Trump Administration, Week 156: Friday, 10 January – Thursday, 16 January 2020 (Days 1,086-1,092)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


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Friday, 10 January 2020, Day 1,086:


Pelosi Alerts House to Be Ready to Send Impeachment Articles Next Week, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi alerted lawmakers on Friday that she would move next week to send to the Senate articles of impeachment against President Trump, making a long-awaited announcement that paved the way for the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. The speaker’s statement effectively ended an impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s Senate trial in limbo for weeks. She did not announce which Democrats would manage the case, but said the House should be ready to appoint them next week and to formally deliver the Senate charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress…. Throughout the delay, the speaker had insisted that she was merely pushing for a fairer Senate proceeding after Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, promised publicly to collaborate with Mr. Trump’s legal team to secure a quick acquittal. Democrats claimed the maneuver successfully spotlighted the need for the Senate to hear from witnesses and see documents that Mr. Trump barred from the House impeachment inquiry. She ultimately failed to win any concessions from Republicans on the terms of the trial….” See also, Pelosi moves to end Trump impeachment standoff and signals she will send articles to Senate, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, Friday, 10 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved Friday to end a three-week standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signaling that she will send articles of impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate next week, paving the way for a likely acquittal of President Trump. Pelosi (D-Calif.), who made the announcement in a letter to colleagues sent moments after lawmakers left Washington for the week, relented without securing the concessions she sought from McConnell (R-Ky.) — in particular, a detailed blueprint for how the coming Senate trial will proceed.” See also, Pelosi ends standoff with Senate Republicans over impeachment articles, Politico, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Pelosi prepares to send articles of impeachment to the Senate, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Haley Byrd, and Manu Raju, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Read Pelosi’s letter saying she is preparing for a vote next week to send articles of impeachment to the Senate, CNN Politics, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, House to Send Articles of Impeachment to Senate Next Week, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine is working with a ‘small group’ of Republican senators to allow impeachment witnesses, Bangor Daily News, Michael Shepherd, Friday, 10 January 2020: “U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told reporters on Friday she is working with a “fairly small group” of fellow Republican senators toward a goal of ensuring witnesses can be called in the chamber’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The president is nearly a sure bet to be acquitted in the Republican-led Senate and the trial could start as early as next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, indicated on Friday that she will send the House’s two impeachment articles to the upper chamber.”

U.S. Unsuccessfully Tried Killing a Second Iranian Military Official, The New York Times, Eric Schmitt, Edward Wong, and Julian E. Barnes, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The American military unsuccessfully tried to kill a senior Iranian military official in Yemen on the same day a drone strike killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, according to American officials. The disclosure of a second mission indicated that the Trump administration had plans for a broader campaign than was previously known [and] intended to cripple Iran’s ability to carry out proxy wars in other countries. After Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes on Iraqi bases that host American troops, both Washington and Tehran appear to have stepped back from escalating the conflict further, at least for now. The unsuccessful airstrike in Yemen was aimed at Abdul Reza Shahlai, an official with Iran’s Quds Force, a potent military organization that General Suleimani had led. Mr. Shahlai was known as a main organizer of financing for Shiite militias in the region.” See also, On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they targeted a senior Iranian official in Yemen, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Missy Ryan, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 10 January 2020: “On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top-secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander in Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The unsuccessful operation may indicate that the Trump administration’s killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week was part of a broader operation than previously explained, raising questions about whether the mission was designed to cripple the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or solely to prevent an imminent attack on Americans as originally stated. U.S. military operations in Yemen, where a civil war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, are shrouded in secrecy. U.S. officials said the operation against Shahlai remains highly classified, and many declined to offer details other than to say it failed.” See also, US unsuccessfully targeted another Iranian military official on the same day as Soleimani, CNN Politics, Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, and Ryan Browne, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Officials Say U.S. Targeted but Missed Senior Iranian Commander in Yemen, The Wall Street Journal, Michael R. Gordon and Warren P. Strobel, Friday, 20 January 2020. See also, Trump administration’s shifting stories fuel doubts over justification for Soleimani strike, CNN Politics, Nicole Gaouette, Jennifer Hansler, and Jamie Crawford, Friday, 10 January 2020: “A week after the US killed Iran’s second most powerful official, spiking tensions in the region and triggering fears of war, the Trump administration continues to present conflicting justifications for the deadly Reaper drone strike and clashing narratives about what has followed. Again and again, President Donald Trump’s national security officials have contradicted each other about how imminent a threat Qasem Soleimani posed, whether they had specific intelligence on the threat and even what that threat was, with Trump saying one thing then another, while officials offered varying explanations.” See also, The Real Backstory of Why Trump Ordered the Killing of Suleimani Is Becoming More Clear, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Friday, 10 January 2020.

Iran Says It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian Airliner, The New York Times, Farnaz Fassihi, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Iran’s military announced early Saturday that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error because of what it called the plane’s sharp, unexpected turn toward a sensitive military base. After days of tension since the jet crashed near Tehran on Wednesday, the same day that Iranian missiles struck American bases in Iraq, the admission was a stunning reversal. Iran initially maintained that mechanical issues had brought the Boeing airliner down, killing all 176 people aboard.” See also, Furor in Iran and Abroad After Tehran Admits Downing Ukrainian Jetliner, The New York Times, Anton Troianovski, Andrew E. Kramer, and Farnaz Fassihi, published on Saturday, 11 January 2020: “Iran’s stunning admission that its forces errantly downed a Ukrainian jetliner — reversing three days of denial — did little to quell growing fury inside the country and beyond on Saturday as the deadly tragedy turned into a volatile political crisis for Tehran’s leaders and overshadowed their struggle with the United States.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Imposes Additional Sanctions on Iran, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The Trump administration slapped another round of sanctions on Iran on Friday and, brushing aside demands from Democrats for evidence, elaborated on its assertions that the decision to kill a top Iranian commander was justified by an imminent threat to United States embassies and other American interests.” See also, Trump administration hits Iran with fresh sanctions after attack on U.S. forces, The Washington Post, Carol Morello, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The Trump administration hit Iran with more sanctions Friday in the first concrete response to the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq this week, which were in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed the most powerful Iranian military commander. The sanctions target Iran’s metal industries, and eight senior military and national security officials who U.S. officials said were involved in the ballistic missile attacks on two bases in Iraq that house U.S. military personnel.” See also, US imposes new sanctions on Iran, CNN Politics, Donna Borak, Betsy Klein, and Jennifer Hansler, Friday, 10 January 2020. See also, Trump now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, and Seung Min Kim, Friday, 10 January 2020: “President Trump said on Friday that a senior Iranian general killed by a U.S. drone strike had been planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, a claim made to justify the decision but that was at odds with intelligence assessments from senior officials in Trump’s administration.” Trump Says 4 Embassies Had Been Targeted by Iranians. He also asserted that he did not believe American citizens had a right to more details on the intelligence that prompted the killing of Iranian general Qassim Suleimani. The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 10 January 2020.

Continue reading Week 156, Friday, 10 January – Thursday, 16 January 2020 (Days 1,086-1,092)

U.S. Says It Won’t Discuss Withdrawing Troops From Iraq, Defying Baghdad’s Request, The New York Times, Edward Wong and Megan Specia, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The State Department on Friday rebuffed the Iraqi government’s request to begin discussions on pulling out troops, saying that any American officials going to Baghdad during a state of heightened tensions would not discuss a ‘troop withdrawal.’ Instead, discussions would be about the ‘appropriate force posture in the Middle East.’ The statement from Washington was a direct rejoinder to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq, and was certain to add to the friction between the two nations. The prime minister said earlier on Friday that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to send a delegation from the United States to discuss steps for the withdrawal of the approximately 5,200 American troops from his country, in the aftermath of a deadly American military strike ordered by President Trump that many Iraqis say violated their country’s sovereignty.” See also, Trump administration refuses to heed Iraq’s call for troop withdrawal, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Louisa Loveluck, and Mustafa Salim, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The Trump administration refused again Friday to recognize Iraq’s call to withdraw all U.S. troops, saying that any discussion with Baghdad would center on whatever force size the United States determines is sufficient to achieve its goals there.”

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott Shuts the State to Refugees, Using New Power Granted by Trump, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas vetoed the resettlement of refugees in his state on Friday, turning a state that has traditionally been one of the most welcoming into the first to reject refugees under an executive order issued by President Trump. In a letter sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mr. Abbott cited the surge in migrants crossing the southwestern border last year as his reason for turning away refugees now…. Mr. Abbott’s veto could be reversed next week when a federal judge in Maryland is expected to rule on whether Mr. Trump exceeded his authority with the executive order that gave local governments veto power over refugee resettlement. Judge Peter J. Messitte, a Clinton nominee, pressed the federal government this week and questioned if the order was politically motivated.” See also, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott to reject new refugee resettlement following Trump administration order granting local governments such an authority, NBC News, Daniella Silva, Friday, 10 January 2020.

Enormous ‘Megafire’ in Australia Engulfs 1.5 Million Acres, NPR, Scott Neuman, Friday, 10 January 2020: “A pair of massive bushfires in southeastern Australia has merged into a ‘megafire’ engulfing some 2,300 square miles — a single blaze more than three times as large as any known fire in California. The merged fire, which straddles the country’s most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria, measures nearly 1.5 million acres, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. It is just one of some 135 bushfires in Australia’s southeast that have claimed the lives of at least 26 people, killed more than a billion animals and damaged or destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.”

Climate and Environmental Activists Are Growing Impatient With a Democratic-Led House That They View as not Doing Enough to Protect the Environment, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Lisa Friedman, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered a triumphant message on Friday as the House moved on legislation, long sought by environmentalists, to force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking water. ‘The Trump Administration’s E.P.A. is breaking its own promises every day that it delays and puts polluters ahead of the American people,’ she said before 24 Republicans joined all but one Democrat to pass the act, 247 to 159, on the chemicals, known as PFAS. ‘In stark contrast, the House is taking action.’ But the measure, the PFAS Action Act, already has a veto threat looming over it, and its prospects in the Senate, like those of other House bills addressing environmental regulation and climate change, are slim to none. In the meantime, critical legislation passed in the Christmas rush last month was signed into law, with environmental provisions and climate change measures watered down or omitted altogether.”

After three years and a lawsuit, Trump administration publishes efficiency standards for big equipment, The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, Friday, 10 January 2020: “The Energy Department set new efficiency standards Friday for big equipment, such as commercial boilers and portable air conditioners, after trying to block them for nearly three years. The energy standards, finalized under the Obama administration in December 2016, will save consumers and businesses about $8.4 billion and cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 100 million tons over 30 years, according to the Energy Department’s own estimates. That is the equivalent of taking 21 million cars off the road for a year. But the Trump administration had opposed the energy efficiency standards and only published them in the Federal Register now to comply with a unanimous ruling last October by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”

‘We’re building an army’: Jane Fonda caps off weeks of climate protest in D.C., The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan, Friday, 10 January 2020: “Clad in her signature red hat and coat, clenched fist raised high, Jane Fonda saluted the sea of chanting people who had gathered for her final ‘Fire Drill Friday’ this week. She cheered as 147 of them were arrested on the steps of the Capitol building. And then she marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Chase Bank branch at the junction of Seventh Street SE where environmentalist Bill McKibben and about two dozen fellow activists had staked out in protest of the bank’s financing of oil and gas companies. ‘Move your money, Chase, or we’ll move ours,’ the outside demonstrators shouted, as Metropolitan Police filed into the bank to apprehend McKibben and nine others. ‘Fossil fuels have got to go!’ It was a climactic end to the two-time Academy Award winner and longtime activist’s weekly protest in Washington. But it was also the start, organizers said, of broader movement and a more aggressive push against financial institutions’ ties to the fossil fuel industry. Since October, each Fire Drill Friday installment has featured a rotating cast of experts, activists and Fonda’s celebrity friends giving speeches on environmental issues. And each one has ended the same way: with Capitol Police strapping zip ties around participants’ wrists and charging them with obstruction.”

Republican Representative Douglas Collins of Georgia apologizes and says he doesn’t believe Democrats are ‘in love with’ terrorists, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 10 January 2020: “A top House Republican apologized Friday for inflammatory comments he made earlier in the week accusing Democrats of ‘being in love with terrorists’ and said that is not what he believes. Rep. Douglas A. Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, faced widespread criticism for his remarks, including from Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee, Iraq War veteran who said she lost her legs ‘fighting terrorists.'” See also, ‘I left parts of my body in Iraq’: Senator Tammy Duckworth rips into Republican representative who said Democrats ‘love’ terrorists, CNN Politics, Devan Cole, published on Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs serving in the Iraq War, on Thursday ripped into the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who has accused Democrats of being ‘in love with terrorists.”‘ See also, ‘I left parts of my body in Iraq’: Senator Tammy Duckworth rejects Republican claim that Democrats were ‘in love with terrorists,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, published on Thursday, 9 January 2020: “Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Purple Heart recipient who lost both her legs in the Iraq War, rebuked a top Republican for saying Democrats were ‘in love with terrorists. I’m not going to dignify that with a response. I left parts of my body in Iraq fighting terrorists,’ Duckworth said during an appearance on CNN Thursday. ‘I don’t need to justify myself to anyone.’ Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, made the baseless claim Wednesday during a Fox News interview that Democrats were more upset about the death of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani than they are about lost U.S. soldiers.”

Stephanie Grisham: Trump’s Press Secretary Who Doesn’t Meet the Press, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum and Katie Rogers, Friday, 10 January 2020: “In six months as press secretary, Ms. Grisham has held zero briefings for reporters. When she does give interviews, she prefers to leave the West Wing via a side exit and is driven to a studio, rather than walk toward the cameras outside the White House and risk encountering a journalist along the way. Outside of appearances on Fox News, the One America News Network and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, she rarely goes on TV. Throughout her time in the job, Mr. Trump has wondered why she does not appear on television more often, according to two people familiar with his thinking. The country’s pre-eminent political spokesperson is virtually unknown to the public. And as the Trump administration scrambled this week to coordinate a public explanation for the killing of an Iranian general, Ms. Grisham kept mostly out of sight. The night that Iran launched missiles into Iraq, she surfaced on Twitter — after a briefing in the Situation Room with the president and other high-level advisers — to accuse CNN of fabricating sources.”


Saturday, 11 January 2020, Day 1,087:


U.S. Warns Iraq It Risks Losing Access to Key Bank Account if Troops Told to Leave, The Wall Street Journal, Ian Talley and Isabel Coles, Saturday, 11 January 2020: “The Trump administration warned Iraq this week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces following the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, according to Iraqi officials. The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said. Iraq, like other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as an important part of managing the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales. Loss of access to the accounts could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system and constricting a critical lubricant for the economy. The prospect of U.S. sanctions against Iraq arose after the Jan. 3 U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport. The Iraqi parliament voted Sunday to urge Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to work toward the expulsion of the approximately 5,300 U.S. troops. In response to the nonbinding resolution, which was backed by the prime minister, President Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Iraq if the U.S. was forced to withdraw its troops.”

Seven Days in January: How the U.S. and Iran Approached the Brink of War. The story of that week, and the secret planning in the months preceding it, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in Trump’s three years in office. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick, Julian E. Barnes, and Alissa J. Rubin, Saturday, 11 January 2020: “The operation that took out General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, propelled the United States to the precipice of war with Iran and plunged the world into seven days of roiling uncertainty. The story of those seven days, and the secret planning in the months preceding them, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in President Trump’s three years in office after his decision to launch an audacious strike on Iran, and his attempt through allies and a back channel to keep the ensuing crisis from mushrooming out of control. The president’s decision to ratchet up decades of simmering conflict with Iran set off an extraordinary worldwide drama, much of which played out behind the scenes. In capitals from Europe to the Middle East, leaders and diplomats sought to head off a full-fledged new war while at the White House and Pentagon, the president and his advisers ordered more troops to the region.”

John Bolton impeachment testimony will be blocked, Donald Trump says, The Guardian, Richard Luscombe, Saturday, 11 January 2020: “John Bolton will be blocked from testifying at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the president has indicated, despite the former national security adviser insisting he would do so if he received a subpoena. Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Friday night he would “love everybody to testify”, including Bolton, secretary of state Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. But he went on to say ‘there are things that you can’t do from the standpoint of executive privilege.'”

More than a dozen Saudi servicemen to be expelled from US after review of December shooting at Naval Air Station, CNN Politics, David Shortell and Evan Perez, Saturday, 11 January 2020: “More than a dozen Saudi servicemen training at US military installations will be expelled from the United States after a review that followed the deadly shooting last month at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, multiple sources told CNN. The Saudis are not accused of aiding the 21-year-old Saudi Air Force second lieutenant who killed three American sailors in the December shooting, two sources said, but some are said to have connections to extremist movements, according to a person familiar with the situation. A number are also accused of possessing child pornography, according to a defense official and the person familiar with the situation. The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment.” See also, U.S. to Expel a Dozen Saudi Military Trainees After Pensacola Shooting, The New York Times, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, published on Sunday, 12 January 2020.

Michael Bloomberg Is Open to Spending $1 Billion to Defeat Trump, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Saturday, 11 January 2020: “Michael R. Bloomberg on Saturday did not rule out spending a billion dollars of his own money on the 2020 presidential race, even if he does not win the Democratic nomination, and said he would mobilize his well-financed political operation to help Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren win in November if either is the party nominee, despite their sharp policy differences. Mr. Bloomberg’s plans would effectively create a shadow campaign operation for the general election, complete with hundreds of organizers in key battleground states and a robust digital operation, ready to be inherited by the party nominee — regardless of who that nominee may be.”

How Mike Pompeo convinced Trump to kill Soleimani and fulfilled a decade-long goal, CNN Politics, Nicole Gaouette and Jamie Gangel, Saturday, 11 January 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a driving force behind President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a top Iranian general, sources inside and around the administration tell CNN, a high-stakes move that demonstrates Pompeo’s status as the most influential national security official in the Trump administration. Taking Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani ‘off the battlefield’ has been a goal for the top US diplomat for a decade, several sources told CNN.”


Sunday, 12 January 2020, Day 1,088:


Defense Secretary Mark Esper Says He Saw No Evidence Iranians Planned to Attack 4 Embassies, as Story Shifts Again, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “They had to kill him because he was planning an ‘imminent’ attack. But how imminent they could not say. Where they could not say. When they could not say. And really, it was more about what he had already done. Or actually it was to stop him from hitting an American embassy. Or four embassies. Or not. For 10 days, President Trump and his team have struggled to describe the reasoning behind the decision to launch a drone strike against Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite security forces, propelling the two nations to the brink of war. Officials agree they had intelligence indicating danger, but the public explanations have shifted by the day and sometimes by the hour. On Sunday came the latest twist. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said he was never shown any specific piece of evidence that Iran was planning an attack on four American embassies, as Mr. Trump had claimed just two days earlier.” See also, Senior administration officials struggle to explain intelligence behind killing of Soleimani, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Sunday, 12 January 2020. See also, The Trump Administration’s Fluctuating Explanations for the Suleimani Strike, The New York Times, Chris Cameron and Helene Cooper, Sunday, 12 January 2020. See also, ‘Four embassies’: The anatomy of Trump’s unfounded claim about Iran, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, John Hudson, Shane Harris, and Josh Dawsey, published on Monday, 13 January 2020.

Local New Hampshire Union Backs Bernie Sanders, Bucking National Affiliate, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “A local union branch of New Hampshire state and local employees said Sunday that it had voted to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic presidential nomination, another labor endorsement for a candidate whose political stock continues to rise less than a month before the Iowa caucuses. The endorsement, which will officially be made on Monday, is particularly notable because the union chapter, SEA/SEIU Local 1984, has acted separately from its national affiliate organization, the Service Employees International Union. That group, which represents about two million workers nationally, has remained neutral in the endorsement process up to this point, balancing relationships with multiple candidates and regional concerns that differ across local chapters.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez created PAC to push back on the Democratic Party’s ‘blacklisting rule, The Washington Post, Kayla Epstein, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) announced she had formed a political action committee on Saturday to help raise funds for progressive primary candidates. The congresswoman has been a vocal opponent of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s policy to ‘blacklist’ vendors and firms that work with candidates mounting primary challenges against Democratic incumbents. Ocasio-Cortez was one such candidate, having run a successful primary campaign against Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in 2018.”

In Australia, the air poses a threat; people are rushing to hospitals in cities choked by smoke, The Washington Post, Darryl Fears and Brady Dennis, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “Australia’s bush fires have blanketed parts of the continent with pollution, affecting hundreds of thousands of people who are not in immediate danger from the flames. Government agencies and medical officials say distress calls, ambulance runs and hospital emergency room visits have surged. Even some federal departments in the capital had to temporarily shutter offices and tell nonessential staff to stay away.”

Trump, Shifting Arguments, Urges Swift Dismissal of Impeachment Charges, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “President Trump on Sunday injected fresh instability into final preparations for the Senate’s impeachment trial, suggesting that senators should dismiss the House’s charges of high crimes and misdemeanors against him outright rather than dignifying them with a full tribunal. That unexpected statement, arriving amid a flurry of tweets, not only appeared to put the president at odds with Republican Senate leaders moving toward a full trial but also contradicted Mr. Trump’s own words from just hours earlier, when he argued for a trial that would include as witnesses Democratic House leaders who are prosecuting him.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Trump is ‘impeached for life’ despite McConnell’s ‘gamesmanship’ and ‘coverup,’ The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck and Juliet Eilperin, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that President Trump isimpeached for life’ regardless of ‘any gamesmanship’ by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whom she accused of orchestrating a ‘coverup’ of Trump’s actions as the Senate waits for the House to transmit the articles of impeachment. Challenging McConnell to hold a serious trial that includes testimony from witnesses, Pelosi did not rule out the possibility that the House would subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton if the Senate chooses not to. She repeatedly chastised McConnell for signaling that he is not interested in fully weighing the House’s charges.”

Labor Department Rule to Curb Lawsuits by Franchise Workers, The New York Times, Noam Scheiber, Sunday, 12 January 2020: “Workers could have more difficulty suing large companies for wrongdoing by contractors or franchisees under a rule announced on Sunday by the Labor Department. Under the rule, which will take effect in March, employees of a fast-food franchise like a McDonald’s restaurant, for example, may struggle to win a legal claim against the parent company if a franchisee violates minimum-wage and overtime laws.”


Monday, 13 January 2020, Day 1,089:


Attorney General William Barr Asks Apple to Unlock Pensacola Killer’s Phones, Setting Up Clash Between Law Enforcement and Big Technology Firms, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr declared on Monday that a deadly shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla., was an act of terrorism, and he asked Apple in an unusually high-profile request to provide access to two phones used by the gunman. Mr. Barr’s appeal was an escalation of a continuing fight between the Justice Department and Apple pitting personal privacy against public safety.” See also, Attorney General William Barr says the Pensacola shooting was an act of terrorism, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr said Monday that the December shooting that killed three U.S. sailors on a Florida base was an act of terrorism, as officials revealed harrowing new details about the 15-minute rampage and publicly called out Apple Inc. to help them unlock the killer’s phones. At a news conference to discuss the results of the FBI’s investigation into the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Barr said investigators had found evidence that Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, a Royal Saudi Air Force member training at the base, was motivated by ‘jihadist ideology’ and had posted anti-American messages on social media about two hours before his attack.” See also, U.S. Calls Pensacola Attack Terrorism and Pressures Apple Over Gunman’s Locked Phones, The Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Dustin Volz, and Nancy Youssef, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Attorney General William Barr called the December attack by a Saudi aviation student that killed three people at a Florida Navy base an act of terrorism, escalating pressure on Apple Inc. to help unlock a pair of the gunman’s iPhones that could provide more information about his radicalization. Mr. Barr called on Apple to find a way to crack the encrypted phones in a high-profile request that ramped up a long-simmering fight between tech firms and the government over how to best balance digital security with the imperatives of criminal investigations.”

Trump is planning to divert additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Monday, 13 January 2020: “President Trump is preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for border wall construction this year, five times what Congress authorized him to spend on the project in the 2020 budget, according to internal planning figures obtained by The Washington Post. The Pentagon funds would be extracted, for the second year in a row, from military construction projects and counternarcotics funding. According to the plans, the funding would give the government enough money to complete about 885 miles of new fencing by spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration has slated for the U.S. border with Mexico.” See also, Trump Plans to Divert Additional $7.2 Billion From Pentagon Funding to Construct a Wall on the Southern Border, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, published on Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “President Trump plans to divert an additional $7.2 billion in military funding for the construction of a wall on the southern border, according to two people familiar with the plans, as officials rush to show major progress on his signature campaign promise in time for the 2020 election. The money would be stripped from Defense Department construction and counterdrug projects, the officials said, and amounts to even more than the billions the administration transferred from the Pentagon last year to pay for Mr. Trump’s border wall. Congress allocated a fraction of that in December in the 2020 budget for border barrier construction — just $1.375 billion. But there were also no limitations placed on Mr. Trump’s ability to transfer funds from Pentagon accounts. The administration has now allocated more than $18 billion for Mr. Trump’s border wall.”

State Department security officials weren’t notified of ‘imminent’ threats to US. embassies, CNN Politics, Kylie Atwood, Monday, 13 January 2020: “State Department officials involved in US embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific US embassies, two State Department officials tell CNN, further undermining President Donald Trump’s claims that the top Iranian general he ordered killed earlier this month posed an imminent threat to the diplomatic outposts.”

Russian Military Hacked Burisma, the Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment, The New York Times, Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg, Monday, 13 January 2020: “With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, Russian military hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the affair, according to security experts. The hacking attempts against Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served, began in early November, as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States. It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for. But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.” See also, Russian military spies hacked Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company at the heart of Trump impeachment trial, a cybersecurity firm says, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Russian military spies have hacked a Ukrainian gas company that is at the heart of an impeachment trial of President Trump, who sought last year to pressure Ukraine to investigate the company and its links to Joe Biden’s son, according to a cybersecurity firm. Beginning in early November, the Russian spy agency known as the GRU launched a cyber ‘phishing’ campaign against Burisma Holdings to trick unsuspecting employees into giving up their email credentials so the hackers could gain access to their email accounts — once again entangling Moscow in domestic U.S. politics, according to Area 1 Security, a Redwood City, Calif., company.”

Senate Republicans Rule Out Outright Dismissal of Impeachment Charges, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Senate Republicans indicated on Monday that they would not seek to summarily dismiss the impeachment charges against President Trump, proceeding instead to a trial with arguments and the possibility of calling witnesses that could begin as soon as Wednesday. Dismissal was always a long shot given Republicans’ narrow control of the Senate, but it was the subject of renewed discussion after Mr. Trump said on Sunday that he liked the idea put forward by some conservatives as a way to deny the House’s case the legitimacy of a trial. Other Republicans had signed on to a resolution that would have dismissed the House’s impeachment articles if they were not promptly brought to trial.” See also, A Step-by-Step Guide to Trump’s Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 13 January 2020. See also, Top Senate Republicans reject Trump’s renewed call for immediate dismissal of impeachment charges, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Mike DeBonis, and Elise Viebeck, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Top Senate Republicans on Monday rejected President Trump’s call for outright dismissal of the impeachment charges against him, but continued to grapple with the shape of the Senate trial that could begin as soon as this week. Most Senate Republicans are eager to stage a trial that ends with Trump’s acquittal and vindication on charges that he abused the power of his office in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructed a subsequent investigation in the House. But over the weekend, Trump urged the Senate simply to dismiss the charges against him — without hearing arguments from House prosecutors or his own legal team. On Monday, senior Republicans said immediate dismissal could not win approval in the chamber, where Republicans hold a 53-seat majority. And even some staunch Trump allies argued that the president’s legacy would benefit from a robust trial.” See also, Impeachment Briefing: Selecting the Managers, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Monday, 13 January 2020.

William Barr, Trump’s Sword and Shield: The Attorney General’s mission to maximize executive power and protect the Presidency, The New Yorker, David Rohde, published online on Monday, 13 January 2020: “Eleven months after being sworn in, Barr is the most feared, criticized, and effective member of Trump’s Cabinet. Like no Attorney General since the Watergate era, he has acted as the President’s political sword and shield. When the special counsel Robert Mueller released the findings of his inquiry into connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, Barr presented a sanitized four-page summary before the report was made public, which the President used to declare himself cleared. At the behest of the President, Barr launched an investigation of the F.B.I.’s Trump-Russia probe and the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened on Trump’s behalf in the election. Rather than seek a nonpartisan commission, Barr appointed a federal prosecutor, reinforcing the President’s claims of a ‘coup.’ When an exhaustive review by the Justice Department’s inspector general found no evidence of political bias in the F.B.I. investigation, Barr issued a statement misrepresenting its findings and arguing that the evidence in the Russia probe was ‘consistently exculpatory’—leaving out the fact that five people connected to Trump’s campaign have been indicted for lying to investigators.”

Trump Cited General Qassim Suleimani’s ‘Horrible Past’ as Possibly Reason Enough for the Drone Strike That Killed Him, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Monday, 13 January 2020: “In the 10 days since it carried out the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Trump administration has been struggling to draft an after-the-fact narrative to justify it. On Monday, President Trump put an end to that hash of explanations. ‘It doesn’t really matter,’ he tweeted, ‘because of his horrible past.’ Until that message on Twitter, the administration had insisted in various ways that General Suleimani, Iran’s most important military official, was planning myriad ‘imminent’ attacks. The unraveling of the explanations accelerated over the weekend after Mr. Trump said four embassies were under immediate threat, a charge that his own administration could not back. With the president’s latest utterance, he bolstered critics of a strike that had raised fears of an all-out war with Iran and had led Iraq to call on the United States to leave the country. And, the critics wondered, was it reckless and irresponsible for the United States to kill Iran’s second most important leader if the reason did not ‘really matter’?” See also, Trump Turns to McCarthyite Attacks as His Suleimani Story Crumbles, The New Yorker, John Cassidy, published on Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “After insisting for almost two weeks that he ordered the assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani to thwart an imminent Iranian-inspired operation, or operations, that could have killed hundreds of Americans, Donald Trump changed tack on Monday. In a series of statements, he claimed that Suleimani’s history of orchestrating attacks on American soldiers and installations was sufficient to justify his killing, and he also suggested that Democrats who questioned his judgment were giving succor to terrorists.”

Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates, The Guardian, Damian Carrington, Monday, 13 January 2020: “The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing ‘irrefutable and accelerating’ heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities. The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.”

Firenadoes, ember attacks, and megafires: Australia is seeing sci-fi weather, The Washington Post, Andrew Freedman and Sarah Kaplan, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Temperatures are soaring to heights scientists did not expect to see for decades. Landscapes that are usually resistant to fire — including rainforests home to rare, vulnerable species — are going up in flames. The blazes are so big they generate their own hellish weather. Fire tornadoes, formed when spinning winds generate a massive rotating column of fire, ash, vapor and debris, are impossible to control. A volunteer firefighter in New South Wales was killed on Dec. 30 when one of these twisters overturned his truck. ‘Ember attacks’ occur when violent winds around wildfires pick up burning pieces of debris and carry them aloft, dropping them in a flammable spot where they start another blaze. Fire whirls — short-lived, swirling vortices of ash, dust and flame that are generated when updrafts of hot air become twisted as they rise along the leading edge of a forest fire, have been reported by witnesses. These whirls behave unpredictably — so much so they are sometimes called ‘devils’ — and they can contribute to ember attacks, said Janice Coen, a project scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. The heat from Australia’s blazes has fueled fire-generated thunderstorms from what are known as pyrocumulonimbus clouds. These mushroom-shaped clouds act like chimneys, venting heat and sucking in surrounding air to intensify fires, making their behavior more unpredictable and unstoppable.” See also, Australia: The Fires and Our Future, The New York Review of Books, Tim Flannery, published on Thursday, 16 January 2020.

US listed climate activist group as ‘extremists’ alongside mass killers, The Guardian, Adam Federman, Monday, 13 January 2020: “A group of US environmental activists engaged in non-violent civil disobedience targeting the oil industry have been listed in internal Department of Homeland Security documents as “extremists” and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.”

The U.S. is putting asylum seekers on planes to Guatemala–often without telling them where they’re going, The Washington Post, Kevin Sieff, Monday, 13 January 2020: “The chartered U.S. government flights land here every day or two, depositing Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers from the U.S. border. Many arrive with the same question: ‘Where are we?’ For the first time ever, the United States is shipping asylum seekers who arrive at its border to a ‘safe third country’ to seek refuge there. The Trump administration hopes the program will serve as a model for others in the region. But during its first weeks, asylum seekers and human rights advocates say, migrants have been put on planes without being told where they were headed, and left here without being given basic instruction about what to do next.”

Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren in a private 2018 meeting that a woman can’t win, sources say, CNN Politics, MJ Lee, Monday, 13 January 2020: “The stakes were high when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met at Warren’s apartment in Washington, DC, one evening in December 2018. The longtime friends knew that they could soon be running against each other for president. The two agreed that if they ultimately faced each other as presidential candidates, they should remain civil and avoid attacking one another, so as not to hurt the progressive movement. They also discussed how to best take on President Donald Trump, and Warren laid out two main reasons she believed she would be a strong candidate: She could make a robust argument about the economy and earn broad support from female voters. Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win. The description of that meeting is based on the accounts of four people: two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting. After publication of this story, Warren herself backed up this account of the meeting, saying in part in a statement Monday, ‘I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.'” See also, Warren Says Sanders Told Her He Didn’t Think a Woman Could Win the Presidency, The New York Times, Astead W. Herndon and Jonathan Martin, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said on Monday night that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told her in 2018 he did not think a woman could win the presidency. Ms. Warren’s description of the comment, from a private one-on-one meeting, represents a remarkable salvo at her leading liberal rival in the 2020 race just three weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Mr. Sanders vehemently denied making the remark earlier on Monday and accused the Warren campaign staff of ‘lying’ about it, in a statement intended to refute a news report by CNN that relied on anonymous sources. The New York Times and other outlets confirmed the CNN report on Monday afternoon, while the Warren campaign initially declined to comment.”

Cory Booker’s Exit From the 2020 Race Ends a Once-Promising Political Chapter, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Monday, 13 January 2020: “For almost two decades, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has been viewed as a future leader in the Democratic Party, a former Rhodes scholar and Stanford football player who achieved national prominence as mayor of Newark. But on Monday, that promise remained unfulfilled, as Mr. Booker ended his campaign for the White House after nearly a year of grinding work on the campaign trail that yielded only low-digit polling, lackluster fund-raising and a surprising inability to electrify the broader electorate.” See also, Senator Cory Booker exits the Democratic presidential primary, making the field less diverse, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and David Weigel, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator who pitched himself as a candidate of hope and optimism, is suspending his presidential campaign, he said Monday.”

Four firearms bills advance in Virginia’s newly gun-free Capitol, The Washington Post, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, Monday, 13 January 2020: “Four gun-control bills sailed out of a Senate committee Monday as the General Assembly’s new Democratic majority took up firearms legislation for the first time…. The bills now headed for the full Senate would require background checks on all firearms purchases, allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others, let localities ban weapons from certain events and government buildings, and cap handgun purchases at one per month.”

Wisconsin Elections Officials Held in Contempt for Refusing to Purge Voters, The New York Times, Mitch Smith, Monday, 13 January 2020: “A Wisconsin judge held three state election commissioners in contempt on Monday and ordered them to proceed immediately with purging more than 200,000 people from the state’s voter rolls. The ruling by Judge Paul V. Malloy of Ozaukee County Circuit Court doubled down on his finding last month that thousands of voters who are believed to have moved should have their registrations canceled in Wisconsin, a narrowly divided state that has become a focal point of the 2020 presidential battle. The debate over whether voters should be purged from the rolls has become a proxy for the state’s tense partisan divide, and the purge itself has yet to be carried out because of a deadlock between evenly split Democratic and Republican wings of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Three Republicans on the appointed six-member commission want to remove the voters, while the three Democrats wanted to wait for an appellate court to weigh in.” See also, In Closely Divided Wisconsin, the Battle for Votes Is Already Underway, The New York Times, Mitch Smith and Michael Wines, published on Tuesday, 14 January 2020.

News networks use retired military brass as war analysts without disclosing their defense-industry ties, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Monday 13 January 2020: “During eight appearances on Fox News and Fox Business Network in early January, Jack Keane was introduced several ways: as ‘a retired four-star general,’ as the former ‘vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army,’ and as Fox News’s ‘senior strategic analyst.’ All of those are accurate descriptions. Keane is a distinguished veteran, having commanded American troops in such places as Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia. Fox employs him to provide analysis of national security and military operations, such as the unfolding hostilities between the United States and Iran. But another part of Keane’s résumé wasn’t mentioned: the former general is also executive chairman of AM General, a leading defense contractor, best known as the manufacturer of the Humvee and other tactical military vehicles. He is also a partner at a venture-capital firm that specializes in the defense industry. In other words, viewers never learned that Keane has a direct financial interest in the war policies he was assessing on the air.”

Trump Has Tried to Weaken Protections for Pre-existing Conditions, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz, Monday, 13 January 2020: “President Trump was not in Washington when the Affordable Care Act established a right to health insurance for Americans with pre-existing health conditions. His first legislative priority as president was a bill that would have repealed key parts of Obamacare and weakened such protections. His Justice Department is arguing in court that the entire law should be overturned. His tweets Monday morning, describing himself as ‘the person who saved pre-existing conditions,’ contradict this record.” See also, Trump, here’s a history of preexisting condition protections, The Washington Post, Paige Winfield Cunningham, published on Tuesday, 14 January 2020.

In McGahn Case, an Epic Constitutional Showdown, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 13 January 2020: “‘Has there ever been,’ the judge asked, ‘an instance of such broad-scale defiance of a congressional request for information in the history of the Republic?’ It was the first Friday of the new year, and an appeals court was considering whether President Trump could order his advisers to refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas. The case concerned Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, but the questions from the judge, Thomas B. Griffith, made plain that the court was struggling with something more general and fundamental. Judge Griffith was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush and is an authority on the separation of powers, having served as legal counsel for the Senate, including during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. He wanted to know if there was any precedent for a wholesale presidential order to stonewall Congress. ‘Has that ever happened before?’ Judge Griffith asked. The administration’s lawyer, Hashim M. Mooppan, gave an answer that underscored the significance of the case. ‘Not to my knowledge,’ he said.”


Tuesday, 14 January 2020, Day 1,090:


Newly released materials show Ukraine prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko offered information related to Biden in exchange for the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “New materials released by House Democrats appear to show Ukraine’s top prosecutor offering an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, damaging information related to former vice president Joe Biden if the Trump administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The text messages and documents provided to Congress by former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas also show that before the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. A lawyer for Yovanovitch said Tuesday that the episode should be investigated. The cache of materials released by House investigators late Tuesday exposed a number of previously unknown details about efforts by Giuliani and his associates to obtain material in Ukraine that would undermine Trump’s Democratic opponents. Their emergence on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial spurred Democrats to renew calls for the White House to turn over documents related to the Ukraine pressure campaign that it has refused to share with Congress.” See also, Materials provided by Giuliani associate Lev Parnas to the House, The Washington Post, Tuesday, 14 January 2020. See also, Documents Provide New Details of Trump’s Pressure Campaign on Ukraine. Dozens of pages of notes, text messages, and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associate Lev Parnas on behalf of Trump. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “New details emerged on Tuesday of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, intensifying demands on Senate Republicans on the eve of a historic impeachment trial to include witness testimony and additional documents in the proceeding. The dozens of pages of notes, text messages and other records lay out work conducted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and his associate Lev Parnas on behalf of the president. They include handwritten notes scrawled on a sheet of hotel paper at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that mention getting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son. House Democrats released the records even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a Wednesday vote to name House prosecutors and send the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate to begin the trial. The material undergirds the accusations against Mr. Trump, and highlights how much is still to be learned about the scope of a scheme that the impeachment charges call a blatant effort to solicit foreign help in the 2020 election. The documents, provided by Mr. Parnas, contain a series of exchanges between him and a Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens.” See also, Lev Parnas Adds New Details on Push to Oust Marie Yovanovitch, Former U.S. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Michael Rothfeld, Tuesday, 14 January 2020. See also, Lev Parnas’s handwritten notes about Giuliani’s Ukraine push, annotated, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, How Ukraine’s top prosecutor went after Marie Yovanovitch, step by step, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Democrats to investigate ‘profoundly alarming’ Ukraine texts, The Washington Post, Mary Clare Jalonick and Eric Tucker | AP, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “A House committee chairman said his panel will investigate what he says are ‘profoundly alarming’ text messages that have raised questions about the possible surveillance of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch before she was ousted by the Trump administration last spring. House Democrats on Tuesday night released a trove of documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The messages show that a Trump donor named Robert F. Hyde disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave him updates on her location and cellphone use.” See also, House Democrats release new impeachment evidence related to indicted Giuliani associate, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Tuesday, 14 June 2020: “The House Intelligence Committee released new evidence on Tuesday related to the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, including information turned over by Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. The release, which reflects the unfinished nature of the House’s impeachment inquiry, comes ahead of an expected House vote on Wednesday to formally send the impeachment articles to the Senate for a trial.” See also, New Documents From Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas Submitted for Impeachment Trial, The Wall Street Journal, Siobhan Hughes, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “New documents in the impeachment probe into President Trump show that his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, asked for a meeting with the Ukrainian president with Mr. Trump’s ‘knowledge and consent’ and that one of Mr. Giuliani’s associates was sent text messages about tracking the U.S. ambassador’s movements in the country. House Democrats on Tuesday released the documents, aiming to incorporate them into the House record in time for the start of the Senate’s impeachment trial.” See also, House Democrats provide new evidence of Giuliani’s push to meet with Zelensky, CNN Politics, Manu Reju, Jeremy Herb, and Erica Orden, published on Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “House Democrats unveiled new evidence Tuesday that they plan to send to the Senate as part of their case to remove President Donald Trump from office, providing text messages and hand-written notes from an indicted Rudy Giuliani associate that add more details about the push for Ukraine to announce an investigation against Trump’s political rivals. The documents show how the associate, Lev Parnas, sought to set up a meeting between Giuliani and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and connect with members of his government. The records also add more details about the push by Giuliani to seek the ouster of the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.”

House to vote Wednesday to send impeachment articles against Trump to the Senate, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House will vote Wednesday on a resolution appointing House impeachment managers and transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, allowing the trial of President Trump to begin this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) later told reporters that he expects to engage in the initial phase of the trial this week, including the swearing in of senators as jurors. The substantive trial action would begin on Tuesday, he said. Meanwhile, three House committees sent additional phone records and other evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which urged Trump to honor congressional requests for further documents. The panel will transmit the new evidence to the Senate on Wednesday.” See also, The House will vote on Wednesday on a resolution to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Politico, Heather Caygle and Burgess Everett, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “After weeks of stalemate between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is finally coming together. Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House will vote Wednesday on a resolution to transmit the articles of impeachment, clearing the last major hurdle before the Senate trial. Hours later, McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed that the Senate will begin its trial in earnest next Tuesday, when the chamber considers the rules package to govern the trial.” See also, How Trump’s Senate impeachment trial will work, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Tuesday, 14 January 2020. See also, 3 Republicans Are Open to Impeachment Witnesses, but Democrats Need a 4th, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “The Capitol math is clear: Democrats need only four Republican votes to force the Senate to subpoena witnesses like John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial. Three have signaled they may be open to doing so: Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. That leaves Democrats searching for an elusive fourth vote.”

Impeachment trial security crackdown will limit Capitol press access, Roll Call, Katherine Tully-McManus, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “The Senate sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police are launching an unprecedented crackdown on the Capitol press corps for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, following a standoff between the Capitol’s chief security officials, Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt and the standing committees of correspondents. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger will enact a plan that intends to protect senators and the chamber, but it also suggests that credentialed reporters and photographers whom senators interact with on a daily basis are considered a threat. Additional security screening and limited movement within the Capitol for reporters are two issues that are drawing criticism from Capitol Hill media.  The Standing Committee of Correspondents, which represents journalists credentialed in the daily press galleries in the House and Senate, has come out forcefully against the planned restrictions that it says rejected every suggestion made by the correspondents ‘without an explanation of how the restrictions contribute to safety rather than simply limit coverage of the trial.'”

Trump’s Environmental Policy? Among 20 of the most powerful people in government environment jobs, most have ties to the fossil fuel industry or have fought against the regulations they now are supposed to enforce. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Claire O’Neill, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “A small number of people at a few federal agencies have vast power over the protection of American air and water. Under the Trump administration, the people appointed to those positions overwhelmingly used to work in the fossil fuel, chemical and agriculture industries. During their time in government they have been responsible for loosening or undoing nearly 100 environmental protections from pollution and pesticides, as well as weakening preservations of natural resources and efforts to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Of 20 key officials across several agencies, 15 came from careers in the oil, gas, coal, chemical or agriculture industries, while another three hail from state governments that have spent years resisting environmental regulations. At least four have direct ties to organizations led by Charles G. and the late David H. Koch, who have spent millions of dollars to defeat climate change and clean energy measures.”

Gender, War, and Taking On Trump: Democrats Spar Just Weeks Before Voting, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Jonathan Martin, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “The Democratic presidential candidates clashed in starkly personal terms Tuesday over who had the best chance to defeat President Trump, as Senator Elizabeth Warren sought to jump-start her campaign in the last debate before the Iowa caucuses by highlighting her electoral success and that of other female candidates in the Trump era. See also, 6 Takeaways From the January 2020 Democratic Debate, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Katie Glueck, Tuesday, 14 January 2020. See also, Democrats clash over positions on war and peace–and gender in politics, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Michael Scherer, and Annie Linskey, published on Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “A whittled-down field of Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday focused on their shared disdain for President Trump and elaborated on a host of policy differences domestic and foreign in an Iowa presidential debate whose most animated moment turned on whether a woman could become president.” See also, Fact-Checking the seventh Democratic primary debate, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, Tuesday, 14 January 2020.

Court blocks planned purge of more than 200,000 people from swing state Wisconsin’s voter rolls, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “An appeals court has temporarily halted the purge of more than 200,000 people from Wisconsin’s voter rolls, in a case that set off a bitter fight over voting rights in a swing state that will be fiercely contested during the 2020 presidential race. The Tuesday order came one day after the state’s elections commission and its three Democratic members were found in contempt of court for not complying with a judge’s previous order to cancel the registrations of roughly 6 percent of its voters. The case is largely split along partisan lines. Republicans argue that thousands of people who have changed addresses have not updated their voter registration status and should therefore be struck from the rolls to ensure election integrity, while Democrats and voting rights advocates say the move will unjustly disenfranchise swaths of the electorate — particularly low-income voters, young people and people of color, who tend to lean left.”

BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance, The New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit.” See also, DealBook: BlackRock Puts Climate Change Center Stage, The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 January 2020. See also, BlackRock makes climate change central to its investment strategy, The Washington Post, Steven Mufson and Rachel Siegel, Tuesday, 14 January 2020: “BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, will make sustainability and climate risks key tenets of its investing strategy, a move that its chief executive said should push financial institutions to prioritize climate change issues. But activists noted the firm’s lackluster history on this front and the need for it to push further.”


Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Day, 1,091:


House Delivers Impeachment Charges to Senate, Paving the Way for a Trial, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to transmit two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, sending the president and his party into uncharted territory in a deeply divisive trial fraught with history and political risk. In a choreographed ritual, the House formally appointed seven Democrats to serve as impeachment managers prosecuting the case before the Republican-controlled Senate. The group silently marched two charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, encased in slim blue folders, across the Capitol to set in motion the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.” See also, Day in Impeachment: House Moves Articles to the Senate, The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Taps Diverse Team of Impeachment Managers With Legal Credentials, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “In selecting the seven lawmakers who will serve as managers of the impeachment case against President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California turned to a diverse team from her Democratic caucus with an array of litigation credentials. Its task, which officially began on Wednesday as the House voted to appoint them, is to prosecute the case for removal of a president in only the third such trial in American history.” See also, House delivers historic impeachment case against Trump to Senate, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Rachael Bade, and Seung Min Kim, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The House delivered two articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday, laying the groundwork for President Trump’s trial as Republicans rallied behind the idea of parity between the two parties in possibly calling witnesses. The impeachment managers’ brief ceremonial journey across the Capitol — a month after the House voted to impeach Trump — relinquished Democratic control over a process that is expected to end in the president’s election-year acquittal by the Republican-led Senate. The procession, which solemnly set in motion the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, capped a rancorous day of partisan conflict and heightened the pressure on Senate moderates, whose views on seeking additional evidence after unmitigated stonewalling by the White House will define the scope of Trump’s trial.” See also, House managers deliver impeachment articles to Senate; McConnell’s office says Senate will formally accept them on Thursday, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Who are the impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump in the Senate trial? The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named the lawmakers who will prosecute the case in a Senate trial that will begin in earnest next week. In impeachment parlance, they are known as managers. They are tasked with persuading 67 senators to convict Trump and remove him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. ‘The emphasis is on litigators, the emphasis is on comfort in the courtroom,’ Pelosi said of her selections.” See also, How a Senate impeachment trial works, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Eyeing swift impeachment trial, Trump’s legal team aims to block witnesses and cast doubt on charges, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “White House lawyers are trying to engineer the fastest impeachment trial in American history, aiming to have President Trump acquitted by the Senate without witnesses and after just a few days of proceedings, according to senior administration officials. Trump’s desire for a short trial has solidified over the past few weeks, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delayed transmitting two articles of impeachment to the Senate because of concerns about how the trial would be structured. The White House, which previously supported a more expansive trial in the GOP-led Senate, has now accepted the idea that senators should make quick work of acquitting Trump.” See also, House Sends Trump Impeachment Case to Senate for Trial, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews and Lindsay Wise, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The House delivered two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate on Wednesday, after voting to approve seven Democratic managers to prosecute the case before the Republican-controlled chamber. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she stressed litigation experience in choosing managers to handle the trial over alleged presidential abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Senators are expected to be sworn in on Thursday, and the proceedings are scheduled to get under way in earnest on Tuesday.” See also, Bios of Seven Democratic Impeachment Managers, The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Democrats deliver impeachment articles to begin Senate trial, Politico, Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Meet the Democrats prosecuting Trump’s impeachment, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, House sends two articles of impeachment to the Senate, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Clare Foran, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, A step-by-step guide to what happens when the House sends the impeachment articles to the Senate, CNN Politics, Ted Barrett, Wednesday, 15 January 2020.

Lev Parnas, Key Player in Ukraine Affair, Completes Break With Trump and Giuliani, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who played a central role in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rivals of President Trump, completed his break with the White House on Wednesday, asserting for the first time in public that the president was fully aware of the efforts to dig up damaging information on his behalf. In an interview with The New York Times on the day the House transmitted articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump to the Senate, Mr. Parnas also expressed regret for having trusted Mr. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and the architect of the Ukraine pressure campaign. His lawyer said he was eager to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Giuliani.” See also, New documents show Lev Parnas used access to Trump’s world to help push shadow Ukraine effort, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Paul Sonne, and Tom Hamburger, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “Documents and text messages released by House Democrats on Wednesday evening show how Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, used the extensive entree he had to President Trump’s world to help put in motion Giuliani’s shadow Ukraine campaign. Hundreds of pages of photos, messages and calendar entries show Parnas enlisting a top official at the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action to assist in promoting media coverage he helped arrange and attending functions with Republican congressmen and Trump family members. A calendar entry released as part of the cache shows Parnas had a scheduled breakfast with Trump in New York on Sept. 26 — after the public revelation of a whistleblower complaint about a call the president had with his Ukrainian counterpart.” See also, House releases additional documents turned over by Lev Parnas, The Washington Post, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, 4 takeaways from the Lev Parnas interview and revelations, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Lev Parnas has leaped to the center of the impeachment of President Trump, with House Democrats releasing a series of documents from Parnas that detail his work with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and Ukrainian officials. Parnas also spoke with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night, during an interview in which he lodged some explosive allegations that have yet to be substantiated.” See also, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas says Trump had knowledge of effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, The Washington Post, Michael Biesecker, Mary Clare Jalonick, and Eric Tucker | AP, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “A close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is claiming Trump was directly involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden. Lev Parnas says he delivered an ultimatum in May, at Giuliani’s behest, to the incoming president of Ukraine that no senior U.S. officials would attend his inauguration and vital American security aid would be withheld if an investigation into Biden wasn’t announced. He said Trump was aware of Giuliani’s efforts to secure an investigation and the president was briefed regularly. If true, Parnas’ account undercuts a key Republican defense of Trump during the impeachment investigation — that Trump’s withholding of vital military aid to Ukraine last summer wasn’t a quid pro quo for Biden investigations.” See also, Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas says Trump ‘knew exactly what was going on’ in Ukraine, Politico, Matthew Choi, Kyle Cheney, Darren Samuelsohn, and Quint Forgey, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Rudy Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas Says He Warned Top Ukraine Aide of Potential Cutoff of U.S. Aid, The Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, said he warned a top aide to the newly elected president of Ukraine that the U.S. would halt aid to the country if it didn’t announce investigations that could benefit President Trump politically. In a May meeting with Serhiy Shefir, an aide to then-Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Parnas delivered the message at the direction of Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, he said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.” See also, Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas says Trump ‘knew exactly what was going on’ with Ukraine pressure campaign, CNN Politics, Paul LeBlanc, Wednesday, 15 January 2020. See also, Democrats release more Parnas evidence, including voicemails with Trump associates, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “House impeachment investigators released a new set of evidence that was obtained from Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani — including voicemails, photos, and text messages between Parnas and high-level figures within Trump’s orbit. The material includes voicemail messages Parnas received from Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, a prominent Trump-aligned lawyer, both of whom have been identified as players in an effort to force the removal of the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during the spring.”

Robert F. Hyde, a Donor to Trump’s Campaign and Aspiring Republican Lawmaker Who Discussed Surveillance of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Has a History of Stalking and Mental Health Issues, The Intercept, Lee Fang, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The man who relayed information about Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s location to Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian associates was a known stalker with mental health issues. Newly released private WhatsApp messages between Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani’s, and Robert F. Hyde, a donor to President Donald Trump’s campaign and aspiring GOP lawmaker, reveal what appears to be an effort to surveil the former ambassador to Ukraine, whose ouster was sought by Giuliani as part of a plan to pressure the Ukrainian government into pursuing political investigations at the White House’s behest.” See also, Police and court records show that Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde, who said he tracked U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, was previously involuntarily committed, The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Beth Reinhard, and Paul Duggan, published on Thursday, 16 January 2020: “A Republican congressional candidate and former Marine who suggested last year that he was tracking a U.S. ambassador who had fallen out of favor with President Trump was once involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after an incident at one of the president’s resorts and is the subject of a restraining order obtained by a political consultant, police and court records show. On Tuesday, Robert F. Hyde became the latest figure to emerge in the drama surrounding the Trump administration’s recall last year of Marie Yovanovitch as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine when his 2019 messages were made public on the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial. His exchanges with an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, had been turned over to House Democrats in response to a subpoena.” See also, Robert Hyde, Erratic Ex-Landscaper, Is Unlikely New Impeachment Figure, The New York Times, Michael Rothfeld, William K. Rashbaum, and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “Even in an impeachment drama brimming with improbable characters, Robert F. Hyde stands out. Mr. Hyde, an obscure Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut, was thrust into the proceedings to remove President Trump from office this week when the House released a series of encrypted messages he exchanged last year with an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer. The messages suggest that Mr. Hyde had been secretly tracking the movements of Marie L. Yovanovitch, the United States ambassador to Ukraine at the time.”

2019 capped the world’s hottest decade in recorded history. It also marked the second-warmest year ever. The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Andrew Freedman, and John Muyskens, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The past decade was the hottest ever recorded on the planet, driven by an acceleration of temperature increases in the past five years, according to data released Wednesday. The findings, released jointly by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, detail a troubling trajectory: 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, trailing only 2016. The past five years each rank among the five hottest since record-keeping began. And 19 of the hottest 20 years have occurred during the past two decades. The warming trend also bears the unmistakable sign of human activity, which emits tens of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, scientists say.” See also, 2019 Was the Second-Hottest Year Ever, Closing Out the Warmest Decade, The New York Times, Henry Fountain and Nadja Popovich, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The past decade was the hottest on record, government researchers announced on Wednesday, the latest sign of global warming’s grip on the planet. And 2019 was the second-warmest year ever, they said, just shy of the record set in 2016. Analyses by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that global average surface temperatures last year were nearly 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the average from the middle of last century, caused in large part by emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels. That much warming means the world is far from meeting goals set to combat climate change.”

Virginia Approves the Equal Rights Amendment, Becoming the 38th State to Back It, The New York Times, Timothy Williams, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “Virginia on Wednesday became the 38th state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment, a symbolic victory for those who for generations have been pushing for a constitutional guarantee of legal rights regardless of sex. Virginia’s decision does not seal the amendment’s addition to the United States Constitution. A deadline for three-quarters, or 38, of the 50 states to approve the E.R.A. expired in 1982, so the future of the measure is uncertain, and experts said the issue would likely be tied up in the courts and in the political sphere for years. But the symbolism of the action in Virginia was significant after a struggle that had been raised, hard fought and, at times, forgotten over nearly 100 years.” See also, ‘A long time to wait’: Virginia passes Equal Rights Amendment in historic vote, The Washington Post, Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella, and Patricia Sullivan, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “Both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly passed the Equal Rights Amendment Wednesday, fulfilling a promise that helped Democrats seize control of the legislature and marking a watershed moment in the nearly century-long effort to add protections for women to the U.S. Constitution. The lopsided votes capped an emotional week in which Democrats — particularly female lawmakers, who now hold unprecedented positions of power in Richmond — celebrated history in the making.”

Federal judge temporarily halts Trump administration policy allowing local governments to block refugees, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Maria Sacchetti, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “State and local officials cannot block refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the Trump administration’s new refu­gee policy is likely to be ‘unlawful’ and ‘does not appear to serve the overall public interest.’ U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte of Maryland temporarily halted President Trump’s executive order requiring governors and local officials nationwide to agree in writing to welcome refugees before resettlements take place in their jurisdictions.” See also, Judge Halts Trump Policy That Allows States to Bar Refugees, The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily suspended a new Trump administration policy that allowed state and local authorities to opt out of receiving refugees, concluding that the policy would likely be found to be illegal. The preliminary injunction issued by Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Maryland blocks an executive order from September that empowered governors and county and city officials to effectively reject refugees fleeing persecution around the world.”

Virginia Declares State of Emergency After Armed Militias Threaten to Storm the Capitol, Vice News, Tess Owen, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “In response to what he described as ‘credible intelligence’ of threats of violence at an upcoming gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and will temporarily ban individuals from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds. The governor said at a press conference Wednesday that authorities believe ‘armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol’ during the January 20 rally. He also said that law enforcement had intercepted threats and ‘extremist rhetoric’ similar to what was observed prior to the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. ‘We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here,’ he said. The decision to ban all weapons, including firearms, won’t sit well with the thousands of gun lovers who are expected to descend on Richmond to participate in what was billed as an open-carry affair and an opportunity to flex Second Amendment rights.”

Trump Attaches Severe Restrictions to Puerto Rico’s Long-Delayed Disaster Aid, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu and Mark Walker, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The Trump administration imposed severe restrictions on Wednesday on billions of dollars in emergency relief to Puerto Rico, including blocking spending on the island’s electrical grid and suspending its $15-an-hour minimum wage for federally funded relief work. The nearly $16 billion in funding, released while Puerto Ricans still sleep on the streets for fear of aftershocks from last week’s earthquake, is part of $20 billion that Congress allocated for disaster recovery and preparation more than a year ago, in response to the commonwealth being hit by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017. The Department of Housing and Urban Development had released only $1.5 billion of the congressional relief, citing concerns about political corruption. Of that, only $5 million has been spent.”

Treasury Department’s internal watchdog is probing the Trump administration’s Opportunity Zone program, NBC News, Laura Strickler, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “The Treasury Department’s internal watchdog has opened an inquiry into the department’s Opportunity Zone program after a request in October from three Democratic members of Congress, Acting Treasury Inspector General Richard Delmar said. In late 2018, NBC News reported that Richard LeFrak, a friend of Trump’s, and the family interests of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, among others, could benefit from possible projects in designated opportunity zones. The New York Times published a similar report last year.” See also, Trump Tax Break That Benefited the Rich Is Being Investigated, The New York Times, Jesse Drucker, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “A federal tax break meant to help poor communities that became a windfall for wealthy investors is being investigated by the Treasury Department, the agency’s deputy inspector general said on Wednesday. The inquiry is being conducted at the request of three Democratic lawmakers, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Representative Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri and Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin. The lawmakers made their request after articles in The New York Times and ProPublica raised questions about the Opportunity Zone tax break.”

Trump Signs China Trade Deal, Putting Economic Conflict on Pause, The New York Times, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China on Wednesday, bringing the first chapter of a protracted and economically damaging fight with one of the world’s largest economies to a close. The pact is intended to open Chinese markets to more American companies, increase farm and energy exports and provide greater protection for American technology and trade secrets. China has committed to buying an additional $200 billion worth of American goods and services by 2021 and is expected to ease some of the tariffs it has placed on American products. But the agreement preserves the bulk of the tariffs that Mr. Trump has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and it maintains the threat of additional punishment if Beijing does not live up to the terms of the deal.”

Iran crash: Canadians feel like collateral damage of Trump’s scattershot foreign policy, The Guardian, Leyland Cecco, Wednesday, 15 January 2020: “When a Canadian business magnate sent off a flurry of tweets blaming Donald Trump for provoking the crisis which eventually led to the accidental shooting-down of a Ukrainian passenger jet, the posts quickly went viral. Michael McCain, the billionaire CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, used the company’s branded Twitter account to describe the US president as a ‘narcissist’ and described the 176 passengers and crew as ‘collateral damage’ from Trump’s ‘irresponsible, dangerous, ill-conceived behaviour.’… McCain’s tweets highlight one strand of Canada’s response to the disaster – the latest in a string of events in which the country has found itself caught up in feuds between the Trump administration and other countries. Justin Trudeau seemed to acknowledge such frustrations on Monday, when he said that the victims of the disaster would still be alive were it not for a recent crisis partly triggered by Trump’s decision to kill Iran’s top general, Qassem Suleimani. ‘I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,’ he said.”


Thursday, 16 January 2020:


Senate Opens Trump Impeachment Trial as New Ukraine Revelations Emerge, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of President Trump on Thursday, bracing for a deeply divisive debate over his fate as senators swore to deliver ‘impartial justice’ and installed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to preside over the proceeding. In a somber ceremony that initiated only the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation’s history, Chief Justice Roberts vowed to act ‘according to the Constitution and the laws.’ He then administered the same, 222-year-old oath of impartiality to the senators, setting in motion the final stage of a process that has roiled Congress and could shape the outcome of the 2020 elections, along with Mr. Trump’s legacy. Even as the ritual unfolded in the chamber, with senators signing their names one by one in an oath book near the marble Senate rostrum, new evidence was emerging about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that is at the heart of the charges against him. A trove of texts, voice mail messages, calendar entries and other records handed over by Lev Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, offered additional detail about the scheme. And the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog, found that Mr. Trump’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, which the House charges was part of his pressure campaign, was a violation of the law.” See also, Day in Impeachment: Senate Issues a Summons to President Trump, The New York Times, Thursday, 16 January 2020. See also, Historic impeachment trial of Trump begins in the Senate, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the swearing in of senators and the presentation of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress…. Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.” See also, Senate impeachment trial begins with rancor over witnesses and new evidence about Trump’s Ukraine dealings, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Thursday, 16 January 2020. See also, Impeachment trial will kick off with battle over witnesses, Politico, Marianne Levine, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is now underway. And it’s going to move fast. Just an hour after senators were sworn in, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will likely force votes on witnesses on Tuesday — setting up a contentious fight when the Senate returns from the three-day weekend. Senate Democrats have called for subpoenaing four witnesses, including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.” See also, Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump officially begins, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Thursday, 16 January 2020. See also, Trump Impeachment Trial Begins as Senators Are Sworn In, The Wall Street Journal, Lindsay Wise, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Trump on Thursday with Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in the senators, who pledged to deliver impartial justice, and the formal reading of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Hours before the senators took their oath, the Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency, determined that Mr. Trump’s administration violated the law when it withheld aid to Ukraine, an issue at the heart of the impeachment case against the president. Democrats allege that Mr. Trump, a Republican, improperly withheld the aid to pressure Kyiv to launch investigations that would help him politically in the 2020 election. Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing, calling the case against him a ‘big hoax’ on Thursday. He is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.” See also, Trump impeachment: Chief Justice John Roberts and senators sworn in as trial begins, The Guardian, Maanvi Singh and Amanda Holpuch, Thursday, 16 January 2020. See also, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine Is ‘Likely’ to Support Witnesses, Bloomberg, Steven T. Dennis, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Republican Senator Susan Collins said she is ‘likely’ to support a proposal to call witnesses after each side presents its case and answers questions from senators. ‘While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful,’ she said in a statement.” See also, For the Senators Who Will Judge Trump, an Incomplete Story to Consider, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 16 January 2020.

Government Accountability Office Report Says the Trump Administration Broke the Law in Withholding Aid to Ukraine, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Eric Lipton, and Chris Cameron, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Hours before the Senate embarked on President Trump’s impeachment trial, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency unexpectedly weighed in on an issue at the heart of the case: the president’s decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine. The agency, the Government Accountability Office, said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the law when it withheld nearly $400 million this past summer for ‘a policy reason,’ even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision to freeze the aid was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail. ‘Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,’ the accountability office wrote in an opinion released Thursday. ‘The withholding was not a programmatic delay.'” See also, Congressional watchdog says the White House hold on aid to Ukraine violated federal law, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Ellen Nakashima, and Erica Werner, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The White House violated federal law when it withheld security aid to Ukraine last year, according to a decision by a congressional watchdog released Thursday. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, found that the Trump administration broke a law that governs how the White House disburses money approved by Congress by withholding $214 million worth of equipment, training and other support to help Ukraine in its battle against Russian-backed separatist forces. The Pentagon aid was overwhelmingly approved by bipartisan majorities in Congress.” See also, The Government Accountability Office says the White House violated the law by freezing aid to Ukraine, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney, and Caitlin Emma, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The White House budget office violated the law when it froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a new report. President Donald Trump ordered the hold on the critical security assistance in July, a slew of senior White House officials testified to House impeachment investigators late last year. It was a move that coincided with an effort by the president and his allies to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s Democratic rivals.” See also, Government watchdog concludes the Trump administration broke the law by withholding aid to Ukraine, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Government Accountability Office said the Trump administration broke the law when it withheld US security aid to Ukraine last year that had been appropriated by Congress, a decision that’s at the heart of the House’s impeachment case against President Donald Trump.” See also, Read: Government Accountability Office concludes the Office of Management and Budget violated the law in withholding aid to Ukraine, CNN Politics, Thursday, 16 January 2020. See also, Hold on Ukraine Aid Violated Law, Nonpartisan Watchdog Finds, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Trump administration didn’t have the legal authority to put on hold millions of dollars in security assistance to Ukraine, Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog found, adding more scrutiny to the funding freeze last summer that led to the impeachment of President Trump. In its decision Thursday, the Government Accountability Office wrote that the Office of Management and Budget improperly froze the money for policy reasons.”

Ukraine Investigates Trump Allies Amid Reports of Surveillance of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, The New York Times, Anton Troianovski and Richard Pérez-Pena, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Ukraine has opened a criminal investigation into allies of President Trump, following reports that they had the United States ambassador under surveillance while she was stationed in Kyiv, the Ukrainian government said on Thursday. The move was a remarkable departure from past practice for the new government of President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has tried hard to avoid any hint of partisanship in its dealings with Washington. The current situation has heightened those sensitivities, with Ukraine caught in the middle of the conflict between Democrats and Republicans over the impeachment of Mr. Trump for his pressure campaign on Ukraine.” See also, Ukraine Investigates Whether Former U.S. Ambassador Was Under Surveillance, The Wall Street Journal, Georgi Kantchev, Wednesday, 16 January 2020: “Ukrainian authorities opened a criminal probe into whether American citizens placed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under surveillance, as text messages suggest, before she was removed from her post last year. The move came after House Democrats released documents Tuesday in the impeachment probe into President Trump showing that an associate of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was sent text messages about tracking Marie Yovanovitch in Ukraine.” See also, Ukraine Is Investigating Whether U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch Was Surveilled, NPR, Bill Chappell, Thursday, 16 January 2020.

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas points to Pence snub as Ukraine pressure point, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Paul Sonne, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Lev Parnas said he arrived for his May meeting in Kyiv with a top aide to Ukraine’s president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky, with a clear directive from Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer: Unless Zelensky announced an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, one of Trump’s possible 2020 rivals, his country’s relationship with the United States would sour. Among the consequences he threatened, Parnas said in interviews this week: that Vice President Pence’s expected attendance at Zelensky’s inauguration later that month — a high-level recognition that the Ukrainians urgently sought — would be canceled. When Ukrainians were unresponsive, Parnas said he relayed the bad news to Giuliani. ‘Okay, they’ll see,’ the president’s lawyer responded, Parnas told MSNBC.” See also, Lev Parnas Says Mike Pence Canceled Ukraine Visit in Quid Pro Quo. Parnas told MSNBC that the vice president had pulled out of the trip because Ukraine had failed to announce a Biden probe. Daily Beast, Betsy Swan, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Lev Parnas, an indicted ex-associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accused President Donald Trump of lying about their relationship Wednesday night. And he said Giuliani told Ukrainian officials that Parnas spoke on behalf of the president. In an interview with Rachel Maddow for her MSNBC show, Parnas said that when he met with Ukrainian government officials, he would call Giuliani and put him on speaker. Giuliani would then tell the officials that Parnas was there on Trump’s behalf, he said.”

An Impeachment Trial That Could Unfold Out of Public View, The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Americans tuning in to witness electrifying exchanges in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump might be in for a shock themselves: Lawmakers could pull the C-Span plug and go into closed session at critical moments of debate over the conduct of the trial and the fate of the president. While it seems anachronistic today given the expectation of wall-to-wall news coverage and an emphasis on government transparency, impeachment rules and precedent allow the Senate to clear the chamber of journalists and spectators and bar the doors so senators can talk privately among themselves for hours on end. Senators met extensively in closed session during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999 — at least six times — to debate questions of witnesses and whether to dismiss the articles of impeachment, and also to conduct final deliberations much as a court jury would on whether to remove him from office.”

Security crackdown on Capitol Hill hinders reporters’ ability to question senators during impeachment trial, CNN Business, Oliver Darcy, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Reporters on Capitol Hill are facing a security crackdown that limits their ability to question US Senators during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Sarah Wire, the chair of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, a group that represents reporters on Capitol Hill, told CNN Business that several measures that curtail reporters’ access were implemented on Thursday. One measure prohibits reporters from walking with senators and questioning them as the lawmakers are in transit from the Capitol Hill basement to the elevator, a common practice in the US Capitol. Another measure forces reporters behind roped off lines and into pens, hindering their ability to approach senators and ask questions, another common practice. Such restrictions, which aid senators who wish to avoid the press, were not communicated to journalists ahead of time as typically expected, Wire told CNN Business.”

Senate Passes Revised North America Free Trade Agreement, Sending Pact to Trump’s Desk, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Congress on Thursday gave final approval to President Trump’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement, handing the president his second trade victory of the week as the Senate prepared to try him for high crimes and misdemeanors. The 89 to 10 vote in the Senate on implementing legislation for the revised United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will send the measure to Mr. Trump, who is expected to sign it next week. The vote came just one day after Mr. Trump signed a long-awaited trade deal with China, giving the president two trade wins in a single week…. While U.S.M.C.A. sailed through both the House and Senate, its approval was far from guaranteed a year ago, when Mr. Trump initially signed an agreement with Mexico and Canada. A core group of House Democrats, working with their Senate counterparts, spent months negotiating new language that ultimately strengthened labor, environmental, pharmaceutical and enforcement provisions. The length of those negotiations pushed the House vote to December, less than 24 hours after the chamber voted to impeach Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors.” See also, Senate approves new North American trade deal with Canada and Mexico, The Washington Post, Erica Werner and Rachel Siegel, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Senate approved a sweeping U.S. economic pact with Canada and Mexico on Thursday, delivering on President Trump’s promise of a new North American trade deal, just ahead of his impeachment trial. The vote was 89 to 10, with an overwhelming majority of senators from both parties supporting the agreement, as expected. Last month, the House approved the revised agreement by a similarly wide margin, after months of negotiations between Democrats and the White House produced pro-labor revisions and jettisoned drug-exclusivity language sought by the pharmaceutical industry. The 12 million-member AFL-CIO was closely involved in negotiating the changes and backed the agreement, along with some other major unions.” See also, Senate Passes USMCA (U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement), New North American Trade Pact, The Wall Street Journal, William Mauldin, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The U.S. Senate easily passed an overhaul of North America’s trade rules on Thursday, sending a Trump administration priority to the president’s desk. The Senate voted 89 to 10 in support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaces the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. The pact updates trading rules in the continent to address 21st-century technology, safeguard environmental and labor standards in Mexico and toughen requirements for auto-industry trade among the three countries. Notably, the vote reassures farmers, manufacturers and other businesses that tariff-free trade will continue in North America. See also, Senate passes USMCA, but much work remains, Politico, Sabrina Rodriguez, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed President Donald Trump’s signature trade deal with Mexico and Canada, helping him fulfill a 2016 campaign promise in a rare bipartisan vote. It’s a big win for the president going into his reelection campaign, as he seeks to prove that his disruptive trade agenda is delivering results. But it’ll take years of costly work before American workers and businesses begin to benefit from the new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, which passed the Senate in a 89-10 vote.”

Democratic Attorneys General Sue to Block Trump Food Stamp Cuts, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Fourteen states, New York City and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Thursday to block new rules that would tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients, accusing the administration of doing an illegal end run around Congress. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Agriculture Department and its secretary, Sonny Perdue, argues that the finalized rule, set to take effect in April, is unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.” See also, 14 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City sue Trump administration over plan to impose stricter work requirements on millions of food stamp recipients, Politico, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “A coalition that includes attorneys general in 14 states, the District of Columbia and New York City are suing the Agriculture Department over a plan to impose stricter work requirements on millions of food stamp recipients. The lawsuit, filed Thursday by mostly Democratic-led states, argues that USDA unlawfully limited states’ discretion to exempt certain adults from work requirements for an extended period of time based on local employment conditions.” See also, 14 states, D.C., and New York City sue to stop Trump plan to slash food stamps for 700,000 unemployed people, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “A coalition of 14 states along with Washington, D.C., and New York City sued Thursday to block the Trump administration from cutting off food stamp benefits from nearly 700,000 unemployed people, the first of three such planned measures to restrict the federal food safety net.”

F.B.I. Arrests Suspected Members of Neo-Nazi Group Before Virginia Gun Rally, The New York Times, Timothy Williams, Adam Goldman, and Neil MacFarquhar, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Alarming calls online for a race war. The arrest of three suspected neo-Nazis. Memories of the explosive clashes in Charlottesville, Va., three years ago. A sense of crisis enveloped the capital of Virginia on Thursday, with the police on heightened alert and Richmond bracing for possible violence ahead of a gun rally next week that is expected to draw white supremacists and other anti-government extremists. Members of numerous armed militias and white power proponents vowed to converge on the city despite the state of emergency declared by Gov. Ralph Northam, who temporarily banned weapons from the grounds of the State Capitol. The potential for an armed confrontation prompted fears of a rerun of the 2017 far-right rally that left one person dead and some two dozen injured in Charlottesville, about an hour’s drive from Monday’s rally. The unease increased after the F.B.I. announced the arrest on Thursday of three armed men suspected of being members of a neo-Nazi hate group, including a former Canadian Army reservist, who had obtained weapons and discussed participating in the Richmond rally. The men were linked to The Base, a group that aims to create a white ethnostate, according to the F.B.I.”

Florida Supreme Court issues setback for Amendment 4 supporters. It ruled that felons must pay back all court-ordered fees, fines, and restitution before registering to vote. Tampa Bay Times, Lawrence Mower, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “In a setback to supporters of Amendment 4, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Republican lawmakers who have argued that felons must pay back all court-ordered fees, fines and restitution before registering to vote. In a narrow opinion requested by Gov. Ron DeSantis, justices gave their answer on one of the questions at the heart of the historic ballot measure voters passed in 2018. Celebrated as one of the greatest expansions of voting rights in decades, it restored the right to vote to most non-violent felons who completed ‘all terms of sentence.’ But within months, the phrase ‘all terms of sentence’ became a flash point in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Lawmakers lined up behind Senate Bill 7066, which defined ‘all terms’ to include all financial obligations. It drew criticism from national figures, such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, that the bill created a modern-day poll tax.” See also, Florida high court sides with Governor Ron DeSantis on felon voter rights, Associated Press, Bobby Caina Calvan, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The Florida Supreme Court sided with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday in a legal dispute over restoring voting rights to felons with unpaid fines — one of many clashes over the ballot box in a state that will play a crucial role in this year’s presidential election. The court’s advisory opinion — requested by the Republican governor last year — has no immediate legal consequence, but could influence federal judges weighing legal wranglings over the voter-approved measure known as Amendment 4.”

Koch network plans its biggest election-year effort in 2020, CNN Politics, Fredreka Schouten, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The conservative political network affiliated with billionaire Charles Koch intends to launch its widest election effort in 2020 and could engage in nearly 200 federal and state races this year, top Koch officials tell CNN. In recent years, the network has signaled it is moving away from partisan issues and has begun to show support for a handful of Democrats who side with Koch’s views on issues such as trade, immigration and overhauling the criminal justice system. In an interview with CNN, top Koch official Emily Seidel said the new focus doesn’t mean the group will retreat from politics.”

Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona slams CNN reporter Manu Raju as ‘liberal hack,’ and Trump 2020 offers a fundraising boost, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Lateshia Beachum, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Rather than answer a question about the pending impeachment trial of President Trump, Republican Sen. Martha McSally repeatedly on Thursday called a CNN reporter a ‘liberal hack’ — an exchange that a McSally staffer taped and Trump’s campaign later praised and promoted. CNN reporter Manu Raju caught McSally (R-Ariz.) entering a hearing Thursday morning in a Senate office building, hours before the impeachment trial formally began. He asked about the rules for the trial, which are under debate and expected to be adopted next week. ‘Sen. McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?’ Raju asked. Said McSally, ‘Manu, you’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.'” See also, Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona Calls CNN Reporter Manu Raju a ‘Liberal Hack,’ The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Michael M. Grynbaum, Thursday, 16 September 2020: “It was a straightforward question being put to nearly every Republican senator in the Capitol on Thursday: Should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial? But when Manu Raju of CNN, a longtime congressional reporter, put it to Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, a first-term Republican who is up for re-election this fall, she went on the attack. ‘You’re a liberal hack,’ she said. ‘I’m not talking to you. You’re a liberal hack.’ She posted a video of the exchange on Twitter, earning plaudits from President Trump’s allies, including the Fox News host Sean Hannity. And @TrumpWarRoom, a Trump 2020 account, congratulated Ms. McSally — ‘THIS is how you handle FAKE NEWS,’ the account wrote — and urged followers to donate to her re-election campaign. Mr. Raju is well respected on Capitol Hill by members of both parties, and CNN said in a statement that it was ‘extremely unbecoming for a U.S. senator to sink to this level and treat a member of the press this way for simply doing his job.'” See also, Republican Senator Martha McSally’s attack on CNN reporter Manu Raju was an embrace of Trumpism. It seemed like an outburst. It was actually an elaborate fundraising ploy. Vox, Aaron Rupar, published on Friday, 17 January 2020: “Sen. Martha McSally’s (R-AZ) remarkable attack on a CNN reporter in the halls of Congress on Thursday seemed to be an unusual outburst, but it now appears to be part of a calculated strategy to hang onto her Senate seat by hitching her wagon to the president.”

Trump Banished Immigration Rights Activist Jean Montrevil for Speaking Out. He’s Suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to Come Back. The Intercept, Nick Pinto, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “A New York city immigration rights activist who was deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2018 filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday morning, alleging that he was targeted for deportation because of his political speech. Jean Montrevil said his removal from the U.S. was in violation of his First Amendment rights and demanded that the government return him to his home in New York from Haiti. The suit brought by Montrevil, 51, a founding member of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, builds on a significant ruling last spring by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of a former colleague, activist Ravi Ragbir. In Ragbir’s case, the court found that ICE’s moves against Ragbir in early 2018 were intended as retaliation for Ragbir’s political speech and thus, violated his rights under the First Amendment.”

Justice Department Is Investigating Years-Old Leaks and Appears Focused on Former F.B.I. Director James Comey, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “Federal prosecutors in Washington are investigating a years-old leak of classified information about a Russian intelligence document, and they appear to be focusing on whether the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey illegally provided details to reporters, according to people familiar with the inquiry. The case is the second time the Justice Department has investigated leaks potentially involving Mr. Comey, a frequent target of President Trump, who has repeatedly called him a ‘leaker.’ Mr. Trump recently suggested without evidence that Mr. Comey should be prosecuted for ‘unlawful conduct’ and spend years in prison. The timing of the investigation could raise questions about whether it was motivated at least in part by politics. Prosecutors and F.B.I. agents typically investigate leaks of classified information around the time they appear in the news media, not years later. And the inquiry is the latest politically sensitive matter undertaken by the United States attorney’s office in Washington, which is also conducting an investigation of Mr. Comey’s former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, that has been plagued by problems.”

A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig Is a Meticulous Account of Trump’s Tenure and Reads Like a Comic Horror Story, The New York Times, Dwight Garner, Thursday, 16 January 2020: “The essence of irony, Henry Fowler wrote in ‘A Dictionary of Modern English Usage,’ is that it ‘postulates a double audience’ — one that’s in on the joke, and another that isn’t. The title of Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s new book, ‘A Very Stable Genius,’ is thus savvy marketing. It’s possible to imagine both Donald J. Trump’s detractors and his admirers eagerly grasping a copy. The admirers will not make it past the table of contents. Among the chapter titles: ‘Unhinged,’ ‘Shocking the Conscience,’ ‘Paranoia and Pandemonium’ and ‘Scare-a-Thon.’ This verbiage makes Rucker and Leonnig’s book sound like one more enraged polemic. It isn’t. They’re meticulous journalists, and this taut and terrifying book is among the most closely observed accounts of Donald J. Trump’s shambolic tenure in office to date. Rucker is The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief; Leonnig is a national investigative reporter for the newspaper. Both have won Pulitzer Prizes. Their newspaper’s ominous, love-it-or-hate-it motto is ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.’ ‘A Very Stable Genius’ flicks the lights on from its first pages.” See also, A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig portrays Trump as erratic and ‘at times dangerously uninformed,’ The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, published on Wednesday, 15 January 2020.