Headlines: January 9, 2019
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening gave a brief televised speech making his case for funding for a border wall. It was the first time he had made a televised address from the Oval office. The 9 and a half minute long speech did not make any new claims and repeated the false statistics of border crime.
“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone. Ninety percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.
In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”
His speech was so riddled with lies and exaggerations as was expected that media outlets spent more time fact checking it than analyzing it. Privately, Trump himself knew it was futile. According to the New York Times, “In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address, he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas [to visit the border], but was talked into it by advisers, according to two people briefed on the discussion who asked not to be identified sharing details.”
As soon as the speech ended Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued their response to the speech.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is considered a likely presidential contender, also responded to the speech in several social media live streams.
In other news, Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein is reportedly leaving the Justice Department. Rosenstein, who had been overseeing the Special Counsel investigation, is likely to leave as soon as the new Attorney General, William Barr is confirmed by the Senate, according to the Washington Post which broke the story on Wednesday. There were fears that Trump would fire Rosenstein in order to cripple the investigation but instead Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions who had recused himself from overseeing the Special Counsel, and instead appointed the obviously biased Matt Whitaker as an interim DOJ head. According to anonymous sources, Rosenstein is not being forced out.
News emerged on Tuesday that Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort shared polling data on the presidential election in 2016 with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik – a man with apparent ties to Russian intelligence. The information came from Manafort’s own lawyers who failed to redact details in a court filing. Manafort and Kilimnik have worked together for years on Ukraine and the court filing also apparently showed that the two men discussed a “Ukraine peace plan.” According to CNN, “During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump campaign officials intervened to change language in the GOP platform about the Ukraine conflict. Their actions blocked a provision that called on the US to arm the Ukrainian government to fight the Russian proxies.”
In a separate case, federal prosecutors in New York charged the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya on Tuesday with obstructing justice in a money laundering case. Veselnitskaya is known for having met with Donald Trump Jr. during the election campaign. As she is a Russian national, she is unlikely to ever be taken into custody unless she leaves Russia.
In other news, Ed Buck, a prominent Los Angeles-area political activist and donor to the Democratic Party has been implicated for the second time in the death of a black man. Earlier this week police were called in to respond to a report of a man found not breathing on Buck’s property. So far nothing is known about the victim other than the fact that he was a black man. In 2017, a 26-year old African American man named Gemmel Moore was found dead of a drug overdose at Buck’s house. He was not charged at the time but authorities are now saying they will review the case of Moore’s death in light of the second death. Journalist Jasmyne Cannick has been sounding the alarm about Moore’s death and was present outside Buck’s home this week as protesters gathered. According to the New York Times, “She accused Mr. Buck of picking up black men outside bars, contacting them on dating apps and paying for those outside the state to fly to Los Angeles to see him.”
The American Cancer Society on Tuesday reported that the mortality rate from cancer has continued to drop for 25 years straight now. The heartening news highlights the greater effectiveness of modern cancer treatment and is also largely attributed to a drop in lung cancers from a decline in smoking. But cancer still remains the Number 2 killer of Americans. Specific cancers are particularly concerning. Prostate cancer death rates have stopped falling and obesity-related cancers continue to kill in higher numbers.