Trump Administration, Week 135: Friday, 16 August – Thursday, 22 August 2019 (Days 939-945)

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, 16 August 2019, Day 939:


Federal Appeals Court Rules U.S. Can Block Migrants Seeking Asylum, but Only in Some States, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 16 August 2019: “A federal appeals court said Friday that President Trump can begin blocking some Central American migrants from applying for asylum in the United States, but only along parts of the border with Mexico. Migrants who seek asylum in New Mexico and Texas can be subjected to the administration’s new rules, which effectively prohibit them from requesting protection if they traveled through another country on their way to the United States unless they already tried and failed to receive asylum in that other country or countries, the court said. But the ruling by the three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, is only a partial victory for Mr. Trump, whose immigration agenda has repeatedly been delayed by judges. In July, a lower court had blocked the president’s new asylum rules after finding that the administration had probably violated the procedures required to put those regulations in place. The judge suspended the asylum rules nationwide while the court challenge continued. The appeals court agreed with the lower court, but said that the judge had not provided enough evidence that the rules should be blocked across the country. The appeals panel narrowed the judge’s ruling, deciding that the tough asylum rules could not go into effect in the Ninth Circuit, which covers California and Arizona. The ruling means that the administration can begin blocking the Central American migrants in two border states: New Mexico, which is covered by the 10th Circuit, and Texas, which is covered by the Fifth Circuit. Immigrants from Honduras, for example, who enter the United States through those states will be eligible for asylum protections only if they had first been denied asylum in Guatemala or Mexico. Lee Gelernt, the lead lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union in the legal challenge to the asylum rules, said his organization plans to provide the judge in the case with more information about why the president’s rules should be blocked nationwide.” See also, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a split decision, allowing Trump’s latest asylum restrictions to continue in Texas and New Mexico, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 16 August 2019: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the Trump administration’s latest asylum restrictions to take effect Friday in the border states of Texas and New Mexico — but not in California and Arizona — in a ruling that centered on whether a judge has authority to impose an injunction nationwide.”

Elizabeth Warren Offers a Policy Agenda for Native Americans, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Friday, 16 August 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Friday laid out a collection of policy proposals intended to help Native Americans, pledging to protect tribal lands and to bolster funding for programs that serve Native people. In releasing the proposals, Ms. Warren is drawing attention to Native American issues after months of largely refraining from doing so in the wake of a controversy over her ancestry. Ms. Warren put out the plans ahead of a scheduled appearance on Monday at a presidential forum in Sioux City, Iowa, that is dedicated to Native American issues. Among the proposals, Ms. Warren said that if elected president, she would revoke the permits for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, two projects that have been opposed by many Native Americans. No energy project significantly affecting tribal lands should go ahead, she said, ‘without the free, prior and informed consent of the Tribal Nation concerned.’ She also called for expanding the ability of tribes to prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed on tribal land, and she proposed creating a nationwide alert system for missing indigenous women.” See also, Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes plan to aid Native American communities, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Friday, 16 August 2019: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a lengthy plan Friday aimed at helping to close income and health disparities faced by Native Americans, expand Native criminal jurisdiction and honor long-standing promises and treaties.”

Debate Flares Over Afghanistan as Trump Considers Troop Withdrawal, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Friday, 16 August 2019: “President Trump met with top national security officials on Friday to review near-final plans for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, a prospect that has already prompted fierce political debate but could offer Mr. Trump a compelling talking point for his 2020 re-election campaign.” See also, Trump and senior aides discuss withdrawal from Afghanistan as talks with Taliban advance, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, Anne Gearan, and Philip Rucker, Friday, 16 August 2019: “U.S. negotiators have made significant advances in recent talks with the Taliban, and the two sides are close to announcing an agreement on an initial U.S. troop withdrawal, along with plans to start direct discussions between the militants and the Afghan government, according to American and foreign officials.” See also, Trump Meets With Advisers to Consider Deal With Taliban, The Wall Street Journal, Nancy A. Youssef and Craig Nelson, Friday, 16 August 2019: “President Trump met with his top national security advisers Friday to consider a deal with the Taliban that could lead to the withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the end of America’s longest military engagement abroad, U.S. officials said…. Joining the president at his New Jersey golf resort were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, national security adviser John Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy leading the peace talks.” See also, Peace Road Map for Afghanistan Will Let Taliban Negotiate Women’s Rights, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, Friday, 16 August 2019.

Continue reading Week 135, Friday, 16 August – Thursday, 22 August 2019 (Days 939-945)

California and other states sue over Trump’s plan to limit poor immigrants’ access to green cards, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 16 August 2019: “California — the state with the largest population of immigrants — filed a federal lawsuit Friday hoping to derail the Trump administration’s attempt to deny green cards and visa extensions to foreign nationals who use Medicaid, food stamps or other public assistance, or might in the future. The lawsuit is the fourth legal challenge filed this week since administration officials rolled out a new rule on Monday that seeks to redefine who will be eligible for permanent residency and a path to full U.S. citizenship. The rule, set to take effect in mid-October, will give preference to wealthier, educated immigrants who can support themselves, and it will make it more difficult for immigrants who rely on public help or are determined to be likely to need federal assistance. Opponents of the rule argue that punishing legal immigrants who need financial help endangers the health and safety of immigrant families — including U.S. citizen children — and will foist potentially millions of dollars in emergency health care and other costs onto local and state governments, businesses, hospitals and food banks.”

Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, Renounces Trip to West Bank Under Israel’s Conditions, The New York Times, David M. Halbfinger, Friday, 16 August 2019: “Israel relented slightly on Friday after barring Representative Rashida Tlaib under pressure from President Trump, and said she could visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank. Israel acted after Ms. Tlaib, an outspoken Palestinian-American in her first term, agreed in writing not to promote boycotts against Israel during the trip. But Ms. Tlaib, facing criticism by Palestinians and other opponents of the Israeli occupation, quickly reversed course herself, saying she could not make the trip under ‘these oppressive conditions. Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me,’ she said of her grandmother in a Twitter post. ‘It would kill a piece of me.'” See also, Representative Rashida Tlaib says she will not go to Israel after the country initially rejected her request for a visit and then reversed course, The Washington Post, Ruth Eglash, James McAuley, and John Wagner, Friday, 16 August 2019: “Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Friday that she would not travel to Israel under ‘oppressive conditions’ to see her 90-year-old grandmother after the Israeli government reversed course and said it would allow her to make the trip. After initially banning her and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from entering the country, Israel relented earlier Friday in response to a request from Tlaib to see her grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank, during a four-day trip planned for next week. Hours later, Tlaib said she had decided not to travel to Israel under conditions that would have included a pledge in writing not to ‘promote boycotts against Israel’ while there.”

Lawmakers Accuse the State Department of Defying Federal Law by Missing Deadlines for Yemen Reports, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 16 August 2019: “In defiance of federal law, the State Department is refusing to submit reports to Congress detailing efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, according to legislators and congressional aides. Trump administration officials have missed both congressionally mandated deadlines this year to submit the biannual reports, most recently last week. This has further inflamed tensions between the administration and legislators who were already furious with the administration’s unflagging support of the Saudi government and were still stung by the White House’s decision in May to circumvent Congress to sell arms to Riyadh.”

New York City Medical Examiner Says Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Was a Suicide, The New York Times, Ali Watkins and Michael Gold, Friday, 16 August 2019: “The New York City medical examiner said on Friday that Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a federal jail cell was a suicide, confirming he had hanged himself. Mr. Epstein’s death had set off a wave of unfounded conspiracy theories, as people speculated online, without evidence, that he might have been killed to keep him from providing information to prosecutors about others in his social circle, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain. But the chief medical examiner in New York City, Dr. Barbara Sampson, ruled out foul play. She released a terse statement saying that, after an autopsy and a ‘careful review of all investigative information,’ she had determined the cause of Mr. Epstein’s death was ‘hanging’ and the manner was ‘suicide.'” See also, The New York City medical examiner concludes Jeffrey Epstein’s death is a suicide by hanging, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Friday, 16 August 2019.

‘Greenland Is Not for Sale’: Trump’s Talk of a Purchase Draws Derision, The New York Times, Martin Selsoe Sorensen, Friday, 16 August 2019: “President Trump’s idea to possibly buy Greenland for its natural resources left residents of the semiautonomous Danish territory amused, apoplectic and in disbelief, and received a chilly reception in Denmark on Friday. ‘I hope it’s a joke, because it’s a terrible and grotesque thought,’ said Martin Lidegaard, chairman of Denmark’s Foreign Policy Committee. ‘It must be an April Fool’s Day joke … but totally out of season,’ Lars Lokke Rasmussen, a former prime minister of Denmark and the leader of the opposition, posted on Twitter.” See also, Trump aides look into the U.S. purchasing Greenland after Directives from Trump, The Washington Post, Damian Paletta and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 16 August 2019. See also, Greenland tells Trump it is open for business but is not for sale, Reuters, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Friday, 16 August 2019.


Saturday, 17 August 2019, Day 940:


How Stephen Miller Rode an Anti-Immigration Wave to the White House, The New York Times, Jason DeParle, Saturday, 17 August 2019: “The story of Mr. Miller’s rise has been told with a focus on his pugnacity and paradoxes. Known more for his enemies than his friends, he is a conservative firebrand from liberal Santa Monica, Calif., and a descendant of refugees who is seeking to eliminate refugee programs. He is a Duke graduate in bespoke suits who rails against the perfidy of so-called elites. Among those who have questioned his moral fitness are his uncle, his childhood rabbi and 3,400 fellow Duke alumni. Less attention has been paid to the forces that have abetted his rise and eroded Republican support for immigration — forces Mr. Miller has personified and advanced in a career unusually reflective of its times.”


Sunday, 18 August 2019, Day 941:


How Trump’s Policies Are Leaving Thousands of Asylum Seekers Waiting in Mexico, The New York Times, Jason Kao and Denise Lu, Sunday, 18 August 2019: “For years, migrants arriving in Tijuana hoping to seek asylum in the United States have been told to add their names to a waiting list kept by Mexican immigration officials. Amid a surge in arrivals over the last year, which led to Trump administration policies designed to deter them, that list — kept in a handwritten notebook — has stretched to thousands of names. By August, the list had grown to more than 10,000 people, according to Al Otro Lado, a legal services organization for migrants. With an average of 34 people allowed to cross each day under a Border Patrol policy known as metering, the waiting time is now estimated to be six to nine months.”

In Economic Warning Signals, Trump Sees Signs of a Conspiracy, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 18 August 2019: “President Trump, confronting perhaps the most ominous economic signs of his time in office, has unleashed what is by now a familiar response: lashing out at what he believes is a conspiracy of forces arrayed against him. He has insisted that his own handpicked Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, is intentionally acting against him. He has said other countries, including allies, are working to hurt American economic interests. And he has accused the news media of trying to create a recession.”

Trump confirms he’s interested in buying Greenland, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Tory Newmyer, Sunday, 18 August 2019: “President Trump confirmed Sunday that he has asked his administration to explore the possibility of buying Greenland, opining that ‘essentially, it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done,’ Trump told reporters in Morristown, N.J., after wrapping up a 10-day vacation at his private golf club. He noted that owning Greenland ‘would be nice’ for the United States from a strategic perspective, but he cautioned: ‘It’s not number one on the burner, I can tell you that.'”


Monday, 19 August 2019, Day 942:


Planned Parenthood Refuses Federal Funds Over Abortion Restrictions, The New York Times, Pam Belluck, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Planned Parenthood said Monday that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program that provides birth control and other health services to poor women rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million annually through the federal program, known as Title X. The funds have enabled the group to provide more than 1.5 million low-income women each year with services like birth control and pregnancy tests, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and breast and cervical cancer. In some rural communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of such services.” See also, Planned Parenthood pulls out of family planning program over Trump abortion rule, Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Planned Parenthood made good Monday on months of threats to pull out of the Title X federal family planning program rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule barring federally funded clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.” See also, Planned Parenthood to Withdraw From Title X Funding Program Over Abortion Restrictions, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Planned Parenthood Federation of America said on Monday it would withdraw from the federal Title X family-planning program rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule preventing clinics from referring patients for abortions. The organization’s decision to forgo federal funding for contraception and other family-planning services, estimated at about $60 million a year across its affiliate clinics, will have a profound impact on the organization’s future and the patients it serves. It also sharpens what some observers see as a conflict between Planned Parenthood’s mission as a health-care provider and its political advocacy for abortion rights. That perceived conflict contributed to the firing last month of Leana Wen, the organization’s president for just eight months, who sought to curb the most political aspects of the group’s messaging.”

Elizabeth Warren Apologizes at Native American Forum: ‘I Have Listened, and I Have Learned,’ The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, speaking at a presidential forum on Native American issues on Monday, offered a direct, public apology for the ‘harm’ she caused with her past claims of Native American ancestry and pledged to uplift Native people as president. ‘Like anyone who’s being honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes,’ said Ms. Warren, who was met with a standing ovation when she took the stage. ‘I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot, and I am grateful for the many conversations that we’ve had together.’… It remains to be seen how much the ancestry issue will linger over Ms. Warren as the campaign goes on. At a rally in New Hampshire last week, Mr. Trump repeated the ‘Pocahontas’ slur and promised there would be more to come. ‘I did the Pocahontas thing,’ he said. ‘I hit her really hard, and it looked like she was down and out, but that was too long ago. I should have waited. But don’t worry, we will revive it.’… Introducing Ms. Warren at the forum, [Representative Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico,] noted that some in the news media had asked her whether Mr. Trump’s criticism of Ms. Warren over her ancestry would ‘hamper her ability to convey a clear campaign message. I say that every time they ask about Elizabeth’s family instead of the issues of vital importance to Indian Country, they feed the president’s racism,’ she said. ‘Elizabeth knows she will be attacked, but she’s here to be an unwavering partner in our struggle because that is what a leader does.’ Ms. Haaland then offered a stinging appraisal of Mr. Trump: ‘I say the president who worships Andrew Jackson, who coddles white supremacists and defends Vladimir Putin, who cages children and freely admitted to assaulting women, is no match for a woman with a plan.'” See also, Senator Elizabeth Warren apologizes ‘for harm that I have caused’ to Native Americans, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey and Holly Bailey, Monday, 19 August 2019.

Trump again appears to back away from gun background checks, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and David Nakamura, Monday, 19 August 2019: “President Trump appears to be backing away from potential support for gun background check legislation, according to White House aides, congressional leaders and gun advocates, dimming prospects that Washington will approve significant new gun measures in the wake of mass shootings that left 31 dead.” See also, After Lobbying by Gun Rights Advocates, Trump Retreats From Endorsing What He Described as ‘Very Meaningful Background Checks,’ The New York Times, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Days after a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump said he was prepared to endorse what he described as ‘very meaningful background checks’ that would be possible because of his ‘greater influence now over the Senate and over the House.’ But after discussions with gun rights advocates during his two-week working vacation in Bedminster, N.J. — including talks with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association — Mr. Trump’s resolve appears to have substantially softened, and he has reverted to reiterating the conservative positions on the gun issue he has espoused since the 2016 campaign…. ‘We’ve seen this movie before,’ Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a statement. ‘President Trump, feeling public pressure in the immediate aftermath of a horrible shooting, talks about doing something meaningful to address gun violence, but inevitably, he backtracks in response to pressure from the N.R.A. and the hard right.'”

Trump Calls for the Federal Reserve to Sharply Cut Interest Rates and Again Criticizes Central Bank Chairman Jerome Powell, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Andrew Restuccia, and Paul Kiernan, Monday, 19 August 2019: “President Trump on Monday called for the Federal Reserve to sharply cut interest rates and again criticized the central bank’s chairman for a ‘horrendous lack of vision,’ while reiterating his belief that the U.S. economy is strong. The president said in a pair of tweets Monday morning that the Fed should cut its benchmark interest rate by at least a full percentage point and resume its crisis-era program of buying bonds to lower long-term borrowing costs. Such moves would typically be considered only when the economy faces serious peril, which Fed officials don’t believe to be the case.” See also, Trump calls on the Federal Reserve to cut rates by 100 basis points amid recession fears, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Damian Paletta, Monday, 19 August 2019.

‘Facts matter’: Federal Election Commission chairwoman Ellen Weintraub challenges Trump’s voter fraud claims, Politico, Quint Forgey, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Ellen Weintraub, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, on Monday rebuked President Donald Trump’s repeated allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election as ‘damaging to our democracy’ and wholly unsubstantiated. ‘There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in 2016 or really in any previous election,’ Weintraub, a Democrat, told CNN. ‘People have studied this. Academics have studied this. Lawyers have studied this. The government has studied this. Democrats have studied this. Republicans have studied this,’ she continued. ‘And no one can find any evidence of rampant voter fraud either historically or particularly in the 2016 elections.'”

Iceland Mourns the Loss of a Glacier by Posting a Warning About Climate Change, The New York Times, Laura M. Holson, Monday, 19 August 2019: “They arrived on Sunday in parkas and ski hats, hiking across the rocky terrain where Iceland’s Okjokull glacier once flourished. Today it is a watery grave, which scientists and politicians say is the site of the nation’s first glacier lost to climate change. A lake of melted ice now dominates the landscape amid a barren stretch of stone and dirt. The site was renamed to Ok after ‘jokull,’ meaning ‘glacier’ in Icelandic, was dropped. In 2014, Oddur Sigurosson, one of the country’s leading glaciologists, declared Okjokull dead, saying the ice was too thin for it to qualify as a glacier. To mark its end, Icelanders unveiled a bronze plaque with a warning: ‘In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.'”

Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib blast Israel for blocking their visit, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Monday, 19 August 2019: “Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the two Muslim congresswomen prohibited from entering Israel last week, on Monday blasted the U.S. ally for blocking their visit and sought to highlight challenges facing Palestinians under Israeli policies in a rare news conference during a congressional recess.” See also, Trump questions the sincerity of Tlaib’s tears as she talked about her grandmother, The Washington Post, John Wagner, published on Tuesday, 20 August 2019.

Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of Trump, The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, published online on Monday, 19 August 2019 and in the print edition on Monday, 26 August 2019: “Like many Republicans who [in 2016] called Trump a ‘kook,’ a ‘cancer,’ and a threat to democracy before ultimately supporting him, Pompeo disagreed with much of Trump’s platform. He took issue in particular with Trump’s ‘America First’ skepticism about the United States’ role in the world. Pompeo was a conservative internationalist who had been shaped by his Cold War-era military service, and he remained a believer in American power as the guarantor of global stability. Yet, after Trump won the Presidency, Pompeo sought a post in his Administration and did not hesitate to serve as his C.I.A. director. In 2018, after Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, by tweet, Pompeo happily replaced him as America’s top diplomat. Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk, now says it’s possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther, the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish people. He defines his own job as serving the President, whatever the President asks of him. ‘A Secretary of State has to know what the President wants,’ he said, at a recent appearance in Washington. ‘To the extent you get out of synch with that leader, then you’re just out shooting the breeze.’ No matter what Trump has said or done, Pompeo has stood by him. As a former senior White House official told me, ‘There will never be any daylight publicly between him and Trump.’ The former official said that, in private, too, Pompeo is ‘among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.’ Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador told me, ‘He’s like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.'”


Tuesday, 20 August 2019, Day 943:


Trump Accuses Jewish Democrats of ‘Great Disloyalty,’ The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “President Trump said on Tuesday that any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat is guilty of ignorance or ‘great disloyalty,’ intensifying his efforts to drive in a partisan wedge over religion and support for Israel even as he appeared to draw on an anti-Semitic trope. Mr. Trump did not go into specifics about what he considered to be Jews’ disloyalty, but his language was reminiscent of the anti-Semitic smear that Jews have a ‘dual loyalty’ and are more devoted to Israel than they are to their own countries.” See also, Trump says any Jewish people who vote for Democrats are showing ‘great disloyalty’ or ‘lack of knowledge,’ The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, published on Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “President Trump said Tuesday that any Jewish people who vote for Democrats are showing ‘either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,’ prompting an outcry from critics who said the president’s remarks were promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes.”

A Call With Trump Gets the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) Results, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, and Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “President Trump spent at least 30 minutes on the phone Tuesday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, the latest conversation in an aggressive campaign by gun rights advocates to influence the White House in the weeks since the back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. The call ended the way that Mr. LaPierre had hoped it would: with Mr. Trump espousing N.R.A. talking points in the Oval Office and warning of the radical steps he said Democrats wanted to take in violation of the Second Amendment.” See also, Trump’s Phone Calls With Wayne LaPierre Reveal the Influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), The Atlantic, Elaina Plott, Tuesday, 20 August 2019. See also, Trump tells NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre that universal background checks are off the table, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, Tuesday, 20 August 2019.

Trump Cancels Trip to Denmark Because Denmark’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, Has No Interest in Discussing the Purchase of Greenland by the U.S., The New York Times, Annie Karni, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday night abruptly canceled a coming trip to Denmark, writing on Twitter that because the country’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, ‘would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland,’ they would meet ‘another time.’… This week, Mr. Trump confirmed reports about his long-held interest in buying Greenland from Denmark, a land deal he has become interested in because of the country’s natural resources, like coal and uranium…. Mr. Trump said he was reacting to Ms. Frederiksen’s hard rejection of his interest. ‘Greenland is not for sale,’ she told a Danish newspaper this week. ‘Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously.’ Apparently, it was.” See also, Trump postpones Denmark Trip after prime minister declines to sell him Greenland, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Anne Gearan, and Damian Paletta, published on Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday abruptly called off a trip to Denmark, announcing in a tweet that he was postponing the visit because the country’s leader was not interested in selling him Greenland. The move comes two days after Trump told reporters that owning Greenland, a self-governing country that is part of the kingdom of Denmark, ‘would be nice’ for the United States from a strategic perspective. Trump’s announcement suggests that, despite his denials, the central purpose of his trip had been discussion of a U.S. purchase of the massive, glaciered island, which holds increasing value as melting sea ice opens new parts of the Arctic to shipping and resource extraction.”

The US Is Set to Drown the World in Oil, Global Witness, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “A staggering 61% of the world’s new oil and gas production over the next decade is set to come from one country alone: the United States. The sheer scale of this new production dwarfs that of every other country in the world and would spell disaster for the world’s ambitions to curb climate change – the effects of which we’re already witnessing through massive heat waves, flooding, and extreme weather. Earlier this year, we crunched the numbers from the latest climate science and industry forecasts and found that we can’t afford to drill up any oil and gas from new fields anywhere in the world if we’re to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Man Who Claimed Trump Will Start a ‘Racial War and Crusade’ Is Arrested, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “A Nazi sympathizer who threatened to butcher a Hispanic woman and boasted that President Trump would wipe out nonwhites in a ‘racial war and crusade’ was arrested on charges of making threats, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday. Prosecutors said that the suspect, Eric Lin, 35, sent a barrage of chilling and gruesome Facebook messages to the unidentified woman, who lives in Miami. Mr. Lin was arrested on Friday in Seattle, where he had recently moved from Clarksburg, Md., but was charged in Miami. ‘This is a RACE WAR and ALL of you will DIE!’ Mr. Lin wrote to the woman on Facebook in early June, according to a criminal complaint. The next day, he wrote, ‘You want to see what a real Nazi can do?’ adding later that he was operating under the authority of Hitler. In July, he wrote that ‘I thank God everyday President Donald John Trump is President and that he will launch a Racial War and Crusade.’ Mr. Lin’s arrest was the latest example in a series of what the authorities say are racially motivated threats and possible attacks by violent domestic extremists that have received renewed attention amid a spate of mass shootings and other violence. ‘Domestic violent extremists collectively pose a steady threat of violence and economic harm to the United States,’ the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said last month at a Senate hearing.”

Trump Says He’s Exploring ‘Various Tax Reductions,’ and the Economic Data He Loves Shows Why, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “President Trump on Tuesday confirmed that he is considering ‘various tax reductions,’ including a payroll tax cut, to stimulate the economy as many of the indicators his administration has used to showcase a Trump-fueled economic ‘boom’ have fizzled on the back of the president’s escalating trade fights.” See also, Trump confirms he’s considering a payroll tax cut amid mounting economic concerns, The Washington Post, Damian Paletta, Felicia Sonmez, and Rachael Bade, Tuesday, 20 August 2019. See also, Trump admits his trade war could lead to recession but says ‘I have to do it,’ The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 20 August 2019.

Trump Says He Has the Authority to Reduce Capital Gains Taxes, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 20 August 2019: “President Trump said on Tuesday that he was considering giving investors a big tax cut that would primarily benefit the rich, and that he believed he could do it without approval from Congress. Speaking at the White House, Mr. Trump said that the majority of his economic advisers supported the idea of reducing taxes on profits that investors earn when selling assets like stocks or bonds. This would be done by indexing capital gains to inflation, which the president believes could be accomplished with his executive authority.”


Wednesday, 21 August 2019, Day 944:


Migrant Families Would Face Indefinite Detention Under New Trump Rule, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled a regulation to allow it to indefinitely detain migrant families who illegally cross the border. The rule replaces a decades-old court agreement that mandates a level of care for migrant children and limits how long the government can hold them in custody. For more than a year, the White House has pressed the Department of Homeland Security to find a way to eliminate the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which limits the time children can spend in detention and establishes minimum standards for the holding facilities for families and children. Immigration hard-liners inside the administration say the move is crucial to halting the flow of migrants across the southwestern border. The administration’s goal with the new rule is deterrence, and its message to families fleeing Central American is blunt: Come here and we will lock you up. Critics say it is the latest in a series of policies by President Trump meant to close off the United States from the rest of the world.” See also, The Flores Agreement Protected Migrant Children for Decades. The Trump Administration’s New Regulations Aim to End It. The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, published on Tuesday, 20 August 2019. See also, Fact-Checking Trump’s False Claim That He Didn’t Start Family Separations at the Border, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Wednesday, 21 August 2019. See also, Trump administration moves to terminate court agreement and to dramatically increase the time children spend in custody, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “The Trump administration is moving to terminate a federal court settlement restricting how long U.S. officials can detain migrant children with their parents and replace it with a rule that could expand family detention and dramatically increase the time children spend in custody. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services will issue a rule Friday to withdraw from the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal consent decree that has set basic standards for the detention of migrant children and teenagers by the United States since 1997. The new rule will need the approval of a federal judge, who declined the government’s request last year to expand detentions.” See also, Trump Administration Seeks Longer Detentions for Migrant Families, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “The Trump administration moved Wednesday to allow the government to indefinitely detain families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and supersede a decades-old federal court settlement that limits how long migrant children can be held in custody and sets standards for their care. The new rules are the Trump administration’s latest effort to tighten immigration law on its own, with Congress unable to agree on an overhaul of immigration law. If it were to survive a likely court challenge, the policy change could permit authorities to detain families through the duration of their immigration proceedings, rather than release them or separate children from their detained parents.”

Parkland Shooting Survivors Release Ambitious Gun Control Plan, The New York Times, Adeel Hassan, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “March for Our Lives, a group led by student survivors of last year’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., unveiled an ambitious gun control platform on Wednesday that would ban assault-style weapons, raise the minimum age for buying firearms, create a national gun registry and require gun owners to pay for new licenses each year. The plan would go well beyond gun control measures like ‘red flag’ laws and expanded background checks, which have been openly discussed after 31 people were killed in recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso. Most, if not all, of the proposals in the Parkland group’s ‘Peace Plan for a Safer America’ would face opposition from the gun lobby and its supporters in the federal government, who would be likely to argue that the measures would impinge on Second Amendment rights. The student activists, who organized and led the March for Our Lives — their first act of protest — are calling for a comprehensive plan that is as sweeping and demanding as the Green New Deal, the resolution introduced in Congress this year that charts a grand plan for tackling climate change.” See also, Parkland students unveil a sweeping gun-control proposal and hope for a youth voting surge in 2020, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany and Matt Viser, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland, Fla., are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections. The students are speaking out for the first time since 31 people were killed in one weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. They hope their plan — unveiled Wednesday morning — will be considered by President Trump as well as his Democratic presidential rivals and will serve as a catalyst for a surge of youth voters next year…. Called ‘A Peace Plan for a Safer America,’ the ambitious platform, which was obtained by The Washington Post, goes much further than the current debate over universal background checks and ‘red flag’ laws, which would apply to people who could be a danger to themselves and others…. The Peace Plan would create a national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a ‘national director of gun violence prevention’ who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency. It would dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns in ways sure to spark fierce blowback, including raising the age to 21 from 18 for those who want to buy guns. It calls for a ‘multi-step’ gun licensing system, overseen by a federal agency, that would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before gun purchases are approved. The license would be renewed annually.”

Trump Again Accuses U.S. Jews of Disloyalty, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “President Trump on Wednesday thanked a conspiracy theorist for saying Jews in Israel love the president ‘like he’s the King of Israel’ and doubled down on his efforts to pit American Jews against one another, accusing Jewish voters of disloyalty if they voted for Democrats. It was the second day in a row that Mr. Trump addressed Jews and loyalty, a theme evoking an anti-Semitic trope that Jews have a ‘dual loyalty’ and are often more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.” See also, Trump quotes conspiracy theorist claiming Israelis ‘love him like he is the second coming of God,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “President Trump went on Twitter on Wednesday to quote a conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist who praised him as ‘the greatest President for Jews’ and claimed that Israelis ‘love him like he is the second coming of God.’ In his tweets, Trump thanked Wayne Allyn Root for ‘the very nice words.’ Root has promoted numerous conspiracy theories, including that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, that Democratic National Committee staff member Seth Rich was killed by any one of a number of prominent Democrats, that a mass shooting in Las Vegas was coordinated by Muslims and that the person responsible for the death of Heather Heyer at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was paid by a wealthy Democrat.” See also, Trump says that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are ‘very disloyal to Israel,’ and he denies his remarks are anti-Semitic, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “President Trump said Wednesday that Jewish Americans who vote for Democratic candidates are ‘very disloyal to Israel,’ expanding on his remarks from the previous day and dismissing criticism that his remarks were anti-Semitic. ‘I think if you vote for a Democrat, you are very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people,’ Trump said in an exchange with reporters outside the White House before departing for an event in Kentucky. On Tuesday, Trump had criticized Democrats over the views of Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Both women have long been fierce critics of Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. They support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a global protest of Israel. He had accused Jewish people of ‘great disloyalty’ if they vote for Democrats, although he did not say at the time disloyalty to whom.” See also, The Toxic Back Story to the Charge That Jews Have a Dual Loyalty, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “When President Trump said this week that American Jews who chose to vote for Democrats were being disloyal, he was flirting with a notion that has fueled anti-Semitism for generations and has been at the root of some of the most brutal violence inflicted upon Jews in their history. The accusation that Jews have a ‘dual loyalty’ — that they are not to be trusted because their true allegiance is to their religion, rather than to the country in which they live — dates back thousands of years. It animated the Nazis in 1930s Germany, when they accused Jewish people of being traitors and used charges of disloyalty to justify their arrests, persecutions and mass killings.” See also, Trump stands by antisemitic trope that sparked anger among Jewish Americans, The Guardian, Ed Pilkington and Edward Helmore, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “Donald Trump on Wednesday repeated an antisemitic trope that has prompted dismay among prominent American Jews, saying that voting Democratic was ‘disloyal to Jewish people and … very disloyal to Israel.’ Prominent US Jews have reacted with shock and disdain to Trump’s renewed adoption of a longstanding antisemitic trope that implied that American Jews had divided loyalty to America and to Israel. Over almost 24 hours he has repeatedly described Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats as showing ‘either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.'”

The Trump Administration Saw Riches in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, but Reality May Fall Short, The New York Times, Henry Fountain and Steve Eder, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “When the Trump administration first pushed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, it predicted that drilling would generate a windfall for the federal Treasury: $1.8 billion, by a White House estimate. But two years later, with the expected sale of the first oil and gas leases just months away, a New York Times analysis of prior lease sales suggests that the new activity may yield as little as $45 million over the next decade. Even the latest federal government estimate is half the figure the White House predicted.”

Budget Deficit on Path to Surpass $1 Trillion Under Trump, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “The federal budget deficit is growing faster than expected as President Trump’s spending and tax cut policies force the United States to borrow increasing sums of money. The deficit — the gap between what the government takes in through taxes and other sources of revenue and what it spends — will reach $960 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That gap will widen to $1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office said in updated forecasts released on Wednesday. The updated projections show deficits rising — and damage from Mr. Trump’s tariffs mounting — faster than the office had previously predicted. In May, the budget office said it expected a deficit of $896 billion for 2019 and $892 billion for 2020.” See also, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Says Federal Deficits to Grow More Than Expected Over the Next Decade, The Wall Street Journal, Kate Davidson, Wednesday, 21 August 2019.

In Reversal, Trump Says He Is No Longer Considering Tax Cuts, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Alex Leary, and Andrew Restuccia, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “President Trump backed away from pursuing new tax cuts to bolster the U.S. economy, a sharp reversal from a day earlier, when he had described several such measures the White House was contemplating. ‘I just don’t see any reason to,’ Mr. Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House when asked if he was pursuing any tax cuts. ‘We don’t need it. We have a strong economy.’ Mr. Trump also dismissed another idea he floated a day earlier: lowering capital-gains taxes by indexing gains to inflation.”

Bernie Sanders Unveils Sweeping Labor Plan With Sectorwide Bargaining, Bloomberg, Josh Eidelson, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “Bernie Sanders wants to fundamentally overhaul U.S. labor law by expanding workers’ rights to organize and strike and establishing a new system of sectorwide bargaining. The Vermont senator will unveil the plan Wednesday as he and most other Democratic presidential candidates address the Iowa Federation of Labor’s annual convention in Altoona. Organized labor is a key constituency and major source of Democratic votes, volunteers and campaign funds.”

Giuliani Renews Push for Ukraine to Investigate Trump’s Political Opponents, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel and Andrew E. Kramer, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “Months after backing out of a trip to Ukraine amid criticism that he was mixing partisan politics with foreign policy, Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, has renewed his push for the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into political opponents of Mr. Trump.”

Federal judge allows Trump to appeal lawsuit over foreign payments accepted by his hotels, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 21 August 2019: “A federal judge Wednesday allowed President Trump to appeal rulings in a lawsuit that accuses him of violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments, putting the case on hold in the meantime. The ruling by District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan effectively pauses a lawsuit brought by more than 200 congressional Democrats, who say Trump’s companies, which include hotels, should be prohibited from taking payments from foreign states. Trump has argued that the Democrats do not have legal standing to sue him in the first place.”


Thursday, 22 August 2019, Day 945:


Bernie Sanders’s ‘Green New Deal’: A $16 Trillion Climate Plan, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 22 August 2019: “Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday released a $16.3 trillion blueprint to fight climate change, the latest and most expensive proposal from the field of Democratic presidential candidates aimed at reining in planet-warming greenhouse gases. Mr. Sanders unveiled his proposal one day after Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who made climate change the central focus of his campaign, announced he was dropping out of the 2020 race. Mr. Inslee’s absence could create an opening for another presidential aspirant to seize the mantle of ‘climate candidate.’ Mr. Sanders was an early supporter of the Green New Deal, an ambitious but nonbinding congressional plan for tackling global warming and economic inequality. He is bestowing that same name upon his new plan, which calls for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050. It declares climate change a national emergency; envisions building new solar, wind and geothermal power sources across the country; and commits $200 billion to help poor nations cope with climate change. Mr. Sanders said in an interview that his proposal would ‘pay for itself’ over 15 years and create 20 million jobs in the process.” See also, Bernie Sanders unveils $16.3 trillion plan to avert a ‘climate catastrophe,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Thursday, 22 August 2019: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday unveiled a sweeping $16.3 trillion plan that aims to avert a “climate catastrophe” and create 20 million new jobs in the process. The blueprint is the most expensive by far of those released by Democratic White House hopefuls as they seek to position themselves as the contender most dedicated to combating climate change, a salient issue for liberal primary voters…. Sanders was an early supporter of a nonbinding congressional plan promoted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) among others, known as the Green New Deal. Sanders’s plan, which attempts to build on that, goes by the same name. His plan calls for reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030 and ‘complete decarbonization’ by 2050. He pledges to declare climate change a national emergency if elected president, calling it an ‘existential threat.'”