him to remove the special counsel was inaccurate. Mr. Giuliani’s statement was the most extensive pushback by the president’s lawyers against the former counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who cooperated extensively with the special counsel’s investigators. The report detailing the findings of the investigation, released on Thursday, also included several damning examples of how Mr. Trump tried to interfere with the investigation, like Mr. McGahn’s account.”

On a number of important questions, Mueller never got answersThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 19 April 2019: “It’s the nature of a criminal investigation that people aren’t going to own up to everything they did. That’s why there’s an investigation: to figure out what happened despite people not wanting to admit the truth. One of the themes in the partially redacted report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team is that, in a number of key areas, they were left unable to determine the facts surrounding a particular issue. In both of the report’s volumes — the first addressing possible conspiracy between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign and the second addressing possible obstruction of justice — there are examples of how and where Mueller’s investigators hit brick walls.” See also, The key unanswered questions from the Mueller reportThe Guardian, Sabrina Siddiqui, Friday, 19 April 2019.

Mueller Report Describes a Businessman President Indifferent to Facts and Unwilling to Take on Tough TasksThe Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Byron Tau, Friday, 19 April 2019: “Mr. Trump campaigned on his record as a businessman who would bring private-sector efficiency to the federal government. But the Mueller report shows an executive who often lacks a willingness to take on tough conversations and personnel moves, as well as a forthrightness in dealing with employees and the public, and follow-through to ensure that his decisions are executed.”

Mueller’s Silence Allowed Openings for Trump and Attorney General William Barr to Shape Perception of InquiryThe New York Times, Noah Weiland and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 19 April 2019: “By not speaking publicly, [Special Counsel Robert Mueller] insulated his office from credible accusations of leaks and evaded Mr. Trump’s attacks on the inquiry, burnishing Mr. Mueller’s image as an apolitical arbiter supervising the most politically consequential investigation in a generation. But he also allowed Mr. Trump — and more recently, Attorney General William P. Barr — to shape public expectations for his own work.”

‘I have no recollection’: Trump turned to familiar refrain in response to Mueller questionsThe Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Thursday, 19 April 2019: “President Trump has bragged that he has ‘one of the great memories of all time.’ But — when faced with questions from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III about the 2016 campaign — Trump said his memory failed him…. In at least 37 instances, Trump responded to Mueller’s questions — about his campaign’s contacts with Russians and about Russian interference in the 2016 election — by saying he couldn’t recall.” See also, ‘I Do Not Remember’: Trump Gave a Familiar Reply to the Special Counsel’s QueriesThe New York Times, Peter Baker, published on Saturday, 20 April 2019: “President Trump has boasted at various points that he has ‘one of the great memories of all time’ or even ‘the world’s greatest memory.’ But the world’s greatest memory failed him repeatedly when prosecutors asked him those classic questions from decades of presidential scandals — what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Trump refused for more than a year to be interviewed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and in the end agreed to respond to questions only in writing. Even then, with the help of his lawyers, the president found it difficult to summon details from his presidential campaign in 2016 that might shed light on what happened. More than 30 times, he told the prosecutors that he had no memory of what they were asking about, employing several formulations to make the same point.”

Judge Delivers Major Setback to Trump Policy to Increase Coal Mining on Federal LandThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Friday, 19 April 2019: “A federal judge late Friday delivered a significant setback to the Trump administration’s policy of promoting coal, ruling that the Interior Department acted illegally when it sought to lift an Obama-era moratorium on coal mining on public lands. The decision, by Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court of the District of Montana, does not reinstate President Barack Obama’s 2016 freeze on new coal mining leases on public lands. That policy was part of an effort by the Obama administration to curtail the burning of coal, a major producer of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. But the court ruling does say that the 2017 Trump administration policy, enacted by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to overturn Mr. Obama’s coal mining ban did not include adequate studies of the environmental effects of the mining, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, or NEPA, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws…. The decision means that ‘the Interior Department has to go back to the drawing board if they want to continue to sell coal mining leases on public lands — they have to do a better job of legally and scientifically justifying this,’ said Jenny Harbine, an attorney for Earthjustice, who took part in the oral arguments against the Trump administration. The judge also told the plaintiffs and defendants that in the coming months he will put forth a second legal decision on whether the Obama-era mining ban should be reinstated.”


Saturday, 20 April 2019, Day 821:


A Reader’s Guide to the Journalism Behind the Mueller ReportThe New York Times, Anna Dubenko, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “President Trump has spent the last two years denouncing the “fake news” media, and yet some of the key moments in Robert S. Mueller III’s report were uncovered or bolstered through journalists’ investigative scrutiny. Moreover, in seeking to find out whether the president had obstructed justice, Mr. Mueller and his team looked to the administration’s public and private responses to reports in the media. The Mueller report cites work from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other news outlets dozens of times. Some of the stories published over the past two years were important turning points for the investigation. The report also reveals moments when the president and his aides rebutted stories they knew were true. Televised interviews figure prominently in the report as well. The president’s now-famous sit-down with Lester Holt on ‘NBC Nightly News’ and Rudolph Giuliani’s discussions of pardons for Paul Manafort on CNN were crucial viewing for the Mueller investigative team. The report reveals a lot we didn’t know about how the president and his aides responded to overtures from Russia and how they attempted to thwart investigations. But many of the bombshells in the document were first reported by the press. Below, we’ve rounded up a selection of stories from The New York Times and The Washington Post that shaped this investigation.’

Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business WorldThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “[A]ccording to the special counsel’s report, [there was] a broad, makeshift effort by the Kremlin to establish ties to Mr. Trump that began early in the campaign and shifted into high gear after Mr. Trump’s victory. Those efforts were channeled largely through people in the business world in both countries. Especially after the election, they led to a conflation of diplomatic and financial interests that was a stark departure from the carefully calibrated contacts typically managed by an incoming administration in the United States.”

FBI arrests Larry Mitchell Hopkins, member of rightwing militia accused of illegally detaining migrants in New MexicoThe Guardian, Sam Levin, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “A member of an armed rightwing militia group accused of illegally detaining migrants at the US-Mexico border has been arrested, officials said on Saturday. The FBI arrested Larry Mitchell Hopkins69, for alleged unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, days after his group posted videos that appeared to show armed men stopping migrants at the border in New Mexico, ordering them to sit on the ground and coordinating with US border patrol agents to have them taken into custody. ‘Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes,’ the New Mexico attorney general, Hector Balderas, said in a statement.” See also, An armed militia was ‘detaining’ migrants at the border. The FBI arrested its leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins. The Washington Post, Kayla Epstein, Lindsey Bever, and Eli Rosenberg, published on Monday, 22 April 2019: “The leader of an armed militia that scours the southern border for undocumented migrants was arrested by the FBI on Saturday, days after a video of the group holding migrants against their will sparked outrage. Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested in the New Mexico border city of Sunland Park on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the FBI said…. On Thursday, the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), and attorney general, Hector Balderas (D), demanding that they investigate the UCP and the actions portrayed in the April 16 video. ‘We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,’ the letter said. ‘We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.’ ‘Law enforcement belongs strictly in the hands of trained professionals,’ Peter Simonson, director of the ACLU in New Mexico, told The Washington Post. He said his group alerted officials because of fears that the armed militia members would harm the migrants. On Friday, Grisham called the militia’s actions ‘absolutely unacceptable.’

Matt Shea, Republican state representative from Washington, discussed violent attacks on and surveillance of perceived political enemies with rightwingersThe Guardian, Jason Wilson, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “A Washington state Republican politician took part in private discussions with rightwing figures about carrying out surveillance, ‘psyops’ and even violent attacks on perceived political enemies, according to chat records obtained by the Guardian. State representative Matt Shea, who represents Spokane Valley in the Washington state house, participated in the chats with three other men. All of the men used screen aliases – Shea’s was ‘Verum Bellator,’ Latin for true warrior. The Guardian confirmed the identity of those in the chat by cross-checking phone numbers attached to the Signal accounts.”

When Did Moral Clarity Become Radical? The Green New Deal has been called a political ‘loser.’ But back in 1988, both parties saw climate legislation as sensible. The New York Times, Nathaniel Rich, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “It was not so long ago that a young congresswoman proposed major climate legislation that would transform the national energy system and, with it, the economy. Speaking on the floor of the House, she lamented the tens of billions of dollars in federal handouts to the fossil fuel industry and the government’s failure to adopt its own scientists’ recommendations. She warned of the ‘very high risk of irreversible and catastrophic impact looming on the horizon’ if the United States failed to act. ‘We have the facts,’ she said. ‘The crisis is here. The time to move from rhetoric into action is also here.’ The congresswoman was Claudine Schneider, a Republican from Rhode Island. The bill was the Global Warming Prevention Act of 1988.”

Trump administration says immigrants working in the legal marijuana industry lack ‘moral character’ for citizenshipThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “Immigrants who use marijuana or who work in the cannabis industry can be denied citizenship, even if they are doing so in states where it is legal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Friday. The guidance, issued — coincidentally or not — just before pot advocates’ national celebration of their 4/20 holiday, confirms what immigration and marijuana advocates have cautioned is a legal gray area that penalizes would-be citizens because they’ve broken a federal law. Although recreational marijuana use is legal in 10 states and decriminalized in 14 more, it is still classified as an illegal substance federally.”

Republicans Offer Health Care Bills to Protect Patients (and Themselves)The New York Times, Robert Pear, Saturday, 20 April 2019: “President Trump and Republicans in Congress say they are committed to protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions. But patients with cancer, diabetes and H.I.V., for example, would have significantly less protection under Republican proposals than under the Affordable Care Act. The proposals may provide some political cover for Republicans on an issue likely to figure prominently in the 2020 elections. But a close inspection of the Republican bills shows that their protections are undercut by a combination of imprecise language, explicit exceptions and ‘rules of construction’ that explain how the legislation is to be interpreted.”


Sunday, 21 April 2019, Day 822:


To Defend Against a Mercurial Boss, Trump Aides Wield the Pen as ShieldThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Annie Karni, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “Time and again, Mr. Trump’s advisers took notes of their interactions with the president or drafted memos immediately afterward to maintain real-time records, in some cases simply to have an accurate understanding to do their jobs better, but in other cases for self-preservation. While aides in past administrations recognized that notes could become public and shied away from recording sensitive information in writing to protect the president, many of Mr. Trump’s aides took pen to paper to protect themselves from the president.”

Inside special counsel Robert Mueller’s long hunt to uncover whether the Trump campaign conspired with RussiaThe Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “A reconstruction of the laborious effort by Mueller’s team to determine whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia shows why it was often a maddeningly difficult task. Their witnesses were not ideal. A few key players, prosecutors would contend, lied in interviews. Many were loyal to the president and echoed his rhetoric that Mueller’s team was acting in bad faith. Some used encrypted applications with disappearing messages that could not be reviewed. Others were overseas, unreachable to American investigators. In some cases, their statements were only loosely tethered to the facts. This account is based on interviews with people who interacted with Mueller’s team, court documents and new details laid out in the special counsel’s report. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.”

How Michael Cohen Turned Against President Trump: The president’s longtime fixer had, for months, sought ‘a little loving and respect.’ Confidential emails and texts chronicle their momentous falling out. The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “[A]s Mr. Cohen prepares to head to prison in two weeks, dozens of previously unreported emails, text messages and other confidential documents reviewed by The New York Times suggest that his falling out with Mr. Trump may have been avoidable. Missed cues, clashing egos, veiled threats and unaddressed money worries all contributed to Mr. Cohen’s halting decision to turn on a man he had long idolized and even once vowed to take a bullet for, according to the documents and interviews with people close to the events. Some of the documents have been turned over to the prosecutors in Manhattan, and a small number were mentioned in the special counsel’s report released on Thursday, which dealt extensively with Mr. Cohen and referred to him more than 800 times.” See also, Why It Matters That Trump and Michael Cohen Had a Falling OutThe New York Times, William K. Rashbaum, Sunday, 21 April 2019.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff says Democrats will meet in the next few weeks to discuss impeachmentThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “House Democrats will hold a meeting to discuss whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump, a key lawmaker said Sunday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ that the House Democratic caucus will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the matter…. In an appearance on ABC News’s ‘This Week,’ Schiff said that although the findings of the Mueller report are ‘serious and damning,’ he does not believe the Senate would convict Trump if the House were to impeach him. ‘Now, it may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless. I think what we are going to have to decide as a caucus is: What is the best thing for the country?’ he said. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) also declined to rule out impeachment, saying Sunday that ‘if proven,’ Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice ‘would be impeachable. We may get to that. We may not,’ he said. ‘As I’ve said before, it is our job to go through all the evidence, all the information we can get.'” See also, How 2020 Democrats Are Gaming Out Trump Impeachment QuandaryThe New York Times, Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin, Sunday, 21 April 2019.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says Democrats will call former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testifyThe Washington Post, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he plans to call former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify in the wake of the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. Nadler has previously said he plans to summon key figures, including Mueller and Attorney General William P. Barr. In an appearance on NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press,’ he added McGahn to the list.”

No more waivers: The United States will try to force Iranian oil exports to zeroThe Washington Post, Josh Rogin, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “About one year after the United States decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries will have to completely end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to U.S. sanctions. This is an escalation of the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, which seeks to force Tehran to end its illicit behavior around the world. On Monday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce to the media that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate, two State Department officials told me.” See also, U.S. to End Iran Oil Waivers to Drive Tehran’s Exports to Zero. China, India, and Turkey had been expecting to receive a renewed waiver to continue to buy Iran’s oil. The Wall Street Journal, Jessica Donati, published on Monday, 22 April 2019: “The State Department is expected to announce the end of waivers for countries to import Iranian oil on Monday, part of the Trump administration’s effort to drive Iran’s exports to zero, people familiar with the decision said. The U.S. had previously granted eight countries a 180-day waiver to continue to buy Iranian crude despite U.S. sanctions, provided that each took steps to reduce purchases and move toward ending imports. The deadline for renewing the waivers was set to fall on May 2.” See also, U.S. Moves to Stop All Nations From Buying Iranian Oil, but China Is DefiantThe New York Times, Edward Wong and Clifford Krauss, published on Monday, 22 April 2019: “In tightening sanctions on Iran, the Trump administration moved on Monday to isolate Tehran economically and undercut its power across the Middle East. But the clampdown has complicated relations with China at a particularly sensitive moment. The decision to stop five of Iran’s biggest customers from buying its oil was an audacious strike at Tehran’s lifeline — one million barrels of oil exports daily, fully half of which go to China. The order was also aimed at India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, all countries that trade robustly with the United States.”

‘I Don’t Want to Die’: Asylum Seekers, Once in Limbo, Face Deportation Under TrumpThe New York Times, Christina Goldbaum, Sunday, 21 April 2019: “Even as Mr. Trump has sought in recent days to limit who can apply for asylum, and to expand indefinite detention for asylum seekers, his administration has with little public notice been carrying out a crackdown on people who asked for asylum, did not receive it and remained in the United States.”


Monday, 22 April 2019, Day 823:


Rate of ice loss from Greenland has grown by a factor of six since the 1080s, scientists findThe Washington Post, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Greenland, home to Earth’s second-largest ice sheet, has lost ice at an accelerating pace in the past several decades — a nearly sixfold increase that could contribute to future sea-level rise, according to a new study based on nearly a half-century of data. The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, estimate that Greenland’s glaciers went from dumping about 51 billion tons of ice into the ocean between 1980 to 1990, to 286 billion tons between 2010 and 2018. The result is that out of nearly 14 millimeters of sea-level rise in total caused by Greenland since 1972, half of it has occurred in the past eight years, researchers found.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Urges Caution on Impeachment as Some Democrats Push to Begin ProceedingsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi, confronting a Democratic divide over the findings of the special counsel, urged her caucus on Monday to hold off impeaching President Trump for now, even as she denounced the ‘highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior’ that she said had dishonored his office. Her comments, outlined in a letter to House Democrats on Monday and a subsequent conference call with them, seemed designed to increase support for the investigations already begun, rather than impeachment. But the conference call exposed the persistent divisions that Ms. Pelosi is trying to bridge, as several Democrats questioned the cost of not beginning the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says there are no immediate plans to open impeachment proceedings against TrumpThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Karoun Demirjian, and Jacqueline Alemany, Monday, 22 April 2019: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers Monday that there are no plans to immediately open impeachment proceedings against President Trump, rejecting calls from several Democrats to initiate steps to try to oust the president. In a rare Monday night conference call, the California Democrat stressed that the near-term strategy in the wake of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is to focus on investigating the president and seeing where the inquiries lead. Members of Pelosi’s leadership team reaffirmed her cautious approach, according to four officials on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. ‘We have to save our democracy. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about saving our democracy,’ Pelosi said.”

Trump sues his own accounting firm and Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, in bid to block congressional subpoena of  his financial recordsThe Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Rachael Bade, and John Wagner, Monday, 22 April 2019: “President Trump sued his own accounting firm and the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee at the same time Monday — trying an unusual tactic to stop the firm from giving the committee details about Trump’s past financial dealings. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, seeks a court order to quash a subpoena issued last week by the committee to Mazars USA. Trump’s lawyers also are asking a federal judge to temporarily block the subpoena until the court has had a chance to review their request. The move amounts to Trump — the leader of the executive branch of government — asking the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from investigating his past. Former House counsels from both sides of the aisle called the challenge a long shot and an apparent delay tactic.” See also, Trump and His Businesses Sue House Democrats to Hide His Accounting RecordsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Annie Karni, Monday, 22 April 2019. See also, Trump sues to block House subpoena of his financial recordsPolitico, Andrew Desiderio, Monday, 22 April 2019.

House Democrats issue subpoena for former White House lawyer Donald McGahnThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Monday, 22 April 2019: “The Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Monday ordering former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify before the panel next month and hand over documents and records pertaining to federal investigations of President Trump, his finances, his campaign and charges that he sought to obstruct justice. ‘The special counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,’ the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), said in a statement, calling McGahn ‘a critical witness to many of the allege instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report. His testimony will help shed further light on the president’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same,’ Nadler continued.” See also, As Donald McGahn, Trump’s Former Lawyer, Emerges as the Chief Witness in the Mueller Report, Trump and His Allies Ramp Up Attacks on McGahnThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Mr. Trump and his surrogates began attacking Mr. McGahn shortly after the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, revealed he was the chief witness to the president’s attempts to undermine the inquiry. In an interview on Monday, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team challenged Mr. McGahn’s motives and memory and accused investigators of ignoring inconsistencies in his assertions. ‘This is a cross-examination a law student could perform — by the time he’s finished, you would come to the conclusion he’s hopelessly confused’ and would be ‘shaking,’ Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said of Mr. McGahn’s interviews with investigators. Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that he was amping up attacks on Mr. McGahn in an attempt to undermine the Mueller report as Democrats called for their congressional leaders to use it as a basis for impeachment proceedings. The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Mr. McGahn on Monday to testify next month and hand over documents.’We have no choice but to attack because the Democrats say there is impeachable material here,’ Mr. Giuliani said.” See also, House committee issues subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahnCNN, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, Monday, 22 April 2019.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Landmark Civil Rights Law Applies to Gay and Transgender WorkersThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 22 April 2019: “The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees protections from workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people in three cases expected to provide the first indication of how the court’s new conservative majority will approach L.G.B.T. rights. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said the 1964 act does guarantee the protections. But the Trump administration has taken the opposite position, saying that the landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and, notably, sex, cannot fairly be read to apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status.” See also, Supreme Court to decide whether gay and transgender workers are protected by federal anti-discrimination lawsThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 22 April 2019: “The Supreme Court will deliver election-year rulings on one of the nation’s most consequential and unsettled civil rights issues: whether federal anti-discrimination laws prevent employers from firing workers because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The justices announced Monday that they accepted three cases involving gay and transgender employees for the term that will begin in October. The issue has percolated for years in lower courts, and the justices spent months deciding whether now was the time to review those rulings. It’s sure to be one of the new docket’s most controversial topics, raising the profiles of the Supreme Court and gay rights as Democrats challenge President Trump for the White House.” See also, Supreme Court to take up cases on gay and transgender rights in the workplacePolitico, Josh Gerstein, Monday, 22 April 2019.

Stephen Moore, Trump’s planned nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, said women should be banned from refereeing, announcing, and beer vending at men’s college basketball games, CNN, Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 22 April 2019: “One of President Donald Trump’s picks to serve on the Federal Reserve Board has written that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men’s college basketball games, asking if there was any area in life ‘where men can take vacation from women.’ Stephen Moore, an economic commentator and former Trump campaign adviser, made those and similar comments in several columns reviewed by CNN’s KFile that were published on the website of the conservative National Review magazine.” See also, Stephen Moore, Trump’s planned nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, is under fire for writing that women should not be allowed to be men’s sports referees–unless they’re good-lookingThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Stephen Moore, one of President Trump’s planned nominees for the Federal Reserve Board, wrote columns decrying the ‘feminization of basketball,’ denouncing coed sports and arguing that women should be barred from refereeing or covering men’s basketball games — unless they are good-looking. Moore also wrote that female athletes were seeking ‘equal pay for inferior work’ and lamented, ‘Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women?'” See also, As Herman Cain Withdraws His Name From Consideration for the Federal Reserve Board, Focus Shifts to Stephen MooreThe New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport, Monday, 22 April 2019: “President Trump announced Monday that Herman Cain, one of his two embattled picks for the Federal Reserve Board, had withdrawn his name from consideration, even as his second candidate came under new scrutiny over his attitudes toward women. Mr. Cain, a former pizza chain executive, made his decision as he battled old accusations of sexual harassment that had halted his 2012 presidential campaign. His withdrawal bows to political reality in a moment when Mr. Trump has faced mounting criticism for tapping loyalists to join the historically independent Fed. And it moved a spotlight to the other man Mr. Trump has said he wants to put on the Fed, his economic adviser Stephen Moore, who faced new objections on Monday because of a series of magazine columns that denigrated women, including his wife at the time.” See also, Herman Cain withdraws his bid to join the Federal Reserve Board, but Trump still eyes allies for the central bankThe Washington Post, Heather Long, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Herman Cain, President Trump’s planned nominee for the Federal Reserve, withdrew from consideration Monday, a recognition that too many Senate Republicans had announced they would vote against him.”

Elizabeth Warren’s Higher Education Plan: Cancel Most Student Loan Debt and Eliminate Tuition at Public Colleges and UniversitiesThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has structured her presidential campaign around a steady unveiling of disruptive policy ideas, on Monday proposed her biggest one yet: a $1.25 trillion plan to reshape higher education by canceling most student loan debt and eliminating tuition at every public college. Ms. Warren’s sweeping plan has several planks. She would pay for it with revenue generated by her proposed increase in taxes for America’s most wealthy families and corporations, which the campaign estimates to be $2.75 trillion over 10 years. In addition to eliminating undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, she would expand federal grants to help students with nontuition expenses and create a $50 billion fund to support historically black colleges and universities.” See also, Elizabeth Warren just vowed to scrap student-loan debt for 42 million people in the U.S.Business Insider, Allana Akhtar, Monday, 22 April 2019.

Kamala Harris Proposed Executive Orders on Gun ControlThe New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Senator Kamala Harris of California, the former prosecutor who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Monday committed to a host of executive actions to implement gun control measures that have long failed to pass in Congress.”

New research shows just how badly a citizenship question would hurt the 2020 Census. It could lead to a huge undercount, particularly of Latinos and immigrants. The Washington Post, Matt Barreto, Chris Warshaw, Matthew A. Baum, Bryce J. Dietrich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Maya Sen, Monday, 22 April 2019: “The Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census reaches the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Thus far, three federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration, most recently in Maryland. The Supreme Court will consider not only whether the administration violated administrative law, but also whether its attempt violated the Constitution. A crucial issue in the case is whether adding this question for the first time since 1950 will hurt the ability of the census to accurately count the American population. In particular, critics of the administration fear the question will dissuade some U.S. residents, especially immigrants, from answering the census. Research suggests these fears are justified. Working separately, we have used surveys and experiments to show that the citizenship question would make people less likely to respond to the census and provide complete information if they do respond. This is particularly true for Latinos and immigrants.”

Giuliani says there’s nothing wrong with getting dirt from Russians. The law says there can be. The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) rebuked President Trump last week following the release of the redacted report summarizing the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Among other things, Romney said he was ‘appalled’ that members of Trump’s campaign would have welcomed help from Russia in the 2016 election campaign without telling law enforcement and including information that was obtained illegally. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a member of Trump’s legal team, dismissed Romney’s concerns in an interview on CNN on Sunday. ‘What a hypocrite,’ Giuliani said of Romney. ‘What a hypocrite.’ CNN host Jake Tapper asked why Romney was being described as hypocritical. Because, Giuliani replied, any candidate would have taken negative information about an opponent.” See also, Trump’s Personal Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Says There Is ‘Nothing Wrong With Taking Information From the Russians,’ The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmondson, published on Sunday, 21 April 2019.

Trump wins over big donors who snubbed him in 2016Politico, Alex Isenstadt, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Deep-pocketed Republicans who snubbed Donald Trump in 2016 are going all in for him in 2020, throwing their weight behind a newly created fundraising drive that’s expected to dump tens of millions into his reelection coffers.”

Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts Joins the 2020 Race for PresidentThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Monday, 22 April 2019: “Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a third-term congressman who has pushed for a ‘new generation of leadership’ in Washington, declared his candidacy for president on Monday, becoming the 19th candidate to enter the Democratic primary field. ‘I’m running because I’m a patriot, because I believe in this country and because I’ve never wanted to sit on the sidelines when it comes to serving it,’ Mr. Moulton said Monday on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’ Mr. Moulton, 40, garnered attention in November when he helped lead a group of rebellious Democrats who had sought to deny Speaker Nancy Pelosi the gavel in the new Congress. The effort was unsuccessful, and Mr. Moulton ultimately voted for Ms. Pelosi. His online biography paints him as something of a disrupter, noting that he was ‘the only Democrat to unseat an incumbent in a primary’ in the House of Representatives when he was first elected in 2014.” See also, Seth Moulton on the Issues: A Marine Veteran Eyes Foreign PolicyThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Monday, 22 April 2019.  See also, Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton joins the 2020 presidential raceThe Washington Post, David Weigel and John Wagner, Monday, 22 April 2019.

What the media got right–and wrong–about the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 22 April 2019: “For all the hand-wringing about overzealous punditry, the Mueller report was by and large an affirmation of the mainstream media’s investigative reporting. Almost all the big stories were confirmed in the report.”


Tuesday, 23 April 2019, Day 824:


Trump says he is opposed to White House aides testifying to Congress, deepening power struggle with House DemocratsThe Washington Post, Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the special counsel report, intensifying a power struggle between his administration and House Democrats. In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference and the president’s own conduct in office…. Trump’s comments came as the White House made it clear that it plans to broadly defy requests for information from Capitol Hill, moving the two branches of government closer to a constitutional collision.” See also, House Democrats Ask for Documents and Testimony on Multiple Fronts, and Trump Says No, Signaling a Bitter Fight AheadThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Annie Karni, and Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “President Trump’s administration foreshadowed weeks, if not months, of trench warfare with Congress on Tuesday as it defied demands for documents and testimony on multiple fronts in an effort to thwart expanding investigations mounted by House Democrats. While Democrats debated the merits of pursuing impeachment against Mr. Trump, his advisers signaled that the administration would resist efforts to obtain the president’s tax returns and force his former aides to testify. The refusals could lead to constitutional clashes in court as Mr. Trump seeks to stave off further inquiries into his personal and political matters.”

House Oversight Committee moves to hold former White House personnel security director Carl Kline in contempt after he obeys Trump administration’s instruction not to testifyThe Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The House Oversight Committee moved Tuesday to hold a former White House personnel security director in contempt of Congress for failing to appear at a hearing investigating alleged lapses in White House security clearance procedures.Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would consult with the House counsel and members of the panel about scheduling a vote on contempt for former White House personnel security director Carl Kline. At the instruction of the White House, Kline failed to show up for scheduled testimony on security clearances. The move marks a dramatic escalation of tensions between Congress and the Trump White House, which is increasingly resisting requests for information from Capitol Hill.” See also, White House Directed Carl Kline, Its Former Head of Personnel Security, to Defy a Subpoena From the House Oversight CommitteeThe New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The White House expanded its legal battle with the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday, blocking a former official from answering questions about the office that granted security clearances to officials including Jared Kushner. The White House directed its former head of personnel security, Carl Kline, to defy a subpoena ordering him to appear on Tuesday for a deposition by a House committee looking into the security clearances. The move marked an escalation in the fight between the administration and the House over access to officials, documents and other information it is seeking as it steps up investigations into President Trump. Earlier on Tuesday, a White House spokesman said Mr. Trump would not comply with a separate request to turn over his taxes to the House Ways and Means Committee. Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement that he would discuss scheduling a contempt vote against Mr. Kline for failing to appear as required by the subpoena.” See also, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings is moving toward a vote to hold former White House personnel security director Carl Kline in contempt after he refuses to comply with a subpoenaPolitico, Anita Kumar and Andrew Desiderio, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “Cummings’ statement came after the White House instructed Kline to not answer questions Tuesday as part of the committee’ investigation into the White House security clearance process. It also sets up what could be the most significant clash between the two branches of government since Democrats took over the House. ‘It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight,’ Cummings (D-Md.) said.”

House Oversight and Reform Committee postpones subpoena deadline for Trump financial records until court rulingThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The House Oversight Committee has agreed to postpone its deadline for a subpoena of President Trump’s financial records until after a court rules on a lawsuit filed by the president on the matter, according to a court filing Tuesday. Trump filed the lawsuit Monday against his own accounting firm and the chairman of the House panel, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), to block the financial documents’ release. A hearing has been set for May 14, according to Tuesday’s court filing. The delay marks a temporary victory for Trump, who is facing mounting investigations by House committees into his finances, his campaign and allegations that he sought to obstruct justice during special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the presidential campaign.”

The White House plans to fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee for former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testifyThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Robert Costa, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The White House plans to fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee for former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify, according to people familiar with the matter, setting up another showdown in the aftermath of the special counsel report. The Trump administration also plans to oppose other requests from House committees for the testimony of current and former aides about actions in the White House described in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, according to two people familiar with internal thinking who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke of the plans on the condition of anonymity. White House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by the House that they will be asserting executive privilege over their testimony, officials said.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin misses the deadline for providing Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee and says he will make his final decision by May 6The Washington Post, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday told a key lawmaker he would make a final decision as to whether to furnish President Trump’s tax returns by May 6, committing for the first time to a specific deadline in what has become a major Washington power struggle. In a 10-page letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), Mnuchin said the Democrats’ request for Trump’s tax returns raised constitutional and privacy issues that needed to be resolved by the Justice Department before he could make a decision on how to proceed. The letter repeatedly cast doubt on the motivations of Democrats in seeking the tax return information. Mnuchin served as Trump’s finance chairman during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the president already has signaled he does not want the information released, but multiple legal scholars have said they don’t see much precedent for Mnuchin to ignore the congressional inquiry. Still, Treasury Department officials have taken steps to make their reluctance to turn over the records legally defensible. Tuesday’s letter contained 48 footnotes.” See also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Delays Decision on Whether to Release Trump’s Tax Returns to May 6The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 23 April 2019. See also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the final decision on the release of Trump’s tax returns is coming in MayPolitico, Aaron Lorenzo, Tuesday, 23 April 2019. See also, Treasury Department Misses Deadline for Release of Trump’s Tax ReturnsThe Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The Treasury Department declined to turn over President Trump’s tax returns by a Tuesday deadline set by a key House Democrat, a decision that escalates a battle over the documents and could prompt a court fight. Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, this month made the formal request for several years’ worth of the president’s returns under a law that would require them to be handed over.”

Supreme Court’s Conservatives Appear United on Census Citizenship QuestionThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed ready on Tuesday to allow the Trump administration to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census, which critics say would undermine its accuracy by discouraging both legal and unauthorized immigrants from filling out the forms. The case, the latest test of executive power in the Trump era, was heard by the court against the backdrop of the administration’s aggressive efforts to reduce illegal immigration as well as accusations of bad faith against the architect of the revised census questionnaire, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. It appeared to divide the court along the usual lines, with its five conservative members poised to defer to the administration and the court’s four liberal members ready to question its motives and methods. The court’s decision, expected in late June, will be consequential. By one government estimate, about 6.5 million people might not be counted if the citizenship question is allowed. That could reduce Democratic representation when congressional districts are allocated in 2021 and affect how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending are distributed. Courts have also found that Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas could risk losing seats in the House, and that several states could lose federal money.” See also, Supreme Court’s conservatives appear likely to let Trump add citizenship question to 2020 CensusThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Mark Berman, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed willing Tuesday to defer to the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census despite evidence it could lead to an undercount of millions of people. The court’s ideological divide was on full display, and its ruling, which is likely to come in June, could be its most important of the term. The decennial count of the nation’s population determines the size of each state’s congressional delegation, the number of votes it receives in the electoral college and how the federal government allocates hundreds of billions of dollars.” See also, How the Supreme Court’s Decision on the Census Could Alter U.S. PoliticsThe New York Times, Michael Wines, Tuesday, 23 April 2019.

Did Trump Obstruct Justice? Mueller Didn’t say, but He Left a Trail to the AnswerThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, explored about a dozen episodes in which President Trump’s actions raised concerns about obstruction of justice. Mr. Mueller stopped short of concluding whether Mr. Trump committed that crime, but the report made clear that others can use the evidence to make that call. Mr. Mueller’s investigators made an oblique reference to possible impeachment proceedings and noted that after Mr. Trump leaves office, he will lose the temporary immunity the Justice Department says sitting presidents enjoy. Mr. Mueller cited that factor as barring him from making accusations now.” See also, Is Obstruction of Justice an Impeachable Offense? History Says Yes. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “[Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution] allows Congress to remove federal officials who commit ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ [Treason and bribery] are crimes against the state and the justice system that undermine the ability of the government to function. Constitutional scholars say that similar offenses — ones involving the lawless use of official power threatening the constitutional order — are what the framers thought could justify removal from office. Does Mr. Trump’s conduct, as described in the Mueller report, clear that high bar? The two most recent impeachment proceedings, against Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton, indicate that it could.”

An Indictment in All But NameThe New York Review of Books, David Cole, published online on Tuesday, 23 April 2019 and in print on Thursday, 23 May 2019: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report, released to the public in a redacted version on April 18, lays out in meticulous detail both a blatantly illegal effort by Russia to throw the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump and repeated efforts by President Trump to end, limit, or impede Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference. Trump’s efforts included firing or attempting to fire those overseeing the investigation, directing subordinates to lie on his behalf, cajoling witnesses not to cooperate, and doctoring a public statement about a Trump Tower meeting between his son and closest advisers and a Russian lawyer offering compromising information on Hillary Clinton. Attorney General William Barr, who has shown himself to be exactly the kind of presidential protector Trump wanted Jeff Sessions to be, did his best to whitewash the report. Almost four weeks before it was released to the public, Barr wrote a four-page letter to Congress purporting to summarize its findings. But as The New York Times’s Charlie Savage has shown, in the letter Barr took Mueller’s words out of context and omitted all mention of the damning evidence that courses through the report.*Just before releasing the report to the public, Barr also held a press conference in which he again distorted its conclusions, stating that it found no collusion with the Russians and no obstruction of justice by the president. Both statements are profoundly misleading.”

Greta Thunberg’s speech on economic growth at London’s Houses of ParliamentReal-world Economics Review Blog, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations. I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science. Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?”

According to the FBI, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, the leader of an armed militia at the border, said members were training to kill Obama, Clinton, and SorosThe Washington Post, Kayla Epstein, Eli Rosenberg, and Lindsey Bever, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The leader of an armed militia that scours the southern border for undocumented migrants had once claimed that his group was training to assassinate former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, the FBI said. Larry Mitchell Hopkins appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico, days after a video of the group holding migrants against their will sparked outrage. The 69-year-old was arrested Saturday in Sunland Park, N.M., on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.”

The Bloody History of Border Militias Runs Deep–And Law Enforcement Is Part of ItThe Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “Last week, American vigilantes captured hundreds of migrants — including women and small children — along a darkened stretch of the border in New Mexico. The group, calling itself the United Constitutional Patriots, or UCP, uploaded video of its score to Facebook. Illuminated by the fluorescent glow of flashlights, the shaky footage showed weary mothers, fathers, and toddlers kneeling in the dirt, heads bowed, as the armed men circled around them. The migrants’ captors summoned the Border Patrol. The agents, once they arrived, offered no sign of concern at the masked men carrying AR-15s decorated with Punisher skulls. For others, however, the footage shot in Sunland Park was a chilling reflection of America in 2019. ‘We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,’ American Civil Liberties Union attorneys María Martínez Sánchez and Kristen Greer Love said in a letter. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the vigilante operations ‘unacceptable’ and Democratic Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich said the UCP’s operations ‘cannot be tolerated.'”

Interior Department Launches Investigation of Potential Ethics Violations Among StaffThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The Department of the Interior’s inspector general has launched a new investigation into one or more political appointees at the agency, a move it described as a ‘related investigation’ to a federal probe into the ethics practices of the agency’s secretary, David Bernhardt.” See also, The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General is investigating six of Trump’s political appointees for possible ethical misconductThe Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has opened an investigation into whether six of President Trump’s appointees have violated federal ethics rules by engaging with their former employers or clients on department-related business. The new inquiry, which the office confirmed in an April 18 letter to the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, is looking into senior Interior officials, including Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Campaign Legal Center detailed the officials’ actions in a Feb. 20 letter to the inspector general’s office, suggesting a probe is warranted.” See also, Here’s why Interior’s watchdog is investigating six Trump political appointeesThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Wednesday, 24 April 2019.

Stephen Moore’s Columns Deriding Women Raise New Questions About Trump’s Pick for the Federal Reserve BoardThe New York Times, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “Stephen Moore built a career in conservative media by championing tax cuts and leaning into the culture wars, bashing ‘radical feminists’ and bloated government with equal zeal. His writings helped him land a promised nomination to the Federal Reserve from President Trump, but they could hurt his chances at Senate confirmation, if Mr. Trump officially nominates him. Mr. Moore’s long paper and video trail contains potential roadblocks to confirmation — particularly a history of writing about women in unflattering terms. His writings contain language that sometimes echoes Mr. Trump’s past comments about women on shock radio and on the infamous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. Republican senators have shown less tolerance for such sentiments from some of Mr. Trump’s nominees than they have from the president himself. ‘Colleges are places for rabble-rousing,’ Mr. Moore wrote for The Washington Times in a 2000 column bemoaning what he called the oppression of white men on campus. ‘For men to lose their boyhood innocence. To do stupid things. To stay out way too late drinking. To chase skirts. (At the University of Illinois, we used to say that the best thing about Sunday nights was sleeping alone.) It’s all a time-tested rite of passage into adulthood. And the women seemed to survive just fine. If they were so oppressed and offended by drunken, lustful frat boys, why is it that on Friday nights they showed up in droves in tight skirts to the keg parties?’ In the piece, Mr. Moore counseled parents against sending their daughters to schools that devote resources to women’s studies and black history programs.”See also, Excerpts of Stephen Moore’s Writing: Bashing Women, Gay Rights, and MoreThe New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Kitty Bennett, Tuesday, 23 April 2019: “Trump’s presumptive nominee for the Federal Reserve has written numerous pieces over the years that include disparaging statements about women and gender equity.”


Wednesday, 24 April 2019, Day 825:


Trump Vows to Stonewall ‘All’ House Subpoenas, Setting Up Fight Over Congress’s Power to Conduct Oversight of the Executive BranchThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “The Trump administration escalated its defiance of Congress on Wednesday, as the Justice Department refused to let an official testify on Capitol Hill and President Trump vowed to fight what he called a ‘ridiculous’ subpoena ordering a former top aide to appear before lawmakers. ‘We’re fighting all the subpoenas,’ Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House. ‘These aren’t, like, impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.’ The moves added to an already remarkable week of stonewalling by the Trump administration after the release of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that revealed the scope of the Russian operation to help Mr. Trump win the 2016 election and detailed his attempts to impede an investigation he saw as imperiling his presidency. Mr. Trump’s flurry of moves this week to block multiple congressional investigations signaled a new phase of constitutional friction that could redefine long-murky boundaries of Congress’s power to conduct oversight of the executive branch — and the power of presidents to keep government affairs secret from lawmakers…. ‘Both President Trump and Attorney General Barr are now openly ordering federal employees to ignore congressional subpoenas and simply not show up — without any assertion of a valid legal privilege,’ Mr. Cummings [Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee] said. ‘These employees and their personal attorneys should think very carefully about their own legal interests rather than being swept up in the obstruction schemes of the Trump administration.'” See also, Trump’s defiance puts pressure on Congress’s ability to check the presidentThe Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “President Trump’s defiance of congressional attempts to investigate his administration has put new pressure on the legislative branch’s ability to serve as a constitutional check on a president who sees few limits on his executive power. Since taking office, Trump has consistently treated Congress as more of a subordinate than an equal — often aided by the tacit approval of congressional Republicans who have shown little interest in confronting the president. But tensions between Trump and Capitol Hill have escalated in recent days as the White House refuses to comply with subpoenas from newly empowered House Democrats eager to conduct aggressive oversight of his administration.” See also, Trump says he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if Democrats move to impeach himThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “President Trump suggested Wednesday that he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if Democrats move to impeach him — a notion that legal experts said showed a misunderstanding of the Constitution. It was unclear how Trump would legally justify such a move, since the Constitution delegates impeachment proceedings to Congress, not the courts. Trump mentioned the idea briefly in morning tweets in which he lashed out at Democrats who are continuing to investigate him after the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.” See also, Trump vows to fight ‘all the subpoenas’ as partisan tensions spikePolitico, Katie Galioto, Wednesday, 24 April 2019. See also, Trump Says He Will Fight Subpoenas Related to the Mueller ReportThe Wall Street Journal, Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus, Wednesday, 24 April 2019.

In Push for 2020 Election Security, Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Was Warned by Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney Not to Bring It Up in Front of TrumpThe New York Times, Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election. President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president. Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids. But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it ‘wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.'”

The U.N. wanted to end sexual violence in war. Then the Trump administration had objections. The Washington Post, Rick Noack, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “When Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last October for their work to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, there was widespread praise from all parts of the world, including the United States. But when the Trump administration was asked this month to do its part, and to pass a U.N. resolution to end sexual violence in war, things suddenly looked a bit more complicated. Until the end, international politicians and celebrities urged the United States to ‘stand on the right side of history,’ as actor George Clooney said, and to ‘ensure [victims’] voices are at the center of our response,’ as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and actress Angelina Jolie wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. But to no avail. On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council finally passed that resolution, but only in a watered-down version, diluted by the Trump administration. European allies are furious.”

Split 5 to 4 With the Court’s Conservative Members in the Majority, Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Class ArbitrationsThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that workers at a California business could not band together to seek compensation for what they said was their employer’s failure to protect their data. The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s conservative members in the majority. The decision was the latest in a line of rulings allowing companies to use arbitration provisions to bar both class actions in court and class-wide arbitration proceedings. In earlier 5-to-4 decisions concerning fine-print contracts with consumers and employment agreements, the court ruled that arbitration provisions can require disputes to be resolved one by one. Those rulings can make it difficult for consumers and workers to pursue minor claims even where their collective harm was substantial.” See also, Divided Supreme Court sides with business owners over workers in class arbitration rulingThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “A split Supreme Court delivered a win to business owners Tuesday, saying that workers cannot band together in arbitration proceedings unless their employment contracts specifically allow it.”

Deutsche Bank begins process of providing Trump financial records to New York’s attorney general Letitia JamesCNN, Cristina Alesci, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “Deutsche Bank has begun the process of providing financial records to New York state’s attorney general in response to a subpoena for documents related to loans made to President Donald Trump and his business, according to a person familiar with the production. Last month, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas for records tied to funding for several Trump Organization projects. The state’s top legal officer opened a civil probe after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress in a public hearing that Trump had inflated his assets.”

Mueller Report Reveals Trump’s Fixation on Targeting Hillary ClintonThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a tenuous hold on his job when President Trump called him at home in the middle of 2017. The president had already blamed him for recusing himself from investigations related to the 2016 election, sought his resignation and belittled him in private and on Twitter. Now, Mr. Trump had another demand: He wanted Mr. Sessions to reverse his recusal and order the prosecution of Hillary Clinton. ‘The “gist” of the conversation,’ according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, quoting Mr. Sessions, ‘was that the president wanted Sessions to unrecuse from all of it.’ Mr. Mueller’s report released last week brimmed with examples of Mr. Trump seeking to protect himself from the investigation. But his request of Mr. Sessions — and two similar ones detailed in the report — stands apart because it shows Mr. Trump trying to wield the power of law enforcement to target a political rival, a step that no president since Richard M. Nixon is known to have taken. And at the time Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Sessions, the president was already under investigation for potentially obstructing justice and knew that his top aides and cabinet members were being interviewed in that inquiry.”

Justice Department refuses to comply with congressional subpoena for testimony on citizenship question and 2020 CensusThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “The Justice Department said Wednesday that it will not comply with a congressional subpoena for a Trump administration official to testify in a House panel’s investigation of the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. In a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd informed the panel that John Gore, the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, will not give a deposition. Gore’s refusal to appear before the committee is at the direction of Attorney General William P. Barr, according to the letter, escalating the already explosive fight between the executive and legislative branch.”

NSA Recommends Dropping Phone-Surveillance Program, The Wall Street Journal, Dustin Volz and Warren P. Strobel, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “The National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a surveillance program that collects information about U.S. phone calls and text messages, saying the logistical and legal burdens of keeping it outweigh its intelligence benefits, according to people familiar with the matter. The recommendation against seeking the renewal of the once-secret spying program amounts to an about-face by the agency, which had long argued in public and to congressional overseers that the program was vital to the task of finding and disrupting terrorism plots against the U.S.”

Millions of people in the U.S. are breathing dirty air as the planet warms, according to the American Lung AssociationThe Guardian, Emily Holden, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “An increasing number of Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of smog or particulate air pollution – both of which are being made worse by climate change, according to a new report. Air quality in the US has been improving since the 1970s, but that progress may be backsliding and 43% of Americans are now living in places where they are breathing unsafe air, according to the American Lung Association report. As temperatures rise, wildfires are getting worse and spewing smoke across the west. And more smog, or ozone, is forming on warmer days.”

Andy McKean, Iowa’s Longest-Serving Republican, Switches Parties Because of TrumpThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “The longest-serving Republican in the Iowa legislature announced that he would become a Democrat, warning that his party of many decades would soon pay ‘a heavy price’ for its support of President Trump. The lawmaker, Representative Andy McKean, served a combined 24 years in the Iowa House and Senate between 1979 and 2003 and then returned to the legislature in 2017. At a news conference on Tuesday, he said he could not support Mr. Trump moving forward, in part because he found the president’s spending to be ‘reckless,’ his foreign policy ‘erratic’ and ‘destabilizing’ and his disregard for the environment concerning. He also attacked Mr. Trump’s demeanor, saying that he sets a poor example by insulting and bullying those he disagrees with and ridiculing and marginalizing people based on their appearance and ethnicity.” See also, ‘If this is the new normal, I want no part of it’: Citing Trump, Andy McKean, Iowa’s longest-serving Republican, leaves the partyThe Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Wednesday, 24 April 2019: “Iowa’s longest-serving Republican legislator, state Rep. Andy McKean, ditched the GOP on Tuesday as he offered a searing renunciation of President Trump, saying he could no longer support Trump as the party’s standard-bearer because of his ‘unacceptable behavior’ and ‘reckless spending.'”


Thursday, 25 April 2019, Day 826:


Syria: Unprecedented investigation reveals US-led Coalition killed more than 1,600 civilians in Raqqa ‘death trap’ from June to October 2017, Amnesty International, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “The US-led military Coalition must end almost two years of denial about the massive civilian death toll and destruction it unleashed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Amnesty International and Airwars said today as they launched a new data project on the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself ‘Islamic State’ (IS). The interactive website, Rhetoric versus Reality: How the ‘most precise air campaign in history’ left Raqqa the most destroyed city in modern times, is the most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in a modern conflict. Collating almost two years of investigations, it gives a brutally vivid account of more than 1,600 civilian lives lost as a direct result of thousands of US, UK and French air strikes and tens of thousands of US artillery strikes in the Coalition’s military campaign in Raqqa from June to October 2017.” See also, U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Raqqa Killed at Least 1,600 Civilians, More Than 10 Times U.S. Tally, Report FindsThe Intercept, Alex Emmons, Thursday, 25 April 2019.

Trump’s Offshore Oil-Drilling Plan Is Sidelined IndefinitelyThe Wall Street Journal, Timothy Puko, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “The Trump administration’s proposal to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling has been sidelined indefinitely as the Interior Department grapples with a recent court decision that blocks Arctic drilling, according to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The ruling by a federal judge in Alaska last month may force Interior Department officials to wait until the case goes through potentially lengthy appeals before they can make a final decision on what offshore areas to open up for the oil and gas industry, Mr. Bernhardt said.” See also, Trump administration hits pause on offshore oil plans after court rulingThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “A recent federal court decision appears to have struck a blow to President Trump’s plans to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling across the U.S. continental shelf, with the aim of turning the United States into an energy-exporting behemoth. In his first interview since being confirmed to Trump’s Cabinet, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal that a recent ruling by a district court in Alaska has stalled plans that at one time called for opening up most U.S. continental-shelf waters to oil and gas companies. Last month, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that Trump’s revocation of a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans is illegal. The judge ruled that Congress would need to step in to reverse a decision by President Obama to ban offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.” See also, Interior Department Delays Its Plan to Open U.S. Coastline to DrillingThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “The Trump administration on Thursday confirmed that it will likely delay the release of a long-awaited plan that had been expected to open most of the nation’s coastline for offshore oil drilling, pending the final outcome of a recent court decision that blocks drilling off the Alaskan coast. The delay appears to be an acknowledgment that the court decision is a significant setback for what President Trump has called his policy of ‘energy dominance’ — an effort to rapidly expand oil and gas drilling across the country.”

Federal judges rule Michigan gerrymandering unconstitutional and order maps redrawn by 2020The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “Federal judges ordered the state of Michigan to draw new legislative districts on Thursday, after finding that a gerrymandered plan enacted by the state’s Republican dominated legislature in 2011 constituted an ‘extremely grave’ constitutional violation. The three-judge panel said it found that the redistricting plan was designed to thwart Democratic voters, in violation of the First and 14th amendments. ‘Evidence from numerous sources demonstrates that the map-drawers and legislators designed the Enacted Plan with the specific intent to discriminate against Democratic voters,’ the panel wrote in its decision.” See also, Judges Rule Michigan’s Congressional Districts Are Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered and Order Them RedrawnThe New York Times, Michael Wines, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “A panel of three federal judges ruled on Thursday that 34 congressional and state legislative districts in Michigan are partisan gerrymanders and unconstitutional. The judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw maps in time for the 2020 elections. The panel wrote that it was joining ‘the growing chorus of federal courts’ that have held that drawing districts to unfairly favor the party in power is unconstitutional. The judges said the maps violated Democratic voters’ constitutional rights.”

Joe Biden Announces 2020 Run for PresidentThe New York Times, Alexander Burns, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced Thursday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge President Trump in 2020, marshaling his experience and global stature in a bid to lead a party increasingly defined by a younger generation that might be skeptical of his age and ideological moderation. Mr. Biden, 76, is set to offer himself as a levelheaded leader for a country wracked by political conflict, a rationale he believes could attract a broad cross-section of voters who want to move on from Mr. Trump.” See also, Biden on the Issues: Where He Stands and How He Has ChangedThe New York Times, Maggie Astor, Thursday, 25 April 2019. See also, Joe Biden’s Campaign Announcement Video, AnnotatedThe New York Times, Alexander Burns, Thursday, 25 April 2019. See also, Former vice president Joe Biden jumps into White House raceThe Washington Post, Michael Scherer and John Wagner, Thursday 25 April 2019: “Former vice president Joe Biden opened his third campaign for the presidency on Thursday, efforts that have spread over 32 years, taking direct aim at President Trump and declaring that ‘we are in the battle for the soul of this nation.’ In a video posted on social media, Biden recounted the deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters at a 2017 gathering in Charlottesville, after which Trump said there were ‘some very fine people on both sides. In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in our lifetime,’ Biden said, adding: ‘The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.'”

Joe Biden Expresses Regret to Anita Hill, but She Says ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Not EnoughThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jonathan Martin, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called Anita Hill earlier this month to express his regret over ‘what she endured’ testifying against Justice Clarence Thomas at the 1991 Supreme Court hearings that put a spotlight on sexual harassment of women, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Biden. But Ms. Hill, in an interview Wednesday, said she left the conversation feeling deeply unsatisfied and declined to characterize his words to her as an apology. She said she is not convinced that Mr. Biden truly accepts the harm he caused her and other women who suffered sexual harassment and gender violence.” See also, Joe Biden apologized to Anita Hill, but she’s not ‘satisfied,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 25 April 2019.

Trump abortion ‘gag’ rule is temporarily blocked by federal judgeThe Washington Post, Fred Barbash, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “A federal judge issued a nationwide injunction Thursday, temporarily blocking the Trump administration from imposing new antiabortion restrictions on the use of federal family planning funds designed to assist 4 million low-income women. The rule, promulgated in March by the Department of Health and Human Services, would have barred programs receiving the money from saying or doing anything to advise or assist a patient about securing an abortion. Critics called it a ‘gag rule.’ Groups receiving money under the Title X program, about $286 million annually, already were prohibited from performing abortions with those funds. But under the new rule, they could no longer refer a patient for an abortion and would also have to maintain a ‘clear physical and financial separation’ between services funded by the government and abortion services or referrals. Planned Parenthood, a regular target of President Trump and HHS, would have been particularly hard hit as the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services.”

House Democrats to investigate Stephen Miller’s role in Department of Homeland Security dismissalsPolitico, Ted Hesson, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “A trio of top Democrats demanded documents Thursday related to President Donald Trump’s recent staff shakeup at the Homeland Security Department. In a letter to acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called on the department to turn over communications tied to a spate of resignations and forced exits earlier this month. The lawmakers cited reports that White House senior adviser Stephen Miller had pressed department officials ‘to make extreme immigration policy decisions. We are deeply concerned that the firing and forced resignation of these officials puts the security of the American people at risk,’ the lawmakers wrote. ‘We are also concerned that the president may have removed DHS officials because they refused his demands to violate federal immigration law and judicial orders.'” See also, Congress investigates Stephen Miller’s role in Homeland Security firingsThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “Three powerful House committees opened an investigation into the motives behind President Trump’s recent removal of senior leadership at the Homeland Security Department. In a letter sent Thursday to the agency’s acting secretary Kevin McAleenan, the panels’ chairmen asked for all communications related to the departure of several individuals, including former homeland secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned on April 7. They also requested all communications with White House senior adviser Stephen Miller about department leadership changes. Chairmen Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) of Oversight, Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) of Judiciary and Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.) of Homeland Security wrote that they are ‘concerned that the President may have removed DHS officials because they refused his demands to violate federal immigration law and judicial orders.'”

Judge Gives U.S. 6 Months to Account for Thousands More Separated Migrant FamiliesThe New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “A federal judge on Thursday gave the Trump administration six months to locate thousands more children and parents who were potentially separated at the southern border under a policy intended to deter illegal immigration. Early this year, it came to light that many more children most likely had been forcibly separated from their parents even before a border-enforcement policy known as zero tolerance was officially unveiled in the spring of 2018. Under the policy, nearly all adults who entered the country illegally faced criminal prosecution, and any children accompanying them were placed in shelters or foster care. They often ended up hundreds or thousands of miles apart for weeks or longer.”

Cross-Border Patrols, Mercenaries, and the K.K.K.” The Long History of Border MilitiasThe New York Times, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “From their encampment in a barren stretch of New Mexico desert, a right-wing militia called the United Constitutional Patriots emerged from obscurity this month after its members filmed themselves detaining migrant families on the border with Mexico. Where did this group originate? It turns out the F.B.I. had known about them at least since 2017 when it investigated tips that a group of heavily armed men at a trailer park in northwest New Mexico were ‘training’ to assassinate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros. Still, the origins of such groups stretch back a lot further, going far beyond the current policies aimed at curbing immigration from Latin America and fitting into a long tradition of border vigilantism and efforts to crack down on immigrants who were not white.”

North Korea issued $2 million bill for comatose Otto Warmbier’s careThe Washington Post, Anna Fifield, Thursday, 25 April 2019: “North Korea issued a $2 million bill for the hospital care of comatose American Otto Warmbier, insisting that a U.S. official sign a pledge to pay it before being allowed to fly the University of Virginia student home from Pyongyang in 2017. The presentation of the invoice — not previously disclosed by U.S. or North Korean officials — was extraordinarily brazen even for a regime known for its aggressive tactics. But the main U.S. envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from President Trump, according to two people familiar with the situation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The bill went to the Treasury Department, where it remained — unpaid — throughout 2017, the people said. However, it is unclear whether the Trump administration later paid the bill, or whether it came up during preparations for Trump’s two summits with Kim Jong Un.”