Tuesday ReadsPosted: July 3, 2018
When I first started looking at the news this morning, this story from The Baltimore Sun was all over Twitter: Trump declines request to lower flags in memory of Capital Gazette shooting victims.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy?” Buckley said Monday afternoon. “This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”
Gov. Larry Hogan ordered Maryland state flags to be lowered to half-staff from Friday through sunset on Monday.
Through Maryland’s congressional delegation, Buckley put in a request to the White House over the weekend to lower the American flags.
Buckley had said he hoped having the American flags lowered, too, would help keep national attention on the attack.
Trump has ordered flags lowered for previous mass shootings, including in May after the deaths of 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February that left 17 dead.
Apparently, public outrage sometimes works with the Trumpers because now the story includes this update at the top:
The White House has reversed its decision and will allow American flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of five victims of the shooting at The Capital newspaper last week.
Maybe some White House staffer managed to get it through Trump’s thick head that the public his anti-press temper tantrums would not look so good in the context of actual reporters being murdered. In any case, good to know that public shaming is working on someone in the White House. Let’s redouble our efforts to shame them unmercifully!
Another judge has interfered with Trump’s cruel immigration policies. Politico: Judge’s order could undercut Trump’s immigrant detention plan.
An order a federal judge issued Monday requiring individualized decisions on whether some asylum-seekers can be released into the U.S. poses a new legal threat to President Donald Trump’s effort to crack down on migrants crossing the border from Mexico.
U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg said there is strong evidence that five offices of the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement were ignoring a 2009 agency directive requiring case-by-case determinations on whether asylum seekers who passed the initial “credible fear” screening could be released pending an immigration judge’s decision on their claim.
Boasberg said lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union justified the injunction by showing that releases of such immigrants by some offices dropped dramatically after Trump took office last year. Between February and September of last year, 100 percent of parole applications at three ICE offices were denied, the judge said, while two other offices released eight percent or fewer of those requesting release.
“The record indicates that, instead, they are subject to a de facto ‘no-parole’ reality, under which detention has become the default option,” wrote Boasberg, an appointee of President Barack Obama.
Future determinations “shall not be based on categorical criteria,” the judge added in an order. He suggested a policy targeting those who made “recent entry” to the U.S. would be deemed categorical and contrary to the state policy.
The ruling applies only to people who come through an official port of entry and immediately request asylum and it only applies to five ICE field offices: Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia. Still, it seems the courts are our best hope to have an effect on Trump’s awful immigration policies.
If you watched Rachel Maddow last night, you heard that the Trump administration is so far making zero effort to reunite families as ordered by a California judge last week. You can watch the interview with immigration lawyer Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch at this link if you missed it.
As Paul Krugman suggests, Trump is “governing” by temper tantrum. Whoever or whatever he doesn’t like becomes the target of his wrath, and the policies are unencumbered by any reality testing. He just wants what he wants when he wants it, and he’ll just lie about whether the policies accomplish his goals. Here’s Krugman on Trump’s trade wars: Temper Tantrum to Trade War.
In one way, Donald Trump’s attack on our foreign trade partners resembles his attack on immigrants: in each case, the attack is framed as a response to evildoing that exists only in his imagination. No, there isn’t a wave of violent crime by immigrants, and MS-13 isn’t taking over American towns; no, the European Union doesn’t have “horrific” tariffs on U.S. products (the average tariff is only 3 percent).
In another way, however, the trade crisis is quite different from the humanitarian crisis at the border. Children ripped from their parents and put in cages can’t retaliate. Furious foreign governments, many of them U.S. allies that feel betrayed, can and will.
But all indications are that Trump and his advisers still don’t get it. They remain blithely ignorant about what they’re getting into.
Back in March, as the U.S. was imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — and yes, justifying its actions against Canada (!) on the grounds of national security — Peter Navarro, the White House trade czar, was asked about possible retaliation. “I don’t believe any country will retaliate,” he declared, basing his claim on the supposed upper hand America has because we import more than we export.
…both the scale and the motivation behind the Trump tariffs — their obviously fraudulent national security rationale — are something new. They amount to rejecting the rules of the game we created; the E.U., in its warning, bluntly calls U.S. actions “disregard for international law.” Sure enough, Axios reports that the Trump administration has drafted legislation that would effectively take us out of the W.T.O.
The U.S. is now behaving in ways that could all too easily lead to a breakdown of the whole trading system and a drastic, disruptive reduction in world trade.
There are some new Russia investigation stories in the news this morning. This one from Emptywheel is particularly interesting and scary too: Putting a Face (Mine) to the Risks Posed by GOP Games on Mueller Investigation. Marcy describes how she came to report a person to the FBI.
I never in my life imagined I would share information with the FBI, especially not on someone I had a journalistic relationship with. I did so for many reasons. Some, but not all, of the reasons are:
- I believed he was doing serious harm to innocent people
- I believed (others agreed) that reporting the story at that time would risk doing far more harm than good
- I had concrete evidence he was lying to me and others, including but not limited to other journalists
- I had reason to believe he was testing ways to tamper with my website
- I believed that if the FBI otherwise came to understand what kind of information I had, their likely investigative steps would pose a risk to the privacy of my readers
To protect the investigation, I will not disclose this person’s true identity or the identity and/or role I believe he played in the attack. Nor will I disclose when I went to the FBI. I did so on my own, without subpoena; I did that in an effort to protect people who have spoken to me in confidence and other journalists. Largely because this effort involved a number of last minute trips to other cities, I spent around $6K of my own money traveling to meet with lawyers and for the meeting with the FBI.
You’ll need to read the entire post, but the gist is that Marcy was contacted by someone who had information about a meeting between Michael Flynn and and someone associated with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. This seemed to link up with reports that Jared Kushner wanted to open a back channel for communication with Russia about Syria policy. She also links to a new article by David Ignatius at The Washington Post, which I’ll get to in a minute. But the gist of her post is that House Republicans are putting people like Marcy who gave information to the FBI in danger.
The other reason I’m disclosing this now is to put a human face to the danger in which the House Republicans are putting other people who, like me, provided information about the Russian attack on the US to the government.
Several times since I first considered sharing information with the FBI, I’ve asked my attorney to contact the FBI to tell them of what I perceived to be a real threat that arose from sharing that information. One of those times, I let law enforcement officers enter my house without a warrant, without me being present.
My risk isn’t going to go away — indeed, going public like this will surely exacerbate it. That’s to be expected, given the players involved.
But I’m a public figure. If something happens to me — if someone releases stolen information about me or knocks me off tomorrow — everyone will now know why and who likely did it. That affords me a small bit of protection. There are undoubtedly numerous other witnesses who have taken similar risks to share information with the government who aren’t public figures. The Republicans’ ceaseless effort to find out more details about people who’ve shared information with the government puts those people in serious jeopardy.
I’m speaking out because they can’t — and shouldn’t have to.
Please do go read the rest at Emptywheel.
Now for the story by David Ignatius: Is Trump handing Putin a victory in Syria?
The catastrophic war in Syria is nearing what could be a diplomatic endgame, as the United States , Russia and Israel shape a deal that would preserve power for Syrian President Bashar al -Assad in exchange for Russian pledges to restrain Iranian influence.
Checking Iranian power has become the only major Trump administration goal in Syria, now that the Islamic State is nearly vanquished. President Trump appears ready to embrace a policy that will validate Assad, an authoritarian leader who has gassed his own people, and abandon a Syrian opposition that was partly trained and supplied by the United States….
The diplomatic discussions about Syria come as Trump prepares for a July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Foreign diplomats and administration officials are unsure just what will be on the agenda, but the Syria package will probably be in play.
An intriguing aspect of the possible Syria deal is that it’s driven by close cooperation between Russia and Israel. The Israeli agenda, like Trump’s, is narrowly focused on blocking Iran — and Israelis seem to have concluded that Putin is a reliable regional partner.
Read the details of the prospective deal at the WaPo link above.
More Russia stories to check out, links only:
Adam Davidson at The New Yorker: Is Michael Cohen Turning on Donald Trump?
That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?