Trump Administration, Week 160: Friday, 7 February – Thursday, 13 February 2020 (Days 1,114-1,120)


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, 7 February 2020, Day 1,114:


Trump Fires Impeachment Witnesses Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman in Post-Acquittal Purge, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Maggie Haverman, Danny Hakim, and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 7 February 2020: “President Trump wasted little time on Friday opening a campaign of retribution against those he blames for his impeachment, firing two of the most prominent witnesses in the House inquiry against him barely 48 hours after being acquitted by the Senate. Emboldened by his victory and determined to strike back, Mr. Trump ordered Gordon D. Sondland, the founder of a hotel chain who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee, recalled from his post as the ambassador to the European Union on the same day that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, was marched out of the White House by security guards. The ousters of Mr. Sondland and Colonel Vindman — along with Mr. Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who also worked on the National Security Council staff — may only presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies. In the two days since his acquittal in the Senate, Mr. Trump has railed about those who stood against him, calling them ‘evil,’ ‘corrupt’ and ‘crooked,’ while his press secretary declared that those who hurt the president ‘should pay for’ it.” See also, Trump ousts Vindman and Sondland, punishing key impeachment witnesses in post-acquittal campaign of retribution, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, and Greg Miller, Friday, 7 February 2020: “President Trump on Friday punished two witnesses who testified in the investigation that led to his impeachment, removing them from their posts in an apparent campaign to exact retribution on his perceived enemies in the wake of his acquittal in the Senate this week. The White House ousted Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his post on the National Security Council and recalled U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, moves that were quickly condemned as vindictive and an attempt to intimidate government officials who speak out against Trump.” See also, Impeachment witnesses ousted amid fears of Trump revenge campaign, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Natasha Bertrand, and Meredith McGraw, Friday, 7 February 2020. See also, Trump fires two major impeachment figures–Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Kristen Holmes, Katelyn Polantz, Gloria Borger, Kevin Liptak, Jim Acosta, and Devan Cole, Friday, 7 February 2020.

Secret Service has paid rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at Trump’s properties, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Carol D. Leonnig, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 7 February 2020: “President Trump’s company charges the Secret Service for the rooms agents use while protecting him at his luxury properties — billing U.S. taxpayers at rates as high as $650 per night, according to federal records and people who have seen receipts. Those charges, compiled here for the first time, show that Trump has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government. When Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., the service needs space to post guards and store equipment. Trump’s company says it charges only minimal fees. But Secret Service records do not show that.”

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules Democrats lack legal standing to sue Trump over alleged emoluments violations, NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Friday, 7 February 2020: “A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed Democratic lawmakers’ lawsuit against President Donald Trump alleging he has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution on technical grounds. In the ruling, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the members of Congress did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit against the president for violating the clause, which bars federal officials from collecting payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress. In their unsigned ruling, the judges cited Supreme Court precedent, noting the 215 lawmakers filing the lawsuit are not the majority of Congress, and that they might have had standing if they had done so as a majority. ‘[O]nly an institution can assert an institutional injury,’ the ruling says. ‘Here, regardless of rigor, our conclusion is straightforward because the members — 29 senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives — do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the president’s acceptance of foreign emoluments,’ the decision says.” See also, Appeals court tosses Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit against Trump, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 7 February 2020. See also, Individual members of Congress barred from suing Trump over business dealings, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Jonathan O’Connell, Friday, 7 February 2020.

Continue reading Week 160, Friday, 7 February – Thursday, 13 February 2020 (Days 1,114-1,120)

Democrats clash on electability and policy in blistering presidential debate, The Washington Post, Matt Viser, Michael Scherer, Chelsea Janes, and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Friday, 7 February 2020: “The Democratic campaign entered a more combustible phase Friday as the party’s candidates attacked each other on a debate stage with blistering policy critiques and arguments over who was best positioned to beat President Trump in November. With no clear front-runner and four days to go before the New Hampshire primary, seven of the party’s leading candidates abandoned the wonky policy contrasts and opaque tonal critiques that had filled the race before Monday’s caucuses in Iowa.” See also, 7 Takeaways From the Democratic Debate in New Hampshire, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Shane Goldmacher, Friday, 7 February 2020.

Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement, The Wall Street Journal, Byron Tau and Michelle Hackman, Friday, 7 February 2020: “The Trump administration has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The location data is drawn from ordinary cellphone apps, including those for games, weather and e-commerce, for which the user has granted permission to log the phone’s location.”

160 Nations Ban Cluster Munitions and Antipersonnel Mines. The U.S. Now Embraces Them. The New York Times, John Ismay and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Friday, 7 February 2020: “The Trump administration, which came into office pledging to end “endless wars,” has now embraced weapons prohibited by more than 160 countries, and is readying them for future use. Cluster bombs and antipersonnel land mines, deadly explosives known for maiming and killing civilians long after the fighting ended, have become integral to the Pentagon’s future war plans — but with little public rationale offered for where and why they would be used. These new policies, endorsed by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, can be traced to 2017 when the Pentagon chief at the time, Jim Mattis, was drafting a military strategy that named Russia and China as the United States’ great power rivals. Both have significant ground forces, and mines historically have been used to deny an adversary’s troops the ability to advance on the battlefield.”

Antarctica just hit 65 degrees, its warmest temperature ever recorded, The Washington Post, Matthew Cappucci, Friday, 7 February 2020: “Just days after the Earth saw its warmest January on record, Antarctica has broken its warmest temperature ever recorded. A reading of 65 degrees was taken Thursday at Esperanza Base along Antarctica’s Trinity Peninsula, making it the ordinarily frigid continent’s highest measured temperature in history.”

Rush Limbaugh in His Own Words: A collection of comments from the latest recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The New York Times, Talmon Joseph Smith, Friday, 7 February 2020.

Virginia will eliminate a state holiday honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It will make Election Day a day off instead. CNN Politics, Scottie Andrew, Friday, 7 February 2020: “Virginia is one step closer to ending its tradition of honoring Confederate generals. This week, the Virginia House voted to strike Lee-Jackson Day from the list of state holidays. The holiday, observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, honors Robert E. Lee and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson as ‘defenders of causes.’ Both men owned slaves and fought to preserve slavery in the US. In its place, the House bill proposed that the state replace it with Election Day, the first Tuesday after the First Monday in November, instead.”

Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Friday, 7 February 2020: “The Justice Department has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over reducing climate-warming vehicle pollution, deciding that the companies had violated no laws, according to people familiar with the matter. The investigation, launched last September, had escalated a dispute over one of President Trump’s most significant rollbacks of global warming regulations. The Justice Department’s move was one of a slew of seemingly retributive actions by the White House against California, as the state worked with the four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — to defy Mr. Trump’s planned rollback of national fuel economy standards.”


Saturday, 8 February 2020, Day 1,115:


A Handful of Republican Senators Tried to Stop Trump From Firing Impeachment Witness Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 8 February 2020: “A handful of Republican senators tried to stop President Trump from firing Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who testified in the House impeachment hearings, but the president relieved the diplomat of his post anyway, according to people briefed on the discussions. The senators were concerned that it would look bad for Mr. Trump to dismiss Mr. Sondland and argued that it was unnecessary, since the ambassador was already talking with senior officials about leaving after the Senate trial, the people said. The senators told White House officials that Mr. Sondland should be allowed to depart on his own terms, which would have reduced any political backlash. But Mr. Trump evidently was not interested in a quiet departure, choosing instead to make a point by forcing Mr. Sondland out before the ambassador was ready to go.”

‘Not just chilling but frightening’: Inside Vindman’s ouster amid fears of further retaliation by Trump, The Washington Post, David Nakamura and Greg Miller, Saturday, 8 February 2020: “He had been publicly vilified by President Trump, marched out of his national security office across from the White House, so Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman wanted only to get his mind off politics as he settled in to watch a television show with his grade-school-age daughter Friday evening. Then his wife returned home with some news: Much of the country had just watched as former vice president Joe Biden implored the audience to give a standing ovation in Vindman’s honor at the nationally televised Democratic presidential debate in Manchester, N.H…. [C]areer officials and political appointees who had testified in Ukraine hearings remained worried about their future under a president who has emerged emboldened from the Republican-controlled Senate’s vote to acquit him on both impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and eager to punish those he believes have betrayed him. There are doubts among officials at the State Department and the Pentagon about whether their bosses would protect them if Trump broadens his purge.”

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie sought to dig up dirt on woman who complained of sexual assault, agency insiders say, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Saturday, 8 February 2020: “The Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general is reviewing a request from a top House leader to investigate allegations that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie sought to dig up dirt on one of the congressman’s aides after she said she was sexually assaulted at VA’s Washington hospital. The appeal late Friday from House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) came after he received information from a senior VA official, confirmed by The Washington Post, that Wilkie worked to discredit the credibility of the aide, senior policy adviser Andrea Goldstein. Wilkie, who led the Pentagon’s vast personnel and readiness operation before his VA appointment, quietly began inquiring with military officials last fall about Goldstein’s past, according to three people with knowledge of his efforts. That’s when Goldstein said a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the VA Medical Center in Washington. Authorities closed the case in January without bringing charges.”


Sunday, 9 February 2020, Day 1,116:


How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats. The problems that beset the Democratic Party’s first state caucus of the presidential race ran far deeper and wider than one bad app. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Sydney Ember, Trip Gabriel, and Mike Baker, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “As disastrous as the 2020 Iowa caucuses have appeared to the public, the failure runs deeper and wider than has previously been known, according to dozens of interviews with those involved. It was a total system breakdown that casts doubt on how a critical contest on the American political calendar has been managed for years. Until now, the main public villain in the Iowa caucus fiasco has been the reporting app, created by a company called Shadow Inc., along with a ‘coding issue’ in a back-end results reporting system that state party officials blamed for the chaos. But the crackup resulted from cascading failures going back months. The fragile edifice of the caucuses, which demoralized Democrats in search of a strong nominee to take on President Trump, crumbled under the weight of technology flops, lapses in planning, failed oversight by party officials, poor training, and a breakdown in communication between paid party leaders and volunteers out in the field, who had devoted themselves for months to the nation’s first nominating contest.”

Iowa Democrats Give Buttigieg the Most Delegates as Sanders Team Seeks Partial Recanvass, The New York Times, Trip Gabriel, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “Nearly a full week after the Iowa caucuses, the state Democratic Party on Sunday released results indicating that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., was the winner after it updated data from 55 precincts. But errors in the result tabulations have led several news organizations, including The New York Times, to refrain from calling the race. And shortly after the party’s announcement, Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said the campaign would be calling for a partial recanvass of the results. The deadline for a campaign to make such a request is noon Central time on Monday. The party’s re-examination did not change earlier projections that Mr. Buttigieg led in the count of national delegates, but it moved one more into his column. The party said that Mr. Buttigieg had received 14 delegates, Senator Bernie Sanders took 12, Senator Elizabeth Warren earned eight, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. received six and Senator Amy Klobuchar got one. The Associated Press, which historically verifies election results and makes calls on the outcome of races, has not allotted the final delegate to Mr. Buttigieg because of the errors in the caucus results-counting, nor has The A.P. declared a winner in the Iowa race. The Times, which has followed The A.P.’s calls in the past, has not assigned the final delegate to Mr. Buttigieg.” See also, Iowa Democratic Party projects Pete Buttigieg the winner of the delegate race, with Bernie Sanders preparing a challenge, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sunday, 9 February 2020.

Senator Lindsey Graham says the Department of Justice is handling information from Rudy Giuliani on the Bidens, The Washington Post, Paul Kane, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that the Justice Department is vetting information that President Trump’s personal attorney has delivered regarding Hunter Biden’s work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Graham, citing an early-morning conversation with Attorney General William P. Barr, said that Rudolph W. Giuliani is giving his information to national security experts and that he would back off his own plans to use the Senate Judiciary Committee as a vehicle to investigate the Biden family.” See also, Senator Lindsey Graham Says the Justice Department Is Reviewing Information on the Bidens From Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “The Justice Department has begun receiving information obtained by Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, from Ukraine about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday. Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a vocal Trump ally, said Attorney General William P. Barr told him in a telephone call early Sunday morning that the department was ‘receiving information coming out’ of Ukraine delivered by Mr. Giuliani.”

Trump to Propose $4.8 Trillion Budget With Big Safety-Net Cuts, The Wall Street Journal, Kate Davidson and Andrew Restuccia, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “President Trump is expected to release a $4.8 trillion budget Monday that charts a path for a potential second term, proposing steep reductions in social-safety-net programs and foreign aid and higher outlays for defense and veterans.”

‘This Is the Wild West Out Here’: How Washington is bending over backward for mining companies in Nevada at the expense of environmental rules, Politico Magazine, Adam Federman, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “The Bureau of Land Management—BLM—approves the mining permits on all federal land. Since its creation in 1946, the agency has had a dual mission to balance the demands of industry and environmental protection. In this part of Nevada, that job falls to the BLM’s Battle Mountain district office, located more than 250 miles away. But according to a sweeping whistleblower complaint filed on October 4 by a five-year BLM employee and obtained by POLITICO and Type Investigations, the Battle Mountain office has repeatedly disregarded its own environmental rules and regulations to fast-track permits on public land. The historic antipathy toward federal oversight common to this region, combined with a presidential administration that has announced its hostility to decades of environmental law, has left public lands especially vulnerable.”

What Happens When QAnon Seeps From the Web to the Offline World, The New York Times, Mike McIntire and Kevin Roose, Sunday, 9 February 2020: “What began online more than two years ago as an intricate, if baseless, conspiracy theory that quickly attracted thousands of followers has since found footholds in the offline world. QAnon has surfaced in political campaigns, criminal cases, merchandising and at least one college class. Last month, hundreds of QAnon enthusiasts gathered in a Tampa, Fla., park to listen to speakers and pick up literature, and in England, a supporter of President Trump and the Brexit leader Nigel Farage raised a ‘Q’ flag over a Cornish castle.”


Monday, 10 February 2020, Day 1,117:


Trump’s $4.8 Trillion Budget Would Cut Safety Net Programs and Boost Defense, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Margot Sanger-Katz, Alan Rappeport, and Emily Cochrane, Monday, 10 February 2020: “President Trump released a $4.8 trillion budget proposal on Monday that includes a familiar list of deep cuts to student loan assistance, affordable housing efforts, food stamps and Medicaid, reflecting Mr. Trump’s election-year effort to continue shrinking the federal safety net. The proposal, which is unlikely to be approved in its entirety by Congress, includes additional spending for the military, national defense and border enforcement, along with money for veterans, Mr. Trump’s Space Force initiative and an extension of the individual income tax cuts that were set to expire in 2025. Its biggest reduction is an annual 2 percent decrease in spending on discretionary domestic programs, like education and environmental protection…. The budget, while largely a messaging document, reflects the administration’s spending priorities’ stark contrast with the president’s Democratic rivals.” See also, What’s in Trump’s Fiscal 2021 Budget? The New York Times, Monday, 10 February. See also, Trump Budget Calls for New Nuclear Warheads and 2 Types of Missiles, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Monday, 10 February 2020: “The Trump administration has begun to put a price tag on its growing arms race with Russia and China, and the early numbers indicate that restoring nuclear weapons to a central role in American military strategy will cost tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. In the 2021 budget released on Monday, the administration revealed for the first time that it intended to create a new submarine-launched nuclear warhead, named the W93. Its development is part of a proposed 19 percent increase this year, to $19.8 billion, for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department agency that maintains the nuclear stockpile and develops new nuclear warheads. More tellingly, that is a jump of more than 50 percent since 2017, President Trump’s first year in office.” See also, Trump proposes $4.8 trillion election-year budget with big domestic cuts, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Erica Werner, Monday, 10 February 2020: “The White House on Monday proposed a $4.8 trillion election-year budget that would slash major domestic and safety net programs, setting up a stark contrast with President Trump’s rivals as voting gets under way in the Democratic presidential primary. The budget would cut Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and also wring savings from Medicare despite Trump’s repeated promises to safeguard Medicare and Social Security. It takes aim at domestic spending with cuts that are sure to be rejected by Congress, including slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 26.5 percent over the next year, and cutting the budget of the Health and Human Services department by 9 percent. HHS includes the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will see a budget cut even as the coronavirus spreads — although officials said funding aimed at combating the coronavirus would be protected. The budget is a proposal to Congress, and lawmakers have mostly rejected the White House’s proposed cuts in the past. Still, the budget plan sets up the Trump administration’s policy priorities heading into the November elections and are likely to draw scrutiny in Washington and on the campaign trail.” See also, Trump vowed not to cut Social Security and Medicare, and then just a few hours later proposed just that, Vox, Aaron Rupar, Monday, 10 February 2020: “President Donald Trump posted a tweet on Saturday vowing, ‘We will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget.’ One day later, the Wall Street Journal published a report indicating that Trump is doing exactly that with his budget proposal. The Journal’s report, which came a day ahead of the administration officially releasing its budget on Monday, indicates that Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget includes ‘steep reductions in social-safety-net programs,’ including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security disability programs.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls on 74 inspectors general to investigate witness retaliation after Trump’s ouster of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 10 February 2020: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter on Monday to all 74 federal government Inspectors General requesting investigations into ‘any and all instances of retaliation’ against witnesses who have made ‘protected disclosures of presidential misconduct.’ The letter comes days after President Donald Trump fired two key impeachment witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the national security council, and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. An adviser to Trump told CNN the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated.” See also, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asks inspectors general to investigate whistleblower retaliation after firing of LT. Col. Alexander Vindman, Politico, Marianne Levine, Monday, 10 February 2020: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is asking that every agency inspector general investigate retaliation against whistleblowers who report presidential misconduct, after the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council.”

Justice Department Will Accept Material From Trump’s Personal Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, but Attorney General William Barr Voices Caution, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Kenneth P. Vogel, Monday, 10 February 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr said on Monday that the Justice Department would consider information from Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, about Ukraine. That could include assertions about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter. The Justice Department ‘has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant,’ Mr. Barr said at an unrelated news conference. He added that no information coming out of Ukraine could be taken ‘at face value’ given the amount of politically driven disinformation that could emerge from the country. Any information from Mr. Giuliani would be considered highly controversial, as he has long promoted purported efforts by Ukrainians to undercut Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential bid and urged further scrutiny of the overlap between Mr. Biden’s anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine as vice president and his son’s seat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company widely accused of corruption. Any investigations into those matters could benefit the president by potentially undermining his political rivals.”

Fundraisers say billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to donate $100m to Trump and Republicans, The Guardian, Peter Stone, Monday, 10 February 2020: “The billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, an ardent pro-Israel conservative, is expected to donate at least $100m to boost Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election efforts and Republican congressional candidates this fall, say three Republican fundraisers familiar with Adelson’s initial plans. Adelson’s hefty checks are expected to be written to several Super Pacs – political groups that have to disclose their donors – as well as ‘dark money’ not-for-profit organizations that can keep their donors secret, say the fundraisers.”

New Campus Sexual Misconduct Rules Will Tackle Dating Violence, The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Monday, 10 February 2020: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s pending rules on sexual misconduct at the nation’s schools and colleges will include provisions to shore up protections for victims of stalking and dating violence, a response to lethal attacks that have underscored the weakness of current policies. The rules will for the first time cement domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as forms of gender discrimination that schools must address under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive government funding. In the past, the Education Department has issued guidance on how schools should handle sexual misconduct on campus and interpreted Title IX to require universities to combat sexual assault in particular. The department’s new rules would go further, adding definitions for domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as misconduct that universities must tackle or risk federal investigations and a loss of funding…. The new provision in the Education Department’s new rules would be a small victory for victims’ rights advocates, who have largely condemned Ms. DeVos’s other proposals, which bolster the rights of the accused and generally make sexual misconduct allegations more difficult to pursue on campus. For example, the other proposals require complaints to go through a more rigorous reporting process and courtroom-​​like proceedings.”​

Amazon Looks to Question Trump in Pentagon Cloud Computing Contract Case, The New York Times, Karen Weise, Monday, 10 February 2020: “Amazon has asked a federal court to let it depose President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, arguing that hearing from them is essential to determining if they intervened against the internet company when the Pentagon awarded a multibillion-dollar contract to a competitor. The request, which was unsealed on Monday, escalates a legal battle over a major cloud computing contract to modernize the Pentagon’s operations, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, or JEDI. Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud provider, was widely considered the front-runner for the $10 billion contract, but in October, the Defense Department surprised analysts when it awarded the project to Microsoft, the No. 2 provider in the market. Amazon challenged the decision in December, claiming that Mr. Trump used ‘improper pressure’ on the Pentagon to prevent Amazon from winning the contract as part of an attempt to harm the company’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos. Mr. Trump has criticized Mr. Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, a publication that has reported aggressively on the Trump administration.” See also, Amazon wants to question Trump over losing $10B contract bid for cloud computing project, Associated Press, Matt O’Brien, Monday, 10 February 2020.

Justice Department Sues Over Sanctuary Laws in California, New Jersey, and Seattle, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 10 February 2020: “The Justice Department has sued local and state governments in California, New Jersey and Washington State as part of a ‘significant escalation’ in the Trump administration’s fight against so-called sanctuary laws aimed at limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities, Attorney General William P. Barr said on Monday.”

New York sues Trump administration over Global Entry ban: It’s ‘political retribution,’ NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Monday, 10 February 2020: “The Trump administration’s decision to bar New Yorkers from enrolling or re-enrolling in Global Entry and other federal Trusted Traveler Programs is unlawful, unconstitutional and discriminatory, New York state officials charged in a federal lawsuit Monday. ‘The Trump administration’s new policy not only negatively impacts travelers, workers, commerce and our economy, but it jeopardizes public safety,’ state Attorney General Letitia James said. ‘No one should ever use our nation’s security as a political weapon, let alone the commander in chief.'” See also, New York state sues Trump administration over ‘punitive’ ban from traveler programs, Reuters, Jonathan Stempel, Monday, 10 February 2020.

Trump cites ‘serious economic conditions’ in proposing 1% pay raise for federal employees, CNN Politics, Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 10 February 2020: “President Donald Trump on Monday justified a smaller-than-anticipated proposed pay raise for civilian federal workers by citing ‘national emergency or serious economic conditions,’ despite his frequent statements that the nation’s economy is booming…. In limiting federal pay raises, Trump cited his statutory authority to adjust pay because of ‘national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,’ but the President frequently touts a growing US economy, including a strong growth rate for the gross domestic product and low unemployment.” See also, Trump Quietly Slashed Pay Raise for Civilian Federal Workers a Day Before Claiming US Economy Is the Best ‘In History,’ Common Dreams, Jake Johnson, published on Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “In a move that drew outrage from labor unions and progressives, President Donald Trump this week quietly took steps to slash a scheduled pay raise for millions of federal workers from 2.5% to 1% due to supposed concerns about ‘keeping the nation on a fiscally sustainable course.’… Just a day after his message to Congress, Trump tweeted, ‘BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY!’ Critics highlighted the disconnect between the president’s justification for cutting the planned raise for federal workers and his boasts about the state of the U.S. economy.”

Trump Lashes Out at West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, and Manchin Pushes Back, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Monday, 10 February 2020: “Senator Joe Manchin III votes with President Trump more than any other Democrat in the Senate. But his vote last week to convict Mr. Trump of impeachable offenses has eclipsed all of that, earning him the rage of a president who coveted a bipartisan acquittal. In the days since Mr. Manchin, a West Virginian who was one of the few swing votes on impeachment, supported Mr. Trump’s removal, the president has laced into the senator with a zeal that is startling even by his standards.He called Mr. Manchin a ‘puppet Democrat Senator’ who was ‘weak & pathetic.’ He gave the senator a new nickname: ‘Joe Munchkin.’ He suggested that Mr. Manchin was too stupid to understand a transcript of his telephone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the central piece of evidence in the case. And to add insult to injury, he took credit for the senator’s signature legislative achievement: a bipartisan bill to secure miners’ pensions. On Monday, Mr. Manchin made clear that he had had enough.”


Tuesday, 11 February 2020, Day 1,118:


Bernie Sanders Scores Narrow Victory in New Hampshire Primary, The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Senator Bernie Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, consolidating support on the left and fending off a late charge by two moderate rivals to claim his second strong showing in two weeks and establish himself as a formidable contender for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Sanders had about 26 percent of the vote with 90 percent of the ballots counted, while former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., was a close second. Mr. Buttigieg split the centrist vote with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who surged in New Hampshire to finish in third. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mr. Sanders’s progressive rival, finished a distant fourth in her neighboring state, and in a stinging blow to his candidacy, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. finished fifth.” See also, 5 Takeaways From the New Hampshire Primary, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer and Shane Goldmacher, Tuesday, 11 February 2020. See also, Bernie Sanders wins Hew Hampshire Democratic primary; Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are top moderate candidates, The Washington Post, Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) claimed unchallenged control of the Democratic Party’s left wing with a victory in the New Hampshire presidential primary Tuesday as two moderates, Pete Butti­gieg and a newly surging Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), vied for the opposition mantle in a campaign that has been remade over the past eight days. Sanders and Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Ind., marked their second straight strong showings — they essentially tied in last week’s Iowa caucuses, with Sanders carrying the popular vote and Buttigieg winning a slight edge in delegates.”

Four Prosecutors Quit Roger Stone Case After Senior Justice Department Officials Intervened to Recommend a More Lenient Sentence for Crimes He Committed in a Bid to Protect Trump, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Sharon LaFraniere, and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Four prosecutors abruptly withdrew on Tuesday from the case of President Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. after senior Justice Department officials intervened to recommend a more lenient sentence for crimes he committed in a bid to protect the president. In an extraordinary decision overruling career lawyers, the Justice Department recommended an unspecified term of incarceration for Mr. Stone instead of the prosecutors’ request of a punishment of seven to nine years. The move coincided with Mr. Trump’s declaration on Twitter early Tuesday that the government was treating Mr. Stone too harshly. The development immediately prompted questions about whether the Justice Department was bending to White House pressure. The gulf between the prosecutors and their Justice Department superiors burst into public view the week before Mr. Stone was to be sentenced for trying to sabotage a congressional investigation that had posed a threat to the president.” See also, These Are the 4 Prosecutors Who Quit the Roger Stone Case, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “They’ve clerked for Supreme Court justices, served at the State Department and orbited Robert S. Mueller III. On Tuesday, the four main federal prosecutors working on the obstruction and perjury case of Roger J. Stone Jr. shared another distinction: they quit the case. The abrupt withdrawals came after the Justice Department overruled their recommendation for a stiffer sentence for Mr. Stone, a longtime friend and informal adviser of President Trump. One of the prosecutors resigned outright. The prosecutors had asked a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., to sentence Mr. Stone to up to nine years in prison for obstructing a congressional investigation, witness tampering and making false statements during the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.” See also, Four prosecutors quit amid escalating Justice Department fight over Roger Stone’s prison term, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Ann E. Marimow, and Spencer S. Hsu, Tuesday 11 February 2020: “All four career prosecutors handling the case against Roger Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings Tuesday — and one quit his job entirely — after the Justice Department signaled it planned to undercut their sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s longtime friend and confidant. The sudden and dramatic moves came after prosecutors and their superiors had argued for days over the appropriate penalty for Stone, and exposed what some career Justice Department employees say is a continuing pattern of the historically independent law enforcement institution being bent to Trump’s political will.” See also, Four Prosecutors Quit Roger Stone Case After the Justice Department Seeks Less Prison Time, The Wall Street Journal, Aruna Viswanatha and Byron Tau, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Four federal prosecutors withdrew from the case against Roger Stone on Tuesday, with one resigning as an assistant U.S. attorney, as the Justice Department reversed itself and recommended less prison time for President Trump’s longtime confidant. The Justice Department’s move to withdraw the recommendation it made on Monday to a U.S. judge and propose a more lenient one came hours after President Trump criticized in a tweet the original request that Mr. Stone spend more than seven years behind bars.” See also, All 4 prosecutors quit Roger Stone case after the Department of Justice shifts to urge a lighter sentence, Politico, Josh Gerstein and Daniel Lippman, Tuesday, 11 February 2020. See also, All 4 federal prosecutors quit Roger Stone case after the Department of Justice overrules prosecutors on sentencing request, CNN Politics, David Shortell, Evan Perez, Katelyn Polantz, Kaitlan Collins, and Jeremy Herb, published on Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “In an extraordinary move, all four federal prosecutors who took the case against longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone to trial withdrew Tuesday after top Justice Department officials undercut them and disavowed the government’s recommended sentence against Stone. The mass withdrawal of the career prosecutors on the case was a stunning response to the controversial and politically charged decision by Attorney General William Barr and other top Justice Department officials to reduce prosecutors’ recommended sentence of up to nine years, which came just hours after Trump publicly criticized it on Twitter. The rapid-fire developments in the case — the prosecutors’ withdrawals came one by one through court filings over the course of two hours Tuesday afternoon — spilled tensions between Justice Department brass and the career prosecutors into the open, raising questions about the Justice Department’s independence from political pressure. In a new filing Tuesday, the US Attorney’s Office in Washington revised the sentencing recommendation to be ‘far less’ than the seven-to-nine years recommended on Monday. It was not signed by any of the prosecutors who worked the case. Ultimately, the presiding judge in the case will have the final say on Stone’s sentence.”

Trump escalates campaign of retribution as Republican senators shrug, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Paul Kane, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “President Trump escalated his campaign of retribution against his perceived impeachment enemies Tuesday, railing in the Oval Office about a decorated combat veteran who testified about the president’s conduct with Ukraine and suggesting the Defense Department should consider disciplining him. ‘The military can handle him any way they want,’ Trump said of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was ousted from his position on the National Security Council last Friday and reassigned to the Pentagon. Asked whether he was recommending the military take disciplinary action against Vindman for his House testimony in the impeachment proceedings, Trump replied, ‘They’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.’ Trump also leaped to the defense Tuesday of Roger Stone, his longtime former adviser and friend who faces a prison sentence after being convicted by a jury of obstructing Congress and witness tampering in connection with the Russia investigation. Stoking new worries about improperly politicizing the Justice Department, Trump admonished federal prosecutors for recommending a seven- to nine-year sentence for Stone, which the president felt was too long.” See also, Trump’s War Against ‘the Deep State’ Enters a New Stage, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “As far as President Trump is concerned, banishing Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman from the White House and exiling him back to the Pentagon was not enough. If he had his way, the commander in chief made clear on Tuesday, the Defense Department would now take action against the colonel, too. ‘That’s going to be up to the military,’ Mr. Trump told reporters who asked whether Colonel Vindman should face disciplinary action after testifying in the House hearings that led to the president’s impeachment. ‘But if you look at what happened,’ Mr. Trump added in threatening terms, ‘I mean they’re going to, certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.’… The suggestion that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman should now face punishment by the Pentagon was one sign of how determined the president is to even the scales after his impeachment.”

Trump withdraws Treasury nomination of former U.S. attorney for D.C. Jessie K. Liu after criticism of her oversight of Mueller prosecutions, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Josh Dawsey, and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “President Trump on Tuesday withdrew the nomination of former U.S. attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District of Columbia to a high-ranking Treasury Department post after being lobbied by critics of her office’s handling of cases, including ones inherited from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, two people familiar with the decision said.” See also, Decision to pull Liu’s nomination is directly linked to her oversight of Stone and McCabe cases, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, published on Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “President Donald Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw a Treasury Department nomination for Jessie Liu, the former US attorney who headed the office that oversaw Roger Stone’s prosecution, was directly tied to her former job, CNN has learned. While head of the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, Liu inherited many of the major ongoing cases from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and was also handling the politically charged case of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of Trump’s ire who is also a CNN contributor.” See also, Attorney General William Barr takes control of legal matters of interest to Trump, including sentencing of Roger Stone, NBC News, Carol E. Lee, Ken Kilanian, and Peter Alexander, Tuesday, 11 February 2020.

Michael Bloomberg’s Blunt Defense of Stop-and-Frisk Policy Draws Scrutiny, The New York Times, Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “A recording of Michael R. Bloomberg in 2015 offering an unflinching defense of stop-and-frisk policing circulated widely on social media Tuesday, signaling that the former New York City mayor is about to face more intensive scrutiny as he rises in the polls as a Democratic presidential candidate. While Mr. Bloomberg apologized for his administration’s law-enforcement tactics in November just before he entered the race, he had previously spent years insisting that the policy was justified and effective, showing no indication that he had developed serious misgivings about stop and frisk. The policing tactic was used disproportionately against black and Latino people across New York City for years. He offered a particularly blunt defense at the Aspen Institute in 2015: The Aspen Times reported then that Mr. Bloomberg said that crimes were committed overwhelmingly by young, male minorities, and that it made sense to deploy police in minority neighborhoods to ‘throw them up against the wall and frisk them’ as a deterrent against carrying firearms. An audio clip of those comments was posted on Twitter Monday by Benjamin Dixon, a progressive podcaster, who highlighted it with the hashtag #BloombergIsARacist. ‘Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O.,’ Mr. Bloomberg said in the recording. ‘You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city.'” See also, In Responding to Critics, Bloomberg Omits His Role in Expanding Stop-and-Frisk, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Tuesday, 11 February 2020. See also, Mike Bloomberg Claims He Cut Stop-and-Frisk by 95 Percent–After Increasing It Sevenfold, The Intercept, Lee Fang, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg has been facing mounting online criticism over his mayoral record on stop-and-frisk, a tactic used by the New York Police Department in what critics — and eventually, a federal judge — said was a biased manner. This week, a 5-year-old recording emerged of Bloomberg obliquely defending the program. In response, the Bloomberg campaign released a misleading statement on Tuesday claiming that he simply inherited the policy and later reduced the practice. ‘I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused,’ he said in a statement posted on his presidential campaign website. ‘By the time I left office,’ the statement continued, ‘I cut it back by 95%, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities.’ The statement drew immediate backlash over its twisting of history. In 2001, New York City maintained an aggressive program of stopping and searching people throughout the city, with an overwhelming focus on young African American and Latino men. But, under the Bloomberg administration, the program vastly expanded, from around 97,296 stops in 2002 to a height of 685,724 in 2011 — a more than sevenfold increase during the former mayor’s tenure.” See also, Michael Bloomberg in hot water over ‘stop-and-frisk’ audio clip, Politico, Quint Forgey, Tuesday, 11 February 2020.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Denounces Trump’s Mideast Plan at the United Nations, The New York Times, Rick Gladstone, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, delivered an angry rejection of President Trump’s plan for peace between Palestinians and Israelis at the United Nations on Tuesday, describing it as an illegitimate, one-sided proposal that rewarded Israel for decades of occupation and turned his people’s land into ‘Swiss cheese’ riddled with Israeli settlements. In a speech at the Security Council, Mr. Abbas categorically repudiated everything about the plan, which Mr. Trump unveiled with great fanfare two weeks ago in Washington with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at his side. The plan would give Israel most of what it wanted while offering the Palestinians the possibility of a state with limited sovereignty.”

Exclusive: New Unredacted Emails Show How Deeply the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Misled Congress on Ukraine, Just Security, Kate Brannen, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Similar to the unredacted emails Just Security reported on in January, these new emails shed further light on the standoff that took place between the Pentagon and OMB over Trump’s hold on Ukraine funding. They confirm that OMB, including the general counsel’s office, was fully in the loop about the Pentagon’s concerns and took active steps to bury them. They also expose the extent to which OMB misled, and even lied to, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional investigative body, as the GAO tried to understand the circumstances surrounding the funding hold.” See also, National security site Just Security reports the White House Office of Management and Budget attempted to hide concerns over withholding of Ukraine aid, CNN Politics, Vivian Salama, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “The Office of Management and Budget was fully aware about concerns flagged by numerous officials at the Pentagon about President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold aid from Ukraine and attempted to hide their concerns from the Government Accountability Office about the circumstances surrounding the freeze, according to new emails obtained by Just Security. The new disclosures support reporting from CNN last week that detailed how the July 18th decision to hold the military aid stunned officials, who had already assessed Ukraine deserved to receive it and were preparing a Javelin anti-tank missile order to the country. Officials grew so concerned over the deferrals by OMB that they noted the aid was at ‘serious risk,’ and questioned if the move was illegal, according to the emails and documents reviewed by CNN.”

Blasting in Construction of Border Wall Is Affecting Tribal Areas, The New York Times, Christine Hauser, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “Blasting operations for construction of President Trump’s border wall in Arizona have begun to disrupt a UNESCO ecological preserve that encompasses Native American ancestral lands and burial grounds. Construction crews have been blasting at Monument Hill, a resting place for primarily Apache warriors, and bulldozing at Quitobaquito Springs, a pilgrimage site, according to the office of Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, who recently toured the area in his southern Arizona district. In 1976, UNESCO made Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument an international biosphere reserve, the agency’s designation for areas protected to conserve biological and cultural diversity while allowing scientists to study the impact of development.”

Court Says the Environmental Protection Agency Can’t Kick Scientists Who Have Received EPA Research Grants Off Its Science Advisory Panels, NRDC, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “In a victory for science and public health, a federal court determined that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cannot exclude scientists who have received EPA research grants—who happen to be mainly academic scientists from research universities—from serving on its advisory panels. The change, made by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, had a silencing effect on public health studies. The ban was a clear attempt to stack the deck in favor of big polluters.”

Philippines Tells U.S. It Will End Military Cooperation Deal, The New York Times, Jason Gutierrez, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, and Eric Schmitt, Tuesday, 11 February 2020: “The Philippines said Tuesday it had officially informed the United States that it was scrapping a military pact that has given the longtime American ally a security blanket for the past two decades. The notice to terminate the pact, the Visiting Forces Agreement, comes as President Rodrigo Duterte has warmed up to China while distancing himself from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler. The move also comes as the Philippines has shown increasing reluctance to stand up to China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea.”


Wednesday, 12 February 2020, Day 1,119:


Trump Praises Attorney General William Barr for Rejecting Punishment Recommended for Roger Stone, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan and Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “President Trump congratulated Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday for intervening to lower the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for the president’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr., calling his prosecution ‘a disgrace’ for which he deserves an apology. In sharply worded tweets and comments to reporters, Mr. Trump dismissed criticism that the Justice Department was abandoning its traditional independence by responding to his unhappiness with the recommendation that Mr. Stone serve up to nine years in prison for obstructing a congressional inquiry. ‘Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,’ Mr. Trump tweeted. He compared the Stone case to the Russia investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. ‘Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!’ Mr. Trump said, though he did not explain the accusation against Mr. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director. Mr. Trump’s comments came less than 24 hours after four career prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case after senior officials at the department overruled the seven- to nine-year term they had recommended Mr. Stone receive. One of the prosecutors also resigned from the Justice Department, where he worked in the public integrity section. The reaction by the prosecutors and the president’s subsequent comments roiled Washington for a second day as Democratic lawmakers, former law enforcement officials and ethics watchdog groups accused Mr. Trump of abusing the power of his office to influence the Justice Department in a continuing criminal case.” Trump is seeking to bend the executive branch into an instrument for his personal and political vendetta against perceived enemies, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “President Trump is testing the rule of law one week after his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, seeking to bend the executive branch into an instrument for his personal and political vendetta against perceived enemies. And Trump — simmering with rage, fixated on exacting revenge against those he feels betrayed him and insulated by a compliant Republican Party — is increasingly comfortable doing so to the point of feeling untouchable, according to the president’s advisers and allies. In the span of 48 hours this week, the president has sought to protect his friends and punish his foes, even at the risk of compromising the Justice Department’s independence and integrity — a stance that his defenders see as entirely justified.” See also, In Twitter tirade, Trump attacks federal judge Amy Berman Jackson and the prosecutors involved in the Roger Stone case, The Washington Post, Allyson Chiu, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “As the fallout from the controversy surrounding Roger Stone’s prison term continued Tuesday night, President Trump defended his longtime confidant by firing off a barrage of heated tweets attacking the federal judge and prosecutors involved in the case. Over the course of roughly two hours, Trump cranked out six blasts about the handling of Stone’s sentencing, including one that targeted U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case.”

Roger Stone backlash: Democrats demand the resignation of Attorney General William Barr and call for emergency investigation and hearings into the Justice Department’s decision to reduce the recommended sentence for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Congressional Democrats on Wednesday called for an emergency hearing and investigation into the Justice Department’s decision to reduce its recommended sentence for longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone. Top Democrats are pushing for the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing to review the decision that led to the sudden resignation of all of the four prosecutors Tuesday from the Stone criminal case. Stone was found guilty in November of all seven counts against him, including making false statements, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional probe…. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in the Senate: ‘Something egregious like this demands that the inspector general investigate and demands that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee hold a hearing now.’ Schumer sent a letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, on Tuesday, writing that the development amounts to ‘improper political interference in a criminal prosecution. I therefore request that you immediately investigate this matter to determine how and why the Stone sentencing recommendations were countermanded, which Justice Department officials made this decision, and which White House officials were involved,’ Schumer said. Late Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reacted to the news, tweeting, ‘By tweet @realDonaldTrump engaged in political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone. It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated.'”

Trump’s Roger Stone power play shows how his impeachment acquittal unchained an already rampant president, CNN Politics, Stephen Collinson, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “By bulldozing into Roger Stone’s sentencing, Donald Trump sparked a mutiny by four career prosecutors, raised fears about the impartial administration of justice and showed how his impeachment acquittal unchained an already rampant presidency. The Justice Department’s decision to water down a recommendation by its own prosecutors for Stone to serve up to nine years in prison that outraged the President sent shockwaves through Washington. It also appears to reflect Trump’s redoubled determination to escalate pressure on core institutions of the US government to pursue his personal and political priorities.” See also, As a Post-Impeachment Trump Pushes the Limits, Republicans Say Little, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “On a day when President Trump congratulated the attorney general for overruling career prosecutors in favor of the lighter prison sentence he sought for a longtime friend, Senate Republicans agreed on one thing: Reining in a president emboldened by the impeachment acquittal they orchestrated is not on their to-do list.” See also, Republicans are looking past Trump’s brash intervention in the Roger Stone case, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Congressional Republicans showed little sign Wednesday that they would move to check President Trump’s brash public intervention in the federal prosecution of a former campaign confidant, leaving Democrats largely alone to fume about the evaporation of another norm of American governance.”

Democrats say Attorney General William Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in March, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month, the panel’s chairman Jerry Nadler said Wednesday, giving them a forum to press the attorney general on the sentencing of Roger Stone and other controversies that have emerged in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.” See also, Attorney General William Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Attorney General William Barr has accepted an invitation to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, ending a year-long standoff that began when the panel first demanded his testimony in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The arrangement comes as Democrats have demanded answers about Barr’s apparent intervention in the sentencing of President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone, who was convicted last year on charges that he lied to congressional investigators and threatened a witness.”

After the Roger Stone Case, Prosecutors Say They Fear Pressure From Trump, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Charlie Savage, Sharon LaFraniere, and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “For decades after Watergate, the White House treated the Justice Department with the softest of gloves, fearful that any appearance of political interference would resurrect the specter of Attorney General John Mitchell helping President Richard M. Nixon carry out a criminal conspiracy for political ends. In 2001, William P. Barr, describing his first stint as attorney general, under President George Bush, spoke of the department’s protected status in the post-Watergate era. ‘You didn’t mess around with it, didn’t intervene, you didn’t interfere,’ he recalled in an oral history. Fast forward to 2020, and Mr. Barr is attorney general once more. But President Trump’s ground-shaking conduct has demolished those once-sacrosanct guardrails. Mr. Barr’s intervention to lessen a prison sentencing recommendation for the president’s convicted friend Roger J. Stone Jr. prompted all four career prosecutors handling the matter to quit the case. To career prosecutors around the country, the Stone case raised new fears of what is to come. Until now, according to conversations with more than a dozen career lawyers in some of the 93 U.S. attorney’s offices, they had watched other divisions in the Justice Department execute significant shifts in response to Mr. Trump while the work of prosecuting crimes was largely unaffected by the politics of the moment. Now career prosecutors said they worried they might face more pressure.”

House Democrats ask Secret Service for details about its payments to Trump’s private company, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday asked the Secret Service to provide a full accounting of its payments to President Trump’s private company after The Washington Post revealed that the Secret Service had been charged as much as $650 per night for rooms at Trump clubs. In a letter to the Secret Service, signed by Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the committee asked for records of payments to Trump properties, and copies of contracts between the Secret Service and Trump clubs.”

British Petroleum lays out long-term ambition to achieve net-zero emissions, Associated Press, Danica Kirka, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Energy producer BP said Wednesday it wants to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from its operations and the oil and gas it sells to customers by 2050, an ambitious target born out of pressure to help combat climate change and keep making money. London-based BP’s goals include becoming a net zero emitter in its own production of energy but also to reduce the carbon dioxide created by its customers as they use that energy – the bulk of emissions from the industry. Doing so would require not only a shift to cleaner energy sources but also coming up with new technologies to offset emissions or extract CO2 from the atmosphere. As such, BP’s announcement was less of a detailed restructuring plan and more of a statement of intent from a company that is trying, like the wider energy industry, to ensure its long-term viability as the world decreases its reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to fight climate change.” See also, British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s biggest oil-and-gas companies, says it is turning over a green leaf, The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, Wednesday, 12 February 2020.

Global Entry Ban: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Offers Compromise to Trump on New York Applicants, The New York Times, Jesse McKinley and Azi Paybarah, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that he would seek to give federal officials access to state driving records for applicants to Global Entry and other federal programs that allow travelers to quickly pass through airports and borders. The announcement by Mr. Cuomo comes days after federal officials banned New York residents from applying to — and re-enrolling in — the programs, known as the Trusted Traveler Program. Mr. Cuomo added that he would meet with President Trump on Thursday to discuss the traveler programs and access to the driving records. Administration officials stressed that the potential change would only apply to applicants to Trusted Traveler programs, such as Global Entry, and not result in carte-blanche access to State Department of Motor Vehicle records.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promises D.C. statehood vote on House floor ‘before the summer,’ The Washington Post, Jenna Portnoy, Wednesday, 12 February 2020: “Hours after a divided House committee advanced a D.C. statehood bill Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promised a floor vote ‘before the summer,’ setting the stage for the measure to be approved by a congressional chamber for the first time in history. A vote would force Democrats and Republicans to go on the record about their views on making the nation’s capital the 51st state before they face reelection in November. The bill has a good chance of passing the House, because Democrats have a solid majority and the cause of statehood has become a darling of Democratic leaders, national civil rights groups and presidential candidates. But it faces almost certain death in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, in part because the GOP does not want the overwhelmingly Democratic city to be able to elect two senators and a voting representative.”


Thursday, 13 February 2020, Day 1,120:


In Bipartisan Bid to Restrain Trump, Senate Passes Iran War Powers Resolution, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The Senate voted on Thursday to require that President Trump seek congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran, as Democrats joined forces with eight Republicans to try to rein in the president’s war-making powers weeks after he escalated hostilities with Tehran. The bipartisan vote, 55 to 45, amounted to a rare attempt by the Senate to restrain Mr. Trump’s authority just over a week after it voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, and nearly six weeks after the president moved without authorization from Congress to kill a top Iranian security commander. But it was a mostly symbolic rebuke of the president, as support for the measure fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a promised veto by Mr. Trump. The House passed a similar measure last month on a nearly party-line vote that also fell well short of that margin. Still, indignant at the administration’s handling of a drone strike in Iraq last month that killed a top Iranian official — a major provocation that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war — an unusually large number of Senate Republicans crossed party lines in an attempt to claw back their authority to weigh in on matters of war and peace.” See also, Senate passes resolution to limit Trump’s power to order military action against Iran, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to limit President Trump’s power to order military action against Iran without first seeking Congress’s permission, a bipartisan rebuke of his administration’s resistance to involving the legislative branch in decisions that some fear could lead to all-out war. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats in voting 55 to 45 for the measure, despite sharp warnings from Trump that challenging his war powers would ‘show weakness’ and send ‘a very bad signal’ to Tehran. Trump will almost certainly veto the measure once it passes the House, and neither chamber of Congress has the votes to override that veto, lawmakers say.” See also, Republican-Controlled Senate Passes Resolution to Limit Trump’s Use of Military Force Against Iran, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Thursday, 13 February 2020. See also, Senate passes Iran War Powers resolution despite Trump’s opposition, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Ted Barrett, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The Senate passed an Iran War Powers resolution on Thursday, a rare measure that was approved with bipartisan support despite the fact that it has been opposed by President Donald Trump and aims to rein in his ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval.”

Attorney General William Barr Says Attacks From Trump Make Work ‘Impossible,’ The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr delivered an extraordinary rebuke of President Trump on Thursday, saying that his attacks on the Justice Department had made it ‘impossible for me to do my job’ and that ‘I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.’… Such tweets ‘make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity,’ Mr. Barr said. He added, ‘It’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.’… The attorney general had let the president know some of what he planned to say and is remaining in his job, a person familiar with the events said. But as with other issues, Mr. Trump’s view may depend on how the news media, particularly Fox News, covers Mr. Barr’s comments…. Mr. Trump has made it difficult for Mr. Barr to maintain the appearance of independence, threatening the attorney general’s credibility by repeatedly calling for federal investigations of his own perceived enemies…. [G]iven Mr. Barr’s remarkable deference to Mr. Trump’s interests until now, critics of the attorney general were loath to accept his comments at face value, seeing them mainly as a face-saving way to deflect responsibility for his own role in carrying out the president’s political wishes. Joe Lockhart, a White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, said that it was ‘impossible to believe’ that after all he has done to advance Mr. Trump’s political interests ‘that now Barr is genuinely upset. The tell here will be Trump’s reaction,’ Mr. Lockhart added. ‘If he doesn’t lash out, we’ll all know this was pure political theater because everyone agrees Trump has no self-restraint.'” See also, Key Excerpts From Barr’s Interview With ABC, The New York Times, Zach Montague, Thursday, 13 February 2020. See also, Attorney General William Barr blasts Trump’s tweets on Roger Stone case: ‘Impossible for me to do my job’: ABC News Exclusive, ABC News, Anne Flaherty, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “In an exclusive interview, Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News on Thursday that President Donald Trump ‘has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case’ but should stop tweeting about the Justice Department because his tweets ‘make it impossible for me to do my job.'” See also, Attorney General William Barr pushes back against Trump’s criticism of the Justice Department and says Trump’s tweets ‘make it impossible for me to do my job,’ The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 13 February 2020. See also, Why Attorney General William Barr’s denials of influence can’t be taken at face value, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, published on Thursday, 14 February 2020: “Skepticism about the assertions of public officials is generally a good idea, even if it’s often overly cautious. In the current moment, however, assertions like the one from Attorney General William P. Barr on Thursday that his position had remained free from political influence should be considered suspect from the outset. In part, this is a function of the president he serves. In part, though, it’s a function of Barr’s own behavior. You probably need no reminder that Barr came to his position after President Trump ousted his first attorney general, Jeffrey B. Sessions III. Sessions, in Trump’s estimation, was insufficiently focused on targeting Trump’s political enemies or protecting Trump from hostile inquiries. The president sought a “Roy Cohn,” according to reporting — a reference to the former Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump attorney renowned for his protection of his clients and aggression toward their targets. Trump nominated Barr to fill Sessions’s position and, while Sessions was frequently a public target of Trump’s frustrations, the president has repeatedly expressed his appreciation for Barr’s work. Understandably. On a number of occasions, Barr and the Justice Department have taken actions or made announcements that adhere closely to what Trump would have liked to have seen.” See also, 6 big questions about the William Barr-Roger Stone controversy, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “It’s been two days since the Justice Department was thrown into upheaval after senior officials made the unorthodox decision to overrule Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation. The spectacle of political appointees intervening to help one of President Trump’s biggest allies has resurfaced very serious concerns about the politicization of investigations. The four career prosecutors on the case soon moved to withdraw from it, while the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the case had her nomination to a Treasury Department job withdrawn — shortly before her confirmation hearing, no less. Attorney General William P. Barr offered his first public comments on situation Thursday in an ABC News interview, confirming that he personally decided to overrule Stone’s recommended sentence of seven to nine years. Barr, though, said he made the decision before Trump tweeted about it Tuesday morning and repeatedly urged Trump to knock it off with the tweets.” See also, Attorney General William Barr says Trump’s tweets ‘make it impossible to do my job,’ The Guardian, Joan E. Greve, Maanvi Singh, and Edward Helmore, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Despite Barr insisting he will not be “bullied” by Trump on justice department matters, some commentators were skeptical that Barr was actually trying to distance himself from the president or was working to protect the justice department from interference. ‘I don’t think he’s fit for the office because I think what he’s done is undertake a campaign to undermine the Department of Justice,’ former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer, told MSNBC. Ayer, who preceded Barr as deputy attorney general under George HW Bush, added that Barr’s ‘pattern of conduct’ since becoming attorney general involves ‘intervening out of usual course to protect Donald Trump.’ Former US attorney Preet Bharara tweeted: ‘I think Bill Barr is shrewd, deliberate, smart, calculating, careful, and full of it.’ An Obama-era justice department official, Matthew Miller, wrote on Twitter: ‘Don’t be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically harder for him to deliver the results he wants. If Trump would just shut up, Barr could take care of him much more effectively. The best indicator of future performance is past performance,’ wrote the US congresswoman Val Demings, of Florida. ‘Attorney General Barr’s past performance was to mislead the American people (about the Mueller Report) in order to cover up wrongdoing by the president. Why shouldn’t we believe that’s exactly what he’s doing now?'”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Attorney General William Barr ‘deeply damaged the rule of law’ through his handling of the Roger Stone case, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took aim Thursday at Attorney General William P. Barr, accusing him of having ‘deeply damaged the rule of law’ by withdrawing the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s longtime friend and associate, Roger Stone. ‘What a sad disappointment to our country,’ Pelosi said of Barr, who Trump nominated to lead the Justice Department in late 2018. ‘The American people deserve better.’ She called on Republicans in the Senate to speak out and launch a probe into the matter. ‘This all must be investigated,’ she said. ‘The American people must have confidence in our nation’s system of impartial justice.'”

The New York City bar goes after Attorney General William Barr, The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “In a rare act of public challenge to the Trump administration, the New York City bar has written a remarkable letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz as well as the chairs and ranking minority-party members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees — Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The letter begins: We write to express our deep concerns about the impartial administration of justice in connection with the prosecution of Roger Stone in federal court in Washington, D.C., and to call for immediate investigations by Congress and by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Recent actions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, a component of the United States Department of Justice, raise serious questions about whether the Department of Justice is making prosecutorial decisions based not on neutral principles but in order to protect President Trump’s supporters and friends. In our criminal justice system, a single standard must apply to all who are accused or convicted of violating the law — unequal treatment based on political influence is to be deplored in all cases but is especially dangerous if it emanates from the presidency.”

Trump suggests Roger Stone’s jury forewoman had ‘significant bias,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Spencer S. Hsu, and Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “President Trump on Thursday suggested that the forewoman of the federal jury that heard the case against his friend Roger Stone had ‘significant bias,’ his latest intervention ahead of Stone’s scheduled sentencing next week. ‘Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias,’ Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the ‘Justice’ Department.'”

Michael Bloomberg once blamed the end of ‘redlining’ for the 2008 financial collapse, Associated Press, Brian Slodysko, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “At the height of the 2008 economic collapse, then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the elimination of a discriminatory housing practice known as ‘redlining’ was responsible for instigating the meltdown. ‘It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone,’ Bloomberg, now a Democratic presidential candidate, said at a forum that was hosted by Georgetown University in September 2008. ‘Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, People in these neighborhoods are poor, they’re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell your salesmen don’t go into those areas.’ He continued: ‘And then Congress got involved — local elected officials, as well — and said, “Oh that’s not fair, these people should be able to get credit.” And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like.'” See also, Michael Bloomberg Once Linked the 2008 Financial Crisis to the End of Redlining Bias in Home Loans, The New York Times, Matt Stevens, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Michael R. Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor of New York City, drew criticism on Thursday over newly surfaced comments from the height of the 2008 financial crisis in which he said that the end of redlining, a discriminatory housing practice, had helped contribute to the economic collapse. Mr. Bloomberg has increasingly faced scrutiny over his record on race, including earlier this week after the re-emergence of remarks he made in 2015 about stop-and-frisk policing, a tactic that his administration used disproportionately against black people and Latinos and that he defended for years. His comments about redlining, first reported by The Associated Press, referred to a practice under which banks discriminated against people of color seeking to borrow money to afford homes, and specific neighborhoods were for decades marked off by red lines on maps and subsequently starved of investment.” See also, Senator Elizabeth Warren Says Michael Bloomberg Shouldn’t Be the Democratic Nominee for President, Citing His Redlining Remarks, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Lisa Lerer, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Thursday that Michael R. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic presidential nominee because of newly surfaced comments he made 12 years ago in which he said the end of a discriminatory housing practice had helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis. Ms. Warren’s comments, made at an event here in Northern Virginia, were a strikingly direct broadside against a rival as she tries to reignite enthusiasm for her campaign after her fourth-place finish in New Hampshire this week. ‘A video just came out yesterday in which Michael Bloomberg is saying, in effect, that the 2008 financial crash was caused because the banks weren’t permitted to discriminate against black and brown people,’ Ms. Warren told a crowd of supporters packed into a high school gymnasium. ‘That crisis would not have been averted if the banks had been able to be bigger racists. And anyone who thinks that should not be the leader of our party.'”

Why Is Bloomberg’s Long History of Egregious Sexism Getting a Pass? GQ, Laura Bassett, 13 February 2020: “In December 2015, employees at Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control organization funded by Mike Bloomberg, arrived at work to find a holiday gift on their desks from their employer: the former mayor’s 1997 autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg. Flipping through the book, staffers found themselves uncomfortably reading their billionaire founder’s boasts about keeping ‘a girlfriend in every city’ and other womanizing exploits as a Wall Street up-and-comer. ‘A few people started immediately going through it and sending the cringe-iest parts around on email chains,’ one former Everytown employee told me. ‘Hardly the most controversial things he’s said, but it’s still a bad look.’ Indeed, Bloomberg’s casual boasts about his sex life in his own autobiography are now some of the least problematic parts of his candidacy for president. In recent days, the former New York City mayor’s track record on race is undergoing renewed scrutiny: Bloomberg oversaw and expanded the racist and unconstitutional ‘stop and frisk’ program, and a newly unearthed video shows him blaming the end of a racially discriminatory housing practice known as ‘redlining’ for the 2008 economic recession. But it takes a telling amount of gall and cluelessness to gift a book with anecdotes about your own womanizing to employees at your gun safety non-profit in the year 2015, especially for a politician with presidential ambitions who has been vigorously denying allegations of misogyny throughout his entire career—including some 40 sex discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits brought against him and his organizations by 64 women over the past several decades.”

The Bloomberg Campaign Is a Waterfall of Cash, The New York Times, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The billionaire has deployed his corporation in service of his presidential bid, producing slick events and recruiting staff members with unusually high pay and other perks.”

Trump Administration to Divert Billions From Pentagon to Fund Border Wall, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The Pentagon plans to divert $3.8 billion intended for military equipment to the construction of a wall at the southwestern border, it informed lawmakers on Thursday, drawing bipartisan outrage and reviving a long-running battle with Congress over funding for President Trump’s signature campaign promise. The formal notification to Congress on Thursday, which was obtained by The New York Times, was the latest bid by Mr. Trump’s administration to circumvent congressional control of federal spending and unilaterally seize funds that lawmakers had designated for other purposes to finance the construction of the wall. The move came on the same day that Mr. Trump confirmed that the national emergency he had declared almost exactly a year ago to allow him to take money Congress had allocated for other purposes and spend it on the border wall would remain in place for another year. The Pentagon’s decision to divert funds was greeted on Thursday with criticism by a few prominent members of Mr. Trump’s party, who joined Democrats in saying the president’s team had overstepped its constitutional authority by second-guessing congressional spending decisions.” See also, Pentagon to shift $3.8B designated for fighter planes and ships toward Trump’s border wall, Politico, Connor O’Brien and Caitlin Emma, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The Trump administration plans to sap money intended to build fighter jets, ships, vehicles and National Guard equipment in order to fund barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon told Congress on Thursday, a move that has agitated Democrats and even drawn condemnation from a top House Republican. The surprise reprogramming of another $3.8 billion, transmitted to Congress and provided to POLITICO, means the Pentagon will have forked over nearly $10 billion since last year to help pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall. The shift in funding marks a new phase for the administration, which until now had used money set for military construction and counterdrug operations and not combat equipment.” See also, Pentagon to divert $3.8 billion from its budget to build more of Trump’s border barrier, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne and Nick Miroff, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The Department of Defense is diverting $3.83 billion from elsewhere in its budget to build more of President Trump’s border barrier, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post, setting in motion a White House plan to take some $7.2 billion from the Pentagon budget this year for the project as Trump heads into the presidential election.” See also, Trump to Raid Pentagon’s War Account to Build Border Wall, Foreign Policy, Lara Seligman, Thursday, 13 February 2020. See also, Trump Administration to Repurpose $3.8 Billion in Military Funds for Border Security. Democrats criticize the transfer as an attempt to bypass Congress’s appropriation authority. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren and Michelle Hackman, Thursday, 13 February 2020.

House Votes to Extend Deadline to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “House Democrats on Thursday moved to enshrine the decades-old Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution, reviving a long-simmering cultural debate over whether the nation’s founding charter should guarantee equal rights to all citizens regardless of sex. But the vote, to extend a deadline for ratification that expired in 1982, was largely symbolic. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has said he is ‘not a supporter’ of the measure — known as the E.RA. — and is highly unlikely to take it up in the Senate. And the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a longtime supporter of the E.R.A. who spent her early years as a lawyer fighting for its passage, may have delivered a death knell to the effort this week, when she urged supporters to set aside their long-running campaign for ratification and start over. ‘I would like to see a new beginning,’ Justice Ginsburg said during an event at the Georgetown University Law Center on Monday. ‘I’d like it to start over. There’s too much controversy about latecomers.'” See also, U.S. House removes the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), one obstacle to enactment, The Washington Post, Patricia Sullivan, Thursday 13 February 2020. See also, House passes bill to revive Equal Rights Amendment, Politico, Eleanor Mueller and Alice Miranda Ollstein, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “House action on Thursday inched the U.S. closer to enshrining gender equality in the Constitution — but a daunting maze of legislative and legal obstacles still stands in the way.” See also, House votes to eliminate Equal Rights Amendment ratification deadline, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Thursday, 13 February 2020. See also, House Votes to Revive Equal Rights Amendment, Removing the Ratification Deadline, NPR, Danielle Kurtzleben, Thursday, 13 February 2020.

Former Chief of Staff John Kelly Finally Lets Loose on Trump, The Atlantic, Peter Nicholas, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council aide and impeachment witness President Donald Trump fired Friday, was just doing his job, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told students and guests at a Drew University event here Wednesday night. Over a 75-minute speech and Q&A session, Kelly laid out, in the clearest terms yet, his misgivings about Trump’s words and actions regarding North Korea, illegal immigration, military discipline, Ukraine, and the news media…. Vindman was rightly disturbed by Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, Kelly suggested: Having seen something ‘questionable,’ Vindman properly notified his superiors, Kelly said. Vindman, who specialized in Ukraine policy at the National Security Council at the time, was among multiple U.S. officials who listened in on the call. When subpoenaed by Congress in the House impeachment hearings, Vindman complied and told the truth, Kelly said.” See also, Former White House chief of staff John Kelly takes issue with Trump for ousting Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, among other things, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Former White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly laid bare an array of misgivings Wednesday night about President Trump’s policies and actions, including his ouster of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council aide and impeachment witness. Vindman, who raised concerns about a July phone call in which Trump pressed Ukraine’s leader for investigations that could benefit him politically, ‘did exactly what we teach them to do,’ Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, told an audience at the Drew University Forum lecture series in Morristown, N.J. Over the course of 75 minutes of remarks and questions and answers, Kelly, who left the White House early last year, also defended the news media, questioned Trump’s handling of North Korea, criticized Trump for intervening in a military justice case and took issue with his descriptions of immigrants, according to accounts in the Atlantic and local news media that were confirmed by a person with knowledge of the event.” See also, Trump Fights Back After John Kelly Defends Alexander Vindman, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Eileen Sullivan, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “John F. Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, expressed support for one of the key impeachment witnesses whom President Trump abruptly fired last week, drawing a swift response from the president, who tweeted Thursday morning that Mr. Kelly ‘misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut.’ Mr. Kelly said in a speech Wednesday evening that Lt. Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, an expert on Ukraine for the National Security Council removed from his post last week, was right to raise questions about a telephone call with the president of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressed for investigations of his political rivals. ‘He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,’ Mr. Kelly said. ‘He went and told his boss of what he just heard. We teach them: ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then you’ll tell your boss.’”

Jessie Liu resigns from Treasury after pulled nomination, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The US attorney whose nomination for a top Treasury Department job was yanked because she ran the office that oversaw Roger Stone’s prosecution has resigned, an administration official tells CNN. Jessie Liu, who previously headed the US attorney’s office in Washington, submitted her resignation to the Treasury Department, effective Wednesday evening. She went to the Treasury Department with the intention of filling a Senate-confirmed position, which is no longer available after her nomination was withdrawn earlier Wednesday, the official said. The revoked nomination — paired with the mass withdrawal of the career prosecutors from Stone’s case on Tuesday — punctuated a stunning cascade of developments set into motion on Monday.” See also, Jessie Liu, ex-U.S. attorney who oversaw Roger Stone case, resigns from Trump administration, NBC News, Peter Alexander and Dareh Gregorian, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “The former U.S. attorney whose office oversaw the Roger Stone prosecution resigned from the Trump administration Wednesday, two days after President Donald Trump abruptly withdrew her nomination for a top job at the Treasury Department. Jessie Liu had headed the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., which oversaw several cases that originated with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including prosecutions of longtime Trump associate Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Liu was moved from the U.S. attorney’s office after Trump nominated her to serve as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, a top position overseeing economic sanctions.”

Ex-Trump aide John McEntee to lead White House office of personnel, Axios, Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “John McEntee, President Trump’s former body man who was fired by former chief of staff John Kelly over security clearance issues and recently returned to the West Wing, is expected to lead the Presidential Personnel Office, according to two sources with direct knowledge. Trump has increasingly become furious with what he sees as a federal government full of ‘never-Trumpers.’ Administration officials tell Axios Trump feels he’s surrounded by snakes and wants to clear out all the disloyal people. Trump sees McEntee as the ultimate loyalist, and he has assigned him the powerful role of picking personnel across the federal government.” See also, Ex-Trump Aide John McEntee Is Expected to Return to the White House, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, published on Saturday, 14 December 2020. See also, Trump installs loyalists in top jobs after impeachment purge, Politico, Meridith McGraw, Nancy Cook, and Daniel Lippman, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “President Donald Trump is surrounding himself with loyalists after a week of banishing staffers across the government in a post-impeachment revenge plot. On Thursday, the White House confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s most trusted confidants, will return to the White House to work directly for the president’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser after nearly two years away. Trump’s ‘body man’ Johnny McEntee is also being promoted to run the office responsible for filling hundreds of top political jobs throughout the federal agencies, according to three senior administration officials, replacing Sean Doocey, who will move over to the State Department.”

North Dakota Tribes Score Key Voting Rights Victory, The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “North Dakota officials have reached a settlement with two Native American tribes over the state’s restrictive voter identification law. The settlement, announced on Thursday, includes a legally binding consent decree to ensure that Native American voters are not disenfranchised. It is a major victory for the tribes and — pending formal approval by tribal councils — will resolve two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law, which requires voters to show an ID with a residential address. Many Native American reservations do not use traditional addresses, and the law — which the Republican-controlled North Dakota Legislature passed shortly after a Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp, won a close Senate race in 2012 with strong support from Native Americans — meant they could not vote with an ID that listed a post office box as an address. Ms. Heitkamp was defeated by Kevin Cramer, a Republican, in 2018.”

Nevada Culinary Union will not endorse a 2020 presidential candidate, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “Nevada’s most influential labor union announced Thursday that it would not endorse a candidate ahead of the state’s Democratic presidential caucuses next week, following other prominent groups that have struggled to decide which Democrat is best positioned to take on President Trump. The Culinary Union, which represents 60,000 hotel and casino workers across Nevada and is considered an organizing behemoth in Democratic politics here, said it would instead flex its power to get its members out to vote in the caucuses. The decision came after months of aggressive courting from candidates eager to win the support of the politically powerful group, whose endorsement has long been viewed as a major advantage in mobilizing Latinos and women, who make up most of its membership and have been a decisive political force in the state.”

Judge Halts Work on Microsoft’s JEDI Contract, a Victory for Amazon, The New York Times, Kate Conger, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “A federal judge in Washington ordered Microsoft on Thursday to halt all work on a $10 billion cloud-computing contract for the Pentagon, in a victory for Amazon, which had challenged the awarding of the contract. In a sealed opinion, the judge, Patricia E. Campbell-Smith of the Court of Federal Claims, ordered work to stop on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI, until Amazon’s legal challenge was resolved. The 10-year contract was one of the largest tech contracts from the Pentagon, and Microsoft was set to begin work on it this month. The decision adds to the acrimony surrounding the lucrative deal, which was a major prize in the technology industry, and ratchets up the legal battle around the transformation of the military’s cloud-computing systems. Amazon had been seen as a front-runner to win the JEDI contract, but the Department of Defense awarded it to Microsoft in October. Amazon protested and said the process had been unfair. The internet giant claimed that President Trump had interfered in the bidding for the contract because of his feud with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and owner of The Washington Post. The Post has aggressively covered the Trump administration, and the president has referred to the newspaper as the ‘Amazon Washington Post’ and accused it of spreading ‘fake news.'”

Trump to headline a $580,600-per-couple fundraiser, the most expensive of his reelection bid, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Thursday, 13 February 2020: “President Trump will be the guest of honor at a Saturday fundraiser at the palatial Palm Beach estate of billionaire Nelson Peltz. Trump’s fellow guests: donors who gave $580,600 per couple to support the president’s reelection, making it the most expensive such fundraising event since Trump took office. The dinner, taking place just a few miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, shows how enthusiastically Trump has embraced big-dollar fundraising in his bid for a second term — a dramatic about-face from 2016, when he criticized the influence of wealthy donors on the politicians who court them. It also shows the special access enjoyed by many of Trump’s wealthiest donors, including business executives and lobbyists, who get the chance to air their grievances with the president’s tariffs or promote their pet projects, often while dining on Trump’s favorite foods.”