Trump Administration, Week 139: Friday, 13 September – Thursday, 19 September 2019 (Days 967-973)


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.

For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!


Friday, 13 September 2019, Day 967:


U.S. Appeals Court Reinstates Emoluments Case Against Trump, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Friday, 13 September 2019: “A federal appeals court in New York on Friday revived a lawsuit alleging that President Trump is illegally profiting from his hotels and restaurants in New York and Washington in violation of the Constitution’s anti-corruption, or emoluments, clauses. In a two-to-one decision, a panel of judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that a lower court had wrongly dismissed the lawsuit accusing Mr. Trump of violating the Constitution’s bans on accepting financial benefits from foreign or state governments. The appeals court judge sent the lawsuit back to the lower court, ordering it be allowed to proceed.” See also, Appeals court revives lawsuit saying Trump is violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Friday, 13 September 2019: “A federal appeals court on Friday revived a previously dismissed lawsuit against President Trump, which alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by engaging in business transactions with foreign governments. In a 2-to-1 ruling, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit found that a lower-court judge improperly threw out the lawsuit in December 2017. Now, plaintiffs are hoping this victory will allow them to seek detailed records on Trump’s transactions with foreign officials. But, if Trump appeals, as is expected, the case could go to the full 2nd Circuit — and possibly to the Supreme Court after that.” See also, Appeals court revives foreign corruption suit against Trump, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Friday, 13 September 2019: “A federal appeals court has resurrected the first lawsuit President Donald Trump faced over claims that his business dealings violated the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, which bars federal officials receiving payments from foreign governments.”

Teen activist Greta Thunberg takes her youth climate campaign to Washington, The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan and Brady Dennis, Friday, 13 September 2019: “Barely a year ago, Greta Thunberg sat alone outside the Swedish parliament each week, holding a handwritten sign that read ‘School Strike for Climate.’ But by the time the 16-year-old arrived in the United States in late August after a two-week ocean voyage on a zero-emissions boat, she was an icon of the youth climate movement. She has published a book, given barn-burning speeches before audiences of the world’s political and business leaders and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This coming Friday, she plans to lead a protest in New York ahead of a United Nations summit on climate action. Hundreds of thousands of students across more than 150 countries have said they plan to walk out of school in solidarity with her.” See also, Greta Thunberg to U.S.: ‘You Have a Moral Responsibility’ on Climate Change, NPR, Bill Chappell and Ailsa Chang, Friday, 13 September 2019: “Greta Thunberg led a protest at the White House on Friday. But she wasn’t looking to go inside — ‘I don’t want to meet with people who don’t accept the science,’ she says. The young Swedish activist joined a large crowd of protesters who had gathered outside, calling for immediate action to help the environment and reverse an alarming warming trend in average global temperatures. She says her message for President Trump is the same thing she tells other politicians: Listen to science, and take responsibility.”

Interior Department Takes Next Step Toward Sale of Drilling Leases in Arctic Refuge, The New York Times, Henry Fountain, Friday, 13 September 2019: “The Trump administration reached a milestone this week in its plan to open a pristine part of Alaska to oil and gas development with the release of a final report on the environmental impact of the plan. The report keeps the Interior Department on track to auction leases for the right to drill in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before the end of the year, a long-stated administration goal. Having drilling rights in the hands of oil companies would make it more difficult to stop development in the refuge should Democrats take either the White House or Senate and keep control of the House in the 2020 elections.”

Continue reading Week 139, Friday, 13 September – Thursday, 19 September 2019 (Days 960-96)

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff accuses acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of illegally withholding ‘urgent’ whistleblower complaint, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 13 September 2019: “The nation’s top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday. Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community’s inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and of ‘urgent concern.’ ‘A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the [inspector general] determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never,’ Schiff said in a statement. ‘This raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct.'” See also, Trump’s acting Director of National Intelligence may be hiding evidence of serious White House misconduct, Quartz, Justin Rohrlich, published on Saturday, 14 September 2019.

Justice Department to Honor the Team That Worked on the Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Process, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 13 September 2019: “The Justice Department will present one of its most prestigious awards to the lawyers who worked on the highly contentious Supreme Court nomination process of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Next month, Attorney General William P. Barr will present the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service to those who worked ‘to support the nomination’ of the judge, according to an email reviewed by The New York Times.”

Top Immigration Judge Departs Amid Broader Discontent Over Trump Policies, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 13 September 2019: “The nation’s immigration judges lost a key leader this week, the latest in a string of departures at the top of the system amid a backlog of cases and a migrant crisis at the southwestern border. The official, David Neal, said that he would retire from his position as head of the judges’ appeals board effective Saturday. ‘With a heavy heart, I have decided to retire from government service,’ Mr. Neal wrote in a letter sent to the board Thursday and obtained by The New York Times.”


Saturday, 14 September 2019, Day 968:


Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. Deborah Ramirez Did Not. The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, Saturday, 14 September 2019: “During the winter of [Deborah Ramirez’s] freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed. To Ms. Ramirez it wasn’t funny at all. It was the nadir of her first year, when she often felt insufficiently rich, experienced or savvy to mingle with her more privileged classmates…. Mr. Kavanaugh, now a justice on the Supreme Court, has adamantly denied her claims. Those claims became a flash point during his confirmation process last year, when he was also fighting other sexual misconduct allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who had attended a Washington-area high school near his. Ms. Ramirez’s story would seem far less damaging to Mr. Kavanaugh’s reputation than those of Dr. Ford, who claimed that he pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes while covering her mouth. But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been ‘the talk of campus.’ Our reporting suggests that it was…. Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.” See also, New Reporting Claims Brett Kavanaugh Did Touch Yale Classmates With His Penis–Twice, Slate, Tom Scocca, Saturday, 14 September 2019: “‘At least seven people’ were aware of the story that Brett Kavanaugh had drunkenly exposed his penis to an unwilling Yale classmate, who ended up touching it while trying to avoid him, the New York Times reported. In an excerpt from their forthcoming book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly wrote that Deborah Ramirez’s account of being confronted by the future Supreme Court justice’s penis—an incident that Kavanaugh’s supporters dismissed as uncorroborated during his 2018 confirmation hearings—was supported by their later reporting.”

Two Major Saudi Oil Installations Hit by Drone Strike, and U.S. Blames Iran, The New York Times, Ben Hubbard, Palko Karasz, and Stanley Reed, Saturday, 14 September 2019: “Drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on Saturday, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies. The attacks immediately escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a standoff between the United States and Iran, even as key questions remained unanswered — where the drones were launched from, and how the Houthis managed to hit facilities deep in Saudi territory, some 500 miles from Yemeni soil. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind what he called ‘an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply’ and asserted that there was ‘no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.’ He did not, however, specify an alternative launch site, and the Saudis themselves refrained from pointing the finger directly at Iran.”

Bernie Sanders, in Las Vegas, Previews Plan for Affordable Housing, The New York Times, Sydney Ember, Saturday, 14 September 2019: “Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a $2.5 trillion housing policy plan on Saturday that would include ending homelessness and limiting rent increases across the country by imposing a national rent control standard. Mr. Sanders said that over the next decade, his plan would expand public housing, increase the availability of affordable housing and cap annual rent increases nationally, regardless of income, at no more than one and a half times the rate of inflation or 3 percent, whichever is higher. His campaign said he would be releasing his full plan within the next month.”


Sunday, 15 September 2019, Day 969:


Calls for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Impeachment Come Amid New Misconduct Allegations, The New York Times, Sandra E. Garcia, Sunday, 15 September 2019: “Several Democratic presidential candidates called for the impeachment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on Sunday after The New York Times published new information about allegations of sexual misconduct against him, while Republican leaders condemned the reporting as irresponsible and defended him. President Trump on Twitter accused news outlets of trying to pressure the justice into taking more liberal positions and suggested, without elaborating, that the ‘Justice Department should come to his rescue.'” See also, Democratic candidates demand Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s impeachment after new allegation in Times piece, The Washington Post, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Cat Zakrzewski, and Robert O’Harrow Jr., Sunday, 15 September 2019: “Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday demanded that Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh be investigated or impeached in response to a new allegation that he exposed himself to a female classmate at a drunken dorm party years ago at Yale University. The allegation surfaced Saturday night in a New York Times report. A classmate, Max Stier, said he saw Kavanaugh with his pants down at the party, where friends pushed Kavanaugh’s penis into the young woman’s hand, the Times reported. Stier notified senators and the FBI before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but the FBI did not investigate, the Times reported. The Washington Post last year confirmed that two intermediaries had relayed such a claim to lawmakers and the FBI. The Post did not publish a story in part because the intermediaries declined to identify the alleged witness and because the woman who was said to be involved declined to comment. The Times article, drawing from reporting for a forthcoming book, is based on interviews with ‘two officials who have communicated with Mr. ­Stier.'” See also, Trump stands up for Justice Brett Kavanaugh over ‘liable,’ Politico, David Cohen, Sunday, 15 September 2019: “President Donald Trump on Sunday once again came to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. ‘Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for liable, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue,’ the president wrote on Twitter, misspelling the word ‘libel.’ Approximately an hour after the original tweet, he sent out a new one with the correct spelling.”

U.S. Says Saudi Oil Attack Photos Implicate Iran; Trump Hints at Military Action, The New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Farnaz Fassihi, and David D. Kirkpatrick, Sunday, 15 September 2019: “The Trump administration intensified its focus on Iran Sunday as the likely culprit behind attacks on important Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, with officials citing intelligence assessments to support the accusation and President Trump warning that he was prepared to take military action. The government released satellite photographs showing what officials said were at least 17 points of impact at several Saudi energy facilities from strikes they said came from the north or northwest. That would be consistent with an attack coming from the direction of the northern Persian Gulf, Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen, where the Iranian-backed Houthi militia that claimed responsibility for the strikes operates.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Talking to Trump on Guns, Try to Sweeten the Deal, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sunday, 15 September 2019: “The top two Democrats in Congress, seeking to ramp up pressure on Republicans to pass legislation extending background checks to all gun buyers, told President Trump on Sunday that they would join him at the White House for a ‘historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden’ if he agreed to the measure. The offer, made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, during an 11-minute phone conversation with Mr. Trump, comes as the president is considering a package of measures to respond to the mass shootings that have terrorized the nation in recent months. The three spoke only about gun legislation, according to aides.” See also, In call with Trump, Pelosi and Schumer say any gun bill that doesn’t include background checks ‘will not get the job done,’ The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Sunday, 15 September 2019: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday urged President Trump to endorse House-passed gun measures and pledged to join him for a ‘historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden’ if the legislation is passed. The Democratic leaders said in a joint statement that they spoke with Trump by phone Sunday morning at their request, 200 days after the House passed H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112. The two measures, which would expand federal background checks for gun purchases and transfers, represent the first major firearm restrictions to advance in a generation. Trump has threatened to veto both measures. The Democrats’ push for action comes amid public outrage over mass shootings across the country, including rampages last month in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso that left 31 people dead.”


Monday, 16 September 2019, Day 970:


8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan District Attorney, The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Monday, 16 September 2019: “State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.” See also, Manhattan district attorney subpoenas 8 years of Trump tax returns, CNN, Kara Scannell and Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 16 September 2019: “New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has subpoenaed eight years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns from Mazars USA, the longtime accounting firm to Trump and the Trump Organization, as part of its investigation into hush money payments, according to a person familiar with the matter. The subpoena marks a new escalation in the large-scale effort to obtain the President’s tax returns, a battle that has largely played out in courts as the Trump administration has continued to stand its ground against efforts to secure any of Trump’s financial information. Trump has claimed that ongoing IRS audits have stopped him from making his tax returns public, even though audits don’t prevent individuals from releasing tax returns.”

Covering Climate Now: A New Beginning for Climate Reporting, Columbia Journalism Review, Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope, Monday, 16 September 2019: “Could it be that the press, especially the US press, is finally waking up to the climate story? It has been 30 years since Bill McKibben rang the warning bells about the threat of man-made climate change—first in a piece in The New Yorker, and then in his book, The End of Nature. For most of that time, the response from most quarters of the media, especially in the US, has been either silence or, worse, getting the story wrong. Reporters and their news organizations sidelined climate stories as too technical or too political or too depressing. Spun by the fossil-fuel industry and vexed by their own business problems, media outlets often leaned on a false balance between the views of genuine scientists and those of paid corporate mouthpieces. The media’s minimization of the looming disaster is one of our great journalistic failures. It is heartening, then, to report that the press may at last be waking up to the defining story of our time. At the end of April, the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation launched Covering Climate Now, a project aimed at encouraging news organizations, here and abroad, to raise their game when it comes to climate coverage. We weren’t going to tell people what to write or broadcast; we just wanted them to do more coverage, and to do it better. Close the gap, we urged them, between the size of the story and the ambition of your efforts. Try it for a week, then report back on what you learned. We had a hunch that there was a critical mass of reporters and news outlets that wanted to do more climate coverage, and hoped that by highlighting that critical mass, we could also help to grow it. That’s exactly what has happened. Our initiative has been embraced by more than 250 news outlets from across the US and around the world—big outlets and small, print and digital, TV and radio—with a combined audience of well over 1 billion people. Their response has been amazing, and gratifying. We believe that Covering Climate Now is the biggest effort ever undertaken to organize the world’s press around a single topic. (You’ll find a list of partners here, and you can follow all of us on Twitter at #CoveringClimateNow.)” See also, ‘We in the Media Have Not Been Doing Our Job’: 250+ News Outlets Pledge to Focus on the Climate Crisis, Democracy Now!, Monday, 16 September 2019: “A major new project from The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review hopes to improve global coverage of the climate crisis, with more than 250 media outlets around the world — including Democracy Now! — signing on to the effort to publish or broadcast stories on climate. Organizers say this is one of the most ambitious efforts ever to organize the world’s media around a single topic. The week of coverage, which leads up to next week’s U.N. Climate Action Summit, kicked off on Sunday. As part of the effort, CBS News released a new poll of over 2,000 U.S. residents that measured attitudes around climate change, which found that two-thirds of Americans believe climate change is either a crisis or a serious problem, and a majority want immediate action to address the Earth’s temperature rise.” See also, The Guardian is the lead partner in major global news collaboration, Covering Climate Now, The Guardian, Jane Spencer, published on Sunday, 15 September 2019: “As world leaders descend on New York for the UN climate action summit – and millions of activists prepare for a global climate strike later this week – the Guardian is joining forces with hundreds of newsrooms around the world to strengthen media coverage of the climate crisis. The Guardian is the lead partner in Covering Climate Now, an initiative founded earlier this year with Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation to address the urgent need for stronger climate coverage. More than 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries – with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people – have signed on. This week, ahead of the UN climate summit on 23 September, the Covering Climate Now partners have pledged to increase the volume and visibility of their climate coverage in the first large-scale collaboration of the partnership. The Guardian is making a selection of its climate coverage available to partners for free to help publications without dedicated environment desks serve their audiences.”

Working Families Party Endorses Elizabeth Warren. Here’s Why It Matters. The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Monday, 16 September 2019: “The Working Families Party, the labor-aligned progressive group whose electoral influence has grown since the 2016 election, has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for the Democratic presidential nomination, a boon to her candidacy as she attempts to position herself as the main challenger to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The party endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the last presidential cycle, at which time he described Working Families as ‘the closest thing’ to ‘my vision of democratic socialism.’ The group’s endorsement of Ms. Warren on Monday, one of the few by a prominent progressive organization this early in the primary, could turn heads among left-leaning Democrats desperate to defeat Mr. Biden, the more moderate front-runner, in a primary election where their party’s ideological future is at stake. ‘Senator Warren knows how to kick Wall Street kleptocrats where it hurts, and she’s got some truly visionary plans to make this country work for the many,’ said Maurice Mitchell, the Working Families Party’s national director. ‘We need a mass movement to make her plans a reality, and we’re going to be a part of that work.'”

Trump’s Deference to Saudis in Setting Terms for How the U.S. Should Respond to Attacks Touches a Nerve, The New York Times, Peter Baker and David E. Sanger, Monday, 16 September 2019: “After oil installations were blown up in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, President Trump declared that the United States was ‘locked and loaded,’ a phrase that seemed to suggest he was ready to strike back. But then he promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him ‘under what terms we would proceed.’ His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh’s bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug. It was hard to imagine him allowing NATO, or a European ally, such latitude to determine how the United States should respond. But for Mr. Trump, the Saudis have always been a special case, their economic import having often overwhelmed other considerations in his mind. Whether, and how, to commit forces is one of the most critical decisions any American president can make, but Mr. Trump’s comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision.” See also, U.S. Tells Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks Were Launched From Iran, The Wall Street Journal, Dion Nissenbaum, Summer Said, and Jared Malsin, Monday, 16 September 2019: “U.S. intelligence indicates Iran was the staging ground for a debilitating attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, people familiar with the matter said, as Washington and the kingdom weighed how to respond and oil prices soared. Monday’s assessment, which the U.S. hasn’t shared publicly, came as President Trump said he hoped to avoid a war with Iran and as Saudi Arabia asked United Nations experts to help determine who was responsible for the airstrikes.”

Joseph Maguire, Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, is told to turn over whistleblower complaint or face public questioning by Congress, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Monday, 16 September 2019: “Acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has until Tuesday to turn over a whistleblower complaint regarding a ‘serious or flagrant’ abuse involving an intelligence activity and possibly the White House. If he fails to do so, he will be ordered by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to explain publicly on Thursday his reasons for refusing. Last week, Schiff subpoenaed Maguire for the complaint, accusing him of violating whistleblower law by failing to have done so earlier. Maguire’s stated reasons have to do with the material involving ‘confidential’ and ‘potentially privileged communications,’ Schiff said in a letter Friday. Schiff has said he is unable to discuss the complaint’s content.”

New reporting details how the White House and Senate Republicans limited the FBI investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, Los Angeles Times, Jackie Calmes, Monday, 16 September 2019: “As Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh prepares for his second year on the Supreme Court, new reporting has detailed how the limits ordered by the White House and Senate Republicans last year constrained the FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct when he was a college freshman. The FBI was informed of allegations that Kavanaugh, while drunk during his freshman year at Yale, exposed himself to two heavily intoxicated female classmates on separate occasions. The bureau did not interview more than a dozen people who said they could provide information about the incidents.” See also, Senator Christopher Coons told the FBI last fall of new information about sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Monday, 16 September 2019: “A Democratic senator told the FBI last fall of new information he said was relevant to allegations made against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh — a claim that was not investigated at the time but has since become public in an upcoming book chronicling the bitter confirmation fight. Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) wrote to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Oct. 2, 2018, requesting an ‘appropriate follow up’ with one individual who had come to Coons with information about Kavanaugh. Although the person’s name was redacted in the one-page letter, a spokesman for Coons confirmed Monday that the individual was Max Stier, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University who now leads a prominent nonpartisan group in Washington. In the letter obtained by The Washington Post, Coons said ‘several individuals’ contacted his office who had wanted to share information with federal authorities but said they had ‘difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information.'” See also, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hinged on an FBI investigation that increasingly looks incomplete, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Monday, 16 September 2019. See also, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine faces fresh fire after the emergence of new sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Monday, 16 September 2019: “Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is facing fresh attacks from Democrats after a newly surfaced allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh put his contentious confirmation back in the public spotlight. Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, her most prominent opponent for reelection next year, posted a photo of Collins and Kavanaugh to Twitter on Sunday with a link to her fundraising page…. Collins’s support for Kavanaugh, announced in a 44-minute speech less than a day before the Senate voted to confirm the judge, was a key moment in the high-court saga over allegations of sexual misconduct made by several women who said they had had encounters with him decades ago. The fate of Collins, more than any other senator up for reelection next year, is tied to her handling of Kavanaugh, with Democrats arguing that her strong support provided a key boost for his confirmation and undermined her carefully tended moderate profile.”

‘Get real’: Senior Democrats shut down Kavanaugh impeachment push, Politico, Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle, Monday, 16 September 2019: “Senior Democrats are moving quickly to snuff out calls to impeach Brett Kavanaugh, arguing those tactics are unrealistic and politically harmful. Democrats are already wrestling with whether to try to oust President Donald Trump, and leadership sees little room for the party to take on a second divisive impeachment saga barely a year before the presidential election. So the demands by 2020 presidential contenders to remove the Supreme Court justice, on the heels of new reporting about allegations of sexual misconduct, are getting panned.”

Corey Lewandowski Cleared for Limited Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee, as White House Blocks Two Others, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 16 September 2019: “The White House on Monday blocked two more former aides to President Trump from testifying in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, but cleared a third witness, Corey Lewandowski, to appear publicly on Tuesday and answer limited questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president. The White House decisions amounted to mixed news for the House Judiciary Committee as it tries to crank up the intensity of an investigation devised to determine whether to recommend Mr. Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice and abuse of power — and to convince the public that such action is warranted. In Mr. Lewandowski, who managed Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and remained a confidant once he became president, the judiciary panel will be getting a figure who could help bring to life evidence uncovered by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Though the panel has publicly quizzed legal experts and Mr. Mueller on his findings, Mr. Lewandowski will be the first fact witness referenced in Mr. Mueller’s report whom the White House has not blocked from publicly testifying entirely.” See also, White House blocks two former Trump aides from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 16 September 2019: “The White House is claiming immunity over two former aides subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, blocking them from answering questions in a Tuesday hearing about what they told former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone directed Rick Dearborn, the former Trump campaign adviser and ex-White House deputy chief of staff, and Rob Porter, the former White House secretary, not to answer questions by the panel. The committee subpoenaed both ex-Trump officials — key witnesses in several instances of potential obstruction of justice laid out by Mueller — to testify Tuesday.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao faces investigation over ‘troubling’ ethics allegations, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Monday, 16 September 2019: “The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday sought documents from Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao as it investigates what it calls ‘troubling questions’ into whether the Trump appointee misused her position for personal and family benefit. Noting that federal employees are forbidden from using public office for friends’ or relatives’ ‘private gain,’ the committee’s letter to Chao cites media reports that allege the secretary leveraged her position to help Foremost Group — a New York-based shipping company that carries goods between the United States and China and that is owned by her father and sisters — gain ‘influence and status’ with the Chinese government that has given the firm millions in loans.” See also, Actions by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Have Led House Investigators to Question if She Is Using Her Office to Try to Benefit Her Family’s Financial Interests, The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Michael Forsythe, Monday, 16 September 2017: “The House Oversight and Reform Committee asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday to turn over documents related to communication with her family’s shipping company as the panel stepped up an investigation into whether any actions taken by Ms. Chao amount to a conflict of interest.”


Tuesday, 17 September 2019, Day 971:


Trump to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Stricter Auto Emissions Rules, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “The Trump administration is expected on Wednesday to formally revoke California’s authority to set auto emissions rules that are stricter than federal standards, taking a major step forward in its wide-ranging attack on government efforts to fight climate change. The formal abolishment of one of California’s signature environmental policies — tailpipe pollution is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States — will be announced Wednesday afternoon at the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump at the time will be traveling in California, where he is scheduled to attend fund-raisers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Lawyers said the action takes the administration into uncharted legal territory in its battle with the state, which has vowed to fight the change all the way to the Supreme Court.” See also, Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “The Trump administration plans this week to revoke California’s long-standing right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks, the latest step in a broad campaign to undermine Obama-era policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, two senior administration officials said. The move threatens to set in motion a massive legal battle between California and the federal government, plunge automakers into a prolonged period of uncertainty and create turmoil in the nation’s auto market.” See also, Trump is expected to revoke a decades-old rule that empowers California to set tougher car emissions standards than those required by the federal government, Los Angeles Times, Anna M. Phillips, Tuesday, 17 September 2019. See also, EPA to revoke California’s power to limit vehicle emissions, Politico, Alex Guillén, Tuesday, 17 September 2019. See also, Trump says he’s revoking California’s power to limit pollution from cars and trucks, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, published on Wednesday, 18 September 2019.

Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Stonewalls the House Judiciary Committee, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Siobhan Hughes, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stonewalled lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee about his conversations with President Trump for nearly six hours on Tuesday, after the White House sought to impose limits on the scope of his testimony. Mr. Lewandowski affirmed the accuracy of elements of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any White House obstruction of justice, including that Mr. Trump sought to have him ask the attorney general to restrict the Mueller probe in 2017. But, adhering to White House instructions, he declined to answer questions on matters not included in the Mueller report, incensing Democrats on the panel as he did so. Less than three hours into the hearing, a visibly frustrated House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) told the room: ‘Article III of the Nixon impeachment was based on this kind of obstruction of Congress by President Nixon.’ The hearing was aimed at helping House Democrats determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump. ‘Your behavior in this hearing room has been completely unacceptable,’ Mr. Nadler told Mr. Lewandowski as he concluded the hearing. He said voting to hold Mr. Lewandowski in contempt of Congress was ‘certainly under consideration.'” See also, Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, mocks Democrats, talks over lawmakers, and promotes a possible Senate bid when testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post, Rachael Bade, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “Corey Lewandowski refused to answer questions, talked over lawmakers and mocked Democrats for their investigation of President Trump. He lectured a congressman for saying the tooth fairy wasn’t real, ribbed another for a failed presidential bid and even promoted a potential run for the U.S. Senate. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Trump’s former campaign manager, hoping to learn more about his testimony to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Instead, they got a front-row seat Tuesday to the Lewandowski Show — a performance aimed at an audience of one: his former boss. Trump, who was watching, applauded Lewandowski on Twitter, writing that he gave a ‘beautiful’ opening statement. But Lewandowski’s defiance and disregard for Democrats’ impeachment inquiry also prompted a contempt threat from Democrats.” See also, Key Moments From Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 17 September 2019. See also, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, defends Trump and defies Democrats at impeachment hearing, Reuters, David Morgan and Jan Wolfe, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager on Tuesday acknowledged that his former boss enlisted him to try to limit the Russia election interference inquiry but defended Trump and tangled with Democrats during pugnacious testimony to a U.S. congressional panel mulling whether to impeach the president.” See also, Democrats see Lewandowski’s combativeness as Trump impeachment fuel, Politico, Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sent Democrats into a rage Tuesday as he swatted down dozens of questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president while using the tense hearing as a launchpad for a possible U.S. Senate campaign. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Lewandowski tailored his remarks to the liking of his former boss, while Democrats tried with limited success to get the Trump loyalist to detail efforts by the president to effectively end former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But the hearing armed Democrats with what they see as key ammunition in their drive toward impeachment of the president.”

The Green New Deal: A Fight for Our Lives, The New York Review of Books, Naomi Klein, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “One month before the young Sunrise Movement activists first occupied the office of then-soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in November 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report that had a greater impact than any publication in the thirty-one-year history of the organization. The report examined the implications of keeping the increase in planetary warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F). Given the worsening disasters we are already seeing with about 1°C of warming, it found that keeping temperatures below the 1.5°C threshold is humanity’s best chance of avoiding truly catastrophic unraveling. Doing that would be extremely difficult. According to the UN World Meteorological Organization, we are on a path to warming the world by 3–5°C by the end of the century. To keep the warming below 1.5°C would require, the IPCC authors found, cutting global emissions approximately in half in a mere twelve years and getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Not just in one country but in every major economy. And because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already dramatically surpassed safe levels, it would also require drawing a great deal of that down, whether through unproven and expensive carbon-capture technologies or the old-fashioned ways: by planting billions of trees and other carbon-sequestering vegetation. Pulling off this high-speed pollution phaseout, the report establishes, is not possible with singular technocratic approaches like carbon taxes, though those tools must play a part. Rather, it requires deliberately and immediately changing how our societies produce energy, how we grow our food, how we move around, and how our buildings are constructed. What is needed, the report’s summary states in its first sentence, is ‘rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.'”

Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘You’re not trying hard enough. Sorry.’ The Guardian, Lauren Gambino, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “At a meeting of the Senate climate crisis task force on Tuesday, lawmakers praised a group of young activists for their leadership, their gumption and their display of wisdom far beyond their years. They then asked the teens for advice on how Congress might combat one of the most urgent and politically contentious threats confronting world leaders: climate change. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has galvanized young people across the world to strike for more action to combat the impact of global warming, politely reminded them that she was a student, not a scientist – or a senator. ‘Please save your praise. We don’t want it,’ she said. ‘Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it because it doesn’t lead to anything. If you want advice for what you should do, invite scientists, ask scientists for their expertise. We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard.’ In remarks meant for Congress as a whole, she said: ‘I know you are trying but just not hard enough. Sorry.’ The audience laughed. Supporters broke into applause.”

Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns. What if the banking, asset-management, and insurance industries moved away from fossil fuels? The New Yorker, Bill McKibben, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “Climate change is a timed test, one of the first that our civilization has faced, and with each scientific report the window narrows. By contrast, cultural change—what we eat, how we live—often comes generationally. Political change usually involves slow compromise, and that’s in a working system, not a dysfunctional gridlock such as the one we now have in Washington. And, since we face a planetary crisis, cultural and political change would have to happen in every other major country, too. But what if there were an additional lever to pull, one that could work both quickly and globally? One possibility relies on the idea that political leaders are not the only powerful actors on the planet—that those who hold most of the money also have enormous power, and that their power could be exercised in a matter of months or even hours, not years or decades. I suspect that the key to disrupting the flow of carbon into the atmosphere may lie in disrupting the flow of money to coal and oil and gas.”

National Park Service finds border fence construction could destroy archaeological sites, The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Nick Miroff, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “Bulldozers and excavators rushing to install President Trump’s border barrier could damage or destroy up to 22 archaeological sites within Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in coming months, according to an internal National Park Service report obtained by The Washington Post. The administration’s plan to convert an existing five-foot-high vehicle barrier into a 30-foot steel edifice could pose irreparable harm to unexcavated remnants of ancient Sonoran Desert peoples. Experts identified these risks as U.S. Customs and Border Protection seeks to fast-track the construction to meet Trump’s campaign pledge of completing 500 miles of barrier by next year’s election.” See also, National Park Service Says Archaeological Sites Are Imperiled by Border Wall, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “The construction of President Trump’s wall along the southwestern border will significantly damage or completely destroy more than 20 archaeological sites in a natural park in the heart of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, according to a study conducted by the National Park Service. Natural and cultural resources in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, 517 square miles of mountain ranges and desert land, would be put at risk from the building of the wall, the park service determined in a remarkable report that raised questions about one of the president’s most cherished policy initiatives. Scientists have found stone tools, rock shelters, artifacts and ancient engravings in the area, which has been populated for 16,000 years. That includes the historic Quitobaquito Springs, where ancient cultures obtained seashells and salt along what is known as the Old Salt Trail.”

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire Refuses to Testify, Prompting Standoff With Congress, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “The acting director of national intelligence will not testify before Congress this week or immediately hand over a whistle-blower complaint to lawmakers, escalating a standoff between Capitol Hill and leaders of the intelligence agencies. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, demanded in a cryptic letter on Friday that Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, turn over a whistle-blower complaint made to the inspector general for the intelligence agencies. Mr. Schiff asked in his letter whether the underlying conduct involved ‘the president or those around him.’ But Mr. Schiff has said he cannot discuss the content of the complaint, and it is difficult to assess because its nature is not publicly known. Other lawmakers said they did not know the complaint’s details.”

Trump Wants a Torture Proponent to Lead U.S. Human Rights Policy. The Senate Should Say No. Politico, Rob Berschinski and Benjamin Haas, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “Donald Trump has made no secret of his penchant for torture. It was, of course, a feature of his 2016 campaign. And while former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior foreign policy appointees have rejected the practice as unlawful and inappropriate, Trump has repeatedly nominated figures involved in or supportive of Bush-era torture for positions in both his administration and the federal judiciary. Now, the president has nominated yet another official with a pro-torture background—Marshall Billingslea, who serves as assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing. This time, however, the nomination contains a particularly searing irony. If confirmed, Billingslea would become the top U.S. executive branch official directly responsible for human rights policy: undersecretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights. Billingslea’s involvement in Bush-era torture should be disqualifying.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans to Endorse Marie Newman, Who Is Seeking to Oust Representative Daniel Lipinski, a Conservative-Leaning Illinois Democrat, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plans on Tuesday to announce her endorsement of Marie Newman, a progressive candidate seeking to oust Representative Daniel Lipinski, a conservative-leaning Illinois Democrat, marking her first move of the 2020 campaign cycle to back a primary challenger to an incumbent. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s high-profile support amounts to a powerful seal of approval, telegraphed to her legions of ardent liberal fans, on behalf of Ms. Newman, and a reflection of the zeal of the party’s progressive left to leverage its nascent power to continue targeting sitting Democrats.”

Trump Administration Looks to Supreme Court to Rein In the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “The Trump administration told the Supreme Court Tuesday that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional because Congress limited the president’s power to remove the agency’s director before his or her five-year term expires. Two federal appeals courts have upheld the CFPB’s structure, which is intended to insulate the director from political interference by allowing dismissal only for ‘inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.’ They relied on a 1935 Supreme Court precedent, known as Humphrey’s Executor, which approved similar protections for members of the Federal Trade Commission, who like the CFPB director are presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate.”

U.S. Tries to Seize Edward Snowden’s Proceeds From New Memoir, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 17 September 2017: “The Justice Department sued the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Tuesday, seeking to seize his proceeds from his new memoir because he did not submit the manuscript for review before it was published so officials could make sure it contained no classified information. Mr. Snowden, whose 2013 leaks of top-secret documents about National Security Agency programs set off a worldwide debate about government surveillance in the internet era, published the memoir, ‘Permanent Record,’ on Tuesday.” See also, Justice Department sues Edward Snowden over publication of new memoir, NBC News, Tom Winter, Tuesday, 17 September 2019: “The Department of Justice has sued Edward Snowden over the publication of his new memoir, arguing the book violates the nondisclosure agreements it says he signed with the CIA and National Security Agency. Snowden is a former NSA contractor who leaked secret documents about the government’s secret intelligence collection programs. ‘The lawsuit alleges that Snowden published his book without submitting it to the agencies for pre-publication review, in violation of his express obligations under the agreements he signed,’ the Justice Department said in a news release Tuesday. The Justice Department said it is not seeking to stop the release of the book, which is titled ‘Permanent Record’ and was published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers. Instead, the department said it would seek to recover any proceeds Snowden earns from the book, which was published Tuesday.”


Wednesday, 18 September 2019, Day 972:


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Calls Attacks on Saudi Arabia an ‘Act of War’ and Seeks Coalition to Counter Iran, The New York Times, Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick, Edward Wong, and Richard Pérez-Pena, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran on Wednesday of carrying out an ‘act of war’ with aerial strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia last weekend, as he met with Saudi leaders to discuss building a coalition to deter further attacks. Mr. Pompeo’s condemnation was the strongest yet from any American official about the attack on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, which cut oil production, left two of the kingdom’s most vital facilities smoldering and exposed failures by the Saudis and their American allies in detecting an incoming aerial assault.” See also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls attacks on Saudi oil facilities an ‘act of war’ as Trump orders increase in sanctions on Iran, The Washington Post, Kareem Fahim, Carol Morello, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “Tensions between the United States and Iran ratcheted up Wednesday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decried the weekend attacks on the Saudi oil industry as an ‘act of war’ and President Trump ordered a substantial increase in sanctions against the government in Tehran. With the Trump administration linking the sanctions step to the airstrikes, Iran warned the United States that it would retaliate for any attack against it, Iranian news agencies reported Wednesday. An attack on Iranian territory would be met with a ‘rapid and crushing’ response, the Fars News Agency said.” See also, Trump says he plans to ‘substantially increase’ sanctions on Iran, Politico, Quint Forgey, Wednesday, 18 September 2019.

Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire and Congress, former officials say, The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Shane Harris, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a ‘promise’ that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.”

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s new national security adviser, is the anti-Bolton in style only, Politico, Natasha Bertrand, Daniel Lippman, and Caitlin Oprysko, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he will appoint U.S. hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to replace John Bolton as his national security adviser, after a ‘hard’ lobbying campaign from the increasingly empowered secretary of State, Mike Pompeo…. O’Brien represents a stylistic — but not necessarily an ideological — shift from the man he is replacing. People who have worked with and are close to O’Brien describe him as similarly aggressive as his predecessor on issues like Iran, but more of a congenial colleague than Bolton, who was known as a sharp bureaucratic infighter. And unlike Bolton, O’Brien, a career lawyer before working in government, is not a big name in the intelligence and national security world, indicating he will likely bring a much lower profile to the job. See also, Robert O’Brien, Trump’s National Security Yes Man, Is In for a Bumpy Ride, The New York Times, Jonathan Stevenson, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “Setting aside the brief, disastrous tenure of Michael Flynn, two men have held the role of national security adviser under Donald Trump, and they could not be more different. H.R. McMaster was a pragmatic stickler who valued the customary interagency deliberations that shaped decision making at the National Security Council, and which President Trump found tedious and distracting. The president let him go in favor of his diametric opposite, John Bolton, a notoriously hawkish and obstreperous ideologue who was happy to let the council’s customs wither — the better to speak his truth to the president directly. His ideological maneuvering eventually got him fired, though he lasted an improbable 17 months. In Robert O’Brien, chosen Wednesday as Mr. Bolton’s replacement, the president seems to have found a compliant, behind-the-scenes worker bee better suited to Mr. Trump’s domineering temperament. His appointment may signal the death knell of any hope to check the president’s worst foreign-policy impulses.” See also, Trump realigns his national security team with low-profile adviser Robert O’Brien, The Washington Post, John Hudson and John Wagner, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “President Trump named Robert C. O’Brien as his new national security adviser Wednesday as he seeks to realign his staff and temper internal divisions following the turbulent reign of former national security adviser John Bolton. The appointment of O’Brien solidifies the status of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the most influential foreign policy voice in the administration. Pompeo has known O’Brien for years and backed his ascension to the job after battling with Bolton over an array of policy issues on Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, U.S. officials said.”

Greta Thunberg, on Tour in the U.S., Offers an Unvarnished View, The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “American lawmakers would do well to read the latest science on the threats posed by climate change. That’s what Ms. Thunberg, 16, told members of Congress on Wednesday, when she was asked to submit her testimony into the record. She submitted a report issued last October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spelling out the threats of global temperature rise. ‘I don’t want you to listen to me,’ she said. ‘I want you to listen to the scientists.’ With her typically blunt, often biting remarks, she has offered Americans a sort of unvarnished, outsider’s view of themselves. And she has used the supersize attention she has received in this country to draw attention to her American peers, those young activists who have dutifully organized for climate action in their communities without any of the limelight that she has received.” See also, Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg demands that Congress ‘listen to the scientists,’ The Washington Post, Kayla Epstein, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “A 16-year-old Swedish climate activist demanded Wednesday that Congress ‘listen to the scientists’ who were sounding the alarm on the threat of global warming. Rather than offer prepared remarks to the House Climate Crisis Committee and a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Greta Thunberg said she was attaching as testimony a landmark 2018 United Nations report that warned of dire consequences for the planet if the atmosphere warmed to greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The document, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said world governments would need to take ‘unprecedented’ action to reduce carbon emissions to stave off the worst effects of global warming. ‘I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists,’ Thunberg said. ‘I want you to unite behind science. And then I want you to take real action. Thank you.'”

The hard truths of climate change–by the numbers, Nature, Jeff Tollefson, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “[N]ew activism will be on full display as groups in 150 countries stage strikes around next week’s global climate summit in New York City, convened by United Nations secretary-general António Guterres. The meeting comes nearly four years after the Paris climate agreement, which seeks to limit global temperatures to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Guterres’s goal is to build momentum as countries prepare to submit new commitments next year. Whatever they decide, nations will have to reckon with some difficult numbers that will ultimately determine whether the world can avoid the rapidly approaching climate meltdown. Nature documents the scale of the challenge in an infographic that explores energy use, carbon dioxide pollution and issues of climate justice. At a time when countries have pledged to curb greenhouse gases sharply, the data show that annual emissions spiked by 2.1% in 2018 — owing in part to increased demand for coal in places such as China and India.”

The University of California system is ending its investment in fossil fuels, Vox, Umair Irfan, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “The University of California system, which educates more than 280,000 students and employs 227,000 faculty and staff, announced late Tuesday it is divesting from fossil fuels. It’s the single largest action to date in the growing movement of institutions withdrawing their financial stakes in the industry that’s the principal driver of climate change. ‘We believe hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk,’ wrote Jagdeep Singh Bachher, the UC’s chief investment officer, and Richard Sherman, chair of the UC Board of Regents’ Investments Committee, in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.”

The Federal Reserve Cuts Rates By Quarter Point but Faces Growing Split, The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “The Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-percentage point for the second time in as many months to cushion the economy against a global slowdown amplified by the U.S.-China trade war. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell left the door open to additional cuts and repeatedly cited the costs of rising trade-policy uncertainty. But central-bank officials were split over Wednesday’s decision and the outlook for further reductions.”

Pentagon Says It Spent $184,000 in 2 Years at Trump’s Scotland Resort, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “The Defense Department has spent at least $184,000 at the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland since 2017, as it sent several dozen crews from flights making a refueling stopover to the resort hotel, the Pentagon said in a letter sent to congressional investigators. The spending figure from the Defense Department came after the House Oversight and Reform Committee asked in June about a surge in Air Force flights stopping for refueling at the Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland. Flight crews and passengers from some of those flights spent the night at the Trump Turnberry resort, about 25 miles away.” See also, Military has spent nearly $200,000 at Trump’s Scottish resort since 2017, Politico, Natasha Bertrand and Bryan Bender, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “Since Donald Trump took office, the U.S. military has spent nearly $200,000 at the president’s luxury Scotland resort, according to figures and documents the Pentagon provided to the House Oversight Committee. The spending, which has all occurred since August 2017, paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms at the Turnberry resort over approximately three dozen separate stays, the committee said.” See also, Military spent $184,000 at Trump’s Scotland resort, according to documents released by House Democrats, The Washington Post, John Wagner and David A. Fahrenthold, Wednesday, 18 September 2019.

Joe Kennedy to Announce Bid for U.S. Senate, The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts plans to announce on Saturday that he is challenging Senator Ed Markey for the Democratic Senate nomination in their state, setting up a titanic generational clash next year between an heir to the state’s foremost political dynasty and the longest-serving member of its congressional delegation.” See also, Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy to challenge Senator Edward Markey in Democratic primary, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Mike DeBonis, and Annie Linskey, Wednesday, 18 September 2019: “Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy, a scion of the Democratic political dynasty, will announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2020 on Saturday, making official a primary challenge to Sen. Edward J. Markey. Individuals familiar with Kennedy’s plans confirmed the coming announcement and said the candidate will then spend several days on a statewide tour. The Boston Globe first reported the news.”


Thursday, 19 September 2019, Day 973:


Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller, and Carol D. Leonnig, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch. The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a ‘promise’ that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said. Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May. That call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign. Lawmakers have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the call.” See also, Whistle-Blower Complaint Sets Off a Battle Involving Trump, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt, and Matthew Rosenberg, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump emerged on Thursday as the latest front in a continuing oversight dispute between administration officials and House Democrats. While the allegation remains shrouded in mystery, it involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and includes other actions, according to interviews. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said. The complaint, submitted by a member of the intelligence community to its inspector general, renewed questions about how the president handles delicate matters.” See also, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff threatens to sue over secret whistleblower complaint, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney, and Caitlin Oprysko, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Thursday threatened legal action against the Trump administration over its refusal to turn over a whistleblower complaint that reportedly involves President Donald Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader. The escalation came after the intelligence community’s top watchdog was blocked from sharing details with the panel about the whistleblower complaint, according to several lawmakers who attended a classified briefing Thursday with Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has been shielding the complaint from Congress, thus preventing Atkinson from discussing its contents.” See also, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff  threatens legal action if acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire doesn’t share whistleblower complaint, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) warned of possible legal action Thursday if intelligence officials did not share a potentially explosive whistleblower complaint prompted by President Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader. Schiff called acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to share the complaint with Congress ‘unprecedented’ and said he understood the Justice Department was involved in that decision.”

Birds Are Vanishing From North America, The New York Times, Carl Zimmer, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “The skies are emptying out. The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago. The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations. In a statement on Thursday, David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, called the findings ‘a full-blown crisis.'” See also, The Quiet Disappearance of Birds in North America, The Atlantic, Ed Yong, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “A new study, which analyzed decades of data on North American birds, estimates that the continent’s bird populations have fallen by 29 percent since 1970. That’s almost 3 billion fewer individuals than there used to be, five decades ago. ‘It’s a staggering result,’ says Kenneth Rosenberg from Cornell University and the American Bird Conservancy, who led the analysis.”

Greta Thunberg: ‘We are ignoring natural climate solutions,’ The Guardian, Damian Carrington, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “The protection and restoration of living ecosystems such as forests, mangroves and seagrass meadows can repair the planet’s broken climate but are being overlooked, Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot have warned in a new short film. Natural climate solutions could remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as plants grow. But these methods receive only 2% of the funding spent on cutting emissions, say the climate activists. Their call to protect, restore and fund natural climate solutions comes ahead of a global climate strike led by young people on Friday and a UN climate action summit of world leaders in New York on Monday. The film will be shown to heads of state and the UN’s climate and biodiversity chiefs in New York.”

Trump sues Manhattan prosecutor to block subpoenas for tax returns, his latest effort to halt investigations of his finances, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “President Trump filed a federal lawsuit against the Manhattan district attorney Thursday, his attorney said, seeking to stop him from subpoenaing Trump’s tax returns in a probe of hush-money payments during the 2016 election. In the suit, Trump argues that District Attorney Cyrus Vance is conducting a criminal investigation of him, which he contends is not allowed under the Constitution.

Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated, The New York Times, Michael Gold, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “Lawyers for President Trump argued in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that he could not be criminally investigated while in office, as they sought to block a subpoena from state prosecutors in Manhattan demanding eight years of his tax returns. Taking a broad position that the lawyers acknowledged had not been tested, the president’s legal team argued in the complaint that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Drug Plan Would Let U.S. Negotiate Prices of 250 Medications, The New York Times, Abby Goodnough, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday released her long-awaited plan to curb soaring prices of prescription drugs, a political chess move that could prod the Senate to move and heat up congressional negotiations with the White House on a popular but elusive goal. Ms. Pelosi’s plan, which she laid out at a morning news conference, would allow the government to negotiate the price of insulin and as many as 250 name-brand drugs each year for Medicare beneficiaries — an idea that many Republicans hate but that President Trump embraced during his 2016 campaign. Drug companies would also have to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers or face harsh penalties, which could give the package broader appeal with voters.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new drug plan pressures Trump on campaign pledge, Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith and Adam Cancryn, Thursday, 19 September 2019.

Federal judge blocks California law to force disclosure of Trump’s tax returns, Los Angeles Times, John Myers, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “A federal judge ordered a temporary injunction Thursday against California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring candidates to disclose their tax returns for a spot on the presidential primary ballot, an early victory for President Trump but a decision that will undoubtedly be appealed by state officials. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. said he would issue a final ruling by the end of the month but took the unusual step of issuing the tentative order from the bench. He said there would be ‘irreparable harm without temporary relief’ for Trump and other candidates from the law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July.”

U.S. Orders Duke and U.N.C. to Recast Tone in Mideast Studies, The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “The Education Department has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake the Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools after concluding that it was offering students a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough ‘positive’ imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region. In a rare instance of federal intervention in college course content, the department asserted that the universities’ Middle East program violated the standards of a federal program that awards funding to international studies and foreign language programs. The inquiry was part of a far-reaching investigation into the program by the department, which under Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has become increasingly aggressive in going after perceived anti-Israel bias in higher education.”

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson makes dismissive comments about transgender people, angering agency staff, The Washington Post, Tracy Jan and Jeff Stein, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson expressed concern about ‘big, hairy men’ trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters during an internal meeting, according to three people present who interpreted the remarks as an attack on transgender women. While visiting HUD’s San Francisco office this week, Carson also lamented that society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women, two of the agency staffers said. Carson’s remarks visibly shocked and upset many of the roughly 50 HUD staffers who attended Tuesday’s meeting, and prompted at least one woman to walk out in protest, the staffers said.”

In turnaround, McConnell backs $250 million in election security funding, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Erica Werner, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday expressed support for providing states with an additional $250 million in election security funding, an abrupt turnaround after more than a year of opposition from the Kentucky Republican on the issue. McConnell, who has been derided by Democrats as ‘Moscow Mitch’ for repeatedly blocking efforts to combat Russian interference in U.S. elections, announced his position in remarks on the Senate floor Thursday morning.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backs election security amendment after facing criticism, Politico, Marianne Levine, Thursday, 19 September 2019.

Trump Administration Reverses Decision Ending Immigrant Medical Treatment, NBC New York, Philip Marcelo, Thursday, 19 September 2019: “The Trump administration reversed its decision Thursday to stop considering requests from immigrants seeking to defer deportation for medical treatment and other hardships, following weeks of public outcry and a congressional inquiry into the decision. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed Thursday it will resume considering ‘deferred action’ requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, as it had done for years prior.”