Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
On Thursday morning, news broke that Donald Trump planned to crap all over the Constitution that afternoon by announcing that he was issuing an executive order directing the Treasury Department to add a citizenship question to the Census despite the fact that the Supreme Court had just put the kibosh on the GOP’s latest attempt to rig the system in its favor. (The Constitution empowers Congress, not the president, to determine the “manner” in which the Census is conducted.)
Outrage naturally and justifiably ensued. Reports detailing the Constitutional and legal issues were filed; opinion pieces were quickly written. And then a couple of hours later, Trump stepped up to a podium and told reporters gathered in The Rose Garden that the regime was dropping its quest to add the question and would gather data on the non-citizen population by other means.
In the hours between those events, one of two things happened. His advisors and/or attorneys–or perhaps Republicans on Capitol Hill–may have sat Trump down, explained the meaning of “enumerated powers” and warned that even a Court packed with Trump-friendly justices would be unlikely to let him get away with trampling on the legislative branch so egregiously.
The alternative is that Trump played the media like a fiddle. The regime leaked the first story about an executive order coming down the pike so Trump and his minions could turn it into an example of “fake news” when he later folded his hand.
Barr said idea Trump might put citizenship question on census by executive order was “rank speculation and nothing more.”
Q: Are you going to issue an executive order on the census?
TRUMP: We’re thinking about doing that.https://t.co/UQHC4hcv01
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) July 12, 2019
The Wall Street Journal reported that Attorney General William Barr had briefed Trump the day before and explained that his attorneys were fleeing ship and that adding the citizenship question would basically be impossible given the timetable. But that doesn’t preclude Trump leaking the executive order story so he could jam up the press. He’s counting on his “fake news” conspiracy theory to fire up his base next year, and while he’s not terribly smart, he’s always been an idiot savant when it comes to manipulating the media. John Barron is the Rain Man of PR.
And with that, let’s move onto our roundup.
This week, Trump vowed that he wouldn’t fire Labor Secretary Alex Costa, under fire for letting an alleged child sex trafficker off with a slap on the wrist. It was true insofar as Acosta resigned two days later.
This happened shortly after Acosta proposed to “to slash funding of a critical federal agency in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children.”
We’re genuinely impressed that Trump seems to have found someone worse to replace him.
NEW: Get to know Trump’s new acting labor secretary – effective one week – Pat Pizzella. Insight into why unions & some Dems have been holding out on calling for Acosta to resign. Our latest: https://t.co/QwadGtdZ1o
— Ben Penn (@benjaminpenn) July 12, 2019
What could possibly go wrong?
— Beryl Mordecai-Brown (@richwithright) July 11, 2019
According to Forbes, Trump’s golf trips could end up costing taxpayers $340 million. Since he frequently plays on his own golf courses, lugging around Secret Service and his entourage, much of that loot ends up in Trump’s own pocket.
We pay for Obama's travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2014
Speaking of which, a three-judge panel at a federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit charging that Trump profited from the presidency. All three justices were Republican appointees, including one picked by Trump. The plaintiffs say they plan to fight on. [WaPo]
In another legal proceeding–this one a hearing on the regime’s attempts to block a Congressional subpoena for Trump’s financial records–the president’s* lawyers argued “that Congress has almost no right to investigate or regulate his conduct,” according to TPM.
The hearing, which lasted more than double the one hour it was allotted, featured Trump’s personal attorney doubling down on an a number of incredible claims. Attorney William Consovoy told the court that there is almost no legislation Congress could constitutionally pass to rein in any unethical behavior by the President. Because of that, Consovoy argued, there were no legitimate legislative reasons for the House Oversight Committee to subpoena Trump’s accounting firm for his finances.
The judges on the court at times appeared surprised by how extreme Consovoy’s theory was.
“Imagine, in the future, you have the most corrupt president in humankind, openly flaunting it, what law could Congress pass?” Judge Patricia Millett, an Obama appointee asked
Consovoy said that it was “very hard to think of one.”
Perhaps the judges will sentence Consovoy to a few hours watching old episodes of “Schoolhouse Rock.”
Only the Best People…
“with extreme displeasure” — that’s how @BetsyDeVosED personally approved loan discharges for ~16,000 Corinthian students whose borrower defense claims were granted in final days of Obama admin but not actually carried out by Inauguration Day. pic.twitter.com/f4km7lDruu
— Michael Stratford (@mstratford) July 9, 2019
“A State Department intelligence analyst has resigned in protest after the White House blocked his discussion of climate science in Congressional testimony,” according to the NYT.
Trump’s pick to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Gen. John Hyten, has been accused of sexual harassment by a junior officer. [Associated Press]
Filed under good, and easy to win…
“President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel have sped the decline of some of the U.S. mills he vowed to help,” reported Bloomberg this week. “Since Trump announced the tariffs 16 months ago, U.S. Steel has lost about 70% of its market value, or $5.7 billion, and idled two American furnaces in mid-June that couldn’t be run profitably at the lowest prices since 2016.”
The regime is reportedly planning on rounding up thousands of undocumented migrant families this weekend. A similar sweep a while back was cancelled when the story leaked in advance.
Former ICE official on the agency planning an operation targeting families:
“[The administration] have begun utilizing every apparatus available to them to target, separate, and terrify small children in order to claim a ‘win’ on immigration.”https://t.co/3JLj6KCzME
— Hamed Aleaziz (@Haleaziz) June 19, 2019
Anyway, “acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan is at the center of a federal investigation into the leak of confidential government information in late June that forced Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to call off a nationwide operation,” according to the Washington Examiner.
According to Mother Jones, “ICE has started using three new for-profit immigration detention centers in the Deep South in recent weeks. One of them has seen the death of three inmates following poor medical treatment and a violent riot in 2012 that left a guard dead.” The kicker: They’re doing this after Congress placed limits on such expansions.
The regime has struggled to get around domestic and international law giving refugees the right to present themselves at the border and request asylum. The New Yorker reports that Trump is close to finalizing an agreement that would force refugees to go to Guatemala.
This image will go down in history. New video shows shows Mike Pence callously observing and turning his back on severe overcrowding of men in cages at a detainment facility in Texas.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 13, 2019
And The Washington Post reported this week that ICE has “turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent.”
Can you say, “rogue agency”?
There it is. @USBPChief was shocked, shocked to find 9000 current/former agents had a secret FB group full of racist & violent posts. But SHE was a member of that group! No wonder her memo to staff was so weak. The agency’s culture is violent & racist for a reason. #ResignProvost https://t.co/rQBAU0Yo5M
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 12, 2019
We like to leave you with a bit of good news each week, but everything is horrible. Don’t look away, however, because it’s really important to stay engaged with what’s being done in your name.
UK voters face a stark left-right choice that will (finally) decide Brexit — and might shape America’s future
Precisely as Donald Trump is being impeached by the U.S. Congress, British voters go to the polls on Thursday in a history-shaping national election, the U.K.’s third in less than five years. It has numerous echoes and resonances of the forthcoming U.S. presidential election, starting with the charismatic but abominable incumbent prime minister, Boris Johnson, who resembles Trump translated into Upper-Class Twit. But the differences are also striking, none more so than the fact that despite the enormous stakes in this election, in which Johnson’s Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party have vowed to take the nation in dramatically different directions, the entire campaign has been confined to six weeks.
Robert Reich makes case for why Sanders or Warren—’not some billionaire-backed milquetoast moderate’—offer best chance to beat Trump
"These two have most of the grassroots energy, most of the enthusiasm, and most of the ideas that are critical for winning in 2020."
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich released a video Tuesday explaining his case for why Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren pose a far better chance of defeating President Donald Trump in 2020 than "some billionaire-backed milquetoast moderate."
Your guide to the 2020 Democrats: Who’s in, who’s out and WTF is going on anyway?
There's a frontrunner, who has led almost every national poll since last winter, allowing for a few outlier polls and a brief period around the end of the summer. There are three other leading contenders, two of whom have been near the top of the polls for months, while the third only recently emerged from the pack. There is a pack of dark-horse candidates, whose odds of being elected president now approach zero but who remain in the race for various reasons. There are some with no shot at all. There are two fringe candidates, likely using this campaign to explore career options. And there's a pair of billionaires who hope to buy their way to the presidency by spending alarming amounts of money on campaign ads. That probably won't work — but you might have heard the same thing about another billionaire in that other party, a few years back.