Trump Administration, Week 123: Friday, 24 May – Thursday, 30 May 2019 (Days 855-861)


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.


For “a weekly newsletter celebrating people-powered wins against the Trump administration’s agenda,” visit Small Victories. 

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Friday, 24 May 2019, Day 855:


Supreme Court Blocks Two Rulings Striking Down Voting MapsThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 24 May 2019: “The Supreme Court on Friday blocked rulings from federal courts in Ohio and Michigan that had struck down voting maps in those states as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. Both courts had found that Republican legislators had violated the Constitution by drawing voting districts to hurt the electoral chances of Democratic candidates. The Supreme Court’s move was expected. The justices will soon decide, in a second pair of cases, whether voting maps can ever be so warped by politics as to cross a constitutional line. The answer to that question, in pending cases from Maryland and North Carolina, will very likely affect the cases from Ohio and Michigan.” See also, Supreme Court says Ohio and Michigan do not have to come up with new maps immediatelyThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 24 May 2019: “The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold lower-court decisions that said Ohio and Michigan had to come up with new electoral maps because of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. The decision was not surprising, because the justices are currently considering whether judges should even have a role in policing partisan gerrymandering. There were no noted dissents in the orders for either state.”

Missouri Governor Mike Parson Signs Bill Outlawing Abortion After 8 WeeksThe New York Times, Mitch Smith, Friday, 24 May 2019: “Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri on Friday signed into law a bill outlawing abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, joining several other states this year in enacting measures designed to limit women’s access to the procedure. The decision by Mr. Parson, a Republican, was not a surprise. It continued a season of legislative success for conservatives who oppose abortion and who see an opening to ultimately press their case to the Supreme Court.”

Students around the world skip school to protest and demand action on climate changeThe Washington Post, Friday, 24 May 2019: “Students in scores of countries around the world skipped school on Friday to stage protests against governmental inaction on climate change and to demand that world leaders address the issue immediately. The coordinated action follows one in March, in which an estimated 1.6 million students from 125 countries protested instead of going to school. It was the latest event in a movement called Fridays for Future, in which young people periodically take action on climate change. The movement was sparked by a Swedish teenage activist named Greta Thunberg, who in 2018 led a solo protest in front of the Swedish parliament with a sign saying ‘School strike for the climate.’ Pictures she posted on her social media accounts went viral, and the movement was born.”

Continue reading Week 123, Friday, 24 May – Thursday, 30 May 2019 (Days 855-861)

Trump Administration Proposes Rollback of Transgender ProtectionsThe New York Times, Erica L. Green and Abby Goodnough, published on Friday, 24 May 2019: “The Trump administration has formally proposed to revise Obama-era civil rights for transgender people in the nation’s health care system, eliminating ‘gender identity’ as a factor in health care and leaning government policy toward recognizing only characteristics of sex at birth. The Department of Health and Human Services published its proposed regulation Friday, which eliminates a 2016 regulation inserted by the Obama administration that redefined discrimination ‘on the basis of sex” to include gender identity. The Obama administration adopted the rule in question in 2016 to carry out a civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act, known as Section 1557. That provision prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in ‘any health program or activity’ that receives federal financial assistance. The 2016 rule further defined the term ‘gender identity’ to mean a person’s ‘internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.'”

From the fringe to a meeting with Lara Trump: Groups go after minority voters with pleas to abandon the Democratic PartyThe Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Friday, 24 May 2019: “Nearly a year after a gay freelance hairstylist living in Harlem posted a Facebook video repudiating the Democratic Party, Brandon Straka found himself in Trump Tower Thursday speaking with Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and a senior campaign adviser. He was there to record a new video, this time for Donald Trump’s campaign Facebook page, trumpeting his efforts to convince people who identify as minorities — blacks, Latinos, gays, lesbians and the transgender — that they need to ‘walk away’ from Democrats, whom he argues belong to a party of ‘rage, hate and lies.’ That idea, spread on Fox News programs and conservative social media, is emerging as a central argument of the Trump reelection campaign’s efforts to win over minority communities and blunt attacks on Trump for having used racially divisive rhetoric and pushed policies that discriminate against the LGBT community.”

Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims on Agriculture, Trade, and Poll NumbersThe New York Times, Linda Qiu, Friday, 24 May 2019: “President Trump, at a news conference with farmers and ranchers on Thursday, made misleading or false statements about agricultural data, union support of a renegotiated trade deal, and his approval ratings.”

Trump approves sending more forces to the Middle East amid tensions with IranThe Washington Post, Pal Sonne and Missy Ryan, Friday, 24 May 2019: “The Trump administration, facing rising tensions with Iran, plans to reinforce its military presence in the Middle East by sending another few thousand forces to the region to step up missile defense and surveillance, according to U.S. officials. The decision to send the additional forces to U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations across the Middle East, was made late Thursday during a meeting at the White House between President Trump and top Pentagon leaders, the officials said.” See also, Trump Approves Modest Increase of About 1.500 Troops in the Middle EastThe New York Times, Helene Cooper, Friday, 24 May 2019.

Federal judge temporarily blocks part of Trump’s plan to build border wallThe Washington Post, Fred Barbash, Friday, 24 May 2019: “A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of President Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border with money Congress never appropriated for that purpose. U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., of the Northern District of California, said those challenging Trump’s actions had a good chance of prevailing on their claims that the administration is acting illegally in shifting money from other programs to pay for the wall. With some contracts already awarded for construction, Gilliam said that allowing work to go forward before the legal issues have been fully resolved could cause irreparable harm.” See also, Federal Judge Blocks Part of Trump’s Plan to Build Border WallThe New York Times, Jose A. Del Real, Friday, 24 May 2019.

Attorney General William Barr could expose secrets and politicize intelligence with review of Russia investigation, current and former officials fearThe Washington Post, Shane Harris, Friday, 24 May 2019: “President Trump’s new executive order giving the attorney general broad authority to declassify government secrets threatens to expose U.S. intelligence sources and could distort the FBI and CIA’s roles in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, current and former U.S. officials said. On Thursday, Trump allowed Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify information he finds during his review of what the White House called ‘surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election.’ Trump has long complained that the U.S. government engaged in illegal ‘spying’ on his campaign, alleging without evidence that his phones were tapped and that American officials conspired with British counterparts in an effort to undermine his bid for the White House. It appeared unprecedented to give an official who is not in charge of an intelligence agency the power to reveal its secrets. Current and former intelligence officials said they were concerned that Barr could selectively declassify information that paints the intelligence agencies and the FBI in a bad light without giving a complete picture of their efforts in 2016.” See also, Attorney General William Barr Got More Power to Review the Russia Inquiry. Here’s What We Know About Its Origins. The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Friday, 24 May 2019. See also, Potential Clash Over Secrets Looms Between the Justice Department and the C.I.A.The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and David E. Sanger, Friday, 24 May 2019: “President Trump’s order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation sets up a potential confrontation with the C.I.A. It effectively strips the agency of its most critical power: choosing which secrets it shares and which ones remain hidden.”

Trump lawyers appeal judge’s ruling not to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One subpoenasThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 24 May 2019: “President Trump’s attorneys filed an appeal Friday to a federal judge’s decision not to intervene in congressional efforts to obtain financial records of the president, his children and his company. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan ruled Wednesday in the case, which cleared the way for House Democrats to receive documents from Deutsche Bank and Capital One that were subpoenaed by House Financial Services and Intelligence committees as part of their investigations into Trump’s personal and business finances. Earlier this week, Trump’s attorneys appealed a decision by another federal judge in Washington who similarly ruled against blocking Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from releasing financial records to the House Oversight Committee.”

American Civil Liberties Union sues Alabama over near-total abortion banThe Washington Post, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Friday, 24 May 2019: “The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday filed suit on behalf of abortion clinics against the state of Alabama to block the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. The near-total ban, signed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on May 15, would criminalize abortion in almost all circumstances — including cases of rape and incest — and punish doctors with up to 99 years in prison. Without any challenges, the law was set to go into effect in as soon as six months. The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, sets off a chain of events that both sides say is likely to lead to a years-long court battle. State lawmakers have said they passed the law specifically to bring the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which they see as having the most antiabortion bench in decades. The bill was designed to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by arguing that a fetus is a person and is therefore due full rights.”

Federal judge blocks Mississippi’s six-week abortion banThe Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Friday, 24 May 2019: “A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that would have imposed one of the nation’s strictest bans on abortion by outlawing the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy — before many women know they’re pregnant. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled on Friday that the ban, set to become law on July 1, won’t take effect while the lawsuit against it proceeds. Reeves’s decision is similar to his 2018 ruling that declared a 15-week ban unconstitutional.”

The U.S. Media Is in the Crosshairs of the New Assange IndictmentLawfare Blog, Jack Goldsmith, Friday, 24 May 2019: “I have written a lot on how hard it is to distinguish WikiLeaks from the New York Times when it comes to procuring and publishing classified information. One implication of the comparison is that any successful prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would have adverse implications for mainstream U.S. news publications efforts to solicit, receive and publish classified information. The May 23 indictment of Assange makes clear that these concerns are real. As Susan Hennessey said, ‘[I]t will be very difficult to craft an Espionage Act case against him that won’t adversely impact true journalists.’ I don’t think this is an accident. I think the government’s indictment has the U.S. news media squarely in its sights.”

Trump plans to install Ken Cuccinelli as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey, and Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 24 May 2019: “President Trump plans to install Ken Cuccinelli II as the new director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, placing the conservative activist and former Virginia attorney general at the head of the agency that runs the country’s legal immigration system, administration officials said Friday. L. Francis Cissna, the agency’s current director, has told his staff that he will leave his post June 1. The move extends the purge of senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security, replacing Cissna, a Senate-confirmed agency head with deep expertise on immigration law, with Cuccinelli, a conservative firebrand disliked by senior GOP figures, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).”


Saturday, 25 May 2019, Day 856:


Trump Opens Tokyo Visit With a Tweet Sure to Unnerve the JapaneseThe New York Times, Annie Karni and Katie Rogers, Saturday, 25 May 2019: “President Trump kicked off the first full day of a state visit to Japan on Sunday by playing down North Korea’s recent tests of short-range ballistic missiles, undercutting declarations by both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the president’s own national security adviser that the launches violated United Nations resolutions.”

Trump’s Targeting of Intelligence Agencies Gains a Harder EdgeThe New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Julian E. Barnes, Saturday, 25 May 2019: “President Trump tried somewhat clumsily last year to revoke the security clearance of the former C.I.A. director who played a role in opening the Russia investigation. He then wanted to release classified documents to prove he was the target of a ‘witch hunt.’ Both attempts petered out, hampered by aides who slow-rolled the president and by Justice Department officials who fought Mr. Trump, warning he was jeopardizing national security. But this week, Attorney General William P. Barr engineered a new approach. At Mr. Barr’s urging, Mr. Trump granted him new authorities to examine the start of the Russia investigation, demonstrating a new level of sophistication for an old line of attack. Unlike Mr. Trump’s hollow threats and name-calling, Mr. Barr’s examination of how the intelligence community investigated the Trump campaign could offer a more effective blueprint for the president to take aim at his perceived political enemies.”


Sunday, 26 May 2019, Day 857:


US efforts to jail Julian Assange for espionage are a grave threat to a free mediaThe Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, Sunday, 26 May 2019: “Do you remember the Collateral Murder video – the one that showed US air crew in Apache helicopters killing people as though playing computer games, laughing at the dead after slaughtering a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for the Reuters news agency? Do you remember how the US military had lied about what happened in that incident in July 2007 – first claiming that all the dead were insurgents, and then that the helicopters were responding to an active firefight? Neither claim was true. Do you recall that Reuters had spent three years unsuccessfully trying to obtain the video? Was it in the public interest that the world should have eventually seen the raw footage of what happened? You bet. Was it acutely embarrassing for the US military and government? Of course. Was the act of revelation espionage or journalism? You know the answer. We have two people to thank for us knowing the truth about how those Reuters employees died, along with 10 others who ended up in the crosshairs of the laughing pilots that day: Chelsea Manning, who leaked it, and Julian Assange, who published it. But the price of their actions has been considerable.”… The Espionage Act was a panic measure enacted by Congress to clamp down on dissent or ‘sedition’ when the US entered the First World War in 1917. In the subsequent 102 years it has never been used to prosecute a media organisation for publishing or disseminating unlawfully disclosed classified information. Nobody prosecuted under the act is permitted to offer a public interest defence. Whatever Assange got up to in 2010-11, it was not espionage. Nor is he a US citizen. The criminal acts this Australian maverick allegedly committed all happened outside the US. As Joel Simon, director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, has observed: ‘Under this rubric, anyone anywhere in the world who publishes information that the US government deems to be classified could be prosecuted for espionage.'”


Monday, 27 May 2019, Day 858:


Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate ScienceThe New York Times, Coral Davenport and Mark Landler, Monday, 27 May 2019: “President Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term ‘global warming’ into a punch line rather than a prognosis. Now, after two years spent unraveling the policies of his predecessors, Mr. Trump and his political appointees are launching a new assault. In the next few months, the White House will complete the rollback of the most significant federal effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, initiated during the Obama administration. It will expand its efforts to impose Mr. Trump’s hard-line views on other nations, building on his retreat from the Paris accord and his recent refusal to sign a communiqué to protect the rapidly melting Arctic region unless it was stripped of any references to climate change. And, in what could be Mr. Trump’s most consequential action yet, his administration will seek to undermine the very science on which climate change policy rests.” See also, Trump administration’s attack on climate science goes full-OrwellBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, John Mecklin, published on Tuesday, 28 May 2019.

Still angling for a deal, Trump backs North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Joe Biden, his national security adviser John Bolton, and JapanThe Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Simon Denyer, Monday, 27 May 2019: “President Trump on Monday denied that North Korea had fired any ballistic missiles or violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions, taking the word of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the assessments of his own national security adviser and his Japanese host. He praised the murderous dictator as a ‘very smart man.’ He also again sided with Kim over former vice president Joe Biden, after his Democratic rival was branded a ‘fool of low I.Q.’ by North Korea’s state media for calling the North Korean leader a dictator and a tyrant. At a joint news conference with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Trump gave cover to Kim as he directly contradicted his national security adviser, John Bolton, as well as Abe, by arguing that Pyongyang had not launched ballistic missiles this month or violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

Trump says he is not seeking ‘regime change’ in IranThe Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Monday, 27 May 2019: “President Trump on Monday denied that the United States is seeking regime change in Iran, dialing back hawkish rhetoric days after ordering 1,500 additional U.S. troops to the region.”


Tuesday, 28 May 2019, Day 859:


Supreme Court Sidesteps Abortion Question in Ruling on Indiana LawThe New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday sidestepped part of a major abortion case, a new sign that the court is not yet moving aggressively to test the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. In an apparent compromise in a case from Indiana, the justices turned down an appeal that asked the court to reinstate a state law banning abortions sought solely because of the sex or disability of a fetus. But the court upheld part of the same law requiring abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal remains…. The modest move on Tuesday left for another day the consideration of state laws limiting abortion that were enacted, at least partly, to challenge Roe v. Wade. Such laws are being enacted at a brisk pace, including one in Alabama banning almost all abortions in the state, without exceptions for rape and incest, and others that bar the procedure after doctors can detect what the measures call a ‘fetal heartbeat,’ which happens around six weeks of pregnancy. The new laws are intended to give the Supreme Court an opportunity to reconsider Roe.” See also, Supreme Court compromise on Indiana abortion law keeps issue off its docketThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Tuesday, 28 May 2019.

Missouri’s Last Abortion Clinic Could Stop Providing the Procedure This WeekThe New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Missouri’s last abortion clinic might have to stop providing the procedure by the end of the week because of a standoff with state officials over an audit, according to Planned Parenthood, which operates the clinic. Lawyers for the clinic say that the audit, which began this spring, has become wide-ranging and includes demands they consider to be unreasonable. They say the clinic’s license is due to expire at midnight on June 1, and if the disagreement over the audit is not sorted out by then, the clinic will be forced to stop providing abortions…. If the clinic’s license is not renewed, Missouri would become the first state in the United States without access to abortion services since 1974, the year after the Supreme Court extended federal protections for the procedure in its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.”

Supreme Court leaves in place Pennsylvania policy supporting transgender studentsThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Moriah Balingit, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review a Pennsylvania school district’s policy letting transgender students use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities, disappointing conservatives who have opposed similar policies in schools nationwide. Without comment, the court declined to review an opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit that upheld the Boyertown Area School District policy. A half-dozen current and former students sued the school system in 2017, saying that allowing transgender students to change clothes alongside them in locker rooms and to use the same bathrooms violated the privacy rights of students who are not transgender. The appeals court ruled last year that the students who sued had failed to show how transgender students violated their privacy rights more than non-transgender students did. The Supreme Court’s decision allows the Boyertown policy to stand. Though it does not set precedent, advocates declared the decision to stay out of the case a win. Ria Tabacco Mar, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, called it an ‘enormous victory for transgender students across the country.'”

Netflix the Only Hollywood Studio to Speak Out in Attack Against Abortion RightsVariety, Matt Donnelly, Gene Maddaus, and Elaine Low, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Many of Hollywood’s most powerful content companies have maintained a deafening silence on the raging abortion legislation debate that’s sweeping the country as their star talent and producers go off script to speak out about threats to women’s reproductive rights and boycott states like Georgia that have signed the bills. Protests are erupting on the ground and across social media as seven other states — including Alabama, Missouri and Ohio — also adopt anti-abortion laws. Most of the industry uproar is currently focused on Georgia, where a massive number of Hollywood movies and TV shows film thanks to a highly favorable state tax incentive…. Media companies with deep financial investments in the state have so far remained mum on the matter. Not one major studio would comment on the ongoing issue when approached by Variety, including the film and TV divisions at The Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Fox and Amazon Studios. The only company to respond to Variety’s inquiries was Netflix. ‘We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,’ Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in an exclusive statement. ‘It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.'” See also, Netflix May ‘Rethink’ Its Investment in Georgia if Abortion Law Takes EffectThe New York Times, Cara Buckley, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “The streaming giant Netflix has become the first major Hollywood studio to publicly weigh in on Georgia’s restrictive abortion law, with Ted Sarandos, its chief content officer, saying the company would ‘rethink our entire investment in Georgia’ should the law go into effect.”

Kamala Harris proposes federal oversight of state and local abortion lawsLos Angeles Times, Melanie Mason, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Wading into the abortion rights debate that has seized the national political spotlight, Sen. Kamala Harris will propose giving the federal government more oversight over state abortion laws. Her proposal would give the Department of Justice final say over abortion laws passed by states or localities that have enacted unconstitutional abortion restrictions in the past 25 years. ‘State legislatures are fundamentally attacking a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body,’ the California Democrat said Tuesday night during a televised town hall with MSNBC. The policy is modeled on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which said that jurisdictions with a history of discrimination must get preapproval from the attorney general to make any changes to voting laws that could affect minorities. That provision, known as the ‘preclearance’ process, was struck down in a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. Harris would mirror that approach for abortion rights, which would require a new law passed by Congress in order to give the Department of Justice that authority.” See also, Kamala Harris, in MSNBC Town Hall, Lays Out Plan to Require Federal Approval for Abortion LawsThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Senator Kamala Harris of California unveiled a plan on Tuesday that would require states and localities with a history of unconstitutionally restricting abortion rights to obtain federal approval before such laws can take effect.”

Elizabeth Warren Gains Ground in 2020 Field, One Plan at a TimeThe New York Times, Thomas Kaplan and Astead W. Herndon, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “After five months as a presidential candidate, Ms. Warren is showing signs of success at distinguishing herself in a packed field. She has inched higher in national polls and, at events within the last month, consistently overshot the campaign’s expected number of attendees. She has been propelled in part by a number of disruptive choices, most notably the breakneck pace at which she introduces policy proposals. That has helped keep her in the news, put pressure on rivals and provided more opportunities to shore up her campaign’s once-lackluster fund-raising.”

House subpoenas for Trump’s bank records are put on hold while he appealsThe Washington Post, Renae Merle, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “A Manhattan federal judge who rejected a request by President Trump last week to block congressional subpoenas for his banking records has agreed to put the case on hold while Trump appeals the ruling. Trump and attorneys for the House committees that ordered Deutsche Bank, the president’s biggest creditor, and Capital One to turn over years of the president’s financial information jointly asked Southern District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos to delay enforcement of the subpoenas while an appeal is expedited through the courts. Ramos agreed to the request on Monday.”

Trump Undercuts His National Security Adviser, John Bolton, on North Korea and IranThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “[I]n recent days, the disconnect between Mr. Trump and his national security adviser [John Bolton] has spilled over into public, sowing confusion around the world about America’s foreign policy, particularly on matters of war and peace. The disparity was on stark display during Mr. Trump’s four-day visit to Japan that ended Tuesday after he contradicted Mr. Bolton on high-stakes confrontations with both Iran and North Korea. The president declared that, unlike his national security adviser, he was not seeking regime change in Iran and he asserted that, contrary to what Mr. Bolton had said, recent North Korean missile tests did not violate United Nations resolutions.”

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, warns of Attorney General William Barr’s expanded powersAssociated Press, Mary Clare Jalonick and Susannah George, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee is sounding the alarm about the new powers that President Donald Trump has granted to Attorney General William Barr. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, in a letter obtained by The Associated Press, said he fears Trump is giving Barr ‘the right to selectively declassify certain information for purposes of political gain.’ He asked that the leaders of the nation’s spy agencies contact lawmakers if Barr’s investigation threatens their work. Trump last week granted Barr the power to review and potentially release classified information as he analyzes the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation. Trump has said it is time to ‘investigate the investigators’ now that special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his work, and he has directed the intelligence community to ‘quickly and fully cooperate’ with Barr’s review.”

Representative Justin Amash accuses Attorney General William Barr of selling Trump’s ‘false narrative,’ Politico, Quint Forgey, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Rep. Justin Amash, who earlier this month became the first Republican member of Congress to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, took aim at Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday — charging that the nation’s top law enforcement officer has ‘used his position to sell the president’s false narrative to the American people.’ In a 25-post Twitter spree, the Michigan lawmaker accused Barr of having ‘deliberately misrepresented’ the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation in a March 24 letter to Congress summarizing the special counsel’s findings. Amash wrote online Tuesday that Barr’s letter ‘selectively quotes and summarizes points in Mueller’s report in misleading ways,’ and asserted that ‘the public and Congress were misled’ as a result of the attorney general’s initial four-page summary.”

Trump and Biden Campaigns Trade Jabs Over North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s Remarks About BidenThe New York Times, Katie Glueck, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “President Trump sided again on Tuesday with the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in mocking Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s intelligence, an extraordinary alignment of a United States president and an authoritarian regime against an American politician — and an insult that Mr. Biden pooh-poohed by letting an aide rebut it. During his visit to Japan last weekend, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that he had ‘smiled’ when North Korea described Mr. Biden recently as a ‘fool of low I.Q.’ The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, also said that Mr. Trump and the Mr. Kim’s government ‘agree in their assessment’ of Mr. Biden. American leaders have traditionally avoided partisan sniping while outside of the country.”

Democrats aim not-so-friendly fire at Trump over his military deferments during the Vietnam WarThe Washington Post, Robert Costa, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “President Trump, who has touted himself as an unmatched ally of military veterans, is facing pointed new attacks from Democratic presidential candidates who question his medical deferment from service in Vietnam — and, in turn, his patriotism and integrity. Leading the assault are two military veterans: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.). They have offered searing assessments of Trump, accusing the president of faking a disability and forcing another American of Trump’s generation to risk his life in the jungles of Southeast Asia.”

Civil rights groups sue the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over religious exemption rule: A violation of ‘privacy, liberty, dignity,’ The Washington Post, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Lambda Legal and other civil rights groups are asking a federal court to strike down a Health and Human Services Department ‘conscience’ rule that is set to dramatically expand the situations in which health providers, insurers and others could refuse to provide or pay for services they say violate their religious or moral beliefs. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims the policy, which was published May 21, is unconstitutional and exceeds HHS’s statutory authority.”

The indictment of Julian Assange is a blueprint for making journalists into felonsThe Washington Post, Glenn Greenwald, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “The U.S. government on Thursday unveiled an 18-count indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, charging him under the 1917 Espionage Act for his role in the 2010 publication of a trove of secret documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and diplomatic communications regarding dozens of nations. So extreme and unprecedented are the indictment’s legal theories and likely consequences that it shocked and alarmed even many of Assange’s most virulent critics. The new indictment against Assange bears no relationship to WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign documents or any of its other activities during the 2016 presidential campaign. Instead, it covers only publication of a massive archive of classified U.S. government documents that revealed a multitude of previously unknown, highly significant information about wars, government and corporate corruption, and official deceit. WikiLeaks, in 2010, published those materials in partnership with some of the largest media outlets in the world, including the New York Timesthe GuardianDer SpiegelLe Monde and El Pais, outlets that published many of the same secret documents that form the basis of the criminal case against Assange. With these new charges, the Trump administration is aggressively and explicitly seeking to obliterate the last reliable buffer protecting journalism in the United States from being criminalized, a step that no previous administration, no matter how hostile to journalistic freedom, was willing to take.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Still Owns Stock She Pledged to DivestThe Wall Street Journal, Ted Mann and Brody Mullins, Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has retained shares in a construction-materials company more than a year after the date she promised to relinquish them, federal disclosure forms show.” Update: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Sells Her Stock in Highway Supply CompanyThe New York Times, Eric Lipton, published on Thursday, 13 June 2019: “Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has sold the stock she owned in one of the nation’s biggest manufacturers of highway construction materials, just days after the holding raised questions over a potential conflict of interest. Ms. Chao sold the shares, worth $250,000 to $500,000, last Monday, according to a letter the Transportation Department released Thursday. Days earlier, The Wall Street Journal, followed by other news media, reported that she had not cashed out, as promised, stock options she held in Vulcan Materials, an Alabama-based producer of crushed stone and asphalt, where she served on the board before joining the Trump administration.”

Wednesday, 29 May 2019, Day 860:


Robert Mueller, in First Comments on Russia Inquiry, Declines to Clear TrumpThe New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, declined on Wednesday to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice in his first public characterization of his two-year investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. ‘If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,’ Mr. Mueller said, reading from prepared notes behind a lectern at the Justice Department at a hastily called public appearance. He also noted that while Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, the Constitution provides for another remedy to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing — a clear reference to the ability of Congress to conduct impeachment proceedings. Although it lasted less than 10 minutes, the news conference presented an extraordinary spectacle of a top federal law enforcement official publicly stating that the president’s conduct had warranted criminal investigation, even though it was impossible to indict him for any crimes. Mr. Mueller delivered his statement on his last day as special counsel, saying it was his final word on his investigation and he was returning to private life.” See also, Full Transcript of Mueller’s Statement on Russia InvestigationThe New York Times, Wednesday, 29 May 2019. See also, Standing Where Attorney General William Barr Cleared Trump on Obstruction, Robert Mueller Makes a Different Case and Leaves Many Things UnsaidThe New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr stood at the Justice Department lectern six weeks ago and put the best possible spin on the Mueller report for his boss, declaring that the special counsel had amassed insufficient evidence to accuse President Trump of a crime. Robert S. Mueller III delivered a starkly different presentation on Wednesday from the same lectern, saying that charging a sitting president was never an option, no matter the evidence. Instead, his investigators asked another question: Could they clear the president? On potential obstruction of justice, the answer was no. ‘If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime,’ Mr. Mueller said, ‘we would have said so.’ The power of Mr. Mueller’s brief appearance came from his attempts to cut through a lengthy and dense report to give his own voice and imprimatur to a damning set of findings both about Mr. Trump and the Russian sabotage campaign. His carefully chosen phrases stood in sharp contrast to Mr. Barr’s portrayal of the investigation as vindicating Mr. Trump from accusations of the crime of obstruction.” See also, After Mueller Statement, More 2020 Democrats Call for ImpeachmentThe New York Times, Maggie Astor, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Robert S. Mueller III’s statement on Wednesday, in which he reiterated the conclusions of his investigation and declined to clear President Trump, seemed to open a dam in the Democratic presidential field. Before Mr. Mueller spoke, seven of the 23 candidates had endorsed impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump. By midafternoon, 10 had done so, with others edging closer. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York came out explicitly in favor of impeachment proceedings for the first time on Wednesday. They joined Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Representatives Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Eric Swalwell of California, the former housing secretary Julián Castro, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Fla., who had previously voiced their support for impeachment proceedings.” See also, House Leaders Push Mueller to Testify as More Democrats Clamor for ImpeachmentThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 29 May 2019.

As he exits, Mueller suggests only Congress can ‘formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,’ The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, and Felicia Sonmez, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III said Wednesday that his office could neither clear nor accuse President Trump of obstructing justice, leaving room for Congress to make a call where he would not and fueling impeachment demands among some Democrats. In his first public remarks on the case since he concluded his investigation, Mueller said that if his office ‘had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,’ and noted that the Constitution ‘requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.'” See also, Mueller’s statement, annotated: ‘If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,’ The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 29 May 2019.  See also, Mueller’s statement highlights key differences with Attorney General William Barr on investigation of TrumpThe Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Departing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III finally spoke publicly Wednesday, and his carefully chosen comments highlight the ways in which he disagrees with his boss, Attorney General William P. Barr, about the facts and the law surrounding the investigation into President Trump. ‘If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,’ Mueller said Wednesday. Barr had that confidence. He declared in March that while Mueller’s principal conclusions did not include a determination of whether the president had committed the crime of obstruction of justice, Barr had reviewed the evidence and concluded Trump did not break the law. ‘The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime,’ Barr wrote to Congress at the time. In his report and his public remarks, Mueller indicated he holds a different view on the question of potential presidential crimes, refusing to clear the commander in chief and alluding to Congress’s impeachment power as the constitutional arbiter.” See also, Robert Mueller’s statement increases pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin Trump impeachmentThe Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s public declaration Wednesday that his investigation could not clear President Trump of obstruction has triggered fresh calls in the Democratic Party for impeachment, increasing the pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to give the go-ahead on launching proceedings. Within minutes of Mueller’s statement, when the special counsel signaled that Congress — not the criminal justice system — is responsible for deciding whether a sitting president is guilty of wrongdoing, a group of congressional Democrats and several 2020 presidential candidates renewed their demands that the House take the first steps toward impeachment.” See also, On question of obstruction of justice, Robert Mueller hewed to untested Justice Department opinions and ‘principles of fairness,’ The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “With his decision that he could not make a determination whether President Trump obstructed justice, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III hewed to Justice Department legal opinions that have not been tested in the courts and were rooted in past presidential crises.” See also, Robert Mueller was pointed: His report doesn’t say what Trump and Attorney General William Barr have claimedThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 29 May 2019. See also, Robert Mueller says he couldn’t charge Trump and tosses the question to CongressThe Washington Post, Dan Balz, Wednesday, 29 May 2019.

Robert Mueller Shifts Questions About Trump to CongressThe Wall Street Journal, Byron Tau, Aruna Viswanatha, and Sadie Gurman, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller said if he had confidence President Trump didn’t commit a crime, he ‘would have said so,’ suggesting in his first public remarks on the Russia investigation that it was Congress’s job to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. Mr. Mueller’s comments on Wednesday squarely put the task of assessing Mr. Trump’s conduct in the lap of a Democratic-controlled House that is divided over whether to open an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Mueller said charging the president with a crime was “not an option” because of Justice Department rules.” See also, Robert Mueller emphasizes that he didn’t clear TrumpPolitico, Natasha Bertrand, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday said he did not want to testify before Congress about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, setting up a potential clash with House Democrats. But Mueller also sparked a new round of impeachment calls after stressing, this time in person, that he could not clear President Donald Trump of obstruction charges.” See also, Robert Mueller’s statement stirs up Democratic impeachment agitationPolitico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Special counsel Robert Mueller handed Democrats a new weapon on Wednesday that they hoped would convince Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But Pelosi remains unmoved, reiterating her view that House Democrats must continue to investigate Trump’s conduct to evaluate whether impeachment is warranted. ‘Where they will lead us, we shall see. Nothing is off the table,’ Pelosi said at an event in San Francisco. ‘But we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case, that even the Republican Senate — which at the time seems to be not an objective jury — will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country.'”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Says Republicans Would Fill a Supreme Court Vacancy in 2020, Drawing Claims of HypocrisyThe New York Times, Daniel Victor, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Democrats accused Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, of hypocrisy on Tuesday after he said Republicans would confirm a justice to the Supreme Court if a seat opened up amid the election campaign in 2020, even after denying President Barack Obama a similar opportunity in 2016. The senator made the remarks at a Chamber of Commerce event in Paducah, Ky., after an audience member asked what Senate Republicans would do if a Supreme Court justice died next year. ‘Oh, we’d fill it,’ he responded with a grin, prompting laughter from the audience. When Mr. McConnell denied Judge Merrick B. Garland, Mr. Obama’s choice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, a hearing in 2016, the senator cited election-year ‘tradition’ going back to 1880 in keeping the seat open until a new president could be inaugurated.” See also, In reversal from 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he would fill a potential Supreme Court vacancy in 2020CNN, Ted Barrett, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs during next year’s presidential election, he would work to confirm a nominee appointed by President Donald Trump. That’s a move that is in sharp contrast to his decision to block President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. At the time, he cited the right of the voters in the presidential election to decide whether a Democrat or a Republican would fill that opening, a move that infuriated Democrats.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he would help Trump fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020–after blocking Obama in 2016The New York Times, Reis Thebault and Kayla Epstein, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “When President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to consider him, blocking the nominee until after that year’s presidential election. He said then that ‘the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.’ The tactic cost Garland his spot on the court, and Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017. With his party now in the White House, McConnell said Tuesday he would try to push through any nomination that President Trump might make to the high court — even if it comes during an election year. Some saw that stance, which McConnell has signaled before, as hypocritical.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans would confirm a justice during the 2020 presidential electionPolitico, Matthew Choi, published on Tuesday, 28 May 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that Republicans would fill an opening on the Supreme Court if there were a vacancy next year — in contrast with 2016, when he stated his fierce opposition to confirming a justice in the last year of a president’s term.”

Louisiana Moves to Ban Abortions After a Heartbeat Is DetectedThe New York Times, Alan Blinder, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “On the heels of a spate of anti-abortion legislation passed in recent months across the South, Louisiana lawmakers voted on Wednesday to ban the procedure after the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart can be detected. The restriction, backed by the state’s Democratic governor, could prohibit abortions as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. Several other states have passed versions of so-called fetal heartbeat bills this year, and Alabama approved a law about two weeks ago that would forbid nearly all abortions in the state. But the Louisiana measure, coming near the end of a legislative season in which state after state considered bills to either restrict or protect abortion, stood out for the composition of the political coalition that rallied around it. The Republicans who control the Legislature endorsed the measure, but it was written by a Democratic state senator from the Shreveport area, and Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who is running for re-election this year, pledged his support.” See also, Louisiana passed an abortion ban. Its Democratic governor plans to defy his party and sign it. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Kantor and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “The Louisiana state legislature on Wednesday passed one of the country’s strictest abortion bans, advancing the bill to the Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, who, like a coterie of conservative executives before him, has said repeatedly he would sign it. Louisiana’s measure is the first of the drumbeat of bans this year to receive the imprimatur of prominent local Democrats, whose support for the controversial legislation has provoked anger from party members nationwide who see it as a betrayal in the battle over abortion rights.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger says it will be ‘difficult’ to film in Georgia if abortion law takes effectReuters, Lisa Richwine, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Iger told Reuters on Wednesday it would be ‘very difficult’ for the media company to keep filming in Georgia if a new abortion law takes effect because many people will not want to work in the U.S. state. Disney has filmed blockbuster movies in Georgia such as ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ and it would be a blow to the state’s efforts to create production jobs if the entertainment giant stopped filming there.” See also, Disney C.E.O. Warns Georgia Abortion Law Would Make It ‘Very’ Difficult’ to Film in the StateThe New York Times, Daniel Victor, published on Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, said on Wednesday it would be ‘very difficult’ for the company to continue filming in Georgia if the state’s highly restrictive abortion law is carried out. Iger’s comments, made in an interview with Reuters, were the strongest sign yet that Hollywood could pull back from Georgia, which has lured television and film producers with generous tax breaks, but has also at times repelled the industry with its politics. ‘I rather doubt we will’ continue filming in the state, Iger said. ‘I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now we are watching it very carefully. I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there’ if the law is enforced, he said.” See also, WarnerMedia and Disney cast doubts on filming in Georgia if new abortion law takes holdThe Washington Post, Hamza Shaban, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Three Hollywood powerhouses have lined up against a restrictive abortion law in Georgia, signaling that its implementation could influence their willingness to continue filming in the state. On Thursday, WarnerMedia — the parent company of HBO and Warner Bros. — became the latest big studio to correlate its business interests in Georgia with the law. The move comes one day after Walt Disney’s chairman and chief executive, Bob Iger, took a similar stance and two days after Netflix announced it would actively work to challenge the law. Several independent production companies also have threatened to cut ties with the state.”

White House Wanted the USS John McCain ‘Out of Sight’ During Trump Japan Visit: U.S. military officials worked to ensure President Trump would not see the warship that bears the name of the late senator, a frequent target of the president’s ireThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Gordon Lubold, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “The White House wanted the U.S. Navy to move ‘out of sight’ a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain—a war hero who became a frequent target of President Trump’s ire—and his father and grandfather ahead of the president’s visit to Japan last week, according to an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In a May 15 email to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official outlined plans for the president’s arrival that he said had resulted from conversations between the White House Military Office and the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy. In addition to instructions for the proper landing areas for helicopters and preparation for the USS Wasp—where the president was scheduled to speak—the official issued a third directive: ‘USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.'” See also, White House Asked Navy to Hide John McCain Warship During Trump’s Visit, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Helene Cooper, Wednesday, 29 May 2019. See also, Trump says the official who directed obscuring the USS John S. McCain warship was ‘well-meaning,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Dan Lamothe, published on Thursday, 30 May 2019. See also, Let’s Not Upset the President: The White House Tells the Navy to Hide the U.S.S. McCainThe New York Times, Mark Landler and Eileen Sullivan, published on Thursday, 30 May 2019: “The White House’s directive to hide a Navy destroyer named after Senator John McCain during President Trump’s recent visit to a naval base in Japan was driven, administration officials said on Thursday, by a fear of bad visuals — the name of the president’s nemesis clearly visible in photographs of him. In truth, it would have been a bad visual for only one person: Mr. Trump. Yet an effort to airbrush an American warship by covering its name with a giant tarp and then hiding it with a barge demonstrates how anxious the Trump administration has become about the grudges of the president. It also shows the extraordinary lengths officials in the bureaucracy are willing to go to avoid provoking Mr. Trump.”

Beto O’Rourke Proposes Immigration Overhaul That Would Undo Trump PoliciesThe New York Times, Matt Stevens, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Beto O’Rourke released a broad immigration plan on Wednesday, pledging that as president he would immediately end several Trump administration border policies through executive action, offer protection from deportation to thousands of immigrants whose status in the United States is in limbo, and pass legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country without permission.”

Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than EverForbes, Dominic Dudley, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “The cost of renewable energy has tumbled even further over the past year, to the point where almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new data released today. Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of renewable energy, at an average of $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh), but the average cost of developing new power plants based on onshore wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), biomass or geothermal energy is now usually below $0.10/kWh. Not far behind that is offshore wind, which costs close to $0.13/kWh. These figures are global averages and it is worth noting that the cost of individual projects can vary hugely – the cost of producing electricity from a biomass energy plant, for example, can range from as low as $0.05/kWh to a high of almost $0.25/kWh. However, all these fuel types are now able to compete with the cost of developing new power plants based on fossil fuels such as oil and gas, which typically range from $0.05/kWh to over $0.15/kWh.”

‘Freedom Gas,’ the Next American ExportThe New York Times, Emily S. Rueb, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “According to the Department of Energy, the next critical export from the United States is made from ‘molecules of U.S. Freedom.’ You may wonder, what are these molecules? The technical answer is liquefied natural gas. Or, if you are in charge of energy policy for the Trump administration, ‘freedom gas.’ Let that seep in. On Tuesday, the department announced plans to increase exports of the fuel source from a new liquefaction plant that will be built off the coast of Texas on Quintana Island by Freeport LNG of Houston. That announcement was quickly overshadowed by the colorful terminology in the release. ‘Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,’ Mark W. Menezes, the under secretary of energy, said in a news release.”

Representative Steve King (Republican-Iowa): Presuming all cultures contribute equally to our civilization devalues the Founding FathersThe Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 29 May 2019: “Rep. Steve King, who earlier this year was condemned by his congressional peers for favorable comments about white supremacy, argued Tuesday that presuming all cultures are equal devalues the Founding Fathers.”


Thursday, 30 May 2019, Day 861:


Trump Says U.S. Will Hit Mexico With 5% Tariffs on All GoodsThe New York Times, Annie Karni, Ana Swanson, and Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “President Trump said Thursday that he would impose a 5 percent tariff on all imported goods from Mexico beginning June 10, a tax that would ‘gradually increase’ until the flow of undocumented immigrants across the border stopped. The announcement, which Mr. Trump made on his Twitter feed, said the tariffs would be in place ‘until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.'” See also, Trump says U.S. will impose 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports beginning June 10 in dramatic escalation of border clashThe Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Nick Miroff, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “President Trump on Thursday said he would impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods entering from Mexico unless it stopped the flow of illegal immigration to the United States, a dramatic escalation of his border threats that could have sweeping implications for both economies.”

Deceased Republican Gerrymandering Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship QuestionThe New York Times, Michael Wines, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Thomas B. Hofeller achieved near-mythic status in the Republican Party as the Michelangelo of gerrymandering, the architect of partisan political maps that cemented the party’s dominance across the country. But after he died last summer, his estranged daughter discovered hard drives in her father’s home that revealed something else: Mr. Hofeller had played a crucial role in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Files on those drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act — the rationale the administration later used to justify its decision.” See also, A Republican operative figured a citizenship question on the census would help Republicans. Here’s how. The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “To hear President Trump’s administration tell it, the 2020 Census needs to include a question about residents’ citizenship because it would aid enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Few experts think that such a question is needed for that purpose, mind you, and few people think that’s the administration’s motivation. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court appears to be poised to determine that the question can remain on next year’s national survey, accepting the administration’s rationale. That likelihood will probably not be affected by the discovery of remarkable documents that kneecap the White House’s argument. On Thursday, we learned that a Republican consultant who had argued for such a question had done so explicitly because he understood that it would help his party politically.” See also, Despite Trump administration denials, new evidence suggests census citizenship question was crafted to benefit white RepublicansThe Washington Post, Tara Bahrampour and Robert Barnes, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Just weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, new evidence emerged Thursday suggesting the question was crafted specifically to give an electoral advantage to Republicans and whites. The evidence was found in the files of the prominent Republican redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller after his death in August. It reveals that Hofeller ‘played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,’ plaintiffs’ lawyers challenging the question wrote in a letter Thursday morning to U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, one of three federal judges who ruled against the question this year. The lawyers also argued that Trump administration officials purposely obscured Hofeller’s role in court proceedings.”

Trump Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him Get ElectedThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 30 May 2019. (This headline and article were replaced by the one that follows after the first ‘See also’ below.) “President Trump said that Russia helped get him elected, then abruptly denied it again, all within less than an hour on Thursday, as he raged against the special counsel and sought to counter increasing calls for impeachment. Even for a president known for contradicting himself, Mr. Trump’s divergent statements before leaving on a trip to Colorado were particularly head-spinning and underscored his fitful responses to the report issued by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. ‘I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning while at the White House. While denying any involvement, the president’s comment conceded for once that Moscow not only intervened in the campaign but did so for the express purpose of helping elect Mr. Trump, the consensus conclusion of the nation’s intelligence agencies. But barely a half-hour later, Mr. Trump emerged on the South Lawn and took it back. ‘No, Russia did not help me get elected,’ he told reporters as he prepared to depart the White House for Colorado Springs. ‘I got me elected.'” See also, Trump Accuses Mueller of a Personal Vendetta as Calls for Impeachment GrowThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “President Trump lashed out angrily at Robert S. Mueller III on Thursday, accusing him of pursuing a personal vendetta as Mr. Trump sought to counter increasing calls among Democrats for his impeachment. A day after Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, spoke out for the first time and refused to exonerate the president, Mr. Trump dismissed the Mueller investigation as hopelessly tarnished and expressed aggravation that he could not shake allegations of wrongdoing that have dogged him since the early days of his administration. ‘I think he is a total conflicted person,’ Mr. Trump said of Mr. Mueller before flying to Colorado to deliver the commencement address at the Air Force Academy. ‘I think Mueller is a true Never Trumper. He’s somebody that dislikes Donald Trump. He’s somebody that didn’t get a job that he requested that he wanted very badly, and then he was appointed.’ Mr. Trump’s assertions of conflict of interest have been refuted not only by Mr. Mueller but even by some of the president’s own former aides. But Mr. Trump appeared determined to undermine the credibility that Mr. Mueller has developed over a long career as a lawyer, prosecutor and the second-longest-serving F.B.I. director in American history who worked under presidents of both parties.” See also, Trump briefly acknowledges that Russia aided his election–and falsely says he didn’t help the effortThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “If former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s point in speaking publicly about the conclusions of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was, in part, to reinforce that Russia did in fact interfere to President Trump’s benefit, his effort had one particular and unexpected success. On Thursday morning, as part of a series of tweets disparaging Mueller’s work, Trump indirectly acknowledged precisely that. ‘Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,’ Trump wrote. ‘And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.’ For years, Trump has regularly denied that Russia was involved in the effort to interfere in the election and he’s certainly never acknowledged the intelligence community’s assessment that it did so in order to boost his own chances. At times, he’s implied that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have been happier if Hillary Clinton had won, though Putin himself said he wanted Trump to win during a news conference in Helsinki last year. That phrase — ‘I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected’ — is therefore significant. So significant, in fact, that when Trump spoke to reporters a few minutes later, he denied that Russia had, in fact, boosted his campaign. (He also again claimed that Russia wanted Clinton to win.) He was right the first time: Russia did boost his election. But he was wrong when he said he had nothing to do with it.” See also, Trump attacks Robert Mueller and says Mueller would have brought charges if he had evidence of a crimeThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “President Trump on Thursday attacked Robert S. Mueller III as ‘totally conflicted’ and ‘a true never-Trumper’ and claimed that the former special counsel would have brought charges against him if he had any evidence — a characterization directly at odds with what Mueller said in a public statement Wednesday.”

Attorney General William Barr says the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller sparred over ‘legal analysis’ in Russia reportCBS News, published on Friday, 31 May 2019: “In an exclusive interview with ‘CBS This Morning,’ Attorney General William Barr said Robert Mueller and the Justice Department disagreed over the ‘legal analysis’ in the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller said his investigation did not establish President Trump committed obstruction of justice, but also did not exonerate him. Barr said he believes Mueller could have come to a conclusion as to whether the president obstructed justice. During a nearly hour-long interview in Anchorage, Alaska, CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford pressed the attorney general on a number of issues from obstruction to his new review of the Russia investigation. The attorney general said he was surprised when Mueller told him he would not decide if the president obstructed justice but said he didn’t press him on it and then, working with Justice Department lawyers, stepped in and made the decision himself based on the evidence Mueller had gathered.” See also, Interview with Attorney General William Barr: Read the full transcriptCBS News, published on Friday, 31 May 2019. See also, Attorney General William Barr Says Robert Mueller Could Have Decided Whether Trump Committed a CrimeThe New York Times, Katie Benner, 30 May 2019: “Attorney General William P. Barr said in an interview broadcast on Thursday that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, should have decided whether his findings about President Trump’s efforts to impede the Russia investigation amounted to criminal activity. ‘I personally felt he could have made a decision,’ Mr. Barr told CBS News during an interview in Alaska, where he is visiting law enforcement officials. ‘But he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained. And I’m not going to, you know, argue about those reasons.'” See also, Attorney General William Barr Escalates Criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Team and Defends TrumpThe New York Times, Katie Benner, published on Friday, 31 May 2019.

Tackling Climate Change? Governor Jay Inslee Has a Plan for That. Yale Environment 360, Elizabeth Kolbert, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Jay Inslee is often called the ‘climate change candidate.’ The two-term governor of Washington state launched his presidential campaign in March at a solar panel installation company in Seattle. He said he was joining the crowded field of Democratic candidates because ‘we are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.’ Inslee has since unveiled two major climate change proposals. One would require ‘zero-emission’ electricity generation across the U.S. by 2035. The other calls for the federal government to invest $3 trillion over a decade to upgrade buildings, create ‘climate-smart infrastructure,’ encourage ‘clean manufacturing,’ and research ‘next-generation’ energy technologies. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, one of the authors of the Green New Deal, recently tweeted that Inslee’s plans were ‘the most serious + comprehensive’ of any of the candidate’s.”

Hundreds of minors held at U.S. border facilities are there beyond legal time limitsThe Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner and Maria Sacchetti, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Many of the nearly 2,000 unaccompanied migrant children being held in overcrowded U.S. Border Patrol facilities have been there beyond legally allowed time limits, including some who are 12 or younger, according to new government data obtained by The Washington Post. Federal law and court orders require that children in Border Patrol custody be transferred to more-hospitable shelters no longer than 72 hours after they are apprehended. But some unaccompanied children are spending longer than a week in Border Patrol stations and processing centers, according to two Customs and Border Protection officials and two other government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the unreleased data. One government official said about half of the children in custody — 1,000 — have been with the Border Patrol for longer than 72 hours, and another official said that more than 250 children 12 or younger have been in custody for an average of six days.”

Unhappy With Findings, Agriculture Department Plans to Move Its Economists Out of TownThe New York Times, Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “For years, economists at the Agriculture Department have churned out studies that forecast the effects of food trends, environmental changes and trade policy on rural America. But these days, career staff members at the Economic Research Service have been anxiously trying to predict their own futures. Last year, after an economist with the division presented research that contradicted the Trump administration’s views about the president’s signature tax cuts, the Agriculture Department put into effect new rules about submitting work to peer-reviewed journals. Now, Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, is planning to move the roughly 300-person research unit, along with another division, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, out of Washington and closer to America’s farmers…. [S]ome critics see the relocation plan as another attempt by the Trump administration to diminish the role of science in government policymaking. Economists at the research service, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their views of the office’s internal dynamics, said they believed they were being shipped out of town as retribution for producing work that clashed with the administration’s agenda. ‘These are neutral agencies; they collect data and analyze it,’ said Peter Winch, an organizer for the American Federation of Government Employees, which is representing some of the Agriculture Department employees facing relocation. ‘The general idea here is to politicize or take away from a generally neutral stand.'”

New Hampshire abolishes the death penalty after lawmakers override governorThe Washington Post, Mark Berman, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Lawmakers in New Hampshire voted Thursday to abolish the death penalty, overriding a veto from the state’s Republican governor and making it the 21st state to abandon capital punishment. The vote by the New Hampshire Senate capped months of uncertainty about what would happen to capital punishment in the state, the last in New England to still have the death penalty. This debate has been largely symbolic, because New Hampshire has neither an active death penalty system nor any executions on the horizon. The state has only one person on death row — Michael Addison, who was sentenced to death more than a decade ago for killing Michael Briggs, a Manchester police officer — and last carried out an execution in 1939.” See also, New Hampshire repeals the death penalty after lawmakers override Republican governor Chris SununuCNN, Eli Watkins, Thursday, 30 May 2019.

Black Voters Challenge House Members: Why Is Trump Still in Office? The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Moments after the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, wrapped up his appearance at the Justice Department on Wednesday, Representative Dwight Evans stepped out of his district office in a black working-class neighborhood [in Philadelphia] to visit with local business owners. They had one question on their minds: Why is President Trump still in office? Mr. Evans, a Democrat who began calling for Mr. Trump to be impeached long before Mr. Mueller issued his report, was not surprised: ‘The issue that I hear constantly here is, We sent you for one reason only: to get rid of the president, right? Why haven’t you gotten rid of him yet?’”

How Impeachment Works and What You Need to Know About ItThe New York Times, Charlie Savage and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 30 May 2019: “Liberal House Democrats, struggling to combat President Trump’s stonewalling of congressional oversight, have come out by the dozen in recent days to endorse a new strategy to secure the information that they say they need: opening an impeachment inquiry. Supporters of an inquiry argue that they are not necessarily seeking the president’s ouster but instead are pursuing a legal strategy — warranted by the stakes — to try to break Mr. Trump’s blockade of nearly every document and witness that Democrats have requested since the release of the redacted report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in April. Opening an investigation, they say, could increase Democratic chances of winning court orders to require compliance with House subpoenas. But others are wary, saying it would be politically risky; impeachment implies an effort to remove the president from office, and Mr. Trump is primed to try to exploit any such effort politically. On Thursday, he called impeachment a ‘dirty, filthy, disgusting word.'”