Headlines: September 6, 2018
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 9:12 — 17.2MB)
The New York Times on Wednesday published a damning op-ed written by an anonymous source inside Donald Trump’s administration. The explosive piece was titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” and claims to be written by someone who says they represent a group of staffers working inside the administration to protect the country from Trump’s recklessness. “To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left,” writes the author. “We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.” “But,” continued the op-ed writer, “we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”
The anonymous source goes on to describe the “amorality” of the President as well as his “anti-democratic impulses,” and his “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” leadership style. In what may be the most damning part of the New York Times op-ed the writer says, “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”
Unsurprisingly Trump has lashed out hard at the New York Times and demanded to know the identity of the author. At an event at the White House on Wednesday one reporter asked him about the op-ed. Trump then tweeted the word “treason” in capital letters and with a question mark and then followed up with a more detailed tweet speculating that perhaps the paper had simply made up the anonymous source. He demanded that, “the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has been one of the President’s most loyal supporters also slammed the op-ed saying she was, “disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless and selfish op-ed.” The New York Times’ op-ed came just a day after top media outlets published reviews of and excerpts from the bombshell book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward about Trump that makes assertions consistent with what was in the Times’ op-ed.
Meanwhile Thursday is the 3rd day of confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On Wednesday Senators questioned Kavanaugh at length about a number of hot-button issues including abortion, gun control, and executive authority. Responding to a question from Senator Patrick Leahy about the President’s claim that he has a right to pardon himself, Judge Kavanaugh side-stepped the issue saying it was a, “hypothetical question.” Later on our show we’ll analyze the Kavanaugh hearings with Stephen Spaulding of Common Cause. We’ll play several excerpts from key exchanges between senators and Kavanaugh.
Also testifying in front of Congress on Wednesday were leaders of social media companies. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey both spoke in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing was meant to focus on the role of companies in enabling foreign interference in the US elections. At a second hearing in front of the House Commerce Committee conservative lawmakers raised a Trump-talking point about perceived bias against conservatism. Google’s executives did not show up to either hearing although their presence was requested.
Meanwhile the Department of Justice on Wednesday made an announcement that it will be investigating whether social media corporations are, “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas,” picking up on a baseless claim made by President Trump.
In the latest chapter of the Special Counsel’s investigation, an associate of Trump’s advisor Roger Stone has been subpoenaed. The man in question is Jerome Corsi, who is considered a conspiracy theorist and once wrote for Alex Jones’ website, and promoted the so-called “birther” conspiracy against President Barack Obama. Corsi’s lawyer says he will cooperate with investigators and is set to appear in front of a grand jury this Friday.
President Obama plans on returning to the public realm over the next couple of months to stump for Democratic candidates running for office. He is expected to campaign this Saturday in Southern California for a number of Democrats challenging Republican incumbents.
Judges in North Carolina have said that the state will be allowed to use its gerrymandered maps for this November’s election, dealing a blow to advocates of fair representation. The same group of judges who last week said that district maps had been drawn so as to, “ensure Republican candidates would prevail in the vast majority of the State’s congressional districts,” this week said the current maps would have to do. They cited potential voter confusion from new maps made at the last minute.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has taken his fight with Amazon into the Senate with the introduction on Wednesday of a new tax bill aimed squarely at the online retail giant. The bill will impose a tax on those large companies whose employees are paid so little that they have to rely on federal government subsidies in order to survive. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has amassed an obscene level of personal wealth and plans on spending it on space travel and research. Senator Sanders explained that his bill, “would not only improve lives for thousands of people at Amazon; it would send a message to every corporation in America that that’s where we should be going as a nation.”
A new report by the state of Alaska has grim news about opioid-related deaths. Alaska State Troopers issued their annual drug report on Wednesday and found that the number of deaths linked to fentanyl use increased more than 4 times compared to the year before. Associated Press reported that, “since 2012, Alaska has had one of the highest per-capita death rates in the nation for prescription opioid overdoses.” The state has an extremely small population of only about 740,000.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday issued a report tackling incarceration entitled, “Smart Justice 50 States Blueprint.” It breaks down the extent of mass incarceration state-by-state. According to the ACLU, “The Smart Justice 50-State Blueprints are the first-ever analysis of their kind and will serve as tools for activists, advocates, and policymakers to push for transformational change to the criminal justice system.” The report’s goal is to make available policy solutions unique to each state to address racial disparities and to reduce the overall prison population to half of its current size. There are more than 2 million people incarcerated in the US, with a vast majority of those imprisoned by state authorities.
In international news North Korea announced a new summit with South Korea to be held in Pyongyang in the coming weeks. According to Reuters, “Kim [Jong Un] and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in the North Korean capital on Sept. 18-20, during which they will discuss ‘practical measures’ toward denuclearization.” Mr. Kim has said he wants to denuclearize his nation before President Trump’s first term ends and that despite the recent setbacks to US-North Korea relations, his faith in Mr. Trump remains “unchanged.”
And finally, India’s Supreme Court has handed a massive victory to the nation’s LGBTQ community. Justices threw out a ban on gay sex that harkened back to colonial times. The ban had been officially reinstated in 2013 and carried harsh punishments including up to 10 years in prison. Activists had worked hard to overturn the ban for years and on Thursday they celebrated the unanimous ruling by 5 judges. Activists in the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh are also heartened and plan to challenge similar bans in their countries.