The Wires

NAFTA No, NAFSA . North American Free Soccer Agreement. Washington Post: "The World Cup is returning to the United States, and this time, Mexico and Canada are along for the wild ride. A North American joint bid won the rights Wednesday to host the 2026 edition of the celebrated soccer tournament, defeating Morocco and bouncing back from an unfathomable U.S. defeat to Qatar in voting for the 2022 event eight years ago. The member associations in FIFA, the sport’s governing body, favored the North American effort, known as the United Bid, in a landslide vote, 134-65."

... Washington Post: "It was Justify’s moment, after all. In a dazzling display of power and durability, the late-blooming colt who didn’t race as a 2-year-old proved Saturday he couldn’t be worn out as a 3-year-old, thundering to victory in the Belmont Stakes to claim a place in history as the sport’s 13th Triple Crown champion. After a 37-year drought in which the feat seemed impossible, Justify became the second horse in four years to achieve it, tutored, like 2015 predecessor American Pharoah, by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1¾ lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski in a 10-horse field, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 1 /2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old. Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid."

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker on "The Americans." Mrs. McC Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the show's finale, & you plan to, see it before reading Gessen's post.

You may want to cut the sound on this video so you don't go nuts before you get to move overseas:

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I found this on a political Website, so that's my excuse. Juliana Gray in McSweeney's: "The Incel Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." It begins,

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou."

Read on. Incels, in case you don't know,  (a portmanteau of 'involuntary' and 'celibacy') are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual," according to Wikepedia.

New York Times: "A thousand-year-old English castle echoed with the exhortations of an African-American bishop and a gospel choir on Saturday, as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, an American actress, nudging the British royal family into a new era. Ms. Markle, who has long identified herself as a feminist, entered St. George’s Chapel alone rather than being given away by her father or any other man, a departure from tradition that in itself sent a message to the world. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, her future father-in-law and presumably the future king of Britain. Prince Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, has long called on Britain’s monarchy to draw closer to the daily life of its people. But the most extraordinary thing he has done is to marry Ms. Markle, an American actress who is three years his senior, biracial, divorced and vocal about her views. Their choices at Saturday’s wedding, many of them heavily influenced by black culture, made it clear that they plan to project a more inclusive monarchy.” ...

Serena Williams, at the When Harry Wed Meghan rites.... Anthony Lane of the New Yorker attended the nuptials & reports back: "Love, as warmly recommended by the preacher, held sway. The sole unpleasantness that crossed my path took the form of a burly fellow wearing a fascinator, with ripped jeans and mirrored shades: not an outfit that I will soon forget." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you are wondering what a "fascinator" is, so was I. There were hundreds of them worn to Windsor Saturday. It's a ridiculous thing that otherwise sensible women attach to their heads. We are not fascinated.

Shorter Wedding:

This is the WashPo's live coverage of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. You can supersize it:

The Guardian is posting updates re: the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. "The Queen has announced the titles given to the married couple. Prince Harry, or to give him his formal title, Prince Henry of Wales, has been made Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.So he will be His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and, once married, Meghan Markle will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex."

Josephine Livingstone of the New Republic reviews The President is Missing: "... there’s an ickiness to this book, and it lies in gender politics. It’s just not possible to engage with Bill Clinton as a public figure without thinking about his relationship with the 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky. America is undergoing a revision of its original interpretation of that incident, one in which people newly recognize her youth and her vulnerability. Wrong was done by her, and that is more widely understood. Clinton can’t expect readers not to think about that. And yet during the publicity tour for the book, he has responded to questions about Lewinsky with great churlishness. To boot, the book ends with the revelation that the villain all along was feminism." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This novel needed a woman's review. As for Livingstone's note about #MeToo revisionism, I was horrified by Bill's abuse of Lewinsky in real time. And I was equally horrified by Hillary's attempts to get her husband out of the jam of his own making. I didn't understand why I was nearly alone among liberals in what I found to be obvious abuses of power, but I now see it was blind partisanship, of a quality & quantity not different from stupid Trumpbot loyalty. I never thought Clinton should have been impeached; I thought he should have resigned.

Ha Ha. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker reviews the newly-published novel The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson. "Writing, like dying, is one of those things that should be done alone or not at all.... Bill Clinton, who can write, has hooked up with James Patterson, who can’t, but whose works have sold more than three hundred and seventy-five million copies, most of them to happy and contented customers for whom good writing would only get in the way." Lane runs down the plotline of this thriller, & he says the story includes "no sex'" even tho there as sexy female assassin (of course there is) who is after the fictional president. Lane goes out of his way to diss Patterson's writing. "Somehow, 'The President Is Missing' rises above its blithely forgivable faults. It’s a go-to read." Mrs. McC: Tho not by me.

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Tuesday
Jun192018

The Commentariat -- June 20, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Mike Bloomberg Has Had Enough. Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has decided to throw his political clout and personal fortune behind the Democratic campaign to take control of the House of Representatives this year, directing aides to spend tens of millions of dollars in an effort to expel Republicans from power. Mr. Bloomberg — a political independent who has championed left-of-center policies on gun control, immigration and the environment — has approved a plan to pour at least $80 million into the 2018 election, with the bulk of that money going to support Democratic congressional candidates, advisers to Mr. Bloomberg said."

Trump Blinks:

Update to All That. Maggie Haberman & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order that ends the separation of families by indefinitely detaining parents and children together at the border.... The order said that officials will continue to criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, but will seek to find or build facilities that can hold families — parents and children together — instead of separating them while their legal cases are considered by the courts. Mr. Trump’s executive order directed the government’s lawyers to ask for a modification of an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that currently prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention — even if they are with their parents — for more than 20 days. But it is unclear whether the court will agree to that request. If not, the president is likely to face an immediate legal challenge from immigration activists on behalf of families that are detained in makeshift facilities. Stories of children being taken from their parents and images of teenagers in cage-like detention facilities have exploded into a full-blown political crisis for Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers, who are desperate for a response to critics who have called the practice 'inhumane' and 'evil.'” ...

     ... Also, see especially P.D. Pepe's comment in today's thread on the Trumpaholics' praise-in for the Dear Leader. Mrs. McC: I heard part of that, too, & I was just as disgusted as was Pepe.

... ** Andrew Restuccia of Politico: "Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is working with White House lawyers to draft an executive action that will end the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant families at the border, according to a source familiar with the matter. The action will direct the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together and will instruct the Department of Defense to help house the families because many of the detention centers are at capacity, the source said... Donald Trump is expected to sign the action, the source added." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Which is ever so odd because way last Friday Trump said the family separation was all the fault of an unnamed Democratic law & he couldn't fix it with an executive order. ...

... Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Wednesday said he will sign 'something' intended to end his administration's controversial practice of separating children from their parents who illegally cross the southern border. 'I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that,' he told reporters at the White House. 'I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation I’m sure.'" ...

... Here's Trump blaming Democrats a short while ago. Also, ever so sadly, he's cancelling the White House's picnic for members of Congress, which was scheduled for tomorrow:

... Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC is saying there will be a signing ceremony at 2 pm ET. Mrs. McC: I have a doctor's appointment at that time & won't be back till late this afternoon, but will try to catch up then.

Garance Burke & Martha Mendoza of the AP: "Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three 'tender age' shelters in South Texas.... Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.... Decades after the nation’s child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is starting up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." ...

... ** Aura Bogado, et al., of the Texas Tribune: "Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in the past four years to private companies operating immigrant youth shelters accused of serious lapses in care, including neglect and sexual and physical abuse, an investigation by Reveal and The Texas Tribune has found. In nearly all cases, the federal government has continued to place migrant children with the companies even after serious allegations were raised and after state inspectors cited shelters with deficiencies, government and other records show.... Now this web of private facilities, cobbled together to support children with nowhere else to go, is beginning to hold a new population: the more than 2,000 children who arrived with their parents but were separated from them because of a Trump administration policy." Read on. This is an alarming report. ...

... Gus Bova of the Texas Observer: "In recent months, Texas officials have granted permission to at least 15 immigrant youth shelters to cram in more kids than their child-care licenses allow, according to records obtained by the Observer. Two shelters have been approved to hold almost 50 percent more children. The decisions come as the Trump administration separates more and more families at the border, funnelling children reportedly as young as 8 months into government shelters. A spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, John Reynolds, said the agency allows shelters to exceed capacity only after reviewing bedspace, the number of children to a bathroom, recreational space and fire inspection compliance. But child advocates argue that the decisions are likely straining staff, endangering children and amount to the state kowtowing to the federal government."

Michael Fuchs in the Guardian: "Trump's family separation policy is as damaging to America as Abu Ghraib.... America’s power comes from its values: freedom, the rule of law, respect for human rights.... The sounds of children crying in US jails while guards crack jokes are eerily evocative of US guards at Abu Ghraib posing smiling for pictures with naked Iraqi prisoners in humiliating positions.... Ripping children away from their family decimates America’s ability to hold accountable human rights abusers.... [The Trump policy] could also become a rallying cry for America’s adversaries. Like Abu Ghraib, the images of children in cages and the sounds of crying children make for powerful propaganda for anyone opposed to America – terrorist groups, authoritarian countries, and others who seek to paint a picture of an evil America."

Katie Rogers & Ken Vogel of the New York Times: "At the [Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump] spoke for an hour to 150 supporters — about half of whom were donors who paid $100,000 to $250,000 to attend a two-day summit meeting organized by America First Action, the 'super PAC' formed to support Mr. Trump and allied candidates.... Beyond the hotel’s walls, protesters blasted audio of children crying in detainment centers.... In the days before, an anti-Trump group had projected the words 'Over 3,000 children taken from their parents' onto the hotel facade."

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), announced early Wednesday that he is leaving the Republican Party, which he decried as 'fully the party of Trump' and 'a danger to our democracy and values.' In early-morning tweets, Schmidt, a vocal Trump critic, urged voters to elect Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections and harshly criticized the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S. border, describing the government-run detention centers as 'internment camps for babies.'”

Julie Zauzmer, et al., of the Washington Post: "The former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has been removed from ministry in response to allegations that he sexually abused a teen 50 years ago while he was a priest in New York. McCarrick, 87, was a well-known church leader in global affairs. He had said in a statement months ago that he had been made aware of teenager’s allegation of sexual abuse while he was a priest in New York almost 50 years ago. He was archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006. McCarrick said that while he maintains his innocence, 'In obedience I accept the decision of The Holy See, that I no longer exercise any public ministry.'”

*****

Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: "Republican senators moved on Tuesday to defuse a political crisis by seeking passage of legislation that would swiftly bring an end to President Trump’s practice of separating children from their parents when families cross into the United States illegally. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said that 'all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together,' endorsing an approach that would provide legal authority to detain parents and children together while their legal status in the country is assessed by the courts. Asylum claims would be expedited by adding more immigration judges or allowing families to be processed before others, Republican senators said. Mr. McConnell said he planned to reach out to Democrats to support the effort.... But Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, immediately shot down the Republican approach, saying that Mr. Trump could — and should — use his executive authority, not legislation, to quickly end the family separations. 'There are so many obstacles to legislation, and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,' Mr. Schumer said.... In an afternoon speech, Mr. Trump continued to falsely blame Democrats for causing the family separations and dismissed as 'crazy' several of the Republican proposals to address the issue by hiring hundreds of new immigration judges.... In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump continued to falsely blame Democrats for forcing the separations...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Mike DeBonis, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump implored anxious House Republicans to fix the nation’s broken immigration system but did not offer a clear path forward amid the growing uproar over his administration’s decision to separate migrant families at the border. Huddling with the GOP at the Capitol on Tuesday evening, Trump stopped short of giving a full-throated endorsement to legislation meant to unite the moderate and conservative wings of the House Republican caucus. Instead, Trump told Republicans in the closed-door strategy session that he would support either of the bills slated for votes later this week.... The impetuous president also often veered off into other unrelated matters during the meeting with House Republicans, as he mused on trade and North Korea policy, people inside the room said. He also mocked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), whose primary loss last week was blamed mainly on his criticisms of the president." ...

     ... As the Worms Turn. House Republicans Boo Trump. Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post: “'I want to congratulate him on running a great race!' Trump said [of Mark Sanford] sarcastically, to awkward silence from more than 200 of his Republican colleagues. Hearing silence from the room, Trump then ... said, 'What, nobody gets it,' and added that Sanford is a 'nasty guy.' There were boos — a rarity for Trump in a room where he is largely loved.... Trump did not take questions from the lawmakers." ...

... Torturing Children Is a Winning Issue, Trump Says. Catherine Lucey, et al., of the AP: "Calling the shots as his West Wing clears out..., Donald Trump sees his hard-line immigration stance as a winning issue heading into a midterm election he views as a referendum on his protectionist policies. 'You have to stand for something,' Trump declared Tuesday, as he defended his administration’s immigration policy amid mounting criticism over the forced separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.... Trump remains confident that projecting toughness on immigration is the right call, said five White House officials and outside advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.... Several White House aides, led by adviser Stephen Miller, have encouraged the president to make immigration a defining issue for the midterms." ...

... Miller Assumes Americans Are as Cruel as He & Trump. McKay Coppins of the Atlantic: "... when we talked [in March, Stephen] Miller also made it clear to me that he sees immigration as a winning political issue for his boss.... In Miller’s view of the electoral landscape, the president is winning anytime the country is focused on immigration — polls and bad headlines be damned.... For Miller, the public outrage and anger elicited by policies like forced family separation are a feature, not a bug." ...

     ... OR, as the Onion "reports" (satire): "Claiming that the publication of such a brief, tantalizing bit of audio was a breach of their journalistic responsibility, a furious Stephen Miller told reporters Tuesday that he was outraged at ProPublica for only releasing seven minutes of immigrant children sobbing.... Miller added that the one silver lining was the likelihood that other outlets would soon broadcast hours of comprehensive, high-quality footage of immigrant children being tormented."

Ed Kilgore: Trump's "coarse and violent language ... [is] really, really getting out of hand, as a tweet today illustrated:... 'Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13....' Josh Marshall makes the unavoidable historical connection: 'The use of the word “infest” to talk about people is literally out of the Nazi/anti-Semites’ playbook for talking about the Jewish threat....'... However you want to explain the meaning of his words or their intent, this is a rhetorical line that should never be crossed, regardless of its precise application. As Marshall notes, this is standard racist rhetoric with a deep and disreputable history.... [In a tweet yesterday, Trump wrote,] 'The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!' Lecturing Germans on how to maintain their cultural purity is not a good look for anyone." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: AND, as we learned yesterday, crime is NOT way up in Germany. It's down.

Eric Boehlert of Shareblue: "Denouncing the 'damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families,' 640 members of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ United Methodist Church community, including key church leaders, have signed a letter accusing Sessions of child abuse and racial discrimination as he carries out Trump’s radical and hateful immigration policies.... Citing Paragraph 2702.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, the group formally charged Sessions 'with the chargeable offenses of' child abuse, immorality, and racial discrimination.... The stunning church censure follows Sessions’ ridiculous attempt to use a passage in the Bible to justify the administration willfully tearing families apart, a move that was nearly universally condemned by religious leaders."

Amanda Arnold of New York: "On Tuesday afternoon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [D] announced the state’s intention to file a multi-agency lawsuit against the Trump administration’s family-separation policy.... According to Cuomo’s statement, at least 70 of those 2,000 separated children reside in detention centers in New York state — a number that will only grow as border agents separate more families. To prevent this practice from continuing, Cuomo is reportedly directing the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Health, and the Office of Children and Family Services to commence legal action against the administration for violating the human rights of asylum-seekers.... This announcement comes just one day after the governor declared that New York will not send National Guard troops to the U.S-Mexico border because the state 'will not be complicit in a political agenda that governs by fear and division.'” ...

... Steve Thompson & Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Maryland’s Republican governor [Larry Hogan] has joined the outrage over the Trump administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents, ordering a National Guard helicopter and its crew to return from New Mexico and vowing not to deploy state resources to the border until the separations stop.... Many Democratic governors have made similar pledges. On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) recalled four Virginia National Guard soldiers and a helicopter.... Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) compared the separation policy to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and said he would 'not condone the use of our military reservists to participate in any effort at the border that is connected to this inhumane practice.'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Trump administration has likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children, thousands more than lawmakers were alerted to last month, according to a McClatchy review of federal data. Federal officials acknowledged last month that nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors arrived on the southern border alone without their parents and were placed with sponsors who did not keep in touch with federal officials, but those numbers were only a snapshot of a three- month period during the last fiscal year.... The reality is the Trump administration — and the Obama administration beforehand — has lost track and continues to lose track of thousands of unaccompanied minors while [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] does not appear to be trying to keep track of the children once they’re placed with sponsors."


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article213430099.html#storylink=cpy"

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article213430099.html#storylink=cpy

"Complete Chaos." Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Under the Trump adminisation’s separation system, parents who are prosecuted and held in immigration detention to await deportation cannot regain custody of their children. Those who are released may spend weeks or even months trying to get them back.... The process requires coordination between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which holds many of the parents, and HHS, which takes custody of children and places them with adult 'sponsors.' Usually those sponsors are close relatives, but sometimes they are foster homes hundreds of miles away. 'There is complete chaos,' said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney whose organization is suing to force the government to promptly return children to their parents.... 'In America, when you get out of jail, you get your kid back,' he said. Migrant parents face significantly more bureaucratic hurdles once they lose legal custody to the U.S. government." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "The former head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [John Sandweg] told NBC News that migrant parents separated from their children at the border are sometimes unable to relocate their child and remain permanently separated.... While a parent can quickly move from detention to deportation, a child's case for asylum or deportation may not be heard by a judge for several years because deporting a child is a lower priority for the courts, Sandweg explained.... 'You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,' Sandweg explained." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So under this scenario, "zero tolerance" means admitting traumatized, troubled children -- Trump-brand "orphans" -- while rejecting families with a parent or parents who are able to work & improve the U.S. economy almost immediately. But, hey, it's a great 2018 campaign ploy. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Benjamin Carey of the New York Times: "The longer children remain in institutional settings, the greater their risk of depression, post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems.... The risk of mental health consequences also depends on the holding facility itself — the staff, the turnover, whether children know where their parents are, and how long they’ll be held.... Institutions — even the best and most humane — by their nature warp the attachments children long for, the visceral and concentrated exchange of love, tough and otherwise, that comforts, supports and shapes a child’s heart and mind.... Kalina Brabeck, a psychologist at Rhode Island College who works with immigrant children who lose their parents to deportation or for other reasons, said that the experience of loss often leads to a form of post-traumatic stress — the paralyzing vigilance, avoidance and emotional gusts first identified in war veterans. Most of the children held on the border will have accumulated traumas, Dr. Brabeck said. Even before their parents were detained, many already had run the gauntlet of immigration itself, fleeing with little resources from often violent communities." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... Fernando Ramirez of the Houston Chronicle: "A recently leaked image shows dozens of immigrants in orange jumpsuits, their hands and feet shackled, undergoing a 'mass trial' in Pecos, Texas, a small town roughly 70 miles southwest of Odessa. Rapid fire trials like the one seen in the image are not an anomaly, but few Americans know what the controversial practice looks like since photographing federal court proceedings is forbidden. Debbie Nathan, the reporter who came across the image while covering mass trials in Texas for The Intercept, said the photo was floating around the Pecos legal community and was apparently snapped by someone who felt morally conflicted by the effects of the Trump administration's new 'zero tolerance' policy." ...

... Debbie Nathan of the Intercept: "... mass trials have been occurring off and on since 'Operation Streamline' was first introduced in 2005. But on May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the U.S. government will prosecute '100 percent of illegal southwest border crossings.' He added that people who were 'smuggling a child' will be prosecuted 'and that child will be separated from you as required by law.' In practice, this means that even parents fleeing violence to protect their young children will be deemed smugglers — that is, criminals.... The anguish that parents communicated..., and the spectacle of dozens of migrants being convicted and sentenced en masse, in proceedings lasting just a few minutes and with only the most perfunctory legal representation, has shocked courthouse employees." Read on. ...

... "Frontier 'Justice.'" Miriam Jordan of the New York Times: "Multiple-defendant immigration hearings have been held for years in Arizona and Texas.... Assembly-line justice, known as Operation Streamline, started under President George W. Bush and persisted under President Barack Obama as deportations and other immigration cases were on the rise. But the Trump administration’s new policy of prosecuting cases that previously were most often not a priority is pushing thousands of new defendants into the federal court system." Read on. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

That Was Then; This Is Now. David Graham of the Atlantic: "...  on July 21, 2016, Donald Trump stood at a lectern in Cleveland and made a solemn vow. 'Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,' he said.... Candidate Trump was clear that he was talking, in large part, about immigration, which had been the central issue of his campaign[.]... Where that politician has gone is anybody’s guess, but he’s not the one who’s in the White House now. Trump now faces a mushrooming political crisis over his administration’s policy of separating children of unauthorized immigrants from their parents at the border.... This is a rare case where Trump alone really can fix it. With a single word, he could reverse the policy, which his administration implemented last month. Instead, however, Trump has spent days railing at Democrats and claiming that they are to blame. Late Monday afternoon, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stood in the White House briefing room and echoed Trump’s comments in Cleveland — but flipped 180 degrees. 'Congress and the courts created these problems, and Congress alone can fix it,' she said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Hunter Walker of Yahoo! News: "President Trump’s controversial child separation policy is being carried out with the help of private businesses who have received millions of dollars in government contracts to help run the shelters where young migrants are being held away from their parents. The government has released few photos of the shelters where the children are being detained and at times declined to allow media and even elected officials access to the facilities. Amid this secrecy, many of the businesses participating in the program have remained behind the scenes without being identified. However, by reviewing publicly available contracts data, Yahoo News was able to identify five companies that are participating in the operation of the shelters, including two companies that have not previously been tied to the program. And in response to inquiries, one of the companies said it would cease participation in a program that required it to 'maintain readiness' to transport young migrants to government facilities."

How Clueless/Callous Is the Trump Administration?

... Satoshi Sugiyama of the New York Times: "It might not have been the most opportune time for the State Department to hold a Facebook Live chat on how to travel with children. In the midst of the Trump administration’s crackdown on the southern border that has separated crying children from their parents..., the State Department’s consular affairs unit held a question-and-answer session via Facebook on Tuesday intended for American families going abroad.... The responses spoke volumes. 'Do you recommend cage training for children to get them used to arriving in the US?,' Facebook user Matt Schneider commented.... Theresa Rowe, asked: 'What is the process for getting my children back once the US Government has separated them from me and incarcerated them?'” ...

... Wait, Wait. This Is Worse. Meagan Flynn of the Washington Post: "Protesters entered a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening to heckle Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. She appeared to sit quietly with her head down for more than 10 minutes listening to the protesters chanting 'Shame!' and 'End family separation!' Protesters, roughly 10 to 15 of them, entered MXDC Cocina Mexicana about 8 p.m. while Nielsen finished her meal with one other person. The restaurant’s general manager, Thomas Genovese, told The Washington Post that Nielsen had been dining for about an hour when the heckling began. She did not come with a reservation, he said. The eatery is about two blocks east of the White House.... Nielsen’s security detail stood calmly in front of her table, and the U.S. Secret Service told The Post in a statement that no arrests were made. Witnesses standing at the bar said that the protesters remained nonviolent and were not aggressive. Brent Epperson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alberta visiting Washington for work, said that random customers in the restaurant, including him, even started clapping along with the protesters at their tables.... Just a few hours earlier, Nielsen had retweeted President Trump’s praise for the 'fabulous job' she did at a press conference explaining the administration’s policy.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Other than that, Ms. Nielsen, how were the enchiladas?


Josh Lederman
of the AP: "Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons called on...  Donald Trump’s administration Tuesday to withdraw its nominee for a key State Department position over his 'lack of empathy' for immigrants.... In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the pair wrote that Ronald Mortensen, Trump’s nominee for assistant secretary of state for Population, Refugees and Migration, 'has spread misinformation about immigrants.' They said they strongly oppose his nomination, accusing Mortensen of displaying 'a lack of empathy for innocent men, women, and children fleeing violence and oppression.'... Mortensen, a retired foreign service officer and U.S. Agency for International Development official, was nominated in May. If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, he would oversee the State Department unit that deals with refugee resettlement and assistance to displaced people, including those fleeing conflict. He is known for his outspoken views on immigration, including as a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that the Southern Poverty Law Center ... has deemed a hate group.” ...

... Katy O'Donnell of Politico: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said today she will put a hold on the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to lead the CFPB until she turns over all documents about any role she played in families being separated at the border. In her current position as an associate director at OMB, Kraninger oversees the budgets for the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security — meaning she 'helps oversee the agencies that are ripping kids from their parents,' Warren tweeted this morning. Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the committee responsible for approving the nomination, noted in a letter that Kraninger's OMB oversight role includes providing 'ongoing policy and management guidance' and overseeing 'implementation of policy options' at the agencies in her portfolio." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

AND this is how Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) responds to another hearing on The E-Mails! Mrs. McC: Thanks to unwashed for reminding me:

     ... I read somewhere that President Obama was counseling potential 2020 presidential candidates. I hope he is advising them to learn to speak Black Preacher, because that's what Obama did & I'm convinced that's why he became POTUS. So far the only presidential candidate I'm aware of who knows how to do that is Bernie Sanders, & I really think we need a president who's at least 20 years younger than Bernie & Donnie Despicable.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. John Koblin & Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times: "For years, the Murdoch family has been able to maintain a separation between its Fox News network and its sprawling entertainment empire. But that corporate buffer seems to be disintegrating, with several prominent creators of hit TV shows expressing disgust in recent days with the 24-hour news channel’s coverage of the Trump administration’s border security policy.Steve Levitan, the creator of 'Modern Family,' which airs on ABC but is produced by Fox’s television studio, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he was 'disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews.' The film director Paul Feig echoed those sentiments, writing that he had made two films for the 20th Century Fox movie studio but 'cannot condone the support their news division promotes toward the immoral and abusive policies and actions taken by this current administration toward immigrant children.' Those tweets came several days after Seth MacFarlane, the creator of 'Family Guy,' said he was 'embarrassed' to work at 21st Century Fox after the Fox News host Tucker Carlson told viewers not to trust other news networks.”

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic: "Outrage over the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the border is clearly growing, and it looks as if the media are a driving force behind it.... Media outlets have finally gone all Howard Beale (no doubt because their audiences have). They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore.... Finally, we seem willing to call a lie a lie — sorry, a falsehood if you're the The New York Times — something that's been carefully avoided since ... Donald Trump first began running for office. Finally, we seem willing to look beyond he said, she said false equivalencies, the anchor that's been dragging down meaningful reporting for far too long." ...

... AND Right on Cue ... Ashley Parker of the Washington Post: "President Trump ... has been outdoing even himself with falsehoods in recent days, repeating and amplifying bogus claims on several of the most pressing controversies facing his presidency. Since Saturday, Trump has tweeted false or misleading information at least seven times on the topic of immigration and at least six times on a Justice Department inspector general report into the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. That’s more than a dozen obfuscations on just two central topics — a figure that does not include falsehoods on other issues, whether in tweets or public remarks. The false claims come as the president — emboldened by fewer disciplinarians inside the West Wing — indulges in frequent Twitter screeds. A Washington Post analysis found that in June, Trump has been tweeting at the fastest rate of his presidency so far, an average of 11.3 messages per day."

This Russia Thing, Etc., Ctd.

Money-Launderer-in-Chief. Allegedly. Anita Kumar of McClatchy News: "Buyers connected to Russia or former Soviet republics made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in South Florida and New York City, according to a new analysis shared with McClatchy. Many of them made purchases using shell companies designed to obscure their identities. 'The size and scope of these cash purchases are deeply troubling as they can often signal money laundering activity," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a former federal prosecutor. 'There have long been credible allegations of money laundering by the Trump Organization which, if true, would pose a real threat to the United States in the event that Russia were able to leverage evidence of illicit financial transactions against the president.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

M.J. Lee, et al., of CNN: "Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen has signaled to friends that he is 'willing to give' investigators information on the President if that's what they are looking for, and is planning on hiring a new lawyer to handle a possible indictment from federal prosecutors. 'He knows a lot of things about the President and he's not averse to talking in the right situation,' one of Cohen's New York friends who is in touch with him told CNN. 'If they want information on Trump, he's willing to give it.' Cohen is planning to hire Guy Petrillo, a former chief of the criminal division of the US attorney's office in Manhattan and an experienced trial lawyer, a source familiar confirmed. The source said all the paperwork and retainer may not have been finalized just yet. The shift in legal strategy and signals of potential cooperation with investigators come as Cohen feels increasingly isolated from the President, whom he has been famously loyal to for more than a decade." ...

... Emily Fox of Vanity Fair: "News of Cohen’s legal shake-up has inevitably fanned speculation about whether he would flip. The conjecture appeared to weigh on Donald Trump, who distanced himself from his former personal attorney when asked by reporters outside the White House last week if he thought Cohen would cooperate with the government. 'I always liked Michael,' he told reporters. The use of the past tense was not lost on those close to Cohen. These people say that Trump has been foolishly careless with how he has publicly talked about Cohen, who they believe holds all the cards in the situation." ...

... Nick Visser of the Huffington Post: "Michael Cohen ... has complained to friends about his mounting legal fees and grown frustrated that his former boss isn’t footing the bill, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.... n recent months, Cohen has reportedly said that he feels the legal debts are 'bankrupting' him and that Trump owes him for his years of service, unnamed associates told the newspaper."

Michael Schmidt & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was questioned this year in an inquiry into whether he was told about the F.B.I.’s reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation before it was disclosed to Congress and the public, he confirmed on Tuesday. During an hourlong interview in Washington in February, Mr. Giuliani said, he told investigators for the Justice Department’s inspector general that he had not learned anything before the public did. Mr. Giuliani ... made statements in late October 2016 on Fox News hinting that a surprise was coming about Mrs. Clinton before Election Day. The inspector general is examining leaks from the F.B.I. during the presidential campaign, including what prompted Mr. Giuliani’s statement.... He said he told investigators that he had only spoken with retired F.B.I. agents during the campaign about how Mr. Comey had handled the email investigation but that they did not share with him any sensitive information about the inquiry." Giuliani claimed the "surprise" was a speech Trump planned to give, not info he got from FBI agents.

Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "The FBI agent who was removed from the special counsel investigation for sending anti-Trump texts was escorted from the FBI building Friday and effectively relieved of work responsibilities — though he technically remains an FBI agent, his lawyer said. Peter Strzok already had been reassigned to the FBI’s Human Resources Division after he was taken off special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, though the move last week effectively took him off even that assignment. The move put Strzok on notice that the bureau intends to fire him, though he has rights to appeal that are likely to delay that action. His lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement, that Strzok was 'being put through a highly questionable process' and that the public should be concerned about how politics had 'been allowed to undermine due process and the legal protections owed to someone who has served his country for so long.'”


Ana Swanson
of the New York Times: "President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on almost every Chinese product that comes into the United States intensified the possibility of a damaging trade war, sending stock markets tumbling on Tuesday and drawing a rebuke from retailers, tech companies and manufacturers. The Trump administration remained unmoved by those concerns, with a top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, insisting that China has more to lose from a trade fight than the United States. He also declared that Mr. Trump would not allow Beijing to simply buy its way out of an economic dispute by promising to import more American goods.... But [the administration's approach] has spooked companies, investors and markets, which are increasingly worried that the United States has no other strategy to resolve a stalemate with China over its trade practices. Several rounds of trade talks with top Chinese officials in Washington and Beijing produced little agreement, and no additional official negotiations are scheduled, administration officials said. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump suggested he was ready for a fight, saying China would no longer take advantage of the United States." ...

... Fred Imbert & Alexandra Gibbs of CNBC: "Stocks fell sharply on Tuesday after ... Donald Trump's latest threat to China increased fears of an impending trade war between the world's largest economies. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 275 points, with Boeing, DowDuPont and Caterpillar as the worst-performing stocks in the index. The 30-stock index also erased all of its gains for the year and was on pace to post a six-day losing streak, its longest since March 2017. The S&P 500 dropped 0.6 percent, with materials, industrials and tech all falling more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.8 percent." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has sought major changes on the council throughout her tenure, issued a blistering critique of the panel, saying it had grown more callous over the past year and become a 'protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.' She cited the admission of Congo as a member even as mass graves were being discovered there, and the failure to address human rights abuses in Venezuela and Iran.... The decision to leave the 47-nation body was more definitive than the lesser option of staying on as a nonvoting observer. It represents another retreat by the Trump administration from international groups and agreements whose policies it deems out of sync with American interests on trade, defense, climate change and, now, human rights. And it leaves the council without the United States playing a key role in promoting human rights around the world." ...

... Nick Wadhams of Bloomberg: "The Trump administration plans to announce its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, making good on a pledge to leave a body it has long accused of hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel, according to two people familiar with the matter. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m., the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing a decision that hadn’t yet been made public. The 47-member council, based in Geneva and created in 2006, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against ... Donald Trump’s immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights. He called the policy of separating children from parents crossing the southern border illegally 'unconscionable.'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Today in Trump's Super-Corrupt Cabinet:

Ben Lefebvre & Nick Juliano of Politico: "A foundation established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and headed by his wife is playing a key role in a real-estate deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, the oil-services giant that stands to benefit from any of the Interior Department’s decisions to open public lands for oil exploration or change standards for drilling. A group funded by David Lesar, the Halliburton chairman, is planning a large commercial development on a former industrial site near the center of the Zinkes’ hometown of Whitefish.... The development would include a hotel and retail shops. There also would be a microbrewery — a business first proposed in 2012 by Ryan Zinke and for which he lobbied town officials for half a decade. The Whitefish city planner, David Taylor, said in an interview that the project’s developer suggested to him that the microbrewery would be set aside for Ryan and Lola Zinke to own and operate.... Meanwhile, a foundation created by Ryan Zinke is providing crucial assistance. Lola Zinke pledged in writing to allow the Lesar-backed developer to build a parking lot for the project on land that was donated to the foundation to create a Veterans Peace Park for citizens of Whitefish.... The Zinkes [also] ... own land on the other side of the development, and have long sparred with neighbors about their various plans for it."

Mike McIntire of the New York Times: "Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. shorted stock in a shipping firm — an investment tactic for profiting if share prices fall — days after learning that reporters were preparing a potentially negative story about his dealings with the Kremlin-linked company. The transaction, valued between $100,000 and $250,000, took place last fall after Mr. Ross became aware that journalists investigating offshore finances were looking at his investments in the shipper Navigator Holdings, whose major clients included a Russian energy company. The New York Times emailed a list of questions about Navigator to Mr. Ross on Oct. 26. Three business days later, Mr. Ross, a wealthy investor, opened a short position in Navigator, according to filings released on Monday by the Office of Government Ethics. The company’s stock price slid about 4 percent before Mr. Ross closed his position on Nov. 16, eleven days after the articles were published by The Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of the 'Paradise Papers' project. The transaction was first reported on Monday by Forbes." Ross has offered a nonsensical defense. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Peter Baker & Maggie Haberman
of the New York Times: "Joseph W. Hagin, a deputy chief of staff to President Trump and one of the most seasoned government veterans on a team populated mainly by newcomers with little if any prior experience in the White House, plans to step down next month. Mr. Hagin has run White House operations for Mr. Trump for 17 months, overseeing the daily administration of a building often whipsawed by chaos generated by the president. Just this month, Mr. Hagin led a delegation of officials in Singapore who arranged the logistics of Mr. Trump’s landmark summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.... A senior White House official ... said Mr. Hagin had been repeatedly targeted by others in Mr. Trump’s orbit, both inside and outside the building, who questioned his loyalty given his ties to the Bush family." ...

      ... Mrs. McCrabbie: For more on "seasoned" Joe Hagin, see this BuzzFeed story, which safari linked Monday. As safari wrote, "The whole story is twisted."

Devlin Barrett, et al., of the Washington Post: "Republicans and Democrats sparred for a second day Tuesday over an internal Justice Department report that sharply criticized former FBI director James B. Comey for the bureau’s work investigating Hillary Clinton in 2016. Inspector General Michael Horowitz answered questions for more than five hours at a joint hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, a day after he testified before a Senate panel about his 500-page report.... Republicans sought to use the [report's] findings to cast doubt upon the fairness of the ongoing special-counsel probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether any of President Trump’s associates coordinated with the Kremlin to influence its outcome.... Horowitz tried to beat back suggestions from Republicans that his office had gone easy on the FBI, saying, 'We didn’t pull any punches.'”

Jonathan Swan & Alayna Treene of Axios: "Donald Trump Jr. and George P. Bush had formed an unlikely alliance despite their fathers, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, loathing each other — with Don Jr. backing George P. in his re-election campaign for Texas land commissioner, and even planning to headline a New York fundraiser for him on June 25.... Two sources close to Don Jr. tell Axios that he has decided to pull out of the fundraiser due to the Bush family’s opposition to his father. Most recently, Jeb Bush tweeted that 'children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool' and that President Trump should end his 'heartless policy' of family separation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Erica Werner of the Washington Post: "House Republicans released a proposal Tuesday that would balance the budget in nine years — but only by making large cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security, that President Trump vowed not to touch. The House Budget Committee is aiming to pass the blueprint this week, but that may be as far as it goes this midterm election year. It is not clear that GOP leaders will put the document on the House floor for a vote, and even if it were to pass the House, the budget would have little impact on actual spending levels. Nonetheless the budget serves as an expression of Republicans’ priorities at a time of rapidly rising deficits and debt. Although the nation’s growing indebtedness has been exacerbated by the GOP’s own policy decisions — including the new tax law, which most analyses say will add at least $1 trillion to the debt — Republicans on the Budget Committee said they felt a responsibility to put the nation on a sounder fiscal trajectory." Mrs. McC: Uh-huh. Read on for more detail on Republicans' great ideas, which they borrowed from Paul Ryan's great idea.

This Is Nuts! Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times: "In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and [in Nashville,] Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government. At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties.In places like Nashville, Koch-financed activists are finding tremendous success. Early polling here had suggested that the $5.4 billion transit plan would easily pass....But the outcome of the May 1 ballot stunned the city: a landslide victory for the anti-transit camp, which attacked the plan as a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money."

Beyond the Beltway

Brendan King of CBS 6 Richmond, Va.: "In a majority six to one vote, the Richmond Public School board voted Monday night to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary School.... Earlier this year the Richmond School Board voted 8-1 to rename the Northside school that honored the Confederate general." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

Monday
Jun182018

The Commentariat -- June 19, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: "Republican senators moved on Tuesday to defuse a political crisis by seeking passage of legislation that would swiftly bring an end to President Trump’s practice of separating children from their parents when families cross into the United States illegally. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said that 'all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together,' endorsing an approach that would provide legal authority to detain parents and children together while their legal status in the country is assessed by the courts. Asylum claims would be expedited by adding more immigration judges or allowing families to be processed before others, Republican senators said. Mr. McConnell said he planned to reach out to Democrats to support the effort.... But Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, immediately shot down the Republican approach, saying that Mr. Trump could — and should — use his executive authority, not legislation, to quickly end the family separations. 'There are so many obstacles to legislation, and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,' Mr. Schumer said.... In an afternoon speech, Mr. Trump continued to falsely blame Democrats for causing the family separations and dismissed as 'crazy' several of the Republican proposals to address the issue by hiring hundreds of new immigration judges.... In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump continued to falsely blame Democrats for forcing the separations...."

Steve Thompson & Mark Berman of the Washington Post: "Maryland’s Republican governor [Larry Hogan] has joined the outrage over the Trump administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents, ordering a National Guard helicopter and its crew to return from New Mexico and vowing not to deploy state resources to the border until the separations stop.... Many Democratic governors have made similar pledges. On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) recalled four Virginia National Guard soldiers and a helicopter.... Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) compared the separation policy to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and said he would 'not condone the use of our military reservists to participate in any effort at the border that is connected to this inhumane practice.'”

Mike McIntire of the New York Times: "Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. shorted stock in a shipping firm — an investment tactic for profiting if share prices fall — days after learning that reporters were preparing a potentially negative story about his dealings with the Kremlin-linked company. The transaction, valued between $100,000 and $250,000, took place last fall after Mr. Ross became aware that journalists investigating offshore finances were looking at his investments in the shipper Navigator Holdings, whose major clients included a Russian energy company. The New York Times emailed a list of questions about Navigator to Mr. Ross on Oct. 26. Three business days later, Mr. Ross, a wealthy investor, opened a short position in Navigator, according to filings released on Monday by the Office of Government Ethics. The company’s stock price slid about 4 percent before Mr. Ross closed his position on Nov. 16, eleven days after the articles were published by The Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of the 'Paradise Papers' project. The transaction was first reported on Monday by Forbes." Ross has offered a nonsensical defense.

Fred Imbert & Alexandra Gibbs of CNBC: "Stocks fell sharply on Tuesday after ... Donald Trump's latest threat to China increased fears of an impending trade war between the world's largest economies. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 275 points, with Boeing, DowDuPont and Caterpillar as the worst-performing stocks in the index. The 30-stock index also erased all of its gains for the year and was on pace to post a six-day losing streak, its longest since March 2017. The S&P 500 dropped 0.6 percent, with materials, industrials and tech all falling more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.8 percent."

Nick Wadhams of Bloomberg: "The Trump administration plans to announce its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, making good on a pledge to leave a body it has long accused of hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel, according to two people familiar with the matter. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m., the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing a decision that hadn’t yet been made public. The 47-member council, based in Geneva and created in 2006, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against ... Donald Trump’s immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights. He called the policy of separating children from parents crossing the southern border illegally 'unconscionable.'”

"Complete Chaos." Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Under the Trump adminisation’s separation system, parents who are prosecuted and held in immigration detention to await deportation cannot regain custody of their children. Those who are released may spend weeks or even months trying to get them back.... The process requires coordination between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which holds many of the parents, and HHS, which takes custody of children and places them with adult 'sponsors.' Usually those sponsors are close relatives, but sometimes they are foster homes hundreds of miles away. 'There is complete chaos,' said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney whose organization is suing to force the government to promptly return children to their parents.... 'In America, when you get out of jail, you get your kid back,' he said. Migrant parents face significantly more bureaucratic hurdles once they lose legal custody to the U.S. government." ...

... Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "The former head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [John Sandweg] told NBC News that migrant parents separated from their children at the border are sometimes unable to relocate their child and remain permanently separated.... While a parent can quickly move from detention to deportation, a child's case for asylum or deportation may not be heard by a judge for several years because deporting a child is a lower priority for the courts, Sandweg explained.... 'You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,' Sandweg explained." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So under this scenario, "zero tolerance" means admitting traumatized, troubled children -- Trump-brand "orphans" -- while rejecting families with a parent or parents who are able to work & improve the U.S. economy almost immediately. But, hey, it's a great 2018 campaign ploy. ...

... Benjamin Carey of the New York Times: "The longer children remain in institutional settings, the greater their risk of depression, post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems.... The risk of mental health consequences also depends on the holding facility itself — the staff, the turnover, whether children know where their parents are, and how long they’ll be held.... Institutions — even the best and most humane — by their nature warp the attachments children long for, the visceral and concentrated exchange of love, tough and otherwise, that comforts, supports and shapes a child’s heart and mind.... Kalina Brabeck, a psychologist at Rhode Island College who works with immigrant children who lose their parents to deportation or for other reasons, said that the experience of loss often leads to a form of post-traumatic stress — the paralyzing vigilance, avoidance and emotional gusts first identified in war veterans. Most of the children held on the border will have accumulated traumas, Dr. Brabeck said. Even before their parents were detained, many already had run the gauntlet of immigration itself, fleeing with little resources from often violent communities."

"Frontier 'Justice.'" Miriam Jordan of the New York Times: "Multiple-defendant immigration hearings have been held for years in Arizona and Texas.... Assembly-line justice, known as Operation Streamline, started under President George W. Bush and persisted under President Barack Obama as deportations and other immigration cases were on the rise. But the Trump administration’s new policy of prosecuting cases that previously were most often not a priority is pushing thousands of new defendants into the federal court system." Read on.

Katy O'Donnell of Politico: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said today she will put a hold on the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to lead the CFPB until she turns over all documents about any role she played in families being separated at the border. In her current position as an associate director at OMB, Kraninger oversees the budgets for the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security — meaning she 'helps oversee the agencies that are ripping kids from their parents,' Warren tweeted this morning. Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the committee responsible for approving the nomination, noted in a letter that Kraninger's OMB oversight role includes providing 'ongoing policy and management guidance' and overseeing 'implementation of policy options' at the agencies in her portfolio."

That Was Then; This Is Now. David Graham of the Atlantic: "...  on July 21, 2016, Donald Trump stood at a lectern in Cleveland and made a solemn vow. 'Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,' he said.... Candidate Trump was clear that he was talking, in large part, about immigration, which had been the central issue of his campaign[.]... Where that politician has gone is anybody’s guess, but he’s not the one who’s in the White House now. Trump now faces a mushrooming political crisis over his administration’s policy of separating children of unauthorized immigrants from their parents at the border.... This is a rare case where Trump alone really can fix it. With a single word, he could reverse the policy, which his administration implemented last month. Instead, however, Trump has spent days railing at Democrats and claiming that they are to blame. Late Monday afternoon, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stood in the White House briefing room and echoed Trump’s comments in Cleveland — but flipped 180 degrees. 'Congress and the courts created these problems, and Congress alone can fix it,' she said."

Jonathan Swan & Alayna Treene of Axios: "Donald Trump Jr. and George P. Bush had formed an unlikely alliance despite their fathers, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, loathing each other — with Don Jr. backing George P. in his re-election campaign for Texas land commissioner, and even planning to headline a New York fundraiser for him on June 25.... Two sources close to Don Jr. tell Axios that he has decided to pull out of the fundraiser due to the Bush family’s opposition to his father. Most recently, Jeb Bush tweeted that 'children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool' and that President Trump should end his 'heartless policy' of family separation."

Money-Launderer-in-Chief. Alledgedly. Anita Kumar of McClatchy News: "Buyers connected to Russia or former Soviet republics made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in South Florida and New York City, according to a new analysis shared with McClatchy. Many of them made purchases using shell companies designed to obscure their identities. 'The size and scope of these cash purchases are deeply troubling as they can often signal money laundering activity," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a former federal prosecutor. 'There have long been credible allegations of money laundering by the Trump Organization which, if true, would pose a real threat to the United States in the event that Russia were able to leverage evidence of illicit financial transactions against the president.'"

Brendan King of CBS 6 Richmond, Va.: "In a majority six to one vote, the Richmond Public School board voted Monday night to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary School.... Earlier this year the Richmond School Board voted 8-1 to rename the Northside school that honored the Confederate general."


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article210477439.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article210477439.html#storylink=cpy

*****

Look Over There! Over There! Katie Rogers & Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump remained resistant on Monday in the face of growing public outcry over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, repeating the false assertion that Democrats were the ones to blame for it, and suggesting that criminals — not parents — were toting juveniles to the United States. 'They could be murderers and thieves and so much else,' Mr. Trump said of the people crossing the border, as he delivered somewhat incongruous remarks during a meeting of the National Space Council on Monday. 'We want a safe country, and it starts with the borders, and that’s the way it is.'... In a series of tweets and speeches on Monday, Mr. Trump instead relied on fear to curry support for a 'zero tolerance' policy that refers for criminal prosecution all immigrants apprehended crossing the border without authorization. The president used the threat of gang violence and other crime, and a change in the fabric of American culture as a means to stoke support among supporters and push Congress into figuring out a way to drum up funding for his long-promised border wall." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Eliza Collins of USA Today: "Every Senate Democrat is now a co-sponsor of ... legislation which would prohibit children from being separated from their parents within 100 miles of the U.S. border except for instances of abuse, neglect or other specific circumstances.... The Keep Families Together Act was introduced by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein this month after the Trump administration started instituting a 'zero tolerance' immigration policy, under which anyone who crosses the border illegally will be prosecuted.... The bill has no support from Senate Republicans, despite some saying they are uncomfortable with what is currently taking place at the border." ...

... False. Crime statistics for 2017 showed the lowest level of crime in Germany in 25 years, according to figures released in May by the federal criminal office." And so forth. ...

... Noah Lanard of Mother Jones: "The top human rights official at the United Nations condemned the Trump administration’s 'cruel practice' of separating parents from their children at the border, saying that the 'thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.' Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein used his final address to the body to criticize a familiar list of failed states and authoritarian regimes, including North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. But he added the United States to the list for forcibly separating nearly 2,000 children from their parents from April 19 to May 31.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... "The Effect Is Catastrophic." William Wan of the Washington Post: "This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents. Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites — the little branches in brain cells that transmit mes­sages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and — especially in young children — wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain. 'The effect is catastrophic,' said Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School. 'There’s so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this.'... The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association have all issued statements against it — representing more than 250,000 doctors in the United States. Nearly 7,700 mental-health professionals and 142 organizations have also signed a petition urging President Trump to end the policy.” ...

... Jane Timm & Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News: "All four living former first ladies — Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama — have stepped out of political retirement to condemn the Trump administration's practice of separating parents and children at the border. Speaking at a women's group in New York City on Monday, Clinton called family separation 'an affront to our values' and said she had warned Trump's immigration policy would lead to this during her 2016 presidential campaign against him. And she said journalists should call out the White House for perpetuating "an outright lie" by blaming Democrats for the law.... Meanwhile, Bush, who almost never speaks out on political issues, broke partisan ranks in a Washington Post op-ed.... Michelle Obama also weighed in to support Bush.... Rosalynn Carter called the policy of separating families 'disgraceful and a shame to our country.'" ...

... This Whole Humanitarian Fiasco Is All about the Politics. Nancy Cook of Politico: "Top aides to ... Donald Trump are planning additional crackdowns on immigration before the November midterms, despite a growing backlash over the administration’s move to separate migrant children from parents at the border. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and a team of officials from the departments of Justice, Labor, Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget have been quietly meeting for months to find ways to use executive authority and under-the-radar rule changes to strengthen hard-line U.S. immigration policies, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House." ...

... GOTRV -- Get Out The Racist Vote. Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "... President Trump sent his clearest signal yet on Monday that he intends to make divisive, racially charged issues like immigration central going into the campaign season.... Mr. Trump renewed the sort of bald and demagogic attacks on undocumented immigrants that worked well for him politically in his 2016 presidential campaign. He inveighed against 'the death and destruction that’s been caused by people coming into this country' and vowed that 'the United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.'... Mr. Trump’s allies believe that trying to link Democrats to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and gangs like MS-13 will do more to galvanize Republican voters and get them to the polls in November than emphasizing economic issues.... Mr. Trump’s broadsides against Hispanic migrants, like his criticism of black athletes who will not stand for the national anthem, may resonate in the deeply red states where the battle for control of the Senate is playing out. But such culture war attacks will likely alienate voters in the affluent, heavily suburban districts Republicans must win to keep control of the House.” ...

... ** DHS Has No Procedure for Tracking Families It Splits up. Jonathan Blitzer of the New Yorker: "Although the zero-tolerance policy was officially announced last month, it has been in effect, in more limited form, since at least last summer. Several months ago, as cases of family separation started surfacing across the country, immigrant-rights groups began calling for the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.), which is in charge of immigration enforcement and border security, to create procedures for tracking families after they are split up. At the time, D.H.S. said that it would address the problem, but there is no evidence that it actually did so.... There is no formal process in place to insure that a family that’s been separated at the border gets deported back to their home country together." ...

... Ditto. Adolfo Flores of BuzzFeed: "Two months after the Trump administration began separating children from their parents along the US–Mexico border, immigration authorities cannot say what procedures exist to reunite children with their parents after the parents' illegal-entry cases have been resolved but their immigration case is still pending.... ICE said it does work to reunite the parent and child once the parent's immigration court case is resolved, which can take months or more than a year after the illegal entry charge is resolved. But the agency's statement made no mention of reunifying the families before the parent's immigration case is decided, even though a fact sheet from Customs and Border Protection says children can be reunited with their parent after the parent has been released.... 'My impression has been that in general many are not being reunited after they do their time served ... that they are in fact not reunified while awaiting their asylum claim,' [Sen. Jeff] Merkley [D-Ore.] told BuzzFeed News. "There's great confusion on this point.'" ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Contributor Gloria asked the other day where the young girls were. On Monay, a reporter asked HHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen where the girls were, and Nielsen said she would check. That is, Nielsen has no idea where a thousand little girls are being warehoused. The incompetence & failure to plan anything is a-mazing.

... DHS has not allowed reporters to take photos or audio inside the detention facilities, so all the pictures you see are ones distributed by U.S. "officials." BUT ...

... Madeleine Aggeler of New York: "... ProPublica has obtained disturbing audio from inside one U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, which captures the agonizing sounds of young children sobbing and screaming for their parents. In the recording, which was made last week by someone who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, ten Central American children who were separated from their parents can be heard weeping, calling out for 'Mami' and 'Papá.' At one point, a Border Patrol agent jokes, 'Well, we have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.'” Mrs. McC: Hilarious. ...

... Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica: "Minutes after ProPublica posted a recording of crying children begging for their parents, Kirstjen Nielsen stepped up to the podium in the White House briefing room to answer questions from reporters, as well as a growing chorus of criticism from Democrats and Republicans. Nielsen, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, blamed Congress for the Trump administration’s policy of separating children detained at the border from their parents. Nielsen said the administration would continue to send the children to temporary detention centers in warehouses and big box stores until Congress rewrites the nation’s immigration laws. At one point, a reporter from New York magazine, Olivia Nuzzi, played the tape ProPublica obtained from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, according to tweets she posted.... Reporters attempted to ask [Nielsen] questions about the material in the recording — including 'How is this not child abuse?' — but she did not respond directly. Asked if the recordings, along with pictures and more that have emerged in recent days, are an unintended consequence of the administration’s approach, she said, 'I think that they reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The administration is apparently taking the position that the sounds & photos of crying children are "fake news," and they have reportedly put out photos of happy children playing at one of the detention facilities. ...

They're All Criminals. Everyone is subject to prosecution.... Parents who entered illegally are by definition criminals. -- Kirstjen Nielsen, Monday

... Nick Miroff of the Washington Post: "Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed back Monday at the growing condemnation of her agency’s practice of separating migrant families at the border, telling a gathering of law enforcement officers, 'We will not apologize for the job we do.' In a speech at the meeting of National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans, Nielsen drew rousing applause when she directed her remarks at 'a selected few in the media, Congress and the advocacy community' whom she accused of mischaracterizing the Trump administration’s border crackdown.'... Nielsen said the government has detected hundreds of cases of fraud among migrants traveling with children who are not their own. Trump on Twitter Monday echoed that point. 'Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,' he wrote. 'Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Uh, doesn't describing the places from which asylum-seekers are fleeing as "the most dangerous places in the world" undermine Trump's argument that the U.S. should not be receiving victims of the dangers he describes? ...

     ... Fact Check. Linda Qiu of the New York Times: "Kirstjen Nielsen ... suggested in two appearances on Monday that the Trump administration policy to separate children from their parents at the border was justified, in part, to prevent smugglers from posing as families to take advantage of a 'get-out-of-jail-free card.' But characterizing the increase of this type of fraud as 'staggering' is misleading. The data reflects a period of less than two years, making it difficult to draw a meaningful historical comparison. And the instances of fraud make up less than 1 percent of families apprehended at the border.” ...

Michelle Goldberg: "It’s hard to know who’s worse — the sociopaths like [White House fascist Stephen] Miller who glory in the administration’s cruelty, or those who are abashed enough to lie about the filthy thing they’re part of, but not to do anything else." ...

... Michael Shear & Katie Benner of the New York Times trace how the fringey, cruel anti-immigration policy prescriptions of Stephen Miller & Jeff Sessions made it into federal policy. Hint: It took a Trump. ...

... Jared Holt of Right Wing Watch on how the Trumpies & other wingers view the crisis: "Laura Ingraham said that people expressing concern and outrage over children being detained in cages was 'hilarious.' Ann Coulter went the Infowars route, choosing to cite a nonexistent New Yorker article to allege that the children speaking to media about the way ICE has treated their families were 'child actors.' Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said, 'This children and families being separated at the border?... It’s entirely manufactured … It’s all about people attempting to invade our country, not emigrate here.' Similarly, Infowars called the mistreatment of migrant children 'a giant hoax.' Conservative pundit and Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro wrote that 'Trump isn’t forcing children away from parents,' but is merely 'enforcing the law on the books.' He continued, 'Pretending that this is Japanese internment (as Laura Bush suggested) or the Holocaust (as General Michael Hayden suggested) is ridiculous.' Senior Breitbart News investigative reporter Joel Pollak appeared on Breitbart’s morning radio program today and said that the children being held in cages at detainment centers are actually experiencing a better quality of life than they had before.” Oh, there's more. ...

... Amanda McGowan of WGBH Boston: "Governor Charlie Baker [R] is canceling the deployment of Massachusetts National Guard troops to the border in light of recent reports about the Trump Administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from families." ...

... Jesse Paul of the Denver Post: "Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper [D] on Monday took executive action barring any state resources from being put toward the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrants illegally crossing the border into the U.S. from their children — a decision that’s unlikely to have widespread impact but represents a rebuke to the White House." ...

... Lying to Their Morons. Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "On Monday, the Drudge Report’s lead story was headlined 'BORDER BATTLE: USA TAKING IN 250 KIDS PER DAY.' The accompanying image was of a group of young boys holding what looked like guns — the implication being that some of the kids the Trump administration is separating from their parents and detaining in detention centers are dangerous gangsters. There was just one problem, however — the image was actually of Syrian kids holding toy guys during the 2012 Battle of Azaz." --safari ...

... A Cage by Any Other Name.... Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "On Monday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy defended President Trump’s immigrant child detention facilities by arguing the media is unfairly describing cages as 'cages.' 'And you know, while some have likened them to concentration camps or cages, you do see that they have those thermal blankets, you do see some fencing… some have referring to them as cages, but keep in mind this a great big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain-link fences,' Doocy said.... During a subsequent interview with White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, Doocy again objected to the characterization of cages as 'cages,' saying they are more accurately described as a 'security pen.'” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Fascist Forewarnings. Juan Cole: "Separating children from their parents, as Trump, Sessions and their myrmidons are doing, is monstrous and has been characteristic of the biggest dictators of the modern era. Here are a few cases in case you don’t believe me: Stalin's police...Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s, 1980s..., Spanish dictator Francisco Franco..., Saddam Hussein..., the Burmese military junta... And, yes, Hitler." --safari ...

... "Values Voters" Put to the Test: FAIL. Dylan Matthews of Vox: "Two new polls find that the US government policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexican border is very unpopular with the general public, but retains majority support among Republicans.... Sixty-six percent of voters — including 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents — told Quinnipiac they opposed the policy.... But by a large, 20-point (55 percent to 35 percent) margin, Republicans supported the policy." --safari ...


... When you walk down a busy street, there's a good chance half the people you see are morons who pose a clear danger to democracy. Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "President Donald Trump's job approval rating averaged 45% in Gallup polling last week, tying his personal high. His previous 45% rating occurred in the first week after he was inaugurated as president." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Jim Norman of Gallup: "Thirty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States today, similar to last month's 37% satisfaction rate but marking the numerical high since a 39% reading in September 2005. The satisfaction rate, which Gallup has measured at least monthly since 2001, has now topped 35% three times this year -- a level reached only three times in the previous 12 years (once each in 2006, 2009 and 2016)."


David Lynch
of the Washington Post: "President Trump said Monday that he has ordered his chief trade negotiator to draw up a list of $200 billion in Chinese products that will be hit with 10 percent tariffs if China refuses to back down in the rapidly escalating trade war between the two countries.... The president’s action doubled his April threat to respond to any Chinese retaliation for his trade action with $100 billion in additional tariffs. And Trump promised to levy tariffs on a further $200 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing responds to today’s action. Such a step would be virtually unprecedented in U.S. history and would put nearly all of the $505 billion in products that the U.S. imports from China under trade restrictions." ...

... Evidently Trump heard about this report (or a similar one): ...

... Keith Bradsher of the New York Times: "Thanks to President Trump’s tariffs, Americans will soon be paying more for a wide variety of Chinese-made goods, and some American customers may end up buying from other countries instead. For now, China can live with that. The tariffs the White House announced on Friday will have little immediate impact on China, despite the size of the $50 billion in goods involved and the invective the move set off from Chinese official news media. Mr. Trump’s tariffs are ultimately too small and narrowly targeted to seriously affect China’s nearly $13 trillion economy, which no longer depends so much on exports and can easily find other places besides the United States to sell its products. In some ways, they are even smaller than tariffs imposed by previous presidents." ...

... Jane Perlez of the New York Times: "North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, arrived in Beijing on Tuesday amid an escalating trade conflict between China and the United States, one that gives him an opening to play the powers against each other as Washington presses him to dismantle his nuclear arsenal. 'This could be regarded as an intuitive response to Trump’s escalation of the trade war,' Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said of China’s invitation to Mr. Kim."


The Marshall Project. Josh Marshall
of TPM has been all over the inherent FBI anti-Clinton bias that has been hiding in plain sight, but yet to be reckoned for.  --safari ...

     Josh Marshall: "According to testimony in the IG Report, one reason for the harsh criticism of Secretary Clinton in James Comey’s June 2016 statement was to assuage the concerns of FBI employees who said 'You guys are finally going to get that bitch. We’re rooting for you.'" --safari...

     ... ** Implicit Bias in the FBI. Josh Marshall of TPM [June 16th]: "Despite specifically being to requested to address the issue, Inspector General Horowitz basically ignored lots of evidence about [FBI] bias against Secretary Clinton.... We have strong evidence that there was a clique of senior agents in the New York field office with what senior FBI and DOJ officials viewed as a 'visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton.'... We know from Rep. Devin Nunes' own account that, within two or three days of finding the emails on the laptop, what Nunes termed 'good FBI agents' [from the NY field office] were leaking the information to Capitol Hill Republicans. According to Nunes, it wasn’t just him but the 'House Intelligence Committee.'... [The NY FBI agents] more or less immediately went to Congress (in three days or less) after finding the laptop emails, far too little time to have any reasonable belief that the information was being covered up by FBI leadership.... Nunes’ own account clearly identifies these not as whistleblowers exposing possible wrongdoing but evidence of political bias leading agents to take actions to damage Secretary Clinton. And yet this critical question remains all but unexplored in the Report itself." --safari...

     ... Josh Marshall: "It’s refreshing to see at least one Democratic member of Congress roundly address Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) apparent role pushing to restart the Clinton emails investigation in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) called Nunes 'the President’s fixer in Congress.' But I would be highly, highly skeptical of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s suggestion that claims that Rudy Giuliani received leaks from the New York FBI field office in the fall of 2016 may still be [sic] investigation.... It was a pattern of bias and biased behavior leading to a number of inappropriate actions which shaped the course of the investigation and the election. This is the overarching look at the situation that was wholly absent in last week’s IG Report. I do not expect any follow up report to do anything like that.'" --safari

Karoun Demirjian, et al., of the Washington Post: "House Republicans plan to grill the Justice Department’s inspector general [Michael Horowitz] Tuesday about missteps by former FBI director James B. Comey and other bureau officials during the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton, which is the subject of a sprawling, ongoing internal probe.... Lawmakers spent much of the three-hour hearing pressing FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to crack down on leaks." ...

... Matt Zapotosky, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Justice Department inspector general said Monday that his office is still probing possible misconduct in the FBI’s safeguarding of its own secrets — from how former director James B. Comey handled his private memos to whether others under him gave sensitive details to reporters. Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz revealed the continued investigative work to lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which on Monday conducted the first hearing to examine his 500-page report assessing how the FBI handled the high-profile investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.... Horowitz rebutted Trump’s claim that the report exonerated him with respect to possible coordination with Russia, saying flatly, 'We did not look into collusion questions.'... Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) asserted that the report showed Clinton 'got the kid glove treatment' and that if it were not for the inspector general, FBI officials would 'still be plotting about how to use their official position to stop' Trump.” Mrs. McC: Great to see Grassley is dedicated to keeping his committee all bipartisan. Ha!


Shawn Boburg & Aaron Davis
of the Washington Post: "A South Korean aviation firm that hired President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen failed last year to disclose that it was the subject of a corruption investigation as it won work from the U.S. military, records show. On Oct. 11, nine current and former executives at Korea Aerospace Industries were indicted in Seoul on charges that included bribery, embezzlement and defrauding the South Korean government, records show. Just two weeks later, KAI cleared a business integrity review by the U.S Air Force and won a contract worth up to $48 million — its largest ever from the Air Force — to maintain fighter jets. Experts said the criminal case should have subjected the company to additional scrutiny.... Companies are required to provide 'immediate written notice' if their 'certification was erroneous when submitted or has become erroneous by reason of changed circumstances,' according to federal guidelines.... But KAI did not alter filings it had previously submitted to the U.S. government certifying that none of its executives were under indictment.... Cohen was a consultant for KAI at the time.... There is no indication Cohen was involved in the awarding of the contract. KAI said he was not, and the Air Force said no senior leaders or contracting officers were contacted by Cohen." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In other words, Cohen's "consulting" arrangement with KAI was just a shakedown. Cohen knew it; KAI knew it.

** The Tangled Webs of Trumpland. Tarini Parti & Aram Roston of Buzzfeed: "Joseph Whitehouse Hagin, President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations ... has been a Washington insider for almost four decades.... Hagin put his dreary political life on pause during the Obama years for the world of international influence peddling.... It also brought Hagin a lucrative client: an aspiring Libyan expatriate politician with deep pockets and troubling relationships. [The client] Basits Igtet was deeply involved in NXIVM, the celebrity 'sex cult' whose leadership is now under federal indictment.... Igtet proselytized for the group, BuzzFeed News has learned, while his wife, the heir Sara Bronfmanreportedly kept the cult afloat with tens of millions of dollars.... Hagin's firm was working with Igtet in 2013, when Igtet reportedly met with Ahmed Abu Khattala, who was charged under seal that year by the Justice Department for his role in the 2012 Benghazi attack on the American embassy that killed the US ambassador there." The whole story is twisted.--safari

Space Force Trump. Katie Rogers of the New York Times: "President Trump said on Monday that he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the armed forces dedicated to protecting American interests in outer space, an idea that has troubled lawmakers and even some members of his administration, who have cautioned that the action could create unnecessary bureaucratic responsibilities for a military already burdened by conflicts. During a speech at a meeting of the National Space Council, Mr. Trump announced plans to protect American interests in space through monitoring commercial traffic and debris, initiatives he said would be 'great not only in terms of jobs and everything else, it’s great for the psyche of our country.' Minutes later, the president zeroed in on Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and tasked him with the undertaking of creating another branch of the military. 'General Dunford, if you would carry that assignment out, I would be very greatly honored,' Mr. Trump said from the podium, after searching for him in the crowd. 'We got it,' the general replied.” Mrs. McC: Yeah, sounds easy.

Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "The Pentagon announced Monday that it will suspend all planning of a forthcoming military exercise with South Korea, following a pledge from President Trump last week after his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. A Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana White, said the decision is “consistent with President Trump’s commitment” to the North Koreans and made “in concert” with the South Korean government. It applies solely to the August exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, in which about 17,500 U.S. troops gathered with South Korean counterparts last year in an exercise that focused heavily on computer-simulations to defend against a North Korean attack."

Mehdi Masan & Ryan Grim of The Intercept: "The Trump administration, as part of a dual effort to counter both Iran and the Islamic State, should push for an 'Islamic Reformation,' a State Department memo advised the White House last year. The suggestion was ultimately not adopted as part of the National Security Strategy announced in December, but that a so-called reformation of Islam was up for discussion at the highest levels of the State Department and National Security Council underscores the extraordinary rise of a once-fringe, far-right approach to foreign policy." --safari

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A former CIA computer engineer has been indicted on charges he masterminded what appears to be the largest leak of classified information in the spy agency’s history. Joshua Schulte, 29, was charged in a new grand jury indictment with providing WikiLeaks with a massive trove of U.S. government hacking tools that the online publisher posted in March 2017, the Justice Department announced on Monday. Schulte was previously facing child pornography charges in federal court in New York, but the indictment broadens the case to accuse him of illegally gathering classified information, damaging CIA computers, lying to investigators and numerous other offenses." Mrs. McC: Sounds like a creep with no redeeming social value. Allegedly.


John Hendel
of Politico: "The Senate voted Monday to reimpose the U.S. ban on Chinese telecom giant ZTE, in a rebuke to ... Donald Trump and his efforts to keep the company in business. The provision targeting ZTE was part of the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass defense spending bill that cleared the Senate by a vote of 85-10. It must now be reconciled with the House version of the measure, which takes a narrower approach to ZTE.... Trump will meet Wednesday with some Republicans on ZTE, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Politico, although he didn’t say how many lawmakers would attend and whether the group would include any Democrats.... Despite Monday’s overwhelming Senate passage, the ZTE ban could still be stripped from the defense bill or modified during the conference process between the Senate and House, which did not push back as aggressively in its own version of the legislation. House lawmakers did include a provision that would bar ZTE and Huawei from entering into U.S. government contracts."

Dana Milbank: Paul Ryan "has been living in a cave. Without Internet or TV. Out of range of cell service, newspaper delivery and carrier pigeons. With blindfold on eyes, cotton in ears and head in sand. Late last week, Ryan was asked at a news conference whether scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt should remain in office. 'Frankly, I haven’t paid that close attention to it,' said the man who is second in line to the presidency. 'I don’t know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment.'... The speaker averts his gaze so often from Trump’s mayhem that he is likely to get a stiff neck....” Milbank has a long -- and frankly astounding -- list of things newsworthy topics Ryan knows nothing about.


Punt! Adam Liptak
of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court declined on Monday to decide two challenges to partisan gerrymandering, citing technical grounds. In a case from Wisconsin, the court said plaintiffs there had not proved they had suffered the sort of direct injury to give them standing to sue. The court sent the case back to the lower courts to allow the plaintiffs to try again. In a second case, from Maryland, the court ruled against the challengers in an unsigned opinion. The decisions were a setback for critics of partisan gerrymandering, who had hoped that the Supreme Court would decide the cases on their merits and rule in their favor, transforming American democracy by subjecting to close judicial scrutiny oddly shaped districts that amplify one party’s political power. The court has never struck down a voting district as a partisan gerrymander, in which the political party in power draws maps to favor its candidates." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Cristian Farias of New York: "Racial gerrymandering ... has already had its day in court and been found unconstitutional. But partisan gerrymandering, which relies on the party affiliation of voters to 'pack' them or 'crack' them into given districts, has so far evaded a definitive adjudication.... [To justify the Court's decision not to decide today, Chief Justice] Roberts managed to get unanimous consensus from his colleagues for the view that the Democratic voters who challenged as too partisan a particular set of legislative maps in Wisconsin have no standing to bring that claim in court.... Justice Elena Kagan — writing separately and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor — charted a course for the Wisconsin plaintiffs, and others who may feel so led, on how they could later press their claim in the lower courts and make it stick. But before she did that, she took care to remind the nation that the Supreme Court ... does have the power to end partisan gerrymandering.... Kagan’s entreaties, more than anything, are aimed at an audience of one: Justice Anthony Kennedy.... It is Kennedy’s insufferable indecision that’s holding the court back from making much noise moving forward in a way that’s meaningful for voters."

Idiocracy. Joe Concha of The Hill: "A new poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center suggests people are having difficulty telling the difference between fact and opinion.... Nine-in-10 Democrats correctly identified the statement ;President Barack Obama was born in the United States' as factual, while only 63 percent of Republicans saw it as factual.... At the same time, 37 percent of Democrats identified the statement 'increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is essential for the health of the U.S. economy; as factual and not as opinon." --safari

Oliver Milman of the Guardian: "Sea level rise driven by climate change is set to pose an existential crisis to many US coastal communities, with new research finding that as many as 311,000 homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years. The swelling oceans are forecast repeatedly to soak coastal residences collectively worth $120bn by 2045 if greenhouse gas emissions are not severely curtailed, experts warn." --safari

Beyond the Beltway

A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: After I stopped laughing, I got to wondering where Kobach went to law school. I was figuring he was a classmate of Michael Cohen's or went to a winger school like Liberty U. School of Law. Nope. This is from Kobach's Wikipedia page, & I'm going to assume it's correct: "He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and first in his department. It was there that he came under the influence of the director of the university's Center for International Affairs, Professor Samuel P. Huntington.... In 1975 Huntington authored a pessimistic report entitled The Crisis of Democracy, about the challenge to the dominance of white Protestants by Hispanic immigrants. In his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations, he warned that 'Mexicans pose the problem for the United States,' simultaneously predicting and bemoaning the growing influence of Muslims in Western Europe. From Harvard, Kobach went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics at the University of Oxford, attending having been granted a Marshall Scholarship. Returning to the U.S., he studied at Yale Law School, where he earned a law degree in 1995, and became an editor of the Yale Law Journal."

Sunday
Jun172018

The Commentariat -- June 18, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

When you walk down a busy street, there's a good chance half the people you see are morons. Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "President Donald Trump's job approval rating averaged 45% in Gallup polling last week, tying his personal high. His previous 45% rating occurred in the first week after he was inaugurated as president."

Noah Lanard of Mother Jones: "The top human rights official at the United Nations condemned the Trump administration's 'cruel practice' of separating parents from their children at the border, saying that the 'thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.' Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein used his final address to the body to criticize a familiar list of failed states and authoritarian regimes, including North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. But he added the United States to the list for forcibly separating nearly 2,000 children from their parents from April 19 to May 31." ...

... Look Over There! Over There! Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "[1]President Trump warned on Monday that the United States must avoid the immigration problems facing Europe and he attacked the policies of Germany, one of America's closest allies. [2] In a series of Twitter posts, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that crime in Germany is on the rise, and railed against immigration policies in Europe, even as his own policies at home face bipartisan criticism about the separation of children from parents when they are stopped at American borders. Germany's government is on precarious political footing as disputes grow about Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy for those seeking asylum.... [3] On Sunday, leaders in Mr. Trump's own party and Democrats called for the end of the president's practice of separating children from their parents when families arrive at American borders seeking entry." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Under the "truth sandwich rule," the order of the numbered sentences should be 2, 1, 3. ...

     ... Update. Katie Rogers has been added to the byline. The new lede is much better: "President Trump remained resistant on Monday in the face of growing public outcry over his administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the border, repeating the false assertion that Democrats were the ones to blame for it, and suggesting that criminals -- not parents -- were toting juveniles to the United States.

'They could be murderers and thieves and so much else,' Mr. Trump said of the people crossing the border, as he delivered somewhat incongruous remarks during a meeting of the National Space Council on Monday. 'We want a safe country, and it starts with the borders, and that's the way it is.'... In a series of tweets and speeches on Monday, Mr. Trump instead relied on fear to curry support for a 'zero tolerance' policy that refers for criminal prosecution all immigrants apprehended crossing the border without authorization. The president used the threat of gang violence and other crime, and a change in the fabric of American culture as a means to stoke support among supporters and push Congress into figuring out a way to drum up funding for his long-promised border wall.

... A Cage by Any Other Name.... Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "On Monday morning's edition of Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy defended President Trump's immigrant child detention facilities by arguing the media is unfairly describing cages as 'cages.' 'And you know, while some have likened them to concentration camps or cages, you do see that they have those thermal blankets, you do see some fencing ... some have referring to them as cages, but keep in mind this a great big warehouse facility where they built walls out of chain-link fences,' Doocy said.... During a subsequent interview with White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, Doocy again objected to the characterization of cages as 'cages,' saying they are more accurately described as a 'security pen.'"

Shawn Boburg & Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "A South Korean aviation firm that hired President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen failed last year to disclose that it was the subject of a corruption investigation as it won work from the U.S. military, records show. On Oct. 11, nine current and former executives at Korea Aerospace Industries were indicted in Seoul on charges that included bribery, embezzlement and defrauding the South Korean government, records show. Just two weeks later, KAI cleared a business integrity review by the U.S Air Force and won a contract worth up to $48 million -- its largest ever from the Air Force -- to maintain fighter jets. Experts said the criminal case should have subjected the company to additional scrutiny.... Companies are required to provide 'immediate written notice' if their 'certification was erroneous when submitted or has become erroneous by reason of changed circumstances,' according to federal guidelines.... But KAI did not alter filings it had previously submitted to the U.S. government certifying that none of its executives were under indictment.... Cohen was a consultant for KAI at the time.... There is no indication Cohen was involved in the awarding of the contract. KAI said he was not, and the Air Force said no senior leaders or contracting officers were contacted by Cohen." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In other words, Cohen's "consulting" arrangement with KAI was just a shakedown. Cohen knew it; KAI knew it.

Punt! Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court declined on Monday to decide two challenges to partisan gerrymandering, citing technical grounds. In a case from Wisconsin, the court said plaintiffs there had not proved they had suffered the sort of direct injury to give them standing to sue. The court sent the case back to the lower courts to allow the plaintiffs to try again. In a second case, from Maryland, the court ruled against the challengers in an unsigned opinion. The decisions were a setback for critics of partisan gerrymandering, who had hoped that the Supreme Court would decide the cases on their merits and rule in their favor, transforming American democracy by subjecting to close judicial scrutiny oddly shaped districts that amplify one party's political power. The court has never struck down a voting district as a partisan gerrymander, in which the political party in power draws maps to favor its candidates."

*****

Children in Cages. Nomann Merchant of the AP: "Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets. One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn't know because the child's aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl's diaper.... More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that's divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting in the warehouse stays on around the clock. The Border Patrol said close to 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent. Another 500 were 'family units,' parents and children. Many adults who crossed the border without legal permission could be charged with illegal entry and placed in jail, away from their children. Reporters were not allowed by agents to interview any of the detainees or take photos." ...

... Rafia Zakaria in the New Republic: Jeff Sessions is "sending women home to die." ...

... AP & Mark Abadi of Business Insiders: "First lady Melania Trump is wading into the emotional controversy over policies enacted by her husband's administration that have increased the number of migrant children being separated from their parents. Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN on Sunday that the first lady believes 'we need to be a country that follows all laws,' but also one 'that governs with heart.' She says that [Melania] Trump 'hates to see children separated from their families' and hopes 'both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.'... [Donald] Trump has tried to blame the practice on a law passed by Democrats that doesn't exist." Mrs. McC: Melania doesn't really dispute that. "Wading in," maybe, but barely getting her feet damp. ...

     ... Update. Peter Baker of the New York Times: "By laying responsibility for the situation on 'both sides,' Mrs. Trump effectively echoed her husband's assertion that it was the result of a law written by Democrats. In fact, the administration announced a 'zero tolerance' approach this spring, leading to the separations.... The administration approach has drawn a cascade of criticism in recent days." ...

     ... Steve M. contrasts Baker's story with Karen Tumulty's story in the Washington Post. Shame on you, Karen. ...

     ... What the Trump Ladies Say. Benjamin Hart of New York: "Amid widespread, increasingly loud outrage over the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump has deployed his time-tested strategies of bald-faced lying and passing the buck. Trump has claimed repeatedly that while it pains him to watch children wrenched from their mothers, it's only Democratic intransigence that prevents him from ending a policy he personally put into motion, and could halt at any time. On Sunday, First Lady Melania Trump put out a mealy mouthed statement that echoed her husband, calling for congressional action where none is necessary.... During an appearance on Meet the Press earlier in the day, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway applied the same tactic. 'As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has a conscience ... I will tell you that nobody likes this policy,' she said, making it sound like the White House didn't have a choice on the matter.... 'If the Democrats are serious, and if a lot of Republicans are serious, they'll come together,' she said.... Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen ... pretended the policy she (supposedly) dislikes so much doesn't exist at all.... 'We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,' [she tweeted]." ...

... Laura Bush, in a Washington Post op-ed is a bit more forthright, though she doesn't name Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al.: "... this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history." Mrs. McC: The reader has to be smart enough to know who is responsible for the zero tolerance policy, and it's safe to say that the majority of readers have no idea. ...

... Shane Harris, et al., of the Washington Post: "Democrats expanded their campaign Sunday to spotlight the Trump administration's forced separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S. border, trying to compel a change of policy and gain political advantage five months before midterm elections. Against a notable silence on the part of many Republicans who usually defend President Trump, Democratic lawmakers fanned out across the country, visiting a detention center outside New York City and heading to Texas to inspect facilities where children have been detained.... Trump has falsely blamed the separations on a law he said was written by Democrats. But the separations instead largely stem from a 'zero-tolerance' policy announced with fanfare last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The White House also has interpreted a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families -- a posture not taken by the George W. Bush or Obama administrations." ...

... Speaker of the Oblivious. Avi Selk of the Washington Post: "For Father's Day 2016, Paul D. Ryan ... tweeted a soft-focus video about life with his three growing children. 'We fish. We hike. We go do something,' Ryan said as a string instrument plucked in the background...." He retweeted what appears to be the same video in 2017. It was so superb, he retweeted it again this year. (Mrs. McC: Maybe his "growing children" never grow.) "What might have been appreciated on Father's Days past went over like a used food processor this time, amid the Trump administration's 'zero-tolerance' crackdown on illegal migration that has resulted in the forced separation of thousands of children from their mothers and fathers at the Southwestern U.S. border.... Many of the [30,000] replies [to the video] are variations on the same theme: images of children being physically taken from their parents, compared with the family fun on display in the House speaker's video."

Paul Krugman suspects the Pax America is over. The barbarians are already inside the White House. ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker: "A network of institutions and alliances -- the United Nations, nato, the international monetary system, and others -- became the foundation for 'the rules-based international order' that the leaders in Charlevoix saluted. It imposed restraints on the power politics that had nearly destroyed the world. It was a liberal order, based on coöperation among countries and respect for individual rights, and it was created and upheld by the world's leading liberal democracy. America's goals weren't selfless, and we often failed to live up to our stated principles.... The system endured, flawed and adaptable, for seventy years. In four days, between Quebec and Singapore, Trump showed that the liberal order is hateful to him, and that he wants out.... Kim Jong Un is Trump's kind of world leader.... The alternative to an interconnected system of security partnerships and trade treaties is a return to the old system of unfettered power politics.... Without allies and treaties, without universal values, American foreign policy largely depends on what goes on inside Trump's head. Kim, like Putin, already seems to have got there."

A Bizarre Tale from the Trump Campaign. Manuel Roig-Franzia & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "... in late May 2016, Roger Stone ... [met with a Russian] man, wh called himself Henry Greenberg, [and who] offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton..., according to Stone who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said. 'You don't understand Donald Trump,' Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. 'He doesn't pay for anything.' Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who'd arranged the meeting after Greenberg had approached Caputo's Russian-immigrant business partner. 'How crazy is the Russian?' Caputo wrote according to a text message reviewed by The Post. Noting that Greenberg wanted 'big' money, Stone replied: 'waste of time.'... Caputo said he was asked about the meeting by prosecutors during a sometimes-heated questioning session last month.... Stone and Caputo, who did not previously disclose the meeting to congressional investigators, now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump. They cite records -- independently examined by The Post -- showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.... There is no evidence that Greenberg was working with the FBI in his interactions with Stone, and in his court filing, Greenberg said that he had stopped his FBI cooperation sometime after 2013. Greenberg, in text messages with The Post, denied that he had been acting on the FBI's behalf when he met with Stone.... [The meeting] came in the same time period as other episodes in which Russian interests approached the Trump campaign." Greenberg now claims there was a third man at the meeting, a Ukrainian called Alexei who said the Clinton Foundation had fired him & he wanted to "tell his story." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Caputo is a regular contributor to CNN. Now it appears that while working for the Trump campaign, he actively sought dirt on Clinton from a shady or "crazy" foreign national. I think he's in trouble. CNN should let him go. ...

     ... The Coverup Is More Elaborate than the Crime. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "... unlike other previously undisclosed meetings, this one was very, very clearly denied -- and repeatedly -- by both parties. It was also apparently denied in or at least omitted from their testimonies to congressional investigators. Although someone like Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have a credible argument that his denials of contact with Russians were the results of misunderstandings, Stone's and Caputo's denials were ironclad. 'I didn't talk to anybody who was identifiably Russian during the two-year run-up to this campaign,' Stone told The Post in April 2017.... Stone reasserted this in a March interview with Chuck Todd.... Caputo ... [said] in emphatic and unmistakable terms that he told the House Intelligence Committee that he had no contact with Russians.... Their public denials weren't 'I don't recall'; they were 'It didn't happen.'... Whatever transpired before or during that apparently strange meeting with [someone called Henry] Greenberg [who offered them dirt on Hillary Clinton] and whatever legal accountability there may or may not be, it doesn't change that it looks significantly more like there was a coverup than it did 24 hours ago."

... Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress: "Just hours after The Washington Post published a bombshell story about a previously undisclosed May 2016 meeting between Roger Stone and a Russian national who promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton, President Trump encouraged Post employees to go on strike. 'Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn't paying them enough,' Trump tweeted. 'I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Trump & Giuliani Dangle a Pardon in Front of Manafort. Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "White House lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani suggested Sunday that President Trump might pardon his former campaign manager Paul Manafort if he is convicted -- but only after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has completed his investigation. 'When it's over, hey, he's the president of the United States, he retains his pardon power, nobody's taking that away from him,' Giuliani said on CNN's 'State of the Union' when asked whether Trump would pardon Manafort should he be convicted. 'I couldn't and I don't want to take any prerogatives away from him.' But Giuliani stressed that Trump has not issued, would not issue and should not issue any pardons related to the Mueller probe while it is still ongoing, so as not to give the appearance that he has anything to hide." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Patrick mentioned in yesterday's Comments a column by Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post (June 15) in which she outlines how Russia entices Western businessmen to do their bidding by offering them "deals with friendly Russian businessmen.... 'Let us introduce you to some useful business contacts' was also, it seems, one of the ways in which the Russian government kept the attention of the Trump family." ...

Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say that's a great lifetime goal for us to go after. -- Felix Sater to Michael Cohen, while they were discussing Trump Tower Moscow ...

... So think about that when you read about Jared's backchannel to North Korea in the story linked next. I suspect Jared had in mind to "help world peace -- and make a lot of money." Donald's goal was more like: "get a Nobel Peace Prize & make a lot of money on beach condos." ...

... Mark Mazzetti & Mark Landler of the New York Times: An American financier living in Singapore reached out to Jared Kushner last year to try to establish "a back channel to explore a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, who for months had traded threats of military confrontation. Mr. Schulze ... had built a network of contacts in North Korea on trips he had taken to develop business opportunities in the isolated state. For some in North Korea..., Mr. Kushner appeared to be a promising contact. As a member of the president's family, officials in Pyongyang judged, Mr. Kushner would have the ear of his father-in-law and be immune from the personnel changes that had convulsed the early months of the administration. Mr. Schulze's quiet outreach was but one step in a circuitous path that led to last week's handshake between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim at a colonial-style island hotel in Singapore -- a path that involved secret meetings among spies, discussions between profit-minded entrepreneurs, and a previously unreported role for Mr. Kushner, according to interviews with current and former American officials and others familiar with the negotiations.... For Mr. Schulze, the scion of a family that made billions in mining, a thaw in America's relationship with North Korea would be potentially lucrative."

The people that like me best are those people, the workers. They're the people I understand the best. Those are the people I grew up with. Those are the people I worked on construction sites with. -- Donald Trump, November 2017

When Donnie was a lad, his mean father Fred made him spend his summer vacation building an apartment complex. On the job, Donnie's supervisor Joe Rosebud treated him kindly and even told Donnie he liked him. Donnie's bonding with Joe was the closest he ever got to having a positive feeling for someone else. Sadly, when Fred found out Joe was wasting time talking to Donnie, he fired Joe. Donnie put Joe in his rearview mirror. Years later, when Joe was running Rosebud Construction, Donnie stiffed him, then sued him. But there had been a moment. ...

... Brad Plumer & Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "By crafting an industrial policy that largely looks to the past, Mr. Trump ... has largely focused on saving legacy sectors whose workforces have been hurt by globalization, automation and innovation.... While the approach has helped Mr. Trump remain popular with many working-class white voters, it has done little to help those populations prepare for changes that could further decimate their professions.... In the latest ... move, Mr. Trump asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry on June 1 to 'prepare immediate steps' to halt the closing of unprofitable coal and nuclear plants.... Any plan to rescue these power plants would probably entail dramatic government intervention in America's energy markets and come at the expense of newer, cheaper power sources like natural gas or wind."


Margaret Sullivan
of the Washington Post: Cognitive scientist and linguist George Lakoff says the media are mishandling Trump's lies. Rather, news stories should read like a "truth sandwich": "First, he says, get as close to the overall, big-picture truth as possible right away. (Thus the gist of the Trump-in-Singapore story: Little of substance was accomplished in the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite the pageantry.) Then report what Trump is claiming about it: achievement of world peace. And then, in the same story or broadcast, fact-check his claims. That's the truth sandwich -- reality, spin, reality.... Avoid retelling the lies. Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets.... Because it is that very amplification that gives them power. That's how propaganda works on the brain: through repetition, even when part of that repetition is fact-checking.... Jay Rosen of New York University sums up one such proposal in three words: 'Send the interns.' White House briefings ... are no place for talented, highly compensated reporters.... They have also become a place where reporters get insulted instead of answered, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed last week when she refused to answer reasonable question and repeated lies about Trump's immigration policy...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... They're Not Lies. They're Not "Alternatives Facts." They're a "Particular Vernacular." Good Grief! Caleb Howe of Mediaite: Steve Bannon, on ABC's "This Week," insisted that Trump had never lied to the American people. "After some back and forth, [host Jon] Karl repeated again, 'he says things that aren't true all the time.' 'I don't believe that,' said Bannon. 'I think he speaks in a particular vernacular that connects to people in this country.'" Mrs. McC: To present this as a truth sandwich: Trump lies; Bannon says he doesn't; fact-check." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... MEANWHILE, maybe New Yorkers shouldn't try to get all folksy and borrow from Texas "vernacular." "All cattle and no hat," Chuck?

Way Beyond the Beltway

Pope Still Catholic. Hilary Clarke, et al., of CNN: "Pope Francis compared having an abortion to avoid birth defects to the Nazi era idea of trying to create a pure race. Speaking to a delegation of Italy's Family Association in Rome on Saturday, he also reiterated the Roman Catholic belief that a true human family is comprised of a man and woman."