Headlines: November 21, 2018
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President Donald Trump once more dug in his heels about maintaining ties with Saudi Arabia in spite of the CIA’s conclusion last week that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had ordered the brutal assassination of one of his critics, journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Speaking to press Trump simply repeated “America First.” The White House also released a formal statement on US-Saudi relations on Tuesday, which began with the lines, “America First!” and “The world is a very dangerous place!” The 633-word statement contained 8 exclamation points and reiterated that the Saudis were too important an ally to let the murder of a journalist get in the way.
The New York Times on Tuesday reported that Trump had wanted to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey and former State Secretary Hillary Clinton earlier this year. White House Counsel Don McGahn apparently talked Trump out of such an action, “saying that he had no authority to order a prosecution. Mr. McGahn said that while he could request an investigation, that too could prompt accusations of abuse of power. To underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences, including possible impeachment.” Additionally the Times said that, “the president has continued to privately discuss the matter, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey.”
The story has taken on added significance in the wake of revelations that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to conduct government business. This is very similar to the accusations Clinton faced and on whose basis Trump thought he could prosecute. On Tuesday Trump defended his daughter’s actions.
Trump this week provided written answers at last to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s questions. According to CNN this represents, “a major development,” in the investigation of the 2016 election, and “could be a sign of the end stages of the investigation.” The questions apparently strictly cover the election and do not cover possible obstruction of justice attempts. It is up to Mueller to submit additional questions.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued a serious warning against eating romaine lettuce. The move is mirrored by health officials in Canada and is premised on yet another outbreak of E.Coli which is thought to have killed 32 people in the US and 18 in Canada. According to Associated Press, “The strain identified is different than the one linked to romaine earlier this year but appears similar to last year’s outbreak linked to leafy greens.” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has not issued a recall yet saying that there is not enough information to do so but he has advised supermarkets and restaurants to stop selling and serving romaine lettuce for now.
The pesticide manufacturer Monsanto is appealing a massive $78 million penalty that it was ordered to pay in California to a man dying of cancer. Earlier this year a jury found in favor of DeWayne Johnson, a man who says his terminal Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma was caused by years of using the Monsanto pesticide Round-Up Ready. The initial award was for $289 million but a judge last month reduced it to $78 million. That is still not enough for Monsanto’s new parent company Bayer which has filed an appeal in San Francisco. The company faces thousands of similar lawsuits.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Trump is considering authorizing US military troops to medically examine migrants that cross the border. The proposal is in contradiction to the Pentagon’s position that the 6,000 troops deployed to the border would not directly interact with migrants.
Facing criticism that he has yet to visit US troops stationed abroad in war zones, Trump on Tuesday told reporters he would be doing so very soon. But did not mention any more details. Trump has often boasted about doing more for troops than any other president, but unlike his predecessors he has not yet personally visited deployed troops.
A Democrat in Utah has won a Congressional seat this week, declaring victory over his Republican incumbent opponent by less than 700 votes. Ben McAdams had tallied up a more significant lead over his opponent Mia Love on election night but after weeks of vote counting and lawsuits, that lead narrowed. In the end Love conceded. If Love had retained her seat she would have been the only black female Republican in the House. Trump had publicly mocked her after the election saying she lost because she didn’t align herself with him enough.
And finally as we head into Thanksgiving weekend, the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, is getting ready for its quadricentennial celebrations in two years. Associated Press has been following the story of how this time the commemoration, “will put Native Americans’ unvarnished side of the story on full display.” Fifty years ago when the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing was commemorated, a speaker from the Wampanoag tribe was invited but then disinvited after organizers realized he intended to bring up things like genocide. The marking of the quadricentennial of the Pilgrims landing is expected to highlight, “the often-ignored history of the Wampanoag and poking holes in the false narrative that Pilgrims and Indians coexisted in peace and harmony.”