Headlines: August 17, 2018
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 9:07 — 8.3MB)
In today’s news headlines, President Trump has canceled this year’s military parade that he had ordered the Pentagon to hold, citing high costs. He made his opinion known on Twitter as usual, saying, “The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.” He then added in a separate tweet, “Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN. Now we can buy some more jet fighters!” Jet fighters cost more than $100 million dollars each and Trump’s military parade was projected to cost $92 million. **UPDATE: Meanwhile DC Mayor Muriel Bowser shot back on Twitter that the city’s costs were only $21 million. She referred to the President as, “the reality star in the White House.”
A day after Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, Mr. Brennan wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash.” In it, he explained that, “The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of ‘Trump Incorporated’ attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets.”
In an interview on Wednesday Trump directly linked his revocation of Brennan’s security clearance to the Special Counsel’s investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election, even though his staff a day earlier had simply cited Brennan’s “erratic behavior.” Trump told the Wall Street Journal, “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham…And these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done.” William H. McRaven, a retired Navy Seal who oversaw the military raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post on Thursday saying, “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”
The House Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings has demanded an explanation from the White House about the decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance and wrote to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly inquiring about whether the proper procedures were followed. Several Republican lawmakers including Senator Richard Burr and John Kennedy defended the President. **UPDATE: On Friday morning news emerged that Trump would be revoking the clearance of former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whom Trump called “a disgrace.”
Democratic leaders on Thursday said they will sue the government if they don’t get access to the documents they have requested on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh served as White House Counsel from 2001 to 2006 under George W. Bush and rather than release the documents from that period to Senate Democrats, the GOP has withheld them and insisted on holding hearings on September 4th. Democrats have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for the material. Later on our show today we’ll cover the Kavanaugh confirmation battle and whether Democrats will be able to stop Republicans with Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewire.news.
Meanwhile, the Republican controlled Senate has confirmed more judges to circuit courts this week, continuing to help Trump break the record on the speed and number of lower court judicial confirmations. According to AP, “U.S. District Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. and U.S. Attorney’s Office Deputy Chief Jay Richardson,” were both confirmed on Thursday to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in South Carolina, bringing to a whopping 26 the number of new appellate judges Trump has confirmed with the help of his party this session alone. The moves appear to be part of a long game to stack lower courts with conservative judges.
Former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman has continued to release secret recordings implicating White House staff. On Wednesday she shared a tape of Lara Trump, an advisor to Trump’s campaign and the President’s daughter-in-law, offering her a $15,000 a month salary in exchange for saying positive things in public about the campaign. Here is some of the audio played on MSNBC. That’s the voice of Lara Trump, the President’s daughter-in-law speaking on the phone with Omarosa Manigault-Newman, offering her a $15,000 a month salary that Manigault-Newman says was an attempt by the White House, “to buy my silence, to censor me, and to pay me off.”
The Vatican has responded to the 800-page Pennsylvania Grand Jury report on pervasive pedophilia in the Catholic Church. “There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes,” said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican’s Press Office. “shame and sorrow.” As Pope Francis is under pressure to take action on the heels of the report, Burke added, “The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.” The Catholic Church has lost credibility for its moral positions on myriad issues as it fails to take up the child sex abuse crimes within its own institutions.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday ordered immigration judges to speed up the deportations of undocumented immigrants in US custody. The interim order was criticized by advocates who are struggling to ensure that immigrants are not being denied their rights. Stephen Kang of the ACLU responded to Sessions’ order saying it, “has moved in the direction of restricting due process rights for individuals who are in removal proceedings.” Meanwhile a 30-year old mother from El Salvador is suing the federal government over being separated from her 11-month old daughter. Leydi Duenas-Claros says her child was still breastfeeding when she was removed from her care by the US. In her lawsuit she also wants the US to reconsider her asylum application. Duenas-Claros was scheduled for deportation on Thursday but the process was postponed.
Meanwhile the ACLU is also accusing the government of mistreating immigrant workers that were scooped up in a workplace raid in Nebraska. Among the workers were two pregnant women who were denied access to water in very high temperatures.
In the on-going effort by the Trump administration to delink climate change from California’s record-breaking fires, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday continued to blame everything else. In an interview on the far-right extremist outlet Breitbart News, he went further in his usual condemnation of environmental organizations, this time calling them, “terrorist groups” and blaming them for creating the conditions for the fires. Earlier in the day Zinke was asked about climate change on Fox News and he said, “There’s no dispute that the climate is changing, although it has always changed. Whether man is the direct result, how much that result is, that’s still being disputed.” In fact 97% of climate scientists agree that human consumption of fossil fuels is to blame for our changing climate – a stronger level of agreement than almost any other scientific claim.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a plan as early as next week to replace President Obama’s “clean power plan.” A Politico exposé earlier in the week of a draft plan showed unsurprisingly that Trump’s approach to regulating coal plants is to not regulate them at all. Coal emissions are among the worst contributors to carbon in the atmosphere.
And finally the US Senate on Thursday passed a resolution affirming its adherence to the Constitutional protections of a free press. The resolution was introduced by Democratic Senators Brian Schatz and Chuck Schumer and passed unanimously. The resolution came in the wake of a coordinated effort by 300 or so newspapers on Thursday that published op-eds condemning President Trump’s attacks on the press and his name-calling of media as the ‘enemy of the people.’ Trump lashed out at the Boston Globe which organized the effort, accusing it of being in “collusion,” with other papers.