US Politics in Trump era
President Donald Trump will head to West Virginia on Wednesday to deliver remarks at a fundraiser hosted by coal baron Bob Murray, underscoring the close relationship the coal industry has with the White House even as the industry steadily declines. The fundraiser comes in the middle of another turbulent month for coal, with Blackhawk Mining the latest company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Earlier this year, following his bungled roll-out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in 2016, Attorney General William Barr claimed he had “no objection” to Mueller testifying before Congress. Now, Barr has changed his tune.
The Trump administration is seeking to dramatically escalate federal penalties for pipeline protesters. Under newly proposed changes, pipeline protesters could face up to 20 years in prison for disrupting the construction of oil and gas infrastructure. The move echoes similarly harsh penalties for anti-pipeline activists being adopted in several states.
The Trump administration informed a federal appeals court on Monday night that it would no longer defend the Affordable Care Act after a judge in Texas declared that the entire law must be struck down. The judge, Reed O’Connor, is a former Republican Senate staffer with a history of striking down policies opposed by conservatives. O’Connor’s opinion is widely viewed as ridiculous, even by conservative legal scholars and health policy experts.
The White House released its 2020 budget proposal on Monday, proposing more than $1 trillion in cuts to the popular programs Medicare and Medicaid and giving insight into what the executive branch would do if Congress didn’t control the federal government’s pocketbook. The most notable cut comes out of Medicaid, a health program for people who are low-income or have a disability, which Trump proposes cutting by more than $700 billion over 10 years.
“The Democrats hate Jewish people,” President Donald Trump reportedly told Republican National Committee donors on Friday night at Mar-a-Lago. Phones were sealed away in magnetic bags at the closed-door event, but Axios reported on what members of the audience heard.
Let’s start this column off with a bold assertion. Paying lawmakers good salaries is one of our country’s most important progressive reforms because it means that they don’t have to be wealthy to serve. High congressional pay is a safeguard against corruption, not a sign of it.
In the latest example of Russian officials rubbing elbows with members of the American right, a newly emerged photo shows Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson standing alongside a key employee of sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev.
Last month, a new leak site called Distributed Denial of Secrets went live, compiling a cache of hacked emails and documents of Russian officials, confidants of sanctioned Russian oligarchs, and those steering Russian interference efforts. Among the revelations: A higher-up at the Bradley Foundation, one of the main financiers of right-wing groups in the U.S. — including the Daily Caller News Foundation and anti-immigrant organizations — apparently attended a notorious “pro-family” conference in Russia in 2014, held shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
In the first congressional hearing at which Native members of Congress were present, Democratic representatives on Tuesday heard directly from Native American communities that are being devastated by the ongoing partial government shutdown, which this week became the longest in U.S. history.
Nowhere in an 1,800-word executive order to address forest management and wildfires — quietly issued on Friday — does President Donald Trump draw a connection between climate change and increased wildfire risk. Instead, critics say it looks like a potential handout to the logging industry. The executive order, titled “Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands, and other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk,” calls on the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to reduce “regulatory barriers” to getting rid of “hazardous fuels” that contribute to wildfires.
For months, Donald Trump and his fellow right-wing extremists have adamantly insisted that Flynn is innocent, the victim of a partisan witch hunt who would ultimately be exonerated and expose the entire Russia investigatory apparatus as a fraud. Flynn’s own lawyers argued as much in their sentencing memo, suggesting that the FBI acted inappropriately in failing to adequately disclose that lying to federal agents was a crime. As recently as Tuesday morning, bloviators on Fox News were convinced that Judge Sullivan would use his judicial discretion and toss out the entire case.
Hobby Lobby is the single most significant court victory ever achieved by America’s religious right. Before Hobby Lobby, religious conservatives could not wield their faith to undercut the rights of other people. After Hobby Lobby conservative religious objections may be used to narrow the rights of third-parties. Yet a passage in Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion for the Court in Hobby Lobby could — or at least, should — take on an entirely unexpected significance after Reed O’Connor, a partisan operative turned federal judge, struck down the entire Affordable Care Act on Friday in a case called Texas v. United States.
Republicans across the country are undermining voters, with lame duck legislatures aiming to strip power from incoming Democratic governors, threatening not to seat a state senator-elect in Pennsylvania, and refusing to implement a ballot initiative in Utah.
Trump-owned and branded properties cashed in during the midterm elections, according to a CNN analysis which found that campaigns and outside groups spent at least $3.2 million at the hotels and resorts. The CNN analysis of Federal Election Commission data found that the Republican National Committee was the biggest customer, spending at least $1.2 million at Trump-branded properties since the beginning of 2017.
Seniors in rural Georgia were dancing in the street, preparing to board Black Voters Matter‘s bus to cast their ballots on the first day of Georgia’s early voting period. But the 40 or so African American senior citizens were told to get off the bus, an act organizers described as “live voter suppression.”
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie assured lawmakers at a hearing last month that the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” as it’s known within the agency, doesn’t set policy. But emails published by ProPublica tell a different story.
The New York Times published a lengthy investigative report on Tuesday accusing President Donald Trump of participating in “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.” Despite his many 2016 campaign promises to eventually release his tax returns, he refuses to do so, and the public is still in the dark about his personal finances. Now, thanks to a vote last month by the 21 Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee, those tax returns are unlikely to come to light in the foreseeable future. Those Republicans voted to keep the president’s tax returns hidden.
It’s objectively unprecedented for the Senate to be provided such a small fraction of the documents related to a Supreme Court nominee’s past work, as in the case of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. During Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) caught Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in an apparent lie about why that is.
Last month, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach barely squeaked past Gov. Jeff Colyer in a contentious and scandal-ridden Republican gubernatorial primary. He’ll face Democratic nominee Laura Kelly, a state senator. And while Kansas is as reliably red a state as they come, Kobach will now have to campaign in a general election while under grand jury investigation.
Environmental groups caught the Department of the Interior trying to sell off part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, despite a pledge by Secretary Ryan Zinke never to put public lands up for sale After massive backlash from environmental groups and the public, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) late Friday canceled all plans to sell off the land.
On the heels of former Trump campaign and White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman saying she’s heard tape of President Trump using the N-word, Trump’s allies have taken to the cable news networks to defend his reputation. But there’s one big problem — because they’ve signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), even if they have heard Trump using a racial slur, they’re legally prohibited from saying so.
States purged more than 16 million voters from the rolls between 2014 and 2016. That number, calculated in a new report published Friday by the Brennan Center for Justice, is a significant increase from previous years and an indication that large numbers of eligible voters are likely being disenfranchised by inaccurate and unlawful voter roll maintenance. The report comes just a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohio’s voter purge system, clearing the way for more states to move forward with the types of purges that disproportionately impact low-income and minority voters.
President Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers Tuesday, firing a new salvo in a complicated culture war previously marked by air-mailed sex toys, nuanced disputes over the management of public lands, and a police shootout that killed a would-be leader of a modern crackpot revolution. But the details of Trump’s move indicate he is less interested in reversing an unjust sentence than he is in giving a thinly-veiled “attaboy” to a small group of heavily armed chaos agents who seek to undermine the federal government’s proper role in managing public lands all across the western U.S.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said that the deficit is “coming down rapidly” in a Friday morning appearance on Fox Business.The problem for President Trump’s top economic adviser is that the deficit is actually rising.
Priebus joins a long list of former Trump administration officials and staffers who have found lucrative work providing “strategic advice” to clients looking to make good with the administration. While President Trump promised to “drain the swamp” by prohibiting former administration officials from “lobbying activities,” many have found creative work-arounds.
Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in an effort to stop plans to allow mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota. These ares of land were set to be banned to industry activities under the Obama administration.
The whole interview is worth reading in full to understand its striking lack of detail. Kushner makes no mention of Israeli settlements, the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, or the 61 Palestinians in Gaza who Israeli forces killed that day for peacefully protesting. Kushner did not say anything about the right of return for Palestinian refugees or returning to the 1967 lines as borders for a future Palestinian state. He did not criticize Israel or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at all.
House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon blocked an effort by Democrats to increase funding for the agency’s watchdog, which is tasked with investigating the many scandals surrounding agency administrator Scott Pruitt. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has in recent months seen an increased workload due to the more than a dozen investigations launched into Pruitt’s spending and management decisions during his first year as administrator.
Lying to Congress is a crime even if you are not under oath. Federal law prohibits making false statements to Congress. Trump Jr, during questioning before the Senate Intelligence Committee was asked about contacts with foreign nationals seeking to assist the campaign — and his testimony may now come back to haunt him.
The Supreme Court held on Monday that employers can force their employees to sign away many of their rights to sue their employers. As a practical matter, Monday’s decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis will enable employers to engage in small-scale wage theft with impunity, so long as they spread the impact of this theft among many employees.
Just one day after Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the agency did not have plans “at present” to target California’s special fuel economy waiver, the Trump administration announced that it would be putting a six-year hold on Obama-era standards for fuel efficiency, starting in 2020, while at the same time revoking California’s waiver to set its own standards.
More than just an ideologically radical opinion, Judge Ho’s dissent from the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision not to rehear Zimmerman v. City of Austin is a monument to conservative political rhetoric and right-wing historical myths. It’s the sort of commentary one would expect to find in an especially strident political magazine — perhaps one of the publications one of Ho’s current law clerks used to write for. It is emphatically not the sort of writing one expects to find in a judicial opinion.
Upon entering the White House, Jared Kushner divested the property only in the most technical sense. He “sold” the assets to his brother and a trust controlled by his mother. A lawyer described the transaction to the New York Times as a “shell game.” Now, with Kushner ensconced as a senior adviser in the White House, someone has emerged to bail him and his family out of this mess. The identity of Kushner’s white knight is a mystery.
The steel and aluminum industries in China will soon be slapped with tariffs up to $50 billion by President Donald Trump. On Thursday, after China announced their intentions to retaliate against the United States with $50 billion in tariffs of their own against U.S. goods, Trump warned that his administration would respond with another set of tariffs, this time targeting $100 billion worth of Chinese goods. Exempt from the proposed tariffs against China, however, is the clothing manufacturing industry.
One of the biggest concerns is that the commission is considering rolling back Obama administration guidance on school discipline that discouraged officers from disciplining students and pushed for more positive and less punitive responses to student behavior. In other words, the federal government will undo the Obama administration’s work to keep students in school and out of the criminal justice system.
As director of the National Economic Council, Kudlow will have a sizable influence on U.S. economic policy, including issues related to energy as well as domestic and international climate policies. Cohn, in his tenure as director, worked to keep the Trump administration from leaving the Paris climate agreement. Kudlow, with his history of climate denial, is unlikely to be similarly concerned with climate action.
Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports.
On Thursday night, the New York Times reported that President Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June. Trump ordered White House counsel Donald F. McGahn to oust Mueller, but backed down when McGahn threatened to resign. Trump, however, has publicly denied even considering firing Mueller.
The fact that Schumer was willing to bend so much on funding for the wall is a sign of how much negotiating Democrats were willing to do, contrary to the insistence by Trump and most Republicans that the blame for the shutdown rests entirely on the shoulders of Schumer and the Democratic party.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, claimed that she couldn’t remember what word Trump used to describe Haiti and African countries in an Oval Office meeting last week. According to Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin, Trump derided those nations as “shithole countries.”
After bonus announcement, Walmart fires thousands of co-managers, replaces them with cheaper workers
After Walmart’s flashy announcement of bonuses of up to $1,000 for some of its workers, the real story played out quietly.On Wednesday, as news of the bonus announcement was lauded by Trump and Fox News, Walmart abruptly closed down 63 Sam’s Clubs stores. More than 9,000 people lost their jobs. Some only learned about the decision when they showed up to work and found the doors locked.
At least two major companies that publicly announced large bonuses for their employees after the passage of a massive GOP-led tax overhaul — which represented a windfall for wealthy Americans and big corporations — quietly laid off hundreds of workers at the same time. Comcast laid off more than 500 sales employees right before Christmas, AT&T is also in the process of laying off thousands of employees,
During the Obama administration, the federal government took action to prevent another Deepwater Horizon-sized oil spill, widely viewed as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. After taking office, the Trump administration immediately began making plans to relax certain offshore drilling rules implemented after the 2010 disaster.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that he would rescind 25 Justice Department guidance documents on a variety of topics aimed at protecting marginalized communities. The documents — many of which were released during the Obama administration — include procedures to help eliminate fees against juvenile offenders, standards outlining discrimination protections for disabled individuals and for people seeking U.S. citizenship, and an overview of housing discrimination practices.
Trump insisted his assault on government programs would not have any negative ramifications. “We’re going to be doing smart budget cuts, budget cuts that will make it just as good or better than it is right now but for a lot less money,” he vowed. Congress has not yet enacted his massive budget cuts, but that has not stopped the administration from dispatching a team of domestic policy aides to push for cuts, unilateral executive actions, and conservative actions across the federal government.
Corker, the lone hold out on the Republican Tax policy, changes his vote last minute. Corker made his announcement two hours before the text of the tax bill was made public. In the 503-page text was a new provision that was not in the House or Senate legislation. It would specifically benefit real estate investors who operate “pass-through” businesses. This group includes President Trump — and also Bob Corker, who “has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit” from the new provision.
Republicans in Congress are openly admitting they plan to use their tax reform bill to justify slashing funding for essential social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps. The bill — which is expected to balloon the national deficit by at least $1 trillion, and which only benefits the country’s wealthiest in the long-term — has not yet been reconciled or signed.
According to Trump’s own tweet, he would have known Flynn had lied to the FBI at the time Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, assuring him Flynn had done nothing wrong. On Twitter, Matthew Miller, a former Department of Justice official, echoes that Trump’s new version of events indicates an effort to obstruct Comey’s investigation.
Kellyanne Conway appeared Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends in her capacity as a White House official, but weighed in on the Alabama special election. Doing so appears to violate federal law, according to several legal experts and former ethics officials who served in previous administrations.
The project in Azerbaijan has been tied to allegations of money laundering from the Azeri dictatorship and those close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; the project in Panama has been tied to allegations of money laundering from South American drug cartels. In both instances, the Trumps apparently ignored clear signs of the corruption and money laundering drenching Ivanka’s pet projects.
Robert Mercer, the billionaire that has funded Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos, resigned from his role as CEO of the quant hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, according to the New York Times. Mercer’s resignation came just two weeks after ThinkProgress revealed 12 nonprofits, universities, and public retirement funds had invested millions of dollars into the hedge fund, noting that their investments were helping fund white nationalism.
Until Monday, there was no evidence that Trump knew about any campaign contacts with Russians or their intermediaries. But tucked away in the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos is a piece of information that undermines Trump’s February statement and draws him more directly into the scandal. According to Papadopoulos, when he attended a March 31, 2016 campaign national security meeting he told the small group, which included President Trump, that he had ongoing communications with Russians that would allow him to facilitate a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin.
On an otherwise regular morning in mid-August, viewers in Providence, Rhode Island were treated to a segment called Behind the Headlines with Mark Hyman, which immediately followed the local weather report. Hyman’s segment, which runs daily between a minute and a half and two minutes long, is one of several must-run “news” segments that spread misinformation, echo Trump administration talking points, and function as nationalist and right-wing propaganda.
President Donald Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White, a fringe player in the climate debate who promotes the idea that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for humanity, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality on Thursday. Hartnett White, a senior fellow and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the fossil-fuel funded Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), has questioned the scientific consensus that human activities are the major driver of catastrophic climate change. She has described efforts to combat climate change as primarily an attack on the fossil fuel industry.
Justice Don Willett is charming. Best known outside legal circles for his Twitter feed, @JusticeWillett, the Texas Supreme Court justice — and now a Trump nominee to a federal appeals court — tweets largely apolitical commentary about Calvin and Hobbes, his children, and Oxford commas. This would all be well and good, if not for one other factor. This charming, intelligent, knowledgeable man also wants to dismantle much of the last 80 years of American law.
By meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Moscow appears to have initially aimed to plant Donald Trump in the White House. But as signs toward the end of the campaign pointed to Trump’s defeat, actors in Russia were primarily trying to hamstring Hillary Clinton’s perceived ascension to the presidency.
To make his case, Perry has fabricated an economic threat to U.S. grid reliability from cheap renewables and then proposed a rule to account for the imaginary reliability benefit of other electricity sources — all the while ignoring the actual health and environmental costs of carbon pollution from burning coal that aren’t priced in to the market yet.
During a White House briefing on Thursday, chief White House economic adviser Gary Cohn tried to defend President Trump’s claim that his tax plan will not benefit him. It did not go well. “Based on what we know, what little we know about [Trump’s] finances, he’d get a big cut on the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax], I think he’d save something like $31 million. On pass-through income, he’d save $16.5 million, he’d obviously save a lot not paying the estate tax, his heirs would — so how can you say that this is not a plan that would help him?” a reporter asked.
The U.S. House of Representatives quietly passed a spending bill on Thursday that could transform churches and other houses of worship into entities more closely resembling SuperPACs.
During a news briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the administration’s case for prosecuting former FBI Director James Comey from the White House podium. In making the comments, Sanders is disregarding what was previously an important ethical standard — that the Justice Department has prosecutorial independence. The idea is that the Justice Department should decide who to prosecute based on a unbiased application of the law, not political pressure from the White House. This is something that neither Sanders or her boss seem to value.
In a Friday night news dump, the White House announced that President Donald Trump Plans to nominate Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), a climate science denier to be administrator of NASA. Bridenstine is a politician without any scientific credentials, unlike previous NASA chiefs, and for that reason his nomination has already been criticized by both Florida’s senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D), Politico reports. Rubio said, “I just think [his nomination] could be devastating for the space program.”
A defamation lawsuit filed by longtime Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler against the network alleges that President Trump was directly involved in concocting a fake story intended to undercut the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian hackers waged cyberattacks against Democratic targets to help him get elected.
The House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve a large spending bill for fiscal year 2018 that slashes clean energy spending and approves keeping fossil fuel research at current levels.
A leaked draft study of the electric grid requested by Energy Secretary Rick Perry found that federal energy efficiency policies are in the process of saving U.S. consumers and businesses more than a half trillion dollars. Meanwhile, the new administration is halting energy efficiency policies and gutting funding for energy efficiency improvements for American homes. Perry’s department is currently being sued by 11 states for stalling efficiency mandates for air conditioners and other high-energy products.
This week, the Trump administration defied its “America First” rhetoric with a policy change that would make it easier for companies to hire guest workers from foreign countries. The Trump Organization is already poised to benefit from it. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security raised the cap on H-2B visas for foreign guest workersfrom 66,000 visas per year to 81,000. On Thursday — just three days later — Trump’s properties told the Department of Labor that they wanted approval to hire 76 guest workers using those visas.
On Tuesday, the 8th person was identified: Irakly Kaveladze. Kaveladze, a U.S. citizen who was born in the former soviet republic of Georgia, currently works for the Agalarovs as a vice president of their family company, Crocus International. But Kaveladze also has a checkered history. An October 2000 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) accuses Kaveladze of being involved in a massive effort, over nearly 10 years, to launder $1.4 billion of Russian and Easter European money through U.S. banks.
President-elect Donald Trump raised eyebrows late last year when he named the head of an obscure right-wing think tank, with close ties to petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch, to lead his energy transition team. Since then, officials from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) have been appointed to high-level positions at the Department of Energy where they are playing major roles in implementing pro-fossil fuel, anti-renewable energy policies.
Republicans have gone to extreme lengths to help Trump. Acting on a request from the White House in February, the chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees — Devin Nunes (CA) and Richard Burr (NC) — “made calls to news organizations... in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives,” the Washington Post reported.
The Financial Times reported Thursday morning that Felix Sater, former business partner of President Donald Trump with deep ties to the Mafia and Russian government, is cooperating in an international investigation into an alleged money-laundering network. Sater has a history of channeling money from prominent families in the Eastern bloc into Trump properties. This could pose problems for Trump, given Sater’s history of outing former close associates in exchange for immunity.
Ahead of the G-20 summit, Japan and the European Union are expected to announce a trade deal on Thursday in yet another sign that President Donald Trump’s “America First” approach to trade and policy isn’t paying off. Creating a free trade area the size of North America, the deal will greatly expand global trade. Expected to lower barriers to the exportation of cars between Japan and the European bloc, the agreement will also reportedly allow for the import of trains and agricultural products to Japan specifically.
The Wall Street Journal published twoexplosive reports detailing the actions of Republican operative Peter W. Smith during last year’s presidential election. According to the WSJ, Smith was seeking to acquire stolen Hillary Clinton emails from Russian hackers. Smith told associates that he discussed his activities with a key member of the Trump campaign, Michael Flynn. Smith was a longtime supporter and confidant to Newt Gingrich, a key member of the Trump campaign. Smith died about 10 days after talking to the Wall Street Journal reporter Shane Harris. While there is no evidence of foul play, and Smith was 81 years old, the cause of his death is unknown and not discussed in his obituary.
The United States denied travel visas for six teenage girls from Afghanistan looking to attend an international robotics competition in Washington, D.C this month. The all-girl team from Herat, a city in western Afghanistan, applied for a one-week travel visa to attend the FIRST Global Challenge in mid-July. To interview for their visas, they had to travel about 500 miles to the U.S. embassy in Kabul. They made that trek a second time after their first application was rejected, but they were rejected yet again.
The new U.S. policy towards Iran includes regime change, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson was asked on Wednesday whether the United States supports regime change inside Iran. He replied in the affirmative, saying that U.S. policy is driven by relying on “elements inside of Iran” to bring about “peaceful transition of that government.”
“We have recently seen an attack on Iran, and the Iranian government, the mullahs, believe that Sunni forces have attacked them. This may signal a ratcheting up of certain commitments by the United States of America. As far as I’m concerned, I just want to make this point and see what you think, isn’t it a good thing for us to have the United States finally backing up Sunnis who will attack Hezbollah and the Shiite threat to us? Isn’t that a good thing? And if so, maybe this is a Trump — maybe it’s a Trump strategy of actually supporting one group against another, considering that you have two terrorist organizations.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was scheduled to testify publicly next Tuesday before the House and Senate appropriations committees. On Saturday, he abruptly canceled. In letters to the chairmen of the committees, Sessions writes that he will send his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, to the hearing instead. In explaining the cancellation, Sessions writes that he believed that members of the committees were planning on asking him about “issues related to the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.”
A federal judge has denied the Trump administration’s appeal in a climate change lawsuit, paving the way for the unprecedented suit to go to trial. The case — Juliana v. United States — pits a group of youth climate plaintiffs against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The plaintiffs allege that the federal government, through its actions and coordination with the fossil fuel industry, have violated their constitutional right to a livable climate. It is the first climate lawsuit to rely on a version of the public trust doctrine — known as atmospheric trust — to make its case, and adds to a growing number of attempts to force climate action through the judicial branch.
Less than 48 hours before former FBI Director James Comey’s testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and detailed a January dinner during which he claims President Trump asked him to pledge personal loyalty, two Republican members of committee dined with Trump at the White House. Those members — Marco Rubio (FL) and Tom Cotton (AL) — then spent Thursday’s hearing trying to exonerate Trump of wrongdoing
The Trump administration could soon give nearly all employers the ability to request an exemption to the birth control coverage mandate by citing religious or moral reasons, according to a leaked draft of the new rule obtained by Vox. “The extent that they’ve expanded the exception is pretty shocking,” Mara Gandal-Powers, Senior Counsel for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), told ThinkProgress. “They’ve really opened the door to countless numbers of women having birth control exempted from their insurance coverage.”
The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency ordered a halt on Wednesday to an Obama-era rule created to reduce methane leaks from new and modified oil and natural gas drilling wells. The action places a 90-day stay on portions of the rule, set in 2016, that requires oil and gas companies to detect and repair leaks of methane and other air pollution at new operations.
President Trump talked about governing with the language of business and was receptive only to concrete talking points, getting lost in theoretical discussions, based on interviews with Belgian officials and sources involved in the meeting. He seemed to have “no idea” about economic issues facing Belgium and knew “even less” about the importance of Belgian trade to the United States. And, when he did have an idea about issues facing the European Union — of which Brussels is the de facto capital — those ideas seemed formed entirely on his experience building golf courses, the paper said.
In this post, former FBI agent offers specific examples of when Trump and Paul Manafort, diverted attention from questions posed to them to fake news articles propagated by the Russians.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged $100 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Fund, an initiative proposed by first daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump. The fund, which was first announced in April, has already raised serious legal and ethical questions about how a White House adviser can both shape foreign policy and actively solicit donations from foreign countries for the fund.
The Trump administration’s attack on basic science continues apace, with rumors circulating that President Donald Trump will soon tap former campaign policy adviser and one-time conservative radio talk show host Sam Clovis to be the lead scientist at the Department of Agriculture. Trump will reportedly name Clovis to lead the USDA’s Research, Education and Economics division despite the fact that Clovis has no background in the hard sciences, as well as no demonstrable policy experience with either food or agriculture.
Plans to mine alongside Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay, where half the world’s salmon are fished, had appeared dead in the water in recent years. Not anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped a regulatory plan that would have protected Bristol Bay from the planned Pebble Mine, encouraging the project’s backers to seek permits and move forward.
Here’s a pro tip for the lawyers at Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department: If you want to defend the president’s efforts to lock people out of the nation because of their religion, you might not want to rely on discredited Supreme Court decisions enabling a racist backlash. Palmer v. Thompsonis one of the great missteps in the Supreme Court’s often unfortunate history on matters of race. This case centered on the city of Jackson, Mississippi’s operation of five racially segregated public swimming pools. After a court ordered the pools integrated, the city closed the pools rather than operating pools where people of all races could swim. And the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 vote, let Jackson get away with this scheme.
At an event in Beijing on Saturday, Nicole Kushner, the sister of White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, made a hard sell to wealthy Chinese investors to pour funds into the family’s new real estate development in New Jersey, according to The Washington Post. “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States,” a brochure for the event reportedly declared.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a notorious racist. He prosecuted a former aide to Martin Luther King, Jr. after the former aide helped black voters cast ballots. He once claimed that immigrants “create cultural problems.” When Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) claimed at Sessions’ most recent confirmation hearing that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Desiree A. Fairooz, a spectator who says she attended the hearing in silent protest, let out a chuckle. For this chuckle, she was arrested, dragged out of the hearing by Capitol police, and eventually convicted of disorderly conduct and “parading or demonstrating on Capitol grounds.” She could receive up to a year in prison.
President Trump echoed the language of an extreme, anti-government group during his speech to the NRA’s annual meeting on Friday, claiming that the next revolutionary war is coming if the government tries to regulate guns. He also borrowed heavily from a book about the American Revolution, using nearly identical language. Toward the end of his remarks, Trump shared the story of Paul Revere, a symbol of the American Revolution, and his “famous warning that ‘the British are coming.’” Like Revere, NRA members need to be “vigilant” against those who “would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties” and “abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump said.
Days after a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” added more plaintiffs, the House Oversight Committee is requesting the Trump Organization turn over documents detailing what processes Trump’s business has implemented, if any, to make sure the president isn’t profiting from foreign governments who want to curry favor with him.
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