News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

In today’s news headlines CNN is reporting on Friday morning that President Donald Trump knew about a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in advance, according to his former attorney Michael Cohen. That meeting was with a group of Russians who apparently were offering helpful information on Hillary Clinton – a meeting that Trump claimed he knew nothing about until the New York Times asked him about it. Now, according to CNN, “Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials,” and that, “Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr.” Trump on Friday posted a tweet saying, “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr.”

In related news, the Associated Press has reviewed documents revealing that the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who met with Trump campaign officials at the Trump tower meeting, has far closer ties to the Russian government than she let on. Ms. Veselnitskaya had claimed she works completely independently of governments but AP says the documents they reviewed, “suggest her ties to Russian authorities are close — and they pull the curtain back on her campaign to overturn the sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russian officials.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reported to be examining Trump’s tweets in connection with possible obstruction of justice attempts. The New York Times reported on Thursday that Mueller, “is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey,” by the President in connection with his desire to end the Russia investigation. The paper also reports that Mueller is examining, whether Trump’s actions, “add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.” An “obstruction-of-justice” law that was put in place after the Enron accounting controversy years ago is apparently at the heart of this line of inquiry.

Meanwhile, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels has announced that he is representing three additional women who were paid hush money to remain quiet about their affairs with Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Avenatti made the announcement at a forum in West Hollywood on Thursday but did not give specifics.

The impeachment effort by some Republicans aimed at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been dropped just a day after it was introduced. Representative Mark Meadows who is jockeying to replace retiring Paul Ryan as House Speaker withdrew his impeachment bill saying he would pursue ‘contempt’ instead. Republicans have targeted Rosenstein for criticism over the Special Counsel investigation. Mr. Ryan came out strongly against Rosenstein’s impeachment.

In a tax-payer funded trip to Illinois, President Trump on Thursday openly campaigned for the Republican Party – a violation of ethical standards. “You’ve got to vote Republican, folks, you’ve got to vote Republican,” said Trump during his speech. He added, “Vote for these two congressmen; they know what we’re doing. They know what they’re doing. They’re tough, and they’re smart.” Although he didn’t refer to them by name, Trump was accompanied by several Illinois Republicans who are up for re-election. Meanwhile the President gave a major speech about the economy at the White House on Friday morning where he said the US is the, “economic envy of the entire world.”

Thursday was the deadline by which the government was ordered by a judge to reunite all immigrant children separated from their parents in Trump’s so-called zero-tolerance border policy earlier this year. But of the approximately 2,500 children that were separated 711 still remain without their parents after the deadline, lawyers for the government said. Of those, 431 cases remain where the parents were deported before getting their children back and the rest were “ineligible” to be returned as per the government.

Activists descended on Washington DC on Thursday in protest of the government’s failure to reunite all children. Mothers showed up with children wearing T-shirts saying “I am a child,” as kids led a sit-in at the Hart Senate office building. The children sat in a circle and sang songs and nursery rhymes. Here are some of the sounds of the action followed by one mother named Paola Mendoza explaining why she was there. That’s a mother who marched on Thursday along with other mothers and their children over the government’s failure to reunite separated immigrant children with their parents.

Meanwhile protesters across the country have continued confronting ICE offices and other institutions involved in the immigrant crackdown including banks that are financing private prisons for immigrants. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and BlackRock, have been targeted by activists this week after the Center for Popular Democracy released a report called Bankrolling Oppression. Eight people were arrested while protesting outside the home of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

More than 1,500 migrants and refugees have died in the Mediterranean Sea over the past year during their attempts to reach Europe, according to a new report released on Friday by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. The grim figure was about the same as have died over the past five years in a row.

In Florida a lawyer for the family of Markeis McGlockton has accused McGlockton’s shooter of “cold blooded murder.” Mr. McGlockton was an African American man and a father of three who was shot in dispute over a parking spot by an armed white man named Michael Drejka. The dispute began when Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend and the mother of his children. Drejka is not being charged for the killing because of Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law – the same law that was used to acquit George Zimmerman in the murder of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. Here is the attorney Benjamin Crump at a press conference on Thursday as he was accompanied by McGlockton’s family.

The Republican dominated House of Representatives passed a $716 billion defense-spending bill on Thursday that includes a large pay hike for military personnel. According to AP, “the compromise bill weakens a bid to clamp down on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE and allows the president to waive sanctions against countries that have bought Russian weapons but now want to buy U.S. military equipment.” Although the bill did not fund President Trump’s “Space Force” idea, it does include funding for his military parade this November.

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