Headlines: August 3, 2018
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In today’s news headlines, the Trump administration rolled out one top official after another on Thursday to present a strategy for dealing with election security ahead of the midterms. Facing strong criticism from both parties for not doing enough, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats made back-to-back speeches during the White House briefing.
Just hours later the President contradicted them during a campaign rally on Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where he said, “Now we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax. It’s a hoax, OK? I’ll tell you what, Russia’s very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.” In fact Russian President Vladimir Putin had openly said he wanted Trump to win at the recent summit in Helsinki.
During his Pennsylvania rally Trump continued to attack the media just a day after his Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denounced for not defending freedom of the press. Trump spoke at length about how the media covered his trip to England where he was late to visit the Queen. On our next show we’ll cover how his remarks have created an atmosphere of violence and danger for members of the press.
Trump also doubled down on the comments he had made during his own Presidential campaign where he had called Mexicans “drug dealers” and “rapists.” On Thursday night he reminded his audience of those comments and then added, “Guess what: What I said is peanuts compared to what turns out to be the truth. It’s peanuts.” One anti-Trump protester was escorted out of the rally as the President’s supporters chanted “USA, USA.”
The President’s daughter Ivanka made a rare public appearance on Thursday at an event organized by the media outlet Axios. She was asked her opinion of the media given her father’s relentless attacks on the press. That was Ivanka Trump saying she did not think the press was the enemy of the people on the same day that her father labeled the media “disgusting.”
She was also asked about immigrant family separation and claimed that it was a low point for her even as she justified her father’s position. That’s Ivanka Trump on Thursday at an event organized by Axios explaining that she was against immigrant family separation, and still implicitly defending her father’s policies.
Vox is reporting that 500 immigrant fathers at a detention center in Texas are going on a hunger strike after being reunited with their children to protest their continued detention. The Texas-based advocacy group RAICES publicized the strike. According to Vox, “The fathers involved in the strike planned to sit down in three public ‘patio’ areas within the Karnes Residential Facility, one of the family detention centers in Texas in which reunited families are being held, and refuse food. Their children have also agreed to a modified strike in which they refuse to participate in activities.”
In other immigration news, representatives of the Trump Administration told a court on Thursday that it wanted private efforts led by volunteers and non-profit groups to lead the on-going project of reuniting families that Trump separated. There are still more than 400 cases of on-going separations primarily because parents were deported without their children.
Friday is day 4 of the trial of Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. According to CNN his, “longtime bookkeeper testified Thursday that Manafort was in serious financial trouble in 2016 after his lobbying business dried up, and he and his deputy Rick Gates sent several fake, inflated income business statements to banks.” For example when his firm had lost $1 million, Manafort told banks he had made $3 million. He also did not disclose that he had foreign bank accounts. Earlier in the week prosecutors had offered evidence showing Manafort’s lavish spending on luxury big-ticket items. Bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn, who testified in front of the jury on Thursday said, “He was very detail-oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid.” Mr. Manafort is facing 18 charges of tax and banking fraud in the first trial of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
A number of states are suing the federal government over gas mileage requirements. The Trump EPA earlier this week announced that it would freeze fuel efficiency requirements to 2020 levels, and prevent states from implementing their own tougher standards. “This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey whose state is one of 17 that are suing the government.
Congress passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, appropriating more than $700 billion toward military spending. Nearly $22 billion is for the development of nuclear weapons and $7.6 billion toward new F-35 Stealth Fighter jets. The bill passed with broad bi-partisan consensus and now heads to Trump’s desk for a signature.
In international news, a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan on Friday morning during prayers, killing 25 people and injuring 40. Shiite Muslims are a minority in the mostly Sunni Afghanistan. So far no one has taken credit for the deadly attack.
On Thursday air raids by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates aimed at Yemen killed 55 people including women and children. The raids targeted Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah through which many of the necessary food and medical supplies move for the nation’s impoverished population. Al Jazeera explained, “With logistical support from the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been carrying out attacks inside Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate the internationally recognized government of President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.”
Election results from Zimbabwe are finally in, days after voting was completed. Incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared victory on Thursday in a contentious election against his rival Nelson Chamisa. It was the first formal election since long-time dictator Robert Mugabe was ousted in a move led by Mnangagwa. The election was marred by violence with 6 people being killed during protests where the Army intervened. Videos of soldiers firing on unarmed protesters have emerged.