Trump Administration, Week 119: Friday, 26 April – Thursday, 2 May 2019: (Days 827-833)


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, 26 April 2019, Day 827:


Kansas Supreme Court rules state constitution protects abortion rights, a decision that could lead to challenges in other states, The Washington Post, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Annie Gowen, Friday, 26 April 2019: “The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s constitution fundamentally protects abortion rights, blocking a state law that aimed to restrict a common procedure and declaring that Kansans have broad rights to control what happens to their own bodies regardless of federal court decisions. Judges ruled 6 to 1 on Friday that the Kansas constitution protects the ‘right of personal autonomy,’ meaning state law cannot abridge the right ‘to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.’ Abortion rights advocates immediately seized on the ruling as a landmark decision that could have widespread implications, providing a pathway to override restrictive state laws elsewhere. They also believe it could help battle potential federal court efforts to limit abortion rights protected by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Those who oppose abortion said the ruling was extreme, and Kansas groups vowed to seek an amendment to the state constitution — as other states have — to curtail certain abortion rights.” See also, Once a center of antiabortion extremism, Kansas’s protections are now stronger than ever, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, published on Saturday, 27 April 2018.

Trump defends Charlottesville comments by praising a Confederate general, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 26 April 2019: “President Trump on Friday defended his comments after the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ protests in which an avowed neo-Nazi killed a woman and injured dozens of others in Charlottesville, arguing that his focus was on the protesters defending the monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Trump, pressed on whether he stood by his comments that there were ‘very fine people on both sides,’ told reporters, ‘If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.’ Former vice president Joe Biden resurrected Trump’s response to the deadly rally by self-professed white supremacists in a video to launch his presidential campaign on Thursday. In it, Biden said Trump’s remarks ‘shocked the conscience of this nation.'” See also, Trump says he answered Charlottesville questions ‘perfectly,’ Politico, Katie Galioto, Friday, 26 April 2019: “President Donald Trump on Friday defended his 2017 statement that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va., comments that recently came under fire again after former Vice President Joe Biden attacked Trump for them. When asked for clarification on his remark about the racially charged clash that left one person dead, Trump stood by his claim made more than 1½ years prior.”

Trump Pulls Out of Arms Treaty During Speech at N.R.A. Convention, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 26 April 2019: “In a speech to National Rifle Association members on Friday that was part political rally and part pep talk, President Trump called himself a champion of gun rights. Then he proved it, whipping out a pen onstage to sign a letter that would effectively cease America’s involvement in an arms treaty designed to regulate the international sale of conventional weapons. Mr. Trump said that his administration ‘will never’ ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to discourage the sale of conventional weapons to countries that do not protect human rights. Although the accord was brokered by the United Nations and signed by President Barack Obama, it has never been ratified by the Senate. Experts in arms control note that the accord, even if ratified by the Senate, would not require the United States to alter any existing domestic laws or procedures governing how it sells conventional weapons overseas.” See also, Fact-Checking Trump’s Speech to the N.R.A., The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Friday, 26 April 2019: “In a speech to the National Rifle Association on Friday, President Trump made misleading statements on drug prices, his border wall, MS-13 and an international arms treaty.”

Continue reading Week 119, Friday, 26 April – Thursday, 2 May 2019 (Days 827-833)

Joe Biden Called Anita Hill After Prodding. But He’s Still Not Apologizing. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Friday, 26 April 2019: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday repeatedly declined to directly apologize to Anita Hill for his handling of the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings, using his first interview as a presidential candidate to offer a broad statement of remorse for how she was treated but refusing to demonstrate contrition about a controversy that has shadowed the start of his campaign. Several leading Democrats said on Friday that they had urged Mr. Biden in recent months to talk to Ms. Hill and try to address her concerns about the hearings. When he eventually called her this month, Ms. Hill left the conversation dissatisfied, she told The New York Times, while aides to Mr. Biden began preparing for criticism from women and liberals who they felt were unlikely to support him anyway. Appearing on ABC’s ‘The View,’ a show hosted and heavily watched by women, one day after he disclosed his call to Ms. Hill, Mr. Biden was nudged to go further and deliver a straightforward apology to her for his judgment and leadership as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman during the hearings. Joy Behar, one of the hosts, suggested that Mr. Biden say to Ms. Hill, ‘I’m sorry for the way I treated you’ — not for the way you were treated.’ ‘I’m sorry for the way she got treated,’ Mr. Biden responded, haltingly. ]If you go back to what I said, and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.'” See also, Excerpts From Anita Hill’s Interview With The Times, The New York Times, Friday, 26 April 2019. See also, What Joe Biden’s (Non-) Apology to Anita Hill Reveals About Him, The Intercept, Natasha Lennard, published on Saturday, 27 April 2019: “Joe Biden did not apologize to Anita Hill. When the former vice president arranged a phone call with Hill a few weeks in advance of announcing his presidential bid, the political calculus could not have been more transparent. Biden has had 28 years to apologize to Hill for the foul treatment she received in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings chaired by then-Sen. Biden. Hill had come to the Capitol to testify about her sexual harassment accusations against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — a hearing where, with Biden presiding, the young woman was eviscerated by a panel of 14 male senators. When Biden did finally call — a blatant and ill-conceived attempt at damage control in the lead up to his announcement — it was not an apology he offered. According to his own campaign, Biden ‘shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.’… Biden’s non-apology is yet further evidence that the Third Way Democrat has no intention of addressing the sort of power structures that enable patriarchal sexual abuse to prevail. In recent years, as questions of sexual predation and violence have risen to the political fore, Biden consistently framed himself as a victim of circumstance when it came to the Thomas hearings. He has made a point of playing up his passive role during Hill’s testimony. ‘I wish I could’ve done something,’ he told the audience at his foundation’s awards ceremony last month. ‘To this day, I regret I couldn’t give her the kind of hearing she deserved.’ He’s made comments along these lines numerous times. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, Biden could well have ‘done something’ in 1991 as his colleagues verbally battered and humiliated Hill. He oversaw a rushed process, against the wishes of a number of female colleagues at the time. He allowed a panel of 14 white men to bully and demean a young black woman. Biden himself appeared consistently more sympathetic to Thomas, whom he allowed to testify twice, while his accuser testified only once.” See also, What Joe Biden Hasn’t Owned Up to About Anita Hill, The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, published on Saturday, 27 April 2019: “Whether Joe Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill, nearly three decades ago, will continue to cloud his Presidential campaign likely depends on how contrite he is. So far, the signs are not encouraging. As the Times reported this week, shortly before Biden announced his candidacy, on Thursday, he called Hill and, according to a statement from his campaign, conveyed ‘his regret for what she endured.’ Biden evidently hoped to neutralize any lingering political damage from his chairing of the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings where Hill accused Clarence Thomas, then a Supreme Court nominee, of sexually harassing her. Thomas forcefully denied her account. As Biden presided, the hearings devolved into a shocking showdown in which Thomas and his defenders did all they could to degrade Hill’s character and destroy her credibility, accusing her, with no real evidence, of being a liar, a fantasist, and an erotomaniac. The hearings uprooted the rest of her life. A cautious law professor who had initially declined to testify when first contacted by the Senate, Hill was transformed into a symbol and catalyst for the #MeToo movement in support of sexual-harassment victims, decades before it had a name. Biden’s recent, half-hearted condolence call to Hill, and his subsequent statements, however, have reignited rather than quelled the controversy…. Biden failed to acknowledge that, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, he set many of ‘the rules’ that damaged Hill and determined the over-all fairness of the process. As Jill Abramson and I reported in our 1994 book about the Thomas confirmation fight, ‘Strange Justice,’ several of Biden’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate later acknowledged that, in his eagerness to be impeccably fair to all sides, Biden got outmaneuvered by the Republicans. That left Hill and, ultimately, the truth undefended. As Howard Metzenbaum, a crusty Democrat from Ohio, later admitted, ‘Joe bent over too far backwards to accommodate the Republicans, who were going to get Thomas on the Court come hell or high water.’ An adviser to Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts liberal whose own womanizing eroded his credibility, was more critical still, saying, ‘Biden agreed to the terms of the people who were out to disembowel Hill.'”

Mueller Prosecutors: Trump Did Obstruct JusticeThe New York Review of Books, Murray Waas, Friday, 26 April 2019: “Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded last year that they had sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice over the president’s alleged pressuring of then FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to shut down an FBI investigation of the president’s then national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the special counsel’s office, told other Justice Department officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the case—the investigation of a sitting president of the United States, and one who tried to use the powers of his office to thwart and even close down the special counsel’s investigation—they would have advocated that he face federal criminal charges. I learned of the conclusions of the two former Mueller prosecutors not by any leak, either from them personally or from the office of special counsel. Rather, the two prosecutors disclosed this information in then-confidential conversations with two other federal law enforcement officials, who subsequently recounted what they were told to me.”

Texas Federal Court Becomes the Third to Strike Down Pro-Israel Oath as Unconstitutional in Case Brought by School Speech Pathologist Bahia AmawiThe Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, Friday, 26 April 2019: “A federal court in Texas issued a ruling on Thursday afternoon preliminarily enjoining enforcement of Texas’ law banning contractors from boycotting Israel. The court ruled that the law plainly violates the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment. Following similar decisions by federal courts in Kansas and Arizona, the ruling becomes the third judicial finding – out of three who have evaluated the constitutionality of such laws – to conclude that they are unconstitutional attacks on the free speech rights of Americans. The case was brought by Bahia Amawi, a longtime elementary school speech pathologist in Austin, Texas, whose contract renewal was denied due to her refusal to sign an oath certifying that she does not participate in any boycotts of Israel.” See also, For the third time, a federal judge blocks an Israel boycott ban on First Amendment groundsThe Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Friday, 26 April 2019: “Bahia Amawi was driving to her children’s Taekwondo tournament near Austin on Thursday when her phone began to buzz. She pulled over and opened a cascade of text messages alerting her to the news that a federal judge had just temporarily blocked enforcement of a state law that said she could either boycott Israel or hold a contract with a local school district to provide speech therapy and early-childhood evaluations. But not both.”

Pentagon set to expand military role along southern border, The Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, Missy Ryan, and Nick Miroff, Friday, 26 April 2019: “The Pentagon is preparing to loosen rules that bar troops from interacting with migrants entering the United States, expanding the military’s involvement in President Trump’s operation along the southern border. Senior Defense Department officials have recommended that acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan approve a new request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide military lawyers, cooks and drivers to assist with handling a surge of migrants along the border. The move would require authorizing waivers for about 300 troops to a long-standing policy prohibiting military personnel from coming into contact with migrants. The Pentagon has approved only one previous request to waive the policy since the beginning of Trump’s recent border buildup, to help provide migrants with emergency medical care. There are about 2,900 active-duty troops and 2,000 National Guardsmen along the border.”

F.B.I. Warns of Russian Interference in 2020 Race and Boosts Counterintelligence Operations, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman, Friday, 26 April 2019: “The F.B.I. director warned anew on Friday about Russia’s continued meddling in American elections, calling it a ‘significant counterintelligence threat.’ The bureau has shifted additional agents and analysts to shore up defenses against foreign interference, according to a senior F.B.I. official. The Trump administration has come to see that Russia’s influence operations have morphed into a persistent threat. The F.B.I., the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have made permanent the task forces they created to confront 2018 midterm election interference, senior American national security officials said…. While American officials have promised to continue to try to counter, block and weaken the Russian intelligence operations, they have complained of a lack of high-level coordination. President Trump has little interest or patience for hearing about such warnings, officials have said. Mr. Trump views any discussion of future Russian interference as effectively questioning the legitimacy of his 2016 victory, prompting senior officials to head off discussions with him. Earlier this year, the White House chief of staff told Kirstjen Nielsen, then the homeland security secretary, not to raise the threat of new forms of Russian interference with Mr. Trump, current and former senior administration officials have said. But outside of meetings with Mr. Trump, intelligence officials have continued to raise alarms. Officials including both Mr. Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, have said Russia has aimed its influence campaigns at undermining faith in American democracy.”

Washington Becomes First State to Approve Publicly Funded Long-Term Care, The Intercept, Rachel M. Cohen, Friday, 26 April 2019: “Washington State lawmakers on Tuesday passed the nation’s first long-term care benefit program, which would provide residents with up to $36,500 to pay for costs like caregiving, wheelchair ramps, meal deliveries, and nursing home fees. Jay Inslee, Democratic governor and 2020 presidential candidate, has said he intends to sign the Long-Term Care Trust Act into law. The measure is hailed as a monumental achievement not only for Washingtonians, but also for advocates working nationally to tackle the rising and formidable costs of care work and old age, something that’s become only more pressing as the baby boomer generation heads into retirement.”

National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre Says He Is Being Extorted and Pressured to Resign by Oliver North, President of the NRA, The Wall Street Journal, Mark Maremont, Friday, 26 April 2019: “Longtime National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre has told the group’s board he is being extorted and pressured to resign by the organization’s president, Oliver North, over allegations of financial improprieties, in a battle stirring up one of the nation’s most powerful nonprofit political groups. In a letter sent to NRA board members late Thursday afternoon, Mr. LaPierre, the group’s CEO and executive vice president, said he refused the demand. Instead he called on board members to ‘see this for what it is: a threat meant to intimidate and divide us.'”


Saturday, 27 April 2019, Day 828:


One Dead in Synagogue Shooting Near San Diego: Officials Call It a Hate CrimeThe New York Times, Jennifer Medina, Christopher Mele, and Heather Murphy, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “The gunman entered the synagogue on Saturday yelling anti-Semitic slurs, and opened fire with an A.R. 15-style gun. He paused when the rabbi of the congregation tried to talk with him. But he fired again, shooting the rabbi in the hand. His attack left a 60-year-old woman dead, the rabbi wounded and a 34-year-old man and a girl with shrapnel wounds. It was the Sabbath and the last day of Passover, a holiday that celebrates Jewish freedom. The police said they were investigating whether the gunman had posted a manifesto before the shooting on the online message board 8chan. The document, an anti-Semitic screed filled with racist slurs and white nationalist conspiracy theories, echoes the manifesto that was posted to 8chan by the gunman in last month’s mosque slayings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The document’s author, who identified himself as John Earnest, claimed to have been inspired by the Christchurch massacre, as well as the shooting in Pittsburgh, and motivated by the same white nationalist cause.” See also, Motivated by hate, gunman kills one and wounds three in synagogue attack, police sayLos Angeles Times, Kristina Davis, Sarah Parvini, J. Harry Jones, and Cindy Chang, Saturday, 27 April 2019.

N.R.A. President Oliver North to Step Down as New York Attorney General Letitia James Investigates, The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “Oliver L. North announced on Saturday that he would not serve a second term as the National Rifle Association’s president, deciding to step down as the organization grappled with a bitter dispute over its future and its worst leadership crisis in decades. He made the announcement as the N.R.A. faced a challenge from the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who had opened an investigation into the gun group’s tax-exempt status. On Friday, Ms. James’s office sent letters instructing the N.R.A. and affiliated entities, including its charitable foundation, to preserve relevant financial records. Some of the N.R.A.’s related businesses also received subpoenas, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry. A lawyer for the N.R.A. confirmed the investigation. The move by Ms. James came amid a stunning internal power struggle that took a major turn on Saturday when Mr. North, in a letter that was read on his behalf at the N.R.A.’s convention, said he would not be renominated. He and insurgents in the N.R.A. this past week had been trying to oust Wayne LaPierre, the group’s longtime chief executive…. Even before her election last year, Ms. James had promised to investigate the organization’s tax status, and had told Ebony magazine that the N.R.A. held itself ‘out as a charitable organization’ but was actually ‘a terrorist organization.’ She has special jurisdiction over the group because it was chartered in New York. Her office has broad authority to investigate nonprofits and can seek a number of potential remedies against them in court; a previous inquiry by Ms. James’s predecessors led to the shuttering of President Trump’s charitable foundation, a far smaller enterprise.” See also, NRA ousts president Oliver North after alleged extortion scheme against chief executiveThe Washington Post, Michael Brice-Saddler, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “National Rifle Association President Oliver North has been ousted after an alleged extortion scheme within the group’s highest-ranking officials came to light on Friday. In a statement, North told the organization he was ‘informed’ he would not be nominated for reelection. North’s term ends Monday. The NRA’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, wrote a letter to the board Thursday accusing North of plotting to remove him from the group by threatening to release to the board ‘damaging’ information about LaPierre. He claimed North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel perhaps best known for his role in the Iran-contra affair, was pressuring him to resign over alleged financial transgressions.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Attempt to Deport Ravi Ragbir, An Outspoken Critic of the Agency, Was ‘Outrageous’ and ‘Egregious,’ Appeals Court RulesThe Intercept, Nick Pinto, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attempted last year to deport Ravi Ragbir, an outspoken critic of the agency, it was motivated by a desire to retaliate against his criticism, according to a ruling by a panel of judges with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals released yesterday. ‘Ragbir’s public expression of his criticism, and its prominence, played a significant role in the recent attempts to remove him,’ the ruling says. ‘The government’s retaliation was egregious.’ The ruling, written by Judge Christopher Droney, constitutes a direct challenge to broad executive power over immigration issues. In the case, the administration contends that people facing deportation are not entitled to make constitutional claims. The 2nd Circuit’s rebuke of that position now sets up a potential Supreme Court showdown over whether Congress or the executive can prevent the courts from hearing such claims.”

Trump views the Supreme Court as an ally, sowing doubt about its independence among his criticsThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “The morning after the Supreme Court reviewed his administration’s most important case of the term, President Trump informed the justices he might have another task for them. ‘I DID NOTHING WRONG,’ Trump tweeted Wednesday. ‘If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.’ Constitutional experts immediately derided Trump’s faulty legal analysis. But the more striking message, the day after the court considered the administration’s plan to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, seemed to be Trump’s consistent theme that he views the nation’s highest court as an ally, and safeguard against lower court defeats and congressional opponents.”

The Trump administration has agreed to allow former White House personnel security director Carl Kline to testify after contempt threatThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Tom Hamburger, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “The Trump administration has agreed to allow a former White House personnel security director, whom House Democrats had threatened with contempt, to testify on Wednesday — a de-escalation move after the president said he would ignore ‘all the subpoenas.’ In a statement late Saturday, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Carl Kline, the former security official, would voluntarily appear for an interview in the panel’s investigation of the administration’s handling of security clearances.”

New EPA document tells communities to brace for climate change impactsThe Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Saturday, 27 April 2019: “The Environmental Protection Agency published a 150-page document this past week with a straightforward message for coping with the fallout from natural disasters across the country: Start planning for the fact that climate change is going to make these catastrophes worse. The language, included in guidance on how to address the debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires, is at odds with the rhetoric of the EPA’s own leader, Andrew Wheeler. Just last month, Wheeler said in an interview with CBS that ‘most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.’ Multiple recent studies have identified how climate change is already affecting the United States and the globe.”


Sunday, 28 April 2019, Day 829:


Attorney General William Barr Threatens Not to Testify Before the House Judiciary Committee About the Mueller Report, but Democrats May Subpoena HimThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sunday, 28 April 2019: “The powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee threatened on Sunday to subpoena Attorney General William P. Barr if Mr. Barr refuses to testify this week, a move that could lead to a major escalation of the long-running feud between the White House and congressional Democrats over testimony and access to documents. The threat by the chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, came on the eve of Democrats’ return to Washington after a two-week congressional recess that has been dominated by questions about the special counsel’s report. Mr. Barr is scheduled to come before Mr. Nadler’s committee on Thursday to testify about it.” See also, Attorney general William Barr may withdraw from Mueller report hearing over terms of his testimony, House Democrats sayThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Ellen Nakashima, Sunday, 28 April 2019. See also, Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, pushes back against Attorney General William Barr on the terms of his testimonyPolitico, Bianca Quilantan, Sunday, 28 April 2019: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is warning Attorney General William Barr not to try to dictate the terms of his testimony on the Russia investigation this week. ‘The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period,’ the chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), told CNN on Sunday. Barr is scheduled to testify to the Judiciary Committee on Thursday about special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on the investigation, a redacted version of which was released earlier this month. He is also expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Nadler wants to allow each committee member a five-minute round of questioning. A key point of contention has arisen over Nadler’s wanting to allow for another round of questioning of 30 minutes for each party’s committee counsels. The chairman also proposed that the panel go into closed session to discuss the redacted sections of the report. Barr has rejected both proposals, according to CNN, which cited an unidentified committee source.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s appearance at House Judiciary Committee hearing is now in doubt because of dispute with DemocratsCNN, Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb, and Laura Jarrett, Sunday, 28 April 2019: “Attorney General William Barr has warned Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee he won’t show up to this week’s highly anticipated hearing if they stick to the format the chairman has proposed for the questioning, according to a committee source with knowledge of the matter. Skipping this week’s hearing would amount to a dramatic escalation in the growing fight between the Trump administration and House Democrats over a range of oversight requests, including over access to the unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, the subject of Thursday’s hearing.”

As Trump stands by his Charlottesville remarks that there were ‘very fine people on both sides,’ the rise of white-nationalist violence becomes an issue in the 2020 presidential raceThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Ashley Parker, Sunday, 28 April 2019: “First came Joe Biden’s campaign announcement video highlighting President Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides’ comment about the 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left a counterprotester dead. Then Trump dug in, arguing that he was referring not to the self-professed neo-Nazi marchers, but to those who had opposed the removal of a statue of the ‘great’ Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Less than 24 hours later came another act of violence described by authorities as a hate crime: Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., in which a gunman killed one person and injured three others. Those events have pushed the rising tide of white nationalism to the forefront of the 2020 presidential campaign, putting Trump on the defensive and prompting even some Republicans to acknowledge that the president is taking a political risk by continuing to stand by his Charlottesville comments.”

Trump Repeats a False Claim That Doctors ‘Execute’ NewbornsThe New York Times, Chris Cameron, Sunday, 28 April 2019: “President Trump revived on Saturday night what is fast becoming a standard, and inaccurate, refrain about doctors ‘executing babies.’ During a more than hourlong speech at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., Mr. Trump admonished the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, for vetoing a Republican bill that could send doctors to prison for life if they fail to give medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion attempt. The comments are the latest in a long string of incendiary statements from the president on abortion.”


Monday, 29 April 2019, Day 830:


Asylum Seekers Face New Restraints Under Latest Trump OrdersThe New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Caitlin Dickerson, Monday, 29 April 2019: “President Trump on Monday ordered new restrictions on asylum seekers at the Mexican border — including application fees and work permit restraints — and directed that cases in the already clogged immigration courts be settled within 180 days. In a memo sent to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, and Attorney General William P. Barr, the president took another step to reshape asylum law, which is determined by Congress, from the White House. The restrictions do not take effect immediately. Mr. Trump gave administration officials 90 days to draw up regulations that would carry out his orders.” See also, Trump tightens asylum rules and will make immigrants pay fees to seek humanitarian refugeThe Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Felicia Sonmez, and Nick Miroff, published on Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “President Trump ordered major changes to U.S. asylum policies in a White House memo released Monday night, including measures that would charge fees to those applying for humanitarian refuge in the United States. Trump’s directive also calls for tightening asylum rules by banning anyone who crosses the border illegally from obtaining a work permit, and giving courts a 180-day limit to adjudicate asylum claims that now routinely take years to process because of a ballooning case backlog. The order, announced in a presidential memorandum, comes as the president is seeking to mobilize his supporters with a focus on illegal immigration ahead of his 2020 reelection campaign.”

As president, Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claimsThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, Monday, 29 April 2019: “It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day. But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.”

Trump Sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One to Block Compliance With Congressional SubpoenasThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum, and David Enrich, Monday, 29 April 2019: “President Trump, his three eldest children and his private company filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Deutsche Bank and Capital One, in a bid to prevent the banks from responding to congressional subpoenas. In the suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, the president and his family members argue that the Democratic House committee leaders who issued the subpoenas engaged in a broad overreach…. The House’s Intelligence and Financial Services Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank, a longtime lender to Mr. Trump’s real estate company, and other financial institutions two weeks ago, seeking a long list of documents and other materials related to Deutsche Bank’s history of lending and providing accounts to Mr. Trump and his family. People with knowledge of the investigation said it related to possible money laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.”

The Department of Homeland Security Used Private Intelligence Firm LookingGlass Cyber Solutions to Monitor Family Separation Protests in the Summer of 2018The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Monday, 29 April 2019: “The calls for action were mounting. It was mid-June, and the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which saw thousands of migrant children separated from their parents, was producing waves of outrage. By the end of the month, hundreds of protests were planned in towns and cities across the country. As the plans moved forward, others took notice. In the days leading up to the protests, a private intelligence company that works with the Department of Homeland Security was monitoring the activity on the ground. Documents shared with The Intercept by the American Immigration Council, obtained through a freedom of information request, show that LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, a Virginia-based firm, gathered information on more than 600 demonstrations across the country, information that was then shared with DHS and state-level law enforcement agencies. Tracking Facebook accounts affiliated with the protests and disseminating the intelligence to law enforcement fusion centers nationwide, the operation drilled down on physical locations where demonstrations were planned: a high school in Sebring, Florida; a church in Carbondale, Illinois; the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City; a Denny’s in Carlsbad, California; and ‘the old Kmart parking lot’ in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. All were logged by street address and the time of the planned demonstrations.” See also, Elizabeth Warren Calls for Investigation Into Monitoring of Family Separation ProtestsThe Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, published on Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

Profitable Giants Like Amazon Pay $0 in Corporate Taxes. Some Voters Are Sick of It. The New York Times, Stephanie Saul and Patricia Cohen, Monday, 29 April 2019: “Colin Robertson [in Akron, Ohio] wonders why he pays federal taxes on the $18,000 a year he makes cleaning carpets, while the tech giant Amazon got a tax rebate…. It’s a topic that several presidential candidates, led by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have hammered recently as they travel the campaign trail, spurred by a report that 60 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal taxes on $79 billion in corporate income last year. Amazon, which is reported to be opening a center in an abandoned Akron mall that will employ 500 people, has become the poster child for corporate tax avoidance; last year it had an effective tax rate of below zero — receiving a rebate — on income of $10.8 billion. For decades, profitable companies have been able to avoid corporate taxes. But the list of those paying zero roughly doubled last year as a result of provisions in President Trump’s 2017 tax bill that expanded corporate tax breaks and reduced the tax rate on corporate income.”

House Democrats move to block the Trump administration’s abortion ‘gag’ ruleThe Washington Post, Erica Werner, Monday, 29 April 2019: “House Democrats moved Monday to block a new Trump administration rule aimed at restricting health-care providers from promoting abortions. Democrats included language in a newly released spending bill that would prevent the rule — termed a ‘gag rule’ by critics — from taking effect, although it was already stayed by a federal judge. Democrats also included $50 million for gun violence research in the legislation released Monday, a massive spending bill for the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services. The two parties have been fighting over this issue for years, with Republicans using spending bills when they controlled the House to effectively block gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With both moves, Democrats served notice that they will try to use must-pass spending legislation to promote favored social policies or overturn provisions they oppose now that they control the House. With little legislating of substance expected to occur ahead of the 2020 election, spending bills are one of the few vehicles available on Capitol Hill to accomplish changes in law. But policy riders included by House Democrats could make it more difficult for spending legislation to pass the Republican-controlled Senate or win support from President Trump, potentially increasing chances for another shutdown when existing government funding expires Oct. 1.”

Trump says the National Rifle Association is ‘under siege’ after New York’s attorney general opens an investigation into its not-for-profit statusThe Guardian, Jamiles Lartey, Monday, 29 April 2019: “In a series of tweets Monday morning, Donald Trump implored the National Rifle Association (NRA) to put its house in order. The gun rights group is publicly wrestling with internal strife and a criminal investigation. The ‘very important organization,’ the president said, ‘must get its act together quickly, stop the internal fighting [and] get back to GREATNESS – FAST.'”

The Labor Department Says Workers at a Gig Company Are ContractorsThe New York Times, Noam Scheiber, Monday, 29 April 2019: “The Labor Department weighed in Monday on a question whose answer could be worth billions of dollars to gig-economy companies, deciding that one company’s workers were contractors, not employees. The letter provides further evidence that the Trump administration is departing from the approach of its predecessor on a key wage issue. Gig companies are assuming a more prominent role in the economy, and many are beginning to sell shares to the public. But industry officials estimate that requiring such companies to classify their workers as employees would raise their labor costs by 20 to 30 percent. As a result of Monday’s action, the company in question will not have to offer workers the federal minimum wage or overtime, or pay a share of Social Security taxes.”

House Democrats Push Attorney General William Barr to Submit to a Lawyer’s QuestioningThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 29 April 2019: “House Democrats signaled on Monday that they would press ahead with plans to have staff lawyers question Attorney General William P. Barr on Thursday, despite his threat to skip the much-anticipated hearing on the work of Robert S. Mueller III if Democrats stick by that format. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, announced a Wednesday committee vote on whether to allow lawmakers to turn over a half-hour of questioning per side to staff lawyers, an unusual arrangement for such a high-stakes hearing, though not one that violates any rules. Democrats are expected to easily win the vote, raising pressure on Mr. Barr to give up his demand that the questioning come only from lawmakers.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Submits Resignation LetterThe Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Monday, 29 April 2019: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation letter to President Trump on Monday, ending a tumultuous two years in which he tried to steady a rocky Justice Department and its relationship with the White House. His resignation is effective May 11.” See also, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Step Down in MayThe New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 29 April 2019. See also, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigns effective May 11, ending a tumultuous run as the Justice Department’s second-in-commandThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 29 April 2019.


Tuesday, 30 April 2019, Day 831:


Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr in late March complaining that Barr’s four-page memo to Congress did not capture the ‘context, nature, and substance’ of the investigation into TrumpThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump ‘did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance’ of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post. The letter and a subsequent phone call between the two men reveal the degree to which the longtime colleagues and friends disagreed as they handled the legally and politically fraught task of investigating the president. Democrats in Congress are likely to scrutinize Mueller’s complaints to Barr as they contemplate the prospect of opening impeachment proceedings and mull how hard to press for Mueller himself to testify publicly. At the time Mueller’s letter was sent to Barr on March 27, Barr had days prior announced that Mueller did not find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials seeking to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. In his memo to Congress, Barr also said that Mueller had not reached a conclusion about whether Trump had tried to obstruct justice, but that Barr reviewed the evidence and found it insufficient to support such a charge. Days after Barr’s announcement, Mueller wrote the previously undisclosed private letter to the Justice Department, laying out his concerns in stark terms that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according to people familiar with the discussions.” See also, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Objected to Attorney General William Barr’s Description of Russia Investigation’s Findings on TrumpThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, wrote a letter in late March to Attorney General William P. Barr objecting to his early description of the Russia investigation’s conclusions that appeared to clear President Trump on possible obstruction of justice, according to the Justice Department and three people with direct knowledge of the communication between the two men. The letter adds to the growing evidence of a rift between them and is another sign of the anger among the special counsel’s investigators about Mr. Barr’s characterization of their findings, which allowed Mr. Trump to wrongly claim he had been vindicated.” See also, Special counsel Robert Mueller complained to Attorney General William Barr about his Russia investigation memo to CongressPolitico, Natasha Bertrand, Darren Samuelsohn, Josh Gerstein, and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

Senate Democrats call on the Department of Justice watchdog to investigate Attorney General William BarrPolitico, Marianne Levine, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Democratic senators called on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the Mueller report. Led by Senate Judiciary Committee member Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Democrats accuse Barr of misleading the public when he issued a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election before releasing the full report.”

Gingerly, Democrats Give ‘Medicare for All’ an Official MomentThe New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “It was a big political discussion in a very small room. ‘Medicare for all’ got its first congressional hearing on Tuesday, albeit in one of the House’s tightest meeting rooms, in an area of the Capitol off limits to the scores of people who assembled in Washington to show support. The idea of a single government health care system for all Americans has been treated with extreme caution by the Democratic leadership, which has stressed more modest improvements to the current health law. On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was pointing to the bills moving through the House Judiciary Committee that could lower the prices of prescription drugs. Yet here was Ms. Pelosi herself, escorting a supporter of Medicare for all, Ady Barkan, to the House Rules Committee meeting. Mr. Barkan, who has long advocated health care expansion, has the degenerative neural disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and used a computer to help him speak. He proved a powerful presence. ‘We have so little time together, and yet our system forces us to waste it with bills and bureaucracy,’ he told the committee in his opening statement, noting that the fast progress of his disease had impressed upon him the urgency of reform. ‘That is why I am here today, urging you to build a more rational, fair, efficient and effective system.'” See also, The First-Ever Medicare-For-All Hearing Was Strangely CollegialThe Intercept, Ryan Grim and Akela Lacy, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Dying of ALS, [Ady] Barkan spoke with a computer-generated voice, relying on software that tracks his eye-movements to enable him to type onto a screen. He told the committee that objections related to cost of single payer are political, not economic, and that the ‘richest country in the world’ can afford to provide health insurance to its people. He also spoke of his personal experience being denied care by insurance companies and needing to spend his precious remaining time battling with them. His home health care costs are running at $9,000 per month, he said…. As conversations about health care tend to do, Tuesday’s hearing veered toward the philosophical. The concept of time, which is at the center of existential thought, came up frequently. ‘My time to deliver this testimony is running out. And, in a much more profound sense, my time to deliver this message to the American people is running out as well,’ Barkan said during his opening statement. ‘Our time on this earth is the most precious resource we have. A Medicare For All system will save all of us tremendous time. For doctors and nurses and providers, it will mean more time giving high quality care. And for patients and our families, it will mean less time dealing with a broken health care system and more time doing the things we love, together. Some people argue that although Medicare for All is a great idea, we need to move slowly to get there. But I needed Medicare for All yesterday. Millions of people need it today. The time to pass this law is now.’… During questioning, Barkan told the panel members he appreciated the opportunity to be there, but it wasn’t where he wanted to be. With time short, he’d prefer to be home in California, he said, playing with his son Carl, rather than on Capitol Hill trying to wake up the representatives’ consciences.”

Trump and Democrats Agree to Pursue $2 Trillion Infrastructure PlanThe New York Times, Annie Karni, Emily Cochrane, and Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Democratic congressional leaders emerged from a meeting at the White House on Tuesday and announced that President Trump had agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to upgrade the nation’s highways, railroads, bridges and broadband. Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said that there had been ‘good will’ in the meeting and that it was ‘different than some of the other meetings that we’ve had.’ Standing alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said the group planned to meet again in three weeks, when Mr. Trump was expected to tell them how he planned to actually pay for the ambitious project.” See also, Trump and top Democrats agree on goal of crafting $2 trillion infrastructure planThe Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner, Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

Judge says Congressional Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit targeting Trump’s private business can proceedThe Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell, Ann E. Marimow, and Carol D. Leonnig, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption law and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene. In a 48-page opinion, the judge refused the request of the president’s legal team to dismiss the case and rejected Trump’s narrow definition of emoluments, finding it ‘unpersuasive and inconsistent.'” See also, Federal Judge Says Congressional Democrats’ Lawsuit Examining Trump’s Private Business Can ProceedThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

Democrats accuse Trump ally Erik Prince of lying to Congress and refer case to the Justice Department for possible prosecutionThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday made a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of the private military contractor Blackwater and an ally of President Trump, accusing him of’ ‘knowingly and willfully’ making false statements to Congress. Prince’s statements ‘impaired the Committee’s understanding of Russia’s attempts to contact and influence the incoming Trump Administration,’ Schiff wrote in his referral letter to Attorney General William P. Barr, describing six alleged instances in which Prince misled the panel about his January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian banker tied to the Kremlin — and how much the Trump transition team knew about it.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer presses for election security boost after Mueller reportPolitico, Marianne Levine, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called for swift action to boost election security in 2020 in the wake of the Mueller report. In a letter to his Senate Democratic colleagues, the New York Democrat blasted the Trump administration for ‘not forcefully and adequately responding to the attack on our democracy’ described in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

As security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020 presidential race, Trump and his aides play down the threatThe Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, and Shane Harris, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “In recent months, U.S. national security officials have been preparing for Russian interference in the 2020 presidential race by tracking cyber threats, sharing intelligence about foreign disinformation efforts with social media companies and helping state election officials protect their systems against foreign manipulation. But these actions are strikingly at odds with statements from President Trump, who has rebuffed warnings from his senior aides about Russia and sought to play down that country’s potential to influence American politics. The president’s rhetoric and lack of focus on election security has made it tougher for government officials to implement a more comprehensive approach to preserving the integrity of the electoral process, current and former officials said.”

As Trump Family Sues to Block Subpoenas, Democrats Ponder ImpeachmentThe New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “The Trump family lawsuit to block oversight of its finances has House Democrats scrambling to confront what many see as the gravest threat to congressional independence since the Nixon era, reviving internal debate over the ultimate weapon in the Democrats’ arsenal: impeachment. For nearly two weeks, Democrats have debated how to respond to Robert S. Mueller III’s findings that President Trump might have obstructed justice, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her fractious rank and file to avoid a broad, open-ended impeachment inquiry she believed could backfire disastrously in 2020. But Democrats see Mr. Trump’s latest string of provocations — starting with his blanket declaration last week that he would defy all subpoenas requested by Democratic committees and culminating in this week’s legal action — as a dangerous abuse of executive authority that they must address forcefully.”

Why Bill McKibben Sees Rays of Hope in a Grim Climate PictureYale Environment 360, Elizabeth Kolbert, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Three decades ago, Bill McKibben published The End of Nature, the first book on climate change aimed at a general audience. McKibben went on to found the international environmental group, help launch the fossil fuel divestment movement, and write a dozen more non-fiction books, as well as a novel. In 2014, McKibben received the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes referred to as the ‘alternative Nobel,’ for mobilizing popular support for ‘strong action to counter the threat of global climate change.’  McKibben’s latest book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, was published this month and debuted last week on the New York Times bestseller list. In an interview with Yale Environment 360 , McKibben talks about why the critical time for action on climate was missed, where he still finds hope, and what the world will look like three decades from now. ‘Thirty or 50 years out, the world’s going to run on sun and wind, because they’re free,’ McKibben says. ‘The question is… what kind of world will it be?'”

Powerful Environmental Groups Are Teaming Up to Create a Fundraising Machine to Defeat TrumpBuzzFeed News, Zahra Hirji, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “A trio of dominant environmental political groups are joining forces to form a fundraising power base for the eventual Democratic nominee and to boost candidates who embrace bold climate action during the primary. LCV Victory Fund, NRDC Action Fund PAC, and NextGen America are expanding their GiveGreen fundraising platform on Tuesday, launching the Beat Trump Presidential Climate Unity Fund to raise money for President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-decided opponent in 2020. ‘Given that President Trump is the most anti-environmental president we’ve ever had by far, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that [the] eventual nominee on the Democratic side, that she or he has the resources to win, to beat Trump, and to move forward on the climate action we desperately need,’ Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, told BuzzFeed News.”

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency insists Monsanto’s Roundup is safe, despite cancer casesThe Guardian, Emily Holden, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “The Trump administration is keeping the weedkiller Roundup on the US market, insisting it is safe for humans despite thousands of lawsuits launched by people who claim it gave them cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains in a new decision that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which is made by Monsanto, does not cause cancer or other health problems if it is used according to instruction labels. Glyphosate is used on more than 100 crops, including genetically modified corn, soy, cotton, canola and sugar beet, according to the EPA. Groups campaigning against glyphosate say it is most dangerous for farmworkers and others applying it but also poses risks for people consuming it in food. Courts have found in favor of a school groundskeeper who is terminally ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and another man who used the chemical for decades and developed the same kind of cancer.”

Stephen Moore’s Shot at the Federal Reserve Board Teeters as Republican Senators Voice ConcernsThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Jim Tankersley, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “The conservative commentator Stephen Moore’s chance at confirmation to the Federal Reserve Board teetered on Tuesday after one Republican senator said it was unlikely she would support him and multiple Republican senators began to publicly question whether the problematic favorite of President Trump would have enough votes if nominated. Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, said on Tuesday that she had told the White House she was unlikely to support Mr. Moore, becoming the first senator in her party to be nearing an explicit disavowal of his nomination even before Mr. Trump makes it official.” See also, Republican support for Stephen Moore falters, leaving Trump’s pick for the Federal Reserve Board with slim chance of confirmationThe Washington Post, Heather Long, Tuesday, 30 April 2019.

What Joe Biden Has Said About Anita Hill Over the YearsThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. said this week that he takes ‘responsibility’ for the way Anita Hill was treated when she testified in the 1991 confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, the latest attempt by Mr. Biden to quell Democratic resentment over his handling of the hearings and his refusal to directly apologize to Ms. Hill. The remarks, which aired on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Tuesday, came just days after Mr. Biden opened his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. As decades-old questions about his oversight of the hearings continue to swirl, fresh concerns have arisen about Mr. Biden’s attempt to mitigate a political vulnerability by calling Ms. Hill shortly before his entrance into the race. His camp has said the former vice president sought to express ‘his regret for what she endured,’ but in an interview with The New York Times last week, Ms. Hill said the call had left her feeling deeply unsatisfied. Mr. Biden’s comments on Tuesday were the latest in a recent series of incremental concessions, as he has seemed to move closer to unconditional contrition for the aggressive questioning Ms. Hill faced from an all-male, all-white Senate Judiciary Committee about claims that Justice Thomas had sexually harassed her.”

At Trump golf course, undocumented employees said they were sometimes told to work extra hours without payThe Washington Post, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold, Tuesday, 30 April 2019: “His bosses at the Trump country club called it ‘side work.’ On some nights, after the club’s Grille Room closed, head waiter Jose Gabriel Juarez — an undocumented immigrant from Mexico — was told to clock out. He pressed his index finger onto a scanner and typed his personal code, 436. But he didn’t go home. Instead — on orders from his bosses, Juarez said — he would stay on, sometimes past midnight. He vacuumed carpets, polished silverware and helped get the restaurant at Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briar­cliff Manor, N.Y., ready for breakfast the next day. All off the clock. Without being paid.” See also, 7 questions about Trump’s use of undocumented workers at his golf coursesThe Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow, Thursday, 2 May 2019.


Wednesday, 1 May 2019, Day 832:


Attorney General William Barr Defends His Handling of the Mueller Report Against Withering RebukesThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr defended himself on Wednesday against withering criticism of his handling of the special counsel investigation as Democrats accused him of deceiving Congress and acting as a personal agent for President Trump rather than a steward of justice. At a contentious hearing marked by a deep partisan divide, Mr. Barr denied misrepresenting the investigation’s conclusions despite a newly revealed letter by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, protesting the initial summary of its findings. Mr. Barr dismissed the letter as ‘a bit snitty’ and the controversy over it as ‘mind-bendingly bizarre.’ But in a series of aggressive interrogations, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed indignation and asserted that the attorney general had been ‘purposely misleading,’ engaged in ‘masterful hairsplitting’ and even ‘lied to Congress.’ Several Democrats on the committee, elsewhere in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail called for Mr. Barr’s resignation or even impeachment. The conflict escalated afterward when Mr. Barr announced that he would not show up for a parallel hearing on Thursday before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee. Mr. Barr objected to the format of questioning, which would have included questioning by staff lawyers, not just lawmakers. Democrats may now opt to subpoena him, setting up a possible showdown in court.” See also, William Barr Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: Highlights of His TestimonyThe New York Times, Katie Benner and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, William Barr Testimony on Mueller Report: Updates and analysisThe New York Times, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, 6 Evasive or Inaccurate Statements in Attorney General William Barr’s Senate TestimonyThe New York Times, Linda Qiu, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, When the Mueller Investigation Ended, the Battle Over Its Conclusions BeganThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, Is an Attorney General Independent or Political? Barr Rekindles a Debate. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr said during his confirmation hearing in January that serving in his future post was “not the same” as representing President Trump and pledged to make law enforcement decisions based only on facts and the law — not politics. But his handling of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has called that vow into question. On Wednesday, Mr. Barr defended his actions before the Senate Judiciary Committee, even as he put forward an interpretation of the evidence in a favorable light for Mr. Trump.” See also, James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill BarrThe New York Times, James Comey, Wednesday, 1 May 2019.

Attorney General William Barr’s conclusions are undercut by his lack of familiarity with details of Mueller’s investigationThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Barr has stepped forward as the seemingly objective face of the case Trump has been making since May 2017: that Trump did nothing wrong. But Barr’s ability to play that role effectively has eroded over time, both with the revelation that Mueller took issue with his March 24 letter and, Wednesday, under questioning about the report by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Over the course of that questioning, Barr admitted he hadn’t reviewed the evidence underlying Mueller’s findings on obstruction, he hadn’t looked at the evidence undergirding the origination of the probe into possible coordination and, at one point, even made a comment raising questions about his familiarity with one of the key issues at the heart of the probe. It was Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) who drew the most significant blood.” See also, William Barr’s ‘snitty’ slip-up gives away his gameThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr appeared before Congress on Wednesday having been accused of misleading about and pre-spinning the Mueller report for President Trump. He also came on the heels of a newly reported letter in which Robert S. Mueller III rebuked Barr’s handling of the matter. So it should come as no surprise that he misled about and spun Mueller’s letter, too. The difference this time was that he accidentally gave away his game.” See also, The evolution of the obstruction of justice dispute between Barr and MuellerThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, ‘I don’t know’: Attorney General William Barr’s professed ignorance prompts calls for his resignation after Mueller letterThe Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “In back-to-back congressional hearings on April 9 and 10, Attorney General William P. Barr disclaimed knowledge of the thinking of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and members of his team of prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. ‘No, I don’t,’ Barr said, when asked by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) whether he knew what was behind reports that members of Mueller’s team were frustrated by the attorney general’s summary of their top-level conclusions. ‘I don’t know,’ he said the next day, when asked by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) whether Mueller supported his finding that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice. These statements resurfaced Tuesday following the revelation that Mueller had sent a letter to Barr two weeks earlier objecting to the attorney general’s characterization of the probe.” See also, Attorney General William Barr spars with Democrats over ‘snitty’ Mueller letterThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian, and Rosalins S. Helderman, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Wednesday’s hearing proved how devoted Democrats are to pressing questions of Trump’s conduct and fitness for office and showed the determination of Barr and Republican lawmakers to move on from the Mueller investigation…. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Barr he should resign for what she called his previous misleading statements to Congress about Mueller’s work. Demands for Barr’s resignation also were made by other Democrats before, during and after Wednesday’s hearing. ‘You knew you lied, and now we know,’ she said, referencing testimony Barr gave in early April.” See also, Attorney General William Barr testifies about the Mueller investigation: Live coverageThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Karoun Demirjian, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, 6 takeaways from William Barr’s tense hearingThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, With Robert Mueller silent, William Barr interprets the special counsel’s report–to the advantage of TrumpThe Washington Post, Greg Miller, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr puts Trump’s actions in the best light, despite ‘substantial evidence’ of obstruction cited by special counsel Robert MuellerThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Wednesday, 1 May 2019. See also, Kamala Harris zeroes in on the big problem with Attorney General William BarrThe Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Sen. Kamala D. Harris is already getting a lot of plaudits for roasting Attorney General William P. Barr at the Judiciary Committee hearing. Under questioning from Harris, Barr pulled a big homina homina homina when asked whether the White House had ever asked or suggested that he open an investigation into anyone. ‘I’m trying to grapple with the word suggest,’ Barr said, before declining to answer the question. Barr also admitted under Harris’s questioning that he hadn’t reviewed the Mueller report’s underlying evidence in making his decision to clear President Trump of obstruction charges. After the questioning, Harris encountered reporters in the hallway and zeroed in on that last point. But what she said after that is what’s really of interest: ‘This attorney general lacks all credibility and has, I think, compromised the American public’s ability to believe that he is a purveyor of justice,’ Harris said. When you step back and consider the totality of what we just witnessed, what’s really striking is Barr’s utter disinterest in conveying any sense that Harris is, well, wrong in that assessment. He made little serious effort to disguise the degree to which he is operating above all as an advocate for the president.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller twice pushed Attorney General William Barr to reveal Russia investigation summariesPolitico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller twice pressed Attorney General William Barr to speed the release of his report’s summaries and introductions to Congress and the public, warning ‘public misunderstandings’ threatened to undermine confidence in the Russia probe. In a March 27 letter, Mueller revealed that he pressed Barr to make elements of his report public on March 25 — a day after he finalized his report — and urged him to do so again. But Barr ultimately determined to keep the report secret for nearly a month, reviewing it for several categories of information to redact — and he made no indication to Congress or the public that Mueller disagreed with his handling of the report.”

Attorney General William Barr’s refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee increases likelihood of contempt citation from CongressThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis, and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr told a House panel on Wednesday that he will not testify about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, raising the prospect that Democrats will hold the nation’s top law enforcement official in contempt of Congress. Barr, who also missed a deadline for subpoenaed information on Wednesday, had been scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday about his handling of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But Barr balked at the committee’s plan to have a committee counsel question him alongside lawmakers, a snub that angered Democrats.” See also, Attorney General William Barr won’t testify before the House Judiciary Committee on ThursdayPolitico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 1 May 2019.

White House says it will not provide details on individual security clearances to the House Oversight CommitteeThe Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Rachael Bade, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “The White House said Wednesday that it will not authorize any executive branch officials to disclose to Congress information about individual security clearances, a move that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) called ‘the latest example of the president’s widespread and growing obstruction of Congress.’ The oversight panel has been examining the administration’s handling of security clearances and allegations that officials, including presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, were granted access to sensitive information over the objections of career staffers.” See also, White House rejects House’s security clearance document requestPolitico, Anita Kumar, Wednesday, 1 May 2019.

A 16-Year-Old Unaccompanied Immigrant Boy from Guatemala Has Died in US Government CustodyBuzzFeed News, Hamed Aleaziz and Adolfo Flores, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “A 16-year-old unaccompanied Guatemalan boy died in government custody in Texas on Tuesday, officials said. The boy, who was not identified by officials, is the third child to die in government custody since December, when a 7-year-old girl died hours after being taken into Border Patrol custody.” See also, Guatemalan Boy Dies in U.S. Custody After Illness, Officials SayThe New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who was placed in a Texas shelter for migrant children and teenagers after entering the United States has died in federal custody, officials said on Wednesday. The boy, who died on Tuesday, was considered an unaccompanied minor who had entered the United States. Officials refused to comment on how long he had been in the country, where his parents were or whether he entered illegally. But his death is sure to highlight the risks for the surge of Central American families who have crossed the southwestern border in recent months, overwhelming federal facilities and resources.”

‘Medicare for All’ Gets Much-Awaited Report. Both Sides Claim Victory. The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “The Congressional Budget Office published a much-awaited paper about the possible design of a single-payer or ‘Medicare for all’ system in the United States. The budget office most often provides detailed estimates about the cost of legislation. But anyone looking for many numbers in Wednesday’s long report would be disappointed. Instead, the nonpartisan office noted the many ways that legislators could devise such a system, outlining the cost and policy effects of a wide range of difficult choices. It also noted that such a system would be so different from the country’s current situation that any hard estimates would be difficult, even with all the specifics laid out. As such, the report has convenient snippets likely to be deployed by both single-payer devotees and detractors. Within minutes of its release, congressional news releases began pouring out, noting how the report had confirmed this or that position.”

Trump Administration Files Formal Request to Strike Down All of ObamacareThe New York Times, Jan Hoffman and Abby Goodnough, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “The Trump administration formally declared its opposition to the entire Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, arguing in a federal appeals court filing that the signature Obama-era legislation was unconstitutional and should be struck down. Such a decision could end health insurance for some 21 million Americans and affect many millions more who benefit from the law’s protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and required coverage for pregnancy, prescription drugs and mental health. In filing the brief, the administration abandoned an earlier position — that some portions of the law, including the provision allowing states to expand their Medicaid programs, should stand. The switch, which the administration disclosed in late March, has confounded many people in Washington, even within the Republican Party, who came to realize that health insurance and a commitment to protecting the A.C.A. were among the main issues that propelled Democrats to a majority in the House of Representatives last fall.”

UK Parliament declares climate change emergencyBBC, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “MPs have approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. This proposal, which demonstrates the will of the Commons on the issue but does not legally compel the government to act, was approved without a vote. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who tabled the motion, said it was ‘a huge step forward.’… The declaration of an emergency was one of the key demands put to the government by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, in a series of protests over recent weeks. Addressing climate protesters from the top of a fire engine in Parliament Square earlier, Mr Corbyn said: ‘This can set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe. We pledge to work as closely as possible with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe and make clear to US President Donald Trump that he cannot ignore international agreements and action on the climate crisis.'”

Notes From a Remarkable Political Moment for Climate ChangeThe New Yorker, Bill McKibben, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Wednesday, the British House of Commons, led by the Conservative Party, voted to declare that the planet was in a ‘climate emergency.’ The day before, a CNN poll found that, in the United States, Democratic voters care more about climate change than about any other issue in the upcoming Presidential election: more than health care, more than gun control, more than free college, more than impeaching the President. Having followed the issue closely since I wrote my first book about climate change, thirty years ago, I think I can say that we’re in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda. Maybe, though not certainly, it is rising fast enough that we’ll get real action.”

Maine becomes the first state to ban StyrofoamCNN, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “Food containers made of Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, will be officially banned from businesses in Maine after governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law Tuesday. The law, which will go into effect January 1, 2021, prohibits restaurants, caterers, coffee shops and grocery stores from using the to-go foam containers because they cannot be recycled in Maine. Maine has become the first state to take such a step as debate about banning plastic bags or other disposable products is spreading across the nation. While states like New York and California have banned single-use plastic bags, others such as Tennessee and Florida have made it illegal for local municipalities to regulate them.”

New House Bill Would Bar Israel From Using U.S. Military Aid to Detain Palestinian ChildrenThe Intercept, Robert Mackey, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “New legislation proposed by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, would ban Israel from using any of the billions of dollars in military assistance it receives from the United States every year to pay for the detention, interrogation, or torture of Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank. Israel’s military typically arrests and prosecutes 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year, subjecting them to coercive interrogation, physical violence, and trials in military courts that lack basic guarantees of due process. McCollum’s bill, HR 2407, would amend the Foreign Assistance Act to prohibit funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel. The proposed law would also provide $19 million a year to American, Israeli, and Palestinian nongovernmental organizations to monitor the treatment of children detained by Israel’s army and offer physical and psychological treatment.”

With Maduro Still in Power, Questions About the U.S. Role in VenezuelaThe New York Times, Mark Landler and Julian E. Barnes, Wednesday, 1 May 2019: “President Trump’s top advisers woke up Tuesday believing that a rebellion in the Venezuelan military that day would galvanize a popular uprising and topple a leader they have described as a reviled despot who must be replaced. But at day’s end, President Nicolás Maduro was still in power and Mr. Trump’s advisers were left to blame Cuba, Russia and three influential Venezuelan officials, who failed to switch sides, for frustrating their plans. The decision of the Venezuelans to stand with Mr. Maduro — either because they were intimidated, got cold feet or never planned to defect — raised questions about whether the United States had faulty intelligence about the ability of the opposition to peel away members of his government.”


Thursday, 2 May 2019, Day 833:


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Accuses Attorney General William Barr of Lying to Congress (Law-Breaking) as Democrats’ War With Him Boils OverThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “House Democrats’ feud with Attorney General William P. Barr boiled over on Thursday, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him of lying to Congress and the Judiciary Committee threatened to hold him in contempt if he did not promptly hand over a complete version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report. The escalation between the legislative and executive branches of government, a day after Mr. Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, mounted an aggressive self-defense in the Senate, was as abrupt and emotionally charged as any in decades. In the letter, the special counsel took Mr. Barr to task for the way that the attorney general had initially summarized his findings, leaving ‘public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation.’ That appeared to undercut Mr. Barr’s claims at a House hearing on April 9 that he was not aware of any such discontent. ‘What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States,’ Ms. Pelosi told reporters. ‘That’s a crime.'” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accuses Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to CongressPolitico, Heather Caygle and Andrew Desiderio, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress, blasting him in a closed-door meeting and later at a news conference. ‘We saw [Barr] commit a crime when he answered your question,’ Pelosi told Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) during a private caucus meeting Thursday morning, according to two sources present for the gathering. ‘He lied to Congress. He lied to Congress,” Pelosi said soon after at a news conference. “And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.’ The allegation comes as Democrats have intensified their criticisms of the attorney general over his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, his refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and the Justice Department’s unwillingness to comply with a subpoena for the full unredacted report.” See also, Attorney General William Barr’s no-show triggers contempt threats, Nixon comparison, and more impeachment talkThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Mike BeBonis, and John Wagner, Thursday, 2 May 2019. See also, The Catastrophic Performance of Attorney General Bill BarrThe Atlantic, Benjamin Wittes, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “I was willing to give Bill Barr a chance. Consider me burned…. Barr has now acted, and we can now evaluate his actual, rather than his hypothesized, performance. It has been catastrophic. Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general—whoever he or she is—is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president. In this case it is true.”

How Right, Left, and Center Reacted to Attorney General William Barr’s Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeThe New York Times, Karen Zraick, Thursday, 2 May 2019.

The Coming Subpoena Fights Between Trump and Congress, ExplainedThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr defied on Thursday a deadline imposed by a congressional subpoena to provide lawmakers with the full-text Mueller report. President Trump, meanwhile, has vowed to resist ‘all’ subpoenas issued by House Democrats in their oversight investigations. And Mr. Trump has sued his banks and the House Oversight Committee to block subpoenas for his financial records held by his accountants and financial firms. The strategy of unabashedly stonewalling Democrats’ oversight investigations raises the question of what lawmakers can do about it — and whether, even if they ultimately prevail, the court fight will take so long that the Trump team will run out the clock before the next election.”

White House complained to Attorney General William Barr about the contents of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report after its releaseThe Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “The White House last month lodged a formal complaint with the Justice Department over the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — and made clear that President Trump believes he retains the right to assert executive privilege over material contained in the report, despite its public release. The five-page letter was authored by Emmet Flood, who has handled the Mueller investigation for the White House counsel’s office, and submitted to Attorney General William P. Barr on April 19, the day after Barr released a redacted version of the report.”

Staking Out Battle Lines, House Votes to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate PactThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “The House passed a bill on Thursday that would block President Trump from abandoning the Paris Agreement on climate change and require his administration to devise a plan to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions. The measure, which passed 231-190, was the first big global warming legislation to win congressional approval in almost 10 years. It stands virtually no chance of approval in the Republican-controlled Senate. But with the vote, Democrats sought to tie Republicans to Mr. Trump, who has said that climate change is a hoax, and isolate them on an issue they believe is resonating strongly with voters. Three Republicans voted in favor. No Democrats opposed it.” See also, House passes bill to force the U.S. to stay in the Paris climate agreementThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 2 May 2019.

Trump rolls back safety rules meant to prevent another Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of MexicoThe Washington Post, Darryl Fears, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “The Trump administration has weakened offshore drilling safeguards put in place after a 2010 explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform killed 11 workers and triggered the largest ocean spill in U.S. history. Administration officials said the revised Well Control Rule announced Thursday in Louisiana, not far from the site of the spill, reflects President Trump’s stance on ‘facilitating energy dominance’ by increasing domestic oil and gas production and reducing burdens on the fossil fuel industry.” See also, Interior Department Loosens Offshore-Drilling Safety Rules Dating From Deepwater Horizon Explosion That Killed 11 Crew Members and Caused Oil to Spill Into the Gulf of Mexico for MonthsThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “The Trump administration on Thursday made public its rollback of a major offshore-drilling safety regulation, significantly weakening an Obama-era rule that was put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 people and sent 4.9 million barrels of oil gushing into the sea, causing the worst oil spill in American history. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who was confirmed by the Senate last month to head the agency that oversees the nation’s public lands and waters, announced the plan Thursday afternoon in Port Fourchon, La., the vast industrial hub that serves as the onshore base for most companies that drill in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil industry praised the move. Environmental groups warned that the rollbacks could pave the way for similar crises to happen again. The weakened safety rules come as the Trump administration has also sought to vastly expand offshore drilling in the nation’s waters. Last year the Interior Department proposed opening almost the entire United States coastline to drilling, although Mr. Bernhardt recently said the administration may delay those plans while court challenges are addressed.”

Trump Administration Strengthens ‘Conscience Rule’ for Health Care WorkersThe New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “President Trump on Thursday announced an expanded ‘conscience rule’ to protect health care workers who oppose abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds. The rule establishes guidelines for punishing health care institutions with the loss of federal funds if they fail to respect the rights of such workers…. After the 440-page rule was released, some groups said they feared the provisions were overly broad and could imperil care for patients seeking reproductive health care. They also said it could lead to discrimination against gay or transgender patients and their children, and weaken public health efforts to expand childhood vaccinations. ‘The rule allows a very wide range of people — from the receptionist to the boards of hospitals and everyone in between — to deny a patient’s medical care if their personal beliefs get in the way,’ said Fatima Goss Graves, the president of the National Women’s Law Center. Ms. Goss Graves described the rule as not only tightening enforcement of civil rights laws but also changing the balance of rights between patients and their clinicians.” See also, Trump touts new faith-based protections for health-care workers at National Day of Prayer ceremonyThe Washington Post, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, and Amy Goldstein, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “During a speech Thursday before faith leaders, President Trump announced a new rule allowing health providers, insurers and employers to refuse to provide or pay for services such as abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide that they say violate their religious or moral beliefs. The 440-page rule is broad in scope, spelling out specific services that individuals and entities could refrain from providing or paying for based on their beliefs. It also emphasizes parents’ rights to refuse several specific types of care for their children. Conservative groups welcomed what they call ‘conscience protections’ for health care workers and others, while LGBTQ and women’s groups warned the rule would reduce services and potentially harm patients if providers refuse to deliver certain care, or treat gay and transgender people.”

U.S. is sending asylum seekers to Mexico while awaiting court ruling, in some cases ignoring its own protocolsThe Washington Post, Robert Moore, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “While a federal appeals court weighs the Trump administration’s policy of sending asylum seekers back to Mexico to await court hearings in the United States, the government appears to be ignoring its own protocols for who it should send back across the border. The guidelines for the Migrant Protection Protocols program — also known as Remain in Mexico — preclude government officials from sending people with ‘known physical/mental health issues’ back to Mexico. But at least two pregnant women and a Honduran family that includes a 4-year-old girl with a neurological disorder were sent from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, under the MPP program, according to court proceedings in recent weeks. It is difficult for the girl to take in food, she is nonverbal and unable to walk, and her family argues that waiting in Mexico was a dangerous proposition.”

Florida Approves Bill Allowing Classroom Teachers to Be ArmedNPR, Laurel Wamsley, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “After two days of impassioned debate, Florida’s House of Representatives passed a controversial bill on Wednesday that would permit classroom teachers to carry guns in schools. The bill was already approved by the Senate; it now goes before Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who is expected to sign it. Last year, the legislature created a ‘guardian’ program that allows districts to arm school staff, with the exception of teachers who ‘exclusively perform classroom duties,’ according to the Miami Herald. The new bill would remove that exception. Once the bill is enacted, it will be up to districts to decide whether they want to allow teachers to be armed. Many do not. As NPR member station WLRN reports, most of Florida’s school districts have declined to create guardian programs, opting instead to put law enforcement officers in each school. Just 25 of the state’s 67 school districts have approved the guardian programs; many of them are in rural areas.”

Pentagon Says U.S. Airstrikes and Raids Killed 120 Civilians in 2018, a Far Lower Number Than What Watchdog Groups Have ReportedThe New York Times, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “The American military killed 120 civilians in strikes, raids and firefights across two continents in 2018, the Pentagon said Thursday — a far lower number than what watchdog groups have reported…. In March, President Trump weakened a rule that requires the government to release the annual number of civilians killed in American airstrikes outside of war zones, nearly all of which would have been carried out by the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies…. Airwars, a nonprofit group that tracks reports of civilian deaths in conflict zones, said that the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State had killed between 800 and 1,700 civilians in Iraq and Syria in 2018. In Afghanistan, the United Nations found American-led airstrikes had killed more than 500 civilians last year. And in Somalia, Amnesty International reported that 14 civilians were killed in counterterrorism strikes and raids since 2017. The Pentagon has long touted its commitment to avoiding civilian casualties but has been criticized for an opaque reporting process and steps to ensure accountability.”

Trump Won’t Nominate Stephen Moore for a Seat on the Federal Reserve BoardThe New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Maggie Haberman, and Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “President Trump said on Thursday that he would not nominate Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, the second time in a month that concerns over a potential nominee’s treatment of women have torpedoed Mr. Trump’s attempt to place a loyalist at the Fed. The withdrawal of Mr. Moore, a conservative commentator and Trump campaign economic adviser, came after Republican lawmakers criticized his past comments about women, including that they should not earn more than men, along with financial issues stemming from a 2010 divorce. Several senators relayed those concerns to the White House this week and made clear that Mr. Moore did not have the votes to clear the Republican-controlled Senate.” See also, Stephen Moore, Trump’s choice for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, bows out amid scrutiny of past remarks about women and other topicsThe Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Seung Min Kim, and Damian Paletta, published on Friday, 3 May 2019. See also, Stephen Moore’s views are controversial. But polling shows they aren’t uncommon among Trump supporters. The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Thursday, 2 May 2019. See also, Trump Says Stephen Moore Decided to Withdraw From Consideration for a Seat on the Federal Reserve BoardThe Wall Street Journal, Paul Kiernan, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “President Trump said a second of his picks for a Federal Reserve position was out of consideration following resistance from Republican senators, a further setback to his efforts to place political allies at the central bank.”

F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant to Meet With Trump Aide George Papadopoulos in 2016The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia? The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia. The American government’s affiliation with the woman, who said her name was Azra Turk, is one previously unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flash point in the face of accusations by President Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances. Last year, he called it Spygate. The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the F.B.I. during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election, but could also give ammunition to Mr. Trump and his allies for their spying claims.”

Michael Bennet, Senator From Colorado, Is Running for PresidentThe New York Times, Julie Turkewitz, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “Michael Bennet, the moderate, studious Democratic senator from Colorado known for his work on education and immigration reform, announced his candidacy for president on Thursday. He joins a field so packed with candidates that it now includes six of his colleagues in the Senate and his former boss, John Hickenlooper, a past governor of Colorado. ‘I think this country faces two enormous challenges,’ he said in an interview on ‘CBS This Morning.’ ‘One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans, and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government.'” See also, Senator Michael F. Bennet of Colorado becomes the latest Democratic presidential candidateThe Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “Sen. Michael F. Bennet of Colorado, a champion of political moderation, announced Thursday that he would join the crowded Democratic presidential race.”

Trump’s New ‘Nasty’ Woman Is Kamala HarrisThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Thursday, 2 May 2019: “When President Trump said on Wednesday that Senator Kamala Harris was ‘probably very nasty’ in her questioning of Attorney General William P. Barr at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he brought back sharp memories for many Democrats. During the final presidential debate in 2016, Mr. Trump described Hillary Clinton as ‘a nasty woman,’ a phrase that drew disgust from many critics, spawned countless memes and merchandise and became a feminist rallying cry.”