Trump Administration, Week 157: Friday, 17 January – Thursday, 23 January 2020 (Days 1,093-1,099)


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, 17 January 2020, Day 1,093:


Trump Legal Team Adds Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz for Senate Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Trump enlisted the former independent counsel Ken Starr and the celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz to join his defense team on Friday, turning to two veterans of politically charged legal cases to secure his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial that gets underway in earnest next week. Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton led to his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998, will be joined by Robert W. Ray, his successor as independent counsel, who negotiated a settlement with Mr. Clinton as he left the White House that included a fine and the suspension of his law license. Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bülow and Mike Tyson, will have a more limited role, presenting oral arguments at the Senate trial “to address the constitutional arguments against impeachment and removal,” the legal team said in a statement. In choosing the three prominent lawyers, the president assembled what he regards as an all-star television legal team, enlisting some of his favorite defenders from Fox News. But each of them brings his own baggage. Mr. Dershowitz represented Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender. Mr. Starr was pushed out as a university president because of his handling of sexual misconduct by the football team. And Mr. Ray was once charged with stalking a former girlfriend.” See also, Trump expands legal team to include Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz for his impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Josh Dawsey, and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The team of lawyers expected to guide President Trump toward an election-year acquittal in the Senate expanded suddenly Friday to include Kenneth W. Starr and Alan Dershowitz, two of the biggest legal celebrities of the 1990s, who have drawn attention with their television appearances and involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s defense against charges of child prostitution in the mid-2000s. Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and Dershowitz, the Harvard Law emeritus professor who advised the defense team in football star O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, were announced as the newest members of Trump’s defense. The group will also include former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and former independent counsel Robert Ray, according to Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, who will lead the defense with the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. The four new lawyers were selected personally by Trump for their political-legal celebrity and vocal defenses of the president in the media — and despite the significant professional baggage that several of them bring to the impeachment saga.” See also, For impeachment defense team, Trump recruits from Fox News, The Washington Post, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Trump adds Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz to impeachment defense team, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Pamela Brown, and Kevin Liptak, Friday, 17 January 2020: “A spokesman for Trump’s legal team said Dershowitz will present oral arguments at the Senate trial. ‘He is participating in this impeachment trial to defend the integrity of the Constitution and to prevent the creation of a dangerous constitutional precedent,’ said the legal team, which noted Dershowitz opposed Clinton’s impeachment and voted for his wife, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election. Later Friday, Dershowitz told the website Mediaite it was an exaggeration to say he was joining the team per se. Instead, he described his role as more confined. ‘I think it overstates it to say I’m a member of the Trump team. I was asked to present the constitutional argument that I would have presented had Hillary Clinton been elected and had she been impeached,’ Dershowitz told the website. ‘I was asked to present my constitutional argument against impeachment. I will be there for one hour, basically, presenting my argument.'” See also, Trump Legal Team for Impeachment Trial to Include Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, The Wall Street Journal, Michael Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Trump finalized his legal team for the Senate impeachment trial, choosing a group of attorneys with the household name recognition and TV experience he values, while overlooking their links to past and continuing controversies, a tradeoff that Mr. Trump has often made. Mr. Trump filled out his team on Friday by increasing the total number of attorneys to ten from four who will defend him against two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The most controversial selections were constitutional-law professor Alan Dershowitz and former Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.” See also, Trump finally gets his TV-ready lawyers, thanks to impeachment, Politico, Darren Samuelsohn, Anita Kumar, and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, In Jay Sekulow, Trump Taps Longtime Loyalist for Impeachment Defense, The New York Times, Elizabeth Williamson, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Jay Sekulow, who will lead President Trump’s impeachment defense team with Pat A. Cipollone, is one of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving personal lawyers, an achievement in itself as the legal team’s revolving door spins wildly. Mr. Sekulow, 63, coordinates the work of eight lawyers from a cooperative working space a few blocks from the White House, under the name Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group. He is a conservative media personality with deep ties to the evangelical community, a critical part of Mr. Trump’s base. But Mr. Sekulow does not possess extensive experience in the proceedings that Mr. Trump will face in the Senate.” See also, Pat Cipollone: White House Counsel Who Will Help Lead Trump Legal Team, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Ken Starr Returns to the Impeachment Fray, This Time for the Defense, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Robert Ray Wanted to Indict Clinton. He Thinks Trump Will Be Vindicated. The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Alan Dershowitz Adds Trump to the List of His High-Profile Clients, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, Jane Raskin, Who Helped Trump in Mueller Inquiry, Joins President’s Defense Team, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 17 January 2020. See also, What Is the Impeachment Process? A Step-by-Step Guide. The New York Times, Weiyi Cai, updated on Friday, 17 January 2020.

Federal appeals court tosses landmark youth climate lawsuit against the U.S. government to force an end to fossil fuel-friendly U.S. policies, The Washington Post, Brady Dennis, Friday, 17 January 2020: “A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a 2015 lawsuit by nearly two dozen young people to force the U.S. government to take more aggressive action on climate change, saying that the children did not have legal standing to bring the landmark case. Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote that the plaintiffs had ‘made a compelling case that action is needed’ to slash the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. But the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that the courts were not the place to compel such action. ‘We reluctantly conclude, however, that the plaintiffs’ case must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large, the latter of which can change the composition of the political branches through the ballot box,’ Hurwitz wrote. In a blistering dissent, U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton, who served on the panel, criticized the notion that the courts have no role to play, saying the government itself has acknowledged ‘that the United States has reached a tipping point crying out for a concerted response — yet presses ahead toward calamity. It is as if an asteroid were barreling toward Earth and the government decided to shut down our only defenses. Seeking to quash this suit, the government bluntly insists that it has the absolute and unreviewable power to destroy the Nation,’ Staton wrote. ‘My colleagues throw up their hands, concluding that this case presents nothing fit for the Judiciary.'” See also, Federal Appeals Court Quashes Landmark Youth Climate Change Lawsuit Against the U.S. Government, The New York Times, John Schwartz, Friday, 17 January 2020: “A federal appeals court has thrown out the landmark climate change lawsuit brought on behalf of young people against the federal government…. The appeals court decision reverses an earlier ruling by a district court judge, Ann Aiken, that would have let the case go forward. Instead, the appeals court gave instructions to the lower court to dismiss the case.” See also, Youth activists lose appeal in landmark lawsuit against the US government over climate crisis, The Guardian, Lee Van der Voo, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The ninth circuit court of appeals ordered dismissal of a lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs against the federal government over climate crisis, citing concerns about separation of powers. The case was brought against the government in 2015, charging that it sanctioned, permitted and authorized a fossil fuel system that compromised the youth plaintiffs’ civil right to property. It implied a constitutional right to a stable climate, and alleged that the government violated the public trust by failing to protect assets held in trust, notably the atmosphere. The plaintiffs, now all between the ages of 12 and 23, also asked the US district court of Oregon to order the government to craft a climate remediation plan, one targeting scientifically acceptable standards to stabilize the climate. On Friday, the ninth circuit court found, however, that the court lacked the power to enforce such a plan or climate policy decisions by the government and Congress, concluding ‘in the end, any plan is only as good as the court’s power to enforce it.’ Nevertheless, the court found that the record ‘conclusively establishes that the federal government has long understood the risks of fossil fuel use and increasing carbon dioxide emissions’ and ‘that the government’s contribution to climate change is not simply a result of inaction.’ The court also found that the youth met the requirements for standing in the case and that some of the plaintiffs met the requirements for actual injury.”

Messages show that Derek Harvey, an aide to Representative Devin Nunes (the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee), communicated with Lev Parnas about Ukraine campaign to obtain material that would be damaging to Joe Biden, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Greg Miller, Friday, 17 January 2020: “House Democrats released new documents Friday evening showing extensive contact between an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney and an aide to the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee regarding the effort to obtain material from Ukrainian prosecutors that would be damaging to former vice president Joe Biden. The text messages between Lev Parnas, who functioned as Rudolph W. Giuliani’s emissary to Ukrainian officials, and Derek Harvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, indicate Nunes’s office was aware of the operation at the heart of impeachment proceedings against the president — and sought to use the information Parnas was gathering. The newly released texts show that Parnas was working last spring to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were feeding Giuliani information about Biden.” See also, New text messages put Republican Representative Devin Nunes on the hot seat, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020. See also, The Devin Nunes-Ukraine allegations, explained, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020. See also, New impeachment documents show more texts about possible surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Janu Raju, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020: “House Democrats on Friday released new documents from indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas ahead of the Senate trial that includes new information about the apparent surveillance of former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and additional contacts between Parnas and an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes of California. The new documents add to the growing trove of allegations and evidence that have come from Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas this week. Democrats have released three sets of Parnas documents this week after his attorney provided materials to the committee last weekend, and Parnas did television interviews with CNN and MSNBC in which he implicated Trump and said the efforts were ‘all about 2020.'” See also, House releases new impeachment evidence linking Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, to Lev Parnas, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Friday, 17 January 2020: “House impeachment investigators sought Friday to pull Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, deeper into the Ukraine scandal at the center of President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial. A set of text messages released Friday evening by the Intelligence Committee show a top Nunes aide, Derek Harvey, in frequent contact with Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who has become a key figure in the Ukraine controversy that resulted in Trump’s impeachment last month. In one exchange, Harvey appears to pass along Nunes’ contact information two days before the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report indicated that a phone connected to Nunes made contact with a phone connected to Parnas.” See also, Democrats Release More Material From Lev Parnas on Ukraine Campaign, The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel, Friday, 17 January 2020: “House Democrats released another round of information on Friday that raised questions about elements of the impeachment inquiry, including allegations about the surveillance of the United States ambassador in Ukraine and efforts by an aide to a top congressional Republican to pursue investigations sought by President Trump. The information came from the electronic devices of Lev Parnas, the businessman who worked with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to pursue the pressure campaign on Ukraine at the center of the impeachment trial. Mr. Parnas, who is facing federal campaign finance charges in Manhattan, has publicly turned on Mr. Trump and his allies. He petitioned the court to allow him to release the information to Congress, and has offered to testify in the impeachment trial and to cooperate with prosecutors in New York investigating Mr. Giuliani. And he undertook a media tour of sorts this week in which he claimed that the president ‘knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.’… The documents released by House Democrats included WhatsApp messages between Mr. Parnas and Derek Harvey, an aide to Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a leading defender of Mr. Trump. Mr. Nunes has suggested that Mr. Trump and his allies were justified in pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his family and Ukrainians who released information about Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.”

Continue reading Week 157, Friday, 17 January – Thursday, 23 January 2020 (Days 1,093-1,099)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo breaks silence on alleged threats to Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Associated Press, Matthew Lee, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday broke nearly 72 hours of silence over alleged surveillance and threats to the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, saying he believed the allegations would prove to be wrong but that he had an obligation to evaluate and investigate the matter. In interviews with conservative radio hosts, Pompeo said he had no knowledge of the allegations until earlier this week when congressional Democrats released documents from an associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney suggesting that Marie Yovanovitch was being watched. He also said he did not know and had never met Lev Parnas, the associate of Rudy Giuliani who made the claims. Pompeo, who was traveling in California when the documents were released, had been harshly criticized by lawmakers and current and former diplomats for not addressing the matter. The documents provided by Parnas suggested there may have been a threat to Yovanovitch shortly before she was abruptly recalled last spring.” See also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Says He ‘Never Heard’ That Marie Yovanovitch, Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Might Be Under Surveillance, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday he ‘never heard’ that his top envoy to Ukraine, Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, might have been under surveillance before she was recalled to Washington, accused of being disloyal to President Trump.” See also, After more than 48 hours of silence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the State Department will investigate possible surveillance of ex-US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, CNN Politics, Jennifer Hansler, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday publicly committed to look into the possible surveillance of former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — more than 48 hours after the evidence of potential monitoring emerged and more than 24 hours after Ukraine announced its own investigation into the matter.”

Trump Targets Michelle Obama’s School Nutrition Guidelines on Her Birthday, The New York Times, Lola Fadulu, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The Trump administration moved on Friday to roll back school nutrition standards championed by Michelle Obama, an effort long sought by food manufacturers and some school districts that have chafed at the cost of Mrs. Obama’s prescriptions for fresh fruit and vegetables. The proposed rule by the Agriculture Department, coming on the former first lady’s birthday, would give schools more latitude to decide how much fruit to offer during breakfast and what types of vegetables to include in meals. It would also broaden what counts as a snack. A spokeswoman for the department said that it had not intended to roll out the proposed rule on Mrs. Obama’s birthday, although some Democratic aides on Capitol Hill had their doubts. Food companies applauded the proposal, while nutritionists condemned it, predicting that starchy foods like potatoes would replace green vegetables and that fattening foods like hamburgers would be served daily as ‘snacks.'” See also, More pizza, fewer vegetables: Trump administration further undercuts Obama school-lunch rules, The Washington Post, Laura Reiley, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken another whack at former first lady Michelle Obama’s signature achievement: Establishing stricter nutritional standards for school breakfasts and lunches. And on her birthday. On Friday, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps proposed new rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that would allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfasts while giving them license to sell more pizza, burgers and fries to students. The agency is responsible for administering nutritional programs that feed nearly 30 million students at 99,000 schools.”

Supreme Court to Consider Whether the Trump Administration May Allow Employers to Limit Women’s Access to Free Birth Control Under the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the Trump administration may allow employers to limit women’s access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The case returns the court to a key battleground in the culture wars, but one in which successive administrations have switched sides. In the Obama years, the court heard two cases on whether religious groups could refuse to comply with regulations requiring contraceptive coverage. The new case presents the opposite question: Can the Trump administration allow all sorts of employers with religious or moral objections to contraception to opt out of the coverage requirement? Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said the Trump administration’s approach was unlawful. ‘Allowing employers and universities to use their religious beliefs to block employees’ and students’ birth-control coverage isn’t religious liberty — it’s discrimination,’ she said in a statement. ‘The Trump administration’s attempt to take away people’s insurance coverage for contraception is one of the administration’s many attacks on access to abortion and contraception.'” See also, Supreme Court will hear cases on electoral college and birth control mandate, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider whether states may punish or replace ‘faithless’ presidential electors who refuse to support the winner of their state’s popular vote, or whether the Constitution forbids dictating how such officials cast their ballots. Lower courts have split on the question, and both red and blue states urged the justices to settle the matter in advance of the ‘white hot’ glare of the 2020 election. They say they fear a handful of independent-minded members of the electoral college deciding the next president…. The Supreme Court accepted cases from Washington and Colorado in time to hold oral arguments this spring and decide the outcome by June. It also said it will consider the Trump administration’s attempt to allow some employers and universities to claim religious or moral exemptions from offering contraceptive care. It will make the third time the court has considered the requirement of the Affordable Care Act.”

National Archives exhibit blurs images critical of Trump, The Washington Post, Joe Heim, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The large color photograph that greets visitors to a National Archives exhibit celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage shows a massive crowd filling Pennsylvania Avenue NW for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement. But a closer look reveals a different story. The Archives acknowledged in a statement this week that it made multiple alterations to the photo of the 2017 Women’s March showcased at the museum, blurring signs held by marchers that were critical of Trump. Words on signs that referenced women’s anatomy were also blurred…. The Archives said the decision to obscure the words was made as the exhibit was being developed by agency managers and museum staff members. It said David S. Ferriero, the archivist of the United States who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, participated in talks regarding the exhibit and supports the decision to edit the photo. ‘As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,’ Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in an emailed statement. ‘Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records. Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records.'” See also, National Archives says it was wrong to alter images, The Washington Post, Steve Thompson and Joe Heim, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020: “Officials at the National Archives on Saturday said they had removed from display an altered photo from the 2017 Women’s March in which signs held by marchers critical of President Trump had been blurred. In tweets on Saturday, the museum apologized and said: ‘We made a mistake. As the National Archives of the United States, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration,’ one of the tweets said. ‘This photo is not an archival record held by the @usnatarchives, but one we licensed to use as a promotional graphic,’ it said in another tweet. ‘Nonetheless, we were wrong to alter the image.'” See also, The National Archives Has Apologized for Altering a Photo to Remove Criticisms of Trump, BuzzFeed News, Olivia Niland, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020: “The National Archives has apologized for altering a photo of the 2017 Women’s March, including blurring out protest signs criticizing President Trump, to promote an exhibit honoring the women’s suffrage movement. Though initially saying the photo was altered to avoid ‘political controversy,’ the museum acknowledged in a statement Saturday that it ‘made a mistake.’ The altered image was first flagged by Washington Post reporter Joe Heim, who noticed during a visit to the National Archives museum in Washington, DC that the photo, which was hung at the entrance of the women’s suffrage exhibit, featured several protest signs that had been partially blurred.” See also, National Archives Apologizes for Altering Image of 2017 Women’s March, The New York Times, Maria Cramer, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020.

Washington Post: Trump called top military brass in 2017 a ‘bunch of dopes and babies,’ CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Donald Trump reprimanded his top military brass in a 2017 meeting at the Pentagon, calling them a ‘bunch of dopes and babies’ and telling them ‘you’re all losers,’ according to a forthcoming book by two Washington Post reporters. The heated July 20, 2017 meeting has been previously reported — including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s response to fellow US officials, in which he said the President was a ‘f—ing moron.’ However, ‘A Very Stable Genius’ by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker reveals more extraordinary details about the meeting, including the President’s barrage of insults against his top military leadership. Tillerson, then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn hoped at the meeting to explain to the President about the importance of America’s key alliances for national security. They were concerned that Trump’s proposals were a threat to America’s standing in the world, the Post reported.” See also, Trump Called His Generals a ‘Bunch of Dopes and Babies’ in a Fit of Rage, Book Claims, Daily Beast, Jamie Ross, Friday, 17 January 2020: “What exactly went down during a July 2017 meeting at the Pentagon between President Donald Trump and his military leaders has long been the subject of speculation. One of the tantalizing details that’s been previously reported is that, whatever took place, it provoked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call his commander in chief ‘a fucking moron.’ Now an excerpt of a new book published in The Washington Post demonstrates exactly what tipped Tillerson over the edge. An account of the meeting in the upcoming book A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America depicts Trump becoming increasingly angry as his generals tried to teach him the fundamental basics of American post-war history.” See also, ‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Friday, 17 January 2020: “This article is adapted from ‘A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America,’ which will be published on Jan. 21 by Penguin Press.”

What to Know About the Virginia Gun Rally to Be Held on Monday, The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Thousands of activists from across the country are expected to descend on the Virginia State Capitol on Monday to rally against sweeping new gun control proposals supported by state Democrats. But the rally in Richmond — billed as a peaceful event to lobby lawmakers to defend Second Amendment rights — has quickly set off fears of potential violence and chaos. Discussions about the rally have been lighting up online platforms frequented by anti-government militia groups and white supremacists for weeks, and various extremist groups have vowed to attend. Tensions escalated this week when Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and temporarily banned weapons on Capitol grounds, citing credible ‘threats of violence.’ The F.B.I. also announced the arrest of three suspected neo-Nazis who the authorities said had obtained weapons and discussed participating in the Richmond event, intensifying concerns.” See also, Trump Weighs In on Virginia Gun Dispute: 2nd Amendment Is ‘Under Very Serious Attack,’ The New York Times, Timothy Williams, published on Saturday, 18 January 2020: “Days before a planned gun rights rally that has set Virginia’s capital on edge, President Trump warned that state Democrats were threatening Americans’ right to bear arms. ‘Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,’ Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday. ‘That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!'” See also, What Did Virginia Learn From Charlottesville? The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Saturday, 18 January 2020: “Opposing protesters were squeezed together. Law enforcement agencies failed to communicate. Officials falsely believed that weapons could not be banned. These were among the problems that plagued officials in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, according to a report published that year on the extremist rallies where hundreds of people descended on the city and one woman was killed by a white supremacist. Now, as law enforcement agencies and politicians in Richmond, Va., prepare for what they fear could be a similar clash on Monday at the Virginia State Capitol, they have sought to avoid the same pitfalls.”

White House Considers Changes to Law Banning Overseas Bribes, Bloomberg, Josh Wingrove, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing whether to seek changes to a 1977 law that makes it illegal for U.S. companies to bribe foreign officials. ‘We are looking at it,’ White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said at the White House on Friday, in response to a reporter’s question about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act…. A forthcoming book called ‘A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America,’ by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, reports that Trump has complained about existing rules, and that he clashed with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 when Trump pushed to scrap the FCPA. ‘It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,’ Trump said, according to a passage published by the Post. ‘We’re going to change that.'”

Military Says 8 Americans Were Hurt in Iranian Strike, Despite Trump Saying That ‘No Americans Were Harmed,’ The New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin and Russell Goldman, Friday, 17 January 2020: “Eight American troops were flown from their Iraqi bases after showing signs of concussions from Iranian missile strikes, the military said on Thursday, despite earlier statements by President Trump that no Americans had been injured.” See also, US troops were injured in Iran missile attack despite Pentagon initially saying there were no casualties, CNN Politics, Jake Tapper, Ryan Browne, and Barbara Starr, Friday, 17 January 2020.

Capitol Hill press corps shows support for Manu Raju after Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona insulted him on Thursday, CNN Business, Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, Friday, 17 January 2020: “The Capitol Hill press corps on Friday rallied behind Manu Raju, CNN’s senior congressional correspondent, after Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona insulted him on Thursday. The Radio and Television Correspondents Association, which represents scores of journalists who cover Congress, said McSally’s comment was ‘inappropriate anywhere, but particularly in the halls of the Congress.’ When Raju asked McSally if the Senate should consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial, she called him a ‘liberal hack,’ adding, ‘I’m not talking to you.’ Her comment was praised and amplified by Trump’s reelection campaign and by right-wing media organizations. McSally doubled down on Twitter by sharing a video of the exchange and then went on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News talk show Thursday night for a victory lap, telling the prime time host, ‘I called it like it is.’ But beyond the pro-Trump orbit, McSally’s conduct was widely panned, and the way she and her team handled the situation was widely seen as a fundraising initiative by a lawmaker in a competitive race. Within hours, McSally’s campaign had moved to take advantage of the attention being paid by selling $35 T-shirts printed with the words ‘liberal hack.'”

Black Americans are deeply pessimistic about the country under Trump. More than 8 in 10 black Americans say they believe Trump is a racist. The Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Vanessa Williams, Dan Balz, and Scott Clement, Friday, 17 January 2020: “President Trump made a stark appeal to black Americans during the 2016 election when he asked, ‘What have you got to lose?’ Three years later, black Americans have rendered their verdict on his presidency with a deeply pessimistic assessment of their place in the United States under a leader seen by an overwhelming majority as racist. The findings come from a Washington Post-Ipsos poll of African Americans nationwide, which reveals fears about whether their children will have a fair shot to succeed and a belief that white Americans don’t fully appreciate the discrimination that black people experience…. More than 8 in 10 black Americans say they believe Trump is a racist and that he has made racism a bigger problem in the country. Nine in 10 disapprove of his job performance overall.”


Saturday, 18 January 2020, Day 1,094:


Democrats Make Legal Case for Impeachment of Trump, and Trump’s Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Brazen,’ The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Saturday, 18 January 2020: “In the first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial that opens in earnest on Tuesday, the dueling arguments from the White House and the House impeachment managers previewed a politically charged fight over Mr. Trump’s fate, unfolding against the backdrop of the presidential election campaign. They presented the legal strategies both sides are likely to employ during the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. They also vividly illustrated how the proceeding is almost certain to rekindle feuding over the 2016 election that has barely subsided during Mr. Trump’s tenure, and reverberate — whether he is convicted or acquitted — in an even more brutal electoral fight in November. In a 46-page trial memorandum, and additional 60-page statement of facts, the House impeachment managers asserted that beginning in the spring, Mr. Trump undertook a corrupt campaign to enlist a foreign government to help him win the 2020 election. He did so, the Democrats argued, by pressuring Ukraine to publicly announce investigations of his political rivals, withholding as leverage vital military aid and a White House meeting for the country’s president.” See also, House Democrats say the Senate ‘must eliminate the threat’ that Trump poses to national security, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis, Saturday, 18 January 2020: “House prosecutors on Saturday argued for President Trump’s conviction in the Senate, insisting he poses a threat to national security, while the White House rejected the impeachment charges as a ‘highly partisan and reckless obsession’ of Democrats intent on ousting Trump. With opening arguments in the Senate trial to begin Wednesday afternoon, the seven House managers filed a 111-page legal brief that lays out their case against Trump, arguing that the Senate ‘must eliminate the threat’ by convicting and removing him from office.” See also, House managers cite ‘overwhelming’ evidence against Trump in their impeachment brief to the Senate, NBC News, Alicia Victoria Lozano, Saturday, 18 January 2020: “House managers in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump filed their brief to the Senate on Saturday outlining a ‘compelling case’ against Trump, who will deliver his own brief to the chamber on Monday. The House managers, seven Democratic congressional leaders who will try the case against Trump during the Senate trial starting next week, say in the brief that the evidence against Trump is ‘overwhelming’ and proves he used his official power to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the upcoming 2020 election. It details instances in which members of Trump’s internal circle defied congressional subpoenas and refused to cooperate with a House investigation. The House managers called Trump’s behavior ‘the Framers’ worst nightmare’ and said Trump’s actions present a ‘danger to our democratic processes.'” See also, ‘Brazen and unlawful’: Trump team attacks the House impeachment effort in first formal response. Trump’s initial reply comes on the same day House managers previewed their own opening arguments. Politico, Darren Samuelsohn, Kyle Cheney, and Anita Kumar, Saturday, 18 January 2020: “President Donald Trump launched his first formal attack on the House’s effort to remove him from office on Saturday, calling the Democrats’ impeachment case against him fatally flawed and ‘constitutionally invalid’ while blasting the effort as a political hit job by his adversaries. ‘This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election — now just months away,’ Trump’s lawyers argued in a six-page response filed with the Senate just days before the president’s trial begins in earnest.”

‘Once this is over, we’ll be kings’: How Lev Parnas worked his way into Trump’s world–and now is rattling it, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Sonne, Friday, 18 January 2020: “Last Sunday, a New York lawyer posted photographs of the shining dome of the U.S. Capitol on Twitter, announcing that he had just visited Washington to give Congress contents of an ­iPhone belonging to a onetime associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani. It would be a few days before the implications of his limited message became clear: The Lev Parnas hurricane was about to hit.”

At Mar-a-Lago fundraiser, Trump privately told donors new details about killing Soleimani, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and David A. Fahrenthold, Saturday, 18 January 2020: “President Trump delivered a dramatic account of the airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, joked that he doesn’t care if construction projects kill all the rattlesnakes and noted his indifference to the budget during a private dinner with deep-pocketed donors Friday night at Mar-a-Lago, according to audio files obtained by The Washington Post. Trump, his tone subdued and conversational, explained his motivation for attacking Soleimani and recounted listening to an anonymous military official countdown to the Jan. 3 strike. The president said nothing about an ‘imminent attack’ on U.S. interests or threats to four U.S. embassies as he previously has to justify the unilateral military strike that escalated tensions in the region and opened debate on presidential war powers.”

Issues Abound at the 4th Women’s March, ‘But It All Ties Into Trump,’ The New York Times, Michael Wines, Saturday, 18 January 2020: “Tens of thousands of demonstrators staged a boisterous fourth Women’s March here on Saturday, a noisy, frigid, drizzly rally where demands for equal rights competed with an inescapable subtext: President Trump had to go. The march, a reboot of sorts for an event that has been dogged by internal strife, was intended to highlight climate change, reproductive rights and immigration, three issues chosen by supporters and organizers. But many of the placards hoisted amid the throng mocked or assailed Mr. Trump, demanded his impeachment or urged his defeat in November…. In some ways, the focus on the president was a return to the driving factor of the first march, held the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration in 2017. And many marchers said the administration’s policies could not be separated from the issues they were protesting.”


Sunday, 19 January 2020, Day 1,096:


Struggle Between the National Security Agency and the House Intelligence Committee Over Ukraine Records Breaks Into the Open. Representative Adam Schiff said the agency was withholding documents from his committee, including some that might be useful in the impeachment trial. The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Sunday, 19 January 2020: “A long-simmering conflict between the National Security Agency and the House Intelligence Committee broke into the open on Sunday when the committee’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, accused the agency of withholding critical intelligence from his panel, including some that might be useful in the impeachment trial of President Trump. Since last fall, the committee has been quietly seeking documents and intercepts that the National Security Agency gathered in Ukraine. But Mr. Schiff, a California Democrat and former prosecutor who is one of the managers of the impeachment trial, took the fight public, saying that ‘the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine.'” See also, Democrats Seek More Testimony and Evidence for Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Sharon LaFraniere, Sunday, 19 January 2020. See also, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says the National Security Agency and the CIA are withholding Ukraine information due to White House pressure, Politico, John Bresnahan, Sunday, 19 January 2020. See also, Schiff says intelligence agency is withholding Ukraine documents from Congress, CNN Politics, Devan Cole, Sunday, 19 January 2020.

In a Break With Convention, the Editorial Board Has Chosen to Endorse Two Separate Democratic Candidates for President: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, The New York Times, Editorial Board, Sunday, 19 January 2020: “American voters must choose between three sharply divergent visions of the future. The incumbent president, Donald Trump, is clear about where he is guiding the Republican Party — white nativism at home and America First unilateralism abroad, brazen corruption, escalating culture wars, a judiciary stacked with ideologues and the veneration of a mythological past where the hierarchy in American society was defined and unchallenged. On the Democratic side, an essential debate is underway between two visions that may define the future of the party and perhaps the nation. Some in the party view President Trump as an aberration and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible. Then there are those who believe that President Trump was the product of political and economic systems so rotten that they must be replaced. The Democratic primary contest is often portrayed as a tussle between moderates and progressives. To some extent that’s true. But when we spent significant time with the leading candidates, the similarity of their platforms on fundamental issues became striking…. The history of the editorial board would suggest that we would side squarely with the candidate with a more traditional approach to pushing the nation forward, within the realities of a constitutional framework and a multiparty country. But the events of the past few years have shaken the confidence of even the most committed institutionalists. We are not veering away from the values we espouse, but we are rattled by the weakness of the institutions that we trusted to undergird those values…. Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it. That’s why we’re endorsing the most effective advocates for each approach. They are Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.” See also, New York Times Editorial Board Endorses Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Sunday, 19 January 2020.

Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, a leading liberal congresswoman, endorses Bernie Sanders for president, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan and Jeff Stein, Sunday, 19 January 2020: “Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a rising star in the Democratic Party’s liberal wing and one of the most prominent women of color in Congress, is endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, choosing him over Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the heels of an explosive confrontation over the question of whether a woman can defeat President Trump. In a telephone interview with The Washington Post on Sunday, Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she decided to endorse Sanders because ‘he has a clarity on policy prescriptions that goes right to the heart of what working people need.’ She will unveil her endorsement Monday in Iowa.”

Even C-SPAN Is Piqued: Senate Puts Limits on Trial Coverage, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Sunday, 19 January 2020: “Journalists are up in arms about new restrictions on their movement inside the Capitol, which they say will prevent them from easily interviewing lawmakers about the proceedings. The rules, negotiated by Republican Senate leadership, have yet to be written down, causing confusion among reporters and the Capitol Police expected to enforce them. Even sedate C-SPAN is aggrieved, calling on the Senate to allow its television crews to document the trial, instead of the government-controlled cameras that — as was the case during Bill Clinton’s trial 21 years ago — will limit what viewers see and hear inside the Senate chamber.”

Reverting to his usual level of dishonesty, Trump made 81 false claims last week, CNN Politics, Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, Sunday, 19 January 2020: “Back to Washington and back to doing interviews and campaign rallies, Trump made 81 false claims last week. That is tied for the fifth-highest total in the 27 weeks we have counted at CNN. It was an eclectic batch of dishonesty. Among other things, Trump took unearned credit for both the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace agreement and for the drop in the US cancer death rate, absurdly claimed that NATO ‘had no money’ before his presidency, wrongly denied that his golf excursions cost taxpayers any money, and repeated his usual varied inaccuracies about impeachment, immigration and the nuclear agreement with Iran.”


Monday, 20 January 2020, Day 1,096:


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Unveils Rules for Trump Impeachment Trial and Pushes to Speed Impeachment Trial as Trump Requests Swift Acquittal, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 20 January 2020: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, unveiled ground rules on Monday for President Trump’s impeachment trial that would attempt to speed the proceeding along and refuse to admit the evidence against the president unearthed by the House without a separate vote. Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, showed his hand hours after Mr. Trump’s legal team called on the Senate to ‘swiftly reject’ the impeachment charges and acquit him, arguing that Democrats would ‘permanently weaken the presidency’ if they succeeded in removing him from office over what the team characterized as policy and political differences.” See also, McConnell Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 20 January 2020: “For weeks, Senator Mitch McConnell sought to deflect charges that he was trying to stack the deck in favor of President Trump in his impeachment trial by repeating that he was merely replicating the Senate’s only modern precedent: the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton…. But when Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, finally released a draft of his resolution on Monday evening, less than 24 hours before the Senate was expected to consider it, there were several meaningful differences from the rules that governed Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, some of which were in line with Mr. Trump’s preferences and his legal team’s strategy.”  See also, White House calls for Trump acquittal in impeachment trial as Senate prepares for swift trial, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim and Karoun Demirjian, Monday, 20 January 2020: “The White House argued in a legal brief filed Monday that the two articles of impeachment against President Trump are ‘structurally deficient,’ decrying a ‘rigged process’ and urging senators to ‘immediately’ acquit the president of the charges that will be formally presented at his trial that starts in earnest this week. The filing came as the House’s designated impeachment managers and Trump’s legal counsel conducted final preparations ahead of the trial proceedings that will begin Tuesday, marking the substantive start of just the third Senate trial of a U.S. president in history. On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) circulated ground rules for a rapid trial, while Senate aides and GOP lawyers were also weighing contingency plans in case Democrats are successful in forcing witnesses to testify.” See also, White House Calls Impeachment Charges ‘Frivolous’ and ‘Dangerous’ in Legal Brief. The Wall Street Journal, Michael C. Bender and Natalie Andrews, Monday, 20 January 2020: “President Trump’s legal team urged the Senate to swiftly reject the House’s two articles of impeachment against him, calling the case frivolous and dangerous while offering for the first time a detailed legal defense for why he shouldn’t be removed from office. Mr. Trump’s team submitted a 171-page legal filing with the Senate on Monday, a day before the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history kicks off in earnest and just hours before the president departed Washington for a global economic conference in Switzerland, where he is to deliver a speech early Tuesday morning.” See also, Trump’s legal team argues impeachment process is a ‘charade,’ CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Monday, 20 January 2020: “President Donald Trump’s legal team on Monday filed a lengthy response to charges he abused his office and obstructed Congress, decrying the attempt to remove him as a ‘charade’ and calling on senators to quickly reject it. The 110-page filing reflects the most fulsome rebuttal of Democrats’ accusations against Trump and amounts to a preview of the case Trump’s lawyers will make on the Senate floor when the impeachment trial commences this week.” See also, Trump’s defense: Read the full text of the legal brief ahead of Senate impeachment trial, NBC News, Monday, 20 January 2020. See also, ‘Constitutional Nonsense’: Trump’s Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 29 January 2020: “As President Trump’s impeachment trial opens, his lawyers have increasingly emphasized a striking argument: Even if he did abuse his powers in an attempt to bully Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election on his behalf, it would not matter because the House never accused him of committing an ordinary crime. Their argument is widely disputed. It cuts against the consensus among scholars that impeachment exists to remove officials who abuse power. The phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ means a serious violation of public trust that need not also be an ordinary crime, said Frank O. Bowman III, a University of Missouri law professor and the author of a recent book on the topic.”

Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, Monday, 20 January 2020: “Three years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims — a milestone that would have been unthinkable when we first created the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered. We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. We recorded 492 claims — an average of just under five a day — and readers demanded that we keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency. Little did we know what that would mean.”

Trump’s lawyers and Senate Republican allies work privately to ensure former national security adviser John Bolton does not testify publicly, The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Rachael Bade, Monday, 20 January 2020: “President Trump’s legal defense team and Senate GOP allies are quietly gaming out contingency plans should Democrats win enough votes to force witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, including an effort to keep former national security adviser John Bolton from the spotlight, according to multiple officials familiar with the discussions. While Republicans continue to express confidence that Democrats will fail to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has opposed calling any witnesses in the trial, they are readying a Plan B just in case — underscoring how uncertain they are about prevailing in a showdown over witnesses and Bolton’s possible testimony. One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public.”

Amid Tight Security, Virginia Gun Rally Draws Thousands of Supporters, The New York Times, Timothy Williams, Sabrina Tavernise, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, and Sarah Mervosh, Monday, 20 January 2020: “Thousands of people descended on Richmond, the capital of Virginia, on Monday to show support for the rights of gun owners as a push for gun control measures by that state’s newly empowered Democrats has inserted Virginia into a nationwide debate over gun violence and the Second Amendment.” See also, At tense Virginia rally, gun rights activists vow their fight is just getting started, NBC News, Ben Kesslen and Jon Schuppe, Monday, 20 January 2020: “Thousands of gun rights activists, banned from carrying their weapons out of fear of violence, crammed into the Virginia Capitol on Monday to urge state lawmakers to reject sweeping measures to limit the spread of firearms. The rally, planned for weeks as part of a citizen-lobbying tradition held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, has focused national attention on Virginia’s attempts to enact new gun regulations, pushed by Democrats who took control of the Statehouse for the first time in 26 years. Gun control supporters say they are acting on voters’ wishes, propelled by a mass shooting in May in Virginia Beach.”

On Martin Luther King Holiday, 2020 Democrats March Arm in Arm to Honor His Legacy, The New York Times, Stephanie Saul, Monday, 20 January 2020: “Several Democratic presidential candidates briefly put aside their recent sparring on Monday and marched arm in arm through the streets of South Carolina’s capital to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom they later invoked in speeches about America’s past and future that were rich with election-year overtones. As the six-block march began from the Zion Baptist Church to the State House, where a Confederate flag once flew over the dome, Senator Bernie Sanders looped an arm through Senator Elizabeth Warren’s elbow, as the two joined other candidates in singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ for part of the trip. Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Amy Klobuchar each locked elbows with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as well.”

Biden campaign warns against media use of Trump disinformation during impeachment trial, NBC News, Heidi Przybyla and Mike Memoli, Monday, 20 January 2020: “A day before the opening of President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is issuing a pre-emptive strike, sending an unusual open memo to the media warning against disinformation pushed by the president and his defenders. The memo, first obtained by NBC News, is also a shot across the bow of Republican senators as they consider whether to entertain Trump’s demands to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, as a witness in the trial. Trump’s attempts to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine while pressing it to investigate Joe Biden, a chief political rival, led Trump to become the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.”

Lev Parnas Asks Attorney General William Barr to Recuse Himself From Criminal Case, The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and Ben Protess, Monday, 20 January 2020: “Lawyers for Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who was involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rivals of President Trump, asked on Monday that Attorney General William P. Barr disqualify himself from overseeing his criminal case because he has too many conflicts of interest. Mr. Parnas, who was charged in October in Manhattan with violating federal campaign finance laws, requested that a special prosecutor instead be appointed to handle his case.”

Conservative States Seek Billions to Brace for Disaster. (Just Don’t Call It Climate Change.) The New York Times, Christopher Flavelle, Monday, 20 January 2020: “The Trump administration is about to distribute billions of dollars to coastal states mainly in the South to help steel them against natural disasters worsened by climate change. But states that qualify must first explain why they need the money. That has triggered linguistic acrobatics as some conservative states submit lengthy, detailed proposals on how they will use the money, while mostly not mentioning climate change.”


Tuesday, 21 January 2020, Day 1,097:


Day in Impeachment: Senate Adopts Trial Rules, The New York Times, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “President Trump’s impeachment trial began with acrimony as lawyers for the president and House members known as impeachment managers clashed in personal and bitter arguments over the rules that will govern the trial. The Senate voted to block attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents and witnesses for the impeachment trial that the White House has refused to provide to the House investigators. The votes were cast along party lines. Under the rules, orchestrated by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the House managers and Mr. Trump’s lawyers will each have 24 hours starting Wednesday afternoon to argue their cases for and against the articles of impeachment. Senators will have 16 hours to ask questions, submitted in writing, most likely early next week. After that, the Senate will again consider the matter of whether to subpoena witnesses or documents, at which point a few Republicans have signaled they may be open to doing so. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. early Wednesday morning delivered an extraordinary admonishment of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, an impeachment manager, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, after the two men traded insults in a particularly biting exchange.” See also, Trump Impeachment: What to Expect as the Senate Trial Begins Today, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 21 January 2020. See also, Trump Impeachment: Highlights From Tuesday’s Senate Trial, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 21 January 2020. See also, Senate rejects Democratic effort to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mulvaney for testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Felicia Sonmez, published on Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “Senators began debate Tuesday afternoon over the rules that will guide the impeachment trial of President Trump — just the third in history of a U.S. president — focused on his conduct toward Ukraine. The Senate rejected Democratic amendments to subpoena records from the White House, State Department, Defense Department and Office of Management and Budget related to the Ukraine probe. The White House stonewalled requests for those records by House investigators during their inquiry. The Senate also rejected amendments to subpoena Trump administration officials, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; his senior adviser, Robert Blair; and top Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey. Each amendment was tabled on a 53-to-47 party-line vote.” See also, Senate adopts ground rules for impeachment trial, delaying a decision on witnesses until after much of the proceedings, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez, and Mike DeBonis, published on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Chief Justice John Roberts admonishes House managers and Trump lawyers, telling them to ‘remember where they are,’ The Washington Post, Paul Kane and Elise Viebeck, published on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Trump’s Impeachment Trial–Live Analysis, The Wall Street Journal, published on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rams through Trump Trial rules, Politico, Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, Tuesday, 21 January 2020. See also, Trump impeachment: Republican senators kill Democratic efforts to subpoena more evidence, The Guardian, Maanvi Singh and Joan E.Greve, Tuesday, 21 January 2020. See also, A big tell in Trump’s own legal brief exposes Mitch McConnell’s coverup, The Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “Now that Mitch McConnell has rolled out the rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial, the full dimensions of the Senate majority leader’s efforts to cover up Trump’s bottomless corruption are coming into view. They’re worse than expected, which is really something given McConnell’s long-running devotion to shielding Trump from accountability. As it happens, the formal legal brief that the White House just released in Trump’s defense itself illustrates the true nature of this attempted coverup as clearly as anyone could ask for.” See also, Pelosi Statement on McConnell Cover-Up Resolution,, Tuesday, 21 January 2020. See also, Attorney General William Barr Once Contradicted Trump’s Claim That Abuse of Power Is Not Impeachable, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “Scholars have roundly rejected a central argument of President Trump’s lawyers that abuse of power is not by itself an impeachable offense. But it turns out that another important legal figure has contradicted that idea: Mr. Trump’s attorney general and close ally, William P. Barr…. In a memo for the Trump team during the Russia investigation, the attorney general wrote that presidents who misuse their authority are subject to impeachment.” See also, Trump’s lawyers began the impeachment trial with a blizzard of lies, Vox, Aaron Rupar, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “The opening statements from Trump’s lawyers indicated that gaslighting will be a key part of their strategy. The opening debate of the Senate impeachment trial on Tuesday afternoon was supposed to be merely about the trial rules. But in quintessential Trump fashion, members of President Donald Trump’s legal team wasted no time telling a number of lies before things really got going.”

Greta Thunberg’s Message at Davos Forum: ‘Our House Is Still on Fire,’ The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “Greta Thunberg on Tuesday punched a hole in the promises emerging from a forum of the global political and business elite and offered instead an ultimatum: Stop investing in fossil fuels immediately, or explain to your children why you did not protect them from the ‘climate chaos’ you created. Her remarks opened a panel discussion hosted by The New York Times and the World Economic Forum. The full transcript is available here.”

Trump Focuses on Economy at Davos, Seeking a Counter to Impeachment, The New York Times, Annie Karni, David Gelles, and Peter Baker, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “President Trump swept into this moneyed Alpine village on Tuesday, full of brio and flattery, schmoozing with global business leaders as if there were no talk of removing him from office and no impeachment trial unfolding 4,000 miles away in Washington.” See also, Trump Lauds U.S. Economy as He Opens World Economic Forum, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “President Trump touted what he described as a ‘blue-collar boom’ transforming the American economy and hailed the U.S. trade agreement with China in a speech to global business and government leaders, hours before his impeachment trial was set to begin.” See also, Trump crows about the U.S. economy at Davos as the Senate impeachment trial begins back home, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan and Toluse Olorunnipa, Tuesday, 21 January 2020.

Trump Administration Plans to Expand Travel Restrictions to Seven Countries, The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “The Trump administration plans to add seven countries to a group of nations subject to travel restrictions, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, along with others in Africa and Asia, according to administration officials who have seen the list. The new restrictions would apply to travelers and immigrants from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. The countries wouldn’t necessarily face blanket bans on travel to the U.S., but could have restrictions placed on specific types of visas, such as business or visitor visas, administration officials said. Some countries could be banned from participating in the diversity visa lottery program, which awards green cards to people in countries with low levels of immigration to the U.S. President Trump has called for an end to that program, saying it lets undesirable people into the U.S., and he has proposed reorienting the existing visa system toward skilled workers instead.” See also, Trump Is Considering an Expansion of His 2017 Travel Ban, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “The Trump administration plans to introduce an updated version of a long-disputed travel ban enacted shortly after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, expanding the list to include countries the White House has suggested have fallen out of compliance with United States security measures. Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland, that he planned to expand the current travel ban, although he did not specify which countries would be added.” See also, Trump weighs travel ban expansion in coming days, Politico, Nahal Toosi and Anita Kumar, Tuesday, 21 January 2020.

Supreme Court refuses to fast-track a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a motion to fast-track a challenge to the Affordable Care Act so that it could be considered this term. Without comment, the justices turned down a motion by the House of Representatives and Democratic-led states to expedite review of a decision last month by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The panel struck down the law’s mandate that individuals buy health insurance but sent back to a lower court the question of whether the rest of the statute can stand without it. But the lower courts have kept the Affordable Care Act in place as appeals continue, and a practical effect of the Supreme Court’s action is that it will stay that way at least through the November elections. Democrats have made health care and defense of Obamacare a key point in the campaign.” See also, Supreme Court won’t fast-track Obamacare case, Politico, Susannah Luthi, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Democrats’ plea to consider a high-stakes legal challenge that could kill Obamacare, punting a resolution in the politically fraught case until after the presidential election. The decision deals a blow to Democrats’ hopes to elevate the issue in 2020, but it will come as a relief to President Donald Trump and Republicans, who’ve been wary of the lawsuit’s potential to scramble their election hopes.” See also, Supreme Court Declines to Fast-Track Democratic Appeals on Affordable Care Act, The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall and Stephanie Armour, Tuesday, 21 January 2020: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied requests to quickly decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a move that is likely to make the health-care law play less of a role in the 2020 election. A group of 20 Democratic-led states and the U.S. House of Representatives had asked the court to fast-track their appeals so that the latest legal battle over the Obama-era law could be resolved by the end of June. The justices denied those requests in a one-sentence order with no dissents noted. The move likely means that any court consideration of the ACA won’t happen until the fall at the earliest, with any decision likely coming after Election Day.”


Wednesday, 22 January 2020, Day 1,098:


In Impeachment Case, Adam Schiff Accuses Trump of Trying ‘to Cheat’ in Election, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “The House Democratic impeachment managers began formal arguments in the Senate trial on Wednesday, presenting a meticulous and scathing case for convicting President Trump and removing him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House prosecutor, took the lectern in the chamber as senators sat silently preparing to weigh Mr. Trump’s fate. Speaking in an even, measured manner, he accused the president of a corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine for help ‘to cheat’ in the 2020 presidential election. Invoking the nation’s founders and their fears that a self-interested leader might subvert democracy for his own personal gain, Mr. Schiff argued that the president’s conduct was precisely what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they devised the remedy of impeachment, one he said was ‘as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat. If not remedied by his conviction in the Senate, and removal from office, President Trump’s abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress will permanently alter the balance of power among the branches of government,’ Mr. Schiff said in his opening remarks. ‘The president has shown that he believes that he’s above the law and scornful of constraint.'” See also, Day in Impeachment: Key Moments From the Managers’ Opening Arguments, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, A guide to the Case For and Against Removing Trump, The New York Times, Weiyi Cai and Alicia Parlapiano, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “On Wednesday, House impeachment managers are expected to begin their opening arguments for the articles of impeachment against President Trump. Later this week, the president’s defense team is expected to portray the case as invalid and offer alternative explanations for the behavior underlying the charges. Here are the key excerpts from the impeachment articles and a summary of how the two sides diverge on the evidence, based on legal briefs, reports from the impeachment inquiry and public statements.” See also, Senate hears opening arguments making the case against Trump, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “House managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), began presenting three days of opening arguments Wednesday in the historic Senate impeachment trial of President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Earlier in the day, Trump said at a news conference in Switzerland that he ‘can live either way’ with the Senate’s decision on whether to call witnesses in a trial focused on his administration’s conduct toward Ukraine.” See also, What happened in Wednesday’s Senate trial, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Democrats scale back language as Trump and Republicans press ahead with attacks on Senate impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Elise Viebeck, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “House Democrats charged with prosecuting the impeachment case against President Trump on Wednesday scaled back their fiery language following a rare scolding from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., as they began laying out their case for Trump’s removal from office for pressuring Ukraine to help him win reelection. But as Democrats softened their tone if not their message, Trump and his fellow Republicans dialed up their partisan rhetoric, with GOP senators largely ignoring Roberts’s admonition and leveling scathing attacks against the trial’s prosecutors.” See also, Democrats Present Their Case for Trump’s Removal, The Wall Street Journal, Natalie Andrews, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Trump’s Impeachment Trial–Live Analysis, The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, ‘Corrupt scheme and cover-up’: Adam Schiff lays out the case for impeachment, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “Rep. Adam Schiff, the top prosecutor in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, launched Wednesday what Democrats see as their last, best shot to convince a handful of Republican senators to join their push for witnesses and documents. The House impeachment managers’ opening arguments, which could stretch for up to three days, are as much a pitch to the American public as to the small but powerful group of Republicans — including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah — who could determine whether the Senate will hear from witnesses Democrats believe are central to their case.” See also, What you need to know about Wednesday’s impeachment trial, Politico, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Read Adam Schiff’s opening argument at Senate impeachment trial, Politico, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Impeachment trial of President Trump, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha, and Fernando Alfonso III, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Trump impeachment trial: Adam Schiff says Trump tried to ‘cheat’ his way to re-election–as it happened, The Guardian, Maanvi Singh and Joan E. Greve, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Trump’s Senate impeachment trial: What happened on Day Two, NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “Opening arguments began in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday, with Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., telling senators they need to remove Trump from office because he’s shown he’s ready and willing to cheat in the 2020 election. ‘The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box because we cannot be assured the vote will be fairly won,’ Schiff told the Senate. He called Trump’s efforts to get a foreign government to announce an investigation into his political rival ‘a gross abuse of power’ that requires the Senate to act.” See also, Trump posted more than 140 times on Twitter on Wednesday, surpassing his mid-December record for the most daily tweets and retweets during his presidency, Politico, Myah Ward, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, House Democrats Conclude First Day of Opening Arguments in Trump Impeachment Trial, NPR, Brian Naylor and Bobby Allyn, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Holding court in Davos, Trump is distracted by impeachment, Associated Press, Jonathan Lemire and Darlene Superville, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “President Donald Trump held court in the snow-capped Alps for two days, showcasing the American economy to world leaders and global elites. But he kept one eye firmly fixed on the impeachment drama back home. As he hobnobbed with the bold-faced names at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump interrupted his economic cheerleading to unleash scathing attacks on the process unfolding half a world away in Washington. He denounced the U.S. Senate trial, mocked his Democratic rivals and entertained legal strategies that ran contrary to White House plans…. He turned his anger on two major players in the impeachment trial. He called U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., a ‘sleazebag’ and asserted that U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was a ‘con job’ and a ‘corrupt politician.'”

Adam Schiff claims Trump ‘bragged’ about withholding material from Congress, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “The lead Democratic impeachment manager claimed Wednesday that President Donald Trump had ‘bragged’ about withholding materials from Congress as lawmakers weigh removing him from office — partly because they allege he’s obstructing their investigations. Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, was responding to comments Trump made during a news conference in Switzerland. ‘We’re doing very well. I got to watch enough,’ Trump said before departing Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum. ‘I thought our team did a very good job, but honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.’ Schiff and other Democrats interpreted the comment as a boast about keeping information that might be relevant to the case from lawmakers.” See also, Factbox: Trump says, ‘They don’t have the material’ – Quotes on Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Reuters, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Trump Brags About Concealing Impeachment Evidence: ‘We Have All the Material, They Don’t,’ Rolling Stone, Peter Wade, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, After Republican senators block new impeachment evidence, Trump boasts about what he’s withholding, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, Trump’s Davos news conference featured a pack of lies about the impeachment trial, Vox, Aaron Rupar, Wednesday, 22 January 2020.

 Office of Management and Budget Releases 192 Pages of Ukraine Records to American Oversight, American Oversight, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “At 11:58 p.m. on Jan. 21, just two minutes before the deadline, the Office of Management and Budget released 192 pages of Ukraine-related documents, including records that have not been produced to Congress in its impeachment investigation. Included in the documents are emails from OMB Acting Director Russell Vought and Michael Duffey, OMB’s associate director for national security, including one from Duffey on the day of President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy. Both officials were key players in the withholding of aid to Ukraine last fall, which last week the Government Accountability Office said was illegal.” See also, White House budget officials laid the groundwork to freeze Ukraine aid before July 25 call, heavily redacted emails show, CNN Politics, Sara Murray, Marshall Cohen, and Katelyn Polantz, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “Officials at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget were laying the groundwork to freeze military aid to Ukraine the night before President Donald Trump’s controversial phone call with the Ukrainian President, newly released, heavily redacted emails show.” See also, Emails Show the Office of Management and Budget Was Working to Carry Out Ukraine Aid Freeze, The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “The same morning last July when President Trump had his fateful call with Ukraine’s president, White House officials were working behind the scenes to impose the freeze sought by the president on military assistance to Ukraine, reviewing the legal wording they would use to implement the hold, emails released late Tuesday night show. The emails were released as a result of a Freedom of Information lawsuit, even as the Senate was rejecting a series of resolutions introduced by Democrats intended to force the disclosure of some of these same materials from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and other agencies involved in the aid freeze. The 192 pages of documents, released just before a midnight deadline to the nonprofit group American Oversight, do not contain major new revelations in terms of the participants in the aid freeze or the sequence of events beyond what had been detailed by The New York Times in the last month based on interviews and documents. But it does offer new evidence of the friction between the Defense Department and the White House as the aid freeze dragged on through the summer, and the confusion and surprise when members of Congress, including some prominent Republicans, learned that the military assistance to Ukraine had been held up.”

Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens. From Day 1 of his administration, President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new rule, which will be implemented in about 60 days, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.” See also, Trump Administration Cuts Back Federal Protections for Streams and Wetlands, NPR, Scott Neuman and Colin Dwyer, published on Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, ‘This Will Be the Biggest Loss of Clean Water Protection the Country Has Ever Seen’: Trump Finalizes Clean Water Rule Replacement, EcoWatch, Olivia Rosane, published on Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Today, the Trump administration will finalize its replacement for the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in a move that will strip protections from more than half of the nation’s wetlands and allow landowners to dump pesticides into waterways, or build over wetlands, for the first time in decades. President Donald Trump has been working to undo the 2015 rule since he took office, but his replacement goes even further, The New York Times explained. In addition to rolling back protections for some wetlands and streams that run intermittently or temporarily underground, it will also get rid of a requirement that landowners seek permits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which had considered permits on a case-by-case basis before 2015.”

In Presidential First, Trump Will Attend Anti-Abortion March for Life, The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Wednesday, 22 January 2020:  “President Trump plans to address an annual rally of anti-abortion demonstrators on Friday in Washington, in what would be the first appearance by a sitting president at the March for Life, one of the movement’s marquee events. Mr. Trump’s surprise announcement, made on Twitter on Wednesday as the Senate began hearing opening arguments in his impeachment trial, is his latest gesture of support for a cause dear to evangelical Christians who are a core part of his conservative base. No president has personally attended the march in its 47-year history. Past Republican presidents might have been inclined to attend, but either on the advice of staff or their own instincts saw it as a step too far and instead showed their support in less visible ways, like through remote messages or by meeting with activists.” See also, Trump to attend anti-abortion March for Life in a presidential first, CNN Politics, Caroline Kelly, Wednesday, 22 January 2020.

Hack on Cellphone of Jeff Bezos Tied to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Puts New Pressure on the Kingdom, The New York Times, Ben Hubbard and Michael Schwirtz, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “United Nations experts broadened the inquiry into Saudi Arabia’s efforts to squelch criticism on Wednesday, accusing its crown prince of personally hacking the cellphone of Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of The Washington Post, to “influence, if not silence” the newspaper’s critical coverage of the kingdom. The accusations, by two prominent United Nations rights experts, threatened to hamper efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to shake off the stigma of the 2018 murder and dismemberment of a Washington Post columnist by Saudi agents in Istanbul. The experts did not directly investigate the hack, which The New York Times could not independently verify. But giving their imprimatur to an outside investigation bolstered criticism of the kingdom’s covert efforts to silence critical voices and widened the possibilities of who could be targeted.” See also, U.N. report says Saudi crown prince was involved in alleged hacking of Bezos phone, The Washington Post, Marc Fisher, Wednesday, 22 January 2020. See also, U.N. Suggests Bezos’ Phone Was Hacked Using Saudi Crown Prince’s Account, The Wall Street Journal, Jared Malsin, Dustin Volz, and Justin Scheck, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “Two United Nations officials said Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was likely hacked using a WhatsApp account associated with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an attempt to influence news coverage of the kingdom. The Wednesday release by the U.N. of details from a forensic analysis—commissioned by Mr. Bezos, the founder of—of the alleged hack of his phone threatened to renew tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over the brutal killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials in October 2018.” See also, U.N. Urges Probe of Reported Hacking of Jeff Bezos’ Phone by Saudi Arabia, NPR, Avie Schneider and Shannon Bond, Wednesday, 22 January 2020.

Trump Opens Door to Cuts to Medicare and Other Entitlement Programs, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “President Trump suggested on Wednesday that he would be willing to consider cuts to social safety-net programs like Medicare to reduce the federal deficit if he wins a second term, an apparent shift from his 2016 campaign promise to protect funding for such entitlements. The president made the comments on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Despite promises to reduce the federal budget deficit, it has ballooned under Mr. Trump’s watch as a result of sweeping tax cuts and additional government spending. Asked in an interview with CNBC if cuts to entitlements would ever be on his plate, Mr. Trump answered yes.”

D.C. attorney general sues Trump inaugural committee over $1 million booking at Trump’s hotel, The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell, Wednesday, 22 January 2020: “D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine sued President Trump’s inaugural committee and business Wednesday, alleging that the committee violated its nonprofit status by spending more than $1 million to book a ballroom at Trump’s D.C. hotel that its staff knew was overpriced and that it barely used. During the lead-up to Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, the committee booked the Trump International Hotel ballroom for $175,000 a day, plus more than $300,000 in food and beverage costs, over the objections of its own event planner. The committee was formed to organize the events around the inauguration, but Racine alleges it instead ‘abandoned this purpose and violated District law when it wasted approximately $1 million of charitable funds in overpayment for the use of event space at the Trump hotel.'”


Thursday, 23 January 2020, Day 1,099:


Democrats Seek to Pre-empt Trump’s Defense in Impeachment Trial, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “House Democrats sought on Thursday to pre-emptively dismantle President Trump’s core defenses in his impeachment trial, invoking his own words to argue that his pressure campaign on Ukraine was an abuse of power that warranted his removal. On the second day of arguments in the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, Democrats sought to make the case that Mr. Trump’s actions were an affront to the Constitution. And they worked to disprove his lawyers’ claims that he was acting only in the nation’s interests when he sought to enlist Ukraine to investigate political rivals. In doing so, they took a calculated risk in talking at length about Mr. Trump’s targets — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden — and underscored the political backdrop of a trial that is unfolding only 10 months before the election and is likely to reverberate long after the verdict. ‘You know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country — you can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump,’ said Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, in an impassioned appeal as the clock ticked past 10 p.m. ‘This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise we are lost.'” See also, Day in Impeachment: Democrats Focus on Abuse of Power, The New York Times, Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, Trump Impeachment: Highlights From Thursday’s Senate Trial, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, Now Testifying for the Prosecution: President Trump, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “The House managers prosecuting President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors have failed so far to persuade Senate Republicans to let them call new witnesses in his impeachment trial. But in their own way, they have come up with a star witness they can bring to the floor: Mr. Trump himself. Barred at this point from presenting live testimony, the managers have offered up the president as the most damning witness against himself, turning his own words against him by quoting from his public remarks, citing accounts of private discussions and showing video clips of him making audacious statements that the House team argues validate its case.” See also, House managers focus on alleged abuse of power on second day of opening arguments against Trump, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), spent the second day and night of their opening arguments against President Trump by focusing on alleged abuse of power, one of the two articles of impeachment approved last month by the House.” See also, What happened Thursday in the impeachment trial, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, Impeachment managers dissect abuse of power charge in making case against Trump, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Lauren Fox, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Democratic impeachment managers on Thursday made their constitutional case for removing President Donald Trump from office for abuse of power, seeking to convince skeptical — and often weary — Republican senators that the Senate trial needs witnesses and documents. Democrats focused Thursday’s presentation on the first article of impeachment — abuse of power — one of two that was passed by the House last month. They walked through the evidence they’ve gathered to argue the President used his office to try to extract investigations into his political rivals while withholding US security aid and a valued White House meeting — and why that conduct merits impeachment and removal. And they used video clips of the President and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in addition to witness testimony to help get ahead of the arguments that Democrats are expecting from the President’s judicial team.” See also, Impeachment trial of President Trump, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes, and Fernando Alfonso III, Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, Democrats Say Abuse of Power Warrants Trump’s Removal from Office, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “House Democrats argued before the Senate Thursday that President Trump should be convicted of an abuse-of-power charge, rebuffing the White House’s position that the Constitution requires a criminal act to remove a president from office. In the second day of arguments in the impeachment trial, the Democratic impeachment managers also laid out Thursday Mr. Trump’s alleged motive for seeking investigations by Ukraine into former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, saying Mr. Trump was determined to undercut a rival, not battle corruption, and that he put U.S. national security at risk as a result.” See also, Trump’s Impeachment Trial–Live Analysis, The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, Democrats mount preemptive strike on Trump’s impeachment defense, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Thursday, 23 Januafy 2020: “House Democrats are trying to shatter President Donald Trump’s defense before it begins. The seven House impeachment managers seeking Trump’s removal from office know they are about to cede the floor to the president’s legal team — perhaps for three full days — as soon as Saturday. So the House managers spent all day Thursday trying to preempt and outflank them.” See also, What we learned at the Trump trial Thursday, Politico, Thursday, 23 January 2020. See also, Democrats say the White House is improperly classifying a piece of impeachment evidence, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Senate Democrats said a letter from a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence that was admitted as evidence in the impeachment trial late Wednesday should be made public before the proceedings against President Donald Trump end. ‘It highly corroborates the case that Chairman Schiff has been making and exhibits no apparent reason that it should be classified,’ Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Thursday. ‘I’d like to have somebody under oath from the administration [on] how it was made classified and what they say is classified, because I don’t think it’s defensible.'” See also, Impeachment trial: Democrats cry hypocrisy as Republicans say ‘we’ve seen this before’–as it happened, The Guardian, Maanvi Singh, Joan E. Greve, and Adam Gabbatt, Thursday, 23 January 2020.

Trump says ‘with me, there’s no lying’–and makes 14 false claims about impeachment and Ukraine, CNN Politics, Daniel Dale, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Trump has been serially dishonest about impeachment and about Ukraine. Case in point — he made at least 14 false claims related to these subjects at the Davos press conference and in interviews that aired Wednesday on CNBC and Fox Business — plus a bunch of false claims on unrelated subjects, which we’ll leave out of this particular article.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Takes Jab at Greta Thunberg at Davos, The New York Times, Maria Cramer, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismissed criticisms by the climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday, saying that she lacked the expertise to call for a complete divestment from the fossil fuel industry. ‘After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us,’ he said at a press briefing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many world leaders and powerful business figures meet annually. Ms. Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist who has led demonstrations around the world, spoke at the forum on Tuesday and urged business leaders to stop investing in fossil fuels immediately. ‘I wonder, what will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing the climate chaos you knowingly brought upon them?’ Ms. Thunberg, 17, said at the gathering in Davos, a village on the icy reaches of the Swiss Alps. ‘Our house is still on fire.’ Mr. Mnuchin was asked Thursday about her comments and responded: “Is she the chief economist? Who is she? I’m confused.'” See also, Steven Mnuchin said Greta Thunberg needed to study economics before offering climate proposals. So we talked to an economist. The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “The Washington Post contacted someone who did study economics in college and asked him to explain it to us. Gernot Wagner is a climate economist at New York University who has a joint A.B. in economics and environmental science and public policy from Harvard University, a master’s degree in economics from Stanford University, a master’s in political economy and government from Harvard, and a PhD in political economy and government from Harvard. According to Wagner, Thunberg doesn’t need to go much further than Economics 101 to make her case. Speaking specifically about calls to divest, Wagner pointed to a letter released this month by BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink. In it, Fink announced the asset management firm he controls will divest — move investments away — from companies like those that are centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change.” See also, Greta Thunberg clashes with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin in Davos, The Guardian, Graeme Wearden, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Donald Trump’s treasury secretary has clashed with Greta Thunberg after responding to the activist’s call for immediate fossil fuel divestment by telling the 17-year-old to go to college and study economics. In an attempt to slap down the climate emergency movement, Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Thunberg was, before dismissing her concerns as ill-informed.”

Trump weakened environmental laws after BP lobbying, The Guardian, Jillian Ambrose, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “BP has successfully lobbied US policymakers to weaken a landmark environmental law, clearing the way for major infrastructure projects to bypass checks. US government documents show BP America lobbied in favour of Donald Trump’s decision to dilute legislation, which could make it easier for new projects, such as oil pipelines and power plants, to move forward with far less federal review of their impact on the environment. Many green groups fear the changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa) will increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis. The changes, unveiled by Trump this month, would narrow the list of projects that require an environmental impact assessment and in some cases eliminate the need for federal agencies to consider the cumulative effects of projects, including the impact on the climate crisis.”

Trump Moves to Block Visas for Pregnant Women on ‘Birth Tourism,’ The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “The State Department on Thursday gave visa officers more power to block pregnant women from visiting the United States and directed them to stop so-called birth tourism, or trips designed to obtain citizenship for their children. The administration is using the new rule, which takes effect Friday, to push consular officers abroad to reject women they believe are entering the United States specifically to gain citizenship for their children by giving birth. The visas covered by the new rule are issued to those seeking to visit for pleasure, medical treatment or to see friends and family.”

Trump made nearly 500 false or misleading claims about the environment while in office, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “On his third anniversary in office this week, Trump has racked up more than 16,200 false or misleading claims, according to a running tally kept by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker team. Of those statements, ranging from half-truths to outright whoppers, 492 concerned energy and environmental issues. ”

Trump promised his mileage standards would make cars cheaper and safer. New documents raise doubts about that. The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “President Trump has said his plan to weaken federal mileage standards would make cars cheaper and ‘substantially safer.’ But the administration’s own analysis suggests that it would cost consumers more than it would save them in the long run, and would do little to make the nation’s roads safer. The revised Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule, which has not been released publicly, would require automakers to increase the average fuel efficiency of the nation’s fleets by 1.5 percent per year between model years 2021 and 2026. Rules put in place by the Obama administration, by comparison, require a nearly 5 percent annual increase. If finalized, the proposal would mandate more progress on fuel efficiency than the Trump administration’s initial effort to freeze fuel standards in the years ahead. But the new analysis, outlined in a letter Wednesday by Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), projects that the benefits of Trump’s proposed rollback would not significantly outweigh the costs. Trump’s approach would lower the sticker price of new cars, according to the documents, but drivers would spend more at the gas pump over time by driving less efficient vehicles.”

Science ranks grow thin in Trump administration, The Washington Post, Annie Gowen, Juliet Eilperin, Ben Guarino, and Andrew Ba Tran, Thursday, 23 January 2020: “Dozens of government computers sit in a nondescript building [In Kansas City, MO], able to connect to a data model that could help farmers manage the impact of a changing climate on their crops. But no one in this federal agency would know how to access the model, or, if they did, what to do with the data. That’s because the ambitious federal researcher who created it in Washington quit rather than move when the Agriculture Department relocated his agency to an office park here last fall. He is one of hundreds of scientists across the federal government who have been forced out, sidelined or muted since President Trump took office. The exodus has been fueled broadly by administration policies that have diminished the role of science as well as more specific steps, such as the relocation of agencies away from the nation’s capital. While the administration has come under fire for prioritizing the concerns of industry at the expense of science in government decisions, the cumulative effects are just beginning to appear after three years of Trump in the White House.”