Trump Administration, Week 121: Friday, 10 May – Thursday, 16 May 2019 (Days 841-847)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. 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, 10 May 2019, Day 841:


Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subpoenas Trump Tax ReturnsThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 10 May 2019: “The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service on Friday, disregarding the Treasury secretary’s refusal this week to hand over six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns and demanding access. The subpoenas from Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, amounted to an unexpected shift in tactics in the yearslong Democratic effort to secure tax returns that Mr. Trump has refused to release. Mr. Mnuchin had rejected a request for the returns made under a little-known provision of the federal tax code that dates back to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration nearly a century ago. So Mr. Neal is turning to a more conventional avenue: the subpoena.” See also, House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal subpoenas Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig over Trump tax returnsThe Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Friday, 10 May 2019. See also, Democrats subpoena Trump’s tax returns in escalating fight with White HousePolitico, Brian Faler and Aaron Lorenzo, Friday, 10 May 2019.

Former White House counsel Donald McGahn refused request by White House to say Trump did not obstruct justice after the release of the Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 10 May 2019: “President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Donald McGahn issue a public statement last month that he did not believe the president had engaged in criminal conduct when he sought to exert control over the Russia investigation — a request McGahn declined, according to people familiar with the episode.”  See also, White House Asked Former Counsel Donald McGahn to Declare Publicly That Trump Never Obstructed JusticeThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 10 May 2019: “White House officials asked at least twice in the past month for the key witness against President Trump in the Mueller report, Donald F. McGahn II, to say publicly that he never believed the president obstructed justice, according to two people briefed on the requests. Mr. Trump asked White House officials to make the request to Mr. McGahn, who was the president’s first White House counsel, one of the people said. Mr. McGahn declined. His reluctance angered the president, who believed that Mr. McGahn showed disloyalty by telling investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about Mr. Trump’s attempts to maintain control over the Russia investigation.” See also, Former White House Counsel Don McGahn Rebuffed Trump’s Request to Say He Didn’t Obstruct JusticeThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Friday, 10 May 2019: “Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter.”

House Approves Disaster Relief and Puerto Rico Aid Over Trump’s OppositionThe New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Friday, 10 May 2019: “The House on Friday again approved a huge emergency relief bill for farmers and communities hit by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, escalating a standoff with President Trump, who has resisted more aid to Puerto Rico and demanded additional money for immigration enforcement. Thirty-four House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in approving the emergency package, which passed 257 to 150 and would send $19.1 billion in relief and recovery assistance across the country and give a quick cash infusion to farmers swamped by floods and caught in the president’s trade war. The package builds on a measure that was initially passed in January, in the midst of a government shutdown, and rejected by the Senate for not accommodating the floods that recently devastated the Midwest. That flood relief was included in the package passed on Friday, which should intensify pressure on the Senate to reach an agreement with or without the president.” See also, House passes Trump-opposed disaster-relief bill with more funding for Puerto RicoThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 10 May 2019.

Continue reading Week 121, Friday, 10 May – Thursday, 16 May 2019 (Days 841-847)

Democrats ask federal watchdog (the Government Accountability Office)  to examine ‘unprecedented’ immigration backlogThe Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner, Friday, 10 May 2019: “More than 80 Democratic members of Congress have asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation into the ‘record-breaking’ backlog of immigration cases pending under the Trump administration. ‘Processing delays for applications and immigration benefits have reached crisis levels and these delays are hurting families and businesses that depend on timely adjudications,’ Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and 81 other lawmakers wrote in a letter, submitted Friday to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the letter Friday. The lawmakers specifically criticized U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, saying they are ‘alarmed’ that the agency ‘is adjudicating cases at an increasingly slow pace compared to previous years.'”

Pentagon is shifting $1.5 billion to border wall constructionAssociated Press, Robert Burns, Friday, 10 May 2019: “The Pentagon is shifting $1.5 billion in funds originally targeted for support of the Afghan security forces and other projects to help pay for construction of nearly 80 miles (130 kilometers) of wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, officials said Friday. Congress was notified of the move Friday. It follows the Pentagon’s decision in March to transfer $1 billion from Army personnel budget accounts to support wall construction. Some lawmakers have been highly critical of the Pentagon shifting money not originally authorized for border security. The combined total of $2.5 billion is in response to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border, where Customs and Border Protection personnel are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of Central American families attempting to gain entry. Trump vetoed Congress’ attempt to reverse his emergency declaration. In all, the Pentagon is expected to shift about $6.1 billion to help build a border wall, including about $3.6 billion from military construction projects, some of which will be delayed. The Pentagon has not yet announced which projects will be delayed in order to free up those funds.” See also, Pentagon Shifts $1.5 Billion to Border Wall From Afghan War Budget and Other Military ProjectsThe New York Times, Helene Cooper, Friday, 10 May 2019. See also, Pentagon will pull money from ballistic missile and surveillance plane programs to fund border wallThe Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, published on Sunday, 12 May 2019.

Trump Renews Trade War as China Talks End Without a DealThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport and Ana Swanson, Friday, 10 May 2019: “Trade talks between China and the United States ended on Friday without a deal as President Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and signaled he was prepared for a prolonged economic fight. Mr. Trump, who only weeks ago predicted a signing ceremony for an ‘epic’ trade deal with President Xi Jinping of China, reclaimed his stance of threatening Beijing and insisting his approach would help the American economy.”

Trump said it would be ‘appropriate’ for him to discuss launching an investigation into Joe Biden with Attorney General Bill BarrPolitico, Eliana Johnson, Darren Samuelsohn, Andrew Restuccia, and Daniel Lippman, Friday, 10 May 2019: “President Donald Trump told POLITICO on Friday that it would be ‘appropriate’ for him to speak to Attorney General Bill Barr about launching an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, or his son, Hunter. The question of whether Trump could pressure Barr to probe Biden is coming under scrutiny after Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said he would be traveling to Ukraine to urge the incoming government there to look at Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company that has reportedly been in prosecutors’ crosshairs. The efforts appear to be part of a broader campaign by Trump’s allies to damage the former Democratic vice president’s White House campaign and have raised questions about whether Trump’s team is trying to enlist a foreign government to aid the president’s re-election bid.” See also, Trump says it would be ‘appropriate’ for him to talk to Attorney General William Barr about launching an investigation into Joe BidenThe Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Friday, 10 May 2019: “President Trump said Friday he thinks it would be ‘appropriate’ for him to talk to Attorney General William P. Barr about opening an investigation into Joe Biden, the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an interview with Politico, Trump said he and Barr hadn’t considered an inquiry into his potential 2020 opponent — but he didn’t rule it out, either, saying “certainly it would be an appropriate thing to” discuss with Barr…. The suggestion that Trump would contemplate directing his Justice Department to investigate Biden drew condemnation from some legal experts, who said the idea smacked of an abuse of power. ‘Does anyone doubt that this could have catastrophic consequences for democratic and electoral legitimacy?’ said Susan Hennessey, executive editor of Lawfare, on Twitter. ‘Yet we seem to be hurtling towards this possibility with no one, certainly not congressional Republicans, drawing the line.'”

Exclusive: Presidential hopeful Joe Biden is looking for ‘middle ground’ climate policyReuters, Valerie Volcovici, Friday, 10 May 2019: “Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists. The backbone of the policy will likely include the United States re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who is part of a team advising Biden on climate change. She previously advised President Barack Obama. The second source, a former energy department official advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.” See also, Joe Biden’s 2020 Rivals Attack Him From the Left on Climate ChangeThe New York Times, Lisa Friedman, published on Saturday, 11 May 2019: “Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s 2020 rivals and a group of progressive environmental organizations are attacking him as being weak on climate change, a sign of the central role global warming is shaping up to play as an issue in the Democratic primary…. ‘There is no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy,’ Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, who has centered his campaign around climate change, praised Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama for making ‘historic progress’ on climate change but added: ‘We cannot simply go back to the past. We need a bold climate plan for our future.’ Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has jumped into the fray, calling Mr. Biden’s plan ‘a dealbreaker.’ The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led environmental group and an architect of the Green New Deal, slammed Mr. Biden as issuing ‘a death sentence for our generation.'”


Saturday, 11 May 2019, Day 842:


Facing Withering Attacks Accusing Him of Seeking Foreign Assistance for Trump’s Re-election Campaign, Rudy Giuliani Cancels His Trip to UkraineThe New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Saturday, 11 May 2019: “Facing withering attacks accusing him of seeking foreign assistance for President Trump’s re-election campaign, Rudolph W. Giuliani announced on Friday night that he had canceled a trip to Kiev in which he planned to push the incoming Ukrainian government to press ahead with investigations that he hoped would benefit Mr. Trump. Mr. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, explained that he felt like he was being ‘set up,’ and he blamed Democrats for trying to ‘spin’ the trip…. Mr. Giuliani said on Thursday that he had hoped to meet in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, with the nation’s president-elect and urge him to pursue inquiries that could yield new information about two matters of intense interest to Mr. Trump. One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.”

Trump and his allies are blocking more than 20 separate Democratic probes in an all-out war with CongressThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim, Saturday, 11 May 2019: “President Trump and his allies are working to block more than 20 separate investigations by Democrats into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration’s policies, according to a Washington Post analysis, amounting to what many experts call the most expansive White House obstruction effort in decades. Trump’s noncooperation strategy has shifted from partial resistance to all-out war as he faces mounting inquiries from the Democratic-controlled House — a strategy that many legal and congressional experts fear could undermine the institutional power of Congress for years to come. All told, House Democrats say the Trump administration has failed to respond to or comply with at least 79 requests for documents or other information.”

A Half-Century of School Shootings Like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and ParklandThe New York Times, Weiyi Cai and Jugal K. Patel, Saturday, 11 May 2019: “A shooting at a school in Highlands Ranch, Colo., on Tuesday in which one student was killed and eight others were injured swiftly drew comparisons to the 1999 attack on nearby Columbine High School and the dozens of shootings like it in the years since. The attack was the fourth such school shooting in the Denver area and at least the 111th in the country since 1970, according to a New York Times analysis — the latest in a decades-long series of violent episodes that have shocked the nation and traumatized generations of students. The Times examined hundreds of episodes in a database of shootings at elementary, middle and high schools to identify those cases where, like at Highlands Ranch and Columbine, the assailants planned their attacks and fired indiscriminately.”

Leaked Letters Reveal Details of National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre’s Alleged SpendingThe Wall Street Journal, Mark Maremont, Saturday, 11 May 2019: “National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre billed the group’s ad agency $39,000 for one day of shopping at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique, $18,300 for a car and driver in Europe and had the agency cover $13,800 in rent for a summer intern, according to newly revealed NRA internal documents. The documents, posted anonymously on the internet, provide new details of the clothing, travel and other expenses totaling more than $542,000 that Ackerman McQueen Inc. alleges Mr. LaPierre billed to it.”


Sunday, 12 May 2019, Day 843:


Trump’s Trade War Escalation With China Will Exact Economic Pain, Says Larry Kudlow, Trump’s Chief Economic Adviser and Director of the National Economic CouncilThe New York Times, Jeanna Smialek, Jim Tankersley, and Mark Landler, Sunday, 12 May 2019: “President Trump’s chief economic adviser said on Sunday that American consumers would bear some pain from the escalating trade war with China, contradicting Mr. Trump’s claim that his tariffs are a multibillion-dollar, mostly one-way payment by China to the American Treasury. The comments from Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, came after the 11th round of trade negotiations broke off without a deal, prompting Mr. Trump to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products and begin a process to impose levies on nearly every product China exports to the United States.”

Suddenly, conservative lawyers are condemning Trump for abuses of powerLos Angeles Times, Doyle McManus, Sunday, 12 May 2019: “Washington seems to be barreling toward a constitutional crisis. Democrats are barraging President Trump with demands for witnesses and documents. Trump has answered by stonewalling, vowing to fight ‘all the subpoenas.’  As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned, Trump seems to be goading the Democratic-controlled House toward impeachment, perhaps because it’s a battle he thinks he can win. Politicians on both sides are repairing to their tribal corners…. Even as Republicans in Congress have fallen in line to defend Trump at every turn, a surprising number of conservative lawyers have broken ranks and are condemning the president for abuses of power and denouncing his blanket claims of executive privilege.”


Monday, 13 May 2019, Day 844:


White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq WarThe New York Times, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes, Monday, 13 May 2019: “At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said. The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. They do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said. The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.”

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Far-Right Leader, Gets a Warm Welcome From TrumpThe New York Times, Peter Baker, Monday, 13 May 2019: “President Trump lavished praise on Monday on Viktor Orban, the authoritarian prime minister of Hungary and one of Europe’s leading nationalists, brushing aside concerns about his rollback of democratic institutions and warming ties with Russia…. For Mr. Orban, the American president’s embrace was a welcome affirmation, not to mention a striking contrast to the chilly reception he often gets from European leaders who see him as a threat to their vision of a modern, integrated and pluralistic continent. Mr. Orban has vowed to build “an alternative to liberal democracy,” casting himself as a defender of a Christian homeland against Muslim migrants. Mr. Orban is just the latest of the world’s strongmen to find a warm reception in Mr. Trump’s White House. The president has hosted or praised autocrats from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines and Kazakhstan, ‘fell in love’ with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and upended his entire Syria policy after a phone call with Turkey’s iron-fisted leader, triggering the resignation in protest of his own defense secretary.” See also, ‘He’s a tough man’: During White House visit, Trump shrugs off concerns about Viktor Orban, Hungary’s hard-right leaderThe Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Monday, 13 May 2019: “President Trump delighted Monday in welcoming Hungary’s hard-right leader [Viktor Orban] to the White House, an invitation the two most recent U.S. presidents — one a Democrat and one a Republican — had purposefully not extended…. In office for nine years this time and once before for four, Orban has morphed from a crusading anti-Soviet reformer embraced by President Bill Clinton to an increasingly autocratic figure who has erected a fence along his country’s southern border to keep out migrants and asylum seekers.”

Attorney General William Barr Assigns John Durham, Top Federal Prosecutor in Connecticut, To Review the Origins of the Russia InquiryThe New York Times, Adam Goldman, Charlie Savage, and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 13 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful. John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees. His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates.” See also, Attorney General William Barr taps John Durham, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, to investigate the origins of the Russia investigationThe Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 13 May 2019. See also, Scrutiny of Russia Investigation Is Said to Be a Review, Not a Criminal InquiryThe New York Times, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Nicholas Fandos, published on Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “The federal prosecutor tapped to scrutinize the origins of the Russia investigation is conducting only a review for now and has not opened any criminal inquiry, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday…. The distinction means that Mr. Durham for now will not wield the sort of law enforcement powers that come with an open criminal investigation, such as the ability to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify. Instead, he will have the authority only to read documents the government has already gathered and to request voluntary witness interviews.”

Trade Dispute Between U.S. and China Deepens and Beijing RetaliatesThe New York Times, Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher, Monday, 13 May 2019: “The United States and China intensified their trade dispute on Monday, as Beijing said it would increase tariffs on nearly $60 billion worth of American goods and the Trump administration detailed plans to tax nearly every sneaker, computer, dress and handbag that China exports to the United States. The escalation thrust the world’s two largest economies back into confrontation. While President Trump said on Monday that he would meet with China’s president, Xi Jinping, next month in Japan, the stakes are only increasing as the president continues to taunt and threaten China, causing it to retaliate on American businesses.”

Supreme Court’s conservatives overturn precedent as liberals ask ‘which cases the court will overrule next,’ The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 13 May 2019: “The Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned a 40-year-old precedent Monday, prompting a pointed warning from liberal justices about ‘which cases the court will overrule next.’ The issue in Monday’s 5-to-4 ruling was one of limited impact: whether states have sovereign immunity from private lawsuits in the courts of other states. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to such immunity, although states are free to extend it to one another and often do. But the court’s conservative majority overruled that decision, saying there was an implied right in the Constitution that means states ‘could not be haled involuntarily before each other’s courts,’ in the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote Monday’s decision.” See also, Supreme Court Justices Split Over the Power of PrecedentThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 13 May 2019: “Overruling a 40-year-old precedent, the Supreme Court said on Monday that states may not be sued in the courts of other states. The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority. The ruling itself will probably not be particularly consequential, as most states already grant sovereign immunity to other states, shielding them from lawsuits. By one count, there have been only 14 cases in the past 40 years in which one state allowed another to be sued in its courts. The decision was more important for its discussion of when precedents may be overruled. In dissent, after repeatedly citing a 1992 decision that reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he feared for the future. ‘Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next,’ he wrote.”

Sunrise Movement Calls for Mass Climate Demonstration Outside Democratic Debate in Detroit in JulyThe Intercept, Rachel M. Cohen and Aida Chávez, Monday, 13 May 2019: “On Monday night, at the final stop on the Sunrise Movement’s ‘Road to a Green New Deal’ tour across the United States, the group called for a mass youth-led mobilization to pressure Democratic candidates to make the 2020 election a referendum on climate change. On July 30, the scheduled date for the the second Democratic presidential debate, Sunrise hopes to bring tens of thousands of young people to Detroit to present all the Democratic contenders with three demands: Sign the no fossil fuel money pledge; commit to making the Green New Deal a day one priority if elected president; pledge support for a presidential debate on climate change so voters can hear where candidates stand on the issues.”

Before Trump’s purge at the Department of Homeland Security, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrestsThe Washington Post, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 13 May 2019: “In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities. According to seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, the administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed ‘zero tolerance’ prosecution push in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants — including families with children. The sprawling operation included an effort to fast-track immigration court cases, allowing the government to obtain deportation orders against those who did not show for their hearings — officials said 90 percent of those targeted were found deportable in their absence. The subsequent arrests would have required coordinated raids against parents with children in their homes and neighborhoods. But Vitiello and Nielsen halted it, concerned about a lack of preparation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border. Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence were especially supportive of the plan, officials said, eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families.” See also, The Trump Administration Is Deporting Thousands of Migrant Families for Missing a HearingVice News, Emily Green, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The Washington Post reported Monday that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello were forced out in part because they opposed a blitz of raids in major U.S. cities that would have also included fast-track deportations of people who missed a court hearing. While the plan has been tabled for the time being, it remains under consideration. ‘We have seen this administration target specific locations for raids in the past, or specific populations, but what we haven’t seen is any plan for an operation this big,’ said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council. And yet fast-tracking of deportations is already happening. Thousands of newly arrived migrant families living in major U.S. cities are being targeted for deportation under a new Justice Department immigration docket that seeks to get around a years-long immigration court backlog. That docket currently received 40,000 cases from September 24, 2018 through April 26, 2019 for 10 major U.S. cities. Of the 8,000 cases that have been completed, more than 6,700 parents and children have been ordered deported “in absentia” because they missed a court hearing. Most of the affected families are in New York, Miami, Houston and Atlanta. The Department of Justice confirmed that data, and noted that it has been prioritizing processing of migrant families since November.”


Tuesday, 14 May 2019, Day 845:


Alabama Lawmakers Vote to Effectively Ban Abortion in the StateThe New York Times, Timothy Williams and Alan Blinder, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “The Alabama Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest — a subject of fierce debate among lawmakers in recent days.” See also, 2020 Democrats Condemn Alabama Abortion Measure and Vow to Fight ItThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, published on Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for president roundly condemned a measure approved by the Alabama Senate on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, calling it an outrageous, appalling and unconstitutional attack on women that they vowed to challenge. Among the measure’s most forceful critics were the leading women candidates: Senator Kamala Harris of California, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has made fighting for women central to her campaign.” See also, Alabama Senate passes nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, which makes no exceptions for victims of rape and incestThe Washington Post, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Chip Brownlee, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “Alabama lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban virtually all abortions in the state — including for victims of rape and incest — sending the strictest law in the nation to the state’s Republican governor, who is expected to sign it. The measure permits abortion only when necessary to save a mother’s life, an unyielding standard that runs afoul of federal court rulings. Those who backed the new law said they don’t expect it to take effect, instead intending its passage to be part of a broader strategy by antiabortion activists to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.”

House Intelligence Committee Investigates Obstruction Claims Against Trump LawyersThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether lawyers tied to President Trump and his family helped obstruct the panel’s inquiry into Russian election interference by shaping false testimony, a series of previously undisclosed letters from its chairman show. The line of inquiry stems from claims made by the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who told Congress earlier this year that the lawyers in question helped edit false testimony that he provided to Congress in 2017 about a Trump Tower project in Moscow. Mr. Cohen said they also dangled a potential pardon to try to ensure his loyalty.”

It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human historyThe Washington Post, Jason Samenow, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history. By themselves, these are just data points. But taken together with so many indicators of an altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change…. Saturday’s carbon dioxide measurement of 415 parts per million at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory is the highest in at least 800,000 years and probably over 3 million years. Carbon dioxide levels have risen by nearly 50 percent since the Industrial Revolution.”

Elizabeth Warren Calls Fox News a ‘Hate-for-Profit Racket’ and Refuses an AppearanceThe New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum and Matt Stevens, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday broke from her Democratic rivals by declining to participate in a Fox News town hall, denouncing the cable news channel as ‘a hate-for-profit racket’ that seeks to turns Americans against one another. In the harshest criticism to date from a presidential contender against Fox News, Ms. Warren used a series of Twitter messages to accuse the network of giving ‘a megaphone to racists and conspiracists’ and providing cover for corruption. She also returned to one of her campaign’s central themes, framing the channel as the sort of corporate ‘profit machine’ she has railed against. ‘Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet,’ Ms. Warren wrote. ‘It’s all about dragging in ad money — big ad money. A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it’s safe to buy ads on Fox,’ she continued. ‘I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate.'” See also, ‘A hate-for-profit racket’: Elizabeth Warren refuses Fox town hall invitationPolitico, Alex Thompson, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “The Massachusetts senator sets herself apart from Bernie Sanders and other Democrats who’ve played ball with the network.” See also, Elizabeth Warren says no to a Fox News town hall, calling the outlet a ‘hate-for-profit racket,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Tuesday, 14 May 2019.

Steve Bullock, Democratic Governor of Montana, Is Running for PresidentThe New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, who was twice elected to lead a state that President Trump carried by more than 20 points, entered the Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, vowing to elevate the issue of campaign finance and, more implicitly, to make Democrats competitive again across the country’s interior.” See also, Where Steve Bullock Stands on the IssuesThe New York Times, Maggie Astor, Tuesday, 14 May 2019. See also, Montana Governor Steve Bullock jumps into crowded 2020 presidential raceThe Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Tuesday, 14 May 2019.

Donald Trump Jr. Strikes Deal for ‘Limited’ Interview With the Senate Intelligence CommitteeThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 14 May 2019: “Donald Trump Jr. and the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee reached a deal on Tuesday for the president’s eldest son to sit for a private interview with senators in the coming weeks that will be limited in time, an accord that should cool a heated intraparty standoff. The deal came after an aggressive push by the younger Trump’s allies, who accused the Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, of caving to Democrats by issuing a subpoena for the president’s son’s testimony. They called the effort a political hit job against the White House, using the president’s son as fodder. Mr. Burr told fellow Republican senators last week that the president’s son had twice agreed to voluntary interviews but had not shown up, forcing the subpoena.”


Wednesday, 15 March 2019, Day 846:


U.S. orders ‘non-emergency’ government employees to leave IraqThe Washington Post, Louisa Loveluck, Michael Brinbaum, and Griff Witte, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The State Department on Wednesday ordered all ‘non-emergency U.S. government employees’ to leave Iraq amid soaring tensions with Iran, which backs proxy forces there. It said in a statement that the announcement affects both the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Baghdad, and a consulate in the northern city of Irbil.” See also, U.S. Orders Partial Evacuation of Embassy in BaghdadThe New York Times, Edward Wong, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The State Department ordered a partial evacuation of the United States Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, responding to what the Trump administration said was a threat linked to Iran, one that has led to an accelerated movement of American ships and bombers into the Persian Gulf…. Iraqi officials have voiced skepticism about the threat described by the Americans, and on Tuesday, so did the British deputy commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS.”

No ‘do-over’ on Mueller probe, White House lawyer tells the House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler, saying demands for records and staff testimony will be refusedThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, and Rachael Bade, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The White House’s top lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee chairman Wednesday that Congress has no right to a ‘do-over’ of the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump and refused a broad demand for records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staffers. White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) constitutes a sweeping rejection — not just of Nadler’s request for White House records but of Congress’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice. In his letter, Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump’s business have begun making — that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose to investigate the questions it is pursuing.” See also, White House Again Rejects Democrats’ Requests for Documents in Corruption InquiryThe New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The White House on Wednesday rejected another round of document requests from the House, expanding on its assertions that Democrats in Congress lacked a legitimate legislative purpose for the demands and were inappropriately replicating the work of the special counsel…. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called the letter ‘outrageous.’ ‘They say the Justice Department can’t hold him accountable since a sitting president cannot be indicted,’ Mr. Nadler said. ‘And now they’re saying that Congress cannot hold a president accountable. This is ridiculous.'”

7 States Have Passed Bills This Year to Narrow the Window for AbortionThe New York Times, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “Alabama legislators on Tuesday voted to ban abortions in nearly all cases, making the state the seventh this year to pass abortion restrictions that could challenge the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade. Alabama’s bill is the first outright ban on abortion; other measures limited the procedure to earlier in pregnancy. [This article covers] how limits on abortion have changed across the states this year.” See also, Which states are blocking abortion, and which are enacting protections? The Washington Post, Dan Keating, Lauren Tierney, Tim Meko, and Danielle Rindler, Wednesday, 15 May 2019.

The Trump Administration Says It Won’t Sign Global Pact for Tougher Measures on Online ExtremismThe New York Times, Adam Satariano, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The White House said on Wednesday that it would not sign an international accord intended to pressure the largest internet platforms to eradicate violent and extremist content, highlighting a broader divide between the United States and other countries about the role of government in determining what content is acceptable on the internet…. The White House’s statement came on a day when President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand were gathered in Paris to sign what they call the ‘Christchurch Call.’ The agreement was crafted in the wake of a terrorist attack that left 51 Muslim worshipers dead. The attack on multiple mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand was live streamed on Facebook and spread virally across the internet.” See also, White House declines to back Christchurch call to stamp out online extremism amid free speech concernsThe Washington Post, Tony Romm and Drew Harwell, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The United States on Wednesday broke with 18 governments and top American tech firms by declining to endorse a New Zealand-led response to the live-streamed shootings at two Christchurch mosques, saying free-speech concerns prevented the White House from formally signing onto the largest campaign to date targeting extremism online. The ‘Christchurch Call,’ unveiled at an international gathering in Paris, commits foreign countries and tech giants to be more vigilant about the spread of hate on social media. It reflects heightened global frustrations with the inability of Facebook, Google and Twitter to restrain hateful posts, photos and videos that have spawned real-world violence. Leaders from across the globe pledged to counter online extremism, including through new regulation, and to ‘encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online.’ Companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter, meanwhile, said they’d work more closely to ensure their sites don’t become conduits for terrorism. They also committed to accelerated research and information sharing with governments in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.”

The misleading narrative in Trump’s tumble of trade tweetsThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “As we have noted for years, President Trump appears to have little understanding of trade and trade policy, even though it is an animating element of his presidency. As the trade war with China has heated up, the president’s itchy Twitter finger has been busy with a fusillade of false or misleading tweets. Whether the president knows these claims are untrue is unclear, but the overall effect is to create a distinct winner-takes-all narrative for his trade policy. [This article covers] some of the major themes.”

Air Marshals Are the Latest Officials Diverted to the Border to Handle the Surge of MigrantsThe New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The Department of Homeland Security has pulled federal agents from airports, from legal border crossings and from deep inside the United States and reassigned them to the southwestern border to grapple with a surge of incoming migrants. The Transportation Security Administration requested a few hundred volunteers to deploy to the border to transport migrants, distribute meals and provide legal support, a department official said on Wednesday. The agents, some of whom will come from the Federal Air Marshal Service and from the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team, usually provide security at airports and on airplanes while undercover, according to four department officials.”

Trump Immigration Proposal Emphasizes Immigrants’ Skills Over Family TiesThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “President Trump on Thursday will unveil a plan to overhaul parts of the nation’s immigration system that would impose new security measures at the border and significantly increase the educational and skills requirements for people allowed to migrate to the United States. The proposal, senior administration officials said on Wednesday, would vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration that for decades has allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them, the officials said. In its place, the new plan would provide opportunities for immigrants who have specific skills or job offers to work in the United States, provided they can demonstrate English proficiency and educational attainment, and pass a civics exam. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, spent months working on the plan, which will serve as a central part of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign message. Working with him was Stephen Miller, the president’s top immigration adviser, but the plan falls short of the more extreme measures that Mr. Miller has long pressed the president to adopt and that have long been opposed by Democrats in Congress.” See also, Trump wants a different kind of immigrant: Highly skilled workers who speak English and have job offersThe Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “Enough with the cheap labor and the extended family members, and it’s time to be a little more discerning about the tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to come to America. Such is the mantra of the Trump administration this week as it outlined a new plan to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. President Trump has spent the first half of his presidency pushing aggressively for policies that he believes will halt the flow of Central American migrants across the U.S. southern border. But he’s not opposed to immigration, his aides say. He just wants a different kind of immigrant. More specifically, according to the plan described Wednesday by senior administration officials, Trump wants English-speaking doctors or engineers with high-salaried job offers and the ability to pass an AP civics test.” See also, Trump prepares to unveil broad immigration plan but shows no signs of tempering hard-line rhetoricThe Washington Post, David Nakamura and Ashley Parker, Wednesday, 15 May 2019. See also, Trump’s plan to overhaul legal immigration draws cool receptionThe Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and David Nakamura, published on Thursday, 16 May 2019. See also, Trump’s Immigration Plan Gets a Rose Garden Rollout and a Cool ReceptionThe New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 16 May 2019.

The Complicity of Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban DevelopmentRolling Stone, Jamil Smith, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “Ben Carson has a new rule that may force tens of thousands of children into homelessness, all because Trump tells us we should hate their undocumented relatives. More than 45 years after Trump and his father were busted by the federal government for shielding their properties from black tenants, Trump now has a black deputy trying to use the federal government to kick mostly brown and black citizens and legal immigrants out of their homes.”

Trump Grants Pardon to Conrad BlackThe New York Times, Annie Karni, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “President Trump on Wednesday granted a full pardon to Conrad M. Black, the former press baron and onetime society fixture who was found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007. The pardon of Mr. Black, a political ally and longtime associate of Mr. Trump’s, was the latest example of the president using one of the unilateral powers of his office to absolve a high-profile public figure whose case resonates with him personally, bucking the more traditional practice of sifting through thousands of pardon applications awaiting his review…. His pardon of Mr. Black, a personal friend and the author of pro-Trump opinion pieces as well as a flattering book, ‘Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,’ is his first since the release of the special counsel’s report, which did not come to any conclusion on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.” See also, Trump pardons billionaire friend Conrad Black, who wrote a glowing book about himThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 15 May 2019.

Iran Threat Debate Is Set Off by Images of Missiles at SeaThe New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt, Nicholas Fandos, and Edward Wong, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The intelligence that caused the White House to escalate its warnings about a threat from Iran came from photographs of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that were put on board by Iranian paramilitary forces, three American officials said…. But just how alarmed the Trump administration should be over the new intelligence is a subject of fierce debate among the White House, the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and America’s allies. The photographs presented a different kind of threat than previously seen from Iran, said the three officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it publicly…. But other officials — including Europeans, Iraqis, members of both parties in Congress and some senior officials within the Trump administration — said Iran’s moves might mostly be defensive against what Tehran believes are provocative acts by Washington.”

Trump signs order to protect U.S. networks from foreign espionage, a move that appears to target ChinaThe Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The Trump administration on Wednesday slapped a major Chinese firm with an extreme penalty that makes it very difficult for it to do business with any U.S. company, a dramatic escalation of the economic clash between the two nations. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said it was adding Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to its ‘Entity List,’ known to some as the ‘death penalty.’ This listing makes it virtually impossible for companies to survive once U.S. firms are discouraged from doing business with them. The Commerce Department said it had reached this decision because Huawei ‘is engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interest.’ Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, and has significant backing from the Chinese government. The Justice Department has accused it of violating Iran sanctions, among other things.”


Thursday, 16 May 2019, Day 847:


Missouri Senate passes bill to ban abortions at 8 weeksAssociated Press, Summer Ballentine, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “Missouri’s Republican-led Senate has now passed a bill to ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy. Senators approved the legislation 24-10 early Thursday with just hours left before a Friday deadline to pass bills. It needs at least one more vote of approval in the GOP-led House before it can go to Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who voiced support for it on Wednesday.” See also, Missouri Senate joins wave of states passing strict anti-abortion billsThe Washington Post, Lindsey Bever, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “With more and more conservative states pushing stringent antiabortion legislation, Republican lawmakers in Missouri passed a bill that aims to make it what the governor called ‘one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.’ Early Thursday morning — just hours before a Friday deadline to pass legislation — Missouri’s Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-10 to pass the bill, which would ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, according to the Associated Press. The bill is headed to the Republican-controlled House for approval and, if it passes, it will be sent to Republican Gov. Mike Parson for signing.”

Trump Tells Patrick Shanahan, the Acting Secretary of Defense, That He Does Not Want War With IranThe New York Times, Mark Landler, Maggie Haberman, and Eric Schmitt, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “President Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions. Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, sent a message to his hawkish aides that he does not want the intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict. For now, an administration that had appeared to be girding for conflict seems more determined to find a diplomatic off-ramp.” See also, Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack IranThe Washington Post, John Hudson, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, and Anne Gearan, published on Wednesday, 15 May 2019: “The Trump administration has been on high alert in response to what military and intelligence officials have deemed specific and credible threats from Iran against U.S. personnel in the Middle East. But President Trump is frustrated with some of his top advisers, who he thinks could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars, according to several U.S. officials. Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders.”

‘Nothing Has Been Done’: Khashoggi’s Fiancée Urges Action Against Saudi ArabiaThe New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of the slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi, implored lawmakers in wrenching testimony on Thursday to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for his death. Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post, disappeared in October after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his impending marriage to Ms. Cengiz. Turkish intelligence later concluded that Saudi agents quickly strangled Mr. Khashoggi and dismembered his body with a bone saw.”

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says he hasn’t ‘lost any sleep over’ levels of carbon dioxide that have just hit their highest  in human historyThe Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “House Democrats grilled Interior Secretary David Bernhardt about what his department is doing to address the causes and effects of climate change, noting that levels of carbon dioxide just hit their highest in human history. His response? ‘I haven’t lost any sleep over it.’ The exchange is the latest escalation between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration over what responsibility the Interior Department, which oversees more than 400 million acres of federal lands, bears in blunting a worldwide problem such as global warming. It came amid a barrage of legal citations from Democrats who claimed that current law compels the leader of the department to protect public lands from its impacts.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio Enters 2020 Race for PresidentThe New York Times, Jeffery C. Mays and William Neuman, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “Mayor Bill de Blasio rose to power by depicting New York as a ‘tale of two cities’ riven by income inequality, and then built his biggest successes like universal prekindergarten around that theme. Now he will test whether his platform can resonate on a national stage. Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, announced on Thursday that he was running for president, seeking to show that his brand of urban progressive leadership can be a model for the country, and that his familiarity with President Trump, a fellow New Yorker, made him best suited to defeat the president.” See also, Bill de Blasio’s Platform: Where He Stands on the IssuesThe New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Thursday, 16 May 2019. See also, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio adds his name to the Democratic presidential fieldThe Washington Post, Michael Scherer and John Wagner, Thursday, 16 May 2019:  “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the twice-elected chief executive of the nation’s largest city, announced Thursday that he is joining the Democratic field of presidential candidates, pledging in a campaign video that he would ‘put working people first. There’s plenty of money in this world. There’s plenty of money in this country. It’s just in the wrong hands,’ de Blasio says at the outset of the video, in which he recounts his liberal agenda as mayor and pledges to stand up to President Trump. ‘I’m a New Yorker. I’ve known Trump’s a bully for a long time. This is not news to me or anyone here, and I know how to take him on.'”

Judge orders public release of what Michael Flynn said in call to Russian ambassadorThe Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “A federal judge on Thursday ordered that prosecutors make public a transcript of a phone call that former national security adviser Michael Flynn tried hard to hide with a lie: his conversation with a Russian ambassador in late 2016. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington ordered the government also to provide a public transcript of a November 2017 voice mail involving Flynn. In that sensitive call, President Trump’s attorney left a message for Flynn’s attorney reminding him of the president’s fondness for Flynn at a time when Flynn was considering cooperating with federal investigators. The transcripts, which the judge ordered be posted on a court website by May 31, would reveal conversations at the center of two major avenues of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. So far they have been disclosed to the public only in fragments in court filings and the Mueller report.”

Mueller Testimony to Congress Is Stalled by Executive-Privilege ClaimThe Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Dustin Volz, and Aruna Viswanatha, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before a House panel has been stalled partly due to discussions on whether the White House’s assertion of executive privilege would limit his testimony, according to people familiar with the matter. The House Judiciary Committee and Mr. Mueller’s team have been in negotiations for days about the contours of the special counsel’s eagerly-awaited testimony about his 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and episodes in which President Trump allegedly sought to influence the investigation.”

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff promises to enforce subpoena for Mueller reportThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said Thursday his committee will meet next week to discuss holding Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt for ignoring the committee’s subpoena of the unredacted special counsel report and related documents. He also sent Barr a letter letting him know that the Justice Department’s refusal to adhere to the subpoena ‘leaves the Committee no choice but to initiate action next week to enforce the subpoena.'”

Attorney General William Barr Says He Isn’t Blocking Mueller’s Testimony to CongressThe Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “Attorney General William Barr denied he is standing in the way of special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, after the chairman of the House panel seeking his appearance accused the Justice Department of being unwilling to set a date.”

House Passes Legislation Aiming to Shore Up Health Law and Lower Drug CostsThe New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “The House on Thursday passed a suite of health care bills that tied shoring up the Affordable Care Act to lowering drug prices, as Democrats tried to hold Republicans to their campaign promises to secure coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and rein in the cost of prescription medicine. But Democratic leaders appeared to be focused less on the substance of the measures than on their likely demise in the Republican-controlled Senate.” See also, House passes legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and to boost generic drugsThe Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Thursday, 16 May 2019.

Mark Morgan, Trump’s choice for Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), says he can tell which migrant children will become gang members by looking into their eyesPolitico, Ted Hesson, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “Mark Morgan, the White House choice to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said during a Fox News interview earlier this year that he can judge the likelihood that an unaccompanied minor will become a gang member by looking into that child’s eyes. ‘I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under,’ Morgan said on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ in January. ‘I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.'”

Senate confirms Wendy Vitter as federal judge, despite Democrats’ objections over her opposition to abortionThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “The Senate on Thursday confirmed Wendy Vitter’s appointment to the federal bench, as Republicans overcame strong opposition from Democrats who criticized the nominee’s stand against abortion. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) was the only Republican to join Democrats and independents in opposing Vitter’s nomination, in the 52-to-45 vote…. Vitter stands as the 107th judge confirmed since Trump took office in January 2017, as he and McConnell have pushed to remake the courts, installing conservatives who will serve for years. Under Trump, the Republican-led Senate has confirmed two Supreme Court justices, 40 circuit court judges and 65 district court judges. Vitter drew ire from Democrats after a judicial watchdog group found statements she had made against abortion that were not included in the extensive background disclosure forms she was required to provide to the Senate.”

Trump judicial nominees decline to endorse Brown v. Board under Senate questioningThe Washington Post, Laura Meckler and Robert Barnes, Thursday, 16 May 2019: “For months, a Democratic senator has been asking Trump judicial nominees what appears to be a straightforward question: Was Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark decision that ended legalized school segregation, properly decided? Legal scholars across the ideological spectrum say the answer is clearly yes. Still, more than two dozen nominees have declined to answer the question at a time when many schools remain segregated by race.”